Mistborn the final empi.., p.61
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.61
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         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
Page 61

  She shook her head, glancing at Marsh. “Still, you don’t know how lucky you are, having Kelsier as a brother. ”

  “I suppose,” Marsh said. “I just. . wish he wouldn’t treat people like playthings. I’ve been known to kill obligators, but murdering men just because they’re noble…” Marsh shook his head. “It’s not just that, either. He likes people to fawn over him. ”

  He had a point. However, Vin also detected something in his voice. Jealousy? You’re the older brother, Marsh. You were the responsible one—you joined the rebellion instead of working with thieves. It must have hurt that Kelsier was the one everybody liked.

  “Still,” Marsh said, “he’s getting better. The Pits changed him. Her. . death changed him. ”

  What’s this? Vin thought, perking up slightly. There was de?nitely something here, too. Hurt. Deep hurt, more than a man should feel for a sister-in-law.

  So that’s it. It wasn’t just “everyone” who liked Kelsier more, it was one person in particular. Someone you loved.

  “Anyway,” Marsh said, his voice growing more ?rm. “The arrogance of the past is behind him. This plan of his is insane, and I’m sure he’s partially doing it just so he can enrich himself, but…well, he didn’t have to go to the rebellion. He’s trying to do something good—though it will probably get him killed. ”

  “Why go along if you’re so sure he’ll fail?”

  “Because he’s going to get me into the Ministry,” Marsh said. “The information I gather there will help the rebellion for centuries after Kelsier and I are dead. ”

  Vin nodded, glancing down at the courtyard. She spoke hesitantly. “Marsh, I don’t think it’s all behind him. The way he’s setting himself up with the skaa… the way they’re starting to look at him…”

  “I know,” Marsh said. “It started with that ‘Eleventh Metal’ scheme of his. I don’t know that we have to worry— this is just Kell playing his usual games. ”

  “It makes me wonder why he’s leaving on this trip,” Vin said. “He’ll be away from the action for a good month. ”

  Marsh shook his head. “He’ll have an entire army full of men to perform for. Besides, he needs to get out of the city. His reputation is growing too unwieldy, and the nobility is becoming too interested in the Survivor. If rumors got out that a man with scars on his arms is staying with Lord Renoux…”

  Vin nodded, understanding.

  “Right now,” Marsh said, “he’s playing the part of one of Renoux’s distant relatives. That man has to leave before someone connects him to the Survivor. When Kell gets back, he’ll have to keep a low pro?le—sneaking into the mansion instead of walking up the steps, keeping his hood up when he’s in Luthadel. ”

  Marsh trailed off, then stood. “Anyway, I’ve given you the basics. Now you just need to practice. Whenever you’re with Mistings, have them burn for you and focus on their Allomantic pulses. If we meet again, I’ll show you more, but there’s nothing else I can do until you’ve practiced. ”

  Vin nodded, and Marsh walked out the door without any other farewell. A few moments later, she saw him approach Kelsier and Renoux again.

  They really don’t hate each other, Vin thought, resting with both arms crossed atop the railing. What would that be like? After some thought, she decided that the concept of loving siblings was a little like the Allomantic pulse lengths she was supposed to be looking for—they were just too unfamiliar for her to understand at the moment.

  “The Hero of Ages shall be not a man, but a force. No nation may claim him, no woman shall keep him, and no king may slay him. He shall belong to none, not even himself. ”

  21

  KELSIER SAT QUIETLY, READING AS his boat moved slowly along the canal to the north. Sometimes, I worry that I’m not the hero everyone thinks I am, the text said.

  What proof do we have? The words of men long dead, only now deemed divinatory? Even if we accept the prophecies, only tenuous interpretation links them to me. Is my defense of the Summer Hill really the “Burden by which the Hero shall be dubbed”? My several marriages could give me a “Bloodless bond to the world’s kings,” if you look at it the right way. There are dozens of similar phrases that could refer to events in my life. But, then again, they could all just be coincidences.

  The philosophers assure me that this is the time, that the signs have been met. But I still wonder if they have the wrong man. So many people depend on me. They say I will hold the future of the entire world on my arms. What would they think if they knew that their champion—the Hero of Ages, their savior—doubted himself?

  Perhaps they wouldn’t be shocked at all. In a way, this is what worries me most. Maybe, in their hearts, they wonder—just like I do. When they see me, do they see a liar?

  Rashek seems to think so. I know that I shouldn’t let a simple packman perturb me. However, he is from Terris, where the prophecies originated. If anyone could spot a fraud, would it not be he?

  Nevertheless, I continue my trek, going where the scribbled auguries proclaim that I will meet my destiny—walking, feeling Rashek’s eyes on my back. Jealous. Mocking. Hating.

  In the end, I worry that my arrogance shall destroy us all.

  Kelsier lowered the booklet, his cabin shaking slightly from the efforts of the pullers outside. He was glad that Sazed had provided him with a copy of the translated portions of the Lord Ruler’s logbook before the caravan boats’ departure. There was blessed little else to do during the trip.

