Mistborn the final empi.., p.59
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.59
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         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
Page 59

  Renoux nodded. “Ostensibly, we’re sending this all via canal barges to my plantation in the west. However, the barges will stop to drop off supplies—and many of the canalmen—at the rebellion caverns. The barges and a few men will continue on to keep up appearances. ”

  “Our soldiers don’t even know that Renoux is in on the plan,” Kelsier said, smiling. “They think he’s a nobleman that I’m scamming. Besides, this will be a great opportunity for us to go and inspect the army. After a week or so at the caves, we can return to Luthadel on one of Renoux’s barges coming east. ”

  Vin paused. “ ‘We’?” she asked, suddenly imagining weeks spent on the barge, watching the same, dull scenery day, after day, after day as they traveled. That would be even worse than traveling back and forth between Luthadel and Fellise.

  Kelsier raised an eyebrow. “You sound worried. Apparently, someone’s coming to enjoy her balls and parties. ”

  Vin ?ushed. “I just thought that I should be here. I mean, after all the time I missed by being sick, I—”

  Kelsier held up his hand, chuckling. “You’re staying; Yeden and I are the ones going. I need to inspect the troops, and Yeden is going to take a turn watching over the army so that Ham can come back to Luthadel. We’ll also take my brother with us, then drop him at his insertion point with the Ministry acolytes up in Vennias. It’s a good thing you’re back—I want you to spend a little time with him before we leave. ”

  Vin frowned. “With Marsh?”

  Kelsier nodded. “He’s a Misting Seeker. Bronze is one of the less useful metals, especially for a full Mistborn, but Marsh claims he can show you a few tricks. This will probably be your last chance to train with him. ”

  Vin glanced toward the gathering caravan. “Where is he?”

  Kelsier frowned. “He’s late. ”

  Runs in the family, I guess.

  “He should be here soon, child,” Lord Renoux said. “Perhaps you’d like to go take some refreshment inside?”

  I’ve had plenty of refreshment lately, she thought, controlling her annoyance. Instead of going into the mansion, she wandered across the courtyard, studying the goods and workers, who were packing the supplies onto carts for transport to the local canal docks. The grounds were kept well maintained, and though the ash hadn’t been cleaned up yet, the low-cut grass meant that she didn’t have to hold her dress up much to keep it from dragging.

  Beyond that, ash was surprisingly easy to get out of clothing. With proper washing, and some expensive soaps, even a white garment could be rendered clean of ash. That was why the nobility could always have new-looking clothing. It was such an easy, simple thing to divide the skaa and the aristocracy.

  Kelsier’s right, Vin thought. I am coming to enjoy being a noblewoman. And she was concerned about the changes her new lifestyle was encouraging inside of her. Once, her problems had been things like starvation and beatings—now they were things like extended carriage rides and companions who arrived late for appointments. What did a transformation like that do to a person?

  She sighed to herself, walking amidst the supplies. Some of the boxes would be ?lled with weapons—swords, war staves, bows—but the bulk of the material was sacked foodstuffs. Kelsier said that forming an army required far more grain than it did steel.

  She trailed her ?ngers along one stack of boxes, careful not to brush the ash that was on top of them. She’d known that they’d be sending out a barge this day, but she hadn’t expected Kelsier to go with it. Of course, he probably hadn’t made the decision to go until a short time before—even the new, more responsible Kelsier was an impulsive man. Perhaps that was a good attribute in a leader. He wasn’t afraid to incorporate new ideas, no matter when they occurred to him.

  Maybe I should ask to go with him, Vin thought idly. I’ve been playing the noblewoman far too much lately. The other day, she’d caught herself sitting straight-backed in her carriage with a prim posture, despite the fact that she was alone. She feared that she was losing her instincts—being Valette was almost more natural to her now than being Vin was.

  But of course she couldn’t leave. She had a lunch appointment with Lady Flavine to attend, not to mention the Hasting ball—it was going to be the social event of the month. If Valette was absent, it would take weeks to repair the damage. Besides, there was always Elend. He’d probably forget about her if she disappeared again.

  He’s already forgotten you, she told herself. He’s barely spoken to you during the last three parties. Keep your head on, Vin. This is all just another scam—a game, like the ones you pulled before. You’re building your reputation to gain information, not so that you can ?irt and play.

  She nodded to herself, resolute. To her side, a few skaa men loaded one of the carts. Vin paused, standing beside a large stack of boxes and watching the men work. According to Dockson, the army’s recruitment was picking up.

  We’re gaining momentum, Vin thought. I guess word is spreading. That was good—assuming it didn’t spread too far.

  She watched the packmen for a moment, sensing something… odd. They seemed unfocused. After a few moments, she was able to determine the source of their distraction. They kept shooting looks at Kelsier, whispering as they worked. Vin inched closer—keeping to the side of the boxes—and burned tin.

  “. . no, that’s him for certain,” one of the men whispered. “I saw the scars. ”

  “He’s tall,” another said.

  “Of course he is. What did you expect?”

