Mistborn the final empi.., p.33
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.33

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
Download  in MP3 audio
Page 33

  “Mirror,” Vin said, holding out her hand.

  Cosahn handed her one. Vin held it up, and what she saw gave her pause. She looked…like a girl.

  Cosahn had done a remarkable job of evening out the hair, and she had managed to get rid of the snags. Vin had always found that if her hair got too long, it had a tendency to stand up. Cosahn had done something about this too. Vin’s hair still wasn’t very long—it barely hung down over her ears—but at least it lay ?at.

  You don’t want them to think of you as a girl, Reen’s voice warned. Yet, for once, she found herself wanting to ignore that voice.

  “We might actually turn you into a lady, Vin!” Kelsier said with a laugh, earning him a glare from Vin.

  “First we’ll have to persuade her not to scowl so often, Master Kelsier,” Sazed noted.

  “That’s going to be hard,” Kelsier said. “She’s quite fond of making faces. Anyway, well done, Cosahn. ”

  “I’ve still got a little bit of trimming to do, Master Kelsier,” the woman said.

  “By all means, continue,” Kelsier said. “But I’m going to ?lch Sazed for a moment. ”

  Kelsier winked at Vin, smiled at Cosahn, then he and Sazed retreated from the room—once again leaving Vin where she couldn’t eavesdrop.

  Kelsier peeked into the kitchen, watching Vin sit sullenly in her chair. The haircut really was good. However, his compliments had an ulterior motive—he suspected that Vin had spent far too much of her life being told that she was worthless. Perhaps if she had a bit more self-con?dence, she wouldn’t try to hide so much.

  He let the door slide shut, turning to Sazed. The Terrisman waited, as always, with restful patience.

  “How is the training going?” Kelsier asked.

  “Very well, Master Kelsier,” Sazed said. “She already knew some things from training she received at her brother’s hands. Above that, however, she is an extremely intelligent girl— perceptive and quick to memorize. I didn’t expect such skill from one who grew up in her circumstances. ”

  “A lot of the street children are clever,” Kelsier said. “The ones who aren’t dead. ”

  Sazed nodded solemnly. “She is extremely reserved, and I sense that she doesn’t see the full value in my lessons. She is very obedient, but is quick to exploit mistakes or misunderstandings. If I don’t tell her exactly when and where to meet, I often have to search the entire mansion for her. ”

  Kelsier nodded. “I think it’s her way of maintaining a bit of control in her life. Anyway, what I really wanted to know is whether she’s ready or not. ”

  “I’m not sure, Master Kelsier,” Sazed replied. “Pure knowledge is not the equivalent of skill. I’m not certain if she has the… poise to imitate a noblewoman, even a young and inexperienced one. We’ve done practice dinners, gone over conversational etiquette, and memorized gossip. She seems skilled at it all, in a controlled situation. She’s even done well sitting in on tea meetings when Renoux entertains noble guests. However, we won’t really be able to tell if she can do this until we put her alone in a party full of aristocrats. ”

  “I wish she could practice some more,” Kelsier said with a shake of his head. “But every week we spend preparing increases the chances that the Ministry will discover our budding army in the caves. ”

  “It is a test of balance, then,” Sazed said. “We must wait long enough to gather the men we need, yet move soon enough to avoid discovery. ”

  Kelsier nodded. “We can’t pause for one crewmember— we’ll have to ?nd someone else to be our mole if Vin does badly. Poor girl—I wish I had time to train her better in Allomancy. We’ve barely covered the ?rst four metals. I just don’t have enough time!”

  “If I might make a suggestion…”

  “Of course, Saze. ”

  “Send the child with some of the Misting crewmembers,” Sazed said. “I hear that the man Breeze is a very accomplished Soother, and surely the others are equally skilled. Let them show Mistress Vin how to use her abilities. ”

  Kelsier paused thoughtfully. “That’s a good idea, Saze. ”

  “But?”

  Kelsier glanced back toward the door, beyond which Vin was still petulantly getting her haircut. “I’m not sure. Today, when we were training, we got into a Steelpush shoving match. The kid has to weigh less than half what I do, but she gave me a decent pummeling anyway. ”

  “Different people have different strengths in Allomancy,” Sazed said.

  “Yes, but the variance isn’t usually this great,” Kelsier said. “Plus, it took me months and months to learn how to manipulate my Pushes and Pulls. It’s not as easy as it sounds—even something as simple as Pushing yourself up onto a rooftop requires an understanding of weight, balance, and trajectory.

