Mistborn the final empi.., p.82
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.82
Download  in MP3 audio

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
Page 82

  He defeated it, Vin thought. But…what was it? Perhaps the end of the logbook would reveal more.

  Vin shook her head, leaving the alcove—and its black window—behind. She strolled along the second balcony, wearing a pure white gown—an out?t she would never have been able to even imagine during her life as a skaa. Ash and soot had been too much a part of her life, and she didn’t think she’d even had a concept of what a pristine white looked like. That knowledge made the dress even more wondrous to her. She hoped she would never lose that—the sense within herself of how life had been before. It made her appreciate what she had so much more than the real nobility seemed to.

  She continued along the balcony, seeking her prey. Glittering colors shone from backlit windows, sparkling light across the ?oor. Most of the windows glowed inside small viewing alcoves along the balcony, and so the balcony before her was interspersed with pockets of dark and color. Vin didn’t stop to study any more of the windows; she’d done quite a bit of that during her ?rst balls at Keep Lekal. This night she had business to attend to.

  She found her quarry halfway down the east balcony walkway. Lady Kliss was speaking with a group of people, so Vin paused, pretending to study a window. Kliss’s group soon broke up—one could generally only take so much of Kliss at a time. The short woman began to walk along the balcony toward Vin.

  When she drew close, Vin turned, as if in surprise. “Why, Lady Kliss! I haven’t seen you all evening. ”

  Kliss turned eagerly, obviously excited by the prospect of another person with whom to gossip. “Lady Valette!” she said, waddling forward. “You missed Lord Cabe’s ball last week! Not due to a relapse of your earlier malady, I hope?”

  “No,” Vin said. “I spent that evening dining with my uncle. ”

  “Oh,” Kliss said, disappointed. A relapse would have made a better story. “Well, that’s good. ”

  “I hear you have some interesting news about Lady Tren-Pedri Delouse,” Vin said carefully. “I myself have heard some interesting things lately. ” She eyed Kliss, implying that she’d be willing to trade tidbits.

  “Oh, that!” Kliss said eagerly. “Well, I heard that Tren-Pedri isn’t at all interested in a union with House Aime, though her father is implying that there will be a wedding soon. You know how the Aime sons are, though. Why, Fedren is an absolute buffoon. ”

  Inwardly, Vin rolled her eyes. Kliss just kept on talking, not even noticing that Vin had something she herself wanted to share. Using subtlety on this woman is about as effective as trying to sell bathwater perfumes to a plantation skaa.

  “That is interesting,” Vin said, interrupting Kliss. “Perhaps Tren-Pedri’s hesitance comes because of House Aime’s connection to House Hasting. ”

  Kliss paused. “Why would that be?”

  “Well, we all know what House Hasting is planning. ”

  “We do?” Kliss asked.

  Vin pretended to look embarrassed. “Oh. Perhaps that isn’t known yet. Please, Lady Kliss, forget that I said anything. ”

  “Forget?” Kliss said. “Why, it’s already forgotten. But, come now, you can’t just stop. What do you mean?”

  “I shouldn’t say,” Vin said. “It’s just something I overheard my uncle talking about. ”

  “Your uncle?” Kliss asked, growing more eager. “What did he say? You know that you can trust me. ”

  “Well…” Vin said. “He said that House Hasting was relocating a lot of resources back to its plantations in the Southern Dominance. My uncle was quite happy—Hasting has withdrawn from some of its contracts, and my uncle was hoping to get them instead. ”

  “Relocating…” Kliss said. “Why, they wouldn’t do that unless they were planning to withdraw from the city…. ”

  “Could you blame them?” Vin asked quietly. “I mean, who wants to risk what happened to House Tekiel?”

  “Who indeed…” Kliss said. She was practically shaking with eagerness to go share the news.

  “Anyway, please, this is obviously only hearsay,” Vin said. “You probably shouldn’t tell anyone about it. ”

  “Of course,” Kliss said. “Um…excuse me. I need to go refresh myself. ”

  “Of course,” Vin said, watching the woman zip away toward the balcony stairs.

  Vin smiled. House Hasting was making no such preparations, of course; Hasting was one of the strongest families in the city, and wouldn’t likely withdraw. However, Dockson was back at the shop forging documents which, when delivered to the right places, would imply that Hasting was planning to do what Vin had said.

  If all went well, the entire city would soon expect a Hasting withdrawal. Their allies would plan for it, and might even begin to withdraw themselves. People seeking to buy weapons would instead look to other places, fearing that Hasting wouldn’t be able to make good on contracts once it left. When Hasting didn’t withdraw, it would make them look indecisive. Their allies gone, their income weakened, they could very well be the next house to fall.

  House Hasting, however, was one of the easy ones to work against. It had a reputation for extreme subterfuge, and people would believe that it was planning a secret retreat. In addition, Hasting was a strong mercantile house—meaning it depended a great deal upon its contracts to survive. A house with such an obvious, dominating source of income also had an obvious weakness. Lord Hasting had worked hard to increase his house’s in?uence over the last few decades, and in doing so he had extended his house’s resources to their limits.

