Quote of the Moment

"What's Past Is Prologue." - William Shakespeare

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession - Chapter 23

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 will be posted to Born to Write and Wattpad about one month after it's released to my newsletter subscribers. If you'd like to see the posted chapters a month sooner, please consider signing up for my Author Newsletter!

Chapter 22

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Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession

Chapter 23

"This is unbelievable," Damian said. "It's a good thing I have the book now."

"You found it?" Finally, Bishop spoke.

"Yes, and once I send you back through the gate, I'm destroying it." He approached Bishop and grabbed his arm. "Until then, you're staying in my room."

Bishop shook Damian off. "Give me the book back."

He didn't know who to be more furious with -- Bishop, Obsidian, or himself for allowing both of them to play him. Probably the latter. He'd allowed his curiosity of Obsidian to cloud his judgment since she'd entered the House of Portals. "Neither of you are going to touch this book ever again. It should burn along with the rest."

His stomach lurched at his declaration. Did he really want that? So much had been lost. But clearly the Guardians had good reason to destroy all the portal books, and Bishop's actions only supported that decision.

"No." Obsidian reached toward him, then drew back, forehead crinkling. "You can't." Her words were barely audible.

Bishop grunted and leapt, knocking Damian off his feet.

It all happened so quickly, Damian failed to react before he realized the back of his head thudded against the floor. His glasses popped off his face and tumbled away. Head spinning and vision blurred, he felt the pressure of the other man on top of him, yanking at the bag's strap.

"Stupid, Guardian. Give it up." Bishop's hand wrapped around Damian's throat and squeezed.

Damian clutched his attacker's wrist with both hands, gasping, desperate for air. If he only would have let go when they'd stepped through the portal. But Bishop obviously had less qualms about killing someone than he did.

"Bishop, stop!" Obsidian's movements were a complete blur, but she hovered over both of them.

He heard a loud thunk, and the hand released his throat.

"Stop, or I'll do it again."

Damian coughed, shifted to his side, and groped along the floor until he found his glasses and set them back on his face. Crooked, but better than nothing.

Obsidian glared down at Bishop, a copy of the precepts raised above her head. Books seemed to be her preferred weapon.

"You're attacking me after what just happened between us?" Bishop offered that grin of his.

Oh, how Damian wanted to punch it off his face.

"A mistake." She rose the book higher. "And one kiss doesn't mean I'm going to let you kill my mentor."

Silence descended for a few moments, Obsidian glaring down at Bishop, Bishop considering her, and Damian's head throbbing from a second blow in less than twelve hours.

"Wait." Damian's mind cleared a bit, but his voice rasped out painfully. "Did anyone see us? Hear us?" He glanced around, but thankfully didn't see anyone else in the alcove or coming around the corner. "If we don't cut this out now, all of us will be in trouble. Another Guardian gets a hold of this book and not only will it be destroyed, but I assure you you'll never see Turss again."

Bishop pushed himself up, turning to Damian, jaw tight and lips pressed together. "Okay, okay. I promise not to attack again." He raised his hands and glanced at Obsidian. "Just put the book down."

Her eyes darted between the two of them, then she huffed and lowered the book, replacing it on the shelf. Finally, she offered a hand to Damian.

He stared at it for a moment, unsure of what to make of her. One moment she was kissing Bishop, and the next she clunked him over the head.

Damian accepted her help, her touch tingling his palm, and woozily found his feet.

"Now what?" Obsidian started replacing the books scattered across the floor before receiving an answer.

"I don't know." He rubbed his head and studied Bishop who stood with arms crossed, staring at the leather bag. No, he wouldn't let down his guard again around this man. "Perhaps an early lunch while we figure out how to sneak this interloper back to my room."

Bishop partially bared his teeth, but remained silent otherwise.

"Unless you'd prefer to walk into the council building and turn yourself in? You know, never see your home again?" Damian knew that had ultimately settled the man, and he'd pull it out as a reminder as needed. And if that didn't work, he'd satisfy his urge to punch the bastard.

Obsidian finished shelving the books, then sidled up to him, tilting her chin up to whisper in his ear. "I'm sorry."

Her words soaked into Damian's soul, and he so badly wanted to believe the sincerity in them. But he couldn't. Not with all the secrets she still kept.

No, like with Bishop, he couldn't trust her. Either of them might do anything to get their hands on the book, even whisper seemingly innocent words in his ear.

Bishop brooded the whole while they snuck back to Damian's room. After the threat from the Guardian, he so badly wanted to draw attention to himself just to piss him off, but then the threat would become reality without Damian lifting a finger.

It took some time to reach their destination with so many Guardians and dedicants about, and once they arrived at the quiet and safety of the room, Damian was sweating buckets. Good. Anything that made this uptight man more miserable the better.

