Kehlaktur, called the City Without Walls, is the home and center of minotaur culture in Calibran. Though its sons and daughters may wander and settle in other places throughout the realm, when they speak of home, it is always Kehlaktur that they mean.
There are few that can match an angry minotaur in strength or passion. They are a proud people that lacks any fear of the other races. They are known for the berserker rage that can descend on them when roused. But, for the most part, they are a people content to live and let live. The freedom to decide their own fate is a minotaur's most prized possession.
The fact that an average minotaur is a seven and a half foot tall monster with a bull's head and a carnivorous appetite have led some scholars to speculate they are a created race, like the saurians, originally brought into being to serve some ancient dragon or Mage lord. It is pure speculation, and as there is no way to know for sure, and it would make no difference in any case, few people care.
The fact remains that minotaurs are generally the largest race on Calibran (with the obvious exception of dragons). Even large humans usually only reach shoulder height on a minotaur. Their great curved horns can add as much as another foot to their height. Both males and females can have horns, though generally females are slightly shorter than males, and their horns smaller. The occasional minotaurs who do not develop horns most often leave the city and seek solitude. The females are still usually taller than an average human. They are naturally muscular and fit, and that, combined with their size, makes them incredibly strong.
Rather than feet, they have cloven hooves to match their bull heads. Some, particularly those that spend more time in the fields than the city, have their hooves fitted with iron shoes, similar to horse shoes. There are a few warriors that do so as well, claiming that the iron shoes are useful in a fight. Most, however, think it a strange affectation.
It is said their eyes will grow red when they are enraged. Scholars have shown this to be objectively false (those that survived the experiments), but it is true that minotaurs can be extremely intimidating when angry. Their eyes are more like a human's than a cow's. They are most often brown, as is the fur of their heads and legs and the color of their skin. Other colors do occasionally arise. A white minotaur is the rarest, and the birth of one is considered something of a portent.
Though minotaurs live throughout Calibran, there is only one minotaur city.
The city lies in the foothills of the southern Caribre Mountains, north of the Cliffs of Ronin. It lacks any walls or fortifications as minotaurs claim all that is required for the defense of their city is the strength of their arms and bravery of their warriors. In every conflict to date, they have been proven correct. Kehlaktur is called the City Without Walls to honor this fact.
As a result of the lack of walls, Kehlaktur has no clearly defined beginning or end. Farms grow thicker as a traveler approaches Kehlaktur, and eventually the traveler will find themselves wandering the narrow streets of the city, not entirely sure when the fields ended and the city began. Buildings are built close together, and usually are no more than two stories tall. However, the narrow streets and haphazard construction is extremely confusing for outsiders. Visitors to the city have taken to calling it the City of Mazes. This name also references the rumor that a huge labyrinth has been constructed below the city, a final haven for the minotaurs if some conqueror should penetrate deeply into the city.
At the northern end of the Kehlaktur is the Fereng Market, an area designed by the minotaurs to be more comfortable for the visitors and merchants that come to their city. It is also, some say, meant to keep them all in one place so they do not wander too far. In the Market can be found dwarven blacksmiths, human merchants from Wert's Dune, and the occasional wandering and curious elf.
Near to the Fereng Market is Sword Hall, headquarters of the Legions, the minotaurs' army. It is a stone complex built around a central training ground.
The city is governed by a council chosen from among the citizens, and advised by generals of the Sword Legion. Minotaurs cherish their freedom greatly, and are unwilling to place too much power in the hands of any one individual.
Religion is not a great factor in the day to day lives of the minotaurs. They do not 'worship' in any organized sense, and they build no great temples or cathedrals. Their understanding of the spirit world focuses on the spirits of nature, particularly elemental spirits, and they seek to mollify and control these spirits rather than worship them.
There are a class of shamans within Minotaur culture, who learn to commune with and influence the wild forces of nature and the elements. They make their homes within small shrines in the city, which are surrounded by gardens or wild growth, depending on the shaman's predisposition. Minotaurs will visit and offer gifts and favors to the shamans in return for favorable outcomes.
Minotaurs have no language unique to themselves. The speak the King's Speech among themselves as well as with outsiders.
