About the Book
Author: C.M. Story
Genre: YA Fantasy
Adrienna Vedica longs to build the creatures living in her imagination. One day, she hopes to sculpt them out of stone, creating great statues like those that guard the Celany village.
She doesn’t understand why everyone seems to disapprove.
It’s only when Tishaan, a powerful man in the high council, agrees to help her sculpt that Adrienna is finally able to pursue her passion. She dives into her work, but creates with such energy she collapses from exhaustion before seeing the final results, giving Tishaan time to hide her masterpieces away.
Her mentor, Sreng—the man she secretly loves—tries to convince her that Tishaan is using her, but she can’t abandon her art. Only when people start showing up dead does she think again. There’s something off about Tishaan…and then Sreng shows her one of her early works.
But something is wrong.
It’s alive. And it’s digging a grave.
C.M. Story has always been a fan of fantasy in all its many forms, including the kind she frequently indulged in during boring lectures in school. She didn’t try her hand at penning her own stories, however, until long after she’d gotten her Bachelor’s degree in music.
Once she sold her first short story, she got a writing job and never looked back. Today she runs a successful freelance writing and editing business out of her home in Idaho, and frequently travels to other inspiring places with her trusty laptop in tow. And yes, despite rumors to the contrary, “Story” is her real last name.
“Rise of the Sidenah” was inspired by gothic architecture, a tune by “The Calling,” and the idea that following the heart may cause pain, but is the only way to truly fulfill one’s purpose in life.
Find more at cmstorybook.com.
Excerpt #1: From Part I
A narrow ravine stretched before them, echoing the path of an ancient tributary. Sheer rock enclosed both sides, the ground only about fifteen paces wide. Tishaan slid down the hill and trotted ahead, arms out. Sreng followed, placing his feet carefully as he made his way down. Adrienna started after him, her gaze glued to the ground, but when she looked up again, she stopped.
Pressed from the opposite cliff like pudding from a pastry was the purest white rock she had ever seen. Covered in a dazzling array of crystals, it rippled its way to the ground and then flowed outward in a shelf-like formation. She walked toward it. Chill bumps dotted her arms. When she reached level ground, she glanced at the boys, but they stood at opposite sides of a small pond some distance away.
Just as well. She wished to examine the stone alone.
Where the shelf met the corner of the ravine, broken pieces lay on top of one another in a pile. She tucked one of the larger ones into the folds of her skirt and tiptoed to where the formation extended far enough to cast shade. On her hands and knees, she scrambled underneath. With her back to the cliff, she looked at the stone. Already its shape spoke of something to come, a neck here, a head, the tail there. A burning energy rose inside her chest and pressed on her lungs. Using a smaller, pointed rock, she began to carve. When the dust fell, she tasted it. Gritty powder tingled the tip of her tongue. She worked faster, chipping off chunks and digging crevices into the stone flesh. As the pieces littered her skirt, she told herself she must remember to brush it off before returning home.
Her mother wouldn’t approve.
The sun drifted behind her and still she carved, hands moving at a feverish pace, shaping the stone while Sreng and Tishaan fashioned fishing poles out of branches nearby. She didn’t stop to think about what she was doing. Time danced around her in a dream. When she got to the eyes and mouth she slowed, her nose a breath away from the rock. With her fingernails she etched careful details. She didn’t remember when she stopped, or when her eyes closed in exhaustion. Only that when she opened them, he was there.
His shoes appeared first, laced and short on his ankle, and then the mud-spattered legs, bare chest, and blue jewel. “So, Adrienna. You found the white stone.”
Adrienna followed his gaze. The rock had changed. There was a flattened head, four short legs, a fat body, curved tail, and sharp teeth under wide lips. She gazed into the gouged eyes and felt her chest contract around her heart.
Nuana. The creature’s name was Nuana.
Excerpt 2: Part II, Chapter 2, “Training”
“Yes. I want to pass. Of course I want to pass.”
Sreng looked more intensely into her eyes and she turned her head away, afraid he was reading her thoughts again. “Do you know why you want to pass?”
He waited, but she said nothing more. “It’s best if your motivation is…” He paused. “Well, if it is coming from, or tied to your future, your place in Celany society.”
Adrienna had to concentrate to keep from rolling her eyes. Now he was going to tell her she mustn’t hope for something between the two of them. He had said as much at other times, though always with this hesitant, roundabout language. All to live up to Celany standards, she knew, some code of conduct that as far as she was concerned made no difference, especially if she passed the trial. So he had trained her? How did that make their connection forbidden? She looked away, but he continued.
“I am concerned.” He clasped his hands in front him and squared his shoulders. “Concerned your current focus may not serve you at the arena, when the Interrogator is challenging you. You need a crystal clear image in mind, one that reflects who you will be once the trial—”
“The Tucadorr.” She lifted her chin and centered her gaze on his. “I saw it. Yesterday.”
He started as if she’d slapped him.
It was a desperate move, a way to get him off lecturing her, but she relished the surprised look on his face.
She pointed to the edge of the lake.
“Here? You’re certain?”
“Olwyn crossed to the inlet. I was on the bank, waiting for her. At first I was resting, but when I looked up, it was there, staring at me.”
Sreng fingered the scabbard hanging from his belt. “It just stood there?”
She nodded. “When Olwyn came back, it disappeared.”
His frown deepened. “Did it look the same?”
“Exactly.” She paused. “But it was a long time ago.” She waited, hoping he would assure her the Tucadorr was one of many, a single creature belonging to some species roaming in large packs on the other side of the twin peaks. The first one was an aberration long gone by now. The one she spotted on the other side of the lake was a distant relative, if that. But he said nothing. No words to suggest the one she had seen wasn’t the very same lone creature that still haunted her nightmares.
“You told me it was dead,” she said.
He walked to the opening of the cave and looked down on the water. He seemed to be searching for it. “I was sure it would not return.”
“I thought you killed it.”
He leaned against the rock. “So did I.”