Mistborn the final empi.., p.93
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.93

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
Page 93

  “And that’s why it hurts so much,” Vin said, remembering what Kelsier had said before. I think I ?nally understand.

  “You don’t stop loving someone just because they hurt you,” he said. “It would certainly make things easier if you did. ”

  She started to snif?e again, and he put a fatherly arm around her. She pulled close, trying to use his warmth to push away the pain.

  “I loved him, Kelsier,” she whispered.

  “Elend? I know. ”

  “No, not Elend,” Vin said. “Reen. He beat me over, and over, and over. He swore at me, he yelled at me, he told me he’d betray me. Every day, I thought about how much I hated him.

  “And I loved him. I still do. It hurts so much to think that he’s gone, even though he always told me he would leave. ”

  “Oh, child,” Kelsier said, pulling her close. “I’m sorry. ”

  “Everyone leaves me,” she whispered. “I can barely remember my mother. She tried to kill me, you know. She heard voices, in her head, and they made her kill my baby sister. She was probably going to kill me next, but Reen stopped her.

  “Either way, she left me. After that, I clung to Reen. He left too. I love Elend, but he doesn’t want me anymore. ” She looked up at Kelsier. “When are you going to go? When will you leave me?”

  Kelsier looked sorrowful. “I…Vin, I don’t know. This job, the plan…”

  She searched his eyes, looking for the secrets therein. What are you hiding from me, Kelsier? Something that dangerous? She wiped her eyes again, pulling away from him, feeling foolish.

  He looked down, shaking his head. “Look, now you got blood all over my nice, dirty, pretend informant’s clothing. ”

  Vin smiled. “At least some of it is noble blood. I got Shan pretty good. ”

  Kelsier chuckled. “You’re probably right about me, you know. I don’t give the nobility much of a chance, do I?”

  Vin ?ushed. “Kelsier, I shouldn’t have said those things. You’re good people, and this plan of yours…well, I realize what you’re trying to do for the skaa. ”

  “No, Vin,” Kelsier said, shaking his head. “What you said was true. We’re not really skaa. ”

  “But, that’s good,” Vin said. “If you were regular skaa, you wouldn’t have the experience or courage to plan something like this. ”

  “They might lack experience,” Kelsier said. “But not courage. Our army lost, true, but they were willing—with minimal training—to charge a superior force. No, the skaa don’t lack courage. Just opportunity. ”

  “Then it’s your position as half skaa, half nobleman that has given you opportunity, Kelsier. And you’ve chosen to use that opportunity to help your skaa half. That makes you worthy of being a skaa if anything does. ”

  Kelsier smiled. “Worthy to be a skaa. I like the sound of that. Regardless, perhaps I need to spend a little less time worrying about which noblemen to kill, and a little more time worrying about which peasants to help. ”

  Vin nodded, pulling the cloak close as she stared up into the mists. They protect us…. give us power… hide us….

  She hadn’t felt like she needed to hide in a long time. But now, after the things she’d said below, she almost wished that she could just blow away like a wisp of mist.

  I need to tell him. It could mean the plan’s success or failure. She took a deep breath. “House Venture has a weakness, Kelsier. ”

  He perked up. “It does?”

  Vin nodded. “Atium. They make certain the metal is harvested and delivered—it’s the source of their wealth. ”

  Kelsier paused for a moment. “Of course! That’s how they can pay the taxes, that’s why they’re so powerful…. He would need someone to handle things for him…. ”

  “Kelsier?” Vin asked.

  He looked back at her.

  “Don’t. . do anything unless you have to, all right?”

  Kelsier frowned. “I. . don’t know that I can promise anything, Vin. I’ll try and think of another way, but as things stand now, Venture has to fall. ”

  “I understand. ”

  “I’m glad you told me, though. ”

  She nodded. And now I’ve betrayed him too. There was a peace in knowing, however, that she hadn’t done it out of spite. Kelsier was right: House Venture was a power that needed to be toppled. Oddly, her mention of the house seemed to bother Kelsier more than it did her. He sat, staring into the mists, strangely melancholy. He reached down, absently scratching his arm.

  The scars, Vin thought. It isn’t House Venture he’s thinking about—it’s the Pits. Her. “Kelsier?” she said.

  “Yes?” His eyes still looking a bit… absent as he watched the mists.

  “I don’t think that Mare betrayed you. ”

  He smiled. “I’m glad you think that way. ”

  “No, I really mean it,” Vin said. “The Inquisitors were waiting for you when you got to the center of the palace, right?”

  Kelsier nodded.

  “They were waiting for us too. ”

  Kelsier shook his head. “You and I fought some guards, made some noise. When Mare and I went in, we were quiet. We’d planned for a year—we were stealthy, secretive, and very careful. Someone set a trap for us. ”

  “Mare was an Allomancer, right?” Vin asked. “They could have just sensed you coming. ”

  Kelsier shook his head. “We had a Smoker with us. Redd was his name—the Inquisitors killed him straight off. I’ve wondered if he was the traitor, but that just doesn’t work. Redd didn’t even know about the in?ltration until that night, when we went and got him. Only Mare knew enough— dates, times, objectives—to have betrayed us. Besides, there’s the Lord Ruler’s comment. You didn’t see him, Vin. Smiling as he thanked Mare. There was… honesty in his eyes. They say the Lord Ruler doesn’t lie. Why would he need to?”

