With The Alloy of Law, Brandon Sanderson surprised readers with a spinoff of his Mistborn books, set after the action of the trilogy, in a period corresponding to late 19th-century America. The trilogy’s heroes are now figures of myth and legend, even objects of religious veneration. They are succeeded by wonderful new characters, chief among them Waxillium Ladrian, known as Wax, hereditary Lord of House Ladrian but also, until recently, a lawman in the ungoverned frontier region known as the Roughs. There he worked with his eccentric but effective buddy, Wayne. They are “twinborn,” meaning they are able to use both Allomantic and Feruchemical magic.
Shadows of Self shows Mistborn’s society evolving as technology and magic mix, the economy grows, democracy contends with corruption, and religion becomes a growing cultural force, with four faiths competing for converts. This bustling, optimistic, but still shaky society now faces its first instance of terrorism, crimes intended to stir up labor strife and religious conflict. Wax and Wayne, assisted by the lovely, brilliant Marasi, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife stops Scadrial’s progress in its tracks.
Wax soared through the air above Elendel, hat held by its strings to his neck, mistcoat waving behind him like a banner. Below, the city bustled and moved, people swarming through its roadway arteries. Some glanced at him, but most ignored him. Allomancers were not the rarity here they had been in the Roughs.
All these people, Wax thought, Pushing off a fountain shaped like mists condensing into Harmony with arms upraised, bracers glittering golden on the otherwise green copper statue. Women sat on its stone edge; children played in its waters. Motorcars and horse carriages broke around it, sweeping to the sides and charging down other roads, going about the ever-important business of city life.
So many people—and here, in the Fourth Octant, a frightening percentage of them were his responsibility. To begin with he paid their wages, or oversaw those who did; on the solvency of his house rested the financial stability of thousands upon thousands. But that was only part of it; because through his seat in the Senate, he represented any who worked for him, or who lived on properties he owned.
Two divisions within the Senate. One side, the representatives of the professions, was elected and came and went as people’s needs changed. The other side, the seats of the noble houses, was stable and immutable—not subject to the whims of voters. The governor, elected by the seats, presided over them all.
A good enough system, except it meant that Wax was supposed to look after tens of thousands of individuals he could never know. His eye twitched, and he turned, Pushing off some rebar sloppily left sticking from a tenement wall.
Towns were better in the Roughs, where you could know everyone. That way you could care for them, and really feel you were doing something. Marasi would argue that statistically, leading his house here was more effective in creating general human happiness, but he wasn’t a man of numbers; he was a man who trusted his gut. His gut missed knowing the people he served.
Wax landed on a large water tower near a glass dome covering his octant’s largest Church of the Survivor. People were worshipping inside, though a greater number would come at dusk to await the mists. The Church revered the mists, and yet with that glass dome they still separated themselves from it. Wax shook his head, then Pushed off along the nearby canal.
He’s probably finished by now, Wax thought. He’ll be on one of the nearby docks, listening to the lapping water.…
He continued along the canal, which was cluttered with boats. Tindwyl Promenade, which ran along this canal, was crowded— even more so than usual. Dense with life. It was difficult not to feel subsumed by the great city, engulfed, overwhelmed, insignificant. Out in the Roughs Wax hadn’t just enforced the law; he had interpreted it, revised it when needed. He had been the law.
Here he had to dance around egos and secrets.
As Wax searched for the right dock, he was surprised to eventually find the reason for the traffic on the promenade. It was all bunched up, trying to get through a large clot of men with signs. Wax passed overhead, and was shocked to see a small cluster of constables from the local octant amid the picketers—they were being pressed on all sides by the shouting men, waving signs in an uncomfortably violent manner.
Wax dropped through the air and Pushed lightly on the nails in the promenade boards here, slowing his descent. He landed in a crouch in an opening nearby, mistcoat flaring, guns clinking.
The picketers regarded him for a long moment, then broke apart, taking off in different directions. He didn’t even have to say a word. In moments the beleaguered constables emerged, like stones on the plain as the soil washed away in a sudden rain.
