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Mysterium Bestia: Minotaurs ~ The Diary of a Pilgrim

Tags: #Mysterium Bestia  #event article  #Teineeva: Now in Cinemas 
  • Member
    April 4

    Gottlesfont Priory

    Twenty-fourth of First Seed

    The Year of Zenithar, the one-hundredth and ninetieth year of the Fourth Era. 

    Rain continues to pour from the sky as this one writes, wet drops beating against the stained glass windows of the chapel in a steady rhythm. It is almost soothing, like a purr, a peaceful sound to break the hush that has settled over the priory. At this hour the sisters would normally be out collecting Lady's Smock leaves, Steel Blue Entoloma, and their Primrose petals to take to Chorrol's Great Chapel of S’rendarr, whilst the monks would be in evening prayer. It seems that even Khenarthi weeps with us.

    Yes, it has been as sombre a day as is to be expected at the funeral of a friend, and all within this holy cloister are subdued, the enormity of the loss we collectively feel has left everyone stunned and unable to go about their everyday tasks. Even Majhin-do, this one who bore Ri’Marius' body here, finds himself writing slowly, lost in melancholy remembrance of the great man's life. 

    Khajiit says "passing" but Marius' death was no peaceful flight upon Khenarthi’s back to the Sands Behind the Stars. No, he died in battle, one more life lost to the bull-man of Cyrodiil, the Minotaur.

    As far as khajiit has been able to determine, Ri’Marius had left Bravil, heading north along the Green Road bound for Skingrad some days prior to his murder at the hands or hooves of one of the beasts. This one was in Skingrad at the time on a pilgrimage to the Temple of Julianos, and when he heard Ri’Marius was overdue, he hurried off to investigate.

    Dark moons and dull claws! Khajiit is angry! They knew he was in his advanced years. By Alkosh, had this one been just one week earlier this day would have been so different. 

    Everything happens for a reason, Khajiit tells himself. The Dragon Cat of Time would spare him this guilt if there were no purpose, but despite his faith in the Eight, this one cannot fathom the why of it. It is no consolation that the bull responsible – a massive, grey-furred specimen clad in surprisingly detailed leather armour - perished upon the edge of this one’s blades, the horns taken for the sisters here to grind into powder in order to extract some good from the bony scurs.

    Majhin-do is no alchemist but, on his journeys, he has gained a  reasonable education on the restorative properties of the numerous flora and fauna to be found in the Nibenay Basin and Colovian Highlands. Majhin-do learnt in a House of Dibella that, if mixed properly, the powdered horns of the bull-men can give a man or woman extra stamina and endurance in, ahh, all manner of physical pursuits.

    The priests and priestesses at the shrine of Khenarthi in the nearby Great Forest taught this one that if ingested, the horns help fight the effects of paralysis and provide ease and comfort during emotional hardships. This one prefers moon sugar.

    It strikes Khajiit as strange that so much good could come from a beast as savage as a minotaur. He wonders if these properties which can be extracted from their horns give rise to the minotaur’s associations with virility, masculinity, determination, strength of will and perseverance in the collective Imperial consciousness? It is not uncommon for horn motifs to be found on both Nibenese and Colovian armour and weapons. This one prefers the moons on his equipment, though.

    Knights from the Order of Arkay warned this one of the poisonous qualities to be extracted from the horns of the beasts, how if introduced to the blood, a compound made from these horns can sap the strength and reduce efficiency while wearing armour or wielding weapons. 

    Magrus’ eye is starting to close, and Majhin-do wishes to hold vigil over the grave of  Ri’Marius tonight. This one has no journeys planned, so after he has breakfasted, he shall say his farewells to his friends, the brothers and sisters of Gottlesfont, before heading to Cheydinhal's Chapel of Arkay. If there was no purpose to Marius' death, by Mara’s tears, Majhin-do will make one.

     

    The Great Chapel of Arkay, Cheydinhal

    Twenty-ninth of First Seed

    The Year of Zenithar, the one-hundredth and ninetieth year of the Fourth Era.

    Khajiit arrived in Cheydinhal late last night, saddle sore and weary from the ride along the Black and Blue Roads upon Spangles, his Senche-Leopard. A good and loyal friend, if somewhat greedy, the time outdoors in Khenarthi's temple has done him some good too, he thinks, and the tired one sleeps here now in the chapel's library, snoring while this one is purusing all of the books the Order or Arkay has amassed over the years on the subject of the bovine-men of Cyrod.

