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Mistborn: The Inquisition


Surviving Duplicity.

Garrett Atwood's Photo Garrett Atwood 25 Feb 2018

Standing in an empty parlor, Garrett went over his plan in his head again. He ran through all of the possible lines of inquiry Lord Augustin Deveaux would bring to the conversation. He needed to be ready for anything that they'd bring to the table.

Garrett Atwood spent the morning in negotiations for a deed to a mine held by Sureau. It was a lucrative mine that Sureau had been having trouble mining. They didn't have the equipment or infrastructure - which really meant that they just didn't have a vassal house to do the work for them. They took up Garrett's offer to mine metals for them. He signed the paperwork on the deed earlier that day, and now Atwood was in control of a new mine to replace the one that had dried up.

Now, this contract was likely to give Atwood the standing to attempt a Luthadel bid.

Garrett was very familiar with how Luthadel politics worked. If he were to truly side with Sureau, they'd cut all ties to Atwood, and let them sink on their own. Then, they'd likely pick up the pieces and allow someone they trust to take their place. Plus Sureau would get control of Atwood's assets in Tremredare.

If Garrett did make a Luthadel bid, Deveaux, who had a bottleneck on the Allomantic metal market, would obliterate him, his family, and everything he had left. Which meant that he was planned to take this directly to Deveaux, along with himself and his family. Getting absorbed by Deveaux was better than losing anyone else.

The way Garrett saw it, the worst outcome was the same as the outcome if he sided with Sureau - death. So, anything that didn't end in death would be considered a win for him today.

When he arrived at Keep Deveaux, he was patted down by guards before being brought inside. It was an unannounced visit, and Garrett was surprised there wasn't a more thorough search. He demanded, as confidently as he could, to see Lord Augustin. They didn't seem confident that he would be able to interrupt Lord Augustin's evening. They guarded his carriage driver and Garrett subjected the carriage to a search.

Then, he was led to an empty parlor. He didn't feel like he could sit down and feel comfortable here, so he paced, waiting. He had never been more nervous in his life.

Damien Deveaux's Photo Damien Deveaux 26 Feb 2018

"Apologies for the intrusion, my Lord, but a Lord Garrett Atwood has arrived to see you. He is... quite insistent, despite the hour."

Damien exchanged a look with Lord Deveaux at the steward's words. According to their intelligence, Lord Atwood was supposed to be meeting with Sureau today to acquire rights to work one of Sureau's older and more profitable mines, which had lain dormant since Deveaux had made short work of the last three houses to attempt to work it. What was he doing here? And so late in the evening, no less?

The other gentlemen gathered in the drawing room hemmed and grumbled, clearly irritated at the intrusion, but Lord Deveaux just looked thoughtful. Damien knew where this was going, so he set his glass down and straightened his coat.

"I'm curious to see what brings him here, of all places. Shall I speak to him, and see what he wants?"

"I believe that would be for the best. I trust your judgment, as always."[

Damien nodded his understanding, and stood. If he believed the errand was worthwhile, he had the authority to schedule a meeting with Lord Deveaux; meanwhile, if he turned out to be an assassin, Damien would make short work of him.

Damien didn't precisely hurry to the parlor, per se, but his long stride made short work of the trip either way, and it wasn't long before he was standing outside the door. He made a quick check of his weapons, which were - of course - lying as they should under his formal coat, and entered the room.

He was expecting a seated guest, but the man who could only be Garrett Atwood instead seemed to be attempting to pace a hole in the rug. The fire had gone cold for the evening, but the servants had made sure all the lamps were lit at least.

"Lord Damien Deveaux," a voice intoned from behind him, and only then did he realize he had beaten the steward here and not allowed himself to be properly announced. Damien nodded to him, a mix of thanks and apology, and the steward gave him an only slightly mollified look before ducking out of the room.

"Lord Garrett Atwood, I presume," Damien began, making his way to one of the chairs. "This is an unusual hour for calling. To what do we owe the pleasure of your visit?"