“Thanks, sir,” said their captain, an older woman whose blonde hair poked down straight about an inch on all sides around her constable’s hat.
“They’re getting violent?” Wax asked, watching the last of the picketers vanish.
“Didn’t like us trying to move them off the promenade, Dawnshot,” the woman said. She shivered. “Didn’t expect it to go so bad, so fast.…”
“Can’t say I blame them much,” one of the other constables said, a fellow with a neck like a long-barreled pistol. His fellows turned to him, and he hunched down. “Look, you can’t say you don’t have mates among them. You can’t say you haven’t heard them grumble. Something needs to change in this city. That’s all I’m saying.”
“They don’t have the right to block a main thoroughfare,” Wax said, “no matter their grievances. Report back to your precinct, and make sure you bring more men next time.”
They nodded, hiking off. The promenade’s knot of pedestrians slowly unwound itself, and Wax shook his head, worried. The men running the strikes did have a grievance. He’d found some of the same problematic conditions among the few factories he owned— long hours, dangerous environments—and had been forced to fire a few overseers because of it. He’d replaced them with overseers who instead would hire more men, for shorter shifts, as there was no shortage of laborers in the city who were out of work these days. But then he’d needed to up wages, so that the men could live on the shorter-shift income—making his goods more costly. Difficult times. And he didn’t have the answers, not to those problems.
He hiked along the promenade a short distance, drawing more than a few stares from people he passed. But he soon found what he’d been looking for. Wayne sat on a narrow dock nearby. He had his shoes and socks off, feet in the water, and was staring off down the canal. “Hello, Wax,” he said without looking as Wax stepped up.
“It went poorly?” Wax asked.
“Same as always. It’s strange. Most days I don’t mind being me. Today I do.”
Wax crouched down, resting a hand on the younger man’s shoulder.
“Do you ever wonder if you shoulda just shot me?” Wayne asked. “Back when you and Jon first found me?”
“I’m not in the habit of shooting people who can’t shoot back,” Wax said.
“I coulda been faking.”
“No. You couldn’t have been.”
Wayne had been a youth of sixteen when Wax and Jon Deadfinger—a lawman who had been mentoring Wax—had found him curled up in the crawl space under a house, hands over his ears, cloaked in dirt and whimpers. Wayne had thrown his guns and ammunition down a well. Even as Deadfinger had dragged him out, Wayne had been complaining of the gunfire. Shots only he could hear, echoing from that well.…
“Any number of the boys we run across and take down,” Wayne said. “Any of them could be like me. Why did I get a second chance, but none of them do?”
Wayne turned to meet his eyes.
“I’d give those lads second chances if I could,” Wax said. “Maybe they’ve had their moments of doubt, regret. But the ones we shoot, we don’t find them unarmed, hiding, willing to be brought in. We find them killing. And if I’d found you in the process of armed robbery all those years ago, I’d have shot you too.”
“You’re not lying, are you?”
“Of course not. I’d have shot you right in the head, Wayne.”
“You’re a good friend,” Wayne said. “Thanks, Wax.”
“You’re the only person I know that I can cheer up by promising to kill him.”
“You didn’t promise to kill me,” Wayne said, pulling on his socks. “You promised to have killed me. That there be the present perfect tense.”
“Your grasp of the language is startling,” Wax said, “considering how you so frequently brutalize it.”
“Ain’t nobody what knows the cow better than the butcher, Wax.”
“I suppose…” Wax said, standing up. “Have you ever met a woman named Idashwy? A Feruchemist.”
“Never met her,” Wayne said. “They keep kicking me out of the Village when I visit. Right unneighborly.”
So far as Wax knew, that wasn’t true. Wayne would occasionally toss on some Terris robes, mimic their accents, then sneak in to live among them for a few days. He’d eventually get into trouble for saying something crude to one of the young women, but he wouldn’t get thrown out. He’d baffle them, as he did most people, until he got bored and wandered away.
“Let’s see what we can find,” Wax said, waving down a canal gondola.
* * *
“Five notes, for one basket of apples! That’s robbery!”
