|Common Nicknames||Horsemen, Ghilland’s Children|
|Habitat||Wilds of the Dread Empire|
The Centaur is an animal most Ailor once imaged as a myth, a feature of their ancient pagan faiths, but such a creature has been real for untold millennia. Originating in the lands of the Allorn Empire, only to later fall to the command of the Void and modern Dread Empire, the Centaurs are impressive archers and warriors of the hunt who seek prizes to prove their skills in combat. They have a level of intellect, but remain wild, relatively untamed beings that play a role in some ceremonies worshiping the Void.
The true age of the Centaur is unknown, but they are said to be as old as the Estellon deity Ghilland, Herder of Treasured Beings, having been formed in his earliest roamings across the lands that would become the Allorn Empire. Later, the Centaurs rode with their creator in the war against the Dewamenet Empire, where their skill as lethal archers was first on display. The exact numbers of the Centaur at any one time in this ancient period is highly unknown in the modern day. While hundreds are attested to in Allorn-era works, the rather confined nature of Ghilland’s Temple, his hunting grounds, would suggest far fewer. Additionally, despite a savage edge, and allegiance to a much less popular deity of the Allorn faith, notable Centaurs of great intellect were known to exist. The Wise Seven, as some call them, were two men, four woman, and a non-binary individual who communed with Ghilland’s followers, and even outsiders. A few records even suggest the Centaurs could travel, and did, beyond the confines of their master’s domain, meeting with the other gods and Allorn figures. Overall, they were considered equal to the citizens of the Allorn Empire, escaping slavery due to their connection to a god, but this only lasted for so long.
At some point, perceptions of the Centaurs significantly soured. It might have been due to their master, Ghilland, increasingly being looked down upon as the Allorn continued to ascend into perfection and magnificence on the backs of millions of enslaved beings, or it might have been unknown, now lost acts the Centaurs engaged in which turned wider society against them. Centaurs were soon contained only to Ghilland’s side, or so it is said. Whispers and rumors state some Centaurs even in this relatively early time had been corrupted by the Void and turned away from the Exist to serve new masters. This is where the great controversy of Carraq the Hunter enters the fray. Depicted as a flayed Centaur, and known today to have Centaur servants, it is believed by many who follow the Exist faith that Carraq was a creation of Ghilland who betrayed his master, turned to the Void, and later ascended to godhood over millennia of effort. However, those of the Void have been known to violently refute this, instead claiming that either there is no connection, or that if anything, Centaurs were a creation of Carraq who, at one time, betrayed him and joined the side of the Exist, only to later recant their mistake, and rejoin the Void. It is a baffling puzzle, not helped by the sorry state of the modern Centaurs and enigmatic nature of the deities involved. Some also believe Xor the Untamed might have been involved in creating the Centaurs given his intense focus on the hunt, but also for the mashing of animals together.
Regardless of true origins, natures or more, as the Allorn Empire began to decline, and followers of the Void increased, Centaurs of a darker bend were recorded more frequently. After the Mage Wars, this became a torrent as with the vanishing of their master, Ghilland, it seems none could control the Centaurs. Violent and obsessed with the hunt, Allorn princes and princesses chose to execute wholesale these once treasured beings due to their extreme and shockingly effective violence against the common Allorn citizenry rather than even attempt slavery, or communication. This act was very successful, and drove the Centaurs from most urban landscapes, into the wilds, where they vanished into myth and were assumed extinct, until some 200 years ago. As the Kathar began to conflict with the world, Centaurs appeared at their side, wild, manic, and thoroughly corrupted by the Void. While whispers exist of some good Centaur hiding out in Aloria, still loyal to the Herder of Treasured Beings and shunning casual violence, the overriding image of the savage, mindless Centaur with a lust for combat, killing, and feasting is highly prevalent in modern depictions.
Centaurs are sometimes imagined in simple terms, with a humanoid torso attached to an equine body, taking the position of the head. This is, overall, their appearance, but the Centaurs of the modern day do have more defining traits. They stand at between seven to nine feet in height, though much of that comes from the broad torso attached where an equine’s head and neck would normally be, with a heavy weight given their powerful equine bodies. Their humanoid torsos, regardless of sex, are always well muscled, built into the “neck” of those bodies, and feature many standard traits in the form of two eyes, ears, humanoid arms, and so on. Their most notable features are their hair, which is always thick and dark brown or black and densely grown with males having thick beards, while the ears are pointed, and possess a light covering of hair further accentuating their pointed nature. Their skin is also gray, in tones similar to that of the Kathar. The equine half of a centaur’s body meanwhile, is different in coloration. It often takes on the hue of the Centaur’s head of hair, but is streaked with stripes of darker hair along its hindquarters. Their equine bodies are also more hairy and wild appearing than the average horse, with a curtain of hair on each of their four, brown-hooved legs, a ridge of hair running along their backside, while their tail in a thick, long plume of hair which almost reaches to the ground on most members of the species.
Centaurs have enough intellect to be capable of choices regarding their appearance. Different hairstyles exist within the species, from knots to more complex interlacing, and the same is true of the hair on the tails of their horse half. They have also been known to adopt war paint, or better described, hunting paints, streaks of vibrant color along their faces or bodies indicating an array of information, as well as tattooing and piercings. They are also highly susceptible to mutations from the Void, an array of horns, eye alterations, and growths most common, but more extreme examples of body alteration are also known. One area which lacks diversity for the Centaurs however, is their gender. While it is said all Centaurs are male, and are an example of the sort of birthing capable of Races like the Songaskia, or through the work of Engineering machines, this is false. There are, and always have been, female Centaurs, but they are rare to an astonishing extent, with perhaps one in every twenty births being female. Some suggest that male Centaurs can even change genders should a hunt of Centaurs lose, or not possess, any females for an extended period of time, but the truth of this is unknown. There is also the existence of very rare non-binary members of their society, but they default to male roles in the hunt.
