Mistborn the final empi.., p.19
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.19
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         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
Page 19

  No, this night was not a waste. Even if he hadn’t found the atium, any night that ended with a group of dead noblemen was a successful one, in Kelsier’s opinion.

  He gripped his pouch in one hand and the bag of atium in the other. He kept his pewter burning—without the strength it lent his body, he’d probably collapse from the pain of his wounds—and dashed off into the night, heading toward Clubs’s shop.

  I never wanted this, true. But somebody has to stop the Deepness. And, apparently, Terris is the only place this can be done.

  On this fact, however, I don’t have to take the word of the philosophers. I can feel our goal now, can sense it, though the others cannot. It…pulses, in my mind, far off in the mountains.

  6

  VIN AWOKE TO A QUIET room, red morning sunlight peeking through cracks in the shutters. She lay in bed for a moment, unsettled. Something felt wrong. It wasn’t that she was waking up in an unfamiliar place—traveling with Reen had accustomed her to a nomadic lifestyle. It took her a moment to realize the source of her discomfort.

  The room was empty.

  Not only was it empty, it was open. Uncrowded. And it was… comfortable. She lay on an actual mattress, raised on posts, with sheets and a plush quilt. The room was decorated with a sturdy wooden armoire, and even had a circular rug. Perhaps another might have found the room cramped and spartan, but to Vin it seemed lavish.

  She sat up, frowning. It felt wrong to have a room all to herself. She had always been crammed into tight bunkrooms ?lled with crewmembers. Even while traveling, she had slept in beggars’ alleys or rebel caves, and Reen had been there with her. She had always been forced to ?ght to ?nd privacy. Being given it so easily seemed to devalue the years she had spent relishing her brief moments of solitude.

  She slipped out of bed, not bothering to open the shutters. The sunlight was faint, which meant it was still early morning, but she could already hear people moving in the hallway. She crept to the door, creaking it open and peeking out.

  After leaving Kelsier the night before, Dockson had led Vin to Clubs’s shop. Because of the late hour, Clubs had immediately led them to their separate rooms. Vin, however, had not gone to bed immediately. She had waited until everyone was asleep, then had snuck out to inspect her surroundings.

  The residence was almost more of an inn than it was a shop. Though it had a showroom below and a large workshop in the back, the building’s second ?oor was dominated by several long hallways lined with guestrooms. There was a third ?oor, and the doors were more widely spaced there, implying larger rooms. She hadn’t tapped for trapdoors or false walls—the noise might have awakened someone—but experience told her that it wouldn’t be a proper lair if it didn’t have at least a secret basement and some bolt-holes.

  Overall, she was impressed. The carpentry equipment and half-?nished projects below indicated a reputable, working front. The lair was secure, well stocked, and well maintained. Watching through the crack in her door, Vin made out a group of about six groggy young men coming out of the hallway opposite her own. They wore simple clothing, and made their way down the stairs toward the workroom.

  Apprentice carpenters, Vin thought. That’s Clubs’s front— he’s a skaa craftsman. Most skaa lived lives of drudgery on the plantations; even those who lived in a city were generally forced to do menial labor. However, some talented few were allowed a trade. They were still skaa; they were paid poorly and were always subject to the whims of the nobility. However, they had a measure of freedom that most skaa would envy.

  Clubs was probably a master carpenter. What would entice such a man—one who had, by skaa standards, an amazing life—to risk joining the underground?

  He is a Misting, Vin thought. Kelsier and Dockson called him a “Smoker. ” She would probably have to ?gure out what that meant on her own; experience told her that a powerful man like Kelsier would withhold knowledge from her as long as he could, stringing her along with occasional tidbits. His knowledge was what bound her to him—it would be unwise to give away too much too quickly.

  Footsteps sounded outside, and Vin continued to peek through the crack.

  “You’ll want to get ready, Vin,” Dockson said as he passed her door. He wore a nobleman’s dress shirt and slacks, and he already looked awake and trim. He paused, continuing. “There’s a fresh bath for you in the room at the end of the hallway, and I had Clubs scrounge you up a few changes of clothing. They should ?t well enough until we can get you something more appropriate. Take your time in the bath— Kell’s planned a meeting for this afternoon, but we can’t start until Breeze and Ham arrive. ”

  Dockson smiled, eyeing her through the cracked door, then continued on down the hallway. Vin ?ushed at being caught. These are observant men. I’m going to have to remember that.

  The hallway grew quiet. She slipped out her door and crept down to the indicated room, and was half surprised to ?nd that there was indeed a warm bath waiting for her. She frowned, studying the tiled chamber and metal tub. The water smelled scented, after the fashion of noble ladies.

  These men are more like noblemen than skaa, Vin thought. She wasn’t certain what she thought of that. However, they obviously expected her to do as they did, so she closed and bolted the door, then disrobed and crawled into the tub.

  She smelled funny.

  Even though the scent was faint, Vin still caught whiffs of herself occasionally. It was the smell of a passing noblewoman, the scent of a perfumed drawer opened by her brother’s burgling ?ngers. The smell grew less noticeable as the morning progressed, but it still worried her. It would distinguish her from other skaa. If this crew expected her to take those baths regularly, she would have to request that the perfumes be removed.

