Mistborn the final empi.., p.37
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.37

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
Page 37

  Camon’s lair, Vin thought, growing apprehensive.

  “Well,” Ham said, “apparently the Ministry found it. ”

  It seems Rashek represents a growing faction in Terris culture. A large number of the youths think that their unusual powers should be used for more than just ?eldwork, husbandry, and stonecarving. They are rowdy, even violent—far different from the quiet, discerning Terris philosophers and holy men that I have known.

  They will have to be watched carefully, these Terrismen. They could be very dangerous, if given the opportunity and the motivation.


  KELSIER PAUSED IN THE DOORWAY, blocking Vin’s view. She stooped down, trying to peek past him into the lair, but too many people were in the way. She could only tell that the door hung at an angle, splintered, the upper hinge torn free.

  Kelsier stood for a long moment. Finally, he turned, looking past Dockson toward her. “Ham is right, Vin. You may not want to see this. ”

  Vin stood where she was, looking at him resolutely. Finally, Kelsier sighed, stepping into the room. Dockson followed, and Vin could ?nally see what they had been blocking.

  The ?oor was scattered with corpses, their twisted limbs shadowed and haunting in the light of Dockson’s solitary lantern. They weren’t rotting yet—the attack had happened only that morning—but there was still a smell of death about the room. The scent of blood drying slowly, the scent of misery and of terror.

  Vin remained in the doorway. She’d seen death before— seen it often, on the streets. Kni?ngs in alleys. Beatings in lairs. Children dead of starvation. She had once seen an old woman’s neck snapped by the backhand of an annoyed lord.

  The body had lain in the street for three days before a skaa corpse crew had ?nally come for it.

  Yet, none of those incidents had the same air of intentional butchery that she saw in Camon’s lair. These men hadn’t simply been killed, they had been torn apart. Limbs lay separated from torsos. Broken chairs and tables impaled chests. There were only a few patches of ?oor that were not covered in sticky, dark blood.

  Kelsier glanced at her, obviously expecting some sort of reaction. She stood, looking over the death, feeling… numb. What should her reaction be? These were the men who had mistreated her, stolen from her, beaten her. And yet, these were the men who had sheltered her, included her, and fed her when others might have simply given her to the whoremasters.

  Reen probably would have berated her for the traitorous sadness she felt at the sight. Of course, he had always been angry when—as a child—she’d cried as they left one town for another, not wanting to leave the people she’d grown to know, no matter how cruel or indifferent they were. Apparently, she hadn’t quite gotten over that weakness. She stepped into the room, not shedding any tears for these men, yet at the same time wishing that they had not come to such an end.

  In addition, the gore itself was disturbing. She tried to force herself to maintain a stiff face in front of the others, but she found herself cringing occasionally, glancing away from mangled corpses. The ones who had performed the attack had been quite… thorough.

  This seems extreme, even for the Ministry, she thought. What kind of person would do something like this?

  “Inquisitor,” Dockson said quietly, kneeling by a corpse.

  Kelsier nodded. Behind Vin, Sazed stepped into the room, careful to keep his robes clear of the blood. Vin turned toward the Terrisman, letting his actions distract her from a particularly grisly corpse. Kelsier was a Mistborn, and Dockson was supposedly a capable warrior. Ham and his men were securing the area. However, others—Breeze, Yeden, and Clubs— had stayed behind. The area was too dangerous. Kelsier had even resisted Vin’s desire to come.

  Yet, he had brought Sazed without apparent hesitation. The move, subtle though it was, made Vin regard the steward with a new curiosity. Why would it be too dangerous for Mistings, yet safe enough for a Terrisman steward? Was Sazed a warrior? How would he have learned to ?ght? Terrismen were supposedly raised from birth by very careful trainers.

  Sazed’s smooth step and calm face gave her few clues. He didn’t appear shocked by the carnage, however.

  Interesting, Vin thought, picking her way through shattered furniture, stepping clear of blood pools, making her way to Kelsier’s side. He crouched beside a pair of corpses. One, Vin noticed in a moment of shock, had been Ulef. The boy’s face was contorted and pained, the front of his chest a mass of broken bones and ripped ?esh—as if someone had forcibly torn the rib cage apart with his hands. Vin shivered, looking away.

  “This isn’t good,” Kelsier said quietly. “Steel Inquisitors don’t generally bother with simple thieving crews. Usually, the obligators would just come down with their troops and take everyone captive, then use them to make a good show on an execution day. An Inquisitor would only get involved if it had a special interest in the crew. ”

  “You think…” Vin said. “You think it might be the same one as before?”

  Kelsier nodded. “There are only about twenty Steel Inquisitors in the whole of the Final Empire, and half of them are out of Luthadel at any given time. I ?nd it too much of a coincidence that you would catch one’s interest, escape, and then have your old lair get hit. ”

  Vin stood quietly, forcing herself to look down at Ulef’s body and confront her sorrow. He had betrayed her in the end, but for a time he had almost been a friend.

  “So,” she said quietly, “the Inquisitor still has my scent?”

  Kelsier nodded, standing.

