SF & Fantasy

Cage Match 2012: Round 2: Kelsier versus Chess Putnam

The Contestants


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The Survivor
Age: 38
Race: Mistborn
Weapons / Artifacts: Metal vials; glass and obsidian daggers
Ironpulling and Steelpushing

Cesaria “Chess” Putnam
Debunker – Ghost Hunter
Age: 24
Race: Human
Weapons / Artifacts: An Ectoplasmarker; a government-issued summoning set; and, most importantly, a box of pills
Sex appeal–yup

The Breakdown


  • Master of Allomancy
  • Super-tough: Survived the Pits of Hathsin
  • Cunning and charming—a deadly combo

  • Seriously tough—Chess grew up as an orphan and now lives in a shady neighborhood filled with poverty and violence. Intelligence and street cred abounds
  • Trusts no one
  • Ghosts don’t stand a chance against her

  • Stubborn, reckless, and impulsive (you know, a guy)

  • She’s a pill addict…and there aren’t any ghosts in Cage Match


  • Babcock
    You booked Passage right out of Cage Match!

How we think the fight will go

How Stacia Kane, creator of Chess Putnam, thinks the match will go:

Chess had hit the steps at the front of her building—a former Catholic church, converted to apartments after haunted Week and the fall of religions—when her tattoos started to tingle. Magic. Someone was doing magic, and close enough to her that she felt it, could almost smell it.

Someone powerful. This wasn’t an average person testing out spells from a guide they bought in a store. This was someone trained, someone strong.

Someone who was watching her.

She reached into her pocket and closed her fingers around the handle of her switchblade. Yeah, if someone was going to try using magic against her the knife might not be the best weapon to try first, but it was probably what she’d try at the end. Might as well skip the middleman, so to speak.

The burning, stinging feeling as the magic-infused ink on her arms, shoulders, and chest reacted to whatever spell was happening around her intensified. Okay, where was he—it was definitely a man—and what did he want?

Damn it, she didn’t know what he wanted, but she; just wanted to go to bed.

Instead she stood there on the broken sidewalk, tense and waiting. Whoever it was, whatever they were doing, she’d find out soon enough.

And sure enough, she did. He slipped out from behind one of the walls bracketing the steps, wearing some sort of poncho or something, his feet silent on the concrete. The streetlight in front of her building was broken but the one halfway down worked well enough for her to see his face, the half-smile plastered across it. Like lurking around waiting for lone women to show up was funny or something.

Then again, it probably was to him. Because he was probably psychotic. Great. A psycho with magic, just what she needed.

What kind of spell was he doing, anyway? She couldn’t tell; all she knew was he was doing something, and that the smoke drifted across the twenty feet or so separating them smelled oddly of metal. What was he burning?

That thought barely had time to finish forming before it hit her. Something hit her, she didn’t know what; all she knew was that her mind—never the most pleasant of places to be anyway—filled with horror and pain, filled with memories, and the sharp smell of the metal-smoke filled her nose and made her choke. No, shit, all that—all those thoughts in her head, all those thoughts she tried so hard to forget, those thoughts she tried to hide under a thick blanket of pills and powders and whatever else she could get her hands on, anything to quiet the screams in her soul enough that she could get through the day…all of them roared back, and she felt her knees give beneath her and hit the hard ground and couldn’t even care, because her head was about to explode.

What was he doing, how was he doing that? He was in her head somehow, rummaging around like she was hiding a prize in her brainstem and he just had to grab it. He was in her head inspecting everything, looking at her weaknesses with smug, sick satisfaction, and hatred rose in her chest so thick she thought if she opened her mouth it would fly out like vomit. Another one. Another person who thought she existed for their amusement, who thought they could toy with her, play games with her, treat her like a toy. Fuck him.

Her bag moved at her side. Lifted from the ground, threw itself forward, the thick rough strap burning her skin as it tore itself off her body. The red haze before her eyes cleared just enough that she saw it fly across the empty pavement and land in front of him. How did he—how had he done that? Magic didn’t work against objects like that, magic wasn’t like some special-effects movie where people could move shit with their minds.

