City Tour: The Grand Bazaar

Someone once said that this is a city of markets, and it is true that there are an abundance of markets and travelling traders. We even have the NIGHT MARKETS, which appears in the dead of night, vanishing before sunrise, selling all manner of vices. None, however, compare to the great edifice, the GRAND BAZAAR.

As you can see, it's enclosed in this peaked, towering, arrow-shaped building, several stories high. It's a wide-open space, filled to bursting with stalls, booths, tents and shops along the walls. If you look up, notice the lack of additional floors; instead are three wide balconies, each catering to a particular merchandise. The first balcony is a collection of drinking dens, taverns and stalls selling  everything from the finest golden brandy, to fresh milk and freshly squeezed fruit juices. Above that is the market's best places to eat: restaurants, food stalls, and private dining rooms too. The topmost balcony is dedicated to entertainment. There's a place to gamble away your gold, a place to play games such as chess; there's even a small theatre that showcases a different play each week, three times a day.

It's the ground floor that really deserves your attention, however; indeed, I can see it has already captivated some of you. It's actually quiet now, if you can believe it; it gets busier around noon, and only begins to settle down again around midnight. You can see for yourselves how busy it is; imagine that tenfold, and you'll get a better picture of what it's like at its height.

Colourful, isn't it? That's to attract your attention, draw you in, entice you to buy their wares. You can buy practically anything here, or sell if you can find a buyer. You could even rent your own stall, if you were so inclined; although, it is quite expensive. Prices here vary, from too much, to surprisingly cheap; always a good idea to shop around, and you should always haggle; it's expected, and some consider it rude if you don't.

There's a crude sense of order, with certain types of shops in one area, but stalls contrast and compete against each other, for position and space as much as for their wares. It's not uncommon to find a bakery between a laundry and a taxidermist, for example. The more valuable and expensive goods are normally found in the shops along the walls, enclosed with sturdy doors and their own roof. Armourers can be found towards the rear, but they only sell armour or make minor repairs; the smiths are all based in the ARTISANS DISTRICT.

We'll take a walk through to the other exit. Mind your coin purses as we do. See those children? Most likely members of the BEGGARS' GUILD; they'll pick your pocket if you give them half a chance. Watch out for the elves too; they blend in, lurk in shadows, and are often difficult to spot. There's one over there, chewing on that rat-kebab; see him? No, he is an elf, I assure you. We call them URBAN ELVES, and as I mentioned before, they're true natives. Their ancestors were here at the beginning, and they adapted to life in the city. They're not like your leaf-loving, tree-hugging forest elves; this lot seldom smile, have hearts cold as ice, and their extended families are really little more than criminal gangs. They run, or have their hands in, most of the vices and crimes of the city. Like I said, keep an eye out for them, and avoid them if you can.

Right, over there is a stall that sells tasty sweet-meats for a few coppers; there's a stall that sells authentic elven jewellery, forest elves that is, nor our urbane ones. That colourful stall is Aljadeffa's Silks, some of the best and most affordable silk you'll find this side of the NOBLE QUARTER. Over there is our resident halfling, Porthus Waddle, chef extraordinaire, and the only halfling in the city, I believe. He is a superb cook, always willing to try out some new recipe. If you've slain a beast and fancy eating it, he's the one to see. He makes a mean gelatinous cube stew.

To your left is Omar's Second-Hand Goods; he buys used or no longer wanted equipment from adventuring parties, then sells them on at a discount. If you don't mind used goods, he's the man to buy from. To your right, the Pavilion, a tavern made of tents, serving a modest selection of ales and wine, for a fraction of the cost of the more expensive taverns on the balcony above.

Now we come to the back of the market, which exits out close to the ARTISANS DISTRICT, our next stop on the tour. The corners hold the forges and stalls of the smiths. If you're looking for armour, or need some repairs, check out Hammerfist's Forge; a dwarf-ran forge that is always of exceptional quality. You can see why he's called Hammerfist, that steel fist of his; he uses it to hammer the hot steel and iron. That figure behind him, that's his assistant, an automaton built by his own hands. You'll see a few of them around, especially nearer the dwarf district. For weapons, look no further than the opposite corner. That's Creed's Steel Emporium, and sells swords, axes, daggers and knives, anything made of steel. All top quality, all reasonably priced.

We'll take this exit. Next stop, the ARTISANS DISTRICT.

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