Mistborn the final empi.., p.58
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.58

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
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Page 58

  Kelsier smiled. “Book of the False Dawn—any Keeper can quote the entire thing to you. I didn’t think there were any physical copies left. Its author—Deluse Couvre—went on to write some books that were even more damning. Though he didn’t blaspheme against Allomancy, the obligators made an exception in his case and strung him up on a hook anyway. ”

  “Well,” Vin said, “Elend has a copy. I think one of the other noblewomen was trying to ?nd the book. I saw one of her servants ri?ing through them. ”

  “Which noblewoman?”

  “Shan Elariel. ”

  Kelsier nodded. “Former ?ancée. She’s probably searching for something to blackmail the Venture boy with. ”

  “I think she’s an Allomancer, Kelsier. ”

  Kelsier nodded distractedly, thinking about the information. “She’s a Soother. She probably had the right idea with those books—if the Venture heir is reading a book like False Dawn, not to mention foolish enough to carry it around with him…”

  “Is it that dangerous?” Vin asked.

  Kelsier shrugged. “Moderately. It’s an older book, and it didn’t actually encourage rebellion, so it might slide. ”

  Vin frowned. “The book sounded pretty critical of the Lord Ruler. He allows the nobility to read things like that?”

  “He doesn’t really ‘allow’ them to do such things,” Kelsier said. “More, he sometimes ignores it when they do. Banning books is tricky business, Vin—the more stink the Ministry makes about a text, the more attention it will draw, and the more people will be tempted to read it. False Dawn is a stuffy volume, and by not forbidding it, the Ministry doomed it to obscurity. ”

  Vin nodded slowly.

  “Besides,” Kelsier said, “the Lord Ruler is far more lenient with the nobility than he is with skaa. He sees them as the children of his long-dead friends and allies, the men who supposedly helped him defeat the Deepness. He occasionally lets them get away with things like reading edgy texts or assassinating family members. ”

  “So…the book is nothing to worry about?” Vin asked.

  Kelsier shrugged. “I wouldn’t say that either. If young Elend has False Dawn, he might also have other books that are explicitly forbidden. If obligators had proof of that, they’d hand young Elend over to the Inquisitors—nobleman or not. The question is, how do we make certain that happens? If the Venture heir were to be executed, it would certainly add to Luthadel’s political turmoil. ”

  Vin paled visibly.

  Yes, Kelsier thought with an internal sigh. She’s de?nitely falling for him. I should have foreseen this. Sending a young, pretty girl into noble society? One vulture or another was bound to latch on to her.

  “I didn’t tell you this so we could get him killed, Kelsier!” she said. “I thought, maybe…well, he’s reading forbidden books, and he seems like a good man. Maybe we can use him as an ally or something. ”

  Oh, child, Kelsier thought. I hope he doesn’t hurt you too much when he discards you. You should know better than this.

  “Don’t count on it,” he said out loud. “Lord Elend might be reading a forbidden book, but that doesn’t make him our friend. There have always been noblemen like him—young philosophers and dreamers who think that their ideas are new. They like to drink with their friends and grumble about the Lord Ruler; but, in their hearts, they’re still noblemen. They’ll never overthrow the establishment. ”


  “No, Vin,” Kelsier said. “You have to trust me. Elend Venture doesn’t care about us or the skaa. He’s a gentleman anarchist because it’s fashionable and exciting. ”

  “He talked to me about the skaa,” Vin said. “He wanted to know if they were intelligent, and if they acted like real people. ”

  “And was his interest compassionate or intellectual?”

  She paused.

  “See,” Kelsier said. “Vin, that man is not our ally—in fact, I distinctly recall telling you to stay away from him. When you spend time with Elend Venture, you put the operation—and your fellow crewmembers—in jeopardy. Understand?”

  Vin looked down, nodding.

  Kelsier sighed. Why do I suspect that staying away from him is the last thing she intends to do? Bloody hell—I don’t have time to deal with this right now.

  “Go get some sleep,” Kelsier said. “We can talk more about this later. ”

  It isn’t a shadow.

  This dark thing that follows me, the thing that only I can see— It isn’t really a shadow. It’s blackish and translucent, but it doesn’t have a shadowlike solid outline. It’s insubstantial—wispy and formless. Like it’s made out of a dark fog.

  Or mist, perhaps.


  VIN WAS GROWING VERY TIRED of the scenery between Luthadel and Fellise. She’d made the same trip at least a dozen times during the last few weeks—watching the same brown hills, scraggly trees, and rug of weedy underbrush. She was beginning to feel as if she could individually identify each and every bump in the road.

  She attended numerous balls—but they were only the beginning. Luncheons, sitting parties, and other forms of daily entertainment were just as popular. Often, Vin traveled between the cities two or even three times a day. Apparently, young noblewomen didn’t have anything better to do than sit in carriages for six hours a day.

  Vin sighed. In the near distance, a group of skaa trudged along the towpath beside a canal, pulling a barge toward Luthadel. Her life could be much worse.

