The Hero of Ages (Page 85)

Spook tilted his head back, looking up at the sky. Ash fell toward him, as if he were sailing through it into the air. Like a Mistborn.

His hood fell back. Men around him whispered in surprise.

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A clock rang in the distance. Goradel’s soldiers rushed the stage. Around him, Spook could feel a glow rising. The fires of rebellion, burning in the city. Just like the night he had overthrown the Lord Ruler. The torches of revolution. Then the people had put Elend on the throne.

This time, it would be Spook they elevated.

Weak no more, he thought. Never weak again!

The last of Quellion’s soldiers rushed away from the stage, moving into combat with Goradel’s men. The crowd shied away from the battle, but nobody ran. They had been prepared well for the night’s events. Many would be waiting, watching for the signs Spook and Durn had promised—signs revealed just a few hours before, to minimize the risk of Quellion’s spies learning Spook’s plan. A miracle in the canals, and proof that Quellion was an Allomancer.

If the Citizen—or even any of his guards on the stage—shot coins or used Allomancy to leap into the air, the people would see. They would know that they had been deceived. And that would be the end. The crowd surged away from the cursing soldiers, and their withdrawal left Spook standing alone. Quellion’s voice finally trailed off. Some of his soldiers were rushing up to get him off the stage.

Quellion’s eyes found Spook. Only then did they show fear.

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Spook leaped. He couldn’t Steelpush himself, but his legs were fueled by the power of flared pewter. He soared up, easily cresting the lip of the stage, landing in a crouch. He pulled free a dueling cane, then rushed the Citizen.

Behind him, people began to cry out. Spook heard his name, Survivor of the Flames. Survivor. He wouldn’t just kill Quellion, but destroy him. Undermining his rule, just as Breeze had suggested. At that moment, the Soother and Allrianne would be manipulating the crowd, keeping them from running away in a panic. Holding them there.

So they could watch the show Spook was about to give.

The guards at Quellion’s side saw Spook too late. He dropped the first one easily, crushing the man’s skull inside his helmet. Quellion screamed for more help.

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Spook swung at another man, but his target moved out of the way, supernaturally quick. Spook pulled to the side just in time to dodge a blow, the weapon grazing the side of his cheek. The man was an Allomancer—a pewter burner. The large brute who carried no sword, but instead an obsidian-edged cudgel.

Pewter isn’t spectacular enough, Spook thought. The people won’t know how to tell if a man is swinging too quickly or enduring too much. I have to make Quellion shoot coins.

The Thug backed away, obviously noting Spook’s own increased speed. He 1kept his weapon raised warily, but did not attack. He just had to stall, letting his companion pull Quellion away. The Thug would be no easy fight—he would be more skilled than Spook, and even stronger.

“Your family is free,” Spook lied quietly. “We saved them earlier. Help us capture Quellion—he no longer has a hold on you.”

The Thug paused, lowering his weapon.

“Kill him!” Kelsier snapped.

That hadn’t been Spook’s plan, but he responded to the prompting. He dodged inside the Thug’s reach. The man turned in shock, and as he did, Spook delivered a backhanded blow to the skull. Spook’s dueling cane shattered. The Thug stumbled to the ground, and Spook snatched up the man’s fallen weapon, the obsidian-lined cudgel.

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Quellion was at the edge of the stage. Spook jumped, sailing across the wooden platform. It was all right for him to use Allomancy; he hadn’t preached against it. Only Quellion the hypocrite needed to fear using his powers.

Spook cut down the remaining guard as he landed—the jagged shards of obsidian ripping through flesh. The soldier fell, and Quellion spun.

“I don’t fear you!” Quellion said, voice shaking. “I’m protected!”

“Kill him,” Kelsier ordered, appearing visibly on the stage a short distance away. Usually, the Survivor only spoke in his mind; he hadn’t actually appeared since that day in the burning building. It meant important things were happening.

Spook grabbed the Citizen by the front of his shirt, yanking him forward. Spook raised the length of wood, blood dripping from the obsidian shards onto the side of his hand.

“No!”

Spook froze at that voice, then glanced to the side. She was there, shoving her way through the crowd, approaching the open space before the stage.

“Beldre?” Spook asked. “How did you get out of the cavern?”

But, of course, she couldn’t hear him. Only Spook’s supernatural hearing had allowed him to pick her voice out of the sounds of fear and battle. He met her eyes across the distance, and saw her whispered words more than he heard them.

Please. You promised.

“Kill him!”

Quellion chose that moment to try and pull away. Spook turned, yanking back again—harder this time, nearly ripping Quellion’s shirt free as he threw the man down to the wooden platform. Quellion cried out in pain, and Spook raised his brutal weapon with both hands.

Something sparked in the firelight. Spook barely felt the impact, though it shook him. He stumbled, looking down, seeing blood on his side. Something had pierced the flesh of his left arm and shoulder. Not an arrow, though it had moved like one. His arm drooped, and though he couldn’t feel the pain, it seemed that his muscles weren’t working properly.

Something hit me. A . . . coin.

He turned. Beldre stood at the front of the crowd, crying, her hand raised toward him.

