MSC #7 : I am Legend
Lady Elriss's Steed
Many dream of wealth and power but to Lady Elriss they were a curse. Or at least the wealth for she had little in way of power. As the daughter of a noble, Lady Elriss was expected to behave as a proper woman. While her brothers received swordfighting instruction, her education consisted of etiquette, dancing and simply looking pretty. Running around outside was certainly not an acceptable activity.
Lady Elriss refused to follow this destined path. She wanted to travel the world from the Ice Peaks to the Jungle of Dalator. Sitting quietly next to her husband did not suit her. The heroes of legend battling orcs and dragons filled her dreams. Instead of attending to her studies, she hide away to watch the sword training received by her brothers.
Most people tried to dissuade Lady Elriss of her ideas. Kara, the young girl's favorite steed, seemed to almost encourage her. The mount showed no fear in leaping over fences to escape enclosures. Sometimes the horse would look back tauntingly before galloping off with the child. Lady Elriss and Kara were inseparable exploring the country side.
It was during one of these jaunts that a ne'erdowell took note. A noble's daughter could fetch a nice ransom or so the unscrupulous thought. He gathered a couple of friends and prepared to snatch the girl on her next journey alone.
On the next ride, the four brigands ambushed Lady Elriss. A net quickly ensnared the girl and dragged her off the horse. Two men with makeshift spears tried to drive off the steed while a third moved in to secure the captive. Kara reared up kicking a spearman to the ground. The other jabbed the weapon into the horse's side. While the first spearman returned to his feet, Lady Elriss grabbed hold of the fourth man approaching Kara sword drawn. "Go home! Run!" yelled the girl to her faithful friend.
Kara started to move away when Lady Elriss screamed in pain as the swordsman gave her a small cut. The pure white horse would not abandon her friend. Kara will to save her friend was so great magical energies surged around the beast. The tail hair unified into a long tail with a tuft of fur at the end. The heavy horse hooves separated to the cloven hooves of a deer. Finally a spiraling horn extended from Kara's head. The majestic unicorn glared at the outlaws.
Stunned the opponents barely had time to react before the magical beast charged into them. Kara's horn pierced a spearman before he could raise his weapon. Rearing up the hooves smashed into the swordsman. Lady Elriss managed to escape the net and lept into Kara's saddle. A spear launched at the young girl but found nothing. In a flash of light Lady Elriss and Kara teleported away.
The great storyteller Ormald lived hundreds of years ago. Few are old enough the remember the bard himself but his stories continue to be retold. Lady Elriss is perhaps his most famous character. Known as the swordswoman of the West, no record exists of her life outside of Ormald's tales. Lady Elriss seems to have been a fabrication of the old bard to inspire woman. Several tales of her exploits seem to be alteration of other legends. Despite the embellishments, Lady Elriss continues to be a popular character to young girls.
It is general believed that Lady Elriss's Steed is a completely fabricated story but in fact it is based on a real event. Before even Ormald's time unicorns were hunted for their magical horns. Fearing the great beasts would be wiped out, druids created a great forest sanctuary for them. The forest constantly changed confusing travellers. Evil creatures felt unwelcome in the forest. People quickly learned to avoid the forest. The protection only worked as long as the unicorns stayed in the forest. Should even one leave it's boundaries the spell would be broken forever.
One fateful day Leemianna stood at the edge of the forest watching a band of travellers being attacked by orcs. The men were outmatched and would soon be overcome by the orcs. The unicorn saw a young girl fleeing from a large orc. The orc laughed as he chased after the girl. Enraged the unicorn charged out of the forest impaling the orc. Distracted by the new combatant, the men managed to gain the upper hand and defeat the attackers.
The unicorn quickly darted back to the forest. Stopping just before the forest edge, she looked back at the young girl for just a moment before disappearing into the vegetation. With their magical defence broken, the unicorns gathered to discuss the matter. To save a single human child, Leemianna had put all the unicorns in great danger. As punishment she was cursed into a horse and cast out of the forest. Her white fur had a single gray patch were her horn once protruded from.
Having no home, Leemianna sought out the humans she had saved. The young girl raced over when she saw the horse instantly recognizing it despite the changes. Her father came over. Seeing the gray patch, he thanked the great beast for her sacrifice. He promised to tend after her if she would let him. They never told anyone of the true nature of Leemianna.
During a ride on Leemianna, the young girl was attacked by brigands. The events in Ormald's tale are not entirely accurate but the horse did transform into a unicorn for a short period. Leemianna killed all but one of the attackers before fleeing with the young girl.
Ormald did not see the transformation. In fact he never met Leemianna. In one of his travellers he overheard some thugs making fun of one member. The roughneck was the sole survivor of the attack on Leemianna. He had told the tale after too much liquor one night. Ever since those who know have teased him about horses transmuting into unicorns. Ormald found the story fascinating and added it to his collection of tales about Lady Elriss.
The curse causes a unicorn to appear as a light war horse. The unicorn is unable to speak or use special qualities beyond that a regular horse. Mating with a horse will occasionally produce a unicorn child also cursed to appear as a horse. All have a patch of color at what would be the location of their horn. The cursed unicorns retain their willful spirit making them poor mounts unless the rider has been accepted by the unicorn. Some descendants of Leemianna can be found in the regular horse population. The intent of the curse is not simply punishment but to ensure the survival of the unicorns. After 1001 years, the unicorn descendants will feel compelled to travel to the old forest. At which point the curse will be removed. Should the unicorns have been hunted to extinction after losing their magical defence, the population will be instantly restored.
In general the unicorns will try not to reveal their nature to others. If circumstances require it, they can temporarily overide the curse (3 + Wisdom modifier in rounds) with a DC 20 Will save.
During the full moon, the moonlight casts the shadow of a unicorn for the cursed unicorns. During the night watch, a player character notices the shadow. The mount could belong to a player character or another traveler. At some point the horse refuses to accept commands and begins travelling in another direction. While travelling they encounter more horses all with a patch of color on the head. Nearly 1001 years have passed and the curse is reaching its conclusion.
9. A major figure in the legend has a reputation that they do not deserve.
11. One of the figures in the legend broke a vow or code of conduct. (Leemianna broke the code of conduct by leaving the forest.)
12. Whilst the legend is well known, how it is told means that few realise it is in fact based on historical events. (People believe the story was simply fabricated by Ormald to get the result he wanted. This particular tale was meant to show that a greatness resides in everyone. You simply need the will to unlock it.)