By David Dalglish

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When magical creatures storm the gates of Londheim and claim it for themselves, Devin, a warrior priest, must decide who the true monsters are in the final book of the USA Today bestselling author's epic fantasy trilogy.

Monsters have retaken the capital city of Londheim and claimed it for themselves. Humanity, fearful of being pushed out for good, has reacted with violence and destruction, and peace between the two races seems all but impossible. Devin will need to bring all his skills to bear in order to find a solution. But the greatest threat to humanity's safety may well be closer than he expects. Because his sister is the most powerful priestess the world has ever seen . . . and she's fighting for the monsters.

The fate of all races, human and magical, rests in their hands, and the only person standing in their way is each other.



Sweat rolled down Brittany Eveson’s neck and forehead, little rivulets stinging her eyes on their way to the tip of her nose. With her every push-up, the growing drops would shake and fall to join the puddle beneath her.

Fifty-eight. Fifty-nine. Sixty.

Her arms burned like fire. Her heart hammered inside her chest. Both sensations kept her body rising and lowering above the stone floor of her room. More drops fell, growing the puddle. She’d have wiped her face with her shirt, but it’d be pointless. The cloth was already soaked through with sweat.

Sixty-five. Sixty-six.

On sixty-seven, her shaking arms collapsed. She landed chest first upon the floor with a thud. With her eyes closed and her cheek pressed to the cold stone, she softly groaned. Just a little break, she told herself. Just a moment to catch her breath.

A knock on the door opened her eyes. Had she slept? She honestly didn’t know. Time seemed to flow weirdly in this room of hers.

“One moment,” she said.

Vertigo washed over her the moment she spoke. Brittany clenched her hands into fists and rode it out. Things had improved over the past week, but it still unnerved her when she spoke and heard a distinctly foreign voice coming from her throat.

You’ll get used to it in time, Adria had told her during one of their many private sessions. Maybe so, but never completely. One didn’t forget the sound of their own voice.

It took longer than she’d anticipated to get to her feet. Her arms didn’t want to cooperate. Sixty-seven push-ups and already her body was ready to call it quits. What a joke.

“Come in,” Brittany said when she finally opened the door. Adria stood on the other side with her hands clasped behind her back. Even with her face hidden behind her black-and-white mask, there was no mistaking her. An elaborate jewel-encrusted silver pendant hung from her neck, a triangle with a bright daytime sun in the top-right corner. That pendant marked her as Vikar of the Day, a rank she was temporarily filling while Londheim awaited the election of a new Deakon to appoint an official replacement.

“Shouldn’t you be wearing a white suit?” Brittany asked. She turned from the door and pulled off her soaked shirt. The church’s novices kept a small basket in the corner for her dirty clothes, and she tossed her shirt into it while opening a drawer of her lone dresser. Her options weren’t many, just a few pieces in various shades of gray. Adria kept offering to take her on a trip to some clothing shops, which Brittany flatly refused. She’d not left this small, square room since her very first day back from… from her own grave, really. Was there any other way to put it?

“I only recently had my measurements taken with a church-approved tailor,” Adria said. “It will take some time, and truthfully, I’m not sure how happy I will be to leave my dress behind.”

Brittany grabbed a shirt at random and turned. Adria’s eyes quickly looked to the floor, which earned her a derisive snort as Brittany pulled it over her head.

“They’re just tits, Adria. For Sisters’ sake, they’re not even mine.”

Those brown eyes snapped back up to hers.

“You shouldn’t refer to your physical body as belonging to another. I believe it will slow your integration.”

“Acknowledging this isn’t my body is the only thing keeping me sane,” Brittany argued. “My body was capable of one hundred push-ups and sit-ups without rest. This one is skinny, weak, and better suited to wielding a dagger than my axe. Speaking of, have you made any progress in bringing me a replacement? It’d help with my practice.”

Adria gestured to the cramped room. It was four walls, a bed, a lidded chamber pot, a dirty clothes basket, and a dresser. Nothing fancy, but given the purported destruction of the Cathedral of the Sacred Mother, everyone was making do with significantly less finery these days.

