Mistborn the final empi.., p.73
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.73

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
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Page 73

  Vin paused. “Ham, how are we going to get in there?”

  “Don’t worry,” he said, stopping beside her. “I’m known to the Garrison. Besides, it’s not as bad as it looks—the Garrison members just put on an intimidating face. As you can imagine, they aren’t very well liked. Most of the soldiers in there are skaa—men who have, in exchange for a better life, sold out to the Lord Ruler. Whenever there are skaa riots in a city, the local garrison is usually hit pretty hard by malcontents. Hence the forti?cations. ”

  “So…you know these men?”

  Ham nodded. “I’m not like Breeze or Kell, Vin—I can’t put on faces and pretend. I’m just who I am. Those soldiers don’t know I’m a Misting, but they know I work in the underground. I’ve known many of these guys for years; they’ve consistently tried to recruit me. They generally have better luck getting people like me, who are already outside mainstream society, to join their ranks. ”

  “But, you’re going to betray them,” Vin said quietly, pulling Ham to the side of the road.

  “Betray?” he asked. “No, it won’t be a betrayal. Those men are mercenaries, Vin. They’ve been hired to ?ght, and they’ll attack friends—even relatives—in a riot or rebellion. Soldiers learn to understand these kinds of things. We may be friends, but when it comes to ?ghting, none of us would hesitate to kill the others. ”

  Vin nodded slowly. It seemed…harsh. But, that’s what life is. Harsh. That part of Reen’s teaching wasn’t a lie.

  “Poor lads,” Ham said, looking at the Garrison. “We could have used men like them. Before I left for the caves, I managed to recruit the few that I thought would be receptive. The rest…well, they picked their path. Like me, they’re just trying to give their kids a better life—the difference is, they’re willing to work for him in order to do it. ”

  Ham turned back to her. “All right, you wanted some tips on burning pewter?”

  Vin nodded eagerly.

  “The soldiers usually let me spar with them,” Ham said. “You can watch me ?ght—burn bronze to see when I’m using Allomancy. The ?rst, most important thing you’ll learn about Pewterarming is when to use your metal. I’ve noticed that young Allomancers tend to always ?are their pewter, thinking that the stronger they are, the better. However, you don’t always want to hit as hard as you can with each blow.

  “Strength is a big part of ?ghting, but it’s not the only part. If you always hit your hardest, you’ll tire faster and you’ll give your opponent information about your limitations. A smart man hits his hardest at the end of a battle, when his opponent is weakest. And, in an extended battle—like a war— the smart soldier is the one who survives the longest. He’ll be the man who paces himself. ”

  Vin nodded. “But, don’t you tire slower when you’re using Allomancy?”

  “Yes,” Ham said. “In fact, a man with enough pewter can keep ?ghting at near-peak ef?ciency for hours. But pewter dragging like that takes practice, and you’ll run out of metals eventually. When you do, the fatigue could kill you.

  “Anyway, what I’m trying to explain is that it’s usually best to vary your pewter burning. If you use more strength than you need, you could knock yourself off balance. Also, I’ve seen Thugs who rely on their pewter so much that they disregard training and practice. Pewter enhances your physical abilities, but not your innate skill. If you don’t know how to use a weapon—or if you aren’t practiced at thinking quickly in a ?ght—you’ll lose no matter how strong you are.

  “I’ll have to be extra careful with the Garrison, since I don’t want them to know I’m an Allomancer. You’ll be surprised at how often that’s important. Watch how I use pewter. I won’t just ?are it for strength—if I stumble, I’ll burn it to give me an instant sense of balance. When I dodge, I might burn it to help me duck out of the way a little faster. There are dozens of little tricks you can do if you know when to give yourself a boost. ”

  Vin nodded.

  “Okay,” Ham said. “Let’s go, then. I’ll tell the garrisoners that you’re the daughter of a relative. You look young enough for your age that they won’t even think twice. Watch me ?ght, and we’ll talk afterward. ”

  Vin nodded again, and the two of them approached the Garrison. Ham waved to one of the guards. “Hey, Bevidon. I’ve got the day off. Is Sertes around?”

  “He’s here, Ham,” Bevidon said. “But I don’t know that this is the best day for sparring…. ”

  Ham raised an eyebrow. “Oh?”

  Bevidon shared a glance with one of the other soldiers. “Go fetch the captain,” he said to the man.

  A few moments later, a busy-looking soldier approached from a side building, waving as soon as he saw Ham. His uniform bore a few extra stripes of color and a few gold-colored bits of metal on the shoulder.

  “Ham,” the newcomer said, stepping through the gate.

  “Sertes,” Ham said with a smile, clasping hands with the man. “Captain now, eh?”

  “Happened last month,” Sertes said with a nod. He paused, then eyed Vin.

  “She’s my niece,” Ham said. “Good lass. ”

  Sertes nodded. “Could we speak alone for a moment, Ham?”

  Ham shrugged and let himself get pulled to a more secluded place beside the complex gates. Vin’s Allomancy let her make out what they were saying. What did I ever do without tin?

