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SOUL OF SKULLS has many characters and locations. At the request of several readers, I have added a Glossary of Characters and a Glossary of Locations to the end of the book, providing a short (but spoiler-free) description of all the characters and locations in the book. Both Glossaries will appear in the Table of Contents, and should you have need to consult them, you can use your ereader's Table of Contents function to quickly check one of the Glossaries and then return to your previous place in the book.

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Chapter 1 – A Village of the Dead




On the morning of his thirty-eighth birthday, Mazael Cravenlock watched the undead swarm over the rocky hill.

Gaunt figures, their faces sallow and their eyes empty, wandered over the slopes. Most wore peasant clothing, their garments ragged and decaying. Upon their foreheads blazed a sigil of emerald fire, the same ghostly light glimmering in their eyes. The creatures were called runedead, and they were stronger than lesser undead.

Mazael flexed the fingers of his sword hand.

He knew just how strong they were.

A ruined village stood atop the stony hill. Once Morsen Village had been the fief of Sir Gaith Kalborn, one of Mazael’s knights. Gaith had been a secret proselyte of the San-keth, a worshipper of the serpent god, and perished for his folly. Corvad’s Malrags had devastated the village, the survivors huddling in the ruins of their San-keth temple as Mazael rode in pursuit of Corvad.

He supposed any survivors had perished during the Great Rising, when generations of dead buried beneath the temple rose with runes of green fire burning upon their foreheads.

As so many villages had perished.

A column of darkness swirled next to Mazael, and his hand fell upon his sword hilt. The darkness vanished to reveal a lean woman of twenty or so, dressed in leather armor and a dark cloak. A slender sword rested in a scabbard at her belt, alongside a dagger fashioned from a tooth of the dragon Mazael had killed at Arylkrad. Her brown hair had been tied in a ponytail, and her gray eyes were the exact color and shape of Mazael’s.

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