• MISTBORN: THE FINAL EMPIRE o ACKNOWLEDGMENTS o PROLOGUE o PART ONE: The SURVIVOR OF HATHSIN § CHAPTER 1 § CHAPTER 2 § CHAPTER 3 § CHAPTER 4 § CHAPTER 5 § CHAPTER 6 § CHAPTER 7 § CHAPTER 8 o PART TWO: REBELS BENEATH A SKY OF ASH § CHAPTER 9 § CHAPTER 10 § CHAPTER 11 § CHAPTER 12 § CHAPTER 13 § CHAPTER 14 § CHAPTER 15 o PART THREE: CHILDREN OF A BLEEDING SUN § CHAPTER 16 § CHAPTER 17 § CHAPTER 18 § CHAPTER 19 § CHAPTER 20 § CHAPTER 21 § CHAPTER 22 § CHAPTER 23 .
§ CHAPTER 24 § CHAPTER 25 o PART FOUR: DANCERS IN A SEA OF MIST § CHAPTER 26 § CHAPTER 27 § CHAPTER 28 § CHAPTER 29 § CHAPTER 30 § CHAPTER 31 § CHAPTER 32 § CHAPTER 33 § CHAPTER 34 o PART FIVE: BELIVERS IN A FORGOTTEN WORLD § CHAPTER 35 § CHAPTER 36 § CHAPTER 37 § CHAPTER 38 o EPILOGUE o ARS ARCANUM o THE WELL OF ASCENSION: BOOK TWO OF MISTBORN Brandon Sanderson A TOM DOHERTY ASSOCIATES BOOK NEW YORK This is a work of ?ction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used ?ctitiously. .
MISTBORN: THE FINAL EMPIRE Copyright © 2006 by Brandon Sanderson All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form. Edited by Moshe Feder Maps by Isaac Stewart A Tor Book Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC 175 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10010 www.tor.com Tor is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC. ® 0987654321 FOR BETH SANDERSON, Who’s been reading fantasy For longer than I’ve been alive, And fully deserves To have a grandson as loony as she is. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Once again, I ?nd myself in need of thanking my wonderful agent, Joshua Bilmes, and equally amazing editor, Moshe Feder. They did a wonderful job with this book, and I’m proud to have the opportunity to work with them. As always, my tireless writing groups have consistently provided feedback and encouragement: Alan Layton, Janette Layton, Kaylynne ZoBell, Nate Hat?eld, Bryce Cundick, Kimball Larsen, and Emily Scorup. Alpha readers, who saw a version of this book in a much rougher form and helped me shape it into what you see now, included Krista Olson, Benjamin R. Olson, Micah Demoux, Eric Ehlers, Izzy Whiting, Stacy Whitman, Kristina Kugler, Megan Kauffman, Sarah Bylund, C. Lee Player, Ethan Skarstedt, Jillena O’Brien, Ryan Jurado, and the incalculable Peter Ahlstrom. There are also a few people in particular whom I would like to thank. Isaac Stewart, who did the map work for this novel, was an invaluable resource both in the idea department and with visual cues. Heather Kirby had excellent advice to help me with the mysterious inner workings of a young woman’s mind. The proofreading done by Chersti Stapely and Kayleena Richins was much appreciated. In addition, I’d like to acknowledge some of the very important people who work behind the scenes on the books that you buy. Irene Gallo, the art director at Tor, does a brilliant job—it’s because of her that both this book and Elantris have the wonderful covers that they do. Also, David Moench, in the Tor publicity department, went far beyond the call of duty in helping make Elantris a success. Both have my thanks. Finally, as always, I am thankful to my family for their continued support and enthusiasm. In particular, I’d like to thank my brother, Jordan, for his enthusiasm, support, and loyalty. Check out his handiwork at my Web site: www.brandonsanderson.com. MISTBORN Sometimes, I worry that I’m not the hero everyone thinks I am. The philosophers assure me that this is the time, that the signs have been met. But I still wonder if they have the wrong man. So many people depend on me. They say I will hold the future of the entire world on my arms. What would they think if they knew that their champion—the Hero of Ages, their savior—doubted himself? Perhaps they wouldn’t be shocked at all. In a way, this is what worries me most. Maybe, in their hearts, they wonder—just as I do. When they see me, do they see a liar? .