Garrett Atwood's Photo Garrett Atwood 26 Feb 2018

Garrett was startled when he heard Damien behind him. He turned to look at him - a much younger man. He was younger than even Garrett realized when he had made his inquiries about Deveaux before this trip. He didn't realize he'd be greeted by Damien when he asked to see Lord Augustin, either. So his eyes went wider than he intended.

it took him a moment, but he remembered his manners. He bowed. "Yes, Lord Damien. It's a pleasure to meet you, and I do apologize for the lateness of the hour, but under the circumstances, I don't think this can wait..."

He finally realized that he probably should have sat down. He felt incredibly awkward. How was he supposed to start this conversation with someone who wasn't Augustin? How would he have started it with Augustin, actually?

He took another breath.

This was hard.

"I...suppose I'll get right to it. I do not want to waste your time. I am sure you've heard the circulating rumors about a bid that Atwood might have been intending to make for Luthadel with the support of Sureau," he said, pausing.

"At least, I started that rumor, hoping that Lord Deveaux might hear it."

Damien Deveaux's Photo Damien Deveaux 26 Feb 2018

"We are aware," Damien said simply. "We also know that they offered you one of their mines: one of their older holdings near the border of the Central Dominance. It's valuable land, and since they seem to have had trouble keeping it staffed, still quite plentiful. It would be a fine replacement for the one you've lost, and in a prime position to vault you into the Central Dominance. We are also aware that you were at Keep Sureau today, negotiating that very deal."

Yet he had said he'd wanted Lord Deveaux to hear the rumors. But why? Didn't he know that an Inquisitor's axe was hanging over his head right now? Was he going to doublecross Sureau? And had he been planning on that from the start? Perhaps this man was more capable than they'd thought. Perhaps. It all depended on what he did next.

"Am I assume that you have an offer to make, then? It must be urgent, for you to have come straight here."

Garrett Atwood's Photo Garrett Atwood 27 Feb 2018

"It's valuable land, and since they seem to have had trouble keeping it staffed, still quite plentiful."

Garrett didn't need to wonder why Sureau had a hard time keeping that particular mine staffed. As far as Garrett knew it had been at least one year since the last house attempted. They were dealt with swiftly, and the bottleneck on the market for Allomantic metals in the Central Dominance was centered back on Deveaux. Funny how that worked.

It was nice to know that they were paying attention to his house, his holdings, and his meetings. Spreading the rumors about Atwood had done exactly what he had hoped - that, or maybe they really were just up to date on all of the metal houses big enough to possibly make bids.

In any case, this was easing Garret's guilty conscience for betraying a deal he had made just hours ago. He could feel in his gut that this was the right thing to do, and was reassured in his convictions when Damien knew exactly what he was getting at.

"Am I assume that you have an offer to make, then?"

Garrett nodded. "I... I would be a fool to think that I would be able to protect a mine of such size in its particular location when the last three holders of the land were not able. I am not so full of greed that I need a new mine to replace the one I lost. I simply want my family to live. Which obviously didn't seem to be a sentiment that Sureau shared... I had hoped that we would be able to see closer eye to eye on that point."

Garrett paused, let Damien really hear his words. He looked Damien directly in the eyes when he started to speak again.

"There is nothing more important than the lives of my family at this moment. I am willing to part with lands, titles, and contracts in order to keep them safe, if Lord Deveaux were to agree. This is the true reason for my move to Luthadel."

Damien Deveaux's Photo Damien Deveaux 27 Feb 2018

Damien had expected Lord Atwood to ask for his own life, and those of his family. He had even expected, perhaps, an offer of fealty - for Atwood to become a vassal of Deveaux in exchange for that protection. He had not expected Lord Atwood to offer everything, in one fell swoop, with no pretense or negotiation.

Nothing more important, indeed.

Damien was quiet for a moment, considering. On the surface, it was an easy offer: let the Atwoods leave, and snap up all their holdings, contracts, and operations in one go, therefore opening the door for Deveaux to expand into the Western Dominance. It sounded too good to be true, which Lord Atwood likely knew. It wasn't every day that lords knocked on the door only to drop their houses in his lap.

"You're serious about this, I see. In that case, do you have anything I can show to Lord Deveaux? A written offer, or some other gesture of good faith?"

