How we think the fight will go
The coin whipped by Jon’s head, and only Ghost’s sudden movement–and his turning to look at the wolf–kept him from being destroyed by the impossibly fast projectile.
He looked warily at his opponent—a young girl, from her appearance. And yet he knew looks could be deceiving—he’d seen what a determined woman could do when he had gone beyond the Wall. He barely had time to think about it as another movement from Ghost had him diving to the ground, rolling to a knee and drawing Longclaw in one fluid movement.
Before he knew what was happening, the girl was throwing a coin over her shoulder—and somehow his sword was torn from his grasp. Moving with a grace that would have made even the most practiced Westori sers look like bumbling fools, the girl danced out of the way of the weapon flying towards her. Reaching out as it passed by, she took hold of the hilt and spun smoothly, Jon’s sword now held in what he could tell was an expert hand.
The audience in the stadium gasped.
I’m going to die.
Vin swung the sword experimentally. Unlike the massive koloss blades she had wielded with the help of pewter, she had no need to burn any metals in order to handle such a beautiful weapon.
She also didn’t really need it—she just wanted to make sure this ended quickly, and the fewer advantages the warrior had, the sooner she could be done with these staged death-matches.
Shaking her head ever-so-slightly, she threw another coin over her shoulder at the wall behind her to act as a brace, simultaneously burning iron to pull on the man in black.
The one wearing chain-mail.
She could see his eyes widen in surprise, something she had experienced so often with guards in Luthadel. To be fair to her opponent, he couldn’t have been expected to know that armor was a disadvantage against a Mistborn.
But she also didn’t really care about being fair.
The warrior came hurtling towards her, and she set her shoulder so that he would be impaled on his own sword.
Jon Snow had always known he wasn’t the most experienced man on the Wall—he had been in a continuous fight with both the malcontents and himself to maintain control of the Watch. With seven hundred feet of ice looming over you everyday, it wasn’t hard to feel the constant pressure of being in over your head.
Yet he wasn’t some green babe just off his wet-nurse—he had gone beyond the Wall, and his charge was one he took as seriously as anything he ever had.
All of this swirled in his mind as he was jerked off his feet and was pulled through the air toward the point of Longclaw, the long distance of the stadium the only thing keeping him alive at the moment.
I’m going to die, he thought again. This body is going to die.
He saw Ghost out of the corner of his eye, silently moving across the stadium towards the girl.
An idea formed in his mind.
Vin wasn’t stupid. She realized she was small, and would be underestimated because of her size, but if this man thought his wolf was going to take her unbidden—if he thought she couldn’t handle both him and his pet—he really didn’t get what she was capable of.
Even as she Pulled on Jon, a spray of coins shot out towards the large white wolf. As long as she could slow it down for just a moment, she’d be able to deal with the man and then take care of the dog—if it still posed a threat.
His cry almost caused her to falter. She had heard cries like that before—cries of men, of friends—who knew all was lost.
Cries of mortality.
Cries that echoed in her dreams when she relived Kelsier’s death…or Elend’s brush with it in the Well.
Vin screamed, the sword dropping to the ground.
He could see his own body lying on the ground, yards away, unmoving. Ghost was moving towards his inert form, limping. A trickle of red marred the wolf’s white fur on Ghost’s right forepaw.
He saw all of this through her eyes.
Vin he now knew. Her name is Vin.
He was inside her, fighting to control her, a battle of wills so completely unlike slipping inside of Ghost. She fought and she was powerful, and her screams were both hers and his own. The pain was intense, and so were the sensations as she—what was the word?—burned her metals, trying everything she could to shake the presence working to dominate her.
But Jon was powerful, too. And even as he filled her mind, he felt sure that none of the metals she had—none of the powers she possessed—could do anything to expel him.
Vin kept screaming, and it was the fear of being a child of the street, of having a brother who could betray her at any moment and a boss who could do whatever he wanted to her.
The feeling of not being dominant anymore.
It was worse than anything she had ever experienced, if only because Vin had known this before, but had overcome. To be thrown back into chains—chains she had no control over—was almost too much to bear.
And yet…Vin wasn’t stupid.
Slowly—gradually—Jon’s ability as a warg was winning out over Vin’s will. If he could completely take control, he might survive. Even if she was still resisting, he was fairly confident he could beat her now.
Then a wall of blinding light struck his/her eyes.
The sound of the crowd exploded—and kept on exploding.