His smile hadn’t faded. Didn’t fade as the bag opened, as her sack of iron filings rose from it to hover a few feet off the ground. As she watched the sack opened, too; the filings rose from it in a black cloud. What the hell? What was he?

He was a thief, apparently, because he ducked under the thick mist of iron and started digging around in her bag, lifting things and inspecting them, shoving some of them under that stupid poncho-thing he wore. Was he kidding? He’d done that to her, invaded her head, just to steal fifty bucks and some magic supplies?

Even as she thought it he slammed into her mind again. More memories, more pain, more twisting agony as her head filled with images, fists aimed at her face, heavy bodies holding hers down.

Her attacker stood up. “Thank you. I suppose it isn’t much, but it’s something.”

He started to turn away from her, still with that satisfied smirk on his irritating face, clearly done with the whole thing. Secure in his victory, as he left her there on the sidewalk with her head screaming and tears running down her face, her muscles shaking from the images that still refused to stop.

But if he thought showing her a few mind-movies of her past was going to debilitate her he needed to think again. He clearly had no idea who he was dealing with; hell, if she hadn’t learned how to function with all that garbage in her head she’d never get anything done at all, would she? He wasn’t showing her anything she didn’t already know, wasn’t making her feel any worse than she already did because that just wasn’t possible.

So she pushed past them. She reached into them, embraced them, took from them what she needed: her rage, her hatred, emotions so strong and thick she thought they might choke her. She turned those into power, and pushed herself off the ground.

He turned back around. The cloud of iron filings flew at her; she had just enough time to close her eyes, hold her breath, before she felt them like a thousand glass raindrops piercing her skin. It hurt. But not enough to stop her.

His hands raised, his poncho moved. Probably getting ready to do some other metal-magic thing. Chess didn’t care. She was almost on him, almost there, she tugged her knife from her pocket and punched the button to flick out the blade, and her body hit his and they both fell to the cement.

Another wave of memories, of horror. Another choking blast of that stinging smoke, and her tattoos roared as his power slammed into hers. She ignored all of it. He fought beneath her, pushed himself up—he was stronger than he looked—and punched her in the face.

The world shook for a second, but only a second. Was that the best he could do? She’d dealt with much worse than that.

Something sharp sliced into her arm. No time to look or see what it was, not even when it was joined by a second thing, a third, and she felt hot blood drooling down her skin. How was he stabbing her, when his arms weren’t free?

Who cared? Not her. All she cared about was getting this done, teaching this smug-looking jerk that nobody, nobody, invaded her head, invaded her body, used her for amusement. Not any more, not ever again.

She punched him back with her left hand, readied herself to attack with her knife with her right, when it flew out of her hand just like he’d snatched it away from her. Damn it. He seemed to have some sort of weird power over metals—and brains, apparently.

Okay, but which metals? Iron, and steel. What other weapons did she have, what could she use?

He’d left her pillbox. It was metal—silver. What did that mean?

And would she have time to find out. His fingers closed around her throat; he leaned over, pushing her back down. Choking her. Red and green spots exploded before her eyes; she kicked at him, punched and slapped at him.

Her lungs screamed for air. Her brain screamed from the memories. Her vision shook and jangled but she saw her bag, the strap only a few inches away; she just needed to get to it, surely she had something in there she could use, something she could hurt him with. At that point she didn’t even care about killing him—well, no, that was a lie, she wanted to kill him a whole lot—but she wanted to hurt him, too, wanted him to feel it.

She  forced herself to relax. She didn’t even need to play dead, she just needed to go limp for a second, just long enough for him to shift his grip, to loosen it. Just long enough for him to feel confident.

It happened. The fingers around her throat relaxed, not much but enough, and that was all Chess needed. She lunged to the side and yanked the strap of her bag, lifting her arm so it swung through the air and hit him on the side of the head.

