Brandon wrote this Kelsier prequel story for the Mistborn Adventure Game from Crafty Games. Here’s a short preview. The first way to read the full story was to buy the tabletop RPG in ebook or hardcopy. It is also now included in Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection.
The Eleventh Metal
by Brandon Sanderson
Kelsier held the small, fluttering piece of paper pinched between two fingers. The wind whipped and tore at the paper, but he held firm. The picture was wrong.
He’d tried at least two dozen times to draw it right, to reproduce the image that she’d always carried. The original had been destroyed, he was certain. He had nothing to remind him of her, nothing to remember her by. So he tried, poorly, to reconstruct the image that she had treasured.
A flower. That was what it had been called. A myth, a story. A dream.
“You need to stop doing that,” his companion growled. “I should stop you from drawing those.”
“Try,” Kelsier said softly, folding the small piece of paper between two fingers, then tucking it into his shirt pocket. He would try again later. The petals needed to be more tear-shaped.
Kelsier gave Gemmel a calm gaze, then smiled. That smile felt forced. How could he smile in a world without her?
Kelsier kept smiling. He’d do so until it felt natural. Until that numbness, tied in a knot within him, started to unravel and he began to feel again. If that was possible.
It is. Please let it be.
“Drawing those pictures makes you think of the past,” Gemmel snapped. The aging man had a ragged gray beard, and the hair on his head was so unkempt, it actually looked bettergroomed when it was being whipped around by the wind.
“It does,” Kelsier said. “I won’t forget her.”
“She betrayed you. Move on.” Gemmel didn’t wait to see if Kelsier continued arguing. He moved away; he often stopped in the middle of arguments.
Kelsier didn’t squeeze his eyes shut as he wanted to. He didn’t scream defiance to the dying day as he wanted to. He shoved aside thoughts of Mare’s betrayal. He should never have spoken his concerns to Gemmel.
He had. That was that.
Kelsier broadened his smile. It took effort.
Gemmel glanced back at him. “You look creepy when you do that.”
“That’s because you’ve never had a real smile in your life, you old heap of ash,” Kelsier said, joining Gemmel by the short wall at the edge of the roof. They looked down on the dreary city of Mantiz, nearly drowning in ash. The people here in the far north of the Western Dominance weren’t as good at cleaning it up as they were back in Luthadel.
Kelsier had assumed there would be less ash out here—only one of the ashmounts was nearby, this far out. It did seem that the ash fell a little less frequently. But the fact that nobody organized to clean it up meant that it felt like there was far more.
Kelsier curled his hand around the coping of the wall. He’d never liked this part of the Western Dominance. The buildings out here felt . . . melted. No, that was the wrong term. They felt too rounded, with no corners, and they were rarely symmetrical—one side of the building would be higher, or more lumpy.
Still, the ash was familiar. It covered the building here just the same as everywhere, giving everything a uniform cast of black and gray. A layer of it coated streets, clung to the ridges of buildings, made heaps in alleys. Ashmount ash was sootlike, much darker than the ash from a common fire.
“Which one?” Kelsier asked, rotating his gaze among the four massive keeps that broke the city skyline. Mantiz was a large city for this dominance, though—of course—it was nothing like Luthadel. There weren’t any other cities like Luthadel. Still, this one was respectable.
“Keep Shezler,” Gemmel said, pointing toward a tall, slender building near the center of the city.
Kelsier nodded. “Shezler. I can get in the door easily. I’ll need a costume—fine clothing, some jewelry. We need to find a place I can fence a bead of atium—and a tailor who can keep his mouth shut.”
“I’ve got a Luthadel accent,” Kelsier said. “From what I heard on the street earlier, Lord Shezler is absolutely infatuated with the Luthadel nobility. He’ll fawn over someone who presents himself right; he wants connections to society closer to the capital. I—”
“You aren’t thinking like an Allomancer,” Gemmel cut him off, his voice gruff.
“I’ll use emotional Allomancy,” Kelsier said. “Turn him to my—”
Gemmel suddenly roared, spinning on Kelsier, moving too quickly. The ragged man snagged Kelsier by the front of his shirt and shoved him to the ground, looming over him, rattling the roof tiles. “You’re Mistborn, not some street Soother working for clips! You want to be taken again? Snatched up by his minions, sent back to where you belong? Do you?”
Kelsier glared back at Gemmel as the mists began to grow in the air around them. Sometimes Gemmel seemed more beast than man. He began muttering to himself, speaking as if to a friend Kelsier couldn’t see or hear.
Gemmel leaned closer, still muttering, his breath pungent and sharp, his eyes wide and frenzied. This man wasn’t completely sane. No. That was a gross understatement. This man had only a fringe of sanity left to him, and even that fringe was beginning to fray.
But he was the only Mistborn who Kelsier knew, and damn it, Kelsier was going to learn from the man. It was either that or start taking lessons from some nobleman.
“Now you listen,” Gemmel said, almost pleading. “Listen for once. I’m here to teach you how to fight. Not how to talk. You already do that. We didn’t come here so you could saunter in playing nobleman, like you did in the old days. I won’t let you talk through this, I won’t. You’re Mistborn. You fight.”
“I will use whatever tool I have to.”
“You’ll fight! Do you want to be weak again, let them take you again?”
Kelsier was silent.
“You want vengeance on them? Don’t you?”
“Yes,” Kelsier growled. Something massive and dark shifted within him, a beast awakened by Gemmel’s prodding. It cut through even the numbness.
“You want to kill, don’t you? For what they did to you and yours? For taking her from you? Well, boy?”
“Yes!” Kelsier barked, flaring his metals, shoving Gemmel back.
Memories. A dark hole lined by crystals sharp as razors. Her sobs as she died. His sobs as they broke him. Crumpled him. Ripped him apart.
His screams as he remade himself.
“Yes,” he said, coming up onto his feet, pewter burning within him. He forced himself to smile. “Yes, I’ll have vengeance, Gemmel. But I’ll have it my way.”
“And what way is that?”
It was an unfamiliar experience for him. He’d always had a plan, before. Plans upon plans. Now, without her, without anything . . . The spark was snuffed out, the spark that had always driven him to reach beyond what others thought possible. It had led him from plan to plan, heist to heist, riches to riches.
It was gone now, replaced by that knot of numbness. The only thing he could feel these days was rage, and that rage couldn’t guide him.
He didn’t know what to do. He hated that. He’d always known what to do. But now . . .
Gemmel snorted. “When I’m done with you, you’ll be able to kill a hundred men with a single coin. You’ll be able to Pull a man’s own sword from his fingers and strike him down with it. You’ll be able to crush men within their armor, and you’ll be able to cut the air like the mists themselves. You will be a god. Waste your time with emotional Allomancy when I’m finished. For now, you kill.”
The bearded man loped back to the wall and glared at the keep. Kelsier slowly reined in his anger, rubbing his chest where he’d been forced to the ground. And . . . something odd occurred to him. “How do you know what I was like in the old days, Gemmel?” Kelsier whispered. “Who are you?”
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