From Glenrah, Ushen, Elder of Stories
Hammool riders are ushen who have chosen to live a life of exploration united with a hammool, one of the largest beasts on the Tamarran Continent. These riders are virtually always ushen and the hammool they ride are wild, unlike the domesticated ones driven by many races and used for transportation over the many roads of the Continent.
To properly understand the hammool riders of the southern plains, it is first necessary to understand a little something about the southern plains themselves.The Plains of Lochuum (LOCK oo um) make up the largest expanse of open land on the southern half of Tamarra (see the map of the Tamarran Continent). They cover an area that runs almost 700 miles west to east and 400 miles south to north, with land that stretches all the way to the Zhemshen, the Inner Sea on the south, and the Yomoros Mountains, and the Kellith Sea on the east. The Lauggash Mountains serve as their northern and western borders.
The Plains are a lush expanse of gently rolling hills, rising and falling like the waves of a deep, ancient ocean. The lowest parts are covered in high grasses, six to ten feet tall, that come in waves of yellows, tans, and browns. The grasses are interrupted by enormous varieties of flowers, some small and delicate and others that tower tall and flamboyant above the grasses, sometimes reaching out above even the crests of the hills themselves. The higher rises and hills are often covered in dark green and gray grasses that lie close to the black, rich soil of the Lochuum region. In the center of the Plains of Lochuum, running northwest to southeast, is the dramatic Long Lochuum River, which begins as a series of small streams in the eastern outreach of the Lauggash Mountains and ends its journey south of the Yomoros Mountains, where it tumbles off high cliffs and crashes into the Kellith Sea.
The ushen were the first of the Ten Races to populate the Plains of Lochuum. The free and open space of the Plains spoke to the ushen, who value individualism and have a great love for nature. The hammool were already there when the ushen first arrived on the Plains. Hammool are giant creatures*: an adult is typically 20-25 feet tall (with some as tall as 30 feet), 15-20 feet wide, and anywhere from 30 to 60 feet long. With eight sturdy legs, they are some of the strongest creatures on Tamarra. Although they are one of the largest and heaviest creatures on the continent, their natural affinity with Body Energy makes them one of the fastest and most graceful.
It is no surprise that the ushen and the hammool would find each other. They are similar in temperament, having the same love of family, with strong bonds to even their most distant cousins and kin. Both species have a love for the Lochuum lands so strong that it can, on occasion, surpass their own love of life.It is unclear when it began, but there is little doubt that the ushen have ridden hammool for millennia.
The relationship between a hammool and its rider runs deep. Both of these proud creatures must agree to the partnership: the hammool must select the rider, and the rider must want the hammool. The commitment is lifelong. We do not yet know how the hammool and the ushen communicate; the ushen won’t say, but it is believed that song is at the heart of it.
Once an ushen has found their hammool companion, the ushen’s tribe performs a ritual: in the hour before sunrise, the rider-to-be feasts, welcoming the abundance of the life and the journey that is about to begin. They demonstrate the sacrifices that may come with a fast that ends at sunrise of the following day. At sunrise, songs and chants begin and the leader of the tribe bestows blessings, ending after several hours with a sudden silence. The ushen will then eat three leaves of the crussra, a short, spiny plant that grows only on the tops of certain hills, and walk out into the grasslands, returning the next morning on the back of their hammool companion.
For the rest of their lives the ushen and the hammool companion will roam the Plains of Lochuum. Most will find other Hammool Riders and become a part of an existing troop of Riders, or form their own. Their lives will consist of travel and exploration. They will learn all that the Plains of Lochuum can teach them, from each kind of grass, flower, and root that grows on and under the Plains, to each hill and contour that gives the Plains their shape and texture, linking them to the pulse of life, and the Energies, that drive Ethem.
*See “Imbelnhi’s Bestiary: Being a Traveler’s Account of Our Continent and Her Creatures“