The prelude to a story I'm writing and will undoubtedly try to publish somewhere.
| Names are an important part of any culture, whether they are for title or simply for individuality. So it is also true for centaur society, especially in the lands across the ocean, where there is magic and centaurs rule their domains with all the force of fifty generations.
There is a name in centaur lore that causes small children to cower beside their mothers and desperately cling to their torches. It is the name of the slayer of tribes, the slayer of warriors. While stallions laugh and pound their hooves in mockery, a few ancient elders warn them to close their huts off at night and hold their foals close, lest this slayer of legend take them as a prize, and in their hearts the stallions quake.
But now most of the elders have died and the legend is simply legend, and the only thing keeping it alive is the strange tribe of dark centaurs that haunt the mountains, claiming to be the only line of pure descendants of the slayer. They swoop down with weapons laced and throbbing with enchantments, their war tactics cruel and swift and merciless, taking mares as slaves and foals as studs, and taking fillies as gifts for other tribes.
They never kill the mares or the young.
This is a terrible tribe, said to have been trained by the slayer with each new generation, and now that the legend has gone they train on their own, by strict rules laid down for them by those first trained. They say that slaves are made to spar with foals and fillies for practice, and if they die then they are replaced. Slave mares feed the newborns and cook for the tribe, doing housewifely things that the tribe’s mares rarely have time for. Tribe members are not permitted to use the female slaves for mating purposes, and the males are only used if the tribe looks to be short on slaves—they are never used for the tribe’s growth. The breaking of these rules results in the death of the slave and the death of they who violated the slave, unless the slave violated is female and pregnant, in which case she and her young will both be allowed to live, but the young will be given the choice of being a slave or an outcast when it reaches the age of fifteen.
The rules of the tribe are still more intricate—when raiding a village an oddly marked centaur should be treated like royalty, and be allowed to live with the choice of being a slave or being sold. Any weapons found during the raid must be destroyed, and the dead must be burned and recorded. Any treasures found must also be recorded and destroyed. The entire village must be burned to the ground and marked as a burial ground and be replanted. All recordings must be enchanted to repel rain and dirt, bound in leather made from dragon skin, and hidden in a specific cave on a specific mountain.
The tribe is settled on a mountain, living in caves and under outcroppings of rock, having good relations with the dragons and Dragon-Children of the area, but what makes this tribe truly odd is that both mares and stallions are trained to fight. Mares wield spears and arrows, and stallions carry swords and maces, as these are heavier.
Another oddity of this tribe is that there is a site below the mountain, within view of the cave of recordings, that they have marked as sacred, holding that their deity resides there and that it is the gateway to the resting place of all great centaurs. There is a statue there of a mare with a dagger through her heart, holding back two viciously fighting stallions armed with a spear and a sword. The one holding a spear has run it through both the mare and the other stallion, and the other has done the same with his sword. The look on the mare’s face is both pained and loving, though parts of her chest and flank have been torn and gouged.
This is where the slayer went to mourn life, and was never seen again.
The tribe is still there, and this is the story of the legend that they hold to be their beginning.