City States

The City State of Tauria

To live is to seek adventure, and to seek adventure is to experience glorious combat – that is the decree of Minos, Tauria’s warrior king and patron god. Minos is the bull-spirited god of adventure and combat, ever seeking glory by battering his enemies and celebrating his victories through bombastic revelries. For Minos, questing and warfare are not to be looked at through the excruciatingly dull lens of practicality; instead, they are affairs worthy of ceremony and merriment, for a good fight or a perilous adventure are divine food for the soul. As such, Minos’ personality is a multi-faceted beast in its own right. On the one hand, he can be merry and boastful, spontaneous and ready to make allowance. On the other, he is known to be temperamental and vengeful, often criticized as being shallow and unyielding when some unseen line has been crossed. While such mood swings can appear petty and juvenile to the uninitiated, the faithful of Tauria understand and embrace that duality as part of their god’s passion and zest for life – pointing at the might and splendor of their own city to offer evidence.

Should one walk the streets of Tauria for the first time, one would think they lucked upon a holiday. The streets are perpetually abuzz with rambunctious melodies, the clattering of chalices, and the thunderous boasts of veteran warriors, swimming in a sea of colorful statues and murals, alongside effigies of bull-horns and Minos’ weapon of choice, the double-sided axe. To propagate such elevated spirits, a part of Minos’ clergy, known as Rhapsodoi, act as bards and storytellers of immense skill – sharing tales of epic proportions to stoke the lust for glory and adventure across the City State. The temple of this priesthood, and the center of such sacred sagas and recollections, are the Halls of Revelry: this vast gallery houses a truly immense feasting table, running across the entire length of the building and filled with potent alcohol and mouthwatering foodstuffs. Minos’ faithful fighters flock to the great hall in droves, feasting while listening to magnificent tales of their city’s greatest warriors – drawing divine inspiration before they eventually depart to fight in the bull god’s name. Visitors are allowed in the Halls and are sometimes even invited to the table, while the Rhapsodoi accept donations, readily offering their gratitude in the form of information about challenges and chances for warriors to prove themselves. It should come as no surprise that Minotaurs are ever welcome in the Halls, offered shelter and sustenance if needed – before they are sent to the acropolis of Kefala.

While the city’s center of trade and culture lives in a festive atmosphere that leaks to neighboring districts, the city’s expansive acropolis tells another tale. Set atop the fortified Kefala plateau and dominating the city’s landscape, it houses the Kathapsis, the god’s holiest of holies, where Minos’ own arms and armor rest. While the city’s civilians and veterans revel below, the Kefala houses the god’s training grounds. Here, faithful of the bull god come to hone their warrior skills, both as individuals and as soldiers. Little is colorful about the soldiers’ training, with discipline, efficiency and coordination valued greatly; and punishments, exacted by the god’s other part of the clergy, the Kerasforoi, are harsh for those who fail to follow mandates or break formation. At the same time, however, each soldier is individually trained in any style of combat they prefer, often choosing techniques that lean towards spectacle and flamboyancy. While the two seem conflicting, with the efficiency of the method challenged by doubters, the God’s aim is simple: he wants brutal and efficient armies, manned by soldiers who can excel individually and break the spirit of the enemy, while rallying their allies behind heroic deeds.

The pinnacle of individual training is reached in the Pantaurion, the gateway to the acropolis and Tauria’s grand arena, which acts as a gathering nexus for most of the city’s warriors. Such events are frequent and bloody, attracting warriors from all walks of life – both human and Bred – and forging combatants without equal. The events that take place within Minos’ sacred arena are many, ranging from tense duels to the death, vicious assaults between minor gladiatorial armies, bestial attacks, cavalry skirmishes, and many other such showcases of battle-centric prowess. 

The most famous event that takes place in the arena is the Labor of Minos – a survival challenge that is of the utmost importance to the bull god. During said trial, the main fighting platform is withdrawn to reveal a sprawling maze, digging deep within the Kefala hill underneath, and several contestants are hoisted into its center while blindfolded. When completely lowered, the trial-takers remove their coverings and are released from their harnesses: their goal is to exit the maze by following the many clues that are strewn throughout its winding corridors. Alongside the maze-trotters, two monstrous bulls are unleashed into the maze from its edges, seeking to trample all competitors they come across into a meaty pulp. Such bulls are specially bred and act as avatars of the deity’s earthy presence. Each bull stands at twice the height of an average man and is four times as wide – while being unnaturally muscled and having hides that are said to have the hardness of metal. Additionally, the maze itself is filled with traps and is able to mechanically alter certain paths and corridors – making the ordeal that much more challenging. Those that survive the Labor of Minos, gain the right to touch the god’s armaments in the Kathapsis and, it is said, are visited by the bull god himself, forever gaining his divine protection.

In terms of leadership, the city is ruled by its God and his clergy – at least in principle. In practice, Tauria is led by a largely ecclesiastical oligarchy, who rule along with a select council of elders and individuals of note that represent the major factions that make up Tauria’s infrastructure, including wealthy merchants, and military leaders of note. Tauria rarely turns its attention towards the other major City States – unless, of course, Minos takes offense at something… Instead, the city favors expansionist policies towards the west and north. With the tales of war against the Telian Empire and the Free Cities of the Alerian Plains still echoing proudly in the Halls of Revelry, Tauria continues to reach beyond its borders whenever the opportunity arises. Today, the colony and fortress city of Boubalia is positioned close to the borders between the City States Peninsula and the Allerian Plains, acting as the spearhead of the bull god’s maneuvers in the west. Such plans, however, have been severely hampered as of late, due to the recent arrival of the Sorcerer Kings in the region, with the subsequent founding of their settlement of Taj’Khinjaha dragging valuable land and trade further away from Tauria’s grip. The most striking example of Tauria’s daring bravado and expansionism is the colony of Abydos: located at the southern portion of the Weaver Courts, the heavily fortified settlement is the only known example of foreign occupation near the enigmatic region. Lastly, the island of Kammeni, where once the grand city of Feera stood, and the town of Voupolis, openly serve as Tauria’s vassals, brought to heel in centuries past, after offending the bull god – yet rumors whisper that the two cities are working in secret towards a joint rebellion. Tauria’s unfettered and unapologetic diplomatic approach has granted it multiple enemies – including other City States and powers from within the Hundred Kingdoms. On the surface, Minos seems unaffected and unconcerned. However, this is not all that is encompassed within the Bull God’s sphere of influence, for Minos is a passionate god, with a drive for might and glory that reaches into the farthest and most remote corners of Eä.

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