The 2000 Year Epic Campaign
You grew up a Longhorn, a member of a minotaur herd on an island off the coast of Aqium. Like all of the many herds or tribes of minotaurs in Aqium, your life was for Astriminar the Lich. Members of a herd never leave, except when Astriminar commanded it, and it was to join his army. This was the greatest honor a minotaur could experience; hand selected over other warriors of your herd to serve the greater good.
That’s why it was such a shock when you left the herd voluntarily.
You were too young to be selected to serve Astriminar the last time representatives came to your town, but your mother assured that you would be the top selection on the next trip, “Wait for your time, young Brodus.”
Growing up on an island, even though it wasn’t far from the mainland of Aqium, gave you a sense of separation. The army seemed far away. The wizards seemed imaginary, the undead seemed like just a rumor. You wanted something real, something you could believe in.
Your herd believed in gods of the Upper Planes, but what evidence did they have that they even existed? What divine powers coursed through the veins of the Longhorn Herd? None! We are each on our own, no gods to look over us.
Wanting more from life you would watch for ships sailing into the docks. As a youth you would keep an eye out for the Parados Shipping Company ships. They were a merchant-based kingdom called Dolaneg. They brought goods to the island to sell and took back products made by the herd. But they were interesting. And different. They came from a faraway land, with different stories and cultures. You recognized familiar faces from previous stops, and struck up friendships with them. You were just fascinated by them and what their world was like.
Then nine years ago they stopped coming.
The Dolaneg kingdom was wiped out by Aqium forces. Our people did this. Longhorns that were honored to join the army stormed the beaches of Dolaneg and destroyed their people, and burned down their towns.
Mirkar Longhorn, an older minotaur that was selected to serve last time around, returned to the herd. He was unceremoniously dropped off by Aqium Wizards and left. Mirkar was beast, the tallest and strongest of the herd. Now he was a shell of himself, both of his horns broken, and no fight left in him. He was nearly catatonic.
The town shaman said he would be allowed to live out his days in comfort surrounded by family, and everyone felt sympathy for him. You only felt rage.
How could this happen? What happened? We dedicate our strongest warrior to Astriminar and this is what happens to that loyalty? Fuck this!
Your mother sensed your anger and warned you to get your act together as the Aqium reps will be by next week to recruit more warriors.
Furious and confused you stormed off down to the docks. You would do this as a kid, the distraction of ships and other lands would calm your anger. But alas, there were very few ships sailing into the docks since the Great War started.
But today was different. A new merchant ship was docked with an elf as a captain. His name was Kindroth and you struck up a conversation with him. His ship, the Blacksail, transported goods back and forth through the war. It was a difficult and dangerous job, but Kindroth was a veteran of this. You told him that you were joining the army next week and the elf just shook his head. “I’ve seen, first hand, what they will put you through. No honor, no justice, just slave warriors.”
You stared at the ground. This is what will be in store for you. Will you go mad, like Mirkar? And what happens to all the other Longhorns throughout the years? Are they all dead? All mad?
Kindroth sensed your confusion. “Listen kid. You don’t want to join the army, but you can’t avoid it. Not if you stay here.”
You looked up at him. What is he saying?
“Come with us. We can sneak you onboard and get you out of here. I can put you in touch with some good people back in Decius. At least you can decide your own fate there.”
You agreed and raced home to grab some stuff. Your mother knew immediately what you were doing. She yelled, she insulted, she called you names. Deserter, Quitter, Weak, and that you had no honor. “No one leaves the Longhorns!”
You snarled back, “I do!”
Your mother shook her head, spoke softly but firmly. “Then I curse you. I curse you Brodus Longhorn and all that you are. I curse the water you drink and the food you eat. I curse you from sunrise to sundown and in the darkness between.”
Your eyes widen. You’ve seen your mother angry before, yelling at the top of her lungs. But this was different. Quiet and calm was pure hatred towards you.
Grabbing your greataxe you slung it over your shoulder and looked back at your mother one last time. She was already gone.
It took you a couple of days to get over the seasickness, but once you did you enjoyed the open water and the smell of the sea. A few more days and you could make out the coast of the Decius continent. Kindroth explained that the Blacksail was heading for the island town on Basti, just inside the Ilthor Kingdom border.
There was a commotion on deck. Orders were being barked out, sailors scrambled around, and all eyes went to the captain.
He ordered the Blacksail to pull up alongside an Ilthor ship and as you near you saw a fight taking place onboard. A handful of humans fighting off a wave of undead. “Prepare to board!” shouted captain Kindroth.
Instinctively you grabbed your greataxe, but felt the assured hand on Kindroth on your shoulder. “You don’t have to. This is one of those choices we talked about. It’s completely up to you.”
You smiled, it was the first time in your life that someone gave you a choice.
Not waiting for the planks to lower, you leapt over to the ship, your heart full of rage. You interposed yourself between the humans and the undead and began dropping zombies and skeletons left and right. You worked your way through them and saw a lone Aqium Wizard behind them. His hands started to move in arcane patterns, he squinted his eyes at you, “Filthy traitor!” he shouted out.
You drew your great axe over your head and with all of your might threw it at him as hard as you could, impaling him on the masthead. Later it would take three men to pull your axe out.
A human on board the ship calmly walked over as you were regaining your composure from the battle. He pointed to the undead lying around you, “Do you hate them?”
The human pointed to the dead wizard, “What about him?”
“Yes. One hundred times, yes.”
The man smiled and nodded. “I might have a job for you.”
You thanked Kindroth for his help and spent the next three weeks with that human. His name was Chancellor Gavin, a high ranking official in the Ilthor Kingdom and he is putting together an elite strike force to win the Great War against the Aqium aggressors.
You liked this idea. Maybe one day, after the war, you could return to your herd and free them from the shackles placed on them by Astriminar.
If your mother doesn’t kill you first.