It didn’t really hurt him. She didn’t really expect it to. She just wanted to distract him, and it worked. Worked for long enough for her to slam the heel of her hand into his nose, hard and fast, and that gave her enough time to push him off of her and sit up, already digging in her bag. There had to be something she could use, anything she could—

Her hand closed around her pillbox. Heavy silver, pure silver. He’d left it, he hadn’t taken it, and given his apparent metal mojo that had to mean something. So she clenched it in her fist and brought her hand up—he’d pulled a shiny blade from somewhere, and she let him drive it into her arm because she didn’t have time to stop him—and slammed it into his head with every bit of strength she could muster.

Pain. Pain from the knife in her left arm, pain jangling up her right from the impact. Her pillbox had sharp corners, intricate filigree on the sides; the corner had broken the skin, and she watched the blood pouring down the side of his face with hot, vengeful glee.

And then she hit him again. And again. He stabbed at her with the knife but she ducked out of the way this time, and it was easy because his movements were slowing and she kept hitting him until he toppled over. Her arms hurt, her body hurt, her fingers were slick with blood and gore, but she kept going.

Feeble hands pushed at hers, trying to stop her next blow, but she ignored them. He made one last attempt to—well, not to beat her, she guessed, since the rapidly-spreading pool of blood and the way his face started to look like a dented-in fender kind of indicated that wasn’t going to happen—but to mess with her, to get his own back. One more push into her head, one more rummage in her memories.

One more time with the pillbox, square in the face, and she was done. She dug through his clothes, taking back what he’d stolen from her and shoving it all back into her bag, and stood up. It was coins sticking out of her arm, she realized; he’d somehow managed to fling them at her, or use his mind to throw them or something, which made sense given the whole iron-filings-cloud thing.

She stood over him, looked down. His breath rattled in his chest, a horrible sucking kind of sound that would have bothered her if she hadn’t been so pissed off.

“Nobody gets in my head,” she said, and left him there to die.

Predicted Winner: Chess Putnam


Check out the previous match!

Check out the next match in the Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters: Danger Room bracket!

Check out the Bracket

Kelsier is a character from the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson; Chess Putnam is a character from the Chess Putnam series by Stacia Kane

Kelsier image courtesy of Ben McSweeney. Chess Putnam image courtesy of Del Rey Books

Don’t forget–we’re always looking for fans’ depictions of these characters. Check out the details here

Cage Match fans: We are looking forward to hearing your responses! If possible, please abstain from including potential spoilers about the books in your comments (and if you need spoilers to make your case, start your comments with: “SPOILER ALERT!”


70 Responses to “Cage Match 2012: Round 2: Kelsier versus Chess Putnam”

  1. Jess Bewers says:

    WOW this was a good fight, I really enjoyed the write up for this match (even if it was a bit inaccurate) it was really fun and very well written.
    It was great to read the fight from the vantage point of someone who has never encounterd allomancy and who found it all a mistery.

    I have never read any of the ‘Chess’ books but this write up has given me a thirst for knowledge and you can rest assured that they have been added to my must read list :D

    I think that it is obvious that Kel would win this fight as a fully trained allomancer would be almost impossible to beat, but still I thought that Chess gave a good battle, but ultimately would have been defeated within seconds by an Atium burning ~ or even an Atium-less allomancer.

    I would love to see an Allomancer up against a Channeler (from Robert Jordens – A
    Wheel of Time) as I can’t help but feel that that is the only way Kel would find any kind of competition.

    Here’s hoping both Kelsier and Moiraine Damodred make it to the finals. That would be a truly entertaining match and Mr Sanderson (Author of the Mistborn Trilogy and also the finishing Author of A wheel of Time) could write this match fairly from both perspectives.

