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, September 30, 2015

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession - Chapter 10

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 9

* * * * *

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession

Chapter 10


Obsidian paused, staring up at the door to the courtyard, the word jumping out at her. Made sense.

And that was the frightening part--it all made sense. She was kind of nervous to walk through the doors and see the script etched on all of those gates. Sensory overload, a hint at what was through each one.

For some reason though, the portal from home remained out of reach, blurred in her mind. She'd stared at the the thing so many times that it had been etched in her memory. Yet the image of the script remained cloudy now.

She blamed Turmoil. Well, if it really came down to it, she only had herself to blame. Touching that portal scrambled a lot of things, including the recollection of her gate. And it wasn't as if she could simply go home and refresh her memory. No, she was stuck here until she found a way out.

But when she thought of leaving, a crippling fear seized her. Not her fear--it couldn't be. The gate's fear. It didn't want her to leave. It didn't want her to fly away. Not until it sucked her in.

"Obsidian?" Damian stood on the threshold, holding the doors open. "Something wrong?"

"Just trying to figure out what the script over the door means." Kind of.

"Did you?"

Sid wanted to say it, wanted to say the word, to show off. Not only had she learned the Portal language quicker than he had, she also wanted to make him proud. The last was a bit of a puzzle even to her. "No. Not yet."

"One day."

Yesterday. She nodded and followed him to the library, making it a point to not look directly at the script on any of the other gates. Not only did she not want to be overwhelmed, she was afraid she'd give herself away if she openly gawked.

They settled in the same study room as the previous days. "Did you bring the Portal language book with you?"

Stupid. "No. I thought you'd want me to work on more precept memorization. Probably best to get that over with. Don't you think?" Did he buy that? He had to have bought that.

Damian gave her one of his best examining gazes. "You were so eager to learn the language."

"I think I just burned myself out a bit trying to make sense of it all last night. Stayed up way too late. A shift in focus is best, I think."

Still that stare.

"And if I'm being honest, it actually has me frustrated. It's much harder than I thought it would be. One of my roommates even mentioned that she's been studying it for almost three years and she's still lost. Kind of daunting." Yup, great job at digging the hole deeper.

Damian sighed. "Daunting. All right. I'll get the precepts."

Obsidian patted her brow with a sleeve of her robe after he left the room. She had felt like she'd been sweating profusely, but there was nothing there. All these years mastering lying, and this Guardian had her swerving all over. She handled it better under the stare of Councilwoman Liss.

No matter now. She'd study the precepts all day, like a good little dedicant. Then tonight, before her roommates returned, she'd pry her book from its hiding place. Perhaps something inside of it would help her shake off the feeling she got every time she thought of Turmoil. The feeling that actually never fully left her.

If Sid couldn't find a way to wash away the residue it left on her after touching it, maybe she'd find a way to open it, to give it exactly what it wanted.

Damian paged through several texts. After delivering the precepts to Obsidian, he had begged off, claiming he couldn't decide what he wanted to read today. Well, he couldn't decide because what he wanted to read no longer existed. So he paced the shelves of histories, wishing he could find one further back, something from the time of the Ancients.

More importantly, he couldn't sit in the same room with her for an extended period. The lies fell from her tongue as if they were water. He knew she was hiding something, he just didn't know what. And he didn't want to tip her off. He didn't need her looking over her shoulder, being more cautious of him, when he was trying to discover her secrets.

Perhaps whatever she had been hiding had to do with that.

But a more obvious answer settled in Damian's mind. She had unraveled the Portal language. An insane thought--no one could learn that quickly. And she knew that, the story about her roommate proof, so if she had puzzled it out, her instinct could be to hide her discovery.


No. No way she could have learned it yet. The way she had stared at the door to the courtyard, though. He couldn't deny what he saw yesterday either. The script had instantly consumed her, and right at the end of her scrutiny, he saw a flicker, so close to comprehension.

