Mistborn the final empi.., p.98
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       Mistborn: The Final Empire, p.98

         Part #1 of Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson
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Page 98

  Now the real test, Kelsier thought, squeezing down further into the crack. He burned iron, and immediately he saw several blue lines pointing downward, toward atium-holes. Though the holes themselves probably didn’t have an atium geode in them, the crystals themselves gave off faint blue lines. They contained residual amounts of atium.

  Kelsier focused on one of the blue lines and Pulled lightly. His tin enhanced ears heard something shatter in the crack beneath him.

  Kelsier smiled.

  Nearly three years before, standing over the bloody corpses of the taskmasters who had beaten Mare to death, he had ?rst noticed that he could use iron to sense where crystal pockets were. He’d barely understood his Allomantic powers at the time, but even then, a plan had begun to form in his mind. A plan for vengeance.

  That plan had evolved, growing to encompass so much more than he’d originally intended. However, one of its key parts had remained sequestered away in a corner of his mind. He could ?nd the crystal pockets. He could shatter them, using Allomancy.

  And they were the only means of producing atium in the entire Final Empire.

  You tried to destroy me, Pits of Hathsin, he thought, climbing down further into the rift. It’s time to return the favor.

  We are close now. Oddly, this high in the mountains, we seem to ?nally be free from the oppressive touch of the Deepness. It has been quite a while since I knew what that was like.

  The lake that Fedik discovered is below us now—I can see it from the ledge. It looks even more eerie from up here, with its glassy—almost metallic—sheen. I almost wish I had let him take a sample of its waters.

  Perhaps his interest was what angered the mist creature that follows us. Perhaps… that was why it decided to attack him, stabbing him with its invisible knife.

  Strangely, the attack comforted me. At least I know that since another has seen it. That means I’m not mad.


  “SO… THAT’S IT?” VIN ASKED. “For the plan, I mean. ”

  Ham shrugged. “If the Inquisitors broke Marsh, that means they know everything. Or, at least, they know enough. They’ll know that we plan to strike the palace, and that we’re going to use the house war as a cover. We’ll never get the Lord Ruler out of the city now, and we’ll certainly never get him to send the palace guard into the city. It doesn’t look good, Vin. ”

  Vin sat quietly, digesting the information. Ham sat cross-legged on the dirty ?oor, leaning against the bricks of the far wall. The backup lair was a dank cellar with only three rooms, and the air smelled of dirt and ash. Clubs’s apprentices took up one room to themselves, though Dockson had sent away all of the other servants before coming to the safe house.

  Breeze stood by the far wall. He occasionally shot uncomfortable looks at the dirty ?oor and dusty stools, but then decided to remain standing. Vin didn’t see why he bothered—it was going to be impossible to keep his suits clean while living in what was, essentially, a pit in the ground.

  Breeze wasn’t the only one taking their self-imposed captivity resentfully; Vin had heard several of the apprentices grumble that they’d almost rather have been taken by the Ministry. Yet, during their two days in the cellar, everyone had stayed in the safe house except when absolutely necessary. They understood the danger: Marsh could have given the Inquisitors descriptions and aliases for each crewmember.

  Breeze shook his head. “Perhaps, gentlemen, it is time to pack up this operation. We tried hard, and considering the fact that our original plan—gathering the army—ended up so dreadfully, I’d say that we’ve done quite a marvelous job. ”

  Dockson sighed. “Well, we certainly can’t live off of saved funds for much longer—especially if Kell keeps giving our money away to the skaa. ” He sat beside the table that was the room’s only piece of furniture, his most important ledgers, notes, and contracts organized into neat piles before him. He had been remarkably ef?cient at gathering every bit of paper that could have incriminated the crew or given further information about their plan.

  Breeze nodded. “I, for one, am looking forward to a change. This has all been fun, delightful, and all of those other ful?lling emotions, but working with Kelsier can be a bit draining. ”

  Vin frowned. “You’re not going to stay on his crew?”

  “It depends on his next job,” Breeze said. “We aren’t like other crews you’ve known—we work as we please, not because we are told to. It pays for us to be very discerning in the jobs we take. The rewards are great, but so are the risks. ”

  Ham smiled, resting with his arms behind his head, completely unconcerned about the dirt. “It kind of makes you wonder how we ended up on this particular job, eh? Very high risk, very little reward. ”

  “None, actually,” Breeze noted. “We’ll never get that atium now. Kelsier’s words about altruism and working to help the skaa were all well and good, but I was always hoping that we’d still get to take a swipe at that treasury. ”

  “True,” Dockson said, looking up from his notes. “But, was it worth it anyway? The work we did—the things we accomplished?”

  Breeze and Ham paused, then they both nodded.

  “And that’s why we stayed,” Dockson said. “Kell said it himself—he picked us because he knew we would try something a little different to accomplish a worthwhile goal. You’re good men—even you, Breeze. Stop scowling at me. ”

  Vin smiled at the familiar banter. There was a sense of mourning regarding Marsh, but these were men who knew how to move on despite their losses. In that way, they really were like skaa, after all.

