Mistborn the final empi.., p.65
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.65
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         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
Page 65

  “I know,” Kelsier said quietly.

  Ham was about to speak further, but Yeden leaned across him. “That was amazing! I…Kelsier, I didn’t know! You should have told me you could pass your powers to others. Why, with these abilities, how can we possibly lose?”

  Ham laid a hand on Yeden’s shoulder, pushing the man back into his seat. “Eat,” he ordered. Then, he turned to Kelsier, pulling his chair closer and speaking in a low voice. “You just lied to my entire army, Kell. ”

  “No, Ham,” Kelsier said quietly. “I lied to my army. ”

  Ham paused. Then his face darkened.

  Kelsier sighed. “It was only a partial lie. They don’t need to be warriors, they just have to look threatening long enough for us to grab the atium. With it, we can bribe the Garrison, and our men won’t even have to ?ght. That’s virtually the same thing as what I promised them. ”

  Ham didn’t respond.

  “Before we leave,” Kelsier said, “I want you to select a few dozen of our most trustworthy and devoted soldiers. We’ll send them back to Luthadel—with vows that they can’t reveal where the army is—so that word of this evening can spread amongst the skaa. ”

  “So this is about your ego?” Ham snapped.

  Kelsier shook his head. “Sometimes we need to do things that we ?nd distasteful, Ham. My ego may be considerable, but this is about something else entirely. ”

  Ham sat for a moment, then turned back to his meal. He didn’t eat, however—he just sat staring at the blood on the ground before the high table.

  Ah, Ham, Kelsier thought. I wish I could explain everything to you.

  Plots behind plots, plans beyond plans.

  There was always another secret.

  At ?rst, there were those who didn’t think the Deepness was a serious danger, at least not to them. However, it brought with it a blight that I have seen infect nearly every part of the land. Armies are useless before it. Great cities are laid low by its power. Crops fail, and the land dies.

  This is the thing I ?ght. This is the monster I must defeat. I fear that I have taken too long. Already, so much destruction has occurred that I fear for mankind’s survival.

  Is this truly the end of the world, as many of the philosophers predict?

  22

  We arrived in Terris earlier this week, Vin read, and, I have to say, I ?nd the countryside beautiful. The great mountains to the north—with their bald snowcaps and forested mantles—stand like watchful gods over this land of green fertility. My own lands to the south are mostly ?at; I think that they might look less dreary if there were a few mountains to vary the terrain.

  The people here are mostly herdsmen—though timber harvesters and farmers are not uncommon. It is a pastoral land, certainly. It seems odd that a place so remarkably agrarian could have produced the prophecies and theologies upon which the entire world now relies.

  We picked up a group of Terris packmen to guide us through the dif?cult mountain passages. Yet, these are no ordinary men. The stories are apparently true—some Terrismen have a remarkable ability that is most intriguing.

  Somehow, they can store up their strength for use on the next day. Before they sleep at night, they spend an hour lying in their bedrolls, during which time they suddenly grow very frail in appearance—almost as if they had aged by half a century. Yet, when they wake the next morning, they become quite muscular. Apparently, their powers have something to do with the metal bracelets and earrings that they always wear.

  The leader of the packmen is named Rashek, and he is rather taciturn. Nevertheless, Braches—inquisitive, as always—has promised to interrogate him in the hopes of discovering exactly how this wondrous strength-storing is achieved.

  Tomorrow, we begin the ?nal stage of our pilgrimage—the Far Mountains of Terris. There, hopefully, I will ?nd peace—both for myself, and for our poor land.

  AS SHE READ HER COPY of the logbook, Vin was quickly coming to several decisions. First was the ?rm belief that she did not like reading. Sazed didn’t listen to her complaints; he just claimed that she hadn’t practiced enough. Couldn’t he see that reading was hardly as practical a skill as being able to handle a dagger or use Allomancy?

  Still, she continued to read as per his orders—if only to stubbornly prove that she could. Many of the logbook’s words were dif?cult to her, and she had to read in a secluded part of Renoux’s mansion where she could sound out the words to herself, trying to decipher the Lord Ruler’s odd style of writing.

  The continued reading led to her second conclusion: The Lord Ruler was far more whiny than any god had a right to be. When pages of the logbook weren’t ?lled with boring notes about the Lord Ruler’s travels, they were instead packed with internal contemplations and lengthy moralistic ramblings. Vin was beginning to wish that she’d never found the book in the ?rst place.

  She sighed, settling back into her wicker chair. A cool early-spring breeze blew through the lower gardens, passing over the petite fountain brook to her left. The air was comfortably moist, and the trees overhead shaded her from the afternoon sun. Being nobility—even fake nobility—certainly did have its perks.

  A quiet footfall sounded behind her. It was distant, but Vin had grown into the habit of burning a little bit of tin at all times. She turned, shooting a covert glance over her shoulder.

  “Spook?” she said with surprise as young Lestibournes walked down the garden path. “What are you doing here?”

  Spook froze, blushing. “Wasing with the Dox to come and be without the stay. ”

  “Dockson?” Vin said. “He’s here too?” Maybe he has news of Kelsier!

