Dockson nodded. “That might be early enough.”
Maybe, Kelsier thought. The Valtroux Garrison is only three days’ march from Holstep. Even riding all night, a messenger couldn’t have gotten to Luthadel in under two days. By the time I get to the army…
Dockson could obviously read the worry in Kelsier’s eyes. “Either way, the army is useless to us now,” he said.
“I know,” Kelsier said. “This is just about saving those men’s lives. I’ll get word to you as soon as I can.”
Kelsier turned, ﬂaring his pewter. His pack suddenly became as light as if it had been empty. “Burn your pewter, Vin. We’re leaving.”
She nodded, and Kelsier felt a pulsing come from her. “Flare it,” he ordered, pulling two mistcloaks from his trunk and tossing one to her. He put on the other, then walked forward, throwing open the back door to the kitchen. The red sun was bright overhead. Frantic crewmembers paused for a moment, turning to watch as Kelsier and Vin left the building.
The girl hurried forward to walk at Kelsier’s side. “Ham told me that I should learn to use pewter only when I need it—he said it’s better to be subtle.”
Kelsier turned to face the girl. “This is not a time for subtlety. Stay close to me, try to keep up, and make absolutely certain you don’t run out of pewter.”
Vin nodded, suddenly looking a bit apprehensive.
“All right,” Kelsier said, taking a deep breath. “Let’s go.”
Kelsier took off down the alleyway in a superhuman dash. Vin jumped into motion, following him out of the alley and onto the street. Pewter was a blazing ﬁre within her. Flared as it was, she would probably go through all ﬁve beads in barely an hour.
The street was busy with skaa workers and noble carriages. Kelsier ignored the trafﬁc, bolting out into the very center of the street, maintaining his ridiculous speed. Vin followed, growing increasingly worried about what she had gotten herself into.
I can’t let him go alone, she thought. Of course, the last time she’d forced Kelsier to take her with him, she’d ended up half dead in a sickbed for a month.
Kelsier wove between carriages, brushing past pedestrians, charging down the street as if it were meant only for him. Vin followed as best as she could, the ground a blur beneath her feet, people passing too quickly to see their faces. Some of them called out after her, their voices annoyed. A couple of these, however, choked off immediately, falling silent.
The cloaks, Vin thought. That’s why we’re wearing them— that’s why we always wear them. Noblemen who see the mist-cloaks will know to stay out of our way.
Kelsier turned, running directly toward the northern city gates. Vin followed. Kelsier didn’t slow as he approached the gates, and the lines of people began to point. Checkpoint guards turned with surprised faces.
One of the armored guards crumpled to the ground with a cry, smashed down by Kelsier’s Allomantic weight as the crewleader passed overhead. Vin took a breath, dropped a coin to give herself a bit of lift, and jumped. She easily cleared a second guard, who looked up with surprise as his companion squirmed on the ground.
Vin Pushed against the soldier’s armor, throwing herself higher into the air. The man staggered, but stayed on his feet—Vin was nowhere near as heavy as Kelsier.
She shot over the wall, hearing cries of surprise from the soldiers on top of it. She could only hope that nobody recognized her. It wasn’t likely. Though her cap ﬂew free as she soared through the air, those who were familiar with Valette the courtgoing lady would probably never connect her to a Mistborn in dirty trousers.
Vin’s cloak whipped angrily in the passing air. Kelsier completed his arc before her and began to descend, and Vin soon followed. It felt very strange to use Allomancy in the sunlight. Unnatural, even. Vin made the mistake of looking down as she fell. Instead of comfortable swirling mists, she saw the ground far below.
So high! Vin thought with horror. Fortunately, she wasn’t too disoriented to Push against the coin Kelsier had used to land. She slowed her descent to a manageable level before thumping against the ashen earth.
Kelsier immediately took off down the highway. Vin followed him, ignoring merchants and travelers. Now that they were out of the city, she had thought Kelsier might slow down. He didn’t. He sped up.
And, suddenly, she understood. Kelsier didn’t intend to walk, or even jog, to the caves.
He planned to dash all the way there.
It was a two-week trip by canal. How long would it take them? They were moving fast, horribly fast. Slower than a galloping horse, certainly, but surely a horse couldn’t maintain such a gallop for very long.
Vin didn’t feel fatigue as she ran. She relied on the pewter, only passing a little of the strain onto her body. She could barely feel her footsteps hitting the ground beneath her, and with such a large reserve of pewter, she felt that she could maintain the speed for a decent length of time.
She caught up to Kelsier, falling into place beside him. “This is easier than I thought it would be.”
“Pewter enhances your balance,” Kelsier said. “Otherwise you’d be tripping over yourself right now.”
“What do you think we’ll ﬁnd? At the caves, I mean.”
Kelsier shook his head. “No use talking. Save your strength.”
“But, I’m not feeling weary at all!”
“We’ll see what you say in sixteen hours,” Kelsier said, speeding up even more as they turned off the highway, running onto the wide towpath beside the Luth-Davn Canal.
