Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
“This isn’t going to work,” Nina said in frustration. “I can match the damage to Helvar’s body, but I’m not a good enough Tailor to make Muzzen look like him.”
“Just trust me, Nina.”
“I wouldn’t trust you to tie my shoes without stealing the laces, Kaz.” She peered at Muzzen’s face. “Even if I swell him up, he’ll never pass.”
“Tonight, Matthias Helvar—or rather, our dear Muzzen—is going to appear to contract firepox, the lupine strain, carried by wolves and dogs alike. Tomorrow morning, when his guards discover him so covered in pustules that he is unrecognizable, he will be quarantined for a month to see if he survives the fever and to outwait the contagion. Meanwhile Matthias will be with us. Get it?”
“You want me to make Muzzen look like he has firepox?”
“Yes, and do it quickly, Nina, because in about ten minutes, things are going to get very hectic around here.”
Nina stared at him. What was Kaz planning? “No matter what I do to him, it won’t last a month. I can’t give him a permanent fever.”
“My contact in the infirmary will make sure he stays sick enough. We just need to get him through diagnosis. Now get to work.”
Nina looked Muzzen up and down. “This is going to hurt just as much as if you’d been in the fight yourself,” she warned.
He scrunched up his face, bracing for the pain. “I can take it.”
She rolled her eyes, then lifted her hands, concentrating. With a sharp slice of her right hand over her left, she snapped Muzzen’s ribs.
He let out a grunt and doubled over.
“That’s a good boy,” said Kaz. “Taking it like a champion. Knuckles next, then face.”
Nina spread bruises and cuts over Muzzen’s knuckles and arms, matching the wounds to Inej’s descriptions.
“I’ve never seen firepox up close,” Nina said. She was only familiar with illustrations from books they’d used in their anatomy training at the Little Palace.
“Count yourself lucky,” Kaz said grimly. “Hurry it up.”
She worked from memory, swelling and cracking the skin on Muzzen’s face and chest, raising blisters until the swelling and pustules were so bad that he was truly unrecognizable. The big man moaned.
“Why would you agree to do this?” Nina murmured.
The swollen flesh of Muzzen’s face quivered, and Nina thought he might be trying to smile. “Money was good,” he said thickly.
She sighed. Why else did anyone do anything in the Barrel? “Good enough to get locked up in Hellgate?”
Kaz tapped his cane on the cell floor. “Stop making trouble, Nina. If Helvar cooperates, he and Muzzen will both have their freedom just as soon as the job is done.”
“And if he doesn’t?”
“Then Helvar gets locked back in his cell, and Muzzen still gets paid. And I’ll take him to breakfast at the Kooperom.”
“Can I have waffles?” Muzzen mumbled.
“We’ll all have waffles. And whiskey. If this job doesn’t come off, no one’s going to want to be around me sober. Finished, Nina?”