The Seven Sceptres

It’s been a busy and weird kind of week, and isn’t it interesting how those go together as often as they do.

So far this week, I’ve learned that in some circles “3 – 5 business days” can actually mean less than 8 hours… and, I’ve learned that “3 – 5 business days” can also actually mean more than a month.  See, being a fan of words and definitions, I have a problem with that…  But, when enough people accept something for the way it is, I know I have to cool my frustration and just let it be…  Don’t I?

And, during this weird and busy week, I’ve also learned that I can survive on far less sleep than I normally do – and, let’s face it, I don’t usually get that much sleep to begin with – as I pushed my bed time back each night to work, work, work… on a certain book, book, book.

A new one…

This one:

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Image shows the cover for the anthology “The Seven Sceptres” by Michael Hansen, Matthew Blashill, Arden Ruth, and Ethan Stein.  The cover was done by CardCastles and depicts seven spheres that represent the various gods within the stories.

This beautiful book, that has been compiled with all the guile, wit and love of Revis, Arden, Ethan, myself and CardCastles too, was supposed to become available on Tuesday, February 20th…  This is the part where we get back to the various definitions of “3 – 5 days” and how the book has actually already been released and is ready to purchase…

So, just to be silly, you could wait to order it until Tuesday, or you could be even sillier and order it now…

Paperback: CLICK HERE

Kindle: CLICK HERE

For those of you who actually want to know what the book is about before purchasing it and supporting several wonderful and deserving writers, here is the synopsis:

Accura, the goddess of chaos, has begun to unleash her newest plot to send Cetros spiraling into turmoil. Once her brother and sister gods and goddesses learn of her scheme, most bring forth their champions to try and restore order while the others attempt to take advantage of the situation for their own purposes. Will their lack of a cohesive plan only serve to further Accura’s cause and doom Cetros to be forever ruled by chaos? Or will the champions succeed in their quests and allow their world to regain some semblance of normalcy?

This anthology includes seven stories, one for each of the gods and goddesses of Cetros: Chaos, Magic, Death, Plants and Earth, Animals, the Seas, and Weather.

Sounds amazing right?  I can tell you with 100% certainty that it is amazing.  And, while you may think I’m biased, and you may be right about that, please do not let that influence your purchasing decision.  Thank you, in advance, for your support.  You faithful kingdomites surely do know how to make a Jester feel special.

I will continue to plug the new book over the coming days.  There will be info on purchasing signed copies.  There will be snippets from my contributions to the anthology.  There will be links and shenanigans.  So, stick around.  Leave a comment.  Buy a book.  And we’ll all have a grand time.

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and then

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A breeze tugged at the hem of his robes.  He was aware of the slight play in his attire, as he was aware of everything around him, but it held no true interest or concern.  He simply catalogued the wind speed, should he have need to factor it into a spell later, and moved on.  There were miles yet to cover before the sun set on the day and the miles already covered had not been kind.

Puffs of dust lifted away from each footfall and then settled before the next step was taken.  It wasn’t the only sign of his passing, but these marks in the trail were the most obvious.  Not that he expected to be followed, or cared if he was, but he was still mindful of the evidence he left behind.  There were tricks and spells he could use to hide his back trail, but he was in too much of a hurry to bother.

The sun lowered itself upon the horizon, spreading the last of its warmth and glow in shrinking patterns and shapes.  He marked the stretching shadows.  He marked the settling chill.  He marked the changing colors in the sky above.  Each of these could be a factor if his magic was called upon.  Still, he progressed steadily forward.

When the moon decided to slip free from hiding, he would stop for the night and use its muted glow to make a hasty camp and eat.  He would trust his wards, woven into the fabric of the clothes he wore, to protect his short sleep and then in the morning, before the sun had begun to climb free of the opposite horizon, in its chase after the moon, he would journey on.

His destination waited two days ahead of him.  There would be a fight.  Blood would be spilled.  Hopefully not his own, but one could never be certain of these things before they had actually happened.  Still, even uncertain of the outcome, he must go.  He owed it to those who had gone before him.  He owed it to himself.

