The Last Empire
Trade is built upon a monolithic granite pedestal that is entirely surrounded by the River Ale when in flood but from mid July to March the town can be reached by land. A sturdy series of lashed log caissons secured to the pedestal by thick iron chains serve as mooring points for the fleet of flatboats that arrive every July to make the treacherous run down the Aleweed Pass.
The town is almost entirely made up of warehouses, lodging, coopers, boatwrights and other services to support the massive trade through the pass over its short open time. Throughout most of the year Trade is a town of about 100 but in June it begins to swell with a maximum population of 400 in August when the dry traffic through the pass begins.
Trade, like the other towns in Aleweed Valley, produces more food than it could ever consume. It preserves the excess fruit, ale, whiskey, cheese, hardbread and smoked meats for sale in the markets of Harsell.
The Brokerage is the seat of power in Trade. It is a stout stone keep with a permanent guard on duty. All of the high-order trade business in Aleweed is done here. There is even a rudimentary insurance system with investors taking odds on the early pilots making the dangerous run to Harsell while the river is in flood.
Guildmaster Harris Gorm of the Brokers is the real authority in Trade. He lives at the Brokerage but also owns several plantations in the terraced hills nearby. He is rich and shrewd and not to be crossed.
Thane Bucher Martin of Trade acts as magistrate when enforcing the Duke’s law but defers to Guildmaster Gorm in political matters.