Mistborn the final empi.., p.106
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.106

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
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Page 106

  He predicted that the rebellion would die out quickly, but that it would leave piles of corpses in its wake. Thousands of deaths. Tens of thousands.

  “Well, boy?” Lord Venture demanded. “Go and organize your things. ”

  “I’m not going,” Elend surprised himself by saying.

  Lord Venture frowned. “What?”

  Elend looked up. “I’m not going, Father. ”

  “Oh, you’re going,” Lord Venture said, eyeing Elend with one of his glares.

  Elend looked into those eyes—eyes that were angry not because they cared for Elend’s safety, but because Elend dared defy them. And, strangely, Elend didn’t feel the least bit cowed. Someone has to stop this. The rebellion could do some good, but only if the skaa don’t insist on slaughtering their allies. And, that’s what the nobility should be—their allies against the Lord Ruler. He’s our enemy too.

  “Father, I’m serious,” Elend said. “I’m going to stay. ”

  “Bloody hell, boy! Must you insist on mocking me?”

  “This isn’t about balls or luncheons, father. It’s about something more important. ”

  Lord Venture paused. “No ?ippant comments? No buffoonery?”

  Elend shook his head.

  Suddenly, Lord Venture smiled. “Stay then, boy. That’s a good idea. Someone should maintain our presence here while I go rally our forces. Yes…a very good idea. ”

  Elend paused, frowning slightly at the smile in his father’s eyes. The atium—Father is setting me up to fall in his place! And…even if the Lord Ruler doesn’t kill me, Father assumes I’ll die in the rebellion. Either way, he’s rid of me.

  I’m really not very good at this, am I?

  Lord Venture laughed to himself, turning.

  “At least leave me some soldiers,” Elend said.

  “You can have most of them,” Lord Venture said. “It will be hard enough to get one boat out in this mess. Good luck, boy. Say hello to the Lord Ruler in my absence. ” He laughed again, moving toward his stallion, which was saddled and readied outside.

  Elend stood in the hall, and suddenly he was the focus of attention. Nervous guards and servants, realizing that they’d been abandoned, turned to Elend with desperate eyes.

  I’m…in charge, Elend thought with shock. Now what? Outside, he could see the mists ?aring with the light of burning ?res. Several of the guards were yelling about an approaching mob of skaa.

  Elend walked to the open doorway, staring out into the chaos. The hall grew quiet behind him, terri?ed people realizing the extent of their danger.

  Elend stood for a long moment. Then he spun. “Captain!” he said. “Gather your forces and the remaining servants— don’t leave anyone behind—then march to Keep Lekal. ”

  “Keep… Lekal, my lord?”

  “It’s more defensible,” Elend said. “Plus, both of us have too few soldiers—separated, we’ll be destroyed. Together, we might be able to stand. We’ll offer our men to the Lekal in exchange for protecting our people. ”

  “But. . my lord,” the soldier said. “The Lekal are your enemies. ”

  Elend nodded. “Yes, but someone needs to make the ?rst overture. Now, get moving!”

  The man saluted, then rushed into motion.

  “Oh, and Captain?” Elend said.

  The soldier paused.

  “Pick out ?ve of your best soldiers to be my honor guard. I’ll be leaving you in charge—those ?ve and I have another mission. ”

  “My lord?” the captain asked with confusion. “What mission?”

  Elend turned back toward the mists. “We’re going to go turn ourselves in. ”

  Vin awoke to wetness. She coughed, then groaned, feeling a sharp pain in the back of her skull. She opened dizzy eyes— blinking away the water that had been thrown on her—and immediately burned pewter and tin, bringing herself completely awake.

  A pair of rough hands hoisted her into the air. She coughed as the Inquisitor shoved something into her mouth.

  “Swallow,” he ordered, twisting her arm.

  Vin cried out, trying without success to resist the pain. Eventually, she gave in and swallowed the bit of metal.

  “Now burn it,” the Inquisitor ordered, twisting harder.

  Vin resisted nonetheless, sensing the unfamiliar metal reserve within her. The Inquisitor could be trying to get her to burn a useless metal, one that would make her sick—or, worse, kill her.

  But, there are easier ways to kill a captive, she thought in agony. Her arm hurt so much that it felt like it would twist free. Finally, Vin relented, burning the metal.

  Immediately, all of her other metal reserves vanished.

  “Good,” the Inquisitor said, dropping her to the ground. The stones were wet, pooled with a bucketful of water. The Inquisitor turned, leaving the cell and slamming its barred door; then he disappeared through a doorway on the other side of the room.

  Vin crawled to her knees, massaging her arm, trying to sort out what was going on. My metals! She searched desperately inside, but she found nothing. She couldn’t feel any metals, not even the one she had ingested moments before.

  What was it? A twelfth metal? Perhaps Allomancy wasn’t as limited as Kelsier and the others had always assured her.

  She took a few deep breaths, climbing to her knees, calming herself. There was something…Pushing against her. The Lord Ruler’s presence. She could feel it, though it wasn’t as powerful as it had been earlier, when he had killed Kelsier. Still, she didn’t have copper to burn—she had no way to hide from the Lord Ruler’s powerful, almost omnipotent, hand. She felt depression twisting her, telling her to just lie down, to give up….