    The flickering candles coupled with the light streaming in from the stained glass is relaxing, the scents of the old library adding to the soothing atmosphere. This one has taken it upon himself to discover all there is to be known about these animals so that he and Arkay's Knights can better defend the people from their savagery, and hopefully make amends for his failure in not being there for Ri’Marius. 

    Sadly, there aren't many tomes on the subject. The Minotaur Song: An Ode to the Minotaur was surprisingly the most helpful, and as it is only a short text, Majhin-do shall reproduce it here for later referrence. 

     

    Oh minotaur, oh minotaur,

    A beast of rage and ignoble glaring.

    Oh minotaur, oh minotaur,

    None can deny your noble bearing.

     

    Around Imperial ruins you gather,

    Eternal guardians with hooves and horn.

    What memories lead you to path there,

    Is it Belharza or the Empire that you mourn?

     

    Oh minotaur, oh minotaur,

    Are you monster, Mer, or Man?

    Oh minotaur, oh minotaur,

    Tell us how you fit into the Divine's plan!

     

    The mention this poet makes of Belharza is interesting, for why would an early First Era Emperor be specifically singled out? Also of note is the reference to the minotaurs gathering around ancient ruins. This one will make mental note of the latter, whilst recording what the history books have revealed about Belharza.

    According to an inventory of rare books, a maunscript that pertains to books in the Library of Dusk sometime in the Second Era (how such a list came to be in this libraray is beyond Khajiit), Bleharza was an "intimate" of  Saint Alessia's. It is unclear exactly what there realtionship was so, rather than come to an erroneous conclusion, this one will copy this brief text in its entirety for future referrence:

    "The Letters of Alessia and Belharza"

     — Intimate correspondence between the First Empress and the Man-Bull.

    The only other text here which mentions Belharza is The Cleansing of the Fane, a fragment of a larger work written by a member of the mis-named Alessian Order, "The Holy Brothers of Marukh." This chronicle excerpt makes no mention of minotaurs, and the referrence to Emperor Belharza is fleeting. This one will transcribe the pertinent passage: 

    Here is recorded the events of the Year 127 of the Blessed Alessia... This was on the fifth of First Seed. All who saw it were dismayed, and said that a great event should come hereafter. So it did, for that same year issued forth a great concourse of devils from the ancient Elvish temple Malada, such had not been seen since the days of King Belharza. 

    It is interesting that this zealot should describe it as being the 127th year of Alessia. That would likely make the date 1E 393 or so, the time of the Alessian Order at the height of their power. So if this scholar is to be believed, King Belharza's reign was one of continued war against the Ayleids. Majhin shall need to look outside the hallowed halls of this library if he is to determine when Belharza reigned, but judging by the "letters" it must be soon after Alessia's death. 

    This one thinks he will make a trip to the First Edition book store in the Imperial City, if they don't have what he seeks, then he shall at least be near to the Arcane University which might provide more information. 

    The King and Queen Tavern

    Sixth of Rain’s Hand

    The Year of Zenithar, the one-hundredth and ninetieth year of the Fourth Era.

    This one has had a great day among the books of the First Edition and in the company of the proprietor, Senandil. A lovely fellow, despite his pro-Dominion leanings, and very knowledgeable upon the subject of Minotaurs. Khajiit purchased many books and asked just as many questions, so as he sits here enjoying the smell and taste of Sweet-Stuffed Duck followed by Apple Spanakopita, he lists what he has learnt today. The Moon Sugar seasoning in his meal has made him very happy : )

    This one asked Senandil if he had any books about Belharza or minotaurs in general, and after the Altmer had browsed the shelves for a few moments, he brought Khajiit a tome called On Minotaurs – by Nonus Caprenius. This is a fascinating book and challenges this one’s prejudices. Here is an excerpt:

    In the course of my research into the origins of the Empire, specifically the rise and fall of the Alessian Order, I came across a wondrous thing. Hidden in the background, often purposely obscured but still visible to those of us who know what to look for, was an entire race of humanoids who have been all but stricken from the historic record. This crime against history must not stand, and I pledge to restore these creatures to their proper place in the chronicle of the Empire.

