The world of The Star-Runner Chronicles is like our own in a lot of ways. There are factories, bustling cities with fully functioning mass transit systems, radios, trains, mandatory schooling in many places…but there is one area of modernization where the two worlds differ greatly. Ten-year-olds are allowed to leave home and travel the world without an accompanying adult, travelers rarely need passports, and ancient treasures can be claimed and kept without fear of their nation of origin crying foul and suing for their immediate return. This is a world which, even through industrialization and the widespread adoption of such things as mandatory education laws, has somehow preserved the rights of adventurers. But how? And why?
Where Are Your Parents?!
Traditionally, ten years of age (or the equivalent for longer-lived beings) has been the age at which one is seen as ready to learn to handle adult jobs and fend for oneself. Apprentices in many skilled fields have always begun their training at ten. Ten is the age at which girls begin to learn how to cook and boys learn how to handle construction tools. One’s tenth birthday is often seen as the day on which one’s mind begins to awaken to the wisdom of adulthood…and so, it is no surprise that ten is also the youngest age at which one is allowed to begin adventuring on one’s own.
In most nations where a basic education for every child is mandated by law, children are legally allowed to drop out at ten…though, this wasn’t always the case. In the beginning, there was a huge debate about how much formal education aught to be required by law and about the impact of compulsory education laws on not just adventurer’s rights, but family and trade traditions as well. In some places, a full education from the ages of five to seventeen became the legal mandate, while in others fourteen or sixteen was the legal age at which one was allowed to drop out. Parents and children had to obey these laws, or else the parents could end up in jail and the children in an orphanage.
With the legal dropout ages so high, this began to cause quite a bit of trouble for tradesmen like blacksmiths, tailors, and cobblers. With their younger apprentices no longer able to study under them full time and still having to do their homework from school, there was less and less time each day to give them the hands-on training that they needed. This forced some master tradesmen to push their minimum apprenticeship ages up to the legal dropout age, which meant that the age at which one would complete one’s training was also pushed up by several years…which also meant that those young people would still be living with their parents or mentors for several more years as well. This caused a whole lot of swearing.
For young people who wanted to become adventurers, however, there were only two options: wait another half decade or more to be able to hit the open road, or defy the law and follow their hearts. Underage adventurers were sneaking off in droves, ducking the police and putting their parents in serious legal trouble left and right. They received support from each other, as well as from the dragon, gryphon, and demon races, all of whom strongly disapproved of these restrictive and overprotective legislations. There were protests in the streets by irate parents and adventurers’ rights groups over the entire thing. There were even a few riots…especially when people found out that the IWHA (International Werewolf Hunters’ Association) had bought their way out of compliance with the new education laws.
The situation didn’t improve, however, until 416 P.W.D. In that year, an evil sorcerer by the name of Bane Alurngaard got his filthy little mitts on The Staff of Oblivion. Planning to use it to take over the world, Alurngaard amassed an army of monsters and unscrupulous mercenaries and went on a rampage. So, who was it that stopped this madman? Was it the military? The police? A dragon lord? No. It was five ten-year-old kids with enchanted weapons and a baby unicorn. The day after the world was saved, ninety seven percent of the nations with legal education mandates immediately and without protest dropped their legal dropout ages to ten.
Borders and Bureaucracy
For millennia, the borders between kingdoms have remained more or less open to adventurers and migrants. Only in the case of war or other international emergencies have the borders come under heavy guard or required passports to cross. Individuals may leave their home nations and settle wherever they please without having to fill out complicated paperwork and wait around for their applications to be approved or rejected. But why?
The answer does not come down to the individual rights of adventurers or people in general, but the rights of the nomadic peoples who call this world their home. Whenever a nation has attempted to enact laws to restrict immigration or require identification to cross their borders, these peoples have fought both in the court room and on the battlefield to preserve their right to travel as they please. As a consequence of this, adventurers, refugees, tourists, and immigrants have been able to enjoy hassle-free international travel for thousands of years.
The Question of Questin’
The quest for ancient treasures, both for riches and bragging rights and in order to acquire world-saving objects of great power, is a staple of the adventuring life. For many adventurers, there is simply no greater thrill than exploring crumbling ruins or the dark depths of a spooky cavern and coming out with something very shiny, very magical, or both. Laws like the ones which exist in our world which give the ownership rights to all artifacts to the governments of their countries of origin, however, would make such activities totally impossible.
In fact, at one time such international laws were almost passed: no tomb raiding, no dungeon crawling, no treasure hunting—only authorized archeological expeditions would be allowed. The only thing which saved traditional treasure hunting from extinction was a brave diplomat by the name of Thomas Miller. Miller was a former adventurer himself and understood the ramifications of these laws better than his non-adventurer colleagues. These laws would take away one of the most thrilling aspects of the adventuring life…and he wasn’t about to let that happen.
Miller called a meeting between representatives of various nations and races and ironed out what is commonly known as The Abandoned Properties Act. Under this law, governments have no claim over forgotten ancient treasures and can only claim ownership of those positively confirmed (not rumored) to exist which were government owned to begin with. For those items which were individually owned, they are by default the property of the family of the original owner, but become claimable by anyone after three generations’ abandonment. Once all parties accepted the terms of the agreement, it was signed and the tradition of treasure hunting was saved.
And so concludes out blogcast day. I’m taking next week off to play The Sims 4, but join me on Sunday, September 14, when I give you the low-down on gods, angels, devils, and Hell Lords! Until then, you can follow me on Twitter at @DanielleVFreman and find The Rebirth and Awakening of Wolfie Star-Runner at Amazon.com (print and ebook) and Createspace.com (print only). Have a great Labor Day and good luck in the new school year to all the students reading! ^_^