Previously: Broadway Bound
Themesong: Mado Kara Mieru by Christopher Tin
Apparently, the Banker decided that there’d been enough fun and games, because the VMoD that awaited me upon our return to the Warehouse was Brandon Sanderson’s “Mistborn”. Ever go into a world looking for a fight? Yeah, that was me and Mistborn. Don’t get me wrong, great book, interesting characters, fascinating magical systems… but it also featured lots and lots of death, a brutal tyrant, a psychotic god, and ultimately a “They Died for Us” ending that fed into the sequel series where the massively powerful “Mistborn” were no more, but had been replaced with the terribly focused “Twinborn” or whatever they’re called.
See, there are two things anyone going into Scadrial (the world of Mistborn) needs to know about. One is the magical systems of the world… of which there are three. The Metallic Arts; Allomancy, Feruchemy, and Hemalurgy. Allomancers burn metals that they have ingested to produce a specific result. It is net positive. Feruchemists store things in metal objects for later use. It is net neutral. And Hemalurgists steal traits from one person then install them in another by use of metallic spikes. It is net negative. The traits vary a little from Metallic Art to Metallic Art, but the metals are always the same… 8 pure metals, 8 specific alloys of those metals, always in pairs, and then in quartets, 16 metals. In the era of Mistborn, there are Mistings and Mistborn. A Misting is an Allomancer who can burn 1 metal. A Mistborn can burn them all. The other two arts are rare and largely unknown. In the sequel trilogy, Mistborns are unheard of, a legend out of the past, the bloodlines too diffuse. But so too are the other Arts strengthened. And that’s where the true power of this setting comes into play.
Combined Arts. Take a Feruchemist’s stored reserve and burn it using Allomancy, and you Compound the power drawn from it by an order of magnitude. Store the new, boosted supply, repeat. Geometric returns… but Twinborns, those who can burn and store in the same metal, are unheard of in this era. Only one twinborn exists in this time, a Compounder, a Mistborn and a Full Feruchemist (a single element Feruchemist is called a Ferring)… And his name is… well, that’s a secret, and much of the plot of the series is tied up in discovering it, but he is called “The Lord Ruler” an immortal living god who has enslaved most of the population of this ruined world for over a thousand years.
A thousand years ago, The Hero of Ages travelled to the Well of Ascension to gain the power of Preservation and save the world from the Deepness. And he… kinda did. Spoilers here, but the real Hero was betrayed, murdered by his asshole guide, who did horrible things to his own people, the Terrismen, and who turned his people’s long time rivals into the Skaa, the hereditary slaves that make up 99% of the population and have no rights. None.
With the power of the Well, he changed the world, reshaping the land, leveling mountains, and even moving the planet closer to the sun… only to realize that would kill everyone… so he created volcanoes to blanket the world in ash… then modified plantlife, animal life, and even the people to survive in this horror. The Lord Ruler is an idiot, an asshole, and a tyrant of epic proportions. And through it all, he was being played by one of the two gods of this world, Ruin, trapped within the well of ascension by his counterpart, Preservation. But before you give the Xanatos Crown of Ages to Ruin… Preservation had plans of his own, plans that involved playing an even longer game in which not only was Ruin a pawn, but Preservation used himself as a sacrificial lamb. That, dear friends, is serious Keikaku Dori.
I had instant plans for this jump. They wanted exciting? I’d give them exciting. But the forms had to be obeyed, and there were things I wanted from this jump.
First thing’s first. Maxing out my CP. That means Drawbacks and looking through the list I instantly see the two I want. First, Public Enemy #1 [+300/1300] which makes me the enemy of the Lord Ruler’s Final Empire, making my face and name known to the Luthadel city guard, the Ministry of Orthodoxy, and their Steel Inquisitors, nearly immortal Hemalurgic monstrosities. To be sure, the Steel Inquisitors would be a threat… if I didn’t know how to kill them and only had the resources of this world to deal with… but any self respecting pyrokinetic, telekinetic, or anyone trained to kill monsters without using metal weapons who’d read the books should be able to deal with them… plasma rifles, plasma grenades… anything that kept you out of their immediate range… crystalline weapons… as long as they couldn’t catch me, they couldn’t kill me.
