Mistborn the final empi.., p.107
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.107

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
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Page 107

  “Quiet,” he said as she grunted in pain.

  Vin fell silent, instead focusing on their location. They were probably in one of the lower sections of the palace; the hallways were too long to be in a tower or spire. The decorations were lavish, but the rooms looked… unused. The carpets were pristine, the furniture unmarked by scuff or scratch. She had the feeling that the murals were rarely seen, even by those who often passed through the chambers.

  Eventually, the Inquisitors entered a stairwell and began to climb. One of the spires, she thought.

  With each climbing step, Vin could feel the Lord Ruler getting closer. His mere presence dampened her emotions, stealing her willpower, making her numb to everything but lonely depression. She sagged in the Inquisitor’s grip, no longer struggling. It took all of her energy to simply resist the Lord Ruler’s pressure on her soul.

  After a short time in the tunnel-like stairwell, the Inquisitors carried her out into a large, circular room. And, despite the power of the Lord Ruler’s Soothing, despite her visits to noble keeps, Vin took just a brief moment to stare at her surroundings. They were majestic like none she’d ever seen.

  The room was shaped like a massive, stocky cylinder. The wall—there was only one, running in a wide circle—was made entirely of glass. Lit by ?res from behind, the room glowed with spectral light. The glass was colored, though it didn’t depict any speci?c scene. Instead, it seemed crafted from a single sheet, the colors blown and melded together in long, thin trails. Like. .

  Like mist, she thought with wonder. Colorful streams of mist, running in a circle around the entire room.

  The Lord Ruler sat in an elevated throne in the very center of the room. He wasn’t the old Lord Ruler—this was the younger version, the handsome man who had killed Kelsier.

  Some kind of impostor? No, I can feel him—just as I could feel the one before. They’re the same man. Can he change how he looks, then? Appearing young when he wishes to put forth a pretty face?

  A small group of gray-robed, eye-tattooed obligators stood conversing on the far side of the room. Seven Inquisitors stood waiting, like a row of shadows with iron eyes. That made nine of them in all, counting the two that had escorted Vin. Her scar-faced captor delivered her to one of the others, who held her with a similarly inescapable grip.

  “Let us be on with this,” said the Lord Ruler.

  A regular obligator stepped forward, bowing. With a chill, she realized that she recognized him.

  Lord Prelan Tevidian, she thought, eyeing the thin balding man. My…father.

  “My lord,” Tevidian said, “forgive me, but I do not understand. We have already discussed this matter!”

  “The Inquisitors say they have more to add,” the Lord Ruler said in a tired voice.

  Tevidian eyed Vin, frowning in confusion. He doesn’t know who I am, she thought. He never knew he was a father.

  “My lord,” Tevidian said, turning away from her. “Look outside your window! Do we not have better things to discuss? The entire city is in rebellion! Skaa torches light up the night, and they dare go out into the mists. They blaspheme in riots, attacking the keeps of the nobility!”

  “Let them,” the Lord Ruler said in an uncaring voice. He seemed so…worn. He sat strongly on his throne, but there was still a weariness to his posture and his voice.

  “But my lord!” Tevidian said. “The Great Houses are falling!”

  The Lord Ruler waved a dismissive hand. “It is good for them to get purged every century or so. It fosters instability, keeps the aristocracy from growing too con?dent. Usually, I let them kill each other in one of their foolish wars, but these riots will work. ”

  “And…if the skaa come to the palace?”

  “Then I will deal with them,” the Lord Ruler said softly. “You will not question this further. ”

  “Yes, my lord,” Tevidian said, bowing and backing away.

  “Now,” the Lord Ruler said, turning to the Inquisitors. “What is it you wished to present?”

  The scarred Inquisitor stepped forward. “Lord Ruler, we wish to petition that leadership of your Ministry be taken from these… men and granted to the Inquisitors instead. ”

  “We have discussed this,” the Lord Ruler said. “You and your brothers are needed for more important tasks. You are too valuable to waste on simple administration. ”

  “But,” the Inquisitor said, “by allowing common men to rule your Ministry, you have unwittingly allowed corruption and vice to enter the very heart of your holy palace!”

  “Idle claims!” Tevidian spat. “You say such things often, Kar, but you never offer any proof. ”

  Kar turned slowly, his eerie smile lit by the twisting, colored windowlight. Vin shivered. That smile was nearly as unsettling as the Lord Ruler’s Soothing.

  “Proof?” Kar asked. “Why, tell me, Lord Prelan. Do you recognize that girl?”

  “Bah, of course not!” Tevidian said with a wave of his hand. “What does a skaa girl have to do with the government of the Ministry?”

  “Everything,” Kar said, turning to Vin. “Oh, yes…everything. Tell the Lord Ruler who your father is, child. ”

  Vin tried to squirm, but the Lord Ruler’s Allomancy was so oppressive, the Inquisitor’s hands were so strong. “I don’t know,” she managed to say through gritted teeth.

  The Lord Ruler perked up slightly, turning toward her, leaning forward.

