Mistborn the final empi.., p.81
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.81
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         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
Page 81

  Vin nodded. However, it was unlikely that she’d ?nd out more about gold anytime soon. She didn’t intend to ever burn it again, if she could help it. She continued to sit, letting her emotions recover for a while, and Kelsier moved back over by the window. Eventually, he perked up.

  “He’s here?” Vin asked, crawling to her feet.

  Kelsier nodded. “You want to stay here and rest some more?”

  Vin shook her head.

  “All right, then,” he said, placing his pocket watch, ?le, and other metals on the windowsill. “Let’s go. ”

  They didn’t go out the window—Kelsier wanted to maintain a low pro?le, though this section of the Twists was so deserted that Vin wasn’t sure why he bothered. They left the building via a set of untrustworthy stairs, then crossed the street in silence.

  The building Marsh had chosen was even more run-down than the one Vin and Kelsier had been sitting in. The front door was gone, though Vin could see remnants of it in the splintered refuse on the ?oor. The room inside smelled of dust and soot, and she had to sti?e a sneeze.

  A ?gure standing on the far side of the room spun at the sound. “Kell?”

  “It’s me,” Kelsier said. “And Vin. ”

  As Vin drew closer, she could see Marsh squinting in the darkness. It was odd to watch him, feeling like she was in plain sight, yet knowing that to him she and Kelsier were nothing more than shadows. The far wall of the building had collapsed, and mist ?oated freely in the room, nearly as dense as it was outside.

  “You have Ministry tattoos!” Vin said, staring at Marsh.

  “Of course,” Marsh said, his voice as stern as ever. “I had them put on before I met up with the caravan. I had to have them to play the part of an acolyte. ”

  They weren’t extensive—he was playing a low-ranked obligator—but the pattern was unmistakable. Dark lines, rimming the eyes, running outward like crawling cracks of lightning. There was one, single line—much thicker, and in bright red, running down the side of his face. Vin recognized the pattern: These were the lines of an obligator who belonged to the Canton of Inquisition. Marsh hadn’t just in?ltrated the Ministry, he’d chosen the most dangerous section of it to in?ltrate.

  “But, you’ll always have them,” Vin said. “They’re so distinctive—everywhere you go, you’ll be known as either an obligator or a fraud. ”

  “That was part of the price he paid to in?ltrate the Ministry, Vin,” Kelsier said quietly.

  “It doesn’t matter,” Marsh said. “I didn’t have much of a life before this anyway. Look, can we hurry? I’m expected to be somewhere soon. Obligators lead busy lives, and I only have a few minutes’ leeway. ”

  “All right,” Kelsier said. “I assume your in?ltration went well, then?”

  “It went ?ne,” Marsh said tersely. “Too well, actually—I think I might have distinguished myself from the group. I assumed that I would be at a disadvantage, since I didn’t have the same ?ve years of training that the other acolytes did. I made certain to answer questions as thoroughly as possible, and to perform my duties with precision. However, I apparently know more about the Ministry than even some of its members do. I’m certainly more competent than this batch of newcomers, and the prelans have noticed that. ”

  Kelsier chuckled. “You always were an overachiever. ”

  Marsh snorted quietly. “Anyway, my knowledge—not to mention my skill as a Seeker—has already earned me an outstanding reputation. I’m not sure how closely I want the prelans paying attention to me; that background we devised begins to sound a bit ?imsy when an Inquisitor is grilling you. ”

  Vin frowned. “You told them that you’re a Misting?”

  “Of course I did,” Marsh said. “The Ministry—particularly the Canton of Inquisition—recruits noblemen Seekers diligently. The fact that I’m one is enough to keep them from asking too many questions about my background. They’re happy enough to have me, despite the fact that I’m a fair bit older than most acolytes. ”

  “Besides,” Kelsier said, “he needed to tell them he was a Misting so that he could get into the more secretive Ministry sects. Most of the higher-ranking obligators are Mistings of one sort or another. They tend to favor their own kind. ”

  “With good reason,” Marsh said, speaking quickly. “Kell, the Ministry is far more competent than we assumed. ”

  “What do you mean?”

  “They make use of their Mistings,” Marsh said. “Good use of them. They have bases throughout the city—Soothing stations, as they call them. Each one contains a couple of Ministry Soothers whose only duty is to extend a dampening in?uence around them, calming and depressing the emotions of everyone in the area. ”

  Kelsier hissed quietly. “How many?”

  “Dozens,” Marsh said. “Concentrated in skaa sections of the city. They know that the skaa are beaten, but they want to make sure things stay that way. ”

  “Bloody hell!” Kelsier said. “I always thought that the skaa inside Luthadel seemed more beaten down than others. No wonder we had so much trouble recruiting. The people’s emotions are under a constant Soothing!”

  Marsh nodded. “The Ministry Soothers are good, Kell— very good. Even better than Breeze. All they do is Soothe all day, every day. And, since they’re not trying to get you to do anything speci?c—instead just keeping you from extreme emotional ranges—they’re very hard to notice.

