Mistborn the final empi.., p.24
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.24

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
Page 24

  “Oh?” Marsh asked, tapping the word atium on the board. “Why the games, Kelsier? Why lead Yeden along, pretending to accept him as your ‘employer’? Why act like you care about the skaa? We both know what you’re really after. ”

  Kelsier clenched his jaw, a bit of his humor melting away. He always could do that to me. “You don’t know me anymore, Marsh,” Kelsier said quietly. “This isn’t about money—I once had more wealth than any man could spend. This job is about something different. ”

  Marsh stood close, studying Kelsier’s eyes, as if searching for truth in them. “You always were a good liar,” he ?nally said.

  Kelsier rolled his eyes. “Fine, think what you want. But don’t preach to me. Overthrowing the empire might have been your dream once—but now you’ve become a good little skaa, staying in your shop and fawning over noblemen when they visit. ”

  “I’ve faced reality,” Marsh said. “Something you’ve never been good at. Even if you’re serious about this plan, you’ll fail. Everything the rebellion has done—the raids, the thefts, the deaths—has accomplished nothing. Our best efforts were never even a mild annoyance for the Lord Ruler. ”

  “Ah,” Kelsier said, “but being an annoyance is something that I am very good at. In fact, I’m far more than just a ‘mild’ annoyance—people tell me I can be downright frustrating. Might as well use this talent for the cause of good, eh?”

  Marsh sighed, turning away. “This isn’t about a ‘cause,’ Kelsier. It’s about revenge. It’s about you, just like everything always is. I’ll believe that you aren’t after the money— I’ll even believe that you intend to deliver Yeden this army he’s apparently paying you for. But I won’t believe that you care. ”

  “That’s where you are wrong, Marsh,” Kelsier said quietly. “That’s where you’ve always been wrong about me. ”

  Marsh frowned. “Perhaps. How did this start, anyway? Did Yeden come to you, or did you go to him?”

  “Does it matter?” Kelsier asked. “Look, Marsh. I need someone to in?ltrate the Ministry. This plan won’t go anywhere if we don’t discover a way to keep an eye on those Inquisitors. ”

  Marsh turned. “You actually expect me to help you?”

  Kelsier nodded. “That’s why you came here, no matter what you say. You once told me that you thought I could do great things if I ever applied myself to a worthy goal. Well, that’s what I’m doing now—and you’re going to help. ”

  “It’s not that easy anymore, Kell,” Marsh said with a shake of his head. “Some people are different now. Others are… gone. ”

  Kelsier let the room grow quiet. Even the hearth’s ?re was starting to die out. “I miss her too. ”

  “I’m sure that you do—but I have to be honest with you, Kell. Despite what she did… sometimes I wish that you hadn’t been the one to survive the Pits. ”

  “I wish the same thing every day. ”

  Marsh turned, studying Kelsier with his cold, discerning eyes. The eyes of a Seeker. Whatever he saw re?ected inside of Kelsier must have ?nally met with his approval.

  “I’m leaving,” Marsh said. “But, for some reason you actually seem sincere this time. I’ll come back and listen to whatever insane plan you’ve concocted. Then…well, we’ll see. ”

  Kelsier smiled. Beneath it all, Marsh was a good man—a better one than Kelsier had ever been. As Marsh turned toward the door, Kelsier caught a ?icker of shadowed movement from beneath the doorway. He immediately burned iron, and the translucent blue lines shot out from his body, connecting him to nearby sources of metal. Marsh, of course, had none on his person—not even any coins. Traveling through skaa sectors of town could be very dangerous for a man who looked even marginally prosperous.

  Someone else, however, hadn’t yet learned not to carry metal on her person. The blue lines were thin and weak—they didn’t do well penetrating wood—but they were just strong enough to let Kelsier locate the belt latch of a person out in the hallway, moving quickly away from the door on silent feet.

  Kelsier smiled to himself. The girl was remarkably skilled. Her time on the streets, however, had also left her with remarkable scars. Hopefully, he would be able to encourage the skills while helping heal the scars.

  “I’ll return tomorrow,” Marsh said as he reached the door.

  “Just don’t come by too early,” Kelsier said with a wink. “I’ve got some things to do tonight. ”

  Vin waited quietly in her darkened room, listening to footsteps clomp down the stairs to the ground ?oor. She crouched beside her door, trying to determine if both sets had continued down the steps or not. The hallway fell silent, and eventually she breathed a quiet sigh of relief.

  A knock sounded on the door just inches from her head.

  Her start of surprise nearly knocked her to the ground. He’s good! she thought.

  She quickly ruf?ed her hair and rubbed her eyes, trying to make it appear as if she had been sleeping. She untucked her shirt, and waited until the knock came again before pulling open the door.

  Kelsier lounged against the doorframe, backlit by the hallway’s single lantern. The tall man raised an eyebrow at her disheveled state.

  “Yes?” Vin asked, trying to sound drowsy.

  “So, what do you think of Marsh?”

  “I don’t know,” Vin said, “I didn’t see much of him before he kicked us out. ”

  Kelsier smiled. “You’re not going to admit that I caught you, are you?”