And speaking of the Inquisitors, the reason I wasn’t concerned with having them as my enemy is because I’d already planned on making their boss into my enemy… The Lord Ruler himself. And there was a Drawback for that… either for the Lord Ruler (their apparent boss) or Ruin (their real boss). Both were 600, but the limit was 800, so either one would put me over. I could take them. I was pretty sure I could deal with the fall out… but it would have been insanity to do so. Both of them provided my enemies with knowledge of who I was and what I could do. While it was fun to imagine the Lord Ruler bowing to me and begging for his worthless life, I knew he wouldn’t and he might do something horrible just to spite me.
No, there were safer paths. Inquisitive [+200/1500], which Public Enemy #1 didn’t rule out, would sic a particular Steel Inquisitor on my path, one with the ability to punch through Allomantic anti-tracking abilities or perks. If I was going to have to kill them all, one more wouldn’t make a difference. And Destitute [+300/1800] would make me broke… though it didn’t say anything about keeping me destitute, just that I’d ended up without money or status. If it did, it did. I had more important things to worry about than money. And that was that.
I toggled the menu display to Companions… and got a blank screen. Fuuuuuck. Now I had to figure out how to get the damned Lerasium beads from the Well of Ascension, as those were the only way to turn any of my followers into Allomancers. Granted, those beads would turn them into first generation Allomancers, not the weak ass Allomancers of this era. I was hoping there was more than a single bead in the Well.
There were four origins; Skaa (which you’d have to be a masochist to take), Cultist (which you’d have to be insane to take), Noble (which was the sane choice), and Terrisman (which you’d have to be extremely pragmatic or have a plan to take). Since Noble’s had Allomancy and Terrismen had Feruchemy, it was pretty much split between them. As I wasn’t male, I didn’t have to worry about being a eunuch, though there were no canonical female Terris Stewards… I mean, they existed, that was canon… they just never showed in the books. But since it was possible to become an Allomancer by consuming Lerasium or by absorbing enough of the mists somehow, and there was no known way to become a Feruchemist besides being a Terrisman… and Feruchemy was arguably more useful on its own… Terrisman [-100/1700/1800] it was.
Because of the climate of Scadrial, everyone got “Choked by Ash” for free , the biological alterations required to survive in the harsh environment of Scadrial, guaranteeing I’d suffer no ill effects from the massive amounts of ash in the air, and could survive off the meager food grown on the few plants that continue to thrive. Useful in this setting, not so much elsewhere… and the lack of it for my companions meant that, if they wanted to help me, they’d need breathing gear… though food supplies from the warehouse were ample. And as a Terriswoman, I got “Classically Trained” as a freebie, which made me literate and well read, knowledge on many topics, having read books by many a well regarded thinker. It also gave me a thorough grounding in proper etiquette, with knowledge of how to conduct myself in sophisticated company.”
Unfortunately, the next two Terrisman perks sucked. Above Your Station was a boost to my social standing… in this jump only… and Ferring was just a watered down copy of the capstone, 1/16th the power for 2/3rds the price. Insanity. So I skipped them and spent the extra 100 CP to get “Feruchemist” [-300/1400/1800] which gave me the “unique abilities of a Keeper, known as Feruchemy.” It meant I could store attributes in a metalmind… a hunk of elementally pure metal… reducing my abilities now for a boost in ability later. Steel stored physical speed, Iron physical weight, Pewter physical strength, Tin the senses, Zinc mental speed, Brass warmth, Copper memories, Bronze wakefulness, Gold health, Atium age, Aluminum the sense of self, Duralumin the ability to connect with others (charisma), Nicrosil stored Investiture (whatever that meant), Chromium luck, Electrum determination, Cadmium breath, and Bendalloy nutrition and hydration. And best of all, what was stored didn’t have to be removed at the same rate. Store 2 hours of strength and you can be double strength for 2 hours… or triple strength for 1 hour… or quintuple strength for half an hour… it was an excellent power, especially if one was well prepared, though a Feruchemist could only tap their own metalminds. That was half the package.
