There is a river passing through Alma's Heart, continuing south to the Summer Sea beyond the cliffs where the Valedwelling unicorns seek their mates. The Delta unicorns call it the Green River, because the water and the silt affects the hue of the ocean along the beach for miles. It's a large river, deep and stately by the point that it reaches the Summer Sea, and it carries silt and sediment southward and out into the ocean, slowly increasing the shore and building ever-changing islands of slick mud in the delta itself.
"The Delta" encompasses the southernmost riverside and ten to twenty miles of beach in either direction. Along the river the trees are deciduous and thick with honey locust, catalpa, red and silver maple, and willow. The trees fall back along the shore, unable to find sturdy soil in the sand, and give way to delicious turf just as within the confines of the Ringdancers' cliffs.
The Delta is prey to spring flooding and the occasional flash flood due to spring storms both near and far to the north. It is subject to the same winter weather as the Vale. One assumes the Vale is situated in a temperate climate.
Predators are the same as upon the Plains proper. Wingcats do not bother the Delta dwellers. Once or twice a careless foal has been caught by one of the large meat-eating seabeasts that dwell in the warm waters, but the unicorns rarely swim out that far. Drowning accidents are not uncommon.
Any and all are welcome. Typically, unicorns who come to the Delta stay for long periods. The graze is good, the predators are rather more heavy due to the water source attracting prey - but aside from the woods along the river there's very little cover for them to hunt, as the grass has been grazed down for miles and there's surprisingly little brush among the trees. This is because of the Delta dwellers' efforts (explained below).
The MAJORITY of (NPC) unicorns living at the Delta are of six varieties:
who visited the Mere)
2) Scouts of Halla
3) Scouts of Halla/Unicorn crossbreeds
4) Scouts of Halla/Dayan
unicorn/Purebred unicorn crossbreeds
The reason for this is thus:
Just about anyone you ask can tell you how to get to the Moon's Mere nowadays, and there's nobody to stop you from making the journey either - all of the old traditions regarding that have broken down. The Da
aren't all falling into the sea, either. But something has happened at the City of Fire, and significantly more of the Da
are finding their way to Alma's Back and beyond. There are even a few who would look at you blankly if you asked about the City of Fire altogether.
No self-preserving Da
would willingly turn down the promise of long life as the majority of them come from lives of captivity and servitude and feel as if their lives are just beginning. The Mere has become a symbol of rebirth and homecoming to them, and there isn't a Da
alive that any of the Delta unicorns can point to who knowingly spurned the offer of the Mere.
Nevertheless, not all of the Dayan
unicorns find welcome among the unicorns who were not once Da
. This is no fault of the purebred unicorns, either - particularly the Free People, but also the Hillfolk and Valefolk, who look favorably to Ryhenna and Dagg and their son. The issue lies with some of the Dayan
unicorns, simply because they have been in service to the Firekeepers for so long that the unicorns' culture is a strange and uncomfortable fit.
As a result, dissatisfied with the fact that becoming a unicorn didn't change them emotionally as well as physically, the Dayan
unicorns who ended up at the Delta wandered, eventually returning to the Summer Sea which for many of them reminded them of home. There they found those who would understand their plight and shared their memories and culture.
They were joined, as time went on, by Scouts of Halla, even more adrift than they. Not bitter at the unicorns they longed to join, but finding sympathy for one anothers' troubles, a few even came to take mates among the other culture and raise children together. In time, the children of unicorn and Dayan
unicorn pairs wandered to the Delta and stayed as well.
The population is not huge. It is neither another Vale nor another Hallow Hills. The first generation of crossbred children are just now reaching maturity and seeking mates.
Surprisingly, the Dayan
unicorns are seen as innovators. While sheltered from the elements, there are many who learned from their captors and are limited only by their physical abilities. They learned from the Plainsdwellers how to make fire, how to dry herbs, fruits and grasses from the Firekeepers, and a few have undertaken the process of ropemaking - which has yet to bear fruit. Right now, they work as a team to drag fallen wood and brush from beneath the trees, thus removing the predators' camouflage and allowing better graze to grow.
With experiences taken from the Firekeepers and the Dragons, the Delta people chant and create rhythm by stamping their feet, and also make musical sounds with voices and words not unlike the pans with their flutes. The Scouts know how to tell Laysongs, but the Dayan unicorns' singing is akin to their former captors' and barely of the unicorn tradition at all.
Delta unicorns do not make a Summer Sea trek. They do not have a known leader, although they tend to defer to the older beasts. They do celebrate the beginning of every season with a festival and make offerings of flowers, food and herbs, etc. to the sea.
Mating is a personal affair to personal taste, not a social mandate to pair for life OR remain nonmonogamous. Due to the customs of the Da
, polyamory is not uncommon - typically one stallion with two or three mares. Dayan stallions are uncommon.
Some have chosen not to mate.
unicorns have embraced Alma as a female deity. As a caveat to that, Many of the Delta Dayan
unicorns embrace the Dai-chon AND Alma as the male and female aspects of the whole.
Against predators, Delta unicorns bear their dead into a series of nearby caves formed by underground river tributaries. This is a shared cultural tradition, as the Scouts did not have the luxury of laying out their dead above ground and the Firekeepers entombed their own kind. A queer tradition has been growing however as more Dayan
unicorns reach the end of their lifespans naturally. In the tradition of the Dai-chon casting offerings from the cliff, older beasts prepared to pass on have been known to wade out among the silt islands and into the sea, never to return.