  Vin sat quietly for a moment, considering what he’d said. “Kelsier,” she said slowly, “I think that Inquisitors can sense our Allomancy even when we’re burning copper. ”

  “Impossible. ”

  “I did it tonight. I punctured Shan’s coppercloud to locate her and the other assassins. That’s how I got to Elend in time. ”

  Kelsier frowned. “You’ve got to be mistaken. ”

  “It happened before too,” Vin said. “I can feel the Lord Ruler’s touch on my emotions, even when I’m burning copper. And I swear that when I was hiding from that Inquisitor who was hunting me, he found me when he shouldn’t have been able to. Kelsier, what if it’s possible? What if hiding yourself by Smoking isn’t just a simple matter of whether or not your copper is on? What if it just depends on how strong you are?”

  Kelsier sat thoughtfully. “It could be possible, I suppose. ”

  “Then Mare wouldn’t have had to betray you!” Vin said eagerly. “Inquisitors are extremely powerful. The ones who were waiting for you, maybe they just felt you burning metals! They knew that an Allomancer was trying to sneak into the palace. Then, the Lord Ruler thanked her because she was the one who gave you away! She was the Allomancer, burning tin, that led them to you. ”

  Kelsier’s face took on a troubled expression. He turned, sitting himself so he was directly in front of her. “Do it now, then. Tell me what metal I’m burning. ”

  Vin closed her eyes, ?aring bronze, listening…feeling, as Marsh had taught her. She remembered her solitary trainings, time spent focusing on the waves Breeze, Ham, or Spook gave off for her. She tried to pick out the fuzzing rhythm of Allomancy. Tried to…

  For a moment, she thought she felt something. Something very strange—a slow pulsing, like a distant drum, unlike any Allomantic rhythm she’d felt before. But it wasn’t coming from Kelsier. It was distant…far away. She focused harder, trying to pick out the direction it was coming from.

  But suddenly, as she focused harder, something else drew her attention. A more familiar rhythm, coming from Kelsier. It was faint, dif?cult to feel over the pulsing of her own heart
beat. It was a bold beat, and quick.

  She opened her eyes. “Pewter! You’re burning pewter. ”

  Kelsier blinked in surprise. “Impossible,” he whispered. “Again!”

  She closed her eyes. “Tin,” she said after a moment. “Now steel—you changed as soon as I spoke. ”

  “Bloody hell!”

  “I was right,” Vin said eagerly. “You can feel Allomantic pulses through copper! They’re quiet, but I guess you just have to focus hard enough to—”

  “Vin,” Kelsier interrupted. “Don’t you think Allomancers have tried this before? You don’t think that after a thousand years’time, someone would have noticed that you could pierce a coppercloud? I’ve even tried it. I focused for hours on my Master, trying to sense something through his coppercloud. ”

  “But. . ” Vin said. “But why…?”

  “It must have to do with strength, like you said. Inquisitors can Push and Pull harder than any regular Mistborn— perhaps they’re so strong that they can overwhelm someone else’s metal. ”

  “But, Kelsier,” Vin said quietly. “I’m not an Inquisitor. ”

  “But you’re strong,” he said. “Stronger than you have any right to be. You killed a full Mistborn tonight!”

  “By luck,” Vin said, face ?ushing. “I just tricked her. ”

  “Allomancy is nothing but tricks, Vin. No, there’s something special about you. I noticed it on that ?rst day, when you shrugged off my attempts to Push and Pull your emotions. ”

  She ?ushed. “It can’t be that, Kelsier. Maybe I’ve just practiced with bronze more than you…. I don’t know, I just…”

  “Vin,” Kelsier said, “you’re still too self-effacing. You’re good at this—that much is obvious. If that’s why you can see through copperclouds…well, I don’t know. But learn to take a little pride in yourself, kid! If there’s anything I can teach you, it’s how to be self-con?dent. ”

  Vin smiled.

  “Come on,” he said, standing and holding out a hand to help her up. “Sazed is going to fret all night if you don’t let him ?nish stitching that cheek wound, and Ham’s dying to hear about your battle. Good job leaving Shan’s body back at Keep Venture, by the way—when House Elariel hears that she was found dead on Venture property…”

  Vin allowed him to pull her up, but she glanced toward the trapdoor apprehensively. “I… don’t know if I want to go down yet, Kelsier. How can I face them?”

  Kelsier laughed. “Oh, don’t worry. If you didn’t say some stupid things every once in a while, you certainly wouldn’t ?t in with this group. Come on. ”

  Vin hesitated, then let him lead her back down to the warmth of the kitchen.

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