The sound rose cleanly in the twilight air, a harbinger of battle that the plains knew too well. Fauna scattered at its foreboding call; villagers locked their doors and closed the settlement gates. Very few things are as disquieting as the sound of a rising Warhorn, except for the species to whom it belongs. Incredibly disciplined, physically vigorous and impossibly fast, witnessing troops of Veloxian Centaurs charging into battle is a truly terrifying sight to behold; and the destruction that lies in their wake turns even the most brutal of invasions into mere, pale shadows.
The Centaurian Species
In Erendorn, the Centaurian species holds no majority of numbers; and yet these creatures are famed for their incomparable egotism. Centaurs consider all other races as less worthy than themselves. Indeed, only transactional relationships with other races are tolerated, and even then the conditions usually involve bloodshed.
There are two bloodlines within the Centaurian species. Icegrip Centaurs are native to the Ice Plains of Erendorn, living under the merciless reign of Harathorn in a camp lined with corpses. Meanwhile, Veloxian Centaurs are accustomed to the rain-soaked plains of Erendorn’s mainland, and do not partake in the psychotic acts of torture that their arctic brethrens are notorious for inflicting upon captives.
Centuries have estranged the Veloxians from the Icegrips, so much so that they hold as much contempt for each other as they do for every other race. But while the Veloxian Centaurs do not engage in the savage practices that take place in Harathorn’s camp, they are proficient in another form of violence, one that is capable of decimating entire settlements.
In primitive huts made from straw and wood do Veloxian Centaurs make their homes, though their lacklustre structures and expansive training grounds make it appear more like a military camp than a settlement. In this region of the plains, the grass grows long due to the frequent rainfall – though in Veloxian Centaur territory, it is always trodden flat by their large, heavy hooves. But although this race leads a rather simple lifestyle, they are anything but primitive.
A Race of Disciplined Fighters
Over hundreds of years, Veloxian Centaurs have evolved into a race of incredibly proficient and disciplined fighters. It is as if they were born already armed. From birth, a Veloxian Centaur’s life is pivoted on the importance of victory in battle and physical prowess in whatever they do. To achieve these expectations, their main settlement boasts large training grounds where Veloxian Centaurs must begin attending from as young as a few years old. Meanwhile, elite members of the army spend every second of every day either honing their weapon handling and combat skills or scouring the plains in search of resources to gather and battles to wage.
With these measures in place, Veloxian Centaurs have been able to establish a fearsome military that defends the main settlement and leads sieges against settlements, using strategy and strength to overpower their opponent’s defences before bathing their streets in blood. But there is another skill that Veloxian Centaurs depend on: speed. This race prides itself on speed in battle, a remarkable ability that truly makes the Veloxian Army a formidable force. Few things can outrun a Veloxian Centaur, let alone survive one of their notorious stampedes. Many have wondered why the Veloxian Centaurs take pride in committing such abominations, and how they have so many enemies to begin with. But what outside races often fail to realise is that Barrugus, leader of the Veloxian Centaurs, actually orchestrates many of their attacks for reasons that go beyond mere hatred.
Barrugus: Leader of the Veloxian Centaurs
The leader of the Veloxian Centaurs is known as Barrugus. Once a legendary soldier in the Veloxian Army, he quickly rose through the ranks of General and Commander before being chosen as ruler. Barrugus has fought in many battles, bore the wounds of countless blades and ended the lives of thousands. A product of his history, Barrugus now rules the main settlement according to the same militant principles that govern a soldier’s life.
The reputation that the Veloxian Centaurs have developed over the years is enough to deter any race from leading an attack against their settlement; these creatures are known for their impenetrable strategies and unmatched speed in battle, as well as feared for the merciless violence they inflict upon those who stand in their way. With so many fearing the wrath of the Veloxian Army, it is wondered why the Centaurs are attacking so many villages. Some attribute it to an unfeeling nature, convinced that the Veloxian Centaurs share the same psychotic enjoyment of inflicting pain that makes the Icegrip species so detested. But the truth lies in the conversations that unfold in Barrugus’ chambers, and the bags of gold coin that accumulate in the private holdings.
Long ago, Barrugus recognised the potential that the Veloxian Army had of not only establishing the species as a force to be reckoned with, but also of using its combined strength to maintain the financial stability of the settlement. When he was appointed leader, Barrugus soon began entering into trade deals with other races, offering to provide them with mercenary work in exchange for gold coin. Since this time, the Veloxian Army has been used as a mercenary fleet, sent to destroy villages on behalf of anyone who can afford it.
