Chapter 5

AT 1083 (AZ 1455) - Autumn
The Black Keep, The Darklands

The Knight of Chaos Sir Caligo was perhaps the Dominion's greatest champion. Before his fall to darkness, he was a legendary general of Old Euros. He was unlike all the other dead who walked, though. His kind drew power from the blood of the living and could grow quite strong. However, with that strength came arrogance and with arrogance came folly.
After devastating one of the three legions of the Zephyrians, Caligo then wasted months on what should have been the easy task of finishing them off. That alone was an unforgivable offense, but Caligo then had the audacity to go even farther. After the Monarch Lich raised Caligo's famed Companions, the Knight of Chaos destroyed their remade bodies and sealed their souls in his cursed blade so that they could not be drawn back out again, at least not without considerable effort. He would answer for this disobedience and pay dearly for it.
One of the servants knelt before the throne and said, "Your Majesty, Sir Caligo."
"Let him enter," the Monarch Lich replied.
The guards opened the doors to permit Caligo inside.
As the Knight of Chaos stepped into the throne room, the Monarch Lich asked him, "You dare to show your face, Sir Caligo?"
"I was summoned," Caligo replied bluntly as he approached the throne and saluted.
It was a wonder he even made the token display of the salute. He was never particularly submissive, but he had steadily grown more and more insubordinate leading up to this outrage.
The Monarch Lich did not strike right away. Instead he would have Caligo condemn himself with his own words before passing judgment on him. First, to lure him in...
"So in your vast wisdom you choose which of my commands you will obey."
"I asked you not to disturb my comrades' sleep," Caligo replied. "My power alone is more than enough. And yet you brought them back to this world twisted by your arts. It was unforgivable."
The Monarch Lich gripped the armrest of the throne. Caligo's shameless answer stirred up his wrath all the more, but he restrained himself. He could still go farther.
"What is unforgivable is your defiance."
Against all belief, Caligo actually responded in anger.
"Did I not win you this land? Have I not laid low your enemies on all sides since the days you were but a babe?"
The Monarch Lich's power surged and roiled within him. The reminder of his mortality was the last straw. And yet he still struggled to hold his rage in check. He was the master. Of Caligo and of himself. And now he would prove it.
"Long have you walked this earth, Sir Caligo," the Monarch Lich said, "and great is your power, but you forget your place. You are but a dog and I will bring you to heel."
Caligo did not do anything so foolish as to draw his sword against the Monarch Lich, but he nevertheless stood unmoved, defiant to the last.
"Do what you will to me," he said. "My comrades are out of your reach."
The Monarch Lich had had enough.
"I will teach you humility yet."
He stretched out his hand and dozens of black tendrils lashed out from the shadows and took hold of Caligo. Reflexively. he strained against their pull, but the tendrils held him fast. Sparks crackled along the length of the tendrils as the spell began to take effect. Caligo grunted but held his ground.
The Monarch Lich channeled more power into the spell. The pain would have shattered the mind of any mortal, but true to his great strength, the Knight of Chaos bore it manfully. He would not cry out even as the spell reached its peak, but by then even he was forced to his knees.
The tendrils released him and withdrew back into the shadows. The energy they gathered took the form of a large orb of black crystal that floated above the Monarch Lich's outstretch hand.
"What... What have you...?"
Caligo's words hung in the air. The Monarch Lich only answered his question because the punishment was not complete unless Caligo truly understood what had just happened to him.
"Your power is now the same as it was the night you first turned," he said. Taking hold of the crystal orb, he added, "If you would like your power back, put an end to your games. Finish off the Zephyrians and bring me the heads of their leaders."
"It... shall be done..."
"Then go."
Even after draining a thousand years' worth of accumulated power, the Monarch Lich left Caligo more than a match for any mortal. However, with his power so diminished, he would be forced to remember what it means to face destruction on the battlefield. Perhaps this would be the motivation he needed to exert the fullest of his ability. Perhaps it would be enough to carve into his bones beyond the shadow of a doubt who was the master and who was the servant.