Mistborn the final empi.., p.23
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.23

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
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Page 23

  “Ah,” Breeze said, exchanging a glance with Ham. “One of those. Well, then. ”

  “What?” Yeden asked. “What does he mean?”

  “You don’t want to know,” Breeze said.

  “I don’t?”

  Breeze shook his head. “You know how unsettled you just were when Kelsier said he’d replaced Lord Renoux with an impostor? Well, this is about a dozen times worse. Trust me— the less you know, the more comfortable you’ll be. ”

  Yeden looked toward Kelsier, who was smiling broadly. Yeden paled, then leaned back in his chair. “I think you’re probably right. ”

  Vin frowned, eying the others in the room. They seemed to know what Kelsier was talking about. She’d have to study this Lord Renoux sometime.

  “Anyway,” Kelsier said, “we have to send someone to the social functions. Dox, therefore, will be playing Renoux’s nephew and heir, a scion of the family who has recently gained favor with Lord Renoux. ”

  “Wait a moment, Kell,” Dockson said. “You didn’t tell me about this. ”

  Kelsier shrugged. “We’re going to need someone to be our dupe with the nobility. I assumed that you’d ?t the role. ”

  “Can’t be me,” Dockson said. “I got marked during the Eiser job just a couple months back. ”

  Kelsier frowned.

  “What?” Yeden asked. “Do I want to know what they’re talking about this time?”

  “He means that the Ministry is watching for him,” Breeze said. “He pretended to be a nobleman, and they found out. ”

  Dockson nodded. “The Lord Ruler himself saw me on one occasion, and he’s got a ?awless memory. Even if I managed to avoid him, someone’s bound to recognize me eventually. ”

  “So…” Yeden said.

  “So,” Kelsier said, “we’ll need someone else to play Lord Renoux’s heir. ”

  “Don’t look at me,” Yeden said apprehensively.

  “Trust me,” Kelsier said ?atly, “nobody was. Clubs is out too—he’s far too prominent a local skaa craftsman. ”

  “I’m out as well,” Breeze said. “I already have several aliases among the nobility. I suppose I could use one of them, but I couldn’t go to any major balls or parties—it would be rather embarrassing if I met someone who knew me by a different alias. ”

  Kelsier frowned thoughtfully.

  “I could do it,” Ham said. “But you know I’m no good at acting. ”

  “What about my nephew?” Clubs said, nodding to the young man at his side.

  Kelsier studied the boy. “What’s your name, son?”

  “Lestibournes. ”

  Kelsier raised an eyebrow. “That’s a mouthful. You don’t have a nickname?”

  “Not of the yetting yet. ”

  “We’ll have to work on that,” Kelsier said. “Do you always speak in that Eastern street slang?”

  The boy shrugged, obviously nervous at being such a center of attention. “Wasing the place when I was young. ”

  Kelsier glanced at Dockson, who shook his head. “I don’t think it’s a good idea, Kell. ”

  “Agreed. ” Kelsier turned to Vin, then smiled. “I guess that leaves you. How good are you at imitating a noblewoman?”

  Vin paled slightly. “My brother gave me a few lessons. But, I’ve never actually tried to…. ”

  “You’ll do ?ne,” Kelsier said, writing Vin: In?ltration underneath Great Houses. “All right. Yeden, you should probably begin planning how you’re to keep control of the empire once this is all through. ”

  Yeden nodded. Vin felt a little sorry for the man, seeing how much the planning—the sheer outrageousness of it all— seemed to be overwhelming him. Still, it was hard to feel sympathy for him, considering what Kelsier had just said regarding her part in all this.

  Playing a noblewoman? she thought. Surely there’s someone else who could do a better job….

  Breeze’s attention was still on Yeden and his obvious discomfort. “Don’t look so solemn, my dear fellow,” Breeze said. “Why, you’ll probably never actually have to rule the city. Chances are, we’ll all get caught and executed long before that happens. ”

  Yeden smiled wanly. “And if we don’t? What’s to keep you all from just kni?ng me and taking the empire for yourselves?”

  Breeze rolled his eyes. “We’re thieves, my dear man, not politicians. A nation is far too unwieldy a commodity to be worth our time. Once we have our atium, we’ll be happy. ”

  “Not to mention rich,” Ham added.

  “The two words are synonyms, Hammond,” Breeze said.

  “Besides,” Kelsier said to Yeden. “We won’t be giving you the entire empire—hopefully, it will shatter once Luthadel destabilizes. You’ll have this city, and probably a good piece of the Central Dominance—assuming you can bribe the local armies into supporting you. ”

  “And… the Lord Ruler?” Yeden asked.

  Kelsier smiled. “I’m still planning to deal with him personally—I just have to ?gure out how to make the Eleventh Metal work. ”

  “And if you don’t?”

  “Well,” Kelsier said, writing Yeden: Preparation and Rule beneath Skaa Rebellion on the board, “we’ll try and ?nd a way to trick him out of the city. Perhaps we can get him to go with his army to the Pits and secure things there. ”

  “Then what?” Yeden asked.

