Mistborn the final empi.., p.49
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.49

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
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Page 49

  “But,” Vin said, frowning, “you’re a rebel, Sazed. You’re ?ghting the Lord Ruler. ”

  “I am something of a deviant,” Sazed said. “And, my people are not as completely subjugated as the Lord Ruler would believe, I think. We hide Keepers beneath his very eyes, and some of us even gather the courage to break our training. ”

  He paused, then shook his head. “It is not an easy thing, however. We are a weak people, Mistress. We are eager to do as we are told, quick to seek subjugation. Even I, whom you dub a rebel, immediately sought out a position of stewardship and subservience. We are not so brave as we would wish, I think. ”

  “You were brave enough to save me,” Vin said.

  Sazed smiled. “Ah, but there was an element of obedience in that too. I promised Master Kelsier that I would see to your safety. ”

  Ah, she thought. She had wondered if he’d had a reason for his actions. After all, who would risk their life simply to save Vin? She sat for a moment in thought, and Sazed turned back to his book. Finally, she spoke again, drawing the Terrisman’s attention. “Sazed?”

  “Yes, Mistress?”

  “Who betrayed Kelsier three years ago?”

  Sazed paused, then set down his fountain pen. “The facts are unclear, Mistress. Most of the crew assumes it was Mare,

  I think. ”

  “Mare?” Vin asked. “Kelsier’s wife?”

  Sazed nodded. “Apparently, she was one of the only people who could have done it. In addition, the Lord Ruler himself implicated her. ”

  “But, wasn’t she sent to the Pits too?”

  “She died there,” Sazed said. “Master Kelsier is reticent about the Pits, but I sense that the scars he bears from that horrid place go much deeper than the ones you see on his arms. I don’t think he ever knew if she was the traitor or not. ”

  “My brother said that anyone would betray you, if they had the right chance and a good enough motive. ”

  Sazed frowned. “Even if such a thing were true, I would not want to live believing it. ”

  It seems better than what happened to Kelsier: being turned over to the Lord Ruler by one you thought you loved.

  “Kelsier is different lately,” Vin said. “He seems more reserved. Is that because he feels guilty for what happened to me?”

  “I suspect that is part of it,” Sazed said. “However, he is also coming to realize that there is a large difference between heading a small crew of thieves and organizing a large rebellion. He can’t take the risks he once did. The process is changing him for the better, I think. ”

  Vin wasn’t so certain. However, she remained silent, realizing with frustration how tired she was. Even sitting on a stool seemed strenuous to her now.

  “Go and sleep, Mistress,” Sazed said, picking up his pen and relocating his place in the tome with his ?nger. “You survived something that probably should have killed you. Give your body the thanks it deserves; let it rest. ”

  Vin nodded tiredly, then climbed to her feet and left him scribbling quietly in the afternoon light.

  Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I’d remained there, in that lazy village of my birth. I’d have become a smith, like my father. Perhaps I’d have a family, sons of my own.

  Perhaps someone else would have come to carry this terrible burden. Someone who could bear it far better than I. Someone who deserved to be a hero.

  17

  BEFORE COMING TO MANSION RENOUX, Vin had never seen a cultivated garden. On burglaries or scouting missions, she had occasionally seen ornamental plants, but she’d never given them much heed—they, like many noble interests, had seemed frivolous to her.

  She hadn’t realized how beautiful the plants could be when arranged carefully. Mansion Renoux’s garden balcony was a thin, oval structure that overlooked the grounds below. The gardens weren’t large—they required too much water and attention to form more than a thin perimeter around the back of the building.

  Still, they were marvelous. Instead of mundane browns and whites, the cultivated plants were of deeper, more vibrant colors—shades of red, orange, and yellow, with the colors concentrated in their leaves. The groundskeepers had planted them to make intricate, beautiful patterns. Closer to the balcony, exotic trees with colorful yellow leaves gave shade and protected from ashfalls. It was a very mild winter, and most of the trees still held their leaves. The air felt cool, and the rustling of branches in the wind was soothing.

  Almost soothing enough, in fact, to make Vin forget how annoyed she was.

  “Would you like more tea, child?” Lord Renoux asked. He didn’t wait for an answer; he simply waved for a servant to rush forward and re?ll her cup.

  Vin sat on a plush cushion, her wicker chair designed for comfort. During the last four weeks, her every whim and desire had been met. Servants cleaned up after her, primped her, fed her, and even helped bathe her. Renoux saw that anything she asked for was given her, and she certainly wasn’t expected to do anything strenuous, dangerous, or even slightly inconvenient.

  In other words, her life was maddeningly boring. Before, her time at Mansion Renoux had been monopolized by Sazed’s lessons and Kelsier’s training. She’d slept during the days, having only minimal contact with the mansion staff.

  Now, however, Allomancy—at least, the nighttime jumping kind—was forbidden her. Her wound was only partially healed, and too much motion reopened it. Sazed still gave her occasional lessons, but his time was dominated by translating the book. He spent long hours in the library, poring over its pages with an uncharacteristically excited air.

