Return to the world of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn as its second era, which began with The Alloy of Law, comes to its conclusion in The Lost Metal.
Tor.com is serializing The Lost Metal from now until its release on November 15. New chapters will go live every Monday at 12pm ET.
For years, frontier lawman turned big-city senator Waxillium Ladrian has hunted the shadowy organization the Set—with his late uncle and his sister among their leaders—since they started kidnapping people with the power of Allomancy in their bloodlines. When Detective Marasi Colms and her partner Wayne find stockpiled weapons bound for the Outer City of Bilming, this opens a new lead. Conflict between Elendel and the Outer Cities only favors the Set, and their tendrils now reach to the Elendel Senate—whose corruption Wax and Steris have sought to expose—and Bilming is even more entangled.
After Wax discovers a new type of explosive that can unleash unprecedented destruction and realizes that the Set must already have it, an immortal kandra serving Scadrial’s god, Harmony, reveals that Bilming has fallen under the influence of another god: Trell, worshipped by the Set. And Trell isn’t the only factor at play from the larger Cosmere—Marasi is recruited by offworlders with strange abilities who claim their goal is to protect Scadrial… at any cost.
Wax must choose whether to set aside his rocky relationship with God and once again become the Sword that Harmony has groomed him to be. If no one steps forward to be the hero Scadrial needs, the planet and its millions of people will come to a sudden and calamitous ruin.
A warship’s arrival was certainly an event, but not an unprecedented one. They visited now and then, with permission.
Even its low altitude, unfortunately, was higher than Wax could reach with his Allomancy. He’d need a metal anchor of incredible size to Push himself that high—either that or he’d need… well, metals he no longer had access to.
There had been a time when he’d borne them all. A transcendent flash of incredible strength—as if he’d touched the Well of Ascension itself. But it was best not to dwell too long on his experience with the Bands of Mourning, lest he make all other moments seem dull by comparison.
Today, he made himself known by leaping up in a few high bounds near the ship. They sent a small skimmer down to collect him and Max, giving them medallions to decrease their weight, though Wax didn’t need one. It intimidated the masked Malwish airmen when he handed his back—a reminder that he was Twinborn.
Of the five different nations that made up the Southern Continent, the Malwish—these people—were the ones Wax had interacted with the most. They were the only nation that had sent an ambassador to Elendel. And increasingly, all official interactions with the South went through them. From what he’d been able to gather, these last six years had shaken up Southern Continent politics even more than they had Basin politics. Once-tempestuous rivalries had stilled, and unity had been forged. Why squabble with one another when there were actual devils to the north who might invade at any moment? Never mind that Wax’s people couldn’t even make airships yet.
A few minutes later the skimmer—which was shaped a little like an open-topped flying fishing boat—docked with the larger ship. Max was unstrapped by now and stood patiently, holding Wax’s hand. Getting to board a real airship was so exciting that Wax could feel him trembling. Indeed, as they stepped onto the main ship—into a corridor made of dark wood, the walls bowing outward at the center like a tube—Max saluted the person waiting for them.
The man was the captain, judging by his intricate mask. Wooden, but carved and inlaid with six different metals in a pattern around the eyes. The man glanced at the child but made no move to salute back, as the constable officers cheekily did when Max saluted them. He didn’t raise his mask either.
“Honored Metalborn,” the captain said, nodding to Wax, “and… unless I miss my guess, Honored Once-Bearer of the Bands?”
“That’s me,” Wax said.
“And also taker of the Bands, which should have been restored to their rightful people.”
“Also me. I delivered them to the kandra, as agreed—to be held so that no nation could control them or their power. If you need to be reminded.”
They were silent for a few moments, staring at one another.
“I am Admiral Daal,” the man said—sounding reluctant. “Welcome to my former ship, Blessed Thief.”
“Former?” Wax asked.
“I’ve been chosen to be the new ambassador from the Malwish Consortium to your nation.”
Malwish… Consortium? It seemed the unification of the South had been completed. “What about Jonnes?” Wax asked.
“She will be returning home,” Daal said. “It has been determined that she has been too… familiar.”
