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The Lord Ruler's perfect capital city, Luthadel, is doing the impossible: rebelling. Skaa half-breeds are being taught the power of Allomancy, something that the Lord Ruler's obligators said only existed in the nobility. The enslaved skaa, with their murderous benefactor, now fight back against a living god's oppression.

So, the Inquisition was formed. The nobles begin to fear assassination from all sides. The times of nobility Mistborn killing each other are over. The Steel Inquisitors look for aristocrat traitors and insurgent skaa, and the skaa try with all their strength to merely survive. The Lord Ruler's perfect Final Empire is slowly devolving into chaos.

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Willem Venture

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#1 Willem Venture

  • Venture's hammer

Nessa's Baywrap
  • Age45

  • Relationship StatusMarried

  • OriginLuthadel

  • Allomantic StatusHidden

Posted 13 February 2011 - 04:55 AM

<div align=center><span style='font-size:21pt;line-height:100%'>Willem Venture</span>
<span style='font-size:9pt;line-height:100%'>Mistborn</span></div>

Player Information
Name: Jess
Contact Information: PM

Character Information
Name: Willem Venture
Type: Noble
Age: 45
Gender: Male
Place of Origin: Luthadel
Occupation: Businessman
Relationship Status: Married

Powers: Allomancy
-Type: Mistborn
-Metal(s) Used: All
-Degree of Skill: Pewter: advanced. Iron: advanced. Steel: advanced. Tin: advanced. Bronze: intermediate. Copper: intermediate. Brass: intermediate. Zinc: intermediate. Atium: intermediate. Gold: novice.
-Status: Unknown

Appearance: Standing at six feet, Willem has the characteristic Venture height. He has an elongated, narrow build, with a trim waist and sloping shoulders. This lean frame, however, conceals a powerful musculature; it is difficult to see even with the fitted contours of the impeccably tailored suits he wears, but the smooth, feline assurance with which he moves can perhaps betray something of what lies underneath. Willem may be slender, but he has an almost tangible force of physical presence despite that.

He has dark brown hair, cut short and combed neatly back; his widow?s peak accentuates a high, domed forehead. Heavy eyebrows overshadow the steady and intelligent gaze of his deepset hazel eyes. His face narrows to a small chin, with a well-trimmed, conservative beard and moustache giving further weight to his features. Willem has an untouchable, calm reserve; he rarely smiles, and allows only what he chooses to show in his expression. He can be maddeningly difficult to read.

Special Skills: Administration, accounting, hand-to-hand combat.
Strengths: Willem has a well-tempered, logical mind; this makes him a very effective businessman. He is also highly trained in combat, with a particular gift for the physical metals of pewter and tin; iron and steel come a close second.
Weaknesses: A distance separates Willem even from those he cares for most, and he finds it difficult to bridge this gap. His blind loyalty to Venture is another personal weakness ? he will obey any command given by Ellsworth without question, and will sacrifice almost anything for his House.

Personality: Willem is extremely controlled, both in movement and expression. Even in the grip of a powerful emotion, he remains fully in command of himself. Only rarely does his reserve crack; even with his own wife and daughter, he feels the need to maintain a certain distance in order to keep his secrets from them. Often, Willem will leave something in his heart unspoken, because he cannot find the words to express himself. His dignity can verge on the austere at times, but he is respectful and courteous to others, though not necessarily eager to try to please them. He generally speaks his mind, and does not give second chances when others fail or disappoint him.

This emotional discipline extends to his mental state, as well. Willem is highly cerebral, with an analytical, precise, and thorough approach to problems. He thinks through a situation carefully, and considers his own words and actions well before he makes an impartial judgement. He is fully capable of swift action in a crisis without hesitation, but nevertheless prefers to exercise caution. Only once in his entire life has Willem ever done anything impetuous. He performs his responsibilities ? all of his responsibilities - with a capable and ruthless efficiency.

As calm and introverted as he is, however, Willem is not cold or dispassionate. His emotions run deep underneath the surface; his anger is implacable, his joys passionate, his grief bitter and intense, and his love and loyalty more powerful than anything else. He is driven by a profound, almost doglike sense of duty, and this is what has ultimately destroyed his life.

His heart has always belonged to his wife, Anastaise; she holds his unwavering fidelity, trust, and love. And at the same time, his guilt over the constant deception which he must maintain in their marriage is consuming him. She believes that he is unfaithful to her, and he allows her to believe it, because no other lie could hide the truth so effectively. Trapped between Anastaise and his conflicting loyalty to Ellsworth and Venture, Willem finds that the constant struggle is slowly tearing him apart. The happiness with which their marriage began has been degraded into an unbearable tension. He cannot stand watching the misery that he causes to Anastaise, and yet he is powerless to cross the distance that stands between them. What this atmosphere has done to their daughter, Irina, is another ugly truth that he cannot avoid.

He cares very deeply for Ellsworth as well; he views his cousin almost more in the light of a brother. Simultaneously, Willem gives him his complete obedience and respect. Ellsworth is not only his brother and friend, Ellsworth represents Venture, and Willem is deeply dedicated to the House. Even when obedience meant the apparent sacrifice of what Willem wanted most, his allegiance did not sway. Only once has he gone against the will of his House, when he believed it could no longer do real harm to Venture?s interests, and only once has he ever defied Ellsworth.

History: Willem was the solitary child of Bastian and Medea Venture. Bastian was the younger brother to Denton Venture, and so Willem?s birth, even separated by one degree from the succession, had considerable significance. With three living cousins, he was unlikely ever to inherit, and Bastian ? who had always been close to Denton - had no ambition to see his son rise. Nevertheless, his parents had high expectations of their son, who was to be raised to be a credit to House Venture. He was a quiet and serious child by nature, taking well to his studies; he was obedient from a young age only very rarely acting counter to the wishes of his parents or any other authority figure. While Willem was never awkward, he did not often seek out the company of other children. Shokhan and Ellsworth were considerably older than him, and so they did not take much notice of their little cousin. Magnus, on the other hand, was exactly his age, but the two of them were never close; Magnus? aggressive and dominant behaviour did not mesh well with Willem?s withdrawn personality.