If he assumed she knew the language and was hiding the fact from him, there had to be a reason. She had been so eager to learn it. The only reason to learn it was to read it. Nothing interesting to read, not anymore.

Damian slammed a book shut that he had opened but hadn't even glanced at the words. He was losing his mind, sending himself in circles. Obsidian was an enigma, and all she did was make him crazy.

It could all be simpler than he made it out. He was seeing things. That was it. She hadn't lied to him--she had been forthright about being frustrated. In all likelihood, she had wanted to learn because of the histories that no longer existed. Once she discovered that, her desire was squashed.

That had to be it.

Damian tucked the book under his arm, not even looking at the title. Any book would do, as long as it got him out of his own head. He slipped into the study room, trying not to disturb her, and settled in the chair opposite. Then cracked the text open.

"Why do you want to read about that?"

He peeked over the book.

Obsidian had her hand covering her mouth, clearly suppressing a giggle.

Perhaps he should have looked at his reading choice before actually deciding. He glanced at the cover--A History of Fashion Throughout Nect. For the love of the Ancients. He shifted in his chair. "I've grown a bit bored with wearing the same thing day in and day out." So much for the truth in all things.

Her hand fell away and laughter echoed in the small room. She pointed at the book. "Though I admit your plain white shirt and gray trousers could use some improvement, I don't think you'll get many good tips from that."

Damian sighed and stared at the book. Certainly not. "Perhaps you're right."

And suddenly, she was quiet.

He shifted his focus to her, a small o of surprise on her face. "What?"

"You're smiling."

Indeed, he was. It had been so long he'd had anything to smile about, he almost touched his face to make sure it was there. "Something wrong with that?"

Obsidian shook her head. "You should do it more often." She tucked a stray hair behind her ear and beamed back.

He should. No end to this girl's effects on him. First she addled his brain, and now she had him grinning bigger than he imagined he ever had before. And he felt lighter for it, less burdened by his duties as a Guardian.

Damian had to remind himself, though, that he was a Guardian. Even if it meant he'd never smile again, it was his responsibility to uncover the secrets she surely harbored.

He hated this corner he found himself trapped in.

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Chapter 11 - To be Posted on Wednesday, October 7 (Link here will be edited in once posted.)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Magic Is Reality, Reality Is Magic: Mabon

Magic is Reality, Reality is Magic is a series that highlights aspects of religions, particularly Paganism. We pull things from everyday life to use in our fiction. Magic is one of the key attributes of fantasy. Why not explore the realm of magic that many people already have in their lives?

Picture By Tasnu Arakun
Mabon! Most people know this day as the Fall or Autumn Equinox, and it is marked as the first day of Fall on most calendars (at least in the Northern hemisphere). The date this lands on can vary, but it's usually some time between September 20 through September 23 (it was the 23rd this year). It's the second day of the year where day and night is the same length. After Mabon passes, nights will start getting longer while the days get shorter.

This is the second of the harvest festivals. It's also considered a Witch's Thanksgiving. This is usually the wonderful time of year where you start seeing apple cider popping up all over (yum, one of my favorites). So, the main crops of this harvest are nuts, apples, and grapes. Apple pie and wine? Who'd pass that up as part of a feast? I'm most familiar with the U.S. Thanksgiving, so when I think of Mabon, that's what I think of (just a couple months earlier).

All those good foods associated with the harvest at this time of year are of course symbols. What do we get when we stuff all those foods together in a horn? A cornucopia, of course! You also have acorns, gourds, pumpkins, and sunflowers (my daughter's sunflower that she started from a seed finally bloomed on Mabon this year) that represent this sabbat.

Of course I've only touched the tip of the iceberg. These websites might be a good place for you to start if you'd like to learn more about Mabon: Mabon, How to Celebrate Mabon, the Autumn Equinox, and Mabon - Overview by Christina.

