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

  • Suen Tengfei - Captain of the Jade Tiger and de-facto head of the Market. Disputes come to him while he maintains the peace with his gang. His crew collect 'mooring duty' from the boats that use the market and ensure that any that don't pay up don't stay for very much longer. He turns a blind eye to the less salubrious activities of the Market as long as he gets his cut.
  • Graceful Dove - Owner of the White Lotus, a teahouse barge moored along the Waxing path. The White Lotus is known for its neutrality and as such is an ideal place to meet people you might not entirely trust. Graceful Dove prides herself on the fact that meetings here can be private affairs without risk of overhearing. Certainly very little information leaks out of the establishment although one suspects that Graceful Dove keeps anything she learns (and with the people who frequent her esablishement she really must have learnt quite a lot!) to herself in case she needs to use it in the future.
  • Trembling Orchid - A brothel owner on the waning path. Trembling Orchid can usually be found on her barge, the Cresting Wave. She runs a business that caters for all tastes however those of her employees found on the Cresting Wave are most assuredly of the more exclusive persuasion. Those with more common tastes can satisfy themselves with those they find across the remainder of the Waning path, however they all answer to Trembling Orchid in the end.
  • Xu Fay Lee - A drug pusher on the waning path. Lee does business with the Redcap Alchemists as well as those who concoct their own brews on their punts. He's something of a mixed blessing to the Redcaps - he can be easily found so it's easy to use him as an intermediary, on the other hand he can be easily found so he's more likely to get caught if anyone comes looking for them.
  • Wistful Smoke - a merchant of luxuries on the waxing path. He owns a plush barge of his own, the Sleeping Frog, that is moored towards the end of the Waxing path. He is a business man at heart and has an eye for a deal. His advantage is knowing everyone on the floating market and being able to play them off one another far more efficiently than a visitor ever could. Equally his word carries weight and if he askes for something, it's usually worth your while trying to supply it. His genial manner belies a steal heart however, and any charity always leads back to a selfish gain once you scratch the surface.
the_floating_market.txt · Last modified: 2011/09/25 22:53 by elliew
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