The Hero of Ages (Page 104)

Giving you power!

Vin gasped, drawing in breath—a breath that sucked in the mists. She felt suddenly warm,1 the mists surging within her, lending her their strength. Her entire body burned like metal, and the pain disappeared in a flash.

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Marsh swung his axe for her head, spraying water.

And she caught his arm.

I have spoken of Inquisitors, and their ability to pierce copperclouds. As I said, this power is easily understood when one realizes that many Inquisitors were Seekers before their transformation, and that meant their bronze became twice as strong.

There is at least one other case of a person who could pierce copperclouds. In her case, however, the situation was slightly different. She was a Mistborn from birth, and her sister was the Seeker. The death of that sister–and subsequent inheritance of power via the Hemalurgic spike used to kill that sister–left her twice as good at burning bronze as a typical Mistborn. And that let her see through the copperclouds of lesser Allomancers.

73

THE MISTS CHANGED.

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TenSoon looked up through the ash. He lay, exhausted and numb, atop the hill before the field of lava that barred his path eastward. His muscles felt lethargic—signs that he had been pushing too hard. Even the Blessing of Potency could only do so much.

He stood, forcing his horse’s body to rise, looking at his nighttime surroundings. Endless fields of ash extended behind him; even the track he had worn up to the top of the hill was close to being filled in. The lava burned ahead of him. However, something seemed different. What?

The mists flowed, moving about, swirling. Generally, the mists had a very chaotic pattern. Some parts would flow one way, while others would spin about in other directions. There were often rivers of motion, but they never conformed to one another. Most often, they followed the wind; this night the wind was still.

And yet, the mist seemed to be flowing in one direction. As soon as he noticed it, TenSoon found it one of the most singularly strange sights he had ever beheld. Instead of swirling or spinning, the mists moved together in a seemingly purposeful flow. They coursed around him, and he felt like a stone in a huge, incorporeal river.

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The mists flowed toward Luthadel. Perhaps I’m not too late! he thought, regaining some of his hope. He shook himself from his stupor, and took off in a gallop back the way he had come.

“Breezy, come look at this.”

Breeze rubbed his eyes, looking across the room to where Allrianne sat in her nightgown, looking out the window. It was late—too late. He should have been asleep.

He looked back toward his desk, and the treaty he had been working on. It was the sort of thing Sazed or Elend should have had to write, not Breeze. “You know,” he said, “I distinctly remember telling Kelsier that I did not want to end up in charge of anything important. Running kingdoms and cities is work for fools, not thieves! Government is far too inefficient to provide a suitable income.”

“Breezy!” Allrianne said insistently, Pulling on his emotions quite blatantly.

He sighed, rising. “Very well,” he grumbled. Honestly, he thought. How is it, of all the qualified people in Kelsier’s little crew, that I end up the one leading a city?

He joined Allrianne at the window, peeking out. “W1hat is it exactly I’m supposed to see, dear? I don’t . . .”

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He trailed off, frowning. Beside him, Allrianne touched his arm, seeming concerned as she looked out the window.

“Now, that is strange,” he said. The mists flowed by outside, moving like a river—and they seemed to be accelerating.

The door to his room slammed open. Breeze jumped, and Allrianne squeaked. They spun to find Spook standing in the doorway, still half covered in bandages.

“Gather the people,” the boy croaked, holding the doorframe to keep from collapsing. “We need to move.”

“My dear boy,” Breeze said, unsettled. Allrianne took Breeze’s arm, holding on quietly, yet tightly. “My dear boy, what is this? You should be in bed!”

“Gather them, Breeze!” Spook said, suddenly sounding very authoritative. “Take them to the storage cavern. Pack them in! Quickly! We don’t have much time!”

“What do you make of it?” Ham asked, wiping his brow. Blood immediately oozed from the cut again, running down the side of his face.

Elend shook his head, breathing deeply—almost in gasps—as he leaned back against the side of a jagged rock outcropping. He closed his eyes, fatigue making his body shake despite his pewter. “I don’t really care about mists right now, Ham,” he whispered. “I can barely think straight.”

Ham grunted in agreement. Around them, men screamed and died, fighting the endless waves of koloss. They had some of the creatures bottled up in the natural stone corridor leading into Fadrex, but the real fights were happening on the rugged rock formations that enclosed the city. Too many koloss, tired of waiting outside, had begun crawling up to attack from the sides.

It was a precarious battlefield, one that often demanded Elend’s attention. They had a large number of Allomancers, but most of them were inexperienced—they hadn’t even known about their powers until this very day. Elend was a oneman reserve force, bounding across the defensive lines, plugging holes while Cett directed tactics below.

More screams. More death. More metal hitting metal, rock, and flesh. Why? Elend thought with frustration. Why can’t I protect them? He flared pewter, taking a deep breath and standing up in the night.

The mists flowed overhead, as if pulled by some invisible force. For a moment, even exhausted as he was, he froze.

“Lord Venture!” someone shouted. Elend spun, looking toward the sound. A youthful messenger scrambled up the side of the rock outcropping, wide-eyed.

