Mistborn the final empi.., p.7
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.7

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
Page 7

  Vin’s instincts made her tense. We should go. Now.

  Camon stood for a long moment, and Vin could see him considering. Run now? Or, take a risk for the greater prize? Vin didn’t care about prizes; she just wanted to live. Camon, however, had not become crewleader without the occasional gamble. He slowly moved into the room, eyes cautious as he took the seat opposite the obligator.

  “Well, High Prelan Arriev,” Camon said with a careful voice. “I assume that since I have been called back for another appointment, the board is considering my offer?”

  “Indeed we are,” the obligator said. “Though I must admit, there are some Council members who are apprehensive about dealing with a family that is so near to economic disaster. The Ministry generally prefers to be conservative in its ?nancial operations. ”

  “I see. ”

  “But,” Arriev said, “there are others on the board who are quite eager to take advantage of the savings you offered us. ”

  “And with which group do you identify, Your Grace?”

  “I, as of yet, have not made my decision. ” The obligator leaned forward. “Which is why I noted that you have a rare opportunity. Convince me, Lord Jedue, and you will have your contract. ”

  “Surely Prelan Laird outlined the details of our offer,” Camon said.

  “Yes, but I would like to hear the arguments from you personally. Humor me. ”

  Vin frowned. She remained near the back of the room, standing near the door, still half convinced she should run.

  “Well?” Arriev asked.

  “We need this contract, Your Grace,” Camon said. “Without it we won’t be able to continue our canal shipping operations. Your contract would give us a much needed period of stability—a chance to maintain our caravan boats for a time while we search for other contracts. ”

  Arriev studied Camon for a moment. “Surely you can do better than that, Lord Jedue. Laird said that you were very persuasive—let me hear you prove that you deserve our patronage. ”

  Vin prepared her Luck. She could make Arriev more inclined to believe. . but something restrained her. The situation felt wrong.

  “We are your best choice, Your Grace,” Camon said. “You fear that my house will suffer economic failure? Well, if it does, what have you lost? At worst, my narrowboats would stop running, and you would have to ?nd other merchants to deal with. Yet, if your patronage is enough to maintain my house, then you have found yourself an enviable long-term contract. ”

  “I see,” Arriev said lightly. “And why the Ministry? Why not make your deal with someone else? Surely there are other options for your boats—other groups who would jump at such rates. ”

  Camon frowned. “This isn’t about money, Your Grace, it is about the victory—the showing of con?dence—that we would gain by having a Ministry contract. If you trust us, others will too. I need your support. ” Camon was sweating now. He was probably beginning to regret this gamble. Had he been betrayed? Was Theron behind the odd meeting?

  The obligator waited quietly. He could destroy them, Vin knew. If he even suspected that they were scamming him, he could give them over to the Canton of Inquisition. More than one nobleman had entered a Canton building and never returned.

  Gritting her teeth, Vin reached out and used her Luck on the obligator, making him less suspicious.

  Arriev smiled. “Well, you have convinced me,” he suddenly declared.

  Camon sighed in relief.

  Arriev continued, “Your most recent letter suggested that you need three thousand boxings as an advance to refurbish your equipment and resume shipping operations. See the scribe in the main hallway to ?nish the paperwork so that you may requisition the necessary funds. ”

  The obligator pulled a sheet of thick bureaucratic paper from a stack, then stamped a seal at the bottom. He proffered it to Camon. “Your contract. ”

  Camon smiled deeply. “I knew coming to the Ministry was the wise choice,” he said, accepting the contract. He stood, nodding respectfully to the obligator, then motioned for Vin to open the door for him.

  She did so. Something is wrong. Something is very wrong. She paused as Camon left, looking back at the obligator. He was still smiling.

  A happy obligator was always a bad sign.

  Yet, no one stopped them as they passed through the waiting room with its noble occupants. Camon sealed and delivered the contract to the appropriate scribe, and no soldiers appeared to arrest them. The scribe pulled out a small chest ?lled with coins, and then handed it to Camon with an indifferent hand.

  Then, they simply left the Canton building, Camon gathering his other attendants with obvious relief. No cries of alarm. No tromping of soldiers. They were free. Camon had successfully scammed both the Ministry and another crew-leader.


  Kelsier stuffed another one of the little red-frosted cakes into his mouth, chewing with satisfaction. The fat thief and his scrawny attendant passed through the waiting room, entering the entryway beyond. The obligator who had interviewed the two thieves remained in his of?ce, apparently awaiting his next appointment

  “Well?” Dockson asked. “What do you think?”

  Kelsier glanced at the cakes. “They’re quite good,” he said, taking another one. “The Ministry has always had excellent taste—it makes sense that they would provide superior snacks. ”

  Dockson rolled his eyes. “About the girl, Kell. ”

  Kelsier smiled as he piled four of the cakes in his hand, then nodded toward the doorway. The Canton waiting room was growing too busy for the discussion of delicate matters. On the way out, he paused and told the obligator secretary in the corner that they needed to reschedule.

