MUDMAN Sneak Peek

MudmanHey everyone. So MUDMAN is almost done. It’s been to the editors and its currently with the final round of volunteer-proofreaders (find out how to become one here) and all I’m really waiting on is cover art. Once I get that back, I’ll be able to slap this bad boy up on Amazon for preorder. But I wanted to have this book out mid-February and I failed to deliver, so I figure the least I can do is put out a sneak peek: the prologue (read it eve if you hate prologues) and the first chapter. I’ve also attached a couple of concept pictures of Levi I whipped up a month or so ago. I’m not really an artist and the sketches are pretty rough, but enjoy them for what they are. Okay, without further ado:

Mudman Summary:

Levi Adams is a soft spoken, middle-aged Mennonite man—at least he tries to be when he’s not murdering people.

Levi’s a golem, a Mudman, crafted from the muck, mire, and corpses of a World War II concentration camp—killing is just a part of his DNA. He doesn’t like it, but unfortunately he’s been saddled with a divine commission to dole out judgment on those who shed innocent blood. After seventy years as a cold-blooded murder machine, however, Levi’s trying to change his grisly nature. And the AA meetings and church services are helping. A little. But when he runs across a wounded girl, Sally Ryder, during one of his “hunting expeditions,” he realizes self-help may have to go on the back burner.

Someone is attempting to revive a pre-Babylonian murder god, and the road to rebirth is paved with dead bodies. Lots and lots of them.

Now, Levi must protect Ryder—the key to an unspeakable resurrection—and defeat a Nazi mage from Levi’s murky past. But the shadowy mage holds a terrible secret about the Mudman’s unorthodox birth, one offering insight into Levi’s morbid compulsion for bloodshed. It’s a secret Levi would pay anything to uncover: maybe even Ryder’s life. If Levi isn’t careful, he may end up turning into the monster he always imagined himself to be.



June, 1943

He blinked his eyes open for the first time: a newborn stealing his first look at the world, which, in a way, is exactly what he was. Except no squealing, rosy-cheeked infant had ever been so big, so ugly, or so filled with blood-boiling rage. Never had a child been so appalling. He squinted at first, letting in only the merest trickle of light because even the wan illumination from the moon, which loitered over the world like a fat thumbnail, was harsh to his virgin eyes.

Smells came next: the scent of musky earth, the harsh tang of powdery slaked lime—used to mask the reek of decay—and buried beneath that, the sour stink of rotten flesh and burnt hair.

The sky spit down a misty drizzle, fine droplets of cool water that turned his gray skin slick. After a few moments more his eyes adjusted fully, allowing him, at last, to survey his surroundings. Mud and muck, deep brown and goopy, lined everything. It squished beneath his shoulder blades, clung to his arms and legs, and liberally coated the corpses crudely piled to his right. Despite the mud, the bodies appeared almost white, like angry specters waiting for him, welcoming him to this new hell with silent screams and vacant eyes.

How he knew anything was beyond him, since this was the first day of his life, the day—or rather night—of his unnatural birth. Surely, no baby pushed and fought its way into the world with dark and grisly thoughts of murder and death lingering in its mind, with knowledge of mass graves, heinous experimentation, and hasty executions. But he knew such things. Fragments of memories floated and swirled inside his skull, dancing a slow funeral dirge, parading incoherent snatches of imagery through his head.

The Wehrmacht march through the streets in their black spit-shined boots and high-collared, gray wool uniforms. Smart and dashing, those uniforms, dressing up the face of murder in civility and pageantry …

The Luftwaffe soars overhead. The buzz of the single-prop Focke-Wulf and the thunderous roar of the colossal Messerschmitt transport planes fill the air with their racket …

He clutches a small boy to his chest, his body trembling as he hides, holding his breath for fear of being heard. Terror and panic wriggle in his guts as the black-garbed Schutzstaffel—the SS—make their way from door to door, fists rapping on wood, rifle buttstocks smashing out windows, booted feet kicking their way inside …

Then, train cars, loaded to capacity, roll through his thoughts. Bodies press up against one another so tightly he can’t breathe—except he isn’t a he, but a she. And she is searching for her sister. They’d been separated in all the chaos …

So many images, circling around, each screaming more loudly than the last, each demanding he lend them an ear or an eye or a hand. He clutched at either side of his head. Broad, fleshy palms pressed in as though he could simply pulverize the images and send them back to whatever nightmare they’d come from. But they kept coming, and as they came—faster and faster, like a hail of automatic machine gunfire—his chest began to itch and burn. It felt like someone had taken a cherry-red fire iron and jabbed it into the meat covering his breastbone.

