By Moe Lane


Those intimately involved in the Purity Crusade have been dealing with the resultant political fallout ever since. It's only been a millenium or so since it formally ended, so most Old Crusaders still remember quite well the desires and beliefs that drove them to clean out the Marches in the first place. There has been widespread tactical criticism (as would occur in any good military force after a successful campaign), and a grudging amount of strategic.

There are Crusaders that will admit that their methods might have been extreme, at times: there are some Crusaders that have freely admitted that they would not join in a second expedition into the Marches. There are even a few Crusaders that, if you got them drunk in an Earthly bar, would weep and ask precisely why God apparently felt it necessary for them to slaughter helpless, minor spirits that never hurt anyone.

However, no Crusader who was part of the squads sent to exterminate the unicorns has ever recanted his, her or its actions.

Some monsters should not be permitted to walk under the open sky.


Corporeal Forces: 3 Strength: 5 Agility: 7
Ethereal Forces: 2 Intelligence: 3 Precision: 5
Celestial Forces: 3 Will: 5 Perception: 7

Vessel: unicorn/3, +2 Charisma

Skills: Dodge/3, Fighting/3, Large Weapon/6 (Unicorn's Horn), Move Silently/3, Running/1, Tactics/1

Songs: Attraction (Ethereal/3), Blood* (Celestial/6), Charm (Celestial/3), Draining (Corporeal/3), Ecstasy (Corporeal/3)

Relic: Unicorn's Horn. A Unicorn's Horn is halfway between being a relic and a 'natural' feature of the creature. If has several potent features. First off, it's a potent weapon (equivalent to a level/3 corporeal relic, with a Power of +3 and an Accuracy of +2), useable in all three realms and capable of causing celestial damage. Second, the unicorn may use it to detect the closest individual that fits its Need (see below): it will give approximate direction and distance, and begin to glow within 10 yards of the target. Lastly, the horn acts as a level/3 reliquary. Separating the horn from the unicorn's skull kills the ethereal, and results in a 'mere' level/2 reliquary that glows in the presence of the Pure.

Discord: Murderous/3, Need/6 (Life force of virgins)

*Unicorns were the only ethereals that have ever demonstrated an ability to use this Song, although it is uncertain whether this was the regular Celestial Song of Blood, or else a Song that simply duplicates the effects.

Oh, that's right, humanity currently has no actual knowledge of what unicorns really were. That's partially the fault of Hell - Nybbas enjoys warping the legend of unicorns nearly as much as he enjoys portraying elves as happy, shiny little humanoids (instead of the giggling psychopaths that most of them really were). It's also partially the fault of Heaven: the Host (after the first time that they killed the last one) couldn't think of a way to fit them into the natural ecosystem, so they encouraged humanity to think of the Damned things as strictly legendary.

Now, it should be noted that, all things considered, the unicorns weren't evil in the sense that, say, the average denizen of Faerie is. Any kind of balanced ecology will produce predators: of course, from Heaven's point of view all ethereals are predators, but that's just propaganda. Most are just parasitical (although some of them approach the status of symbiotic). In fact, that's how the unicorns got started: they were minor ethereals associated with Purity.

Unfortunately, the problem with being associated with Purity, when you're an ethereal, is that any bit of impurity is potentially fatal. Most types of these ethereals quickly dissolve. The unicorns, on the other hand, were able to compensate from taking the step from being a parasite to becoming a predator: instead of leeching off of human concepts of Purity, they instead fed directly on those that best exemplified the Word.

But the unicorns were simply too good at being predators (Jordi would disagree, but then Jordi has a completely different definition of 'optimal human population'): they combined near-human intelligence with a constant need for life energy. Needless to say, humans have the most complex life patterns of any corporeal life form, so the unicorns naturally preyed on them - and developed a method of hunting that the average human couldn't withstand.

All of this might have been - well, not forgiven, but not handled with extreme prejudice - by the Host, except for a wrinkle: the unicorns were so successful in their adaptation that they began to make the transition from being an ethereal species to being a corporeal one. By the time that the Host noted the situation (with no small degree of alarm), unicorns had established themselves in Eurasia and beginning to make inroads in other parts of the planet. The Purity Crusade began, in fact, merely as a specific mission to wipe out this one species: however, Uriel's own prejudices, coupled with Seelie interference (elves loved unicorns), soon escalated the whole thing into the Purity Crusades. Many Old Crusaders date their decision to serve from the first full reports on what unicorns actually did to steal their prey's life energy, and the average age of said prey (after all, the older the prey, the less likely that he or she would be acceptably... pure).

Since the Crusade, the Host has kept a careful watch on ethereal representations of unicorns (thanks to Hell's interference, the concept has stayed in the collective mind of humans). There have been at least sixty-three instances where a 'modern' ethereal unicorn has metamorphosed into the older, deadlier version. Theorists have suggested that sufficient memories of the old days of blood and horn have remained in the collective unconscious of humanity to make the template still available, as it were: and, as unicorns are still considered evocative of Purity (despite Heaven's best efforts)...

Well, let's just say that the threat hasn't gone away. Luckily, between the Tsayadim and the saner ethereal pantheons (all of whom blame unicorns for getting them into this mess in the first place), the numbers are kept down. In fact, it's said that the sight of any unicorn is the only thing that will cause a Tsayadim to break off the pursuit of an ethereal spirit (presuming that said spirit hasn't gone after it as well)...


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