The Hero of Ages (Page 107)

“This is a simple matter,” KanPaar said to the chamber. “We know that it was raining last night, and sometimes rain disperses the mists for a short time. They will return tomorrow.”

“But, it’s not raining now,” one of the kandra said. “And, it wasn’t raining when TarKavv went out on patrol. There have been mists in the morning for months now. Where are they?”

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“Bah,” KanPaar said, waving his hand. “You worried when the mists started staying in the mornings, now you complain that they are gone? We are kandra. We are eternal—we outwait everything and anything. We don’t gather in rowdy mobs. Go back to what you were doing. This means nothing.”

“No,” a voice whispered into the cavern. Heads turned up, and the entire group hushed.

“No,” Haddek—leader of the First Generation—whispered from his hidden alcove. “This is important. We have been wrong, KanPaar. Very . . . very wrong. Clear the Trustwarren. Leave only the Keeper behind. And spread the word. The day of the Resolution may have come.”

This comment only served to agitate the kandra further. Sazed stood frozen with wonder; he had never seen such a reaction in the normally calm creatures. They did as they were told—kandra appeared to be very good at that—and left the room, but there were whispers and debates. The Seconds slunk out last, looking humiliated. Sazed watched them go, thinking about KanPaar’s words.

We are eternal—we outwait everything and anything. Suddenly, the kandra began to make more sense to Sazed. How easy it would be to ignore the outside world if one were immortal. They had outlasted so many problems and predicaments, upheavals and riots, that anything occurring on the outside must have seemed trivial.

So trivial, in fact, that it was even possible to ignore the prophecies of one’s own religion as they started to come true. Eventually, the room was empty, and a pair of beefy members of the Fifth Generation pushed the doors closed from outside, leaving Sazed alone on the floor of the room. He waited patiently, arranging his notes on his desk as the members of the First Generation hobbled out of their hidden stairwells and joined him on the floor of the Trustwarren.

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“Tell me, Keeper,” Haddek said as his brothers seated themselves, “what do you make of this event?”

“The departure of the mists?” Sazed asked. “It does seem portentous—though, admittedly, I cannot give a specific reason why.”

“That is because there are things we have not yet explained to you,” Haddek said, looking toward the others. They seemed very troubled. “Things relating to the First Contract, and the promises of the kandra.”

Sazed readied a sheet of metal paper. “Please, continue.”

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“I must ask that you not record these words,” Haddek said.

Sazed paused, then set down his pen. “Very well—though I warn you. The memory of a Keeper, even without his metalminds, is very long.”

“That cannot be helped,” said one of the others. “We need your counsel, Keeper. As an outsider.”

“As a son,” another whispered.

“When the Father made us,” Haddek said. “He . . . gave us a charge. Something different from the First Contract.”

“To him, it was almost an afterthought,” one of the others added. “Though once he mentioned it, he implied it was very important.”

“He made us promise,” Haddek said. “Each of us. He told us that someday, we might be required to remove our Blessings.”

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“Pull them from our bodies,” one of the others added.

“Kill ourselves,” Haddek said.

The room fell silent.

“You are certain this would kill you?” Sazed asked.

“It would change us back to mistwraiths,” Haddek said. “That is the same thing, essentially.”

“The Father said we would have to do it,” another said. “There wasn’t a ‘might’ about it. He said that we would have to make certain the other kandra knew of this charge.”

“We call it the Resolution,” Haddek said. “Each kandra is told of it when he or she is first birthed. They are given the charge—sworn and ingrained—to pull their Blessing free, should the First Generation command it. We have never invoked this charge.”

“But you’re considering it now?” Sazed asked1, frowning. “I do not understand. Simply because of the way that the mists are acting?”

“The mists are the body of Preservation, Keeper,” Haddek said. “This is a very portentous event.”

“We have been listening to our children discuss it all morning,” another said. “And it troubles us. They do not know all the mists represent, but they are aware of their importance.”

“Rashek said that we’d know,” another said. “He told us. ‘The day will come when you have to remove your Blessings. You’ll know when it arrives.’ “

Haddek nodded. “He said that we’d know. And . . . we are very worried.”

“How can we order the deaths of all of our people?” another asked. “The Resolution has always bothered me.”

“Rashek saw the future,” Haddek said, turning. “He held the power of Preservation and wielded it. He is the only man ever to have done so! Even this girl of whom the Keeper speaks did not use the power. Only Rashek! The Father.”

“Where, then, are the mists?” another asked.

The room fell silent again. Sazed sat, pen held in his hand, yet not writing anything. He leaned forward. “The mists are the body of Preservation?”

The others nodded.

“And . . . it has disappeared?”

Again, a nod.

“Does this not mean, then, that Preservation has returned?”

“That is impossible,” Haddek said. “Preservation’s power remains, for power cannot be destroyed. His mind, however, was all but destroyed—for this was the sacrifice he made to imprison Ruin.”

