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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

“Let me go and I’ll explain.”

“You can explain right where you are.”

Van Eck huffed a short, shaky breath. “What you’re seeing are the effects of jurda parem.”

Jurda is a just a stimulant.” The little dried blossoms were grown in Novyi Zem and sold in shops all over Ketterdam. In his early days in the Dregs, Kaz had chewed them to stay alert during stakeouts. It had stained his teeth orange for days after. “It’s harmless,” he said.

Jurda parem is something completely different, and it is most definitely not harmless.”

“So you did drug me.”

“Not you, Mister Brekker. Mikka.”

Kaz took in the sickly pallor of the Grisha’s face. He had dark hollows beneath his eyes, and the fragile, trembling build of someone who had missed several meals and didn’t seem to care.

Jurda parem is a cousin to ordinary jurda,” Van Eck continued. “It comes from the same plant. We’re not sure of the process by which the drug is made, but a sample of it was sent to the Kerch Merchant Council by a scientist named Bo Yul-Bayur.”

“Shu?”

“Yes. He wished to defect, so he sent us a sample to convince us of his claims regarding the drug’s extraordinary effects. Please, Mister Brekker, this is a most uncomfortable position. If you’d like, I will give you a pistol, and we can sit and discuss this in more civilized fashion.”

“A pistol and my cane.”

Van Eck gestured to one of his guards, who exited the room and returned a moment later with Kaz’s walking stick—Kaz was just glad he used the damn door.

“Pistol first,” Kaz said. “Slowly.” The guard unholstered his weapon and handed it to Kaz by the grip. Kaz grabbed and cocked it in one quick movement, then released Van Eck, tossed the letter opener onto the desk, and snatched his cane from the guard’s hand. The pistol was more useful, but the cane brought Kaz a relief he didn’t care to quantify.

Van Eck took a few steps backward, putting distance between himself and Kaz’s loaded gun. He didn’t seem eager to sit. Neither was Kaz, so he kept close to the window, ready to bolt if need be.

Van Eck took a deep breath and tried to set his suit to rights. “That cane is quite a piece of hardware, Mister Brekker. Is it Fabrikator made?”

It was, in fact, the work of a Grisha Fabrikator, lead-lined and perfectly weighted for breaking bones. “None of your business. Get talking, Van Eck.”

The mercher cleared his throat. “When Bo Yul-Bayur sent us the sample of jurda parem, we fed it to three Grisha, one from each Order.”

“Happy volunteers?”

“Indentures,” Van Eck conceded. “The first two were a Fabrikator and a Healer indentured to Councilman Hoede. Mikka is a Tidemaker. He’s mine. You’ve seen what he can do using the drug.”

Hoede. Why did that name ring a bell?

“I don’t know what I’ve seen,” Kaz said as he glanced at Mikka. The boy’s gaze was focused intently on Van Eck as if awaiting his next command. Or maybe another fix.