The Hero of Ages (Page 105)

Instants later, Luthadel appeared, a massive black welt upon the land. She fell down, streaking toward Kredik Shaw and its spires, which seemed to be pointing toward her. The Inquisitors were still there—she could see them standing on a flat rooftop amid the spires, looking up. Waiting. There were only eight, not counting Marsh. One lay impaled on a nearby spike from her last push; the blow had apparently torn the center spike out of his back.

Five, Vin thought, landing a short distance from the Inquisitors.

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If a single Push could throw her up so far she passed out of the mists, then what would happen if she Pushed outward?

She waited quietly as the Inquisitors charged. She could see desperation in their movements. Whatever was happening to Vin, Ruin was apparently willing to risk every one of the creatures in the hopes that they would kill her before she was complete. Mists pulled toward her, moving more and more quickly, drawn into her like water being sucked down a drain.

When the Inquisitors had almost reached her, she Pushed outward again, throwing metal away from her with all the force as she could muster, while at the same time strengthening her body with a massive flare of pewter. Stone cracked. Inquisitors cried out.

And Kredik Shaw exploded.

Towers toppled from their foundations. Doors ripped free from their frames. Windows shattered. Blocks burst, the entire structure torn to pieces as its met1als lurched away. She screamed as she Pushed, the ground trembling beneath her. Everything—even the rock and stone, which obviously contained residual traces of metal ore—was thrown violently back.

She gasped, stopping her Push. She drew in breath, feeling the rain splatter against her. The building that had been the Lord Ruler’s palace was gone, flattened to rubble which spread out and away from her like an impact crater.

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An Inquisitor burst from the rubble, face bleeding from where one of his spikes had ripped free. Vin raised a hand, Pulling and steadying herself from behind. The Inquisitor’s head lurched, his other eye-spike pulling free. He toppled forward, and Vin caught the spike, Pushing it toward another Inquisitor who was rushing her. He raised a hand to Push it back at her.

And she drove it forward anyway, ignoring his Push with a quick Push backward to stabilize herself. He was thrown away and slammed into the remnants of a wall. The spike continued forward, Pushed like a fish darting through water, ignoring the current. The spike slammed into the Inquisitor’s face, crushing it, pinning his head back against the granite.

Six and seven.

Vin stalked across the rubble, mists storming. Overhead, they swirled furiously, forming a funnel cloud with her at its focus. It was like a tornado, but with no air currents. Just impalpable mists, as if painted on the air. Spinning, swirling, coming to her silent command.

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She stepped over an Inquisitor corpse that had been crushed by the rubble; she kicked his head free to make certain he was dead.

Eight.

Three rushed her at once. She screamed, turning, Pulling on a fallen spire. The massive piece of metal—nearly as big as a building itself—lurched into the air, spinning at her command. She slammed it into the Inquisitors like a club, crushing them. She turned, leaving the enormous iron pillar resting atop their corpses.

Nine. Ten. Eleven.

The storm broke, though the mists continued to swirl. The rain let up as Vin walked across the shattered building, eyes searching for Allomantic blue lines that were moving. She found one trembling before her, and she picked up and tossed aside an enormous marble disk. An Inquisitor groaned beneath; she reached for him, and realized that her hand was leaking mist. It didn’t just swirl around her, it came from her, smoking forth from the pores in her skin. She breathed out, and mist puffed before her, then immediately entered the vortex and was pulled in again.

She grabbed the Inquisitor, pulling him up. His skin began to heal as he used his Feruchemical powers, and he struggled, growing stronger. Yet, even the awesome strength of Feruchemy made little difference against Vin. She pulled his eye-spikes free, tossed them aside, then left the corpse slumping in the rubble.

Twelve.

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She found the last Inquisitor huddled in a pool of rainwater. It was Marsh. His body was broken, and he was missing one of the spikes from his side. The spike hole was bleeding, but that one apparently wasn’t enough to kill him. He turned his pair of spikeheads to look up at her, expression stiff.

Vin paused, breathing deeply, feeling rainwater trail down her arms and drip off her fingers. She still burned within, and she looked up, staring into the vortex of mists. It was spinning so powerfully, twisting down. She was having trouble thinking for all the energy that coursed through her.

She looked down again.

This isn’t Marsh, she thought. Kelsier’s brother is long dead. This is something else. Ruin.

The mist swirled in a final tempest, the circular motion growing faster—yet tighter—as the final wisps of mist spun down and were pulled into Vin’s body.

Then the mists were gone. Starlight shone above, and flecks of ash fell in the air. The night landscape was eerie in its stillness, blackness, and clarity. Even with tin—which let her see at night far better than a normal person could—the mists had always been there. To see the night landscape without them was . . . wrong.

Vin began to tremble. She gasped, feeling the fire within her blaze hotter and hotter. It was Allomancy as she’d never known it. It felt as if she had never understood it. The power was far greater than metals, mere Pushes and Pulls. It was something awesomely more vast. A power that men had used, yet never comprehended.

She forced her eyes open. There was one Inquisitor left. She had drawn them to Luthadel, forced them to expose themselves, laying a trap for someone far more powerful than herself. And the mists had responded.