Garrett Atwood's Photo Garrett Atwood 27 Feb 2018

Garrett Atwood knew that the deal would be thought of as too good to be true. Garrett himself wouldn't accept the deal. He didn't want to accept a bunch of outsiders into the flock, if he didn't know or trust them. If they had already had a relationship, perhaps it would have been easier to strike this deal - the trouble was that competing houses rarely got along well enough to have a rapport.

Garrett was between a rock and a hard place, as the saying went. He could either die by Sureau hands, Deveaux hands, or double deal and take the margin. He'd rather do that. And then he could grieve his dead wife in relative peace - which he hadn't gotten since Edith passed.

"I didn't have a contract drawn up ahead of time, I know how Obligators can be bought..." Garrett did put his hand inside the coat and retrieved the deed to the Sureau mine. "but I do have the deed to the Sureau mine. I believe that it's a sufficient show of good faith..."

This was his leap. He held the deed out for Damien to take. Once Damien had this deed, he could very well just stab Garrett, take it and then take everything he wanted. There was nothing keeping Garrett safe except for the hope that there were still decent men in Luthadel.

Despite himself, his breath caught in his throat as he handed it over.

Damien Deveaux's Photo Damien Deveaux 27 Feb 2018

Damien leaned forward to take the paper that was offered him, then leaned back - out of reach - to look it over. He kept one eye on Lord Atwood, watching for any sign that he might be reaching for a coin or a weapon, and turned the rest of his attention to scrutinizing the document in his hands.

It was all laid out in some unknown obligator's neat, precise hand. The pertinent details of the plot of land, Stefan Sureau's signature, the obligator's seal and signature. It was all here, and so far as Damien could tell, it seemed authentic. Even if it wasn't, it was a good enough forgery that some extra "processing fees" could likely allow Deveaux to claim that it was real, and exercise rights to the land.

Good faith indeed.

Damien rose suddenly, the chair grating against the floor, and began to move briskly towards the door, the deed still clutched in one hand.

"Come with me," was all he said.

Garrett Atwood's Photo Garrett Atwood 27 Feb 2018

Garrett sat in silence as Damien looked over the document. As far as Garrett knew, it was authentic, but his heart still pounded in his chest. He could feel it, much the same way a Seeker could feel pulses of metals being burned around them.

Although he was nervous, it had already felt like a weight had been taken from his shoulders. He was suddenly exhausted. The last few months, the lead up to this moment had caused a lot of sleepless nights, but he wasnt sure if it was that or grief that overtook him at that moment.

Soon he would have no house to run. He would just be another soldier. He forgot how that felt.

Garrett didn't bother responding with words to Damien, as the man knew Garrett would follow. There was a quiet intensity about Deveaux that Garrett almost admired.

Damien Deveaux's Photo Damien Deveaux 27 Feb 2018

Damien didn't pause or look back to make sure Lord Atwood was following him. The fact that he held the other man's life in his hands - not to mention the footsteps behind him - made him quite certain that Lord Atwood wouldn't be far behind. He didn't bother slowing his pace, either; Garrett Atwood was a tall enough man to keep up, and besides, there was urgent business to be about. Damien couldn't afford to dawdle for the sake of etiquette when lives were at stake.

And so they came quickly to the drawing room where the gentlemen of the house had been keeping company after dinner. The butler reached for the door as if to announce them, but Damien waved him off and pushed the door open himself, knocking it against the far wall with a bang.

"Everybody out," he announced, projecting his voice just loudly enough to be heard over the general hum of quiet conversation. The gathered gentlemen turned to stare at him, and some muttered in irritation, but he strode quickly past them and towards Lord Deveaux's seat. With nothing left to do, they picked up their drinks and left, probably making for the library instead, where they could continue their conversations in peace.

Lord Deveaux cocked a questioning eyebrow at Damien, who handed him the deed by way of answer. His eyes widened for the briefest of moments, a display few would probably notice, and gestured for Damien to sit.

"Apologies, My Lord," Damien said, offering a bow. "We haven't the time. I need to alert the detachment; they're about to have Sureau forces trip right over them."

Lord Deveaux nodded thoughtfully. "Go then. I'll hear what Lord Atwood has to say."

"Yes, my Lord."

That settled, Damien turned to walk past Lord Atwood and out of the room.

