Week 22: Time Tells
"Imagine if you could control time with metal. We could go back and stop the Lord Ruler from coming into being." - Caltek
Kelsier walked outside, back straight, confident. He let the door of the administrative building shut behind him as he left, walking down the steps with a relieved smile on his face. The sun was still up in the sky which made Kelsier even happier. It was still the first day in the week and already he had handed in his geode. His loose black shirt and breaches ruffled as the wind gently tugged at them, things were starting to get better for him. He continued along the long trek back towards the tent he now occupied to get the sleep he desperately craved. It had been too long since he had had a decent sleep and now he had the full week to do it.
As he walked he undid the makeshift bandages around his left arm, as he had done every week since he had discovered the small metal shard in his arm that Doxtun had embedded. A part of him didn't really believe that, but then a part of him believed he had actually seen his mother four weeks ago. He hadn't seen her since but he always pondered whether he actually was going insane. The skin had long since healed around the spike, he had not tried to remove the piece of metal since the day he had discovered it. After he was done he slowly began the task of rewrapping the bandages around his arm. He stopped to let a ash cleaning crew by before continuing on.
He consulted with his mental map first before continuing on. He had long since discovered that the prisoners had created a map of the pits. Where the administrative building was and the area around it where he used to live was known as the safe area. As you continued on into the pits and deeper into the valley you went by the dangerous section and then finally the harsh section. It was the harsh section where Kelsier's tent now lay.
He was just passing by the last tents in the safe section when a familiar voice stopped him. "It has been while Kelsier."
Kelsier glanced over to his right to see Lin sitting on the ground with her arms around her knees watching him. She had acquired a new scar on her forehead and a cut on her lip but other then that she looked the same as before. Kelsier glanced back at the route where he could see the dramatic change in scenery where the safe area ended and the dangerous area began. There were people on the ground begging for help just beyond the border having been beaten and searched for geodes as they came by.
Kelsier felt a sense of fear before looking back at Lin. "What are you doing here Lin?" he asked sharply.
"You were so much funner to be around Kelsier. So much nicer when you first came here." she said softly, just staring at him. "I liked you. You had this sense of...leadership. When I saw you I saw someone who could beat fear. Now I see a broken person."
"People change Lin." Kelsier replied. His eyes caught a shadow move from behind a row of tents in the dangerous section.
"I know that isn't true for you Kelsier. You didn't kill Alex. You hurt him but you didn't kill him. Doxtun always says that one action can't define someone."
"Get out of here Lin. Everyone has made there choice. Alex betrayed me-"
"He didn't!" Lin shouted.
Shadows were growing bigger, Kelsier just hoped they wouldn't cross the line. They should still be safe in the safe area.
"Lin, go away!" Kelsier retorted silently pleading she would run but she just sat there.
"I'm not leaving Kelsier. I know you better then you know yourself right now." She said.
The shadows grew into people, three males who began walking towards them. Kelsier's heart began to pound as he tried to think of how to get Lin to run anything that would make her leave.
"I caused you pain didn't I?" He said desperately. "Why are you here?"
"I don't hate you Kelsier." She replied. "I can't. I've spent my whole life hating people. I know you weren't trying to hurt anyone Kelsier."
Let her stay. He thought.
No I can't let her. It's too dangerous.
He pondered for another second before speaking again. "Your wrong Lin. I meant to hurt you. If you don't run now I will kill you." There he had said it and no matter how disgusted he felt with himself for saying it he only had to wait for Lin's reaction.
She just stared at him, dead in the eyes.
"Kill me then Keliser." She replied.
Kelsier's eyes glanced over at the approaching figures, they had shifted in their direction toward Lin. They stared at her hungrily as they crossed the boundary.
Kelsier began to slowly back away.
She ignored you. This is her fate.
Kelsier turned and slowly began to walk towards his tent again. He saw out of the corner of his eye the three men surround Lin. She just stared at him, her eyes trailing him.
"We'll be more then happy to kill you lady." One man said.
Kelsier's feet stopped unable to move forward anymore. He glanced back over his shoulder at the three men.
Let them go.
Lin looked directly at him. "Goodbye Kelsier." She mouthed and closed her eyes.