PROLOGUE ASH FELL FROM THE SKY. Lord Tresting frowned, glancing up at the ruddy midday sky as his servants scuttled forward, opening a parasol over Tresting and his distinguished guest. Ashfalls weren’t that uncommon in the Final Empire, but Tresting had hoped to avoid getting soot stains on his ?ne new suit coat and red vest, which had just arrived via canal boat from Luthadel itself. Fortunately, there wasn’t much wind; the parasol would likely be effective. Tresting stood with his guest on a small hilltop patio that overlooked the ?elds. Hundreds of people in brown smocks worked in the falling ash, caring for the crops. There was a sluggishness to their efforts—but, of course, that was the way of the skaa. The peasants were an indolent, unproductive lot. They didn’t complain, of course; they knew better than that. Instead, they simply worked with bowed heads, moving about their work with quiet apathy. The passing whip of a taskmaster would force them into dedicated motion for a few moments, but as soon as the taskmaster passed, they would return to their languor. Tresting turned to the man standing beside him on the hill. “One would think,” Tresting noted, “that a thousand years of working in ?elds would have bred them to be a little more effective at it.” The obligator turned, raising an eyebrow—the motion done as if to highlight his most distinctive feature, the intricate tattoos that laced the skin around his eyes. The tattoos were enormous, reaching all the way across his brow and up the sides of his nose. This was a full prelan—a very important obligator indeed. Tresting had his own, personal obligators back at the manor, but they were only minor functionaries, with barely a few marks around their eyes. This man had arrived from Luthadel with the same canal boat that had brought Tresting’s new suit. “You should see city skaa, Tresting,” the obligator said, turning back to watch the skaa workers. “These are actually quite diligent compared to those inside Luthadel. You have more. direct control over your skaa here. How many would you say you lose a month?” “Oh, a half dozen or so,” Tresting said. “Some to beatings, some to exhaustion.” “Runaways?” “Never!” Tresting said. “When I ?rst inherited this land from my father, I had a few runaways—but I executed their families. The rest quickly lost heart. I’ve never understood men who have trouble with their skaa—I ?nd the creatures easy to control, if you show a properly ?rm hand.” The obligator nodded, standing quietly in his gray robes. He seemed pleased—which was a good thing. The skaa weren’t actually Tresting’s property. Like all skaa, they belonged to the Lord Ruler; Tresting only leased the workers from his God, much in the same way he paid for the services of His obligators. The obligator looked down, checking his pocket watch, then glanced up at the sun. Despite the ashfall, the sun was bright this day, shining a brilliant crimson red behind the smoky blackness of the upper sky. Tresting removed a handkerchief and wiped his brow, thankful for the parasol’s shade against the midday heat. “Very well, Tresting,” the obligator said. “I will carry your proposal to Lord Venture, as requested. He will have a favorable report from me on your operations here.” Tresting held in a sigh of relief. An obligator was required to witness any contract or business deal between noblemen. True, even a lowly obligator like the ones Tresting employed could serve as such a witness—but it meant so much more to impress Straff Venture’s own obligator. The obligator turned toward him. “I will leave back down the canal this afternoon.” “So soon?” Tresting asked. “Wouldn’t you care to stay for supper?” “No,” the obligator replied. “Though there is another matter I wish to discuss with you. I came not only at the behest of Lord Venture, but to. look in on some matters for the Canton of Inquisition. Rumors say that you like to dally with your skaa women.” Tresting felt a chill. The obligator smiled; he likely meant it to be disarming, but Tresting only found it eerie. “Don’t worry yourself, Tresting,” the obligator said. “If there had been any real worries about your actions, a Steel Inquisitor would have been sent here in my place.” Tresting nodded slowly. Inquisitor. He’d never seen one of the inhuman creatures, but he had heard.stories. “I have been satis?ed regarding your actions with the skaa women,” the obligator said, looking back over the ?elds.