  “He spoke at the meeting where I was recruited,” another said. “The Survivor of Hathsin. ” There was awe in his tone.

  The men moved on, walking over to gather more boxes. Vin cocked her head, then began to move among the workers, listening. Not all of them were discussing Kelsier, but a surprising number were. She also heard a number of references to the “Eleventh Metal. ”

  So that’s why, Vin thought. The rebellion’s momentum isn’t gathering—Kelsier’s is. The men spoke of him in quiet, almost reverent, tones. For some reason, that made Vin uncomfortable. She would never have been able to stand hearing similar things said about her. Yet, Kelsier took them in stride; his charismatic ego probably just fueled the rumors even more.

  I wonder if he’ll be able to let it go when this is all through. The other crewmembers obviously had no interest in leadership, but Kelsier seemed to thrive on it. Would he really let the skaa rebellion take over? Would any man be able to relinquish that kind of power?

  Vin frowned. Kelsier was a good man; he’d probably make a good ruler. However, if he did try to take control, it would smell of betrayal—a reneging on the promises that he had made to Yeden. She didn’t want to see that from Kelsier.

  “Valette,” Kelsier called.

  Vin jumped slightly, feeling a bit guilty. Kelsier pointed toward a carriage that was pulling onto the mansion grounds. Marsh had arrived. She walked back as the carriage pulled up, and she reached Kelsier about the same time that Marsh did.

  Kelsier smiled, nodding toward Vin. “We won’t be ready to leave for a while yet,” he said to Marsh. “If you have time, could you show the kid a few things?”

  Marsh turned toward her. He shared Kelsier’s lanky build and blond hair, but he wasn’t as handsome. Maybe it was the lack of a smile.

  He pointed up, toward the mansion’s fore-balcony. “Wait for me up there. ”

  Vin opened her mouth to reply, but something about Marsh’s expression made her shut it again. He reminded her of the old times, several months ago, when she had not questioned her superiors. She turned, leaving the three, and made her way into the mansion.

  It was a short trip up the stairs to the fore-balcony. When she arrived, she pulled over a chair and seated herself beside the whitewashed wooden railing. The balcony had, of course, already been scrubbed clean of ash. Below, Marsh was still speaking with Kelsier and Renoux. Beyond them, beyond even the sprawling caravan, Vin could see the barren hills outside of the
city, lit by red sunlight.

  Only a few months playing noblewoman, and I already ?nd anything that isn’t cultivated to be inferior. She’d never thought of the landscape as “barren” during the years she’d traveled with Reen. And Kelsier says the entire land used to be even more fertile than a nobleman’s garden.

  Did he think to reclaim such things? Keepers could, perhaps, memorize languages and religions, but they couldn’t create seeds for plants that had long been extinct. They couldn’t make the ash stop falling or the mists go away. Would the world really change that much if the Final Empire were gone?

  Besides, didn’t the Lord Ruler have some right to his place? He’d defeated the Deepness, or so he claimed. He’d saved the world, which—in a twisted sort of way—made it his. What right did they have to try and take it from him?

  She wondered about such things often, though she didn’t express her worries to the others. They all seemed committed to Kelsier’s plan; some even seemed to share his vision. But Vin was more hesitant. She had learned, as Reen had taught, to be skeptical of optimism.

  And if there were ever a plan to be hesitant about, this was the one.

  However, she was getting past the point where she questioned herself. She knew the reason she stayed in the crew. It wasn’t the plan; it was the people. She liked Kelsier. She liked Dockson, Breeze, and Ham. She even liked the strange little Spook and his crotchety uncle. This was a crew unlike any other she’d worked with.

  Is that a good enough reason to let them get you killed?

  Reen’s voice asked.

  Vin paused. She had been hearing his whispers in her mind less frequently lately, but they were still there. Reen’s teachings, drilled into her over sixteen years of life, could not be idly discarded.

  Marsh arrived on the balcony a few moments later. He glanced at her with those hard eyes of his, then spoke. “Kelsier apparently expects me to spend the evening training you in Allomancy. Let us get started. ”

  Vin nodded.

  Marsh eyed her, obviously expecting more of a response. Vin sat quietly. You’re not the only one who can be terse, friend.

  “Very well,” Marsh said, sitting beside her, resting one arm on the balcony railing. His voice sounded a little less annoyed when he continued. “Kelsier says that you have spent very little time training with the internal mental abilities. Correct?”

  Vin nodded again.

  “I suspect that many full Mistborn neglect these powers,” Marsh said. “And that is a mistake. Bronze and copper may not be as ?ashy as other metals, but they can be very powerful in the hands of someone properly trained. The Inquisitors work through their manipulation of bronze, and the Misting underground survives because of its reliance upon copper.

  “Of the two powers, bronze is by far the more subtle. I can teach you how to use it properly—if you practice what I show you, then you will have an advantage that many Mistborn dismiss. ”

  “But, don’t other Mistborn know to burn copper?” Vin asked. “What is the use of learning bronze if everyone you ?ght is immune to its powers?”

 
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