The Original Charity Ball

A Mistborn Fanfiction by Buck Greenwald

To: Vin, Hammond, Breeze, Clubs, Sazed, Dockson

From: Elend

Subject: Charity Ball

Fellow administrators of Luthadel,

It has come to my attention that winter has hit us especially hard this year. Many of our lower-class, opportunity-deprived skaa class are currently facing starvation. In light of this, I believe it is the role of the new Government to step in and assist them.

As the Government has already drained its coffers over the past year, and the wealthy merchants and remaining nobles have refused to contribute, I've been tossing around the idea of a charity ball- something we could throw together quickly, then invite some of the richest people in the city.

Here's where the idea breaks down. We need some way of profiting off of this. Perhaps charging an entry fee, or charging for food would be the best way. It was never done before the Lord Ruler was overthrown, but I think we can get away with it. Perhaps we could even set up a little "donation" basket, just in case guests are feeling generous.

Thoughts and advice, anyone?

Your Emperor,

Elend Venture, Emperor of the Central Dominance

To: Elend

From: Breeze

Subject: Re: Charity Ball

Elend, I must say, that sounds like a capital idea. Ever since we threw out the Lord Ruler, I haven't so much as seen the inside of a noble keep. I think the wealthier people feel the same way. I'm sure that given the opportunity, they would gladly attend, even if it meant having to pay a small cover charge.

And if they aren't, well… a little emotional control can go a long way. Just saying, a man with my talents could be very useful.

Your partner in crime,

Breeze

To: Elend

From: Sazed

Subject: Re: Charity Ball

My Lord Venture,

Be assured that you have my full assistance. I may be an entire dominance away, but I shall immediately begin heading homeward. I have some speed saved up and will likely be there within the week.

I only wonder how the ball is going to be funded. If we are asking a cover charge, it would be rude, I think, to expect the aristocracy to pay for the ball as well. That, we will have to fund. I have an associate named Tindwyl whose advice I will ask.

Respectfully yours,

Sazed

To: Tindwyl

From: Sazed

Subject: Just out of curiosity

Keeper Tindwyl,

Hypothetically, if one had no money and wanted to throw a luxurious charity event, how would one do this? None of my copperminds hold a relevant memory.

Respectfully yours,

Sazed

To: Elend

From: Dockson

Subject: Re: Charity Ball

Elend- this idea is flat out stupid. I know I'm the only person who pays any attention to this sort of thing, but WE HAVE NO MONEY. How are we going to throw a ball without money? Ask the nobles? Oh, wait, we're already charging them to come.

Forget this idea. I promise you, no good can come of it.

To: Elend

From: Hammond

Subject: Re: Charity Ball

My Emperor,

I have thought long and hard about your suggestion, and I must say, while your idea has merit, and has a noble goal, that I am somewhat confused about how you intend to pay for this ball you are speaking of.

Perhaps you can operate at a loss and hope to fund the ball with the cover charge? You would have to forego many necessities in order to come out in the black. I know Dockson's riding your ass pretty hard already when it comes to finance, so I don't think he'd like it if we actually lost money.

Maybe we could just use more Government money. That's inconvenient, but isn't any amount of money worth a single human life?

That's a good question, actually, one I haven't pondered in a while. Perhaps I will forward it to Breeze.

Your servant,

Gen. Hammond

To: Breeze

From: Hammond

Subject: Philosophical puzzle you might enjoy

Breeze, if you don't mind my asking, how much money do you think a human life is worth?

-Ham

To: Hammond

From: Breeze

Subject: GO AWAY

Actually, Ham, I do mind you asking. I believe I asked you to stop sending me these stupid puzzles.

-Breeze

To: Elend

From: Straff

Subject: Re: Charity Ball

HA HA SUCKERS, GOOD LUCK FUNDING A BALL WITH NO MONEY. I HOPE THE SKAA ALL STARVE. OR FREEZE. EITHER WAY, MY ARMY IS STILL CAMPED OUTSIDE YOUR CITY.

To: Elend

From: Vin

Subject: Re: Charity Ball

Hey, Darling.

Sorry I didn't get this sooner- I was patrolling. I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary, but you never know- Allomancy doesn't give me PERFECT senses.

I like the plan. I never DID get to dance with you before everything fell to shit. Don't know if we can afford it, though, we never did find the Atium. You know, the Atium that was supposed to single-handedly revitalize the economy after the Final Empire fell.

Also, this email was marked as "already read". Is there a glitch with the computers?

Love,

Vin

To: Vin, Hammond, Breeze, Clubs, Sazed, Dockson

From: Elend

Subject: Your suggestions

My fellow administrators,

Thank you very much for your input. Any holes in my plan will be addressed before I bring it forward at the next assembly meeting. I understand that funding is an issue, but I hope to solve this by the end of the week.

Best regards,

Elend Venture, Emperor of the Central Dominance

To: Vin

From: Elend

Subject: Be on your guard

Vin, dearest,

I didn't want to tell anyone else, but Straff replied to my email. If your email was marked as already read, I think a spy got to it before you did and forwarded it to Straff. I hate to burden you with another task, but it is vital that we find this leak.

You're right, though. We never did get to dance. I blame myself for that. I promise you, I'll make it up to you.

