Chapter no 43

Six of Crows

The aches set in after dawn. An hour later, it felt as if her bones were trying to push through the places where her joints met. She lay on the same table where she’d healed Inej’s knife wound. Her senses were still sharp enough that she could smell the coppery scent of the Suli girl’s blood beneath the cleaner Rotty had used to remove it from the wood. It smelled like Inej.

Matthias sat beside her. He’d tried to take her hand, but the pain was too great. The chafe of his skin on hers made her flesh feel raw. Everything looked wrong. Everything felt wrong. All she could think of was the sweet, burnt taste of the parem. Her throat itched. Her skin felt like an enemy.

When the tremors began, she begged him to leave.

“I don’t want you to see me like this,” she said, trying to roll on her side.

He brushed the damp hair from her brow. “How bad is it?” “Bad.” But she knew it would get worse.

“Do you want to try the jurda?” Kuwei had suggested that small doses of regular jurda might help Nina get through the day.

She shook her head. “I want … I want – Saints, why is it so hot in here?” Then, despite the pain, she tried to sit up. “Don’t give me another dose. Whatever I say, Matthias, no matter how much I beg. I don’t want to be like Nestor, like those Grisha in the cells.”

“Nina, Kuwei said the withdrawal could kill you. I won’t let you die.” Kuwei. Back at the treasury Matthias had said, He’s one of us. She liked that word. Us. A word without divisions or borders. It seemed full

of hope.

She flopped back down, and her whole body rebelled. Her clothes were crushed glass. “I would have killed every one of the drüskelle.”

“We all carry our sins, Nina. I need you to live so I can atone for mine.”

“You can do that without me, you know.”

He buried his head in his hands. “I don’t want to.”

“Matthias,” she said, running her fingers through the close crop of his hair. It hurt. The world hurt. Touching him hurt, but she still did it. She might not ever get to again. “I am not sorry.”

He took her hand and kissed her knuckles gently. She winced, but when he tried to pull away, she clutched him tighter.

“Stay,” she panted. Tears leaked from her eyes. “Stay till the end.” “And after,” he said. “And always.”

“I want to feel safe again. I want to go home to Ravka.”

“Then I’ll take you there. We’ll set fire to raisins or whatever you heathens do for fun.”

“Zealot,” she said weakly. “Witch.”


“Nina,” he whispered, “little red bird. Don’t go.”

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