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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

“Wylan,” Jesper panted, pushing to his feet. “Get us out of here.”

Wylan nodded, pulled a putty-colored lump from his pack, and gently placed it against the nearest rock. “Everybody down,” he instructed.

They crouched together in a cluster as far away as the enclosure would permit. Wylan slapped his hand against the explosive and dove away, careening into Matthias and Jesper as they all covered their ears.

Nothing happened.

“Are you kidding me?” said Jesper.

Boom. The slab exploded. Ice and bits of rock rained down over their heads.

Wylan was covered in dust and wearing a slightly dazed, deliriously happy expression. Nina started to laugh. “Try to look like you knew it would work.”

They stumbled out of the corral of slabs.

Kaz gestured to Jesper. “Perimeter. Let’s make sure there aren’t more surprises.” They set off in opposite directions.

Nina and the others found Inej standing over the body of the trembling Grisha. He wore clothes of olive drab, and his eyes were glassy. Blood spilled from the bullet wound in his upper thigh, and a knife jutted from the right side of his chest. Inej must have thrown it when she’d escaped from the enclosure.

Nina knelt beside him.

“I need a little more,” the Grisha mumbled. “Just a little more.” He grabbed at Nina’s hand, and only then did she recognize him.

“Nestor?”

He twitched at the sound of his name, but he didn’t seem to know her.

“Nestor, it’s me, Nina.” She had been at school with him back at the Little Palace. They’d been sent to Keramzin together during the war. At King Nikolai’s coronation, they’d stolen a bottle of champagne and gotten sick by the lake. He was a Fabrikator, one of the Durasts who worked with metal, glass, and fibers. It didn’t make sense. Fabrikators made textiles, weapons. He shouldn’t have been capable of what she’d just witnessed.

“Please,” he begged, his face crumpling. “I need more.”

“Parem?”

“Yes,” he sobbed. “Yes. Please.”

“I can heal your wound, Nestor, if you stay still.” He was in bad shape, but if she could stop the bleeding …

“I don’t want your help,” he said angrily, trying to push away from her.

She tried calming him, lowering his pulse, but she was afraid of stopping his heart. “Please, Nestor. Please be still.”

He was screaming now, fighting her.

“Hold him down,” she said.

Matthias moved to help, and Nestor threw up his arms.

The ground rose in a rippling sheet, thrusting Nina and the others back.

“Nestor, please! Let us help you.”

He stood up, staggering on his wounded leg, pulling at the knife buried in his chest. “Where are they?” he screamed. “Where did they go?”

“Who?”

“The Shu!” he wailed. “Where did they go? Come back!” He took a wobbling step, then another. “Come back!” He fell face forward into the snow. He didn’t move again.

Nina rushed to his side and turned him over. There was snow in his eyes and his mouth. She placed her hands on his chest, trying to restore his heartbeat, but it was no good. If he hadn’t been ravaged by the drug, he might have survived his wounds. But his body was weak, the skin tight to his bones and so pale it seemed transparent.