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Mistborn: The Inquisition


His Sinister Art

Andrew Elariel's Photo Andrew Elariel 02 Oct 2016

Andrew stepped out carriage and into the protection of a carefully held parasol. The light rain and dreary sky seemed appropriate, matching the dimness of Andrew's feelings in the absence of Rhea's power. The mere thought of the moment he had pushed her to forget everything--her social standing, her family, her marriage--had been exhilarating, and the mere memory invigorated him, bringing the slightest bounce to his steps. He had gone up against a skilled emotional allomancer and proven his dominance. Not only that, but he had met a new mind--and with it, a new challenge--to mold to his will.

If he was honest with himself, however, Andrew knew that he had enjoyed his kiss with Rhea for more reason than just the feeling of control. His powers were not the only ones at work, and Rhea's rioting had thoroughly swept him away. His detection of her allomancy and his success in driving her to reveal herself was little comfort. What did it matter if he knew he was being controlled when he was still subject to that control? In the past when Andrew had squared off with other emotional allomancers, he had always done so from the shadows, pushing on their emotions with precision and subtlety while detecting his enemies' attempts to influence him. It was easy to ignore false emotions when an allomancer was trying not to be detected, but how could he defend himself against an onslaught like the one Rhea had unleashed on him?

"Send for Celia. I'll meet her in the fifth floor study," Andrew pushed lightly against any hint of rebellion his attendant might have, not because he was worried about insubordination but because he could. As he entered the Keep, the attendant bowed and folded the parasol, and then rushed off see to Andrew's request.

As Andrew made his way to the study, he could not shake the sense of restless agitation growing inside him. He felt like the sun, blazing red and hot, while the world around him remained dim and clouded with mist. He took to soothing every person he passed, noting their emotional state and making minute changes, careful nudges that would lead to something more. He took some small satisfaction from every raised voice he heard echoing down the hall.

A servant met him at the door of the study to take his coat and hat and to serve him a glass of wine, which did little to settle Andrew down. He needed Celia. Useless though she was as an allomancer, the girl would provide him with a distraction and give him an opportunity to exercise his art to its fullest extent. He needed to stretch himself, to test his limits, and to feel in control again.

Celia Elariel's Photo Celia Elariel 18 Oct 2016

The red sun shone brightly through the window. Filtered though it was by colored glass and lace curtains, it still nicely warmed the music room where Celia sat. After meeting her social obligations for the day, she had retired to her favorite corner of the keep with her dearest friend: her cello.

Her head was still swimming from everything that had happened over the last few days, but all that melted away as her fingers danced across the strings. It wasn't even anything too complex at first: just repetitions of the same scales and arpeggios that she had been playing since her instrument outsized her and she could barely hold it up. But it was that familiar comfort that let her simply relax, letting the sound of the instrument wash over her as she lay her burdens down - at least for a while.

Since she didn't feel like playing any piece in particular, she then moved on to other technical exercises. She enjoyed the sense of focus they brought her, and the feeling of accomplishment when a difficult exercise began to get easier and easier. She was feeling particularly proud of getting through a new one when a sudden knock at the door turned her mood sour. What now? She was having such a nice time, and so rarely had any of these messengers brought good news of late.

"Lord Andrew Elariel requests your presence in the fifth floor study, my Lady."

Good news indeed.

"I'll go immediately," she said smoothly. She was lucky she had kept the sigh out of her voice; the woman certainly would have relayed it if Celia had shown any sign of sass. Not only was it unbecoming for a Lady to snap at those beneath her without cause, but it was even more unbecoming for anyone, high or low, to display any sort of attitude when summoned by Lord Andrew. One was either pleased by the honor of his attention, or calm and graceful. Recalcitrance and backtalk of any kind were simply not permitted.

Celia waited just long enough for the messenger to finish her curtsy before shutting the door so she could put her cello back in its case. Sure, she could have summoned a servant to do it - there were plenty in Keep Elariel who were trained in the proper care and handling of the family's extensive collection of instruments - but she preferred to do it herself. Many of the noblewomen she played with felt the same way. Their instruments were an extension of their persons, after all. That said, once the cello was properly secured, she did send for someone to come put it away. There were limits, after all; a proper lady certainly couldn't be seen fetching and carrying.

