Curse of the Crimson Throne
Being a half elf in Korvosa can be an embarrassing thing, but being born of a human father an elf mother is doubly so. Orphanages are a convenient way to deal with embarrassment in Korvosa. But despite the initial rough start, life for Sav has turned out great. Even growing up in the strict and regimented environment of North Point’s Mainshore ward had been fun for him. He had food and a roof, was surrounded by friends, and Mainshore ward, like most orphanages in Korvosa, offered early training to those interested in joining the Korvosan Guard or Sable Company. Sav Dunid was quite adept in the training, but his lack of discipline and commitment, added to his proclivity to get in trouble, meant that his formal education, and his stay at the orphanage, did not extend any longer than legally required. Unlike Sav, Grau Soldado, his best friend and partner in crime growing up in the orphanage, showed much better disposition to the military life, and even though Sav was more talented, it was Grau who went on to become part of The Guard and under the tutelage of Vencarlo Orsini. From that point on, Sav was thrown head first into the wilderness of the city of Korvosa, while Grau went on to a completely different path.
“Listen, I don’t know for sure. There were a lot of us in that ward. It wasn’t particularly hard to sneak out, not as if they cared if we came or went. Folks in charge knew we would come back, wouldn’t want to rough it out for too long. Plus, we had food and board. So yeah, we would venture out, sometimes spend a night or two out there, running around the city, kids’ stuff, right? But we always came back. At least most of us did. Same thing happened in the other wards, you can bet we ran into those other kids and a beatin’ would ensue. Venture too far in Korvasa, and you end up in someone else’s turf. Good to have Sav when that happened. He knew how to hightail it when the odd were stacked against us. Knew the streets and alleys well enough to make a quick getaway whenever we got in trouble. And if no escape was handy, he could scrap like a kid twice his size. Like a rabid hobgoblin he was, cackling and screaming, but always a smile on his stupid half elf face.”
-Luk Deb, Tanner, former Mainshore ward orphan
Despite the Korvosan Guard and Sable Company instruction at Mainshore ward, Sav Dunid had as much in common with a ‘ranger’ as a kobold to a gnome. Sav had left Korvasa and seen what the country side had to offer only once on a trip to Palin’s Cove. It was horrible and he hated every minute of it. He could not for the life of him understand why anyone would willingly live anywhere other than Korvosa. Palin’s Cove was ok as a city, but everything along the way was terrible. Even dying in the country seemed much worse than getting torn to pieces by shingle spiders. Better to bite the dust in one of the dark alleys of the warrens, or getting trampled by a otyugh, than whatever cruel fate one was to find outside the city walls. Probably getting mauled by something with thick fur and claws, or butchered by some highway bandits who would not string a coherent sentence together.
“Sav Dunid? Yeah, I remember him. Little turd would cause no end of trouble, is why they sent ‘im to us from early on. Figgerd’ the ol’ Guard would pound some sense into that head of his, teach ‘im some discipline. Learn he did, mind you, just not what we wanted ’im to. Everything but how to behave, I would say. Still found ways to sneak outside the ward with those other miscreants, Grau and wosshername? Arbon, yeah. Those three were a constant pain in the arse. Good students when they wanted to, but that was no often, the gods are witness to that. Sav was quick enough to learn, but when it came to weapons, it was hopeless. Tried teaching him with the sable and sword, lance and halberd, but you could not pry that two handed sword from his dirty bastard hands. Chunk of metal was about his size, you would not think it from lookin’ at ‘im, but he could swing that thing like you wouldn’t believe. No idea what became of ‘im once he came of age to leave the ward. I know Grau went on to the guard, even went on to train under Vercarlo Orinisini, the lucky lad. Arbon must’ve gone with Sable Company, ‘cuz when we sent Dunid packin’, he went by his lonesome.”
-Brishen Tas, Korvasa Guard instructor for the Mainshore ward
Life in Korvosa could be hard and cruel, but that never had a negative effect on Sav, or even his view of life and the city. For all its cruelty, Korvosa is a great place to live, even if, occasionally, people get mugged or stabbed by guards or gangs or an opportunistic individual. It is just part of regular normal life: it’s just the way things are in Korvosa. Imps and pseudodragons could happen to anyone, really.
