Quote of the Moment

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

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession - Chapter 26

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.

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Chapter 25

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Chains of Nect: Obsidian's Obsession

Chapter 26

The precepts needed to burn, not Sid's precious portal book, likely the last left of its kind.

She slammed shut the damnable text, the resulting gust of wind tousling loose strands of her hair. Yes, she was supposed to be on her best behavior, to do what was asked of her so she wouldn't be punted out of the House of Portals. Or worse. But what point was there if she couldn't retrieve her book?

Her gate would continue to stand useless, forgotten by all but her.

That couldn't happen -- she had to convince Damian to give it back, or to at least keep it somewhere safe instead of destroying it.

Obsidian rested her head on her copy of the precepts, her mind tumbling. Her thoughts grew hazy and drifted, exhaustion dragging her down.

"The precepts are not a pillow." Damian's sharp tone yanked Sid from her nap like a cold bucket of water.

She sat up and wiped a drop of drool from the corner of her mouth. "I'm sorry. I haven't gotten much sleep lately."

"Guess I can't blame you." He plopped down in the chair across from her, as if standing on his feet was too much of a burden, then rested his elbows on the table and leaned toward her. "You were right."

Sid wiggled in her seat. She'd made a lot of declarations lately, but the one that initially came to mind was the Guardians killing washed out dedicants. "About what?" She squeaked and covered her neck.

Damian shifted, resting on the back of a chair, his frown stretching to all corners of his face and creasing his forehead. "The council is hiding something. They're using the precepts to cover up their secrets."

A shuddering breath escaped her. No doom. "And how did you come to this conclusion?"

"I spoke to my mother, and when I asked her if she'd ever heard of Guardians wielding magic, she nearly cut me with her gaze." He closed his eyes and shook his head. "How could I have been so wrong?"

"More importantly, how could you have been so stupid?" Perfect way for them to discover if she was also right about the dire consequences of crossing the Guardians. "Did you tell her what happened with Turmoil? Bishop?"

That eyebrow of his did its thing. "Of course not. I was careful about what I said. Have some faith in me."

"It's not that I don't, but if a single Guardian discovers what we've been up to, it's certain death." She actually had a heap of faith in him -- more than he'd ever know. After all, he still hadn't presented her to the council with a list of her crimes.

Damian rolled his eyes. "Enough with those ludicrous accusations. Secrets don't make anyone a murderer." He tilted his head. "Besides, a single Guardian does know what we've been up to."

Sid giggled.

"What?"

"You're not like them." She'd been so wrong about him when they'd first met. True, he clung to the precepts, but it was all he'd known. "You question and dare to have independent thoughts. If you were one of those Guardians that I'm constantly deriding, I'd have been at their mercy the moment I stepped before the council."

He stared at her for a second, then blinked rapidly and found a fascinating spot on the wall.

Obsidian did trust him, which was why it was so hard when he clearly hadn't trusted her. He still might not. There was one way to rectify that. She hoped. "Do you want to know where I got the book?" She whispered, afraid the walls had ears. Who knew what magic the Guardians were hiding?

Damian returned his attention to her, eyes bright. "Where?"

Here it was. The moment she'd never expected to happen, had avoided for years. Confessing to her discovery. "Buried in a box on my family's land." Her insides chilled, as if she walked through a fiery portal. "Underneath the gate I found."

He stood so swiftly, his chair tipped over and clattered on the floor. "What? You couldn't have." He bit his bottom lip and nodded. "Of course. That's why all the gates hadn't affected you the first day. You'd already been near a portal. No. You'd already touched one."

Sid wanted to melt into her chair. She stared at the book of precepts so she wouldn't have to meet his gaze. And she thought she'd felt guilty for kissing Bishop -- nowhere near to the extent as she felt now.

"That's why you wanted to learn the script. But how were you able to open the Turmoil gate if your book was meant for the other gate?"