“And how would you swing it without carving grooves into the walls?” the Vikar asked.

Brittany shrugged.

“Fine. Get me a sword, and maybe I’ll leave this room more often. That’s what you want, isn’t it?”

“What I want is for you to start living.”

“And how exactly do I go about that when I’m stuck with these?” She gestured to the chain tattoos across her throat, placed upon the body when the woman was a young soulless. “How might I explain away this? Sorry, inquisitive guard, I’m not soulless. I’m actually a recently deceased person hopping into a new body, but I understand the confusion.”

“Must you sound so bitter? I’m looking into solutions. Surely something minor as wearing a scarf or disguise is worth this new chance at life?”

Brittany’s mind flicked through ideas of what that new life might even mean. Patrolling as a Soulkeeper again? Moving back in with Devin in the home they’d shared? Or perhaps joining Bailey and Hanna on their trip to the Winding Gardens, obediently carrying her younger siblings’ things while…

No, wrong, wrong, she thought, her insides churning hard enough that she grabbed the dresser to steady herself. Tommy is your brother. Tommy, not Bailey, not Hanna.

Her spell did not go unnoticed. Adria reached for her hand, only to have it brushed away.

“Are the memories still confusing you?” she asked, showing no sign of being upset by the rejection.

“It’s getting better,” Brittany said. She rubbed at her eyes, as if she could scrub away her frustrations. “Not at night, though. When I dream, I dream of this body’s past. She might have been soulless, but she had a name, and a family. I can almost feel myself going numb and falling into that past persona. It’s… disconcerting.”

“The physical body creates and stores memories and emotions,” Adria said. “The soul does likewise, but for a permanent remembrance, and therefore it is much stronger. The life your soul lived will slowly burn out the old existence.”

“You make it sound like I’m murdering the previous owner. Don’t talk like that again. It’s creepy.” She glared at the mask. “And take that thing off. I’m family, not one of your subjects needing prayers.”

Adria put a hand to the bottom of her porcelain mask but then hesitated. Brittany crossed her arms, and her expression made it clear there’d be no more conversation until it was gone.

“If it will make you feel better,” her sister-in-law said at last. She pulled the mask off, revealing her pale face and shadowed eyes. Errant strands of hair clung to her cheek and neck. Brittany fought to suppress a reflexive wince.

“You’re not sleeping well, are you?”

“Is it your turn to aid me?” Adria asked, a small smile curling the sides of her mouth.

“If not me, I hope someone else is. You look worse than I do, and I’m recently back from the dead.”

“It’s merely stress. Others suffer far worse than I.”

“Others suffering doesn’t mean you should also suffer.”

“You’re right. It means I should work that much harder to stop those others from suffering.”

Brittany laughed.

“I was thinking it meant you should take a nap every now and then, but you’ve always been the hardest worker among us. No wonder you’re acting Vikar. Well, that, and the ability to resurrect people probably played a hand in it.”

Adria visibly cringed at the remark. For whatever reason, she didn’t like it when Brittany commented on her newfound abilities. There was surely a reason for that, but Adria was more elusive than a barn mouse about how or why. On the third day of Brittany’s renewed life, Adria had spent several hours detailing some of the changes that had happened upon the Cradle. The stories sounded insane, of gargoyles and lapinkin, crawling mountains and time-controlling faeries living in forest villages. Wildest of all, her younger brother supposedly could wield magical spells. The image of her kindhearted Tommy roasting enemies with fire seemed so ridiculous, she couldn’t help but laugh when Adria told her.

“It’s true,” Adria had insisted.

“Oh, I know,” Brittany had told her. “Any other time, I might have doubted you, but I’m sitting here in a stranger’s body. There’s not much room to doubt.”

Adria had spent the fourth day discussing the more recent events in Londheim, and of the newly renamed Westreach in general. She spoke of the madman named Janus, a magical renegade group known as the Forgotten Children conquering the district of Low Dock, and of the grand cathedral’s burning. In all these stories, Adria remained vague about her own capabilities, suggesting that her prayers to the Goddesses were more powerful than the other keepers’.

