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Mistborn: The Inquisition


After Death

Aaron Elariel's Photo Aaron Elariel 30 Sep 2011

Aaron ran through the mists. Normally, he felt at home in the mists, finding comfort in the way they wrapped themselves around him when he used allomancy. Tonight, however, the seemed hostile. The twisting tendrils seemed to grow solid as he tried to pass through them, gripping at his arms and legs, slowing his pace to a crawl. Burning Iron, he pulled on the first source of metal he could find, hoping to tear himself away from his pursuer. As he flew, Aaron realized he had escaped just in time, as he heard the tassels of his opponent's mistcloak rustle over the cobble stones. She was getting close.

Suddenly, Aaron realized he was no longer flying, and was instead hurtling towards the ground. His anchor had vanished, swallowed by the mists. Again, it seemed they seemed to grow solid, twisting around his body like hungry snakes. Below him, the huntress laughed, her cold voice filling him with dread. The mists coiled around him, stopping his descent a foot from the ground and holding him in place. They had betrayed him. He had thought they were his, but they had been her creatures all along.

"Am I so repulsive you cannot bear to look at me, Lord Aaron?" Aaron tried his best to stare at the ground, determined not to give her what she wanted, but the mists wouldn't let him. One tendril reached up under his chin, forcing his head upright, while two more snaked around to his eyes and held them open.

Underneath the mistcloak, her ball gown was tattered and covered in blood. The many rips and tears made it even more revealing than it had been before. The few crystals that still remained clinked together as she walked. As she approached, she pulled back her hood, revealing red hair that seemed to shine in the darkness. As she stared into his eyes, he realized hers were cold and gray. Just like mine...

"Lord Aaron," she said, "It's time to get up." Her voice had grown shrill and authoritative, the way she had spoken to him when they were children. "You have a busy day ahead of you."

"What?" he asked blearily, rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.

"I said, you have a busy day ahead of you. There is to be an execution this morning, and your father and uncle both want you looking your best." As the dream faded, Aaron realized it was Odairn, Elariel's main terris steward addressing him.

"Huh?" Aaron sat up slowly, his head spinning. Was it all just a bad dream?

"There's to be executions today, in response to yesterday's rebel activity, I think. I would have never guessed the rebels would be so bold as to attack a Keep, and during a ball. It's outrageous. And with a Mistborn too. I didn't think a halfbreed mistborn was a possibility. "

Images flashed through Aaron's mind. Flames everywhere, an Inquisitor and a Mistborn flying through the air, tears filling Marisha's eyes. So much had happened, and all in one night, it was almost too much to take in. Then, he remembered the rest of it.

"Mikhail... is he?"

"Dead, Lord Aaron. Assasinated by Phyra Venture. It appears she was a mistborn of considerable talent. Luckily, Lord Venture managed to reign her in before she could cause more harm. A Venture mistborn delivered us her head."

"My cousin... is dead." It was true. Why did it have to be true? And my sister planned the whole thing. Again, images flashed through Aaron's mind. His fight with Phyra at the ball, Daerra departing 'drunk' with Damien Deveaux, Mikhail lying on the floor, covered in blood. "Mikhail was an obstacle. I had him removed." Daerra. His sister. Even the memory of the coldness in her voice made him shiver. She killed him. Phyra might have wielded the knife, but Daerra killed him all the same.

Odairn moved closer. "I know you are grieving Lord Aaron. We all are. Your cousin was a great man, and will be sorely missed. However, the Lord Ruler will not react well to Elariel's new heir missing the executions. Nor will the other Great Houses, I think. Whether or not Phyra was working alone, the Venture's must be dealt with, and it seems the Hastings may have been involved in the plot as well..."

Aaron felt Odairn's words wash over him. He knew the Hasting weren't responsible. It was Daerra, all Daerra. This could mean war. The Great Houses don't use Mistborn against eachother. Did she realize what she had done? Of course she did. Daerra was likely already planning a way to use the war to her advantage.

"Elariel must put it's best foot forward today. We must show that this attack has not broken us, and that we are not to be trifled with. I know you want to grieve milord, but for now, you must set your feelings aside. Now, more than ever, Elariel needs a strong heir to help lead her."

"Heir," the word felt strange on Aaron's lips. "I'm Uncle's heir now."

"Yes you are," said Odairn, his lightly accented voice growing crisp. "The obligators visited this morning to ratify you. Now some adjustments must be made." The Terrisman turned to the door. "Marlisse! He's ready for you." The door opened, and a timid looking woman entered with an blanket over one arm, and a bucket of supplies in the other. The handles of a pair of shears glinted menacingly.

Marlisse... she's the House Hairdresser... "No." Aaron said, backing away, running his fingers through his wavy black locks. "I like my hair the way it is."

