Mistborn: The Final Empire (Page 88)
Of course, if Mare were still alive, I wouldn’t be doing any of this. I wouldn’t dare.
“Look!” Vin said. “One of these Inquisitor dates is new— it’s marked as yesterday!”
Dockson shot a glance at Kelsier.
We would have had to tell her eventually anyway…. “That was Theron’s crew,” Kelsier said. “An Inquisitor hit them yesterday evening.”
“Should I recognize that name?” Ham asked.
“Theron’s crew was part of the team that was trying to dupe the Ministry with Camon,” Vin said. “This means… they probably still have my trail.”
The Inquisitor recognized her that night when we inﬁltrated the palace. He wanted to know who her father was. It’s fortunate that those inhuman things make the nobility uncomfortable—otherwise, we’d have to worry about sending her to balls.
“Theron’s crew,” Vin said. “Was…it like last time?”
Dockson nodded. “No survivors.”
There was an uncomfortable silence, and Vin looked visibly sick.
Poor kid, Kelsier thought. There was little they could do but move on, though. “All right. How are we going to use this map?”
“It has some Ministry notes on house defenses,” Ham said. “Those will be useful.”
“There doesn’t appear to be any pattern in the Inquisitor hits, however,” Breeze said. “They probably just go where the information leads them.”
“We’ll want to refrain from being too active near Soothing stations,” Dox said, lowering his pen. “Fortunately, Clubs’s shop isn’t close to any speciﬁc station—most of them are in the slums.”
“We need to do more than just avoid the stations,” Kelsier said. “We need to be ready to take them out.”
Breeze frowned. “If we do, we risk playing our hand recklessly.”
“But think of the damage it would do,” Kelsier said. “Marsh said there were at least three Soothers and a Seeker at every one of these stations. That’s a hundred and thirty Ministry Mistings—they must have recruited across the entire Central Dominance to gather those kinds of numbers. If we were to take them all out at once…”
“We’d never be able to kill that many ourselves,” Dockson said.
“We could if we used the rest of our army,” Ham said. “We’ve got them stashed throughout the slums.”
“I have a better idea,” Kelsier said. “We can hire other thieving crews. If we had ten crews, each assigned to take out three stations, we could clear the city of Ministry Soothers and Seekers in barely a few hours.”
“We’d have to discuss timing, though,” Dockson said. “Breeze is right—killing that many obligators in one evening means making a major commitment. It won’t take the Inquisitors long to retaliate.”
Kelsier nodded. You’re right, Dox. Timing will be vital. “Would you look into it? Find some appropriate crews, but wait until we decide on a time before giving them the locations of the Soothing stations.”
“Good,” Kelsier said. “Speaking of our soldiers, Ham, how are things going with them?”
“Better than I expected, actually,” Ham said. “They went through training in the caves, and so they’re fairly competent. And, they consider themselves the more ‘faithful’ segment of the army, since they didn’t follow Yeden to battle against your will.”
Breeze snorted. “That’s a convenient way of looking past the fact that they lost three-fourths of their army in a tactical blunder.”
“They’re good men, Breeze,” Ham said ﬁrmly. “And so were those who died. Don’t speak ill of them. Regardless, I worry about hiding the army as we are—it won’t be too long before one of the teams gets discovered.”
“That’s why none of them know where to ﬁnd the others,” Kelsier said.
“I do want to mention something about the men,” Breeze said, seating himself in one of Renoux’s desk chairs. “I see the importance of sending Hammond to train the soldiers— but honestly, what is the reason for forcing Dockson and myself to go and visit them?”
“The men need to know who their leaders are,” Kelsier said. “If Ham were to become indisposed, someone else will need to take command.”
“Why not you?” Breeze asked.
“Just bear with me,” Kelsier said, smiling. “It’s for the best.”
Breeze rolled his eyes. “Bear with you. We seem to do an awful lot of that….”
“Anyway,” Kelsier said. “Vin, what news from the nobility? Have you discovered anything useful about House Venture?”
She paused. “No.”
“But the ball next week will be at Keep Venture, right?” Dockson asked.
Kelsier eyed the girl. Would she even tell us if she knew? She met his eyes, and he couldn’t read a thing in them. Blasted girl’s far too experienced a liar.
“All right,” he said to her. “Keep looking.”
“I will,” she said.
Despite his fatigue, Kelsier found sleep elusive that night. Unfortunately, he couldn’t go out and roam the hallways— only certain servants knew he was at the mansion, and he needed to keep a low proﬁle, now that his reputation was building.
His reputation. He sighed as he leaned against the balcony railing, watching the mists. In a way, the things he did worried even him. The others didn’t question him out loud, as per his request, but he could tell that they were still bothered by his growing fame.