Allomancy was the other half… and I could have it for 600… or buy the Lerasium Bead from the Item list for 800… Both were terribly expensive. I could, in theory, claim this power in jump, one of two ways. But if there was only one bead in the Well? What if I couldn’t claim it? I could try and figure out a way to absorb the mists… but if I did that, I’d run the risk of becoming the Shard of Preservation and claiming either Shard was a chain ender. Of course, I had to actively claim a Shard for that to apply. I was pretty sure that actively fighting off the possession wouldn’t count… but still.
And speaking of that… I scrolled back to the Skaa list and double checked something “Aluminum Mind” [-400/1000/1800]… Aluminum is the only metal known to be allomantically inert; it cannot be effected by any form of Allomancy. Buying this was useful in this world, since it made my mind similarly impervious to Allomancy… including detection by Bronze burners or having my emotions Rioted or Soothed. It was also useful beyond the borders of Scadrial, in that it wasn’t limited to Allomancy either… unless I chose to allow it, my mind could not be affected nor detected by any mental abilities going forward. It was similar to being protected by a Coppercloud… but could not be pierced by even the most powerful of Allomancers. Mental defense and invisibility? Get! For the price it was a steal.
The Item list was a hilarious mix of the insanely useful and the titanically worthless. In the second category included “non-metallic wooden & leather armor”, “obsidian daggers”, “perfectly normal horseshoes”, “a single object made from aluminum”, “an easily replicated cloak”, and a pathetically small amount of money that respawned as long as you didn’t actually spend it. The first category had the single, expendable, irreplaceable, Lerasium bead… a pet warband of 20 monstrosities, a pet shapeshifter… and a regenerating supply of Atium. If I hadn’t just come out of Strike Witches and gained combat precog, I would have been all over that… as it was? I didn’t care too much. The primary counter to Atium Precog was to burn Atium yourself, since two precogs cancelled each other out… but I was effectively invisible to precog and had my own without burning anything.
So the Lerasium [-800/200/1800] was it. It was 200 more than just buying Mistborn straight up, but it was orders of magnitude stronger than that ability. Lerasium was the single rarest metal in Scadrial, even rarer then Atium. It was solidified essence of Preservation, just as Atium was solidified essence of Ruin. According to the text, only a scant few beads of Lerasium existed hidden in the Well of Ascension… but somehow, buying this meant I had one. If the bead was consumed by someone who was not an Allomancer, they became a Mistborn of unparalleled power, many times stronger than any modern Mistborn. I didn’t have to consume it myself, but I would have to be very, VERY careful about who I did give it to, and letting it out of my sight was ill advised! I wouldn’t get a second one if the first was lost or stolen, and the text stated that it could not be reproduced by any means. It did, however, indicate that this bead was, functionally, identical to the ones in the Well of Ascension, which meant that, yes, stealing those would give me more beads with which to create more Primordial Mistborn
I’d have to be very careful with it… and with the other beads I got my hands on. Burning Lerasium when you already were a Mistborn was said to be able to rewrite your own spiritual DNA… somehow. Of course, burning enough to become a Savant (the ultimate and often disastrous result of Allomantic over use) of Lerasium would make me the Shardholder of Preservation, and that would be chain-endingly bad. Not sure that much Lerasium existed, but taking a chance seemed… unwise.
Regardless, a Mistborn could use Steel to sense all nearby metals (besides Aluminum) and push it in a form of TK called “Coinshot”, either to move the object if lighter than the allomancer or to move the allomancer if they were lighter than the object or the object was blocked from moving (say, by being wedged in place. Didn’t work on metal in the body unless the Allomancer was terribly powerful. Iron did the same, but pulling instead of pushing, i.e. “Lurching”. Burning Pewter, “Pewterarm”, enhanced all your physical abilities (Strength, speed, balance, endurance, pain threshhold, healing rate, stamina, and resistance to hunger or thirst.), while burning Tin, “Tineye”, enhanced the senses and made the mists appear transparent. Zinc allowed the Allomancer to boost (“Riot”) the emotions of those around them, while Brass “Soothed” them, but neither granted the ability to read them.