Odairn pursed his lips. "Lord Aaron, as heir, people are going to expect more of you. Now more than ever. You must look professional. Your father has ordered me to ensure you are made presentable in time for the execution. We don't have much time. I would appreciate it if you co-operated."

Aaron looked back and forth between Odairn and the timid hairdresser for a moment. I can't believe it! She's actually gone and made me heir. I didn't ask for this... Then again, he supposed Phyra hadn't asked to be manipulated, Mikhail hadn't asked to be killed And Marisha didn't asked to be used, but I danced with her anyways. Why did he keep coming back to her? His cousin was dead, and he was the new heir of House Elariel. What did Marisha Nathar mean to him?

"Very well," he said with a sigh. "Let's get this over with."

Daerra Elariel's Photo Daerra Elariel 30 Sep 2011

Daerra sank to the steps, massaging the ache out of her legs. Her morning exercises had been more intense than usual, fueled by her frustration. Aaron words from the night before continued to echo through her mind. "I always thought he was wrong. Now... now I'm not so sure." How dare he side with their father! Aaron knew better than anyone how complex her relationship with her father was. He had no right to say those things to her.

"Save it." she heard Aaron whisper. "Save it for someone who's still fooled by you." He was right. Daerra was fooling herself. He had every right to say those things to her. She'd made a mess of things, but looking back now would only ruin everything, and make her recent sacrifices a waste. I'll find a way to make things up to him. I have to. Daerra knew that her reconciliation with Aaron would have to wait. With Mikhail newly dead, the entire keep was buzzing with whispers, as alliances transformed and factions rearranged. It would take talent, luck, and all the convincing she had in her, but Daerra planned to come out of her created chaos on top.

She stood, giving her legs one last good stretch. At least one good thing had come out of frustrations. Her stomach felt flat and firm. With all the bread and wine she had consumed the night before, she had worried about being bloated in the morning.

Meeting JinJin at the door, she confirmed that her father and uncle were still out at the execution. Good, I need time to prepare myself before I deal with them. Moving to her rooms, Daerra gave JinJin a list of people she wanted to meet with as soon as she was done washing and getting dressed. As the list grew, Daerra realized she'd have to skip breakfast if she wanted to fit them all in. She ordered JinJin to send up her serving girls anyway. They always came to her fourth, after serving her mother, aunt, and Claudia, and reported to Daerra if they had noticed anything peculiar. She wanted to know immediately if there were any unexpected reactions to Mikhail's death. When she was finished, Daerra give JinJin another list, this time of which servants she wanted to wait on her that morning. The serving girls weren't her only informants, and Daerra needed all the information she could get.

Andrew Elariel's Photo Andrew Elariel 30 Sep 2011

Andrew sighed as he sat down at his desk. The executions had dragged on, and eaten up valuable time. With his nephew dead, and son in line to inherit, he knew he would not get a better chance to turn Elariel in the direction he wanted to go. The meeting with Ellsworth and his boy had been necessary, and a welcome diversion from the monotony of the executions, but valuable time had still been wasted, and now he had to play catch up.

His personal assistant interrupted his thoughts. "Sir, your daughter wishes to speak with you."

Andrew looked up immediately. He should have known Daerra would not waste any time. The girl was and arrogant fool, but he had to admit, she had a knack for being an annoyance. She's likely been meeting with people all morning. Damn that girl! Flipping threw some papers, Andrew found the latest reports from Daerra's current tail. So, she's already met with Alistair... Since his return to the Keep, Andrew had only managed to fit in a hurried conversation with his wife before making his way to the office. Daerra worked fast. She must have pounced on him the moment he got back.

Looking up again, he analyzed his assistant's emotional state. The boy was nervous, likely Daerra had intimidated him. He also looked tense. Phyra Venture's attack had been like a kick to a bee hive, and now all of Keep Elariel was buzzing. Wasting no time, Andrew soothed away some of his assistant's concern, attentiveness, awe, fear, and respect. Andrew had broken the boy in long ago, and knew he would respond exactly as planned. He wanted him composed, perhaps a little bored even. If his servants were cool and collected in their dealings with Daerra, his status with her would increase. The respect and fear were an afterthought, to make his page more impertinent. Anything he could do to annoy Daerra before meeting with her would serve to his advantage. With or without her bronze, Daerra would likely see through his efforts, but that would serve his purposes just as well. His daughter hated being underestimated.

"Very well. Show her in. Tell her I don't have much time."

After a few minutes of murmured conversation, Daerra was ushered in. Immediately Andrew began soothing her, not bothering to be subtle. Even without bronze, the girl had proven adept at knowing when she was being manipulated. If only her brother would show such dedication. This morning had gone well, but there was still work to be done if Aaron was going to be a good heir. There was also work to be done on Andrew's part if he wanted his son to be useful to him. The boy was too rebellious; too unpredictable. He would need to gain a better hold of him, if he ever wanted to rule through him.

