Mistborn the final empi.., p.71
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.71

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
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Page 71

  Kelsier shrugged. “Okay, then. We should get going—I doubt young Venture and his comrades will discuss anything relevant. ”

  Vin paused.

  “I’ve listened to them on three separate occasions, Vin,” Kelsier said. “I’ll summarize for you, if you want. ”

  “All right,” she said with a sigh. “But I told Sazed I’d meet him back up at the party. ”

  “Off you go, then,” Kelsier said. “I promise not to tell him you were sneaking around and using Allomancy. ”

  “He told me I could,” Vin said defensively.

  “He did?”

  Vin nodded.

  “My mistake,” Kelsier said. “You should probably have Saze fetch you a cloak before you leave the party—you’ve got ash all over the front of your dress. I’ll meet you back at Clubs’s shop—have the carriage drop you and Sazed off there, then continue on out of the city. That’ll keep up appearances. ”

  Vin nodded again, and Kelsier winked and jumped off the wall into the mists.

  In the end, I must trust in myself. I have seen men who have beaten from themselves the ability to recognize truth and goodness, and I do not think I am one of them. I can still see the tears in a young child’s eyes and feel pain at his suffering.

  If I ever lose this, then I will know that I’ve passed beyond hope of redemption.

  24

  KELSIER WAS ALREADY AT THE shop when Vin and Sazed arrived. He sat with Ham, Clubs, and Spook in the kitchen, enjoying a late-night drink.

  “Ham!” Vin said eagerly as she came in the back door. “You’re back!”

  “Yup,” he said happily, raising his cup.

  “It seems like you’ve been gone forever!”

  “You’re telling me,” Ham said, his voice earnest.

  Kelsier chuckled, rising to re?ll his drink. “Ham’s a bit tired of playing general. ”

  “I had to wear a uniform,” Ham complained, stretching. He now wore his customary vest and trousers. “Even plantation skaa don’t have to deal with that kind of torture. ”

  “Try wearing a formal gown sometime,” Vin said, seating herself. She’d brushed off the front of her dress, and it didn’t look half as bad as she’d feared. The blackish gray ash still showed up a bit against the dark fabric, and the ?bers were rough where she’d rubbed against stone, but both were barely noticeable.

  Ham laughed. “It seems that you’ve turned into a proper young lady while I was gone. ”

  “Hardly,” Vin said as Kelsier handed her a cup of wine. She paused brie?y, then took a sip.

  “Mistress Vin is being modest, Master Hammond,” Sazed said, taking a seat. “She’s growing quite pro?cient at courtly arts—better than many actual nobles that I have known. ”

  Vin ?ushed, and Ham laughed again. “Humility, Vin? Where’d you ever learn a bad habit like that?”

  “Not from me, certainly,” Kelsier said, offering Sazed a cup of wine. The Terrisman raised his hand in a respectful refusal.

  “Of course she didn’t get it from you, Kell,” Ham said. “Maybe Spook taught her. He seems to be the only one in this crew who knows how to keep his mouth shut, eh, kid?”

  Spook ?ushed, obviously trying to avoid looking at Vin.

  I’ll have to deal with him sometime, she thought. But… not tonight. Kelsier’s back and Elend’s not a murderer—this is a night to relax.

  Footsteps sounded on the stairs, and a moment later Dockson strolled into the room. “A party? And no one sent for me?”

  “You seemed busy,” Kelsier said.

  “Besides,” Ham added, “we know you’re too responsible to sit around and get drunk with a bunch of miscreants like us. ”

  “Someone has to keep this crew running,” Dockson said lightheartedly, pouring himself a drink. He paused, frowning at Ham. “That vest looks familiar…. ”

  Ham smiled. “I ripped the arms off of my uniform coat. ”

  “You didn’t!” Vin said with a smile.

  Ham nodded, looking self-satis?ed.

  Dockson sighed, continuing to ?ll his cup. “Ham, those things cost money. ”

  “Everything costs money,” Ham said. “But, what is money? A physical representation of the abstract concept of effort. Well, wearing that uniform for so long was a pretty mean effort. I’d say that this vest and I are even now. ”

  Dockson just rolled his eyes. In the main room, the shop’s front door opened and closed, and Vin heard Breeze bid hello to the apprentice on watch.

  “By the way, Dox,” Kelsier said, leaning with his back against a cupboard. “I’m going to need a few ‘physical representations of the concept of effort’ myself. I’d like to rent a small warehouse to conduct some of my informant meetings. ”

  “That can probably be arranged,” Dockson said. “Assuming we keep Vin’s wardrobe budget under control, I—” He broke off, glancing at Vin. “What did you do to that gown, young lady!”

  Vin ?ushed, scrunching down in her chair. Perhaps it’s a bit more noticeable than I thought….

  Kelsier chuckled. “You may have to get used to dirtied clothing, Dox. Vin’s back on Mistborn duty as of this evening. ”

  “Interesting,” Breeze said, entering the kitchen. “Might I suggest that she avoid ?ghting three Steel Inquisitors at once this time?”

