The Hero of Ages (Page 86)

“No!” Kelsier said. “Spook, do you want to go back to being normal? Do you want to be useless again? You’ll lose your pewter, and go back to being weak, like you were when you let your uncle die!”

Spook wavered.

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No, Spook thought. Something is wrong. I was supposed to expose Quellion, get him to use his Allomancy, but I just attacked instead. I wanted to kill. I forgot about plans and preparation. I brought destruction to this city.

This is not right!

He pulled the glass dagger from his boot. Kelsier screamed terribly in his ears, but Spook reached up anyway, slicing the flesh of his chest. He reached in with pewter-enhanced fin1gers and grabbed the steel shard that was embedded inside.

Then, he ripped the bit of metal free, casting it across the stage, crying out at the shock of pain. Kelsier vanished immediately. And so did Spook’s ability to burn pewter.

It hit him all at once—the fatigue of pushing himself so hard during his time in Urteau. The wounds he’d been ignoring. The sudden explosion of light, sound, smell, and sensation that pewter had let him resist. It overcame him like a physical force, crushing him down. He collapsed to the platform.

He groaned, unable to think anymore. He could simply let the blackness take him. . . .

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Her city is burning.

Blackness . . .

Thousands will die in the flames.

The mists tickled his cheeks. In the cacophony, Spook had let his tin dim, relieving him of sensation, leaving him feeling blissfully numb. It was better that way.

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You want to be like Kelsier? Really like Kelsier? Then fight when you are beaten!

“Lord Spook!” The voice was faint.

Survive!

With a scream of pain, Spook flared tin. As the metal always did, it brought a wave of sensations—thousands of them, shocking him at once. Pain. Feeling. Hearing. Sounds, smells, lights.

And lucidity.

Spook forced himself to his knees, coughing. Blood still streamed down his arm. He looked up. Sazed was running toward the platform.

“Lord Spook!” Sazed said, puffing as he arrived. “Lord Breeze is trying to damp down riots, but we pushed this city too far, I think! The people will destroy it in their rage.”

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“The flames,” Spook croaked. “We have to put out the fires. The city is too dry; it has too much wood. It will burn, with everyone in it.”

Sazed looked grave. “There is no way. We must get out! This riot will destroy us.”

Spook glanced to the side. Beldre was kneeling beside her brother. She’d bound his wound, and then made a makeshift sling for his arm. Quellion glanced at Spook, looking dazed. As if he’d just awoken from a dream.

Spook stumbled to his feet. “We won’t abandon the city, Sazed.”

“But—”

“No!” Spook said. “I ran from Luthadel and left Clubs to die. I will not run again! We can stop the flames. We just need water.”

Sazed paused.

“Water,” Beldre said, standing.

“The canals will fill soon,” Spook said. “We can organize fire brigades—use the flood to stop the flames.”

Beldre glanced down. “There will be no flood, Spook. The guards you left . . . I attacked them with coins.”

Spook felt a chill. “Dead?”

She shook her head, hair disheveled, her face scratched. “I don’t know,” she said quietly. “I didn’t look.”

“The waters have not come yet,” Sazed said. “They . . . should have been released by now.”

“Then we will bring them!” Spook snapped. He spun at Quellion, then stumbled, feeling dizzy. “You!” he said, pointing at t1he Citizen. “You would be king of this city? Well, lead this people, then. Get control of them and prepare them to put out the fires.”

“I can’t,” Quellion said. “They’ll kill me for what I’ve done.”

Spook wobbled, light-headed. He steadied himself against a beam, holding his head. Beldre took a step toward him.

Spook looked up, meeting Quellion’s eyes. The fires of the city were so bright that his flared tin made it difficult to see. Yet, he dared not release the metal—only the power of noise, heat, and pain was keeping him conscious.

“You will go to them,” Spook said. “I don’t give a damn if they rip you apart, Quellion. You’re going to try to save this city. If you don’t, I’ll kill you myself. Do you understand?”

The Citizen froze, then nodded.

“Sazed,” Spook said, “take him to Breeze and Allrianne. I’m going to the cache. I’ll bring the floodwaters to the canals, one way or another. Have Breeze and the others form fire brigades to douse the flames as soon as there is water.”

Sazed nodded. “It is a good plan. But Goradel will lead the Citizen. I am coming with you.”

Spook nodded wearily. Then, as Sazed moved off to get the guard captain—who had apparently established a defensive perimeter around the square—Spook climbed from the stage and forced himself to begin moving toward the cache.

Soon, he noticed someone catch up to him. Then, after a few moments, that person passed him and ran on. Part of his mind knew it was a good thing that Sazed had decided to move on—the Terrisman had created the mechanism that would flood the city. He would throw the lever. Spook wasn’t needed.

Keep moving.

He did, walking on, as if each step were in atonement for what he had done to the city. After a short time, he realized that someone was at his side, tying a bandage on his arm.

He blinked. “Beldre?”

“I betrayed you,” she said, looking down. “But, I didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t let you kill him. I . . .”

