Quote of the Moment

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go." - T. S. Eliot

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession - Chapter 5

DISCLAIMER: This is rough draft material. Don't be surprised if you fall into plot holes, trip over inconsistencies, and get hit in the head with direction changes. I've done my best to read through several times before posting, though, to make sure most spelling and grammar errors are corrected. Any constructive comments are welcome for when I revise this novel. Thank you for reading!

All current and previous chapters for Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession can also be found on Wattpad. And for an easy to access list of all chapters that have been posted to Born to Write, please visit the Table of Contents.

A new chapter is planned to be posted to Wattpad every Friday, and that chapter will then be posted on Born to Write on the Wednesday after.

Chapter 4

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Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession

Chapter 5

The library was as tall as the main building, three stories of endless books. Okay, not completely endless. Damian told her many of the books here were copies, so each dedicant and Guardian could have access to things as needed. And the books were only on the top two levels of the oval building. They sure did like their curves here, instead of sharp corners. The lower level consisted of several private study rooms along the outer wall, and rows of desks in the central area.

Still, it was more books than she'd ever seen until now. Endless was relative.

The dedicants sitting at the desks didn't look up when they entered, nor did the Guardians, likely mentors, who were paging through texts on the other two levels. And she thought the robe was suffocating. The quiet in here was even more so. She was used to two rambunctious younger brothers--never a moment of silence with them around.

She followed Damian into one of the private rooms. It contained a wooden rectangular table, two chairs, one on each of the longer sides, and two gas lamps attached to the walls, opposite each other. No window. Yuck.

"It'll be easier for you to start out in here, so as not to have any distractions."

No distractions, but she felt like a wild horse shoved into a pen.

"I'll be back in a moment with your first text." He closed the door behind him, making the effect of being caged stronger.

Sid wondered what was first on the list for her studies. Something boring, probably. Languages were boring, so it could be exactly what she'd been seeking for the last six years. Somehow she didn't think she'd get that lucky.

Damian returned and dropped a black-covered tome on the table with the same symbol on the cover that was over the entrance to the House of Portals. "Every precept is in that book."

She lifted it--nope, it was not lighter than it looked. "There are this many precepts?"

"Well, there's some room in the back for any future rules. We do need to adapt to the times."

Sid didn't think the Guardians knew the meaning of the word adapt.

"You'll memorize every precept in that book. It will likely take you a good amount of time."

"Memorize?" She felt an eye twitch coming on. This book was thicker than the one she had found, thicker than she had ever come across before. And he expected her to memorize it? Guardians and their wretched rules.

Damian wasn't fazed by her incredulity. He didn't miss a step. "It's a bit daunting, but to become a good Guardian, you need to know the precepts inside and out. They are important, above all else."

Not to her. "When do I get to start learning the script? The one that's on all the gates and the front door."

He raised an eyebrow. How did he do that so precisely, so perfectly? "Not until after you memorize the precepts. I'll quiz you on them every morning and every evening. When I feel you've mastered them, we'll move on to the portal language, but not before then."

"That's going to take months." Unless it was the image and etchings of the gate on her land, Sid didn't have the best memory. This was going to be miserable.

"Probably. Would you prefer being alone to study, or would you rather have me in here?"

Alone with her own mind driving her crazy, or with a person who had as much personality as a piece of paper? She never minded clutter in her room back home. And perhaps she could study him a bit while she read these stupid precepts. "I'd like you to stay."

"All right." No indication that he cared for her decision either way. It probably upset him, though--he seemed used to spending time alone. "Just let me grab a book, and I'll be back."

Sid pulled up a chair and cracked open the tome. Not only would reading and memorizing this be pure torture, but the Guardians could use some lessons in picking comfortable furniture. Months of this, and she'd have a whole lot of cricks in her muscles and bones. Not to mention her impatience would spill over and she'd drown in it.

There had to be a way to speed things along, to convince Damian to allow her to learn the script sooner.

Damian peeked over the text he was reading to look at Obsidian. She quickly shifted her eyes back to the page--he had felt her gaze upon him even before he looked up. If she kept studying him more than the text in front of her, he'd have to leave her alone in this room. No distractions, and he was clearly a distraction.

But he didn't want to leave. He wanted to turn her pages and find out what was written in them, not the book in his hands that he'd read several times already.