  “A house war,” Ham said idly, smiling to himself. “How many noblemen dead, do you think?”

  “Hundreds, at least,” Dockson said without looking up. “All killed by their own greedy noble hands. ”

  “I’ll admit that I had my doubts about this entire ?asco,” Breeze said. “But the interruption in trade this will cause, not to mention the disorder in the government…well, you’re right, Dockson. It was worth it. ”

  “Indeed!” Ham said, mimicking Breeze’s stuffy voice.

  I’m going to miss them, Vin thought regretfully. Maybe Kelsier will take me with him on his next job.

  The stairs rattled, and Vin moved re?exively back into the shadows. The splintery door opened, and a familiar, black-clothed form strode in. He carried his mistcloak over his arm, and his face looked incredibly wearied.

  “Kelsier!” Vin said, stepping forward.

  “Hello, all,” he said in a tired voice.

  I know that tiredness, Vin thought. Pewter drag. Where has he been?

  “You’re late, Kell,” Dockson said, still not looking up from his ledgers.

  “I strive for nothing if not consistency,” Kelsier said, dropping his mistcloak on the ?oor, stretching, then sitting down. “Where are Clubs and Spook?”

  “Clubs is sleeping in the back room,” Dockson said. “Spook went with Renoux. We ?gured you’d want him to have our best Tineye to keep a watch. ”

  “Good idea,” Kelsier said, letting out a deep sigh and closing his eyes as he leaned against the wall.

  “My dear man,” Breeze said, “you look terrible. ”

  “It’s not as bad as it looks—I took it easy coming back, even stopped to sleep for a few hours on the way. ”

  “Yes, but where were you?” Ham asked pointedly. “We’ve been worried sick that you were out doing something… well, stupid. ”

  “Actually,” Breeze noted, “we took it for granted that you were doing something stupid. We’ve just been wondering how stupid this particular event would turn out to be. So, what is it? Did you assassinate the lord prelan? Slaughter dozens of noblemen? Steal the cloak off the Lord Ruler’s own back?”

  “I destroyed the Pits of Hathsin,” Kelsier said quietly.

  The room fell into a stunned silence.

  “You know,” Breeze ?nally said, “you’d think that by now we’d have learned not to underestimate him. ”

  “Destroyed them?” Ham asked. “How do you destroy the Pits of Hathsin? They’re just a bunch of cracks in the ground!”

  “Well, I didn’t actually destroy the pits themselves,” Kelsier explained. “I just shattered the crystals that produce atium geodes. ”

  “All of them?” Dockson asked, dumbstruck.

  “All of them that I could ?nd,” Kelsier said. “And that was several hundred pockets’ worth. It was actually a lot easier to get around down there, now that I have Allomancy. ”

  “Crystals?” Vin asked, confused.

  “Atium crystals, Vin,” Dockson said. “They produce the geodes—I don’t think anyone actually knows how—that have atium beads at the center. ”

  Kelsier nodded. “The crystals are why the Lord Ruler can’t just send down Allomancers to Pull out the atium geodes. Using Allomancy near the crystals makes them shatter—and it takes centuries for them to grow back. ”

  “Centuries during which they won’t produce atium,” Dockson added.

  “And so you…” Vin trailed off.

  “I pretty much ended atium production in the Final Empire for the next three hundred years or so. ”

  Elend. House Venture. They’re in charge of the Pits. How will the Lord Ruler react when he ?nds out about this?

  “You madman,” Breeze said quietly, eyes open wide.

  “Atium is the foundation of the imperial economy— controlling it is one of the main ways that the Lord Ruler maintains his hold over the nobility. We may not get to his reserves, but this will eventually have the same effect. You blessed lunatic…you blessed genius!”

  Kelsier smiled wryly. “I appreciate both compliments. Have the Inquisitors moved against Clubs’s shop yet?”

  “Not that our watchmen have seen,” Dockson said.

  “Good,” Kelsier said. “Maybe they didn’t get Marsh to break. At the very least, maybe they don’t realize that their Soothing stations were compromised. Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to sleep. We have a lot of planning to do tomorrow. ”

  The group paused.

  “Planning?” Dox ?nally asked. “Kell…we were kind of thinking that we should pull out. We caused a house war, and you just took out the imperial economy. With our cover—and our plan—compromised…Well, you can’t honestly expect us to do anything more, right?”

  Kelsier smiled, staggering to his feet and moving into the back room. “We’ll talk tomorrow. ”

  “What do you think he’s planning, Sazed?” Vin asked, sitting on a stool beside the cellar’s hearth as the Terrisman prepared the afternoon meal. Kelsier had slept through the night, and had yet to rise this afternoon.

  “I really have no idea, Mistress,” Sazed replied, sipping the stew. “Though, this moment—with the city so unbalanced— does seem like the perfect opportunity to move against the Final Empire. ”


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