  Fortunately, the logbook was fascinating. Fascinating, and eerie. It was disturbing to read words that had originally been written by the Lord Ruler himself. To Kelsier the Lord Ruler was less a man, and more a… creature. An evil force that needed to be destroyed.

  Yet, the person presented in the logbook seemed all too mortal. He questioned and pondered—he seemed a man of depth, and even of character.

  Though, it would be best not to trust his narrative too closely, Kelsier thought, running his ?ngers across the page. Men rarely see their own actions as unjusti?ed.

  Still, the Lord Ruler’s story reminded Kelsier of the legends he had heard—stories whispered by skaa, discussed by noblemen, and memorized by Keepers. They claimed that once, before the Ascension, the Lord Ruler had been the greatest of men. A beloved leader, a man entrusted with the fate of all mankind.

  Unfortunately, Kelsier knew how the story ended. The Final Empire itself was the logbook’s legacy. The Lord Ruler hadn’t saved mankind; he had enslaved it instead. Reading a ?rsthand account, seeing the Lord Ruler’s self-doubt and internal struggles, only made the story that much more tragic.

  Kelsier raised the booklet to continue; however, his boat began to slow. He glanced out the window of his cabin, looking up the canal. Dozens of men trudged along the towpath— a small road alongside the canal—pulling the four barges and two narrowboats that made up their convoy. It was an ef?cient, if labor-intensive, way to travel; men pulling a barge across a canal could move hundreds more pounds of weight than they could if forced to carry packs.

  The men had pulled to a stop, however. Ahead, Kelsier could make out a lock mechanism, beyond which the canal split into two sections. A kind of crossroads of waterways. Finally, Kelsier thought. His weeks of travel were over.

  Kelsier didn’t wait for a messenger. He simply stepped out onto the deck of his narrowboat and slipped a few coins from his pouch into his hand. Time to be a bit ostentatious, he thought, dropping a coin to the wood. He burned steel and Pushed himself into the air.

  He lurched upward at an angle, quickly gaining a height where he could see the entire line of men—half pulling the boats, half walking and waiting for their shifts. Kelsier ?ew in an arc, dropping another coin as he passed over one of the supply-laden barges, then Pushing against it when he began to descend. Would-be soldiers looked up, pointing in awe as Kelsier soared above the canal.

  Kelsier burned pewter, strengthening his body as he thumped to the deck of the narrowboat l
eading the caravan.

  Yeden stepped out of his cabin, surprised. “Lord Kelsier! We’ve, uh, arrived at the crossroads. ”

  “I can see that,” Kelsier said, glancing back along the line of boats. The men on the towpath spoke excitedly, pointing. It felt strange to use Allomancy so obviously in the daylight, and before so many people.

  There’s no help for it, he thought. This visit is the last chance the men will have to see me for months. I need to make an impression, give them something they can hold on to, if this is all going to work….

  “Shall we go see if the group from the caves has arrived to meet us?” Kelsier asked, turning back to Yeden.

  “Of course,” Yeden said, waving for a servant to pull his narrowboat up to the side of the canal and throw out the plank. Yeden looked excited; he really was an earnest man, and that much Kelsier could respect, even if he was a bit lacking in presence.

  Most of my life, I’ve had the opposite problem, Kelsier thought with amusement, walking with Yeden off of the boat.

  Too much presence, not enough earnestness.

  The two of them walked up the line of canal workers. Near the front of the men, one of Ham’s Thugs—playing the part of Kelsier’s guard captain—saluted. “We’ve reached the crossroads, Lord Kelsier. ”

  “I can see that,” Kelsier repeated. A dense stand of birch trees grew ahead, running up a slope into the hills. The canals ran away from the woods—there were better sources of wood in other parts of the Final Empire. The forest stood alone and ignored by most.

  Kelsier burned tin, wincing slightly at the suddenly blinding sunlight. His eyes adjusted, however, and he was able to pick out detail—and a slight bit of motion—in the forest.

  “There,” he said, ?ipping a coin into the air, then Pushing it. The coin zipped forward and thocked against a tree. The prearranged sign given, a small group of camou?aged men left the tree line, crossing the ash-stained earth toward the canal.

  “Lord Kelsier,” the foremost man said, saluting. “My name is Captain Demoux. Please, gather the recruits and come with me—General Hammond is eager to meet with you. ”

  “Captain” Demoux was a young man to be so disciplined. Barely into his twenties, he led his small squad of men with a level of solemnity that might have seemed self-important had he been any less competent.

  Younger men than he have led soldiers into battle, Kelsier thought. Just because I was a fop when I was that age doesn’t mean that everyone is. Look at poor Vin—only sixteen, already a match for Marsh in seriousness.

  They took a roundabout passage through the forest—by Ham’s order, each troop took a different path to avoid wearing a trail. Kelsier glanced back at the two hundred or so men behind, frowning slightly. Their trail would probably still be visible, but there was little he could do about that—the movements of so many men would be nearly impossible to mask.

  Demoux slowed, waving, and several members of his squad scrambled forward; they didn’t have half their leader’s sense of military decorum. Still, Kelsier was impressed. The last time he’d visited, the men had been typically ragtag and uncoordinated, like most skaa outcasts. Ham and his of?cers had done their work well.

 
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