Focusing, he soothed Daerra's self esteem, hatred, ambition, anger, and inquisitiveness. Knowing that he wasn't bothering to disguise his ministrations would also work to make her feel less worthy, like she wasn't worth the effort, and the emotions he chose made he seem he just wanted her to leave because she wasn't worth his time.

"I'm very busy," he said, not looking up from his papers. "What do you want?"

Daerra Elariel's Photo Daerra Elariel 30 Sep 2011

Her father's soothing slammed into Daerra, the bronze pulses seeming to sink into her skin, vibrating throughout her body. She'd turned her bronze on outside, and had sensed his manipulation of the servant already. He's just trying to get to me. I have to remain composed. "It's good to see you too father," she said with a smile. "And I completely agree, we have not time to waste." Not waiting for him to offer, Daerra took a seat.

"What is this about?" her father's voice was soft, gentle even, but his soothings grew more violent. He knows I can sense his allomancy. He's trying to intimidate me with his power One by one the waves hit her, making her feel weak, insignificant, and unwanted. Push all you want father. My emotions don't rule me.

"You know what it's about," she said, remaining calm. Don't let him get to you. Andrew Elariel was the master of all manipulators. Daerra knew it, and he knew it. That was his weakness. His confidence made him underestimate people he deemed his inferiors. "I trust you know I met with Uncle Alistair?"

Andrew continued shuffling his papers around. "No, actually. As I said, I've been very busy. You are aware your cousin was killed last night and there was an execution this morning."

Daerra licked her lips. Careful now. You can't afford to lose him. "I know you have me followed, father. You have everyone followed," pausing, Daerra rolled her eyes. Let's give him a taste of his own medicine. "So let's cut out all the posturing and pretending and get to the point. After all, you're not the only one whose busy. I'm just as eager to get out of your hair as you are." He expects you to be annoying, give him what he expects to see.

Andrew looked up, and Daerra felt his soothing continue. Now he was soothing her alertness, caution, and discipline. Even though she knew what he was doing, she could feel her attention wavering, and her guard slipping. He's so powerful "Very well," he was saying, seemingly far away. "Let's get this over with. What do you want." Even when he gives in, he's careful to establish his power over me.

"I spoke to uncle of an alliance between our factions."

Andrew gave her a flat look. "Now Daerra, a few optimistic rejects don't really count as a faction."

"Well, that group of optimistic rejects got a little bigger this morning."

"The loyalty of the foolish is fickle. They'll find their place again soon enough."

"Perhaps their not so foolish. Uncle Alistair seemed to take me very seriously."

Andrew snorted, and Daerra felt the soothing intensify. Daerra fought to keep her face composed and her thoughts in order. "And why would he do that? Just yesterday at the ball, my brother used your little spectacle to remind me of how childish my children are compared to his."

Daerra felt her cheeks redden involuntarily as Andrew soothed away all her emotions but embarrassment. She quickly banished the reaction, forcing herself to regain composure, but the small smile that played at the edge of his lips let her know he had noticed her slip. "Yesterday Mikhail was his heir and in his pocket. Today Aaron is heir and in mine."

The soothing stopped, and the sudden return of all her emotions nearly made Daerra gasp.

"So that's your angle is it? Using your brother as leverage. I always forget how cold you are." Andrew raised an eyebrow, the picture of cool.

Daerra plowed on. She could not afford to let him get to her. "I proposed to Uncle Alistair that we work together, in order to limit your influence over Aaron."

"And you are telling me this why?" The soothing was back again, playing at the edges of her mind, not focusing on any emotions in particular, just letting her know he was there.

"Because. Uncle just wants to turn Aaron into another Mikhail, and we both now that's not what's best for him. So..."

"While he thinks you're working with him, you'll secretly be working with me."


Andrew nodded thoughtfully. "And what makes you think I need your help? I've been handling Alistair all my life. What makes you think I need my daughter to help me?"

"Because," said Daerra, determined to get through this meeting without losing it again. "Aaron will listen to me." Her heart skipped a beat at the lie, but her face betrayed nothing. I'm still using him. She almost wanted to laugh at the irony. Just when she had the chance to use her relationship with Aaron to her advantage, she was the last person he would want to listen to.

"I think I can handle my own children."

"Really," she said. "Like you handled me?" Sighing, Daerra lowered her voice, trying her best to appear earnest. "Look, Aaron won't respond well to your tactics. You know they haven't worked on him in the past. I know him, better than anyone. If you work with me against uncle, I can help you influence Aaron." I'm sorry.

