Mistborn the final empi.., p.8
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.8

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
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Page 8

  Dockson looked apprehensive. “You’re going to try and take him?”

  Kelsier shook his head. “Too dangerous. I’ll just divert him. Now, get going—we don’t want those tails ?nding the safe house. ”

  Dockson nodded. “Meet back at the ?fteenth crossroad,” he said before taking off down the alley and disappearing around a corner.

  Kelsier gave his friend a count of ten before reaching within himself and burning his metals. His body came awash with strength, clarity, and power.

  Kelsier smiled; then—burning zinc—he reached out and yanked ?rmly on the Inquisitor’s emotions. The creature froze in place, then spun, looking back toward the Canton building.

  Let’s have a chase now, you and I, Kelsier thought.

  We arrived in Terris earlier this week, 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.

  3

  CAMON COUNTED HIS COINS, DROPPING the golden boxings one by one into the small chest on his table. He still looked a bit stunned, as well he should have. Three thousand boxings was a fabulous amount of money—far more than Camon would earn in even a very good year. His closest cronies sat at the table with him, ale—and laughter— ?owing freely.

  Vin sat in her corner, trying to understand her feelings of dread. Three thousand boxings. The Ministry should never have let such a sum go so quickly. Prelan Arriev had seemed too cunning to be fooled with ease.

  Camon dropped another coin into the chest. Vin couldn’t decide if he was being foolish or clever by making such a display of wealth. Underworld crews worked under a strict agreement: Everyone received a cut of earnings in proportion to their status in the group. While it was sometimes tempting to kill the crewleader and take his money for yourself, a successful leader created more wealth for everyone. Kill him prematurely, and you would cut off future earnings—not to mention earn the wrath of the other crewmembers.

  Still, three thousand boxings… that would be enough to tempt even the most logical thief. It was all wrong.

  I have to get out of here, Vin decided. Get away from Camon, and the lair, in case something happens.

  And yet…leave? By herself? She’d never been alone before; she’d always had Reen. He’d been the one to lead her from city to city, joining different thieving crews. She loved solitude. But the thought of being by herself, out in the city, horri?ed her. That was why she’d never run away from Reen; that was why she’d stayed with Camon.

  She couldn’t go. But she had to. She looked up from her corner, scanning the room. There weren’t many people in the crew for whom she felt any sort of attachment. Yet, there were a couple that she would be sorry to see hurt, should the obligators actually move against the crew. A few men who hadn’t tried to abuse her, or—in very rare cases—who had actually shown her some measure of kindness.

  Ulef was at the top of that list. He wasn’t a friend, but he was the closest thing she had now that Reen was gone. If he would go with her, then at least she wouldn’t be alone. Cautiously, Vin stood and moved along the side of the room to where Ulef sat drinking with some of the other younger crewmembers.

  She tugged on Ulef’s sleeve. He turned toward her, only slightly drunk. “Vin?”

  “Ulef,” she whispered. “We need to go. ”

  He frowned. “Go? Go where?”

  “Away,” Vin whispered. “Out of here. ”

  “Now?”

  Vin nodded urgently.

  Ulef glanced back at his friends, who were chuckling among themselves, shooting suggestive looks at Vin and Ulef.

  Ulef ?ushed. “You want to go somewhere, just you and I?”

  “Not like that,” Vin said. “Just…I need to leave the lair. And I don’t want to be alone. ”

  Ulef frowned. He leaned closer, a slight stink of ale on his breath. “What is this about, Vin?” he asked quietly.

  Vin paused. “I… think something might happen, Ulef,” she whispered. “Something with the obligators. I just don’t want to be in the lair right now. ”

  Ulef sat quietly for a moment. “All right,” he ?nally said. “How long will this take?”

  “I don’t know,” Vin said. “Until evening, at least. But we have to go. Now. ”

  He nodded slowly.

  “Wait here for a moment,” Vin whispered, turning. She shot a glance at Camon, who was laughing at one of his own jokes. Then she quietly moved through the ash-stained, smoky chamber into the lair’s back room.

  The crew’s general sleeping quarters consisted of a simple, elongated corridor lined with bedrolls. It was crowded and uncomfortable, but it was far better than the cold alleyways she’d slept in during her years traveling with Reen.

  Alleyways that I might have to get used to again, she thought. She had survived them before. She could do so again.

  She moved to her pallet, the muf?ed sounds of men laughing and drinking sounding from the other room. Vin knelt down, regarding her few possessions. If something did happen to the crew, she wouldn’t be able to come back to the lair. Ever. But, she couldn’t take the bedroll with her now—it was far too obvious. That left only the small box that contained her personal effects: a pebble from each city she’d visited, the earring Reen said Vin’s mother had given her, and a bit of obsidian the size of a large coin. It was chipped into an irregular pattern—Reen had carried it as some kind of good luck charm. It was the only thing he’d left behind when he’d snuck away from the crew half a year before. Abandoning her.

