The City of Cihh
Some 300 years ago the Consortium was nothing but a group of trade ships with a few warehouses located in key port cities. Using a combination of economic control and the creation of a small but well equipped navy, the Consortium was able to first decimate all of the lawless stronghold and ships on the Freebooter Coast. Instead of then leaving, the Merchant Consortium took over the Port of Cihh and other cities in the region and became a ruling body. With access to the best sailors in the world, a significant crossroad of trade, the Merchant Consortium has risen in power considerably and now controls nearly 80% of trade in the region and receives tariffs on any cargo coming into or out of the port cities it controls.
The Consortium as a large conglomeration has 4 basic tiers of membership. Each tier has benefits and obligations, but is mainly based on the power and wealth of the individual/business/family.
While the Consortium is massive, their are a number of sub organizations and factions that are constantly vying for power. The amount of infighting and intrigue in the Merchant Consortium rivals that of any kingdom or empire in the known world.