CHAPTER 1

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PART l

BESTIARII (1 of 2)

"The architecture of the Minotaur's heart is ancient. His heart is a plodding laborious thing, built for churning through the millennia. But the blood it pumps—the blood it has pumped for five thousand years, the blood it will pump for the rest of his life—is nearly human blood. It carries with it, through his monster's veins, the weighty, necessary, terrible stuff of human existence: fear, wonder, hope, wickedness, love. But in the Minotaur's world it is far easier to kill and devour seven virgins year after year, their rattling bones rising at his feet like a sea of cracked ice, than to accept tenderness and return it."
Steven Sherrill


The mighty battle ax struck the tree branch of the fallen evergreen.

With a large huff from his snout, the half man-half bull continued this motion, walking around the tree, chopping at different limbs.

Bark flew in every direction; the ax's blade made an echoing thump through the woods as the Minotaur swung with precision.

For most, this task would be daunting, being that the trees in his dwelling area were 169 ft tall with many thick arms protruding.

For the 6ft tall beast with arms that could easily crush a spine in an overly tight embrace, this would be one of perhaps three trees he would knock down.

Carrying one of the branches which weighed well over 100 pounds, he heaved it over his shoulder with two hands, dust particles and dirt began to drop onto his matted, chestnut colored fur and muscles upon muscles.

His home was about two miles from where he did his monthly routine of collecting firewood, he had to be careful being that the branch was longer than expected.

Being a tall, buff minotaur sometimes meant stiff movement or clumsy footing when he didn't realize the scope of his own body.

Dropping the branch at his large hoofed feet, the minotaur gazed at his home, a cave which wasn't huge or vast, but rather humbler. A place where he could comfortably walk about and sleep in, but nothing like the cave of a greedy dragon which went for miles and miles and could be full of gold and stolen goods.

How did he know this was his cave when hundreds were around this barren landscape? He etched his name-DARAK into the side of the entrance hole with a sharp stone when he first arrived.

Also, before going out for chores, Darak would piss a long morning stream near the cave, and any animal who dared enter would know something fierce lived within the walls.

Once again gripping the ax in his large, rough hand he struck the branch, cutting it into sections proper for a fire.

His ear twitched to a new sound, he stopped cutting and stood straight.

Darak's head cocked left to right.

He could hear the breeze, the birds tweeting in a cloudless blue sky.

Darak loved the warmth of the sun on his body, and sometimes would bask in it if he felt tired.

Surrounding him were miles of trees and bushes, ahead of him was a dirt path which led to the cave, which he kept knew by heart being that it was easier to find his way home with somewhat of a guide.

He sniffed the air, his chest heaved up and down as he took deep breaths-lifting his mighty head, his horns tilt backwards as he does so.

The horns were curved, both stuck outward, white, and smooth as oak. They weren't huge horns, but the tips were sharp as blades and if he had no ax, they sufficed in battle.

His triangular ears rested just below the horns; his hearing surpassed that of every human.

Through the wind, he heard a group of men talking.

Followed by talking were the sounds of horses galloping. Close by. Awfully close.

Narrowing his turquoise eyes, the minotaur gripped the end of his ax, pulling it out of the branch he was cutting and waited for the intruders to arrive.

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