Garrett Atwood's Photo Garrett Atwood 28 Feb 2018

Garrett came into the room and saw Lord Deveaux surrounded by what looked like high ranking members of the Deveaux hierarchy. They all got up and left, with minor complaints as Damien addressed Lord Deveaux. It showed exactly how much sway Damien had with these lords, despite his youth. That was a good sign at least. He didn't think that he would be brought all the way to Lord Deveaux and interrupt his evening if he hadn't passed at least the first line of scrutiny.

He heard Damien excuse himself as Lord Deveaux looked at the deed.

"I need to alert the detachment; they're about to have Sureau forces trip right over them."

Deveaux had already sent forces to him.

So had Sureau, presumably.

Garrett had the distinct feeling that he had seen this all before. He had a sudden flashback of his wife dying in his arms because he couldn't be in two places at once.

The Mistborn training meant that he wanted to be with his sister, and protecting her. He couldn't. He had to wear the Lord Atwood clothes, not the mistcloak.

Garrett reacted quick enough to stop Damien before he left. "Please, get my sister out of there safely," he said quietly, his eyes pleading with Damien.

He turned his attention then to Augustin Deveaux, and tried to quell the anxious, nervous tension that had built up in the last few minutes. He took a seat near Lord Deveaux.

"My Lord, I don't presume to know what you are aware of in this situation. I, then, will start with this simple fact: I do not wish to be on the wrong side of Deveaux. I never wanted this mine from Sureau, and Atwood does not need to make a bid for Luthadel in an already saturated market, only to fall because they cannot protect themselves. We could never afford to stand up and protect ourselves from the dangers of dealing in metals in the Central Dominance."

Garrett hoped Lord Augustin would understand what he was getting at.

"Our oldest mine has dried up, and it has left me with little choice. With an emptiness of metals in my mine, another house will take up the contracts that my house is no longer able to fill.

"Sureau would see us fall as they have watched the others to which they have given the mine... I had hoped you and I could come to an agreement instead of going straight for bloodshed as Sureau would have."

Augustin Deveaux's Photo Augustin Deveaux 01 Mar 2018

Augustin watched as Lord Atwood intercepted Damien to plead for his sister's safety, and as Damien responded in the affirmative. He watched as Damien left the room, shutting the door behind him, and listened as Lord Atwood made his proposal - or part of it - with a surprising amount of passion and sincerity, without waiting to be invited to sit.

And then he turned his attention back to the deed in his hand.

The document was genuine; of that, he was almost completely certain. He had been forced to tolerate Stefan Sureau long enough to recognize his signature easily, and the handwriting was familiar as well; he'd seen it on a handful of other contracts and missives. The obligator's seal seemed genuine. And Augustin highly doubted that this nervous lord from the Western Dominance would have the gall to march in here with a fake deed, at least not in the middle of the night.

Besides, it would be easy enough to kill him if that turned out to be the case. Even with two of his Mistborn out of the keep at the moment, he still had Severine, and any number of Allomancers ready to jump at his call. And for all Damien had ordered everyone out, he still of course had his private guard waiting, hidden, should Lord Atwood actually try something. It would be much more interesting, and potentially much more rewarding, to at least hear what this man had to say.

"So you wish to deal with us instead of Sureau," he said after a stretch of pensive silence. "And you've brought this - " he gestured with the deed " - as proof of your conviction. A wise choice, all things considered.

"Very well, you have my attention. What terms do you propose?"

Garrett Atwood's Photo Garrett Atwood 01 Mar 2018

Garrett took a moment to think. This was easier in his head the hundreds of times that he practiced in his head. Augustin Deveaux was not just imposing, his stare could bore holes straight through Garrett's body.

He cleared his throat and leaned forward in the chair, leaning his elbows on his knees.

"Atwood is not a large family. We have old contracts, and good standings within Tremredare, but the family has always just been the main line. I only have two cousins, an uncle, and my sister. The rest of the family is gone. Old and dead. We have not been blessed with fertility...

"That being said, I ... " He paused and cleared his throat again. "I have a duty to protect them, even if that means the Atwood name and legacy ends tonight. We do not have the strength to stand, even as a vassal of Deveaux. We would all be dead by the end of the season, Sureau would see to that."