When he was ten years old, Willem?s Allomancy came as a surprise. Neither Bastian nor Medea was even a Misting, and so it was not really expected that Willem would prove to have any ability. Regardless of this, he was put through the same rite of passage that any Venture child experienced. Willem was beaten until his life was endangered, to test him for that hidden strength. As he lay broken and bleeding, he found something within himself, and reached out to that power to protect him from the blows that would not stop falling. The pain disappeared, and he felt stronger than he ever had, warmth and life flaring inside of him. He was picked up from the ground by his father, who was prouder than Willem had ever seen him before, and held close between both of his parents. Willem was a Mistborn.

Already, Willem had been given a challenging education, but now he was to have another purpose as well. His training began immediately, as soon as he had recovered from his Snapping; he had been given some basic dueling-practice before, but now he was given intensive instruction in both physical combat and the use of his Allomancy. Willem applied himself to this with the same systematic determination that he gave to his education in more ordinary subjects, and proved in fact to have considerable talent.

His life changed in another way as well; previously he had not been very close to his cousins, but he was now thrust forward into their company. Denton Venture wanted to instill loyalty into Willem, so that his brother?s child would not possibly pose any threat to the succession of his heirs. Denton did not distrust Bastian or his son, but a Mistborn was a powerful weapon, and he wanted to make absolutely certain that Willem would not prove to be a double-edged sword. Willem learned Allomancy from his older cousin Shokhan, among other more experienced teachers, in order to develop his respect for Shokhan as a mentor. He trained with his cousin Magnus as well ? unfortunately, this often went rather badly, but Willem rarely came to quarrel with Magnus. He was not given to seeking out fights.

However, what proved to be the most important relationship to develop during this time was the bond between Willem and Ellsworth. Ellsworth was only a Smoker, unlike his two brothers, and Willem was assigned to protect Ellsworth, even while still learning to use his abilities. While Shokhan was rash and thoughtless, even foolish at times, and Magnus was aggressive and hot-tempered, Ellsworth was something different from either. Ellsworth had been born to lead. He was five years older than Willem, who automatically looked up to the charismatic teenager. They were nothing like one another in personality, but Ellsworth had every attribute that Willem had been raised to value ? strength, dedication, will, and wisdom.

As the two grew older, the friendship between them grew stronger. Ellsworth?s opinion became of paramount importance to Willem, alongside that of Denton and Bastian; he was determined not to disappoint them, and he pushed himself harder to excel. He succeeded. To the eyes of Luthadel, Willem grew into a well-educated, reliable, and promising young nobleman. He also became a highly effective and lethal weapon for Venture. He first went on a mission at the age of fifteen; he was young to be trusted with such a task, but he had shown himself to be levelheaded and mature well beyond his years. He had already killed before, during his training. On this first real assassination, he performed flawlessly and without hesitation.

It was only a year later that he began going out more in society, attending balls for the first time. A Venture, after all, could not be a recluse. He handled himself well, his courtesy and level head recommending him to the acquaintances he made. He did not make close friends easily, keeping most at a distance but one young man in particular developed a bond with Willem. Lucien Sureau was precisely Willem?s age, and the two of them shared a great deal of common ground in their interests and personalities. What began with respect grew into a strong friendship; Lucien became one of the few people that Willem would let down his guard around, and in turn Lucien came to rely on Willem as well.

He was vaguely aware, when he visited Keep Sureau, that Lucien had a sister. She was a shy creature, he thought, not of particular interest to him; he had never spoken to her, or even seen much of her besides brief glimpses. Any time he noticed her, she would dart away, so that in three years all he had ever really seen of the girl was her back as she disappeared.

Willem?s world was constantly shifting during this time, and he became more glad than ever that he had Lucien?s friendship to rely upon in the chaos. After his disastrously stupid attack on Deveaux, his cousin Shokhan had been essentially cast out of Venture to join the Ministry, leaving Willem, even as young as he was, as Venture?s sole Mistborn. He was forced to take over Shokhan?s duties as well as his own. Weary and in failing health, Denton, his uncle, had passed Venture over to Ellsworth, who no longer had much time for his friendship with Willem. After Denton?s death not long afterward, Ellsworth withdrew even further. Willem stood beside him every step of the way, giving his unquestioning support to Ellsworth?s leadership of Venture. But Ellsworth would not turn to him for anything more personal; like Willem, Ellsworth had always kept his true feelings private. The distance of grief separated them, and Willem could not reach across it.

As Lucien?s best friend, Willem was of course invited to be part of the company, when Anastaise Sureau?s debut ball was to be held on her fifteenth birthday. Lucien approached Willem ahead of time, with a particular request. He was concerned that young men with the wrong intentions might approach his sister, who was too young to know how to deal with it. Would Willem look after her for him that evening, so that at least her first dance would be with someone trustworthy? Willem, of course, agreed. He would have done anything Lucien asked of him, and moreover, he felt compassion for the nervous young girl he recalled. She was hardly more than a child; she would be out of her depth in society, he was certain, and she would need someone to protect her from the wolves.

That evening, Willem stood transfixed as the debutante was announced to the company. He had never seen the slender young woman in the blood-red gown before. It was her grace that he noticed at first, the smooth, flowing way with which she moved. This surely could not be Anastaise? This was not the skittish girl-child he had been expecting; this was not a girl at all, but a woman with a beauty he had never seen in any other, and he was unable to take his eyes away from her from that first moment. He was not even aware that he had begun to move towards her when Lucien caught his arm, perhaps seeing the look in Willem?s eye, but it was too late. He detached himself from his friend, and moved to go and keep his promise.

As he approached Anastaise, it was her eyes that caught him next. She seemed to single him out, meeting his eyes for a moment before she lowered her gaze, a flush rising over her face, but that moment of connection had caused Willem to decide that he wanted her to look at him again. He introduced himself, with his customary courtesy, and asked her for the honour of the first dance. She agreed, and took his hand, and Willem found himself facing something he had never had to deal with in his life. He had more than one young woman throwing herself at his head before, but he had never felt like this about any of them. Rather, they had repulsed him a little, with the shallow and vapid nature of their flirtations. Willem had no taste for it.