A huge hand flew to the pain, his fingers finding crude markings etched directly into the skin, cut deep into the muscle below. As he touched the mark, the jagged wound, the voices and visions coalesced into a single demand. A demand for retribution. The anger came next, flowing from the brand like gasoline pumping through his veins, scorching his insides and propelling him to action. He lumbered to his feet, the muck squishing around his thick toes, and made for the muddy wall of his earthen womb. In reality, an open grave. He dug his digits in and used his flabby, though powerfully built, arms to pull himself upward and free.

He lay on the edge of the pit for a long beat, charting the lay of the land, eyes scanning the dark, which covered everything like a velvety blanket. In the distance, not so far off, he saw a squat building. Some sort of bunker, outlined by the faint glow of light bulbs. He wasn’t sure what he was. Where he was. Or how he’d gotten there. But, as the brand burned in his chest, he was certain of one thing: someone—or, perhaps, lots of someones—had quite the butcher’s bill to account for, and he was ready to collect.


The Deep Downs

Present Day

Levi crouched low on his haunches, fat fingers pressed against the dusty rock beneath his bare, oversized feet. The vibration of fleeing Kobocks trickled up through the stone, each distant footfall like an electric blip on his internal radar. So many feet, so many Kobocks, all scampering in different directions: some searching for him, desperate to end his murderous assault, others just as frantic to escape. To escape his crushing fists. To escape his bone-breaking kicks. To escape the fate he’d already dealt out to ten or more of their filthy ilk.

He smiled, a thin twitch of the lips more closely resembling a grimace. For Levi, that was a smile. A rare thing, reserved for his hunting expeditions.

He peered into the darkness of the subterranean cave, even as his fingers quested over the ground, tracing lines in the gritty sand coating the surface, absently sketching out a crude map. The rough tunnel stretched out in either direction for a hundred feet before disappearing into murk, while a stream of black, brackish water trickled by on his right. Levi’s gaze drifted to the stream for the hundredth time, lingering only for a moment. He subconsciously scooted away, edging closer to the wall on his left.

Then he resumed his scan, eyes roving ceaselessly, plump digits once more picking their way across the dirt. The rocky passageway was dark, though sporadic patches of bioluminescent fungi—so common beneath the Hub—ran along the coarse walls and clung to the ceiling, casting pale-green foxfire into the air. The light was marginally useful, but Levi didn’t really need it, not with so much stone around him. The bedrock of this world was foreign to him, different from the rich earth of Inworld, but the golden ichor flowing in his veins resonated all the same.

Stone called to stone. Stone guided him onward.

There: a trio of the bolting creatures—these running only with escape in mind—approached from a southerly tunnel, drawing unwittingly nearer, even as they tried to leave Levi in the dust. Travelling at a fair clip. Moving together as a pack, thinking their numbers would make them safe. The smile broadened a touch. A pack of ten or fifteen of the glimmering, blue-skinned creatures might dissuade the Mudman. But three? He shook his meaty head, mostly devoid of a neck, at the ridiculous notion.

Levi stood, back hunched, hands flexing in anticipation of the kill to come, and continued his trek further into the heart of the Deep Downs—the cavernous subterranean network running beneath the Hub. A warren of earthen caves and passageways, home to the Kobock Nation and a thousand other horrors. He was surrounded on all sides by darkness and death, and he couldn’t have been happier. This was what he was made for. This was his purpose.

He moved forward with a gimpy stride, his right leg dragging along, working only at half strength. A tremendous puncture wound, the size of a two-by-four, shot clean through his thigh. A gaping hole wide enough for a man to reach through, though the Mudman could already sense the network of thread-thin strands of golden tissue knitting his leg back together, restoring Levi with every passing second. His ichor at work.

A stupid mistake, that injury. The Deep Downs were dangerous, even for Levi. The haphazard passages were rigged with countless traps to snare the unwary. False floors filled with columns of rocky spikes. Bottomless chasms, eager to swallow the careless interloper. Rudimentary pressure plates which might trigger a gout of magma-hot molten rock or a javelin of poison-coated granite. And water. Levi once more glanced at the underground creek carving its way through the deep rock, flowing alongside him.

Water was the worst of the lot.