  He’s found a new bit of lore, Vin thought. To a Keeper, that’s probably as intoxicating as streetspice.

  She sipped at her tea with repressed petulance, eyeing the nearby servants. They seemed like scavenger birds, roosting and waiting for any opportunity to make Vin as comfortable— and as frustrated—as possible.

  Renoux wasn’t much help either. His idea of “taking lunch” with Vin was to sit and attend to his own duties— making notes on ledgers or dictating letters—while eating. Her attendance seemed important to him, but he rarely paid much attention to her other than to ask how her day had been.

  Yet, she forced herself to act the part of a prim noblewoman. Lord Renoux had hired some new servants that didn’t know about the job—not house staff, but gardeners and workmen. Kelsier and Renoux had worried that the other houses would grow suspicious if they couldn’t get at least a few servant-spies onto the Renoux grounds. Kelsier didn’t see it as a danger to the job, but it did mean that Vin had to maintain her persona whenever possible.

  I can’t believe that people live like this, Vin thought as some servants began clearing away the meal. How can noblewomen ?ll their days with so much nothing? No wonder everyone’s eager to attend those balls!

  “Is your respite pleasant, dear?” Renoux asked, pouring over another ledger.

  “Yes, Uncle,” Vin said through tight lips. “Quite. ”

  “You should be up to a shopping trip soon,” Renoux said, looking up at her. “Perhaps you would like to visit Kenton Street? Get some new earrings to replace that pedestrian stud you wear?”

  Vin reached a hand to her ear, where her mother’s earring still sat. “No,” she said. “I’ll keep this. ”

  Renoux frowned, but said no more, for a servant approached and drew his attention. “My lord,” the servant said to Renoux. “A carriage just arrived from Luthadel. ”

  Vin perked up. That was the servants’ way of saying that a member of the crew had arrived.

  “Ah, very good,” Renoux said. “Show them up, Tawnson. ”

  “Yes, my lord. ”

  A few minutes later, Kelsier, Breeze, Yeden, and Dockson walked out onto the balcony. Renoux discreetly waved to the servants, who closed the glass balcony doors and left the crew in privacy. Several men took up position just inside, watching to make certain that the wrong people didn’t have an opportunity to eavesdrop.
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br />   “Are we interrupting your meal?” Dockson asked.

  “No!” Vin said quickly, cutting off Lord Renoux’s reply. “Sit, please. ”

  Kelsier strolled over to the balcony’s ledge, looking out over the garden and grounds. “Nice view you have here. ”

  “Kelsier, is that wise?” Renoux asked. “Some of the gardeners are men for whom I cannot vouch. ”

  Kelsier chuckled. “If they can recognize me from this distance, they deserve more than the Great Houses are paying them. ” However, he did leave the balcony edge, walking over to the table and spinning a chair, then sitting down on it the wrong way. Over the last few weeks, he had mostly returned to his old, familiar self. Yet, there were still changes. He held meetings more often, discussed more of his plans with the crew. He also still seemed different, more…thoughtful.

  Sazed was right, Vin thought. Our attack on the palace might have been near-deadly for me, but it has changed Kelsier for the better.

  “We thought we’d have our meeting here this week,” Dockson said, “since you two rarely get to participate. ”

  “That was most thoughtful of you, Master Dockson,” Lord Renoux said. “But your concern is unnecessary. We are doing just ?ne—”

  “No,” Vin interrupted. “No, we aren’t. Some of us need information. What’s happening with the crew? How is the recruitment going?”

  Renoux eyed her with dissatisfaction. Vin, however, ignored him. He’s not really a lord, she told herself. He’s just another crewmember. My opinion counts as much as his! Now that the servants are gone, I can speak how I want.

  Kelsier chuckled. “Well, captivity’s made her a bit more outspoken, if nothing else. ”

  “I don’t have anything to do,” Vin said. “It’s driving me insane. ”

  Breeze set his cup of wine on the table. “Some would ?nd your state quite enviable, Vin. ”

  “Then they must already be insane. ”

  “Oh, they’re mostly noblemen,” Kelsier said. “So, yes, they’re quite mad. ”

  “The job,” Vin reminded. “What’s happening?”

  “Recruitment is still too slow,” Dockson said. “But we’re improving. ”

  “We may have to sacri?ce further security for numbers, Kelsier,” Yeden said.

  That’s a change too, she thought, impressed as she noted Yeden’s civility. He had taken to wearing nicer clothing—not quite a full gentlemen’s suit like Dockson or Breeze, but at least a well-cut jacket and trousers, with a buttoning shirt beneath, all kept clean of soot.

  “That can’t be helped, Yeden,” Kelsier said. “Fortunately, Ham’s doing well with the troops. I had a message from him just a few days ago. He’s impressed with their progress. ”

  Breeze snorted. “Be warned—Hammond does tend to be a bit optimistic about these kinds of things. If the army were made up of one-legged mutes, he would praise their balance and their listening skills. ”

 

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