A bustling center of commerce and trade,this most unsual market has become reknown throughout the region and beyond,for it’s exotic wares,the like of which is simply impossible to obtain anywhere else in the world. Every year,hundreds of merchants and traders struggling to satisfy patrons and customers hungry for the unique and singular ‘‘produce’’ of the bizzare submerged continent of Tarrod,set sail for the Great Market of Ushart, determined to cart off as much as their gold can buy, reaching deeper into their pockets than one would expect of these usually tight-fisted traders if need be. Such is the allure that the Great Market holds for all those involved with the import and export trade.

Strictly run and regulated by the agents of the ruler whom prohibits any kind of disturbance there on pain of death, it was orginally put together fifteen years ago as a makeshift holding-pen by the original voyaging Snake Rider tribal founders and colonizers of Ushart,f or what are now the primary export of their nation:the grotesque and freakish native inhabitants of Tarrod, sentient amphibian creatures designed by their peculiar and unique enviroment to spend most of their lives immersed in the waters of Tarrod. Captured and enslaved by the droves of invading humans that thrust their way into the dark heart of this strange land, they have been a powerful draw for all purveyors of the exotic, making the residents of Ushart fantastically wealthy in the process.

Only fitting then, that the sole centre of commerce exisiting in mysterious Tarrod, be just as unconventionl and remarkable.

Mariners sailing into the smooth waters little bay that encloses the costal stip Ushart was erected on, catch their first glimpse of the market as a seemingly haphazard and isolated scattered assortment of large wooden platforms, bobbing on the surface of the sea un-anchored like giant lily-pads. But as they are steered towards the long wooden dock that juts out straight as a needle, closer inspection shows that each platform is supported by numerous stout wooden stilts that are driven firmly into the sea bed, and is connected to the rest by an extensive network of servicable if somewhat rickety wooden bridges that branch out out to blanket nigh the entire surface of the bay like an intricate spider-web.

And it is on this heaving wooden surface,that Ushart’s mercantile heart rests on. Each of the wooden platforms houses a business of some kind, most of them cobbled together of warped wood,but with the largest and most impressive constructed of sun-dried mud bricks.

The latter are the offices of the properous slave merchants that profit the most from the booming trade of the Market. Their wares, being whole and alive, easily fetch ten gold coins per piece. Nestled to the sides of their handsome structures, are elaborate gridworks of square enclosures that house every conceivable native inhabitant of Tarrod. Ranging from humanoid merfolk to the proud and belligerent eel-men that call themselves the Eshal, these disparate races are housed according to their respective species-es in large, submerged bodies of water, that are separted from one another by thick wooden walls affixed to the bottom of the bay by strong foundations of mortar. Steep and slippery, they prevent their desperate occupants from slithering their way to safety. Over each and every one of them,hangs a large wooden harness that can be directed to ensnare the particular slave the patron has in mind.

Often a popular destination with merchants that scout far and wide to satisfy the cravings of wealthy collectors for ever rarer and more uncommon ‘‘animals’‘, these slave exporters are by no means the only major money spinners of the Great Market.

The powerful stench of gore that rides on the strong sea breeze and the clouds of buzzing flies that clog the air, leave little doubt as to their nature.

From innumerable store fronts, hang huge iron hooks on which the eviscerated bodies of merfolk, Eshal and other unfortunate denizens of Tarrod dangle forlornly in the wind. Heedless of the steady drops of thick viscous blood falling from the mutilated bodies hanging and the ubiquitous flies that congregate around them, the owners wheedle and yell, doing their best to outdo their neighbours when it comes to attracting a potential customer. Anyone who feels suffeciently interested enough to approach any of these shops, immediately has a wooden bowl containing the internal organs of some murdered native thrust under his nose. Highly prized as cures for various ailments that afflict humans, these assorted body parts often fetch a handsome prize, with a crateful of Eshal testicles that are widely reputed as a cure for chronic impotency, going for as much as twenty gold coins. Almost as lucrative, are the Anura hearts that when boiled into a meaty broth, are transformed into what is by most accounts, an excellent remedy for syphillis. A sackful of it is normally snapped for as much as fifteen gold pieces and twelve silver coins.

If the samples offered for one’s inspection prove satisfactory, he is then invited inside where the real purchase for a shipload of these organs is negotiated over.

But for the more squeamish that balk at having to cast their delicate gaze over these charnel houses, there is a less nauseating option. They are directed to the apothecaries that belch a constant smog of foul smelling vapour with their stills that never cease to toil. At these places, just about anything that can be harvested from the corpse of a Tarrodian native, ranging from the bones to the brain, is ground up to little granules and then distilled into a variety of tonics and potions that are promoted as a cure-all to anything that can go wrong with a human body. From minor colds to life-threatening ailments, they promise a quick recovery. Unsurprisingly, these dubious remedies are insanely popular among the sick and ill whom are often desperate for a simple remedy that works effeciently to restore their health.

Most gruesome of all perhaps,are the quaint little inns and eating-houses where delightful delicacies are served, much to the delight of patrons grown sick of a monotonous diet of hard-tack and salted pork. All kinds of savoury dishes await their indulgence, every single one of them without exception, guaranteed to be cooked from the aromatic and tender flesh of the most healthiest and robust Tarrodian natives in stock. But if that assurance isn’t enough to satisfy a particularly fastidious customer, he can always accompany the chef to the closest slave merchant and then with great scrutiny,carefully select from the available captives there, the best cuts of the one he has marked out as his gourment meal. An hour later, the wretched being ends up on his dinner table as promised.

Plot hooks:

Operation Liberate the Prisoners of the Market:As mer-folk warriors whose kin have been abducted by human slavers and carried off to the Market,it is up to the PC’s to bust in and rescue their loved ones before the latter end up either in a private zoo half a world away,or in the soup-bowl of some glutton.

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