The Noble Families, and the Battle (of) Royals
Meridian is host to a large population of noble families. Over 50 distinct families make their homes in the second and fourth circles, their lineages claiming nobility by either divinity, Actions taken by ancestors, or an exorbitant amount of capital gain. These families are almost always at odds. However, alliances form and break regularly in the pursuit of glory and honor.
In the early years of Meridian, Noble families often fought openly with one another for dominance of the Noble class. This lead to several near civil wars with no clear victor at the end. The Third Ven of Meridian, Ynnad of the Moon, put a stop to the bloodshed with the creation of the Battle (of) Royals annual tournament. The Battle (of) Royals was a week long tournament consisting of melee’s, jousting, archery, and occasionally duels to the death.
With his vast foresight, Ynnad declared that Noble Family members could not participate in the battles, instead each house would find and name champions to represent them in the games. Inclusion of this rule discouraged assassinations of Noble members who were expected to take place in the tournament and other shady practices . The Ven also decreed that any family caught utilizing underhanded tactics to win would immediately be reduced to the lowest rank and their status as nobles would be at risk. This rarely discourages the craftier families.
The results of the Battle (of) Royals would determine the new social ranking of the noble families in Meridian, with the winners of the games becoming the new Gold Family, or leader of Nobles. The Gold Family essentially serves as a lesser Ven, collaborating with the Ven in order to rule Meridian.
The only exception to the Ven’s rules are the Duels to the Death. These duels can only be held when two members of differing families agree to participate. If a challenge is given, it does not have to be accepted. Generally however it is dishonorable to refuse. These duels to the death have no rules once both parties step into the ring.
With so many royal families it is easy to forget all of the names. The three worth talking about however are the Horus family, Frey Family, and Sagittarius Family.
The Horus Family is the current Gold House family. Ruthless and bureaucratic for the sake of their own wealth, their last year of rule was a difficult one for the commoner of Meridian. Higher taxes, reduced social programs, a reduction in low income housing, the increase of royalty owned Inns and shelters, and a 2% tax on all business incomes that went directly to the Horus family.
The Horus Family came to power in the previous Battle (of) Royals. Their champion appeared only a day before the tournament, an eastern warrior from beyond the circles named Turok who fought with talons and a bow. Turok overpowered even the fiercest knights and mercenaries despite not wearing a single piece of armor. Turok won all competitions and three duels to the death.
The Sagittarius Family was the former Gold Family, brought low in the last Battle (of) Royals. Despite being a crowd favorite, the Sagittarius family was defeated in every single round. Their champions died embarrassing deaths, one to Turok after challenging him in a duel to the death.
The Sagittarius family was considered the most benevolent family to rule in the last ten years. Their practices gave hope to the common folk of Meridian and their passing was met with great grief from the people of the city.
The Frey family is the second highest Noble Family. Their place was secured by the Golden Suns, a group of powerful mercenaries who now control The Brae. The Golden Suns battle with honor and intelligence, Their leader Issac nearly defeated Turok in the final melee of the last tournament. However with that final defeat The Freys settled for second best.
Never having had a chance to rule, the common folk does not know what to think of the Freys. However, their open disregard for the rules placed on the city by the Horus gives most people hope and has encouraged a few revolts over the past year. Many expect the Freys to win the soon coming Battle (of) Royals and usurp the Horus family