Mistborn Deleted Scene #3
This is the 3.0 version of the chapter, the last one before I switched over to the version that eventually saw print. More commentary below. If you haven’t read the previous two incarnations of this chapter, find them Here and Here.
Sometimes, I worry that I’m not the hero everyone thinks I am.
The philosophers assure me that this is the time, that the signs have been met. But I still wonder if they have the wrong man. So many people depend on me. What would they think if they knew that their champion—the Final Hero, their savior—doubted himself?
Perhaps they wouldn’t be shocked at all. In a way, this is what worries me most. Maybe, in their hearts, they wonder—just like I do.
When they see me, do they see a liar?
The sun was crimson. Bloody. Darkened by a sky perpetually clogged with smoke and ash, the sun beat down with a fierce heat that nearly rivaled the fiery Ashmounts themselves.
The workers labored with bowed heads. Though their faces were damp with sweat and dirtied by soot, they dared not be seen pausing to wipe their brows—for the taskmasters watched with care, whips held ready. The workers were skaa—less than peasants, virtually slaves. It didn’t matter how many of them one beat to death, killed for sport, or worked to exhaustion. There were always plenty more to take their place.
Yet, the workers continued to work, methodical and listless, forcing the uncooperative, blackened ground to spit forth crops. The skaa didn’t look up. They didn’t complain. They didn’t hope. They barely even dared to think.
There—beneath the bleeding sun, amidst the despair and the soot, upon a land dying and scarred—one skaa man among the hundreds dared looked up. He smiled at the back of a passing taskmaster.
The taskmaster turned a few moments later, and noticed an empty patch of ground not being worked. He paused, frowning. Had someone been standing there? The taskmaster turned toward the rows and rows of workers. None of them met his eyes—they simply continued to labor with their normal, uncaring rhythm.
The taskmaster reached up and wiped his brow—cursing the summer heat—then shook his head, convinced that he was mistaken. There couldn’t be a worker missing. Skaa didn’t have the courage to run. Besides, where would they go? This was the Final Empire—it was eternal, all-encompassing, and all-powerful. Ruled by God himself, it was the last government man would ever need, want, or know.
No, the empty spot had probably just been created by the shuffling of working bodies. That, however, didn’t stop the taskmaster from lashing out a little more harshly with his whip the rest of the afternoon.
After all, he didn’t really need a reason to beat them. They were only skaa.
Okay, there you have it. This is where I tried one final polishing of the omniscient viewpoint, which I was so attached to. I actually kind of like this version of the scene. The overwriting is gone, as is the forced ‘poetic’ structure of the first few paragraphs. It’s more visceral, gives a good feeling of the Final Empire, and is—unfortunately—still just plain wrong.
After reading through this when doing the 4.0 draft, I finally broke down and set this scene inside a viewpoint—that of a nobleman watching over his workers. That gave a context for Kelsier’s smile, and laid a personality over the entire scene. I lost the sweeping omniscience I’d tried to start with, but that just didn’t work in this book, so I’m satisfied with how it got published. At least in the published version, I found a way to lead with a visual of the ash, which seems like a good setting image for the entire series.
Do I like starting with the viewpoint of a nobody nobleman? Not particularly. That’s the biggest drawback of what I did. He’s at least an important figure in the prologue—which, as you can see, this has now been renamed to be. (The chapter epigraphs also began to appear at about this time, as you can also see.)