Risen in the year 0 by the hand of Taurus, the Minotaurs ravage the southern realms in the centuries to come. They take land after land, and their campaign against Humans overtakes Gasdaria and moves ever closer to the Rock Sea. Along with the lizards, they pose the greatest threat to the kingdoms of man.
Chapter 1 - Omens
Borok straightened his broad back and looked up at the closing sky. He snorted, and his nostrils flared in the cold wind of this chilly winter day.-It was time.
He carefully packed his sickle into a fur pouch and added to it the sparse stock of frost worm he had gathered that morning. Finally, he tied up the bundle, slung it over his shoulders, and trudged through the thick layer of snow, back toward the massive rocky outcrop that rose like a giant bull's head above the valley spilling out below. Borok was clad in scraps of fur and leather, their worn insignia and totem patterns only faintly reminiscent of the former glory of his race. But today, Borok knew, a new age would begin; it was he whom the ancient prophecies had named the Seer, the 5th in the blood of the Fallboggs. And he had seen it, in that one moment, that cold winter day, he had seen and understood. It had been nothing special, the rustling of the wind, the circling of the birds, the blowing of the snowflakes, but he was sure: today was the day of awakening for which the proud people of the Minotaurs had been waiting for almost 1000 years.
Chapter 2 - Awakening
A darkness had surrounded him, his soul had passed away. However, the 1000 year sleep was now coming to an end, and he knew it. Once again he would awaken to give these weak creatures their purpose, to restore their pride, to lead them to new glory. But it was not yet time, he knew that too. He also felt her presence, faintly, but probably just as she felt his - yet.
Borok hurried up the stone steps. The condition of the minotaurs had not changed for the better over the centuries. But no one had thought it necessary to restore them. The Minotaurs had lost the legendary strength of their forefathers, and had degenerated into a loose tribal alliance that subsisted mainly on gathering herbs and working the fields. Their weapons were old and worn, almost useless for hunting, for forging had become a lost art over the years.
But this had not always been so. Forgotten by the world, the Minotaurs were once a powerful race. Their bloodcurdling war cry had swept across the continents, followed by seemingly invincible legions. They had taken what they wanted, and anyone who stood in the way of this machinery of war was crushed to the thunder of bulls' hooves.
Until... yes, until...
Borok ached at the memory of old times, especially in the presence of what had become of his people. But he already felt the change that heralded the approaching coming. Countless minotaurs emerged from their caves and streamed up from the field after Borok. All of them noticed it, the change in them was coming up inexorably. A kind of burning. A fire of enthusiasm, as if the heart in the chest was cast from new, glowing iron. And Borok felt it most of all. Quickly he crossed the hall of assembly, and hurried up more steps to the room that only he was allowed to enter. Several minotaurs stopped behind Borok at the base of the stairs, curiously surveying him with their gazes. More and more bulls were now crowding into the great hall, perhaps the last time there had been so many was 1000 years ago.
Borok pushed open the double doors and slid them shut again behind him. He took a deep breath. It was quiet, not as he had expected...but what had he expected? He stood in the middle of the chamber of sleep, in front of him the two altars. The left one was a bit bigger than the right one and contained the huge body of a gigantic minotaur. Clad in fine leathers and iron armor, a gigantic battle axe to his left. Next to him, on the smaller altar, lay a minotauress. She, too, was tall and solidly built compared to Borok, clad in leather clothing, her left hand on a black basalt staff, her right wrapped around a leather pouch.
Borok stood silently before the two bodies, unsure what to do. He had been given the role of seer through stories, but what he had to do when the time came had never been clear to him over the years. Then he heard something, a breathing, a quiet snort - it was time!
Chapter 3 - A New Age Dawns
Borok had grown old. The last 100 years since the resurrection had been eventful, washing pride back into the once-broken hearts of the Bullmen. Black columns of smoke rose from the countless smokestacks of the forges, a noisy hubbub gathered around the bustling marketplace, and every day more Minotaurs found themselves in the newly built capital of Minoton at the foot of the mighty mountains. With their pride, the fire of the bulls was reawakened, and this was reflected incessantly in the green, blazing gleam of their eyes.
At the edge of the marketplace patrolled the guards of the bull, magnificent looking, tall minotaurs dressed in legionary armor and armed with exquisitely crafted axes. Not that it was necessary - fratricide and theft among the minotaurs had not occurred for decades.
Every day the number of the legion grew. Every able-bodied young minotaur joined the bull brigades, and in addition to axes and armor, the city's armorers provided new war machinery almost weekly. Agriculture had also recovered, and at a furious pace the shamans and women of the city had opened up new pasture and farmland, so that soon the first bountiful harvests could be gathered. There was a rich assortment of fruit, meat, and herbs, as well as a considerable supply of ores, which had only recently begun to be mined throughout the area.
Everything had improved since the great Taurus and Caltae had risen and proclaimed the future of their people. The culture of the Minotaurs had recovered, their city was growing, and the people of the Bulls were sharing in the progress of their prosperity.
