Mistborn the final empi.., p.32
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.32

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
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Page 32

  Kelsier, however, refused to let her back out. Vin landed in a crouch just outside Mansion Renoux, puf?ng slightly from exertion. She regarded the lights with a slight feeling of apprehension.

  You’ve got to learn to do this, Vin, Kelsier kept telling her. You’re a talented Allomancer, but you’ll need more than Steel-pushes to succeed against the nobility. Until you can move in their society as easily as you do in the mists, you’ll be at a disadvantage.

  Letting out a quiet sigh, Vin rose from her crouch, then took off her mistcloak and stuffed it away for later retrieval. Then she walked up the steps and into the building. When she asked after Sazed, the mansion servants directed her to the kitchens, so she made her way into the closed-off, hidden section of the mansion that was the servants’ quarters.

  Even these parts of the building were kept immaculately clean. Vin was beginning to understand why Renoux made such a convincing impostor: He didn’t allow for imperfection. If he maintained his impersonation half as well as he maintained order in his mansion, then Vin doubted anyone would ever discover the ruse.

  But, she thought, he must have some ?aw. Back in the meeting two months ago, Kelsier said that Renoux wouldn’t be able to withstand scrutiny by an Inquisitor. Perhaps they’d be able to sense something about his emotions, something that gives him away?

  It was a small item, but Vin had not forgotten it. Despite Kelsier’s words about honesty and trust, he still had his secrets. Everyone did.

  Sazed was, indeed, to be found in the kitchens. He stood with a middle-aged servant. She was tall for a skaa woman—though standing next to Sazed made her look diminutive. Vin recognized her as a member of the mansion staff; Cosahn was her name. Vin had made an effort to memorize all of the names of the local staff, if only to keep tabs on them.

  Sazed looked over as Vin entered. “Ah, Mistress Vin. Your return is quite timely. ” He gestured to his companion. “This is Cosahn. ”

  Cosahn studied Vin with a businesslike air. Vin longed to return to the mists, where people couldn’t look at her like that.

  “It is long enough now, I think,” Sazed said.

  “Probably,” Cosahn said. “But I cannot perform miracles, Master Vaht. ”

  Sazed nodded. “Vaht” was, apparently, the proper title for a Terrisman steward. Not quite skaa, but de?nitely not noblemen, the Terrismen held a very strange place in imperial society.

  Vin studied the two of them suspiciously.

  “Your hair, Mistress,” Sazed said with a calm tone. “Cosahn is going to cut it for you. ”

  “Oh,” Vin said, reaching up. Her hair was getting a bit long for her taste—though somehow she doubted that Sazed was going to let her have it cropped boyishly short.

  Cosahn waved to a chair, and Vin reluctantly seated herself. She found it unnerving to sit docilely while someone worked with shears so close to her head, but there was no getting around it.

  After a few moments of running her hands through Vin’s hair, “tisk”ing quietly, Cosahn began to snip. “Such beautiful hair,” she said, almost as if to herself, “thick, with a nice deep black color. It’s a shame to see it cared for so poorly, Master Vaht. Many courtly women would die for hair like this—it has just enough body to lie full, but is straight enough to work with easily. ”

  Sazed smiled. “We’ll have to see that it receives better care in the future,” he said.

  Cosahn continued her work, nodding to herself. Eventually, Sazed walked over and took a seat just a few feet in front of Vin.

  “Kelsier hasn’t returned yet, I assume?” Vin asked.

  Sazed shook his head, and Vin sighed. Kelsier didn’t think she was practiced enough go with him on his nightly raids, many of which he went on directly following his training sessions with Vin. During the last two months, Kelsier had put in appearances on the properties of a dozen different noble houses, both in Luthadel and in Fellise. He varied his disguises and apparent motives, trying to create an air of confusion among the Great Houses.

  “What?” Vin asked, eyeing Sazed, who was regarding her with a curious look.

  The Terrisman nodded his head slightly with respect. “I was wondering if you might be willing to listen to another proposal. ”

  Vin sighed, rolling her eyes. “Fine. ” It isn’t like I can do anything else but sit here.

  “I think I have the perfect religion for you,” Sazed said, his normally stoic face revealing a glimmer of eagerness. “It is called ‘Trelagism,’ after the god Trell. Trell was worshipped by a group known as the Nelazan, a people who lived far to the north. In their land, the day and night cycle was very odd. During some months of the year, it was dark for most of the day. During the summer, however, it only grew dark for a few hours at a time.

  “The Nelazan believed that there was beauty in darkness, and that the daylight was more profane. They saw the stars as the Thousand Eyes of Trell watching them. The sun was the single, jealous eye of Trell’s brother, Nalt. Since Nalt only had one eye, he made it blaze brightly to outshine his brother. The Nelazan, however, were not impressed, and preferred to worship the quiet Trell, who watched over them even when Nalt obscured the sky. ”

  Sazed fell silent. Vin wasn’t sure how to respond, so she didn’t say anything.

