Mistborn the final empi.., p.48
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.48

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
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Page 48

  Still, it felt good to be up again. There had been some-thing…wrong about simply recovering in bed. Such a lengthy period of rest wouldn’t have been given to a regular thief; thieves either got back to work quickly or were abandoned for dead. Those who couldn’t bring in money for food couldn’t be allowed to take up space in the lair.

  But, that isn’t the only way people live, Vin thought. She was still uncomfortable with that knowledge. It hadn’t mattered to Kelsier and the others that she drained their resources—they hadn’t exploited her weakened state, but had cared for her, each one spending time at her bedside. Most notable among the vigilists had been the young Lestibournes. Vin didn’t even feel that she knew him very well, yet Kelsier said that the boy had spent hours watching over her during her coma.

  What did one make of a world where a crewleader agonized over his people? In the underground, each person bore responsibility for what happened to them—the weaker segment of a crew had to be allowed to die, lest they keep everyone else from earning enough to survive. If a person got captured by the Ministry, you left them to their fate and hoped that they didn’t betray too much. You didn’t worry about your own guilt at putting them in danger.

  They’re fools, Reen’s voice whispered. This entire plan will end in disaster—and your death will be your own fault for not leaving when you could.

  Reen had left when he could. Perhaps he’d known that the Inquisitors would eventually hunt her down for the powers she unwittingly possessed. He always had known when to leave—it was no accident, she thought, that he hadn’t ended up slaughtered with the rest of Camon’s crew.

  And yet, she ignored Reen’s promptings in her head, instead letting the carriage pull her toward Fellise. It wasn’t that she felt completely secure in her place with Kelsier’s crew— indeed, in a way, her place with these people was making her even more apprehensive. What if they stopped needing her? What if she became useless to them?

  She had to prove to them that she could do what they needed her to. There were functions to attend, a society to in?ltrate. She had so much work to do; she couldn’t afford to spend any more of it sleeping.

  In addition, she needed to return to her Allomantic practice sessions. It had only taken a few short months for her to grow dependent upon her powers, and she longed for the freedom of leaping through the mists, of Pulling and Pushing her way through the skies. Kredik Shaw had taught her that she wasn’t invincible—but Kelsier’s survival with barely a scratch proved that it was possible to be much better than she was. Vin needed to practice, to grow in strength, until she too could escape Inquisitors like Kelsier had.

  The carriage turned a bend and rolled into Fellise. The familiar, pastoral suburb made Vin smile to herself, and she leaned against the open carriage window, feeling the breeze. With luck, some streetgoers would gossip that Lady Valette had been seen riding through the city. She arrived at Mansion Renoux a few short turns later. A footman opened the door, and Vin was surprised to see Lord Renoux himself waiting outside the carriage to help her down.

  “My lord?” she said, giving him her hand. “Surely you have more important things to attend to. ”

  “Nonsense,” he said. “A lord must be allowed time to dote upon his favored niece. How was your ride?”

  Does he ever break character? He didn’t ask after the others in Luthadel, or give any indication that he knew of her wound.

  “It was refreshing, Uncle,” she said as they walked up the steps to the mansion doors. Vin was thankful for the pewter burning lightly in her stomach to give strength to her still weak legs. Kelsier had warned against using it too much, lest she grow dependent upon its power, but she saw little alternative until she was healed.

  “That is wonderful,” Renoux said. “Perhaps, once you are feeling better, we should take lunch together on the garden balcony. It has been warm lately, despite the coming winter. ”

  “That would be very pleasant,” Vin said. Before, she’d found the impostor’s noble bearing intimidating. Yet, as she slipped into the persona of Lady Valette, she experienced the same calmness as before. Vin the thief was nothing to a man such as Renoux, but Valette the socialite was another matter.

  “Very good,” Renoux said, pausing inside the entryway. “However, let us attend to that on another day—for now, you would likely prefer to rest from your journey. ”

  “Actually, my lord, I’d like to visit Sazed. I have some matters I must discuss with the steward. ”

  “Ah,” Renoux said. “You will ?nd him in the library, working on one of my projects. ”

  “Thank you,” Vin said.

  Renoux nodded, then walked away, his dueling cane clicking against the white marble ?oor. Vin frowned, trying to decide if he was completely sane. Could someone really adopt a persona that wholly?

  You do it, Vin reminded herself. When you become Lady Valette, you show a completely different side of yourself.

  She turned, ?aring pewter to help her climb the northern set of stairs. She let her ?are lapse as she reached the top, returning to a normal burn. As Kelsier said, it was dangerous to ?are metals for too extended a period; an Allomancer could quickly make their body dependent.

  She took a few breaths—climbing the stairs had been dif?cult, even with pewter—then walked down the corridor to the library. Sazed sat at a desk beside a small coal stove on the far side of the small room, writing on a pad of paper. He wore his standard steward’s robes, and a pair of thin spectacles sat at the end of his nose.

