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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

When Matthias pulled away, Brum had slipped into unconsciousness, but Matthias did not think he imagined the rage that lingered on his mentor’s features. He made himself memorize it. It was right that he should remember that look. He was a true traitor at last, and he should carry the burden of it.

When they’d entered the great ballroom, Matthias and Kaz had staked out a shadowy nook near the stairs. They’d watched Nina enter in that outrageous gown of shimmering scales—and then Matthias had spotted Brum. The shock of seeing his mentor alive had been followed by the terrible realization that Brum was following Nina.

“Brum knows,” he’d said to Kaz. “We have to help her.”

“Be smart, Helvar. You can save her and get us Yul-Bayur, too.”

Matthias had nodded and plunged into the crowd. “Decency,” he’d heard Kaz mutter behind him. “Like cheap cologne.”

He’d waylaid Brum by the stairs. “Sir—”

“Not now.”

Matthias had been forced to step right in front of him. “Sir.”

Brum had halted then. His face had shown anger at being stopped, then confusion, and then wondering disbelief. “Matthias?” he’d whispered.

“Please, sir,” Matthias had said hurriedly. “Just give me a moment to explain. There is a Grisha here tonight intent on assassinating one of your prisoners. If you’ll bear with me, I can explain the plot and how it can be stopped.”

Brum had signaled to another drüskelle to watch Nina, and shepherded Matthias into an alcove beneath the stairs. “Speak,” he’d said, and Matthias had told him the truth—a bare sliver of it: his escape from the shipwreck, his near drowning, Nina’s false charge of slavery, his captivity in Hellgate, and then the promise of the pardon. He’d blamed it all on Nina, and said nothing of Kaz or the others. When Brum had asked if Nina was alone in her mission, he’d simply said he didn’t know.

“She believes I’m waiting to escort her over the secret bridge. I broke away as soon as I could and came to find you.”

A part of him was disgusted by how easily the lies came to his lips, but he would not leave Nina at Brum’s mercy.

He looked at Brum now, mouth slightly open in sleep. One of the things he’d respected most in his mentor was his mercilessness, his willingness to do hard things for the sake of the cause. But Brum had taken pleasure in what he’d done to these Grisha, what he would have gladly done to Nina and Jesper. Maybe the hard things had never been difficult for Brum the way they’d been for Matthias. They had not been a sacred duty, performed reluctantly for the sake of Fjerda. They had been a joy.

Matthias slipped the master key from around Brum’s neck and dragged him into an empty cell, propping him up against the wall in a seated position. Matthias hated to leave him there, chin flopped on his chest, legs sprawled in front of him, without dignity. He hated the thought of the shame that would come to him, a warrior betrayed by someone to whom he’d given his trust and affection. He knew that pain well.