Kelsier turned around and headed directly towards the group, his right hand slipped behind his back grasping at the metal spike he kept in his back makeshift pocket. His heart began to beat faster thumping in his chest.
"I believe that honour is mine." Kelsier said, stopping behind the three men.
All three of them turned to face Kelsier. All three of them looked identical, long greasy hair, beards, bad breath and haggard disgusting faces. But they were all different sizes.
The one on the left spoke first. "I recall you threatened to kill this young lady."
The one in the middle was next. "Now back off and be glad we're to busy to deal with you."
Kelsier looked at all three of them and held their gaze. "I don't believe you heard me correctly. Let. Her. Go."
The sun was still high enough in the sky to glint off the metal spike in Kelsier's hand as he revealed his weapon.
"He's got a weapon." the one on the right said in a dull dumb tone.
"We can see that." The one in the middle replied. "Look, there is three of us and only one of you. I'm sure you can see that you are outnumbered. Now hand over the weapon and we'll let you go."
Kelsier shifted the spike in his hand before holding it out towards the "leader".
The middle one grinned as he reached out to take it. As their arms grew closer together, Kelsier suddenly brought his arm up and then down, bringing the spike down into the man's arm. He howled in pain as the spike pierced his skin and cried out as Kelsier ripped it free. The other two men took off in different directions leading the middle one alone, maimed and injured.
"You do not threaten my friends." Kelsier said gazing at the man who had just threatened to kill Lin.
"I'm sorry!" The man pleaded, his eyes wide in fear. "Please...I'll leave you alone."
Kelsier's left hand reached out and grabbed the man's hair, pulling him to his knees. He pulled his head back exposing his throat.
Soft fingers wrapped around his right hand. "Let him go Kelsier." Lin said softly in his ear. "This isn't you."
Make sure he never threatens you again.
For once Kelsier felt himself instantly agree with the thought. He looked at the man, so he could see what he could do.
"Please...I don't want to die. I just want-"
"Oh shut up." Kelsier cut him off. "This is what is going to happen. You are going to tell everyone you know to leave me and everyone else alone as well. You are going to make sure this happens is that clear."
The man tried to nod furiously. Satisfied Kelsier released him and watched the man squirm away.
"Should I have killed him?" Kelsier said as he watched the man run.
"No." Lin replied after a short pause.
"I disagree. Goodbye Lin." Kelsier said and left her standing alone.
"Are you sure about this Kelsier?"
"I heard they have skaa slaves."
"We'll be in and out before they know it."
"Do we have a plan?"
"Kelsier doesn't know what a plan is."
"Doesn't know is an understatement."
Kelsier shifted in his cot, eyes closed. His arms were throbbing as they were pressed against his head.
"What if we went in through here?"
"Are you crazy?"
A soft groan escaped his lips as Kelsier's memory tried to break through.
"House Lekal is an easy target."
"We have to be quite."
"Why? All their guards are either drunk or asleep."
"We both know if I die Kelsier, my wife is going to hunt you down."
"Change of plans, we're sneaking in."
Kelsier's eyes snapped open.
A soft breeze. A quiet night. A party finishing in Castle Lekal where mostly everyone would either be drunk or occupied with other matters. Such a good night, a perfect night. For a heist.
Kelsier smiled one of his special smiles that meant to those around him that either he was thinking of doing something stupid or in his case bold or he was thinking of getting the whole crew to do something stupid. Either way it wasn't one of the most sought after expressions that Kelsier expressed.
Mare was standing beside him, watching the keep as she tied her hair into a ponytail. She wore a black shirt and trousers for this heist with a knife slipped into each of her boots. Ham lumbered up behind her wearing a similar attire with Leisha by his side. Behind them both was a man a few inches shorter then Kelsier. He had short dark blond hair the face belonging to a boy in his late teens. His eyes were a shade of brown, which seemed indifferent to the brown clothing he wore. His name was Redd, and while he had been recommended to Kelsier as a good smoker, his whole body language conveyed how nervous he was. Kelsier could hear the tiny chattering of the boy's teeth. He wasn't ready.