Wonderful. A political shift indeed. It was probably best not to say too much more than simple pleasantries, to avoid inflaming tensions by accident. “Then let me be the first senator to welcome you to the Basin,” Wax said. “I look forward to continued peace and favorable trade between our nations.”
“Favorable?” Daal said. “For you, perhaps.”
“We’ve both benefited. You’ve had access to our Allomancers.”
“Limited access,” he said. “Far too limited compared to the rich accommodations you have received.”
“Three skimmers?” Wax asked. “A handful of medallions? All essentially useless without the ability to maintain them on our own or create more.”
“Surely you don’t expect us to give up the means of our production? One sells the goods, not the factory.”
Every time they tried to get more information on medallions from people in the know, they got stonewalled. Obviously these were Malwish trade secrets, which explained part of it, but interviewing Allik they were able to consistently pick out discrepancies in what he said and what they actually saw. Why weren’t there Feruchemical soldiers in the Malwish army with extremely heightened strength, mental speed, or other dangerous Feruchemical talents? Why weren’t there Allomancer medallions? The more they learned, the more certain Wax became that there was a secret there, indicating the medallions were not as effective or as versatile as the Malwish would like people to believe.
Right, Wax thought. About not inflaming tensions by accident… He was quiet, staring at the admiral. Air as tense as a midday duel.
Then Max tugged his sleeve. “Uh… Dad?”
“Yes?” Wax said, not looking down.
“I need the potty.”
Wax sighed. Tense diplomatic situations were not improved by the presence of a five-year-old. But it could have been worse—he could have brought Wayne instead.
“Is there one available?” Wax asked Daal.
“He can wait.”
“Do you have children, Ambassador?”
“Five-year-olds do not wait.”
After another tense moment, the admiral sighed and spun on his heel, leading the way past masked sailors. Wax followed with his son. Years spent near Allik and others from the South had taught Wax to be comfortable around those masked faces. It was still hard to not feel intimidated by that line of shadowed eyes. Not a one speaking, not a one lifting their mask. Wax had laughed and drunk with Malwish in the past, but this crew seemed a different class entirely.
Daal presented the restroom with a gesture.
“Wow!” Max said, peeking in, the electric light flickering on inside. “It’s so small. Like it’s made for me!”
“Quickly, son,” Wax said.
Max closed the door and hummed softly as he did his business. Wax stood with the admiral, feeling awkward. He actually found himself wishing for Wayne, who had a way of breaking tension like this—by creating a different variety of tension entirely. One which allowed you and your presumed antagonist to share a moment of mutual embarrassment, maybe even understanding.
I wonder if he does that on purpose, Wax thought. It was hard to tell with Wayne. At times he seemed deeply insightful. He inevitably ruined that impression. But you couldn’t help wondering…
“The Bands of Mourning,” Daal said. “They are safe, yah?”
“I assume so,” Wax replied. “I haven’t seen them since we delivered them.”
“I passed the gun emplacements at the city perimeter,” Daal said. “I’ve been told about those. The maximum range straight up is what, a thousand feet? Maybe two?”
Wax didn’t respond. It was a little more than that, but… honestly not much, at least not straight upward, despite what propaganda would claim. And though the skimmers that had been delivered to the Basin had a maximum altitude of around fifteen hundred feet, he knew that some Malwish ships could sail so high that the air grew thin and men would die if they remained there too long.
“One wonders,” Daal said, “what would have happened if our people had met during a more… warlike era. Why, one quick bombing campaign and your city would fold like an old flag.”
“Fortunate,” Wax said, “that we met now instead.”
The admiral turned toward him, eyes peeking out through metal-encrusted holes. “What would you have done?” he asked. “If we had simply attacked?”
“I don’t know,” Wax said. “But I think you’d have had a harder time of it than you believe.”
“Curious, how often your papers repeat the same lines,” Daal said. “Boasts about the kandra assassins and Allomancer soldiers. When I know that your demon immortals can’t kill. And your Allomancers? Tell me, how did you reach this ship? By your own power, or…?”