  “Look, Ham,” Sertes said. “You won’t be able to come spar for a while. The Garrison is going to be… occupied. ”

  “Occupied?” Ham asked. “How?”

  “I can’t say,” Sertes said. “But…well, we could really use a soldier like you right now. ”

  “Fighting?”

  “Yeah. ”

  “Must be something serious if it’s taking the attention of the entire Garrison. ”

  Sertes grew quiet for a moment, and then he spoke again in a hushed tone—so quiet that Vin had to strain to hear. “A rebellion,” Sertes whispered, “right here in the Central Dominance. We just got word. An army of skaa rebels appeared and attacked the Holstep Garrison to the north. ”

  Vin felt a sudden chill.

  “What?” Ham said.

  “They must have come from the caves up there,” the soldier said. “Last word was that the Holstep forti?cations are holding—but Ham, they’re only a thousand men strong. They need reinforcements desperately, and the koloss will never get there in time. The Valtroux Garrison sent ?ve thousand soldiers, but we’re not going to leave it to them. This is apparently a very big force of rebels, and the Lord Ruler gave us permission to go help. ”

  Ham nodded.

  “So, what about it?” Sertes asked. “Real ?ghting, Ham. Real battle pay. We could really use a man of your skill—I’ll make you an of?cer right off, give you your own squad. ”

  “I…I’ll have to think about it,” Ham said. He wasn’t good at hiding his emotions, and his surprise sounded suspicious to Vin. Sertes, however, didn’t appear to notice.

  “Don’t take too long,” Sertes said. “We plan to march out in two hours. ”

  “I’ll do it,” Ham said, sounding stunned. “Let me go drop off my niece and get some things. I’ll be back before you leave. ”

  “Good man,” Sertes said, and Vin could see him clap Ham on the shoulder.

  Our army is exposed, Vin thought in horror. They’re not ready! They were supposed to take Luthadel quietly, quickly— not face the Garrison straight out.

  Those men are going to get massacred! What happened?

  No man dies by my hand or command except that I wish there had been another way. Still, I kill them. Sometimes, I wish that I weren’t such a cursed realist.

  25

  KELSIER TOSSED ANOTHER WATER JUG into his pack. “Breeze, make a list of all the hideouts where you and I recruited. Go warn them that the Ministry might soon have prisoners who could give them away. ”

  Breeze nodded, for once refraining from making any witty remarks. Behind him, apprentices scrambled thr
ough Clubs’s shop, gathering and preparing the supplies that Kelsier had ordered.

  “Dox, this shop should be secure unless they capture Yeden. Keep all three of Clubs’s Tineyes on watch. If there’s trouble, head for the bolt-lair. ”

  Dockson nodded in acknowledgment as he hurriedly gave orders to the apprentices. One had already left, bearing a warning to Renoux. Kelsier thought that the mansion would be safe—only that one group of barges had left from Fellise, and its men had thought that Renoux wasn’t in on the plan. Renoux wouldn’t pull out unless absolutely necessary; his disappearance would require removing both himself and Valette from their carefully prepared positions.

  Kelsier stuffed a handful of rations into his pack, then swung it onto his back.

  “What about me, Kell?” Ham asked.

  “You’re going back to the Garrison, like you promised. That was clever thinking—we need an informant in there. ”

  Ham frowned apprehensively.

  “I don’t have time to deal with your nerves right now, Ham,” Kelsier said. “You don’t have to scam, just be yourself and listen. ”

  “I won’t turn against the Garrison if I go with them,” he said. “I’ll listen, but I’m not going to attack men who think I’m their ally. ”

  “Fine,” Kelsier said curtly. “But I sincerely hope you can ?nd a way not to kill any of our soldiers, either. Sazed!”

  “Yes, Master Kelsier?”

  “How much speed do you have stored up?”

  Sazed ?ushed slightly, glancing at the numerous people scurrying around. “Perhaps two, three hours. It is a very dif?cult attribute to collect. ”

  “Not long enough,” Kelsier said. “I’ll go alone. Dox is in charge until I get back. ”

  Kelsier spun, then paused. Vin stood behind him in the same trousers, cap, and shirt she had worn to the Garrison. She had a pack like his slung over her shoulder, and she looked up at him de?antly.

  “This is going to be a dif?cult trip, Vin,” he said. “You’ve never done anything like this before. ”

  “That’s ?ne. ”

  Kelsier nodded. He pulled his trunk out from beneath the table, then opened it and poured Vin a small pouch of pewter beads. She accepted it without comment.

  “Swallow ?ve of those beads. ”

  “Five?”

  “For now,” Kelsier said. “If you need to take some more, call to me so we can stop running. ”

  “Running?” the girl asked. “We’re not taking a canal boat?”

  Kelsier frowned. “Why would we need a boat?”

  Vin glanced down at the pouch, then grabbed a cup of water and began to swallow beads.

  “Make sure you have enough water in that pack,” Kelsier said. “Take as much as you can carry. ” He left her, walking over to lay a hand on Dockson’s shoulder. “It’s about three hours before sunset. If we push hard, we can be there by noon tomorrow. ”

 
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