“Craic! Come, it’s time!” Xselia yelled for her brother to join her in the great hall. “She is ready for his blessing. Anoint her and let the calf of ages be born to us,” and with that the priestess turned to her followers, spread among the walls and benches in the ancient meeting room.
“Hear me friends, followers, children of Baphomet. Bow your heads and pay respect to the Great One.” She turned at that point, faced away from the crowd and raised her delicate hands towards the massive horned statue in front of her. With a commanding voice she continued, “We honor you on this most blessed day with your own blood. The essence of life is death and in blood we sacrifice the strength of you visage to an auspicious purpose. Before you lays the vessel of prophecy, she who carries the horned child, she who will birth the great prophet. From her womb we will extract for you the Perfect One, the harbinger of glory’s demise. Look upon her, grace her with your strength and allow the birth of your child.”
The priestess looked down to her waist where the alabaster woman lay motionless, tied to a great stone slab. With a pinch from an ornately engraved bowl she dusted the face of the captive vessel. The young woman awoke, shook a daze from her eyes and startled at her surroundings. “Let me go!!” she cried. “NO!!! Don’t do this. Please!!... Please!!” she continued to scream and beg. “For you it is salvation my child. You have served Baphomet faithfully and with the birth of your child you shall be absolved into his grace. Rest now, you will need your strength. The being in your belly is strong and it will take all of you to bring him into this world. If you are lucky, if you are strong, you might even live.” The woman began to weep, scream, and wail as she struggled against the restraints that bound her fate. The congregation began to chant in a lost dialect the words they knew to be important.
Xselia motioned to her subordinates, “Bring me young Baphomet.” As the men walked away the priestess turned to her followers again. “Do you want this child?” They replied, “The child is of Baphomet and in his image will he be raised.” “Is this your will?” she continued. Again they replied. “Ready yourselves then for the offering and let any among you who are not worthy take this last opportunity to humble yourself before the Great One.” A man near the front of the congregation took out a small dagger and cut himself several times. “Bless me Great One. I have fear and doubt. Let it wash from me as the great ritual brings to us the savior.” As the rest of the followers began chanting again the man joined, allowing his fresh wounds to bleed.
As the chanting grew louder the congregation rose from their seats and began showing various forms of physical homage. Some prostrated themselves and others drew wounds upon their flesh. All were loud and showed their convictions with great zeal. The noise was not stopped when a minotaur emerged from behind the altar area, flanked by several large men. “Your offering, my lady,” one of the men spoke.
Xselia took the horned visage of Baphomet by the hand and said, “You are wise to take heed of your role. This is an auspicious day and Baphomet will be pleased with your sacrifice. It is clear that the teachings bestowed upon you these many years have not been in vain. Take solace that it is the blood within you that will serve God forevermore in the vessel of his choosing. Yours is the seed and the blood and the birth of our savior. Be blessed.” With that she touched the furry forehead of the creature and it fell to its knees. Two men grabbed its horns and held the enormous head upright over a large ceremonial reservoir built into the floor. The priestess spoke once more, “Come, brother, take with me these horns and bring to us the gift of life.”
Craic and Xselia each took a ceremonial horn from the table next to them and plunged their points into the neck of the eerily serene minotaur. “Yes!” she exclaimed. “Come to us, feed us, make us whole.” Blood drained from the beast as it bellowed a great call from its enormous lungs. “Yes! Scream for your God. You are saved!”
With the blood largely drained from the willing sacrifice at their feet Xselia motioned for its body to be taken away. In a cup she gathered a large amount of the fresh blood and poured it over the belly of the still writhing woman behind her, who was now showing signs of fatigue from her long ordeal. “Calm youself. This will all be over soon.” “Craic,” the priestess spoke, “the hour is upon us. Take from her the child and usher in our new age.”
Craic, without hesitation, did just that. In an act of pure evil he took a ceremonial knife from his belt and extracted the abomination they sought. It was gory and horrifying, a pleasure for all in the congregation to witness. A blessed day for the followers of Baphomet upon the great hill and a day of darkness for the rest of the world.
The small body of the twisted man-minotaur, if you can imagine such a thing, was raised to a special alter and covered in the blood of its father. Craic and Xselia spoke together, “Be with us Baphomet as we raise your seed to glory. He is the savior of us all and the vessel of your return among us.”
The dwarves below the foothill mountains were a flurry of activity. Days had passed since the last raid and none among those sent had returned. Garrok was nervous that none would be returning. He raised a new band to scout the west passage to the surface, to find the strike team sent against Baphomet’s temple. It wasn’t necessary.
A wounded and staggering dwarven warrior came barrelling down the tunnel. “We bested! They felled the lot of us, save a few, and we only escaped with our skins. But we have news, a chance. Come quick.” He led them down the tunnel to bend where he and his fellow survivors had been resting. “Look, look there,” he pointed. “See the beast we found. In our escape we were forced beneath their temple and that is where we found it. Do you see it!?”
“Yes I see it,” Garrok replied, “get it back to the city and alert the clerics. This IS interesting indeed. You two, get that minotaur carcass back to base camp. We’ll throw it on a wagon from there.” The dwarves did as they were instructed. The beast was huge but they managed. They were dwarves.
When the body of the creature finally made it back to the dwarven stronghold it was immediately taken to the great temple, Garrok at its side. “We think this is the answer Jarl,” he spoke to the lord master of the temple. “This minotaur was located under the Baphomet temple and, if you can force it back to life, I think we can get from it the information we’ve been looking for. The blasted humans up there have been doing too many secret rituals, spilling too much blood, we MUST find out what they are trying to accomplish before it is too late!” He was literally preaching to the choir. The lord master agreed.
They indeed raised the minotaur and extracted from the beast a great deal of information. With those details they eventually routed the Baphomet temple and cleared from their lands a great threat. They did not, however, capture or slay Craic, Xselia, or the recently born ‘child’. It was certainly their intent. Form everything the minotaur had told them the abomination was a threat so long as it lived.
In the aftermath of the whole ordeal it was decided that the minotaur might be an asset in their quest to track down the Baphomet trio and so he was spared. He was still faithful to the temple, strangely, given that they had murdered him in cold blood, but that wasn’t the issue at the moment.
Over time, and with much work, the faithful dwarven priests of the great city were able to turn their minotaur captive against his former faith. It took many months and much sacrifice, three men died in the process, but they knew the creature to be a key tool in their struggle and so the effort was made. In the end, it was runic magic that turned the tide. It seems the beast’s mind simply needed an avenue of faith in order to make sense of the world and once offered it was a successful conversion.
Time turned the faithful beast in dwarven trappings into a great and ferocious battle-hardened leader. The minotaur, now calling itself Bakkus, took every opportunity that came along to prove to his dwarven family that he was a changed person. He put himself on the line time and time again, relying on the runic teachings that had converted him in order to save the city, and its inhabitants, from one beast and tragedy after another. For a time, he was even a hero in that place.
Eventually the Baphomet threat returned to the land and he found need to travel among the high roads to search out their temples. A meeting among the dwarven elders had discussed the matter at great length and all agreed that it was better for Bakkus to be in the human world searching out evil than to waste his considerable talents down below protecting but a single enclave of the dwarven nation.