Marasi hesitated on the street. She’d driven the motorcar up to the Hub for the governor’s speech, then parked it with the coachmen who took pay to watch and refuel motors, intending to walk the rest of the way on foot. The Hub could be a busy place.
That led her here, near this small street market with people selling fruit. With disbelief, she saw that one vendor was—indeed—selling apples at five notes a basket. Those shouldn’t cost more than half a boxing per basket, at most. She’d seen them for a handful of clips.
“I could get these at Elend’s stand for a fraction of the price!” the customer said.
“Well, why don’t you go see if he has any left?” the cart owner said, nonplussed. The customer stormed off, leaving the cart owner with her sign proudly proclaiming the ridiculous price. Marasi frowned, then glanced down the row of stands, barrels, and carts.
Suspiciously low quantities, all ’round. She walked up to the cart owner with the high prices; the woman stood up stiffly, braids shaking, and shoved her hands into the pockets of her apron. “Officer,” she said.
“Five is on the high side, wouldn’t you say?” Marasi asked, picking up an apple. “Unless these are infused with atium.”
“Am I doing anything wrong?” the woman asked.
“You have the right to set your prices,” Marasi said. “One simply wonders what you seem to know that nobody else does.”
The woman didn’t respond.
“Shipment coming late?” Marasi asked. “Apple harvest gone bad?”
The woman sighed. “Not apples, officer. Grain shipments out of the east. Simply not coming. Floods did them in.”
“A little early to be speculating on food prices, don’t you think?”
“Pardon, officer, but do you know how much food this city eats? We’re one shipment away from starvation, we are.”
Marasi glanced down the row again. Food was moving quickly, most of it—from what she could see—being sold to the same group of people. Speculators grabbing up the fruits and sacks of grain. The city wasn’t as close to starvation as the cart owner claimed—there were storages that could be released—but bad news moved faster than calm winds. And there was a good chance this woman was right, that she’d be able to sell her apples at a premium until things calmed down in a few days.
Marasi shook her head, setting down the apple and continuing toward the Hub. There was always a press here, people on the promenade, vehicles on the streets trying to force their way into the ring around the Hub. More people today, crowds drawn by the speech causing traffic clots in the regular bustle. Marasi could barely make out the giant statues of the Ascendant Warrior and her husband in the Field of Rebirth peeking out over the throng.
Marasi walked up to join another group of constables who had just arrived, on Aradel’s orders, their carriages lagging behind her motorcar. Together they wended their way through the streets on foot toward the executive mansion. The governor preferred to address people from its steps, a few streets up into the Second Octant from the Hub.
They soon reached the large square before the mansion. Moving here was more difficult, but fortunately the constables from this octant were already in attendance—and they had roped off various areas near the front and sides of the square. In one, dignitaries and noblemen sat on bleachers to hear the address. In another, the Second Octant constables clustered and watched the crowd for pickpockets from the steps up into the National Archives. Other constables moved through the crowd, officers readily identifiable by the blue plumes on their hats.
Marasi and Lieutenant Javies, who had command of the field team, made their way toward the National Archives, where their colleagues from the Second Octant let them pass. A mustachioed older constable was directing things here, his helm—under his arm— bearing the double plume of a captain. When he saw Marasi, Javies, and the team, the man lit up.
“Ah, so Aradel sent me reinforcements after all,” he exclaimed. “Rusting wonderful. You chaps go watch the east side of the square, down Longard Street. Foundry workers are gathering there, and they don’t look too pleasant. This isn’t the place for their picket lines, I dare say. Maybe an eyeful of constable uniforms will keep them in check.”
“Sir,” Javies said, saluting. “Those masses are pushing up against the steps to the mansion! With respect, sir, don’t you want us up there?”
“Governor’s guards have jurisdiction, Lieutenant,” the old captain said. “They brush us back if we try to do anything on the actual mansion grounds. Damn pewternecked bulls. They barely give us warning anytime the governor wants to have a say to the people, then expect us to do the hard work of policing this mess.”
Javies saluted, and his team ran off.
“Sir,” Marasi said, remaining behind. “Constable-General Aradel wanted me to bring him a direct report on the speech. Do you think I could get a spot on those bleachers to watch?”