Garrett shifted in his seat. He hoped that he got across that he didn't want to be Lord Atwood any longer. He was stretched too thin...

"Atwood proposes to sign over all contracts to Deveaux, and all deeds to land they own, the allegiance of all Allomancers in Atwood's control, including myself... in exchange for protection and absorption of the remaining members of Atwood into Deveaux."

Augustin Deveaux's Photo Augustin Deveaux 03 Mar 2018

Augustin listened as Lord Atwood spelled out his house's circumstances, and his terms, such as they were. This was less a trade deal than it was a preemptive surrender, accompanied by a complete acquisition offered on a silver platter.

He watched Lord Atwood as he thought, and spoke, weighing every expression, every hesitation, every word. This was a man who was broken down, overburdened with grief and leadership and - apparently - the duties of an Allomancer as well. He had seen this look before, in countless men in countless circumstances, but never circumstances quite like these. To be honest, he almost didn't know what to make of it. It seemed too good to be true, that something so fortuitous could land directly in his lap like this. Houses either tried to challenge Deveaux and failed, or were smart enough to stay away in the first place. But Lord Atwood was backed into a corner, and had to choose upon which enemy he would cast himself for mercy. And he had, quite cleverly, played both sides in order to sweeten the deal for his ultimate choice.

And the chance to break into the Western market was a tempting one. His own intelligence reports confirmed the house to be as weak as Lord Atwood claimed; killing them all wouldn't be difficult if it all turned out to be a trick.

"Never, in the history of my tenure as Lord Deveaux," he began finally, "have I been presented with such an offer. You do understand that should I accept you into my family, you will have to earn our trust. This -" he gestured with the deed again "- is a good start, but not it's not enough to allow me to turn a blind eye. You and yours will be watched, closely. I do not think I need to tell you what would happen should we catch you playing false.

"Second, I can't go around adopting every house who knocks on my door. Thus, you will need to join the family in truth. You, your sister, and anyone else in Atwood who is presently unwed will marry into Deveaux, to seal the union between families and prevent any... complications in the future. Are you prepared to agree to these terms?"

Garrett Atwood's Photo Garrett Atwood 03 Mar 2018

"Thus, you will need to join the family in truth."

Garrett had prepared for that condition. He knew that there was no other way to make the relationship between houses complete. There was no way that Augustin could get rid of Atwood completely, if anyone with the name still lived. He would have to become Garrett Deveaux.

He tried to hide the pain that this caused him. Likely, Augustin knew that he was a widower - and that his wife was only one year gone. He would also likely know the story of how she passed, which didn't paint him in a very nice light. He was supposed to be able to protect his family - but of course Augustin didn't know the real truth, in that he was protecting another facet of his life when his wife was assassinated.

He took a deep breath before responding.

"I had a feeling that this would be the case, Lord Deveaux. If I was not willing to accept whatever terms you set for me, I wouldn't have come here in the first place. I am at your mercy, and I will prove my loyalty - although I am aware that will take time." He looked at Augustin, wanting to ask him... who he would be married to. He didn't want to seem picky... However, it would need to be addressed, and this was the only time he would get to do it

"I suppose that the only thing I can ask is that you do not make a match of me with anyone who cannot protect themselves. If the rumors I have heard of Deveaux's prowess in training is true, I'm sure that won't be hard... I... have some history that I prefer not to repeat, if possible..."

Augustin Deveaux's Photo Augustin Deveaux 04 Mar 2018

Augustin, in a way, felt for Garrett Atwood. A young widower, his wife barely a year gone, and now here he was, forced to beg for his life no matter the cost. Even if it meant marrying, when he probably never wanted to look at a young woman again. It was a harsh lesson in leadership.

But that was the lot of those born to land and title: to hold the lives of one's kin in their hands, to shoulder even the heaviest of burdens in order to do what needed to be done. And in a way, Garrett Atwood had passed the tests life had put to him. Where Deveaux might have crushed any number of similar houses without much notice, Atwood - its people, at least, if not its name - would live on. The man in front of him might have given up in pretty much every way, but he had still accomplished what any number of other men had failed to do.