Love,

El

To: Elend

From: Vin

Subject: Re: Be on your guard

This can't be good news. I haven't noticed anyone new around the palace, but this man could be a long-term plant (and I use the term man for lack of a better one). I'll ask OreSeur what he thinks, an expert spy like him.

Silly! It was my fault, too. I was so self conscious back then. But this will be different, I promise ;).

Love,

Vin

To: Sazed

From: Tindwyl

Subject: Subtlety

Keeper Sazed,

Such a thing is generally not done. This is about the Venture boy, isn't it? He's going to have to learn to stand on his own two feet. Why don't I send him my online course? Free, of course. I have no need for money, and he has no money to spare, anyway.

I urge you to reconsider staying in Luthadel. The situation is unstable and we need you back in Terris.

Respectfully yours,

Tindwyl

To: Elend

From: Tindwyl

Subject: Become a leader in 30 days!

Luthadel Mail thinks this message is SPAM

Do you find yourself underestimated? Laughed at, perhaps? Are your decisions ignored? You aren't alone.

Tindwyl's easy six-step course, satisfaction guaranteed, will improve your decision-making and get people in line behind you. For doddering old men who lost their political acumen, long-lost inexperienced heirs, spoiled first children, and many more!

Did you know that a simple change in appearance can change the way people see you? Cutting that long hair and shaving that beard, or just standing up a little straighter will work wonders, and your subordinates will start obeying orders you didn't even know you gave.

Your new uniform will arrive within a single business week. You are, of course, expected to keep it on at all times. If you want color variety, change the cape.

I wish you luck in your rule. I hope that one day, Keepers will look upon it favorably.

-Tindwyl

To: Tindwyl

From: Sazed

Subject: Re: Subtlety

Keeper Tindwyl,

Thank you. Your assistance is appreciated… as is your advice.

Respectfully yours,

Sazed

To: Breeze

From: Allrianne

Subject: BREEZY WHY?

BREEZY! I heard there was a ball, and YOU DID NOT INVITE ME!

I am SO upset! I didn't bring ANY ball dresses! Only a riding dress, four dinner dresses, and five for walking. You should have said something!

Unless you wanted to keep it a surprise…. :D

LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE,

Allrianne! 33333333

To: Allrianne

From: Breeze

Subject: Re: BREEZY WHY?

Allrianne,

The ball is still not confirmed to be happening yet. Elend Venture is trying to draft a bill to fund it, but it may not pass. If it does… then I suppose the two of us will be going together.

Do try to behave yourself,

-Breeze

To: OreSeur

From: Vin

Subject: A spy in our midst

Elend has recently obtained information that points to there being a leak inside the palace. We suspect that there is a spy who has worked his way into the servants and is reporting directly to Straff Venture. Please inform me of any suspicious behavior exhibited by ANYONE.

To: Vin

From: OreSeur

Subject: Re: A spy in our midst

Mistress,

Naturally, I will do as you wish.

To: Straff

From: OreSeur

Subject: Fwd: A spy in our midst

Elend has recently obtained information that points to there being a leak inside the palace. We suspect that there is a spy who has worked his way into the servants and is reporting directly to Straff Venture. Please inform me of any suspicious behavior exhibited by ANYONE.

It seems that Elend has caught on to my presence as a spy. He doesn't seem to suspect me… after all, I'm THEIR Kandra. I doubt I'll be discovered.

To: Breeze

From: Allrianne

Subject: Re: BREEZY WHY?

Oh, Breezy! You always sound so old and stuffy ALL THE TIME! Try to loosen up, K?

I LOVE YOU!

-Allrianne 333333333

To: OreSeur

From: Zane

Subject: Vin's email

Hey, TenSoon. Can you get me Vin's address? Don't tell my father about this.

-Zane

To: Zane

From: OreSeur

Subject: Re: Vin's email

Master,

I have done as you requested and, as per the terms of the contract, will abide by your command to not tell your father of this order.

The email address you requested is

To: Elend

From: Penrod

Subject: Your proposal

Emperor Venture,

After today's meeting, the assembly convened and has voted down your proposal to fund a charity ball with Government money by a margin of fourteen to ten.

We feel that such fiscal irresponsibility, while well-intentioned, is exactly what we are trying to guard against in these troubled times. If you are able to supply funding in another manner, I am sure that the bill would easily pass.

Best regards,

Chancellor and Assemblyman Ferson Penrod

To: OreSeur

From: Straff

Subject: Re: Fwd: A spy in our midst

AH, TENSOON. THANK YOU FOR KEEPING ME UP TO DATE.

WE WILL MAKE OUR MOVE FOR THE CITY VERY SOON. AWAIT FURTHER ORDERS AND KEEP ME INFORMED. I WANT TO FIND AN OPENING IN THEIR DEFENSES.

-STRAFF VENTURE OF THE NORTHERN DOMINANCE

To: Vin

From: -Blocked-

Subject: Hey

Hi. Um, I don't know how to say this, but I've seen you around and I think I really like you. I don't think you know who I am… but I'd love to meet you.

Love,

Your secret admirer

To: Vin

From: Elend

Subject: Charity Ball was turned down

Hi, darling,

The committee voted down my proposal. Now, normally, I would just work to fix the parts they didn't like, but this whole "army outside our doorstep" thing isn't doing wonders for my concentration. I talked to Clubs (I couldn't reach him through email, I don't think he knows it exists) and he says we're in a bad situation. Only with more colorful language, of course.