“No luck there,” the captain said. “Every niece and nanny of a house lord has demanded a spot; they’ll gut me if I send someone else over.”
“Thank you anyway, sir. I’ll see if I can work my way to the front of the crowd.” Marasi moved off.
“Wait, constable,” the old man said. “Don’t I know you?”
She looked back, blushing. “I’m—”
“Lord Harms’s girl!” the old captain said. “The bastard. That’s it! Now, don’t get red-faced. That’s not meant as an insult, child. Just what you are, and that’s it, simple as day. I like your father. He was bad enough at cards to be fun to play against, but he was careful not to bet so much that I felt bad winning.”
“Sir.” News of her nature, once kept discreet, had moved through all of high society. Hanging around Waxillium, who created such stirs, did have its drawbacks. And her mother did have something of a reason for her angry letters.
Marasi was quite accepting of what she was. That didn’t mean she liked having it thrown at her. Old nobleman officers like this, though… well, they came from a time when they felt they could say whatever they wanted, particularly about their subordinates.
“There’s space with the reporters, Little Harms,” he said, pointing. “Up near the north side. Not great for watching, as you’ll have steps in your way, but a great place for listening. Tell Constable Wells at the rope I said you could pass, and give my best to your father.”
She saluted, still wrestling with a mixture of shame and indignation. He didn’t mean anything by his comments. But Rust and Ruin, she had worked most of her life swept under the rug with a few coins in hand, her father refusing to openly acknowledge her. Among the constables at least, couldn’t she be known for her professional accomplishments, not the nature of her birth?
Still, she wouldn’t turn down the opportunity for a better spot, so she began to work her way around the square toward the section he’d specified.
* * *
What was that? Wax thought. He spun to look away from the group of beggars he’d been questioning.
“Wax?” Wayne called, turning away from another group of people. “What—”
Wax ignored him, shoving through a crowd on the street toward the thing he’d seen. A face.
It can’t be.
His frantic actions drew annoyed shouts from some people, but only dark glares from others. The days when a nobleman, even an Allomancer, could quell with a look were passing. Wax eventually stumbled into a pocket of open ground and spun about. Where? Wild, every sense straining, he dropped a bullet casing and Pushed, instantly popping up about ten feet. Scanning, he whirled, the motion flaring his mistcoat tassels.
The heavy flow of people on Tindwyl Promenade continued toward the Hub, near which the governor would apparently be making a speech. That’s a dangerous crowd, a piece of him noticed. There were too many men wearing battered coats and bearing battered expressions. The labor issue was becoming a bigger and bigger problem. Half the city was underpaid and overworked. The other half was simply out of work. A strange dichotomy.
He kept seeing men loitering on corners. Now they flowed together in streams. That would create dangerous rapids, as when a real river met rocks. Wax landed, heart thrumming like the drum of a march. He’d been sure of it, this time. He had seen Bloody Tan in that crowd of men. A brief glimpse of a familiar face, the mortician killer, the last man Wax had hunted in the Roughs before coming to Elendel.
The man who had caused Lessie’s death.
“Wax?” Wayne hurried up. “Wax, you all right? You look like you ate an egg you found in the gutter.”
“It’s nothing,” Wax said.
“Ah,” Wayne said. “Then that look I saw… you were just contemplatin’ your impendin’ marriage to Steris, I guess?”
Wax sighed, turning away from the crowds. I imagined it. I must have imagined it. “I wish you’d leave Steris alone. She’s not nearly so bad as you make her sound.”
“That’s the same thing you said about that horse you bought— you remember, the one who only bit me?”
“Roseweather had good taste. Did you find anything?”
Wayne nodded, leading them out of the press of traffic. “Miss Steelrunner settled down nearby, all right,” he said. “She got a job doing bookkeeping for a jeweler down the road. She hasn’t come in to work in over a week though. The jeweler sent someone to her flat, but nobody answered the door.”
“You got the address?” Wax asked.
“Of course I did.” Wayne looked offended, shoving his hands in the pockets of his duster. “Got me a new pocket watch too.” He held up one made of pure gold, with opaline workings on the face.
