The Horned One

      Generally, the gods simply are and always have been. 'Tis an astronomically rare event that an Erethbound soul should rise from the throngs of mortal existence to become one of the immortal gods. A tale may have been told of one whose beauty was so "godlike" that they earned a place amongst the celestial ones based purely on this one superficial aspect. Or a mortal so strong, or so brave, or so talented... so beyond mortal ability in some facet of their being that the gods saw fit to bring them into their fold.
      Now then, let me tell you of G'Kor, the Horned One, the Foul Beast, the Drinker of Blood, the Patron of Taurus Warriors, he who became one with the gods of Ereth by his own hand.
      The tale starts, as most of this type do, with the birth of G'Kor. He was born to his Taurus mother on an especially cold and unforgiving winter morning. The ground was frozen solid, as was the nearby lake and even what used to the stream. The trees and bushes were all dead as they could be, and no animals had been seen for weeks. His mother had survived by chiseling into the ground and finding edible roots and hibernating toads. She was all alone, having been banished from her tribe because of her pregnancy; she had no mate. The father of this child is a matter of dispute, both amongst the Taurus race and the bards and scholars that tell this tale. Some say G'Kor's father was a powerful otherworldly demon lord, while some it was an orcish or ogre god, while still others claim that he was conceived without a male... a virgin pregnancy. I am certain that all of that is quite important, and may explain his deeds and eventual fate, but let us just say that the matter of his father's identity, or existence, is still under dispute.
      Upon birth, he coughed and sputtered and roared, spitting blood about the furs and leaves that served as his mother's bed. It was not unusual for a Taurus newborn to be somewhat spirited from the start, full of hacking coughs, shrieking wails and occasional spitting up, but this one was noteworthy from the moment he arrived. No Taurus child, male or female, had been known to roar before they were a month old. That, however, was not his greatest newborn feat; he chose his own name. The story goes that after he finished roaring and spitting and coughing and all of that, he paused, took a deep, deep breath... and spoke!
One word: G'Kor.

      That is what it sounded like to his mother, and that is the story the scholars are sticking with. Noteworthy in this was the fact that G'Kor is actually an ancient Taurus word, or phrase, that hadn't been in use for some century or two. Literally translated, it meant he who kills.
      Little G'Kor lived up to his self-proclaimed title right away. On the third day of his existence, he slew his mother while she slept, feeling her warmth and smelling her blood. Instinct told him that he needed fresh meat. She was just that to him. He fed on this kill for the next three weeks, growing stronger and bigger than even a Taurus should in such a brief amount of time.
      Within a month's time, he had learned how to dig into the rock-hard soil and get whatever sustenance was to be found there. The harshness of the winter did not pass for the over two months. He survived by rooting up whatever he could, being guided by his uncanny sense of smell.
      When winter finally loosened its grip on the world, the animals started to slowly emerge, much to the delight of little G'Kor, and to the horror of the animals. He found them easy prey, even in his clumsy, toddler's body. He was a natural killer, a natural hunter. No, no... he was far from natural; there was something so wholly unnatural about this young Taurus, something so instinctually deadly. He was able to stalk an creature up to his size with ease. He could end the life of any creature that was his equal in a single blow. Soon, he was stalking creatures much larger than himself, bringing them down in three, then two, then finally one blow.
      By this time G'Kor was about the size of an adolescent Taurus, and about as strong as one of the largest mature males. A natural member of his race would have not grown to this size for another five or six years. But, as I have stated, he was anything but natural.
      It was a few more months of this solitary life before he met another of his kind.
      The battle was bloody, but brief. G'Kor did not understand what was being uttered, what the gestures meant. He saw only an intruder, bearing what he knew to be weapons. G'Kor had a natural affinity for fighting and anything related to it. He knew of weapons and armor and pressure points and feints and blocks and how to kill... all before he had ever met another of his kind. All, truth be told, before he had even encountered anything more than animals. He collected his prizes from this, his first real battle; a hardened leather breastplate, a small iron shield, heavy studded leather boots, a knife and an old, nicked-up shortsword. These were the first of his collection. Through the years that followed, his collection of weapons and armor became legendary, but that's jumping ahead a bit.
      Using his exceptional sense of smell, he traced where his foe had come from, and found his first Taurus encampment. Finally noticing the similarity between himself and them, and seeing ones like his mother, and little ones, smaller than himself, he approached. After some major confusion, a battle or two and some pecking orders established, he was accepted into the group. The following years were spent learning everything else about being a Taurus; speaking, cooking, crafts, history, etiquette, customs, legends. Also, he learned about the world around them; other people, monsters, other lands, ships, magic... the gods.
      This last part intrigued him the most. Gods. They were beings of immense power who could do things that no one else could do. They were worshiped. People gave their lives for these gods. People made sacrifices of valuable things to these gods. The words of these gods were regarded as law. It was clear to G'Kor what he must do.

He must become a god.