Damian removed his glasses and straightened the bent stems. They remained crooked when he put them back on, though.

Bishop snickered.

"Do you think this a grand joke?" The Guardian narrowed his eyes. Oh, definitely mad. Maybe even furious.

"The situation, no. Your face, yes." He sat on the edge of the bed and crossed his arms, enjoying the red rising in the other man's cheeks.

Sid snatched the glasses before Damian reacted. "Let me see them." She turned them around in her hands, then raised them above her and squinted. A few deft movements and she'd made some adjustments and perched them back on Damian's nose. All straight. "There you go."

The woman was an enigma wrapped up in a riddle. He'd been sure he hooked her with that kiss, and then she'd knocked him upside the head with a book.

Well, he had almost strangled the life out of Damian. But he wouldn't have, truly. He just wanted the man to pass out so he could get the bag. Death and violence were under the blink's purview. Though now that he thought about it, he wasn't sure how he'd become a hero for Turss if he didn't get his hands dirty. Unfortunately, his method of getting dirty included flowerbeds.

Maybe he'd bitten off more than he could chew by coming here. Right now, all he wanted to do was return home and listen to the call of the gate.

"Thank you." Damian sounded tentative, and he took a step back. "Now, I hate to do this, but I don't have a choice. Obsidian, can I trust you to watch Bishop and keep your hands to yourself?"

She frowned. "Don't worry, last thing I want to do is touch him again. Biggest life regret."

The Guardian's eyebrow rose slowly. "Are you sure about that? Opening a gate should top your list."

"Hey, that was compulsion, remember?"

"Perhaps not handing over the portal book whenever and wherever you first found it?"

"Enough." Sid stomped over to the desk and sat down. "I get it. You're mad." She offered a withering stare. "Go. And you better hurry or I might do something else crazy." Her arms shot up, and she waggled her fingers above her head.

Damian rolled his eyes. "I'll be back with food. If he tries to escape, whack him on the head with another book." Then he slipped out and slammed the door.

Good riddance. Bishop turned his attention to Sid. "About time he left."

"Wipe that stupid grin off your face." She rose and ran a finger along the books on the shelves until she pulled one down. "This one has some nice heft."

"Seriously? What about the kiss?"

"As I said before, a mistake." She sat back down with the book in her lap and tilted her head. "I lost focus after you saved me. But now I see you only did that to get what you wanted."

She might only be a dedicant, but Bishop saw the heart of a Guardian in her. "I wouldn't have killed him."

"You're rotten, you know that? You have utter contempt for the Guardians, yet you're no better. Willing to do whatever it takes to benefit you and not thinking of anyone else. Damian might be rigid, but he doesn't deserve to be attacked. He could have done any number of things at this point to settle his life and destroy both of ours." She turned to the desktop and gingerly touched a fountain pen, her voice dropping to a whisper. "And he hasn't."

Bishop faltered, originally ready to deliver another smooth and reassuring line in an attempt to convince her that the kiss wasn't a mere manipulation. And now he felt as rotten as Sid claimed him to be.

She was right. Everything he'd done had been with his own goals in mind. Though he aimed to help his world, he also wanted his own name to go down in history as a hero, a savior. He'd been just as selfish as the Guardians who'd abandoned Turss all those centuries ago.

"I'm sorry." The words were difficult to say, but sincere.

Sid spun back to him. "If you mean it, you should say it to Damian."

Unlikely. He still hated the Guardian.

But Bishop suddenly felt lost, his hate for the Guardians the only thing for him to hold onto. He shouldn't be in this world -- the Nexus. This whole reconnaissance plan was out of his wheelhouse. He'd been trained to sense the magic of the gate, to read the script, and to waylay the Guardians if they ever crossed through again.

No wonder Sid hadn't fallen for his act with the kiss. He sucked at all of this.

Bishop buried his face in his hands. "What in the All-Seeing Eye have I gotten myself into?"

Sid sat next to him on the bed and rested a hand on his back. "Well, let's just hope Damian can help us figure a way out of this."

Her hand was a comfort, and he felt miserable for trying to use her before, using a kiss as a weapon. Though she had the potential of a Guardian, her heart seemed softer, more willing to accept situations and people for what they were, not condemning them for not meeting her expectations or following her rules.

Bishop gazed at her, the urge to kiss her again tempting, but for real this time.

Then Damian opened the door and she scooted away.

The loss of her touch caused an ache in the pit of his stomach. No, that was just hunger. It had to be. Because if it wasn't, he'd need to question his loyalties to Turss. And helping his world was all that mattered.

* * * * *

Chapter 24 - Expected September 2020.

