The Ulle nodded. “We’ll need to leave here,” he said. “Word will travel after what we’ve done this night. There will be consequences.”

Eryk’s mother pressed a damp towel to his forehead. “As soon as he’s strong enough to travel, we’ll go.”

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“You have a place with us, Lena. It’s safer to travel together—”

“You promised us safety once before, Ulle.”

“I thought—I believed it was mine to offer. But maybe there is no safe place for our kind. I must go see to my wife—” His voice broke. “And Lev. Forgive me,” he said, and lurched through the doorway.

There was silence in the hut. Eryk’s mother wetted the cloth again, wrung it out. “That was very smart,” she said at last. “To use the Cut on yourself.”

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“She froze the lake,” he rasped.

“Clever girl. Can you take another sip of water?”

He managed it, his head spinning.

When he could find the strength, he asked, “The village?”

“They would not give up the riders who attacked you, so we killed them all.”

“All?”

“Every man, woman, and child. Then we burned their houses to the ground.”

He closed his eyes. “I’m sorry.”

She gave him the barest shake, forcing him to look at her. “I’m not. Do you understand me? I would burn a thousand villages, sacrifice a thousand lives to keep you safe. It would be us on that pyre if you hadn’t thought quickly.” Then her shoulders slumped. “But I cannot hate that boy and girl for what they tried to do. The way we live, the way we’re forced to live—it makes us desperate.”

The lamp burned low and finally sputtered out. His mother dozed.

Outside, he heard sad voices lifted in songs of mourning as the funeral pyre burned and the Grisha offered prayers for Annika, for Lev, for the otkazat’sya in the smoking ruins of the valley below.

His mother must have heard them too. “The Ulle is right,” she said. “There is no safe place. There is no haven. Not for us.”

He understood then. The Grisha lived as shadows did, passing over the surface of the world, touching nothing, forced to change their shapes and hide in corners, driven by fear as shadows were driven by the sun. No safe place. No haven.

There will be, he promised in the darkness, new words written upon his heart. I will make one.

SIX DANGEROUS OUTCASTS.

ONE IMPOSSIBLE HEIST.

Read on for an excerpt from Leigh Bardugo’s

SIX OF CROWS

Available September 29, 2015

Copyright ? 2015 by Leigh Bardugo

PART 1

SHADOW BUSINESS

1

Joost

Joost had two problems: the moon and his mustache.

He was supposed to be making his rounds at the Hoede house, but for the last fifteen minutes, he’d been hovering around the southeast wall of the gardens, trying to think of something clever and romantic to say to Anya.

If only Anya’s eyes were blue like the sea or green like an emerald. Instead, her eyes were brown—lovely, dreamy … melted chocolate brown? Rabbit fur brown?

“Just tell her she’s got skin like moonlight,” his friend Pieter had said. “Girls love that.”

A perfect solution, but the Ketterdam weather was not cooperating. There’d been no breeze off the harbor that day, and a gray milk fog had wreathed the city’s canals and crooked alleys in damp. Even here among the mansions of the Geldstraat, the air hung thick with the smell of fish and bilge water, and smoke from the refineries on the city’s outer islands had smeared the night sky in a briny haze. The full moon looked less like a jewel than a yellowy blister in need of lancing.

Maybe he could compliment Anya’s laugh? Except he’d never heard her laugh. He wasn’t very good with jokes.

Joost glanced at his reflection in one of the glass panels set into the double doors that led from the house to the side garden. His mother was right. Even in his new uniform, he still looked like a baby. Gently, he brushed his finger along his upper lip. If only his mustache would come in. It definitely felt thicker than yesterday.

He’d been a guard in the stadwatch less than six weeks, and it wasn’t nearly as exciting as he’d hoped. He thought he’d be running down thieves in the Barrel or patrolling the harbors, getting first look at cargo coming in on the docks. But ever since the assassination of that ambassador at the town hall, the Merchant Council had been grumbling about security, so where was he? Stuck walking in circles at some lucky mercher’s house. Not just any mercher, though. Councilman Hoede was about as high placed in Ketterdam government as a man could be. The kind of man who could make a career.

Joost adjusted the set of his coat and rifle, then patted the weighted baton at his hip. Maybe Hoede would take a liking to him. Sharp-eyed and quick with the cudgel, Hoede would say. That fellow deserves a promotion.

“Sergeant Joost van Poel,” he whispered, savoring the sound of the words. “Captain Joost van Poel.”

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