Mistborn the final empi.., p.95
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.95

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
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Page 95

  The grounds were still ablaze with light. Guards were already waiting for him at the front of the keep, and a group of them rushed out into the mists to meet him. And surround him.

  “My lord, your father—”

  “Yes,” Elend interrupted, sighing. “I assume I’m to be taken to him immediately?”

  “Yes, my lord. ”

  “Lead on, then, Captain. ”

  They entered through the lord’s entrance on the side of the building. Lord Straff Venture stood in his study, speaking with a group of guard of?cers. Elend could tell from the pale faces that they had received a ?rm scolding, perhaps even threats of beatings. They were noblemen, so Venture couldn’t execute them, but he was very fond of the more brutal disciplinary forms.

  Lord Venture dismissed the soldiers with a sharp gesture, then turned to Elend with hostile eyes. Elend frowned, watching the soldiers go. Everything all seemed a little too… tense.

  “Well?” Lord Venture demanded.

  “Well what?”

  “Where have you been?”

  “Oh, I left,” Elend said offhandedly.

  Lord Venture sighed. “Fine. Endanger yourself if you wish, boy. In a way, it’s too bad that Mistborn didn’t catch you— they could have saved me a great deal of frustration. ”

  “Mistborn?” Elend asked, frowning. “What Mistborn?”

  “The one that was planning to assassinate you,” Lord Venture snapped.

  Elend blinked in startlement. “So…it wasn’t just a spying team?”

  “Oh, no,” Venture said, smiling somewhat wickedly. “An entire assassination team, sent here after you and your friends. ”

  Lord Ruler! Elend thought, realizing how foolish he had been to go out alone. I didn’t expect the house war to get so dangerous so quickly! At least, not for me…

  “How do we know it was a Mistborn?” Elend asked, gathering his wits.

  “Our guards managed to kill her,” Straff said. “As she was ?eeing. ”

  Elend frowned. “A full Mistborn? Killed by common soldiers?”

  “Archers,” Lord Venture said. “Apparently, they took her by surprise. ”

  “And the man who fell through my skylight?” Elend asked.

  “Dead,” Lord Venture said. “Broken neck. ”

  Elend frowned. That man was still alive when we ?ed. What are you hiding, Father? “The Mistborn. Anyone I know?”

  “I’d say so,” Lord Venture said, settling into his desk chair, not looking up. “It was Shan Elariel. ”

  Elend froze in shock. Shan? he thought, dumbfounded. They’d been engaged, and she’d never even mentioned that she was an Allomancer. That probably meant…

  She’d been a plant all along. Perhaps House Elariel had planned to have Elend killed once an Elariel grandson was born to the house title.

  You’re right, Jastes. I can’t avoid politics by ignoring it. I’ve been a part of it all for much longer than I assumed.

  His father was obviously pleased with himself. A high-pro?le member of House Elariel was dead on Venture grounds after trying to assassinate Elend…. With such a triumph, Lord Venture would be insufferable for days.

  Elend sighed. “Did we capture any of the assassins alive, then?”

  Straff shook his head. “One fell to the courtyard as he was trying to ?ee. He got away—he might have been Mistborn too. We found one man dead on the roof, but we aren’t sure if there were others in the team or not. ” He paused.

  “What?” Elend asked, reading the slight confusion in his father’s eyes.

  “Nothing,” Straff said, waving a dismissive hand. “Some of the guards claim there was a third Mistborn, ?ghting the other two, but I doubt the reports—it wasn’t one of ours. ”

  Elend paused. A third Mistborn, ?ghting the other two… “Maybe someone found out about the assassination and tried to stop it. ”

  Lord Venture snorted. “Why would someone else’s Mistborn try to protect you?”

  “Maybe they just wanted to stop an innocent man from being murdered. ”

  Lord Venture shook his head, laughing. “You are an idiot, boy. You understand that, right?”

  Elend ?ushed, then turned away. It didn’t appear that Lord Venture wanted anything more, so Elend left. He couldn’t go back to his rooms, not with the broken window and the guards, so he made his way to a guest bedroom, calling for a set of hazekillers to watch outside his door and balcony—just in case.

  He prepared for bed, thinking about the conversation. His father was probably right about the third Mistborn. That just wasn’t the way things worked.

  But… that’s the way it should be. The way it could be, maybe.

  There were so many things Elend wished he could do. But, his father was healthy, and young for a lord of his power. It would be decades before Elend assumed the house title, assuming he even survived that long. He wished he could go to Valette, talk to her, explain his frustrations. She’d understand what he was thinking; for some reason, she always seemed to understand him better than others.

  And, she’s skaa! He couldn’t get over the thought. He had so many questions, so many things he wanted to ?nd out from her.

  Later, he thought as he climbed into bed. For now, focus on keeping the house together. His words to Valette in that area hadn’t been false—he needed to make certain his family survived the house war.

  After that…well, perhaps they could ?nd a way to work around the lies and the scams.

