Freelanding Tradition / Ritual in Age of Defiance | World Anvil
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Roaming the world with the land as your classroom...   Dating back to the founding of Bainshaebo, this practice has served as a link to Thangiens' ancestral past. Not to be confused with the plains nomads roaming Kundain. One of the many measures to alleviate urban sprawl and congestion, it serves both as a coming-of-age rite for Thangien youths and a way for aspiring warriors to hone their skills. Every Thangien is required to participate before their tenth cycle, or twentieth year Earth-Time. Those who decline must relocate themselves to the Lonesteads for a life of grueling-but honest-work. Most return without incident, some perish, and still others might decide they enjoy life out on the open plain better than in the walls of the city. At first just about everywhere on Thanged was considered fair-game, but after the Harrowing of Cassatina, the Eastern Jungle has been placed on interdict for the purposes of freelanding.


The precise origins remain unknown, dating back to either the founding of Bainshaebo itself or the fallout of the City Strife when some people worried city life might be more trouble than its worth. The practice of roaming the plains goes far back past the Dread Winter, but as a survivalist rite of passage its fairly "new" in its current incarnation.  
Cassatina, Princess of the Plain
Danaetanera III's granddaughter actually considered abandoning the succession altogether and becoming a Freelander, but her ordeal and Alahaedra's spectacular effort changed her outlook on life. Following the Harrowing, word went out via the banner network for youths to avoid the Eastern Jungle altogether.  
Vengeful Natives
Roughly ten years ago, Lonesteaders started reporting a shocking number of grievously wounded youths arriving at the fringe of their farms on the brink of death. This became prolific enough to warrant attention of the Council of Houses. Ranks were mobilized with orders to patrol the plains. Chi Chi Lina, Azuro, and Gao Gao Bure, Geiro joined the posse, eventually discovering roaming war parties of Natives. After observing from a distance, the riders discovered the militant Natives targeted nomadic Freelanders as well as youths on their tours, stopping just shy of outright murdering them. Unwilling to let this slight go unpunished, Geiro and Azuro charged after the Natives, trying to run them down before they had a chance to escape to the jungle. Full of righteous anger, Geiro manifested a Metra Wave that smote the wicked unicorn-men mightily. After several months of scouring the plain and leaving the carcasses for vitreelas to pick apart, it seemed the Natives learned their lesson for the time being and ceased with their campaign. Freelanding was permitted once more, but the jungle would continue to be off limits.  
Pegasi of Mazzan
With the advent of these miraculous mechanical creatures, rules have changed permitting a youth to have a steed with them on their tour, but due to the picky attitudes of Pegasi, sometimes they will refuse to chose a rider they feel too "green" for their liking. Conversely a youth might decide on their own that they must complete their prerequisite tour before viewing themselves worthy of a steed. Prince Torehj is one such youth, while the Twins Ph'li and Ko'li have yet to embark on their tour, waiting until they attain Pegasi of their own. With increasing exploration of the planet in general, the Salt has grown in popularity as an alternate destination for tours.


Youths are required to stay the full cycle, or roughly two years Earth-Time before their tour is pronounced complete. There's no specific requirement to retrieve trophies of any sort, only that they return more-or-less intact. Most youths stick to Kundain while the more daring adventurous types head to the Southern Salt. Older youths might even brave the Northern Ring to see the sprawling cavern complex where it all began, or peek inside the lost sanitoriums where the wardens once walked.   The more squeamish types sometimes stick to the shores of the Winding White, Lake Danaetanera, or Tirmutua. Swinging by for food and water is one thing, but relying on easy access of food and shelter for the full cycle is frowned upon. Anyone caught doing this is often dubbed a fleelander.  
"There’s always some poor bastard gets himself lost while freelandin’,"
— Debiah Kubar
  While youths are expected to complete their tours on their own strength, it is not entirely forbidden to ask for help either from plains nomads or Lonesteaders before heading back out. With Svampflanders roaming the waterways of the Salt in recent years, occasionally they will donate supplies from the decks of their boats.

Components and tools

Departing youths are provided with a weapon corresponding with their preferred discipline, a fair amount of provisions, spare clothing and gear up to the limit they can safely carry. Once their rations are exhausted they are required to fend for themselves. Food poisoning is not uncommon if a youth forgets which flora and fauna are safe to eat, so bundles of Richtho leaves are provided but beyond that more must be foraged. Youths are issued simple bedrolls, or in more recent years compact tents, but should it become lost or damaged, then fronds and branches have to suffice from then on. Days were counted on a walking stick or piece of hide to measure the full cycle period, but in modern times paper journals or timepieces are used.


