Mistborn the final empi.., p.20
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.20

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
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Page 20

  She peeked into the hallway. The boy had seemed like he expected her to follow him. Finally, she decided to do so, carefully making her way up the steps.

  Voices were coming from an open door at the end of the hallway. Vin approached and peeked around the corner to ?nd a well-decorated room, set with a ?ne rug and comfortable-looking chairs. A hearth burned at the side of the room, and the chairs were arranged to point toward a large charcoal writing board set atop an easel.

  Kelsier stood, leaning one elbow resting against the brick hearth, a cup of wine in his hand. Angling herself slightly, Vin could see that he was talking to Breeze. The Soother had arrived well into midday, and had appropriated half of Clubs’s apprentices to unload his possessions. Vin had watched from her window as the apprentices had carried the luggage— disguised as boxes of lumber scraps—up to Breeze’s room. Breeze himself hadn’t bothered to help.

  Ham was there, as was Dockson, and Clubs was settling himself into the large, overstuffed chair farthest from Breeze. The boy who had fetched Vin sat on a stool beside Clubs, and he was obviously making a point of trying not to look at her. The ?nal occupied chair held the man Yeden, dressed—as before—in common skaa worker’s clothing. He sat in his chair without resting against its back, as if he disapproved of its plushness. His face was darkened with soot, as Vin expected of a skaa worker.

  There were two empty chairs. Kelsier noticed Vin standing by the doorway, and gave her one of his inviting smiles. “Well, there she is. Come in. ”

  Vin scanned the room. There was a window, though its shutters were closed against approaching gloom. The only chairs were the ones in Kelsier’s half circle. Resigned, she moved forward and took the empty chair beside Dockson. It was too big for her, and she settled into it with her knees folded beneath her.

  “That’s all of us,” Kelsier said.

  “Who’s the last chair for?” Ham asked.

  Kelsier smiled, winked, but ignored the question. “All right, let’s talk. We’ve got something of a task ahead of ourselves, and the sooner we begin outlining a plan, the better. ”

  “I thought you had a plan,” Yeden said uncomfortably.

  “I have a framework,” Kelsier said. “I know what needs to happen, and I have a few ideas on how to do it. But, you don’t gather a group like this and just tell them what to do. We need to work this out together, beginning with a list of problems we need to deal with if we want the plan to work. ”

  “Well,” Ham said, “let me get the framework straight ?rst. The plan is to gather Yeden an army, cause chaos in Luthadel, secure the palace, steal the Lord Ruler’s atium, then leave the government to collapse?”

  “Essentially,” Kelsier said.

  “Then,” Ham said, “our main problem is the Garrison. If we want chaos in Luthadel, then we can’t have twenty thousand troops here to keep the peace. Not to mention the fact that Yeden’s troops will never take the city while there is any sort of armed resistance on the walls. ”

  Kelsier nodded. Picking up a piece of chalk, he wrote Luthadel Garrison up on the board. “What else?”

  “We’ll need a way to make said chaos in Luthadel,” Breeze said, gesturing with a cup of wine. “Your instincts are right, my dear man. This city is where the Ministry makes its headquarters and the Great Houses run their mercantile empires. We’ll need to bring Luthadel down if we want to break the Lord Ruler’s ability to govern. ”

  “Mentioning the nobility brings up another point,” Dockson added. “The Great Houses all have guard forces in the city, not to mention their Allomancers. If we’re going to deliver the city to Yeden, we’ll have to deal with those noblemen. ”

  Kelsier nodded, writing Chaos and Great Houses beside Luthadel Garrison on his board.

  “The Ministry,” Clubs said, leaning back in his plush chair so much that Vin almost couldn’t see his grumpy face. “There’ll be no change in government as long as the Steel Inquisitors have anything to say about it. ”

  Kelsier added Ministry to the board. “What else?”

  “Atium,” Ham said. “You might as well write it up there— we’ll need to secure the palace quickly, once general mayhem starts, and make certain nobody else takes the opportunity to slip into the treasury. ”

  Kelsier nodded, writing Atium: Secure Treasury on the board.

  “We will need to ?nd a way to gather Yeden’s troops,” Breeze added. “We’ll have to be quiet, but quick, and train them somewhere that the Lord Ruler won’t ?nd them. ”

  “We also might want to make certain that the skaa rebellion is ready to take control of Luthadel,” Dockson added. “Seizing the palace and digging in will make for a spectacular story, but it would be nice if Yeden and his people were actually ready to govern, once this is all over. ”

  Troops and Skaa Rebellion were added to the board. “And,” Kelsier said, “I’m going to add ‘Lord Ruler. ’ We’ll at least want a plan to get him out of the city, should other options fail. ” After writing Lord Ruler on the list, he turned back toward the group. “Did I forget anything?”

