Mistborn the final empi.., p.21
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.21

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
Page 21

  “It could work,” Ham said, settling back. “But I can’t see the Lord Ruler letting things go that far. ”

  “It’s our job to see that he doesn’t have a choice,” Kelsier said. “He’s known to let his nobility squabble, probably to keep them off-balance. We fan those tensions, then we somehow force the Garrison to pull out. When the houses start ?ghting in earnest, the Lord Ruler won’t be able to do anything to stop them—except, perhaps, send his palace guard into the streets, which is exactly what we want him to do. ”

  “He could also send for a koloss army,” Ham noted.

  “True,” Kelsier said. “But they’re stationed a moderate distance away. That’s a ?aw we need to exploit. Koloss troops make wonderful grunts, but they have to be kept away from civilized cities. The very center of the Final Empire is exposed, yet the Lord Ruler is con?dent in his strength—and why shouldn’t he be? He hasn’t faced a serious threat in centuries. Most cities only need small policing forces. ”

  “Twenty thousand men is hardly a ‘small’ number,” Breeze said.

  “It is on a national scale,” Kelsier said, holding up a ?nger. “The Lord Ruler keeps most of his troops on the edges of his empire, where the threat of rebellion is strongest. That’s why we’re going to strike him here, in Luthadel itself—and that’s why we’re going to succeed. ”

  “Assuming we can deal with that Garrison,” Dockson noted.

  Kelsier nodded, turning to write House War underneath Great Houses and Chaos. “All right, then. Let’s talk about the Garrison. What are we going to do about it?”

  “Well,” Ham said speculatively, “historically, the best way to deal with a large force of soldiers is to have your own large force of soldiers. We’re going to raise Yeden an army—why not let them attack the Garrison? Isn’t that kind of the point of raising the army in the ?rst place?”

  “That won’t work, Hammond,” Breeze said. He regarded his empty cup of wine, then held it up toward the boy sitting beside Clubs, who immediately scurried over to re?ll it.

  “If we wanted to defeat the Garrison,” Breeze continued, “we’d need our own force of at least its same size. We’d probably want one much larger, since our men will be newly trained. We might be able to raise Yeden an army—we might even be able to get him one large enough to hold the city for a while. But, getting him one large enough to take on the Garrison inside its forti?cations? We might as well give up now, if that’s our plan. ”

  The group fell silent. Vin squirmed in her chair, looking over each man in turn. Breeze’s words had a profound effect. Ham opened his mouth to speak, then closed it again, sitting back to reconsider.

  “All right,” Kelsier ?nally said. “We’ll get back to the Garrison in a moment. Let’s look at our own army. How can we raise one of substantial size and hide it from the Lord Ruler?”

  “Again, that will be dif?cult,” Breeze said. “There is a very good reason why the Lord Ruler feels safe in the Central Dominance. There are constant patrols on the roadways and canals, and you can hardly spend a day traveling without running into a village or plantation. This isn’t the sort of place where you can raise an army without attracting notice. ”

  “The rebellion has those caves up to the north,” Dockson said. “We might be able to hide some men there. ”

  Yeden paled. “You know about the Arguois caverns?”

  Kelsier rolled his eyes. “Even the Lord Ruler knows about them, Yeden. The rebels there just aren’t dangerous enough to bother him yet. ”

  “How many people do you have, Yeden?” Ham asked. “In Luthadel and around it, caves included? What do we have to start with?”

  Yeden shrugged. “Maybe three hundred—including women and children. ”

  “And how many do you think those caves could hide?” Ham asked.

  Yeden shrugged again.

  “The caves could support a larger group, for certain,” Kelsier said. “Perhaps ten thousand. I’ve been there—the rebellion has been hiding people in them for years, and the Lord Ruler has never bothered to destroy them. ”

  “I can imagine why,” Ham said. “Cave ?ghting is nasty business, especially for the aggressor. The Lord Ruler likes to keep defeats to a minimum—he’s nothing if not vain. Anyway, ten thousand. That’s a decent number. It could hold the palace with ease—might even be able to hold the city, if it had the walls. ”

  Dockson turned to Yeden. “When you asked for an army, what size were you thinking?”

  “Ten thousand sounds like a good number, I suppose,” Yeden said. “Actually…it’s a bit larger than I was thinking. ”

  Breeze tipped his cup slightly, swirling the wine. “I hate to sound contrary again—that’s usually Hammond’s job— but I do have to return to our earlier problem. Ten thousand men. That won’t even frighten the Garrison. We’re talking about twenty thousand well-armed, well-trained troops. ”

  “He has a point, Kell,” Dockson said. He had found a small book somewhere, and had begun taking notes on the meeting.

  Kelsier frowned.

  Ham nodded. “Any way you look at it, Kell, that Garrison is going to be a tough stone to break. Perhaps we should just focus on the nobility. Maybe we can cause enough chaos that even the Garrison won’t be able to suppress it. ”

  Kelsier shook his head. “Doubtful. The Garrison’s primary duty is to maintain order in the city. If we can’t deal with those troops, we’ll never pull this off. ” He paused, then eyed Vin. “What do you think, Vin? Any suggestions?”

