Mistborn the final empi.., p.9
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.9
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         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
Page 9

  And he looked very, very angry.

  “What is this?” Camon demanded. “Who are you?”

  How did he get by the scouts…? Vin thought, struggling to get her wits back. Pain. She could deal with pain. The obligators. . did they send him?

  The newcomer looked down at Vin, and his expression softened slightly. Then he looked up at Camon and his eyes grew dark.

  Camon’s angry demands were cut off as he was thrown backward as if had been punched by a powerful force. His arm was ripped free from Vin’s shoulder, and he toppled to the ground, causing the ?oorboards to shake.

  The room fell quiet.

  Have to get away, Vin thought, forcing herself up to her knees. Camon groaned in pain from a few feet away, and Vin crawled away from him, slipping beneath an unoccupied table. The lair had a hidden exit, a trapdoor beside the far back wall. If she could crawl to it—

  Suddenly, Vin felt an overwhelming peace. The emotion slammed into her like a sudden weight, her emotions squished silent, as if crushed by a forceful hand. Her fear puffed out like an extinguished candle, and even her pain seemed unimportant.

  She slowed, wondering why she had been so worried. She stood up, pausing as she faced the trapdoor. She breathed heavily, still a little dazed.

  Camon just tried to kill me! the logical part of her mind warned. And someone else is attacking the lair. I have to get away! However, her emotions didn’t match the logic. She felt…serene. Unworried. And more than a little bit curious.

  Someone had just used Luck on her.

  She recognized it somehow, even though she’d never felt it upon her before. She paused beside the table, one hand on the wood, then slowly turned around. The newcomer still stood in the stairwell doorway. He studied her with a critical eye, then smiled in a disarming sort of way.

  What is going on?

  The newcomer ?nally stepped into the room. The rest of Camon’s crew remained sitting at their tables. They looked surprised, but oddly unworried.

  He’s using Luck on them all. But…how can he do it to so many at once? Vin had never been able to store up enough Luck to do more than give the occasional, brief push.

  As the newcomer entered the room, Vin could ?nally see that a second person stood in the stairwell behind him. This second man was less imposing. He was shorter, with a dark half beard and close-cropped straight hair. He also wore a nobleman’s suit, though his was less sharply tailored.

  On the other side of the room, Camon groaned and sat up, holding his head. He glanced at the newcomers. “Master Dockson! Why, uh, well, this is a surprise!”

  “Indeed,” said the shorter man—Dockson. Vin frowned, realizing she sensed a slight familiarity to these men. She recognized them from somewhere.

  The Canton of Finance. They were sitting in the waiting room when Camon and I left.

  Camon climbed to his feet, studying the blond newcomer. Camon looked down at the man’s hands, both of which were lined with strange, overlapping scars. “By the Lord Ruler. . ” Camon whispered. “The Survivor of Hathsin!”

  Vin frowned. The title was unfamiliar to her. Should she know this man? Her wounds still throbbed despite the peace she felt, and her head was dizzy. She leaned on the table for support, but did not sit.

  Whoever this newcomer was, Camon obviously thought him important. “Why, Master Kelsier!” Camon sputtered. “This is a rare honor!”

  The newcomer—Kelsier—shook his head. “You know, I’m not really interested in listening to you. ”

  Camon let out an “urk” of pain as he was thrown backward again. Kelsier made no obvious gesture to perform the feat. Yet, Camon collapsed to the ground, as if shoved by some unseen force.

  Camon fell quiet, and Kelsier scanned the room. “The rest of you know who I am?”

  Many of the crewmembers nodded.

  “Good. I’ve come to your lair because you, my friends, owe me a great debt. ”

  The room was silent save for Camon’s groans. Finally, one of the crewmen spoke. “We… do, Master Kelsier?”

  “Indeed you do. You see, Master Dockson and I just saved your lives. Your rather incompetent crewleader left the Ministry’s Canton of Finance about an hour ago, returning directly to this safe house. He was followed by two Ministry scouts, one high-ranking prelan…and a single Steel Inquisitor. ”

  No one spoke.

  Oh, Lord… Vin thought. She’d been right—she just hadn’t been fast enough. If there was an Inquisitor—

  “I dealt with the Inquisitor,” Kelsier said. He paused, letting the implication hang in the air. What kind of person could so lightly claim to have “dealt” with an Inquisitor? Rumors said the creatures were immortal, that they could see a man’s soul, and that they were unmatched warriors.

  “I require payment for services rendered,” Kelsier said.

  Camon didn’t get up this time; he had fallen hard, and he was obviously disoriented. The room remained still. Finally, Milev—the dark-skinned man who was Camon’s second— scooped up the coffer of Ministry boxings and dashed forward with it. He proffered it to Kelsier.

  “The money Camon got from the Ministry,” Milev explained. “Three thousand boxings. ”

  Milev is so eager to please him, Vin thought. This is more than just Luck—either that, or it’s some sort of Luck I’ve never been able to use.

  Kelsier paused, then accepted the coin chest. “And you are?”

