Origins of Tonis
Origins of Tonis is an Official GemStone IV Document, and it is protected from editing.
The Origins of Tonis
The following is a translation of an elven text discovered in a cache near the Western Dragonspine. Within the cache was a broken necklace of indeterminate origin, its jewels pried free from their settings.
Phoen and Oleani had long desired a child when Tonis came to be. He was born as the golden drake Arabros soared above the two lovers, the winds rasping over his scales. Tonis was a lithe and nimble thing, fair of form, but he proved merely a passing distraction for the drake. And so, he was left to Phoen and Oleani to rear on their own.
They took him back to the green hills where they dwelled, and for a time, they were happy together.
These were times before the Ur darkened the face of Elanthia, and so the world was simpler and safer. Tonis’s young parents allowed him to run free. Left to his own devices, Tonis delighted himself in those calm and placid years. He was so fleet of foot that he could run along the cresting waves of the sea, or race the rays of the rising sun across the land.
But Tonis was a youth, then, and as is often the way with youths, he grew swiftly dissatisfied with matters that came easily to him. Such displays of speed proved no challenge, for none but the quickest drakes were faster than he.
Although the world did not yet know the scars of long war or the coming of true evil, even then there lived creatures who were not entirely pure of heart. One such being, powerful and beautiful beyond compare, lived alone in a great palace known as Li’aerion. She was far from the villainous creature she would someday become, but even then, she was a jealous thing.
There came a day when Tonis was speeding through the snows near her estate. She watched as the youth sped down a mountainside without disturbing the powder under his feet. Others might be amazed by his skills, but she saw only how Tonis could be useful to her. She walked through the gates of Li’aerion and called out to him.
“You, young one. Come to me. I am Eorgina, queen of all that surrounds us, and I do command your presence.”
By the time she was finished speaking, Tonis was by her side. He knew of her by reputation, that she was strong and beautiful and cold, but was too young for caution to temper his curiosity.
“I have come,” he said, laughing at the look of consternation on her face.
Eorgina appraised him with dark eyes. “You are quick for a child,” she said.
“I am quick for a thunderbolt. For a peek of sunlight between clouds. I am the fastest there is,” said he.
If Eorgina disliked being corrected, her dark gaze and implacable features hid the slight. She nodded, and then paused, as if thinking.
“That may be true,” said she. “But speed alone is of little worth, as I am sure you know. Elven children run races, but--”
She turned to look at the youth, but he was gone. A moment later, he sped into sight, halting next to her. In his hands he cradled a single rose that was the color of a new-sparked flame.
“I fetched this from the other side of the world,” he said, offering the rose to her with a flourish. “There are benefits to being the fastest there is.”
Amused, Eorgina took the flower and tucked it behind one ear. Tonis had played perfectly into her hands. “Yes, but there are prizes that swift feet alone cannot win,” she said.
“Name one,” said Tonis.
Eorgina raised an eloquent eyebrow. “Perhaps a prize that is guarded under lock and key. Speed alone would not avail you of such a trinket.”
“No guard is so watchful that I cannot slip by,” said Tonis, though he knew a moment of self-doubt at the boast.
“No guard? Young one, you know not what you say.”
Tonis scoffed. “Charge me, then. There is naught that I cannot retrieve for you, most lovely of all the Arkati.”
“We shall see,” said Eorgina. “There is a tower, white and decorated in many colors. At its very highest floor is a chamber, locked and guarded, and in it is a box.”
“What is in the box?”
“I do not know, and dearly wish to know. But it would be unfair of me to ask this of you. I doubt you have the skill to acquire such a thing.”
“This I shall do for you,” said Tonis, not even waiting for her reply.
If he had, he would have heard her soft laughter echoing off of the snowy mountains.
It did not take the young Arkati long to find the tower of which Eorgina had spoken. It was built on an island not far off the coast of Elanith, a green isle populated by all manner of jewel-bright birds and strange lizards. The tower was, as she had said, white and of many colors that shimmered in rainbow shards beneath the sun’s light.
And it was guarded by elves. Tonis thanked his luck. Elves were slow and foolish creatures. These wore coats of gold and white after the Arkati that they served.
Tonis sped past the guards, provoking no more notice than might a passing breeze. He spiraled up to the top of the tower with ease, in no short order finding the room that Eorgina had described. But not exactly as she had described.
There was no lock, no keyhole. The room stood wide open. Tonis chuckled to himself, for it would be easier to impress the other Arkati than he had imagined.
He stepped inside. It was a circular chamber with a high ceiling and few adornments. At the center was a single pedestal, and atop it was a box that was neither especially ornate nor plain. Tonis stepped forward and lifted the small coffer.
And that was when something moved on the pedestal.
It took him an instant to confirm what he was seeing. The pedestal had an eye etched upon its flat surface, and when he had taken the box, the eye had come open. It watched him.
He braced himself, expecting the peculiar carving to raise some sort of alarm, but all it did was watch. When nothing else happened, Tonis gave the eye one last look and sped off with his prize.
Eorgina barely acknowledged him when he returned. She took the coffer from him and opened it, smiling to herself as she saw that which was within. It was a choker, as lovely a piece of jewelry as had ever been wrought, shaped into five conjoined circles of colored diamond.
To Tonis’s shock, she cast the choker onto the ground and trod upon it, shattering it into glittering shards.
“Why have me collect such a beautiful trinket only to destroy it?” asked the younger Arkati in dismay.