  Just like he always said he would, Vin told herself sternly. I never thought he’d actually go—and that’s exactly why he had to leave.

  She gripped the bit of obsidian in her hand and pocketed the pebbles. The earring she put in her ear—it was a very simple thing. Little more than a stud, not even worth stealing, which was why she didn’t fear leaving it in the back room. Still, Vin had rarely worn it, for fear that the ornamentation would make her look more feminine.

  She had no money, but Reen had taught her how to scavenge and beg. Both were dif?cult in the Final Empire, especially in Luthadel, but she would ?nd a way, if she had to.

  Vin left her box and bedroll, slipping back out into the common room. Maybe she was overreacting; perhaps nothing would happen to the crew. But, if it did…well, if there was one thing Reen had taught her, it was how to protect her neck. Bringing Ulef was a good idea. He had contacts in Luthadel. If something happened to Camon’s crew, Ulef could probably get her and him jobs on—

  Vin froze just inside the main room. Ulef wasn’t at the table where she had left him. Instead, he stood furtively near the front of the room. Near the bar. Near. . Camon.

  “What is this!” Camon stood, his face red as sunlight. He pushed his stool out of the way, then lurched toward her, half drunk. “Running away? Off to betray me to the Ministry, are you!”

  Vin dashed toward the stairwell door, desperately scrambling around tables and past crewmembers.

  Camon’s hurled wooden stool hit her square in the back, throwing her to the ground. Pain ?ared between her shoulders; several crewmembers cried out as the stool bounced off of her and thumped against the ?oorboards nearby.

  Vin lay in a daze. Then… something within her— something she knew of but didn’t understand—gave her strength. Her head stopped swimming, her pain becoming a focus. She climbed awkwardly to her feet.

  Camon was there. He backhanded her even as she stood. Her head snapped to the side from the blow, twisting her neck so painfully that she
barely felt herself hit the ?oor again.

  Camon bent over, grabbing her by the front of her shirt and pulling her up, raising his ?st. Vin didn’t pause to think or to speak; there was only one thing to do. She used up all of her Luck in a single furious effort, pushing against Camon, calming his fury.

  Camon teetered. For a moment, his eyes softened. He lowered her slightly.

  Then the anger returned to his eyes. Hard. Terrifying.

  “Damn wench,” Camon muttered, grabbing her by the shoulders and shaking her. “That backstabbing brother of yours never respected me, and you’re the same. I was too easy on you both. Should have. . ”

  Vin tried to twist free, but Camon’s grip was ?rm. She searched desperately for aid from the other crewmembers— however, she knew what she would ?nd. Indifference. They turned away, their faces embarrassed but not concerned. Ulef still stood near Camon’s table, looking down guiltily.

  In her mind, she thought she heard a voice whispering to her. Reen’s voice. Fool! Ruthlessness—it’s the most logical of emotions. You don’t have any friends in the underworld. You’ll never have any friends in the underworld!

  She renewed her struggles, but Camon hit her again, knocking her to the ground. The blow stunned her, and she gasped, breath knocked from her lungs.

  Just endure, she thought, mind muddled. He won’t kill me. He needs me.

  Yet, as she turned weakly, she saw Camon looming above her in the caliginous room, drunken fury showing in his face. She knew this time would be different; it would be no simple beating. He thought that she intended to betray him to the Ministry. He wasn’t in control.

  There was murder in his eyes.

  Please! Vin thought with desperation, reaching for her Luck, trying to make it work. There was no response. Luck, such as it was, had failed her.

  Camon bent down, muttering to himself as he grabbed her by the shoulder. He raised an arm—his meaty hand forming another ?st, his muscles tensing, an angry bead of sweat slipping off his chin and hitting her on the cheek.

  A few feet away, the stairwell door shook, then burst open. Camon paused, arm upraised as he glared toward the door and whatever unfortunate crewmember had chosen such an inopportune moment to return to the lair.

  Vin seized the distraction. Ignoring the newcomer, she tried to shake herself free from Camon’s grip, but she was too weak. Her face blazed from where he’d hit her, and she tasted blood on her lip. Her shoulder had been twisted awkwardly, and her side ached from where she’d fallen. She clawed at Camon’s hand, but she suddenly felt weak, her inner strength failing her just as her Luck had. Her pains suddenly seemed greater, more daunting, more… demanding.

  She turned toward the door desperately. She was close— painfully close. She had nearly escaped. Just a little farther. .

  Then she saw the man standing quietly in the stairwell doorway. He was unfamiliar to her. Tall and hawk-faced, he had light blond hair and wore a relaxed nobleman’s suit, his cloak hanging free. He was, perhaps, in his mid-thirties. He wore no hat, nor did he carry a dueling cane.

 

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