Requests, she thought to herself with annoyance as she glided through the halls in a ripple of bows and curtsies. Of course he requests my presence. The same way he kindly requests that I remember to breathe. He was home, so she would be at his side. It was an expectation; the polite phrasing was merely a layer of the usual Elariel polish and finesse.

She of course allowed none of her frustrations to show on the outside, so that anyone in the keep - particularly those of lower rank - would only see the epitome of elegance and grace when they saw Lady Celia Elariel pass. As expected, of course, of a Lady of the First Tier.

He was waiting for her, of course; the footman announced her and gestured her inside. As soon as the door closed behind her, she dropped into a very slight but - of course - elegant curtsy. True, it was barely needed, but there was a vast difference between "barely needed" and "not needed". Even toeing that line was a grave offense, especially in present company.

She, of course, said nothing. The curtsy was greeting enough for Lord Andrew Elariel; the higher ranked person should be the first to speak. If he even chose to acknowledge her presence at all.

Andrew Elariel's Photo Andrew Elariel 10 Dec 2016

Andrew tapped his foot impatiently several times before he realized what he was doing and stopped himself. What had become of his discipline? His current state of agitation made his body feel like it was full of static, ready to be released in a shock if he were to come in contact with another person. He needed to move, to act, to control. Andrew took a deep breathe, practicing at disguising the depth of it be subtly adjusting his posture. He needed to be a statue, an epitome of control. If he could not master himself, how could he expect to master others.

That woman, Rhea, had done this to him. Stirring up his emotions, bringing them out of the carefully organized crannies of his brain he had compartmentalized them into. The thought of her pulling on his emotions like that was invigorating and terrifying at the same time, and even in his fear, like an addict Andrew found himself longing to experience the rush Rhea had given him once again.

After what seemed like an eternity. and Andrew had sufficiently disguised his state of agitation, a servant entered and announced Celia's arrival. Andrew did not turn around, but listened to the soft swish of his student's skirts as she performed a polite curtsy.

"Punctuality is a virtue, you know." Andrew kept his gaze fixed on the back wall, tracing the patterns in the dark wood paneling to keep his busy mind occupied. "Now, let's not waste more time. Detect, and mimic."

As he spoke, Andrew flared brass, hitting Celia with a powerful soothing, leeching away all of her emotions at once. After the initial flare, he let her emotions slowly return to her, making minute changes at random. To pass his test, she would have to detect each and every change and then attempt to perform an identical soothing on him. The initial blast was to disorient her, and to make more subtle soothing difficult to detect in comparison.

Andrew let himself get lost in the subtle pushes, dancing around Celia's mind, varying the intensity of his soothing like a master pianist adjusting the dynamics of a piece. Celia would fail to replicate his ministration, of course, but then, her failure was part of the point of the exercise. Andrew needed to feel superior and in control, and his student needed to learn her own worthlessness if she was ever going to be of use to him.

Celia Elariel's Photo Celia Elariel 10 Dec 2016

Punctuality is a virtue. Of course it was, which was why she had come immediately. Of course, had she been waiting outside his study the moment he set foot in the keep, he likely would have chastised her for dawdling and wasting time, so she let the useless criticism roll off her shoulders and kept herself focused on the task at hand. He wasn't looking at her, which was somehow strange and perfectly normal all at the same time. Was something off about him? It was difficult to say; Lord Andrew was always so inscrutable that she had only in recent years been able to guess a mere fraction of what he might be thinking or feeling. The day she successfully read Andrew Elariel like a book would be the day the Lord Ruler himself asked her to Kredik Shaw to give him lessons.

"Detect, and mimic." Celia braced herself. She only had a fraction of--

Numbness hit her. Deafening and suffocating, it squeezed all the emotion, all of the life even, out of her, pressing her into nothingness until her very existence seemed to wither away underneath the carpet. He only held her that way for a moment or two, but it felt like an eternity before the real show started.