He smiled again. A few more years of work, the obligator had said. But could Tresting perhaps speed that up, if he worked a little harder? His skaa population had been growing lately. Perhaps if he pushed them a bit more, he could bring in an extra harvest this summer and ful?ll his contract with Lord Venture in extra measure. Tresting nodded as he watched the crowd of lazy skaa, some working with their hoes, others on hands and knees, pushing the ash away from the ?edgling crops. They didn’t complain. They didn’t hope. They barely dared think. That was the way it should be, for they were skaa. They were— Tresting froze as one of the skaa looked up. The man met Tresting’s eyes, a spark—no, a ?re—of de?ance showing in his expression. Tresting had never seen anything like it, not in the face of a skaa. Tresting stepped backward re? exively, a chill running through him as the strange, straight-backed skaa held his eyes. And smiled. Tresting looked away. “Kurdon!” he snapped. The burly taskmaster rushed up the incline. “Yes, my lord?” Tresting turned, pointing at. He frowned. Where had that skaa been standing? Working with their heads bowed, bodies stained by soot and sweat, they were so hard to tell apart. Tresting paused, searching. He thought he knew the place.an empty spot, where nobody now stood. But, no. That couldn’t be it. The man couldn’t have disappeared from the group so quickly. Where would he have gone? He must be in there, somewhere, working with his head now properly bowed. Still, his moment of apparent de? ance was inexcusable. “My lord?” Kurdon asked again. The obligator stood at the side, watching curiously. It would not be wise to let the man know that one of the skaa had acted so brazenly. “Work the skaa in that southern section a little harder,” Tresting ordered, pointing. “I see them being sluggish, even for skaa. Beat a few of them.” Kurdon shrugged, but nodded. It wasn’t much of a reason for a beating—but, then, he didn’t need much of a reason to give the workers a beating. They were, after all, only skaa. Kelsier had heard stories. He had heard whispers of times when once, long ago, the sun had not been red. Times when the sky hadn’t been clogged by smoke and ash, when plants hadn’t struggled to grow, and when skaa hadn’t been slaves. Times before the Lord Ruler. Those days, however, were nearly forgotten. Even the legends were growing vague. Kelsier watched the sun, his eyes following the giant red disk as it crept toward the western horizon. He stood quietly for a long moment, alone in the empty ?elds. The day’s work was done; the skaa had been herded back to their hovels. Soon the mists would come. Eventually, Kelsier sighed, then turned to pick his way across the furrows and pathways, weaving between large heaps of ash. He avoided stepping on the plants—though he wasn’t sure why he bothered. The crops hardly seemed worth the effort. Wan, with wilted brown leaves, the plants seemed as depressed as the people who tended them. The skaa hovels loomed in the waning light. Already, Kelsier could see the mists beginning to form, clouding the air, and giving the moundlike buildings a surreal, intangible look. The hovels stood unguarded; there was no need for watchers, for no skaa would venture outside once night arrived. Their fear of the mists was far too strong. I’ll have to cure them of that someday, Kelsier thought as he approached one of the larger buildings. But, all things in their own time. He pulled open the door and slipped inside. Conversation stopped immediately. Kelsier closed the door, then turned with a smile to confront the room of about thirty skaa. A ?repit burned weakly at the center, and the large cauldron beside it was ?lled with vegetable-dappled water—the beginnings of an evening meal. The soup would be bland, of course. Still, the smell was enticing. “Good evening, everyone,” Kelsier said with a smile, resting his pack beside his feet and leaning against the door.
