A Cage Without a Key
The country of Mercade has always been ruled by a member of one of its five major ruling houses. Each holds substantial influence through allies, trade goods, military might, or secrets – or any combination thereof.
Banner: The Scepter of the Moon
Hold: Lunnen (Capitol of Mercade)
Head of House: King Reynold Bartley III
Noteworthy Members: Queen Magdelena, Prince Jorge, Prince Soren, Princess Larell, Princess Sharita
Details: The current ruling house and the house most frequently on the throne. Their claim on rulership steps from the Scepter of the Moon, a family relic supposedly passed down from the first kings of Mercade. The Bartleys have the largest standing army in the country.
Colors: Gold and Silver
Banner: The Hunter’s Knife
Hold: The Wheatsward (Mercade’s largest pastoral land)
Head of House: Duchess Argenta Cantrell
Noteworthy Members: ‘Old’ Duke Brask Cantrell, Royal Spymaster Ras Cantrell
Details: The Cantrells draw much of their power from a massive network of spies, many of whom were cultivated from Duke Brask’s years in service to the Crown as a scout-commander in the military. The Cantrells use much of their spy network to influence public opinion.
Colors: Green and Gold
Banner: Crossed Keys
Hold: Moonsliver Bay (Mercade’s most profitable trade port)
Head of House: Margrave Morin Maret
Noteworthy Members: Marquess Brena Maret
Details: The Marets have a questionable history – at best – with some historians tracing their linage back to a pirate lord nearly seven-hundred years ago which would account to the house’s near-endless wealth since its founding. This – of course – to the Marets is a ludicrous claim. The Marets use their wealth to ply the Crown, freely offering out loans to whichever house needs it (particularly whichever house is seated on the Mercadian throne).
Colors: Black and White
Banner: An Arcane Sigil of Warding
Hold: The Cloistered Keep
Head of House: Grand Magister Ingrid Vymont
Noteworthy Members: Shoshana Vymont
Details: The Vymonts’ power is derived from arcane knowledge above anything else. They are the only major house to have never held the throne and they’ve never showed a desire for it, instead each head of house serves the Crown as the serving the Grand Magister.
Color: Purple and Blue
Banner: Crossed Battleaxes
Hold: Westerly Watch
Head of House: Lord Donnach Wessley
Noteworthy Members: Lady Lorena Wessley, Wallace Wessley
Details: The Wessleys are the newest of the great houses, having titles derived from Donnach Wessley’s betrayal of his Belden lords to the Mercadians nearly forty years ago in the form of a military coup. As a result, Belden lost what is now known as Westerly Watch to the Mercadians. Lord Donnach serves as the Crown’s Master of War and his house’s army serves as the Crown’s personal guard. While their loyalty to the Crown is currently unwavering, their heir, Wallace, doesn’t completely share the sentiment and would prefer the country forge stronger ties to their new Belden allies.
Colors: Green and Red