Lore:Abah's Landing Merchant Lords
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Abah's Landing Merchant Lords
A report covering the history of the trading houses at Abah's Landing
- Grandiose. Arrogant. Self-important. All these words and more can be used to describe the self-styled merchant lords of Abah's Landing. The four mercantile houses began to take shape about one-hundred-and-sixty years ago. They began as legitimate businesses, working to elevate Abah's Landing and create a center for trade and commerce between High Rock and Valenwood. But Hew's Bane has never been cooperative to those who tried to carve civilization out of the wilderness and, despite their best efforts, each mercantile house slowly became more corrupt as the pursuit of illegal profits quickly outdistanced more above-board enterprises.
- The four houses emerged as the at-Addin Syndicate, House Vien, the Thazahrr Cartel, and Gurges and Associates. In time, the lords of these four houses controlled almost all of the commerce and gold flowing through the port city—both legitimate trade and illicit activities. Most of their profits came from smuggling, slavery, and other unlawful transactions. The merchant lords supplied Abah's Landing with goods and services while also establishing lucrative (if modest) trading partnerships in distant lands. As fortunes grew in Abah's Landing, it wasn't long before other groups began to take an interest in the area. This began a long and tumultuous relationship between the merchant lords and local criminals and crime bosses. Indeed, rumors of a "hidden" merchant house even began to circulate, and evidence abounds of a covert war being fought among the houses and the so-called "hidden house." While I have not been able to uncover any details concerning this conflict, the outcome can clearly be seen. Gurges and Associates was shattered and the other three houses were reduced to pale shadows of their former glory as a clandestine power emerged as the controlling interest in the port city.
- For the last fifteen years or so, the merchant houses took a step back. Oh, they continued to engage in business and provide funds to support city services, including guards and infrastructure, but they no longer showed the swagger and bravado that exemplified their behavior for the decades prior to that time. Though no mayor or merchant house or secret guild took center stage, it appears evident to me that someone or something has influenced Abah's Landing from the deepest shadows. For this reason, I urge caution when dealing with Hew's Bane.
- In my next report, I'll begin to provide background on each of the prominent merchant houses operating in the area.
- The first and, according to the scions of the house, the greatest of the merchant houses of Abah's Landing is the at-Addin Syndicate. Founded by Afshuur at-Addin, a Redguard male known for both his physical prowess and his disarming charm, the Syndicate grew and flourished for almost one-hundred-and-twenty years. The enterprising Afshuur started out as a simple arms dealer, buying, selling, and trading Redguard swords, Orc axes, and Wood Elf bows. His first customers were the pirates and privateers that used Abah's Landing as a port of call on their trips to more prominent locations, but it wasn't long before he was making shipping deals with those very same vessels and their crews.
- As time passed, the Syndicate added armor and shields to its inventory, seeking to provide a one-stop shopping destination for anyone in need of protection or those interested in sailing into battle. Pirate crews, mercenary bands, and even privateers in service to one flag or another were clamoring for armor and weapons with the Syndicate seal of quality and assurance. These connections led to another lucrative profit line—the Syndicate began serving as a broker for mercenary contracts.
- The current leader of the Syndicate, Orahan at-Addin, rules the business with an iron fist. Ruthless and brilliant, the Redguard male treats every negotiation as a battle, every competition as a war. In fact, war has become at-Addin's primary avenue of trade, which allows him to keep the family enterprise profitable even in the wake of the unrevealed calamity that befell each of the merchant houses recently. As my queen is well aware, the machinations of the unknown party I have dubbed "the hidden house" continue to be evident while also continuing to elude me. I will have answers, I just don't know when I will have them.
- Orahan at-Addin deals in arms and armaments, mercenary contracts, and smuggling supplies to all sides of any given conflict. He has no trouble selling weapons to the Covenant, armor to the Pact, and vital supplies to the Dominion—as long as each side has the gold to pay for his services. With the sudden absence of the power that had held the merchant houses in check and had even weakened them with a masterful yet secret attack, the Syndicate has begun to make moves to put it back into a position of power in Abah's Landing.
- Regardless of other concerns, I recommend caution when dealing with Orahan and his family. But make no mistake, you will have to deal with them if you plan to make a move on Hew's Bane and Abah's Landing.
- It was inevitable. A den of vice and corruption such as Abah's Landing requires a master to feed its needs. Or, in this case, a mistress. Enter Lady Felice Vien, who arrived in Abah's Landing from Wayrest with her dignity, a cask full of gold, and the intention to make a place for herself amid the debauchery and depravity of the port city. Very little information concerning the circumstances of her arrival still exists, but I was able to determine it had something to do with her late husband, a prominent noble in Wayrest, and her alleged role in his death.
- Whatever the situation that sent her to Abah's Landing, Lady Felice wasted no time purchasing property and establishing the Winsome Welwa, a tavern and inn that soon became the talk of the port. What started as a humble eatery and fest hall began offering other entertainments, entertainments of the less than legal kind. Lady Felice saw that the people moving through Abah's Landing had particular vices, and she knew that there was gold to be made if she could satisfy their needs.
