Chapter 2
The Responsibility to Posterity

AT 1081 (AZ 1453) - Midsummer
The Black Keep, The Darklands

War preparations to greet the coming guests from Zephyr served to channel a portion of the Monarch Lich's overflowing impatient energy, but it could only go so far. His ambition outstripped his prudence and any time he might rein in the flaws of his humanity was often all too short-lived.
Though the Dark Eternal was loath to admit it, he too was gripped by a growing impatience. Before the war began in earnest, the Monarch Lich had a duty to perform, a duty he had long been reluctant to fulfill. It could not wait any longer. It had to be done.
Appearing to the Monarch Lich in his throne room, the Dark Eternal said, "Before the Zephyrians come, you must fulfill your obligation to posterity."
Breeding for a Lich was not so simple a matter as it was for other creatures. First of all, there were no female Liches. A Lich could only reproduce by mating with another race. By the admixture of Lich blood with the blood of other races, eventually a perfect specimen would be born, one whose physical form could withstand the great and growing dark powers of a Lich.
However, this did not come without a cost to the former generation. The Monarch Lich was all too aware of this and it was the very reason he had resisted this long.
"You would diminish me right as I reach the peak of my power?" the Lich balked. "On the eve of my greatest battle? How am I to triumph as a mere shade of my full glory?"
The Dark Eternal had long since tired of the Monarch Lich's vainglory and would not hesitate to tell him as much.
"How many times must you strive against your duty? The glory is not yours alone but that of the entire Dark Race. Seventeen generations preceded you since I revived your kind. Seventeen more may follow before our work is complete, even seventeen times seventeen."
"You crawl like a worm when we ought to stride like giants," the Lich sneered.
"Do your duty and you will be released from all other burdens," the Dark Eternal said. "You may use the time that remains as you will."
The concession did little to comfort the recalcitrant Lich.
"I will only have a few years at best."
"That entirely depends on how you use your remaining power."
"It is not enough. I want to live."
"And so you shall," the Dark Eternal replied with a wide sweep of his hand. "Through your seed, your will lives on, just as the will of all who have preceded you lives within you."
"It is not enough," the Monarch Lich said, frowning. "It must be my feet that tread upon Zephyrian soil, my hands that lay them low, my eyes that see their ruin."
The Dark Eternal was dismissive of this vain longing for immortality. There was only one immortality for the Dark Race and Dox would see it come to pass.
"Use whatever craft you have to extend your days if you can, but first pass on your seed."
Mockingly, the Monarch Lich asked, "And who shall be my mate? That accursed spider? Perhaps some Urg wench?"
Though he meant to ridicule the idea, the Lich was closer to good sense than he realized.
"The Spider Queen is old and powerful," the Dark Eternal said. "You would do well to mix her blood with your own. Did you not name her your consort for that very purpose?"
The Monarch Lich appeared visibly discomfited. It was unseemly for a creature of his power and stature to appear so.
"Do not consider matters of the flesh as the humans do," the Dark Eternal warned. "It is not sport or pleasure. Only duty."
The Monarch Lich slumped back in his throne. His childish sulking was another unseemly quality of his. Perhaps the fault lay with Hazila who reared him. Even for one pledged body and soul to the Darkness, she was too tender, too indulgent. A firmer hand would be needed for the next generation.
Eyeing the Dark Eternal, the Monarch Lich said, "I grow weary of this. Away from me."
"You cannot postpone the day much longer," the Dark Eternal said. "If it must be, I will see you do your duty, of your own volition or not."
With that, the Dark Eternal faded back into the shadows. It was no idle threat he made, but even with all his power, it would be difficult to compel the Lich to pass on his seed. If necessary, though, it would be done. He had worked too long to see it all be for naught.