Mistborn the final empi.., p.36
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.36

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
Page 36

  “Master Kelsier,” Sazed said with a bow.

  Kelsier nodded, and Sazed stepped up beside him, looking toward the imperial palace. “Ah,” he said to himself, as if understanding Kelsier’s thoughts.

  Kelsier smiled. Sazed had been a valuable ?nd indeed. Keepers were necessarily secretive, for the Lord Ruler had hunted them practically since the Day of Ascension itself. Some legends claimed that the Ruler’s complete subjugation of the Terris people—including the breeding and stewardship programs—was simply an outgrowth of his hatred for Keepers.

  “I wonder what he would think if he knew a Keeper was in Luthadel,” Kelsier said, “barely a short walk from the palace itself. ”

  “Let us hope we never ?nd out, Master Kelsier,” Sazed said.

  “I appreciate your willingness to come here to the city, Saze. I know it’s a risk. ”

  “This is a good work,” Sazed said. “And this plan is dangerous for all involved. Indeed, simply living is dangerous for me, I think. It is not healthy to belong to a sect that the Lord Ruler himself fears. ”

  “Fears?” Kelsier asked, turning to look up at Sazed. Despite Kelsier’s above-average height, the Terrisman was still a good head taller. “I’m not sure if he fears anything, Saze. ”

  “He fears the Keepers,” Sazed said. “De?nitely and inexplicably. Perhaps it is because of our powers. We are not Allomancers, but. . something else. Something unknown to him. ”

  Kelsier nodded, turning back toward the city. He had so many plans, so much work to do—and at the core of it all were the skaa. The poor, humble, defeated skaa.

  “Tell me about another one, Saze,” Kelsier said. “One with power. ”

  “Power?” Sazed asked. “That is a relative term when applied to religion, I think. Perhaps you would like to hear of Jaism. Its followers were quite faithful and devout. ”

  “Tell me about them. ”

  “Jaism was founded by a single man,” Sazed said. “His true name is lost, though his followers simply called him ‘the Ja. ’ He was murdered by a local king for preaching discord— something he was apparently very good at—but that only made his following larger.

  “The Jaists thought that they earned happiness proportional to their overt devotion, and were known for frequent and fervent professions of faith. Apparently, speaking with a Jaist could be frustrating, since they tended to end nearly every sentence with ‘Praise the Ja. ’ ”

  “That’s nice, Saze,” Kelsier said. “But power is more than just words. ”

  “Oh, quite indeed,” Sazed agreed. “The Jaists were strong in their faith. Legends say that the Ministry had to wipe them out completely, since not one Jaist would accept the Lord Ruler as God. They didn’t last long past the Ascension, but only because they were so blatant that they were easy to hunt down and kill. ”

  Kelsier nodded, then he smiled, eyeing Sazed. “You didn’t ask me if I wanted to convert. ”

  “My apologies, Master Kelsier,” Sazed said, “but the religion does not suit you, I think. It has a level of brashness that you might ?nd appealing, but you would ?nd the theology simplistic. ”

  “You’re getting to know me too well,” Kelsier said, still regarding the city. “In the end, after kingdoms and armies had fallen, the religions were still ?ghting, weren’t they?”

  “Indeed,” Sazed said. “Some of the more resilient religions lasted all the way until the ?fth century. ”

  “What made them so strong?” Kelsier said. “How did they do it, Saze? What gave these theologies such power over people?”

  “It wasn’t any one thing, I think,” Sazed said. “Some were strong through honest faith, others because of the hope they promised. Others were coercive. ”

  “But they all had passion,” Kelsier said.

  “Yes, Master Kelsier,” Sazed said with a nod. “That is a quite true statement. ”

  “That’s what we’ve lost,” Kelsier said, looking over the city with its hundreds of thousands, barely a handful of whom would dare ?ght. “They don’t have faith in the Lord Ruler, they simply fear him. They don’t have anything left to believe in. ”

  “What do you believe in, if I may ask, Master Kelsier?”

  Kelsier raised an eyebrow. “I’m not exactly sure yet,” he admitted. “But overthrowing the Final Empire seems like a good start. Are there any religions on your list that include the slaughter of noblemen as a holy duty?”

  Sazed frowned disapprovingly. “I do not believe so, Master Kelsier. ”

  “Maybe I should found one,” Kelsier said with an idle smile. “Anyway, have Breeze and Vin returned yet?”

  “They arrived just before I came up here. ”

  “Good,” Kelsier said with a nod. “Tell them I’ll be down in a moment. ”

  Vin sat in her overstuffed chair in the conference room, legs tucked beneath her, trying to study Marsh out of the corner of her eye.

  He looked so much like Kelsier. He was just…stern. He wasn’t angry, nor was he grumpy like Clubs. He just wasn’t happy. He sat in his chair, a neutral expression on his face.

  The others had all arrived except for Kelsier, and they were chatting quietly amongst themselves. Vin caught Lestibournes’s eye and waved him over. The teenage boy approached and crouched beside her chair.

