|“||A tokoroth is a child raised alone and in darkness, as a host for a demon. A tokoroth knows no good or evil. No right or wrong. It is utterly without mercy, for it has been taught to hate the world. It obeys no-one but its creator. It is one of the most feared creatures in the Forest.||„|
|~ Saeunn the Raven Mage telling Renn about tokoroths.|
Tokoroth is a type of an evil creature that appears in Michelle Paver's prehistoric Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. These creatures appear frequently as minions of the Soul Eaters.
Tokoroths are among the most feared creatures the Forest has heard about. Only few people know about them, and even fewer talk about them. They are human children who have been raised in solitude and darkness as hosts for demons, dead creatures that have lost all sense of morality and live only for killing and destruction. It is believed that the dark art of creating a tokoroth has been forgotten, but the Soul Eaters have rediscovered it at some point.
A tokoroth's creation begins when a child under certain age is taken and trapped in darkness and total isolation for months. He or she is given just enough warmth to keep them alive and fed by rotting bat meat. Eventually, the child forgets their mother's touch and their own name. When the child is just an empty shell, the captor calls a demon and traps it inside the child's body. The child's own souls are trapped by those of the demon, and they remain trapped until the tokoroth is killed.
A tokoroth makes no difference between good and bad or right and wrong. It feels no mercy in the slightest because it has been taught to hate the entire world. It obeys only its creator. Tokoroths are masters of stealth, stealing, mutilation, and fear-mongering. Despite having the stature of a child, they move very fast and are very quiet when they wish to be. They are also incredibly athletic, able to leap long distances. Many of the tokoroths presented in the series have wild hair and stick-like limbs. Their nails in both toes and fingers are long, yellow and sharpened. Their teeth are also sharpened and brown.
Role in the series
Tokoroths first appear in Spirit Walker. Tenris the Seal Mage has two tokoroths — a boy and a girl with faces adorned by leaf tattoos — to do his bidding. It is unknown when he created them. In order to find the destroyer of his another creation, he sends his two underlings to spread his plague across the Forest. They do this by poisoning the juniper berried the clans use as nutriment. Torak and Renn repeatedly sense the tokoroths hiding in shadows. One of them bites Renn's hand at one point. Another one follows Torak on his way to the Deep Forest in search of a cure. It shoots an arrow at a boar that has befriended Torak, leading it to attack him in pained fury. When Torak is captured by three Seal Clan boys and taken to their island in the west, the tokoroths hide in the boys' canoes and continue stalking Torak on the island. At one point, they set a seal net which almost causes Torak to drown when he stumbles into it at nighttime.
When Tenris eventually reveals Torak his true colors and tries to sacrifice him in the Crag (the sacred cliff that stands over the Sea), the tokoroths assist the Soul Eater in tying Torak to the altar and preparing a fire barricade to separate the Crag from the island. When Wolf arrives to save his pack-brother, he lures the tokoroths after him and causes them to fall off a cliff. Following Tenris' death, Wolf leads Torak, Renn, and Bale to the dying tokoroths. With the demons driven away by Wolf, Renn draws the Death Marks on the children, allowing them to die free. The Seal Clan buries the bodies to the Sea.
In Outcast, Seshru the Viper Mage reveals her daughter Renn a terrible secret. The Soul Eater had gotten herself pregnant by Renn's father in order to make her own newborn a tokoroth. Before she could summon an elemental (the strongest type of demons) and trap it with the Fire Opal into Renn's body, Saeunn the Raven Mage rescued Renn. Renn is described to have little sharp teeth, possibly referring to her prevented future as a tokoroth.
While Thiazzi the Oak Mage carries out his schemes in the Deep Forest during Oath Breaker, he captures several children both from the Deep Forest and the Open Forest. Allowing the clans to blame each other for the kidnappings of their children, he sows more discord between them. After his death, Wolf and Darkfur find the captured children hidden in holes that are dug into the slopes behind the sacred grove. The five children are thin as sticks, their teeth are filed to fangs, and their minds as scoured white as mistletoe berries. Fortunately, they are not possessed by demons and are quickly taken under treatment. Unfortunately, one child has already turned into a tokoroth and fled toward the eastern High Mountains where the last Soul Eater, the Eagle Owl Mage Eostra, is hiding.
In Ghost Hunter, Eostra has created several more tokoroths by stealing small children of the Mountain clans. One of them tries to unsuccessfully steal Torak's hair in the Forest. When Torak and Wolf enter the Mountain of Ghosts, one tokoroth lures them into a trap which separates the pack-brothers from each other. Wolf kills the tokoroth. In the Whispering Cave, two tokoroths take part in Eostra's rite to summon the Unquiet Dead by rattling bones. Both are killed during the final fight.
- Michelle Paver has based the idea of tokoroths on certain African beliefs and customs about monsters that are created from children who are brought up alone and in darkness. In Malawi, the author's birth country, they are called "tokoloshe".