Then the curtain rose, and he began. He played her emotions like a skilled conductor led an orchestra through a complex symphony, pressing here and there in subtle variations to send her emotions bouncing from one complexity to another. She paid particular attention to what was being Soothed rather than what was being allowed to rise to the surface. When she was younger and more inexperienced, she had tried to focus on the perceivable effect of the Soothing and find her own way to duplicate it, but he had swiftly and harshly corrected her for not mimicking him exactly. Ever since, she had focused on mirroring his exact methods; as long as she got that right, the result would be correct too.

As usual, she faced a dilemma: did she copy the initial blanket Push, or skip the overture and come in at the prelude? If she did the former, he would punish her for being presumptuous; the latter, and she would be chastised for skipping ahead. Which transgression did she feel like committing today? Would she be a rebel, or a coward?

... No.

She would be neither.

She was a grown damn woman, for Lord Ruler's sake! This man, this brilliant Soother and genius manipulator, had taught her well, but his methods had tormented her for nearly her entire life. And now, now of all bloody ash-forsaken times, he chose now to play her heartstrings when they were already over tensioned and ready to snap? Enough already! He wanted to pull her away from playing her cello to calm herself? Fine! She would just play him instead, the way he'd played her since childhood!

She had never consciously realized until this moment how much he had well and truly cowed he had her. She could not actually remember a time when she had dared to go all-out against him in these matches. Oh, sure, she had played with her full skill, but while he ranged from pianissimo to fortissimo in his manipulations, she had always remained near a safe, if lackluster, mezzo-forte.

But not today.

Today was different. Gathering her full strength, a strength she hadn't known she possessed until this moment, she flared brass and crashed into his symphony with an overture of her own, opening with a chord played at fortississimo and driving right into the measures he had given her already. Before, she had always striven to mimic, but today she pushed beyond. She would dare herself to match her teacher properly, even pushing herself to attempt to best him. Of course she wouldn't actually - he was too far ahead of her, and she had held her head down for too long to accomplish that today, but that didn't mean she couldn't try her damnedest to do it anyway. After all, he'd already given her the tools. Her technique was polished and refined under his years of harsh criticism and impossible standards, her senses were honed to detect the slightest touch, and now he had willingly handed her the one thing she had always lacked:

The drive to completely and utterly defeat her opponent.

Whatever consequences would come for her uprising, and she was sure they would be harsh, didn't matter right now. Right now was about sending a message: to her teacher, to life, and to herself.

I will be pinned down no longer.

Andrew Elariel's Photo Andrew Elariel 25 Mar 2017

Andrew started as Celia's touch washed over him, slamming against his emotions with an unprecedented level of ferocity. Raising an eyebrow, he met her eyes, taking in her resolve, her adamant posture. She means to defy me? The thought of the slip of the girl standing up to him made him want to laugh, but infuriated him all the same. He was in no mood for playing games with someone so beneath him. Had he wanted that, he would have sought out Daerra. Right now, he needed someone to control.

Not one to back down from a challenge, even one so clumsy and obvious, Andrew continued his ministrations, paying more attention to his pupil, looking for the tools he would need to put her in her place. Unlike rioters, who could choose which emotions they wanted to bring out in people, Soothers sometimes needed to be creative to achieve the effect they desired. While every person was feeling a mix of emotions at all times, some would always be stronger, and thus more effective, than others. It was not enough to simply soothe away everything but the emotion you wanted to impact--if that emotion was weak at the moment, the effect would be minimal. A true soothing master had to read his target, understand their complex emotional state, and choose the best emotion for the job at hand. The emotions were secondary, tools meant to achieve a result. The purpose was what was important.

What did Andrew want in this moment? To show Celia the error of her ways, obviously--the cow her, and make her feel and understand the width and breadth of her insignificance. And how best to do it? She was feeling over-confident at the moment--somehow she had developed the modicum of self-worth she needed to defy him. It was not surprising Celia was questioning her place--it had never been worth is time to properly sculpt and mold her into a suitable tool. The question was how did he teach her without rising to her bait, and giving some credence to her foolish notion that she might be his equal?

