Mistborn: The Final Empire, by Brandon Sanderson
This book is set in an apocolyptic fantasy world, where ash rains from the sky on lands nearly barren. An immortal tyrant, the Lord Ruler, has controlled the Final Empire for a thousand years, crushing any and all dissent. But when a famous thief, Kelsier, escapes a death sentence by escaping the dread prison known as the Pits of Hathsin, and returns bearing the full magical abilities of a Mistborn (rare figures which can increase their strength, speed, senses, and control metals, all through the ingestion of multiple rare metals in a vial of liquid. Mistings only have the ability to do one of those things), and recruits another young Mistborn, the gutterborn Vin, to his aide, a plot is hatched to finally bring the Final Empire down.
As part of their efforts, Vin is tasked with insinuating herself into the nobility, to help bring them down from the inside out. But when she finds out that Elend, a nobleman she has come to love, is threatened with assasination at the nobleman’s ball they are both attending, Vin rushes through the mansion to find him, before it is too late.
You . . . must . . . give! she thought angrily, flaring her steel. Chips of stone fell around the window.
Then, with a crack of sound, the rose window burst free from the stone wall. It fell backward into the dark night, and Vin shot out behind it.
Cool mist enveloped her. She Pulled slightly against the door inside the room, keeping herself from going out too far, then Pushed mightily against the falling window. The enormous dark-glassed window tumbled beneath her, churning the mists as Vin shot away from it. Straight up, toward the roof.
The window crashed to the ground just as Vin flew up over the edge of the rooftop, her dress fluttering madly in the wind. She landed on the bronze-plated roof with a thump, falling to a crouch. The metal was cool beneath her toes and fingers.
Tin flared, illuminating the night. She could see nothing out of the ordinary.
She burned bronze, using it as Marsh had taught her, searching for signs of Allomancy. There weren’t any—the assassins had a Smoker with them.
I can’t search the entire building! Vin thought, desperately, flaring her bronze. Where are they?
Then, oddly, she thought she sensed something. An Allomantic pulse in the night. Faint. Hidden. But enough.
Vin rose to dash across the rooftop, trusting her instincts. As she ran, she flared pewter and grabbed her dress near the neck, then ripped the garment down the front with a single yank. She pulled her coin pouch and metal vials from a hidden pocket, and then—still running—she ripped the dress, petticoats, and attached leggings free, tossing it all aside. Her corset and gloves went next. Underneath, she wore a thin, sleeveless white shift and a pair of white shorts.
She dashed frantically. I can’t be too late, she thought. Please. I can’t.
Figures resolved in the mists ahead. They stood beside an angled rooftop skylight; Vin had passed several similar ones as she ran. One of the figures pointed toward the skylight, a weapon glittering in its hand.
Vin cried out, Pushing herself off the bronze roof in an arcing jump. She landed in the very center of the surprised group of people, then thrust her coin pouch upward, ripping it in two.
Coins sprayed into the air, reflecting light from the window below. As the glistening shower of metal fell around Vin, she Pushed. Coins zipped away from her like a swarm of insects, each one leaving a trail in the mist. Figures cried out as coins hit flesh, and several of the dark forms dropped.
Several did not. Some of the coins snapped away, Pushed aside by invisible Allomantic hands. Four people remained standing: Two of them wore mistcloaks; one of them was familiar.
Shan Elariel. Vin didn’t need to see the cloak to understand; there was only one reason a woman as important as Shan would come on an assassination like this. She was a Mistborn.
“You?” Shan asked in shock. She wore a black outfit of trousers and shirt, her dark hair pulled back, her mistcloak worn almost stylishly.
Two Mistborn, Vin thought. Not good. She scrambled away, ducking as one of the assassins swung a dueling cane at her.
Vin slid across the rooftop, then Pulled herself to a brief halt, spinning with one hand resting against the cold bronze. She reached out and Pulled against the few coins that hadn’t escaped out into the night, yanking them back into her hand.
“Kill her!” Shan snapped. The two men Vin had felled lay groaning on the rooftop. They weren’t dead; in fact, one was climbing unsteadily to his feet.
Thugs, Vin thought. The other two are probably Coinshots.