Borok looked down happily at the hustle and bustle of the crowd, and it was as if his heart would leap. But with the joy came the shadow, like the breath of an unpleasant childhood memory over him. Yes, Borok also remembered the oath that his ancestors had once made, the oath that hung like a chain on him and all his brothers and sisters, the oath that had once sealed their fate forever.
Chapter 4 - A Matter of Time
It was hard for him to keep his sluggish senses focused on the road ahead, and to steer the huge oxcart. His faithful animals did what they could, but every now and then he was startled when they almost went off the road or hit a particularly hard pothole. The two portions of Schlafwurtz that he had added to his millet porridge at noon did their work, they tamed the fire, lowered his tension. It would have been so easy to surrender to what was meant for him, but he didn't want to.
There it was again, first very softly and then a little louder: the clatter of heavy hooves. He knew it was only a matter of time until they would find him, because they found everyone, and he too would eventually become one with them. Anxiously, he looked over his shoulder - now he could see them through the thicket of the forest. The four shining, highly polished suits of armor, the noble golden helmets on their skulls, behind them the ghostly green glow. They rode mighty minotaur warhorses, nearly twice the size of a normal nag and hung with metal armor. They would get him, of that there was no doubt. In anticipation of what was to come, he closed his soft green glowing eyes and surrendered to his destiny.
Chapter 5 - Old Promises
Taurus stretched his mighty neck over the magnificent battlements of Minoton's palace. His arms, mighty as tree trunks, rested on the cold, smooth stone. The time had come, at last the sleep had ended and the dawn of a new age, his age, was dawning. "It is not your merit bull that makes you what you are..." the hated voice, like an unpleasant, bitingly cold breeze, purred into the ear of the mighty minotaur ruler.
His leathery ear spurs twitched up as if trying to chase away an annoying fly, but this fly would not be driven away. It had bitten into him, entwined the innermost part of his self, and had burrowed deep within him like an eternally aching, barbed dagger whose removal could only mean its own death. Taurus shuddered and strode back from the battlements, back to his sumptuously furnished bedroom. The ancient bull frescoes and statuettes had been restored, the magnificently woven carpet mended and restored to its former glory.
At one end of the room was his bed, built of stone piles and thickly woven hemp coverings, the piles crowned with golden bull horns running out. The other side of the room held a massive stone table over which, seated on a sturdy oak chair, Caltae had spread a variety of ingridients and herbs, carefully testing the quality of the remedies. "Excellent, faster than I expected!" she looked up at Taurus and grinned at him. But she too was struck by the pain of compromise, the quiet voice, the lost conscience. This was not her work nor the work of her diligent workers, it was not the fruits of her labor. What had moved her then to accept them once, these "gifts"? - She did not know anymore, it was too long ago, too much she had tried to forget the eternal binding, to give it no importance. But she knew that she was lying to herself, she knew what had caused her to do so: it had been love, love for a person who no longer existed. Because was a person still who she was, if she denied this herself? Abhorred himself and carried deep self-doubt within himself? Caltae did not know, but how should she have decided at that time, in that time that was now almost 3000 years ago and had long been forgotten by the rest of the world.
Chapter 6 - Dark Nights
Majok was running. The cold forest floor seemed to flee away under his steps. His parents were gone, his brother dead. Deeper and deeper the young barbarian fled into the forest, but the crashing, even the pounding sound of crushing branches, crashing bushes, and upturned leaves came mercilessly closer.
Majok saw it in his mind's eye, first his brother being hacked down and then his parents joining the endless procession. These endless lines of brothers of his people, hung in chains, whipped forward by brutal beaters. Others, too, the boy had recognized, but their names would no longer occur to the boy, who was frightened to death. Like a surprising thunder hits the traveler, a ship is caught by the storm, so it had happened to his people with the bulls. At first they had been in good spirits, the huge hosts of the Anuuk had been rounded up under Mohuuto, leader of the Anuuk, because he had sworn blood revenge for the murder of his brothers.
It had taken six days for the first refugees to return, covered with mostly horrible wounds, and these first ones were almost to be the last. Cruel rumors of a total slaughter, a true blood feast that should have taken place, circulated. The bulls had invaded and left nothing in their path. More and more survivors decided to flee north, including Majok's parents, but the bulls were to follow them, and in the gleam of their green eyes, they lined up one by one in their seemingly endless procession of slaves. And now Majok should also find his end in the ranks of these broken figures. But the storm of hooves, it had just begun.
Chapter 7 - The Song of Taurus
(from Song of the Magi,6th-10th stanza, middle of the fourth age)
Once it truly came to pass,<br /> that Taurus came to the mortals,<br /> and from then on began to gather around him,<br /> who were of his countenance.
Mighty became the 1000 hoofs,<br /> their battle cry made tremble,<br /> Blood and steel came upon the land,<br /> the weak man was almost banished.
But Taurus fell and in hatred he swore,<br /> to return for a thousand years,<br /> Iiinyca heard his call,<br /> and 1000 years the hoof rested.
So that the bull awakens anew,<br /> we tremble before his power,<br /> for all the glory, the power of the bulls,<br /> serve now, the black pact.