Chapter 1
Bearing an Army

AT 1077 (AZ 1449) - Summer
The Stone Forest, The Darklands

The smell of death was sweet, but only when it was the the flesh of captured prey melting into a delicious soup to be sucked from dried husk of their corpses. Unfortunately, that was not what she smelled entering the forest. It was the living death, an emissary from her so-called husband, if he could even be rightly called that.
The emissary would pass through the forest unmolested. Arachne's children hated and feared the dead who walked. They would not dare approach the vile creature. Indeed, Arachne herself would just as soon retreat deeper into her nest, but she patiently waited for the emissary to approach her web.
A Eurean soldier in his former life, the emissary saluted in the fashion of Old Euros as he stood before her.
"Hail, Queen of Spiders," the emissary rasped, "I come bearing word from His Majesty."
"Speak," Arachne said, "and then begone from my forest."
The emissary's jaw moved wordlessly for a moment before he managed to summon his voice once more.
"His Majesty has declared war on the West. If the the King of Zephyr accepts His Majesty's challenge, their host will face us here in this land. The Dominion needs more soldiers. You and your daughters are commanded to bear more children, as many as you can."
"And what are all these new hatchlings to eat?" Arachne asked. "There is scarcely enough food as it is."
She did not expect the emissary to have an answer, but perhaps the Monarch Lich would speak through him. And so it was.
"You will eat whatever you can catch. Should that fail, your daughters can eat each other. The strongest will survive."
Though it was not uncommon for her daughters to turn on each other, it was never accepted as the general rule. It was less a matter of any great maternal affection she felt for her children than it was concern for the good order of her domain. Even with the Monarch Lich claiming authority over the entire Darklands, the older powers continued to quarrel with one another. The fact that the Monarch Lich encouraged the vile Herakles to expand westward certainly only served to further inflame the rivalries.
A war with the humans of the West would not bring them together any more than the restoration of the Dominion. Still, it would not be wise to defy the Monarch Lich. He could wipe out Arachne and her daughters with little effort if he so chose. Besides that, she needed to stay in his good graces if she wanted him to fulfill his pact with her. If she had to sacrifice her daughters by the hundred or even by the thousand to achieve this, it was a small price to pay.
"His Majesty will have his army," Arachne told the emissary. "Now leave me. There is much to be done."