A/N: As with too many of my favourite books/games etc, Mistborn has far too few stories in its section. So here's my offering. I've kept it as faithful to the book as I can, but I've added to it, so I suppose it's my own interpretation. Mare's interesting to write, seeing as she impacts on other characters despite being long dead. Hopefully, I did her (and the marvellous books) justice!
Chapter One: Inquisitive
In the blackness of night, the skaa slept. Most of them were docile and law-abiding, forced by fear to live in a cycle of slave labour and cruelty. Not Mare. And not Kelsier.
Their lives might be more dangerous than the average skaa and they might have more to fear, but every noble they robbed blind was a blow to this evil society and the dictator who maintained it. Soon, they would deal the greatest blow yet – stealing from the Lord Ruler himself. It was exhilarating to think of it. She and Kelsier had been planning for months now. They'd received specialist help from some of their thief friends – including valuable information from the ever-resourceful Dockson – but the heist itself was for the two of them.
Mare focused her attention back on the corridor below. She was the best Tineye thief there was – or so Kelsier liked to tell her – and she could figures with perfect clarity, where others would just see tiny blobs in the distance. That's why she and her Smoker companion, Trap, could sit perched on the outer perimeter of Kredik Shaw and still maintain surveillance of the fortress.
They were loitering atop a rooftop near to the Canton of Orthodoxy's main headquarters. Perhaps it was a little foolhardy being so close to an enemy hotspot during such her final observation run, but it was the only building that was far enough from the Canton of Inquisition without leaving Kredik Shaw outside the scope of her superhuman sight. It was a grubby rooftop, stained with the same ash that coated the rest of the city. Mare was covered in the stuff now. She tugged her hood down as far as she could without it obscuring her vision.
They'd been here for several hours tonight, waiting. It was mostly uneventful, even if it was necessary to the plan. Mare kept her eyes focussed on the narrow window at the top of the corridor, which would give her a decent view of a passing head, should someone pass through. And someone would. It had been the same every three days, for the past few months. Tonight was the final confirmation.
While she couldn't let her eyes wander, her other senses were free to explore the city once more. The breeze was mild, as it always was in Luthadel. It brought with it mist, which wrapped itself around her like a protective cloak, knowing she didn't fear it. It still unsettled her a little; Kelsier had shown her that the mists were harmless, especially because her enhanced eyes could pierce their shroud, but she had grown up skaa. She knew the stories of fiends that lurked in the mist, though these days she would be more fearful of encountering a Mistborn or Inquisitor than an elusive Mistwraith.
Trap reclined on his back next to her, gazing at the mist trailing across the sky. He didn't have the advantage of advanced senses and his only role at the moment was to hide her Allomancy. It seemed to take most of his willpower to stop himself falling asleep. Mare smiled; how someone so reckless managed to survive as a Misting thief, she didn't know.
Her smile slipped as she detected movement in the hallway. Right on time, a youthful face passed by the nondescript window. She flared her tin for a better look, frowning as she considered how attractive the Lord Ruler was. It was stupid really, but somehow she had always assumed the Lord Ruler would look as malevolent as his reputation. She'd made a sketch before, so the few eye-witnesses who'd seen him – or images of him – could confirm the man's identity. This had to be the Lord Ruler. Mare grinned; this was it. Once they reported back, the plan could be put in motion.
"Trap, he's come back out," she whispered.
"So we can go now? Lord Ruler, finally." He stretched, moving into a crouch beside her and peering hopelessly in the direction Mare was looking. "It's odd how he always spends three hours shut up in there. What d'you think he's doing?"
"Kelsier thinks he's storing his wealth in there."
Trap regarded her sceptically. "So he goes in there to stare at a huge pile of boxings for a few hours every three days?"
"It doesn't have to be money – maybe it's some powerful metal he's kept hidden. Like atium." Her last job with Kelsier had involved stealing a tiny atium cache from one of the Great Houses, and those few tiny beads had funded their lifestyle for the past several months. Considering how tightly the Lord Ruler restricted the flow of atium, it would make sense that if he knew of an even more valuable metal, he'd keep it all to himself. Of course, monetary wealth wasn't the only thing Mare hoped was hidden within the vault.
"C'mon, let's go," Trap said, interrupting her musings. "Some of us have to work tomorrow, y'know."
Mare grinned. "'Work'? Is that what you're–?"
There was someone there.
She froze, grabbing Trap's sleeve and dragging him away from the edge, inching along the roof until she found a group of wide chimney stacks to hide behind.
"Mare?" he whispered.
She held a finger to her lips, eyes wide and tense. Mare flared her tin, waiting for the sound she'd heard a moment before. The sound of breathing, predatory and inhuman. She'd never heard anything like it before – but then she didn't make a habit of walking around with her tin burning. Whoever it was shouldn't know that they were here – not with Trap's copper turned on – but Mare was sure the stranger was waiting, feeling the surroundings with his senses just as she was.
Mare suppressed a gasp as a cloaked figure leapt into the air where they had been moments before, landing easily on the roof. She felt Trap shudder beside her. She didn't need tin to see the faint light reflecting off those steel spikes, to recognise the black robes and the harsh edges of a cruel face. She quickly ducked behind the cover of the chimneys before the thing saw her.
Without really knowing why, she made a hand signal to Trap, telling him to turn his metal off as she did the same. He looked unsure, but she was Kelsier's right-hand, and her authority was respected. He nodded once it was off. Technically, nobody should be able to detect someone using Allomancy within the protection of a coppercloud – but who knew what was truth or fiction where Inquisitors were concerned?