It was enough to make Augustin acknowledge this former would-be rival, at least a little. When even a broken and defeated Garrett Atwood came before him with that level of resolve, what would a loyal and grateful Garrett Deveaux accomplish for them, once the scars had healed and he were given the tools and resources to realize his new purpose?

Thus decided, before answering the question put before him, Augustin reached over and rang the small silver bell that was waiting on a nearby table. Immediately, his butler stepped into the room.

"Yes, my Lord?"

"Send Vaudin in to me, and a senior obligator." He paused, then added, "and the Lady Severine. Have them woken if need be."

"Very good, my Lord."

The door clicked shut behind him, and only then did Augustin return his attention to the matter at hand.

"A wife who can protect herself? Well, we certainly have no shortage of eligible ladies among our Allomancers. Though, come to think of it..."

For the briefest of moments, he thought of Camille. His daughter, his Mistborn, no longer lost to him, no longer sold to Ellsworth Venture to serve someone else's ends when Deveaux had made her who and what she was.

That image was gone in an instant, consumed by the fires of war that would surely erupt if he denied one of his oldest and dearest friends the alliance they both wanted.

And when the smoke cleared, it was replaced by Camille, standing in his study. Leaning on his desk, a fiercer determination than he had ever seen in her before making her loom over him even as she trembled in fear of standing up to him.

"If you have ever loved me, if you have ever acknowledged the service I have done for this house, you will give this to me. If you deny me, I will never forgive you. If you deny me, I will run to Venture, and I will tear. you. down."

He couldn't do it.

It wasn't just the fact that he would start a war if he tried, or that the alliance with Venture was key to securing Deveaux's dominance in the coming years, or that he had done far too good a job with Camille and now he couldn't stop her if he wanted to, no matter how much the latter galled when he admitted it.

It certainly wasn't for any sentimental reason, or the light he had seen in her eyes when she danced with Nevan Venture. Of course it wasn't. Marrying Camille to Garrett was simply impractical, and messy, and didn't reflect her true value. No, that simply wouldn't do at all.

But what about her?

The thought came unbidden to his mind, but he welcomed the chance to push Camille - and that meeting in his study - out of his mind for now. Would that actually work? Gillaume and Lissentella had been pestering him for years about seeing their eldest daughter settled, long after all of society - potential suitors included - had given up on her ever marrying. Even now they carried on any time they visited, as though he could simply wave his hand and conjure up a man to take her hand, and as if he did not have anything better to do than consider how this might be accomplished.

But now, he had the opportunity. Marrying Lilianne to Garrett would certainly shut her parents up, but most importantly, it would keep her in Deveaux. She was quite adamant about wanting to put her Allomancy to use in service to the family, and had grown into a promising young officer whom Augustin would be loath to lose just because her parents wanted her tied down. This had the potential to satisfy everyone.

At least, if Lilianne didn't strangle him immediately upon being informed.

"I think there is one potential match who would work quite well. She is a Pewterarm, and one of our most dedicated young officers; I wouldn't be surprised to eventually see her take command of our entire Pewterarm division. She is also closer to your own age than most of our other eligible young ladies, so that will be less awkward for both of you.

"There is one complication, though given your own circumstances, perhaps it might work out in the end. Lilianne is determined not to marry. While it will help smooth things over that you will be marrying into Deveaux rather than pulling her out, she will, unfortunately, be none too pleased to meet you. She will need time to come around, which I suspect you might need as well."

Garrett Atwood's Photo Garrett Atwood 04 Mar 2018

Garrett was sure he would be executed at any moment. Except the way that Augustin was talking put Garrett at ease - at least a little.

Augustin called for an obligator and Lady Severine... and then went on to talk about who he might be paired up with within the house. Garrett clasped his hands together, holding tightly, just to make sure he was really awake. All the months of planning went into this one night, and it was finally here, and it was going well.

Too well.

Garrett wasn't used to having things go right.

"She will need time to come around, which I suspect you might need as well."

Garrett nodded. "Yes, I'm sure that I will need the time. I never pictured myself marrying again..." He paused and realized that made him seem like he was hesitant. "I do appreciate the age consideration and I'd rather marry a woman who hates the idea of being married over one that is overeager to just be married to anyone simply to be married. At least the former may grow accustomed to me, where the latter would just resent me."

