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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

He looked at Kaz Brekker, a boy whose only cause was himself. Still, he was a survivor, and his own kind of soldier. He had honored his bargain with Matthias. At any point, he might have decided that Matthias had served his purpose—once he’d helped them draw up the plans, once they’d gotten past the holding cells, once Matthias had revealed the secret bridge. And whoever he’d become, Matthias was not going to shoot someone unarmed. He’d not yet sunk so far.

Matthias lowered his weapon.

A faint smile touched Kaz’s lips. “I wasn’t sure what you’d do if it came down to this.”

“Neither was I,” Matthias admitted. Kaz lifted a brow, and the truth struck Matthias with the force of a blow. “It was a test. You chose not to pick up the rifle.”

“I needed to be sure you were really with us. All of us.”

“How did you know I wouldn’t shoot?”

“Because, Matthias, you stink of decency.”

“You’re mad.”

“Do you know the secret to gambling, Helvar?” Kaz brought his good foot down on the butt of the fallen soldier’s rifle. The gun flipped up. Kaz had it in his hands and pointed at Matthias in the space of a breath. He’d never been in any danger at all. “Cheat. Now let’s clean up and get those uniforms on. We have a party to go to.”

“One day you’ll run out of tricks, demjin.”

“You’d better hope it’s not today.”

We’ll see what this night brings, Matthias thought as he bent to the task. Trickery is not my native tongue, but I may learn to speak it yet.

 

 

 

30

 

JESPER

 

NINE BELLS AND QUARTER CHIME

 

Jesper knew he should be mad at Kaz—for going after Pekka Rollins and blowing their first plan to bits, and for pushing them into deeper danger with this new scheme. But as he and Wylan crept along the drüskelle roof toward the gatehouse, he was too damn happy to be mad. His heart was pounding, and adrenaline crackled through his body in delicious spikes. It was a little like a party he’d once gone to on West Stave. Someone had filled a city fountain with champagne, and it had taken about two seconds for Jesper to dive in with boots off and gullet open. Now it was risk filling up his nose and mouth, making him feel giddy and invincible. He loved it, and he hated himself for loving it. He should be thinking about the job, the money, getting out from under his debt, making sure his father didn’t suffer for his antics. But when Jesper’s mind even brushed up against those thoughts, everything in him recoiled. Trying not to die was the best possible distraction.

Even so, Jesper was more conscious of the sounds they made now that they were away from the crowds and chaos of the embassy. This night belonged to the drüskelle. Hringkälla was their holiday, and they were all safely ensconced on the White Island. This building was probably the safest place for him and Wylan to be at the moment. But the silence here seemed weighted, sinister. There were no willows or fountains here, as there had been at the embassy. Like the prison, this part of the Ice Court wasn’t intended for public eyes. Jesper caught himself nervously wiggling the baleen wedged between his teeth with his tongue and forced himself to stop before he triggered it. He was fairly sure Wylan would never let him forget a blunder like that.