Chapter 4
The Next Generation

AT 1082 (AZ 1454) - Late Spring
The Black Keep, The Darklands

After landing in the Darklands, the Zephyrians were making steady inroads into the Monarch Lich's territory. Whether it was by intent or some internal discord, the ranks of the invaders had split in two, forcing him to divide his own forces in turn. Even though the move was unexpected, he did not expect it to affect the final outcome.
He was waiting for a report from the front when Hazila approached the throne. Though it was unseemly for his kind, he felt a certain affection for her, but in keeping with his blood and station, he did not let this show.
Hazila knelt some distance from the throne, never presuming more familiarity than one of her station should claim.
"Your Majesty, it is almost time," she said.
She did not need to say anything more. He immediately left for the magic circle deep within the keep with Hazila following closely behind. Once inside the circle, they chanted in unison. The Lich's power was more than sufficient for the task at hand, but the accompaniment of the priestess made the process go by all the faster. The lines of the circle glowed with a dark purple light and the two vanished.
They instantly appeared in the Stone Forest miles west of the keep. They were in the part of the forest dominated by the spider minions of his consort Arachne. Thick webs interlaced the trees, leaving only a narrow path for the two to navigate.
Near the foot of Mons Umbrarum was the nest of Arachne herself. Though she was officially his consort, she was not expected to be monogamous. Dozens of eggs were clustered in several sacs that hung from the walls of the nest. To ease victory over the invaders, her children would play a critical role.
One egg was kept apart from the others, different, special. It had a dark grey shell and was held in a thinner silken sac than the rest. Within the egg was the Monarch Lich's progeny, the new scion of the Dark Race. Hazila had called him because the time of its hatching drew near.
Arachne stirred, revealing her position on the roof of the nest. Though she had taken up a more pleasing shape for the consummation of their union, the strain of laying so many eggs forced her to revert to her original form. Her body was swollen and her movements more sluggish than usual. Walking along the walls, she removed the egg by taking a string of silk in her jaws and lowered it to the ground.
As soon as it touched down, the egg began to quiver. Coming into contact with the dark energies infused in the earth sparked the life within to action. The time had finally come.
The Monarch Lich watched intently as his offspring slowly fought against the shell that had been its shelter for so many months. He could only imagine how much different the experience was from his own. There would be no pressing of walls, no exposure to the accursed light, no memory of another half to torment it over the years. Its life would be completely different from his own.
In less than an hour's time, it emerged from the shell. Its body resembled a spider fused to the back of a human infant. Its shell was still soft and transparent, exposing the dark viscera underneath. It gave a low hiss, its first breath in the outside world.
The Monarch Lich held up his heir and stared at his reflection in its many eyes. The fate of the Dark Race was secured. He had passed on his seed and with it, his power. With the time and power that remained with him, the Monarch Lich would throw himself wholly into the war with the Zephyrians. The infant Lich he held would surely inherit a world cloaked in darkness.