  Still, she felt frustration. It was still midday, but there weren’t any important events happening until the evening, so she had nowhere to go but back to Fellise. She kept thinking about how much faster she could make the trip if she used the spikeway. She longed to leap through the mists again, but Kelsier had been reluctant to continue her training. He allowed her out for a short time each night to maintain her skills, but she wasn’t allowed any extreme, exciting leaps.

  Just some basic moves—mostly Pushing and Pulling small objects while standing on the ground.

  She was beginning to grow frustrated with her continued weakness. It had been over three months since her encounter with the Inquisitor; the worst of winter had passed without even a ?ake of snow. How long was it going to take her to recover?

  At least I can still go to balls, she thought. Despite her annoyance at the constant traveling, Vin was coming to enjoy her duties. Pretending to be a noblewoman was actually far less tense than regular thieving work. True, her life would be forfeit if her secret were ever discovered, but for now the nobility seemed willing to accept her—to dance with her, dine with her, and chat with her. It was a good life—a bit unexciting, but her eventual return to Allomancy would ?x that.

  That left her with two frustrations. The ?rst was her inability to gather useful information; she was getting increasingly annoyed at having her questions avoided. She was growing experienced enough to tell that there was a great deal of intrigue going on, yet she was still too new to be allowed a part in it.

  Still, while her outsider status was annoying, Kelsier was con?dent that it would eventually change. Vin’s second major annoyance wasn’t so easily dealt with. Lord Elend Venture had been notably absent from several balls during the last few weeks, and he had yet to repeat his act of spending the entire evening with her. While she rarely had to sit alone anymore, she was quickly coming to realize that none of the other noblemen had the same… depth as Elend. None of them had his droll wit, or his honest, earnest eyes. The others didn’t feel real. Not like he did.

  He didn’t seem to be avoiding her. However, he also didn’t seem to be making much of an effort to spend time with her.

  Did I misread him? she wondered as the carriage reached Fellise. Elend was so hard to understand sometimes. Unfortunately, his apparent indecision hadn’t changed his former ?ancée’s temperament. Vin was beginning to realize why Kelsier had warned her to avoid catching the attention of anyone too important. She didn’t run into Shan Elariel o
ften, thankfully—but when they did meet, Shan took every occasion to deride, insult, and demean Vin. She did it with a calm, aristocratic manner, even her bearing reminding Vin just how inferior she was.

  Perhaps I’m just becoming too attached to my Valette persona, Vin thought. Valette was just a front; she was supposed to be all the things Shan said. However, the insults still stung.

  Vin shook her head, putting both Shan and Elend out of her mind. Ash had fallen during her trip to the city, and though it was done now, its aftermath was visible in small drifts and ?urries of black blowing across the town’s streets. Skaa workers moved about, sweeping the soot into bins and carrying it out of the city. They occasionally had to hurry to get out of the way of a passing noble carriage, none of which bothered to slow for the workers.

  Poor things, Vin thought, passing a group of ragged children who were shaking aspen trees to get the ash out so that it could be swept up—it wouldn’t do for a passing nobleman to get an unexpected dump of tree-borne ash on his head. The children shook, two to a tree, bringing furious black showers down on their heads. Careful, cane-wielding taskmasters walked up and down the street, making certain the work continued.

  Elend and the others, she thought. They must not understand how bad life is for the skaa. They live in their pretty keeps, dancing, never really understanding the extent of the Lord Ruler’s oppression.

  She could see beauty in the nobility—she wasn’t like Kelsier, hating them outright. Some of them seemed quite kind, in their own way, and she was beginning to think some of the stories skaa told about their cruelty must be exaggerated. And yet, when she saw events like that poor boy’s execution or the skaa children, she had to wonder. How could the nobility not see? How could they not understand?

  She sighed, looking away from the skaa as the carriage ?nally rolled up to Mansion Renoux. She immediately noticed a large gathering in the inner courtyard, and she grabbed a fresh vial of metals, worrying that the Lord Ruler had sent soldiers to arrest Lord Renoux. However, she quickly realized that the crowd wasn’t made up of soldiers, but of skaa in simple worker’s clothing.

  The carriage rolled through the gates, and Vin’s confusion deepened. Boxes and sacks lay in heaps among the skaa— many of them dusted with soot from the recent ashfall. The workers themselves bustled with activity, loading a series of carts. Vin’s carriage pulled to a stop in front of the mansion, and she didn’t wait for Sazed to open the door. She hopped out on her own, holding up her dress and stalking over to Kelsier and Renoux, who stood surveying the operation.

  “You’re running goods to the caves out of here?” Vin asked under her breath as she reached the two men.

  “Curtsey to me, child,” Lord Renoux said. “Maintain appearances while we can be seen. ”

  Vin did as ordered, containing her annoyance.

  “Of course we are, Vin,” Kelsier said. “Renoux has to do something with all of the weapons and supplies he’s been gathering. People would start getting suspicious if they didn’t see him sending them away. ”

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