  “It really is a good religion, Mistress Vin,” Sazed said. “Very gentle, yet very powerful. The Nelazan were not an advanced people, but they were quite determined. They mapped the entire night sky, counting and placing every major star. Their ways suit you—especially their preference of the night. I can tell you more, if you wish. ”

  Vin shook her head. “That’s all right, Sazed. ”

  “Not a good ?t, then?” Sazed said, frowning slightly. “Ah, well. I shall have to consider it some more. Thank you, Mistress—you are very patient with me, I think. ”

  “Consider it some more?” Vin asked. “That’s the ?fth religion you’ve tried to convert me to, Saze. How many more can there be?”

  “Five hundred and sixty two,” Sazed said. “Or, at least, that is the number of belief systems I know. There are, likely and unfortunately, others that have passed from this world without leaving traces for my people to collect. ”

  Vin paused. “And you have all of these religions memorized?”

  “As much as is possible,” Sazed said. “Their prayers, their beliefs, their mythologies. Many are very similar—breakoffs or sects of one another. ”

  “Even still, how can you remember all of that?”

  “I have. . methods,” Sazed said.

  “But, what’s the point?”

  Sazed frowned. “The answer should be obvious, I think. People are valuable, Mistress Vin, and so—therefore—are their beliefs. Since the Ascension a thousand years ago, so many beliefs have disappeared. The Steel Ministry forbids the worship of anyone but the Lord Ruler, and the Inquisitors have quite diligently destroyed hundreds of religions. If someone doesn’t remember them, then they will simply disappear. ”

  “You mean,” Vin said incredulously, “you’re trying to get me to believe in religions that have been dead for a thousand years?”

  Sazed nodded.

  Is everyone involved with Kelsier insane?

  “The Final Empire cannot last forever,” Sazed said quietly. “I do not know if Master Kelsier will be the one who ?nally brings its end, but that end will come. And when it does— when the Steel Ministry no longer holds sway—men will wish to return to the beliefs of their fathers. On that day they will look to the Keepers, and on that day we shall return to mankind his forgotten truths. ”

  “Keepers?” Vin asked as Cosahn moved around to begin snipping at her bangs. “There are more like you?”

  “Not many,” Sazed said. “But some. Enough to pass the truths on to the next generation. ”

  Vin sat thoughtfully, resisting the urge to squirm beneath Cosahn’s ministrations. The woman certainly was taking her time—when Reen had cut Vin’s hair, he had been ?nished after just
a few quick hacks.

  “Shall we go over your lessons while we wait, Mistress Vin?” Sazed asked.

  Vin eyed the Terrisman, and he smiled just slightly. He knew that he had her captive; she couldn’t hide, or even sit at the window, staring out into the mists. All she could do was sit and listen. “Fine. ”

  “Can you name all ten Great Houses of Luthadel in order of power?”

  “Venture, Hasting, Elariel, Tekiel, Lekal, Erikeller, Erikell, Haught, Urbain, and Buvidas. ”

  “Good,” Sazed said. “And you are?”

  “I am the Lady Valette Renoux, fourth cousin to Lord Teven Renoux, who owns this mansion. My parents—Lord Hadren and Lady Fellette Renoux—live in Chakath, a city in the Western Dominance. Major export, wool. My family works in trading dyes, speci?cally blushdip red, from the snails that are common there, and callow?eld yellow, made from tree bark. As part of a trade agreement with their distant cousin, my parents sent me down here to Luthadel, so I can spend some time at court. ”

  Sazed nodded. “And how do you feel about this opportunity?”

  “I am amazed and a little overwhelmed,” Vin said. “People will pay attention to me because they wish to curry favor with Lord Renoux. Since I’m not familiar with the ways of court, I will be ?attered by their attention. I will ingratiate myself to the court community, but I will stay quiet and out of trouble. ”

  “Your memorization skills are admirable, Mistress,” Sazed said. “This humble attendant wonders how much more successful might you be if you dedicated yourself to learning, rather than dedicating yourself to avoiding our lessons. ”

  Vin eyed him. “Do all Terrisman ‘humble attendants’ give their masters as much lip as you do?”

  “Only the successful ones. ”

  Vin eyed him for a moment, then sighed. “I’m sorry, Saze. I don’t mean to avoid your lessons. I just. . the mists…I get distracted sometimes. ”

  “Well, fortunately and honestly, you are very quick to learn. However, the people of the court have had their entire lives to study etiquette. Even as a rural noblewoman, there are certain things you would know. ”

  “I know,” Vin said. “I don’t want to stand out. ”

  “Oh, you can’t avoid that, Mistress. A newcomer, from a distant part of the empire? Yes, they will notice you. We just don’t want to make them suspicious. You must be considered, then dismissed. If you act too much like a fool, that will be suspect in and of itself. ”

  Great.

  Sazed paused, cocking his head slightly. A few seconds later, Vin heard footsteps in the hallway outside. Kelsier sauntered into the room, bearing a self-satis?ed smile. He pulled off his mistcloak, then paused as he saw Vin.

  “What?” she asked, sinking a little further into the chair.

  “The haircut looks good,” Kelsier said. “Nice job, Cosahn. ”

  “It was nothing, Master Kelsier. ” Vin could hear the blush in her voice. “I just work with what I have. ”

 
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