“They were one of the first people to live in the valley, and they’re very ill-tempered. They’ve got the body of a man, but the head and hooves of an animal.”
“That doesn’t seem too bad.”
“Maybe not to you, but you’ve probably never met a goat with a bad attitude who could talk and swing a club.”
Sarah pursed her lips and tried to imagine such a creature. Her parents had taken her to her uncle’s farm in the country once as a vacation. The cows were heavy and smelly, so she avoided them. The horses, though, got her attention. She particularly liked one black mare…until it bit her on the shoulder. She still had a small red mark from the teeth. “Okay,” she said. “I can see how those could be a problem.”
If any creatures can claim to be natives of Greystone Valley, it would be the beast-men. Though not as old as the dragons or the fey, the beast-men eagerly answered the Wizard’s call while other creatures lingered in their old worlds. Perhaps it was a desire to escape their reputation as evil monsters in their homelands, or perhaps they saw it as a chance to conquer a new world. Whatever the reason, the beast-men are one of the older races of the valley, although they rarely get the recognition they feel they deserve. Some of the best-known facts about beast-men are presented below.
1) Almost all of them have hooves. Beast-men have animal heads, human bodies, and the lower legs of a beast. With almost no exceptions, they tend to resemble hoofed creatures such as horses, goats, and boars. Some people claim to have seen beast-men that resemble other creatures, such as cats and birds, but these reports are unconfirmed.
2) They tend to be very stubborn and ill-tempered. Beast-men see themselves as the rightful rulers of the land, but they don’t have the numbers that humans do. For that reason, they tend to be mean to humans unless bribed or flattered. Once a beast-man gets an idea in its head, it tends not to let that idea go. This can lead to a very obsessive personality. For example, one legendary beast-man, Minos, is an expert at mazes and supposedly has spent years crafting an elaborate maze underneath the valley, stopping only for food and drink. This stubbornness sometimes leads humans to assume that beast-men are stupid. In reality, they are about as smart as an average person, but tend to be a bit more short-sighted when it comes to things they have not set their minds to.
3) They are longer-lived than humans. A typical beast-man lives about twice as long as the average human. This is another reason they don’t typically associate with humans unless bribed or forced into servitude. They don’t like getting attached to humans, since the average human will die almost a full 100 years before a beast-man.
4) They hate and fear magic. The first beast-men came to Greystone Valley believing that the Wizard was going to give them a chance to rule the land. When he used his spells to preserve life rather than let any one race rule, they felt betrayed. Some even attempted to attack the Wizard, and faced the full wrath of his magic as a result. Since then, beast-men have come to hate magic of any sort. They don’t trust wizards, and even avoid using beneficial magic like enchanted swords or rings. At the same time, they are also fearful of the power of magic. Somebody who can cast spells or who wields a magical sword can intimidate beast-men and gain a major advantage over them.
The beast-men in Greystone Valley are servants of the warlord Baelan, cowed into his service out of fear of his magical sword. The most prominent beast-man is Aries, a massive ram-man who serves as Baelan’s second in command.
Image: Minotaure Menace by lyonart