Yes, the Deep Downs were a regular death house for nonnatives. Of course, Levi could read the earth. Here, he was as sure-footed as even the most well-travelled Kobo. But he’d been careless—his blood lust had gotten the better of him. He could see it in his mind:

A pair of Kobocks scampered away, loping along on all fours, distorted and disproportionate limbs carrying them into a crude alcove. A dead end with no possible means of escape. The duo turned, twisted lips pulled back in scowls, revealing gnarled, rot-black teeth. Their milky eyes grew wide in fear at his lumbering approach. They hissed—a pair of dirty tomcats backed into a dead-end alley—and held up filthy hands with spidery-fingers, each tipped with blackened, dirt-caked claws.

He’d been so hungry for the kill, so eager to pulverize their frail forms, to feel the hot, putrid blood brush up against his clay-flesh, that he’d lumbered in without even half a mind for the traps so common in this place. Stupid.

A pressure plate.

One wrong step.

A javelin of razor-sharp stone—coated in gobs of slick green Kobo poison—burst from the wall, slicing through gray skin and lumpy muscle, pinning him in place. Careless. The Kobos howled in victory and scampered away while he was left to smash his way free from the stone spear.

To a mortal, the wound would’ve been a death sentence. For Levi, it was a mild inconvenience. Painful, true, but far from life threatening. Had he been up on the surface, back in Inworld with the great expanse of Earth stretching beneath his feet, he would’ve healed the injury long since. Hunting in this dark and unnatural place, so far away from the muddy womb which had birthed him, was always a dangerous game. But then dangerous games were also the most exhilarating. The most satisfying.

Onward Levi trudged, slow but steady, listening for the sounds of the approaching trio he’d sensed. After a handful of seconds, the faint scuffle of bare feet on stone and the labored pulls of deep breathing drifted to Levi’s ears. Good, good, good.

Levi reached over and ran a hand across the craggy wall. Close now. The Mudman could crush all three, but an ambush was best. He ran a finger around the lip of the gaping wound in his thigh. Better to play it safe. Not to mention, he needed them closer. These three were fleeing, not hunting. If they saw him too soon, they might turn and dash away, escaping their well-deserved punishment. Levi was many things, but fast was not one of them. If they ran, he’d be hard pressed to stop them, especially with his leg.

Plus, the right side of his body was going numb around the edges. The digits on his right hand were fuzzy and indistinct, and his right leg—complete with puncture hole—was little more than dead weight. Had to be the gooey poison from the javelin, worming its way through his system. That and the substantial blood loss—ichor loss, in his case—he’d suffered from the blow. Still, no poison could kill Levi, just as no poison could kill a mountain. It’d take time, but his body would heal, would cleanse itself. Only God knew how long, though.

This new development, however, only reinforced the necessity of an ambush. He wouldn’t let one tiny mistake ruin his night out, but he would be more cautious. It was only prudent.

A short distance up ahead was the perfect spot for his attack. A narrow section of tunnel formed a tight bottleneck: On the right side, the stream swelled inward, forming an eddy of swirling black water. On the left, a minor cave-in had created a sprawling pile of rubble—a mound of rough stone and glimmering crystal—which left a path, only five feet wide, running straight between the rock heap and the stream.

A good spot.

Levi inched forward, inspecting the layout with an experienced eye. On the backside of the rock pile was a niche he could squeeze his bulk into, though barely. The space wouldn’t conceal him, not completely, but his intention wasn’t to hide. He only needed to draw the Kobos in close enough to strike his blow.

The footfalls grew louder by the second, followed by the hiss of inhuman voices and the panting of tired lungs. As quickly as he could muster with his damaged leg, the Mudman shimmied into the tight space, bald head peeking out just enough to offer him a view of the tunnel.

Even in the dark of this place, a colony of fungi adorning the walls offered sufficient light for Levi to catch a glimpse of his prey: humanoid in shape, but a crude parody of homo sapiens. Upright, the Kobocks might’ve stood at five or six feet, but they skittered about on all fours, their movements almost simian—disproportionately squat legs and scrawny arms dangling all the way to the ground.

A pronounced hunch adorned each form. Bluish, opalescent skin covered lanky limbs and potbellies, while flabby tits wobbled on all the creatures—women and men alike. One had lank, greasy hair, while the other two were bald as eggs. Each wore a dirt-caked loincloth wrapped around their nether bits, and each carried a pitted weapon made of rough stone or crystal—the kind of rudimentary tools some prehistoric Neanderthal might fashion.