Garrett went quiet for a moment, wanting to change the subject, but unsure of what to change it to. He thought for a moment, and at least he could naturally change the subject away from himself, if not away from marriage completely.

"My sister is also unwed... and one of the two cousins. My uncle is a widower, same as myself... but it might be difficult to convince him to marry again... Among us there are only three Allomancers."

Hopefully the jump to Allomancers would take the conversation in another direction. A more comfortable direction for Garrett.

Augustin Deveaux's Photo Augustin Deveaux 04 Mar 2018

Only three? In a way, that was disappointing. In another, three Allomancers among such a small group was actually pretty impressive. It also depended on what type of Allomancer and of what skill level they were, but then, he had plenty of people who could whip them into shape if need be.

"He will at least need to sign the papers if a supposed match can be found," Augustin said with a wave of his hand. "I don't particularly care if the union is consummated or if they keep separate apartments; it's the legality that matters in this case, and either way, your marriage - and your sister's - are more vital to the merger.

"Now, tell me more about your Allomantic forces. Types, experience, and so on. Are there any hired Allomancers among your forces?"

Garrett Atwood's Photo Garrett Atwood 05 Mar 2018

Garrett took stock for a moment. The house employed a few Allomancers. He counted them off in his head. He should know the figure off the cuff, but he had been ... rather absent as of late.

"My steward keeps track of most of the actual numbers of Allomancers in our employ. There should be roughly one or two dozen. Since the main family didn't have many Allomancers - and the recent attacks on the estate, we have been keeping a higher guard count in general. There are three Tineyes, and the rest are either Coinshots, Lurchers, or Pewterarms."

He then turned to his actual family. His sister hadn't been trained, because historically the females in his family didn't get trained to fight in their conflicts. He wondered if that would sound... naive of him if he said it aloud.

"My unwed cousin is a Smoker, my sister, a Coinshot... and myself... I'm Mistborn." Garrett said revealing the last. He had never said that phrase out loud to another noble. It felt strange rolling off the tongue.

"As far as training goes, my father did not think it necessary to train my sister in combat. He did not intend to use her in combat situations. It has been this way in Atwood for generations. I think she always wanted to learn to fight, but father forbid it. As for my cousin, he has had basic fighting instruction, and his Allomantic instruction has been fairly rigorous."

He leaned back, clearly more at ease with this line of conversation.

"My training is ... constant. Although, if I'm being honest, it has not been the main focus of my life as of late, as you might imagine."

Augustin Deveaux's Photo Augustin Deveaux 07 Mar 2018

"Myself... I'm Mistborn."

It was only decades of practice that kept the shock from playing openly across Augustin's face. Whatever he had been expecting from Garrett Atwood as a future member of Deveaux, this certainly wasn't it. It suddenly made much more sense why Atwood was able to survive as long as they had, and also why Garrett himself looked so worn down. One could not be Mistborn and hold a title at the same time, or not successfully anyways. There was simply too much work for one person to handle. A balanced division of labor was paramount to the successful running of a house.

He had struck gold here, pure and simple. A new Mistborn, properly developed and owing Deveaux his life, would go a long way towards filling the gap Camille would leave when she joined Ellsworth bloody Venture's fold. She could never truly be replaced, of course, but however well or poorly Garrett wound up performing, Augustin would certainly rather have him than not. It also proved Atwood's strength of blood, which certainly wouldn't be a bad thing for any house.

"Well then," he said at last, allowing himself a small, satisfied smile. "While that is certainly understandable, I believe you'll find a much more tolerable workload in your future from here on out. And I am quite confident that my own Mistborn, your soon-to-be comrades, will be able to get you fully caught up with anything you may have missed. You will have Lilianne as well; she will make a fine training partner. It should also help you bridge the gap between you somewhat, as she often prefers talking with fists over words.

"Work will easily be found for your cousin, of course, though I'm undecided about your sister. She will be given ample training, but she may be too old to introduce to active duty, even at her young age. Regardless, I am glad to be welcoming a family with strong blood into the fold. I trust you've seen active duty before?"