4 The Freeport Fishery And Market

One of the staples of any Freeporter’s diet is fish harvested from the fertile seas around Skull Island. The harvesting and preservation of this vital foodstuff was long ago determined too vital to be left solely in private hands, so the Freeport Fishery is actually funded and administered by the Captains’ Council.

It says a lot about the priorities of Freeport’s founders that the fishery was established after Dreaming Street—but not long after; a pirate has to eat, after all. Originally, the fishery was an informal coalition of fisherman and traders, operating from a few shacks on the Scurvytown piers. It soon became a focus of crime, racketeering, and price fixing, not to mention poor hygiene. After one too many summers marked by outbreaks of botulism and ludicrously high prices, Captain Drac personally stepped in (legend has it food poisoning caused by bad clams was the last straw). The criminal elements were driven out, several fishmongers were arrested, the entire operation was overhauled, and control of the fishing industry was passed to the newly created Ministry of Fisheries.

Decades later, the fishery runs as smoothly and efficiently as anything in Freeport can. Fishing boats tie up every morning at the pier to dump the dawn catch; longshoremen haul the fish to the processing building, and there, workers clean, slice, and prepare the fish for sale. Ministry observers track every stage of the operation, making sure everyone does their job correctly and that fishermen are properly paid for their catch. But these officials are, of course, open to bribes.

In addition to the processing operation, the fishery’s market is one of the few places (other than Dreaming Street) that draws upstanding citizens into the squalid streets of Scurvytown. All manner of fresh seafood can be found in the market, from large tuna and swordfish caught in the deep waters, to crabs and scallops from nearby lagoons and coves. Even exotic fare like squid and oysters are readily available most of the year.

The fishery proper is a large warehouse on the edge of Scurvytown, several piers feeding into its rear entryway. It’s far better maintained than most buildings in the district, but decades of salt air, fish guts, and seagull droppings have stained it a variety of unpleasant colors. In front of the fishery, stalls and outbuildings spill out into the fish market square, and tarpaulins and umbrellas keep the sun and the gulls off the merchandise.

Surprisingly, the interior of the fishery isn’t as smelly or as hot as visitors would expect; the Ministry pays the Wizard’s Guild for an enchantment that keeps the internal temperature low, even in the height of summer. More than sixty workers take care of buying, inspecting, gutting, and preserving the day’s catch from the fisherman that work the waters around the islands. Another twenty-five men and women maintain and administer the market area. The fishery also contains a small shrine to the God of the Sea, and most of the fishermen are avid worshippers. A priest from the temple visits the shrine once a week, and every spring, there is a ceremonial blessing of the fishermen. Nearly everyone in Scurvytown tries to attend this solemn ceremony, since they know the fishermen’s catch is their best hope to eat in the coming year.

Aside from the area near the tanneries in the Eastern District, the few blocks around the fishery are some of the worst smelling in the entire city. On a hot summer day, the locals say the stench knocks seagulls out of the sky. All the fish guts dumped into the water also attract sharks. When gang members decide to send someone swimming with the sharks, the piers near the fishery are popular launching points for their victims.

Prominent NPCs
Mortimer Quango: The post of Minister of Fisheries is a coveted political appointment. The current minister is Mortimer Quango, a former actuary who scored the job by bribing influential public servants. He is an unremarkable-looking man, known mainly for his determined sycophancy and consistent ability to impress the city's politicians.

Sheila Whitelick: A gutter and cutter in the fishery, Sheila Whitelick is unremarkable and soft-spoken. Many of her acquaintances know she has an uncanny knack for finding valuable items in fish guts—rings, watches, jewelry, and other swallowed goodies. Some of the locals know Sheila is the woman to see if you need to smuggle goods in with the daily catch, and many others know her as someone who can always be counted on for a sympathetic ear.

Rat: A young halfling invariably dressed in rags and encrusted in filth, Rat lives a feral life in the rubbish heaps around the Fish Market. He sneaks out occasionally, and has developed a reputation as a thief (though few people have actually seen him take anything). His gets his name from the rats, both dire and normal, that always seem to surround him as he ranges through the quieter alleyways of Scurvytown.

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