She'd make it up to Aaron, eventually. Right now, she needed her father to think she was on his side, if she was going to be able to play him and her uncle against each other. It's for the best. This way I can protect him. Even with her justification, it still felt like betrayal. "I've come up with a plan. People within the house know how close I am to Aaron, and will try to use it to their advantage. So, publicly at least, we're going to split. Aaron needs to be seen standing on his own if he's going to succeed as heir, but secretly I'll give him what help I can, and help you train him to be the man we need him to be."

Andrew stared into her eyes, then, suddenly, his soothing cut out again. Please, Daerra thought. This had to work, it just had to. "Fine then," he said finally. "I'll play your little game. But," his tone grew dangerous, "If I even suspect you are playing me false, daughter or not, I will destroy you." Andrew leaned back and sighed. "You are medling in things that are better left alone, Daerra. It's not too late to back out. Find a husband, get married. Leave the games for those who really understand them."

Daerra swallowed. "I'll keep that in mind." Then, with a polite curtsy, she went on her way.

Aaron Elariel's Photo Aaron Elariel 30 Sep 2011

Aaron sighed. Between the attack, his fight with Daerra, and bad dreams, he hadn't slept well, and getting up early for the execution hadn't helped anything. All he wanted to was climb back up to his room and sleep the rest of the day away. Then, at least, he wouldn't have to think about anything.

However, it seemed his wish would not be granted. Upon entering his room, he found a Terrisman waiting for him. Odairn politely informed him his father and uncle had decided to increase his training regimen, in the hopes he would be able to defend himself or escape should any assassins come for him. Aaron wanted very much to pick up a stone and ram it through the passive terrisman's face, but he knew it wasn't Odairn's fault. He was just following orders. How clever of my uncle and father he thought Hiding behind a eunuch so I can't refuse them It would be Odairn who payed if Aaron didn't do as he was told, so with one last look at his bed, he changed out of his fine suit and trudged off to the practice grounds.

Perhaps this is just what I need, he thought. In truth, Aaron loved training. He was never more alive than when he was flying through the mists, or vaulting through a window into a darkened hallway, but training was the next best thing. A little adrenaline rush might be just what he needed to clear his head. No plots, or murders, or manipulation, just a cane on his hand, his feet on the ground, and adrenaline coursing through his body. Finally, something he was good at.

As he walked, Odairn continued speaking. Amidst the lists of lessons, training sessions, and appointments that were being added to Aaron's schedule, something stuck out.

"I'm to be assigned a what?" he asked, incredulously.

"A body guard, Lord Aaron. Mikhail was killed alone, with only Jinzan present to defend him" Aaron noted the distaste in Odairn's voice when he spoke the kandra's Terris name. Only Aaron and Daerra knew 'Jinzan' was really a kandra, and Odairn found the creature's overly sunny disposition unprofessional in a terrisman, and did his best to disprove of him in every way. "While we terrisman make good stewards, we are not warriors. Phyra Venture is not the only mistborn in Luthadel. You must be protected."

They want to protect me from rival mistborn with a single body guard? That means.... "But Odairn," Aaron said, lowering his voice. Even in Keep Elariel, people were always listening, and Claudia's secret was one that had to be kept. The importance of keeping that secret had been impressed on every member of the family as soon as she snapped. "Surely Claudia will have more important things to do than stand around me all day?"

"Did I mention Lady Claudia? You are correct. She is not your body guard. Not only does she have other duties, if people noticed her around you all the time, they would become suspicious." Odairn licked his lips nervously. "Your new trainer and body-guard will be a Mistborn from another house. She's come out as an allomancer, so everyone will know exactly why she is at your side, and her reputation should dissuade attackers."

Another Mistborn? But who? The question was taken from Aaron's mouth when he arrived at the training grounds and saw who was waiting for him. "Viridian?"

Daerra Elariel's Photo Daerra Elariel 30 Sep 2011

Eyeing a nearby clock as she strode by, Daerra forced herself to ignore the rumbling in her stomach. She'd spent the entire morning moving about the keep, trying to get to as many people as she could before her father, and still had not gotten the chance to eat anything. I'll eat at the Deveaux tea she told herself. Camille would surely provide something to munch on. Right now, she still had work to do.

Coming into a new hallway, she almost ran into a plain faced man, dressed in in the clothes of a servant. She didn't recognize his face. Daerra knew the faces of all the members who served in the central keep, most were here distant cousins after all, and this was not one of them. She was about to scream for help when she realized who it must be.

"NeinSarr. You startled me," she said with a polite curtsy. The kandra's face was unreadable as always. He'd been spying on House Sureau ever since the attack on Daerra and Vivian two years ago, and still hadn't managed to find any proof of their involvement. Perhaps they really hadn't anything to do with it? For a moment, Daerra was lost in the memory of that day, the bright flames, the building collapsing, the Raisaal hazekiller pulling her to safety. It could have been me, she thought. But she had survived unscathed. It was her cousin Vivian who had gone missing. Good riddance. Vivian had always been an annoyance, a wild card in the first tier nobility. At least her sister Celia knew how to keep out of Daerra's way.

