The Hero of Ages (Page 94)

Vin closed her eyes. Memories of her assault upon Cett’s tower returned to her. Memories of wanton killing, Zane at her side. Memories of fire, and death, and an Allomancer loosed.

She’d never killed like that again.

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She opened her eyes. Why wouldn’t Elend attack? Attacking made so much sense. He knew he could take the city easily. However, he also knew he had trouble controlling the koloss when they reached too great a frenzy. . . .

“Elend won’t attack,” she said quietly. “Because he’s a better person than I am.”

One might notice that Ruin did not send his Inquisitors to Fadrex until after Yomen had—apparently—confirmed that the atium was there in the city. Why not send them as soon as the final cache was located? Where were his minions in all of this?

One must realize that, in Ruin’s mind, all men were his minions, particularly those whom he could manipulate directly. He didn’t send an Inquisitor because they were busy doing other tasks. Instead, he sent someone who—in his mind—was exactly the same thing as an Inquisitor.

He tried to spike Yomen, failed, and by that time, Elend’s army had arrived. So, he used a different pawn to investigate the cache for hi1m and discover if the atium really was there or not. He didn’t commit too many resources to the city at first, fearing a deception on the Lord Ruler’s part. Like him, I still wonder if the caches were, in part, intended for just that purpose—to distract Ruin and keep him occupied.

64

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“. . . AND THAT’S WHY YOU ABSOLUTELY must get that message sent, Spook. The pieces of this thing are all spinning about, cast to the wind. You have a clue that nobody else does. Send it flying for me.”

Spook nodded, feeling fuzzy. Where was he? What was going on? And why, suddenly, did everything hurt so much?

“Good lad. You did well, Spook. I’m proud.”

He tried to nod again, but everything was fuzz and blackness. He coughed, prompting some gasps from a place far off. He groaned. Parts of him hurt quite sharply, though others just tingled. Still others . . . well, those he couldn’t feel at all, though he thought he should have been able to.

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I was dreaming, he realized as he slowly came to consciousness. Why have I been asleep? Was I on watch? Should I go on watch? The shop . . .

His thoughts trailed off as he opened his eyes. There was someone standing above him. A face. One . . . quite a bit uglier than the face he’d hoped to see.

“Breeze?” he tried to say, though it came out as a croak.

“Ha!” Breeze said with uncharacteristic tears in his eyes. “He is waking!”

Another face hovered over him, and Spook smiled. That’s the one he’d been waiting for. Beldre. “What’s going on?” Spook whispered.

Hands brought something to his lips—a water skin. They poured carefully, giving him a drink. He coughed, but got it down. “Why . . . why can’t I move?” Spook asked. The only thing he seemed able to twitch was his left hand.

“Your body is being held in casts and bandages, Spook,” Beldre said. “Sazed’s orders.”

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“The burns,” Breeze said. “Well, they aren’t that bad, but . . .”

“To hell with the burns,” Spook croaked. “I’m alive. I wasn’t expecting that.”

Breeze looked up at Beldre, smiling.

Send it flying. . . .

“Where is Sazed?” Spook asked.

“You should really try to rest,” Beldre said, rubbing his cheek softly. “You’ve been through a lot.”

“And slept through more, I expect,” Spook said. “Sazed?”

“Gone, my dear boy,” Breeze said. “He went off south with Vin’s kandra.”

Vin.

Feet clomped across the floor, and a second later, Captain Goradel’s face appeared beside the other two. The square-jawed soldier smiled broadly. “Survivor of the Flames indeed!”

You have a clue that nobody else does. . . .

“How is the city?” Spook asked.

“Mostly safe,” Beldre said. “The canals flooded, and my brother organized fire brigades. Most of the buildings that burned weren’t inhabited anyway.”

“You saved it, my lord,” Goradel said.

I’m proud. . . .

“The ash is falling even more thickly, isn’t it?” Spook asked.

The three above shared looks. Their troubled expressions were enough of a confirmation.

“We’re getting a lot of refugees into the city,” Beldre said. “From surrounding cities and villages, some as far as Luthadel. . . .”

“I need to send a message,” Spook said. “To Vin.”

“All right,” Breeze said soothingly. “We’ll do that as soon as you are better.”

“Listen to me, Breeze,” Spook said, staring up at the ceiling, unable to do much more than twitch. “Something was controlling me and the Citizen. I saw it—the thing that Vin released at the Well of Ascension. The thing that is bringing ash down to destroy us. It wanted this city, but we fought it off. Now, I need to warn Vin.”

That’s what he’d been sent to do in Urteau. Find information, then report it back to Vin and Elend. He was only just beginning to understand how important a duty that could be.

“Travel is difficult right now, my boy,” Breeze said. “It isn’t exactly perfect conditions for sending messages.”

“Rest some more,” Beldre said. “We’ll worry about it when you’re healed.”

Spook gritted his teeth in frustration.

You must get that message sent, Spook. . . .

“I’ll take it,” Goradel said quietly.

Spook looked to the side. Sometimes, it was easy to ignore the soldier, with his simple, straightforward manner and his pleasant demeanor. However, the determination in his voice made Spook smile.