  The morning meal was more up to her expectations. Several skaa women of various ages worked the shop’s kitchen, preparing baywraps—rolls of thin, ?at bread stuffed with boiled barley and vegetables. Vin stood by the kitchen doorway, watching the women work. None of them smelled like she did, though they were far more cleanly and well groomed than average skaa.

  In fact, there was an odd sense of cleanliness to the entire building. She hadn’t noticed it the night before, because of the darkness, but the ?oor was scrubbed clean. All of the workers—kitchen women or apprentices—had clean faces and hands. It felt odd to Vin. She was accustomed to her own ?ngers being black with ashstains; with Reen, if she’d ever washed her face, she had quickly rubbed it with ash again. A clean face stood out on the streets.

  No ash in the corners, she thought, eyeing the ?oor. The room is kept swept. She’d never lived in such a place before. It was almost like living in some nobleman’s house.

  She glanced back at the kitchen women. They wore simple dresses of white and gray, with scarves around the tops of their heads and long tails of hair hanging out the back. Vin ?ngered her own hair. She kept it short, like a boy’s—her current, ragged cut had been given by one of the other crewmembers. She wasn’t like these women—she never had been. By Reen’s command, Vin had lived so that other crewmembers would think of her as a thief ?rst and a girl second.

  But, what am I now? Perfumed by her bath, yet wearing the tan trousers and buttoning shirt of an apprentice craftsman, she felt distinctly out of place. And that was bad—if she felt awkward, then she undoubtedly looked awkward too. Something else to make her stand out.

  Vin turned, eyeing the workroom. The apprentices were already about their morning labors, working on various bits of furniture. They stayed in the back while Clubs worked in the main showroom, putting detailed ?nishing touches on the pieces.

  The back kitchen door suddenly slammed open. Vin slipped re?exively to the side, putting her back to a wall and peeking around into the kitchen.

  Ham stood in the kitchen doorway, framed by red sunlight. He wore a loose shirt and vest, both sleeveless, and carried several large packs. He wasn’t dirtied by soot—none of the crew had ever been, the few times Vin had seen the
m.

  Ham walked through the kitchen and into the workroom. “So,” he said, dropping his packs, “anyone know which room is mine?”

  “I’ll ask Master Cladent,” one of the apprentices said, moving into the front room.

  Ham smiled, stretching, then turned toward Vin. “Morning, Vin. You know, you don’t have to hide from me. We’re on the same team. ”

  Vin relaxed but remained where she was, standing beside a line of mostly ?nished chairs. “You’re going to live here too?”

  “It always pays to stay near the Smoker,” Ham said, turning and disappearing back into the kitchen. He returned a moment later with a stack of four large baywraps. “Anyone know where Kell is?”

  “Sleeping,” Vin said. “He came in late last night, and hasn’t gotten up yet. ”

  Ham grunted, taking a bite of a baywrap. “Dox?”

  “In his room on the third ?oor,” Vin said. “He got up early, came down to get something to eat, and went back upstairs. ” She didn’t add that she knew, from peeking through the keyhole, that he was sitting at his desk scribbling on some papers.

  Ham raised an eyebrow. “You always keep track of where everyone is like that?”

  “Yes. ”

  Ham paused, then chuckled. “You’re an odd kid, Vin. ” He gathered up his packs as the apprentice returned, and the two moved up the stairs. Vin stood, listening to their footsteps. They stopped about halfway down the ?rst hallway, perhaps a few doors from her room.

  The scent of steamed barley enticed her. Vin eyed the kitchen. Ham had gone in and taken food. Was she allowed to do the same?

  Trying to look con?dent, Vin strode into the kitchen. A pile of baywraps sat on a platter, probably to be delivered to the apprentices as they worked. Vin picked up two of them. None of the women objected; in fact, a few of them even nodded respectfully toward her.

  I’m an important person now, she thought with a measure of discomfort. Did they know that she was…Mistborn? Or was she simply treated with respect because she was a guest?

  Eventually, Vin took a third baywrap and ?ed to her room. It was more food than she could possibly eat; however, she intended to scrape out the barley and save the ?atbread, which would keep well should she need it later.

  A knock came at her door. Vin answered it, pulling the door open with a careful motion. A young man stood outside—the boy who had been with Clubs back at Camon’s lair the night before.

  Thin, tall, and awkward-looking, he was dressed in gray clothing. He was perhaps fourteen, though his height might have made him look older than he was. He seemed nervous for some reason.

  “Yes?” Vin asked.

  “Um…”

  Vin frowned. “What?”

  “You’re wanted,” he said in a thick Eastern accent. “Ups in the where above with the doing. With Master Jumps to the third ?oor. Uh, I’ve gotta go. ” The boy blushed, then turned and hurried away, scrambling up the stairs.

  Vin stood in the doorway of her room, dumbfounded. Was that supposed to make any sense? she wondered.

 
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