Mistborn the final empi.., p.11
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.11

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
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Page 11

  Vin regarded them with narrowed, dubious eyes. “Two what?”

  “Even among the nobility, Vin, Allomancy is modestly rare,” Kelsier said. “True, it’s a hereditary skill, with most of its powerful lines among the high nobility. However, breeding alone doesn’t guarantee Allomantic strength.

  “Many high noblemen only have access to a single Allomantic skill. People like that—those who can only perform Allomancy in one of its eight basic aspects—are called Mistings. Sometimes these abilities appear in skaa—but only if that skaa has noble blood in his or her near ancestry. You can usually ?nd one Misting in… oh, about ten thousand mixed-breed skaa. The better, and closer, the noble ancestry, the more likely the skaa is to be a Misting. ”

  “Who were your parents, Vin?” Dockson asked. “Do you remember them?”

  “I was raised by my half brother, Reen,” Vin said quietly, uncomfortable. These were not things she discussed with others.

  “Did he speak of your mother and father?” Dockson asked.

  “Occasionally,” she admitted. “Reen said that our mother was a whore. Not out of choice, but the underworld…” She trailed off. Her mother had tried to kill her, once, when she was very young. She vaguely remembered the event. Reen had saved her.

  “What about your father, Vin?” Dockson asked.

  Vin looked up. “He is a high prelan in the Steel Ministry. ”

  Kelsier whistled softly. “Now, that’s a slightly ironic breach of duty. ”

  Vin looked down at the table. Finally, she reached over and took a healthy pull on her mug of ale.

  Kelsier smiled. “Most ranking obligators in the Ministry are high noblemen. Your father gave you a rare gift in that blood of yours. ”

  “So… I’m one of these Mistings you mentioned?”

  Kelsier shook his head. “Actually, no. You see, this is what made you so interesting to us, Vin. Mistings only have access to one Allomantic skill. You just proved you have two. And, if you have access to at least two of the eight, then you have access to the rest as well. That’s the way it works—if you’re an Allomancer, you either get one skill or you get them all. ”

  Kelsier leaned forward. “You, Vin, are what is generally called a Mistborn. Even amongst the nobility, they’re incredibly rare. Amongst skaa…well, let’s just say I’ve only met one other skaa Mistborn in my entire life. ”

  Somehow, the room seemed to grow more quiet. More still. Vin stared at her mug with distracted, uncomfortable eyes. Mistborn. She’d heard the stories, of course. The legends.

  Kelsier and Dockson sat quietly, letting her think. Eventually, she spoke. “So… what does this all mean?”

  Kelsier smiled. “It means that you, Vin, are a very special person. You have a power that most high noblemen envy. It is a power that, had you been born an aristocrat, would have made you one of the most deadly and in?uential people in all of the Final Empire. ”

  Kelsier leaned forward again. “But, you weren’t born an aristocrat. You’re not noble, Vin. You don’t have to play by their rules—and that makes you even more powerful. ”

  Apparently, the next stage of my quest will take us up into the highlands of Terris. This is said to be a cold, unforgiving place—a land where the mountains themselves are made of ice.

  Our normal attendants will not do for such a trip. We should probably hire some Terris packmen to carry our gear.

  4

  “YOU HEARD WHAT HE SAID! He’s planning a job. ” Ulef’s eyes shone with excitement. “I wonder which of the Great Houses he’s going to strike. ”

  “It’ll be one of the most powerful ones,” said Disten, one of Camon’s head pointmen. He was missing a hand, but his eyes and ears were among the keenest in the crew. “Kelsier never bothers himself with small-time jobs. ”

  Vin sat quietly, her mug of ale—the same one Kelsier had given her—still sitting mostly full on the tabletop. Her table was crowded with people; Kelsier had let the thieves return to their home for a bit before his meeting began. Vin, however, would have preferred to remain by herself. Life with Reen had accustomed her to loneliness—if you let someone get too close, it would just give them better opportunities to betray you.

  Even after Reen’s disappearance, Vin had kept to herself. She hadn’t been willing to leave; however, she also hadn’t felt the need to become familiar with the other crewmembers. They had, in turn, been perfectly willing to let her alone. Vin’s position had been precarious, and associating with her could have tainted them by association. Only Ulef had made any moves to befriend her.

  If you let someone get close to you, it will only hurt more when they betray you, Reen seemed to whisper in her mind.

  Had Ulef even really been her friend? He’d certainly sold her out quickly enough. In addition, the crewmembers had taken Vin’s beating and sudden rescue in stride, never mentioning their betrayal or refusal to help her. They’d only done what was expected.

  “The Survivor hasn’t bothered himself with any jobs lately,” said Harmon, an older, scraggly-bearded burglar. “He’s barely been seen in Luthadel a handful of times during the last few years. In fact, he hasn’t pulled any jobs since…”

  “This is the ?rst one?” Ulef asked eagerly. “The ?rst since he escaped the Pits? Then it’s bound to be something spectacular!”

  “Did he say anything about it, Vin?” Disten asked. “Vin?” He waved a stumpy arm in her direction, catching her attention.