    I'm referring, of course, to the maligned and misunderstood minotaur. These humanoids with bodies that resemble humans and heads that resemble bulls trace their lineage to Empress Alessia herself. While no period records survive to state the truth of the situation, many ancient documents from later periods speak of a relationship between the Slave-Queen and Kynareth's son, Morihaus, whom the Divine sent to aid and advise Alessia. Often depicted as a minotaur, the demigod Morihaus, I believe, gave rise to the race through his dalliances with the Slave-Queen and the birth of her son, Belharza the Man-Bull.

    This is the piece of the puzzle this one was missing! Belharza was Saint Alessia’s son! I asked Senandil where such information came from, his reply was to show Khajiit the Song of Pelinal, a book detailing the legend of the Slave Rebellion in the First Era. The following passage struck this one as pertinent:

     Never did Pelinal counsel Morihaus in time of war, for the man-bull fought magnificently, and led men well, and never resorted to Madness, but the Whitestrake did warn against the growing love with Perrif. "We are ada, Mor, and change things through love. We must take care lest we beget more monsters on this earth. If you do not desist, she will take to you, and you will transform all Cyrod if you do this." And to this the bull became shy, for he was a bull, and he felt his form too ugly for the Parvania at all times, especially when she disrobed for him. He snorted, though, and shook his nose-hoop into the light of the Secunda moon and said, "She is like this shine on my nose-hoop here: an accident sometimes, but whenever I move my head at night, she is there. And so you know what you ask is impossible."

    It is fascinating that a myth has been backed up in three separate sources, giving weight to Nonus Caprenius’ claims that minotaurs are the degenerate offspring of Morihaus and the Alessia. By studying a remaining fragment of an ancient tablet, known as the Belharza Stone, Nonus Caprenius demonstrates that the figure depicted is himself a minotaur and none other than Belharza.

    Caprenius is very anti-Alessian Order in his writing, asserting that “By the cut of their armor and the shape of their spears, I believe the so-called enemies depicted in the carving are actually fanatical precursors of Alessian troops. The spears, jabbed directly at the minotaur's heart, indicate that these proto-Alessians killed or drove off the minotaurs, thus beginning the decline of the race that we still see in evidence in the current day.”

    The scholar closes by suggesting that those interested should visit ancient sites of Imperial Significance, places he believes minotaurs gather because of “an instinctual memory of a time when they were fierce defenders of the fledgling Empire.”

    Khajiit thinks he will visit some of the old Ayleid ruins along the shore of Lake Rumare tomorrow, as this is the second time this connection has been mentioned. Senandil said he would procure some books from the Arcane University for me to read tomorrow evening.

     

    Fanacasecul

    Seventh of Rain’s Hand

    The Year of Zenithar, the one-hundredth and ninetieth year of the Fourth Era.

    This one is excited, although his journal is damp. Fanacasecul is a very soggy ruin, and Spangles does not share my joy. I don’t care, the fat one needed a bath! Khajiit is happy because he saw minotaurs! It is rare to see them in large numbers, the one khajiit slew in revenge for RiMarius was typical of the race, alone and territorial. Yet now Khajiit thinks these aggressive loners may actually be the lookouts or territory guardians for their tribe.

    From a safe distance, this one observed the clan appearing to be engaged in a contest, two of the biggest out of the twenty-odd males were locking horns and wrestling under the eyes of the eldest, a bull who must only be the shaman. Khajiit thinks they knew he was there, for they would, at times, sniff the air before gazing right at him and Spangles. This one believes they are only aggressive if one happens to get too close. Poor Ri’Marius, he must have trespassed into the territory of a clan.

    The presence of what was unmistakably a female among the throng was incredible, this one had never thought he would see one. Soon after the contest had a clear victor – the one who wasn’t dead - the group dispersed, disappearing into the woods, the winner - who we would colloquially call a Minotaur Lord - accompanying the ladytaur.

    Khajiit will head back to the First Edition to speak with the Altmer and see what other books have been found.

    The King and Queen Tavern

    Eighth of Rain’s Hand

    The Year of Zenithar, the one-hundredth and ninetieth year of the Fourth Era.