  Spook nodded, approaching. “Weapons for the getting, giving for the time to be. ”

  Vin paused. “You lost me on that one. ”

  “We needed the drop off some more weapons,” Spook said, struggling to speak without his dialect. “Storing them here for a while. ”

  “Ah,” Vin said, rising and brushing off her dress. “I should go see him. ”

  Spook looked suddenly apprehensive, ?ushing again, and Vin cocked her head. “Was there something else?”

  With a sudden movement, Spook reached into his vest and pulled something out. Vin ?ared pewter in response, but the item was simply a pink-and-white handkerchief. Spook thrust it toward her.

  Vin took it hesitantly. “What’s this for?”

  Spook ?ushed again, then turned and dashed away.

  Vin watched him go, dumbfounded. She looked down at the handkerchief. It was made of soft lace, but there didn’t seem to be anything unusual about it.

  That is one strange boy, she thought, tucking the handkerchief inside her sleeve. She picked up her copy of the logbook, then began to work her way up the garden path. She was growing so accustomed to wearing a dress that she barely had to pay attention to keep the gown’s lower layers from brushing against underbrush or stones.

  I guess that in itself is a valuable skill, Vin thought as she reached the mansion’s garden entrance without having snagged her dress on a single branch. She pushed open the many-paned glass door and stopped the ?rst servant she saw.

  “Master Delton has arrived?” she asked, using Dockson’s fake name. He played the part of one of Renoux’s merchant contacts inside Luthadel.

  “Yes, my lady,” the servant said. “He’s in conference with Lord Renoux. ”

  Vin let the servant go. She could probably force her way into the conference, but it would look bad. Lady Valette had no reason to attend a mercantile meeting between Renoux and Delton.

  Vin chewed her lower lip in thought. Sazed was always telling her she had to keep up appearances. Fine, she thought. I’ll wait. Maybe Sazed can tell me what that crazy boy expects me to do with this handkerchief.

  She sought out the upper library, maintaining a pleasant ladylike smile, inwardly trying to guess what Renoux and Dockson were talking about. Dropping off the weapons was an excuse; Dockson wouldn’t have come personal
ly to do something so mundane. Perhaps Kelsier had been delayed. Or, maybe Dockson had ?nally gotten a communication from Marsh—Kelsier’s brother, along with the other new obligator initiates, should be arriving back in Luthadel soon.

  Dockson and Renoux could have sent for me, she thought with annoyance. Valette often entertained guests with her uncle.

  She shook her head. Even though Kelsier had named her a full member of the crew, the others obviously still regarded her as something of a child. They were friendly and accepting, but they didn’t think to include her. It was probably unintentional, but that didn’t make it any less frustrating.

  Light shone from the library ahead. Sure enough, Sazed sat inside, translating the last group of pages from the logbook. He looked up as Vin entered, smiling and nodding respectfully.

  No spectacles this time either, Vin noted. Why did he wear them for that short time before?

  “Mistress Vin,” he said, rising and fetching her a chair. “How are your studies of the logbook going?”

  Vin looked down at the loosely bound pages in her hand. “All right, I suppose. I don’t see why I have to bother reading them—you gave copies to Kell and Breeze too, didn’t you?”

  “Of course,” Sazed said, setting the chair down beside his desk. “However, Master Kelsier asked every member of the crew to read the pages. He is correct to do so, I think. The more eyes that read those words, the more likely we will be to discover the secrets hidden within them. ”

  Vin sighed slightly, smoothing her dress and seating herself. The white and blue dress was beautiful—though intended for daily use, it was only slightly less luxurious than one of her ball gowns.

  “You must admit, Mistress,” Sazed said as he sat, “the text is amazing. This work is a Keeper’s dream. Why, I’m discovering things about my culture that even I did not know!”

  Vin nodded. “I just got to the part where they reach Terris. ” Hopefully, the next part will contain fewer supply lists. Honestly, for an evil god of darkness, he certainly can be dull.

  “Yes, yes,” Sazed said, speaking with uncharacteristic enthusiasm. “Did you see what he said, how he described Terris as a place of ‘green fertility’? Keeper legends speak of this. Terris is now a tundra of frozen dirt—why, almost no plants can survive there. But, once it was green and beautiful, like the text says. ”

  Green and beautiful, Vin thought. Why would green be beautiful? That would be like having blue or purple plants— it would just be weird.

  However, there was something about the logbook that made her curious—something that both Sazed and Kelsier had been strangely closemouthed about. “I just read the part where the Lord Ruler gets some Terris packmen,” Vin said carefully. “He talked about how they grow stronger during the day because they let themselves be weak at night. ”

  Sazed suddenly grew more subdued. “Yes, indeed. ”

  “You know something about this? Does it have to do with being a Keeper?”

  “It does,” Sazed said. “But, this should remain a secret, I think. Not that you aren’t worthy of trust, Mistress Vin. However, if fewer people know about Keepers, then fewer rumors will be told of us. It would be best if the Lord Ruler began to believe that he had destroyed us completely, as has been his goal for the last thousand years. ”

 
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