  “Well,” Yeden said dryly, “if you’re listing problems we’ll have to overcome, you should write up there that we’re all bloody insane—though I doubt we can ?x that fact. ”

  The group chuckled, and Kelsier wrote Yeden’s Bad Attitude on the board. Then he stepped back, looking over the list. “When you break it down like that, it doesn’t sound so bad, does it?”

  Vin frowned, trying to decide if Kelsier was attempting a joke or not. The list wasn’t just daunting—it was disturbing. Twenty thousand imperial soldiers? The collected forces and power of the high nobility? The Ministry? One Steel Inquisitor was said to be more powerful than a thousand troops.

  More discomforting, however, was how matter-of-factly they regarded the issues. How could they even think of resisting the Lord Ruler? He was…well, he was the Lord. He ruled all of the world. He was the creator, protector, and punisher of mankind. He had saved them from the Deepness, then had brought the ash and the mists as a punishment for the people’s lack of faith. Vin wasn’t particularly religious— intelligent thieves knew to avoid the Steel Ministry—but even she knew the legends.

  And yet, the group regarded their list of “problems” with determination. There was a grim mirth about them—as if they understood that they had a better chance of making the sun rise at night than they did of overthrowing the Final Empire. Yet, they were still going to try.

  “By the Lord Ruler,” Vin whispered. “You’re serious. You really mean to do this. ”

  “Don’t use his name as an oath, Vin,” Kelsier said. “Even blasphemy honors him—when you curse by that creature’s name, you acknowledge him as your god. ”

  Vin fell silent, sitting back in her chair, a bit numb.

  “Anyway,” Kelsier said, smiling lightly. “Anyone have any ideas on how to overcome these problems? Besides Yeden’s attitude, of course—we all know he’s hopeless. ”

  The room was quiet and thoughtful.

  “Thoughts?” Kelsier asked. “Angles? Impressions?”

  Breeze shook his head. “Now that it’s all up there, I can’t help wondering if the child has a point. This is a daunting task. ”

  “But it can be done,” Kelsier said. “Let’s start by talking about how to break the city. What can we do that would be so threatening that it would throw the nobility into chaos, maybe even get the palace guard out into the city, exposing them to our troops? Something that would distract the Ministry, and the Lord Ruler himself, while we move our troops in to attack?”

  “Well, a general revolution among the populace comes to mind,” Ham said.

  “Won’t work,” Yeden said ?rmly.

  “Why not?” Ham asked. “You know how the people are treated. They live in slums, work in mills and smithies the entire day, and half of them still starve. ”

  Yeden shook his head. “Don’t you understand? The rebellion has been trying for a thousand years to get
the skaa in this city to rise up. It never works. They’re too beaten down— they don’t have the will or the hope to resist. That’s why I had to come to you to get an army. ”

  The room fell still. Vin, however, slowly nodded her head. She’d seen it—she’d felt it. One didn’t ?ght the Lord Ruler. Even living as a thief, crouching at the edge of society, she knew that. There would be no rebellion.

  “He’s right, I’m afraid,” Kelsier said. “The skaa won’t rise up, not in their current state. If we’re going to overthrow this government, we’ll need to do it without the help of the masses. We can probably recruit our soldiers from among them, but we can’t count on the general populace. ”

  “Could we cause a disaster of some sort?” Ham asked. “A ?re maybe?”

  Kelsier shook his head. “It might disrupt trade for a while, but I doubt it would have the effect we want. Besides, the cost in skaa lives would be too high. The slums would burn, not stone nobleman keeps. ”

  Breeze sighed. “What, then, would you have us do?”

  Kelsier smiled, eyes twinkling. “What if we turned the Great Houses against each other?”

  Breeze paused. “A house war. . ” he said, taking a speculative sip of his wine. “It’s been a while since the city had one of those. ”

  “Which means that tensions have had plenty of time to brew,” Kelsier said. “The high nobility are growing increasingly powerful—the Lord Ruler barely has control over them anymore, which is why we have a chance of shattering his grip. Luthadel’s Great Houses are the key—they control imperial trade, not to mention enslave the greatest majority of the skaa. ”

  Kelsier pointed at the board, moving his ?nger between the line that said Chaos and the line that said Great Houses.

  “If we can turn the houses inside Luthadel against each other, we can bring down the city. Mistborn will start assassinating house leaders. Fortunes will collapse. It won’t take long before there is open warfare in the streets. Part of our contract with Yeden states that we’ll give him an opening to seize the city for himself. Can you think of a better one than that?”

  Breeze nodded with a smile. “It has ?air—and I do like the idea of having the noblemen kill each other. ”

  “You always like it better when someone else does the work, Breeze,” Ham noted.

  “My dear friend,” Breeze replied, “the entire point of life is to ?nd ways to get others to do your work for you. Don’t you know anything about basic economics?”

  Ham raised an eyebrow. “Actually, I—”

  “It was a rhetorical question, Ham,” Breeze interrupted, rolling his eyes.

  “Those are the best kind!” Ham replied.

  “Philosophy later, Ham,” Kelsier said. “Stay on task. What do you think of my suggestion?”


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