The First Minotaur
While sailing the seas, the ship you booked passage on docks at a large, mediterranean island to resupply. The captain recommends you go and explore the city as the resupply could take a few days and the island’s known for great food in taverns that are built into the sheer stone cliffs, as well as warm beaches to relax on, frequented by beautiful women who work at very fine brothels. There is even a renowned library, if you are so inclined.
As you leave the docks, a woman wearing a purple cloak in gold trim runs up to you. She has a few scrolls tied to her waist, as well as a satchel of books. Her eyes are purple, and she has long, black curly hair. The woman, panting, introduces herself as Ariadne, and says that you look like a warrior. She says she desperately needs your help, explaining that her husband has been sent into the island’s labyrinth to be eaten by a monster and she needs you to save him.
If you ask what she means, she gets a pained look on her face and explains hurriedly that the city sends its worst criminals to die at the hands of a terrible monster living in an underground labyrinth. Her husband was about to uncover the corruption of the royalty in this city, and before he could show his evidence he was kidnapped in the middle of the night and accused of treason.
Few of the locals believed her claims of his innocence, and those who did said they could do nothing against it. He was sent into the labyrinth earlier today, and she has no-one else to turn to for help. She has bars of gold and jewels–the fortune of her household–which she will pay you gladly if you save him!
If you ask what the monster in the labyrinth is, she explains that he is called Minotauros. He’s a being with the head and strength of a bull, but the cunning of a man. He was a ferocious seafaring conqueror, long ago, who’s atrocities pleased a dark god. They say he made the seas red with blood from the islands and coasts he raided, and as a gift from that god he was transformed into the immortal monster he is now.
Minotauros was unstoppable, until a powerful cleric met him in battle on this very island, and cursed him. Now, he is condemned to forever wander a labyrinth the cleric’s god made, and never find his way out; killing and devouring any who stray inside.
If you ask how Ariadne thinks you can save her husband, she says she’s been reading as much as she can about the labyrinth and Minotauros since her husband was abducted, and pulls out one of the scrolls from her belt as she speaks. She unravels it; revealing an illustration of a stone statue of a bull’s head, with hollow marks in the floor in front of it. Ariadne points at it with shaking hands, explaining that from what she’s read, the marks in the ground are for four magical keys. They are hidden throughout the labyrinth, and if you collect them all you should be able to open up some kind of rear passage to escape.
If you point out that none have survived the labyrinth, and ask where the information comes from, Ariadne pales and stammers, saying that perhaps someone got out once, long ago, using these keys, which is why they wrote about them. Or perhaps it was notes left by the cleric who locked Minotauros away.
Should you ask about bringing a spool of rope in behind you, so that you may find your way out the way you came in instead of relying on the keys, Ariadne shakes her head angrily, saying the labyrinth doesn’t work like that–but she doesn’t have time to explain or answer any more questions, her husband could already be dead and you need to hurry if you’re going to save him in time!
The journey to the labyrinth takes a few hours on foot from the city, up steep and winding pathways to the high hills at the top of the island. While walking, Ariadne describes her husband to you, saying he is a large man with burly muscles, short curly black hair, and a black beard and moustache. She doesn’t know if she guards stripped him of his clothes, but he is likely wearing the purple clothes of their household and has a signet ring with a seagull on it. His name is Thesius, she tells you.
When you arrive at the labyrinth, it is a huge structure, with a large stone façade as its exterior. It’s built into the cliff, and unguarded. If you ask about that, Ariadne explains quickly that when the prisoners are delivered they are guarded by a large retinue of warriors from the palace until they’re lost inside. However, you can tell she’s hiding something–but she won’t elaborate if you ask her, instead insisting that you need to hurry.
You can see a couple of metal doors, engraved with a bull’s head and the curving corridors of a labyrinth in the metal, in-between stone columns. When you place your hands on them, your hands begin to pass through–and you can’t pull them out again. You find yourself being slowly sucked through, no matter how hard you try to pull away, and the experience is excruciating. If you give in and step through quickly, the experience will be easier.
Once inside the labyrinth, the air is oddly warm, and humid. Sweat begins to cling to your skin, and you can hear the sounds of dripping water from elsewhere in the labyrinth. It smells putrid, like rotting meat and offal, and there are bloodstains on the ground and walls. It looks like rudimentary barriers have been set up, long ago, in various places.
There are echoing screams, and terrible ripping and snapping noises–as of breaking bones and tearing flesh–further in. If you turn around, there is only a solid stone wall behind you; there are no signs of the door you touched to enter, and there is no way out.
While traversing the labyrinth looking for the keys, Minotauros will smell your scent. He is hunting you, and every now and then you can hear him getting closer, on the other side of a wall, or around a corner; breathing heavy breaths like an angry bull, hoofs thudding on the floor loudly.
You eventually come across Ariadne’s husband Thesius in one of the rooms with the keys. He is covered in blood and one of his arms is hanging limply by his side. He is surprised to see you, as you weren’t with the original group and you haven’t been stripped of weapons–as he says this, you can see he’s wielding a modified stake he must have ripped off one of the sharpened timber barricades throughout the labyrinth.
He will be relieved to hear that his wife sent you, and glad to know that she’s ok. If you explain the keys to him, he will say that he passed another similar object as the one in the room but didn’t take it because he didn’t know what it was. He can guide you back to that key.
When you’ve collected all the keys and are about to put them into the keyholes, Minotauros comes through the entrance into the room behind you, preparing to attack. His body is covered in a thick layer of black fur, on an even thicker hide. While his shape is vaguely human, his muscles are far larger than they should be, and there is a bull-ring in his nose.
Two curved horns tipped with steel and blood arch in front of his bovine face, and his eyes glow red with rage; steaming breath pouring forth from his flared nostrils. He prepares to attack.
Once the keys are in place, Minotauros collapses to his knees, saying in a deep, huffing voice “finally, peace…” before collapsing into ash. Behind the bulls-head statue, two doors will open to the outside world.
If you go through them, you will be in front of the doors you used to enter the labyrinth, only this time they are swung ajar behind you.
Ariadne is out there, pacing frantically back and forth, crying silently to herself. She spins around when she hears you exiting, then gasps “you did it!” while running to her husband. If his arm hasn’t been healed, she begins tearing strips of cloth from her dress and using them to bind the wound, crying about how relieved she is to see him while she does. When she is done, she kisses him intensely and strokes his hair, before saying that she better get him back to a healer in the town.
She gives you your reward before rushing him away, thanking you profusely and saying that thanks to your efforts they can root out the corruption in the royalty of their city–they will not have expected Thesius to survive, and will be unprepared for his return. If anything, his injuries further cement his claims!
If the players kill Minotauros, he will regenerate somewhere else in the labyrinth and resume hunting them down. It is part of his curse, he can never die in the labyrinth. However, when the labyrinth is unlocked, the curse ends; finally releasing him from his torture.
Should your players remain on the island for a couple more days, the royalty will be overthrown by Thesius, who will institute a republic. He will try find your players again, to thank them for what they did one last time, and show them the fruits of his efforts, before they leave.
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