I mentioned the aldar recently, and I wanted to expand on them by discussing a recent cartel war. Two of the cartels near the top went to war. Why? Well, mainly for the prestige. The Slarmann cartel (mainly drugs and alchemicals) wanted to enhance their fame, so they took on the Ruedar (mainly gems and precious metals). The Ruedar are an old and established cartel and as such were considered to be more powerful than the upstart Slarmann, which ticked off the Slarmann who felt they were vastly more powerful. Let’s be real, the Slarmann also planned to raid Ruedar caravans and vaults, taking the easily carried gems.
So the Slarmann arranged for some ambushes and surprise attacks. Two things they did not count on: 1) The Ruedar were not going to simply roll over and admit defeat. On some levels it seems incredibly foolish that the Slarmann so greatly underestimated their foes, but that stuff happens in war. 2) They expected to confiscate the gems and precious metals the cartel had squirreled away, but the Ruedar, seeing this as a legitimate threat to their existence, immediately began using that treasure to hire mercenaries.
The war waged for about three years. Entire towns were wiped out in military actions and assassinations happened nearly everywhere. Most famously, a Slarmann assassin was magically made younger, until at the age of 9 they knew he would not be considered a threat. He went to a Ruedar region and entered a shop right behind a Ruedar partner. Quickly downing potions for supernatural strength and speed, he struck the partner with a poisoned dagger. He also killed the partner’s 11yo son before utilizing an invisibility potion to flee. The fact that he was caught at a checkpoint before leaving the city and was tortured to death never became news, only that the Slarmann were so evil (or efficient) that they were able to trick and kill an important partner or the cartel.
Eventually, the Ruedar paid some double agents, mercenaries working for the Slarmann who were happy to sell out for more money. The double agents caused such an enormous battle within the Slarmann HQ in the aldar capital, that other cartels judged it “too dangerous to allow it to continue” and allowed their own battle mages to level the structure. Everyone blames the #1 cartel for eliminating the Slarmann (likely for being so ambitious as to seek to rival them), but in any case, the Slarmann are all but wiped out, and the Ruedar are seriously hurt.
So what are the ramifications? Well, some truly glorious gems were sold by the cartel to fund their defenses. They didn't really flood the market with any gemstones in particular, but here are now some world class stones available that had been hidden away for decades. The Slarmann are a shadow of their former selves, so drug dealers around the world are now seeking to fill the void. This of course is causing all manner of drug cartel wars, and the price of drugs has risen around the world, while quality (and safety) have fallen. A good number of mercenaries have been killed, no matter which side they worked for.
So the Ruedar won, right? No. They survived. The winners were Filecylen, the top rated cartel. They deal in enchantments, especially magical weapons (their name means “weapons of power”), and they sold to both sides during the conflict, making great profits. Two of the top cartels are now in ruins, so there is only one cartel powerful enough to rival them (Viemves the slaver cartel). With a result like this, you might wonder if Filecylen actually instigated the war. Hmmm