The magic of the minotaurs is a match to their nature, wild and savage. Their shamans learn to influence what they perceive as the spirits of nature and the elements. The effects a shaman can produce on his or her own can be impressive. However, they specialize in joining their efforts together. When they do so, they can cause storms to rage, rivers to overflow their banks, and snow to fall in summer.
There is a strange magic that some minotaurs, the mad Brothers of the Horn, have created. The Brothers are made up of those whose anger is too great to control, and are therefore separated from the rest of the population. This magic involves harnessing the power of the collected rage of the Brothers, and almost always requires blood of some sort, either their enemies' or their own.
Minotaurs rarely study magic in the academic way that humans do, or the intuitive way of the elves. Those that do tend to be regarded as somewhat odd by their fellows.
Rule of the Dragons Edit
The dragons never payed much attention to the minotaurs. To begin with, they were too primitive and scattered. As the minotaurs' civilization advanced, they were seen as wild and brutal. Breaking their defiance and making them 'useful' was more effort than it was worth. The minotaurs told themselves the dragons let them be because they were too strong and fierce for the dragons to tame. The truth was none had ever bothered. As a result they were left mostly to themselves, and their deep history is unrecorded either by themselves or others.
The Dragon Wars Edit
Only a few decades before the Battle of Farsalon, and after the noble elves had killed Criidath the Reckless, the blue dragon Glaurax the Deep decided that he could put the warriors of Kehlaktur to use. The dragon first sought to convince the minotaurs to pledge themselves to his service, but the minotaurs refused. He returned with an army to conquer them, but the very qualities he prized made that impossible. Though it cost the lives of many minotaurs, the blood magic of the Brothers of the Horn weakened Glaurax's scales enough the Minotaurs were able to kill him.
At the Battle of Farsalon, the minotaur's Sword Legion stood in the front line. They played a crucial role in Johelm's battle plan, and fought bravely. They were ultimately responsible for the death of several dragons.
After Farsalon Edit
The minotaurs have been content to live in their city of Kehlaktur. While some of the greater warriors, generals, and heroes in this age have been minotaurs that left their city to seek adventure, only one Marked from the minotaur race has sat the Dragon Throne.
Hesleof, the current Dragon King, had as a companion on his trials the Minotaur Ruric. Since taking the throne, Ruric has served as Hesleof's chief protector, general, and friend.
Named and Important Characters Edit
Ruric Es-Dakar Edit
Born the son of lower class parents in Kehlaktur, he worked and trained to join the Sword Legion. While a warrior in the Legion, his horn took a blow, and it has since been reinforced with a metal brace that circles the horn near its base. As a reward for his bravery in that battle, he was given a nose ring that he still wears.
Ruric was lonely as a young minotaur, and as a result Hesleof's openness and friendship affected him deeply. He left the Sword Legion to join the Marked Candidate in his quest for the throne. They had many adventures together. As part of Hesleof's quest, Ruric went to the dark elven city of Talashtar. While there he helped defeat the attack of a nightwalker, and as a reward he was given the Amulet of Kharisar, which provides protection against dark magic and the powers of the undead.
He has served as Hesleof's right hand for the Dragon's King entire reign, leading armies and protecting the king.
Grom de-Hatha Edit
A minotaur hero who lived during the Dragon Wars. He was a warrior when Glaurax the Deep thought to conquer Kehlaktur, and was part of a small force sent to slow the Dragon's army while the city readied its defenses. When the leaders of that force fell to the dragon and his army, Grom took command and led the survivors away. Grom struck the blow that finally killed Glaurax, though the dragon had been given wounds by many different warriors.
After the defeat of Glaurax, Grom went on to become a leader of the minotaurs, and a general of their armies.
Naming Conventions Edit
Minotaurs names are simple to parse. There is first a personal name. K's and t's seem to sound the best to minotaur ears. Following the personal name is either a clan, or a family name. Names starting with the prefix 'Es-' are clan names, and often indicate a minotaur of higher class, though this is by no means certain. A name with the prefix 'de-' indicates a family name, and usually indicates a minotaur of lower class.
Notable Skills and Traits Edit
Minotaurs are a large, strong people, and are generally skillful at the use of arms or anything else that requires strength and size. They have created a system of highly trained Masters, each an expert in some particular weapon such as the sword, axe, and so forth. These Masters take on and teach promising students, no matter their status or wealth, for service in the Legions as champions and officers. The Masters are supervised by one Great Master, considered the most skilled among his fellows.