“The sliver remains,” another reminded. “The shadow of self.”

“Yes,” Haddek said. “But that is not Preservation, just an image—a remnant. Now that Ruin has escaped, I think we can assume that even it has been destroyed.”

“I think it is more,” another began. “We could—”

Sazed held up his hands, getting their attention. “If Preservation has not returned, then has, perhaps, someone else taken up his power to use in this fight? Is that not what your teachings say will happen? That which has been sundered must again begin to find its whole.”

Silence.

“Perhaps,” Haddek said.

Vin, Sazed thought, growing excited. This is what it means to be the Hero of Ages! I am right to believe. She can save us!

Sazed took a piece of metal paper, beginning to scribble down his thoughts. At that moment, however, the doors to the Trustwarren burst open.

Sazed paused, turning with a frown. A group of rock-boned Fifth Generationers clomped into the room, followed by the willowy members of the Second Generation. Outside, the cavern hallway was empty of its earlier crowd.

“Take them,” KanPaar said furtively, pointing.

“What is this!” Haddek exclaimed.

Sazed sat where he was, pen held in his fingers. He recognized the urgent, tense posture in the figures of the Second Generationers. Some looked frightened, others determined. The Fifth Generationers moved forward quickly, their movements enhanced by the Blessing of Potency.

“KanPaar!” Haddek said. “What is this?”

Sazed slowly stood up. Four Fifth Generationers came over to surround him, bearing hammers as weapons.

“It’s a coup,” Sazed said.

“You can no longer lead,” KanPaar said to the First Generation. “You would destroy what we have here, polluting our land with outsiders, letting the talk of revolutionaries cloud kandra wisdom.”

“This is not the time, KanPaar,” Haddek said, the members of the First Generation crying out as they were prodded and grappled.

“Not the time?” KanPaar asked angrily. “You spoke of the Resolution! Have you no idea the panic this has caused? You would destroy everything we have.”

Sazed turned calmly, looking at KanPaar. Despite his angry tone, the kandra was smiling slightly through translucent lips.

He had to strike now, Sazed thought, before the First Generation said more to the common people—making the Seconds redundant. KanPaar can stuff them all away somewhere, and then prop up dummies in the alcoves.

Sazed reached for his pewtermind. One of the Fifths snapped it away with a too-quick grab of the hand, and two others took Sazed by the arms. He struggled, but his kandra captors were inhumanly strong.

“KanPaar!” Haddek yelled. The First’s voice was surprisingly strong. “You are of the Second Generation—you owe obedience to me. We created you!”

KanPaar ignored him, directing his kandra to bind the members of the First Generation. The other Seconds stood in a cluster behind him, looking increasingly apprehensive and shocked at what they were doing.

“The time for the Resolution may indeed be here!” Haddek said. “We must—” He cut off as one of the Fifths gagged him.

“That is exactly why I must take leadership,” KanPaar said, shaking his head. “You are too unstable, old one. I will not trust the future of our people to a creature who could, at a whim, order them to kill themselves.”

“You fear change,” Sazed said, meeting the kandra’s eyes.

“I fear instability,” KanPaar said. “I will make certain the kandra people have a firm and immutable leadership.”

“You make the same argument as many revolutionaries,” Sazed said. “And I can see your concern. However, you must not do this thing. Your own prophecies are coming to a head. I understand now! Without the part the kandra are to play, you could inadvertently cause the end of all things. Let me continue my research—lock us in this room if you must—but do not—”

“Gag him,” KanPaar said, turning.

Sazed struggled, with no success, as his mouth was bound and he was pulled from the Trustwarren, leaving the atium—the body of a god—behind, and in the hands of traitors.

I’ve always wondered about the strange ability Allomancers have to pierce the mists. When one burned tin, he or she could see farther at night, looking through the mists. To the layman, this might seem like a logical connection—tin, after all, enhances the senses.

The logical mind, however, may find a puzzle in this ability. How, exactly, would tin let one see through the mists? As an obstruction, they are unconnected with the quality of one’s eyesight. Both the nearsighted scholar an1d the long-sighted scout would have the same trouble seeing into the distance if there were a wall in the way.

This, then, should have been our first clue. Allomancers could see through the mists because the mists were, indeed, composed of the very same power as Allomancy. Once attuned by burning tin, the Allomancer was almost part of the mists. And therefore, they became more translucent to him.

76

VIN . . . FLOATED. She wasn’t asleep, but she didn’t quite feel awake either. She was disoriented, uncertain. Was she still lying in the broken courtyard of Kredik Shaw? Was she sleeping in her cabin aboard the narrowboat with Elend? Was she in her palace quarters, back in Luthadel, the city under siege? Was she in Clubs’s shop, worried and confused by the kindness of this strange new crew?

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