Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
“How did you know I would get to Van Daal in time?” she asked.
“Because you always do.”
“You should have given me more warning.”
“I thought your Saints would appreciate the challenge.”
For a while she said nothing, then from somewhere behind him he heard her. “Men mock the gods until they need them, Kaz.”
He didn’t see her go, only sensed her absence.
Kaz gave an irritated shake of his head. To say he trusted Inej would be stretching the point, but he could admit to himself that he’d come to rely on her. It had been a gut decision to pay off her indenture with the Menagerie, and it had cost the Dregs sorely. Per Haskell had needed convincing, but Inej was one of the best investments Kaz had ever made. That she was so very good at remaining unseen made her an excellent thief of secrets, the best in the Barrel. But the fact that she could simply erase herself bothered him. She didn’t even have a scent. All people carried scents, and those scents told stories—the hint of carbolic on a woman’s fingers or woodsmoke in her hair, the wet wool of a man’s suit, or the tinge of gunpowder lingering in his shirt cuffs. But not Inej. She’d somehow mastered invisibility. She was a valuable asset. So why couldn’t she just do her job and spare him her moods?
Suddenly, Kaz knew he wasn’t alone. He paused, listening. He’d cut through a tight alley split by a murky canal. There were no streetlamps here and little foot traffic, nothing but the bright moon and the smallboats bumping against their moorings. He’d dropped his guard, let his mind give in to distraction.
A man’s dark shape appeared at the head of the alley.
“What business?” Kaz asked.
The shape lunged at him. Kaz swung his cane in a low arc. It should have made direct contact with his attacker’s legs, but instead it sailed through empty space. Kaz stumbled, thrown off balance by the force of his swing.
Then, somehow, the man was standing right in front of him. A fist connected with Kaz’s jaw. Kaz shook off the stars that rocketed through his head. He spun back around and swung again. But no one was there. The weighted head of Kaz’s walking stick whooshed through nothing and cracked against the wall.
Kaz felt the cane torn from his hands by someone on his right. Was there more than one of them?
And then a figure stepped through the wall. Kaz’s mind stuttered and reeled, trying to explain what he was seeing as a cluster of mist became a cloak, boots, the pale flash of a face.
Ghosts, Kaz thought. A boy’s fear, but it came with absolute surety. Jordie had come for his vengeance at last. It’s time to pay your debts, Kaz. You never get something for nothing.
The thought passed through Kaz’s mind in a humiliating, gibbering wave of panic, then the phantom was upon him, and he felt the sharp jab of a needle in his neck. A ghost with a syringe?