Saga of Jaraah
Clan Bear’s Nanoq-staa, are the clan’s elite warriors and beast-riders. They are highly respected among the tribe and will form their own groups within camps made up solely of bear riders. This becomes their base of command where they train, care for their mounts and plan the protection of their territory. Nanoq-staa are dispatched on regular patrols of the Clan’s territory, both on the immediate perimeter as well as the borders of their lands. Many standard warrior parties will have at least one bear rider traveling with them.
Most Nanoq-staa are male, though some females have been known to possess the strength, skill and bond with a mount required.
The Nanoq-staa have rankings amongst themselves primary based on physical strength and combat skill. It is a constant struggle as young riders become stronger and challenge the leaders for dominance. The combats can be vicious, but rarely lead to permanent injury or death. The mounts themselves will often have contests of the same sort, though these do not lead to advancement for the riders.
Families are rare among the bear riders. They spend the majority of their time developing extremely strong bonds with their mounts as well as constantly training. There is no shortage of children, however as nearly any female in the tribe would be proud to carry the child of a Nanoq-staa. Parenting is as much communal as it is individual among the clan and bear riders will often have several children that are cared for primarily by the mothers and other members of the community.
The elders of the tribe keep a close eye on children of the tribe for signs they may be potential bear riders. The primary requisites are, of course, strength and ease with socializing and handling polar bear cubs and mounts. Many children long to become Nanoq-staa and will train hard to become one, while others are simply naturals. Children with promise are given a bear cub to care for and begin their bond with the animal. When the time comes, these children are put through many tests of combat, survival and finally they are put in a pit with the lead male polar bear to decide if they are worthy. It is a dangerous test, for if they are not accepted, the polar bear male will often attack, sometimes killing the would-be beast rider.
The giant polar bear mounts of the Nanoq-staa are given the utmost care for their riders. The bears are allowed to hunt, but will often be provided with livestock from raids or mounts from fallen enemies. The bears will often be fed the heart of fallen enemies as a treat, though humans are off limits.
The bears of the tribe are respected and feared by the non-riders of the tribe. Members of the tribe often make gifts for the mounts and present them to the riders. Non-riders are rarely allow to touch or approach mounts. They are warriors just like their riders and not pets. The healthy fear comes from the fact that polar bears of the tribe are sometimes used in disciplinary action. A common punishment for treason is to be let loose in the polar bear den. The bears, through their bond with their riders, know the individual’s treachery and will deal out justice.