from Parkstone’s The History of Damensea
A fruit of the first Nightmara-Calatini Treaty, the mara clans were sent to guard the nightmara from other humans and were originally comprised of Calatini’s calvary and other likeminded volunteers. Although they had intended to build a large city in the middle of the Nightmara Plains, this idea was abandoned before the first building was constructed. Instead the humans named themselves the mara clans (derived by removing “night” from “nightmara”), split into thirteen clans (one for each herd of nightmara in Calatini), took the name of their nightmara herd (for instance, the Wind Clan is the Wind Herd’s clan), and adopted a nomadic lifestyle.
Each herd and clan roam across the Nightmara Plains no matter the season. They travel in caravans pulled by intelligent, sturdy mara ponies, which they bred as draught animals. Their caravans all possess animal skin extensions to shelter the nightmara, mara ponies, and any humans unable to sleep inside the caravans. The herd and clan sometimes overnight at herdrests, permanent complexes with baths, stables, and the occasional trading outpost. Each herdrest is maintained by a sole nightmara-human pair.
Over the centuries, the mara clans have become more nightmara than human, often dubbed “hoofless nightmara.” Like the nightmara herds, the leaders of the mara clans are determined by ability, and over half are female. The mara clans are also people of few words since they have become accustomed to the nightmara’s thought speech. Some claim the nightmara have taught the mara clans how to communicate using thought, and they only need speech to communicate with outsiders, but this rumor has never been proven.
Although the mara clans are secretive and suspicious of humans outside the clans, outsiders can join the mara clans by petitioning a herd’s dominant mare. If the dominant mare accepts the outsider, they perform the binding ceremony, where the outsider exchanges blood and shares dreams with the dominant mare. For children of the clans, the binding ceremony is performed when they can balance on the back of a pony unaided (typically around three).
The love of equestrian arts bred into them, each member of the mara clans is paired with a nightmara at their moon ceremony, typically performed at twenty years old for those born into the clans. However, a mara clan is roughly half the size of their nightmara herd, so many nightmara are rarely ridden, especially the dominant mares.
The Calatini nightmara herds and mara clans undergo rigorous martial training together, and they form the most puissant calvary and scouts in the world. This is no doubt one of the reasons the Tsarkan Empire has never attempted to expand northward into Calatini. Queen Sarilee was most sagacious when she offered the plains to the nightmara.