Her self-pity wouldn't be strong enough--the brass burning within her would be making her feel too powerful and in control. Despair also wouldn't be strong enough, even if he soothed away everything else. This new hope and self-confidence was too new, too fresh, and soothing it away now would not remove her memory or her sense of purpose.

Looking into her eyes, seeing her resolve, Andrew caught something, the hint he needed. Keeping his face impassive, Andrew continued his pattern, not letting on what he was about. He suffered her clumsy pushes in silence. She could bang around in his mind like a spoiled child throwing a tantrum all she wanted, he would not be controlled. To limit her ability to effect him, Andrew focused on his technique, intellectualizing what was happening to cut off his emotions as much as possible. The more emotionless he was, the less Celia would have to work with.

Slowly, he began letting some of her emotions begin to grow back in the background, first despair then self-pity. He wanted her to feel what he was doing, stoking her righteous anger and desire to best him. For this to work he needed her to think she had a chance.

He didn't need zinc to strengthen people's emotions.

When the moment was right, Andrew flared brass, soothing away everything but Celia's disgust and hatred for him, pushing her to give in to her darker impulses, driving her to go all out against him.

Celia Elariel's Photo Celia Elariel 25 Jun 2017

He knew what she was doing.

Of course he did, but she didn't care. Let him see that she was more than just some toy to be tossed around and beaten down, all in the name of so-called "training". Let him see just how much she had really learned under his loving care.

She had taken him by surprise, she noted with no small measure of satisfaction. From Andrew Elariel, the tiniest flicker of emotion spoke louder and more eloquently than a master orator. That quirked eyebrow told her all she needed to know and more, so she pressed on, driving her symphony into his with increasing fervor. And it seemed to be working; it was difficult to keep her face impassive as she stared into his eyes, watching him retreat behind his maze of walls and doors to keep her from reaching him. He was on the defensive, for once in his miserable life, and she was coming for him.

For a brief moment, though, she felt herself falter. She had never gone on the offensive like this before. She had always resisted the thought of using emotions as a weapon like her teacher did, cutting people down into nothing to be reshaped as he pleased. There were consequences, of course, but it was far preferable to suffer them in silent dignity than to become the sort of monster he was. Meanwhile, he had been doing this as easily as he breathed for longer than she had been alive. Surely, now that she had bared her fangs at him, the counterstroke would be devastating. What could she possibly gain from this futile endeavor? Confidence? He would cut it off at the knees, making sure it could never rise again. Self-worth? She already knew she was worthless in his eyes, and barely relevant to the rest of the family. Hope? He would crush it with a single fist.

Then, suddenly, clear as daybreak, it hit her: justice.

Standing before her was an absolute monster of a man. Her entire life, he had loomed above her, twitching his fingers just to watch her dance and calling it an education. How many lives had he ruined, how many people had he destroyed with his games and manipulations while he sat in his high tower, sneering down at the ants below? He was untouchable; no one had the skills to burn that tower down, and even if they did, nobody dared get too close, lest he strike them down too.

But he had given her the weapons long ago. She had always thought herself too good, to honorable to use them, but what would happen if she lowered herself to pick them up? Would she be able to bring him down? Maybe not yet, but she could rock that tower at its very foundations, and send him a clear message that he was not, in fact, untouchable. And maybe, one day, she could truly bring him to justice. But only if she took that first, terrifying, exhilarating step.

And really, there was only one choice to make. She could let herself be cowed, or she could stand up on her own and take back control. For herself, and for everyone else who had suffered under Andrew Elariel's thumb for so many years.

So she abandoned her previous symphony and struck.

Andrew Elariel was a complicated man, wrapped in enigma and walled off from being influenced by others, but there was one central pillar to his very being that held up everything else: his pride. Everything else - the arrogance, the sense of superiority, the willingness to crush anyone under his heel if it served his purpose - came from that. It would be impossible to Soothe it away entirely, of course; he was too certain of himself and his place above the rest of the peons to have it obliterated so easily. But if she could strike enough of a blow to startle him, she could spread her influence through the resulting cracks and leave him shaken to the core.

