Mistborn the final empi.., p.25
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.25

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
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Page 25

  Kelsier continued to walk, the spring in his step incongruent with the dark gloom.

  “Shouldn’t we be worried about soldiers?” Vin asked quietly. Her crews always had to be careful of nighttime Garrison patrols.

  Kelsier shook his head. “Even if we were careless enough to be spotted, no imperial patrol would dare bother Mistborn. They’d see our cloaks and pretend not to see us. Remember, nearly all Mistborn are members of the Great Houses—and the rest are from lesser Luthadel houses. Either way, they’re very important individuals. ”

  Vin frowned. “So, the guards just ignore the Mistborn?”

  Kelsier shrugged. “It’s bad etiquette to acknowledge that the skulking rooftop ?gure you see is actually a very distinguished and proper high lord—or even high lady. Mistborn are so rare that houses can’t afford to apply gender prejudices to them.

  “Anyway, most Mistborn live two lives—the life of the courtgoing aristocrat, and the life of the sneaking, spying Allomancer. Mistborn identities are closely guarded house secrets—rumors regarding who is Mistborn are always a focus of high noble gossip. ”

  Kelsier turned down another street, Vin following, still a bit nervous. She wasn’t certain where he was taking her; it was easy to get lost in the night. Perhaps he didn’t even have a destination, and was just accustoming her to the mists.

  “All right,” Kelsier said, “let’s get you used to the basic metals. Can you feel your metal reserves?”

  Vin paused. If she focused, she could distinguish eight sources of power within her—each one far larger, even, than her two had been on the day when Kelsier had tested her. She had been reticent to use her Luck much since then. She was coming to realize that she had been using a weapon she’d never really understood—a weapon that had accidentally drawn the attention of a Steel Inquisitor.

  “Begin burning them, one at a time,” Kelsier said.

  “Burning?”

  “That’s what we call it when you activate an Allomantic ability,” Kelsier said. “You ‘burn’ the metal associated with that power. You’ll see what I mean. Start with the metals you don’t know about yet—we’ll work on Soothing and Raging emotions some other time. ”

  Vin nodded, pausing in the middle of the street. Tentatively, she reached out to one of the new sources of power. One of them was slightly familiar to her. Had she used it before without realizing it? What would it do?

  Only one way to ?nd out… Uncertain what, exactly, she was supposed to do, Vin gripped the source of power and tried to use it.

  Immediately, she felt a ?are of heat from within her chest. It wasn’t discomforting, but it was obvious and distinct. Along with the warmth came something else—a feeling of rejuvenation, and of power. She felt… more solid, somehow.

  “What happened?” Kelsier asked.

  “I feel different,” Vin said. She held up her hand, and it seemed as if the limb reacted just a bit too quickly. The muscles were eager. “My body is strange. I don’t feel tired anymore, and I feel alert. ”

  “Ah,” Kelsier said. “That’s pewter. It enhances your physical abilities, making you stronger, more able to resist fatigue and pain. You’ll react more quickly when you’re burning it, and your body will be tougher. ”

  Vin ?exed experimentally. Her muscles didn’t seem any bigger, yet she could feel their strength. It wasn’t just in her muscles, however—it was everything about her. Her bones, her ?esh, her skin. She reached out to her reserve, and could feel it shrinking.

  “I’m running out,” she said.

  Kelsier nodded. “Pewter burns relatively quickly. The vial I gave you was measured to contain about ten minutes’ worth of continuous burning—though it will go faster if you ?are often and slower if you are careful about when you use it. ”

  “Flare?”

  “You can burn your metals a little more powerfully if you try,” Kelsier said. “It makes them run out much faster, and it’s dif?cult to maintain, but it can give you an extra boost. ”

  Vin frowned, trying to do as he said. With a push of effort, she was able to stoke the ?ames within her chest, ?aring the pewter.

  It was like the inhaled breath before a daring leap. A sudden rush of strength and power. Her body grew tense with anticipation, and for just a moment she felt invincible. Then it passed, her body relaxing slowly.

  Interesting, she thought, noting how quickly her pewter had burned during that brief moment.

  “Now, there’s something you need to know about Allomantic metals,” Kelsier said as they strolled forward in the mists. “The more pure they are, the more effective they are. The vials we prepare contain absolutely pure metals, prepared and sold speci?cally for Allomancers.

  “Alloys—like pewter—are even trickier, since the metal percentages have to be mixed just right, if you want maximum power. In fact, if you aren’t careful when you buy your metals, you could end up with the wrong alloy entirely. ”

  Vin frowned. “You mean, someone might scam me?”

  “Not intentionally,” Kelsier said. “The thing is, most of the terms that people use—words like ‘brass,’ ‘pewter,’ and ‘bronze’—are really quite vague, when you get down to it. Pewter, for instance, is generally accepted as an alloy of tin mixed with lead, with perhaps some copper or silver, depending on the use and the circumstances. Allomancer’s pewter, however, is an alloy of ninety-one percent tin, nine percent lead. If you want maximum strength from your metal, you have to use those percentages. ”

  “And…if you burn the wrong percentage?” Vin asked.

