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Legendary Monsters and Myths of Faerûn
By Jared Rascher \ David E
The Tale of the Medusa Queen
The Tale of the First Minotaur
The Centaur and the Werewolf
The Tale of the Medusa Queen (by Jared Rascher)
The following is the legend of the Medusa Queen, a legend that is often told within the clergy and among the faithful of the Firehair, Sune, Goddess of Beauty. Many a paladin of the faith have considered it a sacred duty to watch for signs of the Medusa Queen, for slaying it would be considered one of the greatest accomplishments in the eyes of the Goddess of Passion and Love.
Long, long ago, there was a priestess of the goddess Sune, and this priestess was a being of exceptional beauty. She grew vain and arrogant, and expected those other members of the faith to consider her the paragon of what a Sunite should be. Sune was displeased with the hubris of her priestess, but still the priestess spread beauty and passion where she walked, so she had not lost the favor of the Firehair.
Eventually, the vain cleric heard rumors of the one Sunite more fair than even she. The priestess followed these rumors to another follower of the Firehair, this one said to be blessed with a trace of the blood of the goddess herself. Indeed, the younger priestess was a breathtaking sight, and the older priestess was furious to have found such a rival.
The older priestess set upon the younger late at night, and with a knife she marred the girl's face, ruining her beauty. Vindicated, she cried out to Sune in her pride, asking the goddess who her most beautiful servant was now.
Sune was horrified by what she had done, and withdrew her favor from the priestess, and banished her from all Sunite temples. Further, all Sunites were given her image in their minds, a reminder of the Firehair's cesure, and no Sunite was to speak with nor give aid to the fallen cleric.
The priestess swore that she would have her revenge upon her former goddess, and eventually she sought out the most handsome and virile of all of Sune's male priesthood. The man was wary of her, but in truth, he had been haunted by the image in his mind of the banished Sunite, and longed to see her face up close.
The fallen cleric seduced the male Sunite on the Altar of Sune in one of her most sacred temples. When the man realized what he had done, he ran in shame from the temple, and Sune turned her wrath on the fallen cleric once again. Sune cursed the woman's shining tresses, so that they moved constantly, whirling and tangled as if whipped by the wind. She also made the fallen one's eyes so deep that to gaze into them made anyone who looked upon her fall unconcious, not able to remember the face they had just seen. Sune took the image of the fallen priestess from all of her follower's minds, and told the former priestess that her beauty was now doomed to be forgotten.
In her despair, the woman cried out, wishing that she had never known the favor of Sune, that she had never known the blessings of her beauty, and that she never was moved by passions. The depths of her despair and loss reached out to Shar, the goddess of the night and loss, and Shar granted the fallen one's wishes.
The fallen cleric's hair turned from a tangled, wind tossed mass, into a mass of serpents, venemous and dangerous. Her gaze no longer caused those who gazed upon her to forget her beauty, but rather they froze, petrified in fear as they gazed into the depths of her hatred. She would turn her victims to stone.
The Medusa Queen, as she is now known, took several slaves as her playthings, and from her dalliances were born the whole race of vile creatures known as medusas.
Shar granted the Medusa Queen a longevity to match her hatred for Sune and her followers, and beauty in general, and thus, she may still live on, enslaving lovers, slaying those that displease her and creating a legion of statues made of the same cold stone as her heart.
The Tale of the First Minotaur (By Jared Rascher)
The following tale is an ancient one, at one time told among the followers of Garagos, but with the waning of the importance of that god's faith, the myth is fading from the common vernacular. Some sages still know of this tale, and many bards have written ballads based on various versions of the tale. What follows is the most common accounting of the legend.
There was a great warleader among the followers of Garagos, a warleader that was constantly at war, bathing in the blood of his enemies. Never did he sue for peace, and the spoils of war meant little to him, only the promise of more bloodshed and more challenge for his sword arm.
Among his people, another was according the same status as he, a jovial man and fellow warleader, a man renowned not only for his sword arm, but for his wit and smile. Surely this man could not also be in the favor of Garagos, the first war leader thought. He grew envious of the man's position and his standing, and when he first had the oppourtunity, the first war leader fell upon the second.
The jovial man defeated the first war leader, but would not kill him, and the warleader felt burning shame. He would find a means to defeat the man, to prove he was the better.
The warleader asked far and wide about the means by which he might be made even greater, dispite his already famous skill with the sword. Eventually a twisted old man heard of his inquireries, and told him of a name to speak, alone, at night, and that name would have the power to answer his question.
That very night, the warleader spoke the name the twisted old man supplied him, and a great demon, one with the muscular body of a giant and the head of a great, fearsome bull. The demon told the man that if he would brand the rune of the demon on his chest, and if he would dedicate the heart of his fallen rival to the demon, the demon would help him with his desires.
The warleader agreed, and the demon lord showed the warleader a great labyrinth, which contained a glittering treasure hoard in its center. The warleader was to challenge the other man, the jovial warrior, to navigate the labyrinth, the the one who first found the treasure would bow to the other, ackowlaging him the greater warrior. But to claim the treasure in the center of the maze, the victor would have to slay a great beast, a powerful dire bull.
The warleader's rival accepted his challenge, and each man brought their men and their families with them to watch the competition. The Demon Lord had blessed the warleader with an uncanny knack to navigate mazes, and so the warleader had an advantage. He followed his rival, just far enough back to keep an eye on him, waiting to kill his rival and then blame his death on the dire bull.
His rival was quicker of wit than the warleader realized though, and made it to the heart of the maze, where the treasure and the dire bull awaited him. Dispite his valliant effort and skill at arms, the jovial man died at the horns of the dire bull. The warleader laughted at the death of his rival.
