The Sundering Worlds
From Elven Woods to a Human Village
Corvus Cade is an 18-year-old, chaotic good Wood ElfRanger/Rogue who was raised by humans in a mountain village after his own family of wood elves were slain by a traveling band of orcs. Because he was too young, or perhaps too frightened, to speak when he was discovered the next day among the smoking detritus of his ruined home, his adoptive parents gave Corvus the family name and quickly wove him into the family life.
Corvus remembers little of his life among the elves, but the violent deaths of his family and village has left a dark stain upon his memory. Corvus was never able to move beyond the damage wrought by the orcs’ attack; his earliest memory is of his mother’s death, which he witnessed from his hiding spot among the shrubs near his home. While most within the village quickly accepted young Corvus as one of their own, he always felt, and usually placed himself, on the margins of village life. Socializing among humans has never been Corvus’s strong suit.
While most within the village quickly accepted young Corvus as one of their own, he became closest with his adoptive father, Kelvin Cade—a Ranger by training—and, much to his mother’s dismay, Welter Ballydowse, a retired Thief who, despite all appearances of upright living, still knew his way around a Thief’s Kit. When not ranging the mountain forests with his father, young Corvus could most often be found at Welter’s house, where the old man was likely to be imparting the kinds of knowledge and training at which Corvus’s mother could only frown. It must be noted, though, that Welter was largely reformed: he had retired from (or been kicked out of) the local thieves guild some 30 years ago, and never encouraged Corvus to use his training for evil. Corvus, for his part, never deployed his roguish skills for selfish gain.
At the age of 18, after some fifteen years in the village, Corvus fled his adoptive home when he was caught stealing from the tax collector—a fat, foolish bureaucrat named Porcius under the employ of a regional ruler whose taxation practices were bleeding the village, and Corvus’s family, dry. Corvus had learned from his family a deep sense of honor, of right and wrong, and it seemed wrong—deeply wrong—to Corvus that an absentee lord should claim such a high percentage of the village’s hard-earned coin, crops, and commodities. And so, incensed at this injustice, Corvus attempted to leverage Welter’s training and steal back what had been taken from his family. But the inexperienced Corvus was caught red-handed by Porcius as he attempted to lift the crooked collector’s coin purse. Despite pleading from his mother and threats from Kelvin, Porcius, under the authority of the local baron lord, placed Corvus under arrest, intending to have young Corvus tried (and likely executed) for his crime against the king. Bound and gagged upon Porcius’s poky steed and headed for the ruler’s castle, Corvus’s fate seemed sealed; Kelvin, Welter, and the rest of the village were powerless to help.
The tax collector, though, was neither strong of frame nor sharp of mind. He was fat, weak, and stupid by nature. The night of Corvus’s arrest, some ten miles from the village, Porcius got himself good and drunk off a bottle of icewine that he had skimmed from the village winery (“You’re behind on your taxes, booze man. I’ll take this bottle as interest.”). As soon as Corvus could hear Porcius’s drunken, glottal snores, he seized his opportunity: loosening his bonds (Porcius was no expert in knotting), Corvus stole off into the night—with Porcius’s horse, shortsword, and coin purse in tow. A more world-wise elf would have killed Porcius as he slept, but Corvus was raised with a strong sense of morality. He had paused with the blade just above the snoring Porcius’s heart, but with a deep sigh, Corvus had realized he was no murderer and left Porcius to wake alone with a pounding headache the next morning. Not content to leave the fat tax man totally unscathed, though, Corvus doubled back and, with Porcius’s own sword, cut the collector’s belt, removed his pants, and hung them from the top of a nearby pine. Porcius continued to snore as Corvus faded into the night.
Smirking to himself over a job well done, Corvus began the journey home. He soon realized, however, that his presence in the village would only pose a danger to those he loved: Porcius would undoubtedly report Corvus’s crimes to the king, and the king, quick to quell even a rumor of insurrection, would almost certainly send forces to arrest or execute Corvus—or worse, his family or Welter—on sight. Silently cursing himself for not killing Porcius (but knowing, deep down, that he could not have murdered him in cold blood), Corvus turned south, away from the mountains and village that had been his home, in hopes of finding a new, hopefully temporary abode—at least for a few months, while the heat cools off.