She was there that day I was captured, Spook thought numbly, at her brother’s side. He always keeps her near. To protect her, we thought.

Or the other way around?

Spook stood up straighter, Quellion whimpering i1n front of him. Spook’s arm dripped a trail of blood from where Beldre’s coin had hit, but he ignored it, staring at her.

“You were always the Allomancer,” he whispered. “Not your brother.”

And then, the crowd began to scream—likely prompted by Breeze. “The Citizen’s sister is an Allomancer!”

“Hypocrite!”

“Liar!”

“He killed my uncle, yet left his own sister alive!”

Beldre cried out as the people, carefully prepared and planted, saw the proof that Spook had promised them. It didn’t have the target he had intended, but the machine he had set in motion could not be halted now. The people gathered around Beldre, yelling in anger, shoving her among themselves.

Spook stepped toward her, raising his wounded arm. Then a shadow fell on him.

“She was always planning to betray you, Spook,” Kelsier said.

Spook turned, looking at the Survivor. He stood tall and proud, like the day when he’d faced the Lord Ruler.

“You kept waiting for an assassin,” Kelsier said. “You didn’t realize that Quellion had already sent one. His sister. Didn’t it strike you as strange that he’d let her get away from him and enter the enemy’s own base? She was sent there to kill you. You, Sazed, and Breeze. The problem is, she was raised a pampered rich girl. She’s not used to killing. She never was. You were never really in danger from her.”

The crowd surged, and Spook spun, worried about Beldre. However, he calmed a bit as he realized that the people were simply pulling her toward the stage. “Survivor!” people were chanting. “Survivor of the Flames!”

“King!”

They cast Beldre before him, pushing her up onto the platform. Her scarlet clothing was ripped, her figure battered, her auburn hair a mess. To the side, Quellion groaned. Spook appeared to have broken his arm without realizing it.

Spook moved to help Beldre. She was bleeding from several small cuts, but she was alive. And she was crying.

“She was his bodyguard,” Kelsier said, stepping over to Beldre. “That’s why she was always with him. Quellion isn’t an Allomancer. He never was.”

Spook knelt beside the girl, cringing at her bruised form.

“Now, you must kill her,” Kelsier said.

Spook looked up, blood seeping from the cut on the side of his face, where the Thug had grazed him. Blood dripped from his chin. “What?”

“You want power, Spook?” Kelsier said, stepping forward. “You want to be a better Allomancer? Well, power must come from somewhere. It is never free. This woman is a Coinshot. Kill her, and you can have her ability. I will give it to you.”

Spook looked down at the weeping woman. He felt surreal, as if he were not quite there. His breathing was labored, each breath coming as a gasp, his body shaking despite his pewter. People chanted his name. Quellion was mumbling something. Beldre continued to cry.

Spook reached up with his bloodied hand, ripping off his blindfold, spectacles tumbling free. He stumbled to his feet, looking out over the city.

And saw it burning.

The sounds of rioting echoed through the streets. Flames burned i1n a dozen different spots, lighting the mists, casting a hellish haze over the city. Not the fires of rebellion at all. The fires of destruction.

“This is wrong . . .” Spook whispered.

“You will take the city, Spook,” Kelsier said. “You will have what you always wanted! You’ll be like Elend, and like Vin. Better than either! You’ll have Elend’s titles and Vin’s power! You’ll be like a god!”

Spook turned away from the burning city as something caught his attention. Quellion was reaching out with his good arm, reaching toward . . .

Toward Kelsier.

“Please,” Quellion whispered. It seemed as if he could see the Survivor, though nobody else around them could. “My lord Kelsier, why have you forsaken me?”

“I gave you pewter, Spook,” Kelsier said angrily, not looking at Quellion. “Will you deny me now? You must pull free one of the steel spikes that support this stage. Then, you must take the girl, and press her to your chest. Kill her with the spike, and drive it into your own body. That is the only way!”

Kill her with the spike . . . Spook thought, feeling numb. This all began that day when I nearly died. I was fighting a Thug in the market; I used him as a shield. But . . . the other soldier struck anyway, stabbing through his friend and into me.

Spook stumbled away from Beldre, kneeling beside Quellion. The man cried out as Spook forced him down against the wooden planks.

“That’s right,” Kelsier said. “Kill him first.”

But Spook wasn’t listening. He ripped Quellion’s shirt, looking at the shoulder and chest. There was nothing odd about either. The Citizen’s upper arm, however, had a length of metal piercing it. It appeared to be bronze. Hand shaking, Spook pulled the metal free. Quellion screamed.

But so did Kelsier.

Spook turned, bloodied bronze spike in his hand. Kelsier was enraged, hands like claws, stepping forward.

“What are you?” Spook asked.

The thing screamed, but Spook ignored it, looking down at his own chest. He ripped open his shirt, exposing the mostly healed wound in his shoulder. A glimmer of metal still shone there, the tip of the sword. The sword that had passed through an Allomancer—killing the man—and then entered Spook’s own body. Kelsier had told him to leave the broken shard there. As a symbol of what Spook had gone through.

The point of the shard protruded from Spook’s skin. How had he forgotten about it? How had he ignored such a relatively large piece of metal inside of his body? Spook reached for it.

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