Kelsier waited for all of them to assemble before nodding to each of them in turn. They each knew their jobs. Mare and Lesiha would go for Lekal's main treasury. Redd, Ham and him would search the personal room of Lord and Lady Lekal for their hidden wealth which they had heard could contain atium.
Each one of the group nodded in turn but Kelsier noticed Redd's hand shaking. When Kelsier met Redd's eyes the boy turned away.
"Redd." Kelsier said.
"I can do this." He replied, his voice trembled a tiny bit.
"Redd." Kelsier said once again almost apologetically.
"I can do this." Redd replied once more but his voice shook even more.
"This is your first time isn't it. You've covered others before but..." Kelsier let the sentence trail off.
"Please." Redd responded.
Kelsier could see that Redd was scared, and that alone could get him and the rest of them scared. But most importantly the advantage Redd could bring to the team wasn't worth his life, at least not on this heist.
"I'm sorry Redd but-" Kelsier said.
"No, no, no. I'm fine." Redd responded. "I'm fine." He said again trying to convince himself.
Mare saw the dilema and walked over beside the young boy. He flinched as she laid a hand on his shoulder, and he turned his face away. His blond hair shadowed his eyes but Kelsier could see him trying to hold back tears.
"Redd." She said. "We both know you're not ready."
Redd didn't reply.
"And you know what would happen to me if you got hurt. I want you to come but I don't want you to get hurt. And if you come right now, I will be thinking about you the entire time and we both know that that isn't a good thing during something like this. We don't need you Redd, we can still get through this without you. Remember that your safety is important to us too."
Mare waited for a few moments letting her words sink in. Redd took in a deep breath, and then let it out.
"I'll stay." He said softly. "I don't want you to get hurt."
"Thank you." Mare replied.
Kelsier smiled, glad not for the first time that Mare was here.
"Let's do this." He said.
Kelsier shook in his cot, images flashed in front of his eyes. The events of house Lekal, what happened, his heart was thumping in his chest as he relived the heist.
The bedroom of lord and lady Lekal's lay in front of them. Kelsier and Ham stood right outside the doorway. There was a light on inside, the shadow of someone inside could be seen from the opening underneath the door. Voices conversed but Kelsier couldn't tell what they were saying. He looked over at Ham who nodded once, ready. He drew his sword and Kelsier knew by instinct that Ham was ready to burn pewter as well.
Kelsier pulled out a knife from the sheathe of his belt and with his left hand twisted the doorknob of the master chamber. The door swung open to reveal Lady Lekal sitting on her bed and someone else standing by her bed, most likely a servant or a slave. Lady Lekal was wearing a lush blue sapphire nightgown and had one earring in the shape of house Lekal's crest in her right ear. The one in her left was in her hand handing it to the servant dressed in white. He had a greying beard and looked to be in his middle years.
They both turned towards the door as it opened. The servant saw Ham's sword and took a step back, his head swinging around to either side. Lady Lekal screamed.
Kelsier rushed in leaving the two for Ham, he was here to look for the treasure. He searched the room quickly knowing the guards would be approaching soon. Ham held both of the prisoners at sword point, managing to silence lady Lekal by pointing the sword at her throat.
Other then a few stashes of boxings and rings, bracelets and necklaces worth a fortune in itself which Kelsier quickly hid in the folds of his pants, and jacket, passing some to Ham for him to take, there was no sign of the atium.
So he had been wrong about the atuim here too. Kelsier shook his head, his hand still searching the bottom of Lord Lekal's desk. It suddenly shifted as Kelsier pushed, which brought Kelsier back to reality and he noticed a cut in the shape of a small square underneath one of the desk's legs. He heard in the background Ham say, "So does House Lekal have any guards?"
Kelsier pulled back the carpet covering the square and underneath it was a safe with three different dials on it. This had to be where the atium was. Kelsier's heart began to pump a bit faster as his fingers brushed against the dials. There was a shout and Kelsier twisted his head in time to see the servant fall to the ground with a cut on his face, blood slowly covering his face. Kelsier looked towards the bed to find that Lady Lekal was gone. A moment later a large weight hit Kelsier and knocked him over, the arms of the person wrapping around him. Without thinking Kelsier grabbed his knife from his belt, and plunged it backwards into the being behind him. There was a soft feminine gasp before the arms weakened and Kelsier unwrapped the arms from around him. He turned to find Lady Lekal's staring at him his knife planted in her ribcage.
