Red glowing eyes, dark as a corbie, fumes coming out of its nostrils, an unearthly apparition spawned by the swamps of Venlaken, this is the horned steed of the twisted lords of the Enclave, the Black Unicorn. There is little though in this nightmarish demon that could match the noble creature known as unicorn throughout all Caelereth. Yet perhaps its horse-like appearance, the spiraled horn in its forehead and its elusive behavior may suggest the origins of its name.
Picture description. One of the many unearthy apparitions of the swamps of Venlaken: the Black Unicorn. Image drawn by Seeker.
As the scholars often discuss whether unicorns are or
are not horses, so they could discuss whether Black Unicorns are or are not
unicorns. And that is because the similarities stop at
the horse-like appearance, the solitary nature and the
two palm spans spiraled
horn in its forehead. As its name states, this creature's smooth hide is always
pitch black, sometimes even darker than a corbie -
if that is possible indeed. The Black Unicorn is quite tall (even for the
tallest horses), having unnaturally long and thin legs,
ending with long branch-like clawed fingers instead of hooves. Actually these
too-long thin legs are contributing more than enough to its "unearthly look":
generally it looks like a horse, or like a
unicorn, though quite a disproportionate one.
Nevertheless anyone that has seen a Black Unicorn in the swamps of Venlaken
agreed that these beasts move with a certain elegance, despite their odd looking
legs. Many also claimed that the Black Unicorns are able to float but this is
surely an exaggeration.
Huge fangs protrude from its mouth giving it a wickedly grinning face. Its breath is said to be poisonous, yet even if this is not true it seems that the smell is hardly bearable. Its eyes have a distinct red glow during the night and they never blink. This particular feature along with the clawed fingers and some of its behavior (the way it stalks its victims, for instance) determined many Anpagan scholars to declare the Black Unicorn as being actually a type of dragon, though this claim is disputed even to this day on the Ansaran Island.
These creatures are generally silent, being able to move through the Venlaken
marshes without making any sounds. Yet they are known to release on certain
occasions impossibly loud and ugly shrieks, turning any decent
human's stomach inside out. Their staring red
eyes give them an unearthly look said to have hypnotic properties. Also, the
Anpagan soldiers, part of the
military expedition sent in the Enclave during the Dark Plague, often reported
strange illnesses, supposedly caused by the poisonous breath of these wretched
Territory. They are known to live in the wild only in the southern marshes of the Venlaken Enclave on the continent of Nybelmar. However they have experienced no difficulties with leaving their natural lands, as the Daedhirian expedition to Tyr Faerath proved. Fortunately enough they seem to share the same feature with their occasional masters: even if they are able to leave the Enclave they do not seem to be willing to. Perhaps someone brave enough to cross the Enclave's border could capture one of these beasts and move it somewhere else. Yet the motives of such a foolish action are beyond any decent reason and always the Ansaran mages have strongly advised against it.
Habitat/Behaviour. The Black Unicorn is an opportunistic creature, mainly a scavenger but also a predator should the need arise. When they need to kill their victims they stalk them until an opportunity arises to apply just one bite. Then they just wait around their victim until it expires in a slow agonizing death lasting for several days. The Anpagans tell that the Black Unicorn's red stare is most dangerous for humans because of its hypnotic properties. Any unfortunate traveler stumbling upon this nightmare demon may be paralyzed just at a short glance (and there are serious discussions among the Ansaran mages if the expression "to stare death in the face" does not somehow originate with this creature).
There is also a tamed version of the Black Unicorn. Of course, no sane human would even try to think of having such a calamity around the house, so who else than the twisted Enclave Daedhirians would do such a thing? It is true that the Black Unicorns show an unmatched ability to travel through the Venlaken marshes, but the Ansaran mages claim that only the wicked nature of the unliving Daedhirians is to blame here. They ride upon these beasts as humans ride upon their horses and the loyalty shown by the Black Unicorns to their masters is said to be far greater than that of the most loyal dogs to their masters. However this doesn't seem to be true for the individuals around the riders, as often the Black Unicorns prove to be a serious hazard for any Daedhirian troops marching too close to them. But, so ask the Ansaran mages, when did have the dark lords of the Enclave ever cared about their subjects? And even more: perhaps it's the special nature of many Daedhirian troops that leads the Black Unicorns into mistaking them for just another "fresh" carcass to feed upon...
