The Hero of Ages (Page 112)

Sazed’s eyes fluttered open, and he shook his head, groaning. How long had he been out? Probably not long, he realized, as his vision cleared. He’d passed out from lack of air. That kind of thing usually only left one unconscious for a short time.

Assuming one woke up at all.

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Which I did, he thought, coughing and rubbing his throat, sitting up. The kandra cavern glowed with the quiet light of its blue phosphorescent lanterns. By that light, he could see that he was surrounded by something strange.

Mistwraiths. The cousins of the kandra, the scavengers that hunted at night and fed on corpses. They moved about Sazed, masses of muscle, flesh, and bone—but with those bones combined in strange, unnatural ways. Feet hanging off at angles, heads connected to arms. Ribs used like legs.

Except, these bones were not actually bone at all, but stone, metal, or wood. Sazed stood up solemnly as he looked over the remnants of the kandra people. Littered across the floor, among the jumbled mass of mistwraiths—who oozed about like giant, translucent slugs—were discarded spikes. Kandra Blessings. The things that had brought them sentience.

They had done it. They had held to their oath, and had 1removed their spikes rather than be taken over by Ruin. Sazed looked over them with pity, amazement, and respect.

The atium, he thought. They did this to stop Ruin from getting the atium. I have to protect it!

He stumbled away from the main chamber, regaining his strength as he made his way to the Trustwarren. He paused, however, as he approached, noticing sounds. He peeked around a corner, and looked down the corridor through the open Trustwarren doorway. Inside, he found a group of kandra—perhaps twenty in number—working to push back the plate on the floor that covered the atium.

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Of course they didn’t all become mistwraiths, he thought. Some would have been outside of the hearing of the Firsts, or wouldn’t have had the courage to pull their spikes free. In fact, as he thought about it, he was even more impressed that so many had obeyed the command from the First Generation.

Sazed easily recognized KanPaar directing the work inside. The kandra would take the atium and would deliver it to Ruin. Sazed had to stop them. But it was twenty against one—with Sazed having only one small metalmind. It didn’t seem like good odds for him.

However, then Sazed noticed something sitting outside the doors of the Trust-warren. A simple cloth sack, of little note save for the fact that Sazed recognized it. He’d carried his metalminds in it for years. They must have tossed it there after taking Sazed captive. It lay about twenty feet down the corridor from him, right beside the doorway into the Trustwarren.

In the other room, KanPaar looked up, staring directly toward Sazed’s position. Ruin had noticed him.

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Sazed didn’t pause to think further. He reached into his pocket, grabbed the steel lock, and tapped it. He rushed through the corridor on inhumanly quick feet, snatching his sack from the ground as kandra began to cry out.

Sazed snapped open the sack, and found a collection of bracelets, rings, and bracers inside. He dumped them out, spilling the precious metalminds to the floor and grabbed two particular ones. Then, still moving at blurring speed, he dashed to the side.

His steelmind ran out. One of the rings he’d grabbed was pewter. He tapped it for strength, growing in size and bulk. Then, he slammed the doors to the Trustwarren closed, causing those now trapped inside to cry out in shock. Finally, he tapped the other ring—this one iron. He grew several times heavier, making himself into a doorstop, holding the massive metal doors to the Trustwarren closed.

It was a delaying tactic. He stood, holding the doors shut, his metalminds depleting at an alarming rate. They were the same rings he’d worn at the siege of Luthadel, the ones that had been embedded within him. He’d replenished them following the siege, before he’d given up Feruchemy. They would not last long. What would he do when the kandra burst through the door? He searched desperately for a way to bar or block the portal, but could see nothing. And, if he let go for even a moment, the kandra inside would burst free.

“Please,” he whispered, hoping that—like before—the thing that listened would give him a miracle. “I’m going to need help. . . .”

“I swear it was him, my lord,” said the soldier, a man named Rittle. “I’ve believed in the Church of the Survivor since the day of Kelsier’s own death, my lord. He preached to me, converted me to the rebellion. I was there when he visited the caves and had Lord Demoux fight for his honor. I’d know Kelsier like I’d know my father. It was the Survivor.”

Elend turned to the other soldier, who nodded in agreement. “I didn’t know him, my lord,” said this man. “However, he matched the descriptions. I think it was really him, I do.”

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Elend turned to Demoux, who nodded. “They described Lord Kelsier very accurately, my lord. He is watching over us.”

Elend. . . .

A messenger arrived and whispered something to Demoux. The night was dark, and in the torchlight, Elend turned to study the two soldiers who had seen Kelsier. They didn’t look like highly reliable witnesses—Elend hadn’t exactly left his best soldiers behind when he’d gone campaigning. Still, others had apparently seen the Survivor too. Elend would want to speak with them.

He shook his head. And, where in the world was Vin?

Elend. . . .

“My lord,” Demoux said, touching his arm, looking concerned. Elend dismissed the two soldier witnesses. Accurate or not, he owed them a great debt—they had saved many lives with their preparation.

“Scout’s report, my lord,” Demoux said, face illuminated by a pole-top torch flickering in the night breeze. “Those koloss you saw, they are heading this way. Moving quickly. Scouts saw them approaching in the distance from a hilltop. They . . . could be here before the night is over.”

Elend cursed quietly.

Elend. . . .

