Mistborn the final empi.., p.102
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.102

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
Page 102

  An iron bar hit the Inquisitor in the face.

  The creature stumbled, blood marring the tattoos on the side of its face. A steel helmet struck it in the side, tossing it backward.

  Kelsier began to shoot pieces of metal quickly, feeling his rage and anger mount. “Were you the one who killed Marsh?” he yelled, not bothering to listen for an answer. “Were you there when I was condemned, years ago?”

  The Inquisitor raised a warding hand, Pushing away the next swarm of metals. It limped backward, putting its back against the overturned wooden cart.

  Kelsier heard the creature growl, and a sudden Push of strength washed through the crowd, toppling soldiers, causing Kelsier’s metal weapons to shoot away.

  Kelsier let them go. He dashed forward, rushing the disoriented Inquisitor, scooping up a loose cobblestone.

  The creature turned toward him, and Kelsier yelled, swinging the cobblestone, his strength fueled almost more by rage than by pewter.

  He hit the Inquisitor square in the eyes. The creature’s head snapped back, smacking against the bottom of the overturned cart. Kelsier struck again, yelling, repeatedly smashing his cobblestone into the creature’s face.

  The Inquisitor howled in pain, reaching clawlike hands for Kelsier, moving as if to jump forward. Then it suddenly jerked to a stop, its head stuck against the cart’s wood. The spike tips that jutted from the back of its skull had been pounded into the wood by Kelsier’s attack.

  Kelsier smiled as the creature screamed in rage, struggling to pull its head free from the wood. Kelsier turned to the side, seeking an item he had seen on the ground a few moments before. He kicked over a corpse, snatching the obsidian axe off the ground, its rough-chipped blade glittering in the red sunlight.

  “I’m glad you talked me into this,” he said quietly. Then he swung with a two-handed blow, slamming the axehead through the Inquisitor’s neck and into the wood behind.

  The Inquisitor’s body slumped to the cobblestones. The head remained where it was, staring out with its eerie, tattooed, unnatural gaze—pinned to the wood by its own spikes.

  Kelsier turned to face the crowd, suddenly feeling incredibly wearied. His body ached from dozens of bruises and cuts, and he didn’t even know when his cloak had ripped free. He faced the soldiers de?antly, however, his scarred arms plainly visible.

  “The Survivor of Hathsin!” one whispered.

  “He killed an Inquisitor…. ” said another.

  And then the chanting began. The skaa in the surrounding streets began to scream his name. The soldiers looked around, realizing with horror that they were surrounded. The peasants began to press in, and Kelsier could feel their anger and hope.

  Maybe this doesn’t have to go the way I assumed, Kelsier thought triumphantly. Maybe I don’t have—

  Then it hit. Like a cloud moving before the sun, like a sudden storm on a quiet night, like a pair of ?ngers snuf?ng a candle. An oppressive hand sti?ed the budding skaa emotions. The people cringed, and their cries died out. The ?re Kelsier had built within them was too new.

  So close. . he thought.

  Up ahead, a single, black carriage crested the hill and began to move down from the fountain square.

  The Lord Ruler had arrived.

  Vin nearly lost her grip as the wave of depression hit her. She ?ared her copper, but—as always—she could still slightly feel the Lord Ruler’s oppressive hand.

  “Lord Ruler!” Dockson said, though Vin couldn’t tell if it was a curse or an observation. Skaa that had been packed in to view the ?ght somehow managed to make room for the dark carriage. It rolled down a corridor of people toward the corpse-littered square.

  Soldiers pulled back, and Kelsier stepped away from the fallen cart, moving out to face the oncoming carriage.

  “What is he doing?” Vin asked, turning toward Dockson, who had propped himself up on a small outcropping. “Why doesn’t he run? This is no Inquisitor—this isn’t something to ?ght!”

  “This is it, Vin,” Dockson said, awed. “This is what he’s been waiting for. A chance to face the Lord Ruler—a chance to prove those legends of his. ”

  Vin turned back toward the square. The carriage rolled to a stop.

  “But. . ” she said quietly. “The Eleventh Metal. Did he bring it?”

  “He must have. ”

  Kelsier always said that the Lord Ruler was his task, Vin thought. He let the rest of us work on the nobility, the Garrison, and the Ministry. But this…Kelsier always planned to do this himself.

  The Lord Ruler stepped from his carriage, and Vin leaned forward, burning tin. He looked like. .

  A man.

  He was dressed in a black and white uniform somewhat like a nobleman’s suit, but far more exaggerated. The coat reached all the way to his feet, and trailed behind him as he walked. His vest wasn’t colored, but a pure black, though it was accented with brilliant white markings. As Vin had heard, his ?ngers glittered with rings, the symbol of his power.

  I’m so much stronger than you, the rings proclaimed, that it doesn’t matter if I wear metal.

  Handsome, with jet black hair and pale skin, the Lord Ruler was tall, thin, and con?dent. And he was young— younger than Vin would have expected, even younger than Kelsier. He strode across the square, avoiding corpses, his soldiers pulling back and forcing the skaa away.

  Suddenly, a small group of ?gures burst through the line of soldiers. They wore the mismatched armor of rebels, and the man leading them looked just a bit familiar. He was one of Ham’s Thugs.

  “For my wife!” the Thug said, holding up a spear and charging.

