The Lunar imperial presence in Prax was an existential threat to the Praxian way of life – much as the westward expansion of settlers into the Great Plains endangered the Plains Indians or the settlement of the Russian steppes endangered the steppe nomads. You can sugar-coat it as much as you want, but the Bison and Impala have largely been forced out of Prax into the much harsher Wastelands, and the High Llama have lost their good grazing in the River of Cradles. Even the Morokanth are under pressure. Only the Sable Riders have prospered although they are riven by religious and social strife. And this is after only a little over a dozen years.
The Lunar presence is basically a repeat of the events of the Second Age, with the added elements of cult hostility. At the end of the day, Waha, Storm Bull, and Orlanth are all hostile towards the Seven Mothers and enemies of the Red Goddess. That’s just baked into the cults. So things are a powder keg in Prax.
The White Bull Society is throwing a hand grenade into the powder keg. It is somewhat analogous to the Lakota variation of the Ghost Dance. It is a millenarian movement – associated with the Jaldon Goldentooth hero cult, and other cults in Prax. The White Bull is expected to unify the Praxian nations and liberate them from the yoke of the Lunar Empire, bring spirits and gods to fight on their behalf, and triumph over Chaos – and everyone expects the real battles to be in Dragon Pass or even Peloria (as they were in the First Age). The spirit is not obscure – pretty much all Praxians were familiar with it – but nobody expected that an outlander slave would be the one that finds it and allies with it.
Which gets us to Argrath’s role in all of this. He’s tied to the White Bull, but is an outlander, and one somehow also linked with the dragons. Like Arkat before him, Argrath embraces contradictions and works with enemies to fight against Gbaji (now called the Red Goddess). You’d think the Lunars would grok him (as in so many ways his story is like that of the Red Goddess herself), but they do no more than the Nysaloreans did Arkat. You can call his war senseless, but to me it is no different than the Red Goddess’ wars against the Carmanian Empire. Perhaps the Red Goddess sees the parallels – but her mortal followers sure as heck don’t. At least yet.
So the Praxians follow Argrath into Dragon Pass. They are rewarded with new grasslands, tribute, and unity that they have lacked since the First Age. Who knows how much of the drive into Peloria comes from Argrath, and how much of it comes from the Praxians’ own expectations and demands. After all we had Bison Khans in Sylilla and Vanch even in the Third Age, and the Sables know full well that they have a branch on the Hungry Plateau.
Although the Praxians can survive in the Wastelands, it is a harsh and far more difficult environment than Prax itself. It is analogous to Indian removal to bleak reservations or the mass exodus of the Crimean Tatars.
The Wastelands are better than Vulture Country – where survival is impossible.
But the Wastelands are comparable to Prax in the same way that the Great Basin is comparable to the semiarid grasslands in Wyoming or Colorado. A perspective I have much firmer in my eye now that I actually live in an area very comparable to Prax.
Prax is a place of comparative plenty compared to Genert’s Wastes. And when we look carefully at the Wastelands, its total grassland is no larger than that in Prax (despite being about four times the size of Prax), and has much less grassland available year round. The grasslands are separately by wider expanses of badlands than in Prax. Add into this the stronger influence of the dry Copper Winds, and it is just a tougher place to survive than Prax.
Sure it is better than Vultures Country or the Badlands where you cannot support herds at all. But it is more marginal land than Prax. This happened to the Praxians before (in the Second Age) and that was definitely a time of testing. Not all the tribes than entered the Wastes in the Second Age returned.
Few Lunars were aware that it is possible for the Praxians and their herds to survive in Genert’s Wastes. I presume most assumed that the defeated nomads crossed into the Vultures Country and simply died of thirst and hunger. Which is actually even worse than being relocated to marginal land if you think about it.
And so when we talk about the Praxians attitude towards the Lunar Empire, stuff like Chaos or the Crimson Bat is just icing on the cake. Forcing tribes and herds out of their traditional pastures and into marginal lands across Vultures Country is going to be a constant source of hostility. But that hostility makes it a lot easier for many Praxians to rant about the Lunar Empire being Chaotic.
Now the Sartarite colonists did this as well, but on a much smaller scale and initially with acceptance from the tribal leaders. They settled Pavis County, which was formerly well-watered grasslands. But the trade goods and the market for meat that New Pavis provided at least partially compensated for the loss (even then, some of the Praxian tribes tried to seize New Pavis by force).
But the Lunar Occupation only benefited the Sable Tribe.
if we make analogies to the Plains Tribes, this is like the Arikara, Crow, Shoshone, and Pawnee allies of the US Cavalry during the Sioux Wars.
And actually, it is questionable how much the Sable actually benefited as a tribe – individual leaders certainly did, but tribe itself was definitely stressed during the Lunar Occupation of Prax.
How welcome are the Praxians in Dragon Pass when they accompany Argrath? I suspect most Dragon Pass farmers are suspicious of the Praxians that follow Argrath. They are allies of the Prince, so need to be tolerated, but relations are usually Neutral – just like they are between Orlanth and Waha. Ironically, I suspect the Storm Bull berserks are better liked than the main body of nomads.