It – he? – stood immobile on the roof, framed by the imposing silhouette of Kredik Shaw. Mare's muscles felt frozen. She fought the instinct to bolt, knowing there was no hope of outrunning an Inquisitor. But she couldn't hide and wait; it knew they were up here. It was waiting them out, like a hunter luring its prey into making the first move. Inquisitors revelled in the terror of their victims; while she and Trap cowered behind the wall, that abomination was basking in ecstasy.
They had to escape.
Mare turned towards Trap, who looked deathly pale. She had made a full investigation of the roof earlier when plotting escape routes, should they be discovered. It had never occurred to her that they might need to utilise these escape routes.
She silently motioned towards the edge of the roof, a part that was hidden from the Inquisitor by the high chimneys they were crouched behind. The edge was about two paces from them. There was a window ledge not far beneath it and from there, they could shimmy down some guttering to the second floor of the building and sneak through an open window into the building. Easy enough. In theory.
Trap hesitantly crept towards the edge, moving a fraction at a time. Mare waited a moment and then shuffled along the chimney's shadow, away from the Inquisitor and towards the edge. Her every movement felt perilously loud.
The Smoker eased one leg over side of the roof, lowering himself quietly towards the window ledge. Mare made to follow him.
A footstep, loud and unafraid. The Inquisitor was moving towards the chimneys, its heavy footsteps barely a breath away. Trap was out of sight, but that monster was about to round the chimney and see her. It wasn't possible to get down in time. She had to run. She had to run!
Mare's seized-up limbs burst into life as she shot from her hiding place, darting across the rooftop and throwing herself over the edge. She soared over the alley below and landed on the roof of the building opposite, tucking herself into a roll that slightly winded her.
She scrambled to her feet and ran for the next roof.
Mare didn't wait to check the Inquisitor's location, she was just thankful it hadn't caught her yet. Thankful and surprised. But she didn't think she'd gotten away nearly so easily. She launched herself across the roof, jumping a narrow gap to the next, and continuing her path. Whenever the opportunity to jump to a slightly lower building arose, she took it. It was paramount that she reached the ground soon. Not being a Mistborn, there was no chance she could outrun someone with full Allomantic abilities in a rooftop pursuit. She'd have a hard enough time on the ground.
There was a metal rail hanging over the edge of the roof. It stopped a metre or so from the ground, but the drop was manageable. Mare grabbed hold of the rail, wrapping her legs around it and sliding down. The rusty metal bit her hands, and she let go, landing noisily in a dark alley.
She immediately concealed herself in the shadows, her chest heaving with gasping breaths that she was trying to stifle. Mare wanted to burn her tin to check if she could hear the Inquisitor, but there was no coppercloud to keep her safe now. Mare suddenly realised that she'd left Trap behind, part way through his escape route. He might have been caught. He might be at the mercy of an Inquisitor now. She fought the urge to retch.
Can't stay here.
Where to go? She could head for home, but if Kelsier was there she'd be leading the Inquisitor right to him. The same was true of Dockson's place. She needed somewhere in which she could lay low, but where she wouldn't be putting anyone in danger.
The trouble was that she and Kelsier had tried to keep a low profile since they started planning this theft. Despite Kelsier's love of notoriety, they'd agreed it would be bad for the Lord Ruler to get wind of such a brazen attack on his supremacy. That meant cutting themselves off from most of the underground. But, there was one place she could go, and it was surely empty at night.
There was nothing else for it. Fighting the fear that kept her rooted to the spot, Mare made her way through the back alleys of the commerce district. She tried to keep to the shadows as much as possible, slipping into cover whenever she heard a suspicious sound. And in this state of anxious paranoia, every sound was suspicious.
Mare was closing in on her target now, and still no more sign of the Inquisitor. How did I lose it so easily... is it following me in stealth? Is it watching and lying in wait? She shuddered, continuing her dogged pace. It may be coming for her, but she wasn't going to make it easy.
The building that would be her haven was straight ahead. She was approaching it from the alley behind it, which would allow her access to the storage room in the back. A good enough hiding place.
Mare reached the window, using her key to unlock the latch and slide it partially open. It was just wide enough for her to slither inside on her stomach and onto the well-cleaned wooden floor. She scrambled underneath a nearby table, on top of which miscellaneous items were stacked. In the dark, she would be hard to see – but did Inquisitors even require a light source? Fearing not, she huddled as far underneath the desk as she could and pulled a wooden chair towards her to aid obscurity.
Please don't find me.
Holding her breath, Mare strained for sounds outside. She couldn't risk using tin. All she could hear was her own thudding heart. She had never been so frightened before. Previously, all her jobs had been raids on nobles or their warehouses – there had never been cause to come up against an Inquisitor. There had never been occasion to doubt herself.
And Kelsier wasn't with her this time. It had been exhilarating, stealing with him. No matter how much money they obtained, she doubted either of them would give up the thrill of infiltration, of rubbing it in the nobles' faces. Even when the plan had gone askew before, he'd always had some off-the-wall idea to get them out of trouble. He was mad and daring, and she loved him for it. Kelsier was the fighter, she was the scout. But he wasn't here. And she couldn't fight her way out of this situation. Mare exhaled slowly and quietly.
She would wait here, at least until morning.
Despite all their planning for this job, they had never considered the possibility of capture during a routine information-gathering. Not when she'd been doing this for months.
It sounded like... a footstep?
Mare stopped breathing. Even that could give her away.
The floor creaked near the window – she heard the sound of someone quietly sliding it shut. Had she left it open? She'd been sloppy, too desperate to get to a hiding place.
A shoe scuffed the floor, barely audible as it moved closer to her.
Did it know? Has it found me?