Nestled at the center of an emerald green valley, a large swath of simple housing surrounds an impossibly long main street filled with shops and stalls for the entire length. Merchants and vendors incessantly promote their wares, seemingly ignorant of the cacophony of advertisement or their contribution to it. Females of every race in impossibly skimpy outfits saunter and shimmy past, their best attempt at mimicking a siren’s call to entice passersby to sample either their wares or them. There is no market on the continent of Ceslea that can compare to this hub of commerce and trade.
What natives are left in Rynton’s Clutch tell the tale of Rynton, a brave Hill Dwarf that gave his life in defense of this town, although not many care to listen. Once named Emeraldshire, it was founded by a nomadic band of Dwarves, Humans, and Halflings that had been forced out of their lands by the Phandewild Orcs. As the original founders were not literate, no exact written record exists of when Emeraldshire was founded, although it does appear in Orborisian trade logs around 97 P.O.
ln 144 P.O., a large war band of Orcs marched on Emeraldshire. Rynton Gritbeard, a relatively unknown local, took leadership of the militia after the commanding officer deserted. He had an innate tactical sense that allowed the small militia to not only push back the war band, but successfully defeat their leader.
Rynton sustained mortal wounds in the battle, however, and soon passed. Even in death, his grizzled hands would not release their clutch on his family Warhammer. At his funeral, it was said that the town would hold his memory like he held his warhammer, leading them to rename the town to Rynton’s Clutch.
Eventually, the nomadic peoples built the market to attract commerce and trade to their small village, although it soon grew beyond their ability to manage due to its central location between Ebonshore and Pearlcrest.
After the market began falling victim to thieves and muggers, a group calling themselves The Mercantile Association struck a deal with the tribal government. They provided protection, upkeep, and order to Rynton’s Clutch in exchange for a 10% cut of all transactions, unrestricted developmental opportunities, and a separate government to handle all commercial activities.
There are two forms of government that seemingly co-exist in Rynton’s Clutch.
The Tribal Government, although the original and formal government of Rynton’s Clutch, has little power. They manage the affairs of the remaining native people and work to foster a sense of community and heritage of Rynton.
The Mercantile Association has a single chairman that is responsible for all decisions concerning the market at Rynton’s Clutch. The chairman is chosen once a year based on the prior fiscal-year’s profits. The chosen merchant is forced to either close or license their business during this year, where they instead receive a 10% cut of all transactions in the market. This allows a clever competitor to break into the market and join the association. A chairman does not make any profit from business and as such, cannot be the chairman next year.
There is no proper military in Rynton’s Clutch, rather there is a large band of mercenaries, guards, and spies that work for The Mercantile Association to maintain order. The Thieves Guild ensures that no brigands or thugs operate outside of all established agreements, all the while stealing from merchants who refuse to purchase membership into the Mercantile Association.
What little culture remains is quickly fading due to the tribal government’s decline. Their efforts to maintain their heritage slowly dwindle as people come for the market, not the town itself. Instead, the influence of various cultures can be seen throughout the city: Ebonshore’s obsession with innovation, Pearlcrest’s intricate craftsmanship, and Orboris Harbor’s refined architecture.
Every major power, including Ebonshore, Pearlcrest, Orboris Habor, and The City-State of Udis, relies heavily on the commerce provided by the Mercantile Association’s rule over Rynton’s Clutch. As such, there is a vast web of unspoken alliances, deals, and defensive pacts concerning the city.