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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

In each place he went, in each bar and flophouse and brothel and squat, he asked after Jakob Hertzoon, but if anyone knew the name, they refused to admit it.

Then, one day, Kaz was crossing a bridge over East Stave when he saw a man with florid cheeks and tufty sideburns entering a gin shop. He wasn’t wearing staid mercher black any longer, but garish striped trousers and a maroon paisley vest. His velvet coat was bottle green.

Kaz pushed through the crowd, mind buzzing, heart racing, unsure of what he meant to do, but at the door to the shop, a giant bruiser in a bowler hat stopped him with one meaty hand.

“Shop’s closed.”

“I can see it’s open.” Kaz’s voice sounded wrong to him—reedy, unfamiliar.

“You’ll have to wait.”

“I need to see Jakob Hertzoon.”

“Who?”

Kaz felt like he was about to climb out of his skin. He pointed through the window. “Jakob fucking Hertzoon. I want to talk to him.”

The bruiser had looked at Kaz as if he were deranged. “Get your head straight, lad,” he’d said. “That ain’t no Hertzoon. That’s Pekka Rollins. Want to get anywhere in the Barrel, you’d best learn his name.”

Kaz knew Pekka Rollins’ name. Everyone did. He’d just never seen the man.

At that moment, Rollins turned toward the window. Kaz waited for acknowledgment—a smirk, a sneer, some spark of recognition. But Rollins’ eyes passed right over him. One more mark. One more cull. Why would he remember?

Kaz had been courted by any number of gangs who liked his way with his fists and the cards. He’d always said no. He’d come to the Barrel to find Hertzoon and punish him, not to join some makeshift family. But learning that his real target was Pekka Rollins changed everything. That night, he lay awake on the floor of the squat he’d holed up in and thought of what he wanted, of what would finally make things right for Jordie. Pekka Rollins had taken everything from Kaz. If Kaz intended to do the same to Rollins, he would need to become his equal and then his better, and he couldn’t do it alone. He needed a gang, and not just any gang, but one that needed him. The next day he’d walked into the Slat and asked Per Haskell if he could use another soldier. He’d known even then, though: He’d start as a grunt, but the Dregs would become his army.

*   *   *

 

Had all of those steps brought him here tonight? To these dark corridors? It was hardly the vengeance he’d dreamed of.

The rows of cells stretched on and on, infinite, impossible. There was no way he would find Rollins in time. But it was only impossible until it wasn’t, until he sighted that big frame, that florid face through the grate in an iron door. It was only impossible until he was standing in front of Pekka Rollins’ cell.

He was on his side, sleeping. Someone had given him a bad beating. Kaz watched the rise and fall of his chest.