  “I’ll do my best,” Vin said.

  Breeze strolled over to the table and chose a seat with his characteristic decorum. The portly man raised his dueling cane, pointing it at Ham. “I see that my period of intellectual respite has come to an end. ”

  Ham smiled. “I thought up a couple beastly questions while I was gone, and I’ve been saving them just for you, Breeze. ”

  “I’m dying of anticipation,” Breeze said. He turned his cane toward Lestibournes. “Spook, drink. ”

  Spook rushed over and fetched Breeze a cup of wine.

  “He’s such a ?ne lad,” Breeze noted, accepting the drink. “I barely even have to nudge him Allomantically. If only the rest of you ruf?ans were so accommodating. ”

  Spook frowned. “Niceing the not on the playing without. ”

  “I have no idea what you just said, child,” Breeze said. “So I’m simply going to pretend it was coherent, then move on. ”

  Kelsier rolled his eyes. “Losing the stress on the nip,” he said. “Notting without the needing of care. ”

  “Riding the rile of the rids to the right,” Spook said with a nod.

  “What are you two babbling about?” Breeze said testily.

  “Wasing the was of brightness,” Spook said. “Nip the having of wishing of this. ”

  “Ever wasing the doing of this,” Kelsier agreed.

  “Ever wasing the wish of having the have,” Ham added with a smile. “Brighting the wish of wasing the not. ”

  Breeze turned to Dockson with exasperation. “I believe our companions have ?nally lost their minds, dear friend. ”

  Dockson shrugged. Then, with a perfectly straight face, he said, “Wasing not of wasing is. ”

  Breeze sat, dumbfounded, and the room burst into laughter. Breeze rolled his eyes indignantly, shaking his head and muttering about the crew’s gross childishness.

  Vin nearly choked on her wine as she laughed. “What did you even say?” she asked of Dockson as he sat down beside her.

  “I’m not sure,” he confessed. “It just sounded right. ”

  “I don’t think you said anything, Dox,” Kelsier said.

  “Oh, he said something,” Spook said. “It just didn’t mean anything. ”

  Kelsier laughed. “That’s true pretty much all the time. I’ve found you can ignore half of what Dox tells you and not miss much—except for maybe the occasional complaint that you’re spending too much. ”

  “Hey!” Dockson said. “Once again, must I point out that someone has to be responsible? Honestly, the way you people go through boxings…”

  Vin smiled. Even Dockson’s complaints seemed good-natured. Clu
bs sat quietly by the side wall, looking as curmudgeonly as ever, but Vin caught sight of a slight smile on his lips. Kelsier rose and opened another bottle of wine, re?lling cups as he told the crew about the skaa army’s preparations.

  Vin felt… contented. As she sipped at her wine, she caught sight of the open doorway leading into the darkened workshop. She imagined, just for a moment, that she could see a ?gure out in the shadows—a frightened wisp of a girl, untrusting, suspicious. The girl’s hair was ragged and short, and she wore a simple, untucked dirty shirt and a pair of brown trousers.

  Vin remembered that second night in Clubs’s shop, when she had stood out in the dark workroom, watching the others share late-night conversation. Had she really been that girl— one who would hide in the cold darkness, watching the laughter and friendship with a hidden envy, but never daring to join it?

  Kelsier made some particularly witty comment, drawing laughter from the entire room.

  You’re right, Kelsier, Vin thought with a smile. This is better.

  She wasn’t like them yet—not completely. Six months couldn’t silence Reen’s whispers, and she couldn’t see herself ever being as trusting as Kelsier was. But. . she could ?nally understand, at least a little bit, why he worked the way he did.

  “All right,” Kelsier said, pulling over a chair and sitting on it the wrong way. “It looks like the army will be ready on schedule, and Marsh is in place. We need to get this plan moving. Vin, news from the ball?”

  “House Tekiel is vulnerable,” she said. “Its allies are scattering, and the vultures are moving in. Some whisper that debts and lost business will force the Tekiel to sell off their keep by the end of the month. There’s no way they can afford to continue paying the Lord Ruler’s keep tax. ”

  “Which effectively eliminates one entire Great House from the city,” Dockson said. “Most of the Tekiel nobility— including Mistings and Mistborn—will have to move to outer plantations to try and recoup losses. ”

  “Nice,” Ham noted. Any noble houses they could frighten out of the city would make seizing it that much easier.

  “That still leaves nine Great Houses in the city,” Breeze noted.

  “But they’ve started killing each other at night,” Kelsier said. “That’s only one step away from open war. I suspect we’ll see an exodus start here pretty soon—anyone who isn’t willing to risk assassination to maintain dominance in Luthadel will leave town for a couple of years. ”

  “The strong houses don’t seem very afraid, though,” Vin said. “They’re still throwing balls, anyway. ”

  “Oh, they’ll keep doing that right up until the end,” Kelsier said. “Balls make great excuses to meet with allies and keep an eye on enemies. House wars are primarily political, and so they demand political battle?elds. ”

 

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