"Lady Daerra," the Kandra said, his voice tight. "I trust you are well."

Daerra realized she had not spoken to NeinSarr since she acquired JinJin. She'd had to swear him to secrecy, not wanting the rest of her house to know of her kandra. NeinSarr had obeyed, but had also informed her that, if Lord Alistair asked him, he would be obligated to tell the truth.

"Yes of course." Unlike JinJin, NeinSarr was a marvelous actor, and Daerra could read nothing in his blank expression. Did he resent her for forcing him to keep her secret? She knew he didn't like JinJin. Apparently, that was a common opinion back the the kandra homeland. The more time she spent with JinJin, the more Daerra could see why. "Has my uncle recalled you from Keep Sureau?"

NeinSarr nodded, mild annoyance playing across his stolen features. "I was on the verge of acquiring a more suitable position, but apparently I did not work fast enough. Because of recent events, Lord Alistair has instructed me to investigate the Hastings." The Kandra paused, and then began moving on his way. "I know I do not need to tell you my mission should remain a secret. I must be on my way. Good-bye, Lady Daerra."

"NeinSarr," she said, hoping he would stop. Luckily he did.


"I know it must be frustrating, receiving orders that are expected to be obeyed without much explanation. I know you must resent Uncle when he doesn't listen to your advice, but please don't hold it against the entire family. My uncle is a product of his upbringing, and has been taught to see your people as tools. I assure you, not all nobility feel this way."

NeinSarr considered her for a moment, before nodding and turning to go. As she continued on her way, Daerra smiled, hoping she had just added one more member to her faction.

Finally, Daerra reached her destination. She'd saved this visit for last, knowing it would be the hardest. Though they fought sometimes, it was obvious Claudia had loved Mikhail, almost as much as Daerra loved Aaron. Now, Daerra had to capitalize on that, take advantage of her cousin's weakness. As the Elariel Mistborn, Claudia would be an invaluable ally, and Daerra might need her loyalty in the times ahead. Especially now that I've lost Aaron Daerra cleared her mind of any thoughts of her brother. She had to be focused. There was no telling what kind of emotional state Claudia was in right now. One wrong move could ruin things between them forever.

Slowly, she knocked softly on the door.

"Claudia dear," she called softly. "I just came to check up on you. May I come in?"

Claudia Elariel's Photo Claudia Elariel 05 Oct 2011

The tight woven curtain threads danced in her vision, made individual and distinct by the powerful flare of pewter burning through her system. She stood staring at them, counting them until she had marked each one. Cool air danced against her skin making her shiver and a sudden pounding thundered at her from the door.

Claudia dear. I just came to check up on you. May I come in?

With the crack of her cousin's fist against her door came pain but she did not stop flaring. Soon she would exhaust her supply of pewter; indeed her supply of all her metals was beginning to run low after an exhausting morning spent in the practice yard but she could no longer afford to neglect her training. That course had proven disastrous - Mikhail lay dead at the hands of a rogue Mistborn and she had not been there to protect him.

She was rogue, Claudia thought forcefully. The other possibility; that Venture had meant for her brother to die and sacrificed Phyra to accomplish it, well...down that road lay a House war. As much as she might privately doubt Lord Ellsworth's story, it was not to be entertained that she act against Elariel's expressed interests. That might end with her father dead, Aaron after him and where would it end?

Daerra. She turned slightly, considering the door and with it her cousin. Perfect Daerra who had left the catastrophic ball before everything had begun burning down around them. Had she ever made a mistake in her life? There had always been so much life in her cousin; Claudia often felt herself a shadow in comparison. It would be worse now that she had failed the family. No doubt Andrew was privately overjoyed; even she wasn't blind to her uncle's ambition, but her parents would never forgive her. What had possessed her to let Mikhail leave the ball alone? Bitter words, and the cost had been called due in blood.

"Come in, cousin," she whispered. Her voice was like a shrill roar in her ears and she bite the inside of her cheek until she could taste the thick, coppery taste of her own blood.

Daerra Elariel's Photo Daerra Elariel 07 Oct 2011

Daerra opened the door, closing it slowly behind her. She saw the way Claudia cringed as the latch clicked into place. Her cousin looked worn and a little ragged. Has she been training all morning? Burning bronze, Daerra discovered Claudia was burning tin. Not just burning, she was flaring it, the pulses seemed to crash into Daerra, she could only imagine what Claudia felt like. Daerra could also tell the tin was almost gone, but Claudia seemed to be making no move to stop burning.