Life Span and Development
Centaur births are intensely private, and not allowed to be observed by outsiders. However, observances and interactions with Centaur offspring do help. It has been widely observed that Centaur births are singular events, only one child emerging from the mother Centaur to then be presumably looked after by her, and a chosen male or two, who might not even be the offspring’s father. Centaur children have the appearance of their parents, with a youthful humanoid torso and head attached to what is at first, a fairly short and lithe equine body. If the child is male, the offspring is separated from their mother’s side early on to begin maturing and working in the hunt. However, if they are female, the males only treat with her occasionally, as instead the mother takes over the role of rearing. Young female Centaur will thus be treated the same as their mother, and will remain close at her side for her entire lifetime. Young male Centaurs meanwhile, gain a rapid education from other males, as while outright abuse or actively harming the child will never take place, hardship and tough love is a constant occurrence. Male and female Centaurs mature at a pace somewhat equal to that of normal Ailor, though when they emerge they are not newborn babies, perhaps equal to the appearance of ten year olds. For the next ten years, they then mature into their adult size, with an additional ten often seeing their physical characteristics settle firmly as they appear like thirty year old men and women. Centaurs possess the same lack of aging as the Nelfin species, but can only live for up to 200 years.
Centaurs, while capable of much in the way of thought and expression, are known to be stunted by some facet of their being which remains in place despite millennia of life. This is not always immediate to those they meet. They speak their own tongue, Ce’tarak, and are capable of learning Katharic, while also wearing vestments, and able to take pleasure or sorrow in everyday life. They are most commonly found on the hunt, seeking prizes, trophies and more from the exotic animals of the lands the Kathar call home, executing complex tactics and capable of understanding the methodology of the animals they pursue. They often relate to non-Centaurs fine, mocking those they deem to be weak, and meeting those seen as strong with respect and brotherhood. They get along fine with Mages and Magic users, but disdain its use in combat or the hunt as “unfair” and not being a good sport. Some Centaurs are known to be companions to Kathar or Yanar, allowing themselves to be ridden across the wilds of the Dread Empire by these companions in exchange for knowledge, ties to power, and more.
However, it is these rare individuals who have best studied and learned that the Centaurs are stunted. Centaurs do not understand the world in the way of Aloria’s Races, with crude grasps on every subject outside of the hunt. They also only understand the world through the lens of the hunt, thus often speaking in riddles or metaphors to outsiders unprepared for their nature. For instance, they do not properly understand the idea of love, a partner telling a Centaur that they love them needing to express such a sentiment though a heavy, sincere compliment of the Centaur’s hunting ability and surefooted running speed. Additionally, Centaurs loathe open water with an animal fear. In the Dread War, only a few dozen successfully made the crossing to war with the Regalian Empire and the Nelfin who were battling the Kathar. The Centaurs are also very strange about their women. Very rare, and rarely seen in public, hunts of Centaurs will travel with their woman or women very closely, and will seek to stop contact from outsiders with them. Female Centaurs are often called cold, capable of the hunt yet not engaging in it. Where their role lies is in the rituals the Centaurs perform after their kills. It is sometimes said that Centaurs taught the Races who became the Kathar the ways of the Cult of the Body, and indeed, some of the oldest shrines and temples of the Kathar today devoted to Carraq the Hunter have clear Centaur visuals in their deepest depths, and oldest objects. Female Centaurs are commonly called upon to preside over Games of Blood across the Dread Empire, but are usually heading shrouded or hidden from the view of the everyday Kathar citizenry while males openly engage, laughing and celebrating to their heart’s content.
Territory and Groupings
Centaurs are divided into groups known as hunts, because of the most common act such groups are involved in: hunting. Herds can also be used, but tends to be a pejorative that Centaurs do not appreciate, as they view themselves as above the animals they hunt. Centaur hunts can vary greatly in size, from a dozen or so members to over a hundred. The same is true of the number of hunts at any one time in the Dread Empire, because larger hunts only persist so long as the Hunt Master, the term for the leader of a Centaur group, is capable of providing challenges for his fellow hunters, while also performing them himself. Should he not, he is often challenged by others of the group, and success or failure, might cause a larger hunt to break apart into two or more smaller groups. Female Centaurs are rarely involved in these affairs of social conflict. Centaur hunts tend to run wild wherever they are located, seeking beasts to pursue in the hostile wilds of the lands controlled by the Dread Empire. They are most prevalent in the north, where the great temple to their “scion” Carraq the Hunter is found, but they can be found in many other areas of the Dread Empire.
- The good Centaurs said to exist in the world are often cited to be hiding either in Guldar with the Maquixtl, or in the wildest lands of Altaleï yet reclaimed or rediscovered.
- While Centaurs do hunt animals the vast majority of the time, a few hunts have been known to take place against the sentient Races, often against those who have grievously offended the Centaurs, or seriously interrupted their hunting activities. This excludes warfare, which the Centaurs view as a Grand Hunt, and not applicable to their normal rules and customs.
- Now that Ghilland has seemingly returned to Aloria, some believe it is only a matter of time before new Centaurs, on the side of the Exist, come into being. But, others suggest the nature of the modern world and Magic makes such a likelihood almost impossible. Aloria is not the young, raw place it was millennia earlier when the Centaurs were presumably first created.