What a delightful individual.
“Of course,” Daal said, “we don’t live during such… brutal times. I am not here to start a war, Honored Twinborn. Do not look so offended. But I represent many among us who feel your people have taken advantage of our… lenient nature. In particular with the Bands of Mourning. They are ours, and should reside with us.”
Wax wanted to leap to arguments. Explain the Bands had been found in Basin territory. That they’d been created by someone from the North, not the South. That a deal had been fairly agreed. But this man was baiting him, and—whatever he’d done in the past—Wax didn’t speak for Elendel. He was only one representative out of many.
He refused to be goaded. “Then,” he said, “that is a discussion you may have with the governor and our legislature. And perhaps with God.”
The masked admiral regarded him, saying no more. But rusts, if tensions were getting worse…
This is the absolute worst time, Wax thought with frustration. With the Supremacy Bill passed, there was a real chance the Basin would crumble as a political entity. How would the South respond to that? Daal said he didn’t want war, but what if the South saw the Basin as easy pickings?
Their initial encounters had wowed the Southerners. A northern land full of Metalborn and walking myths? But the longer they’d interacted, the more each side had recognized the ordinary nature of the other. Myths became men. And every society knew how to kill other men.
Max finally came out, holding up his wet hands to prove he’d washed them. Daal marched them back down the corridor, where Wax strapped his son into the harness again.
“It is good to meet you, Ladrian,” the ambassador said. “Good for me, yah? It shows which stories I should believe.”
“And which are those?”
“The true ones, of course,” Daal said, and gestured for one of his airmen to open the doors, revealing the city below. “I trust my time here will be profitable. Good day, Senator.”
With a sigh, Wax threw himself out of the airship—accompanied by a whoop from Max, who seemed to consider this encounter the highlight of an absolutely wonderful day.
Wax slowed them carefully with some Pushes, then sent them through a series of quick leaps back to Ahlstrom Tower. The penthouse had a landing platform, and moments later the two of them burst into their suite—Wax carefully locking the door behind them.
Steris was putting Tindwyl down for her nap, but walked out to the front room a short time later—to find Max playing with a puzzle while Wax mixed himself a drink.
“Mother!” Max said, looking up. “I got to poop on an airship!”
“Oh!” she said, with the enthusiasm for the topic only a mother could muster. “That’s exciting!”
“I got some strange toilet paper!” he said, lifting it up. “It’s white instead of brown! Traded for it just like Uncle Wayne says!”
“Oh. And what did you leave in exchange, dear?”
“Well,” he said, “you know…”
“Right. Of course.” Steris joined Wax behind the bar, slipping her hand around his waist. “What happened?”
“New ambassador,” Wax said. “Doesn’t much like us. Wants the Bands back. Made some vague threats.”
“Delightful day for that,” she said.
“You were right about the unification timetable,” Wax said. “The ambassador will announce a new consortium of states under the Malwish banner.”
“That won’t help our work,” Steris said. “The Elendel Senate will see today’s bill as building a nation out of squabbling cities, a counterpoint to Malwish imperialism.”
“Conquest by another name,” Wax said, nursing his drink. He’d occasionaly disparaged Elendel whiskey… but the truth was, some of the stuff you could get here was fantastic. Strong flavored, smoky and complex. He’d come to like it better than Roughs varieties—and it was far, far better than whatever Jub Hending had made in his tub, which peeled off layers of skin as a punishment for drinking it. He did still miss good Roughs beers though.
“Well, I do have some potentially good news,” Steris said, slipping a letter out of her pocket—she refused to wear skirts without them, no matter how fashionable they were. “It came while you were away.”
He slipped the card out.
Meet us at the mansion at 3:00. Exciting news.
They shared a look.
“Do we bring Max or not?” Wax asked softly.
“How likely is it to involve explosions?” Steris asked.
“With us, you never can tell…”
“He stays here with Kath, then. His history tutor is coming anyway.”
Wax nodded. “I’m going to wash up, and then we can leave.”
Excerpted from The Lost Metal, copyright © 2022 by Brandon Sanderson.