The Seven Sceptres

A long while back, my friend Matt asked if I would maybe want to contribute to a fantasy anthology he and some other writers were working on. I jumped at the chance. Who wouldn’t? I was only planning a wedding and working on my own novel. Of course I had time!!

Narrator: She, in fact, did not have the time.

But I found it, because that’s what we do, and I’m sure glad I did. Writing a fantasy anthology is no easy task. While the stories are separate and can stand on their own, tiny details weave in and out throughout the entire tale, and it was quite a challenge making sure every single word fell in the right place.

Fast forward a couple years later and that book is now ready to be devoured by any and all who wish to. Enjoy!

The Seven Sceptres is available now on Amazon.

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.

Excerpt from my story, Lira’s Rise:

In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity. The old proverb danced through Prato’s mind as he watched the waves crash to the shore with a fury the likes he had never seen. Prato dug his toes into the sand and wondered what would happen to his home if everything continued to erupt in madness. Every day had been worse than the last on the seas. Twelve months had passed since the Day of Chaos. Prato’s home of Nayun, a small fishing village nestled on an island off the coast of Qyoond, was left fairly unaffected after Accura’s actions. It was only that first day that everything truly went to hell.

Prato closed his eyes and listened to the waves, trying to force the thoughts from his mind as he clenched his fists by his side. It wasn’t until the blood pulsed beneath his fingernails when that horrible day relinquished and buried itself deep within him. He sensed someone watching him and opened his eyes to find a small boy standing before him.

“They’re ready,” he said, a look of apprehension crossing his face when he noticed Prato’s bloody hands. Prato wiped them on his dark robes and glanced down at the boy.

“Thank you, son. Run along now.”

The boy scampered away, not taking a chance to glance back at the unhinged priest by the shore. Prato shifted his eyes to the departing fleet, the boats anchored offshore. His captains stood among the waves, lined up next to four small boats that would carry them out to their waiting ships. He eased himself into the water until the coolness reached his waist. Laying one hand on the vessel closest to him, he closed his eyes and dipped his other bleeding hand into the water. The salt stung the wound, but it was necessary. The captains bowed their heads along with him.

“Lira,” Prato prayed. “Please bless this fleet on their journey. May their catch be bountiful and their bodies returned to us whole.” As he removed his hands and clasped them together, the captain squinted down at him.

“That it, priest?” he asked. “You usually ramble on for at least a good three minutes. Everything okay?”

The priest smiled up at him as genuinely as he could muster. “Of course, Rigaro. I figured I wouldn’t bore you today. The seas are rough. Best get you on your way.”

The captain eyed him up and down. The entire village had noticed the decline in the priest’s demeanor since that fateful day. No one had lost more than he had. “Very well, Prato. As long as it’s enough to please Lira. Thank you for your blessing. We’ll see you in a few days.”

Prato stepped back out of the water and watched as the small fleet set off for their weekly hunt. They would then sell off most of their catch to Qyooniba before returning home. Prato sent up a few additional prayers to Lira, but his heart wasn’t in it. He wasn’t even sure she still listened. Wiping his hands on his robes, he barely grimaced at the pain. He hardly felt anything anymore.

Over at the Matticus Kingdom, you can find more excerpts and author interviews. Be sure to check them out:

02/16/18 – The Seven Sceptres

02/19/18 – Author Interview (Michael Hansen) & Excerpt

02/20/18 – Author Interview (Matthew Blasshill) & Excerpt

02/21/18 – Author Interview (Arden Ruth)

Once I have actual books in hand (::flail::), I plan on doing some giveaways so stay tuned for that. I really hope you enjoy our stories.


~Arden Ruth

The Final Test

I swipe the blade down the stone until the edge is sharp enough to prick my finger with the gentlest touch. With my back facing the others, I listen for any sounds of strategy or alliance, but everyone remains silent.

I do it only to calm my nerves. No weapons are allowed in this final test. The guards will come to collect soon, but they won’t find the one strapped to my thigh. A bit of magic is enough to hide it.

A hand grips my shoulder, but I shrug it off, knowing the drill. The guard releases me and holds his hand out. I slap the knife down and stand, meeting his cruel gaze with my own.

“Any others?” he asks.


I stare straight into his eyes and drive the lie home. The final test is never about fighting fair. It’s about winning at all costs. Only one fighter will survive today. Only one will take her place by the king’s side to serve as his top assassin.

That victor can only be me. I’ve trained my whole life for this.

Ten minutes pass, and the guard barks out an order. We stand in unison, crossing to the center to face the long walkway into the arena. A firm grip wraps around my bicep. It’s the guard again.


I narrow my eyes at him.

“I am not your dog.”

He doesn’t respond, instead nodding behind him before walking away toward the front of the line as a new figure emerges from the dark. I can tell by her walk and the way the robes cinch at her waist that it’s a woman, but it isn’t until she lowers her hood that I realize exactly who approaches. I am quick to kneel.

“Your Highness.”

With a flick of her wrist, the queen beckons me to stand. I obey, confused by her abrupt appearance.

“I know,” she says, skipping all pleasantries. My breath catches, and she doesn’t miss it. A small smile plays on her lips before vanishing beneath her icy facade.

“How do you mean, Your Highness?”

“I know about your magic, Mae.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” My voice shakes, but I can’t stop now. “Magic is forbidden in Oraz. I am only here to fight, to claim what’s mine.”

The queen steps closer, and I bow my head in return.

“Do not mistake my tone, Mae. I’m not here to reveal your magic to the king. I’m here to help you win.”

My head jerks up, and my eyes find hers. Her hands reach up, clasping each side of my face.

“This will sting a bit.”

Her magic pours into me, the pain immediate and brutal. At that moment, the roar of the crowd announces the combatants entry into the arena, and I howl in pain as my own magic meets hers. I feel it build within me, growing in strength as my body burns with power. When she finally releases me, I fall to my knees.

“What was that?” I ask, pushing myself from the floor.

“You’d only tapped a small part of your power, Mae. I just helped bring out your full potential.”

“But why?”

The queen steps toward me, her gaze harsh under the low light of the tunnel.

“Because I need someone like you on my side, Mae. Because there is a war coming, and you’re going to help me win it.”

I have so many questions, but my time is already short. I can hear the shouts of a guard coming toward us, most likely wondering where the king’s star prospect has run off to.

“Now what?” I ask.

“Now you go out there and win. At all costs. They won’t be able to touch you, Mae. I’ll be in contact soon.”

She steps back, disappearing into the dark when the guard appears by my side, grabbing my arm and pulling me back toward the entrance. I let him, knowing I could now break him in half if I felt the urge. When we reach the gate, he thrusts me toward it without a word. I step through and into the sun, the crowd greeting me with a deafening roar. I take my time to gaze at each of my foes, all of them thinking this battle is theirs for the taking. I don’t know what war is coming, but I do know this.

They’re wrong.

This final test was mine from the beginning.