The warleader however, could not kill the beast. He struggled mightily, was wounded, and retreated into the maze. He called out Garagos' name, asking for aid in killing the beast. And he heard the voice of his god.
Garagos told him that no follower of the Reaver would resort to guile and trickery when he could best his foe on the field of battle. No follower of Garagos should still live when he was bested in a duel. He would receive no help from the Reaver this day.
The warleader was incensed, but then he heard another voice. The voice of the Demon Lord was in his mind, and it told him that if he would dedicate himself and all of his children to the Demon Lord, the Demon Lord would grant the warleader the power to best the dire bull.
The warleader agreed, and he strode back to the center of the maze. He grabbed the dire bull's horns, and pushed. He felt that he was pushing the beast back, that he was forcing it to its knees, and he twisted its head and snapped the great beast's head.
When he looked down, he saw that he had taken on the aspect of the bull. He was covered in fur, and he now had a snout and horns. He screamed out toward the Demon Lord, and the Demon answered him.
The Demon Lord told the man to use his bellowing voice to call to his followers and their families, that if they would meet him in the center of the maze, he would share the riches with the men and their families. Then he told the warleader to hide in the maze and slay every man and their sons and to take the wives and daughters as his harem.
The warleader did so, and thus was born the first generation of minotaurs, consecrated to a demon lord.
The Centaur and the Werewolf (By David E)
The myth of the Great Mare, as the first centaur is often referred to, is an old one. The tale varies with its teller; the elves believe that the first centaur was descended from the Fair Folk, while Men point to the round ears found on some centaurs as proof of their distant relationship to humankind. Whatever the case, the myth is popular among the faithful of Mielikki, who view the story as a perfect example of the benevolence of the Lady of the Forest.
Long ago, when the great forests once covered Faerûn like the vastness of an ocean, a band of foresters guarded Our Lady of the Forest’s woodland realms. For their selfless efforts in the defense of the forest and its creatures, these rangers were blessed by Mielikki with superb martial prowess and the power of nature itself.
Among these blessed foresters, the faith and fervor of a young priestess of Mielikki shone the brightest. She held a special love for the weakest of the forest’s creatures; when not patrolling the forest against the depredations of unnatural beasts, she spent her days caring for the injured and infirm. So great was the love of nature’s children for the priestess that Mielikki named the young woman as one of her mortal champions upon Faerûn.
Word of the priestess’ kindness, however, also reached the ears of Malar. While the Lord of Beasts hated all of the rangers for their defense of the forest realms’ creatures, he particularly loathed the champion of Mielikki, whose steadfast defense of the weak creatures of the forest upset the natural primacy of his beasts. This defender of the forest should be culled by the predators, he connived, so that the fierce may rule the timid. So Malar set out to destroy Mielikki’s champion and, in doing so, break the heart of his hated rival.
While stalking through the outskirts of this woodland realm, Malar came upon an immense wolf, emaciated and ravenous with hunger. Without pity, the Lord of Beasts used fell magic to warp the poor creature’s body and mind to his cruel purpose. The wolf-beast before Malar no longer bore a resemblance to one of nature’s children. Its head was that of a wolf, but its maw was filled with wicked fangs and twisted into a hideous, mocking grin. Its body was that of a man, but its hands ended in the talons of a wolf and its hide was covered with fur matted with blood. The Lord of Beasts was pleased, and bid his new creation to slay the champion of Mielikki in her woodland realm.
In the dead of night, the wolf-beast set upon the priestess. She fought valiantly against the creature, but neither her martial skill nor the powers of nature at her command could fell the beast. She fled into the depths of the forest and in her terror prayed that the Lady of the Forest grant her the swiftness of wild horses. Mielikki, filled with great pity, granted her champion’s request.
Thus, by the grace of Our Lady of the Forest, the priestess was transformed into a great mare. She flew like a summer breeze through the maze of the forest, dancing and weaving between the trees. Yet the bloodlust of the wolf-beast would not be denied. The creature ran as if the claws of the Lord of Beasts were at its very backside. With the savagery of Malar himself, the wolf-beast tore into the mare again and again until her resplendent white coat was drenched by rivulets of blood. The mare, unable to voice a prayer to her goddess for aid, bellowed out in agony and collapsed in the dirt.
Yet Mielikki had not forgotten her beloved champion. Furious that the mare could not protect herself against the wolf-beast, Our Lady of the Forest once again worked her magic upon her, granting her both the swiftness of a mare and the hands of a warrior. The champion, blessed with the body of a mare and the torso of a young woman, rose from the forest floor. She carried weapons and armor of the purest silver, emblazoned with the image of a unicorn rearing back as if in battle.
With the wrath of nature itself, the champion galloped forth and speared the wolf-beast with her lance. The creature howled in agony, but managed to free itself of her weapon even as her scimitar bit deep into its flesh. The wolf-beast, robbed of an easy prey and grievously wounded, fled with great haste from the forest.
Mielikki, impressed by the implacable faith of her champion, offered her the choice to either return to the form of a young woman and follow the path of priesthood, or to remain a centaur, infused with the divine essence of Mielikki herself. The champion, recognizing the extraordinary gift that had been presented to her by her goddess, elected to remain a centaur.
From this champion, the race of the centaurs slowly came into being. With the grace of Our Lady of the Forest, she taught the others to love and protect nature as their home, as she did. Some say she passed on to the great woodland realm of Mielikki after faithfully serving her goddess for many hundreds of years. Perhaps, though, she still wanders the great forests of Faerûn, resplendent in her silver armor, defending her people and her forest home.
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