  Vin paused in the doorway, regarding the man who had saved her life. Why is he wearing spectacles? I’ve seen him read before without them. He seemed completely absorbed by his work, periodically studying a large tome on the desk, then turning to scribble notes on his pad.

  “You’re an Allomancer,” Vin said quietly.

  Sazed paused, then set down his pen and turned. “What makes you say that, Mistress Vin?”

  “You got to Luthadel too quickly. ”

  “Lord Renoux keeps several swift messenger horses in his stables. I could have taken one of those. ”

  “You found me at the palace,” Vin said.

  “Kelsier told me of his plans, and I correctly assumed that you had followed him. Locating you was a stroke of luck, one that nearly took me too long to achieve. ”

  Vin frowned. “You killed the Inquisitor. ”

  “Killed?” Sazed asked. “No, Mistress. It takes far more power than I possess to kill one of those monstrosities. I simply…distracted him. ”

  Vin stood in the doorway for a moment longer, trying to ?gure out why Sazed was being so ambiguous. “So, are you an Allomancer or not?”

  He smiled, then he pulled a stool out from beside the desk. “Please, sit down. ”

  Vin did as requested, crossing the room and sitting on the stool, her back to a massive bookshelf.

  “What would you think if I told you that I wasn’t an Allomancer?” Sazed asked.

  “I’d think that you were lying,” Vin said.

  “Have you known me to lie before?”

  “The best liars are those who tell the truth most of the time. ”

  Sazed smiled, regarding her through bespectacled eyes. “That is true, I think. Still, what proof have you that I am an Allomancer?”

  “You did things that couldn’t have been done without Allomancy. ”

  “Oh? A Mistborn for two months, and already you know all that is possible in the world?”

  Vin paused. Up until just recently, she hadn’t even known much about Allomancy. Perhaps there was more to the world than she had assumed.

  There’s always another secret. Kelsier’s words.

  “So,” she said slowly, “what exactly is a ‘Keeper’?”

  Sazed smiled. “Now, that is a far more clever question, Mistress. Keepers are…storehouses. We remember things, so that they can be used in the future. ”

  “Like religions,” Vin said.

  Sazed nodded.
“Religious truths are my particular specialty. ”

  “But, you remember other things too?”

  Sazed nodded.

  “Like what?”

  “Well,” Sazed said, closing the tome he had been studying. “Languages, for instance. ”

  Vin immediately recognized the glyph-covered cover. “The book I found in the palace! How did you get it?”

  “I happened across it while searching for you,” the Terrisman said. “It is written in a very old language, one that hasn’t been spoken regularly in nearly a millennium. ”

  “But you speak it?” Vin asked.

  Sazed nodded. “Enough to translate this, I think. ”

  “And…how many languages do you know?”

  “A hundred and seventy-two,” Sazed said. “Most of them, such as Khlenni, are no longer spoken. The Lord Ruler’s unity movement of the ?fth century made certain of that. The language people now speak is actually a distant dialect of Terris, the language of my homeland. ”

  A hundred and seventy-two, Vin thought with amazement. “That…sounds impossible. One man couldn’t remember that much. ”

  “Not one man,” Sazed said. “One Keeper. What I do is similar to Allomancy, but not the same. You draw power from metals. I… use them to create memories. ”

  “How?” Vin asked.

  Sazed shook his head. “Perhaps another time, Mistress. My kind…we prefer to maintain our secrets. The Lord Ruler hunts us with a remarkable, confusing passion. We are far less threatening than Mistborn—yet, he ignores Allomancers and seeks to destroy us, hating the Terris people because of us. ”

  “Hating?” Vin asked. “You’re treated better than regular skaa. You’re given positions of respect. ”

  “That is true, Mistress,” Sazed said. “But, in a way, the skaa are more free. Most Terrismen are raised from birth to be stewards. There are very few of us left, and the Lord Ruler’s breeders control our reproduction. No Terrisman steward is allowed to have a family, or even to bear children. ”

  Vin snorted. “That seems like it would be hard to enforce. ”

  Sazed paused, hand laying on the cover of the large book. “Why, not at all,” he said with a frown. “All Terrisman stewards are eunuchs, child. I assumed you knew that. ”

  Vin froze, then she blushed furiously. “I…I’m… sorry…. ”

  “Truly and surely, no apology is required. I was castrated soon after my birth, as is standard for those who will be stewards. Often, I think I would have easily traded my life for that of a common skaa. My people are less than slaves…they’re fabricated automatons, created by breeding programs, trained from birth to ful?ll the Lord Ruler’s wishes. ”

  Vin continued to blush, cursing her lack of tact. Why hadn’t anyone told her? Sazed, however, didn’t seem offended—he never seemed to get angry about anything.

  Probably a function of his… condition, Vin thought. That’s what the breeders must want. Docile, even-tempered stewards.


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