  “You cannot lie to the Lord Ruler, child,” Kar said in a quiet, rasping voice. “He has lived for centuries, and has learned to use Allomancy like no mortal man. He can see things in the way your heart beats, and can read your emotions in your eyes. He can sense the moment when you lie. He knows. . oh, yes. He knows. ”

  “I never knew my father,” Vin said stubbornly. If the Inquisitor wanted to know something, then keeping it a secret seemed like a good idea. “I’m just a street urchin. ”

  “A Mistborn street urchin?” Kar asked. “Why, that’s interesting. Isn’t it, Tevidian?”

  The lord prelan paused, his frown deepening. The Lord Ruler stood slowly, walking down the steps of his dais toward Vin.

  “Yes, my lord,” Kar said. “You felt her Allomancy earlier. You know that she is a full Mistborn—an amazingly powerful one. Yet, she claims to have grown up on the street. What noble house would have abandoned such a child? Why, for her to have such strength, she must be of an extremely pure line. At least. . one of her parents must have been from a very pure line. ”

  “What are you implying?” Tevidian demanded, paling.

  The Lord Ruler ignored them both. He strode through the streaming colors of the re?ective ?oor, then stopped right in front of Vin.

  So close, she thought. His Soothing was so strong that she couldn’t even feel terror—all she felt was the deep, overpowering, horrible sorrow.

  The Lord Ruler reached out with delicate hands, taking her by the cheeks, tilting her face up to look into his eyes. “Who is your father, girl?” he asked quietly.

  “I…” Despair twisted inside of her. Grief, pain, a desire to die.

  The Lord Ruler held her face close to his own, looking into her eyes. In that moment, she knew the truth. She could see a piece of him; she could sense his power. His… godlike power.

  He wasn’t worried about the skaa rebellion. Why would he have to worry? If he wished, he could slaughter every person in the city by himself. Vin knew it to be the truth. It might take him time, but he could kill forever, tirelessly. He need fear no rebellion.

  He’d never needed to. Kelsier had made a terrible, terrible mistake.

  “Your father, child,” the Lord Ruler prompted, his demand like a physical weight upon her soul.

  Vin spoke despite herself. “My… brother told me that my father was that man over there. The lord prelan. ” Tears rolled down her cheeks, though when the Lord Ruler turned from her, she couldn’t quite remember why she had been crying.

  “It’s a lie, my lord!
Tevidian said, backing away. “What does she know? She’s just a silly child. ”

  “Tell me truthfully, Tevidian,” the Lord Ruler said, walking slowly toward the obligator. “Have you ever bedded a skaa woman?”

  The obligator paused. “I followed the law! Each time, I had them slain afterward. ”

  “You… lie,” the Lord Ruler said, as if surprised. “You’re uncertain. ”

  Tevidian was visibly shaking. “I…I think I got them all, my lord. There…there was one I may have been too lax with. I didn’t know she was skaa at ?rst. The soldier I sent to kill her was too lenient, and he let her go. But I found her, eventually. ”

  “Tell me,” the Lord Ruler said. “Did this woman bear any children?”

  The room fell silent.

  “Yes, my lord,” the high prelan said.

  The Lord Ruler closed his eyes, sighing. He turned back toward his throne. “He is yours,” he said to the Inquisitors.

  Immediately, six Inquisitors dashed across the room, howling in joy, pulling obsidian knives from sheaths beneath their robes. Tevidian raised his arms, crying out as the Inquisitors fell on him, exulting in their brutality. Blood ?ew as they plunged their daggers over and over again into the dying man. The other obligators backed away, looking on in horror.

  Kar remained behind, smiling as he watched the massacre, as did the Inquisitor who was Vin’s captor. One other Inquisitor remained back as well, though Vin didn’t know why.

  “Your point is proven, Kar,” the Lord Ruler said, sitting wearily on his throne. “It seems that I have trusted too much in the… obedience of mankind. I did not make a mistake. I have never made a mistake. However, it is time for a change. Gather the high prelans and bring them here—rouse them from their beds, if need be. They will witness as I grant the Canton of Inquisition command and authority over the Ministry. ”

  Kar’s smile deepened.

  “The half-breed child will be destroyed. ”

  “Of course, my lord,” Kar said. “Though…there are some questions I wish to ask her ?rst. She was part of a team of skaa Mistings. If she can help us locate the others…”

  “Very well,” the Lord Ruler said. “That is your duty, after all. ”

  Is there anything more beautiful than the sun? I often watch it rise, for my restless sleep usually awakens me before dawn.

  Each time I see its calm yellow light peeking above the horizon, I grow a little more determined, a little more hopeful. In a way, it is the thing that has kept me going all this time.

  37

  KELSIER, YOU CURSED LUNATIC, Dockson thought, scribbling notes on the table map, why do you always just saunter away, leaving me to handle your messes? However, he knew his frustration wasn’t real—it was simply a way of keeping himself from focusing on Kell’s death. It worked.

  Kelsier’s part in the plan—the vision, the charismatic leadership—was ?nished. Now it was Dockson’s turn. He took Kelsier’s original strategy and modi?ed it. He was careful to keep the chaos at a manageable level, rationing the best equipment to the men who seemed the most stable. He sent contingents to capture points of interest—food and water deposits—before general rioting could steal them.

 
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