I don't know where I'm going with this. I'm just frustrated and I wanted to vent to you, I suppose.

Love,

El

To: Elend Venture

From: Tindwyl

Subject: Become a leader in 30 days!

Luthadel Mail thinks this message is SPAM

Elend Venture,

Perhaps you have noticed that your manner of speech is slightly different from those around you? Informal diction can have a terrible impact on a leader's reputation. Even the best idea will sound stupid coming from an uneducated skaa.

Always stating directly what you want is a good first step. Don't try to waffle your way around it- you are the leader, and people should be trying to please YOU. If you don't feel as if this is far, then I question what you're doing in the throne room.

Keep your words concise, as well. Avoid phrases like "see here" and "well, I….". These will make you look indecisive, and we can't have that, now, can we?

I hope this course has made a difference. Continue checking your mailbox for more useful tips!

-Tindwyl

To: -Blocked-

From: Vin

Subject: Re: Hey

So… I don't know who you are, but I have to say I'm taken. But you must know that, seeing as I'm currently with the Emperor of the Central Dominance. I'm sorry, though. Really.

To: Breeze

From: Hammond

Subject: Pain

Breeze,

I was sparring with Vin the other day and she smacked me a good one on the arm. It was hurting, so I started thinking, "why do humans feel pain?" If there is a God (and I know you've forbidden me to talk about this, so I won't), then why would he be so cruel as to allow us to feel pain? And if there isn't, what possible biological reason is there for it?

What do you think?

-Ham

To: Elend

From: Vin

Subject: Re: Charity Ball was turned down

Hey, El,

Those rotten council members! I'll get you your ball, even if I have to threaten every last one of them. Speaking of threats, I'm going to get Straff to back off for you as well. See how nice I am to you?

Maybe we can spend a little time together tonight, and I can relieve you of all that stress.

Love you!

-Vin

To: Vin

From: Allrianne

Subject: Hi! 3

Heyyy! So, I dont think you know me…. =^_^= but my name is ALLRIANNE! Breezy's bestie! So basically I thought you were so cool, like, they say you killed the Lord Ruler and seduced a prince into marrying you! And I have to give you major props for that. Like, I had to settle for a regular old noble, and not just ANY noble! One who likes to run around pretending to be a skaa. But oh wells, I guess we have to live with our men. How is yours? Is he nice? Does he leave mugs lying around? Breezy doesn't- he's so neat. Then again, he usually just tricks people into picking things up for him. Sometimes he doesn't even use allomancy. Isn't that AMAZING? He just tricks them into doing it for fun! He tells me he does it for some reason but I cant remember what he said because it was so boring. ANYWAY I think we should become besties too and go dress shopping! I bet you don't have any dresses. I bet I could find one for you. A nice pink one, maybe, or a deep red. Anything besides that appalling black you always wear. Ugh. I hate black. Why do you wear it? Breezy wears black too, but he's a man. So it looks good on him. Where was I? Right. Dress shopping! Email me back a time and we will get together!

See you soon! XOXOXOXO

-Allrianne!

To: Straff

From: Vin

Subject: Your impending doom

Straff Venture,

You are currently speaking to the Heir to the Survivor, Vin Venture, lover of Emperor Elend Venture, killer of the Lord Ruler. She has decided to speak with you in order to tell you that should you attack this city, your life, and the lives of all men you call ally, will be forfeit. I will kill each and every one, starting with you. I won't just kill you, though. I'll try a few things I've been thinking about first. Like making you swallow a coin and then pulling it around inside your stomach. You may say that's impossible, but I can do it. I'm not limited to the things other Allomancers are. I have plenty of other fun games, too, like soothing every emotion you can muster away until you feel only blank deadness- not even indifference, that will be gone too.

You will die slowly and painfully, mark my words. And I shall derive great pleasure from it.

So I'd advise you not to attack, or even stay around much longer.

Yours,

Vin

To: Breeze

From: Hammond

Subject: Re: Pain

The only pain I'm familiar with is the head pains I receive while talking to you, General Hammond. I've had quite enough of your stupid puzzles. Please, stop emailing me.

-Breeze

To: -Vin

From: -Blocked-

Subject: Re: Hey

Ah, yes, Elend. I think I'd be better for you, though. Want to give me a chance? If you do, it'll be well worth your while. I have a chunk or two of Atium that Elend could really use right now… say, to fund his charity ball? They're yours if you meet me tonight.

To: -Blocked-

From: Vin

Subject: Re: Hey

…Done. I'll meet you at the top of Keep Hastings at ten. But don't think we're going to… eew.

To: Elend

From: Vin

Subject: Never mind

Honey,

Sorry, but I'm going to have to take back what I said about tonight. I've just got a lead on some Atium and I'm going out to get it. Yes, I know it might be a trap, but I think I can handle it. I'll make it up to you, though. Perhaps tomorrow?

With love,

Vin

To: Breeze, Sazed, Dockson, Clubs, Elend, Vin, Spook

From: Hammond

Subject: My new signature

Hey, all. I just wanted you all to feast your eyes on my shiny new signature, courtesy of Breeze. Coming from him, it's practically a ringing endorsement.

By the way, does Clubs have one of these? His email is listed as , but I haven't ever received an email back from him. I've been trying to schedule training times with him for weeks now. Do I have the wrong address?