Her self-imposed break over, Brittany returned to the floor. She bent her knees, put her hands behind her head, and began her sit-ups. It hurt like the void, and it might take multiple sessions, but damn it, she was going to hit her one hundred before the day’s end. Adria watched quietly for a minute, the silence not entirely unwelcome. Sometimes Brittany caught her tired sister-in-law whispering little prayers whenever she thought it unnoticed. Anxiety Brittany didn’t even know she had would ease, and it’d seem like her memories would clear from the fog surrounding them. It never lasted more than an hour or two, but it was a welcome reprieve despite the guilt she felt for needing help from her exhausted, overworked sister-in-law.

“Is there anything else you need?” Adria asked once her hidden prayer was finished.

“Some books might be nice. Are the Tomms Brothers still printing their weekly news leaflets?”

“They are.”

Brittany’s body shook for a moment and then she collapsed onto her side, having not yet reached fifty. She gasped in lungfuls of air while wishing for the millionth time that the previous owner had commanded the soulless to run the occasional mile to keep in shape.

“I wouldn’t mind a few of those to read,” she said after collecting herself. “It’d be nice to catch up on what’s been happening while I lingered in a grave for… how long was I dead, actually?”

“I’ll look into acquiring some,” Adria said, pointedly ignoring the question. “As for your axe, I suppose I could ask Devin if he kept your old one after… well…”

“My what? My first death? My temporary funeral? What should we call it, Adria? It’d help if we settled on a term so you stopped dancing around it like I’m some fragile child. I was dead. Now I’m not. It won’t hurt my feelings to acknowledge that fact.”

A hard smirk crossed Adria’s face.

“Fine. I will ask Devin if he kept your axe after he buried you, or if he returned it to the sacred division because he couldn’t bear the sight of it. Is that better?”


Brittany shifted so she was sideways. Too much time focusing on her arms and abdominal muscles lately. Had to work the rest of her as well. She balanced on one foot and hand, then lifted and lowered her hips. Within seconds her sides were burning.

“You haven’t told Devin, have you?” she asked. Her gaze lingered on the dirty space beneath her bed, as if she weren’t interested in the answer. She didn’t know who she was fooling, though. The only thing keeping her going over the past week of nonstop drills and exercises was the thought of seeing him again… yet perversely an overwhelming fear of meeting him was why she had not left her room.

“It is not my place to do so,” Adria said. She slipped her mask over her face and tightened the strings behind her head. “Take all the time you need, and don’t rush yourself.”

Brittany switched to her other side. Lift and lower. Steady, rhythmic movements. The only part of life still under her control.

“You’re yet to give me an answer,” she said. “How long was I dead?”

Adria crossed her arms, no doubt frowning behind that black-and-white porcelain mask.

“I think you should be in a better mind-set before learning this.”

“I’ve seen your face, Adria. I know it’s been years. I just want to know how many.”

The woman sighed.

“Six. Six years.”

Even braced for the knowledge, she still felt stabbed in the gut. Six long years for everyone she’d known, and yet only the blink of an eye for her. Precious Goddesses above, Tommy was almost as old as she, in a sense. And if that much time had passed…

“Has he moved on?” she asked, halting her exercises. She struggled to force the question out in the foreign voice created by the stranger’s tongue inside her mouth. “Has he found someone else?”

The soft fall of Adria’s shoulders gave the answer long before her words confirmed it.

“Yes,” she said. “I believe he has.”

Brittany swallowed down a sudden lump in her throat.

“Good,” she said. “Good for him.” Damn it, these stupid tears. She didn’t want them. She didn’t want any of this. “Does… does he know how I died?”

Adria’s head tilted the slightest amount.

“We were told you died of heart failure.”

Still a secret, then. Brittany couldn’t decide if that was a blessing or a curse. Perhaps both.

“I’d like to be alone for a while,” she said, pointedly dropping the subject.

“Of course.” Adria dipped as if bowing to a superior and then turned for the door. Helpless frustration pushed Brittany to ask one last question before her sister-in-law might leave.