Levi stood in stark contrast to the Kobos.

An enormous creature, he was seven feet of towering fat, gristle, clay, and muscle. Built like an old brick shithouse: arms the size of small tree trunks, hands like dinner plates, fingers thick as bratwursts, a great barrel gut, and an irregular, bald dome. Levi wasn’t a looker, not by anybody’s definition. His beady black eyes sat recessed in his uneven face, and he had a sloping Cro-Magnon brow and the square jaw of a silverback gorilla. He sported a pair of flimsy black shorts—worn only for modesty’s sake—leaving the rest of his chalky gray flesh exposed to the world.

In this form, his true form, he’d never win a beauty pageant. In the Deep Downs below the Hub, however, there was no one to impress anyway. Just monsters, horrors, and ancient godlings biding their time.

Here, Levi fit right in.

The three Kobos continued their mad dash toward the narrow gap, unaware their death waited only moments away. They couldn’t see the Mudman yet, not enfolded in the rocky wall, and that was good. Levi smiled again. He could take three, even badly wounded and poisoned. One of his enormous, ashen-gray hands distended and distorted, fingers intertwining and melding together, forming a colossal shovel where meaty fingers had been a moment before. He scooped up a load of rock chips and broken stone with a scrape.

The Kobos hesitated at the sound, but didn’t stop.

Too bad for them.

Closer they drew, thirty feet, twenty, ten—near enough for Levi to taste the fear radiating off them in pulses and see rivulets of sweat cutting tracks into the dirt covering their bodies.

He swung out from behind the rubble pile, the motion awkward with his numb right leg. His massive arm whipped forward—the limb like a rubbery slingshot—unleashing the hail of deadly projectiles at the oncoming creatures. The rocky shrapnel bashed into lopsided bodies without mercy, bludgeoning flesh in places and tearing great chunks of meat away in others. One boulder, large as a volleyball, collided into the leader’s skull, caving in the side of its head and splashing the ground with purple blood.

The Kobo dropped like a sack of potatoes, its body hitting the deck with a wet smack, then slipping into the dark stream.

The other two let out shrieks of surprise. One tumbled to the side, clutching at a badly broken arm, the bone protruding through its feeble bicep. The other likewise took a fall, one of its legs mangled below the knee. Broke-knee cried out, a strangely human squeal, and tried to drag itself to safety; claw-tipped fingers dug down, scrambling for purchase as it pulled its body back the way it’d come.

A twinge of guilt surged up inside Levi’s chest as he watched the pair battle to live, crying out in pain and fear.

Pastor Steve’s words lingered in the back of his mind. “We all wrestle with sin, we each have our crosses to bear. You have to die to those darker parts of your nature, turn your back on those baser instincts. It’s not easy, sometimes, but you have to choose the better way.” It’s not good to kill: so says Pastor Steve and so says the Good Book. And that was true. Tonight’s expedition was a relapse, a mistake. But it felt good. That was Levi’s darker nature. He wanted to control it, but he needed to kill—to shed blood, rend flesh, break bone. He’d been created for it and his nature compelled him, drove him onward.

His blood pumped and his soul sang as he watched the Kobos perish. Life and fierce joy welled up in him, unmatched by the boring routines of the everyday—AA meetings, church services, client commissions, grocery trips. But he also felt sick. Self-loathing writhed around in his guts like a brood of snakes.

Better these monsters than some hapless mortal up top, he reminded himself.

And these creatures were monsters. Living down in the stony depths, worshiping dusty, forgotten, evil Principalities and Powers of old. Though most of their kind shunned the surface, that didn’t prevent their raiding parties from stealing into the human world: abducting children for their dark rituals or snatching women—breeders to propagate their twisted race. He saw death in the two remaining Kobocks, saw the murderous deeds swirling around them like a dark cloud.


That was part of his gift, too. He could read murder on people. See it in their aura as clear as the stars on a cloudless night in the backcountry. Murder, the greatest of desecrations, left a mark no one could hide, not from Levi’s beady eyes.

Still, this was a relapse. He’d have to pay penance when this was all over and done with. His hands itched at the thought of the flames lapping at his skin, searing his nerve endings though leaving the skin unmarred—his own unique form of self-castigation.

He shivered, then rudely shoved the thoughts of guilt away, his bloodlust winning out for the time being. It’s not good to kill: so says Pastor Steve and so says the Good Book. Except sometimes it is.

