The Hero of Ages (Page 110)

The female kandra unlocked the grate, then pulled it back. Sazed eagerly climbed free. In the room, he found several other kandra wearing deviant True Bodies. In the corner, the prison guard lay bound and gagged.

“I was seen entering the Homeland, Terrisman,” TenSoon said. “So we have little time. What has happened here? MeLaan told me of your imprisonment—KanPaar announced that the First Generation had ordered you taken. What did you do to antagonize them?”

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“Not them,” Sazed said, stretching his cramped legs. “It was the Second Generation. They have taken the Firsts captive, and plan to rule in their stead.”

The girl—MeLaan—gasped. “They would never!”

“They did,” Sazed said, standing. “I fear for the safety of the Firsts. KanPaar may have been afraid to kill me because I am human. However, the Firsts . . .”

“But,” MeLaan said, “the Seconds are kandra. They wouldn’t do something like that! We’re not that kind of people.”

TenSoon and Sazed shared a look. All societies have people who break the rules, child, Sazed thought. Particularly when power is concerned.

“We have to find the Firsts,” TenSoon said. “And recover the Trustwarren.”

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“We will fight with you, TenSoon,” one of the other kandra said.

“We’re finally throwing them off!” another said. “The Seconds, and their insistence that we serve the humans!”

Sazed frowned at this. What did humans have to do with this conflict? Then, however, he noticed how the others regarded TenSoon. The dog’s body, he realized. To them, TenSoon is a revolutionary of the highest order—all because of something Vin ordered him to do1.

TenSoon met Sazed eyes again, opening his mouth to speak. Then, however, he paused. “They’re coming,” he said with a curse, his dog’s ears flattening.

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Sazed spun with concern, noticing shadows on the rock wall of the corridor leading into the prison chamber. The chamber was small, with six or so pit cells in the floor. There were no other entrances.

Despite their brave words, TenSoon’s companions immediately shied back, huddling against the wall. They were obviously not accustomed to conflict, particularly with their own kind. TenSoon shared none of their timidity. He charged forward as soon as the group of Fifths entered the room, ramming his shoulder into one’s chest, howling and clawing at another.

There is a kandra who fits in with his people as poorly as I do with my own, Sazed thought, smiling. He stepped backward, moving up onto the top of the prison grate, touching its metals with his bare feet.

The Fifths had trouble fighting TenSoon—he had trained with Vin, and was apparently quite confident in his dog’s body. He kept moving, knocking them over. However, there were five of them, and only one TenSoon. He was forced to retreat.

The wounds in his body close as he orders them, Sazed noticed. That must be why the guards usually carry hammers.

Which made it fairly obvious how one had to fight kandra. TenSoon backed up beside Sazed. “I apologize,” the dog growled. “This isn’t much of a rescue.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Sazed said with a smile, the Fifths surrounding them. “You needn’t give up so quickly, I think.”

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The Fifths charged, and Sazed tapped iron from the grate beneath his bare feet. Immediately, his body grew several times heavier than normal, and he grabbed a kandra guard by the arms.

Then fell on him.

Sazed always said he wasn’t a warrior. However, the number of times he’d said that, then been forced to fight anyway, made him think he was losing that excuse. The truth was, he’d been in far more battles over the last few years than he felt he had any right to have survived.

Either way, he knew some rudimentary moves—and, with both Feruchemy and surprise to aid him, that was about all he needed. Tapping weight increased the density of his body and of his bones, keeping him from damaging himself as he collapsed on top of the soldier. Sazed felt a satisfying crack as they hit the grate, Sazed’s greatly increased weight crushing the kandra guard’s bones. They used stone True Bodies, but even that wasn’t enough.

Sazed released the metalmind, then began to fill it instead, making his body incredibly light. He touched his foot to the steel lock, and tapped speed. Suddenly, he was faster than any man had a right to be. He stood up even as the other four guards turned toward him in surprise.

He stopped filling his ironmind, regaining normal weight, then reached with a blurring speed to pick up the hammer of the fallen soldier. He didn’t have enhanced strength, but he had speed. He slammed the hammer down on a kandra shoulder, growing heavier to add to the momentum of his blow.

The kandra’s bones shattered. Sazed snapped his foot on the lock and tapped all of the remaining speed. He crouched, pivoting, and slammed his hammer into the knees of two kandra who were trying to attack him with their own hammers.

They cried out, falling, as Sazed’s speed ran out.1p>

He stood up straight. TenSoon was sitting atop the final guard, pinning him to the ground. “I thought you were a scholar,” the dog noted, his captive squirming.

Sazed tossed aside the hammer. “I am,” he said. “Vin would have fought her way free from this prison days ago. Now, I believe we should deal with these . . .” He waved toward the fallen Fifths, who seemed to have quite a bit of trouble moving with their bones broken.

TenSoon nodded. He motioned for some of his friends to help him with the one he was sitting on. They held the captive tentatively, but there were enough of them to keep the prisoner still.

