Mistborn the final empi.., p.29
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.29
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         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
Page 29

  “That isn’t something worth talking about,” he said.

  “But there was a traitor,” Vin said.

  “We don’t know for certain. ” That sounded weak, even to him. “Regardless, my crews rely on trust. That means no coercions. If you want out, we can go back to Luthadel right now. I’ll show you the last two metals, then you can be on your way. ”

  “I don’t have enough money to survive on my own,” Vin said.

  Kelsier reached inside of his cloak and pulled out a bag of coins, then tossed it onto the seat beside her. “Three thousand boxings. The money I took from Camon. ”

  Vin glanced at the bag distrustfully.

  “Take it,” Kelsier said. “You’re the one who earned it— from what I’ve been able to gather, your Allomancy was behind most of Camon’s recent successes, and you were the one who risked Pushing the emotions of an obligator. ”

  Vin didn’t move.

  Fine, Kelsier thought, reaching up and knocking on the underside of the coachman’s chair. The carriage stopped, and Sazed soon appeared at his window.

  “Turn the carriage around please, Saze,” Kelsier said. “Take us back to Luthadel. ”

  “Yes, Master Kelsier. ”

  Within moments, the carriage was rolling back in the direction it had come. Vin watched in silence, but she seemed a little less certain of herself. She eyed the bag of coins.

  “I’m serious, Vin,” Kelsier said. “I can’t have someone on my team who doesn’t want to work with me. Turning you away isn’t a punishment; it’s just the way things must be. ”

  Vin didn’t respond. Letting her go would be a gamble—but forcing her to stay would be a bigger one. Kelsier sat, trying to read her, trying to understand her. Would she betray them to the Final Empire if she left? He thought not. She wasn’t a bad person.

  She just thought that everybody else was.

  “I think your plan is crazy,” she said quietly.

  “So do half the people on the crew. ”

  “You can’t defeat the Final Empire. ”

  “We don’t have to,” Kelsier said. “We just have to get Yeden an army, then seize the palace. ”

  “The Lord Ruler will stop you,” Vin said. “You can’t beat him—he’s immortal. ”

  “We have the Eleventh Metal,” Kelsier said. “We’ll ?nd a way to kill him. ”

  “The Ministry is too powerful. They’ll ?nd your army and destroy it. ”

  Kelsier leaned forward, looking Vin in the eye. “You trusted me enough to jump off the top of the wall, and I caught you. You’re going to have to trust me this time too. ”

  She obviously didn’t like the word “trust” very much. She studied him in the weak lanternlight, remaining quiet long enough that the silence grew uncomfortable.

  Finally, she snatched the bag of coins, quickly hiding it beneath her cloak. “I’ll stay,” she said. “But not because I trust you. ”

  Kelsier raised an eyebrow. “Why, then?”

  Vin shrugged, and she sounded perfectly honest when she spoke. “Because I want to see what happens. ”

  Having a keep in Luthadel quali?ed a house for high noble status. However, having a keep didn’t mean that one had to live in it, especially not all of the time. Many families also maintained a residence in one of Luthadel’s outskirt cities.

  Less crowded, cleaner, and less strict in its observance of imperial laws, Fellise was a rich town. Rather than containing imposing, buttressed keeps, it was ?lled with lavish manors and villas. Trees even lined some of the streets; most of them were aspens, whose bone-white bark was somehow resistant to the discoloring of the ash.

  Vin watched the mist-cloaked city through her window, the carriage lantern extinguished at her request. Burning tin, she was able to study the neatly organized and well-groomed streets. This was a section of Fellise she had rarely seen; despite the town’s opulence, its slums were remarkably similar to the ones in every other city.

  Kelsier watched the city through his own window, frowning.

  “You disapprove of the waste,” Vin guessed, her voice a whisper. The sound would carry to Kelsier’s enhanced ears. “You see the riches of this city and think of the skaa who worked to create it. ”

  “That’s part of it,” Kelsier said, his own voice barely a whisper. “There’s more, though. Considering the amount of money spent on it, this city should be beautiful. ”

  Vin cocked her head. “It is. ”

  Kelsier shook his head. “The homes are still stained black. The soil is still arid and lifeless. The trees still grow leaves of brown. ”

  “Of course they’re brown. What else would they be?”

  “Green,” Kelsier said. “Everything should be green. ”

  Green? Vin thought. What a strange thought. She tried to imagine trees with green leaves, but the image seemed silly. Kelsier certainly had his quirks—though, anyone who had spent so long at the Pits of Hathsin was bound to be left a bit strange.

  He turned back toward her. “Before I forget, there are a couple more things you should know about Allomancy. ”

  Vin nodded.

  “First,” Kelsier said, “remember to burn away any unused metals you have inside of you at the end of the night. Some of the metals we use can be poisonous if digested; it’s best not to sleep with them in your stomach. ”

  “All right,” Vin said.

  “Also,” Kelsier said, “never try to burn a metal that isn’t one of the ten. I warned you that impure metals and alloys can make you sick. Well, if you try to burn a metal that isn’t Allomantically sound at all, it could be deadly. ”

  Vin nodded solemnly. Good to know, she thought.

