Mistborn the final empi.., p.90
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.90

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
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Page 90

  “Valette,” Elend interrupted. “You are a liability too. A very big one. I won’t lie and claim that I never cared for you—I did, and I still do. However, I knew from the start—as you did—that this could never be anything more than a passing dalliance. The truth is, my house needs me—and it’s more important than you are. ”

  Vin paled. “But. . ”

  He turned to go back to dinner.

  “Elend,” she said quietly, “please don’t turn away from me. ”

  He paused, then looked back at her. “I know the truth, Valette. I know how you’ve lied about who you are. I don’t care, really—I’m not angry, or even disappointed. The truth is, I expected it. You’re just. . playing the game. Like we all are. ” He paused, then shook his head and turned away from her. “Like I am. ”

  “Elend?” she said, reaching for him.

  “Don’t make me embarrass you in public, Valette. ”

  Vin paused, feeling numb. And then, she was too angry to be numb—too angry, too frustrated…and too terri?ed.

  “Don’t leave,” she whispered. “Don’t you leave me too. ”

  “I’m sorry,” he said. “But I have to go meet with my friends. It was…fun. ”

  And he left.

  Vin stood in the darkened corridor. She felt herself shiver quietly, and she turned to stumble back out onto the main balcony. To the side, she could see Elend bid good evening to his family, then head through a back corridor toward the keep’s living section.

  He can’t do this to me. Not Elend. Not now…

  However, a voice from within—a voice she had nearly forgotten—began to speak. Of course he left you, Reen whispered. Of course he abandoned you. Everyone will betray you, Vin. What did I teach you?

  No! she thought. It’s just the political tension. Once this is over, I’ll be able to convince him to come back….

  I never came back for you, Reen whispered. He won’t either. The voice felt so real—it was almost like she could hear him beside her.

  Vin leaned up against the balcony railing, using the iron grating for strength, holding herself up. She wouldn’t let him destroy her. A life on the streets hadn’t been able to break her; she wouldn’t let a self-important nobleman do so. She just kept telling herself that.

  But, why did this hurt so much more than starvation—so much more than one of Camon’s beatings?

  “Well, Valette Renoux,” a voice said from behind.

  “Kliss,” Vin said. “I’m…not in the mood to talk right now. ”

  “Ah,” Kliss said. “So Elend Venture ?nally spurned you. Don’t worry, child—he’ll get what he deserves shortly. ”

  Vin turned, frowning at the odd tone in Kliss’s voice. The woman didn’t seem like herself. She seemed too… controlled.

  “Deliver a message to your uncle for me, will you dear?” Kliss asked lightly. “Tell him that a man such as himself— without house alliances—might have a dif?cult time gathering intelligence in the upcoming months. If he needs a good source of information, tell him to send for me. I know lots of interesting things. ”

  “You’re an informant!” Vin said, pushing aside her pain for the moment. “But, you’re…”

  “A foolish gossip?” the short woman asked. “Why, yes I am. It’s fascinating, the kinds of things you can learn when you’re known as the court gossip. People come to you to spread obvious lies—such as the things you told me about House Hasting last week. Why would you want me to spread such untruths? Could House Renoux be making a bid for the weapons market during the house war? Indeed—could Renoux be behind the recent attack on the Hasting barges?”

  Kliss’s eyes twinkled. “Tell your uncle that I can be made to keep quiet about what I know—for a small fee. ”

  “You’ve been duping me all along…. ” Vin said numbly.

  “Of course, dear,” Kliss said, patting Vin’s arm. “That’s what we do here at court. You’ll learn eventually—if you survive. Now, be a good child and deliver my message, all right?”

  Kliss turned, her squat, gaudy dress suddenly seeming a brilliant costume to Vin.

  “Wait!” Vin said. “What was that you said about Elend earlier? He’s going to get what he deserves?”

  “Hum?” Kliss said, turning. “Why… that’s right. You’ve been asking after Shan Elariel’s plans, haven’t you?”

  Shan? Vin thought with rising concern. “What is she planning?”

  “Now that, my dear, is an expensive secret indeed. I could tell you…but then, what would I have in return? A woman of an unimportant house like myself needs to ?nd sustenance somewhere…. ”

  Vin pulled off her sapphire necklace, the only piece of jewelry she was wearing. “Here. Take it. ”

  Kliss accepted the necklace with a thoughtful expression. “Hum, yes, very nice indeed. ”

  “What do you know?” Vin snapped.

  “Young Elend is going to be one of the ?rst Venture casualties in the house war, I’m afraid,” Kliss said, stuf?ng the necklace into a sleeve pocket. “It’s unfortunate—he really does seem like a nice boy. Too nice, probably. ”

  “When?” Vin demanded. “Where? How?”

  “So many questions, but only one necklace,” Kliss said idly.

  “It’s all I have right now!” Vin said truthfully. Her coin pouch contained only bronze clips for Steelpushing.

