One quick photo from opening night that we’d like to share. This is Laura Korn and Alison Logan as Xandra and Brandy, the head unicorn and her lieutenant, from Unicorn City.
The Baron caused to be raised the most magnificent of edifices to house the unicorn. It was a round building measuring 40 cubits across and fully 140 cubits in circumference. It featured twelve stately turrets on the roof, spread as close to equally around the edge as could be arranged, and outer walls made of stone reinforced with gleaming bronze. The interior was decorated tastefully in the style of the Marwani school, with its brightly colored overstuffed pillows and ceilings of silvered glass.
The unicorn ate from feeding bins lined with real bone accents. (The bone came from one of the builders who was tragically killed during the construction period. We must insist that the death was not related to any of the three major collapses that befell the building, for the Baron personally ensured the safety of the work site. Instead, the man was killed by his wife in a purely domestic squabble, and his remains were utilized in this way to honor his memory. When it was discovered that his bones were not quite enough to complete the bins, his wife was brought to justice and her bones added to the supply.)
The stable opened into a delightful field with plenty of room for frolic and gambol, as well as a collection of cuttings from the Baron’s trees where the unicorn could achieve a measure of solitude.
To those wags who suggest that it might be unseemly to provide so much to creatures simply for their beauty when simply surviving in the area was so challenging for so many, it must be made clear that the value that this unicorn provided the village of Aathenaar more than justified it. We dare not justify this attitude with further comment.
The unicorn was very clearly satisfied with its new home, as it ate contentedly and rested with a sense of utter peace. It felt not even loneliness for others of its kind, for soon others began showing up, completely on their own volition, looking wistfully at the luxury offered within the fences of the stable. The Baron ordered that all such unicorns should be welcomed into the stable and cared for as his own flesh and blood, and in this way did their number reach eight or twelve.
To this day does their noble spirit imbue the town of Aathenaar, brightening its spirits as the blinking of the Western Leafstar brightens the night sky.
And so, as this history approaches the standings of the current day, I humbly submit it to the good Baron Brange. In hope that he may find it informative and delightful, and that others might as well, and that the Baron remain in fine health and spirit with nothing untoward befalling him, I remain:
Repatia of Rookwood Falls
[her signature and seal]
It is commonly claimed that the unicorn—that finest, most perfectly noble of all beasts, whose spirit did imbue Alatia to enable her to give birth to the first of the race of man—will only approach the most virtuous of maidens.
While we must acknowledge the comfort that this legend can provide the listener (for in a world where cruelty does exist and often goes unpunished, we ought to celebrate those situations in which virtue is rewarded), we must also insist that it is not strictly true.
Like most legends, however, this one is based in truth. Unicorns are not, in fact, particularly concerned for the sexual proclivities of those they honor with their presence, and while their contact with people is limited overall, that contact is not strictly limited to those of the female gender.
No, the unicorn’s sole concern is purity of heart. And that fact ought to convince you of the veracity of this seemingly shocking tale:
Baron Brange was taking a constitutional through the Jungles of Anaria, when suddenly he noticed a beautiful, gentle glow through the overgrowth. Drawn to it he was, and he approached it with due caution, but also an overwhelming sense of security.
In a small clearing, he discovered the source of the glow: It was a unicorn, and one that was every bit as glorious as the poems might suggest.
It noticed the good Baron and gazed upon him. What the unicorn might have been doing—whether examining the Baron’s manner, or his physiognomy, or perhaps performing its own magical arts to determine the Baron’s character—the Baron can tell us nothing, for he stood transfixed, simply cherishing this most rare of opportunities.
Knowing the purity of heart that the good Baron possesses, it is hardly surprising that the unicorn eventually approached the Baron (who would like it to be known that he has had a number of romantic partners that demonstrates his virility, tenderness, and mastery of technique).
And it approached him so enthusiastically that he needed not give the order for his party to deploy the ropes, nets, and sleeping drugs they had brought solely for defense against the aggressive owlbears known to stalk the area.
The unicorn nuzzled the good Baron with its horn, filling him with a sense of supreme well-being and joy. “I salute you, noble Unicorn,” the Baron declared, “and I thank you for allowing me to grace you with my presence.”
So moved was the unicorn by this speech that when the Baron gave his party the direction to turn for home, he found that the group’s number had increased by one: The unicorn was following him.
Having already demonstrated the generosity of his spirit, it is hardly surprising that the Baron’s response to this was to heartily inform the unicorn that “Of course my household has room for you!” But even the Baron could not overlook the differences in species that might make his manor house ill-suited for a unicorn’s domicile.
His response to this was to order the construction of a stable: A stable of such grandeur and luxury that this unicorn would never want for anything but could instead live a fulfilling life of ease and abundance.
But while the Baron’s efforts removed the wicked witch Wajida’s presence from Aathenaar, nothing could remove Aathenaar’s presence from Wajida’s mind. It is a believed fact that she obsessed over this fair village, yearning constantly to conquer but being forced, by the Baron’s efforts, to chew instead on the gristle of failed attempts and hate.
There was the time a cloud of locusts settled in the town’s fields, no doubt a conjuration of the witch’s, if not pets that she decided to sacrifice in her lust for power. The locusts proved to be trivial in the face of Aathenaar’s resourcefulness. On, perhaps, a dare, a peasant one day bit into one of these insects—and declared it delicious. The news of this discovery spread among the people of Aathenaar, and before long dozens of clever and tasty recipes had been developed.