  “What?” she asked, looking up. She had cleaned herself slightly since her beating at Camon’s hand, ?nally accepting a handkerchief from Dockson to wipe the blood from her face. There was little she could do about the bruises, however. Those still throbbed. Hopefully, nothing was broken.

  “Kelsier,” Disten repeated. “Did he say anything about the job he’s planning?”

  Vin shook her head. She glanced down at the bloodied handkerchief. Kelsier and Dockson had left a short time ago, promising to return after she’d had some time to think about the things they had told her. There was an implication in their words, however—an offer. Whatever job they were planning, she was invited to participate.

  “Why’d he pick you to be his twixt, anyway, Vin?” Ulef asked. “Did he say anything about that?”

  That’s what the crew assumed—that Kelsier had chosen her to be his contact with Camon’s. . Milev’s…crew.

  There were two sides to the Luthadel underground. There were the regular crews, like Camon’s. Then there were…the special ones. Groups composed of the extremely skillful, the extremely foolhardy, or the extremely talented. Allomancers.

  The two sides of the underworld didn’t mix; regular thieves left their betters alone. However, occasionally one of these Misting crews hired a regular team to do some of its more mundane work, and they would choose a twixt—a go-between—to work with both crews. Hence Ulef’s assumption about Vin.

  Milev’s crewmembers noticed her unresponsiveness, and turned to another topic: Mistings. They spoke of Allomancy with uncertain, whispered tones, and she listened, uncomfortable. How could she be associated with something they held in such awe? Her Luck…her Allomancy…was something small, something she used to survive, but something really quite unimportant.

  But, such power. . she thought, looking in at her Luck reserve.

  “What’s Kelsier been doing these last few years, I wonder?” Ulef asked. He had seemed a bit uncomfortable around her at the beginning of the conversation, but that had passed quickly. He’d betrayed her, but this was the underworld. No friends.

  It didn’t seem that way between Kelsier and Dockson. They appeared to trust each other. A front? Or were they simply one of those rare teams that actually didn’t worry about each other’s betrayal?

  The most unsettling thing about Kelsier and Dockson had been their openness with her. They seemed willing to trust, even accept, Vin after a relatively short time. It couldn’t be genuine—no one could survive in the underworld following such
tactics. Still, their friendliness was disconcerting.

  “Two years…” said Hrud, a ?at-faced, quiet thug. “He must have spent the entire time planning for this job. ”

  “It must be some job indeed…. ” Ulef said.

  “Tell me about him,” Vin said quietly.

  “Kelsier?” Disten asked.

  Vin nodded.

  “They didn’t talk about Kelsier down south?”

  Vin shook her head.

  “He was the best crewleader in Luthadel,” Ulef explained. “A legend, even among the Mistings. He robbed some of the wealthiest Great Houses in the city. ”

  “And?” Vin asked.

  “Someone betrayed him,” Harmon said in a quiet voice.

  Of course, Vin thought.

  “The Lord Ruler himself caught Kelsier,” Ulef said. “Sent Kelsier and his wife to the Pits of Hathsin. But he escaped. He escaped from the Pits, Vin! He’s the only one who ever has. ”

  “And the wife?” Vin asked.

  Ulef glanced at Harmon, who shook his head. “She didn’t make it. ”

  So, he’s lost someone too. How can he laugh so much? So honestly?

  “That’s where he got those scars, you know,” Disten said. “The ones on his arms. He got them at the Pits, from the rocks on a sheer wall he had to climb to escape. ”

  Harmon snorted. “That’s not how he got them. He killed an Inquisitor while escaping—that’s where he got the scars. ”

  “I heard he got them ?ghting one of the monsters that guard the Pits,” Ulef said. “He reached into its mouth and strangled it from the inside. The teeth scraped his arms. ”

  Disten frowned. “How do you strangle someone from the inside?”

  Ulef shrugged. “That’s just what I heard. ”

  “The man isn’t natural,” Hrud muttered. “Something happened to him in the Pits, something bad. He wasn’t an Allomancer before then, you know. He entered the Pits a regular skaa, and now…Well, he’s a Misting for sure—if he’s even human anymore. Been out in the mists a lot, that one has. Some say that the real Kelsier is dead, that the thing wearing his face is… something else. ”

  Harmon shook his head. “Now, that’s just plantation-skaa foolishness. We’ve all gone out in the mists. ”

  “Not in the mists outside the city,” Hrud insisted. “The mistwraiths are out there. They’ll grab a man and take his face, sure as the Lord Ruler. ”

  Harmon rolled his eyes.

  “Hrud’s right about one thing,” Disten said. “That man isn’t human. He might not be a mistwraith, but he’s not skaa either. I’ve heard of him doing things, things like only they can do. The ones that come out at night. You saw what he did to Camon. ”

  “Mistborn,” Harmon muttered.

  Mistborn. Vin had heard the term before Kelsier had mentioned it to her, of course. Who hadn’t? Yet, the rumors about Mistborn made stories of Inquisitors and Mistings seem rational. It was said that Mistborn were heralds of the mists themselves, endowed with great powers by the Lord Ruler. Only high noblemen could be Mistborn; they were said to be a secret sect of assassins who served him, only going out at night. Reen had always taught her that they were a myth, and Vin had assumed he was right.

 

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