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.
First the reaction she had gotten from the gate, then the shock of Damian finding her, followed by him dragging her away. Finally the burst of magic that had rippled through the courtyard.
Too much. All too much at once. She was lucky she was only trembling and not throwing up.
After all that, she still heard the gate call to her, feeding its need into her.
She lifted her head and looked back at the hill. It no longer stood in the same spot, though--it had moved closer. If she would have remained leaning against it, she would have been inside it.
There went her stomach. She untangled herself from Damian and dropped to the ground, retching. At least there wasn't much in her, not having eaten a lot for dinner.
Damian side-stepped, avoiding another portal right behind him. "It takes a while to get used to such a concentration of magic."
She almost confessed to touching the gate, to prove that she could handle the wave of magic from the shift. But that would be stupid. And she'd been pretty stupid already. Understatement.
If it hadn't been for Damian, she'd be dead.
Sid still couldn't summon a thank you, though. He'd caught her out here, and she was sure after saving her life, the Council would just as quickly end it.
Damian offered her a hand.
She looked at it, uncertain she wanted more of his help. He had protected her, and only moments ago she had been wrapped in his arms, which oddly made her more hesitant to touch him now.
Silly. She sighed and took the offered hand. A shock zapped her skin on contact.
Damian jerked, obviously feeling it too, but instead of letting her go, he pulled her up. "Must be residual magic from the shift." He studied their joined hands, brows drawn together.
"You've never experienced it before?" Now she didn't want to let go. Crazy emotions--touching that gate must have scrambled her insides.
"This is the first time I've been around anyone during a shift." Damian met her eyes. It felt as if he examined her, tried to peel away her layers just with his gaze. "You shouldn't have been out here."
Sid nodded. "I'm sorry. It won't happen again. I swear."
"If you insist on walking around the courtyard at night, make sure to do it well before the shift. It's dangerous if you don't know where the gates move to."
Did he just give her permission? Even if he didn't, it sure sounded like he wouldn't tell the Council. "You could always teach me the patterns."
There went that eyebrow of his again.
"Just in case. Who knows, maybe one day I'll have to save another dedicant." Weak excuse. "Am I in trouble?"
"I think you've learned your lesson on this one."
If he only knew. Not only had she learned to avoid the shift to keep her body intact, but touching gates in this courtyard should be avoided. The magic here was stronger than from her gate back home. She should have known better. But ever since she got here, she hadn't been careful enough.
The anxiety still throbbed through her and she didn't think it would fade any time soon. Not until she opened the portal.
"Definitely," she said. "Definitely learned my lesson."
"Then you better head to bed before your roommates notice you missing."
"Of course." Sid wobbled across the courtyard on legs of jelly. Good thing the size of the area had shrunk with this last shift. It was going to be hard enough trudging up the stairs.
She looked back, thinking Damian would be right behind her, but instead of on her heels, he remained in the spot he had dragged her. He stared at the hill, a lost look in his eyes.
At first, she thought of calling out to him, but something on his face made her think twice. And she didn't want to stir the pot anymore than she had already tonight.
Sid turned away, leaving Damian to his reflection, and wove her way back to her bed.
After the shock Damian received from Obsidian, a need so powerful, that he had to carefully choose his words, swept through him. It felt like when he had touched the gate for the first time.
He looked wistfully at the hill once she departed, just glimpsing a sliver of the gate through the crevice.
Yes. Come to me. The words whispered in his head, so soft that they could be mistaken for the wind, but there was no breeze right now. The night was still.
He looked at his fingers, moving them about, trying to shake off the numbness that still covered the tips. The need to go to the gate was strong, even stronger than when he was a child. An ache settled in his chest, one that made him feel a sense of loss--an ache that didn't feel like his own.
Beyond a doubt, Damian knew Obsidian had touched that portal.
He should run to the Council, tell them, let them know she had broken the first precept. Yes, that's what he should do as a Guardian. Make sure she was tossed out of the House of Portals before she caused any real damage.