  “Each team has a Smoker to keep them hidden, as well as a Seeker to watch for passing Allomancers. I’ll bet this is where the Inquisitors get a lot of their leads—most of our people are smart enough not to burn when they know that there’s an obligator in the area, but they’re more lax in the slums. ”

  “Can you get us a list of the stations?” Kelsier asked. “We need to know where those Seekers are, Marsh. ”

  Marsh nodded. “I’ll try. I’m on my way to a station right now—they always do personnel changes at night, to maintain their secret. The upper ranks have taken an interest in me, and they’re letting me visit some stations to become familiar with their work. I’ll see if I can get a list for you. ”

  Kelsier nodded in the darkness.

  “Just. . don’t be stupid with the information, all right?” Marsh said. “We have to be careful, Kell. The Ministry has kept these stations secret for quite some time. Now that we know about them, we have a serious advantage. Don’t waste it. ”

  “I won’t,” Kelsier promised. “What about the Inquisitors? Did you ?nd anything out about them?”

  Marsh stood quietly for a moment. “They’re…strange, Kell. I don’t know. They seem to have all of the Allomantic powers, so I assume that they were once Mistborn. I can’t ?nd out much else about them—though I do know that they age. ”

  “Really?” Kelsier said with interest. “So, they’re not immortal?”

  “No,” Marsh said. “The obligators say that Inquisitors change occasionally. The creatures are very long-lived, but they do eventually die of old age. New ones must be recruited from noblemen ranks. They’re people, Kell—they’ve just been… changed. ”

  Kelsier nodded. “If they can die of old age, then there’s probably other ways to kill them too. ”

  “That’s what I think,” Marsh said. “I’ll see what I can ?nd, but don’t get your hopes up. The Inquisitors don’t have many dealings with normal obligators—there’s political tension between the two groups. The lord prelan leads the church, but the Inquisitors think that they should be in charge. ”

  “Interesting,” Kelsier said slowly. Vin could practically hear his mind working on the new information.

  “Anyway, I should go,” Marsh said. “I had to jog all the way here, and I’m going to be late getting to my appointment anyway. ”

  Kelsier nodded, and Marsh began to move away, picking his way over the rubble in his dark obligator’s robe.

  “Marsh,” Kelsier said as Marsh reached the doorway.

  Marsh turned.

  “Thank you,
Kelsier said. “I can only guess how dangerous this is. ”

  “I’m not doing this for you, Kell,” Marsh said. “But…I appreciate the sentiment. I’ll try and send you another missive once I have more information. ”

  “Be careful,” Kelsier said.

  Marsh vanished out into the misty night. Kelsier stood in the fallen room for a few minutes, staring after his brother.

  He wasn’t lying about that either, Vin thought. He really does care for Marsh.

  “Let’s go,” Kelsier said. “We should get you back to Mansion Renoux—House Lekal is throwing another party in a few days, and you’ll need to be there. ”

  Sometimes, my companions claim that I worry and question too much. However, while I may wonder about my stature as the hero, there is one thing that I have never questioned: the ultimate good of our quest.

  The Deepness must be destroyed. I have seen it, and I have felt it. This name we give it is too weak a word, I think. Yes, it is deep and unfathomable, but it is also terrible. Many do not realize that it is sentient, but I have sensed its mind, such that it is, the few times I have confronted it directly.

  It is a thing of destruction, madness, and corruption. It would destroy this world not out of spite or out of animosity, but simply because that is what it does.

  28

  KEEP LEKAL’S BALLROOM WAS SHAPED like the inside of a pyramid. The dance ?oor was set on a waist-high platform at the very center of the room, and the dining tables sat on four similar platforms surrounding it. Servants scuttled through the trenches running between the platforms, delivering food to the dining aristocrats.

  Four tiers of balconies ran along the inside perimeter of the pyramidal room, each one a little closer to the point at the top, each one extending just a little bit more over the dance ?oor. Though the main room was well lit, the balconies themselves were shadowed by their overhangs. The design was intended to allow proper viewing of the keep’s most distinctive artistic feature—the small stained-glass windows that lined each balcony.

  Lekal noblemen bragged that while other keeps had larger windows, Keep Lekal had the most detailed ones. Vin had to admit that they were impressive. She’d seen so many stained-glass windows over the last few months that she was beginning to take them for granted. Keep Lekal’s windows, however, put most of them to shame. Each of these was an extravagant, detailed marvel of resplendent color. Exotic animals pranced, distant landscapes enticed, and portraits of famous noblemen sat proudly.

  There were also, of course, the requisite pictures dedicated to the Ascension. Vin could recognize these more easily now, and she was surprised to see references to things she had read in the logbook. The hills of emerald green. The steep mountains, with faint wavelike lines coming from the tips. A deep, dark lake. And… blackness. The Deepness. A chaotic thing of destruction.

 
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