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.
No matter the temperature, though, she made sure to hang on to Damian. She wouldn't lose him, or allow him to be lost. All of this was her fault, after all. If she hadn't allowed the gate to consume her, to take over her actions, they wouldn't be in this mess.
And she saw the compulsion now for what it was, wondering if the portal back home had burrowed the same obsession in her heart, if the reason she was only on this path to begin with was because of the magic and not her own will.
But she couldn't see the line, the one with her own desires on one side and that of the portals on the other. That chilled her more than passing through this gate ever could.
Sid gripped Damian, and he followed. He was fool enough to follow. She knew the gate would close behind them, the book had said so, but it was blind faith that they wouldn't walk into something even worse than the chance of getting caught in a shift.
That they wouldn't walk into turmoil.
Walking through felt like it took hours, but it was only seconds. The cold ended as abruptly as it had encompassed her. And her skin was clear, no signs that she had passed through fire and ice.
Sid looked back at the gate--the fire dissipated to a spark in the center, which then snuffed out.
"No going back now," Damian said.
She flinched. Though she still held him around the waist, she had forgotten he was there for a moment. But she didn't let go. No, she didn't want to let go. Lest the madness take her again.
When Damian had grabbed her hands, she had felt some of the magic transfer to him, but he had also grounded her, cleared her head. Just with his touch.
Perhaps another type of magic altogether. Nice to think that there was still magic within the people of Nect. Likely a fruitless dream, but so was the thought of opening a gate and entering another world. And here they were.
Where exactly were they?
On this side, the gate wasn't enveloped by a hill--it arched evenly, vines twining around the stone. It looked as if it had been as neglected as her one back home. On the pinnacle the script said Nect, a rune more intricate than any she had yet to see.
They seemed to be on a little island of land, the grass tall and wild around them.
Sid finally let Damian go and inched over to one edge. A sheer drop greeted her, disappearing into a swirl of fog. No telling how far up they were.
It was impossible to see into the distance as well, the night as dark here as it was in Nect, cloud cover blotting out the stars. If they existed in this world. At least a moon filtered through the clouds to allow some light.
She circled the island and came to the beginning of a bridge. This wasn't any ordinary bridge, though. No wood, no stone, not even anything to hold onto. Large metal links, one secured to the island they were on, stretched into the distance, until they too disappeared in darkness and fog.
A chain. Like the mural on the ceiling in the House of Portals.
Sid touched the metal, and like the gate had surprised her with its cold, the chain startled her with its warmth. It vibrated under her hand, like a heart beating in every link. She glanced back at Damian, who had sat down near the arch. "It's like it's alive."
"I'd join you, but I'm still dizzy." He placed his hand on his head. "Does your book mention how to open the gate from this side?"
In a new world, and all he could think about was going home. Sid wanted to explore, to see what was on the other side of the chain. Or did she? Doubt of her own desires clawed up her throat.
She sighed and pulled the book from under her cloak, opening it. "What?" The first page was unintelligible. "I can't read it anymore." "Bring it here."
She obliged, settling down next to him after handing it over.
He paged through it, each flip of a page quicker than the next. "I can't either." Then he looked near the end, in the second half where the words she originally couldn't make out were.
She craned her neck so she could see. "Still unreadable like in Nect."
"Yes, but they don't seem as out of reach now. Before it felt impossible to even comprehend a single stroke. But now, it's like when I first started to learn the script--I can feel the knowledge just out of reach, there but distant."
Sid focused, her eyes following the flowing strokes. He was right--that wall she had sensed initially was gone, or at least penetrable. She just had to find the door. "Perhaps what we need to decipher it is across there." She motioned to the chain, feeling a pull to traverse it.
"That's what I'm afraid of." Damian slammed the book shut. "We shouldn't even be here in the first place. The Council is going to have our heads for this."
More literally than he likely thought. "We might make it back before they notice."
He laughed. Not a joyful one either--the days of trying to make him smile were past. After what she'd done, she didn't think she'd be able to convince him there was much to smile about when it came to her anymore.
"The sooner we go, the sooner we can find a way home." If they could find a way back to Nect. "How are you feeling?"
"Better. Not that I want to chance walking across a giant chain with a long drop below it. But what choice do I have?" He pushed himself up.
"I suggest we crawl. Safer." Sid stood, but before she returned to the chain, she studied the arch. Then she touched it.
Damian grunted. Clearly he still thought touching the gates was a bad idea. No turning back now, though.
Anyhow, she wanted to make sure she attuned herself to it, thinking it might work the same way it had with her portal and the Turmoil one. Nothing asserted itself, though. No spark, no pull, no sense of magic tugging at her, just the feel of cool stone on her skin.
She didn't want to consider what that meant.
They both approached the edge. "I'll go first," Damian said.
He waved her off and knelt, crawling out onto the chain. "Wow, you're right. It's warm. Like flesh, not metal."
Alive. Her mind hooked onto the word. Now she didn't want to cross it.
"Let's hope we don't have too far to reach the other side." He crawled forward, carefully making his way over each link.
Sid crouched by the edge, trying to figure out how she was going to secure the book. Her inner pockets weren't big enough for it. Nothing to do but clutch it to her chest. She scooted out onto the chain, less one hand to steady herself. This would prove interesting, but she couldn't lose the book--it could be their only way back. Wanting to explore this world didn't mean she didn't also want to go home eventually.
Damian looked over his shoulder. "Are you alright?"
"I'll be fine. Just let me concentrate."
He continued forward, soon disappearing into the fog.
One inch at a time, and soon she'd be on the other end. She urged herself forward. The longer she touched the chain, the more it felt like skin, the vibrations throbbing to a set beat. She shivered and almost lost her balance.
Sid stopped, taking a deep breath. She had to get herself together--all she had to do was cross and ignore the texture of the chain.
"I reached the other side." Damian's voice sounded far. Too far.
Into the fog she went, taking her time. Finally, the mist cleared slightly, revealing Damian waiting for her on another patch of overgrown earth. Not far now.
She picked up her pace a little bit, eager to reach the other side. Only one link away, in her haste she scratched the metal with her nails.
And the chain shook beneath her.
Sid screamed, her precarious balance slipping. No, she couldn't lose the book. So she did the only thing she could--she threw it to the other side. Her aim was true, and it thudded next to Damian.
The links shook again and tilted.
And she tilted with it.
"Sid!" Damian scrambled out onto the chain, barely able to keep his own balance. He managed to cling on, fighting for every inch to reach her.
She slid off the flesh-like metal, feet tumbling down. No. Reaching out, she dug her nails in, barely maintaining a grip on the link with both hands.
The chain trembled even more. She was hurting it, this living metal.
Damian's progress halted. "Hang on."
"I'm trying." One hand slipped off, pain lancing through the fingers of the hand still clinging to the metal. "Just get off the chain. Take the book and find a way back to Nect."
"Are you crazy?"
"I don't want you dying because of me." He'd have the book at least. And he'd have the woman that got him into this mess out of his life.
Damian could go back to being a stoic Guardian, keeping his distance from the portals, and forget any of this ever happened.
Obsidian felt her fingers losing their hold. She wondered what it would feel like to fall so far, to slam down into whatever waited for her below. Soon. She'd find out soon. One of her fingers slipped off.
Not long now.