Her excitement got the best of her and she looked up at him. "The word on the front of the book changed when I was more focused on the new gate. It's as if it shifts depending on which portal you want to use it with. Fascinating magic. Unfortunately, it blurred the script of my gate in my mind, so I don't even remember what it looks like." It felt so good to finally share this with someone. She'd never realized how tormented her soul had been keeping all of this information in.

Damian planted his hands on the table and loomed over her. "It's not your gate. Get that out of your head."

"I know, I just..." Had she made a mistake telling him? A miscalculation?

"I have to tell the council."

Yes, a grave one. "No... But why...?" She tried to find clearer words, but they failed her. Damian planned to betray her, and it cut deeper than any loss she'd experienced before.

He straightened and paced the best he could in the tiny study room. "I can't believe this is what you've been hiding. And you called me stupid? Your actions--"

The chill within blossomed into a flame, and the fire spread rapidly. She stood and slammed her hands on the table. "I thought you realized the Guardians have been lying, to all of Nect, even to you. Your own mother. Yet you're ready to turn me in because of their absurd rules."

Damian skirted around to her side of the table and grabbed her arms. "I may be questioning what I've been taught my entire life, wondering where the truth ends and the lies begin, but there's one thing I'm positive about. The portals aren't safe. And you're proof of that. Have you forgotten the compulsion Turmoil drove you to already? Imagine what could happen to someone else who stumbles upon that gate. How would you feel if a family member found it and went mad?"

Sid had always dreaded one of her brothers discovering it. And now with her here, unable to steer them away from that section of their land, they had more of a chance to do just that.

And though she'd been driven to open Turmoil, she still believed the portals shouldn't be left to rot, mere relics moldering around Nect.

She wiggled out of Damian's grasp. "No matter what happened to me, I don't agree with you. I succumbed to a moment of weakness. That doesn't mean the gates are a danger to everyone in Nect. Just more Guardian lies."

"Obsidian, please see sense."

Sid planted her fists on her hips. "Why should I? Someone I thought was my friend is about to throw me to the wolves. There's no sense in that."

"No, no. I keep telling you we don't harm people, especially ones who find gates." He sighed, brow wrinkling. "But if you're so concerned about that, we'll find a way to tell them about the portal without implicating you or your family. I promise."

"Good luck with that. I mean, the gate's on my family's land."

"It might take time, but we'll figure it out." He appeared seriously pained, but she didn't care -- he planned to rip the one thing away from her that had been her sole goal for the past six years.

She stepped back and crossed her arms over her chest. "Perhaps I should just go back through the portal with Bishop. Then I'll be out of your hair forever and you can tell the Guardians whatever you want."

Until she said it, she hadn't actually considered the possibility of leaving Nect and going to Turss.

Forever. It would truly mean forever. She'd never hug her mother, never see her father smile proudly, and never get heckled by her brothers again.

But she'd live, and Damian would get exactly what he wanted -- he'd be rid of her and allowed to live the rest of his life as oblivious to the Guardians' true intentions as much as he'd like. "Do you really want to do that?" His voice escaped breathy.

Sid raised her chin. "What I want is for you to hand that portal book over and forget I ever told you about my gate. But that's never going to happen. So Turss sounds like a good second option." She couldn't believe what she was saying. Could she really do what she claimed?

The book in Damian's bag beckoned to her. And so did the Turmoil portal, whispering in her ear and begging her to open it once again.

Damian raised his hands in front of him, palms out. "Let's take a break. Cool down a bit. Relax in your room briefly and have dinner. Then perhaps we can talk about all of this more rationally."

So he thought she wasn't being rational?

Yes, Obsidian would go to Turss with Bishop.

Or she'd wrest the book away from Damian, no matter the cost, and flee the House of Portals.

Head home and open her gate. Perfectly rational.

* * * * *

Chapter 27 - Expected April 2021.