Copper-burning “Smokers” create a metaphysical… (or was that metalphysical?) “Cloud” that hid Allomancy usage from Bronze-burning “Seekers” who could hear Allomantic pulses and track them back to the Allomancer. Copper not only rendered one immune to emotional Allomancy, it would protect against any form of supernatural detection or mental influence while being burned. Bronze , I was assured, would allow me to detect any form of supernatural power… at least once the jump ended.
Gold-burning “Augurs” got to see a brief vision of the people they might have been. Electrum “Oracles” could predict their own actions in the immediate future… which made it useless except to block Atium-burning “Seers”, who could see several seconds into the future, as long as the Atium lasted (it didn’t last long)… and could be countered by any other form of immediate precognition.
Aluminum was useless, since burning it simply burned out all the other metals in your body… but Duralumin, which was useless on its own, was anything but to a full Mistborn. When burned with another metal, Duralumin would burn the entire store of that metal in one massive jolt, giving a huge boost in power for a few seconds. Chromium-burning “Leechers” could do the Aluminum thing to anyone they touched… and in future would be able to drain the power source of any supernatural ability. Nicrosil (a nickel chromium alloy) burning “Nicrobursters” could do the Duralumin trick to any others, and would be able to supercharge any one supernatural ability at a time… though doing so would utterly exhaust the target and/or empty whatever power supply that ability used.
And that brought us to the Cadmium-burning “Pulsers” and Bendalloy-burning “Sliders”. The first created a bubble of slowed time around themselves, the second created a bubble of accelerated time around themselves. The bubbles were typically only a little bigger than the user was tall, visible and tangible enough to interfere with the vector of projectiles. All in all, it was a useful and highly flexible powerset…
And that was before Compounding entered the picture. If a Compounder burned their own metalmind (i.e. a chunk of metal they’d stored power in), the results were amplified by magnitudes. Store a bit of strength in Pewter, burn the Pewter, store the new superstrength in a second bit of Pewter… burn it to get megastrength… have fun breaking all the things.
I considered what to do with my final 200 CP. There were a number of somewhat useful 200 CP items and perks… but ultimately, I snagged two 100’s. The first was the Noble’s “Privileged” [-100/100/1800], which meant I’d be treated deference and respect by anyone who was not demonstrably my superior. People, even my peers, would take pains not to offend me, and give me all the respect and privilege due to whatever my current rank was. People who had good reason to hate me, or who were noticeably superior to me, wouldn’t defer of course, but they’d still treat me with at least a modicum of respect even if that respect was merely a thin veil hiding a vicious, seething hatred. It wasn’t much, but I had a feeling that very soon I’d be demonstrating my superiority to most, if not all, of Scadrial.
The second… was the Cultist’s “Ruinous Font” [-100/0/1800], which gave me the power Hemalurgy on my own, rather than calling upon the power of Ruin to do so. In this world, one didn’t have to belong to a specific bloodline to use Hemalurgy. All one needed was the desire to do harm and to draw on Ruin… which allowed the god to influence the Hemalurgist and actively manipulate the beneficiaries of Hemalurgy towards his own destructive ends. Ruinous font gave me the smallest sliver of Ruin’s power, just enough to fuel my own Hemalurgy without Ruin’s help. Hemalurgic spikes I created would have no connection to Ruin, and their users could not be controlled by him or by emotional Allomancy. I also could make Hemalurgical spikes outside of the jump… asuming I found a source of knowledge on Hemalurgical processes… Ha! I figured, let’s make the lunacy complete. Fuck Sanity. Fuck playing it safe. I was going to rip the entire crumbling edifice of this sorry world apart. I was gods-be-damned scanning tunneling mind reader. If I wanted knowledge of Hemalurgy, I’d snatch it from the skulls of the members of the Canton of Orthodoxy as I tore their heads from their necks.