  No! she thought. I have to get out. I have to stay strong!

  She forced herself to stand and inspect her surroundings. Her prison was more like a cage than a cell. It had bars running along three of the four sides, and it contained no furniture—not even a sleeping mat. There were two other cell-cages in the room, one to either side of her.

  She had been stripped, they had only left her with her undergarments. The move was probably to make certain that she didn’t have any hidden metals. She glanced around the room. It was long and thin, and had stark stone walls. A stool sat in one corner, but the room was otherwise empty.

  If I could ?nd just a bit of metal…

  She began to search. Instinctively, she tried to burn iron, expecting the blue lines to appear—but, of course, she had no iron to burn. She shook her head at the foolish move, but it was simply a sign of how much she’d come to rely on her Allomancy. She felt… blinded. She couldn’t burn tin to listen for voices. She couldn’t burn pewter to strengthen her against the pain of her hurting arm and head. She couldn’t burn bronze to search for nearby Allomancers.

  Nothing. She had nothing.

  You functioned without Allomancy before, she told herself sternly. You can do it now.

  Even so, she searched the bare ?oor of her cell, hoping for the chance existence of a discarded pin or nail. She found nothing, so she turned her attention to the bars. However, she couldn’t think of a way to get off even a ?ake of the iron.

  So much metal here, she thought with frustration. And I can’t use any of it!

  She sat back on the ground, huddling up against the stone wall, shivering quietly in her damp clothing. It was still dark outside; the room’s window casually allowed in a few trails of mist. What had happened with the rebellion? What about her friends? She thought that the mists outside looked a bit brighter than usual. Torchlight in the night? Without tin, her senses were too weak to tell.

  What was I thinking? she thought with despair. Did I presume to succeed where Kelsier had failed? He knew that the Eleventh Metal was useless.

  It had done something, true—but it certainly hadn’t killed the Lord Ruler. She sat, thinking, trying to ?gure out what had happened. There had been an odd familiarity about the things the Eleventh Metal had shown her. Not because o
f the way the visions had appeared, but because of the way Vin had felt when burning the metal.

  Gold. The moment when I burned the Eleventh Metal felt like that time when Kelsier had me burn gold.

  Could it be that the Eleventh Metal wasn’t really “eleventh” at all? Gold and atium had always seemed oddly paired to Vin. All of the other metals came in pairs that were similar—a base metal, then its alloy, each doing opposite things. Iron Pulled, steel Pushed. Zinc Pulled, brass Pushed. It made sense. All except for atium and gold.

  What if the Eleventh Metal was really an alloy of atium or of gold? It would mean… that gold and atium aren’t paired. They do two different things. Similar, but different. They’re like. .

  Like the other metals, which were grouped into larger bases of four. There were the physical metals: iron, steel, tin, and pewter. The mental metals: bronze, copper, zinc, and brass. And…there were the time-affecting metals: gold and its alloy, and atium and its alloy.

  That means there’s another metal. One that hasn’t been discovered—probably because atium and gold are too valuable to forge into different alloys.

  But, what good was the knowledge? Her “Eleventh Metal” was probably just a paired opposite of gold—the metal Kelsier had told her was the most useless of them all. Gold had shown Vin herself—or, at least, a different version of her that had felt real enough to touch. But, it had simply been a vision of what she could have become, had the past been different.

  The Eleventh Metal had done something similar: Instead of showing Vin’s own past, it had shown her similar images from other people. And that told her. . nothing. What difference did it make what the Lord Ruler could have been? It was the current man, the tyrant that ruled the Final Empire, that she had to defeat.

  A ?gure appeared in the doorway—an Inquisitor dressed in a black robe, the hood up. His face was shadowed, but his spike-heads jutted from the front of the cowl.

  “It is time,” he said. Another Inquisitor waited in the doorway as the ?rst creature pulled out a set of keys and moved to open Vin’s door.

  Vin tensed. The door clicked, and she sprang to her feet, scrambling forward.

  Have I always been this slow without pewter? she thought with horror. The Inquisitor snatched her arm as she passed, his motions unconcerned, almost casual—and she could see why. His hands moved supernaturally quickly, making her seem even more sluggish by comparison.

  The Inquisitor pulled her up, twisting her and easily holding her. He smiled with an evil grin, his face pocked with scars. Scars that looked like. .

  Arrowhead wounds, she thought with shock. But…healed already? How can it be?

  She struggled, but her weak, pewterless body was no match for the Inquisitor’s strength. The creature carried her toward the doorway, and the second Inquisitor stepped back, regarding her with spikes that peeked out from beneath its cowl. Though the Inquisitor who carried her was smiling, this second one had a ?at line of a mouth.

  Vin spat at the second Inquisitor as she passed, her spittle smacking it right on one of its spike-heads. Her captor carried her out of the chamber and through a narrow hallway. She cried out for help, knowing that her screams—in the middle of Kredik Shaw itself—would be useless. At least she succeeded in annoying the Inquisitor, for he twisted her arm.

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