    (To Suduvu: If you haven’t already approached Mr S about a match write up, I suggest that you do, as he is a very kind, generous and giving writer who seems totally willing to share and enjoy his talents as an amazing writer of some of the best books in the FA genre)

    Kindest regards
    Jess Bewers
    (Anaya Sedai – of the yellow Ajah)

  2. Gela says:

    To answer Ms. Kane’s question about why we love Kelsier so much, it’s because he’s so well-rounded. The Survivor has a noble goal, freeing the skaa. But, as you’ll see when you read it, his flaws are so far on the evil side of things and his hatred of nobles so intense that it can be almost disturbing.

  3. Sir Read-a-Lot says:

    @Stacia Kane

    How to describe Keslier…

    Nothing I say will do him justice, but here are two of my favorite lines:

    “You’re insane!” she said quietly.
    Kelsier smiled. “I think that’s the second time today you’ve said that to me. You need to pay better attention – if you’d been listening to everyone else, you’d know that my sanity departed long ago.”

    “I had to do some crawling tonight,” Kelsier said, waving an indifferent hand. “There’s an unused drainage ditch that passes right under Keep Lekal’s defensive wall. You’d think they’d get that patched up.”
    “I doubt they need worry,” Breeze said from beside the desk. “Most of you Mistborn are probably too proud to crawl. I’m surprised you were willing to do so yourself.”
    “Too proud to crawl?” Kelsier said. “Nonsense! Why, I’d say that we Mistborn are too proud not to be humble enough to go crawling about – in a dignified manner, of course.”
    Dockson frowned, approaching the desk. “Kell, that didn’t make any sense.”
    “We Mistborn need not make sense,” Kelsier said haughtily.

    It’s only a small taste of him, but it’s the best I can provide without spoiling anything.

  4. Freelancer says:

    ::respectful nod to Anaiya Sedai::

    Umm, nope. Anyone who has read the fight between Kelsier and the Inquisitors, the one where he died, would know that he couldn’t lose a fight against someone whose primary power is the ability to ignore mental anguish. He would not enter a fight without a full compliment of metals available to burn. That means tin for heightened senses, pewter enhanced physical abilities (reflexes, strength, speed, healing, resistance to wounding), iron and steel for pushing/pulling, zinc to riot emotions, brass to soothe emotions. When Chess began to attack in spite of his rioting, he would have hammered her with brass until she didn’t care about fighting. With a full pewter burn going, her attempts to bash his head with a pillbox would have been simple to oppose through greater reflexes and speed, greater strength to restrain her, and even if hit, the ability to shrug off the initial wounds without slowing down his own assault. A coinshot can always get away from an attack by pushing off any metal they select, including a coin on the ground. Any metal Chess was wearing that didn’t pierce her skin could be used to push her away. There are simply too many weapons in Kelsier’s arsenal, and he knew how to use them all in a fight, even against those who knew what they faced, and Chess certainly did not.

  5. KevinB says:

    Just as you can’t dodge a monster trying to rip out your throat that is ten times stronger and faster than you and is lying on top of you (like she did the last round), you can’t charge at a Mistborn with a switch knife, tackle him to the floor, restrain him and beat him to death with a pillbox, no matter how angry you are. Unless you’re the Hulk …

    I like the writing style of the write ups, they’re pleasant to read, but the actual events in there are just so skewed and inconsistent. It really puts me off.

  6. D.I. Waisanen says:


    You might want to give a spoiler warning before you mention things like Kelsier’s fight with the Inquisitor. Not everyone here has read Mistborn.

  7. wcarter4 says:

    @Ms. Kane and all of the fine fans of her series

    I have not read Unholy Ghost so I wont comment on Chess, I only want to say that if any of the commenters who have a problem with the way Kelsier was portrayed offended you, then I am embarrassed for them.
    Mistborn is a fine series and Brandon Sanderson a great author, but I don’t think he or the vast majority of his fans would appreciate someone flaming another author on his behalf. I for one enjoyed the write up.
    The cage match is a game and a popularity contest. There is literally nothing at stake. Some of us just like to get a little passionate about our favorite characters sometimes. I hope matches like this don’t discourage the authors from doing write ups themselves in the future.