I stepped back from the machine, blinking. I was… angry. Huh. I hadn’t even entered the world and I was seething for a fight. I needed to meditate on this.
When I emerged from my contemplation, feeling calmer but no less worried about why I was getting so deeply and personally upset, Ahab and Joy both presented their plans to me. Joy decided to import herself as a Noble (Privileged, Choked By Ash, Coin Pouch (500 boxings, pocket change to a noble, a vast fortune to a skaa, useful for transportation or ammunition to a Mistborn, regenerates coins used as other than currency)), while Ahab decided to go Skaa… just because it came with “Beneath your Notice” (You are unimportant, or are very good at seeming so. So long as you make no effort to draw attention to yourself, the majority of people will regard you as beneath them, and not worth bothering with. You blend in with the background easily. Note that if you do something attention-grabbing, such as attack someone or try to enter a restricted area, no amount of unimportance will hide you.)
I signed off on them, hit confirm on the VMoD, locking my choices in… but didn’t drop immediately. Instead, I spent just over two weeks crafting a complete set of metalminds, as well as prepping hundreds of vials of allomantic metal flakes and numerous metallic beads. The alloy balance for all the Metallic Arts metals was the same, and my Feruchemy made sure I knew them back to front. I also made myself an enchanted Mistcloak (good for moving through the mist, hiding in the mist, and having no metal in it), Carbonfiber Hazekiller Gear (no metal weaponry), and just under 80 score diamondoid knives… fuck this low tech bullshit.
Once my cadre and I were outfitted (the backup squad had metal-free envirosuits that would have fit right in with HYDRA-shock troopers), I dropped.
INSERTION – SCADRIAL
Luthadel, capital of the Final Empire – 1016 FE, 6 years before the book’s begin. I was 19 and I had a plan. It was a good plan… or so I thought.
Step 1 was locating the Pits of Hathsin, the place where the Lord Ruler’s Atium was mined. That this would also be where Kelsier (first of the doomed heroes of this tale) and his wife Mare would end up in a few years… assuming I couldn’t find them first… was just a bonus. It was also the location of the secret Kandra Homeland, hidden in the cave networks deep underground… and inside that network, the Trustvault, the Lord Ruler’s massive stash of Atium. A stash I had every intention of stealing.
Finding that information was as simple as… finding the home of Straff Venture, the richest noble in Luthadel… and the man in charge of the Pits. Also father of Elend Venture, a bookish reformer and second of the doomed heroes of the novels. Straff was a monster and I snatched the information from his mind, giving him a migraine that left him bedridden for a month.
While I was dealing with that, Ahab was searching for Camon’s crew among the skaa thieves of the city. Camon was a tool, but his crew contained the now 11 year old Vin, an Allomancer and the third doomed hero… or heroine as the case may be. Joy, it should be said, was officially my Mistress, since I was, under the law, a slave and her servant. She knew better than to take advantage of that. Also, thanks to my drawback, her boxings were fake and we were pennyless… until I stole 5,000 boxings from Straff. Solution set for being broke: earn money, steal money… very simple solution set.
The pits were not far from Luthadel, and I decided to walk the distance, seeing the world of Scadrial in all its depressing unsplendor. Mist, Ash, brown plants… poisoned water, poisoned sky… a thousand years of this? No wonder everything sucked. It was on the road to the pits that two things happened. One was the arrival of my Steel Inquisitor stalker. Two was as a result of me cutting his head off.
I received a flicker of awareness of thought moments before he smashed out of the nearby trees, steel spike filled eye-sockets fixed on me as if he could see like normal people. He was fast, very very fast, superhumanly. But so was I. He was reaching for my metals, for my emotions, for anything to use against me… I was reaching for my Zanpakuto. Hyperfractal Ice is essentially strange matter. It can’t possibly exist. It was Ice so cold it was negative Kelvin, its edge was monomolecular… it cut through steel and bone like paper.