  “But it’s a very valuable secret, as I’ve said,” Kliss continued. “By telling you, my own life would be—”

  That’s it! Vin thought furiously. Stupid aristocratic games!

  Vin burned zinc and brass, hitting Kliss with a powerful blast of emotional Allomancy. She Soothed away all of the woman’s feelings but fear, then took hold of that fear and yanked on it with a ?rm tug.

  “Tell me!” Vin growled.

  Kliss gasped, wobbling and nearly falling to the ground. “An Allomancer! No wonder Renoux brought such a distant cousin with him to Luthadel!”

  “Speak!” Vin said, taking a step forward.

  “You’re too late to help him,” Kliss said. “I’d never sell a secret like this if it had a chance of turning on me!”

  “Tell me!”

  “He’ll be assassinated by Elariel Allomancers this evening,” Kliss whispered. “He might be dead already—it was supposed to happen as soon as he withdrew from the lord’s table. But if you want revenge, you’ll have to look toward Lord Straff Venture too. ”

  “Elend’s father?” Vin asked with surprise.

  “Of course, foolish child,” Kliss said. “Lord Venture would love nothing more than an excuse to give the house title to his nephew instead. All Venture had to do was withdraw a few of his soldiers from the rooftop around young Elend’s room to let in the Elariel assassins. And, since the assassination will occur during one of Elend’s little philosophy meetings, Lord Venture will be able to rid himself of a Hasting and a Lekal too!”

  Vin spun. I have to do something!

  “Of course,” Kliss said with a chuckle, standing up. “Lord Venture is in for a surprise himself. I’ve heard that your Elend has some very… choice books in his possession. Young Venture should be much more careful about the things he tells his women, I think. ”

  Vin turned back to the smiling Kliss. The woman winked at her. “I’ll keep your Allomancy a secret, child. Just make certain I get payment by tomorrow afternoon. A lady must buy food—and as you can see, I need a lot of it.

  “As for House Venture…well, I’d distance myself from them, if I were you. Shan’s assassins are going to make quite the disturbance tonight. I wouldn’t be surprised if half the court ended up in the boy’s room to see what the ruckus was about. When the court sees those books Elend has…well, let’s just say that the obligators are going to become very interested in House Venture for a time. Too bad Elend will already be dead—we haven’t had an open execution of a nobleman in quite some time!”

  Elend’s room, Vin thought desperately. That’s where they must b
e! She turned, holding the sides of her dress and rustling frantically down the balcony walkway toward the corridor she had left moments before.

  “Where are you going?” Kliss asked with surprise.

  “I have to stop this!” Vin said.

  Kliss laughed. “I already told you that you’re too late. Venture is a very old keep, and the back passages leading to the lords’ quarters are quite the maze. If you don’t know your way, you’ll end up lost for hours. ”

  Vin glanced around, feeling helpless.

  “Besides, child,” Kliss added, turning to walk away. “Didn’t the boy just spurn you? What do you owe him?”

  Vin paused.

  She’s right. What do I owe him?

  The answer came immediately. I love him.

  With that thought came strength. Vin rushed forward despite Kliss’s laughter. She had to try. She entered the corridor and moved into the back passageways. However, Kliss’s words soon proved true: The dark stone passageways were narrow and unadorned. She’d never ?nd her way in time.

  The roof, she thought. Elend’s rooms will have an outside balcony. I need a window!

  She dashed down a passage, kicking off her shoes and pulling off her stockings, then running as best she could in the dress. She searched frantically for a window big enough to ?t through. She burst out into a larger corridor, empty save for ?ickering torches.

  A massive lavender rose window stood on the far side of the room.

  Good enough, Vin thought. With a ?are of steel, she threw herself into the air, Pushing against a massive iron door behind her. She ?ew forward for a moment, then Pushed powerfully against the rose window’s iron bindings.

  She lurched to a stop in the air, Pushing both backward and forward at the same time. She strained, hanging in the empty corridor, ?aring her pewter to keep from being crushed. The rose window was enormous, but it was mostly glass. How strong could it be?

  Very strong. Vin groaned beneath the strain. She heard a snap behind her, and the door began to twist in its mountings.

  You… must…give! she thought angrily, ?aring her steel. Chips of stone fell around the window.

  Then, with a crack of sound, the rose window burst free from the stone wall. It fell backward into the dark night, and Vin shot out behind it.

  Cool mist enveloped her. She Pulled slightly against the door inside the room, keeping herself from going out too far, then Pushed mightily against the falling window. The enormous dark-glassed window tumbled beneath her, churning the mists as Vin shot away from it. Straight up, toward the roof.

  The window crashed to the ground just as Vin ?ew up over the edge of the rooftop, her dress ?uttering madly in the wind. She landed on the bronze-plated roof with a thump, falling to a crouch. The metal was cool beneath her toes and ?ngers.

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