  “Milev, Master Kelsier. ”

  “Well, Crewleader Milev, I will consider this payment satisfactory—assuming you do one other thing for me. ”

  Milev paused. “What would that be?”

  Kelsier nodded toward the near-unconscious Camon. “Deal with him. ”

  “Of course,” Milev said.

  “I want him to live, Milev,” Kelsier said, holding up a ?nger. “But I don’t want him to enjoy it. ”

  Milev nodded. “We’ll make him a beggar. The Lord Ruler disapproves of the profession—Camon won’t have an easy time of it here in Luthadel. ”

  And Milev will dispose of him anyway as soon as he thinks this Kelsier isn’t paying attention.

  “Good,” Kelsier said. Then he opened the coin chest and began counting out some golden boxings. “You’re a resourceful man, Milev. Quick on your feet, and not as easily intimidated as the others. ”

  “I’ve had dealings with Mistings before, Master Kelsier,” Milev said.

  Kelsier nodded. “Dox,” he said, addressing his companion, “where were we going to have our meeting tonight?”

  “I was thinking that we should use Clubs’s shop,” said the second man.

  “Hardly a neutral location,” Kelsier said. “Especially if he decides not to join us. ”

  “True. ”

  Kelsier looked to Milev. “I’m planning a job in this area. It would be useful to have the support of some locals. ” He held out a pile of what looked like a hundred boxings. “We’ll require use of your safe house for the evening. This can be arranged?”

  “Of course,” Milev said, taking the coins eagerly.

  “Good,” Kelsier said. “Now, get out. ”

  “Out?” Milev asked hesitantly.

  “Yes,” Kelsier said. “Take your men—including your former leader—and leave. I want to have a private conversation with Mistress Vin. ”

  The room grew silent again, and Vin knew she wasn’t the only one wondering how Kelsier knew her name.

  “Well, you heard him!” Milev snapped. He waved for a group of thugs to go grab Camon, then he shooed the rest of the crewmembers up the stairs. Vin watched them go, growing apprehensive. This Kelsier was a powerful man, and instinct told her that powerful men were dangerous. Did he know of her Luck? Obviously; what other reason would he have for singling her out?

  How is this Kelsier going to try and use me? she thought, rubbing her arm where she’d hit the ?oor.

  “By the way, Milev,” Kelsier said idly. “When I say ‘private,’ I m
ean that I don’t want to be spied on by the four men watching us through peek-holes behind the far wall. Kindly take them up into the alley with you. ”

  Milev paled. “Of course, Master Kelsier. ”

  “Good. And, in the alleyway you’ll ?nd the two dead Ministry spies. Kindly dispose of the corpses for us. ”

  Milev nodded, turning.

  “And Milev,” Kelsier added.

  Milev turned back again.

  “See that none of your men betray us,” Kelsier said quietly. And Vin felt it again—a renewed pressure on her emotions. “This crew already has the eye of the Steel Ministry—do not make an enemy of me as well. ”

  Milev nodded sharply, then disappeared into the stairwell, pulling the door closed behind him. A few moments later, Vin heard footsteps from the peek room; then all was still. She was alone with a man who was—for some reason—so singularly impressive that he could intimidate an entire room full of cutthroats and thieves.

  She eyed the bolt door. Kelsier was watching her. What would he do if she ran?

  He claims to have killed an Inquisitor, Vin thought. And… he used Luck. I have to stay, if just long enough to ?nd out what he knows.

  Kelsier’s smile deepened, then ?nally he laughed. “That was far too much fun, Dox. ”

  The other man, the one Camon had called Dockson, snorted and walked toward the front of the room. Vin tensed, but he didn’t move toward her, instead strolled to the bar.

  “You were insufferable enough before, Kell,” Dockson said. “I don’t know how I’m going to handle this new reputation of yours. At least, I’m not sure how I’m going to handle it and maintain a straight face. ”

  “You’re jealous. ”

  “Yes, that’s it,” Dockson said. “I’m terribly jealous of your ability to intimidate petty criminals. If it’s of any note to you, I think you were too harsh on Camon. ”

  Kelsier walked over and took a seat at one of the room’s tables. His mirth darkened slightly as he spoke. “You saw what he was doing to the girl. ”

  “Actually, I didn’t,” Dockson said dryly, rummaging through the bar’s stores. “Someone was blocking the doorway. ”

  Kelsier shrugged. “Look at her, Dox. The poor thing’s been beaten nearly senseless. I don’t feel any sympathy for the man. ”

  Vin remained where she was, keeping watch on both men. As the tension of the moment grew weaker, her wounds began to throb again. The blow between her shoulder blades— that would be a large bruise—and the slap to her face burned as well. She was still a little dizzy.

  Kelsier was watching her. Vin clinched her teeth. Pain. She could deal with pain.

  “You need anything, child?” Dockson asked. “A wet handkerchief for that face, perhaps?”

  She didn’t respond, instead remaining focused on Kelsier. Come on. Tell me what you want with me. Make your play.

  Dockson ?nally shrugged, then ducked beneath the bar for a moment. He eventually came up with a couple of bottles.

  “Anything good?” Kelsier asked, turning.

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