As he fell, I wrenched the lynchpin spike out of his back. Inquisitors are much less scary when one knows how they work and what their weaknesses are (Beheading, removing the lynchpin spike). That was two problems solved… and another one gained.
I watched in, at first fascination, and then mounting horror, as Soul of Ice began drinking the Mist. What one mist… er… must understand is that the Mists of Scadrial aren’t normal. They’re persistent over centuries. The Lord Ruler rose to power because he was searching for a way to end something called “The Deepness” a perpetual choking mist… which now covered all the world. That mist was the body of Preservation… its mind trapped in the Well of Ascension to keep Ruin’s mind trapped as well and thus keep Ruin from destroying the world.
Those mists were pure Preservation… I slammed my sword back into the scabbard… then cringed as it kept drinking up the mists. I could feel the power building in me, feel… Preservation noticing me. A god, noticing me. I had to stop it before I became incapable of action at all. That’s Preservation’s curse. It couldn’t destroy. I stuffed my sword into the warehouse, feeling instantly a little naked… part of my soul was cut off from me.
Then another sense of horror washed through me… this wasn’t the first time I’d encountered soul mist. It was, in fact, the third time. The first wasn’t a big deal. The mists of the Spiritworld in Bleach were essentially harmless, just spirit particles forming mist. No different than the spirit particles that formed trees or rocks or buildings… The second time… that was Demon’s Souls. And that… that was the Colorless Gray Fog. It was… shit… how much of that stuff had gotten into me?
I had to find… Shit… I apparated back to the safehouse in Luthadel, pausing long enough to steal all the spikes and store them in blood filled jars, then cremate the body. Once there, I sealed the place with every spell I could think of, threw up a force bubble, then stepped through into the warehouse. Once there I entered my private workshop, that room no one but me could enter. The bead was where I’d left it, still unconsummed, sealed in elemental ice. Soul of Ice was pouting on a workbench.
“How much of the Gray Fog did you drink?” I demanded. She flinched. I tempered my words “It’s poison. It’s…. It’s pure selfish megalomaniacal evil.” She grumbled “It tasted good!”
I sighed. “Crap…. Crap Crap Crap… you’re… you’re a power junky. We… we have to find a way to get it out of us.”
“Because I think it’s been making us do less than completely rational things. I think we’ve been… I think…” I sat down. “A little pragmatism is good. It’s fine. A little arrogance is good. Also perfectly natural. But we’ve been going off the deep end a bit. Shit. I… I’ll have to think about this. I don’t know how to get the corruption out. But you can’t come out unless you promise not to drink the mist.”
“But it’s all yummeeeeee.”
“Right. And if you drink too much of it-”
“You become an Allomancer!”
“And we run the risk of becoming the Shardholder of Preservation and getting stuck here. Forever. I don’t like the Cosmere enough to stay here. Certainly not with Odium running around trying to kill Shardholders. And Hoid being fucking creepy.”
“Boring!” my inner hollow said, manifesting herself as well… thankfully in her less eldritch horror Resurreccion state. Pretty was not the word for us in Silent Judge Released form.
“Hush you. No… wait… do you know how to get rid of the Gray Fog we’ve absorbed?”
“No. Of course not. We don’t know what you don’t know.”
“Right… of course.”
VIctoria, the fourth part of our quintet of me, my symbiotic clothing, armor, wand, personal computer, tricorder… wasn’t any help either, which wasn’t really surprising. Atura, as always, simply watched, considered, offering support where possible, but seldom interfering.
Still, now I knew… and knowing was the first step… though I had no idea how to get rid of this contamination.
Long story short, I found Hathsin. Many slaves, lots of crawling through pitchblack cracks in the ground looking for a geode that contained a bead of Atium, reaching through crystals that scratched and scarred. Find a geode a week or you were beaten to death. It was not a life that lasted long and no one got out alive. I flowed into the pits as a ribbon of darkness, releasing mapping microspiders as I went, each programmed to locate part of the cave system and map it, to tag geodes and the crystal deposits where they grew. After dropping off a couple thousand of them, all rigged to self destruct if captured, I headed back to the city.