His nostrils were overwhelmed with the stench of the bodies packed into the arena.
Jon’s mind reeled at the sensory overload. His control of Vin slipped.
Duralumin and tin, she thought. Who could have guessed they’d have value like this in a fight?
The intensity of the sights and sounds grated on her, too, but having burned tin enough in the past, she wasn’t rendered useless by it. Now she only had to figure a way to get him out.
What she needed was time.
If the Wall did one thing for a man, it made them adapt to extremes. And while it wasn’t cold he was struggling against at the moment, he knew he had to master the intensity that was bombarding him from all around.
It was painful—and he knew he couldn’t make the pain go away—but he could push the pain down. Ignore it.
As he fought through the sensations, he realized something else: the more he was Vin, the more likely he’d be able to stop this onslaught.
It hurt him, but he looked around the stadium, and was heartened to see Ghost charging towards Vin, the wolf wounded leg no more than a hindrance to it’s swift gait…
That now looked as if it had completely stopped.
Vin wasn’t sure how long the cadmium bubble would last, but it was the only card she could think to play. She had tried to Soothe Jon, make him more pliable and agreeable to leaving her mind, but it caused the strangest feelings in her—as if she wanted to get out of her own mind.
He’s in too deep.
I might be in too deep.
He regained the control he had lost when Vin burned tin, and he could feel that the tin was now gone, used up in the flare of duralumin. He still felt blinded, but he was recovering his senses—both his ability to sense and his own mind.
Until he felt like he was losing it again, that is.
It was disorienting, as she saw two futures expanding into their own myriad futures. She saw all her own possibilities as well as Jon’s, and the jumbled mess that the electrum caused was almost no help.
There were two paths, though—one his, one hers—that could possibly…
Ghost leapt, and with time having been slowed, it seemed like the wolf was shooting off the ground with unnatural speed as the cadmium bubble disappeared. Jon couldn’t help it—he flinched.
Vin, though, didn’t.
Her body, burning pewter, did move with unnatural speed, and she easily ducked under the wolf’s attack.
While in momentary control, she burned atium.
Ghost’s attack was almost as graceful as anything Vin’s pewter-enhanced body could muster, and yet she knew where the wolf’s grace was taking it, and she side-stepped again—pulling an obsidian blade from her sleeve and jabbing it straight into the wolf’s chest.
Ghost stumbled to the ground.
The wolf wasn’t moving.
Jon would have cried if he had a body able to cry. But his anguish had once again caused his control to slip, and his dispair was growing by the second. It hit him in like blows, the desire to just give up and die.
It felt natural—that he too should give in to the cold place and be with his companion.
Be with his father. His brother.
Vin could feel her body become more and more hers. She felt the anguish she was Rioting in Jon, but as he slipped more and more from her mind, it was easier to handle—especially knowing it wasn’t actually her anguish. She kept burning the zinc, even as she moved to the man’s body lying prone on the arena floor.
Her knife dripping the wolf’s blood.
He watched his death.
Or, rather, he watched as he walked to the future, where he would kill himself.
It was a terrible moment.
A moment that switched his anguish to fear…to anger. Anger over Ghost’s death. Anger that he would be letting his brothers down by not being there to lead them at the wall. Anger that he was disappointing his family–failing the name Stark…even if it wasn’t truly his name.
Anger that was being stoked by Vin.
It was inside her: the anguish changing to anger; the control changing to subjugation.
It was inside her: a mind strong again, a mind not her own.
It was inside her: an obsidian blade, coated in an animal’s blood, piercing her pewter-enhanced body with her own pewter-enhanced strength.
It wasn’t inside her: the metals she had swallowed, that had lived in her stomach—the same stomach that was now sliced open, spilling her life to the ground.
Jon returned to his body in time to look up from the ground as Vin collapsed to it.
He got up and walked towards where Longclaw lay in the dust. Picking up the weapon, he moved back to Vin, her guts held in her hands, her eyes strangely calm.
He nodded, and with a swift stroke, removed her head from body.
Wiping Longclaw off on her strange cloak, he resheathed his weapon. Tears in his eyes—finally able to cry—he made his way to his beloved wolf.
And gasped as he saw Ghost take a shallow breath.
Predicted Winner: Jon Snow
NOTE: THIS MATCH ENDS ON THURSDAY, MARCH 31st, 2011, AT 5 PM, ET
Jon Snow image courtesy of Michael Komarck. Vin image courtesy of Chris McGrath