It bothered him that he couldn't take his mind off of her. And that he divulged his habits of walking in the courtyard at night. He shouldn't have mentioned his studies of the patterns shifting--not even the Council knew he'd done that, as far as he knew. It broke no precept, but it could be another precept waiting to be added to the back of the book.

Damian had stopped himself just in time from confessing to experiencing the portals shifting frequently. Not every night, but at least once per week, he'd try to wake those two hours before dawn, sneak down to the courtyard, and witness the magic before his eyes.

It was a thrill. It reinvigorated him. Almost like the time he had touched a gate as a child, but it didn't linger. When the shift happened, the magic coursed through him, touching every part of his body, filling him with joy. It pulled his breath from his lungs, and when it was done, the first time he inhaled after, felt like he had been reborn.

He knew it was a risk, to be out in the courtyard for a shift. A young dedicant had lost her life once, according to his parents. The gates had shifted, and she stood in a spot where one of them moved to--she had been split in two.

It was actually that story that had tempted him out there, drawn him to study the movements. He'd noted down all of the shifts, all of the patterns, paced through each one in the dark for months.

Damian knew the mazes better than any other Guardian, he was sure. No gate would cut him in half.

"Do I have something on my face?" Obsidian's voice punctuated his reminiscing.

Part of him still wandered among the portals in his mind. "Hm?"

"You're staring at me."

"My apologies, Obsidian." He returned his attention to the book in his hands, raising it up to block the view of his face. He hadn't intended to stare.

"It's Sid." She got up and came around the table, pulling his book down. "Please call me Sid."

Damian closed his book. Determined girl--such an odd nickname. "As I mentioned before, it sounds like a boy's name."

She placed her fists on her hips. He'd seen this very stance from his mother many times when he had stepped out of line as a child. And a Guardian's child didn't have any leeway to steer off course. "I don't care what you think of it. It's what I prefer."

Perhaps they could make a compromise. "What about if I called you Sidi? It suits you better."

Obsidian shook her head so forcefully her hair tumbled out of its bindings. "Only my mother calls me Sidi. No one else."

Stubborn. He was witnessing the girl he had met on the doorstep of the House of Portals yesterday. A girl with more spirit than her slim form should be able to contain.

"Sidi is a pretty name. Why can't anyone else call you that?"

Her eyes narrowed to slits. "I already told you."

She missed her mother. It had to be hard to accept it, to end all ties with her family. He still saw his parents now and then, when they weren't off guarding other gates throughout Nect. Being born here made it so he didn't have to leave them behind. They'd never been the most affectionate, but they still watched out for him, and he knew they loved him even if they didn't say it.

"How would you feel about me calling you Dami?" She leaned forward.

"Oh, please no." Memories from his childhood came unbidden. Even Guardian children were cruel when the adults weren't looking, and Dami-Wami was a popular taunt he had to face. That's what he got for being a complete loner, mostly at his parents' insistence--his studies were more important than nurturing friendships.

"Dami, Dami, Dami," she said in a sing-song voice.

He stood, the book tumbling from his hands. "Stop!"

She took a step back, and dropped her arms to her sides. Shock danced on her face, then she gathered herself and offered a sly smile. "I'll stop on one condition."

Damian felt like he'd just walked into a trap. She was a dedicant, and he the mentor--she shouldn't be the one pulling the strings. "What?"

"Allow me to start studying the portal language." She glanced at her book on the table. "In between memorizing the precepts, of course. I understand their importance, but I'm more likely to remember them if I have something else to break up the monotony."

He crossed his arms. "The precepts are the first thing you're supposed to study."

"Is that a precept itself?"

"No." By the worlds, she was cornering him, he knew it in every fiber of his being.

"Then why do I need to learn them first?"

Damian took a step toward her. "Because I said so." He'd never heard such anger in his own voice before. This girl was derailing everything about him.

She giggled. She had the nerve to giggle. "You sound like my father."

Damian pitied her father for having to raise such a willful daughter.

"Precepts first then, as you say." She paused, for effect. "Dami."

He bent over and picked up the text on the floor, trying to stop himself from doing something detrimental. He'd never hit anyone before, but he didn't want to devolve into shouting or sputtering. Once he straightened, he met her gaze with just as much stubbornness as her own. "I'll think about it. Just stop calling me that wretched name."

Obsidian sighed. "All right."

