|Official Name||Two-Horned Horse|
|Common Nicknames||Cured Demon|
|Habitat||Basta, Regalian Archipelago|
The Two-Horned Horse has an unknown past and an unfortunately bleak future. Despite having survived an attempt to kill them off by Unionists, the animal has managed to survive for now in the wild areas of Basta. They are incredibly skittish animals and easily spooked, capable of wielding their two horns well if forced into a position that they need to use them. The animal is also domesticated but has few riders except some members of the Villiers-Eclaire Order.
The Two-Horned Horse is an extreme curiosity due to its unknown origins, with three vastly different theories as to where the animal comes from. The first is the most generally accepted, though only maintained among high-level scholars. They believe the animal is from a past Void Invasion, with a large span of time having resulted in the animal’s loss of ties to the Void and whatever aggression it might have once possessed. The second theory is that is it now from a past Void Invasion, but the Fifth Void Invasion and is an example of Void corruption that never finished. Scholars of this idea claim that the Void surely didn’t reach around the entirety of the Regalian Archipelago and Basta, as the most western of the Regalian lands, was closest to the final battle between the Elven Empire and the Void so its possible the Void began to mutate them only to ultimately fail when the Cataclysm occurred. The final theory is the most dubious and relies on a large assumption: That there was once a species of multi-horned horse on Daen. This theory claims that such a creature was bred into two species, the wild and aggressive Elasmo that the Elves eventually abandoned while the Two-Horned Horse was one they kept, eventually transposing it to Basta somehow during their raiding operations of the Ailor that lived there.
Regardless of its exact origins, the animal was known to the Ailor of the Regalian Archipelago by the time of the Five Family Rebellion as one of the vessels that ferried the rebels to the Crown Isle was “The Horned Horse,” named after the same animal. The animal was overall a central symbol of the Iltar Kingdom who, while initially suspicious of the animal, grew to accept it. The Regalian Empire, on the other hand, was not as enthusiastic about the horned equine. Basta was one of the first regions incorporated into the Empire, and despite this suspicion, the Two-Horned Horse was allowed to roam about the island of Basta in relative peace. When Emperor Henri III formally made Basta the center of power for the Unionist religion, this peace was shattered. The animal was aggressively hunted as a danger to society and a demonic presence, but it is said that Emperor Henri III himself ordered the purge to cease. While the reasons for this are various, the most commonly held belief is that the native Ailor population was growing aghast by the slaughter of the animals they considered positive, even friendly, and could have risen to attack the numerous regional churchmen overseeing the building of their centers of power. Ultimately, the animal was spared but ever since then, has remained rare in the wild and even more limited in the domesticated sphere. Only a single horse ranch in eastern Basta is authorized or even able to rear the animal as the Two-Horned Horse requires meticulous care to be tamed. This has made their price on the market skyrocket, though few want them as mounts anyway. The recently founded School of Villiers-Eclaire however, has notable interest in the animal and has raised their profile by including the animal in their sigil. Yet, only Villiers-Eclaire Elders are known to ride Two-Horned Horses as they are the only ones who can afford them. For now, though, they remain a relatively mysterious, fringe animal in Aloria.
The Two-Horned Horse is a standard equine animal, aside from the feature that gives it its name. It is a short-statured horse, standing at five and a half feet tall, five feet long and a weight of 140 to 160 pounds. It has a narrow snout with a large mouth, set of nostrils and pair of dark brown or black eyes while a pair of short ears sits on the top of their head. The most notable feature of their face is the facial horns, which are not antler-like or on the top of their head like some immediately assume. Instead, there are two of them, with the main one set up near the top of the head up by the eyes and a second one lower down on the snout, closer to the nose. The first can grow from two to four inches long while the latter can only grow up to two. They are black in coloration.
The rest of the animal is lean and elegant, well made for rushing across the open areas of Basta but also nimbly proceeding over more rocky ground. Their four legs reflect this, being thin being sturdy while the tail that ends their body is shorter. The animal is covered in a thin layer of hair, thicker on the flanks and body than on the head unless trimmed by caretakers. The colorations of this hair are greys, from a light tone to the flea-bitten pattern. However, the area of their snout has a dark grey or even black patch of hair underneath the two horns on their faces, often in a random but mirrored blob. Their hooves are also black as is the fur directly adjacent, but this is quickly consumed in the coat of grey. The animal’s mane and tail hair are both short and vary in color depending on the body coloration pattern.
The Two-Horned Horse has a variety of body colors, but this appears somewhat random and not indicative of region or parentage. Additionally, both genders have the cranial horns that mark the species.
Life Span and Development
The Two-Horned Horse has the save development of other equine species in Aloria. They are live born as a fowl, though they do not yet possess the two horns they will late have. Instead, they appear to be a miniature version of their parents with two raised bumps of bone on their snout. Within the next three months, the beginnings of their horns start to come in. Over the course of the next year from their birth, they will grow mentally and physically through adolescence into adulthood. By the end of this stage, their horns come in fully, and they join the larger herd, less attached to their parents. They have a lifespan of ten years, but domesticated Two-Horned Horses can live for up to fifteen years.
The Two-Horned Horse is one of the most passive horses in Aloria, but it's extremely skittish nature can lead to issues. Those groups not in captivity actively steer a wide berth around settlements or signs of civilization, including Aloria’s Races. The animal is only at home among its own kind as well, seeking to avoid and escape other horses even in captivity. When they get approached suddenly, they often flee, but if trapped, they will fight back with raking motions from their heads and sharp horns. While in captivity this is slowly being suppressed, groups numbering more than four people still spook them. Beyond these traits, the animal is also highly caring for other members of their species, living in a herd mentality and existing in largely monogamous relationships for long periods of their lives and protecting their children when the need arises.
Territory and Groupings
Two-Horned Horses are herd animals, living in groups of twenty to thirty out in the wild, made up at any one time by several pairings and their children. Should a group get too large, the herd will split in two and go their separate ways. They range in the open areas of Basta though some groups hug the mountainous terrain that also makes up Basta to avoid certain population centers. In domesticated situations, the single ranch that holds domesticated Two-Horned Horses contains some hundred horses but divided up into five separate groups who keep to their areas of the fenced in pasture.
- The skulls of Two-Horned Horses easily shed their horns so collectors must be careful to keep their prizes stationary and handled with deft hands.
- Two-Horned Horses are slowly approaching endangered status as Basta slowly expands its population centers to accommodate the swelling power of Unionism in recent years.