“Why did you bring me back?” she asked. “Why give me this body, this life, if he doesn’t even need me anymore? My time was done, Adria. My life, my pain, my loving and living and dying, it was done.”

Even with her mask to hide behind, Adria could not bring herself to turn and face her.

“I thought it was the right thing to do,” she said.

“Do you still believe that?”

Adria said the only answer Brittany would have accepted.

She said nothing.


Devin’s optimism dropped into his shoes as he stepped through the door. Though it had once been a bedroom, the four-poster bed had been removed and replaced with a long oak table. Vikar Caria and Vikar Forrest sat at the table’s opposite side, neither one looking particularly pleased. The sight of silk curtains, ornate dressers, and a towering mirror behind them would have been comical if not for the dire expression on their faces. If Devin looked out the curtained window, he could catch a glimpse of the charred walls that had surrounded the cathedral’s exterior.

“Have a seat, Devin,” Forrest said.

An empty padded chair waited for him directly across from the Vikars.

“Given how this feels more akin to a tribunal, I think I’d rather stand.” He kept his hands burrowed into the pockets of his leather coat, feigning relaxed confidence. Ever since the cathedral fire, the leadership of the church had been scattered among a handful of homes and buildings generously offered to them by Londheim’s wealthy. Devin currently met with the Vikars in a mansion belonging to a family who made their wealth from rope and leather factories near the docks. The mansion’s proximity to the destroyed cathedral made it a convenient headquarters for the leadership of the church to use as they organized their rebuilding efforts.

“It wasn’t a suggestion.”

Devin flinched. It was never pleasant being on Forrest’s bad side. But now his Vikar had turned the situation into a direct challenge. He could refuse it, of course, a scenario unthinkable a few weeks ago. But now his sister was acting Vikar of the Day, and more importantly, she was practically worshipped by the people of Londheim. Neither Vikar could afford to have Adria as an enemy if they were to maintain the city’s precarious peace.

“If you insist,” Devin said, and he slid into the chair. He shifted his coat so that his sword and pistol were clearly visible. Proper behavior would have had him disarm himself before an official meeting with his superiors. Given how said superiors had kept the reason for the meeting a secret when sending a novice requesting his presence, Devin felt it was a small but satisfying disregard of tradition.

He leaned back in the chair and said nothing as the silence stretched on and on, growing increasingly uncomfortable. He had no intention of making this easy on his Vikars. His gut told him exactly what this meeting would be about, and he didn’t like it one bit.

“I understand your feelings will be complicated in regards to this matter,” Forrest said after coughing to clear his throat. His blond hair, normally kept back in a neat ponytail, hung loose about his face. The muscular man wore the traditional Soulkeeper uniform instead of the black suit worn by a Vikar. It certainly hung easier on his muscled frame. Was his suit lost in the cathedral fire? Devin wondered. Or did he anticipate a battle with Devin and need the freedom of movement? Devin’s eyes flicked to the enormous axe leaning against the table beside Forrest. Not a good sign.

“‘Complicated’ is one way to describe it,” Devin said. “I assume we are to talk about Adria?”

“We are,” Vikar Caria said. She looked even worse off than Forrest. The circles underneath her eyes darkened her brown skin so that she looked like she’d lost a bare-knuckle fight. “Given everything we’ve both heard and witnessed, it’s clear we are ignorant of much about your sister’s abilities. We’d like you to remedy that as best you can.”

Devin dug his heels into the carpet so he could rock his chair back and forth a few inches.

“There’s an easier way to obtain this information,” he said. “You could ask Adria herself, yet you haven’t. Why is that, my Vikars? Do you believe she’d lie to you? Or… are you afraid of her?”

“One of our Faithkeepers is resurrecting the dead,” Forrest said. “Curiosity is only natural. Now less attitude and more answers, Devin.”

The chair creaked as he lowered it.

“If you want answers, you’re not getting them from me, for I haven’t any to give. Her power bewilders me as well.”

