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Gemstone IV News

Mighty Minotaur Mess
Posted on 02/28/2008 09:45 AM CST by the Webstaff
The minotaur labyrinth of old is gone, replaced by a fortification populated by empowered minotaurs. The creatures of the krag have grown exceptionally strong. Discover how and immerse yourself in the recent and ancient history of the minotaurs, below!



Dateline: 2/29/5108

Many legends and fables surround the brutish creatures known as minotaurs, predominantly due to their relatively mysterious existence. Both their introverted nature and curious appearance lend themselves to the creation of such tales, effectively shrouding their true nature in secrecy. Possessing the midsection of a man with the head and rear legs of a bull, the bipedal creatures are known chiefly for their fearsome strength and prowess in battle. Despite their physical development and beastly nature, however, minotaurs are also rather intelligent creatures. Their mental acuity has allowed them to become adept stone carvers, nearly rivaling dwarves in their architectural achievements of the underground.

Comprised of great warriors and magically inclined magi, minotaur communities are usually led by their strongest warrior or most adept magus, though the ultimate decision is determined by a council of revered elders. Commonly, these kings and queens join the council themselves, when they have reached a venerable age no longer fit for combat.

Historically, little has been documented on minotaurs, though accounts have been recorded implying that they are very territorial, often exhibiting lethal aggression toward any who cross into their land. Perhaps the most notable showing of the minotaurs was during the Age of Chaos when a large contingent of their numbers, driven by avarice and blood lust, allied themselves with Despana's forces in the Undead War. Led by the warrior Tordaak, the minotaurs were among the fiercest of Despana's vast army, charging into battle to crush her enemies under hoof in the name of conquest.

During the elven assault on Despana's keep at Maelshyve, countless numbers of Tordaak's minotaur brethren were vanquished alongside the hordes of undead, yet the warrior himself would not be defeated. With the fall of Maelshyve and Despana herself, the remaining minotaurs scattered to the north, driven back during the chaos of the clash with the demons unleashed by the Faendryl.

The minotaurs who survived the Undead War trekked northward through the western slopes of the DragonSpine mountains, taking shelter in natural and makeshift cave systems. Skirmishes were frequent in their nomadic existence, but Tordaak's leadership and cunning always saw them through these conflicts with minimal casualties.

Years passed as the minotaurs' mobile mountainside community began to thrive. However, it was evident to Tordaak and the current council that the only way for their kin to truly re-establish themselves was to settle down permanently. Regular seismic activity shook the ground beneath their hooves, and the resultant fissures and avalanches were a constant threat.

Tordaak sent out parties of the minotaurs' most resilient scouts to seek out favorable grounds for a permanent home. Many weeks went by as the rest of the community anticipated both the return of the scouts and the opportunity to lay down the foundation for their new society. Finally, the first of the scouts began to filter back, with reports of their excursions into the mountains and beyond.

After hearing the details of the reports and studying the impromptu maps drawn by the scouts, the council decreed that the minotaurs would head west into the Dragonsclaw mountain range. Tordaak and the rest of the community set out with a renewed resolve in their hearts, knowing that they would reaffirm their legacy in Elanthia with a new age of minotaur.

The minotaurs traveled for months across the terrain, through forests and across lands that would one day be fortified by fortresses built by human hands. At last they reached their destination -- the mountain known as Wehntoph. The area was just as it had been described: steep slopes and craggy faces, a place where few outsiders would come to invade.

Excavation work began immediately on the top of a nearby plateau, and by the end of the first year of residence, the minotaurs' compound began to take shape. Elaborate tunnel systems ran deep into the plateau, both elegant and functional for the livelihood of the community. A cadre of the most skilled minotaur magi wove their magic into the walls, ensuring that no outsiders would ever be able to reliably navigate its passages. On the surface, lush gardens were cultivated near the temporary dwellings that were erected using the rock pulled from below.

The decades came and went as the old council and many of the elders passed away, yet neither Tordaak's strength nor his exuberance showed any signs of faltering. His longevity allowed him to witness the results of his labor as the first generation born into the new rock matured into adulthood. As the fledgling society grew, stories of the tribe's origins were passed down from elder to youth and recorded in masterful murals that decorated the cave walls. Tordaak came to be known as a living legend, the great and powerful leader who brought the minotaurs to the new land of prosperity.

