"It's absolutely insane. They take the prospect to the middle of nowhere, give them a sack, then wander off and tell them to figure it out. And they usually do it. Even the Kalriv rituals aren't that full-on."The Forging is a coming of age ritual among the Dhar people of the Marai Desert. As youths approach adulthood, it is essential that they have a solid grasp of the survival skills needed to survive in the desert. To accomplish this, youths must demonstrate these skills before being granted full autonomy and being released from their family's custody. They do this by tracking down their own band across the desert, using their knowledge to both survive alone in the desert and to find the band.
-a Helikan ambassador to Solathi, on the Forging.
As a youth approaches the age of adulthood, the senior members of their family and band will select a location to stop, as per their usual camping procedure. When camp is broken, the youth is taken aside and is informed that the time of their Forging has come. They are given a brief period to inform the band of any kind of reason (illness, for example) that the Forging should not happen. If none is found, the band will break camp, leaving the youth behind with instructions to find them. The youth must remain in one place for 48 hours, allowing the band a head start. Once the 48 hours have passed, they can begin moving, and must use their survival skills and a bare minimum of tools to not only survive, but to track down their band. Youths may use any means available to them to find the band, and indeed are expected to make use of anything available to them. There is no way to be disqualified or to 'cheat'. Often a combination of survival techniques are used, including tracking, navigation, talking to other Dhar on the road, and recalling knowledge about their tribe's habits. The band are prohibited from using deception or to behave in any way other than the way they would usually behave while wandering the Marai, to ensure the authenticity of the scenario. If the youth tracks down the band, they are congratulated by the band, and a feast is held at the next stopping point in their honour, where they are formally released from custody and initated as an autonomous member of the band. A youth can fail the Forging by two methods; either by failing to find the band within a ten day period, or by getting themselves into mortal peril that requires a rescue.
EligibilityAny youth approaching adulthood takes the Forging. There is no limit to how many times it may be taken if it is failed; it is essential that these skills be mastered, and learning by error is an intended part of the process. People who are clearly unfit to take the Forging, such as the disabled or infirm, do not have to take it. However, they must remain in the custody of the band as they are unable to fully take care of themselves.
Components and tools
Youths are given a bare minimum of tools to complete their Forging; usually only being given a tent, a trowel, a staff, a weapon and three days' supply of water. They are expected to forage and craft anything else that they may need.
Unknown to the youth, one of the more skilled rangers in the band is assigned as a shadow to the youth; they observe the youth from a distance, but will not intervene unless absolutely necessary. In these situations, the ranger will intervene and rescue the youth, taking them back to the band. This in and of itself is a learning experience, as the youth will be able to observe how the ranger finds the band.