The Floating Market

The river runs a spiral from the centre of the city out to its edges and beyond. It flows through all the quarters and the districts - often more than once. Upon it sits the floating market - a collection of Junks and barges owned by a variety of traders. Everything is bought and sold at the floating market, it’s just a matter of knowing who to ask and where to look.

At the centre of the market sits a large barge called the Jade Tiger - the heart of the market. From its decks rises a pagoda four stories high. The central barge is owned by Suen Tengfei, who is considered the captain of the market in as much as such a thing exists. The main raft of the market is shaped as two crescent moons back to back with the floating pagoda located in a hole cut in the centre of the rafts.

The Market moves up and down river as easily as each other at a gentle speed that allows for each district to make the most of it before it moves on. A complete run of the city – from where the river first emerges close to the centre to the furthest edges of the city – takes about a week. This run is increasing as the edges of the city get pushed back further and further but progress on that is slow and another day has not been added to the timetable for many years. The motion of the market is a closely guarded secret, the heart of which lies beneath the decks of the Jade Tiger. Her captain and crew guard it jealously as it is this which gives them power over the market. Without the ability to move so freely with and against the currents of the river the Market would lose much of its profitability.

Moored along every available inch of the rafts are Junks of all sizes and descriptions. In the two curved spaces within each crescent, slotted in between the moored boats, lie many small barges and punts which fill the space so tightly that one could get from ones side of the market to the other by jumping from boat to boat.

Many of the larger boats are permanent fixtures, rarely if ever leaving their moorings and instead resupplying whenever the floating market gets close enough to a docks or when a smaller punt brings things across. Some of the outer junks do leave their berths and swap in and out as they go to get more supplies. The smaller punts and barges are a constantly changing mass of people and stalls in a constant state of flux. They do business as much with the larger more permanent Junks as with the people coming to visit the market from shore.

They say you can find anything in the market. This is very probably the case, and if you can’t find the actual item you’ll certainly be able to find someone who claims to have it on shore somewhere. The two halves of the market are known as the Waxing and Waning paths and tend to attract a very slightly different merchant in each half. The Waxing path is in ascendance, silks, spices, fresh food, music, song and dance are all found here; things of light and plenty gather along this path. The Waning path is in descent, with the more shady side of life found along its walks. Here can be found drugs, escorts, excess and villiany; things of shadow and desire gather along this path.

The tricky thing about the Waxing and Waning paths however, is that to the unwary, to the uninitiated and to the foolish… they both look exactly the same on the surface. And that can be very very dangerous.

The People of the Floating Market