When Anastaise Sureau took his hand, it was as if an electrical shock had passed through him. He held her in his arms as they began to dance, and he became only vaguely aware of their surroundings; he had been trained to remain alert, but while he still saw the ballroom and the people around him, they became irrelevant. It was Anastaise who held his focus. He was determined to persuade her to look up, and so he spoke to her of anything and everything he could think of to draw her out, his reserve vanishing. She answered with an intelligence and charm that was ensnaring him as surely as everything else about her, and when she finally did raise her dark eyes to look at him, they were dancing with a spirited, laughing light that took his breath away.

Neither of them seemed to be able to break that connection; when the dance ended and he had to step away, it took force of will to look away from her. Each of them went to dance with others, but he had no interest in his partners; he paid them attention as was polite, but he could not get Anastaise out of his mind. He returned to ask her for a dance no more often than was strictly appropriate. Every two dances, precisely, he would go back to ask Anastaise for another. He counted. And every two dances, she would dance with him, regardless of who tried to get in the way, and Willem?s blood would race in a way it never had.

Afterwards, Lucien took him aside from the company, a thundercloud of anger clear in his eyes, concealed behind the calm he normally maintained. ?Willem. A moment, if you please.?

?Of course, Lucien.? Willem excused himself from the conversation he had been having with a polite nod, and turned to walk with Lucien; he waited for his friend to speak first, however. They walked together out of earshot of the company, before Lucien finally broke the silence. His voice was low, but held a sharp edge to it, as he inquired, ?Might I ask what that was??

Willem considered his answer carefully for a moment. Lucien had, of course, seen his reaction to Anastaise quite plainly; it occurred to Willem that half of Luthadel had to have seen it. He should try to rein himself in a little more, but he found for once that he did not wish to. "You asked me to look after your sister," he said at last. "I believe I have done so; I have made certain that no one with intentions less than decent will try to approach Anastaise. And I have done my best to help her to be at her ease." He met Lucien's accusing stare levelly, without flinching from his friend's look. This was the truth. And he could not help what else was true.

?At her ease indeed,? Lucien growled. ?Lord Ruler, man, when I asked you to look out for her, I didn?t know I was asking you to keep her away from the competition.?

"Lucien," Willem asked quietly, "do you really not trust me to conduct myself honourably towards Anastaise? You are my closest friend, and she is your sister. I promise you. I will do nothing to harm her reputation."

?See that it stays that way,? Lucien said, grudgingly. ?She?s fifteen, Willem. She?s a little girl in a pretty Lady?s dress, no matter what society says. You?d do well to remember that.?

"And I will remember it," Willem replied, still calm. "In return, it would oblige me if you did not suppose me to be a blackguard. Although I think you do her a disservice to think her such a child, Lucien. She is more mature than you realize."

?She?s my baby sister, Willem,? Lucien said, more gently now. ?When she is forty years old, and married, with children of her own, I will still see her as that little girl.?

Willem smiled, and reached out his hand to grip Lucien's arm for a moment. "I know, Lucien. I don't blame you for being so protective over her. But please, trust me. I will do nothing wrong. We are friends - do not let this come between us."

?I will try,? Lucien answered, without returning Willem?s smile. ?But that depends largely on your own actions, and hers. Good night, Willem.? And with that, he left to go and bid farewell to the other guests.

Over the next year, Willem pursued Anastaise with the same determination with which he applied himself to any other goal. He saw no reason to conceal his intent from either Sureau or Venture; after all, when she was of age, it would be an ideal match. Their Houses were allies, and a marriage between Willem and Anastaise would bind them still more closely together. Venture and Sureau, of course, would not permit him to formally court her when she was so young, and so he was restricted as to the kind of attention he could pay her. He respected the wishes of their parents, and not once did he attempt to overstep the bounds of what was correct and proper for a friend of the family and make an advance. However, he made it a point to discover her interests, and devised ways to intercept her. Seemingly by chance, Willem began to appear everywhere that Anastaise went, and spent almost the entirety of his free time with her. They could spend hours simply talking together. His world had begun to shift, until it revolved around Anastaise.

While Willem kept their relationship entirely on a friendly level ? recalling his promise to Lucien ? he could not change the way he felt about her. It was plain to those around them as well, and there were many who disapproved. Willem faced their criticism without shame. He would wait however many years it took before their Houses agreed to the match; Anastaise was worth waiting for. He could be patient.

However, some others were even less pleased about the situation; there were other young women who had entertained hopes of the young Willem, and these women began to shun and then outright mistreat Anastaise. Willem was aware of it, but for some time he chose to stay out of the matter, believing that intervening might only make things worse. When the bullying began to take the form of a vile rumor, however, he was determined that it was time for things to stop. He would not tolerate anyone speaking in such a way of Anastaise. Willem knew well enough who was behind the gossip, and so he took these ringleaders aside at the next Venture ball and spoke to them privately. He was not a man to raise his voice or speak discourteously to any woman, no matter the situation. However, for once, Willem did not conceal his scorn or his anger as he told them what he thought of both them, and of what they had done. None of them were able to find any answer to his words, and he left them there in stunned and shamed silence, and perhaps a little fear.

He never found out the truth for certain as to why, the next evening at the Sureau ball, the mouths of those same women were stained in all the vivid colours of the rainbow. But there were no further problems from that quarter for Anastaise in the future.

It seemed that their future was assured. In time he would seek her hand, and despite the fact that he had never spoken of it to Anastaise directly, the two of them had a silent understanding with one another. She knew that he would ask, one day, and he knew that she would accept.

Willem could not have known what was to come.