Minotaurs are famed for their temper, and the difficulty with which they keep it contained. Not every minotaur has the rage that bides deep in the heart of their berserkers. But, those that contain that anger have managed to harness it in service of battle to such an extent that it has become legendary.
Minotaurs have a genuine, if seldom remarked, skill in architecture. Whether it is their great strength that affords them wider opportunities, or a genius for the working of stone and an intuitive sense of geometry, they often are able to build solid structures anywhere they happen to be. In this they almost equal the skill of the dwarves. There does seem to be a racial tendency toward mazes and labyrinths, and an ability to solve them with little effort. The mad, simple, or vengeful minotaur will often build a maze and lure prey within it.
Cultural notes Edit
The Masters Edit
Minotaurs are a martial race, and even farmers, bakers, and others who are not professional warriors seek out the teaching of the Masters. These teachers of the sword, axe, staff, javelin, and other weapons reside within the city of Kehlaktur. From their students are chosen those honored to join the Sword Legion, defenders of the city and the goal of any ambitious minotaur. The best students are sent to the most famous Masters, and become officers and champions. The Great Master is their leader and is considered not just the best warrior, but the most skilled teacher who produces the greatest warriors.
The Legions Edit
Based in Sword Hall, the Legions are both the army and constabulary of Kehlaktur. They are professional warriors who train constantly to reach the highest skill in arms. Every young minotaur wishes to be chosen to join the Legion, though only the most talented are selected. Members of the Legion will leave the city occasionally, particularly during times of peace in Kehlaktur, to find adventure and battle elsewhere in Calibran.
At one time there was just one legion, the Sword Legion. As time passed and the minotaurs saw the need for a larger army, they created other legions. There is an Axe Legion, a Mace Legion, a Spear Legion, and others. Just as not all members of the Sword Legion fight with Swords, the name of the legion does not necessarily mean all the warriors within it use that weapon. It is simply a name to differentiate between the different companies.
Minotaurs rarely employ cavalry. They have domesticated a large reptile called a trivog, but it is better suited to serve as a beast of burden than a war mount.
Brothers of the Horn Edit
In some minotaurs the rage that is the legacy of their race is so concentrated they are unfit to live among their fellows. The anger that resides within their hearts might be loosed at the slightest perceived insult. Those who suffer from an excess of rage are sent to join the Brothers of the Horn in their sanctuary to the north of Kehlaktur. While they live largely unsupervised, they are held there by a guard of the Sword Legion. The Brothers are called upon in times of war and desperate need. Mad and crazed as they are, they are not greatly skilled as warriors. But, their rage serves to give them great strength, and gives power to strange magic no one else has succeeded in understanding.
Clans and Families Edit
Occasionally several families will join together for mutual benefit and protection to form a clan. The members of the clan may choose to call themselves by the name of their family, or their clan. Most often members will give the name of their clan, as it imparts the protection and status of the entire clan, rather than a single family. Some families are wealthy and strong enough to stand on their own without the alliances a clan provides. Other families are so poor and unskilled that they have nothing to offer a clan, and are unable to form any alliances.
As minotaurs have a martial culture, and pride makes up a great part of the character, fights are not uncommon. To keep brawls from breaking out constantly, spilling out onto the street and turning Kehlaktur into a battlefield, the minotaurs have evolved a practice of dueling. For a duel to be fought, there must be an opportunity for an apology that is refused. Seconds organize the duel, setting terms such as the weapons to be used, and what, if any, mercy is possible.
There are two types of duel. A blood duel is a duel to the death, and is only fought over the gravest of insults. Duels of honor are more common, and are fought for lesser terms, usually until one or the other duelist can not continue.
While Kehlaktur is ruled by a council of prominent citizens, there are times when the infighting and scheming that accompany such a government results in indecision. In such times, the minotaurs choose from among their number a tyrant who rules until the crisis is over. The tyrant's word cannot be questioned or countermanded. There have been several tyrants who have ruled over the centuries, and none have refused to give up their power when the time came. In any case, they would be cut down in a heart beat if they tried to extend their rule a moment longer than necessary.