  Vin almost smiled back. Reen’s training came to her rescue. The man who wants you to trust him is the one you must fear the most. Her brother’s voice almost seemed to whisper in her head. It had grown stronger since she’d met Kelsier, as if her instincts were on edge.

  Kelsier studied her for a moment, then stepped back from the doorframe. “Tuck in that shirt and follow me. ”

  Vin frowned. “Where are we going?”

  “To begin your training. ”

  “Now?” Vin asked, glancing at the dark shutters to her room.

  “Of course,” Kelsier said. “It’s a perfect night for a stroll. ”

  Vin straightened her clothing, joining him in the hallway. If he actually planned to begin teaching her, then she wasn’t going to complain, no matter what the hour. They walked down the steps to the ?rst ?oor. The workroom was dark, furniture projects lying half ?nished in the shadows. The kitchen, however, was bright with light.

  “Just a minute,” Kelsier said, walking toward the kitchen.

  Vin paused just inside the shadows of the workroom, letting Kelsier enter the kitchen without her. She could just barely see inside. Dockson, Breeze, and Ham sat with Clubs and his apprentices around a wide table. Wine and ale were present, though in small amounts, and the men were munching on a simple evening snack of puffed barley cakes and battered vegetables.

  Laughter trickled out into the workroom. Not raucous laughter, such as had often sounded from Camon’s table. This was something softer—something indicative of genuine mirth, of good-natured enjoyment.

  Vin wasn’t certain what kept her out of the room. She hesitated—as if the light and the humor were a barrier—and she instead remained in the quiet, solemn workroom. She watched from the darkness, however, and wasn’t completely able to suppress her longing.

  Kelsier returned a moment later, carrying his pack and a small cloth bundle. Vin regarded the bundle with curiosity, and he handed it to her with a smile. “A present. ”

  The cloth was slick and soft in Vin’s ?ngers, and she quickly realized what it was. She let the gray material unroll in her ?ngers, revealing a Mistborn cloak. Like the garment Kelsier had worn the night before, it was tailored completely from separate, ribbonlike strips of cloth.

  “You look surprised,” Kelsier noted.

  “I… assumed that I’d have to earn this somehow. ”

  “What’s there to earn?” Kelsier said, pulling out his own cloak. “This is who you are, Vin. ”

  She paused, t
hen threw the cloak over her shoulders and tied it on. It felt…different. Thick and heavy on her shoulders, but light and unconstraining around her arms and legs. The ribbons were sewn together at the top, allowing her to pull it tight by the mantle if she wished. She felt…enveloped. Protected.

  “How does it feel?” Kelsier asked.

  “Good,” Vin said simply.

  Kelsier nodded, pulling out several glass vials. He handed two to her. “Drink one; keep the other in case you need it. I’ll show you how to mix new vials later. ”

  Vin nodded, downing the ?rst vial and tucking the second into her belt.

  “I’m having some new clothing tailored for you,” Kelsier said. “You’ll want to get into the habit of wearing things that don’t have any metal on them: belts with no buckles, shoes that slip on and off, trousers without clasps. Perhaps later, if you’re feeling daring, we’ll get you some women’s clothing. ”

  Vin ?ushed slightly.

  Kelsier laughed. “I’m just teasing you. However, you’re entering a new world now—you may ?nd that there are situations where it will be to your advantage to look less like a crew thief and more like a young lady. ”

  Vin nodded, following Kelsier as he walked to the shop’s front door. He pushed the portal open, revealing a wall of darkly shifting mists. He stepped out into them. Taking a deep breath, Vin followed.

  Kelsier shut the door behind them. The cobbled street felt muf?ed to Vin, the shifting mists making everything just a bit damp. She couldn’t see far in either direction, and the street ends seemed to fade into nothingness, paths into eternity. Above, there was no sky, just swirling currents of gray upon gray.

  “All right, let’s begin,” Kelsier said. His voice felt loud in the quiet, empty street. There was a con?dence to his tone, something that—confronted with the mists all around—Vin certainly didn’t feel.

  “Your ?rst lesson,” Kelsier said, strolling down the street, Vin trailing along beside him, “isn’t about Allomancy, but attitude. ” He swept his hand forward. “This, Vin. This is ours. The night, the mists—they belong to us. Skaa avoid the mists as if they were death. Thieves and soldiers go out at night, but they fear it nonetheless. Noblemen feign nonchalance, but the mist makes them uncomfortable. ”

  He turned, regarding her. “The mists are your friend, Vin. They hide you, they protect you…and they give you power. Ministry doctrine—something rarely shared with skaa— claims that the Mistborn are descendants of the only men who remained true to the Lord Ruler during the days before his Ascension. Other legends whisper that we are something beyond even the Lord Ruler’s power, something that was born on that day when the mists ?rst came upon the land. ”

  Vin nodded slightly. It seemed odd to hear Kelsier speak so openly. Buildings ?lled with sleeping skaa loomed on either side of the street. And yet, the dark shutters and quiet air made Vin feel as if she and Kelsier were alone. Alone in the most densely populated, overcrowded city in all of the Final Empire.

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