Wax sighed. After a short trip back to the jeweler to return the watch—Wayne claimed he figured it had been for trade, since it had been sitting out on the counter with naught but a little box of glass around it—they made their way up the road to the Bournton District.
This was a high-quality neighborhood, which also meant it had less character. No laundry airing in front of buildings, no people sitting on the steps. Instead the street was lined by white townhouses and rows of apartment buildings with spiky iron decorations around their upper windows. They checked the address with one of the local newsboys, and eventually found themselves in front of the apartment building in question.
“Someday I’d like to live in a fancy place like this,” Wayne said wistfully.
“Wayne, you live in a mansion.”
“It ain’t fancy. It’s opulent. Big difference.”
“Mostly it involves which kinds of glasses you drink out of and what kind of art you hang.” Wayne looked offended. “You need to know these things now, Wax, being filthy rich and all.”
“Wayne, you’re practically rich yourself, after the reward from the Vanishers case.”
Wayne shrugged. He hadn’t touched his share of that, which had been paid out mostly in aluminum recovered from Miles and his gang. Wax led the way up the steps running along the outside of the building. Idashwy’s place was at the top, a small apartment on the rear, with a view only of the back of other buildings. Wax slipped Vindication out of her holster, then knocked, standing to the side of the door in case someone shot through it.
“Nice door,” Wayne said softly. “Good wood.” He kicked it open.
Wax leveled his gun and Wayne ducked inside, sliding up against the wall to avoid being backlit. He found a switch a moment later, turning on the room’s electric lights.
Wax raised the gun beside his head, pointing at the ceiling, and swept in. The apartment wasn’t much to look at. The pile of folded blankets in the corner probably served as a bed. With steelsight, Wax saw no moving bits of metal. Everything was still and calm.
Wax peeked into the bathroom while Wayne moved over to the only other room in the apartment, a kitchen. Indoor plumbing for the bathroom, electric lights. This was a fancy place. Most Terris claimed to prefer simple lives. What had led her to pay for something like this?
“Aw, hell,” Wayne said from the kitchen. “That ain’t no fun.”
Wax moved over, gun out, and glanced around the corner into the kitchen. It was just large enough for one person to lie down in. He knew this because of the bloody corpse stretched out on the floor, her chest bearing a large hole in the center, eyes staring sightlessly into the air.
“Looks like we’re going to need a new prime suspect, Wax,” Wayne said. “This one downright refuses to not be dead already.”
* * *
Marasi’s position at the speech turned out to be exactly as advertised: nestled into a narrow gap in the crowd formed by the side steps of the mansion’s forecourt. Around her, the members of the press clutched pencils and pads, ready to jot down bite-sized quotes from the governor’s speech that might make good headlines. Marasi was the only constable among them, and her lieutenant’s bars didn’t earn her much consideration from the reporters.
Their view was obstructed not only by the position of the wide stone steps, but also by the governor’s guard—a row of men and women in dark suits and hats, standing with hands clasped behind their backs along the steps. Only a pair of sketch artists, who stood at one corner of the knot of reporters, had anything resembling a good view of the governor’s platform, which had been erected on the steps.
That was fine with Marasi. She didn’t need to see much of Innate to digest and relate his words. Besides, this position gave her an excellent view of the gathering crowd, which she found more interesting. Dirty men stained with soot from work in the factories. Tired women who—because of the advent of electricity—could now be forced to work much longer hours, well into the night, with the threat of dismissal to keep them at the loom. Yet there was hope in those eyes. Hope that the governor would have encouragement to offer, a promised end to the city’s growing strain.
Mirabell’s Rules, Marasi thought, nodding to herself. Mirabell had been a statistician and psychologist in the third century who had studied why some people worked harder than others. Turned out a man or woman was much more likely to do good work if they were invested—if they felt ownership of what they did and could see that it mattered. Her personal studies proved that crime went down when people had a sense of identity with and ownership of their community.
That was the problem, because modern society was eroding those concepts. Life seemed more transient now, with people commonly relocating and changing jobs during their lifetime—things that had almost never happened a century ago. Progress had forced it upon them. These days, Elendel just didn’t need as many carriage drivers as it did automobile repairmen.