Further Reading Suggestions:

Madden, Kristin. Mabon: Celebrating the Autumn Equinox. St. Paul: Llewellyn Publications, 2002.

I hope you found this tidbit interesting! If you would like me to touch on a particular topic that fits in this series, please don't hesitate to contact me with suggestions.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession - Chapter 9

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 8

* * * * *

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession

Chapter 9

Damian was amazed. More than amazed. The script he had written and put under Obsidian's nose had sucked her in immediately, latched onto her so quickly that he almost sensed how the rest of the world fell away from her.

Thankfully she remained entranced long enough for him to stabilize his own emotions. It wouldn't do for her to see how he truly felt about her instant latching onto the script. It took years for most dedicants to finally see the puzzle in all the strokes, if ever. He had learned exceptionally quickly, in a year's time.

Damian was sure Obsidian would have it mastered in a matter of days.

Days. How was that possible? It was as if she'd been exposed to the script before she ever saw it over the entrance to the House of Portals.

It made him consider the metamorphosis he saw her undergo the first day more closely. This girl, no woman, had secrets, and now that he'd allowed things to go this far, he was intent on discovering those secrets.

"I thought you were starving," Sid said.

He had been pushing his salad around the plate, not eating much. It was her fault--had him all lost in his thoughts. But he also hated talking about opening gates. It always depressed him. "I was."

She opened her mouth, then clamped it shut, and returned back to her own food.

Smart. He really didn't want to chat.

Obsidian had looked as deflated as he had felt when he was first told about all of the texts outlining how to open the gates had been destroyed. Along with many of the histories written by the Ancients.

Not that he wanted to break the precepts and pass through a portal to see what was on the other side. Never that. But to know all of that knowledge was forever lost dug at him. Though he knew it shouldn't be done, knowing that the possibility no longer existed made him feel empty. It shattered the dreams he had as a child. His imagination had taken him to lands that were wild and beautiful because he thought there was a chance they existed.

Now that he knew they couldn't, those colorful dreams turned gray. Yes, the worlds were still there on the other sides of the portals, but there was no chance that one would ever be seen.

Unless Obsidian was right.

The Guardians insisted that a gate couldn't be opened from the other side. Their word was supported by the fact that, well, no one had opened one from the other side. At least not in the last two centuries, as far back as the histories went.

Damian wished he could read further back, see what the Ancients wrote about the portals. All that knowledge lost. To protect Nect.

Do not seek answers in the past. His least favorite precept.

"Are you going to eat that, or should I go back to the library on my own?" Her plate was empty, not a crumb left.

He seriously needed to get a handle on his wandering thoughts. "You may head back without me and continue to study the precepts. I'll join you shortly." He picked some greens up with his fork and shoved them in his mouth. His hunger still hadn't returned, but he had to eat something. The lettuce tasted like ash.

Obsidian smiled. "See you soon."

Damian watched her take care of her dishes and head out of the diningroom, the bun in her dark hair bobbing back and forth, threatening to come undone. Her hair looked better down anyhow.

He shoved more salad in his mouth and forced himself to chew.

Now, to give her some space, to make her think that he was allowing her to have some freedom. That's one of the reasons why he allowed her to stow the Portal language book in her room in the first place.

Let her think he trusted her.

Damian wanted to see how quickly she'd learn the language, though. And he'd watch her. Keep an eye on her. Especially if she wandered the courtyard at night. Then maybe he'd uncover her secrets.

Sid's eyes felt melted after the afternoon of reading precepts. There were too many. No sane person should be expected to abide by so many rules.

Even though she was exhausted, she sped through dinner and hurried to her room. She wanted as much time with the Portal language as possible. Before she passed out in a heap.

So, she stripped off the horrid robe and made herself comfortable propped up in bed. It was hard with such a thin mattress, but she managed. Better than the torturous chairs in the library--she didn't go there because if she fell asleep while studying, she'd rather be in her own bed. Perhaps that was why the chairs were so uncomfortable. Got to keep dedicants awake somehow.