  “For Lord Kelsier!” yelled the other four.

  Oh no… Vin thought.

  The Lord Ruler, however, ignored the men. The lead rebel bellowed in de?ance, then rammed his spear through the Lord Ruler’s chest.

  The Lord Ruler just continued to walk, passing the soldier, spear sticking all the way through his body.

  The rebel paused, then grabbed a spear from one of his friends and drove this one through the Lord Ruler’s back. Again, the Lord Ruler ignored the men—as if they, and their weapons, were completely beneath his contempt.

  The lead rebel stumbled back, then spun as his friends began to scream under an Inquisitor’s axe. He joined them shortly, and the Inquisitor stood above the corpses for a moment, hacking gleefully.

  The Lord Ruler continued forward, two spears sticking—as if unnoticed—from his body. Kelsier stood waiting. He looked ragged in his ripped skaa clothing. Yet, he was proud. He didn’t bend or bow beneath the weight of the Lord Ruler’s Soothing.

  The Lord Ruler stopped a few feet away, one of the spears nearly touching Kelsier’s chest. Black ash fell lightly around the two men, bits of it curling and blowing in the faint wind. The square fell horribly silent—even the Inquisitor stopped his gruesome work. Vin leaned forward, clinging precariously to the rough brickwork.

  Do something, Kelsier! Use the metal!

  The Lord Ruler glanced at the Inquisitor that Kelsier had killed. “Those are very hard to replace. ” His accented voice carried easily to Vin’s tin-enhanced ears.

  Even from a distance, she could see Kelsier smile.

  “I killed you, once,” the Lord Ruler said, turning back to Kelsier.

  “You tried,” Kelsier replied, his voice loud and ?rm, carrying across the square. “But you can’t kill me, Lord Tyrant. I represent that thing you’ve never been able to kill, no matter how hard you try. I am hope. ”

  The Lord Ruler snorted in disdain. He raised a casual arm, then backhanded Kelsier with a blow so powerful that Vin could hear the crack resound through the square.

  Kelsier lurched and spun, spraying blood as he fell.

  “NO!” Vin screamed.

  The Lord Ruler ripped one of the spears from his own body, then slammed it down through Kelsier’s chest. “Let the executions begin,” he said, turning toward his carriage and ripping out th
e second spear, then tossing it aside.

  Chaos followed. Prompted by the Inquisitor, the soldiers turned and attacked the crowd. Other Inquisitors appeared from the square above, riding black horses, ebony axes glistening in the afternoon light.

  Vin ignored it all. “Kelsier!” she screamed. His body lay where it had fallen, spear jutting from his chest, scarlet blood pooling around him.

  No. No. NO! She jumped from the building, Pushing against some people and throwing herself over the massacre. She landed in the center of the oddly empty square—Lord Ruler gone, Inquisitors busy killing skaa. She scrambled to Kelsier’s side.

  There was almost nothing remaining of the left side of his face. The right side, however. . it still smiled faintly, single dead eye staring up into the red-black sky. Bits of ash fell lightly on his face.

  “Kelsier, no…” Vin said, tears streaming down her face. She prodded his body, feeling for a pulse. There was none.

  “You said you couldn’t be killed!” she cried. “What of your plans? What of the Eleventh Metal? What of me?”

  He didn’t move. Vin had trouble seeing through the tears. It’s impossible. He always said we aren’t invincible…but that meant me. Not him. Not Kelsier. He was invincible.

  He should have been.

  Someone grabbed her and she squirmed, crying out.

  “Time to go, kid,” Ham said. He paused, looking at Kelsier, assuring for himself that the crewleader was dead.

  Then he towed her away. Vin continued to struggle weakly, but she was growing numb. In the back of her mind, she heard Reen’s voice.

  See. I told you he would leave you. I warned you. I promised you….



  Believers in a Forgotten World

  I know what will happen if I make the wrong choice. I must be strong; I must not take the power for myself.

  For I have seen what will happen if I do.


  TO WORK WITH ME, KELSIER had said, I only ask that you promise one thing—to trust me.

  Vin hung in the mist, immobile. It ?owed around her like a quiet stream. Above, ahead, to the sides, and beneath. Mist all around her.

  Trust me, Vin, he’d said. You trusted me enough to jump off the wall, and I caught you. You’re going to have to trust me this time too.

  I’ll catch you.

  I’ll catch you….

  It was as if she were nowhere. Among, and of, the mist. How she envied it. It didn’t think. Didn’t worry.

  Didn’t hurt.

  I trusted you, Kelsier, she thought. I actually did—but you let me fall. You promised that your crews had no betrayals. What of this? What of your betrayal?

  She hung, her tin extinguished to let her better see the mists. They were slightly wet, cool upon her skin. Like the tears of a dead man.

  Why does it matter, anymore? she thought, staring upward. Why does anything matter? What was it you said to me, Kelsier? That I never really understood? That I still needed to learn about friendship? What about you? You didn’t even ?ght him.

  He stood there again, in her mind. The Lord Ruler struck him down with a disdainful blow. The Survivor had died like any other man.

  Is this why you were so hesitant to promise that you wouldn’t abandon me?

  She wished she could just. . go. Float away. Become mist. She’d once wished for freedom—and then had assumed she’d found it. She’d been wrong. This wasn’t freedom, this grief, this hole within her.

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