“What have you done here, FhorKood?” TenSoon demanded of the captive. Sazed kept an eye on the other Fifths, and was forced to slam a mallet against one of them, breaking more bones as he tried to sneak away.

FhorKood spat. “Dirty Third,” he muttered.

“You are the traitor this time,” TenSoon said, smiling slightly. “KanPaar brands me a Contract-breaker, then he overthrows the First Generation? If the world weren’t ending, I’d find that far more amusing. Now, speak!”

Sazed paused as he noticed something. The other cells in the floor were occupied. He leaned down, recognizing something about the muscles he saw inside. They were . . . discolored, and a bit deformed. Like . . . hanging moss.

“TenSoon!” he said, looking up. “Perhaps the First Generation is still alive. Come here.”

TenSoon moved over, then looked down at the pit, frowning with canine lips. “MeLaan! The keys!”

She rushed over, unlocking the grate. With some consternation, Sazed was able to determine that there were multiple sets of squirming muscles in the pit, each of a slightly different color.

“We need bones,” TenSoon said, standing.

MeLaan nodded, rushing from the room. Sazed shared a look with TenSoon.

“They must have killed the other kandra in these cells,” TenSoon said softly. “Traitors to our kind, imprisoned endlessly. It was to have been my fate. Either way, it is clever—everyone thinks that these cells hold dire criminals. It wouldn’t be odd for the Fifths to continue feeding them, and nobody would suspect that the occupants had been replaced with the First Generation, assuming they didn’t look too closely at the color of the muscles.”

“We need to keep moving,” Sazed said. “Get to KanPaar.”

TenSoon shook his head. “We won’t get far without the Firsts to tell our story, Terrisman. Go and store more of your Feruchemy. We may need it.”

With that, TenSoon moved over, crouching over to their captive. “You have two options, FhorKood,” he said. “Either relinquish those bones, or I’ll digest your body and kill you, as I did OreSeur.”

Sazed frowned, watching. The captured kandra seemed terrified of TenSoon. The Fifth’s body liquefied, and he moved slug-like away from the granite bones. TenSoon smiled.

“What is that for?” Sazed asked.

“Something Zane taught me,” TenSoon said, his dog’s body beginning to melt, the hair falling out. “Nobody expects a kandra to be an impostor. In a few moments, FhorKood here will return to the Second Generation and tell them that the traitor TenSoon has been captured. I should be able to stall long enough for the Firsts to reg1enerate—they will take far longer than I do to make bodies.”

Sazed nodded. MeLaan returned a short time later with a large sack full of bones, and TenSoon—having re-created FhorKood’s body with incredible speed—moved out of the chamber on his mission.

Then, Sazed sat down, removing the lock and holding it to use as a metalmind, using an iron hammer in the other hand to store weight. It felt odd to just sit there, but apparently the Firsts would need a few hours to regenerate their bodies.

There really isn’t a rush, is there? Sazed thought. I have the First Generation here—they’re the ones I needed. I can continue to question them, learn what I want. TenSoon will have KanPaar distracted. It doesn’t matter that the Seconds will be in charge for a few more hours.

What harm could they possibly do?

I believe that the mists were searching for someone to become a new host for them. The power needed a consciousness to direct it. In this matter, I am still rather confused. Why would power used to create and destroy need a mind to oversee it? And yet, it seems to have only a vague will of its own, tied in to the mandate of its abilities. Without a consciousness to direct it, nothing could actually be created or destroyed. It’s as if the power of Preservation understands that its tendency to reinforce stability is not enough. If nothing changed, nothing would ever come to exist.

That makes me wonder who or what the minds of Preservation and Ruin were.

Regardless, the mists—the power of Preservation—chose someone to become their host long before all of this happened. That someone, however, was immediately seized by Ruin and used as a pawn. He must have known that by giving her a disguised Hemalurgic spike, he would keep the mists from investing themselves in her as they wished.

The three times she drew upon their power, then, were the three times when her earring had been removed from her body. When she had fought the Lord Ruler, his Allomancy had ripped it free. When fighting Marsh in Fadrex, she had used the earring as a weapon. And, at the end, Marsh ripped it out, freeing her and allowing the mists—which were now desperate for a host, since Preservation’s last wisp was gone—to finally pour themselves into her.

79

SOMETHING CHANGED.

Vin arose from her contemplation of the world. Something important was happening. She didn’t have enough experience to tell what it was immediately, but she did see Ruin’s nexus suddenly shoot away.

She followed. Speed wasn’t an issue. In fact, she didn’t even really feel like she was moving. She “followed” because that was how her mind interpreted the experience of instantly moving her consciousness to the place where Ruin had focused his.

She recognized the area. The Pits of Hathsin, or a place nearby. As a portion of her mind had noticed earlier, the Pits themselves had become a massive refugee camp, the people there quickly consuming the resources that the Terris people had carefully stored. A part of her smiled. The Terris gave of their goods freely, helping those who had fled Luthadel. The Lord Ruler had worked to breed the Terris so they were docile. However, had he expected that in making his perfect servants, he would also create a thoughtful, kindly people who would give of their last flocks to help those who were starving?

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