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ID: 3730

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March 16, 2007, 2:40 am

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Wulfhere

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The Centaurim

By:

I would be willing, yes glad, to see a battle every day during my life.
George Armstrong Custer

Warning
Graphic imagry, not for the squeamish.
Thank You

Appearance
The Centaurim at first glance look very much like the typical centaur archetype, that is a human torso complete with head and arms attached to the shoulder of an equine body. This is where similarity to the traditional centaurs end. The joining of the human and equine parts upon closer inspection is artificial, the skin and muscle held in place by stitching of the flesh. If the muscle were flayed away, the grafting continues into the skeletal system. The neck vertebrae of the horse are fused and reinforced to hold the weight of the human torso, while the human spine is also reinforced at the anchor point between the two species’ bodies. While the number of horse bloodlines and human races are quite diverse, the Centaurim were manufactured almost exclusively from the Aberthol steppe horse, and the associated Aberthol nomads who rode said horses to tend their herbs of bison and half feral cattle.

The Creation Process
Ideal candidates to become Centaurim are generally the team of an Aberthol Nomad, and his horse. The importance of the horse to said nomads ensures that riders have very strong bonds with their mounts, many being treated better than the wives of the nomads. Once a horse and rider are both captured alive, the process can begin.

The nomad, preserved by life oriented magics, is literally chopped in half just above the pubic bone. The legs, hips, and now redundant viscera are discarded or given to necromantic students to practice on. The horse is given a more gruesome treatment, the life force of the animal bonded to a temporary object. The head and most of the neck vertebrae are removed and the two spines are fused together, though a small range of movement is still allowed by this heavy joint. Arteries are connected with fine sewing, nerves aligned, and the esophagus is lengthened to connect the human mouth to the horse gut. The spirit of the animal is reintroduced and with soul altering magics, the horse and rider are literally melded into a single mind and spirit. This melding is fairly traumatic, turning decades of human memory and years of horse thoughts into a jumbled mess of incoherent dreams and half ideas.

Once completed, the new Centaurim is subjected to a battery of motor tests, administration of mind controlling magics and geased behavior programs. The monster is left to brood upon its condition, mixing the impulsive nature of the horse stew with the latent outrage of the human soul mangled. It takes a few days to two weeks before a proper level of anger and rage is reached, and usually twice as long to ‘break’ the new Centaurim to the commands of the handlers who will tend the beast and care for it before and after battle.

Care and Maintenance
The largest problem faced by the Centaurim is the small capacity of the human mouth and the large caloric needs of the equine body. Specially prepared high calorie and high fiber meals are brewed by the Handlers to reduce the rapid wear and tear of the small and weak human teeth. The rest of maintenance is based along the lines of horse care, keeping up iron horse shoes, keeping the tail and coat clean and the like. The human side needs less physical attention, but more mental stimulation. Much like a child, the Centaurim are entertained by bright colors and toys like balls and the like.

Things can become problematic when a Centaurim is filled with the urge to mate. While mares are able to handle the demands of a Centaurim, the things that are begotten in the womb are always stillborn and most of the time kill the mare in the process. This is the lesser of the problems are the Centaurim are generally only attracted to human females, few of which are physically capable of mating with a Centaurim. Those who are subjected to this, most often slaves and enemy captives either are emotionally and physically scarred for life, or die from trauma and internal bleeding.

Arms and Armor
When the call to war comes, the Handlers dress the Centaurim in custom made plate and chain barding. This is a hybrid of human and horse armors with the strongest protection being for the jointure of the neck/torso. Donning this barding takes fifteen to twenty minutes, and just as long to remove after a battle. Killing a Centaurim is generally a tough matter, as a chest shot to the human torso can only harm organs secondary to the larger and stronger heart and lungs of the equine body. Only the head is vulnerable, and a strong helm is often enough to compensate for this weakness. The most common weapons of the Centaurim are the lance, curved falchion sword, and the horseman versions of the hammer, pick, and flail. Given the stoutness of the barding, shields are only seen when archers are known to be about in large numbers.

Engines of War
Created by the morally bankrupt western provinces of the Old World and associated Empire, the Centaurim were made to be living breathing war machines. Larger and stronger than men, and smarter than horses, they were ideally created to hunt and kill nun-humanoids such as trolls, ogres, minotaurs and the like. In this role, they performed exceptionally well. Mentalists considered the violence demonstrated by Centaurim in battle as a vent for the rage generated by their fused souls. Given this unnatural condition Centaurim never tired of battle, but instead grew increasingly difficult to handle without regular bouts of hunting and warfare.

The death of a Centaurim is a considerable loss, taking into account the time and effort required to capture, create, and ‘tame’ the beasts before they are ready to battle. Consequently, despite their bloodlust, few were ever thrown away in pointless or suicidal battles. In the event that a Centaurim was slain in battle, a necromancer familiar with the creature’s hybrid soul could be on hand to reanimate the corpse of the creature as a greater form of undead, a zombie of exceptional strength, physical fortitude, and violent disposition.

