Martel loved crisp mornings like this one. They made her feel alive again.
The park on the top terrace of New Seran was as beautiful as ever today. Only the first rays of red sunlight peeked above the snowcapped mountains of the Seran Range, not yet dismissing last night’s thick mist. Mist still clung to the park’s brick walkways and byways, swirling through its rows of cultivated flowers and trees.
As was her morning routine, Mart walked those empty paths alone. Her aging joints popped as she did so, her greying hair held in a thick bun so it would not get in the way as she went about her morning. Even at age fifty-four, however, she still had a slight bounce to her step. The old woman strolled towards her favorite bench, taking a seat by the fountain crowned by a statue of the Lord Mistborn. It was one her brother had carved long ago for the city when they had first created this park some thirty years ago, naming it Lestibourne Park. Mart had always thought it a silly name.
It was a nice park, nonetheless. Quiet, pretty, and with an excellent view of the mountains. She loved it.
Whistling to herself, Mart reached into her bag, taking out a handful of birdseed at the kit of pigeons that had landed on the sidewalk, bench, and the edge of the fountain. With her good hand, she threw a handful of birdseed at each group, whistling an old tune she had heard from her mother long ago, its words long forgotten though its meaning remembered. It was about the man who had gone to the edge of dusk, the Man of Hours the tales called him. She’d always liked that story.
In the midst of her peaceful morning, something had the audacity to disturb it. Most people, she supposed, wouldn’t have noticed any difference, but her tin-enhanced ears picked up the sound of booted feet walking down the central walkway which divided the park in half. Soon a lone figure emerged from the mist. Tall, gangly, and blond, he came to a stop in front of the nearest row of carefully cultivated marewill blossoms. Dressed in a flowing long coat, matching trousers, and a matching top hat, he looked like one of those newfangled Elendel noblemen given titles by the Lord Mistborn. Those young fops thought themselves on the cutting edge of style, but they’d actually toppled over it and fallen onto a pile of brightly colored coats and peacock feathers.
Still, this man was a curious sort. An oddity, for what young man would come here at such an early hour when the mists were still out and the sun had just kissed the horizon? Instead of taking her book from her satchel and reading it as was her normal wont, Mart stood, deciding to act on her curiosity and greet the young man.
What could it hurt? Sometimes even a life of monotony needed a splash of color.
“Good morning,” he said, still inspecting the marewills. Mart started. She wasn’t even half-way across the promenade that rounded the fountain. Even in an empty park like this one, she doubted most people could hear them…unless he was also a Tineye. Rusts. It seemed she was dealing with another Allomancer. “Ah. I’ve forgotten...You’re Pensley, correct?”
Mart blinked. Most people didn’t call her that these days. No, wait, that...she shook her head. To him, she was just another old lady who took daily strolls through the park.
No one cared about Martel. It was easier that way.
“Yes, Martel Pensley,” she said, frowning slightly. How did he know my surname, though? “Most people call me Mart.”
He turned his head, looked down at her, and smiled. Over his right eye, he wore a thick black eyepatch. She hadn’t noticed that from the side, of course. Oddly enough, it made him look even more like a nobleman, not less. His face was more lined than she had expected, and he wore a full-beard as well, speckled with a few white hairs. Given his full head of curly blond hair and perfect teeth, however, she doubted he was even as old as forty. Probably around thirty-five or so, she decided.
“You may have heard of my twin brother,” she began. It was the only reason she could think of why anyone would know her last name these days. “Austin Pensley, the sculptor…”
He frowned slightly, then rubbed that silly looking beard of his. She wasn’t sure what was more ridiculous, that or the Rusting top hat. “The youth who carved the statues of the Lady Mistborn and the Last Emperor?” he asked, rising an eyebrow. “Most of them, I should say. I read Pensley fell off a scaffolding before they had a chance to place the finishing touches on Vin...From what I read, the statue on top of the fountain here was one of their first works of public art. It’s spectacular. Like the artist chiseled and breathed life into the marvel itself. It’s said to be the spitting image of Lestibourne in his youth.”
Harmony. The man was versed in art history? Well. Young nobles did have strange hobbies these days, especially those possessing new money like this young man. Perhaps he had studied the subject at the Lord Mistborn’s new university in Elendel.
“Yes, the accident ruined his hands,” she said, shaking her head. “Austin slunk out of high society after that. I took care of him for a number of years before he passed into the Beyond…”
The man sighed, then nodded, placing his hands in his pockets, and walked down the promenade some distance before speaking again. “Odd.”
“Why is that?” she asked, perking her head.
“You’re a Tineye…too?” he said, then shrugged. He looked back at her over his shoulder, his lips flattened into a line. “Or an older woman with excellent ears. Which is it?”
“The former. Allomancy runs in families, you know,” she explained. “It is odd, but I have fifteen brothers and sisters, my parents were good Survivorists.” Strangely, he flinched at that news. Most people didn’t realize she was also a Tineye, though. Mart tried to keep that a secret. It was rare enough to have more than one Allomancer in the same family, let alone two of the same type. “You’re peculiar yourself, young man.”
He laughed. It was a good laugh. Warm, lively, likable. She liked the sound of it. “I’ve been called worse things.”
“I never did catch your name,” she added. “You knew mine, it’s only fair to share.”
“Call me Kell,” he answered, turning to leave.
“Named for the Survivor,” Mart said. Those kinds of names were quite popular among the nobility these days. Perhaps it was because they used to kill people like him and were besieging their god for forgiveness. “What is it short for, Kelson? Kelsium? Kelsiel?”
Kell snorted. “Certainly. No, Mart. Just Kell,” he said. That wasn’t an answer. “Have a good day, Miss Pensley.”
He inclined his head in farewell, turned around, and walked alone down the promenade, the mist trailing after his feet. What a strange yet polite young man. She hoped to see him tomorrow.
He had certainly livened her monotone day.