Abandoning subtlety in favor of raw power, she flared her brass, honing it into a fine edge and forcing it into the very heart of his pride and certainty. He would feel in the deepest parts of what soul he had left what he had done to her and everyone else, or she would go down in flames for trying.

Andrew Elariel's Photo Andrew Elariel 26 Jun 2017

Celia's attack, though anticipated, hit Andrew harder than expected, and for once he let himself feel as his pride and certainty slipped from his grasp. It hurt, feeling like everything which he had spent his life building was worthless, that he was an impostor playing grand games while his enemies laughed behind his back. Andrew drank the darkness of the emotion in like a bitter liquor--poison that would make his heart race as he danced with death--and let his posture and facial expression change accordingly. He was nothing--small and insignificant. He mattered to no-one, and would be forgotten before his corpse cooled. He cut off his soothing of Celia all at once, letting her emotions return to her, but continuing to make the slightest of adjustments, making sure she felt the gravity of what had just transpired between them.

"Well, well, well, what a lovely little monster I've made of you." Andrew turned to face the window, and let his eyes follow the flakes of ash dancing on the wind, hiding the hints of smugness reeping up in the the corners of his lips, despite his dark mood. While proficient at masking his emotions, he did not share his wife's mastery over facial expressions.

"This lesson is over. You've learned enough for today." Andrew turned back to his pupil, flashing a forced, but charismatic smile. "You've made me proud today. I hope you find some satisfaction in that."

Celia Elariel's Photo Celia Elariel 24 Jul 2017

Andrew buckled under her attack. Not physically, of course, but she watched with grim satisfaction as the darkness seeped into his eyes. That's right, you bastard. Feel for yourself what you do to everyone else. Something was wrong, though; even as she relished in her hard-won victory, a twisted feeling began to rise up inside her, tugging at her heart and pulling her touch away from her tormentor - and her victim.

What have I done?

"Well, well, well, what a lovely little monster I've made of you."

The words hit Celia like a punch to the gut, and her Soothing evaporated in an instant. The horror of the crime she had just committed washed over her in wave after wave, filling her with nausea and disgust. She had been so proud of resisting him! So vain and smug in her perceived moral superiority. So much better than him... and so much more foolish. Then he smiled at her, and the world spun. She grabbed the edge of his desk for support, leaning on it while her vision swam. He'd never smiled at her like that before, not in private. Lord Ruler, how could she have possibly thought to challenge this man?

"This lesson is over. You've learned enough for today. You've made me proud today. I hope you find some satisfaction in that."

No. No, she did not. But he knew that; the compliment was meant to be a dagger between her ribs, twisted with expert precision right where it would hurt the most. She was shaking now, and her vision blurred as she choked back tears.

She should leave now. That comment was a dismissal, which in the language of Andrew Elariel, meant get out. But she found herself frozen, clinging to his desk as if it were the only lifeline she had. If she let it go, she felt as if she would collapse onto the carpet, revealing to him just how broken he had really left her.

But then, he already knew, didn't he?

Andrew Elariel's Photo Andrew Elariel 22 Sep 2017

Andrew drank in the defeat in Celia's face and posture. Everything from the tension in her arms to the ashen tinge to her skin reeked of Andrew's mastery of her. For a moment, Andrew let himself exult in the thrill of his triumph, of his domination of the young soother's will.

Then, he grew bored. The winning smile faded, his elation replaced with cool displeasure. Part of him wanted to lash out at Celia to punish her for spoiling his fun, but that was not his way. Reprimands, like praise, had to be used purposefully, lest they lose their potency.

"Well then, I'll leave you to it." Idiot girl. "If you want to practice before our next lesson, your newly returned sister would be a good target. She's out of touch with her own emotions. She will be difficult to read, but there's a lot going on there. Pick her apart, piece by piece, and then do what you just tried on me. I'm sure the results will be impressive." Andrew waited until he had passed by Celia's silent frame to roll his eyes. Why must his victories be tarnished by such listless moping?