“Where did it come from?” Caria asked. “The spectacle we witnessed at the cathedral was far beyond any healing or protective prayers other keepers have exhibited. Did it emerge naturally with the newly awakened world, or was it given to her?”

“More like forced upon her,” Devin said. “Unasked for, and unwanted, I assure you. The monster we hunted by the name of Janus captured her, and it was by his magic she received this power.”

The eyes of both Vikars lit up. It seemed neither had believed he would share as much as he already had.

“So it was given to her by the dragon-sired,” Caria said. “Not the Sisters?”

And now Devin realized why he should just keep his mouth shut. That fact alone could be used against his sister.

“So far as I understand it,” he said. “Which isn’t much. The power to manipulate souls belongs solely to the Sisters, and nothing I have seen contradicts that belief. Though the gift was given to her by a dragon-sired, Adria wields the power of the Goddesses in some shape or form. Of that, I am certain.”

“But to what end?” Forrest asked. “And for what purpose?”

“Is that rhetorical?”

“None of this is rhetorical,” Caria snapped. “Your sister is already acting Vikar of the Day after Thaddeus’s death, and will likely keep that post once we elect a new Deakon. Knowing what she is, and what she’s become, is of vital importance. If you were truly loyal in your faith to the church, you’d understand that.”

Devin ground his teeth together to halt his initial response, which would have been far too crude for addressing his superiors.

“So my faith is now in question,” he said. “Any other surprises you’d like to spring on me while the day is young?”

“Ditch the attitude,” Forrest said. “We witnessed the resurrection of one hundred lives. Our flocks are hailing it as a modern miracle, worthy of praise alongside the Sisters themselves. Thousands flirt with the edges of blasphemy. Our people are frightened, our city under siege, and our sacred buildings aflame. This time is ripe for false prophets to steal glory from the Sisters and cast it upon themselves. So if Adria views herself as a bringer of some new holy scriptures, we’d like to know, preferably before she becomes appointed to lead the entire church of West Orismund.”

“You mean Westreach,” Devin said, unable to help himself.

Forrest’s glare could melt steel.

“Unbelievable,” he muttered.

“Listen well,” Caria said, forging on in an attempt at diplomacy. “We are merely curious as to your sister’s intentions. Will she be placated with an appointment as Vikar, or will she press to become the new Deakon of Londheim? It’s unheard of someone receiving either position at so young an age, but these are hardly normal times, and Adria is no normal candidate.”

“You use subterfuge and whispers when a straightforward approach would suffice,” Devin said. “I hate to repeat myself, but if you want to know my sister’s intentions, then ask her. I am not her keeper, and she is not one to lie. If I may be so bold, this meeting, and your questions, lead me to believe you fear her power, you fear her ambitions, and you are looking for reasons to act against her. So forgive me, my Vikars, but I will give you none.”

Forrest’s chair creaked as he stood. His hand drifted to the handle of his axe.

“May I remind you that we could send you back to prison if we wished,” he said quietly. “You have been given no formal trial, and your current freedom is conditional only on our good graces.”

Devin hated this, hated everything about his current situation, but he couldn’t show weakness. If he were honest with himself, he was also sick of all the horseshit.

“Then do it,” he said, rising to his feet. “I’ve bled and killed to protect Londheim and its people, and I fought alongside both of you when the dragon-sired burned down the cathedral. Your accusations of treason are false, and you both know it. But please, by all means, toss me in prison for crimes I haven’t committed. Let us see how long it is until Adria smashes down its walls to set me free.”

Vikar Caria slammed her gloved hands atop the table.

“You would flaunt our authority due to your sister’s popularity?” she asked.

“The positions of Vikar and Deakon have always been based on popularity,” Devin said. “Consider me upholding tradition.”

He spun and stormed for the door.

“Halt,” Forrest ordered. Devin’s hands settled atop his weapons as he turned back to the Vikars.

“Yes, my Vikar?” he asked softly.

“Your dalliances with dragon-sired may be forgivable, but the actions of your apparent lover, Jacaranda, are not,” Caria said. “She must still undergo trial for the murders at the Gentle Rose Brothel. You may be found innocent, but will she?”

