The nomadic Catfolk have raised horses ever since they migrated to the Forevergrass far to the north. They have been breeding horses for countless generations and the Forevergrass horses are known throughout the lands of the Five Races as the best horses, with unsurpassed stamina, strength and beauty.
They have also bred up a race of horses that are as far advanced over the Forevergrass horses as the Forevergrass horses are over the normal horses bred by the other races. The other races call them battlesteeds. The word the Catfolk call them translates as 'Little Brothers of the Clan'. They never sell them or give them away, and the only time you will ever see one is under the rump of a Catfolk archer or lancer.
The battlesteeds look like well-developed, well-proportioned horses. However there are many differences. They are stronger and faster than normal horses, they can run a regular horse into the ground and they move like thistledown blown on the wind. But the most important difference is in their intelligence. While regular horses have normal animal intelligence, battlesteeds are sapient. They are unable to talk, but by wickers, neighs and snorts, they can get their message across to their Catfolk companions.
They enjoy music, although they can not create it. They love to dance, and a herd of battlesteeds dancing is like a vast choreographed display of interweaving bodies as the battlesteeds twist and turn, leaping into the air or over each other, dropping and rolling, then bounding back to their feet.
Battlesteeds can breed with regular horses, and are responsible for many of the superior traits of the horses that the Catfolk sell. However, battlesteeds can not be bred back from the foals of a horse-battlesteed mix. Battlesteeds can only foal from a pairing between two battlesteeds. Battlesteeds are quite ready to improve the strain of the regular horses, but they prefer to mate between themselves. However, battlesteed foals are rare and highly prized by both the Catfolk and the battlesteed parents. In fact, the battlesteed mother and father will normally take a sabbatical from dangerous work to raise the battlesteed foal.
How battlesteeds came to exist is a matter of conjecture, but most credit an intervention of the gods for the first battlesteeds. In fact, there is a lesser god, the Lord of Horses, that is worshipped primarily by the battlesteeds and the nomadic Catfolk. According to belief, he came as the first battlesteed stallion shortly after the Catfolk migrated to the Forevergrass and all his offspring were battlesteeds even though he mated with standard mares.
Battlesteeds are never sold or given away to non-Catfolk. Occasionally one will be kidnapped or stolen, but invariably the battlesteed escaped, dies trying to escape, or is rescued from slavery by Catfolk warriors, who regard them as clan members. There have occasionally been incidents where bandits captured a battlesteed and sold it to some lord for a lot of money, only to have a party of Catfolk warriors show up to demand the battlesteed back, and woe to the ones that stole it, or any who abused it.
A stranger to the Catfolk stays with them for a while and one of the battlesteeds decides to partner with him. The Catfolk, with generations of protective instincts, refuse, the battlesteed, with other battlesteeds, says yes, and we have a spirited 3-way discussion with the third party.
A runaway horse is acting strangely towards the PCs, apparently asking for something. One who has the ability to mindspeak realizes that this is no ordinary horse. It is asking for help to get home. The lord's men want to retake it. What do the PCs do?