  Though many Terrismen express a resentment of Khlennium, there is also envy. I have heard the packmen speak in wonder of the Khlenni cathedrals, with their amazing stained-glass windows and broad halls. They also seem very fond of our fashion—back in the cities, I saw that many young Terrismen had traded in their furs and skins for well-tailored gentlemen’s suits.

  32

  TWO STREETS OVER FROM CLUBS’S shop, there was a building of unusual height compared with those surrounding it. It was some kind of tenement, Vin thought—a place to pack skaa families. She’d never been inside of it, however.

  She dropped a coin, then shot herself up along the side of the six-story building. She landed lightly on the rooftop, causing a ?gure crouching in the darkness to jump in surprise.

  “It’s just me,” Vin whispered, sneaking quietly across the sloped roof.

  Spook smiled at her in the night. As the crew’s best Tineye, he usually got the most important watches. Recently, those were the ones during the early evening. That was the time when con?ict among the Great Houses was most likely to turn to outright ?ghting.

  “Are they still going at it?” Vin asked quietly, ?aring her tin, scanning the city. A bright haze shone in the distance, giving the mists a strange luminescence.

  Spook nodded, pointing toward the light. “Keep Hasting. Elariel soldiers with the attacking tonight. ”

  Vin nodded. Keep Hasting’s destruction had been expected for some time—it had suffered a half-dozen raids from different houses during the last week. Allies withdrawing, ?nances wrecked, it was only a matter of time before it fell.

  Oddly, none of the houses attacked during the daytime. There was a feigned air of secrecy about the war, as if the aristocracy acknowledged the Lord Ruler’s dominance, and didn’t want to upset him by resorting to daylight warfare. It was all handled at night, beneath a cloak of mists.

  “Wasing the want of this,” Spook said.

  Vin paused. “Uh, Spook. Could you try to speak…normal?”

  Spook nodded toward a distant, dark structure in the distance. “The Lord Ruler. Liking he wants the ?ghting. ”

  Vin nodded. Kelsier was right. There hasn’t been much of an outcry from the Ministry or the palace regarding the house war, and the Garrison is taking its time getting back to Luthadel. The Lord Ruler expected the house war—and intends to let it run its course. Like a wild?re, left to blaze and renew a ?eld.

  Except this time, as one ?re died, another would start— Kelsier’s a
ttack on the city.

  Assuming Marsh can ?nd out how to stop the Steel Inquisitors. Assuming we can take the palace. And, of course, assuming Kelsier can ?nd a way to deal with the Lord Ruler. .

  Vin shook her head. She didn’t want to think poorly of Kelsier, but she just didn’t see how it was all going to happen. The Garrison wasn’t back yet, but reports said it was close, perhaps only a week or two out. Some noble houses were falling, but there didn’t seem to be the air of general chaos that Kelsier had wanted. The Final Empire was strained, but she doubted that it would crack.

  However, maybe that wasn’t the point. The crew had done an amazing job of instigating a house war; three entire Great Houses were no more, and the rest were seriously weakened. It would take decades for the aristocracy to recover from their own squabbling.

  We’ve done an amazing job, Vin decided. Even if we don’t attack the palace—or if that attack fails—we’ll have accomplished something wonderful.

  With Marsh’s intelligence about the Ministry and Sazed’s translation of the logbook, the rebellion would have new and useful information for future resistance. It wasn’t what Kelsier had hoped for; it wasn’t a complete toppling of the Final Empire. However, it was a major victory—one that the skaa could look to for years as a source of courage.

  And, with a start of surprise, Vin realized that she felt proud to have been part of it. Perhaps, in the future, she could help start a real rebellion—one in a place where the skaa weren’t quite so beaten down.

  If such a place exists… Vin was beginning to understand that it wasn’t just Luthadel and its Soothing stations that made skaa subservient. It was everything—the obligators, the constant work in ?eld and mill, the mind-set encouraged by a thousand years of oppression. There was a reason why skaa rebellions were always so small. The people knew—or thought they knew—that there was no ?ghting against the Final Empire.

  Even Vin—who’d assumed herself a “liberated” thief— had believed the same. It had taken Kelsier’s insane, over-thetop plan to convince her otherwise. Perhaps that was why he’d set such lofty goals for the crew—he’d known that only something this challenging would make them realize, in a strange way, that they could resist.

  Spook glanced at her. Her presence still made him uncomfortable.

  “Spook,” Vin said, “you know that Elend broke off his relationship with me. ”

  Spook nodded, perking up slightly.

  “But,” Vin said regretfully, “I still love him. I’m sorry, Spook. But it’s true. ”

  He looked down, de?ating.

  “It’s not you,” Vin said. “Really, it isn’t. It’s just that… well, you can’t help who you love. Trust me, there are some people I really would rather not have loved. They didn’t deserve it. ”

  Spook nodded. “I understand. ”

  “Can I still keep the handkerchief?”

  He shrugged.

  “Thank you,” she said. “It does mean a lot to me. ”

 

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