"It's dangerous to flare tin for extended periods of time," said Daerra softly. She took care to keep her voice as low as possible, not wanting to cause her cousin any more pain. If she could establish herself as a caretaker of sorts, perhaps she could get Claudia to feel she owed her. The scene of Claudia in her bed reminded Daerra of another time she had walked into Claudia's room and found her burning metals, right after the attack that caused her to snap.

"If you're not careful, it will start to twist your body, perhaps beyond repair. You know that as well as I do." Moving closer, Daerra took a seat on the edge of the bed, taking care not to touch Claudia. Flaring tin as she was, even the lightest sensation could overwhelm her. "I know it's hard, but punishing yourself won't bring him back."

Viridian Demesne's Photo Viridian Demesne 11 Oct 2011

Viridian stood alone, her back turned to the approaching duo, dressed casually in a black undershirt, tunic and pants.

She had taken a long while to overlook the training area. The Elariel's were a Great House and that was reflected in the quality of their facilities. They were lacking in a few of the more customized tools that she had implemented on the Demesne compound, but overall, she determined the space acceptable.

Burning tin, she had been privy to some of the conversation between Aaron and his Terrisman. It passed through her mostly unincorporated, though she took note of the approach with menial calm, optimizing the last of her solitude to ensure the training dummy's were sturdy and pegged deep.

When she heard her name called she immediately stepped away from the task and approached the arrivals. "Lord Aaron," she bobbed her head in cursory greeting and proceeded directly to task, "I require that you become familiar with these grounds. I intend we make use of them no less than four hours in a day. It is therefore your prerogative to ensure that your schedule is open during sessions."

Aaron Elariel's Photo Aaron Elariel 11 Oct 2011

"Lady Viridian," said Aaron, returning her greeting. "I don't think scheduling should be an issue, as I seem to have no control over mine at all." Aaron smiled brightly, but inwardly reprimanded himself. There was no reason for him to be sarcastic with Viridian. She wasn't the source of his problems. Too late now, I guess.

"Well Odairn, it seems you've handed me off to my newest baby sitter. Go have yourself a nice break. For both of us." Odairn, ever patient, bowed respectfully and departed. He didn't deserve that either. What is wrong with me today? Shaking his head, Aaron tried to clear his mind. He was still angry about the executions. Pointless death had a habit of doing that to him, even if it was only skaa. Plus, after the tense exchange with Lord Venture and Nevan, he'd been hoping for a chance to unwind. I like training, he reminded himself. He'd just have to make the best of it.

"Well Lady Viridian, where do we start?"

Viridian Demesne's Photo Viridian Demesne 12 Oct 2011

"Where we shall begin is a determinant of your aptitude," Viridian answered his question showing no sign that she had even recognized the sarcasm in his earlier response. She turned and motioned for him to follow after her, "In this effort you will be participating in a verity of training exorcizes designed to test your physical endurance, your reflex's and your flexibility both physically and psychologically."

She began leading the way towards one of the more fully featured obstacle courses she believed would be the most difficult, she continued to list things as they walked, "I would like to inquire as to your weapon specializations and overall combat readiness as well. If there is time later, I will observe the legitimacy of your claims.".

Aaron Elariel's Photo Aaron Elariel 12 Oct 2011

Ah Viridian, subtle as fire in a ball room. Aaron frowned. He enjoyed duelling, and his natural athleticism made him rather good at it. However, aside from a few narrow escapes after being sighted by guardsmen, he'd never actually been attacked before. "I can handle a duelling cane well enough," he heard himself saying. "And knives, I suppose, though not as well. My combat training has been more recreational than practical I guess," suddenly Aaron grew self conscious. Perhaps pairing with Viridian had been the right decision. Who better to teach him how to survive life or death situations than a mistborn? Mikhail had been a pewter arm, and his allomancy wasn't enough to protect him.

I'm not sure even a full mistborn could survive Daerra, thought Aaron. Phyra Venture had likely thought she knew how to defend herself too. "I do know a bit about acrobatics though." Aaron decided to stop there. He'd let his skills speak for themselves. He didn't trust Viridian enough to tell her about the thieving company. "And I'm pretty good with allomancy. Iron, that is."

Claudia Elariel's Photo Claudia Elariel 13 Oct 2011

The metal flickered and then died. All at once the world seemed to lose its vibrancy. Colors were less bright, sounds became muted. Even the sharp glint in Daerra's eyes seemed less pronounced to her. She gave a watery smile. "It's not that…I just…" she sighed, reaching into a drawer and pulling out another vial of metals. She swallowed it back in one swift motion, wincing against the sharp taste of the alcohol. Her metal reserves replenished. She could feel each one as a distinct burning well or power deep within herself. Claudia burned copper, then pewter and then tin. The world sharpened again.