Finding all the players, Vin, Kelsier, Mare (his wife), Marsh (his brother and eventually the primary Steel Inquisitor of Ruin), and Sazed (the prophesied Hero of Ages, the one who would unite Ruin and Preservation into Harmony… a Terrisman and Eunuch.)… it took 4 years. Luthadel isn’t huge, but it’s not exactly tiny and, to be honest, I wasn’t moving fast. The well wouldn’t be ready until 1024 FE, and, while people were suffering and dying, they’d been doing it for a thousand years and more. It wasn’t very nice, but I wasn’t going to be the one to put the world back together again, bring back the sun, all that happy horseshit. I was just going to be the one who eased the transition.
Getting Vin away from Camon was easy. Getting Mare away from the Pits of Hathsin before she could be beaten to death before Kelsier’s eyes was only slightly more challenging (dopplegangers for the win, woo woo). Waiting for Kelsier to show up in Luthadel and put together a team to lead the rebellion… that was nerve wracking. Mare was anxious to see him, but was more than happy to play mother hen to Vin… who’d had the hemalurgical spike her mother had implanted in her, and which Ruin had been using to shape her into his prison key, removed and stored away in a vial of blood. Those vials were necessary to preserve the enchantments on the spikes, which would otherwise degrade over time if they weren’t in a host.
I’d studied the minds of dozens of Hemalurgical experts, and their documents, gleaning everything I could find. I’d also mapped the entire Kandra homeland by now and replaced all the shiny Atium with titanium ballbearings. They wouldn’t be able to tell the difference unless they actually tried to use them. I had an empire’s ransom of Atium in my warehouse. Now all I needed was Sazed. And once he arrived in the city, all my plans could begin.
I arranged for Vin to join Kelsier’s crew, since she and Elend were a cute couple, and Vin needed training. I spent long, long hours talking with Sazed, explaining everything I could about the Cosmere and about the prophecy and the Kandra and the Kollos and the Lord Ruler and the Shards. I could also have restored his manhood, The Medbed is one very nice piece of tech. All I needed now was The Slab…. But I explained it all to him, showing him the prophecy I’d etched into metal, the text of the book that would be written in another world. I explained that we had to find Ati and Leras and he must claim their powers and remake the world. I promised him my help in all this.
And then, I entered Kredik Shaw, the Lord Ruler’s Fortress. I made my way through the Steel Inquisitors like they were nothing to me, and they weren’t. They had no protection against my elemental control, which could melt and shape the spikes within them without touching them, pulling the Lynchpins as if they were nothing but offswitches.
The Lord Ruler was… displeased to see me. He was also displeased to realize I had no metal for him to use, no emotional state for him to twist… and then terrified as I began pulling his hemalurgic spikes slash metalminds from his body one by one with deliberate cruelty. “You are a horrible person, Rashek. A thousand years of tyranny, out of hatred for the Khelenni people… a thousand years of brutal murder, slaughter, and repression against your own people. Has it made you happy? Has it done anything but made people suffer? A world choked in ash. You’ll go down as evil beyond any other, you know that?”
He growled that he’d done what was needed, that he had saved the world “You saved it from what? The Deepness? The Deepness is all around! You saved the people by enslaving them to your own twisted will! I hope you rot in hell, but I don’t believe in Hell and I’m pretty sure the Cosmere lacks an afterlife!” And I ripped out the Atium spikes he was storing youth in, watching as he aged into dust in moments.
Yes yes, I’d stolen Vin and Kelsier’s thunder, but in the books, the battle had claimed many lives and been fairly one sided until Vin exploited the single weakness in The Lord Ruler’s defenses… stripping him of that which made him unbeatable.
