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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

When Jesper pushed open the door to the stables, he felt some small thing inside him relax. The smell of the hay, the shift of animals in their stalls, the nickering of the horses brought back memories of Novyi Zem. In Ketterdam, the canals rendered most coaches and wagons unnecessary. Horses were a luxury, an indulgence to show that you had the space to keep them and the wealth to care for them. He hadn’t realized how much he missed simply being around animals.

But there was no time for nostalgia or to stop and stroke a velvety nose. He strode past the stalls and into the tack room. Matthias hoisted a massive coil of rope over each shoulder. He looked surprised when Jesper managed two as well.

“Grew up on a farm,” Jesper explained.

“You don’t look it.”

“Sure, I’m skinny,” he said as they hurried back through the stables, “but I stay drier in the rain.”

“How?”

“Less falls on me.”

“Are all of Kaz’s associates as strange as this crew?” Matthias asked.

“Oh, you should meet the rest of the Dregs. They make us look like Fjerdans.”

They passed through the showers and, instead of continuing to the holding area, turned down a tight flight of stairs and the long dark hall that led to the basement. They were under the main prison now, five stories of cellblock, prisoners, and guards stacked on top of them.

Jesper had expected the rest of the crew to be collecting demo supplies in the big laundry room already. But all he saw were giant tin tubs, long tables for folding, and clothes left to dry overnight on racks taller than he was.

They found Wylan and Inej in the refuse room. It was smaller than the laundry and stank of garbage. Two big rolling bins full of discarded clothes were pushed against one wall, waiting to be burnt. Jesper felt the heat emanating from the incinerator as soon as they entered.

“We have a problem,” Wylan said.

“How bad?” Jesper asked, dumping his coils of rope on the floor.

Inej gestured to a pair of big metal doors set into what looked like a giant chimney that jutted out from the wall and stretched all the way up to the ceiling. “I think they ran the incinerator this afternoon.”

“You said they ran it in the mornings,” he said to Matthias.

“They used to.”

When Jesper grabbed the doors’ leather-covered handles and pulled them open, he was hit by a blast of searing air. It carried the black and acrid smell of coal—and something else, a chemical smell, maybe something they added to make the fires burn hotter. It wasn’t unpleasant. This was where all the refuse from the prisons was disposed of—kitchen leavings, buckets of human filth, the clothing stripped from prisoners, but whatever the Fjerdans had added to the fuel burned hot enough to sear any foulness away. He leaned in, already beginning to sweat. Far below, he saw the incinerator coals, banked but still pulsing with an angry red glow.