  Then the two crossed through the entry chamber—passing the overweight crewleader, who stood speaking with a scribe.

  Kelsier stepped out onto the street, pulled his hood up against the still falling ash, then led the way across the street. He paused beside an alleyway, standing where he and Dockson could watch the Canton building’s doors.

  Kelsier munched contentedly on his cakes. “How’d you ?nd out about her?” he asked between bites.

  “Your brother,” Dockson replied. “Camon tried to swindle Marsh a few months ago, and he brought the girl with him then, too. Actually, Camon’s little good-luck charm is becoming moderately famous in the right circles. I’m still not sure if he knows what she is or not. You know how superstitious thieves can get. ”

  Kelsier nodded, dusting off his hands. “How’d you know she’d be here today?”

  Dockson shrugged. “A few bribes in the right place. I’ve been keeping an eye on the girl ever since Marsh pointed her out to me. I wanted to give you an opportunity to see her work for yourself. ”

  Across the street, the Canton building’s door ?nally opened, and Camon made his way down the steps surrounded by a group of “servants. ” The small, short-haired girl was with him. The sight of her made Kelsier frown. She had a nervous anxiety to her step, and she jumped slightly whenever someone made a quick move. The right side of her face was still slightly discolored from a partially healed bruise.

  Kelsier eyed the self-important Camon. I’ll have to come up with something particularly suitable to do to that man.

  “Poor thing,” Dockson muttered.

  Kelsier nodded. “She’ll be free of him soon enough. It’s a wonder no one discovered her before this. ”

  “Your brother was right then?”

  Kelsier nodded. “She’s at least a Misting, and if Marsh says she’s more, I’m inclined to believe him. I’m a bit surprised to see her using Allomancy on a member of the Ministry, especially inside a Canton building. I’d guess that she doesn’t know that she’s even using her abilities. ”

  “Is that possible?” Dockson asked.

  Kelsier nodded. “Trace minerals in the water can be burned, if just for a tiny bit of power. That’s one of the reasons the Lord Ruler built his city here—lots of metals in th
e ground. I’d say that…”

  Kelsier trailed off, frowning slightly. Something was wrong. He glanced toward Camon and his crew. They were still visible in the near distance, crossing the street and heading south.

  A ?gure appeared in the Canton building’s doorway. Lean with a con?dent air, he bore the tattoos of a high prelan of the Canton of Finance around his eyes. Probably the very man Camon had met with shortly before. The obligator stepped out of the building, and a second man exited behind him.

  Beside Kelsier, Dockson suddenly grew stiff.

  The second man was tall with a strong build. As he turned, Kelsier was able to see that a thick metal spike had been pounded tip-?rst through each of the man’s eyes. With shafts as wide as an eye socket, the nail-like spikes were long enough that their sharp points jutted out about an inch from the back of the man’s clean-shaven skull. The ?at spike ends shone like two silvery disks, sticking out of the sockets in the front, where the eyes should have been.

  A Steel Inquisitor.

  “What’s that doing here?” Dockson asked.

  “Stay calm,” Kelsier said, trying to force himself to do the same. The Inquisitor looked toward them, spiked eyes regarding Kelsier, before turning in the direction that Camon and the girl had gone. Like all Inquisitors, he wore intricate eye tattoos—mostly black, with one stark red line—that marked him as a high-ranking member of the Canton of Inquisition.

  “He’s not here for us,” Kelsier said. “I’m not burning anything—he’ll think that we’re just ordinary noblemen. ”

  “The girl,” Dockson said.

  Kelsier nodded. “You say Camon’s been running this scam on the Ministry for a while. Well, the girl must have been detected by one of the obligators. They’re trained to recognize when an Allomancer tampers with their emotions. ”

  Dockson frowned thoughtfully. Across the street, the Inquisitor conferred with the other obligator, then the two of them turned to walk in the direction that Camon had gone. There was no urgency to their pace.

  “They must have sent a tail to follow them,” Dockson said.

  “This is the Ministry,” Kelsier said. “There’ll be two tails, at least. ”

  Dockson nodded. “Camon will lead them directly back to his safe house. Dozens of men will die. They’re not all the most admirable people, but. . ”

  “They ?ght the Final Empire, in their own way,” Kelsier said. “Besides, I’m not about to let a possible Mistborn slip away from us—I want to talk to that girl. Can you deal with those tails?”

  “I said I’d become boring, Kell,” Dockson said. “Not sloppy. I can handle a couple of Ministry ?unkies. ”

  “Good,” Kelsier said, reaching into his cloak pocket and pulling out a small vial. A collection of metal ?akes ?oated in an alcohol solution within. Iron, steel, tin, pewter, copper, bronze, zinc, and brass—the eight basic Allomantic metals. Kelsier pulled off the stopper and downed the contents in a single swift gulp.

  He pocketed the now empty vial, wiping his mouth. “I’ll handle that Inquisitor. ”

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