Mistborn the final empi.., p.16
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.16

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
Page 16

  “Good wine,” he said with a grunt. Then he looked over at Kelsier. “So, the Pits really did drive you insane, eh?”

  “Completely,” Kelsier said with a straight face.

  Clubs smiled, though on his face the expression had a decidedly twisted look. “You mean to go through with this, then? This so-called job of yours?”

  Kelsier nodded solemnly.

  Clubs downed the rest of his wine. “You’ve got yourself a Smoker then. Not for the money, though. If you’re really serious about toppling this government, then I’m in. ”

  Kelsier smiled.

  “And don’t smile at me,” Clubs snapped. “I hate that. ”

  “I wouldn’t dare. ”

  “Well,” Dockson said, pouring himself another drink, “that solves the Smoker problem. ”

  “Won’t matter much,” Clubs said. “You’re going to fail. I’ve spent my life trying to hide Mistings from the Lord Ruler and his obligators. He gets them all eventually anyway. ”

  “Why bother helping us, then?” Dockson asked.

  “Because,” Clubs said, standing. “The Lord’s going to get me sooner or later. At least this way, I’ll be able to spit in his face as I go. Overthrowing the Final Empire…” He smiled. “It’s got style. Let’s go, kid. We’ve got to get the shop ready for visitors. ”

  Vin watched them go, Clubs limping out the door, the boy pulling it closed behind them. Then she glanced at Kelsier. “You knew he’d come back. ”

  He shrugged, standing and stretching. “I hoped. People are attracted to vision. The job I’m proposing…well, it just isn’t the sort of thing you walk away from—at least, not if you’re a bored old man who’s generally annoyed at life. Now, Vin, I assume that your crew owns this entire building?”

  Vin nodded. “The shop upstairs is a front. ”

  “Good,” Kelsier said, checking his pocket watch, then handing it to Dockson. “Tell your friends that they can have their lair back—the mists are probably already coming out. ”

  “And us?” Dockson asked.

  Kelsier smiled. “We’re going to the roof. Like I told you, I have to fetch some atium. ”

  By day, Luthadel was a blackened city, scorched by soot and red sunlight. It was hard, distinct, and oppressive.

  At night, however, the mists came to blur and obscure. High noble keeps became ghostly, looming silhouettes. Streets seemed to grow more narrow in the fog, every thoroughfare becoming a lonely, dangerous alleyway. Even noblemen and thieves were apprehensive about going out at night—it took a strong heart to brave the foreboding, misty silence. The dark city at night was a place for the desperate and the foolhardy; it was a land of swirling mystery and strange creatures.

  Strange creatures like me, Kelsier thought. He stood upon the ledge that ran around the lip of the ?at-roofed lair. Shadowed buildings loomed in the night around him, and the mists made everything seem to shift and move in the darkness. Weak lights peeked from the occasional window, but the tiny beads of illumination were huddled, frightened things.

  A cool breeze slipped across the rooftop, shifting the haze, brushing against Kelsier’s mist-wetted cheek like an exhaled breath. In days past—back before everything had gone wrong—he had always sought out a rooftop on the evening before a job, wishing to overlook the city. He didn’t realize he was observing his old custom this night until he glanced to the side, expecting Mare to be there next to him, as she always had been.

  Instead, he found only the empty air. Lonely. Silent. The mists had replaced her. Poorly.

  He sighed and turned. Vin and Dockson stood behind him on the rooftop. Both looked apprehensive to be out in the mists, but they dealt with their fear. One did not get far in the underworld without learning to stomach the mists.

  Kelsier had learned to do far more than “stomach” them. He had gone among them so often during the last few years that he was beginning to feel more comfortable at night, within the mists’ obscuring embrace, than he did at day.

  “Kell,” Dockson said, “do you have to stand on the ledge like that? Our plans may be a bit crazy, but I’d rather not have them end with you splattered across the cobblestones down there. ”

  Kelsier smiled. He still doesn’t think of me as a Mistborn, he thought. It will take some getting used to for all of them.

  Years before, he had become the most infamous crewleader in Luthadel, and he had done it without even being an Allomancer. Mare had been a Tineye, but he and Dockson…they had just been regular men. One a half-breed with no powers, the other a runaway plantation skaa. Together, they had brought Great Houses to their knees, stealing brashly from the most powerful men in the Final Empire.

  Now Kelsier was more, so much more. Once he had dreamed of Allomancy, wishing for a power like Mare’s. She had been dead before he’d Snapped, coming to his powers. She would never see what he would do with them.

  Before, the high nobility had feared him. It had taken a trap set by the Lord Ruler himself to capture Kelsier. Now. . the Final Empire itself would shake before he was ?nished with it.

  He scanned the city once more, breathing in the mists, then hopped down off the ledge and strolled over to join Dockson and Vin. They carried no lights; ambient starlight diffused by the mists was enough to see by in most cases.

  Kelsier took off his jacket and vest, handing them to Dockson, then he untucked his shirt, letting the long garment hang loose. The fabric was dark enough that it wouldn’t give him away in the night.