Variations and Oddities
Female Centaurim - Few were made as the needed emotional bond between horse and rider was patently missing among the Aberthol nomads. This primarily stemmed from the fact that local taboo forbade women from touching or handling the horses, or even seeing the stallions of the tribe during the menses. Those that were made were unstable even by Centaurim standards, though the few that did survive the transition were generally used in ceremonial roles and following the Nightmare war, no more were ever made.

Other Animal Hybrids - certainly unusual and cruel, other races, notably halfling and gnomes were subjected to fusion with goats, pigs, ponies and other animals. All of these ventures were failures, as none of these races shared a bond with the given animals they were whipstitched to.

Other Horse Breeds - Experimentation showed that other human stock and horse breeds could be used, but none came close to the synchronization ratio of the Abertholian nomads and their horses. It was also discovered that for the ritual to work, both specimens had to be adults, past puberty and no longer growing. The lifespan of the horse also limited the lifespan of the Centaurim, with old age crippling the creature after fewer than 30 years, assuming a stallion no more than a six to eight years old was used in the creation process.

Of the Abertholians
Ranging across the North-Western highlands, the Abertholian natives are relatively peaceful nomads. They are certainly able to defend themselves in times of war, but are content to follow their herds of bison, unlike the savage and cannibalistic Tuyewera Nomads, whom all loath and hunt on suspicion. The heartless magi and necrosurgeons who build the Centaurim tend to ‘harvest’ their stock with as little attention as possible, and rather than entire nomad toumans vanishing, hunting parties instead go missing, or trips to sell horses to other tribes end with all parties gone. For the most part, the Abertholians will lament their dead and speak tales of keeping close to the camps, never traveling alone, and fearing the unknown monsters of the plains.

This selectivity by the magi is in no way based on any sort of squishy sentimentality. If they took too many of the natives they would damage the breeding pool of their human and equine stock. It is better to be selective and not let the herd see when the butcher comes to take his piece. For the most part, the butchers do quite well, plying their trade until the Nightmare war blasts across Aberthol, slaughtering magi and nomad alike, leaving behind naught but shattered fields of ice and smoking ghost lakes.

Plot Hooks

  • The Tomb - Rather than encounter the standard rank and file of zombie guardians placed in a royal tomb, instead a group of four Centaurim revenants stands vigil over a great warrior’s body. Strong, aggressive, and fast, these zombies should provide a strong and painfully unnatural foe for combat heavy PCs

  • The Rosy Codex - named for its rose like color, this diabolical book details the process to create the magnificent and twisted Centaurim warriors. With ample time, a wizard could take victims from overlooked tribes to create deadly warbands of Centaurim Brigands to terrorize the countryside. A variation would be a just kingdom making Centaurim from horse thieves and criminals and impressing them into the army to fight ‘the evil’

  • The Horror - more for a one on one game, a horse loving PC is themselves mutilated into a Centaurim and rather than being completely broken escapes. The resulting adventure can end in tragedy, of branch into a larger group affair with the Horror now serving as a living cavalry beast.



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    Comments ( 20 )
    Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

    Voted Wulfhere
    March 13, 2007, 9:42
    0xp
    Disgusting, but in a good way.

    It never occurred to me that Centaurs could be revolting.
    Voted valadaar
    March 13, 2007, 10:27
    0xp
    Well, thats one way to go about saving money on saddles :)

    Great job!
    Voted manfred
    March 13, 2007, 16:50
    0xp
    A little disturbing, but maybe not for its graphic parts.

    It is well explored, though. The only thing I am missing is what the tribals that make the "source" think of this. They have surely learned, after the years. Have they become more aggressive to outsiders? Or will some of them kill themselves if captured, in order to not become this monster?

    And there's bound to be at least one that escaped and returned "home"... *shudder*


    The submission is discomfortable, because it shows exactly what can happen in the name of a war - and you can just believe that somebody would try it. And others would try it, too. There are fates worse than death. This may be one of them.
    Zanifer
    March 15, 2007, 18:31
    0xp
    Wonderfull, very in depth indeed. I absolutely love the detail, though ever gruesome, the detail is such a tool properly handled within this piece.
    Voted MoonHunter
    March 16, 2007, 0:55
    0xp
    I have a couple of questions and thoughts:

    How much of their past lives to do they remember? And is it detailed or just a blur/ general impression?

    Lifespan of the combined creature?

    And the nomads haven't rejected this? Gone to war to reclaim their dammed members? Do someone do some social engineering a long time ago, planting the legends that becoming a horse man was an ideal goal? Perhaps this plays upon part of their religious beliefs, allowing them to be taken and mutated.

    The high caloric count could be compensated for by protien intake processed by the Human internals. The reason this would be advantagous as they could then eat the dead they kill.

    Unless the nomad horse is large pony sized, won't they be too tall to strike at smaller goblinoids? Sure they can ride over them, but goblins would figure out to create a divit field to catch the hooves as they charge.

