The Story of Tanarax

Many people wonder what I am. I am a minotaur. I know most minotaurs have a human body with the head of a bull. But looking like a bull on two legs, I have been questioned many times. I haven't always been a minotaur. I used to be human. I know it sounds strange, but it's true.

As a human I was the assistant of the powerful wizard Costus. Costus lived in a small but elegant house in the woods. I learned some magic from him, but mostly I did chores.

One day, I was gathering ingredients in the woods for either one of Costus's spell or supper. He explicitly never tells me what anything is for. I was picking some berries when I hear someone on a horse come up the trail. I was a distance from the trail so, the person didn't see me. As the horse got closer, I saw that the rider was a knight. He wasn't in full armor, but he did have a chain mail shirt and a helmet. He went on about his business, so I continued about mine.

When the knight was far down the road but still in seeing distance, I heard a woman yell.

"Halt!" said the woman. The knight stopped. I crouched down so they wouldn't see me, but I could see them.

"How are you fair maiden?" asked the knight. "Why do you need me to stop?" The "maiden" was anything but. The woman was an old hag to put it nicely.

"Don't flatter me. What are you doing in my road?" demanded the hag.

"I am journeying to the distant town of..." the knight started explaining.

"Doesn't matter," interrupted the woman. "I don't want to see anyone on my road. As a matter of fact, I only see a couple of wild boars."

When the words finished coming out of her mouth, the knights horse reared up throwing the knight off. The horse started jumping around and shaking its head. It looked like the hoarse was shrinking. The knight tried to calm the horse down, but he grabbed his head and threw off the helmet revealing pointy ears covered with brown fur. With the helmet gone, I could see his face better. His nose was becoming a snout and he had two tusks protruding from his mouth. The same was with the horse. It's muzzle was more of a pigs than a horses. The knight fell to his hands and knees. Or rather on his front hooves and back hooves. And he started squirming to get out of the chain mail. The horse was now a big fat boar. The knight finally getting out of his clothes was also a boar. They both ran for cover into the woods. Fortunately they didn't run in my direction.

Feeling happy with what she did, the old woman turned and went down the road from where she had come. I decided that now was the time to go. I ran in the opposite direction from where the old woman was. Which luckily was in the direction of Costus's house. I pushed small trees out of the way, and jumped fallen logs. I was feeling pretty confident that I would make it unseen when out of nowhere, the old woman was standing in front of me. I stopped to keep from running into her.

"And just where do you think you're going running through my woods like that?" she asked me. It was remarkable how old and ugly she was up close.

I was too busy catching my breath to answer her.

"I don't like people charging in here like bulls." she said.

That was the last thing I heard her say. I don't know if she didn't say anything else, or if I was too occupied to notice. But, what I did notice was that I was in pain. Every part of my body ached. Remembering what happened to the knight, I reached up to feel of my ears. They were long and furry. There were also the beginning of horns poking out from the sides of my head, too. With my hand up beside my head, I saw my fingers recede and fuse together while my index and ring finger's finger nails swelled to form cloven hooves. My elbow started to not bend right, so I lowered my fur covered arms. They were more forelegs now. I then noticed the my feet were now hooves too and had worked their way out of my shoes. I couldn't stand up on two legs anymore so I landed an all fours. I then felt the odd sensation. Something was moving. Swinging my head back, I saw it was a tail. I couldn't look back for too long because there was a large mass blocking my range of vision. I realized that it was my muzzle.

The woman was standing there watching me. When all the pain went away, she came over to me and helped me get out of the ripped clothes that were still clinging to me. "There's a good bull," she said. "You remember who you are don't you?"

I looked at her and tried to say yes. All that came out was a strange sounding moo.

"That's good," she replied. "Not many remember they were once human. But don't worry. In a few days, you will forget your humanity." With that she turned and walked away.

I stood there looking at her leave. It then dawned on me. She said that I would forget my humanity in a few days. I would be a bull and not know any better. "Maybe Costus can help me," I thought.