    Serandil came through for Khajiit. We shared a meal of Minotaur Slumgullion, a stew made from minotaur meat (donated by the losing bull), pumpkins and millet. This dish, the Altmer claims, was popular in the Second Era, and It’s fortifying effects on this one’s vitality and magickal reserves is in no doubt. The sprinkling of sugar helps.

    Khajiit writes this journal entry now as Spangles dozes by the fire, this one also feeling his eyes droop. Besides the recipe for minotaur soup, the Altmer also brought Khajiit Various Studies on the Fauna of Cyrodiil, by one Brenus Astis. The relevant paragraph is as follows:

    ...though once thought to be intelligent. They are social creatures, often appearing in groups numbering twenty or more. The largest male dominates this clan structure, and seems to have breeding rights with all females of reproductive age. Younger males will often challenge the older, dominant males in a fight to the death. Their horns locked, the two minotaurs will wrestle until one can no longer continue. This often....

    [Missing]

    That must have been what this one witnessed at Fanacasecul. Khajiit now looks at Minotaurs with sympathy. For if these findings from greater scholars than this simple pilgrim are to be believed, which this one does after weighing the facts with an open mind, the bull-men of Cyrodiil are the remains of a once-mighty race through which the blood of the ada flows. Whether they are drawn to ancient Imperial sites or Ayleid ruins by a primitive ancestral memory or whether the shamans of the race hope to harness Welkynd magic in order to recapture their former selves is not known to this one. What is not in doubt, though, is that these fierce and formidable foes are deserving of the greatest respect for the role they once played in the founding of the Empire.

    As the moons shine their light through the frosty glass of this one’s window, Khajiit can’t help but wonder if there are other examples of once-proud races who were once as great as man, mer or Khajiit. Is this fall from grace isolated to the Minotaur alone? The implications that the Alessian Order are responsible for the degeneration of the species troubles this one greatly. Could the collective unconsciousness of a predominating culture somehow change and subjugate the races around them, turning them steadily into little more than animals as mass-perceptions change over a great period of time? This one does not know, and the moon sugar has made him too relaxed to write more this day. He will dream on this.

    Editors Note: This journal fragment was found in a backpack in the Stillborn Cave, a Falmer lair deep in frozen north of Skyrim. The owner of the backpack remains unaccounted for to this day.

  • April 4
    No surprise Phil has chosen to write something close to his Starry-Heart. :) Minotaurs are definitely interesting and if all this can be believed it supports the fact that Morihaus was Man-Bull, some kind of proto-minotaur maybe? Also I always liked the reference about Alessians being on some kind of holy crusade against minotaurs, it portrays their fanatical side very well. Good job. And I dig the artwork.
  • Member
    April 6

    Ha! Thanks Karves, sorry I missed your reply. Do i have a heart? I thought it more a red rage shaped diamond-fashion, singing like a mindless dragon :D  

    I left it late to enroll for this and was hoping nobody would take the 'tors before me. What strikes me is that, unless I am much mistaken, prior to that  the only in-game source hinting at the genesis of the minotaur was the Song, all else was oog. So we have another example of ESO lore backing up oog sources - the painted cows, the Tract of Merid-Nunda backing up the Imperial Census of Daedra Lords, and this one backing up the quotes. 

    Anyway, thanks for the kind words, it was a fun event and I enjoyed writing from a Khajiit pov :D The art's cool, I wanted a scrapbook feel and thought keeping things black and white suited it :)

  • April 6

    Wow! What a magnificent piece, not only is it written so beautifully, but also from the perspective of such an adorable gentlecat))) A work befitting a true scholar, such and unbiased approach is so rare and delighting, a pure joy to read)) And you seem to gather all the sources there are. Seeing such beauty just warms this Justiciar's heart so she now can't stop smiling from ear to ear and half of her colleagues probably think she is crazy (if they didn't think that before)))))

  • Member
    April 8

    What a lovely thing to say, thank you JT :)

  • April 8

    I merely stated the obvious. Finally an unbiased glance at the Alessian Order, that is rare by itself. And there are fluffy kitties, that's a total winXD By the way, speaking of the kitty, his name suggests that he is a warrior, yet he values knowledge and possesses admirable wisdom. Isn't this an example everyone should aspire to?