Vin fell behind Kelsier slightly, giving herself plenty of space to run. Kelsier increased their speed until they were going at a maddening pace. He was right: In any other context, she would have quickly missed her step on the uneven road. Yet, with pewter and tin guiding her, she managed to stay on her feet—though doing so required increasing attention as the evening grew dark and the mists came out.
Occasionally, Kelsier threw down a coin and launched himself from one hilltop to another. However, he mostly kept them running at an even pace, sticking to the canal. Hours passed, and Vin began to feel the fatigue that he had implied would come. She maintained her speed, but she could feel something underneath it—a resistance within, a longing to stop and rest. Despite pewter’s power, her body was running out of strength.
She made certain to never let her pewter run low. She feared that if it ever went out, the fatigue would come upon her so powerfully that she wouldn’t be able to get started again. Kelsier also ordered her to drink a ridiculous amount of water, though she wasn’t that thirsty.
The night grew dark and silent, no travelers daring to brave the mists. They passed canal boats and barges tied up for the night, as well as the occasional camp of canalmen, their tents huddled closely against the mists. Twice they saw mistwraiths on the road, the ﬁrst one giving Vin a terrible start. Kelsier just passed it by—completely ignoring the terrible, translucent remnants of the people and animals who had been ingested, their bones now forming the mistwraith’s own skeleton.
Still he kept running. Time became a blur, and the running came to dominate all that Vin was and did. Moving demanded so much attention that she could barely even focus on Kelsier ahead of her in the mists. She kept putting one foot ahead of the other, her body remaining strong—yet, at the same time, feeling terribly exhausted. Every step, quick though it was, became a chore. She began to yearn for rest.
Kelsier didn’t give it to her. He kept running, forcing her on, maintaining the incredible speed. Vin’s world became a timeless thing of forced pain and burgeoning enervation. They slowed occasionally to drink water or swallow more pewter beads—but she never stopped running. It was like. . like she couldn’t stop. Vin let the exhaustion overwhelm her mind. Flared pewter was everything. She was nothing else.
Light surprised her. The sun began to rise, the mists vanishing. But Kelsier didn’t let the illumination stop them. How could he? They had to run. They had to just…had…to… keep… running….
I’m going to die.
It wasn’t the ﬁrst time the thought had occurred to Vin during the run. In fact, the idea kept circling in her mind, picking at her brain like a carrion bird. She kept moving. Running.
I hate running, she thought. That’s why I’ve always lived in a city, not out on the countryside. So I wouldn’t have to run.
Something within her knew that the thought didn’t make any kind of sense. However, lucidity was not currently one of her virtues.
I hate Kelsier too. He just keeps on going. How long has it been since the sun rose? Minutes? Hours? Weeks? Years? I swear, I don’t think—
Kelsier slowed to a stop on the road ahead of her.
Vin was so stunned that she nearly collided with him. She stumbled, slowing herself maladroitly, as if she had forgotten how to do anything other than run. She stopped, then stared down at her feet, dumbfounded.
This is wrong, she thought. I can’t just stand here. I have to be moving.
She felt herself begin to move again, but Kelsier grabbed her. She struggled in his grip, resisting weakly.
Rest, something within her said. Relax. You’ve forgotten what that is, but it’s so nice….
“Vin!” Kelsier said. “Don’t extinguish your pewter. Keep burning it or you’ll fall unconscious!”
Vin shook her head, disoriented, trying to make out his words.
“Tin!” he said. “Flare it. Now!”
She did so. Her head blazed with a sudden headache that she had almost forgotten, and she had to close her eyes against the blinding sunlight. Her legs ached, and her feet felt even worse. The sudden wash of senses restored her sanity, however, and she blinked, looking up at Kelsier.
“Better?” he asked.
“You’ve just done something incredibly unfair to your body,” Kelsier said. “It should have shut down hours ago, but you have pewter to make it keep going. You’ll recover—you’ll even get better at pushing yourself like this—but right now you just have to keep burning the pewter and stay awake. We can sleep later.”
Vin nodded again. “Why…” Her voice croaked as she spoke. “Why did we stop?”
She did. She heard…voices. Yelling.
She looked up at him. “A battle?”
Kelsier nodded. “The city of Holstep is about an hour more to the north, but I think we’ve found what we came for. Come on.”
He released her, dropping a coin and jumping over the canal. Vin followed, following him as he rushed up a nearby hill. Kelsier crested it, peeking over the top. Then he stood up, staring at something to the east. Vin crested the hill, and easily saw the battle—such as it was—in the distance. A shift in the wind brought scents to her nose.
Blood. The valley beyond was speckled with corpses. Men still fought on the far side of the valley—a small, ragged group in unmatched clothing was surrounded by a much larger, uniformed army.
“We’re too late,” Kelsier said. “Our men must have ﬁnished off the Holstep Garrison, then tried to march back to the caves. But Valtroux City is only a few days away, and its garrison is ﬁve thousand strong. Those soldiers got here before we did.”
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