Most youths go on solo ventures, but in rare cases siblings of similar age might choose to go as a group. In light of what happened to Cassatina and the threat of insurgent Natives and the wild women of the Eastern Jungle, rules have relaxed by which youths can be chaperoned by a family relative that is not a parent. Recently Pegasi are permitted to accompany their riders but youths are not to return to the city unless under extreme emergency.   The Pair-Aunt Trap
"ShaTakin...are you sure you want to do this? This is not like 'camping' on the Oldworld. There are no emergency services or 'cell reception'. You will have to stay the full cycle, that is nearly two years of your time..." Azuro argued.   "I'll be fine. Two heads are better than one, and the Twins won't be going alone. They've got their nice new shiny Pegasi after all," Shainie assured and reached over to rub Daemonsteel's ear. Chauner leaned over and nibbled her wrist, apparently demanding a rub as well, which Shaine provided.   "Ph'li and Ko'li insist on going to the great salt marsh in the south. It is a very hazardous environment, more so than Kundain..."   "Azuro, I've been to the Everglades, I've been to Death Valley, and the Rockies. Thanged's not that different from Earth...just like a big jigsaw puzzle that got mixed around. I'll be fine. I want to do this just as much as they have to. This is my way of showing how serious I am, committing to living here and stuff. If what happened back in the city is any indicator, you of all people should know I'm quite used to 'roughing' it," Shainie insisted and patted Azuro's broad shoulder. Azuro grimaced, looking hesitant before relaxing and nodding. "Besides, the Twins are going to be doing most of the grunt work. I'm just chaperoning. It's not like I'm going to skin a gator or run into a big scary monster," Shainie teased.


Youths can depart either of their own volition or when the parents become frustrated with their dawdling and boot them out of the city. Five cycles, or ten years of age Earth-Time is considered the bare minimum at which by then a child has full use of their mental faculties and is sufficiently trained in the basics of combat including preparation of food, crafting of necessary supplies from scratch, navigation by stars and landmarks, and identification of useful and hazardous species. Just about anyone has freelanded at some point in their life whether a artisan, medic, scholar, or stablehand. Exceptions usually apply to Oldworlders since most new arrivals are well past that age, though Aleksander's trek from where he crashed in the Eastern Jungle might qualify due to the distance. If a Thangien has not embarked on their tour before they reach ten cycles of age, they are threatened with ejection from their family or told to seek work at the Lonesteads. Entitlement is not permitted, and anyone foolish to dig in their heels and think such "barbaric" practices are beneath them have a choice between a duel or vthiasaking.
“Where I hail from, when we come of age we are dispatched into the wilds to dwell in solitude for a cycle, with time as our instructor and the land itself as a study hall. We call it ‘freelanding’. Those of us who endure are awarded with rank in their respective Houses. Those who fail…often must attempt the endeavor the following cycle.”   “Ohhh!...Kinda like Rumspringa!”
— Foes From Another World Ch. 13
“Now that I think about it, it’s sort of like what you told me about back there…‘freelanding’, using the world as your classroom. Of course, I kinda cheat since Mom pays for my trips.”   “It is only proper for parents to support their child,” Azuro commented. Shainie bit her lip.   “At least one of them…” she mumbled quietly before closing the journal and slipping it back into her purse.
— Foes From Another World Ch. 13
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“Ryo tells me he has an emergency to tend to. He recommended I take you elsewhere.”   “But, he was our guide. How will we know where we’re going?”   “Well, one never knows where to go unless someone has ventured there before. And even they do not know where they travel until they actually go there.”   “So…we’ll do some freelanding then,” Shainie grinned. Azuro smiled at her as they left the restaurant.
— Foes From Another World Ch. 13
“Heh, I guess freelanding in the concrete jungle can be just as hairy as the wilderness.”   “Indeed. Of course I have yet to find anything as dangerous as a startled Cresta…”   “I have no idea what that is, but seeing as how you’re not from around here, I probably shouldn’t pry…"
— Foes From Another World Ch. 13

Cover image: Age Of Defiance Header by Mardrena


Author's Notes

Long time ago when I used to work dayshift and got to watch the Korean Starcraft Leagues, the English casters would often comment how teens were required to go into the military for mandatory two years of service before the age of 21 I think, and these kids would have to put their careers on hold until they completed their tour.

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