Diet. Whatever has enough flesh and bones may prove to be a good meal for these beasts. However they do seem to enjoy human flesh above everything. But this also could be just another story spawned by fear, as humans usually tend to do.
Mating. The Black Unicorns are solitary creatures, congregating only occasionally around a carcass. Probably this is also where they fulfill whatever mating rituals they might have. However, no Anpagan explorer was curious enough to ever try to watch such a thing.
Myth/Lore. Not much is known about the Black Unicorns and even less is known about their origin. Some legends tell that they are a magical creation, a crossbreed between a dragon and a unicorn. Others tell that the Black Unicorns are actually dragons transformed in time by the twisted energies of the Cursed Lands. And, of course, others tell that they are still unicorns, yet transformed by these same cursed magical energies.
When the Anpagan soldiers crossed the Enclave's border during the Dark Plague it is said that they have met the Daedhirian lord Asbavaer riding upon such a Black Unicorn. The story told by Asbavaer then, lives up to this day as one of the most popular Anpagan legends about the Black Unicorns (probably because it is heavily influenced by the Korweynite cosmology).
The Unicorns of Venlaken. At the beginning of times the sky and the earth were two opposed principles fighting against each other. As the sky tried to mirror itself into the amorphous mass of the earth the world was created. And many wonders were to be seen upon the face of the world in those days - the noble unicorns being just one of them. However, the earth tried to resist and to corrupt all these wonders, fighting back its opposed principle, the sky. The unicorns were caught in the middle of this astral war and, being a peaceful nature, they tried to avoid it. The world as it was back then was enough and no more wars were necessary, they thought. And thus they began to love the world in which they dwelled. And they loved it so much so that they began to forget about the sky that had given them birth. And seeing that the astral war did not end they started to blame the sky for it. Thus they turned against the armies of the sky, the humans - all too eager to see the sky completely mirrored on the earth. In these times before the ancient times, the unicorns were shunned by all the creatures of the sky as being lower than the lowly traitors. It was just what the earth was waiting for and it gave them fangs and claws to defend themselves and also to fulfill their "righteous" anger. Yet soon the unicorns saw the futility of this war and they laughed at the humans' claim that one day the heavens would come down upon the earth. But also, realizing that they were essentially wronged when they were thrown upon this world as peaceful creatures in an astral war, they secluded themselves in the Venlaken marshes, not wanting to hear anymore about the sky, or the earth, or the humans, or their petty wars. Their anger and frustration grew in time and they became earth. Their skin turned black as black as were their thoughts and feelings. And their eyes turned red as they dried out their tears. This was the story told by Asbavaer, but he also said another thing that day. When the Black Unicorns stumbled upon Daedhirians they knew that these once-humans were just like them. Shunned by all the creatures of the sky and refusing to serve the earth. And Daedhirians knew just the same. That's why, said Asbavaer, the bond between a Black Unicorn and a Daedhirian is so strong. They are soul-kin.
There might be also another version of this beast, though this was never really confirmed: the so-called Bone Unicorn. These are actually Black Unicorns transformed by the twisted magics of Daedhirians into that kind of unliving (or undead) creature so dear to these Ansaran heretics. Given the extreme loyalty of the Black Unicorns to their undead masters, sometimes also their masters get emotionally attached to them. This makes them try to resurrect their pets after their natural deaths. The result would be this Bone Unicorn. And if the Black Unicorn seems unearthly, then what about this abomination? The stories about such Bone Unicorns vary and no human has ever seen such a thing, as no human has ever broken into the inner circle of the Enclave (where these things are said to dwell). Some say that the Bone Unicorns are actually only the skeletons of their former "selves", held together by a special kind of glowing substance. Some say that they are ever bleeding skinless apparitions. Some even say that they are always fading in and out of existence, untouchable ghostly apparitions. However, many scholars doubt their reality. Indeed, there is little known about Daedhirian magic, but using the principles deduced from Armand Da'Ran's journals and the fragments of the Book of All Fears, this proves to be a problematic issue. The partisans of the Bone Unicorn issue claim, however, that Asbavaer, grandson of the forefather of all Daedhirians himself, Armand Da'Ran, created the first of them. Thus having direct access to all of his grandfather's writings, Asbavaer was able to extend his researches up to the point when he was able to apply the magic of transgression to a beast without using any human intervention (as Armand Da'Ran did with the sea serpent). But these are complicated scholarly discussions based only on speculations. What remains true is that no one has ever seen such Bone Unicorns so far, despite all the stories about them.
Information provided by Smith in Exile