He frowned. Why did he keep hearing his name on the wind? He turned, looking into the darkness. Something was pulling him, guiding him, whispering to him. He tried to ignore it, turning back to Demoux. And yet, it was there, in his heart.

Come. . . .

It seemed like Vin’s voice.

“Gather an honor guard,” Elend said, grabbing the torch by its shaft, then throwing on an ashcloak and buttoning it down to his knees. Then, he turned toward the darkness.

“My lord?” Demoux said.

“Just do it!” Elend said, striding off into the darkness.

Demoux called for some soldiers, following in a hurry.

What am I doing? Elend thought, pushing his way through the waist-deep ash, using the cloak to keep his uniform somewhat clean. Chasing at dreams? Maybe I’m going mad.

He could see something in his mind. A hillside with a hole in it. A memory, perhaps? Had he come this way before? Demoux and his soldiers followed quietly, looking apprehensive.

Elend pushed onward. He was almost—

He stopped. There it was, the hillside. It would have been indistinguishable from the others around it, except there were tracks leading up to it. Elend frowned, pushing forward through the deep ash, moving to the point where the tracks ended. There, he found a hole in the ground, leading down.

A cave, he thought. Perhaps . . . a place for my people to hide?

It wouldn’t be big enough for that, likely. Still, the caves Kelsier had used for his rebellion had been large enough to hold some ten thousand men. Curious, Elend poked down into the cave, walking down its steep incline, throwing off the cloak. Demoux and his men followed with curiosity.

The tunnel went down for a bit, and Elend was surprised to find that there was light coming from ahead. Immediately, he flared pewter, growing tense. He tossed aside his torch, then burned tin, enhancing his vision. He could see several poles that glowed blue at the top. They appeared to be made of rock.

What in the world . . .?

He moved forward quickly, motioning for Demoux and his men to follow. The tunnel led to a vast cavern. Elend stopped. It was as large as one of the storage caverns. Larger, perhaps. Down below, something moved.

Mistwraiths? he realized with surprise. Is this where they hide? In holes in the ground?

He dropped a coin, shooting himself through the poorly lit cavern to land on the stone floor a distance away from Demoux and the others. The mistwraiths weren’t as large as others he had seen. And . . . why were they using rocks and wood in place of bones?

He heard a sound. Only tin-enhanced ears let him catch it, but it sounded distinctly unlike a sound a mistwraith would make. Stone against metal. He waved sharply to Demoux, then moved carefully down a side corridor.

At its end, he stopped in surprise. A familiar figure stood against a pair of large metal doors, grunting, apparently trying to hold them closed.

“Sazed?” Elend asked, standing up straighter.

Sazed looked up, saw Elend, and was apparently so surprised that he lost control of the doors. They burst open, throwing the Terrisman aside, revealing a group of angry, translucent-skinned kandra.

“Your Majesty!” Sazed said. “Do not let them escape!”

Demoux and his soldiers clanked up behind Elend. That’s either Sazed, or a kandra who ate his bones, Elend thought. He made a snap decision. He’d trusted the voice in his ear. He’d trust that this was Sazed.

The group of kandra tried to get past Demoux’s soldiers. However, the kandra weren’t particularly good warriors, and their weapons were made of metal. It took Elend and Demoux all of about two minutes to subdue the group, breaking their bones to keep them from healing and escaping.

Afterward, Elend walked over to Sazed, who had stood up and dusted himself off. “How did you find me, Your Majesty?”

“I honestly don’t know,” Elend said. “Sazed, what is this place?”

“The Homeland of the kandra people, Your Majesty,” Sazed said. “And the hiding place of the Lord Ruler’s atium hoard.”

Elend raised an eyebrow, following Sazed’s pointed finger. There was a room beyond the doors, and a pit in the floor.

Great, Elend thought. Now we find it.

“You don’t look too excited, Your Majesty,” Sazed noted. “Kings, armies, Mistborn—even Kelsier himself—have been searching for this cache for years.”

“It’s worthless,” Elend said. “My people are starving, and they can’t eat metal. This cavern, however . . . it might prove useful. What do you think, Demoux?”

“If there are any other chambers like that first one, my lord, it could hold a substantial percentage of our people.”

“There are four large caverns,” Sazed said. “And four entrances that I know of.”

Elend turned to Demoux. He was already1 giving orders to his soldiers. We have to get the people down here before the sun rises, Elend thought, remembering the heat. At the very least, before those koloss arrive.

After that . . . well, they would have to see. For now, Elend had only one goal.

Survival.

Snapping has always been the dark side of Allomancy. A person’s genetic endowment may make them a potential Allomancer, but in order for the power to manifest, the body must be put through extraordinary trauma. Though Elend spoke of how terrible his beating was, during our day, unlocking Allomancy in a person was easier than it had once been, for we had the infusion of Preservation’s power into the human bloodlines via the nuggets granted to nobility by the Lord Ruler.

When Preservation set up the mists, he was afraid of Ruin escaping his prison. In those early days, before the Ascension, the mists began to Snap people as they did during our time—but this action of the mists was one of the only ways to awaken Allomancy in a person, for the genetic attributes were buried too deeply to be brought out by a simple beating. The mists of that day created Mistings only, of course—there were no Mistborn until the Lord Ruler made use of the nuggets.

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