- Today, House Vien handles the more intimate and discreet demands of Abah's Landing, including illicit substances, prostitution, and other vices. The Winsome Welwa, modeled after the infamous Chaste Harpy in Highrock, serves as a brothel and the base of operations for the current head of the house, Lady Ylanie Montaine. Despite the calamity that befell all of the merchant houses, she continues to make a modest profit administering to the illicit needs of pirates, merchant crews, and visiting nobles looking for a bit of adventure. All of the house's trade is focused on Abah's Landing, all under the Lady's discerning eye. She presents a proper, genteel countenance when she strolls the city streets and meets with clients and vacationing dignitaries, but she has a violent, even murderous, temper—though few who have the misfortune to see that side of her live to tell the tale.
- Secrets are as much Lady Ylanie's stock and trade as are sex and drugs. She might prove to be a powerful ally in your ambitions, provided you never turn your back on her or partake in any of her tempting pleasures.
- When the merchant houses of Abah's Landing were first established, one stood out from the rest. Significant not only for its unusual leader, but for the type of business she decided to trade in. The Khajiit who called herself Thazahrr-ra formed the Thazahrr Cartel to handle the despicable but necessary slave trade moving through the port city. The powerful Thazahrr-ra, one of only a few women in Khajiit history to take the male honorific "ra" as her own, formed a cartel that included Imperials, Bretons, Redguards, and a few Khajiit.
- How could a Khajiit run a slavery cartel? Quite handily, it turns out. The legend of Thazahrr-ra grew as fast as the fortunes of the Cartel, describing a woman who would sell her own children if the profit was high enough. In addition to processing Argonian and Khajiit slaves on their way to distant lands, the Cartel expanded into the areas of smuggling and buying and selling information. Make no mistake: willing to sell your own people makes the Cartel extremely dangerous, as many of their competitors discovered over the years.
- Today, Thazahrr Goldfang, the sixth Khajiit woman to take the name and title of merchant lord of the Thazahrr Cartel, oversees the house's businesses. She appears restless and unhappy with the state of the houses in Abah's Landing, and with the state of her business in general. Whatever occurred to hinder all of the merchant houses seems to have hit the Cartel harder than most. She longs to return her organization to the position of power and prestige it enjoyed in the days before the activities of the "hidden house" so that she can claim the same honorific as her esteemed ancestor.
- Thazahrr Goldfang bubbles over with anger and ambition. She feels that Abah's Landing owes her a level of wealth and respect that, frankly, it has no intention of awarding her with. For this reason, she remains frustrated, anxious, and more than a little dangerous. My recommendation? Do not approach the Khajiit slave trader. Not even with a ten-foot pole.
- Now I want to tell you about the sad and unfortunate fate of the fourth major merchant house of Abah's Landing, an organization I like to call, "the Fallen House." Gurges and Associates dates back to a powerful and important Imperial family that has all but disappeared from the Cyrodiil records. It came to prominence during the rise of the merchant lords of Hew's Bane, when Isobel Gurges—known as the Regal Pirate of the Abecean—retired from raiding and pillaging to form a more or less legitimate business.
- Of course, legitimate business means something very different in a place like Abah's Landing. Isobel began by making loans with exorbitant interest rates, but it wasn't long before she took Gurges and Associates into gambling, fencing, laundering, and (where she had her crews steal cargo from merchant vessels so they could sell it back to those same merchants for an immediate profit).
- When the merchant house crisis rocked Abah's Landing fifteen years prior, Gurges and Associates was nearly bankrupted. The tumult since, as well as events leading up to the Three Banners War, all but spelled the doom of the merchant house. Today, the Gurges family has only a handful of blood members and vassals, leaving its current patriarch, Martinus Gurges, a bitter and jealous man. He has plans, however. Plans to rebuild his company, reclaim his fortune and holdings, and once again make the Gurges name something to be honored and respected, if not feared, in Abah's Landing. He has a long way to go to make his dream come true.
- I wasn't sure I was ever going to send this to you. Everything it contains is little more than theory and conjecture. I have no proof, you see. No facts to hang before you. All that said, I decided that you had a right to know my thinking on this subject. Better safe than sorry, as the Dark Elves are wont to say.
- I've suggested in my previous reports that there was another group or organization hindering and even actively attacking the merchant houses of Abah's Landing. I've referred to this as the "hidden house," but I have a better name: The Shadow Conglomerate. Like the vast chasm in front of you in the middle of the night, you can feel the Shadow Conglomerate's presence looming in the darkness, even though you can't see it.
- What is the Shadow Conglomerate? I really don't know. Every avenue I approach that promises to reveal the truth of the organization instead sends me running in a dozen different directions, searching for the next clue that always seemed to be at least one step out of reach. Here's what I do know. I believe that the Shadow Conglomerate was formed about forty years ago, suddenly coming on the scene to challenge the merchant lords after a century of only having to deal with themselves. Within twenty-five years, the Shadow Conglomerate had risen to a place of prominence that allowed it to actually cause the merchant houses to step back and concede a portion of their power and influence to this new and secret organization.
- I believe a battle of some sort took place in the deepest shadows. In this battle, the hidden house emerged victorious while the public-facing merchant houses were grievously wounded and forced off the pedestals they had raised themselves upon. The worse casualty was Gurges and Associates, which stopped being an active concern almost overnight and has since become known as "the Fallen House."
- Is the Shadow Conglomerate the true power of Abah's Landing? I cannot say for certain, and that is what troubles me the most.
- (NOTE: These dispatches were "recovered" from a Taneth vessel and delivered to an interested party in Abah's Landing. I have published them so we may all know what our cousins across the bay think of us. —Anonymous)