Oh, no . . . Elend thought, tensing.

“My lord, they’re retreating!” the lad said, stumbling to a halt before Elend.

“What?” Ham asked, standing.

“It’s true, my lord. They pulled back from the city gates! They’re leaving.”

Elend immediately dropped a coin, shooting himself into the sky. Mist flowed around him, its tendrils a million tiny strings being yanked eastward. Below, he saw the hulking, dark forms of the koloss running away in the night.

So many of them, he thought, landing on a rock formation. We’d never have beaten them. Even with Allomancers.

But, they were leaving. Running away at an inhuman speed. Moving . . .

Toward Luthadel.

Vin fought like a tempest, spraying rainwater through the dark night as she threw back Inquisitor after Inquisitor.

She shouldn’t have been alive. She’d run out of pewter, yet she felt it flaring inside, burning brighter than it ever had before. She felt as if the bleeding sun itself blazed within her, running molten through her veins.

Her every Steelpush or Ironpull slammed against her as if it were made with the power of duralumin. Yet, the metal reserves within her did not vanish. Instead, they grew stronger. Vaster. She wasn’t certain what was happening to her. However, she did know one thing.

Suddenly, fighting twelve Inquisitors at once did not seem like an impossible task.

She cried out, slapping an Inquisitor to the side, then ducking a pair of axes. She crouched, then jumped, leaping in an arc through the rain, coming down beside Marsh, who still lay stunned from where she had thrown him after her rebirth.

He looked up, finally seeming to focus on her, then cursed and rolled away as Vin punched downward. Her fist shattered a cobblestone, throwing back a ripple of dark rainwater, splashing her arms and face, leaving specks of black ash behind.

She looked up toward Marsh. He stood erect, bare-chested, his spikes glistening in the darkness.

Vin smiled, then spun on the Inquisitors rushing her from behind. She yelled, dodging a swinging axe. Had these creatures ever seemed quick to her? Within the embrace of limitless pewter, she seemed to move as the mist itself did. Light. Quick.

Unchained.

The sky spun in a tempest of its own as she attacked, moving in a swirling frenzy. The mists whirled around her arm in a vortex as she punched one Inquisitor in the face, throwing him backward. The mists danced before her as she caught the fallen Inquisitor’s axe, then sheared the arm off another of the creatures. She took his head next, leaving the others stunned with the speed of her motion.

That’s two dead.

They attacked again. She bounded backward, Pulling herself toward the spires above. The trail of ravens launched after her, their robes snapping in the wet darkness. She hit a spire feet-first, then launched upward and Pulled on an Inquisitor’s spikes, something that was easy to do with her new power. Her chosen quarry lurched upward ahead of his companions.

Vin shot downward, meeting the Inquisitor in the air. She grabbed him by the eye-spikes and pulled, ripping them out with her newfound strength. Then she kicked off the creature and Pushed against the spikes in his chest.

She shot upward in the air, leaving a corpse flipping end over end in the rain beneath her, massive gaps in its head where the spikes had been. They could lose some spikes and live, she knew, but the removal of others was deadly. Losing both eye-spikes appeared to be enough to kill them.

Three.

Inquisitors hit the spire she had Pushed off of, and they leaped up to follow her. Vin smiled, then threw the spikes she still carried, catching one of the Inquisitors in the chest with them. Then, she Pushed. The unfortunate Inquisitor was thrown downward, and he hit a flat rooftop so violently that it pushed several of his spikes up out of his body. They sparkled and spun in the air, then fell beside his immobile corpse.

Four.

Vin’s mistcloak fluttered as she shot upward in the sky. Eight Inquisitors still chased her, reaching for her. Crying out, Vin raised her hands toward the creatures as she began to fall. Then, she Pushed.

She hadn’t realized how strong her new powers were. They were obviously akin to duralumin, since she could affect the spikes inside of an Inquisitor’s body. Her overpowering Push forced the whole flock of them downward, as if they’d been swatted. In fact, her Push also hit the metal spire directly beneath her.

The stone architecture holding the spire in place exploded, spraying chips and dust outward as the spire itself crushed the building beneath it. And Vin was thrown upward.

Very quickly.

She blasted through the sky, mists streaking past her, the force of her Push straining even her mist-enhanced body with the stress of sudden acceleration.

And then she was out. She emerged into the open air, like a fish leaping from the water. Beneath her, the mists covered the nighttime land like an enormous white blanket. Around her, there was only open air. Unsettling, strange. Above her, a million stars—normally visible only to Allomancers—watched her like the eyes of those long dead.

Her momentum ran out, and she spun quietly, whiteness below, light above. She notice that she’d trailed a line of mist up out of the main cloud. This hung like a tether ready to pull her back down. In fact, all the mists were spinning slightly in what looked like an enormous weather pattern. A whirlpool of white.

The heart of the whirlpool was directly beneath her.

She fell, plummeting back down toward the earth below. She entered the mists, drawing them behind her, breathing them in. Even as she fell, she could feel them surging about her in a massive, empire-wide spiral. She welcomed them into herself, and the vortex of mist around her grew more and more violent.

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