“Lady Vin saved my life,” Goradel said. “The night of the Survivor’s rebellion, she could have left me to die at the hands of the mob. She could have killed me herself. But she took the time to tell me that she understood what I’d been through, and convinced me to switch sides. If she needs this information, Survivor, then I will get it to her, or I will die trying.”

Spook tried to nod, but his head was held tight by the bandages and wrappings. He flexed his hand. It seemed to work . . . or, at least, work well enough.

He met Goradel’s eyes. “Go to the armory and have a sheet of metal pounded thin,” Spook said. “Then, return here with something I can use to scratch the metal. These words must be written in steel, and I cannot speak them aloud.”

In those moments when the Lord Ruler both held the power at the Well and was feeling it drain away from him, he understood a great many things. He saw the power of Feruchemy, and rightly feared it. Many of the Terris people, he knew, would reject him as the Hero, for he didn’t fulfill their prophecies well. They’d see him as a usurper who killed the Hero they sent. Which, in truth, he was.

I think, over the years, Ruin would subtly twist him and make him do terrible things to his own people. But at the beginning, I suspect his decision against them was motivated more by logic than emotion. He was about to unveil a grand power in the Mistborn.

He could have, I suppose, kept Allomancy secret and used Feruchemists as his primary warriors and assassins. However, I think he was wise to choose as he did. Feruchemists, by the nature of their powers, have a tendency toward scholarship. With their incredib1le memories, they would have been very difficult to control over the centuries. Indeed, they were difficult to control, even when he suppressed them. Allomancy not only provided a spectacular new ability without that drawback, it offered a mystical power he could use to bribe kings to his side.

65

ELEND STOOD UPON A SMALL ROCK outcropping to look over his troops. Below, the koloss stalked forward, stomping a pathway in the ash for his humans to use after the initial koloss assault.

Elend waited, Ham standing just a few steps below.

I wear white, Elend thought. The color of purity. I try to represent what is good and right. For my men.

“The koloss should have no trouble with those fortifications,” Ham said quietly. “They can leap to the top of city walls; they’ll be able to climb those broken stone ridges.”

Elend nodded. There probably wouldn’t be any need for the human soldiers to attack. With his koloss alone, Elend had the numerical advantage, and it was unlikely Yomen’s soldiers had ever fought the creatures before.

The koloss sensed a fight. He could feel them getting excited. They strained against him, wishing to attack.

“Ham,” he said, glancing down. “Is this right?”

Ham shrugged. “This move does make sense, El,” he said, rubbing his chin. “Attacking is our only real chance of saving Vin. And, we can’t hold the siege—not any longer.” Ham paused, then shook his head, his tone of voice taking on that uncertain quality it always did when he considered one of his logic problems. “Yet, loosing a group of koloss on a city does seem immoral. I wonder if you’ll be able to control them, once they begin to rampage. Is saving Vin worth the possibility of killing even one innocent child? I don’t know. Then again, maybe we’ll save more children by bringing them into our empire. . . .”

I shouldn’t have bothered to ask Ham, Elend thought. He never has been able to give a straight answer. He looked out over the field, blue koloss against a plain of black. With tin, he could see men cowering on the tops of the Fadrex City ridges.

“No,” Ham said.

Elend glanced down at the Thug.

“No,” Ham repeated. “We shouldn’t attack.”

“Ham?” Elend said, feeling a surreal amusement. “Did you actually come to a conclusion?”

Ham nodded. “Yes.” He didn’t offer explanation or rationalization.

Elend looked up. What would Vin do? His first instinct was to think that she’d attack. But then, he remembered when he had discovered her years before, after she’d assaulted Cett’s tower. She’d been huddled up in a corner, crying.

No, he thought. No, she wouldn’t do this thing. Not to protect me. She’s learned better.

“Ham,” he said, surprising himself. “Tell the men to pull back and disassemble camp. We’re returning to Luthadel.”

Ham looked back, surprised—as if he hadn’t expected Elend to come to the same conclusion he had. “And Vin?”

“I’m not going to attack this city, Ham,” Elend said. “I won’t conquer these people, even if it is for their own good. We’ll find another way to get Vin free.”

Ham smiled. “Cett’s going to be furious.”

Elend shrugged. “He’s a paraplegic. What’s he going to do? Bite us? Come on, let’s get down off this rock and go deal with Luthadel.”

“They’re pulling back, my lord,” the soldier said.

Vin sighed in relief. Ruin stood, expression unreadable, hands folded behind his back. Marsh stood with one hand claw-like on Yomen’s shoulder, both watching out the window.

Ruin brought in an Inquisitor, she thought. He must have grown tired of my efforts to get the truth out of Yomen, and instead brought in someone he knew the obligator would obey.

“This is very odd,” Ruin finally said.

Vin took a breath, then gambled. “Don’t you see?” she asked quietly.

Ruin turned toward her.

She smiled. “You really don’t understand, do you?”

This time, Marsh turned as well.

“You think I didn’t realize?” Vin asked. “You think I didn’t know you were after the atium all along? That you were following us from cavern to cavern, Pushing on my emotions, forcing me to search it out for you? You were so obvious. Your koloss always drew close to a city only after we discovered that it was the next in line. You moved in to threaten us, make us move more quickly, but you never got your koloss there too fast. The thing is, we knew all along.”

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