Chapter 1

17 1 0

Obsidian clutched one side of the heavy wooden chest, insisting on helping the coach driver who transported her. After all, nestled at the bottom, waiting to be discovered, was her portal book. And she didn't want it to be found. Oh, no. If the Guardians knew it existed, not only would it disappear, she would too. They took their duties too seriously.

Sid had made it this far, showing that she was willing to give her life to become a Guardian herself. The tests had been passed, her and her family scrutinized, and now she wrested her chest off the back of the coach in front of the House of Portals, a dedicant, eager to learn.

To learn how to read the book she had found six years ago.

The chest thudded on the ground, and Sid sat on it, muscles in her legs and arms throbbing.

"There you go, miss," the coach driver said. "Shall I knock for you?" He pointed to the ornate double doors in front of them, the decor of its frame similar to the arch of the gate she had found on her family's land. It even had the ancient script at the top.

Sid wondered if it was the word for house. Or perhaps Guardian. Oh, or portal. She hoped it didn't mean doom. "No. Just going to catch my breath, then I'll knock straight away. Thank you kindly for the smooth journey."

It had been smooth, but sleepless. She couldn't believe she'd finally attained her goal. For the most part. It was only a matter of time before she knew every word of that ancient language. Then she could open her gate.

The driver stared at her for a moment, perhaps unsure what to make of her, then shook his head and pulled himself up behind the horses. Soon his existence was nothing but dust kicked up by the horses and the wheels.

Sid not only wanted to catch her breath, but revel in her accomplishment, to take in the beauty of the House of Portals. And enjoy her last bit of freedom, since she didn't know when she'd be allowed to step on this side of the threshold again.

Perhaps the word meant prison.

Best not to think such dark thoughts, especially when she was about to pass through those doors. Now wasn't the time to doubt, to question her goal. She'd had six years to change her mind, and she'd been unwavering. Then why did she feel like she'd swallowed an egg? One that hatched inside of her, releasing a chick to scratch around her insides. Ugh.

Knock, Sid. Just knock on the stupid door.

She stood, fist poised over the engraved wood. Such beautiful carvings, ones that if she looked hard enough gave the hint of telling a story. The story of all the Guardians who gave their lives over to protect the portals.

The doors swung open. Magic, it had to be. They knew she was here, hesitant to enter, and whatever magic soaked the gates had seeped into the walls of this place and sensed her presence. The magic wanted to suck her in, sure as the gate on her family's land had all those years ago.

A figure stepped out of the shadows and under the arch.

Sid released a shuddering breath. No magic. Just a Guardian. Well, she thought he was a Guardian. He couldn't be more than a few years her senior, though. Slim and willowy, he stood about half a foot taller than her. His light brown hair brushed his eyelashes and thin, metal-rimmed glasses perched on his nose.

She wished she could see his eyes better, but the reflection from his lenses half hid them. His full lips needed a smile--it would truly light up his face and make him rather handsome, but he only offered her a stern, straight-lipped look.

Yup, had to be a Guardian. Guardians were too damned serious.

"Obsidian?" he asked.

"That's me. But you can call me Sid."

Chains of Nect: Obsidian's ObsessionRead this story for FREE!