"Kelsier." Ham called and Kelsier looked over to Ham who gestured towards the door. In the doorway stood a man with short red hair. His eyes glanced from Kelsier to Lady Lekal and then to the servant and then back to Kelsier. He seemed to take it all in rather quickly. Kelsier glanced back over at the servant who was bleeding from the head now and was unconscious. There was a slight resemblance. Oh no. Kelsier realized.
Kelsier yanked his knife free of Lady Lekal's body, she groaned and Kelsier almost felt sorry that she would have to deal with the pain of her wound until she died. Almost. Then he looked at the man, each of them looking directly at each other. Kelsier sheathed his knife. The man just looked at Kelsier, his chest rapidly inflating and deflating. Ham broke the silence by ramming into the man from the side. The man was caught by surprise, his attention had been focused only on Kelsier. The man hit the wall and slumped to the ground and Kelsier took advantage and ran, chasing after Ham. He sped by the downed man and followed Ham, rushing away from the scene. Kelsier spared a glance backwards and almost didn't believe his eyes. The man was up all ready, he was supporting himself with the wall but he was standing after taking a hit from a thug.
Together the two theives ran along their predetermined route towards the escape route, behind them Kelsier could hear the man approching. It was odd that Kelsier couldn't hear any of the guards approching.
Alarms began to ring throughout the keep and Kelsier cursed his luck, he had to question it. Lady Lekal must have been discovered by now either dead or dying. Kelsier followed close behind Ham, the thug broke down any door in his way saving them the time to manually open each and every door. They ran up a stairwell, this one exited onto the rooftops. The escape route consisted of each theif having their own rope set up that would help them get down the side of the castle where they could get to the rondevous where Sazed waited with the carriage. Ham made it to his rope first the strong man grabbed onto is and swung off the edge, Kelsier wasn't far behind. To his right Kelsier could see the outlines of two guards either asleep or dead. Behind him the man was still chasing them and Kelsier was torn between being impressed with him and cursing the man. Either way he knew that unless the man was dealt with he couldn't get away.
As he ran Kelsier's hand went to his two knifes at his belt. He pulled them out, flipping them in his hand and in one fluid motion he put his weight on his right foot as it came down and slid, his right arm arching back before throwing the knife in his hand towards the man. The man twitched, his eyes widened briefly and he tried to move out of the way but he had not acted fast enough. The blade cut through his left cheek, leaving a bleeding gash that spanned a few inches across. Still the man kept on running, he didn't pause, all he did was smash his lips together to keep from screaming and press on. Kelsier had to admire the man's pain tolerance, but then he could be a thug which meant Kelsier wouldn't have such a colorful chance at surviving a close combat encounter. Although Kelsier constantly joked about being invinciable a few broken bones might be a loophole. The man was closing the distance, quickly Kelsier switched the knife in his left hand to his right and pulled back. Again he threw the knife with deadly accuracy, the man seeing the blade had a similiar reaction as the last time. His eyes widened, and then his right hand came up in an attempt to catch the knife. Kelsier almost had to look away as the blade pierced the center of the man's right hand, buried to the hilt. There were tears in the man's eyes and he stumbled which brought him in range of Kelsier's arms. As the man was busy dealing with the pain of the a knife in his hand Kelsier followed up with a quick strike with the palm of his hand against the hilt of the knife, remorse filled him as he lodging it further into the man's hand.
The man began to scream, falling to his knees, his hand bleeding furiously. Kelsier turned and ran, he could see the gaurds beginning to wake. He had to go now!
Kelsier ran, grabbing hold of the rope that hung off the side of the castle he jumped over the side. He saw Mare's and Leisha's rope were gone and he breathed a slow sigh of relief. As he climbed down he was still haunted by the man's cries of pain and Kelsier shuddered as he tried to forget what he had just done.