  “Marsh,” Vin whispered beneath the general hum of the room. “Is that a nickname?”

  “Notting without the call of his parents. ”

  Vin paused, trying to decipher the boy’s eastern dialect. “Not a nickname, then?”

  Lestibournes shook his head. “He wasing one though. ”

  “What was it?”

  “Ironeyes. Others stopped using it. Too calling close to an iron in the real eyes, eh? Inquisitor. ”

  Vin glanced at Marsh again. His expression was hard, his eyes unwavering, almost like they were made of iron. She could see why people would stop using the nickname; even referring to a Steel Inquisitor made her shiver.

  “Thanks. ”

  Lestibournes smiled. He was an earnest boy. Strange, intense, and jumpy—but earnest. He retreated to his stool as Kelsier ?nally arrived.

  “All right, crew,” he said. “What’ve we got?”

  “Besides the bad news?” Breeze asked.

  “Let’s hear it. ”

  “It’s been twelve weeks, and we’ve gathered under two thousand men,” Ham said. “Even with the numbers the rebellion already has, we’re going to fall short. ”

  “Dox?” Kelsier asked. “Can we get more meetings?”

  “Probably,” Dockson said from his seat beside a table stacked with ledgers.

  “Are you sure you want to take that risk, Kelsier?” Yeden asked. His attitude had improved during the last few weeks— especially once Kelsier’s recruits had begun to ?le in. As Reen had always said, results made quick friends.

  “We’re already in danger,” Yeden continued. “Rumors are all over the underground. If we make any more of a stir, the Ministry is going to realize that something major is happening. ”

  “He’s probably right, Kell,” Dockson said. “Besides, there are only so many skaa willing to listen. Luthadel is big, true, but our movement here is limited. ”

  “All right,” Kelsier said. “So, we’ll start working the other towns in the area. Breeze, can you split your crew into two effective groups?”

  “I suppose,” Breeze said hesitantly.

  “We can have one team work in Luthadel and the other work in surrounding towns. I can probably make it to all of the meetings, assuming we organize them so they don’t happen at the same time. ”

  “That many meetings will expose us even more,” Yeden said.

  “And that, by the way, brings up another problem,” Ham said. “Weren’t we supposed to be working on in?ltrating the Ministry’s ranks?”

  “Well?” Kelsier asked, turning to Marsh.

  Marsh shook his head. “The Ministry is tight—I need more time. ”

’s not going to happen,” Clubs grumbled. “Rebellion’s already tried it. ”

  Yeden nodded. “We’ve tried to get spies into the Inner Ministries a dozen times. It’s impossible. ”

  The room fell silent.

  “I have an idea,” Vin said quietly.

  Kelsier raised an eyebrow.

  “Camon,” she said. “He was working on a job before you recruited me. Actually, it was the job that got us spotted by the obligators. The core of that plan was organized by another thief, a crewleader named Theron. He was setting up a fake canal convoy to carry Ministry funds to Luthadel. ”

  “And?” Breeze asked.

  “Those same canal boats would have brought new Ministry acolytes to Luthadel for the ?nal part of their training. Theron has a contact along the route, a lesser obligator who was open to bribes. Maybe we could get him to add an ‘acolyte’ to the group from his local chapter. ”

  Kelsier nodded thoughtfully. “It’s worth looking into. ”

  Dockson scribbled something on a sheet with his fountain pen. “I’ll contact Theron and see if his informant is still viable. ”

  “How are our resources coming?” Kelsier asked.

  Dockson shrugged. “Ham found us two ex-soldier instructors. The weapons, however…well, Renoux and I are making contacts and initiating deals, but we can’t move very quickly. Fortunately, when the weapons come, they should come in bulk. ”

  Kelsier nodded. “That’s everything, right?”

  Breeze cleared his throat. “I’ve. . been hearing a lot of rumors on the streets, Kelsier,” he said. “The people are talking about this Eleventh Metal of yours. ”

  “Good,” Kelsier said.

  “Aren’t you worried that the Lord Ruler will hear? If he has forewarning of what you’re going to do, it will be much more dif?cult to… resist him. ”

  He didn’t say “kill,” Vin thought. They don’t think that Kelsier can do it.

  Kelsier just smiled. “Don’t worry about the Lord Ruler— I’ve got things under control. In fact, I intend to pay the Lord Ruler a personal visit sometime during the next few days. ”

  “Visit?” Yeden asked uncomfortably. “You’re going to visit the Lord Ruler? Are you insa…” Yeden trailed off, then glanced at the rest of the room. “Right. I forgot. ”

  “He’s catching on,” Dockson noted.

  Heavy footsteps sounded in the hallway, and one of Ham’s guards entered a moment later. He made his way to Ham’s chair and whispered a brief message.

  Ham frowned.

  “What?” Kelsier asked.

  “An incident,” Ham said.

  “Incident?” Dockson asked. “What kind of incident?”

  “You know that lair we met in a few weeks back?” Ham said. “The one where Kell ?rst introduced his plan?”

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