I headed for Costus's house. Running on four legs seemed natural. "I don't know how I could have run on only two before," I thought. "What was I thinking? I need to remember that I am a human."

When I reached Costus's house, I went up to the door and knocked on it with my horns. I could hear Costus grumbling as he walked toward the door. He never liked anyone to interrupt his work. He opened the door and was shocked.

"What are you doing here, cow?" he asked. "Are you lost? This is a house. You belong outside."

I tried to tell him that I wasn't a cow. "Moo," I said. I needed a way to communicate to Costus of who I was. I pushed my way into his house. He tried to stop me, but I was too powerful. I headed for my room. Costus was running after me.

"Tana isn't going to like you in his room," he said pulling on my neck.

I ignored him and went to the table where my favorite hat was. Fortunately, I didn't take it on my gathering trip. It would have been in the woods with the rest of my ruined cloths. I picked up the hat with my teeth, moved it up, and down and sat it back on the table.

"You shouldn't be messing with that hat. That's Tana's favorite."

When he said that I picked it up again and waved it back and forth in my mouth. Costus suddenly realized something he had overlooked.

"You're trying to tell me something, aren't you?" he asked.

I nodded and mooed. Then I waved the hat some more.

"Tana, is that you?"

I nodded energetically.

"What happened to you? Come in the front and I'll try to change you back to normal." Costus walked out of my room and into the front room. It was the biggest room in the house, so that is where he does a lot of his magic. I eagerly followed him.

When I walked into the front room, Costus was already at his large spell book. He was looking quickly through the index. "Ah, here it is. Changing a cow into a human." He thumbed through the pages and stopped somewhere near the middle of the book. He read for awhile and then went to his cupboard and got out a jar of powder. He took out a handful of power and blew it in my face. A large part of it went up my huge nostrils which caused me to sneeze. It sounded strange to hear a bull sneeze. Costus then spoke some words that I didn't understand. When he finished he stood back and looked at me.

I felt strange. I wasn't in pain like when I first changed, but I could tell I was changing. My eyes were still watery from the power, so I couldn't see what was happening very well. My torso started to become less barrel shaped and more human shaped. I could feel my forelegs becoming arms again. I could feel fingers at the ends of my hands. But when I looked I only saw three fingers. I wiped the tears from my eyes so I could see better. It felt great to move my arms like I wanted to again. I looked at my hands, and they did have only three fingers. Two large fingers and a small thumb. I found that I could stand up on two legs again, but it felt different. I looked down and saw that I still had the hind legs of a bull. I even still had a tail. The fur didn't go away either. That's when I realized that the large mass that had been blocking my vision was still there too. I had gotten used to it, so I didn't notice it that it wasn't gone. I felt of my head, and it was still a head of a bull. I realized that I was standing at least seven feet tall now.

"Well, I think you have finished transforming," Costus said. "Can you talk now?"

"I don't know," I said. "Hey I can!" My voice was deeper and rougher.

"Don't get too excited. You still are mostly bull."

"Why?" I asked. "Shouldn't the spell have changed me back into a human?"

"I thought so," he said. "But you weren't all bull to start with. So it didn't make you all human. Magic is strange is some ways. Anyway, what happened?"

I told him the story of the old woman in the woods. Costus looked amazed.

"I never knew there was another magic user around here. Maybe we can exchange spells. Oh, and to make you human again."

"I'm not so sure she will do that," I said.

"Well, we can try," he said and hurried out the door. I went after him. He was already in the woods when I got to the door. I still wasn't used to the way my new legs bent. He finally stopped a good distance into the woods. I caught up to him quickly. I found out that if I don't think about moving my legs, I can move better.

"What direction was she?" he asked.

"Over that way," I pointed out the direction. As soon as we started in that direction, the woman appeared.

"I see I have new visitors," said the old woman. She looked more closely at me. "I've seen you before. Oh, yes. I like how you changed. Who changed you into that form?"