You had to adapt. Move. Change. That was good, but it could also threaten identity, connection, and sense of purpose. The governor’s guards studied the crowd with hostility, muttering about miscreants, as if seeing the crowd as barely contained malefactors who were looking for any excuse to riot and loot.
To the contrary, these people wanted something stable, something that would let them sustain their communities or forge new ones. Rioting was rarely caused by greed, but frequently by frustration and hopelessness.
The governor finally made his appearance, stepping from the mansion. Marasi caught a few fragmentary glimpses of him between the legs of the guards. Innate was a tall, handsome man, unlike his brother, who had always seemed dumpy to Marasi. Clean-shaven, with a wave in his salt-and-pepper hair and a trendy set of spectacles, Innate was the first governor to pose for his official portrait wearing spectacles.
Would he know? Would he understand how to calm these people? He was corrupt, but it was a quiet kind of corruption—little favors done to enrich himself or his friends. It was quite possible he did care for the people of his city, even while enriching himself. He stepped up to his platform, where a diminutive woman in a green dress skittered around, adjusting devices that looked like big cones with their wide openings facing the crowd. Marasi felt she should recognize the young woman—who was barely more than a girl, with long blonde hair and a lean face. Where had Marasi seen her before?
She thought for a moment, then sidled up to one of the reporters to read over her shoulder. “Breezy day”… blah blah… “air of violent suspense,” whatever that means… There! “Attended by the curious ministrations of Miss Sophi Tarcsel, the inventor’s daughter.”
Sophi Tarcsel. She’d been making an uproar, writing opinion pieces in the broadsheets about her father, who had supposedly been a great inventor—though Marasi had never heard or read his name before those articles.
“People of Elendel,” Governor Innate said, and Marasi was surprised by how his voice echoed across the square, loud and clear. Something to do with those devices, apparently. “The papers would have you believe that this evening we stand on the brink of a crisis, but I assure you, no such problem exists. My brother was not the criminal they are condemning him to have been.”
Oh, Innate, Marasi thought, sighing to herself as she wrote. That’s not why they’re here. Nobody had come to hear more about Winsting. What about the city’s real problems?
“I will not suffer this defamation of my dear brother’s character,” Innate continued. “He was a good man, a statesman and philanthropist. You might have forgotten the Hub beautification project that he spearheaded just three years ago, but I have not.…”
He continued in that vein. Marasi dutifully took notes for Captain Aradel, but she shook her head. Innate’s goal was understandable. He hoped to preserve his family’s reputation in the eyes of important investors and noblemen, and perhaps deflate some of the public anger. It wouldn’t work. The people didn’t actually care about Winsting. It was the deeper corruption, the feeling of powerlessness, that was destroying this city.
As the speech progressed, laboring with explanations of how good a man Winsting had been, Marasi edged to the side in an attempt to get a better view. How was Innate responding to the crowd? He was charismatic; she could hear that even from the way he spoke. Maybe he was doing some good with his oratory alone, even if the speech lacked substance.
“A full investigation of the constables will be ordered,” Innate continued. “I am not convinced my brother was killed as they say. My sources posit this might all be the result of a bungled raid, using my brother as willing bait to catch criminals. If that is true, and they put my brother in harm’s way and are now covering it up, the responsible parties will answer for it.”
Marasi moved to the side, but her view was obstructed by one of the guards, who stepped in front of her. Annoyed, Marasi moved again, and again the guardsman moved. She’d have considered it deliberate if his back hadn’t been to her.
“As for the floods in the east, we are sending relief. Your friends and relatives there shall be succored. We stand with them in the face of this disaster.”
Not good, she noted. The people don’t want to hear about aid going outside the city, no matter how necessary, not while things are growing worse and worse here.… Marasi moved again. Aradel wanted her to judge the public’s reaction, but she needed a better view.
