Legends of Venârivè — The Centaurs of Lánkor


Jutting into the Gap of Lankor from the east is a range of high hills called the Melwy, an offshoot of the Tonatris Mountains. They have never been settled by man and only a few hunters and fur trappers now visit there, whilst timbermen and miners shun the area. The cause of this is that the hills are already claimed by a non-human (or partially human) race, the centaurs.

Most scholars regard centaurs as wholly mythical and discount tales of their existence. It is true that the race is rare, but centaurs are nevertheless found in many forests across temperate Lythia. The centaurs of the Melwy interact regularly with cousins in the wilderness of Quarphor.

Centaurs travel in small family groups, typically of four to twelve members, the number depending on how many females are in a male’s “harem”. There may be as many as thirty such groups living in the Melwy Hills. It has been suggested that they travel to and from the wilderness of Quarphor, but hunters have reported finding garden plots in the vales of the Melwy. A few claim to have even seen centaur “mares” and “fillies” tending these plots.

In any event, the centaurs of the Melwy are shy of strangers. But this does not mean that they are timid. The males in particular are extremely aggressive once they have determined to fight. They use weapons such as the axe, spear, bow and sling with great proficiency.

Although they manufacture their own weapons, the Melwy centaurs may trade with the hunters and Quarphic tribesmen who share part of their range. A few even visit the remote Lankori border fort at Hestarem with some regularity. Supposedly one will always find at least one centaur trading there on the autumnal equinox.

Legends say that a centaur’s life span may be measured in centuries rather than a human’s decades. Stories told in the taverns of northern Lankor say that a man who meets a centaur should be prepared to state his lineage, telling the centaur the history of his family and the names of his forefathers. Some of these stories relate cases in which centaurs have become more friendly and willing to trade upon finding that they once knew a man’s grandfather or great-grandfather. One famous tale even relates that a centaur called Eriniharhem — this name is much corrupted and varies from one tale-teller to the next — attended the coronation of Queen Aramyna almost four centuries ago (just before the Azeryani invasion) and that he still lives in the Melwy today.

(First in an occasional series of myths, tavern tales and even some truths from the realms of northwest Lythia.)