Costus spoke up. "I did. And I was wondering if we can exchange spell. It has been a long time since I have visited with another magic user."

The woman glared at Costus. "Exchange spells? What would I need of your spells? I know all the spells I need. And what would a Lizard Wizard have to give me that I don't have already?"

When she said that, I noticed that Costus's skin got scaly. His hands were more claws now, and his face elongated and his beard vanished. A long, thick scaly tail was poking out from under his shirt. He looked to be a large lizard/human.

"I can give you a lot," he replied. I saw he had sharp teeth when he spoke. "You were impressed with what I did to Tana here."

It dawned on me that Costus didn't let on that he had changed. "Costus," I said. "Look what she did to you. You are a big lizard."

Costus looked himself over. "What do you mean?" he asked. "Haven't I always been a lizard?"

I grabbed the old woman by her shirt and picked her up. "Look here," I yelled. "I don't like what you did to Costus. Change him back now."

"Didn't you hear him?" she asked. He has always been a lizard."

I looked at Costus. He was back to his original form. Scales, tail, and all. "That's better," I said.

The old woman had a sinister grin on her face when I put her down.

"Now," she said. "What did you want me to do?"

"I want to be human again," I demanded.

"Why would I want to do that?" she asked. "You are a perfect specimen of the works of two magics: mine and his. Now off with you."

The old woman left. She seemed to disappear through the thickness of the woods. Costus and I headed back toward his house. He was lucky she changed him back to normal. I on the other hand...

"Don't worry, Tana," Costus said when we reached the door to the house. "I'm sure we will find a way to change you back into a human."

"I can probably get use to this body," I said ducking to get in the door.

The next day, I went outside to start my chores. When I walked out the door, I saw a bull looking at me in the woods. As I looked closer, it wasn't a bull at all. It was a human with a bull's head. The minotaur came out of his hiding when he saw me.

"You there," said the minotaur. "What is your name?"

"Tana," I replied. "And what is yours?"

"Mazirax," he replied. "I have come from the Nordeian Tribe in the mountains not too far from here looking for fresh supplies."

"We don't have much around here..."

"I don't need to get anything from you," Mazirax said. "I'm sorry if it sounded like I was begging. What I wanted to talk to you about was where did you come from? You don't look like a normal minotaur."

"I'm not a normal minotaur," I explained. "I was human who was changed into a bull. The wizard who lives here tried to change me back, but this is as close to human as he could get."

"I see," said Mazirax. "If you don't mind, how would you like to become an honorary member of our tribe. We need someone who is familiar with the human areas around here."

"I would be honored," I said.

"Then let's go to my village. We will ask the other members for their approval."

I went inside and told Costus what Mazirax had said. Costus let me go. I guess he wanted me to be a part of others almost like me. So, Mazirax and I sat out toward the Nordeian Tribe. We reached the mountains without running into the old woman. The tribe was very excited that a new member was joining. That night there was a ceremony to initiate me. They scarred a small symbol on my chest. The fur on my chest made it difficult to read. I didn't know what it meant, but all the male minotaurs had one. Each was different.

I glanced up from looking at my symbol, I saw a female minotaur smiling at me. I started to go over to her, but the chief pulled me up on the platform.

"Now, you are Tanarax of the Nordeian Tribe," announced the chief. "We are all pleased to have you as an honorary member. Your knowledge of humans will benefit us greatly."

So, that's how I became the way I am. I have spent about half the time with the tribe and the other half with Costus. I haven't seen or heard from the old woman. Maybe she is happy with what I have become. I know that Hura, the female minotaur that was smiling at me during the ceremony, is. Costus is doing well, even during the times when I'm not there. Mazirax doesn't know why I was apprentice to "that lizard" to begin with. He doesn't understand the need for magic. I keep explaining it to him that if it wasn't for Costus, I would be a bull. I wouldn't even have known that I wasn't always a bull. But thanks to Costus, I am Tanarax of the Nordeian Tribe.

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