Claudia lowered herself gracefully into her desk chair. She wood caressed the edge of her forearm, each grain pricking at her one at a time. "I've been far too lax with my skills, Daerra," she said steadily. "I'm not a good Mistborn for House Elariel; at least I haven't been. It doesn't have to be that way. It can't be that way."

Her eyes drifted out the window. If what her father had told her was right, Aaron would be meeting with Viridian Demense to discuss his safety. He hadn't put it into so many words, but it was obvious that he didn't trust her to look after the safety of Elariel's heir. She couldn't blame him. Not after she had failed so spectacularly with Mikhail. "Even if I had been right there with Mikhail, right at his side….it wouldn't have mattered. Phyra Venture loved what she was; she reveled in it. So does Viridian," she said bitterly. "And they're very good. I couldn't take one of them down. I probably couldn't even hold one of them off."

She shivered but forced herself to meet her cousin's eyes. "It doesn't have to be that way. I will not let something happen to Aaron. I promise you, Daerra....I won't let it happen again. I don't know how long it will take – my trainer always said I had potential – but I will be the Mistborn Elariel needs, and we will be safe. I promise."

Viridian Demesne's Photo Viridian Demesne 14 Oct 2011

"Recreational defensive patterns will be insufficient," Viridian informed him as though stating the time of day. She had observed the truth of that several times in the past. When one learned to hold back it hampered them more than it helped, "you will be required to break certain habits acquired in the patterns of dueling for 'sport.'"

She glanced backward at him and attempted to undress him in her minds eye, however unless one was a superior specimen, it was not easy to gauge the physique and athleticism beneath traditional noble attire. This was the case with Aaron at present. Often enough even a physically capable human being lacked the training necessary to be a serious threat. She would withhold judgment for now, in all regards, until the conclusion of the exorcize.

"We may conduct advanced training in your specified areas," she told him, "You will be required to veto all metallic based weaponry you may have become attached to. Obsidian blades will be provided as replacement. Our immediate concern, however, is to familiarize you with the essential hand to hand offensive forms."

Aaron Elariel's Photo Aaron Elariel 14 Oct 2011

Aaron began shifting his feet nervously. What had his father gotten him into this time? He had the strong suspicion that training with Viridian would not be as fun as he had hoped. I'm not going to find any breaks with this one...

"All right then," he said, still fidgeting nervously. "How should we... uh... start?"

Daerra Elariel's Photo Daerra Elariel 14 Oct 2011

Something about the look in Claudia's eyes made Daerra want to shiver, but her mind was too busy to give into the impulse. Claudia was dealing with her grief by letting her insecurities consume her, and Daerra had to figure out how to spin it to her advantage. Stay sympathetic, she thought. But not too much. She didn't want Claudia to think she was being babied. If she could give her cousin some confidence, Claudia would associate the positive emotion with Daerra, making her more likely to desire Daerra's company. Striking a balance would be difficult, but Daerra had been warming up for this all day.

"There's a difference between training and self-deprecation," she said gently, taking note of the metals Claudia swallowed. She could no longer sense Claudia's allomancy, but that didn't mean she wasn't burning. As a mistborn, it would be an easy thing for Claudia to burn copper and block Daerra out.

"If you want to improve your skills, I won't stop you. In fact, I'll do whatever I can to help. You're right, our house needs you more than ever. But that also means I can't allow you to risk your life abusing your body with allomancy." Daerra paused, looking down. She began to fiddle with her hands and closed her posture, letting some nervousness show. "I won't lie to you Claudia. Phyra and Viridian are probably better mistborn than you. But they aren't anything else. Both of them are barely capable of forming any sort of human connection. Elariel might need a mistborn, but I need my cousin Claudia."

Still not sure if Claudia was still burning tin, Daerra slowly and gently reached for her hand. This was the moment. She had to make a connection now, or she might never get another chance. "It's my fault," she whispered, still not meeting Claudia's eyes. "I... I wanted Phyra to leave Aaron alone, so I told him to dance with Marisha Nathar. I knew it would make her furious. I just never thought she'd..." Daerra raised her head, allowing her eyes glisten faintly. Hold back the tears, and they will be more convincing. She cleared her throat, and the tears vanished. "I am so sorry Claudia. It's all my fault and I completely understand if you never want to forgive me."

Releasing Claudia's hands, Daerra looked away again. When she spoke, she kept her voice dull and dead sounding. "Aaron hasn't. Forgiven me, that is. He blames me too. He's not speaking to me. We've never fought for more than a few hours before. Without him... I just feel so lost."

