Minotaur Ways

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To understand the savage culture of the Minotaurs, one must first discern the secrets of their origins. The first Minotaurs were created early in the Age of Days, when the Deathless Empire was at the height of its power. Wizards of the Dar Khelegur, cruelest of all the Elves, took some of their Human thralls, infused them with the blood and strength of Giants, and then twisted their bodies into bestial mockeries of Men. The unspeakable magics that wrought this dark transformation have, thankfully, been lost in the tide of history. Minotaurs were originally bred for use as laborers and shock troops, and they excelled in both counts. Powerful spells backed up by the threat of torturous punishments kept the Beast Men in line, but eventually the Minotaurs broke free from Elvish control, and have been a scourge to all civilized peoples ever since.

In the beginning, hatred was the driving force behind the rise of Minotaur culture: hatred of the Elves who had created them, hatred of the Men that they could never be again, and hatred of any other race who sought to tell them what to do. While there are still savage bands of Minotaurs who still roam the North, spreading violence and terror in their wake, over time some of the Beast Men mellowed a bit, and began to build societies of their own in crude imitation of the other peoples of the world. These "civilized" Minotaurs (note that many Scholars still hesitate to apply that name to any of the Bull Men) are known as "lesser" Minotaurs, for they tend to be of smaller stature than their savage cousins. Be advised, however, that few who call them Lesser Minotaurs to their face survive the mistake!

Minotaurs live in great tribes, composed of several clans. The warriors of the tribe, as well as the heads of every clan, swear oaths of loyalty to the Chief, who rules the tribe by virtue of his strength and prowess in battle. All who serve the chief do so voluntarily - Minotaurs hate nothing more than the idea of slavery or servitude, and every Minotaur would sooner die than claim to be any creature's servant. Every Minotaur is free to leave their tribe at any time they wish, and they make it very clear that they do not serve their leaders, but rather merely follow them. Minotaur Chiefs, lacking any institutionalized authority, must walk a fine line, vigorously defending their position through force. Bloody duels over tribal policy are a daily occurrence, and the moment a Chief shows weakness, one or more of his followers invariably engage him in a duel to the death. Where once death settled all arguments, in the days since the Turning the Minotaurs have become even more cruel. When a Warrior challenges the Chief, the loser of the duel is tortured and abjectly humiliated, so that when he is finally allowed to die (after a period of days), nobody would even think of following the humbled loser again. Losers of Tribal duels often leave the tribe to follow a different Chief, and a few even journey to the baffling lands of the "Ten Toes" (the Minotaur term for the other races of the World) to find their fortunes there. Minotaur Warriors can earn even greater wages in a Lord's retinue or a mercenary company than a Half Giant, although employing one can be just as dangerous.

While more and more Minotaurs seems to be setting aside their hatred of the Ten Toes and living their lives among them, most folk still only know of the Beast Men through their savage raids. Like Orcs, most Minotaurs produce nothing, and survive by stealing from anyone weaker than themselves. As brutal as the Centaurs are honorable, Minotaurs stoop to any trick or ruse that will bring them victory, and legends whisper of the atrocities committed by the Bull Men on battle fields both old and new. The Beast Men have little time for tactics or stratagems, relying instead on brute force and their toughness to carry the day. One universally reviled Minotaur custom is their ancient practice of trophy taking - Minotaurs will butcher the bodies of their fallen foes, bearing away heads (usually with the jawbone torn away), ears, hands, feet, and even grislier trophies to adorn the walls of their strongholds. Every Chief's hall is decorated with his tribe's trophies, and Minotaurs are always eager to expand their collections.

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