Yonas grew up in the hills and highlands of northern Byssia just south of the Caldera. He started drinking the spirit of the rye just after his 17th summer began. Pa and Uncle Furkun distilled it up in the highlands, high above the rolling terrain where their homestead was established. Out of habit, and the success of sneaking a bit here and there, he acquired a taste for the spirit of the rye. He did it to calm the nightmares.
Ma was more spiritually gifted than Pa, and tried to discover why Yonas had erupted into sleepwalking violence night after night. He had no answer, which pleased her not. She was a disciple of the Church of Night Reborn. The first nightmare had caused damage to the barn, where he slept with the oxen and the donkeys, to the extent of numerous boards being shattered as he battled dream demons that were not there. The visions of disaster visited every night, unless the blessed rye chased them off. When the levy call came Father raised no objection to him being inducted into the regional militia. The other four who entered had families who fought tooth and nail to keep them out, but the regional judges had ruled against them.
They were worked so hard that most nights the sleep of the exhausted precluded dream, but sometimes the disastrous visions returned. He learned who kept a flask of spirits in the pack, and how to acquire a dram here and there. On payday he always made sure to get a portion to keep the dreams away.
The March Wardens noticed his aptitude for battle and mayhem, and a knack for moving about unobserved, and offered him a place.
A March Warden! The defenders of Byssia’s borders. For two years he roved, raided, fought and negotiated with them. But as had become a habit he drank a bit too much.
In a hamlet outside of New Nocthia he broke the jaw of a bouncer at a tavern who didn’t care for the attentions that the barmaid, his sweetheart, lavished upon the strapping young man. That objection led to a brawl, and that brawl led to Yonas’ release. The captain handed him his last pay, and suggested the mercenary trade. “When you drink you can’t tell between enemies and the phantasms you wish to defeat.” He paused. “This is the third time you have done violence – thankfully non-fatal, which with your strength is always a risk – to someone who your mind’s eye painted as an enemy.” Before the next sunrise, Yonas headed east. He caught on with a caravan braving the risks of the Windwalkers. Nobody in that group minded his drinking, but when they reached the plains in the southwest of the Crisial Kingdom, his contract was not renewed.
His next job involved chasing down and killing cattle rustlers. He was effective, but was once again given his pay, a bottle, and a kind invitation to head to a city, like Rauviz, where his talents would pay well and where he’d not be a bother to them.
Dry and dream-cursed for three days he arrived at the gates of Rauviz. The pikemen at the gate asked his profession. “Sellsword and farmer.” The guard captain stepped out of the gatehouse, laughing. “We’ve no need of farmers here, lad, but someone will want your axe under their command. Five silvers to enter, and know that we prefer combat within the city walls to be unarmed.” “Such a warm welcome, Captain, to your fair city. What tavern would you suggest, for a man with a taste for the spirit of the rye?” His eyebrows rose slightly. “Seek ye the Sign of the Rampant Griffon. You’ll find oblivion, spirit, and much else there.” He met Pyrrha, Kuo, and Eskel there, and they hired on as caravan guards. And that’s how it all began, as Ad Elementis learned together how many threats to Noefra were lurking in corners, caves, and in plain sight.