He had been unaware of the machinations of the obligator, Gethen, within Venture. In many ways, while Willem had still performed all of his duties to Venture without fail, his focus on Anastaise had blinded him to the undercurrents that he should have been alert to. And so Willem had no warning when the command came from Ellsworth to attack Sureau. Willem had been chosen to lead the Venture Allomancers; the attack would have had no chance of success without Venture?s Mistborn.

Ellsworth gave Willem the order personally. He told Willem that he had tried to persuade Sureau to allow Willem and Anastaise to marry at once, but Maxen Sureau would not hear of it while she was still only sixteen. Venture stood to gain tremendously from this assault; if things went according to plan, Venture would rise to pre-eminence among all of the noble Houses. It was not possible to pass over this opportunity. And so he had to command this; the regret in his voice was clear, even as he told Willem, but so, too, was his resolve.

Willem did not try to persuade him to reconsider, but he could not bring himself to speak, either, and only nodded in silent acquiescence. Willem knew exactly what Ellsworth?s choice meant for his future. He did not know the full reasons behind why Venture would betray Sureau, but he knew that with this attack he would lose the only thing that he had ever wanted for himself. Ellsworth had sacrificed Willem?s happiness in exchange for Venture ambition. And as he always had before, Willem would obey his will. To go against Venture was unthinkable; to turn on a man whom he considered as his own brother was impossible.

He had always been master of himself, and when the masked Venture Mistings struck at Keep Sureau, cold determination kept him from giving way to despair. He performed his duty with lethal efficiency, and without flinching. He was Mistborn. He was death itself. Willem killed men and women that he had spoken to, Sureaus he had known well or even considered friends. Not once did he hesitate, though he tried to kill as quickly and mercifully as he could. Their faces blurred together after a while, losing their identity and becoming no more than so many bodies left behind in his wake.

Then he saw Anastaise. She was fleeing from something, looking over her shoulder, when she ran directly into him. Willem had been unable to avoid her. Something kept him frozen to the spot.

She had fallen to the ground, and stared up at him, her eyes wide and blank with terror. He had done his duty that night untouched by either fear or disgust, but his belly twisted and rose against the fear in her face. Fear of him. The woman he loved believed that he was going to kill her.

Then her face altered, her eyes narrowing with resolve, and she rose, her fists clenched and her back rigid as she stared him down. She was unarmed and helpless, at his mercy, she believed she was going to die, and she still rose to face him down. The fear remained in her eyes, but her dignity even when confronting her death would not allow her to lie there, or to run. She had more courage than anyone he had ever seen.

Willem could not kill Anastaise. He could never have brought himself to even hurt her. He left her there without a word, without more than that single glance, and went on to finish his task.

Before that night was out, Willem would come face to face with one more enemy that would not be dealt with so easily as he had many others that night. His friend, Lucien, was fighting with the Sureau hazekillers; the Venture forces were withdrawing even as Lucien led the charge in retaliation against them. Lucien was only burning pewter, but despite the imbalance of force between a pewterarm and a Mistborn, he attacked Willem first, screaming an incoherent challenge. His face was twisted with fury and hatred, and Willem had no defenses against that sight. Lucien had been his closest friend. Even though Anastaise had caused some tension between the two, they had held onto that friendship through it all.

Once again, Willem could not bring himself to kill. He only defended himself, burning atium to avoid Lucien?s attacks and hold back his friend and the hazekillers with him until the Venture Mistings had made it out. The instant they were clear, Willem broke off the combat and retreated, leaving Lucien unharmed, the sole survivor of his force of hazekillers.

The next day, Willem learned that things had not gone entirely according to Venture?s plan. One of their Mistings had been captured and tortured into giving away the identity of the attackers; Sureau knew that Venture had betrayed them, and the two former allies were now the bitterest of enemies. Within the next few days, still, Venture would win the all-important Ministry contract that Sureau was now too weak to hold on to. But Anastaise was lost to him.

Willem was not ready to accept it. He had believed that he could sacrifice anything for Venture, and he had made the decision to obey Ellsworth, but now that it was done he could not let go of his heart?s desire. The next ball would be hosted by Elariel. Both Sureau and Venture would be invited. That night, Willem decided, he would make his move. He began to make quiet inquiries, searching for an obligator on whose discretion he could rely, and preparations for a secret flight. Soon after he had begun his search, a woman approached him instead, a truly ancient Obligator?with the tattoos of a Prelan in the Undercanton of Intelligence. Willem had no idea how Felicity had found him, or how she knew his plans, but she somehow had a detailed and intimate knowledge of everything that he had arranged?and she offered him her help. He accepted it. Even if he did not know why she had chosen to help them, his gratitude for the gift was immeasurable. With the signature of a Prelan as witness to their marriage, there would be no possibility that it could be contested. Beyond that, Felicity had a talent for planning, and contacts that far exceeded his network. Her assistance opened the path clear for him.

The two of them soon had everything prepared, and all that remained was to speak to Anastaise. At the Elariel ball, he spoke to Lucien first, the first time he had seen his former friend since the attack, and begged Lucien to allow him to speak to Anastaise one final time, to say his farewell in private. He no longer knew if it truly would be the last time ? Willem was aware, afraid, that Anastaise might refuse him. He gave no hint or sign of what he was planning, however. For the sake of their friendship, Lucien granted him the request, and allowed him to approach Anastaise alone.

She had kept her face smooth the entire evening, but as he sat down next to her, she began to cry silently. He took both of her hands in his, and her silence was broken; she wept with a brokenhearted grief, unashamed?and whispered that she did not want to leave him.

Willem?s own heart constricted to see her cry, and he was still afraid of what would happen, but a flare of fierce joy also rose up in him at those words, and he dared to hope that she would not turn him away. He brushed the tears from her eyes with his hand, and asked her to dance with him?and she said yes.

He led her out onto the floor, under Lucien?s watchful eye, and held her close. She needed it; she was barely able to maintain the steps of the dance, moving almost uncoordinated and with none of her usual grace. In only a few turns, she was within his arms, her face buried in his shoulder as she clung to him as tightly as if she were drowning. Willem felt that fierce, possessive fire rising up within him again, and he whispered his heart?s desire to her as he embraced her. He could never let her go. ?Run away with me.?