Thanks,

Ham

The only pain I'm familiar with is the head pains I receive while talking to you, General Hammond.

-Breeze

To: Janarle, OreSeur, Zane

From: Straff

Subject: Fwd: Your impending doom

Straff Venture,

You are currently speaking to the Heir to the Survivor, Vin Venture, lover of Emperor Elend Venture, killer of the Lord Ruler. She has decided to speak with you in order to tell you that should you attack this city, your life, and the lives of all men you call ally, will be forfeit. I will kill each and every one, starting with you. I won't just kill you, though. I'll try a few things I've been thinking about first. Like making you swallow a coin and then pulling it around inside your stomach. You may say that's impossible, but I can do it. I'm not limited to the things other Allomancers are. I have plenty of other fun games, too, like soothing every emotion you can muster away until you feel only blank deadness- not even indifference, that will be gone too.

You will die slowly and painfully, mark my words. And I shall derive great pleasure from it.

So I'd advise you not to attack, or even stay around much longer.

Yours,

Vin

SO, HOLY SHIT. I MEAN, HOLY SHIT. CAN SHE DO THAT? CAN SHE ACTUALLY DO THAT? TENSOON, I WANT YOU ON THAT. CONFIRM THESE RUMORS OR I'LL BOIL YOU IN ACID.

JANARLE, IN LIGHT OF THIS NEW MESSAGE, I WANT YOU TO MOVE THE ARMY BACK THREE HUNDRED METERS AND POSTPONE THE MAIN ASSAULT. WE'LL HAVE TO FIND ANOTHER WAY TO ATTACK, SO WE CAN SUBDUE VIN BEFORE SHE HAS A CHANCE TO KILL ME.

To: Straff

From: OreSeur

Subject: Re: Your impending doom

Master,

The rumors are true. Vin has discovered a new metal, duralumin, which allows her to perform such feats.

To: Hammond

From: Dockson

Subject: Re: My new signature

Classic. Simply classic.

Also, your projected army budget was looking a mite optimistic. I had to slash it a little.

To: Straff

From: Zane

Subject: Re: Fwd: Your impending doom

Father,

I believe I have a way out of the situation. I have made contact with Vin and I will be meeting with her tonight to give her some Atium. OreSeur has told me of a Charity Ball that Elend is trying to fund, and if he gets the Atium, he will sell it and throw the ball. You may send a unit of assassins to kill the noblemen then, when they will all be clustered in an indefensible location. And you say I never help with these things.

Your faithful son,

Zane

To: Zane

From: Straff

Subject: Re: Fwd: Your impending doom

YOU GAVE THE GIRL SOME OF OUR ATIUM? WHY NOT JUST USE IT TO KILL HER? SHE DOES NOT HAVE ANY OF HER OWN. KILL HER AND OUR PROBLEMS GO AWAY. IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE.

To: Straff

From: Zane

Subject: Re: Fwd: Your impending doom

We Mistborn need not make sense.

To: Hammond

From: Breeze

Subject: Your new signature

…Lord Ruler, Ham. What have I ever done to you? Which distant relative did I accidentally murder? Which fortune did I inherit? WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?

To: Elend

From: Vin

Subject: I have it!

Darling, I have the atium. Don't ask me how I got it, but it's yours now, and you can have your charity ball and won't things be all nice now?

Yours,

Vin

To: Vin

From: -Blocked-

Subject: Re: Hey

I quite enjoyed our time tonight. May we meet tomorrow as well?

To: Sazed

From: Elend

Subject: Relationship problems

Hi, Sazed. Are you back in Luthadel yet?

I trust I have you to thank for Tindwyl's advice letters. They've been such a help to me, even if there have only been two so far. I can really feel a difference. Also, this uniform? Totally badass. I even cut my hair the other day.

I was just wondering if you'd spoken to Vin lately. She just sent me an email and she sounded flustered. She didn't sign it "love", and she always does that. What if she's found someone else?

It's silly to jump to such conclusions, but I'm worried. Every day, I wonder what I did to deserve her and I wake up each morning expecting her to be gone.

Your friend,

Elend

To: Breeze

From: Hammond

Subject: Re: Your new signature

Good question, actually. Why AM I doing this? Why does anyone do anything? I suppose out of a desire to feel good. If that is the case (and it may not be, for I have not considered this question in greater depth), then I suppose it's simply schadenfreude.

The only pain I'm familiar with is the head pains I receive while talking to you, General Hammond.

-Breeze

To: Dockson

From: Hammond

Subject: Re: My new signature

When you say "slash it a little…."

The only pain I'm familiar with is the head pains I receive while talking to you, General Hammond.

-Breeze

To: Hammond

From: Elend

Subject: Re: My new signature

Classic Breeze, Ham. I laughed.

To: Straff

From: Zane

Subject: Vin and I have met

Phase one of the plan is complete.

To: Zane

From: Straff

Subject: Re: Vin and I have met

EXCELLENT.

To: -Blocked-

From: Vin

Subject: Re: Hey

You know what? …I think we can. Same time, same place. Thanks for such a wonderful night, Zane.

To: Sazed

From: Vin

Subject: Relationship problems

Hi, Sazed. Are you back in Luthadel yet?

I trust I have you to thank for Elend's sudden change in demeanor. He's been so changed lately, giving commands with confidence and standing up straight. I can really feel a difference. Also, that uniform? Totally badass. HE even cut his hair the other day.