  She froze. Camon had never asked her opinion. What did Kelsier want from her? She pulled back into her chair slightly as she realized that the other members of the crew had turned, looking at her.

  “I…” Vin said slowly.

  “Oh, don’t intimidate the poor thing, Kelsier,” Breeze said with a wave of his hand.

  Vin nodded, but Kelsier didn’t turn away from her. “No, really. Tell me what you’re thinking, Vin. You’ve got a much larger enemy threatening you. What do you do?”

  “Well,” she said slowly. “You don’t ?ght him, that’s for certain. Even if you won somehow, you’d be so hurt and broken that you couldn’t ?ght off anyone else. ”

  “Makes sense,” Dockson said. “But we might not have a choice. We have to get rid of that army somehow. ”

  “And if it just left the city?” she asked. “That would work too? If I had to deal with someone big, I’d try and distract him ?rst, get him to leave me alone. ”

  Ham chuckled. “Good luck getting the Garrison to leave Luthadel. The Lord Ruler sends squads out on patrol sometimes, but the only time I know of the entire Garrison leaving was when that skaa rebellion broke out down in Courteline a half century ago. ”

  Dockson shook his head. “Vin’s idea is too good to dismiss that easily, I think. Really, we can’t ?ght the Garrison—at least, not while they’re entrenched. So, we need to get them to leave the city somehow. ”

  “Yes,” Breeze said, “but it would take a particular crisis to require involving the Garrison. If the problem weren’t threatening enough, the Lord Ruler wouldn’t send the entire Garrison. If it were too dangerous, he’d hunker down and send for his koloss. ”

  “A rebellion in one of the nearby cities?” Ham suggested.

  “That leaves us with the same problem as before,” Kelsier said, shaking his head. “If we can’t get the skaa here to rebel, we’ll never get ones outside the city to do so. ”

  “What about a feint of some sort, then?” Ham asked. “We’re assuming that we’ll be able to raise a sizable group of soldiers. If they pretend to attack someplace nearby, perhaps the Lord Ruler would send the Garrison out to help. ”

  “I doubt he’d send them away to protect another city,” Breeze said. “Not if it left him exposed in Luthadel. ”

  The group fell silent, thinking again. Vin glanced around, then found Kelsier’s eyes on her.

  “What?” he asked.

  She squirmed a bit, glan
cing down. “How far away are the Pits of Hathsin?” she ?nally asked.

  The crew paused.

  Finally, Breeze laughed. “Oh, now that’s devious. The nobility don’t know that the Pits produce atium, so the Lord Ruler couldn’t make much of a fuss—not without revealing that there’s something very special about those Pits. That means no koloss. ”

  “They wouldn’t arrive in time anyway,” Ham said. “The Pits are only a couple of days away. If they were threatened, the Lord Ruler would have to respond quickly. The Garrison would be the only force in striking distance. ”

  Kelsier smiled, eyes alight. “And it wouldn’t take much of an army to threaten the Pits, either. A thousand men could do it. We send them to attack, then when the Garrison leaves, we march our second, larger force in and seize Luthadel itself. By the time the Garrison realized that they’d been duped, they wouldn’t be able to get back in time to stop us from taking the city walls. ”

  “Could we keep them, though?” Yeden asked apprehensively.

  Ham nodded eagerly. “With ten thousand skaa, I could hold this city against the Garrison. The Lord Ruler would have to send for his koloss. ”

  “By then, we’d have the atium,” Kelsier said. “And the Great Houses won’t be in any position to stop us—they’ll be weakened and frail because of their internal ?ghting. ”

  Dockson was scribbling furiously on his pad. “We’ll need to use Yeden’s caves, then. They’re within striking distance of both our targets, and they’re closer to Luthadel than the Pits are. If our army left from there, it could get here before the Garrison could return from the Pits. ”

  Kelsier nodded.

  Dockson continued to scribble. “I’ll have to start stockpiling supplies in those caves, maybe make a trip out to check conditions there. ”

  “And, how are we going to get the soldiers there?” Yeden asked. “That’s a week outside the city—and skaa aren’t allowed to travel on their own. ”

  “I’ve already got someone who can help us there,” Kelsier said, writing Attack Pits of Hathsin beneath Luthadel Garrison on his board. “I have a friend that can give us a front to run canal boats to the north. ”

  “Assuming,” Yeden said, “you can even make good on your ?rst and primary promise. I paid you to gather me an army. Ten thousand men is a great number, but I’ve still to see an adequate explanation of how you’re going to raise them. I’ve already told you the kinds of problems we’ve had trying to recruit in Luthadel. ”

  “We won’t need the general population to support us,” Kelsier said. “Just a small percentage of them—there are nearly a million workers in and around Luthadel. This should actually be the easiest part of the plan, since we happen to be in the presence of one of the world’s greatest Soothers. Breeze, I’m counting on you and your Allomancers to force us up a nice selection of recruits. ”

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