Kelsier sighed, rolling his eyes. “Fine. If you want me to go, I’ll be off then.” He slung his pack up on his shoulder and nonchalantly pulled open the door. Thick mist immediately began to pour through the portal, drifting lazily across Kelsier’s body, pooling on the ?oor and creeping across the dirt like a hesitant animal. Several people gasped in horror, though most of them were too stunned to make a sound. Kelsier stood for a moment, staring out into the dark mists, their shifting currents lit feebly by the cooking pit’s coals. “Close the door.” Tepper’s words were a plea, not a command. Kelsier did as requested, pushing the door closed and stemming the ?ood of white mist. “The mist is not what you think. You fear it far too much.” “Men who venture into the mist lose their souls,” a woman whispered. Her words raised a question. Had Kelsier walked in the mists? What, then, had happened to his soul? If you only knew, Kelsier thought. “Well, I guess this means I’m staying.” He waved for a boy to bring him a stool.
“Mennis.” Kelsier glanced back at Tepper. “So, Goodman Mennis, tell me something. Why do you let him lead?” Mennis shrugged. “When you get to be my age, you have to be very careful where you waste your energy. Some battles just aren’t worth ?ghting.” There was an implication in Mennis’s eyes; he was referring to things greater than his own struggle with Tepper. “You’re satis?ed with this, then?” Kelsier asked, nodding toward the hovel and its half-starved, overworked occupants. “You’re content with a life full of beatings and endless drudgery?” “At least it’s a life,” Mennis said. “I know what wages, malcontent, and rebellion bring. The eye of the Lord Ruler, and the ire of the Steel Ministry, can be far more terrible than a few whippings. Men like you preach change, but I wonder. Is this a battle we can really ?ght?” “You’re ?ghting it already, Goodman Mennis. You’re just losing horribly.” Kelsier shrugged. “But, what do I know? I’m just a traveling miscreant, here to eat your food and impress your youths.” Mennis shook his head. “You jest, but Tepper might have been right. I fear your visit will bring us grief.” Kelsier smiled. “That’s why I didn’t contradict him—at least, not on the troublemaker point.” He paused, then smiled more deeply. “In fact, I’d say calling me a troublemaker is probably the only accurate thing Tepper has said since I got here.” “How do you do that?” Mennis asked, frowning. “What?” “Smile so much.” “Oh, I’m just a happy person.” Mennis glanced down at Kelsier’s hands. “You know, I’ve only seen scars like those on one other person—and he was dead. His body was returned to Lord Tresting as proof that his punishment had been carried out.” Mennis looked up at Kelsier. “He’d been caught speaking of rebellion. Tresting sent him to the Pits of Hathsin, where he had worked until he died. The lad lasted less than a month.” Kelsier glanced down at his hands and forearms. They still burned sometimes, though he was certain the pain was only in his mind. He looked up at Mennis and smiled. “You ask why I smile, Goodman Mennis? Well, the Lord Ruler thinks he has claimed laughter and joy for himself. I’m disinclined to let him do so. This is one battle that doesn’t take very much effort to ?ght.” Mennis stared at Kelsier, and for a moment Kelsier thought the old man might smile in return. However, Mennis eventually just shook his head. “I don’t know. I just don’t—” The scream cut him off. It came from outside, perhaps to the north, though the mists distorted sounds. The people in the hovel fell silent, listening to the faint, high-pitched yells. Despite the distance and the mist, Kelsier could hear the pain contained in those screams. Kelsier burned tin. It was simple for him now, after years of practice. The tin sat with other Allomantic metals within his stomach, swallowed earlier, waiting for him to draw upon them. He reached inside with his mind and touched the tin, tapping powers he still barely understood. The tin ?ared to life within him, burning his stomach like the sensation of a hot drink swallowed too quickly. Allomantic power surged through his body, enhancing his senses. The room around him became crisp, the dull ? repit ?aring to near blinding brightness. He could feel the grain in the wood of the stool beneath him. He could still taste the remnants of the loaf of bread he’d snacked on earlier. Most importantly, he could hear the screams with supernatural ears. Two separate people were yelling. One was an older woman, the other a younger woman—perhaps a child. The younger screams were getting farther and farther away. “Poor Jess,” a nearby woman said, her voice booming in Kelsier’s enhanced ears. “That child of hers was a curse.
