Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Read Online (FREE)
Behind them, she saw the little schooner Kaz had commandeered, Ferolind written in bold script on its side. It would fly the purple Kerch fishes and the colorful flag of the Haanraadt Bay Company. To anyone in Fjerda or on the True Sea, they would simply look like Kerch trappers heading north for skins and furs. Inej quickened her pace. If she hadn’t been running late, they probably would have been aboard or even on their way out of the harbor already.
They would keep a minimal crew, all former sailors who had made their way into the ranks of the Dregs through one misfortune or another. Through the mists, she made a quick count of the waiting group. The number was off. They’d brought on four additional members of the Dregs to help sail the schooner since none of them really knew their way around the rigging, but she didn’t see any of them. Maybe they’re already on board? But even as she had the thought, her boot landed on something soft, and she stumbled.
She looked down. In the dim glow of the harbor gaslights, she saw Dirix, one of the Dregs who’d been meant to make the journey with them. There was a knife in his abdomen, and his eyes were glassy.
“Kaz!” she shouted.
But it was too late. The schooner exploded, knocking Inej off her feet and showering the docks in flame.
Jesper always felt better when people were shooting at him. It wasn’t that he liked the idea of dying (in fact, that potential outcome was a definite drawback), but if he was worrying about staying alive, he couldn’t be thinking about anything else. That sound—the swift, shocking report of gunfire—called the scattered, irascible, permanently seeking part of his mind into focus like nothing else. It was better than being at the tables and waiting for the flop, better than standing at Makker’s Wheel and seeing his number come up. He’d discovered it in his first fight on the Zemeni frontier. His father had been sweating, trembling, barely able to load his rifle. But Jesper had found his calling.
Now he braced his arms on the top of the crate where he’d taken cover and let loose with both barrels. His weapons were Zemeni-made revolvers that could fire six shots in rapid succession, unmatched by anything in Ketterdam. He felt them getting hot in his hands.
Kaz had warned them to anticipate competition, other teams bent on gaining the prize at any cost, but this was early in the job for things to be going so badly. They were surrounded, at least one man down, a burning ship at their backs. They’d lost their transportation to Fjerda, and if the shots raining down on them were any indication, they were seriously outnumbered. He supposed it could have been worse; they could have been on the boat when it exploded.
Jesper crouched down to reload and couldn’t quite believe the sight that met his eyes. Wylan Van Eck was actually curled up on the dock, his soft mercher’s hands thrown over his head. Jesper heaved a sigh, lay down a few shots for cover, and lunged out from behind the sweet security of his crate. He seized Wylan by the collar of his shirt and yanked him back to shelter.