A graceful and majestic creature, the unicorn is a reclusive species living in the most remote and wild forests of the world.
Unicorns are believed to be symbols of purity, both of body and spirit. A common myth suggests they can only be caught or tamed by a virgin, though translations of ‘virgin’ may have originally said maiden or innocent. Whichever it was, any who did not meet the unicorn’s criteria was likely to be gored with their horn.
Unicorns were also depicted as wild, untamable beasts capable of great speeds and strength. To approach one was incredibly risky, and therefore items made of their horns were incredibly valued and rare. A drink served in a glass made of unicorn horn cannot be poisoned; the horn itself purifies all toxins.
Their association with purity and their wild nature may have come about as a result of human destruction of natural habitats, with the unicorn as the symbol of the remaining lands not yet touched by human hands.
Unicorns are occasionally believed to be symbols of fertility, though more often associated with fertility of fields and finances instead of childbearing.
Traits and Behavior
The unicorn, despite popular depictions, is not a horned horse. They are smaller, closer to the size of a donkey at their largest, with long legs and a tufted tail. Their hair and manes are varying shades of white, with only the briefest hint of color as they age. Their horn is a material closely resembling ivory, and twists into a single point that grows in length as they age. If broken off, the horn will regrow from the broken point, but there will be a noticeable scar where the horn had to regrow. Unicorns have cloven hoofs, and tufts of longer hair on their ankles and at the end of their long tail. Older unicorns often have small beards under their chin.
Unicorns’ eyes can be a wide variety of colors, but are most often a reflection of the colors of their chosen territory as an adult; a mountainous unicorn will often have grey eyes, a forest one green and brown. Their eyes may be mismatched, or multiple colors each, and they have square pupils similar to a goat.
Unicorns are generally born alone or with a twin, but rarely any larger groups. Baby unicorns have spots, similar to a deer, in shades of grey that will fade as they age. They will grow their horn at the age of 3-5 and it will slowly grow and twist as they age. The length and number of twists in a horn can indicate the age of a unicorn. When young, unicorns gather in small groups of other foals to run through the woods, but as they age they become more reclusive and spread apart and set up their own territories.
Unicorns only seek each other out for the purposes of having children; the couple will stay together for the first decade of the foals life, before leaving again. Unicorns will remain faithful to their partner despite the distance, and will only ever have one mate. Should their mate die, the other will live on in solitude. Unicorns occasionally visit their parents in their own territories, but this is rare.
Unicorns are herbivores, but they will defend their territories to the death if needed, and have been known to occasionally eat their kills afterwards. Whether this provides any nutrition, or if it could be an intimidation tactic, is unclear.
Unicorns seek out the most remote areas possible for their homes. They are excellent climbers, and often live in secluded glades high in the mountains. They primarily eat grasses and flowers living in the area, and may venture south at certain times of the year for specific plants. Baby’s breath and lily of the valley are favorites, and they will seek them out even if it means leaving their home for a time. In the winter, when food is scarce, they often travel within their territories for days at a time to locate food. They can survive on very little if needed.
While unicorns are solitary in nature, their territories are often full of other creatures, frequently dryads and sprites. The territory of a unicorn has a natural low level of magic in the land, and will be more fruitful and healthy than surrounding areas. It is unclear if this is caused by the unicorn or what draws it to an area when settling their territory, and may be a combination of the two factors. The unicorn will chase out any creatures it does not want in its territory, not just humans, and knows almost immediately if an unwelcome guest has breached their borders. Unicorns mark the edges of their territory by carving their horn into tree bark or into rock formations, and the marks glow slightly with internal light. Passing one of these markings without being welcomed will give a person an immense feeling of dread, and the desire to immediately leave the area. Any who are welcome in the territory have reported a feeling of warmth and joy.
As with the kelpie, a unicorn will not allow itself to be ridden, and will kill any who make the attempt.
Unicorns are effectively immortal, in the sense that once they reach maturity they will not age. Though their appearance may shift, they will not suffer what most creatures will past their prime, and can feasibly go on forever. Unicorns are usually killed by other creatures, human intervention, or natural disasters. Eating the flesh of a unicorn will cause horrific damage to the body, but can confer longer life on whoever would do so. Their flesh is reported to be especially bitter. If left alone, the body of a unicorn will decompose swiftly, and the area around it will sprout flowers regardless of the time of year.
While non-aging, a unicorn can be killed by any manner of weaponry. They are immune to poison, as unicorns have a naturally purifying presence. They can be made ill if stranded in a polluted location, but if left for long enough the area will become cleaner.
Unicorns are immune to many magics as well. While they may be more accepting of a person of pure heart and intentions, they will not allow themselves to be captured without a fight. Captive unicorns will make any who are nearby ill, as their purification talent is reversed.
Unicorns are diurnal species, and thus are primarily awake during the day. They have poor night vision.