Her shuffling earned a curse of annoyance from one of the reporters, and she finally got a sight of Innate on his podium. He moved into a longer rant against the press. Perhaps that was why the reporter had been so testy. She certainly would be.…
Marasi frowned. That guardsman who had been moving and shuffling and blocking her view had turned, and she could see a very odd expression on his face, like a grimace of pain. And he was whispering—at least his mouth was moving. Nobody else seemed to notice him, as they were focused on the speech.
So Marasi was the first one to scream as the guardsman pulled a revolver from underneath his coat and leveled it at the governor.
* * *
Wayne prowled around the dead woman’s room. It was too clean. A room where people lived should have a healthy amount of clutter. Miss Steelrunner hadn’t spent much time here.
In the other room, Wax inspected the body. Wayne left him to that; he had no interest in poking at a corpse’s insides, even if Wax claimed it was important. Wayne, instead, went looking for more interesting bits of life. His first discovery was a small cache of bottles in the cabinet under the bathroom washbasin. Various forms of alcohol, the harder stuff, each a little gone. All save one, which was empty. Wayne gave it a sniff. Port.
Not surprising, he thought. He took the whiskey and gave it a good swig. Bleh. Too much bite, and far too warm. He took another swig as he spun about in the main room. These fancy neighborhoods were too quiet. People should be shouting outside. That was right for the city. He checked the trunk beside her sleeping pallet and found it contained three outfits, each clean and carefully folded. The Terris robes were on the bottom. Creases had set; these weren’t worn often. The other two were modern designs, the one on top more daring than the one below.
He took another swig of whiskey and wandered back into the room with the corpse. Wax had removed his hat and coat, and knelt beside the body in his vest and slacks.
“You found the alcohol, I see,” Wax said. “How uncharacteristic.”
Wayne grinned, offering the bottle to Wax, who took a small swig. “Ugh,” he noted, handing it back. “This murder is troubling, Wayne.”
“I’m sure she felt so.”
“Too many questions. Why did she leave the Village, and why choose to live here? It doesn’t feel very Terris.”
“Oh, I can tell you why she was here,” Wayne said.
“Think of yourself as a sheltered Terriswoman in her forties,” Wayne said. “Old enough to have missed the chance to be a wild youth, and starting to wish you’d done something more daring.”
“The Terris don’t long for wildness,” Wax said, taking notes in a little book as he inspected the woman’s wound. “They aren’t daring. They’re a reserved people.”
“Ain’t we Terris?”
“Everyone’s an exception to something, Wax. This girl, she left the Village and found a whole world out here. She must have had an adventurous side.”
“She did,” Wax admitted. “I didn’t know her well, but she’d sneak out of the Village as a youth. That was long ago.”
“And she left again,” Wayne said, “on account of the Village being so dull as to bore the sense out of a scribe. Hell, even Steris would hate that place.”
“Our miss,” Wayne said, waving the bottle toward the dead woman, “she tried to remain conservative at first, so she got a job as a clerk, a good Terris occupation. She convinced herself that a nice apartment—where she was safe from the supposed horrors of lesser neighborhoods—was worth the expense. Simple stuff.
“But then some workers at the jeweler took her out, and she let herself drink. She liked that. Awakened memories of sneaked drinks as a youth. She wanted more, so she bought a whole mess of different kinds of spirits to try them all out. She liked port best, by the way.”
“Makes sense,” Wax said.
“Now we find her with increasingly liberal dresses, showing more skin, spending most evenings out. Give her a few more months, and she’d have turned into a right proper girl to have a good time with.”
“She didn’t get a few more months,” Wax said softly. He took something from his own pocket and handed it out to Wayne. A book, bound in leather, pocket-sized. “Have a look through this.”
Wayne took it, flipping through some pages. “What is it?”
“The book that Death gave me.”
* * *
Marasi’s shout was lost in the roar as the governor ended his speech. Polite applause from the nobility, shouts and curses from most of the workers. The noise swallowed her shout like a single splash in a breaking tide.
She fumbled for her handbag as the guard in the dark coat sighted with his gun at the governor. No. There wasn’t time for her gun. She had to do something else.
She jumped for the man and slowed time.
