Authors: Frank Morin
Tags: #YA Fantasy
Set In Stone
Book One of
Set In Stone
Book one of The Petralist
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2015 by Frank Morin
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.
A Whipsaw Press Original
Edited by Joshua Essoe
Cover art by Brad Fraunfelter
Illustrations by Jared Blando
First Whipsaw printing, May 2015
Author photo by Jennifer Morin
As usual, there are more people to thank than I could hope to remember, but I'll make the attempt. First and foremost, my family. Kate and Kyle for helping generate the original idea and providing brutally honest feedback, Emily for her undying enthusiasm, and Jacob for comic relief. And my sweet Jenny for loving me, the biggest kid of them all.
Many people provided feedback across several versions as I tore apart the story and reassembled it like a Frenkenstein project. Special thanks to Michelle Wilber for asking the hard questions I sometimes wished she wouldn't. And for my very own team of Fast Rollers for feedback over ice cream: Jeffrey Steele, Adam Smith, Matt McLaughlin, and the Johnston clan. Remote members of the team included Truli Wright, Jesse Rudd, and Lee Ann Setzer. So much enthusiasm in such confined spaces can be dangerous.
Thanks to Joshua Essoe for a brilliant edit, Jared Blando for illustrations so much better than my hen-pecked, stick-figure drawings, and Brad Fraunfelter for a magnificent cover.
Many people influenced me for good and don't even know it. Or at least didn't openly mock me for my strange eccentricities. I count both as forms of support.
The warm-faced midwife swaddled a screaming newborn baby boy, wrapped him in a homespun blanket, and handed the tiny soul to his eager new mother.
"You're lucky. He looks healthy despite the difficult labor."
Hendry, dressed in the worn, but clean clothing of a laborer, leaned over the birthing bed and wrapped his arms around Lilias, his wife, and their child. He blew out a relieved breath and his knotted muscles relaxed.
As they marveled at the baby's perfect, tiny hands and feet, Lilias whispered, "Welcome to our family, Connor."
The midwife crossed the whitewashed room to a small table next to a row of blocky stone cradles. She opened a thick ledger and thumbed to an empty page.
"With the rush to save the baby, I don't even have your names registered." Nodding toward the stone cradles she added, "We'll want to proceed with the testing straight away."
"Of course," Hendry said.
"You have the birth tax?"
"Of course," he said again and reached for the small leather purse at his belt.
"Good. You're a nice looking family. I hate seeing firstborn taken. Now, your formal names, please."
Before Hendry could respond, something crashed, like a door being slammed somewhere in the building. Shouting voices pounded past the birthing room, and another door slammed.
The midwife frowned and put down the quill. She headed for the paneled wood door that led into the rest of the birthing center, but it flew open before she reached it.
A young woman, barely more than a girl, stepped through, eyes wide and cheeks flushed. "It's High Lady Elspet! She's here, and the baby's coming early." She wrung her hands in her simple white linen dress and continued in a terrified voice, "There's problems."
The midwife's face paled and she rushed for the door. Pausing in the entrance, she called back to the new parents, "Wait here. I'll be back." She waved one hand toward the stone cradles. "Pick one and we'll test your son as soon as I return." She pushed past the young woman, who pulled the door closed behind them.