  Other houses were far more stable. Vin sighed, turning and strolling down the walkway, eyeing the massive clock set between the balconies on the other side of the chamber.

  Venture would not fall easily. It remained powerful through the sheer force of fortune; though it participated in some contracts, it didn’t rely on them like other houses. Venture was rich enough, and powerful enough, that even mercantile disaster would only jostle it.

  In a way, Venture’s stability was a good thing—for Vin, at least. The house had no obvious weaknesses, so maybe the crew wouldn’t be too disappointed when she couldn’t discover any way to bring it down. After all, they didn’t absolutely need to destroy House Venture; doing so would simply make the plan go more smoothly.

  Whatever happened, Vin had to make sure that Venture didn’t suffer the same fate as House Tekiel. Their reputation destroyed, their ?nances unhinged, the Tekiel had tried to pull out of the city—and this ?nal show of weakness had been too much. Some of Tekiel’s nobility had been assassinated before they left; the rest had been found in the burned-out ruins of their canal boats, apparently hit by bandits. Vin, however, knew of no thieving band who would dare slaughter so many noblemen.

  Kelsier still hadn’t been able to discover which house was behind the murders, but the Luthadel nobility didn’t seem to care who the culprit was. House Tekiel had allowed itself to grow weak, and nothing was more embarrassing to the aristocracy than a Great House that couldn’t maintain itself. Kelsier had been right: Though polite groups met at balls, the nobility were more than willing to stab each other square in the chest if it bene?ted them.

  Kind of like thieving crews, she thought. The nobility really aren’t that different from the people I grew up around.

  The atmosphere was only made more dangerous by its polite niceties. Underneath that front were plots, assassinations, and—perhaps most importantly—Mistborn. It was no accident that all of the balls she had attended recently had displayed great numbers of guards, both wearing armor and not. The parties now served the additional purpose of warning and showing strength.

  Elend is safe, she told herself. Despite what he thinks of his family, they’ve done a good job of maintaining their place in the Luthadel hierarchy. He’s the heir—they’ll protect him from assassins.

  She wished those assertions sounded just a bit more convincing. She knew that Shan Elariel was planning something. House Venture might be safe, but Elend himself was a little bit… oblivious som
etimes. If Shan did something against him personally, it might or might not be a major blow against House Venture—but it would certainly be a major blow against Vin.

  “Lady Valette Renoux,” a voice said. “I do believe that you’re late. ”

  Vin turned to see Elend lounging in an alcove to her left. She smiled, glancing down at the clock, noticing that it was indeed a few minutes past the time when she had promised to meet him. “I must be picking up bad habits from some friends of mine,” she said, stepping into the alcove.

  “Now, see, I didn’t say it was a bad thing,” Elend said, smiling. “Why, I’d say that it is a lady’s courtly duty to be a bit dilatory. It does gentlemen good to be forced to wait upon a woman’s whims—or, so my mother was always fond of telling me. ”

  “It sounds like she was a wise woman,” Vin said. The alcove was just large enough for two people standing sideways. She stood across from him, the balcony overhang a short distance to her left, a marvelous lavender window to her right, their feet nearly touching.

  “Oh, I don’t know about that,” Elend said. “She married my father, after all. ”

  “Thereby joining the most powerful house in the Final Empire. You can’t do much better than that—though, I suppose she could have tried to marry the Lord Ruler. Last I knew, though, he wasn’t in the market for a wife. ”

  “Pity,” Elend said. “Maybe he’d look a little less depressed if there were a woman in his life. ”

  “I guess that would depend on the woman. ” Vin glanced to the side as a small group of courtgoers strolled past. “You know, this isn’t exactly the most private location. People are giving us odd looks. ”

  “You’re the one who stepped in here with me,” Elend pointed out.

  “Yes, well, I wasn’t thinking about the gossip we might start. ”

  “Let it start,” Elend said standing up straight.

  “Because it will make your father angry?”

  Elend shook his head. “I don’t care about that anymore, Valette. ” Elend took a step forward, bringing them even closer together. Vin could feel his breath. He stood there for a moment before speaking. “I think I’m going to kiss you. ”

  Vin shivered slightly. “I don’t think you want to do that, Elend. ”

  “Why?”

  “How much do you really know about me?”

  “Not as much as I’d like to,” he said.

  “Not as much as you need to, either,” Vin said, looking up into his eyes.

  “So tell me,” he said.

  “I can’t. Not right now. ”

  Elend stood for a moment, then nodded slightly and pulled away. He walked out onto the balcony walkway. “So, shall we go for a stroll, then?”

  “Yes,” Vin said, relieved—yet just a bit disappointed as well.

  “It’s for the best,” Elend said. “That alcove has absolutely terrible reading light. ”

 
Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up
Scroll
  • 10 240
  • 0
Add comment

Add comment