  “Ah,” Kelsier said, turning back toward the window. “Here we are: the newly purchased Manor Renoux. You should probably take off your cloak—the people here are loyal to us, but it always pays to be careful. ”

  Vin agreed completely. She pulled off the cloak, letting Kelsier tuck it in his pack. Then she peeked out the carriage window, peering through the mists at the approaching manor. The grounds had a low stone wall and an iron gate; a pair of guards opened the way as Sazed identi?ed himself.

  The roadway inside was lined with aspens, and atop the hill ahead Vin could see a large manor house, phantom light spilling from its windows.

  Sazed pulled the carriage up before the manor, then handed the reins to a servant and climbed down. “Welcome to Manor Renoux, Mistress Vin,” he said, opening the door and gesturing to help her down.

  Vin eyed his hand, but didn’t take it, instead scrambling down on her own. The Terrisman didn’t seem offended by her refusal.

  The steps to the manor house were lit by a double line of lantern poles. As Kelsier hopped from the carriage, Vin could see a group of men gathering at the top of the white marble stairs. Kelsier climbed the steps with a springy stride; Vin followed behind, noticing how clean the steps were. They would have to be scrubbed regularly to keep the ash from staining them. Did the skaa who maintained the building know that their master was an imposter? How was Kelsier’s “benevolent” plan to overthrow the Final Empire helping the common people who cleaned these steps?

  Thin and aging, “Lord Renoux” wore a rich suit and a pair of aristocratic spectacles. A sparse, gray mustache colored his lip, and—despite his age—he didn’t carry a cane for support. He nodded respectfully to Kelsier, but maintained a digni?ed air. Immediately, Vin was struck by one obvious fact: This man knows what he is doing.

  Camon had been skilled at impersonating noblemen, but his self-importance had always struck Vin as a bit juvenile. While there were noblemen like Camon, the more impressive ones were like this Lord Renoux: calm, and self-con?dent. Men whose nobility was in their bearing rather than their ability to speak scornfully to those around them. Vin had to resist cringing when the impostor’s eyes fell on her—he seemed far too much a nobleman, and she had been trained to re?exively avoid their attention.

manor is looking much better,” Kelsier said, shaking hands with Renoux.

  “Yes, I’m impressed with its progress,” Renoux said. “My cleaning crews are quite pro?cient—give us a bit more time, and the manor will be so grand that I wouldn’t hesitate to host the Lord Ruler himself. ”

  Kelsier chuckled. “Wouldn’t that be an odd dinner party. ” He stepped back, gesturing toward Vin. “This is the young lady I spoke of. ”

  Renoux studied her, and Vin glanced away. She didn’t like it when people looked at her that way—it made her wonder how they were going to try and use her.

  “We will need to speak further of this, Kelsier,” Renoux said, nodding toward the mansion’s entrance. “The hour is late, but. . ”

  Kelsier stepped into the building. “Late? Why, it’s barely midnight. Have your people prepare some food—Lady Vin and I missed dinner. ”

  A missed meal was nothing new to Vin. However, Renoux immediately waved to some servants, and they leapt into motion. Renoux walked into the building, and Vin followed. She paused in the entryway, however, Sazed waiting patiently behind her.

  Kelsier paused, turning when he noticed that she wasn’t following. “Vin?”

  “It’s so… clean,” Vin said, unable to think of any other description. On jobs, she’d occasionally seen the homes of noblemen. However, those times had happened at night, in dark gloom. She was unprepared for the well-lit sight before her.

  The white marble ?oors of Manor Renoux seemed to glow, re?ecting the light of a dozen lanterns. Everything was… pristine. The walls were white except where they had been wash-painted with traditional animal murals. A brilliant chandelier sparkled above a double staircase, and the room’s other decorations—crystal sculptures, vases set with bundles of aspen branches—glistened, unmarred by soot, smudge, or ?ngerprint.

  Kelsier chuckled. “Well, her reaction speaks highly of your efforts,” he said to Lord Renoux.

  Vin allowed herself to be led into the building. The group turned right, entering a room whose whites were muted slightly by the addition of maroon furnishings and drapes.

  Renoux paused. “Perhaps the lady could enjoy some refreshment here for a moment,” he said to Kelsier. “There are some matters of a. . delicate nature that I would discuss with you. ”

  Kelsier shrugged. “Fine with me,” he said, following Renoux toward another doorway. “Saze, why don’t you keep Vin company while Lord Renoux and I talk?”

  “Of course, Master Kelsier. ”

  Kelsier smiled, eyeing Vin, and somehow she knew that he was leaving Sazed behind to keep her from eavesdropping.

  She shot the departing men an annoyed look. What was that you said about “trust,” Kelsier? However, she was even more annoyed at herself for getting unsettled. Why should she care if Kelsier excluded her? She had spent her entire life being ignored and dismissed. It had never bothered her before when other crewleaders left her out of their planning sessions.

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