|The Citadel of NaeraMae|
Designed by Scipio and numerous others
Lifespan: 30 minutes
Medium Groups: 19-23
Large Groups: 15-19
Bransen picks up his aging book off of the shelf that is located in his rather spartan room in the Citadel of NaeraMae. On the book's crinkled pages, the history of the keep and its minotaur inhabitants is revealed:
"NaeraMae sits atop a small plateau on the southern tip of the island Craetia. The island exists as the remnants of a large volcano, but it has long since eroded to a mere shadow of its once gigantic proportions. Minotaurs are hardly native to the region; they prefer the much warmer climes of the mainland. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that the clan was driven to the island many ages ago when dragons roamed the realm in great numbers.
"Although the clan's mercenary stature was reflected in its history, the bull-men also enjoyed the benefits of a more traditional community. This society had established itself near the mesa above which the Spirited Heights exist. The young warriors, against the advice of the clan elders, took a mercenary assignment from an aspiring magician by the name of Horneg. Their task sounded simple; they were to rid the surrounding lands of the dragons that were interfering with the mage's experiments. With zeal and haste, the warriors set to their task.
"Horneg had masterfully manipulated his neighbors into a bloody massacre which drove the two groups from his lands. The minotaur warriors realized that they had woefully underestimated their prey in size and strength, but the realization came only after the dragons had been enraged. After a fierce battle, the minotaurs were routed, and the dragons gave chase to the survivors. Warrior and villager alike fled the flame, frost, and claw of the mighty lizards. The minotaurs made their way across the continent, fleeing to the coast of the Blood Sea where they found a portal.
"The surviving clan members decided to enter the portal rather than face certain death. They arrived on the other side and were immediately greeted by the inhospitable climate of Craetia. A few powerful wizards roamed the island, but with little method or reason. Those remaining members of the clan set to the task of building a fort with supplies foraged from the island and the resources of the Dark Woods on the mainland side of the portal.
"After a few years, they had begun to exhaust all of their immediate food stocks. With little on which to subsist and even less to trade, the entire community was forced to return to the lives of mercenaries. The clan leader, NaeraMae carefully chose the clan's mercenary contracts with the aid of his elders and lieutenants. Many of the jobs provided little better than meager subsistence, but with time, experience, and training, the clan was able to look beyond day to day survival.
"Under the prudent leadership of the master warrior NaeraMae, the clan survived and even prospered. It now lives relatively secluded from the outside world, only accessible to those few souls who risk trade with the outpost or seek the clan's services. The minotaurs share the island with rogue wizards whose history has been lost to the ages. Although some believe that island became the wizards' exile brought by conflict long ago, little evidence exists to tell anything more specific. Furthermore, their insanity and hostile manner, probably brought about by such an inhospitable climate, preclude further study of the matter.
"The minotaurs have recently served as marines, raided numerous merchant caravans, and scoured some of Medievia's many ruins in pursuit of artifacts for various employers. Trophies of their conquests adorn the otherwise austere, yet well-fortified keep. Members of the guard constantly roam the halls and courtyards. Only on the most blistering nights can not one of the creatures be found wandering outside."
Bransen's goal was clear. He was to enlist the aid, with no expense spared, of the talented and fierce minotaur mercenaries in the services of his lord Kalkinor, the king of Karlisna. The king was looking to reestablish the order of his kingdom and needed the aid of additional soldiers to supplement his own legions. Other envoys were also present at the keep, representing some of Medievia's factions that are trying to hire the minotaurs to gain advantage in their respective struggles.
Bransen opens his door and peers down the desolate hallway, staring at the doors behind which are resting the other emissaries as well as NaeraMae's lieutenants. He thinks to himself that it will be difficult to convince the clan to undertake such a difficult task, regardless of the tribute he is willing to offer. History taught the minotaurs a painful lesson, one that neither the clan nor its leader are likely to forget anytime soon.
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