  “If the mixture is only off by a bit, you’ll still get some power out of it,” Kelsier said. “However, if it’s too far off, burning it will make you sick. ”

  Vin nodded slowly. “I… think I’ve burned this metal before. Once in a while, in very small amounts. ”

  “Trace metals,” Kelsier said. “From drinking water contaminated by metals, or by eating with pewter utensils. ”

  Vin nodded. Some of the mugs in Camon’s lair had been pewter.

  “All right,” Kelsier said. “Extinguish the pewter and let’s move on to another metal. ”

  Vin did as asked. The withdrawal of power left her feeling weak, tired, and exposed.

  “Now,” Kelsier said, “you should be able to notice a kind of pairing between your reserves of metal. ”

  “Like the two emotion metals,” Vin said.

  “Exactly. Find the metal linked to pewter. ”

  “I see it,” Vin said.

  “There are two metals for every power,” Kelsier said. “One Pushes, one Pulls—the second is usually an alloy of the ?rst. For emotions—the external mental powers—you Pull with zinc and Push with brass. You just used pewter to Push your body. That’s one of the internal physical powers. ”

  “Like Ham,” Vin said. “He burns pewter. ”

  Kelsier nodded. “Mistings who can burn pewter are called Thugs. A crude term, I suppose—but they tend to be rather crude people. Our dear Hammond is something of an exception to that rule. ”

  “So, what does the other internal physical metal do?”

  “Try it and see. ”

  Vin did so eagerly, and the world suddenly became brighter around her. Or…well, that wasn’t quite right. She could see better, and she could see farther, but the mists were still there. They were just. . more translucent. The ambient light around her seemed brighter, somehow.

  There were other changes. She could feel her clothing. She realized that she had always been able to feel it, but she usually ignored it. Now, however, it felt closer. She could sense the textures, and was acutely aware of the places where the cloth was tight on her.

  She was hungry. That, too, she had been ignoring—yet now her hunger seemed far more pressing. Her skin felt wetter, and she could smell the crisp air mixed with scents of dirt, soot, and refuse.

  “Tin enhances your senses,” Kelsier said, his voice suddenly seeming quite loud. “And it’s one of t
he slowest-burning metals—the tin in that vial is enough to keep you going for hours. Most Mistborn leave their tin on whenever they’re out in the mists—I’ve had mine on since we left the shop. ”

  Vin nodded. The wealth of sensations was nearly overwhelming. She could hear creaks and scuf?es in the darkness, and they made her want to jump in alarm, certain that someone was sneaking up behind her.

  This is going to take some getting used to.

  “Leave it burning,” Kelsier said, waving for her to walk beside him as he continued down the street. “You’ll want to accustom yourself to the enhanced senses. Just don’t ?are it all the time. Not only would you run out of it very quickly, but perpetually ?aring metals does…strange things to people. ”

  “Strange?” Vin asked.

  “Metals—especially tin and pewter—stretch your body. Flaring the metals only pushes this stretching further. Stretch it too far for too long, and things start to break. ”

  Vin nodded uncomfortably. Kelsier fell quiet, and they continued to walk, letting Vin explore her new sensations and the detailed world that tin revealed. Before, her vision had been restricted to a tiny pocket within the night. Now, however, she saw an entire city enveloped by a blanket of shifting, swirling mist. She could make out keeps like small, dark mountains in the distance, and could see specks of light from windows, like pin-pricked holes in the night. And above. . she saw lights in the sky.

  She stopped, gazing up with wonder. They were faint, blurred to even her tin-enhanced eyes, but she could just barely make them out. Hundreds of them. Thousands of them. So small, like the dying embers of candles recently extinguished.

  “Stars,” Kelsier said, strolling up beside her. “You can’t see them very often, even with tin. It must be a particularly clear night. People used to be able to look up and see them every night—that was before the mists came, before the Ash-mounts erupted ash and smoke into the sky. ”

  Vin glanced at him. “How do you know?”

  Kelsier smiled. “The Lord Ruler has tried very hard to crush memories of those days, but still some remain. ” He turned, not really having answered her question, and continued to walk. Vin joined him. Suddenly, with tin, the mists around her didn’t seem so ominous. She was beginning to see how Kelsier could walk about at night with such con?dence.

  “All right,” Kelsier eventually said. “Let’s try another metal. ”

  Vin nodded, leaving her tin on but picking another metal to burn as well. When she did so, a very strange thing happened—a multitude of faint blue lines sprung from her chest, streaking out into the spinning mists. She froze, gasping slightly and looking down at her chest. Most of the lines were thin, like translucent pieces of twine, though a couple were as thick as yarn.

  Kelsier chuckled. “Leave that metal and its partner alone for the moment. They’re a bit more complicated than the others. ”

 

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