Quote of the Moment

"Magic comes from what is inside you. It is part of you. You can't weave together a spell you don't believe in." - Jim Butcher

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession - Chapter 18

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 17

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Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession

Chapter 18

Bishop wove his way through the grasses, the two Guardians keeping close behind him, knowing exactly how he'd play things once he reached Nect. Not things, no, but Obsidian.

She had a thing for him, and aside from the flush of her cheeks when he was close to her, the warning she had offered him only confirmed his suspicions. Damian planned to cut ties with Bishop, abandon him to the abyss of the portal.

Not that he was surprised. Deception was expected from a Guardian--that's what they were best at.

Sid's reaction, though--now that hadn't been expected. Good thing he'd saved her. Soon enough, he'd have her doing things for him that she'd never dreamed of. Betraying all the other Guardians for a start.

Not that he was an expert at manipulating women. His studies had kept him from any real social interaction, aside from his tutors. They'd plucked him from his family young. That was the best way to build and nurture magic--start early.

That wouldn't stop him from playing Sid like a piano. Or at least trying.

They stepped up to the edge of the abyss. Though Bishop couldn't see the gate due to the fog and darkness, he heard it. It sang out to him, caressing him with its song.

Open me. Enter me. Make me live.

Gladly. And he finally had the tools to grant its wish.

"No crawling this time," he said. "Be confident. Walk across as though you own the chain. That shouldn't be too hard for a couple of Guardians."

"Obsidian isn't--"

"So you've told me." Damian was a man who preferred to conform to rules, set guidelines. No wonder why he didn't want Bishop to cross through. "You first."

Damian leveled a stare at him that would curdle most people's insides. Bishop wasn't most people. "Fine." He strode out onto the first link, not even lifting his arms for balance. Bishop had to admit the Guardian had courage. Or he was just stubborn and wanted to show off for Sid.

"You next, Not Yet a Guardian." He offered his hand. "I'll be right behind you, to keep you safe."

Sid looked at his hand and her lips twisted as if she'd bitten into a lemon, then walked passed him and onto the chain, following close behind Damian's methodical footsteps.

Maybe he had been wrong about her, read the signs wrong. Or he'd have to change tactics on how he addressed her. That had to be it--something distasteful had come out of his mouth. No more pointing out her weaknesses. He'd try that.

The chain's heartbeat vibrated under Bishop's feet, quickening as he traversed it. The thing loved him. If he asked nicely, he could probably convince it to knock Damian off. Take care of him first.

Unfortunately, that would likely turn Sid against him. And if she wasn't a full Guardian yet, it might prove difficult once they reached the other side. No, he needed Damian. He'd just have to be extra careful. And like Sid had said, hold on tight.

They all crossed safely without a tiny rumble from the chain. Sid's body relaxed when she looked up at the gate. No matter how she had acted, clearly she had been terrified to venture onto the links again.

He wondered if she felt the same pull that he did. And here, right in front of the portal with Nexus scrawled in ancient script at its pinnacle, the yearning enveloped him, as thick as the fog they had passed through. For once, he could fulfill that desire.

Bishop walked up to the gate and stroked the arch, the magic twirling around his finger and winding up his arm. Oh, how wonderful it would feel to open it, to experience its full power coursing through him.

Damian yelped.

"You think you own the gate now?" He should have shoved the Guardian off of the chain.

"No. But old habits die hard." Damian placed the lantern in the well beneath the arch. "When you've been taught to touch a portal is the worst punishable action, even greater than murder, seeing someone touch it evokes a certain response."

A law forbidding people to touch the gates. What had happened to cause the Guardians to act so drastically? Bishop knew there were other worlds out there aside from Turss and Nect, but he had never imagined the Guardians had ceased to visit all those worlds. Can't plunder if you remain on your own ship.

"Take us home, Bishop," Sid said. Her voice was quiet, almost a whisper, as if all the energy had been sapped out of her.

"As you wish." He removed the unicorn hairs from his pocket and twined them around the lantern. Then he flicked it on, the light casting ominous shadows around the portal. He had made the correct choice, right? Those shadows looked as if they would leap up and sink their teeth into him.

All in his head. This was what he'd wanted ever since he first laid eyes on the gate. And it would be grand to go to Nect and return a hero. He had turned the phone off immediately after pressing send, tucking it back under his pillow. To risk detection from Damian and Sid, that's what he'd told himself.

But he knew he didn't want to see the response, to possibly see the order to stand down and hand over the Guardians and book to the Sect. They wouldn't take away his glory, or his chance to open the gate.

"Everything alright?" Sid asked.

Bishop jolted out of his thoughts, realizing he stood there with his hand on the lantern switch. "Yes, fine." He turned to her. "A hair pin, please?"

She handed one over.

"Give me some space while I do this."

They both backed up. "Just don't hit me on the head with the book," Damian said.