While Veloxian Centaurs are loathsome of other races, they are not opposed to entering into trade deals that pay them to shed blood. This lack of empathy for other races is what makes the Veloxian Centaurs so terrifying: they will kill anything and everything for the right price, and they will do it without flinching. They share this trait with another race in Erendorn, one that is so deeply attuned to the Void that each individual emanates a purple aura. These are the Twilight Elves who, like the Veloxian Army, also engage in mercenary work. These jobs are carried about by the terrifyingly skilful Twilight Elf Assassins, who are usually paid handsomely to kill select individuals without detection. But where these Assassins choose stealth, silent kills and the blanket of night, the Veloxian Army chooses brute force and devastation. Unlike the Twilight Elves, Veloxian Centaurs are often employed to attack entire settlements at any time of day, and their forces are so formidable that it makes little difference if anyone knows about it.
Veloxian Centaurs in Battle
The attacks that Veloxian Centaurs lead against other races are well known about in Erendorn. Tales of their horrors have travelled from the mouths of merchants through the ears of all who will listen, causing many mainland species to live in fear of a Veloxian siege. Those who have witnessed the power of the Veloxian Centaurs have often called their battle sites a blood frenzy. Others described the intelligent tactics that the army used when facing larger, coordinated opponents like the Humans. But no matter what the tale, one detail is always recounted: the Warhorn.
Both Centaurian bloodlines are known for using horns. Usually carved from the bones of their enemies, the hollow moan of this instrument is sinister enough to make any race shake with fear. While the Icegrip Centaurs use horns to communicate with each other during a hunt, Veloxian Centaurs use Warhorns to communicate with each other during battle.
The sound of a Warhorn is so ominous, so reminiscent of death, that even the plains quake at its call. Native fauna will scatter into burroughs and woodland and all birds will abandon the trees. This is often the only sign that the Veloxian Army is coming; and when the Warhorns are finally heard, it is already too late to prepare. As it rises cleanly in the air, villagers will make desperate attempts to secure themselves against the approaching onslaught – but by the time they reach the gates, the army of Veloxian Centaurs is already upon them.
Skills and Abilities
Standing over eight foot tall, the sheer size and muscle that these creatures boast is enough to win most fights. The force with which they can bring down their hooves has been known to cave skulls in, and their armour is so expertly made that crude, man-made weapons do not even mar its surface. But Veloxian Centaurs do not only rely on these natural advantages.
Each Veloxian Centaur is trained in the handling of multiple weapons. From long, heavy swords to devastating maces, the army is known for using a range of weaponry during battle. At first glance, the Veloxian Centaurs may appear to be nothing more than a horde of bloodthirsty savages, but this assumption underestimates their intellect and overestimates their emotion. Veloxian Centaurs are not mere brutes. In fact, they are highly intelligent creatures. Experts in strategy and understanding the enemy, the Veloxian Army has developed almost impenetrable formations that they assume during battle, minimising their damage taken and making them incredibly difficult to defeat.
This violent intellect is made more dangerous by the fact that the Veloxian Centaurs are governed by no emotions in battle. No anger clouds their judgement, no remorse prevents a kill and no amount of adrenaline will cause them to stray from their tactics. In fact, Veloxian Centaurs are so disinterested in the wellbeing of other races that vanquishing a settlement is as ordinary as hunting for food. Every attack the army leads is calculated, objective and as brutal as the last; and their ability to detach themselves in this way is what makes the Veloxian Centaurs so feared across Erendorn.
In the Dungeons
Carrying out mercenary work for other races is not the only way that Veloxian Centaurs secure gold coin and resources. Barrugus will often send handfuls of individuals into Erendorn’s dungeon depths, where mountains of gold are said to lie in wait – but coin is not the only thing that interests their leader. Word of the powerful objects littering the dungeons is tantalising even to the most ascetic of Centaurs, and in recent years Barrugus has become obsessed with obtaining these items.
Determined to lead the Veloxian Centaurs into an age where they are the dominant, most powerful race in Erendorn, Barrugus is desperate to collect these remarkable items and instructs the Veloxian Centaurs to stop at nothing to procure them. As a result, there has been an increasing number of Veloxian Centaur attacks in the dungeons. They have been known to approach groups of adventurers in the serpentine tunnels, demanding them to hand over their resources if they wish not to be attacked. Some individuals have even been known to join a wandering group under the guise of adventure seeking. After integrating themselves into the group and perhaps even earning the travellers’ trust, these Veloxian Centaurs wait for the perfect moment to turn on their ostensible comrades, stealing all their loot they had worked hard to collect and returning it to Barrugus.
But not all Veloxian Centaurs turn on their newfound companions. Inspired by the thrill of adventure and receptive to this new form of camaraderie, these Veloxian Centaurs abandon the war-torn regime that Barrugus enforces in favour of pursuing daring escapades inside and outside of the dungeons. But these Veloxian Centaurs can often be the most dangerous. Expertly trained and possessing a lethal knowledge of battle are formidable characteristics of any Centaur; but when coupled with an abandonment of the principles that kept them in check, such as self-discipline and obedience, these Veloxian Centaurs can easily become an adamantly lethal force in the dungeons.