  “But Vin… she seems to know all these things instinctively. True, she can only use the ?rst four metals with any skill, but the progress she’s made is amazing. ”

  “She is a special girl. ”

  Kelsier nodded. “She deserves more time to learn about her powers. I feel a little guilty about pulling her into our plans. She’ll probably end up at a Ministry execution ceremony with the rest of us. ”

  “But that guilt won’t stop you from using her to spy on the aristocracy. ”

  Kelsier shook his head. “No,” he said quietly. “It won’t. We’ll need every advantage we can get. Just…watch over her, Saze. From now on, you’ll act as Vin’s steward and guardian at the functions she attends—it won’t be odd for her to bring a Terrisman servant with her. ”

  “Not at all,” Sazed agreed. “In fact, it would be strange to send a girl her age to courtly functions without an escort. ”

  Kelsier nodded. “Protect her, Saze. She might be a powerful Allomancer, but she’s inexperienced. I’ll feel a lot less guilty about sending her into those aristocratic dens if I know you’re with her. ”

  “I will protect her with my life, Master Kelsier. I promise you this. ”

  Kelsier smiled, resting a thankful hand on Sazed’s shoulder. “I feel pity for the man who gets in your way. ”

  Sazed bowed his head humbly. He looked innocuous, but Kelsier knew the strength that Sazed hid. Few men, Allomancers or not, would fare well in a ?ght with a Keeper whose anger had been roused. That was probably why the Ministry had hunted the sect virtually to extinction.

  “All right,” Kelsier said. “Get back to your teaching. Lord Venture is throwing a ball at the end of the week, and—ready or not—Vin is going to be there. ”

  It amazes me how many nations have united behind our purpose. There are still dissenters, of course—and some kingdoms, regrettably, have fallen to wars that I could not stop.

  Still, this general unity is glorious, even humbling, to contemplate. I wish that the nations of mankind hadn’t required such a dire threat to make them see the value of peace and cooperation.

  10

  VIN WALKED ALONG A STREET in the Cracks—one of Luthadel’s many skaa slums—with her hood up. For some reason, she found the muf?ed heat of a hood preferable to the oppressive red sunlight.

  She walked with a slouch, eyes down, sticking near to the side of the street. The skaa she passed had similar airs of dejection. No one looked up; no one walked with a straight back or an optimistic smile. In the slums, those things would make one look suspicious.

  She’d almost forgotten how oppressive Luthadel could be. Her weeks in Fellise had accustomed her to trees and washed stone. Here, there was nothing white—no creeping aspens, no whitewashed granite. All was black.

  Buildings were stained by countless, repetitive ashfalls. Air curled with smoke from the infamous Luthadel smithies and a thousand separate noble kitchens. Cobblestones, doorways, and corners were clogged with soot—the slums were rarely swept clean.

  It’s like. . things are actually brighter at night than they are during the day, Vin thought, pulling her patched skaa cloak close, turning a corner. She passed beggars, huddled on corn
ers, hands outstretched and hoping for an offering, their pleadings falling vainly on the ears of people who were themselves starving. She passed workers, walking with heads and shoulders bowed, caps or hoods pulled down to keep ash out of their eyes. Occasionally, she passed squads of Garrison town guards, walking with full armor—breastplate, cap, and black cloak—trying to look as intimidating as possible.

  This last group moved through the slums, acting as the Lord Ruler’s hands in an area most obligators found too distasteful to visit. The Garrisoners kicked at beggars to make certain they were truly invalids, stopped wandering workers to harass them about being on the streets instead of working, and made a general nuisance of themselves. Vin ducked down as a group passed, pulling her hood close. She was old enough that she should have been either bearing children or working in a mill, but her size often made her look younger in pro?le.

  Either the ruse worked, or this particular squad wasn’t interested in looking for ditchers, for they let her pass with barely a glance. She ducked around a corner, walking down an ash-drifted alley, and approached the soup kitchen at the end of the small street.

  Like most of its kind, the kitchen was dingy and poorly maintained. In an economy where workers were rarely, if ever, given direct pay, kitchens had to be supported by the nobility. Some local lords—probably the owners of the mills and forges in the area—paid the kitchen owner to provide food for the local skaa. The workers would be given meal tokens for their time, and would be allowed a short break at midday to go eat. The central kitchen would allow the smaller businesses to avoid the costs of providing on-site meals.

  Of course, since the kitchen owner was paid directly, he could pocket whatever he could save on ingredients. In Vin’s experience, kitchen food was about as tasty as ashwater.

  Fortunately, she hadn’t come to eat. She joined the line at the door, waiting quietly as workers presented their meal chips. When her turn came, she pulled out a small wooden disk and passed it to the skaa man at the door. He accepted the chip with a smooth motion, nodding almost imperceptibly to his right.

  Vin walked in the indicated direction, passing through a ?lthy dining room, ?oor scattered with tracked-in ash. As she approached the far wall, she could see a splintery wooden door set in the room’s corner. A man seated by the door caught her eyes, nodded slightly, and pushed the door open. Vin passed quickly into the small room beyond.

  “Vin, my dear!” Breeze said, lounging at a table near the center of the room. “Welcome! How was Fellise?”

  Vin shrugged, taking a seat at the table.

  “Ah,” Breeze said. “I’d almost forgotten what a fascinating conversationalist you are. Wine?”

  Vin shook her head.

  “Well, I would certainly like some. ” Breeze wore one of his extravagant suits, dueling cane resting across his lap. The chamber was only lit by a single lantern, but it was far cleaner than the room outside. Of the four other men in the room, Vin recognized only one—an apprentice from Clubs’s shop. The two by the door were obviously guards. The last man appeared to be a regular skaa worker—complete with blackened jacket and ashen face. His self-con?dent air, however, proved that he was a member of the underground. Probably one of Yeden’s rebels.

 

Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up
Scroll
  • 10 457
  • 0
Add comment

Add comment