Monday, January 01, 1990

The Unicorns and the Chosen

Unicorns. Mighty, noble beasts with sparkling manes and thundering hoofs. A golden blazing horn. Beings of fiery glory.

Even more than the dragons, the unicorns are a source of confusion and speculation. There is no recorded mention of their first appearance on Alyria. However, the stories about them abound. Some claim that the Nameless Warrior rode a unicorn when he slew the Lord of Pain. Sailors tell tales of seeing a unicorn galloping across the surface of the Sea of Mist to do battle with a mist wraith or dragon that was poised to attack their ship. The Web is filled with rumors of the discovery of remains of murderous criminals, their bodies gored through the heart or trampled by some beast. Even the Citadel has its tale of a harsh and treacherous High Lord who was slain by a unicorn in the Council Chamber itself. If the tales are to be believed, the unicorns are avengers of the good and destroyers of the dark. Perhaps the tales exaggerate. However, the purpose of the unicorns is obvious: the protection of goodness, truth and beauty in Alyria, and the utter destruction of all that is dark and evil in the land.

The purpose behind this is unclear. Scholars of the Ark speculate that the unicorns are a natural predator upon the dragons, but this explanation does not seem to fit the facts. The official Keeper dogma is that they are servants of Pheric, sent to judge the land. Perhaps the best explanation comes from a farmer who was saved from a demented Blessed by a unicorn: “They are our guardian angels.”

If the unicorns were to call someplace their home, it would be the mystical Garden that appears at times throughout the land of Alyria. However, they are rarely allowed to rest, as they are constantly passing throughout the land, seeking out the workers of evil and destroying them. As such, they are the natural enemies of the dragons and their dark cult.

The unicorns are wise in their conflict with the dragons, knowing that they must both oppose the dragons and their cultists as well as heal the hurt from their depredations. Therefore, the unicorns enlist humans in their ongoing struggle, gifting them with power and ability, such as the power to heal or to call down holy fire from heaven. These Chosen are then sent out to work against the dark plans of the dragon cultists. Some of these conflicts are earth-shattering, with holy fire meeting dark poison in a mystical duel. Others are more subtle, with both Chosen and cultist struggling to sway the heart of a single child. Yet each one is significant, and each victory or loss sways the tide of the battle.

The path of the Chosen is a hard one. Many have had to operate in secret, hiding from the Keeper Inquisition or the security forces of the Ark. Others have wandered long and lonely roads in the wilderness, passing from one small village to another. Some have been cast out by their communities and abandoned by families. Others have been denounced as Misbegotten or, worse, as Blessed. Still others have paid the ultimate price.

Truly, the world is not worthy of them.


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