Thankfully a maybe was enough for her. He took a few deep breaths to calm himself. "It's time for lunch. You may leave your book here, as we'll return after we eat." He placed his book, a little worse for wear, on the table. "After you, Sid."

She opened the door, turned to him, and beamed. "Thank you."

Anything so Damian wouldn't have to hear that stupid name ever again. Even though, he still thought Sidi was a pretty name and suited her far better.

* * * * *

Chapter 6 - To be Posted on Wednesday, September 2 (Link here will be edited in once posted.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession - Chapter 4

DISCLAIMER: This is rough draft material. Don't be surprised if you fall into plot holes, trip over inconsistencies, and get hit in the head with direction changes. I've done my best to read through several times before posting, though, to make sure most spelling and grammar errors are corrected. Any constructive comments are welcome for when I revise this novel. Thank you for reading!

All current and previous chapters for Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession can also be found on Wattpad. And for an easy to access list of all chapters that have been posted to Born to Write, please visit the Table of Contents.

A new chapter is planned to be posted to Wattpad every Friday, and that chapter will then be posted on Born to Write on the Wednesday after.

Chapter 3

* * * * *

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession

Chapter 4

Damian examined his hand, the one Obsidian had held.

It was finally morning, and he hadn't gotten a wink of sleep. A mix of regret and puzzlement kept him awake all night. He should have been forthright with the Council, told them of how Obsidian acted, like an eager child who had broken into the candy store. He could always backpedal, go to them now and confess, or claim he didn't notice anything until he dropped her off at her room last night.

He rubbed his hand, but that didn't take the tingling away. It was as if he had gotten too close to a gate, brushed it accidentally. Now that he thought about it, his lie of omission about Obsidian wasn't his first.

Damian had touched a portal once, and not by accident. He'd been too curious, his parents' and mentor's eyes off of him for a short time. Eager fingers had traced the patterns in one of the gates that preferred to hide itself, one that grew out of hill that disguised it well. And he'd never told anyone.

If the Council had known of his thwarting of the first rule, he never would have become a Guardian. It was the only time he'd ever broken a rule, until now, and he had convinced himself long ago that it didn't count since he had only been nine. Too young to know better.

But Damian had known better. It had been drilled into him since he could understand words.

Here he was again, convincing himself that learning the truth about Obsidian wasn't quite breaking the rules, that it didn't count. And again, he felt the same thrill he had experienced when touching the gate when she grabbed his hand.

It wasn't psychological, though. No. It was magic. It had to be.

The numb, tingly sensation had lingered long after he had touched the portal, and now the same had happened with Obsidian. How had no one ever noticed?

Stupid question. Everyone reacted to the portals, to the magic, differently. He'd always been more attuned to them, more sensitive to their vibrations. Perhaps that was the case with her--her magic was so subtle that not just anyone could sense it.

No one of Nect, though, had ever been known to have their own magic. Some claimed the people who created the portals in the first place had their own magic, but those were only guesses, the ancient histories having been buried, mostly by the Guardians.

Yet Obsidian existed, and she clearly had something different about her. Damian knew it.

He forced himself out of bed, rubbing his hand again on his hip, still unable to shake the prickles cascading through it. It was his responsibility to uncover the truth now, even if he did dread seeing her again, being in the same room with her. She reminded him of his guilt.

But as much as Damian didn't want to face her, he felt drawn, just like he was to the portals scattered in the courtyard.

Obsidian had fallen asleep before the other two dedicants returned to the room last night. After she had hid her prize, of course--she had managed to rig something so the container stuck to the bottom of the dresser in the back. It was a good thing she had brought some glue with her, as well as the turpentine for when she really needed to remove the book. Not until she knew how to read it.

When she woke in the morning, one of the other dedicants ignored her completely, going about her business quickly and fleeing the room without a word, or a smile. No big surprise there.

But once the uptight blonde left, the other dedicant scooted over to Obsidian, who was looking at the robe and thinking how hot she'd be wearing such a thing all day. The things she'd do to be able to read that script.

"Don't mind Enid. She snubs everyone. Thinks she's too good to associate with dedicants and that no one but her has what it takes to become a Guardian. I'm Ama, by the way."

Sid shrugged the plain white robe over her head and froze when she finally caught sight of Ama's face, framed by bobbed auburn hair. She was smiling. True, it was a composed smile, but a smile nonetheless. Thank goodness. Not all of the people here subscribed to the complete lack of emotion she had feared. "Obsidian, but I prefer Sid."