Wednesday, February 03, 2021

What Am I Reading? - Libriomancer

It's been a while since I talked about what I'm reading. To be honest, I haven't had tons of time to actually read much lately, and when I do it seems to be in fits and spurts. And many times, I don't get to finish what I start. I blame Youngest. You want someone to interrupt you every five seconds? Well, you can borrow her. Even yesterday I stupidly tried to read a chapter while she was awake and home. What do you think, did I finish that chapter? Nope. And I hate stopping mid-chapter!

Anyway, I digress. I've slowly been plodding through Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines. Slowly only because of the aforementioned Youngest (and the exhaustion that overwhelms me most times by the time she's in bed). I was in the mood for urban fantasy, since lately I really can't seem to immerse myself in epic fantasy. Of course I found the premise intriguing, so I decided to try it. Libriomancy is magic that can be used to reach into a book and pull objects out into reality. I mean, what reader and writer wouldn't think that's an awesome idea?

For the most part, I'm enjoying the book, but it's also impossible to turn the writer part of my brain off. So I started thinking about how some urban fantasy can be very dated by what's in it. It's always a rough road if you're trying to not "date" your urban fantasy. I mean, some of my favorites when I try to read them nowadays, I find it odd that there are no cell phones around. Because in this day and age, almost everyone has a smartphone.

This can of course pull the reader out of the story, when the modern conveniences we take for granted aren't utilized. Some books even age rather terribly, and might turn more into historical fantasy - heh. That doesn't make them any less fun than they used to be, but they are definitely perceived in a different way from when they were originally published. Even some of my own urban fantasy stories are dated, and I totally know it.

Libriomancer was first published in 2012, so it's not too dated, at least not by my standards. But I'm guessing it was in the works years before publication, so some things that have been completely left out and not addressed seem odd to me. Here's my caveat - I may only have noticed this due to who I am, an indie author, and one who mostly works with ebooks.

Can you guess yet what I noticed? The protagonist talks about how they catalog all the books released by publishers, and he's pretty much just talking about hard copies. No mention of ebooks (so far), and no mention of indie publication at all.

I indie published my first short story in 2012, and I know that was the initial big surge for indie publishing. So, I could maybe understand why that wasn't addressed. Though self-publishing has been around for far longer than that. Ebooks, though? I wanted to see an explanation. Does libriomancy work with ebooks like with physical books?

I admit, due to my fits and starts while reading, I could have missed a line explaining this, but it seems like it should be touched on more than once. This isn't by any means a criticism. Again, it made me simply think about how books could be dated even after a short time being published (since traditional publishing has a tendency to take quite long from finished product to publication). Technology is evolving at such a rapid rate that it's hard to keep up.

My writer brain was just left with questions that I would love to see explored (this book is also the first in a series, so for all I know, some of this stuff is touched on in later books). How do the Porters (the organization that polices the use of libriomancy for the most part) keep track of all those indie published titles? There are millions of ebooks on Amazon, thousands published every day. This could lead to some major control issues, in my opinion, and a fascinating novel in itself.

And with the availability of ebooks, would this make things easier or harder for the protagonist if he had an ereader instead a bunch of paperbacks he toted around with him? If it's not possible to use libriomancy that way, why not?

These are all just my humble thoughts about how the future in essence effects the reading of past books (even books not even a decade old!). Libriomancer has still been fun to read so far, and Youngest willing, I hope to finish it this month.

What are you currently reading?

Speaking of ebooks in today's day and age, they've been an absolute necessity for me and my family. I mean, I've been out of shelf space in my house for years.

Not only have we ended up getting Kindle Unlimited (Eldest reads like mad, and I couldn't keep up with her), but I've found Overdrive to be so useful this past year, especially with not wanting to physically go to the library.

Most local libraries have access to an Overdrive collection, so you can check ebooks out for free. That's how I'm reading Libriomancer and Youngest has been plowing through the Magic Tree House and Rainbow Magic series (I love my little interrupting chicken, I do - she may not let me read, but at least she's enjoying reading a lot!).

So, if you're looking to stay safe at home and still grab some new books to read, consider looking into Overdrive through your local library. Libraries rock!