As if to prove her right, one of the men tried to Push away Vin’s vial of metals. Fortunately, there weren’t enough metals in the vial to give him a very good anchor, and she kept hold of it easily.
Shan turned her attention back to the skylight.
No you don’t! Vin thought, dashing forward again.
The Coinshot cried out as she approached. Vin flipped a coin and shot it at him. He, of course, Pushed back—but Vin anchored herself against the bronze roof and flared Steel, Pushing with a firm effort.
The man’s own Steelpush—transmitted from the coin, to Vin, to the roof—launched him out into the air. He cried out, shooting off into the darkness. He was only a Misting, and couldn’t Pull himself back to the rooftop.
The other Coinshot tried to spray Vin with coins, but she deflected them with ease. Unfortunately, he wasn’t as foolish as his companion, and he released the coins soon after Pushing them. However, it was obvious that he couldn’t hit her. Why did he keep—
The other Mistborn! Vin thought, ducking to a roll as a figure leaped from the dark mists, glass knives flashing in the air.
Vin just barely got out of the way, flaring pewter to give herself balance. She came to her feet beside the wounded Thug, who stood on obviously weak legs. With another flare of pewter, Vin slammed her shoulder into the man’s chest, shoving him to the side.
The man stumbled maladroitly, still holding his bleeding side. Then he tripped and fell right into the skylight. The fine, tinted glass shattered as he fell, and Vin’s tin-enhanced ears could hear cries of surprise from below, followed by a crash as the Thug hit the ground.
Vin looked up, smiling evilly at the stunned Shan. Behind her, the second Mistborn—a man—swore quietly.
“You . . . You . . .” Shan sputtered, her eyes flaring dangerously with anger in the night.
Take the warning, Elend, Vin thought, and escape. It’s time for me to go.
She couldn’t face two Mistborn at once—she couldn’t even beat Kelsier most nights. Flaring Steel, Vin launched herself backward. Shan took a step forward and—looking determined—Pushed herself after Vin. The second Mistborn joined her.
Bloody hell! Vin thought, spinning in the air and Pulling herself to the rooftop’s edge near where she had broken the rose window. Below, figures scrambled about, lanterns brightening the mists. Lord Venture probably thought that the fuss meant his son was dead. He was in for a surprise.
Vin launched herself into the air again, jumping out into the misty void. She could hear the two Mistborn land behind her, then push off as well.
This isn’t good, Vin thought with trepidation as she hurled through the misty air currents. She didn’t have any coins left, nor did she have daggers—and she faced two trained Mistborn.
She burned iron, searching frantically for an anchor in the night. A line of blue, moving slowly, appeared beneath her to the right.
Vin yanked on the line, changing her trajectory. She shot downward, the Venture grounds wall appearing as a dark shadow beneath her. Her anchor was the breastplate of an unfortunate guard, who lay atop the wall, holding frantically to a tooth in the battlements to keep himself from being pulled up toward Vin.
Vin slammed feet-first into the man, then spun in the misty air, flipping to land on the cool stone. The guard collapsed to the stone, then cried out, desperately grabbing his stone anchor as another Allomantic force Pulled against him.
Sorry, friend, Vin thought, kicking the man’s hand free from the battlement tooth. He immediately snapped upward, yanked into the air as if pulled by a powerful tether.
The sound of bodies colliding sounded from the darkness above, and Vin saw a pair of forms drop limply to the Venture courtyard. Vin smiled, dashing along the wall. I sure hope that was Shan.
Vin jumped up, landing atop the gatehouse. Near the keep, people were scattering, climbing in carriages to flee.
And so the house war starts, Vin thought. Didn’t think I’d be the one to officially begin it.
A figure plummeted toward her from the mists above. Vin cried out, flaring pewter and jumping to the side. Shan landed dexterously—mistcloak tassels billowing—atop the gatehouse. She had both daggers out, and her eyes burned with anger.
Vin jumped to the side, rolling off the gatehouse and landing on the walltop below. A pair of guards jumped back in alarm, surprised to see a half-naked girl fall into their midst. Shan dropped to the wall behind them, then Pushed, throwing one of the guards in Vin’s direction.