Claudia Elariel's Photo Claudia Elariel 14 Oct 2011

She blinked at the sudden emptiness in Daerra's voice. Without thinking she burned brass and zinc in equal measure, Soothing her cousin's pain and worry away while at the same time Rioting a sense of familiarity and safety. She dropped her tin-burn and stepped forward, enveloping her cousin in a tight hug. "No," she said fiercely. "No. Listen to me. You made a mistake with Marisha. She's a sweet, sweet girl. But…you were trying to protect Aaron. If we've learned anything in the last two nights it's that Phyra Venture was not simply a harlot – she was truly maliciously evil. What she did to my brother…"

"What she did to my brother," she repeated, searching for strength. "Makes it clear that your fears were not misplaced. Don't blame yourself for that. In time, Aaron will understand that you were looking out for him."

She let her cousin go and stepped back. "I don't think he'll forgive you," she added softly. "Because I think Aaron is smart enough to figure out eventually that there is nothing to forgive." She motioned to a chair. "Why don't you sit down, Daerra? It seems to me that every time we talk it's always, well; the end of the world. We should try something ordinary, like…" Her eyes darted around the room searching for something to say. "Were you still planning on attending the Deveaux tea?"

Daerra Elariel's Photo Daerra Elariel 14 Oct 2011

Daerra felt her mood rise along with her bond to Claudia, and knew she was being soothed and rioted. Had Daerra truly been felling the way she pretended, Claudia's ministrations might have worked, with Daerra's natural desire to feel good masking the rioting. As things were, the emotions seemed almost random, and were easy to pick out for Daerra. Even without bronze, Claudia's touch was obvious. Claudia was good, but Andrew was the personification of subtlety, and Daerra had taught herself to recognize even his touch.

Nonetheless, Daerra let her body respond to the soothing. She was loved, taken care of, wanted. Claudia was there to look out for her. She felt her pain at losing Aaron slowly fade. It would be back of course, but it was freeing in the moment. Her posture relaxed slightly, and she found herself leaning slightly towards Claudia, physically reacting to the closeness she was feeling.

When Claudia embraced her, she returned the hug. Hesitantly at first, slowly moving her arms into position. Daerra wasn't normally a very affectionate person, and letting Claudia take the lead would be to her advantage. Claudia was insecure, and Daerra was making her feel needed. If Claudia began to depend on Daerra for things like this, Daerra would gain more power over her cousin. Slowly, she tightened her hug, until she was roughly exerting the same amount of pressure as Claudia. Right before they broke apart, she gave her cousin one last affectionate squeeze.

With a shy but knowing smile, Daerra took the offered seat. "Thank-you Claudia. It means a lot to me," she said softly. Then, she cleared her throat, and adopted a more confident tone. With the change in topic, that was what would be expected of her. Daerra Elariel was not known to sit around moping, and doing so would not become her.

"I don't think we can afford to miss it. You know how things are. If you're not there in person, you'll make an appearance as the topic of conversation. After the spectacle I made of myself last night, and everything that happened after... I can only imagine what they might say about me."

Claudia Elariel's Photo Claudia Elariel 16 Oct 2011

"No doubt you're right." She sighed heavily, glancing at thick oaken doors of her wardrobe. "I should probably make myself presentable and put in an appearance as well."

Reluctantly she let the metals she was burning flicker and die. As she did she felt the exhaustion seep into her bones. There was nothing about the Deveaux tea that interested her. Nothing that made her want to do her hair and make-up, put on an overly laced dress and be polite to a group of tittering girls; at least half of which would be secretly celebrating her brother's death.

But Mikhail would want her to go. He would want her to do what was best for the family. In Luthadel the social calendar of the scions of the great houses didn't stop for a little thing like the death of a sibling. "Camille will no doubt be beautiful; she never misses a step no matter what tune the orchestra plays….Do you suppose…" She lowered her eyes, concealing the single tear that had formed at the edge of her liquid blue orbs. Her fingers drummed lightly against the edge of her chair.

I can't keep running away from my responsibilities…not now. Lord Ruler, Mikhail, you were right. I am so sorry.

"Do you think I should wear black," she said softly, "for mourning…or the sky-blue to show that we're fine? Have you decided on your dress?"

Daerra Elariel's Photo Daerra Elariel 16 Oct 2011

Daerra frowned slightly. She had just been planning to wear what the pale cream gown she was wearing. Now she realized that would never do.

"I have no doubt Camille will be the picture of perfection." Claudia's analysis of the woman was correct. In the social scene, Camille was a dangerous adversary. Her reputation was spotless. "It's up to us to outshine her if we can."

Now to decide exactly how. "We should wear black," Daerra said, after a moment of thought. "Mikhail deserves to be mourned. We have to show that we as a house will not allow allow his murder to be ignored." Daerra thought for a moment, mentally sorting through her outfits for something to wear. She hated wearing black. It always seemed to clash with her dark hair, and made her look pale and sickly. Nonetheless, she thought she had an idea.

"We will show our strength in our bearings," she continued. "If we dress for mourning and be strong in how we carry ourselves, I think the correct message will be sent. What do you think?"