?What?? Her head came up from his shoulder, and she stared at him, uncomprehending.

?I have everything ready,? he told her softly. No one else around them could be allowed to hear this. Everything was prepared, if she would only give her consent ? he waited, torn between hope and terror, for her answer.

?Willem, I?You?You?re serious, aren?t you? You actually??

?I mean it, Anastaise. I?I?m asking you to marry me. I?m sorry to do it this way. This isn?t how it should have been, this isn?t how I wanted it, but - ? They should not have had to do this in secret, a covert, hurried thing. He should not have asked her to betray the will of her family, he should not have asked her to leave everything else behind to go with him. He should not have asked her for this so young. He was twenty, she was only sixteen, it was too early for this, but he could not bear to let her go.

?I?I?I?? She turned her face into his shoulder again, but Willem saw the smile light up her face before she did, and he heard her answer with a thrill in his heart. ?Yes. A thousand times yes.? He felt her tremble against him, and his arms tightened around her as he struggled to hide the triumph from his features. ?I was so afraid?I thought?I want to go with you. I want to be your wife.?

He led her from the dance floor with absolutely calm gravity; Willem had to be the master of himself, or someone might have guessed what he was planning. Lucien was already looking at him with deep suspicion, and Ellsworth knew him too well to be deceived by anything but the best facade. If either Venture or Sureau caught on, his hopes would be shattered. When Lucien stopped him with a hand on his arm, to ask where they were going, Willem told him that he was simply taking Anastaise outside to the open air, in order to catch her breath. All of Luthadel had seen her break down on the dance floor, after all, and weep into his arms. Her face was still stained with the tears. It was a lie easily believed ? the more easily because Willem had never once lied to Lucien before.

They left immediately. One of the Elariel guards had been bribed to let them out through a postern-gate, and the two of them slipped into the waiting unmarked carriage. They fled the city to Fellise, to the manor that he had rented for the purpose, and that same night Willem and Anastaise were married. There was no one there but the two of them and the Prelan who performed the ceremony and witnessed the contract.

They spent three days in Fellise together, hiding in quiet seclusion from the fury that Willem knew would descend as soon as they returned to Luthadel. Despite the shadow that hung over them, those three days were the happiest of Willem?s life. He and Anastaise belonged wholly to one another; nothing could taint that joy.

They could not hide forever, though, and after all too short a time they returned very quietly to Luthadel, early one morning before the city awoke. Willem brought Anastaise to Keep Venture, and took her before Ellsworth to break the news to his cousin. He did not flinch at the furious rage he saw in Ellsworth?s face as they stood before him, though Anastaise turned away from his cousin and hid her face in his shoulder. He held her close and met Ellsworth?s glare without expression. The silence between them drew out, until finally Ellsworth spoke. ?Well, at least you had the common sense to marry her.?

Did Ellsworth think he would have simply despoiled Anastaise and then dropped her to the side like a used rag? The insinuation that he might have set his own anger rising a little, but he answered calmly, ?I apologize for doing so without your approval, cousin, but I knew that I would not receive it.? Anastaise was still holding tightly to him, but she lifted her head from where she had hidden her face, and met Ellsworth?s look as well.

?Had this been a week ago, and she a few years older, you would have had it. Lord Ruler, man. As if the Sureaus didn?t hate us enough right now, they?re beating down the front gates demanding the return of the girl you ?kidnapped.?? Willem did not know the fire that had risen into his own eyes at that, but Ellsworth reminded him a second later of the need to keep his calm. ?And don?t look at me like that; I know you didn?t. Besides, anyone with a shred of sense can look at her and know she?d jump off the spires of Kredik Shaw for you.?

?Ellsworth, I?? Willem paused, choosing whether to say his next words or not. He knew that this open defiance would permanently alter what lay between Ellsworth and himself ? but the relationship between them had already changed, hadn?t it? It could never be the same as it had before the attack on Sureau. ?This is the one thing I want, Ellsworth. I?ve never asked you for anything; I stood behind you when you took the Seat, I will continue to stand behind you. But a week ago the world was different. Your decision changed that. I will give up everything else, but I will not give her up for Venture. I will speak to the Sureaus myself, if need be.? Willem had not spoken of that night to Ellsworth since it happened, and he would never speak of it again. But those words needed to be said.

?That won?t be necessary. The last thing we need is them tearing you to pieces.? Then, unexpectedly, Ellsworth laughed; he was looking at Anastaise now, who was staring at him no longer afraid but furious. ?Well, at least you picked a spirited bride! She looks like she wants to rip me apart for letting any harm come to you. Lord Ruler, girl, you can calm down. Your husband has nothing to fear from me, and I have no intention of losing him to the Sureaus.? His laughter vanished as suddenly as it had begun, and his gaze switched to Willem, hardening. ?And she is a girl, Willem. A married woman, but a girl nonetheless.?

Willem?s anger rose again, and he wrestled it back, keeping his face smooth. ?If I had waited, Ellsworth, it would have been impossible. And Anastaise is no child.? She had not been a child since he had met her; she had the wisdom and discretion of a maturity far beyond her sixteen years.

?She?s sixteen.?

?I don?t care.? Calm. He was still calm.

?Well, obviously.?

?What is done cannot be undone, Ellsworth, and I would not undo it even if it was possible.?

?I know that. But she is young, Willem. The law may say she?s old enough to marry, but she?s still young. And she?s your responsibility, now.?

?Do you believe I will not face up to that?? What did they all think he was? Even Ellsworth.

?It was just a reminder, Willem. One you would do well to remember when Sureau tries to use her to get to us.? Willem had no answer for this, only the answer that sprang into his eyes silently at the suggestion. He trusted Anastaise. He loved Anastaise. She would never turn on him. But Ellsworth would not stop. ?You can?t tell me you never thought of that until now. She loves you, yes, but all things considered, how loyal is she to Venture? And how might Sureau use that? Don?t play the fool, Willem. That?s exactly the sort of twisted thing they would do and you know it.?