  8. sk says:

    I read this and feel like the author really doesn’t have a grasp on what the mistborn can and cannot do. Burning pewter alone would be enough that Kelsier could take a normal person’s head off with his bare hands, let alone what could be done with rioting and pushes and pulls. Again where the author doesn’t seem to understand in that steelpushing and ironpulling can be done to ALL metals, the steel and iron are what the mistborn burns to do the pushes and pulls.

  9. Stormknyght says:

    The write-up was nice, though a little in-accurate, but we’re all allowed some inaccuracy in life, right?
    What I want to see is Kylar Stern against Keslier. Apparently he has some magic absorbing weapon (The Ka’kari I think?), so…
    Assassin vs. Assassin.
    Indirect magic vs. Magic Absorber…
    A guy who had no problem killing towers of men vs. An assassin who can’t kill the innocent,, just trick them.


  10. Spindle says:


    Kylar would be OFFENDED if you called him an assassin.

  11. Kyo says:

    Kel wins hands down! He has a plan for everything, and he isn’t afraid to do what it takes (or kill who it takes) to get there. And he is the funniest man in literature ^^

  12. Samuel says:


    Actually, not all metals can be pushed/pulled, like aluminum and most of its alloys.

  13. Stacia Kane says:

    Hey @wcarter4, no worries, I’m not offended at all! A few people maybe got a little heated, but I don’t think anyone can judge an entire fanbase on one or two comments, and again, I just think it’s awesome that any characters make people so passionate.

    Like I said earlier, I knew the odds were way against Chess in this one. I just wanted to at least give her a decent fight scene that showed a bit of her character, and give everyone a little something to read. :) Personally, I consider the fact that Chess pulled in like 4 times as many votes against Kelsier as poor Gale in Round 1 did to be a *huge* victory. He got 8% and she got 29%, and that’s enormous for me. I didn’t expect anywhere near that much.

    Thanks for the comment, I really appreciate it. And thanks again to everyone else who commented; you made this whole thing fun for me to participate in.

  14. Stormknyght says:


    Sorry! I didn’t read the series yet! I’m getting it soon…
    Okay…the Night Angel then?

  15. Spindle says:

    Oh, I thought you already read the series… My bad. Call him a wetboy.

    Well… Kelsier won. It’s to be expected.

  16. Veo says:


    Yeah, also, it’s a minor (really, really minor, not even spoiler-worthy) plot point in the third Mistborn novel that silver is also allomantically inert, like aluminum — steelpushes and ironpulls don’t work on silver either.

  17. Tess says:

    I am a massive fan of the Downside Ghosts series & have not read the Mistborn series. Kelsier seems to have a lot of fans so they must be awesome! I admittedly wanted Chess to win but that’s ok that she didn’t. If you’re here because you love Kelsier, you should reaaallllllyyyy check out Stacia Kane’s books; they’re amazing! xx

  18. DashWatson says:

    Kelsier slayed her!!! And looks like Stacia Kane hasn’t even read the Mistborn books. Portraying Kell as a common thief wanting to steal 50 bucks! Ridiculous! He’s a thief of the highest level… And he slayed her!!! :D

  19. DashWatson says:

    Lady with a purse hits Kelsier (the guy who taught Vin mostly everything from badass combat to all subtle applications of Allomancy) with her purse, till he topples!!! Amusing! Though quite impossible, it’s still hilarious Kelsier getting into her head!!! (How?)… He could easily kill her before the match started, by sending a couple of metal objects through her heart, liver, lungs, kidneys, and brain, and all other vital organs! :D
    And yeah, I’d love to see Kelsier against Kylar Stern, and Sanderson and Weeks both to write their viewpoints to make their characters win, though with proper understanding of the strengths of the opponent, not ridiculously hammering the opponent with a purse till he falls… ;)

  20. DashWatson says:

    This Chessi person brings a knife and all other metal thingys to a fight with Kell, it’s more like bringing a knife to an anti-matter-bomb-throwing fight…

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