  “Then this is my fault,” Vin said. “Ulef and the others…”

  “It was Camon’s fault,” Kelsier said ?rmly. “He’s the one who tried to scam an obligator. ” He paused, then looked over at her. “You going to be all right?”

  Vin looked up from Ulef’s mangled corpse, trying to remain strong. She shrugged. “None of them were my friends. ”

  “That’s kind of coldhearted, Vin. ”

  “I know,” she said with a quiet nod.

  Kelsier regarded her for a moment, then crossed the room to speak with Dockson.

  Vin looked back at Ulef’s wounds. They looked like the work of some crazed animal, not a single man.

  The Inquisitor must have had help, Vin told herself. There is no way one person, even an Inquisitor, could have done all this. There was a pileup of bodies near the bolt exit, but a quick count told her that most—if not all—of the crew was accounted for. One man couldn’t have gotten to all of them quickly enough…could he have?

  There are a lot of things we don’t know about the Inquisitors, Kelsier had told her. They don’t quite follow the normal rules.

  Vin shivered again.

  Footsteps sounded on the stairs, and Vin grew tense, crouching and preparing to run.

  Ham’s familiar ?gure appeared in the stairwell. “Area’s secure,” he said, holding up a second lantern. “No sign of obligators or Garrisoners. ”

  “That’s their style,” Kelsier said. “They want the massacre to be discovered—they left the dead as a sign. ”

  The room fell silent save for a low mumbling from Sazed, who stood at the far left side of the room. Vin picked her way over to him, listening to the rhythmic cadence of his voice. Eventually, he stopped speaking, then bowed his head and closed his eyes.

  “What was that?” Vin asked as he looked up again.

  “A prayer,” Sazed said. “A death chant of the Cazzi. It is meant to awaken the spirits of the dead and entice them free from their ?esh so that they may return to the mountain of souls. ” He glanced at her. “I can teach you of the religion, if you wish, Mistress. The Cazzi were an interesting people— very familiar with death. ”

  Vin shook her head. “Not right now. You said their prayer—is this the religion you believe in, then?”

  “I believe in them all. ”

  Vin frowned. “None of them contradict each other?”

  Sazed smiled. “Oh, often and frequently they do.
But, I respect the truths behind them all—and I believe in the need for each one to be remembered. ”

  “Then, how did you decide which religion’s prayer to use?” Vin asked.

  “It just seemed… appropriate,” Sazed said quietly, regarding the scene of shadowed death.

  “Kell,” Dockson called from the back of the room. “Come look at this. ”

  Kelsier moved to join him, as did Vin. Dockson stood by the long corridor-like chamber that had been her crew’s sleeping quarters. Vin poked her head inside, expecting to ?nd a scene similar to the one in the common room. Instead, there was only a single corpse tied to a chair. In the weak light she could barely make out that his eyes had been gouged out.

  Kelsier stood quietly for a moment. “That’s the man I put in charge. ”

  “Milev,” Vin said with a nod. “What about him?”

  “He was killed slowly,” Kelsier said. “Look at the amount of blood on the ?oor, the way his limbs are twisted. He had time to scream and struggle. ”

  “Torture,” Dockson said, nodding.

  Vin felt a chill. She glanced up at Kelsier.

  “Shall we move our base?” Ham asked.

  Kelsier slowly shook his head. “When Clubs came to this lair, he would have worn a disguise to and from the meeting, hiding his limp. It’s his job as a Smoker to make certain that you can’t ?nd him just by asking around on the street. None of the people in this crew could have betrayed us—we should still be safe. ”

  No one spoke the obvious. The Inquisitor shouldn’t have been able to ?nd this lair either.

  Kelsier stepped back into the main room, pulling Dockson aside and speaking to him in a quiet voice. Vin edged closer, trying to hear what they were saying, but Sazed placed a restraining hand on her shoulder.

  “Mistress Vin,” he said disapprovingly, “if Master Kelsier wanted us to hear what he was saying, would he not speak in a louder voice?”

  Vin shot the Terrisman an angry glance. Then she reached inside and burned tin.

  The sudden stench of blood almost staggered her. She could hear Sazed’s breathing. The room was no longer dark—in fact, the brilliant light of two lanterns made her eyes water. She became aware of the stuffy, unventilated air.

  And she could hear, quite distinctly, Dockson’s voice.

  “…went to check on him a couple times, like you asked. You’ll ?nd him three streets west of the Fourwell Crossroads. ”

  Kelsier nodded. “Ham,” he said in a loud voice, causing Vin to jump.

  Sazed looked down at her with disapproving eyes.

  He knows something of Allomancy, Vin thought, reading the man’s expression. He guessed what I was doing.

  “Yes, Kell?” Ham said, peeking out of the back room.

  “Take the others back to the shop,” Kelsier said. “And be careful. ”

  “Of course,” Ham promised.

  Vin eyed Kelsier, then resentfully allowed herself to be ushered from the lair with Sazed and Dockson.

  I should have taken the carriage, Kelsier thought, frustrated by his slow pace. The others could have walked back from Camon’s lair.

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