His arms tightened around Anastaise, and he let a little of his anger give an edge to his words now. ?If you wish to speak in this vein, Ellsworth, then do not do so in my wife?s hearing. I do not care to have her insulted.? She was Anastaise Venture now, not Anastaise Sureau.

?It?s all right, Willem. He?s right to think that way. And I?d rather hear it spoken plainly than find that people are whispering behind my back. Though I?m sure they?ll do that anyways.? Anastaise spoke for the first time, her voice soft and warm as she smiled up at him, but Willem could not smile now. He met Ellsworth?s stare with an icy anger of his own. ?There is not much that I can do to stop that. But Ellsworth would oblige me by being at least civil, to your face.?

?Fine,? Ellsworth said indifferently. ?Then you and I will speak of this in private, while your wife is left to wonder what is being said about her behind closed doors. Does that sound more 'civil' to you??

Willem's face went a shade darker, his eyes touched with anger, but he simply returned Ellsworth's gaze, steadfast, waiting for his cousin to be the first to look away. There was a dangerous look in Ellsworth?s eyes now as well, and Willem challenged him silently to speak again.

?I'm not trying to provoke you, Willem,? Ellsworth said at last. ?But those are our options. With or without her present, it needed to be said. And she just told you she'd rather hear it directly, given the choice.?

"Then speak your piece and be done with it," Willem said flatly.

?I already did. Be careful, because the Sureaus will try to use her.?

"Then this conversation is at an end." He would hear no more of this.

?Very well. Go on then, and get her settled in. And perhaps into a dress that fits properly; she represents Venture now, after all. And Willem? I'm trusting you not to do anything drastic until we can speak in private.? Willem knew what Ellsworth was speaking of, but he gave no sign that he had heard, turning away in cold anger to draw Anastaise with him out of the room.

Later, they spoke again. Willem had known the command was coming. He was to keep his identity a secret; the knowledge that he was Venture?s sole Mistborn was far too valuable to be allowed to slip into the hands of Sureau. Not until Ellsworth could be certain of her reliability. Willem was finished with his defiance; he had only challenged Ellsworth in that single action, and now he would obey again. He gave his word to keep Venture?s secrets, even from his own wife. Ellsworth also told him that he was going to send them both away from Luthadel, to keep them away from Sureau. He wanted Willem to oversee the mining operations at the Pits of Hathsin, the secret contract that Venture had stolen from Sureau. Again, Willem acquiesced without a word of argument.

The next day, Lucien found him. They had not spoken since the night of the ball; his last words to Lucien had been that lie. When Lucien called out his name across Fountain Square, his face calm and yet somehow strangely twisted, Willem stopped in his tracks and turned to look him in the eyes. ?Lucien,? he said, quietly, and acknowledged him with a slight bow.

?How dare you?? Lucien asked, stalking closer. ?As if you Ventures hadn?t taken enough from us, you had to take her too??

Willem stood his ground as Lucien advanced. He was not ashamed of what he had done - Anastaise had chosen to go with him, and he would not regret his decision now. He regretted the way that he had done it; he had betrayed Lucien's trust - even lied to his friend. But he would have done more than that in order to keep Anastaise. "I am sorry it had to happen like this," he said, calmly. "I never wanted it this way. We should have been brothers, Lucien, not enemies."

?We would still be brothers if not for your betrayal.?

At those words, Willem's control cracked, even if only a little. Lucien had been his best friend; he had meant more to Willem than he had ever spoken openly. But this was the first time he had heard Lucien say this, that they had once been brothers. He had not known that was in Lucien?s heart. Willem wished to look away from the hatred and grief that he saw in Lucien's eyes, but he forced himself to remain still. He deserved at least some of this. He had not stolen Anastaise, she had come with him willingly, but Venture, and Willem as their tool, had betrayed Lucien. That much was true. And he knew Lucien spoke of both in the same breath. "I am sorry, Lucien." It was all that he could say.

"Sorry? Sorry? How are you sorry, Willem? You got what you wanted. What you damn well always wanted, from the second you laid eyes on her!"

"I am sorry that it cost me your friendship, Lucien," Willem answered. "If there had been any other way - any other price to pay, rather than this one, I would have. If you believe nothing else I say, believe that."

"Any other---? What am I supposed to say to that, Willem? That the one thing you're willing to do despite our friendship is kidnapping my sister?"

"I did not kidnap her," Willem said softly. "She came with me of her own free will, not by force."

"From a ball. She just up and left, knowing what everyone would think. You had her out there alone. Anything could have happened."

Willem's voice was still soft, but now it was touched by steel. "You know your sister, Lucien. You know she loves me, and that I love her. You have known it for a long time, and you know it now. Do not accuse me of such a crime."

"I speak only what everyone else knows. I'm surprised you didn't have that Mistborn of yours snatch her right out of the bloody keep!"

"Do you truly believe that I could force myself upon your sister? Do you think that she would let me?"

"I don't know what to believe anymore, Willem. First your Allomancers slaughter my family, and now this? What am I supposed to think?"

Willem could make no answer to this, at first; he was silent for a moment that extended out into tense seconds as he tried to bring his emotions under control. Anger and a deep regret and sadness both flowed through him, and he did not wish to allow either of those to take over him. Only when he had schooled his face to stillness did he reply. "I can only tell you the truth, Lucien. What you think of it is your choice."

Lucien just shook his head. "You took her," he said, the loss in his eyes like an open wound. "How can I know she consented? She was beside herself. She was weak. Vulnerable. Maybe you seduced her away with pretty words, but the result is the same." His expression began to change again, anger flooding his features. "You kidnapped her," he snarled. "She trusted you, you bastard, and you kidnapped her! You raped my sister!"

Willem's face turned to stone as anger rose up over his compassion, although still not obliterating it entirely. He knew that Lucien had reason for the venom in his voice, but he would not tolerate this ? he heard his blood singing in his ears with the rage that he kept barely contained. "I have heard enough, Lucien. I have told you the truth. Anastaise chose this; she chose me. Do not insult me further; I will let this much pass, for the friendship we shared once. But I will not submit to any more."

