Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
It was a good thing, too. If not for Kaz Brekker, Rollins would still be sitting in a cell in that damned Fjerdan prison waiting for another round of torture—or maybe looking down from a pike atop the ringwall.
When Brekker had picked the lock on his prison cell door, Rollins hadn’t known if he was about to be rescued or assassinated. He’d heard plenty about Kaz Brekker since he’d risen to prominence in the Dregs—that sorry outfit Per Haskell called a gang—and he’d seen him around the Barrel a few times. The boy had come from nowhere and been a slew of trouble since. But he was still just a lieutenant, not a general, a terrier nipping at Rollins’ ankles.
“Hello, Brekker,” Rollins had said. “Come to gloat?”
“Not exactly. You know me?”
Rollins had shrugged. “Sure, you’re the little skiv who keeps stealing my customers.”
The look that passed over the boy’s face then had taken Rollins aback. It was hatred—pure, black, long simmering. What have I ever done to this little pissant? But in seconds the look was gone, and Rollins wondered if he’d imagined it altogether.
“What do you want, Brekker?”
The boy had stood there, something bleak and mad in his gaze. “I want to do you a favor.”
Rollins noted Brekker’s bare feet and prison clothes, the hands shorn of his legendary black gloves—a ridiculous affectation. “You don’t look like you’re in a position to do anyone favors, kid.”
“I’m going to leave this door unlocked. You’re not stupid enough to go after Bo Yul-Bayur without a crew to back you. Wait for your moment and get out.”
“Why the hell would you help me?”
“You weren’t meant to die here.”
Somehow it sounded like a curse.
“I owe you, Brekker,” Rollins had said as the boy exited his cell, hardly believing his luck.
Brekker had glanced back at him, his dark eyes like caverns. “Don’t worry, Rollins. You’ll pay.”
And apparently the boy had come to collect. He stood in the middle of Rollins’ opulent office looking like a dark blot of ink, his face grim, his hands resting on a crow-handled walking stick. Rollins wasn’t surprised to see him, exactly. Word had it that the exchange between Brekker and Van Eck had gone sour and that Van Eck had eyes on the Slat and the rest of Kaz Brekker’s haunts. But Van Eck wasn’t watching the Emerald Palace. He had no reason to. Rollins wasn’t even sure the merch knew he had made it back from Fjerda alive.
When Brekker finished explaining the bare bones of the situation, Rollins shrugged and said, “You got double-crossed. You want my advice, give Kuwei to Van Eck and be done with it.”
“I’m not here for advice.”
“The merchers like the taxes we pay. They let the occasional bank heist or house break slide, but they expect us to stay here in the Barrel and leave them to their business. You go to war with Van Eck, and all that changes.”