Kelsier sat on his cot looking at his hands expecting them to hold some great mystery. He was alone in the tent except for Conrad and Raisor. They were each checking their scars from the previous night. Raisor was the only one who had found a geode so far out of the two of them, he was good at finding them. The twins never left each others side for long, going into the pits each day until both of them had found their weekly geode. It reminded Kelsier of him and Marsh, before they had split up. His brother's memory came with sadness which Kelsier hadn't been expecting. Time spent in the pits changes a person, but Kelsier had been unaware of how much he had changed. But he had to change to survive.
It is a good thing that I changed to. I never would have lasted here if I had stayed the way I was.
"That's a lie." Conrad said in the silence.
Kelsier looked up at Conrad, confused. The man was looking right at him.
"You would have done more then survived."
Then Kelsier realized he had spoken out loud.
"How can you be sure Conrad. I need to be hard, strong, and confident in what I am doing." Kelsier said.
"Hard, strong, confident, yes." Conrad replied. "But you do not have to be brutal, cruel, vicious, unforgiving."
"Brutal?" Kelsier asked.
"In a way." Conrad replied. "I've heard about things that happened while you were here. I heard that before you came here you always gave a person a chance. Now you're turning into one of the creatures that runs this place."
"I am still me." Kelsier said. "I am still the good old Kelsier, just better."
"The Kelsier that I used to idolize would never turn on a friend." Conrad said quietly.
Kelsier shook his head and stood up, walking towards the exit. It was then that he realized what Conrad had said. "Idolized?" Kelsier turned back to Conrad. Raisor silently looked at him.
"Me and Raisor. We thought you were the perfect skaa. We never told you why we actually came here did we, not that you would care anymore." Conrad said still in a quite tone.
"Conrad-" Kelsier began.
"It was because we decided that we wanted to be like you." Conrad said. "We thought that why can't we be like Kelsier the thief. He lives like a king in fact he probably is a king." Raisor started rubbing the scar along his throat. A lone tear slid down Conrad's right cheek from his eye. He sniffed once and wiped it off. He looked up at Kelsier dead in the eye and said. "Raisor defended you in front of our master. He said that all skaa are people. And then our master severed his windpipe."
Raisor wrapped an arm around his brother in an attempt to comfort him.
"We come here and see you and we thought that at least we can meet our hero." Conrad said after he a short while. "I don't see a hero in front of me anymore."
Kelsier turned back around and left the tent almost ashamed now of who he was becoming. He walked for a short while, moving between tents. Ahead he saw Lin with Alex, unaware that he had gone so far Kelsier turned into a line of tents trying to avoid them. He travelled a few rows before almost bumping into a tall bald woman. She stood at least half a head taller then Kelsier, arms and legs at least double the size of Kelsier's. He slowly began to back up as she stared at him and bumped into someone else. Kelsier turned around to find a man as tall as Kelsier blocking his exit. He wore no shirt and had scars trailing from his cheeks down towards his chest, spiralling into a circle and winding tighter as they reached his stomach. He had black hair that trailed long past the base of his neck.
"I always wanted to meet the man who made an enemy of Alex willingly." A voice said not coming from either of the two people. The man shifted to the side and Kelsier saw another male with blond hair approaching. His green eyes studied Kelsier just as Kelsier's own eyes traced the scar that went from the base of the man's neck up towards his chin and across his lips before ending right below his left eye. There was a small ring around the man's right index finger and a locket around his neck. "My own opinion would be that he was either very stupid, or...well just stupid. You would have to be insane to actually want to cross Alex."
"I tend to get called that a lot." Kelsier said, his own hand drifted towards the spike in his pocket.
"It took me a while to actually track you down, not knowing what you looked like. Who are you?" The man asked intrigued.
"I am Kelsier." Kelsier answered wearily.
"And I am Cain." Cain said bluntly all the sense of pleasure and curiosity disappeared his tone changing completley in that moment. "You are a threat Kelsier."
The back haired man stepped forward and placed a hand on Kelsier's left shoulder.
Danger. The word rang through Kelsier's being as if it was a shout in his ear. Kelsier reacted instantly pulling his spike free. His left hand grabbed hold of the man's own arm while Kelsier swiped towards his assailant's legs. The metal spike cut into the man's black pants drawing blood. The man fell to one knee as he released his hold on Kelsier who in turn let him go. Before he could continue a hand grabbed hold of his right arm and twisted. Kelsier felt a surge of pain course through his body as he continued to hold the spike.