??Damn you,? Lucien muttered, and turned away to leave without a word.

They would not speak again.

Willem had not only lost his ability to fully trust Ellsworth, he had lost his closest friend. Anastaise was more vital to him than ever, now, but when only scant hours later he returned to Keep Venture to find her being carried in through the gates, beaten bloody and nearly senseless, Willem almost lost his mind. He drove them all away from her, and would not allow anyone to touch her; he did not know who had done this to her, and he did not trust anyone around him. She tried to explain that it had been only street thugs, but Willem did not know if the attack could even have been on Ellsworth?s orders. Only when the Venture physician finally pushed forward through the rest of them was Willem ready to allow someone else to touch Anastaise, and even then he would not leave her side.

Ellsworth found Willem sitting by her bed, still awake even hours later as he watched her resting. And he gave Willem a deadline. They could not wait for Anastaise to recover from her injuries; he needed someone at the Pits immediately, and Willem was to be sent. Ellsworth briefly suggested that Anastaise could be left behind in Luthadel and follow Willem at a later date, when she was well, but he gave up on this as soon as he saw the look in Willem?s eyes. The two of them left Luthadel only two days afterward, in consequence, Anastaise heavily drugged with laudanum to ease her pain, and Willem still refusing to leave her side.

She did recover, albeit painfully, and for a while they were happy together. Willem had his hands full with the work to be done at the Pits, especially now in the very beginning of Venture?s hold over the operations. There were continually problems to be solved; supply and manpower issues, accidents, cave-ins. He still found time to be with Anastaise, and they grew closer to one another over this time. Willem did not like to see how isolated she was; the other Ventures in the small settlement excluded her from their circle. Yet they had one another, and their joy in that was still untainted.

Not yet.

Five years afterward, with the operation at the Pits secure, Willem and Anastaise moved to nearby Urteau. At Hathsin, he had not been obliged to perform his duties as Mistborn. In Urteau, there was once again work for him to do, and now he had to do it without letting Anastaise know what was going on. He did his best to keep her from knowing when he went out, but often he would be gone the entire night. Sometimes he would leave in the middle of the night while she was sleeping, and return hours later to find her awake and waiting for him. She tried to ask him what was going on, but Willem could give her no answers, and before long she came up with an answer of her own.

She believed that he was having an affair. And he could not deny it; he had no other explanation for his absences, and if he allowed her to believe this, then she would not guess at the real truth that he had given his word to keep secret. The tension between them worsened over time, and Willem watched his wife slipping slowly away from him into a dark depression. She struggled hard to keep it hidden, but he knew what was happening all the same. Willem knew Anastaise? heart and mind intimately, and could see the darkness in her eyes, replacing the light that had been there when he married her, hear it in her quiet tears when she believed he was too far away to know. And he could not catch her back from it; his hands were bound. When she miscarried ? twice ? it only grew worse.

Willem, too, began to feel as if he were losing hold.

The birth of a daughter, at last, after ten years of marriage, seemed to have saved them. Irina was a beautiful child, the most precious treasure that Willem had ever been given, and he and Anastaise found comfort and joy returning with Irina?s innocent light. They raised her themselves, without turning to nurses or governesses; neither of them was willing to pass off their daughter?s care to anyone else. But it could not last.

Inevitably, he was called on again. And once again, the secrets began to slowly poison and break down their marriage. Willem struggled to keep it from hurting Irina as she grew older, but their daughter seemed to sense even early on that something was wrong. Even if she never heard her parents fighting, even if Willem never spoke a harsh word, and Ana never let her daughter see her cry, somehow she knew. And it was Willem?s fault. He was the best father that he knew how to be. He spent as much time with Irina as he could, playing with her, reading to her, and when she Snapped accidentally as a young child, talking her through her Allomancy lessons. He could not train her himself, of course, but he could explain Steelpushing to her in theory, while a Venture Coinshot taught her the practice.

He still knew that he had failed her and Anastaise both. But Anastaise most of all. Behind the mask of strength that she wore for her daughter, the depression was slowly taking over her again, and all that Willem could do was watch as twenty-five years of marriage fell slowly apart.

And then Ellsworth summoned him to Luthadel.

Roleplay Sample
Willem had work to do tonight. A group of businessmen from Luthadel had been in Urteau recently, looking in places they should not have been looking, and asking questions that they should not even have known to ask. Venture?s network had determined that they were going by false names; in the end they had turned out to belong to several vassal Houses sworn to Sureau. Unfortunately for the little nest of spies, Willem knew where they were staying as well. Sureau would hear no more messages from this quarter.

He stepped through the door to the bedroom he shared with Anastaise to see her preparing for bed, brushing out her heavy coil of dark hair in front of the mirror. She did not turn around as he comes in, but her hand stilled, and she sat there without moving, the brush halfway through her hair. Willem had always loved her hair; as soft as silk to the touch, and smelling faintly of the perfumed soap she used. Even now, he often woke in the morning to find her sleeping close, and he would simply lie there quietly to inhale the scent of her without waking her in turn. In those moments, her sleeping face was untroubled by the lines of grief that touched her awake. She was at peace, and he could find a brief release from the shadow that hung over both of them.

Willem stood there with his hands at his sides, hesitating for a moment of sick uncertainty before he moved to the wardrobe to take out an evening dress suit. He heard her shift, and then he could sense her eyes on him. He clothed himself in silence, without looking at his wife again; he did not want to see the look in her eyes. He had been doing this for years. It did not get any easier with time or repetition.

Sometimes he wondered if it would be better to make up a lie. He knew what she believed. It might have been easier to confirm it, to simply give a name and then go. There were women working for Venture that would hold up their end of the lie if she confronted them. He had been avoiding her questions for more than 20 years. Perhaps someday it would be time to answer them, even if it was with a lie. Any answer would be better than this hideous suspense. Some kind of resolution, even if it was for the worst. Even when things were better between them, when he did not have to go out, it was still there between them, a barrier that remained no matter how much love he showed her. It could not be forgotten or covered over.