And then I opened the way to the Well of Ascension and showed it to Sazed “This is the prison of Ruin” I commented “What happens next is for you to decide.” Preservation’s Mist Spirits objected to my twisting of the prophecy. I shrugged. “Your way killed a great many people, Preservation. Plunged a world into darkness and decay for a thousand years. How many died in suffering? I know you had no other way. And that life would not exist here without your actions… But now you must help us. We must draw out Ruin’s Shardholder and you… will be the bait.”
The events that followed were… transformative. Sazed remade the world in all its splendor and, to a certain degree, I helped, offering suggestions where I could and providing references from my travels where possible. Harmony, as Ruin and Preservation were when combined, had nearly unlimited local power. He was a god of creation and recreation. Better him than me.
I spent the last few years helping the transition of power from Final Empire to newly born nations, all trying to adjust to life amid the greenery and warmth of the sun, green plants, animals, and more.
I realized how close my meddling had come to throwing the world’s balance totally off. I could have looted everything and ruined Preservation’s plans. They were delicate enough. I wondered if there were other jumpers in other versions of this world and how much damage they’d done, even as I attended the Coronation of Elend and Vin as Emperor and Empress.
I’d found 7 beads of Lerasium in the Well, given one to Elend, one to Mare… that left 5, plus the one in my lab. I consumed one from the Well, feeling the power awakening within me. It would bear experimentation. Sazed laughed when I asked him if he could create more… or what, exactly, would happen if I alloyed Atium and Lerasium? Would they make Harmonium? For the first, he could, but wouldn’t… not yet. He didn’t know about the second. I nodded. I gave Zane the original bead. I wasn’t sure if the others would turn someone not native to this world into an Allomancer. That left four. Four beads with which to experiment.
And other metals too. Vibranium & Adamantium… Uru-Metal… Mithril… Valyrian Steel… Oh… those were interesting. Vibranium could store loudness when used by a Feruchemist, and when burned made the skin of the Allomancer absorb light. Adamantium stored durability, and when burned transformed the Allomancer’s bones and nails to metal. Uru-Metal stored creativity, and burning it allowed for storm generation powers, wind, lightning, thunder… that kind of thing. Mithril stored grace, making one clumsy and awkward when storing, but fluid, smooth, and beautiful when tapping it. Burning it allowed the user a sense of where to go next, though the more certain you were of what you were looking for, the stronger the pathway became. Valyrian Steel allowed one to store anger and passion… a strange thing… storing it made one apathetic and listless. Burning it allowed one to breath fire. Much more reasonable. Aurium, of which I had a tiny amount, I didn’t want to burn, but I could, of course, store aura in it, which would be damned useful if I ever went to a Dragonball type setting. I still hadn’t experimented with the Hemalurgy, so I wasn’t up for messing with spikes of ultra rare metals, and I certainly didn’t want to exhaust my supply of any of those limited things before I had a way to acquire or produce more.
I was also looking forward to getting my hands on some Orihalcum at some point. That could be most interesting.
“Sazed. Harmony. One last thing. Can you sense the presence of any of your mist within me? Or of another mist, possibly darker and nastier, a colorless gray mist?” Sazed shook his head somewhat sadly.
“I can sense you want those removed from you, but they are part of you now and if you want them gone, you will have to remove them yourself.”
“Doesn’t me having some of your mist weaken the part of you that is Preservation?”
He considered, then smiled. “It does. Would you be willing to take part of Ruin within yourself?”
I gulped…. then nodded. “Just enough to balance out the Preservation. A little Harmony would probably be a good thing.”
The passing of that tiny fragment was beyond what I had imagined. The three soul mists shifted, twisted, merged, the Gray of Discord mediating between the forces of Ruin and Preservation. The sensation was… unpleasantly like being stuffed back into an eggshell. If Sazed was Harmony, I was… Melody? A counterpoint woven into the fabric of the song. I was an element of contrast, drawn to extremes. Atura flowed into the mixture and… the whole thing thunked into the atrium of my Mental Palace, an egg the size of a minivan.
I was not at all certain I’d enjoy what eventually hatched.
Next: World 45 – Diplomacy in Real Time