When the Champions of the Dawn established the kingdom of Orodeth in 2291, the merchants and nobles of Drakkengarde and Northeron anticipated a significant increase in trade. To take advantage of this, they formed a loose coalition in order to intercede with their new kings and ensure financially favorable policies.
The coalition soon grew concerned by their kings' bickering, realizing that an unstable political climate would negatively impact their business dealings. By 2295, the Champions of the Dawn had entirely forsaken ruling Orodeth in favor of fighting with each other. Fearing a return to the chaos that had dominated the region for the last few centuries, the coalition of merchants formally established the Mercantile Alliance to ensure the smooth flow of trade throughout the region, especially over the Belsimar Strait. Throughout the War of the Dawn, the Mercantile Alliance took more and more responsibility upon themselves. They hired mercenaries to protect villages from monsters and bandits, began to place regulations on trade, and eventually even started levying taxes to pay for their services.
When the War of the Dawn ended in 2318 with the mutual destruction of the last of the Champions of the Dawn and their armies, the Mercantile Alliance swiftly moved to take official control of the region. The citizens of Orodeth gladly accepted their rule, as the Alliance not only promised stability and prosperity after years of warfare but had proven their effectiveness during the war. It was decided that Northeron and Drakkengarde would serve as dual capitals, with official meetings moving between the two cities.
Rulers of Orodeth
The Mercantile Alliance continued to rule for several hundred years, though as the centuries wore on they became mired in bureaucracy. Accusations of excessive taxes and licensing fees grew more frequent, and though there were few serious challenges to their authority their popularity waned considerably. Drakkengarde's position on the Dragon Sea had always made it more attractive to foreign merchants, and while Orodeth nominally had two capitals Drakkengarde was the true heart of the Alliance's power; official business was rarely conducted in Northeron when not constitutionally required.
In 2964, the weather in Orodeth began to grow chaotic and unpredictable. Earthquakes became more frequent, as did attacks by monsters. An adventuring group known as Drake's Company determined that four elemental cults were behind these disturbances, and reported this to the leaders of Drakkengarde. Unfortunately, Drake's Company was stymied by local bureaucracy. In addition, many whom they spoke to were hesitant to put resources towards fighting what they saw as a minor threat--and one they saw little direct profit in--and trusted Drake's Company to do what needed to be done on their own. Though a token force of soldiers was dispatched to the caverns below Feathergale Spire after the aarakocra Bran pulled some strings, the Mercantile Alliance did little to battle the cultists themselves.
Tragically, the Alliance's lack of support led to the defeat of Drake's Company in 2965. Less than a month later, the Cult of the Black Earth and the Cult of the Crushing Wave summoned the primordials Ogrémoch and Olhydra into the Material Plane. The clash between these two beings created a series of cataclysmic earthquakes that sunk most of Orodeth beneath sea level, and tidal waves that scoured the land. Drakkengarde was completely destroyed. Northeron survived, being built into the high cliffs, but its harbor and the fleet moored there were obliterated.
With virtually its entire leadership killed at Drakkengarde, and the complete loss of its power base, the Mercantile Alliance was for all intents and purposes defunct. Those who remained in Northeron focused their attentions almost entirely on the city, leaving the rest of Orodeth's beleaguered survivors to fend for themselves.