He could not give all of himself to her, and she knew it. Even if it was not in the way that she believed ? for she had his heart, and he would never betray her with his body ? the lie was still poisoning things between them.

It was completely silent in the room, and so he heard the soft sound escape Ana, barely more than a breath. The noise in her throat of a sob, bitten back and swallowed; he knew the bitter taste of that for himself. And he knew what he was putting her through.

This was not the first time. She rarely wept in front of him; she was too proud for that, but Willem had heard her crying often when she thought he did not know. And he could not go to her. He heard her with tin, and so he could not tell her that he heard, and even if he had gone to her, what could he have told her? That he was sorry? What would an apology even mean, when in another week or another month or even, if he was lucky, another year, he would have to do this again, and leave her waiting and wondering? If he made her a promise, he would have to break it.

He did not know what to say, and so he remained silent, drawing his coat sleeve over first one arm and then the other. He could feel the oppressive tension like something lying on his skin, making the air in the room heavy and hard to breathe. Guilt gnawed at him, a lance of it going through him at the sound of that sob trapped in her throat. He wanted to reach out and comfort her, and he could not. Would she even want his touch right now? It would only make her think of another woman.

?I can?t,? she said after that taut silence stretched out to a breaking-point, her voice failing halfway through the words and falling to a whisper. He heard every syllable clearly, regardless. ?I?m sorry, Willem. I just can?t?I can?t wait for you in here like this. It?s too much. I can?t do it anymore.?

And there was nothing that Willem could tell her to take away that concealed misery. There was no explanation he could offer, there was no answer he could make. All that he could do was let that silence fall in again.

They had to keep doing this, she had to keep doing this. If they did not, there would be nothing left, and Willem did not know how he would continue without Anastaise. Even if the love between them was twisted and infected with these secrets, it was real, and it was all that they had. It was all that he had. And it was all that he could give her. Give her? He did not give, he took ? her peace of mind, her joy. She had been happy once.

What had he done to Anastaise, trapping her in this? If he lied, and gave her a name, perhaps that would allow her to hate him, and to break free of the ugly thing that their marriage had become. Would she divorce him over it?

What would that do to Irina?

He could not do it. He could not take the chance that she would leave him, and so he would keep her here with him as long as she could stand it. He would keep on tearing her heart, and his own, because he was not strong enough to cut her free of him. And because Irina needed both of her parents. ?I will not be long,? he said at last, calmly. Willem had always been able to modulate his voice, to keep any of what he thought or felt from coming to the surface.

?Do you think that makes it any easier?? she asked, finally turning to face him, and he refused to flinch away from the raw hurt in her eyes. ?Lying awake in our bed, wondering when you?ll be back, thinking of you in someone else?s arms the whole time you?re gone? Did you think I just went off to sleep after you left? Lord Ruler, I can hardly breathe when you?re gone. And I can?t?I can?t do that anymore, Willem. I can?t stay here while you?re with her. I?m sorry. I just?can?t.?

How could Willem answer that? His chest twisted up, and he felt physically ill with the force of the emotion that her words drew forth, but he could not speak of what he wanted to tell her. She had never spoken this openly of it before, not like this ? she had never said how much it hurt her. And now she had given it to him, given herself again ? tried to reach out, despite everything, and he had to draw back.

She was so vulnerable. And he was going to hurt her again.

?What will you do?? he asked, knowing he sounded, if not cold, at least dispassionate. There was nothing else that he could do. He could no longer meet her eyes; he did not have that much mastery of himself, and turned his gaze to look at anything else, at nothing.

?I?? She paused for a moment. ?I?think that I?ll have to go to another room when you go out at night. I don?t want to, but I just?It?s too much for me. I can?t wait and wonder when you?re coming back. I?m sorry. I??

Willem?s mind went blank for a moment, as he tried to process this; some part of his mind did not want to recognize the meaning of her words. She did not want to see him come back; she did not want him to come back to her. She did not want him. How could he expect her to?

She did not tell him to go to another room, either. She did not tell him to keep away from her. Instead, she sent herself away ? she went to another room in their house, as if she was only a guest, or a stranger, remaining there on his sufferance only. It was as if Anastaise believed she did not belong in their own home. Willem had only now been questioning that himself, whether she would be better off if he had not taken her from everything else that she knew. But hearing her raise the question herself made his heart constrict harder than it had even then.

?Do as you will,? he told her, still evenly. It was all he could do to manage that. ?If you wish, I will go to another room, instead, when I return.? She was still mistress here. She was. He would ?

?You could stay,? she said, and came towards him, her face touched with hope. He had thought nothing could be worse than seeing that wound in her eyes. ?It?s not you I want away from, it?s just that horrible waiting. But if you stayed with me, then that wouldn?t?? It was the first time she had asked him to stay in?years, it might have been. She had stopped even trying after a while. She must have believed it did nothing. She did not know, she could not know how much it hurt Willem to hear her ask.

He made no answer, turning away from her half-raised hand and crossing towards the door of the bedroom instead. ?I will not disturb you when I return,? he answered, with his back to her. ?I will go to another chamber. Goodnight, Anastaise.?

He was on his way out when she called his name. The note in her voice was one of desperation, and he froze still for half a moment, his hand paused just above the handle, wanting more than anything else to turn and go back to her. Couldn?t this wait for another night? The Sureaus could be taken care of another time ? later? Another time when it would be just as hard to leave her, and harder, because he had given way once.

?I love you.?

Willem did not look back at her, but he did not move for another long moment. If he turned back to look at her, he knew he would not leave that night. What could he tell her? She believed he was going to the arms of another woman, and Willem could only let her believe that ? what lie could be a better one to hide the truth? He had never said it, he had never confirmed it, but he had never denied it either. How could he tell her he loved her, also, and then go?

Willem made no reply; he drew open the door after that pause, and closed it softly behind him.

#2 KChan

Atium Chandelier

Posted 13 February 2011 - 09:51 AM

Amazing. Simply amazing. Accepted!

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