He scooped up another load of rubble and sent it flying, plop, thwack, crack. The creature with the mangled leg took a jagged chunk of rock to the throat—its windpipe crumpled inward like an empty soda can. The creature clawed at its ruined neck, its feet drumming on the ground as it fruitlessly attempted to fill its lungs. A lost cause, that. The beast was dead, even if its body didn’t know yet, and good riddance. Levi watched its struggles, waiting for the usual rush of bright-hot satisfaction that came with a kill. The dying beastie writhed on the ground for another few seconds before its eyes grew dull and lifeless and it gave up the ghost.

Levi watched on, waiting. No surge came. No satisfaction at all. Just an empty spot in his center.

That was good, maybe. He’d never felt empty before, not when it came to killing. Maybe the AA and church services were working after all?

A splash floated to his ears and drew his attention away from the body splayed out before him.

It took only a second to locate the ripple spreading out in the slow moving stream. The third Kobo, the creature with the fractured arm, was gone. Disappeared into the murky water. The smile gracing Levi’s blunt face vanished in an instant, stolen by the tricky fiend. He ground his teeth in frustration, a low growl burbling out from his chest. The beast Needed. To. Pay. Levi couldn’t let it escape, not with retribution so close. The Kobo was badly wounded, and trying to swim through the water with its brutalized arm would be near-impossible. Plus, it would need to come up for air eventually.

Levi just needed to bide his time.

Wait and be patient. Patience was hard, though, especially with a victim near at hand. Still, he restrained himself. He wanted that Kobock’s head on a spike, but he wanted nothing to do with that water. Castigation by flame was awful—excruciatingly painful—but the thought of dipping into the water was too revolting a notion to consider. So he waited. And waited more. As he waited, he turned the situation over and over in his mind, his need to dispense justice balanced against his fear of drowning.

This was taking too long.

After a moment, vengeance, and his bloodlust, won out. After all, how could he let a little moisture prevent him from executing his duties?

Cautiously, Levi left the makeshift sanctuary of rubble behind and trudged forward, his movements ungainly with the poison flowing through his system. His left hand reverted to its normal form, shovel giving way to fingers, as he crept toward the water’s edge, moving to the place he’d seen the ripple in the stream.

Then, another splash, not far off, followed by a greedy gulp of air. He wheeled about, eyes running over the surface of the murky creek, finding nothing but uninterrupted swirls of black. He took a deep breath, suppressing the anxiety swelling inside him, and hobbled a few steps closer to the bank. He crouched down, laying his left palm flat against the rocky shore, mere inches from the stream. He didn’t sweat—couldn’t sweat, in fact—but had he been human, great beads of the stuff would’ve rolled down his lumpy noggin.

Levi redirected the ichor inside him, sending a surge of molten gold toward his palm, calling out to the earth below, probing at the water. After a moment, Levi grunted and shook his head. Useless. The creek was a dead spot in his mind. He could feel the presence of the water, or rather the void it created, but the Kobock in the drink was invisible.

Nothing he could do about it, then. Chances were, the Kobo’s wound would do it in anyway. Might be, the creature would do the world a favor and drown—a fitting end. Or maybe the arm would go septic. Gangrene was a worry even for Kobos.

Levi turned with a sigh, resigned to carrying on. There was still plenty of game afoot, after all—

A geyser erupted on his left, the Kobo with the gimp arm propelling itself through the air, its stone blade, scalpel-sharp, outstretched. Levi moved, but too slowly. The blade plunged into the Mudman’s side, the pain like a lance of flame burying itself in his innards. The Kobo retracted the knife in a flash and danced back, water flying from its body as it evaded. The Mudman hadn’t been expecting such a bold play, and the gash in his side was the price.

Levi advanced, his steps ponderous, the right side of his body useless now, the puncture in his ribs a spike of agony. As with the wound in his leg, the blow to the gut wouldn’t kill him, but neither was it pleasant. Levi wasn’t sure what exactly it would take to kill him, but he’d survived worse than this.

The Kobo shot in again, lightning quick, his stone blade thrusting upward, seeking out Levi’s heart like a homing missile. Levi threw up a beef-slab arm, the block narrowly arriving in time to intercept the thrust. The blade stabbed into Levi’s forearm, gouging a deep trench in his skin. The knife tore free, and the creature danced away again before Levi could respond. Despite the Kobock’s injury, it was still fast, faster than the Mudman, and smart, too. Always lingering outside Levi’s strike radius.

