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Mistborn: The Inquisition



Nessa's Photo Nessa 04 Oct 2011

Nessa floated. She didn't see the ceiling above her, didn't feel the soft bed beneath her. She was exhausted beyond measure, but every time she closed her eyes, she saw that Terrisman's face. Every time she managed to halfway surrender to sleep's embrace, the screams of the dying woke her.

It was strange, in a way, she thought every now and then, that this should affect her this way. She had grown up in the underground. She had seen plenty of people die. She didn't know why it made a difference when it was her own hands that took someone's life, but it did. Then the moment of surreal detachment ended, and she fell back into unto unfeeling darkness.

Every now and then, another thought drifted from the back of her mind and managed to squeeze past everything else. Where were the others? Were they alright? Had Perrin escaped the Inquisitor? She thought she remembered the women of the shop telling her last night they would all be back sometime today, but everything was such a blur that she couldn't even tell if that was a real memory or just another dream.

Eventually a coughing fit startled her out of her thoughts long enough for her to notice the angle of the sun on the walls and ceiling of her bedroom. It was almost midafternoon already: she had spent all night and most of the day lying there, staring unseeing at the ceiling. As soon as she thought this her stomach woke up as well, and growled angrily. She didn't feel like eating, but it was as good a reason as any to go downstairs. Perhaps she would see Perrin. Surely he, at least, would understand. Ignas certainly hadn't, though at this point Nessa was beginning to realize that trusting Ignas to understand how someone felt was an extremely stupid thing to do.

Having made her decision at last, Nessa picked herself up off her bed - still in her dirty, smoke-stained clothes from last night - and headed downstairs, but the shop was eerily silent. There was only one lone woman in the kitchen, preparing food, and she informed Nessa that the men wouldn't be back until after the executions.

So that's where they are. Either at the executions, or hiding out in a safehouse somewhere so they wouldn't have to go. Either way, it would likely be a while before they came back, so Nessa decided to take a walk in the meantime. Maybe it would clear her head. The woman in the kitchen said something as Nessa stepped out the back door, but Nessa wasn't listening.

The streets were eerily silent. With all the men gone to the executions and all the women likely hiding in doors, Nessa felt like she had the whole of her city to herself. And so she walked, not really looking where she was going beyond making sure she wouldn't trip or run into anything. The events of last night played over and over again in her mind, consuming her thoughts until she looked up and was surprised to see other people around. Just how long had she been wandering? And where was she?

This... wasn't good.

Anyways, with the executions over now, it was time to head back to the shop and look for Perrin. She didn't want him to be worried about her, and it would be good to finally talk to someone. So she turned around...

... and nearly ran into three very familiar faces.

"Well well well, who do we have here?" asked Harn, the biggest of the three.

"Looks like we found ourselves a traitor," said Thane. "What do you think, Brax?"

"If it looks like a rat, it is a rat."

Nessa cursed inwardly. How could I be so stupid! She hadn't taken care to wrap things up with the crew Ignas had kidnapped her out of, and now they thought she'd turned traitor. It was long past time to be out of here. She turned around to run, only to find herself surrounded. How long had they been following her?

"Crooks is going to love this," came Harn's voice as rough fingers grabbed her by the hair. "Let's go."

By way of answer, Nessa turned back around and kicked him in the groin as hard as she could.

Harn doubled over in pain, and Nessa seized her chance to escape. But there were a lot of them, and only one of her, and without a Smoker nearby she couldn't burn pewter to save herself. Not and risk bringing an Inquisitor down on all of them. And so she fought on her own, using everything she could: hands, feet, knees, elbows, even her teeth. But it wasn't enough. Eventually they subdued her, and one of them - she couldn't even tell them apart anymore, with the pain of the beating she had just taken clouding her vision - picked her up to carry her back to Crooks.

She had hoped to at least face Crooks standing up, but they threw her to the ground in front of him and one of them planted a boot between her shoulder blades to keep her down. She struggled to breathe under the pressure, and another fit of coughing drowned out what Crooks said to her.

"Let me go," Nessa finally managed in a weak voice. It was really hard to talk with someone practically standing on her.

Coarse laughter filled the room. There were heavy footsteps, and then a hand seized her hair and jerked her head up, bringing her face-to-face with her former crewleader.

"Oh, I'll let you go, sweetheart," he said with that sickening smile of his. Nessa coughed again at the smell of cheap ale on his breath. "Right after we teach you what happens to traitors."

The world gave a jolt and everything went black for a moment. Nessa realized belatedly that he had punched her in the face, and tried to struggle to her feet to fight, but the other thieves were already closing in on her.

She couldn't say how long it lasted. She tried her best to fight them off, but she was already weak and tired from last night, and in pain from her initial capture. Every blow only weakened her further, and she was pretty sure that in that blur, she saw blood on some of the men's hands, and on the floor.

Something shifted in her, when it had gone on long enough. Of its own volition, a warmth started up in her, fueling her and giving her strength. Suddenly she could see clearer, and the pain was more bearable.

No! Nessa thought in a panic. I can't burn pewter now! Without a Smoker, she ran the risk of detection. She could bring an Inquisitor down on herself, and on the people she cared about. She tried to shut it off, but her body wasn't listening. It was burning the metal, it seemed, out of some sort of instinct or reflex. She couldn't stop.

Lord Ruler, please don't let them find me...