Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
Once Kaz was done, he’d let himself check the treasury perimeter, the roof, the entry, but eventually there was nothing for him to do but keep hidden, stay alert, and worry about all the things that might be going wrong. He remembered Inej standing on the embassy roof, aglow with some new fervor he didn’t understand but could still recognize—purpose. It had suffused her with light. I’m taking my share, and I’m leaving the Dregs. When she’d talked about leaving Ketterdam before, he’d never quite believed her. This time was different.
He’d been hidden in the shadows of the western colonnade when the bells of Black Protocol had begun to ring, the chimes of the Elderclock booming over the island, shaking the air. Lights from the guard towers came on in a bright flood. The drüskelle around the ash left off their rituals and began shouting orders, and a wave of guards descended from the towers to spread out over the island. He’d waited, counting the minutes, but there was still no sign of Nina or Matthias. They’re in trouble, Kaz had thought. Or you were dead wrong about Matthias, and you’re about to pay for all of those talking tree jokes.
He had to get inside the treasury, but he’d need some kind of cover while he picked that inscrutable lock, and there were drüskelle everywhere. Then he saw Nina and Matthias and a person he assumed must be Bo Yul-Bayur running from the treasury. He’d been about to call out to them when the explosion hit, and everything went to hell.
They blew up the lab, he’d thought as debris rained down around him. I definitely did not tell them to blow up the lab.
The rest was pure improvisation, and it left little time for explanation. All Kaz had told Matthias was to meet him by the ash when Black Protocol began to ring. He’d thought he’d have time to explain more before they were all falling through the dark. Now he just had to hope that they wouldn’t panic and that his luck was waiting somewhere below.
The fall seemed impossibly long. Kaz hoped the Shu boy he was holding on to was a surprisingly young Bo Yul-Bayur and not some hapless prisoner Nina and Matthias had decided to liberate. He’d shoved the disk into the boy’s mouth as they went over, snapping it with his own fingers. He gave the whip a flick, releasing all of the cables, and heard the others scream as the strands retracted. At least they wouldn’t go into the water bound. Kaz waited as long as he dared to bite into his own baleen. When he struck the icy water, he feared his heart might stop.
He wasn’t sure what he’d expected, but the force of the river was terrifying, flowing fast and hard as an avalanche. The noise was deafening even beneath the water, but with fear also came a kind of giddy vindication. He’d been right.
The Voice of God. There was always truth in legend. Kaz had spent enough time building his own myth to know. He’d wondered where the water that fed the Ice Court’s moat and fountains came from, why the river gorge was so very deep and wide. As soon as Nina had described the drüskelle initiation ritual, he’d known: The Fjerdan stronghold hadn’t been built around a great tree but around a spring. Djel, the wellspring, who fed the seas and rains, and the roots of the sacred ash.