“It would not look well on me,” said Eorgina. “But it was mine to destroy, by right and by precedence.”
Tonis did tarry with Eorgina for a time, but her mercurial moods frightened him, and he was quick to realize she saw him only as an adornment, a special creature whose loyalty served to improve her reputation. So he moved on, and returned home to the place that Phoen and Oleani shared.
Always before when he had returned home, there were glad times and feasts. Yet as he joined them in the primordial gardens that were their domain, he saw that their faces were grim.
“Son of mine,” said Oleani. “You have been away for many a mortal year.” Her face was grim.
“I have wandered with the winds. Ran across the oceans of the world, and proved myself to a queen among our kind,” said Tonis.
“And,” added Phoen, fire in his voice, “you have been branded a thief. By Koar, no less, the most powerful among us.”
For of course it had been Koar who had ordered the building of the far-off palace. It had been a wedding gift to his new wife, Lumnis. And though she counseled wisdom and patience, Koar had decreed that no Arkati owing fealty to him provide succor to Tonis until he faced justice.
“The justice of Koar will not be kind,” said Oleani. “You must flee this place, and never again move among your kind, my child.”
Tonis cursed and cried, but there was little questioning his mother’s wisdom. Koar was a just god, but his justice was known to be fierce and cruel when deserved, and there was no questioning that Tonis had stolen from him and his consort.
So, in the dark of night, when his father was off chasing the moons, Tonis fled.
In those dark and lonesome years, he traveled like the winds, never alighting in one place for long lest the God-King’s justice catch up with him. He stole, not for sport, but to survive. And as he fled, the world changed with the coming of the Ur.
The Ur-Daemon War sundered continents and warped the face of the world, as the horrors from beyond clashed with the drakes and their Arkati. Though at first the drakes were successful in containing the extraplanar threat, the Ur had numbers without limit, for they had established a great rift that connected the world of Elanthia with their eldritch plane.
They had infested the surrounding lands in such numbers that seeking the rift meant a fool’s death, though drakes and Arkati both tried. But Tonis did not--could not--know of this, until came a day when stopped to rest on a new-formed island far out in the seas.
Overhead soared a dove with pale wings. As Tonis watched, the bird soared down from the skies and alighted on the sand, becoming a woman with a pale countenance, light of hair and eye. Awed by her beauty and poise, and calmed by her presence, Tonis scarcely thought to flee.
“How long will you run from the justice of Koar?” asked the newcomer.
“As long as I must,” said Tonis. “Justice is no friend to me.”
“What if I told you there was another way?”
“I would say that I have been used before. But I am older now and wiser. You come with a bargain?”
“I do,” said Lumnis. “The war is tearing this world asunder, and perhaps reality itself. The keenest seers among us have foretold a way forward, but it is not without risk.”
She told him that Jastev had looked into the mists of what might be and seen a possibility. The time of the drakes would end, but Elanthia might survive the Ur-Daemon War should the monsters be severed from their endless reinforcements. The rift had to be closed, and for that to happen, its location must be discerned.
“Why cannot your seers simply find the rift for you?” Tonis asked, his voice cold.
“You have been away from your kind for far too long. These creatures are so far removed from all that we know that we are blind in all things concerning them. We need to find the rift, and for that, we need you.”
Tonis misliked the sound of that. “How would this benefit me?”
“Soon, we shall depart for the moons in the hopes that we might preserve our kind,” said Lumnis. “Do this, and you will be welcome among us.”
“And if I do not?”
Lumnis sighed. “The seers have no trouble seeing the fate of those Arkati left behind,” she said.
Tonis took his time to think. It had been too long since he had been welcome among the Arkati. He could be a solitary sort, but he little relished the thought of death, or of eternity spent alone.
“Very well,” he said.
Tonis had become as stealthy as he was swift during his exile, but the Ur-Daemon were countless in their numbers. He made his way behind their lines, fleeing when chanced upon. The corruption of them had blackened the land and twisted the rivers, so he was thin and weak when at last he discovered the portal.
The Ur did not operate as did Arkati or drakes. Their camp--if it could be called that--had nothing of order to it, at least as far as he could discern. The creatures oozed and glided across the land, deepening their corrosive grasp upon it by the moment.
Sickened by what he saw, Tonis marked the location of the rift and prepared himself for the trip back.
And then he saw the newborn Ur-Daemons. Skittering and terrible, they were kept in a sort of creche dug out of the very earth, fed by its hot blood. He thought to himself that it would surely be a boon for the Arkati if they could study such a creature, but the desire to do good warred with his keen-honed sense of self-preservation.
It surprised him when he found himself sneaking into the unholy creche and bundling one of the horrid creatures in his cloak.
How it squalled and cried, reaching heights that could deafen the mortal ear and melt the mind, as he fled through the Ur-Daemon lands. He thought that he himself might go mad from the sound. But somehow, he won free and returned to the place where the Arkati had gathered.
There, he relayed the location of the rift to a grave-faced Koar, and for his service was welcomed back among the Arkati who would become the Lords of Liabo.
But before joining them fully, he had one last bit of mischief to accomplish. He made the trek to Li’aerion, which had become a dark and empty place in the intervening years. There, he left a gift for Eorgina, swaddled in a bundle, with a note upon it:
“You see, I really can steal anything,” it said.
And he left, chuckling at the gift the Dark Queen would find.