- "To follow a principle is to ascribe value to it, and value always has worth that can be quantified. Is to value quantifiable worth above all, therefore, not to follow the greatest of all principles?"
- ―Extract from “Bought and Sold”, a collection of the teachings of the Merchant Prince
Mercantis, also known as the City of Bought and Sold, is an independent polity best known for its commerce and trading. It was founded by exiles and is often used as an intermediary in trade between Praes and other nations. It does not seem to be strongly aligned with either Good or Evil.
Their currency is the silver fidi and it's one of the few coins merchants all over the continent will accept. It is said that everything is for sale in the consortium - even the city itself - though no one was ever able to afford it.
Consortium is the governing body in charge of Mercantis. It's formed out of Merchant Lords and led by the Merchant Prince. The exact process of becoming a Merchant Lord or a Prince is unknown, though all are said to be fat. This is apparently a requirement of obtaining a high office; possibly it's meant to represent wealth. Considering the profit based culture of the city, it's likely that obtaining a high rank is correlated with an individual's wealth.
While the government does not technically endorse slavery it's practically an open secret. Notably, the Merchant Lord Septim was a prime candidate for becoming a Merchant Prince while at the same time owning and training Indrani as a slave.
Despite having no real standing army to speak of and limited ability to project strength, Mercantis is still a significant political actor, having deep connections with two of its most powerful neighbours: the Dread Empire of Praes and the League of Free Cities. Regardless, the Consortium does not seem to have a stance with regard to international politics except for making more profit.
With regards to the Empire, this manifests itself as the Pravus Bank - an institution created by Dread Empress Malicia to lend money to various nobles in Procer. This in itself indicates that the two polities have close ties, however in addition, it’s been revealed that most of the trade going into Praes comes from Mercantis. Taking into account the recent rise in tension between Callow and Praes, this suggests significant economic leverage on the part of the city state.
Considering the League, the City of Bought and Sold has been granted a right to sit on its meetings through bribery. Again, they are shown as important source of income to at least two of the seven member states: Atalante and Delos occasionally fight for its trade routes.
Mercantis was involved in several trade deals over the course of the story. It provided contracts for the two thousand dwarven infantry used in the first (failed) Callowan rebellion that were later bought back by Black. Akua Sahelian also used Mercantis to hire several mercenary bands, including a company of drow. They also sold dwarven siege weaponry to the Good side of the tenth crusade.
In addition to mercenaries, the City of Bought and Sold hosts a yearly auction called the Closed Circle, selling many magical artifacts along with important information. These include:
- A letter and evidence that could ruin a prince
- A written invitation to Skade, the seat of the Winter Court in Arcadia
- Objects used in Akua's ritual for the Second Liesse
- Catherine’s guest-gift to the Dead King - a piece of the original Tower, before the two times it was destroyed