I was just wondering if it would be terribly wrong if I'd… found someone else. Hypothetically. Someone who can understand me in a way Elend can't. I sometimes think we're too different to be together. Every day, I wonder what I did to deserve him and I wake up each morning expecting her to be gone.

Your friend,

Vin

To: Hammond

From: Dockson

Subject: Re: My new signature

We all have to make sacrifices in the current political climate. How does 20% less sound?

To: Dockson

From: Hammond

Subject: Re: My new signature

I think we can manage that. I'll ask Clubs what he thinks.

The only pain I'm familiar with is the head pains I receive while talking to you, General Hammond.

-Breeze

To: Hammond

From: Breeze

Subject: Re: Your new signature

I hate you. So, so much.

To: Hammond

From: Dockson

Subject: Re: My new signature

Good. Because it's actually more like 50% and if you couldn't handle 20, I wasn't even going to tell you about the rest.

To: Dockson

From: Hammond

Subject: Re: Your new signature

I hate you. So, so much.

The only pain I'm familiar with is the head pains I receive while talking to you, General Hammond.

-Breeze

To: Elend

From: Tindwyl

Subject: Become a leader in 30 days!

Luthadel Mail thinks this message is SPAM

Elend Venture,

The great advantage of leaders is that they have a lot of power to draw upon. Not being afraid to use that power when necessary is what separates a good leader from a bad one.

Not all conflicts can be solved with force, but many that could have been were lost because the leader was not willing to. Don't be that leader. Your soldiers are a drain on the taxpayers, and if those soldiers are not being used for the goodwill of your nation/city/province/kingdom/state/community of any sort, then why are they there?

As someone with access to that kind of power, it may be tempting to allow your own talents on the battlefield to suffer. Don't. People like a leader who is more like them- if you show that you care about training, then other people will as well. It also will help to foil assassination attempts. Even Mistborn guardians aren't infallible. Keep your physical abilities honed.

Until next time

-Tindwyl

To: Ham

From: Elend

Subject: Training

Hey, Ham.

How do you feel about setting me up with a dueling teacher? I'll be down at the yards after today's assembly meeting.

-Elend

To: Vin

From: Allrianne

Subject: 0.0 _ _

I haven't gotten a reply from youuuuuuuuuu! Are you ignoring me? No, I don't think so. You're probably just a very busy mistborn. Sneaking around and such. I bet you haven't even gotten my last message yet. So nevermind. Toodles!

-Allrianne! 3

To: Elend

From: Ham

Subject: Re: Training

You bet! But in return, can you get Dockson to loosen his purse strings a little? He just cut my budget 50%.

The only pain I'm familiar with is the head pains I receive while talking to you, General Hammond.

-Breeze

To: Hammond

From: Elend

Subject: Re: Training

Don't worry about that, Ham. I have a feeling that budget will soon be the least of our worries

To: Hoid

From: Elend

Subject: Atium

Hoid,

I have some atium for sale. Three beads, they collectively weigh about 1.657 boxings. I'm asking 645,000 boxings for the lot, and if you're wise, you'll take it before I hike the price up further.

Elend Venture, Emperor of the Central Dominance

PS: You have the same name as a skaa informant I know. Any relation?

To: Elend

From: Hoid

Subject: Re: Atium

My emperor,

You are most generous. I will accept your price.

And no, no relation.

Your servant,

Hoid

To: Elend

From: Penrod

Subject: Your proposal

Emperor Venture,

After today's meeting, the assembly convened and has approved your proposal by a margin of twenty-one to three. Though your willingness to fund this charity event with your own money has come as a surprise, the assembly has no objections. You have our permission to go forward with your plan.

Best regards,

Chancellor and Assemblyman Ferson Penrod

To: Vin, Hammond, Breeze, Clubs, Sazed, Dockson

From: Elend

Subject: We're on!

Fellow administrators of Luthadel,

We are officially on for the ball! Vin found some Atium somewhere. Somewhere mysterious. Anyhow, we can now fund this damn thing, not to mention solve some of our budget problems. That means Ham gets his projected budget, Dockson. In fact, everyone gets their projected budgets. For right now, we are in the money. And though I would love to know where Vin got that Atium, and where it went after I sold it, I'm just relieved that we can do it. Dockson, I would like you to cater. Ham, Clubs, you're both in charge of security. Ham, get Clubs to use his email, tell him it's Emperor's Orders. Caps intended. Sazed, I sent messengers to each person who I want there, rather than email. I'll give you a list of them and you can convince them to come. Breeze, I give in. Use your damn powers for all I care. Get them to come. Get them to donate. Whatever it takes. Vin, I don't have any assignments for you except that one I gave you a short time ago. The ball date has been set for fourteen rotations from today. I urge you all to get started on your respective assignments because complications WILL arise. I believe Vin has frightened Straff Venture into submission, so we need not worry about attacks by him.

Your Emperor,

Elend Venture, Emperor of the Central Dominance

To: Elend

From: Vin

Subject: Re: We're on!

Us Mistborn need not make sense.

To: Elend

From: Sazed

Subject: Re: Relationship trouble

Emperor Venture,

Vin is a sensible girl, even if she can be unstable. I know how much you feel for her, and I was her confidante during the last days of the Lord Ruler, which is when the two of you met. During that time, she was most effusive when it came to her feelings for you. The two of you are a very good match, I think. I do hope that things between you work out.

