A/N: I'm currently experimenting with a style of writing called a "50 Sentences" challenge – you are given a table of fifty prompts and have to write one sentence to go with each prompt. Naturally, sometimes the grammar gets a bit flimsy, but it's a fun exercise. For 2011, I am writing a series of 50 Sentences challenges (four per month) covering many different fandoms and characters. Since I couldn't find a decent category to put the series in (this really isn't a crossover, so the crossover options are out), I am posting each entry separately in its own fandom. This is the second ficlet in the series, and if you'd like to keep track of them, there's an index in my profile listing the titles and fandoms of them all.
This ficlet takes place during the Mistborn: the Final Empire and a little bit afterward - I haven't read The Well of Ascension or The Hero of Ages yet (I haven't been able to secure copies), so just think of the first book while you read this. Enjoy! This is my first time writing for Mistborn, so hopefully it's not too bad for a first attempt!
Horizon in the Mists
The size and grandeur of Keep Venture had terrified Vin at first, but now she found it beautiful, in its majestic, imposing, terrifying way – and perhaps that was just a tribute to how much she had changed.
There was nothing more firmly secured in her mind than gravity – no one, skaa or noble, thought much of it unless they were Mistborn and had tasted the freedom of rising and falling through the air, teasing and taunting gravity's power to keep them grounded.
"Don't give up," Kelsier told had told her when she had nearly given up her Steelpushing and Ironpulling, exhausted from trying to keep up with him, "because if you stop trying, you will never be able to do it."
"Why, Lady Valette, you look positively radiant tonight," the young lord said with a smile that made Vin take a deep breath and remind herself that she was in perfect disguise amongst the frills of material and glittering jewels, that he would never know her for what she truly was.
As Kelsier knelt by the body of his dead brother, Vin pressed a hand to her mouth, a sick feeling growing in her stomach for what had been done to Marsh, and a fear gnawing at her sides for what Kelsier's wrath might cause him to do.
"We need to work on that attitude of yours, Vin," he said with a smile, "and don't be do self-deprecating – you are important, no matter what your brother or Camon or countless others have told you."
"You… tricked me!" Vin hissed, gasping for air as she landed, feet-first, on the cobble-stoned street even as she watched her opponent sail away, his laughter reminding her of his words: Allomancy is nothing but tricks.
Vin rarely saw Elend at the balls anymore, but she did catch sight of him once, speaking to a gorgeous noblewoman in a gown worth at least three times as much as the dark blue dress Vin had – she had turned away quickly, disappearing to the opposite side of the hall, a strange feeling flaring in her stomach, something quivering in her throat, something she knew she didn't entirely understand.
Flight – at least, created flight – was one of a Mistborn's privileges and Vin was quickly becoming accustomed to nightly outings across the cityscape with Kelsier, her continued instruction improving her abilities and confidence so that one day she could fly through the mists, solo.
Vin hated being grounded – she knew she could cover this distance much faster by air – but it was much too risky in the middle of the day, and besides, she was accompanied by Spook and several others whom she couldn't just abandon.
"Why is this taking so long?" Vin hoarsely complained to Sazed when he looked in on her sickroom, but he merely shook his head and reminded her to be patient.
"You insane genius," Dox was fond of saying whenever Kell surprised him with some ingenious move; however, this time when Dox said it, so soon after their deep loss, there was a bitter sadness that made Vin feel that this was the last time Dox would ever say those words.
Vin hated bandages – they were itchy and did not fit comfortably under a corset and gown – and that was enough to remind her to be more careful next time she got into a fight that got out-of-hand.
Elend smirked across the hall at Shan Elariel; his former fiancée strongly disapproved (like his father) of the way he brought a travelling library with him to each ball – hopefully that would encourage her to keep her claws off him for the next few months.
After Vin fell through the open skylight, landing as gingerly as she could on the floor, she ran to Elend, hugging him tightly and never wanting to let go.
"At least drink half of that little bit right there," Breeze said as her watched Vin eye the small glass of wine he had poured her, "it's not going to poison you."
"Lady Valette, I do believe you are trying to flirt with me," Elend said with a mock tone of seriousness that somehow managed to bring a flush to Vin's cheeks.
It felt like years and years ago when Vin had been a little girl, hiding in the shadows, afraid to move about at night, terrified of the mists – but now, she found them beautiful and ethereal, their unfathomable mysteries strangely fascinating.
It was peculiar – "respect" had been a foreign word when Vin had been on the thieving crews, but now she was with Kelsier and Ham and the others, they had shown nothing but friendship towards her.
"Don't get distracted, my lady," Sazed warned under his breath as Vin took off into the throng of nobles, her eyes automatically searching for Elend Venture even though the prospects of him being here were low.
"Ow…" Vin rubbed her knees where they had collided with the wall – next time she needed a better grip on the ingot to insure she cleared the wall, instead of barely making it.
"I'm already verifiably insane, Ham, as you and Dox are so fond of telling me," Kelsier said, "so, as far as I can tell, there should be no reason for me to be logical."
His death was an aching pain that would never completely go away – Vin knew that, having seen him die, it would be a sorrow that would stay with her for the rest of her life.