  “You ?nd some way to deal with him,” Kelsier said. “You didn’t hire us to kill the Lord Ruler, Yeden—that’s just a possible perk I intend to throw in if I can. ”

  “I wouldn’t worry too much, Yeden,” Ham added. “He won’t be able to do much without funds or armies. He’s a powerful Allomancer, but by no means omnipotent. ”

  Breeze smiled. “Though, if you think about it, hostile, dethroned pseudodeities probably make disagreeable neighbors. You’ll have to ?gure out something to do with him. ”

  Yeden didn’t appear to like that idea much, but he didn’t continue the argument.

  Kelsier turned. “That should be it, then. ”

  “Uh,” Ham said, “what about the Ministry? Shouldn’t we at least ?nd a way to keep an eye on those Inquisitors?”

  Kelsier smiled. “We’ll let my brother deal with them. ”

  “Like hell you will,” a new voice said from the back of the room.

  Vin jumped to her feet, spinning and glancing toward the room’s shadowed doorway. A man stood there. Tall and broad-shouldered, he had a statuesque rigidity. He wore modest clothing—a simple shirt and trousers with a loose skaa jacket. His arms were folded in dissatisfaction, and he had a hard, square face that looked a bit familiar.

  Vin glanced back at Kelsier. The similarity was obvious.

  “Marsh?” Yeden said, standing. “Marsh, it is you! He promised you’d be joining the job, but I…well…welcome back!”

  Marsh’s face remained impassive. “I’m not certain if I’m ‘back’ or not, Yeden. If you all don’t mind, I’d like to speak privately with my little brother. ”

  Kelsier didn’t seem intimidated by Marsh’s harsh tone. He nodded to the group. “We’re done for the evening, folks. ”

  The others rose slowly, giving Marsh a wide berth as they left. Vin followed them, pulling the door shut and walking down the stairs to give the appearance of retiring to her room.

  Less than three minutes later she was back at the door, listening carefully to the conversation going on inside.

  Rashek is a tall man—of course, most of these Terrismen are tall. He is young to receive so much respect from the other packmen. He has charisma, and the women of court would probably describe him as handsome, in a rugged sort of way.

  Yet, it amazes me that anyone would give heed to a man who speaks such hatred. He has never seen Khlennium, yet he curses the city. He does not know me, yet I can already see the anger and hostility in his eyes.

  7

  THREE YEARS HADN’T CHANGED MARSH’S appearance much. He was still the stern, commanding person Kelsier had know
n since childhood. There was still that glint of disappointment in his eyes, and he spoke with the same air of disapproval.

  Yet, if Dockson were to be believed, Marsh’s attitudes had changed much since that day three years before. Kelsier still found it hard to believe that his brother had given up leadership of the skaa rebellion. He had always been so passionate about his work.

  Apparently, that passion had dimmed. Marsh walked forward, regarding the charcoal writing board with a critical eye. His clothing was stained slightly by dark ash, though his face was relatively clean, for a skaa. He stood for a moment, looking over Kelsier’s notes. Finally, Marsh turned and tossed a sheet of paper onto the chair beside Kelsier.

  “What is this?” Kelsier asked, picking it up.

  “The names of the eleven men you slaughtered last night,” Marsh said. “I thought you might at least want to know. ”

  Kelsier tossed the paper into the crackling hearth. “They served the Final Empire. ”

  “They were men, Kelsier,” Marsh snapped. “They had lives, families. Several of them were skaa. ”

  “Traitors. ”

  “People,” Marsh said. “People who were just trying to do the best with what life gave them. ”

  “Well, I’m just doing the same thing,” Kelsier said. “And, fortunately, life gave me the ability to push men like them off the tops of buildings. If they want to stand against me like noblemen, then they can die like noblemen. ”

  Marsh’s expression darkened. “How can you be so ?ippant about something like this?”

  “Because, Marsh,” Kelsier said, “humor is the only thing I’ve got left. Humor and determination. ”

  Marsh snorted quietly.

  “You should be happy,” Kelsier said. “After decades of listening to your lectures, I’ve ?nally decided to do something worthwhile with my talents. Now that you’re here to help, I’m sure—”

  “I’m not here to help,” Marsh interrupted.

  “Then why did you come?”

  “To ask you a question. ” Marsh stepped forward, stopping right in front of Kelsier. They were about the same height, but Marsh’s stern personality always made him seem to loom taller.

  “How dare you do this?” Marsh asked quietly. “I dedicated my life to overthrowing the Final Empire. While you and your thieving friends partied, I hid runaways. While you planned petty burglaries, I organized raids. While you lived in luxury, I watched brave people die of starvation. ”

  Marsh reached up, stabbing a ?nger at Kelsier’s chest. “How dare you? How dare you try and hijack the rebellion for one of your little ‘jobs’? How dare you use this dream as a way of enriching yourself?”

  Kelsier pushed Marsh’s ?nger away. “That’s not what this is about. ”

 

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