But like in the council room, he remained rooted, mute.
Perhaps his will wasn't as strong as he thought it was, and the gate itself directed his actions, his mistake from over a decade ago still haunting him, still making an impression on him. The sensation from touching it had taken weeks to wear off, but maybe it never did, maybe it remained buried, hidden, and now that Obsidian was here, it reared its intentions and bent his decisions to its desires.
That was a hefty theory. The magic couldn't be that strong, could it?
He told himself he had no proof. No reason to accuse Obsidian of doing something that he didn't actually witness himself, no matter how sure he was that she'd done it. Again, he felt he was trying to justify something he ought not.
Gradually, he realized exactly what he had told her before she headed back to her room. He'd told her she could come into the courtyard at night. Not the best idea--he was doing a rotten job as a mentor. But why shouldn't she be able to do something that he'd done practically all his life?
Because she had touched the gate.
Well, so had he.
Damian's mind battled, wanting to hold the precepts up on one end, but not able to come to terms for punishing her for a mistake that he himself made on the other. He sighed. The former side won, for now. Not like the Council would find out since there were no witnesses.
He forced his feet to move, tore his gaze away from the hill, and made his way back inside. Dawn would come soon, and the halls and courtyard would be full of Guardians and dedicants hustling to get to their studies or jobs. Best he not be standing here when that happened.
Instead of going to his room, though, he went to the dining hall. He found an apple and sat down in the currently deserted room to think. He needed to do something, even if it wasn't reporting Obsidian to the Council. And he couldn't accuse her to her face either.
But how could he temper her desire, teach her that the precepts were in place for a reason? The ache that still throbbed in his chest reminded him all too clearly why the first one should be followed.
When he had touched the gate as a child, he knew nothing about it. True, he still didn't know what the world on the other side was like, as all the books relating to the worlds had been destroyed a long time ago--a way to protect everyone in Nect. But he now knew the word at the top.
His stomach dropped just thinking of the word. There was nothing good on the other side of that gate, no matter how much it begged to be opened. Not like he could even if he wanted to, anyhow.
Knowing what was etched on top of the gate, that solidified his belief even more that the precepts were in place to protect everyone, common person and Guardian alike. Not all the portals had such dismal labels, but there was no reason to risk it just because something sounded nice.
Perhaps if she learned the script, then she'd think twice, reconsider stepping out of line again. Of course, that meant he'd be giving her exactly what she wanted. He wasn't sure how wise it was to do so because she must have a reason to have asked for it, and not just due to boredom with memorization.
Smells drifted from the adjacent kitchen--dedicants were hard at work preparing breakfast. And soon, people began filtering into the dining hall. Most didn't spare Damian a second glance, him sitting there with a mostly brown apple in his hand and watching everyone pass.
Eventually, Obsidian entered, grabbed a full plate of food, and joined him. "You know, you might want to throw that out." She wrinkled her nose. "How long have you been sitting here?"
"Long enough." No amount of time was long enough to figure out this problem. Though if he continued to bounce back and forth instead of actually making a decision, his inaction would have its own repercussions.
"Well, you may want to grab something else to eat. I'm starving after last night."
At least she didn't openly mention experiencing the shift in the courtyard where any number of ears could hear. She wouldn't have even stepped into the House of Portals, though, if she didn't have a decent head on her shoulders.
Damian placed the sad apple on the corner of her tray. "I'm not all that hungry." Food couldn't take away that ache.
"Your stomach." She shoveled the food in like she hadn't eaten for days. In actuality, he guessed she hadn't had much the last couple days. It took magic and near death to stimulate her appetite it seemed.
He leaned toward her. It wasn't against the rules to say what he was about to say, but he still didn't like the idea of others knowing he was going to veer off the beaten path. "Today, you can start learning the script."
Obsidian stopped chewing and stared at him, then a grin split across her face. She quickly covered her mouth so her food wouldn't tumble out.
At least one of them was happy with his decision.