Nearly four centuries passed since the minotaurs had arrived at their new home, and still Tordaak's inexplicable youth remained. Many believed him to be imbued with immortality by the gods themselves, while others theorized that the great warrior could not die outside of battle, but the truth was never to be known. Regardless of the origins of his power, Tordaak was ready when the invaders came.

The first incursion occurred deep within the lowest depths of the minotaurs' tunnels. The reinforced walls crumbled as the unknown beings emerged and began working their way upward. Tordaak lead his warriors against the swarm, scattering the creatures under the might of his battle axe. Though the minotaurs lost few of their own, there seemed to be no end to the forces pouring through the crevasse.

The ensuing assault lasted for days, and the minotaurs were slowly losing ground. Anticipating a disastrous outcome for their people, the council called for an evacuation to a cavern expansion further up the slopes of the Wehntoph. Though Tordaak respected the decision of the elders, he refused to accompany them in their retreat. A number of warriors and magi stayed behind with Tordaak, allowing the rest of their kin the opportunity to escape.

As the last of the refugees fled the plateau, Tordaak's mighty battle cry rang across the peaks, shaking the earth with a thunderous roar and sealing the fates of all who remained behind in an enormous avalanche. The foundations of the minotaur dwellings shook and crumbled, and the way to the plateau was lost. Those who survived of the minotaur tribe were shocked, as the steadfast pillar of their society had fallen, but respected his sacrifice as they made their way to the secondary cavern.

The minotaurs settled in to the new labyrinth and fortified its walls with powerful incantations specifically designed to prevent any further incursions through the ground. It is there that they remained for many generations, keeping mostly to themselves as the world continued to evolve around them.

No attempts were made to unearth the hallowed grounds of their previous home, both out of reverence for those who perished there in the battle and fear of reprisal from their powerful unknown adversary. Over time, even the location of the old labyrinth was lost, merely becoming another facet of Tordaak's legend.



Dateline: 2/29/5108

In a final, desparate act, the minotaur magus Sulldina managed to remove the barrier from the doors leading to the very core of the recovered labyrinth. Where she anticipated triumph and acceptance from her tribe, she found only the ire of the spirit of Tordaak, who once again shook the cavern walls of the former violent battleground before disappearing into the night. A band of adventurers managed to unearth the doors from the partial collapse and force their way to the dark altar. Inside lay a battered Sulldina, critically wounded from the cave-in. In the delirium of her last breaths, the only question on her lips was, "Why?"



Dateline: 2/28/5108

Days of violent clashes between the newly empowered krag creatures and the minotaurs on the slopes of Wehntoph triggered a landslide, greatly changing the landscape of the mountain. The way to the minotaurs' home was lost, while the ancient ruins of a previous compound were unearthed. In desperation, the minotaurs fell back to the ancient site and began re-establishing their community. The former palace atop the plateau was constructed during the reign of the great minotaur warrior-king Tordaak, vacated during a cataclysmic battle against an unknown foe centuries ago.

Many brave adventurers have explored the newly accessible plateau and delved into the minotaurs' extensive labyrinth. They have found that the minotaurs have successfully barred the krag creatures from entering their newly re-inhabited compound, but there is some concern about just how much of the labyrinth the minotaurs have reopened and what may be lurking beyond doors that have yet to be unsealed...

Little has been seen of the minotaur magus Sulldina, who called upon the spirit of Tordaak to set these events in motion. While the other minotaurs and krag creatures grew in power, Sulldina did not. When she was last seen, shortly after the landslide, she was incoherent and despondent. Residents of nearby Wehnimer's Landing have expressed hope that she does not do anything more drastic in an attempt to gain the power she seeks.



Dateline: 2/21/5108

Seismic activity began several days ago in the vicinity of Wehntoph. A scout that was present for the phenomenon contacted the locals of Wehnimer's Landing, seeking their assistance. The brave adventurers traveled to the mountain and discovered that the pathway to the minotaur labyrinth there was blocked off. With aid of a scrying bowl, they were able to view events unfolding in the minotaurs' Great Hall.

There, a number of minotaur magi participated in a ceremony headed by their evident leader, Sulldina. They summoned the spirit of the minotaur warrior-king Tordaak. At Sulldina's request, Tordaak bestowed upon her tribe a blessing before departing.

Since this strange ceremony, the power of the minotaurs has grown. They have spread into the Krag Slopes, eager to test their burgeoning strength, but have been stymied by krag dwellers and yetis that appear, strangely, to match their newfound power. Perhaps Tordaak's blessing has strengthened his people even as it provides them a new, terrible challenge.


Simutronics Corporation

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