Monday, June 29, 2020

It's Been A While - June 2020 (Writing Update)

The Staind song aside (yes, it's stuck in my head now), it has been a while since I posted. Actually, I was supposed to post last week. And I had the post all written up. Then the new Blogger interface ate it. Yes, gobbled it up.

I was having issues with the new interface to begin with (30 minutes to add tags to my post, no thank you), and I'm decidedly not thrilled with it. Heck, I was furious with it last Thursday. So, I'm now writing up my posts in Scrivener, and I managed to revert back to the legacy interface on Blogger (and I'll keep it like that until they pry it from my cold, dead hands).

I'm a little less cranky about it. OK, not really, but I'm currently channeling Grinka.

Yes, I'm back to writing! And though it wasn't on my schedule, I'm drafting the next Fractured Fairies story, currently titled Bytes Bite, And So Do Fairies. And I already have the urge to write the next story, too.

Thankfully the anxiety has lessened a bit, and I'm done homeschooling my kids for the school year. The world is still in a bit of a tumult, obviously, but I won't get into my feelings over all of it because then the anxiety starts to rear its ugly head, and I can't have my mental health completely deteriorating on me.

For now, I'm writing again, and that feels great. Who knows what will happen come Fall, though - more homeschooling? Until then, I'm going to keep plowing ahead.

The yearly plan has been completely uprooted, of course. I never seem to learn with this whole planning thing. It never works out. My best laid plans don't just go astray, but blow up in my face in spectacular fashion. I kind of do feel like Grinka sometimes. Let me tell you, her current plans aren't unfolding as she wished either. Per usual, it's all the fairy siblings' fault.

Anyway, here's how the year currently stands. If you'd like to compare it to my original plan, you can find it on the 2020 - Keep On Rollin' post.

2020 Upcoming Publications

Well of Solitude (Fortunes of Fate, 7) - Fall 2020 - Yes, I've now pushed this out 6 months later than originally planned. It's also the only publication that I now have planned for 2020.

2020 Project Progress

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession - Rough draft complete - yay! And I've already sent out one of the brand new chapters in my Author Newsletter, which means I'll be posting it here in July, as well as on Wattpad.

Bytes Bite, And So Do Fairies (Fractured Fairies, 4) - Again, this wasn't on the original plan for the year. I'm almost 7k into the rough draft, though, and I might have 2-3k left. I really needed to let loose with Grinka, Syndago, and the fairies before getting back to more serious stories.

Well of Solitude - I'm about 4k into the revisions of this. I'd just started working on it when the pandemic hit the fan, so to speak. Once I finish the rough draft of Bytes Bite, I'll be returning to this. However, I was wrong, it likely won't turn into a novella. My brain finally resolved some issues I had with the story, but it means more of a re-write for half of it, instead of just a revision. I'm hoping it will still come in around 16k when all is said and done.

Dead As Dreams, Fortunes of Fate 8, and Downward Spiral are now all on pause. I'm not sure when I'll reschedule them. It completely depends on what school looks like for the kids in Fall. Drafting is much easier than revising with the kids around, and humorous fantasy flows a lot better while all the serious stuff swirls around in reality. I think planning only one project at a time is the best bet right now.

❦ My main goal for the rest of the year is to keep on plugging away and pushing forward. The good thing is, even with all the anxiety, the ideas never stopped coming, and some are bugging the hell out of me. I want to write all the things NOW. So, once I'm done with the Bytes Bite draft and the Well of Solitude revision, I'm going to let my brain pounce on whatever project asserts itself the most next (at the moment, that's another Fractured Fairies story, but that could always change).

Nope, not discussing blog posts or newsletters. No way.

That's what things look like for me, though. I hope among the tumult, you've all been able to find at least a sliver of focus on something (anything, maybe even reading). Now let's hope I don't have to type this post up a third time.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Writing vs. Quarantine

Wow, what a curve ball Mother Nature has sent our way recently!

When this current situation started in the U.S. - Hubbie now working from home every day of the week, kids with pretty much two weeks of spring break instead of just one before diving into virtual learning (um, homeschooling), and me without a moment to myself any longer - I'd thought it would be a grand idea to do a funny diary-like post about the whole situation. As I've learned so often in life, things never turn out how I planned.

As each day passed, my notes quickly turned into not funny at all. And then I had to start homeschooling. Let me tell you, for a person that completely sucks at multi-tasking, my anxiety is beyond high simply from trying to teach Youngest (who doesn't want to listen to me) and field questions from Eldest (while Youngest yatters in my ear to go on with her school work so she can continue to not pay attention or believe a word I say).

This has seriously been rough on me the last nearly four weeks. So rough that I can't get any writing done due to a combination of time, energy, and anxiety.