The man cried out as Vin Pushed against his breastplate as well—but he was far heavier than she, and she was thrown backward. She Pulled on the guard to slow herself, and the man crashed down to the walltop. Vin landed lithely beside him, then grabbed his staff as it rolled free from his hand.
Shan attacked in a flash of spinning daggers, and Vin was forced to jump backward again. She’s so good! Vin thought with anxiety. Vin herself had barely trained with daggers; now she wished she’d asked Kelsier for a little more practice. She swung the staff, but she’d never used one of the weapons before, and her attack was laughable.
Shan slashed, and Vin felt a flare of pain in her cheek as she dodged. She dropped the staff in shock, reaching up to her face and feeling blood. She stumbled back, seeing the smile on Shan’s face.
And then Vin remembered the vial. The one she still carried—the one Kelsier had given her.
She didn’t bother to grab it from the place she had tucked it at her waist. She burned steel, Pushing it out into the air in front of her. Then, she immediately burned iron and yanked on the bead of atium. The vial shattered, the bead heading back toward Vin. She caught it in her mouth, swallowing the lump and forcing it down.
Shan paused. Then, before Vin could do anything, she downed a vial of her own.
Of course she has atium!
But, how much did she have? Kelsier hadn’t given Vin much—only enough for about thirty seconds. Shan jumped forward, smiling, her long black hair flaring in the air. Vin gritted her teeth. She didn’t have much choice.
She burned atium. Immediately, Shan’s form shot forth dozens of phantom atium shadows. It was a Mistborn standoff: The first one who ran out of atium would be vulnerable. You couldn’t escape an opponent who knew exactly what you were going to do.
Vin scrambled backward, keeping an eye on Shan. The noblewoman stalked forward, her phantoms forming an insane bubble of translucent motion around her. She seemed calm. Secure.
She has plenty of atium, Vin thought, feeling her own storage burn away. I need to get away.
A shadowy length of wood suddenly shot through Vin’s chest. She ducked to the side just as the real arrow—apparently made with no arrowhead—passed through the air where she had been standing. She glanced toward the gate-house, where several soldiers were raising bows.
She cursed, glancing to the side, into the mists. As she did so, she caught a smile from Shan.
She’s just waiting for my atium to burn out. She wants me to run—she knows she can chase me down.
There was only one other option: attack.
Shan frowned in surprise as Vin dashed forward, phantom arrows snapping against the stones just before their real counterparts arrived. Vin dodged between two arrows—her atium enhanced mind knowing exactly how to move—passing so close that she could feel the missiles in the air to either side of her.
Shan swung her daggers, and Vin twisted to the side, dodging one slice and blocking the other with her forearm, earning a deep gash. Her own blood flew in the air as she spun—each droplet tossing out a translucent atium image—and flared pewter, punching Shan square in the stomach.
Shan grunted in pain, bending slightly, but she didn’t fall.
Atium’s almost gone, Vin thought desperately. Only a few seconds left.
So, she extinguished her atium early, exposing herself.
Shan smiled wickedly, coming up from her crouch, right-hand dagger swinging confidently. She assumed that Vin had run out of atium—and therefore assumed that she was exposed. Vulnerable.
At that moment, Vin burned her last bit of atium. Shan paused just briefly in confusion, giving Vin an opening as a phantom arrow streaked through the mists overhead.
Vin caught the real arrow as it followed—the grainy wood burning her fingers—then rammed it down into Shan’s chest. The shaft snapped in Vin’s hand, leaving about an inch protruding from Shan’s body. The woman stumbled backward, staying on her feet.
Damn pewter, Vin thought, ripping a sword from a sheath beside the unconscious soldier at her feet. She jumped forward, gritting her teeth in determination, and Shan—still dazed—raised a hand to Push against the sword.
Vin let the weapon go—it was just a distraction—as she slammed the second half of the broken arrow into Shan’s chest just beside its counterpart.
This time, Shan dropped. She tried to rise, but one of the shafts must have done some serious damage to her heart, for her face paled. She struggled for a moment, then fell lifeless to the stones.
Vin stood, breathing deeply as she wiped the blood from her cheek—only to realize that her bloody arm was just making her face worse. Behind her, the soldiers called out, nocking more arrows.
Vin glanced back toward the keep, bidding farewell to Elend, then Pushed herself out into the night.