She had metal in her this time—she’d made sure, after being embarrassed this morning. Her Allomancy created a bubble of greatly slowed-down time, enveloping herself, the would-be assassin, and a few bystanders.
She grabbed the man around the legs, but her speed bubble did the real work, trapping him inside—as everyone outside became a blur. The man squeezed his gun’s trigger, and the crack of a gunshot rang amid the strange warping of sounds that she heard inside a bubble from those outside. One of his fellow guards, also caught in her bubble, shouted in alarm.
The fired bullet hit the perimeter of the speed bubble and was deflected. It shot out over the blur of the crowd, the governor’s figure vanishing as—she assumed—he was rushed away. Marasi’s lunge wasn’t enough to topple the would-be assassin, and so she lay there half on the steps, holding on to his legs and feeling foolish, until one of his companions hit him harder, knocking him down.
She dropped the speed bubble and jumped back, the sudden roar of the crowd washing over her. The captured man struggled, shouting, as other guards piled onto him.
* * *
“So basically, with this… Hemalurgy,” Wax said, “you can make someone Metalborn.”
Wayne sniffled as he flipped through the book, and his cheeks were breaking out in some kind of rash. Storing health, Wax thought. Wayne often ended up with odd rashes when he did that. They sat in the main room of Idashwy’s apartment, away from the corpse, which they’d draped with a sheet. They’d paused briefly in their inspection to send the newsboy for the local constables.
Wax ground his teeth. Idashwy’s wound… it was just like those described in the book. Somebody had killed this woman with a spike through the chest, stealing her Feruchemical talent. The book described the process as “tearing off a chunk of someone’s soul.” Using the spike, one could effectively attach that piece of soul to one’s own, granting the powers of the deceased.
In the old days, Inquisitors had driven the spike right through the body of the one to be killed into the body of the person to gain the powers. That prevented any power from being lost. Apparently, coating the newly made spike in blood could achieve a similar effect.
He knew, Wax thought. Ironeyes knew something like this was going to come. The book had been written by the Lord Mistborn long ago to leave some record of the art known as Hemalurgy. Lestibournes’s book said he considered it a crime that the Words of Founding—Harmony’s own record—omitted references to the dark art.
“So our killer knows this Hemalurgy stuff?” Wayne said.
“Yes,” Wax said. “The killer used a spike to steal Idashwy’s Feruchemical talent, then employed that ability to kill Lord Winsting and his guests. We have to assume that our killer could also have numerous other powers at their disposal: any combination of Allomantic or Feruchemical abilities. Or all of them.”
Wayne whistled softly.
“Did you discover anything else in your search of the room?” Wax asked.
“I understand the motive here,” Wax said, glancing back toward the kitchen with the body. “But I don’t yet have one for Winsting’s murder. Or… well, I know of too many possibilities. I don’t have the right motive.”
“What did you find in the stiff’s pockets?”
“You didn’t rifle through the pockets?” Wayne asked, aghast. “Wax, you’re a terrible grave robber!”
“I was distracted by the manner of death,” Wax said, rising. “I’d have gotten to it.”
The word “distracted” didn’t really do justice to his emotions—to the profound shock, the numbness. For months that book had been only an object of study, but now its contents had abruptly ceased being mere words on a page and had become a motive for murder.
We’re out of our depth, Wax thought, returning to the kitchen. We’ve crept into the realm of the gods. Harmony, Ironeyes, the Lord Mistborn…
Wayne pulled back the sheet, exposing that gaping hole in the woman’s chest—right at the sternum. Who would know how to do something like this? Who would Harmony let know how to do something like this?
“Here,” Wayne said, fishing in the woman’s skirt pockets. He came out with a folded-up piece of paper. He unfolded it, then grunted. “Huh. It’s for you.”
Wax’s stomach plummeted. Wayne slowly turned the paper around. It was a sheet ripped from a ledger, filled with numbers and sums. Scrawled across it in a different hand was a single sentence—a familiar sentence. The very words Bloody Tan had said before jerking Lessie right into the path of Wax’s bullet, making him kill the woman he loved.
Someone else moves us, lawman.
Excerpted from Shadows of Self © Brandon Sanderson, 2015