  “All right,” Kelsier said. “Who should I try?”

  Dockson frowned. “You’re sure you want to do this?”

  Kelsier smiled.

  Dockson sighed. “Houses Urbain and Teniert have been hit recently, though not for their atium. ”

  “Which house is the strongest right now?” Kelsier asked, squatting down and undoing the ties on his pack, which rested by Dockson’s feet. “Who would no one consider hitting?”

  Dockson paused. “Venture,” he ?nally said. “They’ve been on top for the last few years. They keep a standing force of several hundred men, and the local house nobility includes a good two dozen Mistings. ”

  Kelsier nodded. “Well, that’s where I’ll go, then. They’re certain to have some atium. ” He pulled open the pack, then whipped out a dark gray cloak. Large and enveloping, the cloak wasn’t constructed from a single piece of cloth—rather, it was made up of hundreds of long, ribbonlike strips. They were sewn together at the shoulders and across the chest, but mostly they hung separate from one another, like overlapping streamers.

  Kelsier threw on the garment, its strips of cloth twisting and curling, almost like the mists themselves.

  Dockson exhaled softly. “I’ve never been so close to someone wearing one of those. ”

  “What is it?” Vin asked, her quiet voice almost haunting in the night mists.

  “A Mistborn cloak,” Dockson said. “They all wear the things—it’s kind of like a…sign of membership in their club. ”

  “It’s colored and constructed to hide you in the mist,” Kelsier said. “And it warns city guards and other Mistborn not to bother you. ” He spun, letting the cloak ?are dramatically. “I think it suits me. ”

  Dockson rolled his eyes.

  “All right,” Kelsier said, bending down and pulling a cloth belt from his pack. “House Venture. Is there anything I need to know?”

  “Lord Venture supposedly has a safe in his study,” Dockson said. “That’s where he’d probably keep his atium stash. You’ll ?nd the study on the third ?oor, three rooms in from the upper southern balcony. Be careful, House Venture keeps about a dozen hazekillers in addition to its regular troops and Mistings. ”

  Kelsier nodded, tying on the belt—it had no buckle, but it did contain two small sheaths. He pulled a pair of glass daggers from the bag, checked them for nicks, and slid them into the sheaths. He kicked off his shoes and stripped off his stockings, leaving himself barefoot on the chill stone
s. With the shoes also went the last bit of metal on his person save for his coin pouch and the three vials of metals in his belt. He selected the largest one, downed its contents, then handed the empty vial to Dockson.

  “That it?” Kelsier asked.

  Dockson nodded. “Good luck. ”

  Beside him, the girl Vin was watching Kelsier’s preparations with intense curiosity. She was a quiet, small thing, but she hid an intensity that he found impressive. She was paranoid, true, but not timid.

  You’ll get your chance, kid, he thought. Just not tonight.

  “Well,” he said, pulling a coin from his pouch and tossing it off the side of the building. “Guess I’ll be going. I’ll meet you back at Clubs’s shop in a bit. ”

  Dockson nodded.

  Kelsier turned and walked back up onto the roof’s ledge. Then he jumped off the building.

  Mist curled in the air around him. He burned steel, second of the basic Allomantic metals. Translucent blue lines sprang into existence around him, visible only to his eyes. Each one led from the center of his chest out to a nearby source of metal. The lines were all relatively faint—a sign that they pointed to metal sources that were small: door hinges, nails, and other bits. The type of source metal didn’t matter. Burning iron or steel would point blue lines at all kinds of metal, assuming they were close enough and large enough to be noticeable.

  Kelsier chose the line that pointed directly beneath him, toward his coin. Burning steel, he Pushed against the coin.

  His descent immediately stopped, and he was thrown back up into the air in the opposite direction along the blue line. He reached out to the side, selected a passing window clasp, and Pushed against it, angling himself to the side. The careful nudge sent him up and over the lip of the building directly across the street from Vin’s lair.

  Kelsier landed with a lithe step, falling into a crouch and running across the building’s peaked roof. He paused in the darkness at the other side, peering through the swirling air. He burned tin, and felt it ?are to life in his chest, enhancing his senses. Suddenly the mists seemed less deep. It wasn’t that the night around him grew any lighter; his ability to perceive simply increased. In the distance to the north, he could just barely make out a large structure. Keep Venture.

  Kelsier left his tin on—it burned slowly, and he probably didn’t need to worry about running out. As he stood, the mists curled slightly around his body. They twisted and spun, running in a slight, barely noticeable current beside him. The mists knew him; they claimed him. They could sense Allomancy.

  He jumped, Pushing against a metal chimney behind him, sending himself in a wide horizontal leap. He tossed a coin even as he jumped, the tiny bit of metal ?ickering through the darkness and fog. He Pushed against the coin before it hit the ground, the force of his weight driving it downward in a sharp motion. As soon as it hit the cobblestones, Kelsier’s Pushing forced him upward, turning the second half of his leap into a graceful arc.

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