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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

“If we don’t survive this night, I will die unafraid, Kaz. Can you say the same?”

His eyes were nearly black, the pupils dilated. She could see it took every last bit of his terrible will for him to remain still beneath her touch. And yet, he did not pull away. She knew it was the best he could offer. It was not enough.

She dropped her hand. He took a deep breath.

Kaz had said he didn’t want her prayers and she wouldn’t speak them, but she wished him safe nonetheless. She had her aim now, her heart had direction, and though it hurt to know that path led away from him, she could endure it.

*   *   *

 

Inej joined Nina at the edge of the dome to await the arrival of the Menagerie. The dome was wide and shallow, all silver filigree and glass. Inej saw there was a mosaic on the floor of the vast rotunda below. It appeared in brief flashes between partygoers—two wolves chasing each other, destined to move in circles for as long as the Ice Court stood.

The guests entering through the grand archway were being shepherded into rooms off the rotunda in small groups to be searched for weapons. Inej saw guards emerge with little piles of brooches, porcupine quills, even sashes that Inej assumed must contain metal or wire.

“You don’t have to do this, you know,” said Nina. “You don’t have to put those silks on again.”

“I’ve done worse.”

“I know. You scaled six stories of hell for us.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

Nina paused. “I know that, too.” She hesitated, then said, “Is the haul so important to you?” Inej was surprised to hear what sounded like guilt in Nina’s voice.

The Elderclock began to chime nine bells. Inej looked down at the wolves chasing each other around the rotunda floor. “I’m not sure why I began this,” she admitted. “But I know why I have to finish. I know why fate brought me here, why it placed me in the path of this prize.”

She was being vague, but she wasn’t yet ready to speak the dream that had ignited in her heart—a crew of her own, a ship under her command, a crusade. It felt like something that was meant to be kept secret, a new seed that might grow to something extraordinary if it wasn’t forced to bloom too soon. She didn’t even know how to sail. And yet a part of her wanted to tell Nina all of it. If Nina didn’t choose to go back to Ravka, a Heartrender would be an excellent addition to her crew.

“They’re here,” Nina said.

The girls of the Menagerie entered through the rotunda doors in a wedge formation, their gowns glittering in the candlelight, the hoods of their capes shadowing their faces. Each hood was fashioned to represent an animal—a Zemeni fawn with soft ears and delicate white spots, a Kaelish mare with an auburn topknot, a Shu serpent with beaded red scales, a Ravkan fox, a leopard from the Southern Colonies, a raven, an ermine, and of course the Suli lynx. The tall blonde girl who played the role of the Fjerdan wolf in silvery furs was notably absent.