The skills and training at Mainshore ward left him with a set of abilities that are always in demand in a city like Korvosa. Being a Guard required too much standing at attention and trying not to piss off your officers, which proved a great challenge to Sav, even when he had competent and talented instructors he liked. He found his talents fit a niche market: sometimes the Guard needs to take care of a particular situation in an unofficial manner, or one of the more entrepreneurial organizations in Korvosa, such as the Cerulean Society, needs something done that requires more tact and finesse. But when Sav gets a commission to collect money from someone who owes the local bookie, or to bring a small time crook to justice, he will punch and stab politely and stay well within the law (or as close to it as appropriate). He will just as well take work from the Korvosa Guard and Sable Company as from one of the gangs, just as long as, in his eyes, he’s not doing anything bad. To Sav and most people in Korvosa, there is not much difference between gangs and militaries, arbiters and crimelords. And what is good and what is not in Korvosa is sometimes muddled. How else do you explain that the only guild in the city is the Thieves Guild?
While his time outside Mainshore ward is short, he has been ardently applying his skills, putting the training he managed to learn in practice. Hang around the right tavern, hear the right gossip, talk to the right guard or Cerulean Society enforcer and you get an idea of the ebb and flow of the city. Sav’s natural skill, combined with his relative anonymity, allow him to operate independently, and those in power in Korvasa know that it’s good to have freelancers around. Sav’s half-elf frame and relative youth can fail to coerce the more stubborn members who have gotten in trouble in society, but the greatsword strapped to his back helps him get the point across when required.
“You’ll want to go down over to Ridgefield, up in North Point. Look for a shitty sign with what is supposed to be a badger (but, between us, it looks like a poorly drawn rat). Ask for Sav Dunid, that’s who you need. I got him in for a job for my employer, needed someone found and, erm, persuaded, so to say. Some clever moth that thought he’s worked out a clever scam and left no tracks. Guards couldn’t be bothered ‘cause technically ’ed done nothing wrong, and my boss wanted to keep the situation under wraps, not involve the usual thugs so they don’t get no ideas, y’see? This Sav, he is discreet and efficient, and won’t cause much of a mess. Our lads, they get carried away sometimes. With Sav, we got the moth coming back and paying his due willingly. A bit shaken up, but that’s the business, ain’t it? No clue how he managed to trace down that slippery bastard, but I tell you, the kid is good. And all for a fair price to boot! Just don’t mention the sign not looking like a badger.”
-Caed Kaloam, none-of-yer-damned-beeswax
Guards and gangs, Sable Company and Cerulean Society, great houses and a monarchy all keep the great city of Korvosa in balance. For Sav, this is the way things work, and it keeps the city working, the folks in their routines, and everything in order. Good and bad need each other, and if you sometimes have to do a dirty job for the authorities, or a clean one for the gangs, it’s just the way things are in Korvosa, and Sav would not have it any other way.
It’s taken Sav a couple of years, made a few mistakes here and there, learnt some things the hard way, but things were stable and comfortable. He had a good enough reputation to get a flow of jobs paying the rent, but not that good so as to attract too much attention or keep him from enjoying a life devoid of much responsibility. In fact, he was now advertising his services under ‘Black Badger Services’, an operation he ran from his tenement flat in Ridgefield, up in North Point. Finding that balance had been tough, but that’s Korvosa for you; you need to find that balance. Sav believed Korvosa looked to balance itself out, but in order for that to happen that meant things tended to go up and down.
He got a good commission from a contact in the Guard, find some small time drug dealer operating somewhere in Old Korvosa and get him to take his business elsewhere. This was his favourite kind of job, as it usually involved nothing more than a bit of snooping around, some leg work, and then having a stern conversation with some scumbag that hardly ever resulted in violence. Wherever the drug dealer would decide to go next was none of his concern, until someone paid him to make it so. Sav Dunid made his way through Old Korvosa following the usual trail this kind of business enterprise leaves behind. His search took him to a run-down apartment that had been unoccupied until a couple of junkies, empties and assorted vagrants took it over. Even for a shiver-lair, the place was particularly dismal, the stench of unwashed and soiled clothes so thick you could almost see it. About half a dozen people were there, some of them shivering, some of them immobile. Amongst those laying still was Arbon, her lifeless eyes staring emptily into space. He had not seen his old friend in years, believed she was Sable Company by now, a respectable ranger, but this, no, not this. Never this. It was supposed to be a simple job, an easy job. But that is just the way Korvosa is, and it can make things very painful and very personal if you are not careful.