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.
Forget him. He wasn't about to lurk outside her door, seeing what she had hidden. Nor could he open up and peek inside her head no matter how much he studied her.
"I'm off." Sid stood, tray in hand. "I may take another look at the language book before I head to bed."
It was as if that eyebrow of his had a brain all its own--it crept up near his hairline. "Good luck." His words sounded dead, fake.
She didn't need any luck because she had already figured it out. And he knew it, but he hadn't confronted her about it. No clue why. Perhaps he wanted proof, to catch her in a lie. She imagined his smug satisfaction if he did.
Nope. Not going to give him the pleasure. "See you in the morning."
Sid took care of her tray and sped back to her room, then dove straight into prying her precious book out from under her dresser. It took some time, and she had to open a window because of the smell of the turpentine. Hopefully the other women wouldn't notice the stench--it should all clear out before they got back.
Finally, though, she held the box in her hands.
Instead of triggering the mechanism right away, she rubbed her hand along the metal. A strange fear ran up her spine. What if the book wasn't what she expected? What if it was something silly like recipes? Or what if it was what she thought? What then?
No way to know until she read it.
She worked her fingers, popped the mechanism, and pulled the book out. Then dropped the box in a clatter because of the rune on the book's cover.
It had changed.
It no longer echoed that blurry rune in her mind from the gate back home. No.
The rune said Turmoil.
Clearly this book had more magic than just the ability to preserve itself. It shifted with a person's focus. She was sure if she went down to the courtyard right now and studied, wait, no, touched, another portal, then held the book, the word would change to reflect that gate.
And convenient. Only one book needed to still exist to be able to open all of the portals.
Again, she hadn't confirmed that it contained such knowledge, but there was less doubt now.
Sid opened it gingerly, hands shaking. The first sections seemed to detail the world itself. At least the landscape, terrain, geography, as well as the types of animals that populated it. She skimmed this, watching for mention of other people, but there was none. Odd.
Finally, though, she found something she sought. Clear instructions on how to open the gate. And it was obvious that these directions would only open Turmoil. Kind of a give away when the final word needing to be spoken was that of the rune etched in the gate. But of course since this magic was a written kind, speech wasn't enough--oh, no. And it all had to be perfect. One mistake and the gate would remain closed to her.
But these instructions were only halfway through the book. She paged past them, and though the runes in the next section looked exactly the same, she couldn't read them. It was as if a stone wall fell down in her mind, blocking her from comprehending them.
She puzzled over them, trying to focus as she had when she learned before, but that wall didn't budge. It even felt like it grew closer, like a living entity refusing her entry. Strange.
Perhaps this was the section about the inhabitants and history of Turmoil. Not that there was even a hint what the words meant. This was worse than when she first found the book. Not only was she clueless, but even trying felt hopeless.
And she had no one to ask. Unless she confessed everything to Damian. If she did so, he'd surely drag her in front of the Council this time.
Sid stared at the obstinate words. Perhaps she'd be able to read them once she opened the gate. Yes, that had to be it.
And she knew how to do it. That's all she'd do. Just open it, see if she could then read the rest of the book, and close the gate before anyone even noticed.
Only for a moment did she consider herself mad, but she felt such a deep need, a compulsion, to follow the steps listed in the book, that she settled herself by insisting that it was instinct that pushed her, not madness.
It's not like she needed many materials. She could do this now, tonight, no need to wait.
She dredged her mind to recall what Damian had pointed out during the tour on her first day. Supplies, she had to find a supply room.
Sid rummaged through her chest and pulled out a small knife and a thick, gray cloak. She changed into a regular pair of clothes, shirt and breeches so a skirt wouldn't get in the way, and wrapped the cloak around her. The book could be hidden nicely in its folds, and she stowed the knife in one of the inner pockets.
Then she slipped out of the room, careful to avoid anyone in the halls, ducking into shadows and doorways when needed. At one point she saw both Ama and Enid pass--good thing she was no longer paging through the book in their room.
It took some time to get downstairs. Thankfully the main level wasn't too crowded, since by now most people were either in their rooms or shut away studying.
She recalled most of the supplies were kept near the kitchens, so she headed that way. Yes, she lucked out on the first large room she tried. Oil lamps, candles, matches--perfect.
Sid pawed through the candles. The instructions were specific--it had to be a certain color. Most of what she found was simply white or yellow. Normal, boring candle colors. What need did they have for an array of colors anyhow? Ancients forbid the Guardians had any aesthetic sense.
Finally, though, at the bottom of a box, she found exactly what she was looking for. A brilliant red pillar. She snatched some matches, tucked her finds into her cloak pockets, and returned to the hall.
A scrape echoed from around the corner. Sid ducked into a doorway, feeling exposed, not in the shadows enough. Her heart pounded with the thought of being caught, however it ached more at the thought of the portal remaining closed for any longer. She waited several beats, but no one appeared and the sound didn't repeat itself.
Now or never. She continued her way to the door labeled Crossroads, and when she stepped through it, she again felt the same tingling she had on the first day. This time though, she shuddered from the force. She squeezed the book under her cloak, as if it were trying to escape.
The night was thick with magic, and she only brought more with her.
What time was it? She'd lost track, and she hoped she wouldn't be caught in the shift. No, it couldn't be that late.
Sid wove through all of the gates, not caring what they said or where they led. Only one mattered tonight. As she walked, though, she watched for a loose branch. By the time she'd reached the misshapen hill, she still hadn't found one. Damn these Guardians for keeping everything so proper.
She needed something to trace in the dirt with, and she couldn't go back to the main building now.
Ah, of course. Sid plucked the two large pins out of her hair that Ama had insisted she keep. Her hair tumbled down her back. One of these would work, since she couldn't use the knife--the book insisted that which spilled blood couldn't work the magic needed in the words. And her hair felt better down, anyhow. Right. More powerful. Free.
If Sid was successful, she'd free more than just some strands of hair.
She ducked through the opening in the hill, and the magic of Turmoil hit her. It slithered along her skin, sucking at her pores, made its way down her throat and spread to her fingers and toes, almost choking her with its desperation.
Yes, yes. Soon.
Sid pulled out the candle and the knife. She held her breath as she nicked her arm with the blade, blood welling from the cut. And with that blood, she slowly etched the rune into the candle, just right, every stroke in the proper order, or the magic would disintegrate.
Then she placed the candle under the arch in the center. Even though the gate was crooked and the ground not level, there was still a perfect spot for it, an indentation that would have been mistaken for a simple dimple in the earth unless you knew what you were looking for.
She took out a match and struck it, hands trembling so fiercely from nerves and the power running rampant around her and in her, she could barely hold it to the wick long enough to light it. But she finally did, the flame flickering and climbing, as if reaching up toward the etched rune of the portal.
"Ouch." She dropped the match which had burned to her fingertips. She should really pay better attention. Every detail counted.
Speaking of details. Sid pulled out the book and paged to the directions, to re-read them, just to be sure.
"What are you doing?" Damian's voice sliced through the magic swirling in a cloud around her.
She dropped the book and spun to find him standing right behind her. How had she not heard him? Bad. Not being careful enough. Something had surely taken hold of her.
He stepped closer and pointed to the book. "What's that?"
No way out of this now. He'd take her to the Council no matter what. But she had to open Turmoil--it needed her.
Sid picked up the book and dusted it off, thankful no pages had come loose. "A way to open the portals."
And she was prepared to knock Damian over the head with it when he tried to drag her away.