Kelsier felt his arm pulled down towards the ground. A large booted foot rammed into his hand causing him to release his weapon. Before he could attempt to go for it again the boot kicked it away. A blow to Kelsier's back sent Kelsier sprawling into the ash on the ground. Slowly he turned over to see Cain looking directly at him.
"You know I wasn't going to attack you." He said. "Svekla." Kelsier felt a heavy boot fall on top of him keeping him pinned on the ground. He looked over at the owner, the female who had blocked his way originally.
"Funny way of showing it." Kelsier grunted.
"Cain!" Another voice rang out. This one deeper, one that Kelsier recognized instantly.
Cain looked over along with Kelsier. Kar was approaching, a fresh cut shone on his face and a there were a few tears in his shirt.
"He is mine." Kar said.
"No I don't believe he is." Cain replied.
The two people stared at each other, each of them unwilling to bend. Finally Kar spoke.
"I will give you Zasla." He said.
"Deal." Cain replied instantly. "Svekla grab Azazel." He looked back down at Kelsier, no hint of remorse in his eyes. "You proved me right Kelsier. A shame." Then he turned and left as if Kelsier no longer interested him.
The tall woman lifted her boot off of Kelsier and went over to the man who Kelsier had crippled temporarily. She bent down and picked him up in her arms before following Cain off, leaving him to Kar.
"It has been awhile Kelsier." Kar said approaching him. He knelt down in front of Kelsier's face and balled up one fist. With his other hand he grabbed hold of Kelsier shirt and yanked his head off the ground. Then Kar struck, one punch to the face, a second punch to the face, a third, fourth, fifth, it continued on, Kelsier's head was only cushioned by the ash on the ground as his head hit it after each punch. Punch after punch, Kelsier's could feel blood pouring over his face. His vision was growing hazy, he was so dizzy. It stopped for a brief momenta and for a second Kelsier thought it was over. Then he was hit once more, something was knocked loose in his mouth. Another punch to the face knocked Kelsier's mouth open allowing the object, a tooth to fly free along with a spurt of blood.
Kar released Kelsier and stood up. He grinned as Kelsier groaned. He lifted his boot up and brought it down on Kelsier's chest, Kelsier gasped from the impact the upper half of his body tried to lift off the ground as a result.
Kar raised his boot again but a shout stopped him from continuing. Kar looked over to the side and Kelsier tried to follow but he could only see Kar's hazy form. Then two other people stepped into his line of view, each of them carried a spear. Kar let out a snarl as he turned and left, leaving Kelsier alone with two guards in the ash. They seemed eager for a fight, young recruits. Skaa.
The guards took one look at Kelsier before turning around and abandoning him.
Kelsier struggled to rise, but he had no energy. He hurt everywhere, his lungs were on fire, his joints cried in agony, his muscles felt like they had been torn apart.
"Kelsier." Another voice said.
What now? Kelsier thought. His left arm began to burn once again, searing through his body.
"Kelsier its me." The voice said. A female voice.
"Mom?" Kelsier choked.
"I'm here Kelsier." she replied. "Now get up, you never were one to stay on the ground."
Kelsier eyes slowly began to focus and he tried rotating his head. He stopped when it began to hurt to much.
"I can't see you." He said.
"Come on Kelsier. You aren't finished yet."
Kelsier readjusted himself so he faced the direction of his mother's voice. Then he slowly began to crawl, looking around but not seeing her.
"Where are you?" He called."
"I'm here." She said and Kelsier hand's brushed up against something in the ash. His fingers folded around it and slowly slid it out of the ash. The metal spike that Cain's group had kicked away.
"Kelsier." Someone called for him.
"I have to go." He heard his mother say.
"No. I need you." But there was no answer.
He heard someone approaching but he was too weak to do anything about it. He just gripped hold of the spike in his hand tightly.
"Kelsier?" That was Lin's voice. "Kelsier!" He felt her hand move over his body, one hand stopping at his neck, checking for his pulse.
"Alex!" Lin shouted.
"No..." Kelsier tried to say but instead he coughed out blood.
Someone was approaching but Kelsier felt the darkness take him before anything else happened.