Sid cracked open her book, and Ama entered the room. She had expected the place to herself for most of the night, since the other girls tended to be away late. "Not studying tonight?"

Ama sat on the edge of her middle bed, facing Sid. "Nope. I need a break." She gasped and pointed to the Portal language book. "Is that...have you finished memorizing the precepts already?"

Perhaps Sid should have been more careful--though Damian could be an emotionless jerk at times, she didn't want to get him in trouble. After all, he had given her some leeway. Too late now. "No. Damian is allowing me to study it while I work on the precepts." No need to mention that she blackmailed him.

Ama sighed and flopped down on her bed. "That book. It's a thorn in my paw." She turned her head to Sid. "I've been studying it for almost three years, and I still can't comprehend it. The only words over the portals or in any of the other books in the library I know written in that script are the ones that I've been told."

Three years. Sid couldn't imagine spending that long figuring it all out. Damian had mentioned that not everyone could unravel it. She hated to think Ama might be one of those people. If Ama failed to become a Guardian, Sid could only imagine what they would do to her. She knew too much--they surely wouldn't allow her to leave and pursue a life outside these walls.

Ama's face scrunched up, and a tear traced down her cheek. "I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to understand it."

It hurt to see such a sweet woman cry. "It'll come to you. Probably when you least expect it."

She focused on the ceiling. "I only have another month to try. It better happen soon." As quickly as she had crumbled, she sat up with a smile on her face. "You know I heard Damian was the one who learned it the quickest of all the Guardians. It only took him a year. My mentor likes to brag about him, since she mentored him before me."

Sid studied the cover of the book. A year. Could she be that patient? She had to be. No failing allowed.

"Good luck with it," Ama said, while changing her clothes. "I think I'll crash early. My eyes need a rest." She crawled back into bed and rolled over.

Sid squeezed the book. "You too." Ama had to do it. She would.

The shadows in the room dimmed and Sid lit the oil lantern on her dresser, bringing it close, so she could study the strokes. Page after page, she swept her eyes across each slash and curl, at times tracing them with her fingers.

At one point, Enid entered the room, but Sid barely registered her movements, so intent on the book before her. If it was going to take her at least a year to crack this, she'd have to concentrate on it as much as possible. Maybe she'd even have it figured out before she finished memorizing the precepts.

The night wore on, and her lids started to droop. She pressed on, one page and then the next. Soon she hit the state between wake and sleep, that haze where if she took one more step she'd be softly snoring face down in the book.


The rune above the gate popped in her mind, floating around among her blurred vision. Even the strokes of the ancient word seemed to reflect its definition. Sharp slashes, a swirl that you couldn't tell where the end or beginning of it was, ending in a horizontal slash, an X marked through, fluid but harsh at the same time.

Staring at the word in her mind's eye, behind the fog of near sleep, she felt what she had earlier. The sense of the answer being just out of reach. One more push, one more connection, and she'd have it.

Sid imagined her hand stretching out, tracing the final X of the script. Not slow, no. Fast. How it was written--force, speed, intent--was just as important as the specific strokes.

A snap echoed through her mind, the puzzle pieced together in the palm of her hand.

She sat up straight, having hunched over the book, thankful she had placed the lamp on the floor earlier. The haze of sleep vanished--now she was wide awake.

And she knew, she had unraveled it. The answers to this ancient puzzle laid themselves bare in her mind. She closed the book and traced the words and phrases on the cover. Magic. Power. Learn. Knowledge. She saw them all, understood every single one.

So much for a year. Try a day.

Her heart pounded and her hands trembled.

Sid looked at the sleeping Ama, feeling guilty over her discovery, even if it had been the one thing she had desperately sought to learn for the last six years.

Perhaps she wouldn't tell Damian yet. Another thing best to keep to herself.

* * * * *

Chapter 10