I am delighted to hear the news about the ball. Now that I am back in Luthadel, I will do my best to make this a success.

Respectfully yours,

Sazed

To: Vin

From: Sazed

Subject: Re: Relationship trouble

Lady Vin,

I am not sure that your fears about Emperor Venture. He and you think very similarly- more similarly than you know, in fact. I have known many men, but I would be hard pressed to name a better man than Elend Venture. If there were a hypothetical other man, I would suggest you get to know him first, and be very sure of your decision.

Respectfully yours,

Sazed

To: Straff, Janarle, Zane

From: OreSeur

Subject: Charity Ball times

Masters,

The ball will take place fourteen rotations from today at nineteen of the clock. It will adjourn at two of the clock the next day.

To: Zane

From: Janarle

Subject: You do know…

…that this plan has no chance of working, right? Luthadel is actually competent, you know. They've got a master strategist in there, Clubs. He will definitely be expecting a covert attack during the ball and will have contingency plans. They've also got Vin, who is no slouch at using tin. She'll detect us, mark my words, especially if we bring Allomancers- she can apparently detect those too, even if we bring smokers.

Just some food for thought. You've probably taken this all into account and prepared for it.

-Janarle

To: Janarle

From: Zane

Subject: Re: You do know…

You're half right. I have indeed taken this into account. However, I have no intention of preparing Straff for it. Let him blunder into this trap.

Keep in mind that I will have no qualms about killing you if my spies so much as hint that Straff has seen this email.

Cheers,

Zane

To: Zane

From: Janarle

Subject: Re: You do know…

Oh! No, don't worry about it. I never realized that you were plotting against Straff too. Knowing that I have your support makes this much easier.

Lord Ruler, I hate him. Always sending his emails in all caps and treating us like shit. Well, I've worked hard to gain his trust, and I'm going to make sure this is the last we see of him.

Phew… that was a rant. Well, I hope you share my convictions. I think I can handle this. And once he's gone, you'll take over, won't you? I'd love to serve under you, Zane.

-Janarle

To: Straff

From: Janarle

Subject: An idea

My esteemed leader,

Perhaps it would be best if you led this assault personally. Intelligence has indicated that their top strategist, Clubs, is a doddering old wood carver who will probably not commit proper resources to the defense of the ballroom. Your presence would inspire morale, and your ability to use tin would give us an advantage while scouting. In fact, since we'll be bringing smokers, you can just leave your tin on at all times, hell, flare it!

With a great leader like you leading us, I do not see how we can fail to win the day.

Your humble servant,

Janarle

To: Janarle

From: Straff

Subject: Re: An idea

VERY GOOD, JANARLE. YOU ARE CORRECT, MY PRESENCE WILL ENSURE A COMPLETE VICTORY BY OUR FORCES. I WILL LEAD THE ATTACK AS YOU HAVE SUGGESTED. THIS IS WHY I MADE YOU MY TOP STRATEGIST. JUST REMEMBER, YOU WOULD BE NOTHING WITHOUT ME.

To: Janarle

From: Zane

Subject: Re: You do know…

Feruchemical speed to you, my good man. You may continue your role as chief strategist under my reign.

To: Hammond

From: Clubs

Subject:

hammond i think we should have three legions of our finest on standby with archers at the windows and a full compliment of pewterarms disguised as terrisman stewards. and maybe some actual terrisman keepers as well with plenty of speed and strength ready. only this way can we ensure the safety of elend venture what is your opinion.

To: Straff

From: OreSeur

Subject: Layout of Keep Venture

1 attachment (Click to download)

Master,

Please find attached the floor plan to the Venture Keep. As you can see, there is a side entrance that can be accessed from the outer walls without going through the main gate. It leads to the servant quarters and from there, you can access the main ballroom.

To: Clubs

From: Hammond

Subject: Security precautions

Clubs,

Glad to see you're finally using email. I can see you're still having trouble with some of the finer aspects, but I'm sure you'll get the hang of it. Just a tip- you can put a subject (what the email is about) in the subject bar before you send a message. Just like I did. You can see how it goes.

Your security precautions are ludicrous. Three legions? There won't BE any room to dance with all those soldiers. Security probably won't be necessary. For Straff to know about this party, he'd need a spy very close to our nobility, which I doubt he has. Even if he does choose that day to attack, or if there's a need for security for other reasons, I'm going to be there. Both Vin and I, as a matter of fact. That's all the security we need.

Best,

General Hammond

To: Janarle, Zane

From: Straff

Subject: WE ARE READY

TENSOON HAS SUPPLIED US WITH THE FLOOR PLAN TO THE VENTURE KEEP AND I HAVE ASSEMBLED FOUR HUNDRED OF OUR FINEST MEN, AND A FULL CREW OF ALLOMANCERS. I WILL LEAD THE ASSAULT THROUGH THE TUNNEL. ZANE, YOU WILL COME WITH ME AND DEAL WITH VIN SO SHE CANNOT KILL US ALL.

JANARLE, I WANT YOU TO REMAIN HERE AND MANAGE THE REST OF THE ARMY. WHEN THE GATE OPENS, LEAD OUR ARMY IN TO MEET US.

IN TWO WEEKS TIME, LUTHADEL WILL BE OURS.