“You did the right thing,” Spook said. “Something . . . something was interfering, Beldre. It had your brother. It almost had me. I don’t know. We have to keep walking, though. The lair is close. Just up the ramp.”

She supported him as they walked. Spook smelled the smoke before he got there. He saw the light, and felt the heat. He and Beldre climbed up to the top of the ramp, practically crawling, for she was nearly as battered as he was. However, Spook knew what he would find.

The Ministry building, like so much of the town, was burning. Sazed stood before it, hand raised before his eyes. To Spook’s overenhanced senses, the brilliance of the flames was so great that he had to look away. The heat made him feel as if he were standing just inches from the sun.

Sazed tried to get closer to the building, but was forced back. He turned toward Spook, shielding his face. “It’s too hot!” he said. “We need to find some water, or perhaps some sand. Put out the fire before we can get below.”

“Too late . . .” Spook whispered. “It will take too long.”

Beldre turned, looking over her city. To Spook’s eyes, smoke seemed to twist and rise everywhere in the bright sky, reaching up, as if to meet the falling ash.

He set his jaw, then stumbled forward, toward the fire.

“Spook!” she cried out. But, she needn’t have worried. The flames were too hot. The pain was so strong that he had to pull back before he’d crossed even half the distance. He stumbled away, joining Beldre and Sazed, gasping quietly, blinking tears. His heightened senses made it even more difficult for him to approach the flames.

“There is nothing we can do here,” Sazed said. “We must gather crews and come back.”

“I’ve failed,” Spook whispered.

“No more than any of us,” Sazed said. “This is my fault. The emperor put me in command.”

“We were supposed to bring security to the city,” Spook said. “Not destruction. I should be able to stop those fires. But, it hurts too much.”

Sazed shook his head. “Ah, Lord Spook. You are no god, to command fire at your whim. You are a man, like the rest of us. We’re all just . . . men.”

Spook allowed them to pull him away. Sazed was right, of course. He was just a man. Just Spook. Kelsier had chosen his crew with care. He’d left a note for them, when he died. It had listed the others—Vin, Breeze, Dockson, Clubs, and Ham. He’d spoken of them, of why he’d picked them.

But not Spook. The only one who didn’t fit in.

I named you, Spook. You were my friend.

Isn’t that enough?

Spook froze, forcing the others to stop. Sazed and Beldre looked at him. Spook stared into the night. A night that was far too bright. The fires burned. The smoke was pungent.

“No,” Spook whispered, feeling fully lucid for the first time since the evening’s violence had started. He pulled himself free of Sazed’s grip and ran back toward the burning building.

“Spook!” Two voices yelled in the night.

Spook approached the flames. His breathing grew forced, and his skin grew hot. The fire was bright—consuming. He dashed right for it. Then, at the moment when the pain became too great, he extinguished his tin.

And became numb.

It happened just as it had before, when he had been trapped in the building without any metals. Flaring tin for so long had expanded his senses, but now that he wasn’t burning it at all, those same senses became dull. His entire body grew deadened, lacking feeling or sensation.

He burst through the doorway into the building, flames raining around him.

His body burned. But, he couldn’t feel the flames, and the pain could not drive him back. The fire was bright enough that even his weakened eyes could still see. He dashed forward, ignoring fire, heat, and smoke.

Survivor of the Flames.

He knew the fires were killing him. Yet, he forced himself onward, continuing to move long after the pain should have rendered him unconscious. He reached the room at the back, skidding and sliding down the broken ladder.

The cavern was dark. He stumbled through it, pushing his way past shelves and furniture, making his way along the wall, moving with a desperation that warned him that his time was short. His body wasn’t working right anymore—he had pushed it too far, and he no longer had pewter.

He was glad for the d1arkness. As he finally stumbled against Sazed’s machine, he knew that he would have been horrified to see what the flames had done to his arms.

Groaning quietly, he felt for and found the lever—or, through numb hands, what he hoped was the lever. His fingers no longer worked. So, he simply threw his weight against it, moving the gears as required.

Then he slid down to the ground, feeling only cold and dark.

PART FIVE

TRUST

I do not know what went on in the minds of the koloss—what memories they retained, what human emotions they truly still knew. I do know that our discovery of the one creature, who named himself Human, was tremendously fortunate. Without his struggle to become human again, we might never have understood the link between the koloss, Hemalurgy, and the Inquisitors.

Of course, there was another part for him to play. Granted, not large, but still important, all things considered.

59

URTEAU HAD SEEN BETTER DAYS.

Vin certainly did her work here well, TenSoon thought as he padded through the city, shocked at the destruction. About two years ago—before he’d been sent to spy on Vin—he had been Straff Venture’s kandra, and had often visited Urteau. While it had never matched Luthadel’s noble majesty or sprawling poverty, it had been a fine city, worthy of being the seat of a Great House.

Now, a good third of the city was a burned ruin. Those buildings that hadn’t burned down were either abandoned or overcrowded—an odd mixture, in TenSoon’s opinion. Apparently, noble homes were avoided, while skaa buildings were overpacked.

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