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Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)

One day Rollins would come to Kaz on his knees, begging for help. If Kaz managed this job for Van Eck, that day would come much sooner than he ever could have hoped. Brick by brick, I will destroy you.

But if Kaz had any hope of getting into the Ice Court, he needed the right crew, and the next hour’s business would bring him a step closer to securing two very vital pieces of the puzzle.

He turned onto a walkway bordering one of the smaller canals. The tourists and merchers liked to keep to well-lit thoroughfares, so the foot traffic here was sparser, and he made better time. Soon, the lights and music of West Stave came into view, the canal choked with men and women of every class and country seeking diversion.

Music floated out of parlors where the doors had been flung open, and men and women lounged on couches in little more than scraps of silk and gaudy baubles. Acrobats dangled from cords over the canal, lithe bodies garbed in nothing but glitter, while street performers played their fiddles, hoping to garner a coin or two from passersby. Hawkers shouted at the sleek private gondels of rich merchers in the canal and the larger browboats that brought tourists and sailors inland from the Lid.

A lot of tourists never entered the brothels of West Stave. They just came to watch the crowd, which was a sight in itself. Many people chose to visit this part of the Barrel in disguise—in veils or masks or capes with nothing but the glint of their eyes visible. They bought their costumes in one of the specialty shops off the main canals, and sometimes disappeared from their companions for a day or a week, or however long their funds held out. They dressed as Mister Crimson or the Lost Bride, or wore the grotesque, goggle-eyed mask of the Madman—all characters from the Komedie Brute. And then there were the Jackals, a group of rowdy men and boys who cavorted through the Barrel in the red lacquered masks of Suli fortune-tellers.

Kaz remembered when Inej had first seen the jackal masks in a shop window. She hadn’t been able to contain her contempt. “Real Suli fortune-tellers are rare. They’re holy men and women. These masks that are handed around like party favors are sacred symbols.”

“I’ve seen Suli tellers ply their trade in caravans and pleasure ships, Inej. They didn’t seem so very holy.”

“They are pretenders. Making themselves clowns for you and your ilk.”

“My ilk?” Kaz had laughed.

She’d waved her hand in disgust. “Shevrati,” she’d said. “Know-nothings. They’re laughing at you behind those masks.”

“Not at me, Inej. I’d never lay down good coin to be told my future by anyone—fraud or holy man.”

“Fate has plans for us all, Kaz.”

“Was it fate that took you from your family and stuck you in a pleasure house in Ketterdam? Or was it just very bad luck?”

“I’m not sure yet,” she’d said coldly.