Two weeks later….

The day had arrived.

The ballroom had been completely renovated. In the days of the Lord Ruler, it had been in use every week, but it had not been used for a year, and it showed. Elend's cleaning crews had scrubbed it until every surface shined.

Elend himself, clad in his usual white quasi-military uniform gazed out at the empty room, his diminutive consort's arm looped in his own. Yet there was a distance between them.

Vin's dark hair was smooth and combed sharply back as it always was. Elend was thankful that he and Breeze had convinced her to wear a dress rather than her Mistcloak. Nevertheless, she had insisted that pockets with vials of metal and daggers be sewn into the fabric. Strange how Vin could make even a beautiful blue ballgown deadly.

Footsteps in the hall. The guests were arriving.

Into the room, one minute early as always, was Chancellor Ferson Penrod. Old and balding, Penrod was still canny enough to sharply limit Elend's power in the assembly, always courting a significant faction's favor. Behind him trailed several hangers-on.

Sazed entered, carrying a wicker basket marked "donations". He was dressed in traditional Terrisman robes, and he wore as many earrings as his stretched earlobes could accommodate, the mark of a keeper. His long limbs looked ungainly, but he walked with an inner peace that suggested great wisdom. Next to him stood Breeze, tall and portly, with slicked-back dark hair and a truly horrid pinstriped suit. He took up a nonchalant pose beside the donation basket and whistled, waiting for victims.

Dockson, with his trademark half beard, entered with a group of merchant assemblymen. Clubs followed, limping in on his bad leg, a scowl on his mushroom-like face. He and Ham had argued over security all two weeks of preparation. In the end, they had compromised, with six hundred troops on standby, plus Ham.

Elend glanced over at Vin. What was going on with her lately? She had barely been around, and always seemed strained when the two of them talked. That was rarely, Elend noted. He smiled at her, pretending everything was fine for the crowd.

There was quite a crowd, now. And the orchestra was ready.

Elend took Vin's arm and the two stepped onto the dance floor, as did couples all around the room. This was the first time Elend and Vin had danced, but he had hoped that it would happen while the two were closer. Vin seems exceptionally detached, Elend noted in exasperation.

In fact, Vin was very detached at that moment. She had a prickling feeling in the back of her neck, an instinct honed by years on the streets. She had learned very quickly to trust those feelings, and she knew that there was something terribly wrong. She reached out with bronze, searching for Allomancy. Nothing.

The orchestra struck their first chord. Annoyed, Vin concentrated, using all her mental power to dispel any efforts to hide Allomancy.

There! A flicker of Allomantic power. A small pulse of tin.

Vin concentrated, trying to ascertain its location. The north end of the ballroom. Getting closer fast. Vin suddenly knew that there was danger coming. An invasion, or an assassination.

Vin spun away from Elend, and the guests all gasped with one voice at the breach of ettiquite. Vin ignored them and used steel to pull on a metal chandelier, which sent her flying into the air. They would figure out that she was saving them eventually. Releasing her mental hold on the chandelier, she spun towards the ground. She flared pewter as she hit the ground, then rolled to a halt in front of the door to the servant's quarters. She ripped a coin pouch from her waist and Pushed it full force at the first enemy soldier as he was coming around the corner. It hit his face dead center, sending him sprawling back, dead, into the sudden flood of troops entering the room. Vin Pulled the pouch back into her hand and undid the tie, letting the bag hang open. She spun, hurling the coins out of the bag, then flared steel and Pushed them into the disoriented first rank of soldiers.

The coins stopped in midair, then fell harmlessly to the ground. Vin growled in annoyance. They must have a coinshot.

Then, a figure stepped to the head of the line.

"You!" gasped Vin.

"Me," confirmed Zane, face unreadable.

"You're Straff's Mistborn," said Vin.

"I'm his son," said Zane, his dark eyes fixed on her own.

"You're his son," she whispered, slowly putting the pieces together. "And Elend's-"

"-Brother," he completed, a half-smile on his face.

Around her, it was chaos. Straff's soldiers had burst into the ballroom. Hammond stood at the forefront of the defensive line that Clubs's soldiers had set up. He flared pewter as he fought, swinging his sword like a windmill. His arms glistened beneath the sleeveless tunic he always wore in place of a uniform. Ham was a pewterarm- an Allomancer who could strengthen his body through metabolization of pewter. Both sides ignored Vin and Zane. A battle between two Mistborn was not something to interfere with.

"I've come to take you away from this," Zane's voice shattered her thoughts and brought her back to where she should have been concentrating. On this potentially deadly enemy in front of her, who she had once been considering leaving Elend for.

"I brought Straff here to die," continued Zane, still gazing into her eyes. "Your forces can easily defeat the troops he brought and capture him, use him to negotiate with the army outside. In the confusion of combat, the two of us can slip away."

"What if I don't want to slip away?" asked Vin.

"We've been meeting for two weeks now, behind my brother's back," said Zane. "I know how I feel about you. I thought I knew how you felt about me. Was I wrong?"

Vin glanced towards Elend. Before, she would have quickly Pulled herself to his side and defended him from any and all attacks. But he had been taking intensive dueling lessons from Ham, and, though he was not a master of the dueling cane, he could definitely hold his own in combat. As Vin watched, he caught a soldier's sword on his cane, then quickly reversed the strike into a forceful tap at the breastplate of his opponent's armor, which sent him reeling back. No, Elend could take care of himself.

