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Off the coast of Hyboria, on one of the largest of the volcanic Baracha Isles in the Western Sea, lies a haven of smugglers, thieves, and pirates called Tortage. Carved out of the black and rocky cliffs of the island of the same name, the city of Tortage is the single most infamous port off the mainland of Hyboria. Although founded originally by Argossean sailors, its constant flow of miscreants, slaves and vagabonds has seen it teeming with all cultures for generations. Kushites, Aquilonians and even Cimmerians live side by side with Zingarans, Shemites and even Stygians on its dark and sinister streets—even a number of wayward Picts have rowed south to call Tortage home.
If it is illegal somewhere else, it is probably obtainable within Tortage’s inns, taverns and manors. Most of the city itself has been in turmoil for quite a while, a rebellious uprising forming against the ruthless oppressor currently in power. This rebellion has become so worrisome to the ruler and his sinister allies that only those proven loyal to the overlord of Tortage are allowed free passage off the island. His law is that of the sword, and he is capable of anything that will bring him closer to crushing those who oppose him. Such a boon can be a powerful bargaining tool when dealing with slavers and smugglers, whose loyalty can often be bought quickly when the need arises.
Much of Tortage Island is dense and humid jungle, with dangers lurking along shadowy paths cut back daily by adventurous travelers, and brave explorers. The island is dominated by a large volcano and it is sometimes the cause of nervousness to those who are new to the area, but most of the natives and long time residents believe it is nothing to fear. A host of sharp-clawed beasts await the unwary explorer. The heated cries of apes and even the blood-curdling shrieks of Picts can be heard echoing into the night along with the screams of their victims.
Wandering the streets of Tortage alone is far from the safest practice either. A home for predators of a different variety, in the form of swift-bladed pirates and lurking bandits, the weak or unprepared do not last long in the pirate port. While the swarthy inhabitants have cut open more than a few throats, many more thrive on the slaving industry that flows in and out of Tortage like the tide. Just as many lives are bought and sold here as are ended, sometimes for a pittance.
With pirate factions like the Red Brotherhood, Zingaran Freebooters, and Black Corsairs agreeing to leave their battles in the sea while in port, there is no lack of tension on the streets and docks of Tortage. It is not far from the mainland by ship, but the way is not an easy one. The factions are always lurking to prey upon loot-filled vessels they can get to before their rivals. Between pirate threats, swirling maelstroms that can crush a ship like pottery, and the forbiddance of passage off the island, a future here seems bleak. Once Tortage has claimed you, your freedom depends on cunning, strength of will, and what allies you choose. Or, it can be your grave.