Mistborn: The Dark Horse

Her hair and eyes were dark, creating a contrast with her complexion, pale for a skaa. "Kelsier." Mare said, looking at the name scratched into the dark paint on the door, and shook her head. Just as Marsh had said. Well, she needed the money, and Marsh had said his brother would be generous toward her. She wasn't getting any money standing under the falling ash, after all.

She opened the door, an old wooden scent permeating the room. The old man at the counter turned to her; he was an old man, with a stern face and a limp in his step as he made his way to her end of the counter. "May I help you?" he asked, gesturing to his wooden works that littered the room.

"I'm looking for a man named Kelsier," the woman said, leaning on the man's counter. "I'm told he's the thief I'm looking for."

"Kelsier?" His voice was rough, the quiet tone that wouldn't take any nonsense from anyone.

"Marsh sent me."

"Clubs." He said by way of introducing himself. Then: "Kelsier should be here in a few minutes." Clubs paused, and pulled from his thick work-apron a small knife and a piece of wood. "I don't suppose you'd be with the revolution, then?"

She shook her head. "Marsh has been trying to recruit me, but… I'm broke. I've been living off strangers like Marsh for the past few months."

"You weren't on the fields?"

"No." She sat for a few minutes in silence, watching as Clubs shaved wood off the small chunk he held; Mare wasn't sure what he was making, but it was forming some cylindrical shape. Ridges appeared as he whittled it down, ridges and curves. "What is it?" she asked at last.

Clubs looked down; his knife had seemed to be working on his own before. "None o' your business," he muttered, suddenly gruff.

"I'm Mare."

"That's none o' my business." His eyes drew up to her again. "Why are you here, anyhow?"

Mare took in a breath, then started. "I need money. I'm tired of staying at strangers' doorsteps; my father was a craftsman, and he took care of himself. I want to do the same."

"So you came to borrow from a man you've never met before?"

"No. I want to be a thief."

Clubs dropped his knife; he bent down to reclaim it, muttering "Worse than begging."

Mare raised her eyebrows. "Yet better than the whorehouses. It's because I'm a woman, isn't it? Marsh would've thought the same, so I let him believe I was just borrowing money. He would rather me a prostitute than a thief. And… I could help you. I know what you are."

"Yeah. A carpenter." He was back to whittling whatever trinket it was, yet his eyes remained glued to her. "And you're a pretty girl… too pretty to be a freeloader."

It wasn't the first time she had been called pretty. Still, it was flattering from this gruff man, especially the way he said it like an insult. "I don't want to be a freeloader. You don't want me to be a freeloader. What's wrong with me being a thief?"

"You're noticeable. If you were to be a good thief, you would have to be inconspicuous."

"I don't want to be a con artist. I'm going to be a thief. At night, I have… a talent."

Clubs paused. "Tineye?"

Mare paused, then nodded. "Smoker?"

"You can speak with Kelsier about your… career change," the old man said, not answering her question. "We could use a good Tineye. If Kelsier wants my opinion, I can't promise that he'll agree, but… I think you might be able to pull it off. Might," he emphasized as a smile grew on Mare's face. "Don't go getting hopeful; hopeful skaa are more conspicuous than pretty girls.

"Kelsier should be here any minute."