Devin’s jaw twitched. His hands tightened about his pistol and sword. Memories flashed through his mind of an injured Jacaranda stumbling into his home, her clothes splashed with blood that wasn’t hers.

“If you come for her,” he said, his voice ice, “it won’t just be Adria standing in your way.”

“Noted,” Forrest snapped. “Consider yourself on leave for the time being, Devin. I don’t want to count someone so insolent among my Soulkeepers’ ranks.”

Devin bowed long and low to the both of them.

“Fucking fine with me.”


Jacaranda was caught off guard by the anger in Devin’s movements as he slammed shut the door to his home and stormed immediately into the kitchen. Puffy elongated within the fireplace and lifted one beady eye higher than the other.

I don’t know, she mouthed to the firekin as she rose from the couch. She found Devin in the kitchen ripping the cork out of a bottle of wine, not caring for the mess that splashed across his floor.

“What’s wrong?” she asked, putting a hand on his arm.

“I’m currently on leave,” he said. “And I deserve it, too, for being an idiot and threatening my own Vikar.”

“You threatened him?” she asked. “Why?”

“Because of you,” he said, and she winced. His tone immediately softened. “Sorry, sorry. It’s not your fault. This whole situation’s gone diving into the gutter and I’m desperately trying to tread water lest I be drowned in shit.”

Devin put the bottle to his lips and drank. Wine dripped out the sides of his mouth and ran down his neck. Jacaranda bit her tongue to prevent herself from scolding him. Something had gone terribly wrong, and she would let him blow off steam however he needed to.

“Better,” he said after pulling back the bottle and gasping in a breath. “Not much, but better.”

He retreated to his chair by the fireplace, and Jacaranda followed.

“I’m all right, I promise,” Devin said upon seeing Puffy’s worried head poke out from the fireplace.

“I’m not sure either of us believe you,” Jacaranda said as she leaned against the wall with her arms crossed. “How about you start from the beginning before that bottle’s empty and your memory is shot?”

“If you insist,” he said. She listened as he recalled the surprise meeting with his two Vikars, and he spared no kind words for his opinion on that matter. Less amusing was when he switched to Devin’s and Jacaranda’s arrests prior to the dragon-sired attack on the cathedral.


  • Dalglish sticks the landing with his final Keepers fantasy ... This is a worthy finale.—Publishers Weekly
  • Dark, gory, yet still inspiring... . Dalglish’s approach to this third book in the series (after Ravencaller) keeps the returning characters fresh, relevant, and impactful in their necessary roles to both uplift and restrict the responsibilities of the Chainbreaker. —Library Journal
  • "A dark and lush epic fantasy brimming with magical creatures and terrifying evil....Dalglish's world building is subtle and fluid, and he weaves the history, magical workings, and governance of his world within the conversations and camaraderie of his characters. Readers of George R. R. Martin and Patrick Rothfuss will find much to enjoy here."—Booklist on Soulkeeper
  • "With strong world building, imaginative monsters, and a capable system of magic, this series will please readers who enjoy dark epic fantasy with engaging characters."—Booklist on Ravencaller
  • "Fans will love the second installment of this dark fantasy about very human characters beset by inhuman dangers."—Kirkus on Ravencaller
  • "Dalglish has created a rich and intriguing world."—Kirkus on Soulkeeper
  • "Soulkeeper is a fast-paced, page-turning ride with a great, likeable main character in Devin Eveson. It's the definition of entertaining"—John Gwynne, author of Malice on Soulkeeper
  • "Dalglish manages to combine familiar elements in exciting ways... that's sure to keep readers turning pages."—Publishers Weekly on Soulkeeper

On Sale
Feb 9, 2021
Page Count
512 pages

David Dalglish

About the Author

David Dalglish currently lives in Myrtle Beach with his wife, Samantha, and daughters, Morgan, Katherine, and Alyssa. He graduated from Missouri Southern State University in 2006 with a degree in mathematics and currently spends his free time tanking dungeons for his wife and daughter in Final Fantasy XIV.

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