And yes, I understand and sympathize with others out there who also have it rough (or rougher). I'm not pulling out a measuring stick, trying to compare who has it worse. It's bad for everyone, even if it's a different kind of bad for everyone (even for those people who are simply bored - I mean, I can't grasp the concept of ever being bored with my endless list of interests, but I do understand they are suffering in their own way as well).

So please let's not come into the comments with anything like, "You have it easy - it's so much worse for me!" I've quite had enough of people belittling other people's feelings and reactions to this whole situation.

For me, it simply boils down to, my anxiety is high, so high that I've been on the verge of an anxiety attack several times. And while many of the things causing me anxiety may not affect others the same, that's how those things affect me. Everyone is different, everyone reacts differently, each person has different levels of what they can take, so let's just all get along and sympathize with everyone else - this whole thing sucks all around. Period.

OK, off my soapbox. I guess mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook feed has been getting to me. Too much jabbing on all topics.

Which is why, pretty much after this post, I'm taking a big social media break. This will include blog posts. Hell, it was hard enough convincing myself I needed to write this one. I'm hoping to be back at it all come June.

And yes, as I mentioned already, I've been unable to write. Revisions of Well of Solitude (Fortunes of Fate, 7) are on hold, likely until June as well. I'm hoping in summer, even though the kids will still be home, there will be a lot less pressure due to no longer having to homeschool, and then I can banish them outside for a couple hours (or be nice and let them play video games every afternoon).

Until then, I'm not putting any pressure on myself to write a single word... well, aside from this post. I may start a new Fractured Fairies story just to blow off some steam if my anxiety levels decrease and allow me to have a bit more energy. I've been intending to have Grinka deal with a computer virus - maybe she'll be confronted with a real virus as well, who knows. Those stories have always been my way to vent about annoying situations or just plain have fun. Can you imagine Grinka quarantined with the fairies? Oh, boy.

I'm at least happy to declare my drive to write and conjure up new ideas hasn't been dampened. Stuff is just getting in the way of my ability to execute. =P And I have to accept that once in a while, it's time to put the original plan on pause and go back to it later.

None of us should be too hard on ourselves right now!

I've babbled enough. And since I did spend the time writing down some of the events once we started pretty much quarantining ourselves, aside from grabbing food and taking occasional walks, I'll leave you with a few here. Not the depressing ones. The ones that still give me a bit of a chuckle. I hope they give you a chuckle, too.

Diary of a Quarantined Writer Mom

Day 1 – Bickering broke out at breakfast. Kids had exhausted me by lunch. And then I gave up and played video games until dinner.

Day 2 – Drama over organizing a drawer – Eldest claimed it would take hours to straighten. It took 10 minutes. Pre-order for the Deluxe Edition of Final Fantasy VII Remake delayed – the horror!

Day 4 – Ostara (Spring Equinox)! Woke up with a headache and a beyond hyper Youngest. Where does she get all this energy? Amazon messed up categories for Mind Behind the Mind big time. Medical Romance? Um, no. Planted sunflower seeds, but too tired to dye eggs.

Day 5 – Anxiety climbing. Really need a schedule... if the kids would let me make one between all the other stuff I need to get done. Finally dyed some eggs – glad the kids had fun.

Day 6 – Played a hell of a lot of FFX and let the kids play video games, too.

Day 8 – Schedule for today – let’s see how it goes. It seems Minecraft pacifies the young rabble-rousers. For the most part. Still some drama while I was trying to revise.

Day 9 – Went for our usual walk, and clearly people aren’t taking this social distancing seriously. Another kid tried to give Youngest a shell, and after we backed away and said no thank you, the kid’s caregiver tried to insist it was "just a shell". No, means no. Move along. Do I need to carry a sign that says, "Observing Social Distancing"?

Day 10 – Woke up in an "I don’t care" mood. What do you think that means? More video games!

Day 11 – Eldest’s birthday. Unfortunately, our local baker couldn’t make the cake we ordered. So... Funfetti cupcakes instead! With blue frosting, of course.

Day 12-13 – Lots of video games!

Day 14 – How long does it take to plan three daily schedules and a single day’s lesson plan? All damned day.

Day 15 - First day of homeschooling. How long does it take for the schedules and lesson plan to unravel? Minutes. Oh, and drama over art/drawing? The one task I thought would be easy!

Day 16 – I can’t do this for five plus weeks. Argh! My brain is constantly being interrupted by the kids, notifications from teachers, and the million things I need to do speeding through my mind. My lack of multi-tasking skills are showing through. Writing time? What writing time?

Day 17 and Beyond – Gave up tracking the days. Everything’s blending into one big blob, a blob that I turn into every afternoon as I scroll through Facebook on the couch in utter exhaustion.