"Welcome to the House of Portals, Sid." Her eyes sparkled in the dim light filtering into the window.

"Thank you." Perhaps things wouldn't be so bad here if there were more friendly people like Ama around. Sid pulled at the neck of her robe.

Ama waved her hand. "I know these things can be a bit suffocating, but you'll eventually get used to it. Here." She rooted around in her top drawer and pulled out some hair pins, then spun her finger to make Sid turn around. In no time, her black hair was neatly piled on the top of her head. "That should help a bit. It's why I keep my hair short." She grabbed Sid's shoulders and turned her back around. "You look lovely. I must be off now--my mentor keeps a strict timetable. I'll be seeing you." She dashed out of the room.

The door didn't close all the way. Damian nudged it open, his straight-faced outline filling the doorway. "Time for breakfast."

Sid wished she had someone like Ama as her mentor, instead of this unemotional automaton. "I'm ready."

They wound their way down to the cafeteria, and Sid experienced the quietest meal in her entire life. She'd think with so many people, there'd be a lot of conversation, but there were only low whispers.

Another dedicant served them, and Damian told her she'd have a job of her own soon enough, but not until her initial studies were complete. And then he said nothing else the entire meal. She wondered if she cracked him open she'd find a bunch of gears underneath his skin, like her mother's clock on the mantle.

Perhaps she had hoped too much when he agreed she'd make a good Guardian. He was just a dimwit. What else could she expect from someone who was raised by Guardians?

After breakfast, Damian led her to the courtyard doors. If she had to face the Council again, she might have to find a way to quickly open a gate and disappear into it. She didn't want to endure Liss's scrutiny, not this soon.

But when they stepped out into the courtyard, all fears of Liss's gaze crumbled in Sid's mind.

The gates had moved.

At first, she thought it might be a trick of the eye, but the Council building was clearly much further away than it had been yesterday. She couldn't be sure if the courtyard had simply expanded, or if the portals had also shifted to different spots. Perhaps they played a game of leapfrog in the middle of the night while those in the House of Portals slept.

"How?" The word escaped before she could rein herself in. Liss had said she could ask Damian questions, though. This was definitely one she'd like answered.

"Sadly, I can't answer how or why."

Figured.

"However, I have my speculations. It could be due to the concentration of portals, the magic playing off of each other. So much magic in one place could destabilize things." Damian stepped up to the nearest gate, close but not touching. "I do know that the courtyard shifts every night, about two hours before dawn. There are also eighteen different permutations. Exactly."

Well, then. Guess he wasn't a dimwit. "You counted?"

"When your entire world is contained to a few buildings and this courtyard, you find things to entertain you. And the shifting is fascinating. So I studied it." He looked back at Sid, and she thought she saw some emotion seeping into his face. Not quite a smile, but not as serious as his normal expression. A little bit of pride, perhaps. "And walking around the gates when the stars are out is an experience all its own."

A statement like that wouldn't come from a machine. "You'll have to show me some time."

Damian nodded. "For now, we'll head to the main library, near the west end. Time to begin your studies." And back to serious.

It gave Sid new hope, though. There was an actual human being in there somewhere, and she might be able to coax it out. She was here to discover how to read her book, to learn how to open her gate, but there was no harm in adding another goal to that list.

She'd crack Damian's shell.

* * * * *

Chapter 5

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Chains of Nect - Posting Change

Hi, all! OK, I know, you want the next chapter of Chains of Nect. But I've decided to change when I post the chapters on my blog. First, posting twice per week is getting to be hard, since I need more time to write! Second, by the looks of it, I think Wednesdays would be a better posting day as far as reaching people who may like to read Chains of Nect.

The chapters to Wattpad will still be posted every Friday. However, that same chapter won't be posted here until Wednesday. I hope this isn't too much of an inconvenience. I may still have some weeks where I have two posts in a week, since I do have some other content aside from the chapters planned, but that will likely be either Tuesdays, Thursdays, or Fridays (depending on what I'm posting).

As an apology, I'll leave a cute picture of a kitten below. Adorable, no? Can you tell I have kitties on the brain? Not having any cats in this house is making me a tad crazy (more so than I already am). Perhaps soon I'll have pictures of my own kittens to post. A girl can dream!