Vin watched her opponents carefully, trying to keep track of their movements – she was not about to put her own life in risk tonight simply for the sake of being out in the mists…
Mind occupied with thoughts, Vin sat on the roof, her knees hugged to her chest as the mists swirled around her… what were they, these mists, and what powers could they hold within them?
After it was all over, part of Vin wished that she could be Valette once more, attending the frivolous balls, finding the perfect gowns, drawn into the beauty and glamour of it all – then she remembered the prices that had been paid, the lives lost, the triumphs gained, and she gently put aside her memories of "nobility".
"Sorry for the intrusion, soldier," Kelsier said gruffly, keeping his soldier character even as he knocked the other man unconscious and continued on his way.
There were still times when she wondered whether she should have taken her boxings and jewels and gowns and run to one of the smaller cities outside Luthadel, but she knew now that she would never be able to leave: she had grown attached to this job, this impossible mission they were trying to complete, and most of all, she was… fond… of the people involved… she did not want to imagine life without them.
Kelsier had always been good at what he did – the planning, the jobs, the heists, all of it – but that had set him far apart from the others and the only one capable of keeping up with him was Mare… and now Mare was gone, and Kelsier was Mistborn, and Dox knew that no one could catch Kell now.
In her dream, Vin ran, pursued through the icy streets by the tall, dark Inquisitor, its steel spikes seeking her out, following her wherever she went, bringing her closer and closer to death…
"You are completely insufferable, Elend Venture, and I would gladly pitch every single book you own out the window right now if I were strong enough to carry them all," Vin said irritably, even though she hid the shadow of a smile in the corners of her lips.
Vin shivered as she watched the mistwraith lurch across the ground, its strange, translucent body showing the arrangement of corpses and dead animals it had recently absorbed… she would never get used to seeing such a thing…
Vin frowned at the clashing colors of her favourite gown and her favourite shawl, wishing that they matched – and then cursing herself for falling into the mindset of an empty-headed noblewoman with nothing better to do but to whine about the colours of her gowns.
"And here she is, our little skaa urchin-turned noblewoman," Kelsier said with a grin when Vin appeared at the top of the stairs, nervously smoothing down her skirt.
"I'll see you soon, Elend," Vin murmured as she stared at the windows of Keep Venture from her position high on the rooftops of Luthadel.
There was a line that skaa should never cross – or, as the nobles thought, were not capable of crossing – but Vin had run across it with ease and grace and tricked them all into thinking she was one of them.
Pewter-drag didn't leave any marks upon the body, but it felt worse – much, much worse – than the time when Vin had gotten her side sliced open by an Inquisitor.
Straff Venture could feel the anger rising within him as he stared at the ruined state of the Pits of Hathsin – wrecked beyond centuries of repair by the Survivor, dooming House Venture to the wrath of the Lord Ruler.
Vin sat by her window, watching dust-motes dance in the air like the ash that fell from the sky, wondering what a world without the ash and the red sun would be like.
"I doubt I will live to see it," Mare murmured as she ran her fingers over her picture of the flower, "but I know the day will come when this earth is the way it should be – green and fresh and without the ash."
Sixteen hours of running, sixteen hours of burning and flaring pewter, sixteen hours of self-inflicted Mistborn torture – why don't you just kill me now, Kelsier, it would be a lot nicer than this!
Kelsier stared at the Eleventh Metal, the legendary substance that was supposed to help him – even though he hadn't yet figured out what it did or how it would help defeat the Lord Ruler, the metal gave him some comfort that what they were doing was possible, that it would work, that it had to work – they couldn't fail, not now, failure would only bring more death.
Vin had always wondered what was truly outside Luthadel, even though she had travelled much of the Central Dominance with Reen; however, her journey to the caves and the pewter-drag that came afterward worked very quickly to convince her that she did not want to travel after all.
They teased her for her taste in ale, saying that she should drink wine instead, but she quickly demonstrated her affection for the stuff by dumping her glass on Breeze's head.
A war between the Great Houses translated to chaos in Luthadel – one House was connected to another, which was entwined with the next, and so on and so forth that if one of them fell, it would not be long before the whole system suffered a domino effect and every House collapsed.
The fury of a Mistborn was a terrible sight to be seen, and the slaves at Hathsin did witness it – they saw enough to be thankful that they were not on the wrong side of Kelsier the Survivor.
They thought he was mad to even suggest that the Lord Ruler could be defeated, but Kelsier was determined to demonstrate that there was no limit to the lengths they would have to go to bring about drastic change in the Final Empire.
Sometimes Vin wondered what would have happened to her had Kelsier not found her: would she have survived life on the streets, the consequences of the uprisings, the skaa rebellion, or would she have been killed early on?
Vin dodged her attackers and sprayed her coins – they flew about her and then were flung towards her opponents as she leapt out of the way of the oncoming arrow shafts.
Even after the events of the skaa rebellion lay far behind her, Vin would lie awake and stare at the ceiling, thinking, wondering, taken aback in awe at what had been accomplished, despite all of the impossibilities that had blocked their path from the beginning.