There is nothing in Desole Cylex that has not been tainted by the infernal forces there. It is said that even the very soil is hoary and sick with the fecund might of forces demonic and debase.
Djueria, the Bull of Hell
Among the legions of demons who name Desole Cylex as their demense on Earth, Djueria is not one of the first that comes to mind. The demon appears as a black bull of massive size, with blood dripping from his savaged toothed jaws. Blood weeps even from his nostrils, giving him a fearsome appearance. He can be calm, almost to the point of being docile, but can explode into bouts of ultraviolence that even more powerful demons fear.
It was King Tiergart the Cruel who summoned Djueria from the Cylex when the cattle of his kingdom were struck with a wasting sickness that left them weak and anemic. Calves were stillborn, and the milk that was given was so thin that nothing could be made from it. Needing good reserves of cattle to feed and make leather armor and glues for the armies, the situation could not be tolerated.
Sacrificing a fine white heifer and seven virginal maidens, Tiergart summoned the demon and bade it fortify the blood of his kingdom’s cattle with its dark seed. The demon accepted the offering, and in a whirlwind of savage mating, impregnated 100 heifers that Tiergart had provided as brood cows.
The 100 heifers threw their calves with few problems, and each of the new borns was as black as night. Their eyes held a strange green iridescence, and they drank so greedily from their mothers that their udders were left bloody. The calves lapped even at this blood and were nourished.
From the beginning, the new herd was obviously unnatural. They were content to sleep during the day, resting in the shade of trees. It was at night when the bovines would rise from chewing cud to again graze on grass, carrion, and anything they could catch. It was not long before the ranchers learned that the cattle could see in the dark as easily as they could see in the daylight.
As the cattle grew older, the bulls became more excitable, and were eager, even for bulls, to mate. Many drove themselves into frenzies that left their noses dripping with blood and their eyes bloodshot. The heifers were no less eager, and it was not long before a second generation of the black cattle were born. To Tiergart’s delight, the new cattle were robust, thick of muscle, and though the milk was oddly flavored, it was rich and thick.
Hazards of the Herd
While ranching has it’s typical dangers, mostly those involving angry cattle, startled animals, and things like herds getting loose, the black cattle were a much larger problem. The old methods of using horses and rope quickly failed as horses were terrified of the black beasts. Ropes could easily be bitten through, and a wounded ranch hand was as likely to be mauled or bitten and eaten by an out of control animal.
Black Leather - the leather made from the hides of the black cattle was exceptionally thick and difficult to work. This also made it better for boiling into hardened leather armor. Each suit of armor made from this leather had the arcane symbol of Djueria embossed above the heart, symbolizing the demon’s protection.
Beef - Black cattle beef was dense and very tough, often requiring a long time hanging before it was considered ripe enough to eat. Unfortunately, the meat had a tendency to spoil very quickly past a certain point. Once the meat turned, it was not only putrid, but it was also poisonous. a small delicacy market grew around treating the ultra-tender almost rotten meat with anti-toxins during and after cooking.
Black Tallow - while the same general color as tallow rendered from normal beef fat, the tallow rendered from the black cattle burned slowly and had a thick almost musky scent as well as giving a greenish hue to the flame as it burned. Black tallow candles cost twice as much as their normal counterparts, but lasted 3 to 4 times longer.
Tiergarti Cheese - the milk from the black cattle lent itself to being cultured into cheese and butter, both of which tended to have a mildly unpleasant taste. The cheesemakers experimented with this new grade of milk and created Tiergarti cheese from it. This cheese was a dense and very heavy cheese, and was quite hard. It became haute couture to serve heated and softened Tiergarti cheese with unleavened bread, and honey spiced apples.
The Fate of the Black Herd
The bloodstock of the black herd was dispersed over a long period as the cattle were given as gifts, and bred with other animals. Animal husbandry was not a strong skill in Tiergart’s kingdom and the blood of Djueria was slowly depleted until the main herd were black skinned night vision equipped cattle who would eat anything. the fate of the Black herd was carried by a number of bulls and heifers who escaped from the cattle kraals.
This black herd retains the blood purity of Djueria through close inbreeding and an almost sentiently guided breeding initiative. This feral herd ranges across Tiergart’s kingdom sometimes simply grazing and at other times banding together to take down a normal cow, or lame horse to eat down to the bones.
These cattle also retain some of the supernatural powers of Djueria. The most prominent power is the ability to create a cloud of nearly inpenetrable darkness around themselves. They do this when threatened by predators that they cannot handle themselves. They will also use a blighting power to bring crops to spoilage to make them easier to digest, though they seldom eat the entire field that is laid to waste by this power.
It’s just a Cow - the PCs encounter one of the black bulls that is patrolling its territory. The locals cross themselves and make warding gestures, and leave the PCs alone with the bull. Can they deal with the enraged bull, can they calm it, or do they have to face it’s 2400 pounds of thickly skinned, blood dripping fury? The bull attacks the largest party members first, and will deal with female characters by trying to trample them, and crush them under its bulk.
That Cow is Radiating Evil - a detection spell names a plain black cow as evil, it comes from the Djueria bloodline, but the blood has been diluted. What happens when the PCs realize that half of the cattle in the region give false positives on a Detect Evil spell?
Where’s the Beef - The PCs are invited to a soiree held by a local lord wishing to make a good impression. Of course the delicacies of Tiergarti cheese, spoiled Black beef, and curdled milk sauces are the main dishes. Yech!