He had definitely been more kingly lately. But that doesn't matter, she decided to herself, standing and facing Zane in the center of his former ballroom. Elend wasn't kingly when I met him, and I fell in love with him anyway. I always was in love with him. I don't know why I ever thought otherwise.

"You were," she said, turning to Zane. "I love Elend, and I'm going to stay."

Zane's eyes darkened even further, and suddenly Vin knew that things had come to a battle- a real battle between her and another Mistborn. The two of them stood in a ring formed by the bodies of soldiers all trying to fight as hard as they could while ignoring the metaphorical elephants in the room.

Vin was the first to engage. Ripping an obsidian dagger from a pouch sewn into her navy blue dress, she hurled it end over end towards Zane, who sidestepped it before it had even left her hand.

Atium, she thought, suddenly feeling hope drain from her. Of course he's burning Atium.

Atium, the most valuable and powerful metal in the Empire, allowed Mistborn to see the future for as long as the metal lasted. Zane would be seeing a shadowy image of the world as it would be two seconds later, allowing him to anticipate her every move. All Vin could do was stall until Zane's Atium ran out.

Of course, if he had given her four nuggets, he probably had plenty.

He stalked towards her, daggers glinting. Vin drew her second dagger and waited.

He crossed the last few feet to her in a bound, swinging upward with his daggers. She moved to block, but he changed his trajectory mid-swing, reacting to what she was going to do, and her blades met only empty air. She jerked back with pewter-enhanced speed and his own swing sliced across her cheek. She could barely feel the pain through her pewter.

Growling angrily, she flared steel, pushing herself off from a statue of Breeze (that arrogant bastard) and directly at Zane, dagger first. Zane could have sidestepped, but he met her, clutching her dagger hand out of the air and forcing it harmlessly to the side. Zane and Vin stood, chest to chest, gazing at each other.

Then Vin burned the last nugget of Atium, the one Elend hadn't sold. Zane's eyes widened in surprise and Vin, smiling wickedly, grabbed Zane in a bear hug and Pulled sharply against the chandelier right above them. The two shot upward and Vin maneuvered Zane between the chandelier and her. They collided with a magnificent crash.

When two people burn Atium near each other, knowing what the other person is about to do changes what you are about to do, prompting the creation of another future image, which changes what your opponent is about to do, which creates a chain reaction of hundreds of confusing images, all completely indecipherable. This cancels any advantage that either Allomancer might have.

Vin's Atium ran out just as the chandelier gave.

How could I have run out so quickly? She thought. I had plenty there! Enough for at least a minute!

Before she could arrive at an answer, Zane kissed her. At the same time, he stabbed his dagger deep into her back. Then she and he and the chandelier all hit the ground. Vin could feel her eyesight going fuzzy, but she kept Zane clasped in her arms, despite his struggles.

You think I'd just give you all that Atium?" hissed Zane. "No, Vin. The world doesn't work that way."

So unlike Elend, she thought woozily.

"It was simply lead, with a thin Atium covering," continued Zane. "Enough for a few seconds, maybe. But not something I expected you to have. I thought Elend would have sold it all."

His struggles intensified. He was too strong for her. She flared her pewter, but so did he and he continued to work free. In desperation, Vin burned her newly discovered metal, duralumin, with her steel and Pushed against Zane's coin pouch. There was a whoosh of air and Zane was suddenly flying across the room by the force of Vin's Push. Her steel was gone, used up, and she could feel herself getting lightheaded. She quickly flared tin and the sudden burst of pain shocked her awake. She quickly glanced over to where Zane had fallen.

He lay at an awkward angle. From this vantage point, Vin could see that his spine had probably been snapped. But he was still dangerous. Pewter had miraculous healing powers.

Perhaps Zane could have gotten up. Pulled himself out of the battlefield and healed. He could have, if he hadn't landed right by Elend Venture.

He got a glance. That's all. Elend nodded once, acknowledged the man he was seeing as his brother, then thrust down with his dueling cane with all his strength. That was too much for even pewter. Zane's eyes rolled back and he fell unconscious. Vin staggered to her feet weakly and gazed into Elend's eyes. She saw something in them that she hadn't seen before, and he saw the same in her. Somehow, words no longer seemed necessary. Everything was back to normal between them.

Elend's soldiers had rounded up the survivors of Straff's assassination team and Straff himself stood, looking defiant.

"Father,"said Elend.

Straff gazed in surprise. He hadn't recognized his son. Could this imposing figure, clad in a snow-white uniform, hair cut short, with an iron gaze, who was holding a dueling cane in a grip as steady as his voice, really be the fop he had left at Luthadel a year ago? Straff had to quell a tinge of fear.

"Give me a reason not to kill you right here," continued Elend.

"I can give you one," said Vin, blinking back unconsciousness, and she smiled. "I sent him an email a while back, and I promised him a few things that I intend to make good on."

And Straff's last memory before he fainted dead away was that smile, promising terrors beyond human comprehension,

Vin looked at Elend. "Nice party," she managed.

Elend looked at her as if she were insane. "My guests are in hiding or dead, the only people on the dance floor are soldiers in full armor, the food has been ruined, and most of my immediate family, not to mention my consort, are critically injured."

Vin nodded slowly. "Let's do it again next week."