Thinking of the looming battle stirred emotions best left in check until his journey was over.  Electricity crackled from his clenched hands and fire roared briefly in his eyes.  Closing their lids, but not stopping his forward steps, he took a deep soothing breath and when he opened his eyes again the fire had gone.  He tucked his rage away, saving it to unleash when he arrived and faced his tormentors.  The fire rightfully belonged to them and they would see it in due time.

moon rise

It hung like a mostly closed eye leaned against the world.  The fog and clouds blurred its lamp so the light barely filtered through.  The giant, for it surely belonged to the like, must have dozed and currently existed in that shadow realm between waking and sleeping.  Gauging the size of the monster on its eye alone I prayed it would return to its dreams, and that those dreams would be peaceful or else the world would be in trouble.  Then again, no matter how long it slept, it would wake eventually.

high hopes

Image Credit: Xavier.edu

He lifts and presses his fingers in an intricate play of motion and sound, and creates a masterpiece of words in beautiful imagery.  The stories speak of pain and love, hard truths and beautiful fantasies, and he sends them into the world with high hopes.  He is proud of them.  They are like his children and he is setting them free to make their own way.

Perhaps his hopes, his expectations, were too high.

The current world is not kind to beautiful things.  Sometimes it breaks them up and tears them down.  Sometimes it merely laughs for all the wrong reasons.  Occasionally, and worst of all, the world turns its back on beauty, ignoring it and letting it wither away unto death.

“Such is the sad state of our times,” the talking heads cluck before giggling about the antics of the latest internet celebrity wearing a toilet seat necklace and upside-down pants.  “What can you do?  Pander to the lowest common denominator of popular culture or face the torturous agony of certain irrelevance.”

Though, in truth, the talking heads would never speak so eloquently.  This he knows just as he knows his words, his children, are going to struggle once they leave him.  That, however, doesn’t make it any less necessary for them to be set free.  There is risk, but only with risk is there the chance for greatest success.

Perhaps his hopes, his expectations, weren’t too high.

He lifts and presses his fingers in an intricate balance of characters and worlds, spun together for the entertainment of those brave enough to read more than the standard faire provided by the money driven words industry.  There was no profit formula.  There was no demand for demographics or tired plot lines.  But, there was plenty of hope.

After all, it costs nothing to hope.

The Magic Man

The magic man surveyed the wares in front of him.  The sheer volume of the amount of work he had already finished and had yet to accomplish was a testament to something…  He wanted to believe it was a direct result of the general decency and goodness at the core of every mortal, but he knew it was more likely because of hormones and the ever expanding population.  There were a lot more people out there than when he had started his yearly rides.  The length of his second scroll, the one he didn’t like to acknowledge until he absolutely had to, spoke to the veracity of that assumption.

Rising from his ornately carved chair, his underlings called it The Throne but he always felt funny when he heard that, he strode forward with measured and deliberate steps to prepare for work.  A man of his size had to be careful how they moved about on the ground.  He was more suited to the air, where he could be as light as a feather and as fast as thought, without fear of knocking anything, or anyone, over.

It was nearly time.  The last of the secret hopes and longed-for wishes piled to the top of their towering collections.  Creaks and groans of motion echoed inside the cavernous hall as the items settled into place.  The magic man lifted his arms to catch anything that should fall and was pleased when nothing did.  A giant smile filled his round and jovial face, rosy red cheeks under starry-eyed pupils, and the familiar tingling of ancient sorcery crept from his heart to his fingertips.

Three words were all it took, so familiar, so powerful, and his true self would be unlocked and unleashed for another magical twenty-four hours.  The room hushed in expectation and the underlings closest to him backed away.  They were equally transfixed in awe of his legend as they were in awe of the power flowing from him.

It started as a rumbling laughter, low and deep within his stomach, and it rose in intensity and beauty.  There was no greater magic left in the world.  There was no greater love.  And, by the time the three words to the spell rang clearly, the underlings wept with joy.

“Ho. Ho. Ho.”

The magic man disappeared along with all the necessities of his day-long night’s work and the underlings cheered and wished him safe travels.  His continued existence and purpose meant there was still belief, and as long as there was belief that meant there was also hope.  And, as long as there was hope, that meant there was also magic.  And magic is love.

The magic man knows this truth, and he spends the one day a year that he is allowed to spread that truth around the world.  It’s there waiting for you to see it, if only you will truly open your eyes and heart and believe again, like you used to, like you are supposed to, like you want to.