There's no greater power than wealth.In Araea, wealth is power. There is never enough in any single place to for everyone to thrive, or even survive, and trade links the world together like arteries through a body. Merchants trek ceaselessly through the darkness in search of fortune, and their arrival can mean the difference between feast and famine. The most successful, ruthless, and powerful merchants are sometimes called merchant-princes, for the power they wield is equal to that of any royalty.
Araea is vast and terrible, and losses of a few men, a few caravanes, a few villages are inevitable. The key for a merchant-prince is to make someone else pay for it.Like any empire, of enterprise or otherwise, merchant-princes maintain theirs through force of arms. Even the most humble merchant-prince retains a host of warriors to protect her fortune and frequently to fight her enemies. Bloodshed is part of business, from workers and slaves revolts that need to be supressed to beasts in need of slaying. Araea is a dangerous place, and only the most desperate or foolish trade-expedition would brave the dark without protection.
MharajiMerchant-princes rule Mharaji, uncontested and without rival to their claim besides each other. Mharaji is the largest and most well-connected city in the Inner Shell, though ambitious city-states elsewhere seek to challenge it, where wealth has always equaled influence. Once ruled by tyrants, the great city-state is now controlled by two councils of merchant-princes, one lesser and one greater. While the greater council commands the city as a whole, the lesser council is a squabbling crowd of minor merchants that rule over individual sections and fiefdoms of the city.
Sometimes, the enterprise of merchant-princes become something else; a world onto itself. In Mharaji, House Daitau have made their fortune as any other clan of merchants, while pursuing other, darker ambitions. Insular and secretive, the House is the target of endless gossip and mockery - but not where they can hear. Read More About House Daitau
Amnach, the Slaver's GateWith fortunes made on the back of slaves, Amnach's slavers are considered an unpleasant bunch even by many of even the most greedy merchant-princes - but not enough for business to stop. Located on a vital route from the Sprawl into the Inner Shell, Amnach has become a hub of trade and human misery, ruled by merchant-princes like Malkoun the Lord of Slaves and his ilk. The mines beneath Amnach ring endlessly with hammer and pick, and merchants from elsewhere barter both for passage and the valuable ore, quartz, gem, and crystal it extracts from there. Amnach is sometimes called the Maw, for its appetite for human lives is endless, and there is a constant stream of slavers with stock to sell.
Amnach, the Slaver's Gate
Welcome to the Maw, a city always hungry for fresh bodies to feed its ceaseless industry.
PatalaRecently opened to the world through a calamitious earthquake, Patala has been dominated by greed and opportunity from the beginning. Several powerful merchant-princes vie for control over the riches and bounties that away in the unknown dark, each seeking to make the region theirs alone. Such wars threaten the survival of the few settlements established there, and the city Vicitra balances on the threshold of extinction as the struggle for power escalates. Despite its youth, Patala sees brisk trade to the rest of Araea, most of all to Mharaji, Vataam, and Dūbavum. The growing chaos has attracted the attention of merchant-princes in distant cities, either fearing for their investments or sensing an opportunity.
Other Titles Depending on who they are and where they are from, Merchant-Princes sometimes don other names and titles. Trade-lord or lady, merchant-princesses, or various faux-noble titles are often used... Along with a series of much less flattering nicknames from those who suffer under them. These titles are usually gender-neutral, more focused on the wealth than the person.
The Wyrd RoadsOne of the most important and well-travelled routes in the Inner Shell are the Wyrd Roads, a perfectly circular tunnel of unknown origin. Despite being ancient beyond reckoning, the smooth walls and floor of the Roads show no sign of wear and tear. Along the path, the Roads breach into other caverns and other parts of Araea, allowing merchants to reach far and wide across the world with relative ease... But only a fool mistake the Roads for safe.
The Wyrd Roads
A vast, perfectly circular tunnel that winds across Araea in a disturbingly delibrate pattern, with no known craftsman or empire ever having claimed to be its maker.
The SprawlLike the Wyrd Roads for the Inner Shell, the Sprawl is a key region in the trade for the Outer Shell. It is a vast stretch of connected caverns that reach far across the known world, joinig with the Inner Shell at its lowest and breaching the Surface at its highest. Even with centuries of use, a great deal of the Sprawl is yet unexplored. Merchants and Kaia alike race to find new paths through the darkness, with great rewards awaiting those who can find a quicker, safer route to somewhere profitable.
The tendrils of the Sprawl reach wide. One of the most traversed region in the Outer Shell, acting as a hub to reach many other regions of Araea.