The Mudman moved forward, circling right and pushing in toward the tunnel wall, hoping to back the creature into a corner where he could pummel the beast into a pile of vile, tainted blue meat. He shifted his left hand, letting the ichor beneath the skin melt and bulge, his fist transforming into a spiked mace the size of a bowling ball. The Kobo dove left as Levi lunged forward with a snarl, lashing out with his spiky bludgeon. Levi’s strike was awkward and clumsy, his deadened right leg working against him, but still the mace collided into the creature’s flabby gut with a crack—shattered ribs—swatting the Kobo to the ground like a line drive.

In a flash, the creature scrambled gracelessly to his feet, one arm dangling, the other outstretched, its blade clutched in a white-knuckle grip. Levi charged forward again, raising his club-hand for a killing blow—

The creature darted in low, first feinting left, then hooking right, ducking as it shot inside Levi’s guard and buried the blade up to its rocky hilt in Levi’s good leg. The Mudman faltered at the sudden pain and pressure. He reeled backward, his upraised mace throwing off his already shaky balance. He staggered onto his worthless right leg—a terrible mistake. His weight came down on the numb limb, only to find the leg refused to support his considerable bulk. The knee buckled and he tumbled, his good arm pinwheeling as he crashed toward the ground.

Except it wasn’t ground that met his back. It was water.

Liquid—frigid and merciless—surged around him, rushing over his face and dragging him toward the bottom. Levi couldn’t swim—his body was too heavy and dense to ever be buoyant, and all his flapping, flailing, and kicking did little to slow his descent. And, despite his resilience to pain and damage, he did need to breathe. He didn’t have the full range of human organs—no proper stomach, no kidneys or liver, no intestine zigzagging through his center—but both heart and lungs were present, though they functioned only to redirect and channel his ichor.

The Mudman, a millstone thrown into the sea, drifted down four or five feet before his shoulder blades thudded against the streambed. Hot-blooded panic set in; the rush of water pressed in on his senses, cutting him off from the earth. Even his tenuous connection to the rocky streambed wasn’t enough to sustain him.

This is it, his mind growled like a bear facing down a small army of gun-toting hunters. This is how I go.

No, the cool, logical part of his mind asserted. Four, maybe five feet to the bottom, that was all. If he could gain his feet and get his head above the water, everything would be fine. He needed air. Even with one bad arm, he could get to the bank and haul himself back onto dry ground. And chances were, the murderous Kobo would be long gone. He needed to stay calm, keep his head, and pull himself from the drink.

Slowly he reached down with his left hand, pressing the mace head into the soil, and hoisted himself into a sitting position. The current buffeted his face and chest, threatening to unbalance him. He ignored the sensation, focusing his mind on the singular task of escape. With ponderous movements he pushed himself back onto his left leg, the knife still jutting out of his thigh. He ignored the spark of protest from the limb, far more concerned with being free of the stream than free of the pain. He could recover from the knife wound, but not so long as he was in the water. His healing, his power, his life was inescapably tied to the earth.

Without the earth, his power was a fragile thing.

With his left leg firmly planted beneath him, he pushed upward and toward the river’s edge. His head broke the surface a moment later, cool air washing over his skin as he threw his left hand forward. He shaped the limb into wicked hook, which he slammed deep into the ground, driving the blade tip down and winching his battered body from the water. Thank God above.

He spat out a mouthful of bitter liquid and sprawled onto his back, letting his bare skin soak up the strength of the earth below. Without even bothering to look around, he drew on the stone, his senses seeking out his clever adversary. As expected, the creature was, indeed, gone—at least four or five hundred feet away, and moving quickly through the tunnelways, heading further into the Deeps, toward the Kobock high temple. One of them, anyway.

Despite the fact that Levi’s stony heart still thudded out a mad beat in his too large chest, his face split into a grin. The High Temple was his final destination, too. Though the rank and file Kobocks were vastly entertaining to hunt, it was the High Shaman, the Mung Gal-kulom, he’d come to kill. But perhaps he’d get a chance to finish off the treacherous underling as well. With a grunt, he pulled the knife from his leg. Levi was not a creature of grand hopes and dreams, but, as he glanced at the pitted blade, he did find himself eager for a rematch with gimpy arm.

First, though, he needed rest. He cast the blade aside with a flick of his fat hand, pulled himself over to the rubble pile, and set to work burying himself alive.