Upon seeing how popular the locusts were as food, Baron Brange immediately decreed that the townspeople could keep every one they caught for themselves, instead of submitting a portion as tax to the Baron for the services he rendered. (In exchange for this arrangement, the Baron agreed to accept a larger share of the perfectly nourishing but significantly more mundane grains and meats that the town produced.)
But Wajida is single-minded in her wickedness, and she refused to take the clear message that setbacks such as this offered her. And so, when the peak of Naliar Hill rumbled with rage, there was little doubt what had caused it: Wajida had summoned a dragon to threaten the town.
It confirmed its scaly green existence a few days later, swooping into town and devouring three of the Baron’s cows that were grazing in the field of a peasant who cared for them as companions. With a roar of flame that severely handicapped two professional young ladies by singeing their enormous golden bouffants, it took flight, returning only to grab a pair of lads playing round-o-fours by a large rock for dessert before retiring to its lair to sleep and digest.
The Baron knew that this must not be allowed to pass unanswered. He strode to the top of Naliar Hill confidently, for the Baron had always had a certain rapport with snakes of all kinds. “Dragon,” he declared. “You are not welcome here. Leave at once.”
The dragon, by the Baron’s report, opened one of its eyes and squinted it in a manner that failed to show the proper deference to the Baron’s station. The Baron, however, felt full confidence in his position, and so he did something that would be foolish for anyone without such confidence: He slapped the dragon across the nose.
The beast was shocked, as are all seemingly terrifying individuals when they are stood up to. Now having its full attention, the Baron repeated his order: “Dragon, you are not welcome here. Leave at once.”
The dragon considered, if whatever its reptilian brain did might be called that. But before long, it decided that the Baron clearly had the wherewithal to carry out his implied threat. The dragon meekly lumbered out of the cave and took to the sky, never to be heard from again.
Coventra is the world where Unicorn City is set. (Specifically, Unicorn City is set in Aathenaar, one of the southwestern cities.)
For your orientation-related amusement, we offer this map of Coventra.
Click on the map for a larger version, or see details of the northwest (including beautiful Pinge Canyon), northeast (home to the famed Salty Shemork Lake), southwest (where you’ll find Aathenaar) and southeast (dominated by the Paquerine Swamp).
One day a most unwelcome visitor came to Aathenaar.
There can be no doubt that she came—invaded, even—from one of Coventra’s distant city-states; perhaps the central Vakid desert, where the antisocial thrive, or the highlands of Crandide, where one is free to pursue knowledge of the heinous and unnatural without the restraints of decency.
She rode into town on the back of a terrible black goat, who belched flames from its nostrils at regular intervals, much as the noxious gases of the Paquerine Swamp bubble to the surface every six minutes.
“I am Wajida!” she cackled, punctuating this seemingly simple declaration with a terrifying display of pyrotechnics from the tip of her hell-spawned wand.
“I yearn for ale!” she demanded to a lad of no more than six or seven. This poor boy, scared witless at the sudden intrusion into his secure world, nevertheless sketched a bow and promised to procure some, though he had no money of his own and would have to beg it at the Red Dragon Tavern.
This was hardly enough for the wicked witch. “Faster!” she insisted, but it was clear that she had no concern for patience; the boy had barely raced across the street when she brandished her wand and incanted a set of foul words that have not come down to us and that we would not repeat if they had. The effect of these words has come down to us, however: A beam of shot forth from the wand and struck the running boy in his back, and then he disappeared, and on his spot was a rather shocked-looking ferret.
The people of Aathenaar, wisely, gathered those dear to them and retreated to what security their homes could offer. (Even the boy-turned-ferret’s distraught mother, who managed to lure her rodent-son to the family home with a piece of moldy cheese.)
There was only one who dared brave the witch’s incursion into the peaceful town of Aathenaar. That man, naturally, was Baron Brange. Upon learning of the witch’s presence, he marched into town to address her.
Baron Brange found Wajida examining a flowerbox with much the same demeanor as a queen might inspect her new manor’s crown moulding. Baron Brange approached her silently, and he was at her shoulder while she was still unaware of his presence. He announced himself by bending down to the goat’s ear and commanding quite forcefully: “Bad goat!”
The goat, who was just rearing up for another expulsion of fire, reconsidered this course of action.
Wajida was unamused. “I am Wajida, and this is now my town,” she declared.
“I am Baron Brange, and I think not,” Brange retorted.
Wajida attempted her infernal magicks at the good Baron. Whether it was the same spell or one entirely different we cannot say, for the Baron was careful and wise, and understood that danger could approach at any time. He therefore wore at all times a rare and clever charm that protected him against witchcraft, and Wajida’s spell bounced off his person.
Brange laughed at this—a human, decent laugh, as distinguished from Wajida’s cackle, but deep and booming and resonant with power. When he finished, he intoned: “Your time here is done, witch. Begone, and return not!”
Even the ballistae of hell could not withstand such a show of force and fortitude from Baron Brange. Wajida bowed her head and directed her steed to carry her out of the village at its maximum speed, an order that the beast seemed only too happy to comply with.
Witchcraft has never again reared its head within the boundaries of Aathenaar, but the good Baron remains vigilant and will take whatever action proves necessary to protect the fair village.
This has been up for a few days, but today I’d like to share it officially: The Unicorn City Trailer. Enjoy Dermot, Gaby, Marvin, and Stepford, four of the show’s unicorns, rocking out!