It’s the best way. I may not need all of this…but, if I do, I’m going to be glad I went to the trouble.
A soft knock came at his door. He turned, curious, as Sazed peeked his head into the room.
“I apologize, Master Kelsier,” Sazed said. “But a guard came to me and said he could see you up on your balcony. He was worried that you’d give yourself away.”
Kelsier sighed, but backed away from the balcony, pulling the doors closed and shutting the drapes. “I’m not meant for anonymity, Saze. For a thief, I’m really not all that good at hiding.”
Sazed smiled and began to withdraw.
“Sazed?” Kelsier asked, causing the Terrisman to pause. “I can’t sleep—do you have a new proposal for me?”
Sazed smiled deeply, walking into the room. “Of course, Master Kelsier. Lately, I’ve been thinking that you should hear about the Truths of the Bennet. They ﬁt you quite well, I think. The Bennet were a highly developed people who lived on the southern islands. They were brave seafarers and brilliant cartographers; some of the maps the Final Empire still uses were developed by Bennet explorers.
“Their religion was designed to be practiced aboard ships that were away at sea for months at a time. The captain was also their minister, and no man was allowed to command unless he had received theological training.”
“Probably weren’t very many mutinies.”
Sazed smiled. “It was a good religion, Master Kelsier. It focused on discovery and knowledge—to these people, the making of maps was a reverent duty. They believed that once all of the world was known, understood, and catalogued, men would ﬁnally ﬁnd peace and harmony. Many religions teach such ideals, but few actually managed to practice them as well as the Bennet.”
Kelsier frowned, leaning back against the wall beside the balcony drapes. “Peace and harmony,” he said slowly. “I’m not really looking for either right now, Saze.”
“Ah,” Sazed said.
Kelsier looked up, staring at the ceiling. “Could you… tell me about the Valla again?”
“Of course,” Sazed said, pulling a chair over from beside Kelsier’s desk and seating himself. “What speciﬁcally would you like to know?”
Kelsier shook his head. “I’m not sure,” he said. “I’m sorry, Saze. I’m in a strange mood tonight.”
“You are always in a strange mood, I think,” Sazed said with a slight smile. “However, you choose an interesting sect to ask after. The Valla lasted longer into the Lord Ruler’s dominion than any other religion.”
“That’s why I ask,” Kelsier said. “I… need to understand what kept them going for so long, Saze. What made them keep ﬁghting?”
“They were the most determined, I think.”
“But they didn’t have any leaders,” Kelsier said. “The Lord Ruler had slaughtered the entire Vallan religious council as part of his ﬁrst conquest.”
“Oh, they had leaders, Master Kelsier,” Sazed said. “Dead ones, true, but leaders nonetheless.”
“Some men would say that their devotion didn’t make sense,” Kelsier said. “The loss of the Vallan leaders should have broken the people, not made them more determined to keep going.”
Sazed shook his head. “Men are more resilient than that, I think. Our belief is often strongest when it should be weakest. That is the nature of hope.”
“Did you want further instruction on the Valla?”
“No. Thanks, Saze. I just needed to be reminded that there were people who fought even when things looked hopeless.”
Sazed nodded, rising. “I think I understand, Master Kelsier. Good evening, then.”
Kelsier nodded distractedly, letting the Terrisman withdraw.
Most of the Terrismen are not as bad as Rashek. However, I can see that they believe him, to an extent. These are simple men, not philosophers or scholars, and they don’t understand that their own prophecies say the Hero of Ages will be an outsider. They only see what Rashek points out—that they are an ostensibly superior people, and should be “dominant” rather than subservient.
Before such passion and hatred, even good men can be deceived.
IT TOOK RETURNING TO THE Venture ballroom to remind Vin what true majesty was.
She’d visited so many keeps that she had begun to grow desensitized to the splendor. There was something special about Keep Venture, however—something that the other keeps strived for, but never quite achieved. It was as if Venture were the parent, and the others were well-taught children. All of the keeps were beautiful, but there was no denying which one was the ﬁnest.
The enormous Venture hall, lined by a row of massive pillars on each side, seemed even more grand than usual. Vin couldn’t quite decide why. She thought about it as she waited for a servant to take her shawl. The normal limelights shone outside the stained-glass windows, spraying the room with shards of light. The tables were immaculate beneath their pillared overhang. The lord’s table, set on the small balcony at the very end of the hallway, looked as regal as ever.
It’s almost…too perfect, Vin thought, frowning to herself. Everything seemed slightly exaggerated. The tablecloths were even whiter, and pressed even ﬂatter, than usual. The servants’ uniforms seemed particularly sharp. Instead of regular soldiers at the doors, hazekillers stood looking intentionally impressive, distinguished by their wooden shields and lack of armor. All together, the room made it seem as if even the regular Venture perfection had been heightened.