      It was all very logical. Gods are more powerful than anyone around them. G'Kor was stronger than anyone he had met, was able to kill anyone he had met, and had been told by many that they had never seen his equal. Therefore, G'Kor was more powerful than anyone around him. It seemed to him that he may very well be a god and just not know it. He would need to be recognized as what he truly was. Then he would be worshiped.
      The plan was quite simple, to G'Kor: he would find the gods and show them that he should be a god, too. You see, very simple. To achieve this goal G'Kor knew he would have to hone his skills to their finest degree, he would have to become even better than he was. He had an extensive collection of weapons and armor and had learned how to use all of them with great skill, surprising and astonishing all of his teachers. He set about getting more battle experience. He needed to be ready to fight the gods, in whatever form they took.
      First, he found the goblins. They proved to be numerous, teaching him strategies against great numbers of foes. They proved not much help in teaching him one-on-one skills, however. Next he found the ogres, the orcs, the dwarves (hard to crack open, but easy to outmaneuver), Rovers, elves (bloodthirsty, but frail), Glimmers, faeries (whom he found easy to kill, but annoying as lice), magorians, gnomes, dark elves, hoolie hounds (he truly admired their ferocity), gargoyles (he never learned to kill one in a single blow), griffons, swinemen, humans of many lands, pit fighters, lords, slaves, magical constructs and many a various strange and unusual monster. Because of what an old shaman had once told him about the power of one's blood and spirit, and the power of the spirit of a worthy foe, bested in battle, G'Kor had picked up the habit of covering himself in the blood of every opponent he had faced, and filling his cupped hands with their blood, drinking it as a toast to their assistance in his quest. He felt that with each victory he was infusing himself with the power of each of his fallen adversaries.
      G'Kor had been hurt badly many times and bore more scars than most people have hairs. Another Taurus may have given up, but he was far too stubborn. In fact, so stubborn that sometimes those who are considered to be overly headstrong are said to have the "stubbornness of the Horned One", or "G'Kor's horns on their head"... ("Don't even try; that one's got G'Kor's horns on his head, he does...").
      When he believed he'd learned all he could and had reached the pinnacle of his skills, he went to find the gods. On his way, he finally met a truly worthy opponent.
      While climbing the highest mountain he could find, G'Kor met his first dragon. He was in awe at the raw power and amazing size of the beast. A part of him wanted this creature as an ally, mayhaps a steed, but the warrior in him knew that this was a test; the ultimate opponent!
      The battle was vicious, bloody, sweeping, majestic and long. They fought for seven weeks, neither one gaining the upper hand. G'Kor was ecstatic! The training he was receiving was far superior to anything he had experienced up to now. This foe was cunning, strong, deadly, fast, huge, versatile, tireless... this foe was worthy.
      That's what made the victory at once glorious and sorrowful. Badly bloodied and broken, G'Kor at last delivered the telling shot that downed his most perfect adversary. He roared in victory, the sound carrying from the side of this mountain to as far as the eye could see. Villagers looked up into the cloudless sky, wondering if they had heard thunder. Animals stopped in their tracks and sniffed the air. G'Kor sat. Slowly, with more reverence than he had ever felt, he reached into the dragon's wounds and gathered blood to paint his body with. He filled his cupped hands and he drank. This time the power had substance at it flowed through his body. This time he could actually feel the power of his fallen foe, coursing through his blood, his soul.
      And G'Kor cried. He had destroyed such a perfect creature, such a perfect instructor, such a perfect warrior. He cried for five days, until he finally fell fast asleep from exhaustion.
      He awoke ravenous. He skinned the dragon, saving as much of it's hide as he could. He saved the teeth and claws. The meat he cooked and ate heartily, thanking his esteemed opponent with every bite. He did not cry. G'Kor never cried again.
      He used some smaller pieces of the dragon's hide to fashion some armor and hid the rest. He adorned his armor with some of the teeth and claws, using some of the others to fashion a pair of unique cesti. He packed up a great deal of the meat, drying some into jerky.
      With his new armor and weapons, food in his belly and an invigorated soul, G'Kor finished climbing the mountain. He knew that the gods would have to live there; it was the tallest place around. Luckily, this bit of logic worked, as the gods were, indeed there, having a debate of sorts. The top of the mountain had been carved away by incredible craftsmen and was now a gigantic castle with dozens of floors and thousands of rooms. There were courtyards everywhere, and all manner of steed-beast; giant horses, winged horses, a giant hornet, a winged serpent, a dragon-like creature, griffons, a weird, huge, gray creature with tusks and some sort of long, long snout.. and chariots without horses, and barges and ships! G'Kor was amazed at all he saw.
      As he tried to enter the great castle, a group of gargoyles and a group of creatures made entirely of flame stopped him and let him know that he was not allowed inside, as he was mortal.

The battle was fierce and bloody.

      As G'Kor made his way through the halls he encountered different gods. As he met each one, he would tell them why he had come and each one would laugh at him, and each one would say, "You cannot become a god. You have to already be a god!"

The battles were fierce and bloody.

      On his way to what he knew was the great hall, where all of the rest of the gods would be assembled, he met two gods of the dwarves, three gods of the elves, a god that said it was of the orcs, three gods that claimed the ogres followed them, and a few that he could not remember. He had vanquished each one, never killing them, but making sure the battle went until they knew they were beaten. This is where G'Kor first encountered honor. The gods he had beaten could have grouped together and come after him, but they had accepted their defeat, grudgingly in most cases, and had honored his victories.
      When he opened the doors to the great hall, G'Kor saw before him such an assembly of power and might that he almost stepped back I awe.


      Before him were all of the gods he had defeated in single combat and many more gods that he had yet to beat... er.. meet. They all greeted him individually and assessed every bit of him, body and soul. The last hand to grasp was that of Toran. Toran looked upon this violent interloper at first with disdain. Then, after eyeing him for a few moments, Toran smiled. The gods were all very impressed by G'Kor's armor, and he pulled out dragon meat for everyone.
      Many contests were held that night, many battles fought, many debates argued. In the end, G'Kor found his place amongst the gods. G'Kor, the Horned One, the Foul Beast, the Drinker of Blood. He became a warrior god to whom the Taurus pray for strength and perseverance. He is known by the other gods to be rude, violent, stubborn, and just too deadly to cast out... not that some haven't tried.

Ah... the battles were fierce and bloody.

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