"What?" But when he glanced at them and saw the intensity of Sid's glare at Damian, he realized the statement was clearly a jab at her. That must have been how he had gotten the dried blood in his hairline. What he would have given to know exactly what events unfolded to lead to their arrival in Turss.

Bishop shook his head and put the two of them out of his mind. He needed to concentrate, no distractions or interruptions, or this spell wouldn't take hold, and the poor portal would weep and moan at him more than it already did.

First, he wet his fingers with spit and turned a small amount of dirt into mud. With this, he wrote the symbol for Nexus on the outside of the lantern, making the shadows it cast look even stranger.

Then he knelt and carefully drew the words in the dirt right before the gate, each stroke perfect. With the correct completion of each word, he felt a jolt at the tips of his fingers through the pin. The power of the magic made him giddy, but he needed to keep his emotions in check, or it would all fall flat. And if it did, that loss of magic right when he was on the edge of glory would rip his heart out.

The final stroke, and the pin in his hand trembled.

Yes, done.

Now to solidify the script. This had to be perfect as well. He squeezed the book under his arm, hoping he could handle the onslaught of magic as he completed the spell. A spell that only Guardians had been allowed to cast until now. Did the two behind him realize that? Damian would have a stroke if he knew he allowed another rule to be broken.

No matter.

He stood, careful not to mar the words he'd just painstakingly etched in the ground. "A single chain connects to the next world. And that world pulls all chains toward it." As he spoke the words, the gate's song grew, a beautiful aria, a long note crescendoing, waiting for the next. "Turss beckons, forever an appendage, a part of the whole."

The next note hit a pitch so high that he thought his ears bled, but when he touched one, there was nothing there. If he wanted peaceful music, he had to finish. Not as if he knew much about peace, though. Not in Turss.

"The life of one world feeds the life of all. But the life of the one I call to must flourish, lest all the other worlds die." The note pierced his brain and the portal begged him to finish it, to end its pain, push it over the edge. One more word. "Nexus."

And the gate's song struck ecstasy. The ground rumbled beneath Bishop's feet, a wall of magic slamming into him, both things causing him to stumble backward. A small swirl of fire started in the center, then expanded until it reached the edges, a glorious whirlwind.

He wanted to feel this power forever, to bathe in its flow, its pounding against his body.

But he knew that wasn't possible, not if he still planned to become a hero. The portal couldn't remain open forever, though it was the one thing he was taught to do, to desire. Someone had to pass through, from either side. And when that happened, it would close, and the magic would be gone.

"Time to go," Damian said, approaching Bishop.

No, a moment longer. He wanted to bask in the power. Did this stupid Guardian not feel it? Or maybe he just didn't care.

Damian offered Bishop his hand. "We need to be connected."

Bishop's goal and immediate danger snapped back into his mind, pushing away the magic he'd happily drown in if he was allowed to. He needed to hold onto Sid, not this fool, but he found himself accepting the offered hand. Let this Guardian try to kill him. "May we all pass through the fire unscathed."

For a long minute, Damian met his gaze. Something deep in his eyes seemed to falter, a quick pulling together of his eyebrows, wrinkling the spot between them. So brief that when it was gone, Bishop wasn't sure if he'd actually seen it or not. "You first, Obsidian." Damian grabbed her hand when it looked like she was about to protest. "We need to go before someone on the other side notices the gate is open."

Sid sighed, retrieved the pin from Bishop, tucking it into a pocket inside her cloak, then walked toward the swirling flames.

They all followed, links, just like the chain.

Bishop whipped his head around for one last glance of his fog covered world. "I'll be back," he muttered. Then held tight as he plunged into the fire.

The sudden cold shocked him, his instant reaction loosening his hold on Damian. That was it, the Guardian would take advantage of this misstep, and Bishop would be lost in this wintry in between forever.

Instead, Damian squeezed tighter, his fingernails digging into Bishop's flesh.

And then the cold subsided, only the normal feel of night air touched his skin. Now, Damian released him. They were all safe on the other side.

Bishop watched the Guardian, who was looking around and above, then bending over to touch the ground. Either Damian had changed his mind about releasing Bishop or Sid had lied to him. He wasn't sure why the former would be true--an added mystery to the last couple of hours of new experiences.

But if it was the latter, it was possible Sid had tried to fool him, to get him to think she was enamored with him. Clearly he needed to reconsider the possible machinations going on inside her head. He'd assumed she was harmless. With the magic flowing inside of her though, there could be a lot more to her than he realized.

Speaking of magic, he turned to the gate, watching the swirling fire dissipate down to nothing.

That's all he could do, though, was watch. He felt nothing. Not even a hint of power.

And once the portal completely closed, all it was to him was a stone arch--it didn't call to him like it had in his world. Not a single note. The song had ended.

That loss raked Bishop's chest. He looked up at the script over the gate, the one that clearly said Turss, and he wondered if losing the call of the magic was worth becoming a hero.

* * * * *

Chapter 19

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