It was time to finish what she had come to do.

Marsh watched limply as Vin fell to her knees. Shaking, she reached for one of his eye-spikes.

There was nothing he could do. He’d used up most of the healing in his metal-mind, and the rest would do him no good. Stored healing worked by way of speed. He could either heal himself a small amount very quickly, or wait and heal himself slowly, yet completely. Either way, he was dead as soon as Vin pulled those spikes free.

Finally, he thought with relief as she grabbed the first spike. Whatever I did . . . it worked. Somehow.

He felt Ruin’s rage, felt his master realizing his mistake. In the end, Marsh had mattered. In the end, Marsh hadn’t given up. He’d done Mare proud.

Vin pulled the spike free. It hurt, of course—hurt far more than Marsh would have thought possible. He screamed—both in pain and in joy—as Vin reached for the other eye-spike.

And then, she hesitated. Marsh waited expectantly. She shook, then coughed, cringing. She gritted her teeth, reaching toward him. Her fingers touched the spike.

And then, Vin vanished.

She left behind the misty outline of a young woman. That dissipated and was soon gone, too, leaving Marsh alone in the wreckage of a palace, head blazing with pain, body covered in sickly, sodden ash.

She once asked Ruin why he had chosen her. The primary answer is simple. It had little to do with her personality, attitudes, or even skill with Allomancy.

She was simply the only child Ruin could find who was in a position to gain the right Hemalurgic spike—one that would grant her heightened power with bronze, which would then let her sense the location of the Well of Ascension. She had an insane mother, a sister who was a Seeker, and was—herself—Mistborn. That was precisely the combination Ruin needed.

There were other reasons, of course. But even Ruin didn’t know them.

74

DAY BROKE WITH NO MISTS.

Elend stood atop the rocky heights in front of Fadrex City, looking out. He felt far better with a night’s rest behind him, though his body ached from fighting, his arm throbbed where he’d been wounded, and his chest hurt where he’d carelessly allowed a koloss to punch him. The massive bruise would have crippled another man.

Koloss corpses littered the ground before the city, piled particularly high in the corridor leading into Fadrex itself. The whole area smelled of death and dried blood. Far more often than Elend would have liked, the field of blue corpses was broken by the lighter skin of a human. Still, Fadrex had survived—if only because of the last-minute addition of several thousand Allomancers and the eventual retreat of the koloss.

Why did they leave? Elend wondered, thankful yet frustrated. And, perhaps more importantly, where are they going?

Elend turned at the sound of footsteps on rock and saw Yomen climbing the rough-hewn steps to join him, puffing slightly, still pristine in his obligator’s robes. Nobody had expected him to fight. He was, after all, a scholar, and not a warrior.

Like me, Elend thought, smiling wryly.

“The mists are gone,” Yomen said.

Elend nodded. “Both day and night.”

“The skaa fled inside when the mists vanished. Some still refuse to leave their homes. For centuries, they feared being out at night because of the mists. Now the mists disappear, and they find it so unnatural that they hide again.”

Elend turned away, looking back out. The mists were gone, but the ash still fell. And it fell hard. The corpses that had fallen during the night hours were nearly buried.

“Has the sun always been this hot?” Yomen asked, wiping his brow.

Elend frowned, noticing for the first time that it did seem hot. It was still early morning, yet it already felt like noon.

Something is still wrong, he thought. Very wrong. Worse, even. The ash choked the air, blowing in the breeze, coating everything. And the heat . . . shouldn’t it have been getting colder as more ash flew into the air, blocking the sunlight? “Form crews, Yomen,” Elend said. “Have them pick through the bodies and search for wounded among that mess down there. Then, gather the people and begin moving them into the storage cavern. Tell the soldiers to be ready for . . . for something. I don’t know what.”

Yomen frowned. “You sound as if you’re not going to be here to help me.”

Elend turned eastward. “I won’t be.”

Vin was still out there somewhere. He didn’t understand why she had said what she had about the atium, but he trusted her. Perhaps she had intended to distract Ruin with lies. Elend suspected that somehow, the people of Fadrex owed her their lives. She’d drawn the koloss away—she’d figured something out, something that he couldn’t even guess at.

She always complains that she’s not a scholar, he thought, smiling to himself. But that’s just because she lacks education. She’s twice as quick-witted as half the “geniuses” I knew during my days at court.

He couldn’t leave her alone. He needed to find her. Then . . . well, he didn’t know what they’d do next. Find Sazed, perhaps? Either way, Elend could do no more in Fadrex. He moved to walk down the steps, intending to find Ham and Cett. Howev1er, Yomen caught his shoulder.

Elend turned.

“I was wrong about you, Venture,” Yomen said. “The things I said were undeserved.”

“You let me into your city when my men were surrounded by their own koloss,” Elend said. “I don’t care what you said about me. You’re a good man in my estimation.”

“You’re wrong about the Lord Ruler, though,” Yomen said. “He’s guiding this all.”

Elend just smiled.

“It doesn’t bother me that you don’t believe,” Yomen said, reaching up to his forehead. “I’ve learned something. The Lord Ruler uses unbelievers as well as believers. We’re all part of his plan. Here.”

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