    Perhaps mounting the chest (t-spine) to the horses head vertebra. Makes for less structural issues.

    You could have them be mounted with an Archer on their back. Just a thought, especially since they are so conditioned.

    Lastly, Why isn't this a New Take on Centaurs?
    Scrasamax
    March 16, 2007, 2:49
    0xp
    How much of their past lives to do they remember? And is it detailed or just a blur/ general impression?

    Very little, most Centaurim have the average intellect of a young child. Their psyche is literally half horse. They are as likely to remember grazing as remembering their mortal mothers.

    Lifespan of the combined creature?

    30 years, pending injuries and combat

    And the nomads haven't rejected this? Gone to war to reclaim their dammed members? Do someone do some social engineering a long time ago, planting the legends that becoming a horse man was an ideal goal? Perhaps this plays upon part of their religious beliefs, allowing them to be taken and mutated.

    The nomads are largely unaware of the process. There are not legions of Centaurim being created, rather seldom more than a few dozen exist at any time, they are shock troops to terrify and dishearten foes. There could certainly have been some Alien-Abductee types who escape, but their stories are not believed.

    The high caloric count could be compensated for by protien intake processed by the Human internals. The reason this would be advantagous as they could then eat the dead they kill.

    Sure. Intestines are intestines, it would all break down in either gut.

    Unless the nomad horse is large pony sized, won't they be too tall to strike at smaller goblinoids? Sure they can ride over them, but goblins would figure out to create a divit field to catch the hooves as they charge.

    The Centaurim were not created for fighting small foes, rather they were intended to fight and kill giants, minotaurs, trolls, ogres, and other larger than human size foes. During the Imperial Era, goblins and their lesser ilk were not seen in hordes, but were more like social parasites feeding on state welfare and living in festering dens.

    Perhaps mounting the chest (t-spine) to the horses head vertebra. Makes for less structural issues.

    So long as they are centaurs

    You could have them be mounted with an Archer on their back. Just a thought, especially since they are so conditioned.

    Or a mage, that the Centaurim would protect while he cast spells from his highly mobile perch. Good idea.

    Lastly, Why isn't this a New Take on Centaurs?

    The sub was inspired by a skeletal drawing of a centaur, and I hadn't even thought of this as a New Take submission. My bad :D
    Voted Cheka Man
    March 16, 2007, 12:48
    0xp
    5/5-but Ewwwwww, Yuck. Disgustingly good.
    Voted Murometz
    March 17, 2007, 10:47
    0xp
    mmm, I dont find this particularly gruesome, just viscerally awesome!! yea, what Moon said, a delicious new take on Centaurs. Chiron is spinning in his grave!

    Also, as manfred said, it does show what can happen in War, so the theme of the Quest is evoked perfectly!
    Voted Incarnadine
    March 20, 2007, 21:36
    0xp
    I could see a large problem with the respiratory and circulatory systems- the lungs and hearts of both animals would need to be enlarged to cope with a sudden increase in mass. Would the human head get too hot, as it's less efficient at shunting excess heat than its equine counterpart?

    Otherwise, a very nice way of making a legendary creature more palatable and realistic. Good work.
    Voted dark_dragon
    March 21, 2007, 4:13
    0xp
    Or less palatable perhaps?

    Fantastic submission, really gruesome... kind of brings necromancy home too!
    Voted Strolen
    April 15, 2007, 16:06
    0xp
    Wonder how natural centaurs would take this abomination.
    Cheka Man
    April 15, 2007, 16:41
    0xp
    Like we would take the idea of human undead.
    Strolen
    April 16, 2007, 17:35
    0xp
    Oh, study and master it so we can create our own army? :)
    Chaosmark
    April 17, 2007, 18:06
    0xp
    Actually, not really. They'd probably take it much as we take it. Disgusting, but they're not really zombie centaurs, they're hybrid abominations. We find it disgusting, so would they. Zombie centaurs would probably be a bit different on the insides. /sidenote
    Voted Chaosmark
    April 17, 2007, 18:07
    0xp
    Blech. 'nuff said.
    Wulfhere
    April 17, 2007, 18:12
    0xp
    Yes, but is that "Blech" in a good way or in a bad way?

    Good Witch of the North voice: "Are you a good Blech or a bad Blech?"
    angryscotsman93
    February 3, 2009, 23:38
    0xp
    That is, as my old ROTC CO would say, "Rigoddamn-diculous." Or rather, just plain gross. Namely the part about those things being attracted to human women; that's pretty messed up. However, it's still awesome. 5/5!
    Voted angryscotsman93
    February 3, 2009, 23:39
    Only voted
    Voted EchoMirage
    October 26, 2009, 6:33
    0xp
    Interesting idea - though I would have preferred a 'softer' melding than hard surgery. Weird, this coming from me, but still.
    A thumb up!
    Voted Guidance
    October 27, 2009, 17:35
    0xp
    Love the cultural detail.

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