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.
She had been too exhausted the night before, but tonight she intended to take a look at the gates up close and personal. It had been a long, boring day trying to wade through all of the precepts. The only highlight had been rattling Damian. She actually felt a little bad for taunting him with the name, though--she wouldn't do it again. And she only did it then to have some opening to start studying the script.
Still, it made her feel oily inside.
Sid quickly slipped on some breeches and a dark shirt. If she wore the dedicant robes, she'd stand out like a cat in a hen house with the white. Then she slipped out the door, after looking to see that the coast was clear.
The gas lamps in the halls were still lit, so at least she was able to see where she was going. She stayed close to the inner wall, just in case she had to duck into a doorway and hide from any Guardians who were up this late.
She didn't see anyone until she reached the first level. A couple dedicants with loads of laundry passed by while she hid in the shadows of the stairs. She hoped she didn't get that job--laundry was the worst. And getting up this early to clean everyday would be torture.
After they passed, she wrestled with keeping the large door to the courtyard quiet, which proved difficult. But when she stepped out under the stars, the waxing moon only a few days from full, the struggle with the door had been all worth it.
For once, she embraced the silence and inhaled the magic that permeated this place.
The moon shone down on the portals, making it look like they were glowing. The words at the top of each gate shone the most, glimmering in the evening light, begging to be spoken.
She would if she could.
Sid wove around the portals, looking closely at each one, getting a sense of their differences. Just like the foliage on the stained glass in the foyer of the House of Portals, each gate had its own quirks. She felt the subtle differences in their vibrations. No portal led to the same world as another.
Oh, and there were so many worlds. She wanted to visit every one of them.
Eventually, she came across a twisted hill, so misshapen that she wondered how nature ever could form such a thing. It stretched to the height of the base of the third floor. She circled around it and found a crevice big enough for her to step through. And inside hid a gate, cocooned by the weirdly shaped hill--clearly it had been magic and not nature that had deformed it.
An opening, which she hadn't been able to see from the outside, allowed the moonlight to filter in. This portal shimmered stronger than the others, and a wave of serenity washed over her the closer she stepped to it.
So beautiful. So perfect.
Sure that no eyes were upon her, she reached for the script at the pinnacle and traced it, like she had with her gate back home. The comforting feeling grew stronger, throbbing in her fingertips, moving up her arm, and soaking into her chest.
She'd never gotten this strong of a reaction from the other portal. It seemed like this one was desperately trying to convince her it was safe, safe to open it and explore the world inside. A note of pleading lay under the one of calm.
It needed her.
Open me, save me.
Sid yanked her hand back, unsure if she had truly heard the words in her head. Disengaging from the gate dulled the feeling of peace, but she still felt the call of urgency growing stronger.
Did the portals have emotions and thoughts? Or was someone within the world on the other side calling for help? The words in her head had been too soft, too quiet to derive anything from them.
The need of whatever or whoever spoke to her clawed at her chest, making her anxious. She left the little alcove, hoping for a reprieve, but the feeling wouldn't pass. It leveled out, at least, no longer growing--if it had grown much more it would have burst her at the seams.
She leaned on the twisted hill, taking deep breaths and trying to harness the yearning she felt. A surety sunk into her bones that the only way she'd shake this was to open the gate, to do as asked, to aid whoever needed it.
Sid peered into the crevice and resolved that she had to turn that maybe Damian had offered her into a yes. And soon.
Just talking about the forays into the courtyard at night drove Damian to do just that. He wanted to watch a shift, to feel the magic flow through him. Perhaps it would settle him down after dealing with Obsidian.
And it might even give him some insight into her, or at least help him decide whether he should allow her to learn the portal language sooner.
So, he wandered around the gates, sensing the shift was near. He almost hadn't made it in time--Obsidian also had a knack for exhausting him. The stars twinkled above, his companions to watch the magic unfold. But he had to find a spot to observe from soon, or he'd risk being injured.
Damian found himself still moving around the portals, though. An itch tickled his throat. He knew what it was, and he let it be, allowed the draw to pull him. The one gate he'd touched, at times it sung to him to return to the scene of his crime, to look at it again.
It always pleaded to be touched, but he wouldn't make that mistake twice. His will was stronger now, and as a Guardian, he wouldn't break the first precept. Ever.
No one shall touch the gates without permission. He didn't have permission. Almost no one did or ever would.
He crested a rise and saw the hill he sought.
The magic vibrated in the air. Close now--he'd have to hurry.
Damian circled the misshapen hill, wanting to at least get a glance at the gate hidden inside, not only to listen to its hum, but to also remind himself of his mistake, one he intended to never make again. The precepts existed for a reason.
Instead of just finding the entrance, though, he turned the corner and almost ran into Obsidian. She leaned against the hill as if out of breath. She couldn't have touched the gate, could she? No, if she had, she'd still be in there most likely. Tricky gate. Strong gate, especially so close to the shift.
"Sid. What are you doing here?"
She jumped and spun around. "I . . . ."
Wow, at a loss for words. He didn't think that could happen to her.
"I wanted to see what it was like out here at night. You made me curious." She straightened, but still had a hand on the hill--she looked unsteady. Perhaps the impending build up of magic had her shook up.
Yes, he felt the shift building. Any moment now. "Come with me."
"I'm sorry. Please don't take me to the Council."
She thought she was in trouble--well she would be if she didn't move, and not the trouble she was thinking of. If she stayed where she was, she'd become embedded in that hill.
The power around them shot up, and she glanced all around her. "What's happening?"
Too late to make her move. He should run and leave her to her fate.
"The shift." Damian wrapped his arms around her and pulled her away from the hill, risking the chance that he might join her within it, hoping the magic would hold off a few more moments.
"What? Hey!" She struggled.
Damian squeezed tighter, thankful he was stronger than her, and yanked her away as far as he could. He had to gain enough distance and make sure he didn't pull them into a spot where another portal would move.
A loud crack snapped throughout the courtyard.
Obsidian stopped fighting him and clung to him instead, burying her face in his chest.
No point in pulling her along anymore--where they were was where they'd meet whatever end the gates wanted them to. He hugged her close and squeezed his eyes shut, not wanting to see what was coming, not this time.
The magic cascaded over him, like always, making his heart thunder faster than it ought to, the power ripping through his body. It consumed him, but also made him more distinctly aware of Obsidian in his arms.
She gasped, the magic assaulting her as well.
Slowly, the wave subsided and the power drained from the courtyard, retreating to the gates.
Damian opened his eyes and looked around, still holding Obsidian close. The end of an arch was right next to his left leg. If he had taken one more step back, he would have lost his foot. Thankfully both of them were still whole.
Obsidian trembled, head still tucked in.
He held her, waiting for her to calm down, refusing to let go until she did.