With that, he pulled open the door and strode out into the mist. Mennis lay awake in the early hours of morning. It seemed that the older he became, the more dif?cult it was for him to sleep. This was particularly true when he was troubled about something, such as the traveler’s failure to return to the hovel. Mennis hoped that Kelsier had come to his senses and decided to move on. However, that prospect seemed unlikely; Mennis had seen the ?re in Kelsier’s eyes. It seemed such a shame that a man who had survived the Pits would instead ?nd death here, on a random plantation, trying to protect a girl everyone else had given up for dead. How would Lord Tresting react? He was said to be particularly harsh with anyone who interrupted his nighttime enjoyments. If Kelsier had managed to disturb the master’s pleasures, Tresting might easily decide to punish the rest of his skaa by association. Eventually, the other skaa began to awake. Mennis lay on the hard earth—bones aching, back complaining, muscles exhausted—trying to decide if it was worth rising. Each day, he nearly gave up. Each day, it was a little harder. One day, he would just stay in the hovel, waiting until the taskmasters came to kill those who were too sick or too elderly to work. But not today. He could see too much fear in the eyes of the skaa—they knew that Kelsier’s nighttime activities would bring trouble. They needed Mennis; they looked to him. He needed to get up. And so he did. Once he started moving, the pains of age decreased slightly, and he was able to shuf?e out of the hovel toward the ?elds, leaning on a younger man for support. It was then that he caught a scent in the air. “What’s that?” he asked. “Do you smell smoke?” Shum—the lad upon whom Mennis leaned—paused. The last remnants of the night’s mist had burned away, and the red sun was rising behind the sky’s usual haze of blackish clouds. “I always smell smoke, lately,” Shum said. “The Ash-mounts are violent this year.” “No,” Mennis said, feeling increasingly apprehensive. “This is different.” He turned to the north, toward where a group of skaa were gathering. He let go of Shum, shuf?ing toward the group, feet kicking up dust and ash as he moved. At the center of the group of people, he found Jess. Her daughter, the one they all assumed had been taken by Lord Tresting, stood beside her. The young girl’s eyes were red from lack of sleep, but she appeared unharmed. “She came back not long after they took her,” the woman was explaining. “She came and pounded on the door, crying in the mist. Flen was sure it was just a mistwraith impersonating her, but I had to let her in! I don’t care what he says, I’m not giving her up. I brought her out in the sunlight, and she didn’t disappear. That proves she’s not a mistwraith!” Mennis stumbled back from the growing crowd. Did none of them see it? No taskmasters came to break up the group. No soldiers came to make the morning population counts. Something was very wrong. Mennis continued to the north, moving frantically toward the manor house. By the time he arrived, others had noticed the twisting line of smoke that was just barely visible in the morning light.
Mennis turned. “Gather the people, Tepper. We must ?ee before word of this disaster reaches the Lord Ruler.” “Where will we go?” “The caves to the east,” Mennis said. “Travelers say there are rebel skaa hiding in them. Perhaps they’ll take us in.” Tepper paled further. “But .we’d have to travel for days. Spend nights in the mist.” “We can do that,” Mennis said, “or we can stay here and die.” Tepper stood frozen for a moment, and Mennis thought the shock of it all might have overwhelmed him. Eventually, however, the younger man scurried off to gather the others, as commanded. Mennis sighed, looking up toward the trailing line of smoke, cursing the man Kelsier quietly in his mind. New days indeed. PART ONE The Survivor of Hathsin I consider myself to be a man of principle. But, what man does not? Even the cutthroat, I have noticed, considers his actions “moral” after a fashion. Perhaps another person, reading of my life, would name me a religious tyrant. He could call me arrogant.
There were other ways to be strong. That lesson she had learned on her own. Camon growled slightly, then raised his hand and backhanded her across the face. The force of the blow threw Vin back against the wall, and her cheek blazed with pain. She slumped against the wood, but bore the punishment silently.