Korvosa began 300 years ago when the Empire of Cheliax expanded north into Varisia. Here, the Chelaxians found a large tribe of Shoanti barbarians dwelling around an immense pyramid on the shores of a deep bay — a perfect site for a city. After much bloodshed, the Shoanti were defeated and driven back to the harsh Cinderlands, and the new city was named after the field marshal who led his army to victory here. Few people bothered to wonder why the Shoanti had settled on this particular land, and Korvosa flourished.
Today, Korvosa’s reigning King Eodred Arabasti II is feared by all the right people. His rule is steady, even if his insatiable appetites drain the city’s coffers. His ability to navigate the rocks and shoals of Chelish diplomacy earned the city favorable trade agreements with the Old Empire. Rumors of the King’s womanizing habits has to date produced no heir to the throne. Edicts proclaim Eodred II the “Saffron King,” likening his reign to one of abundance, in which honey and spice flood the markets. You, however, are likely to have heard him referred to by another name from the city’s downtrodden: The Stirge King — a man whose squandering ways are slowly bleeding the city dry.
Whispers of the King’s taste for scandalously young companionship have dogged him throughout his reign, so it was no surprise that his bride was barely a third of his age and of breathtaking beauty. Queen Ileosa has red hair like the sunset, chaste alabaster skin, and features so fetching that many claim her mother must have been a nymph queen, as surely no mortal woman could give birth to a beauty such as she.
The Queen was born Ileosa Arvanxi to one of Cheliax’s more successful noble families. When she came of age, she scandalized her family by abandoning Cheliax and sailing to Korvosa. Ileosa did not see herself as the wife of some important Chelish dignitary or noble; she wanted to be a queen.
Ileosa knew much of Eodred II’s tastes and desires before she arrived, so that when she presented herself to him, he would fall in love quickly. The two were wed after a scandalously short courtship, and the King shocked the entire city when he turned out his entire harem in favor of his new Queen. Ileosa was barely 17. Over the past 4 years, the Queen has managed to shift much dislike and disapproval away from the King and to herself with her open distaste for Korvosa (which she’s been heard to call “a backwater colonial village” more than once). While she may not appreciate Korvosa, she does appreciate its riches.
The King’s Health
The King has recently suffered a serious illness that resembled leprosy. Attempts to cure his illness have failed, and rumors swirl among the populace as people notice that he has spent the last several weeks in seclusion. Perhaps the curse has begun.