Nanjing, the city that saw the birth of flight, is the trade capital of the world.
It is therefore natural that all the merchant clans from regions all over have trade interests and representatives there. However, considering the business rivalry, the air is rife with distrust, corporate espionage and thinly-veiled threats.
Out of these volatile conditions rose an organisation formed by individuals seeing a golden opportunity for profit. Gaikō promised fair and equal representation for the merchant clans- for a small fee. The organisation holds documents in trust and records the existing trade routes; also noting their ownership and worth.
The members of Gaikō act as envoys for the clans, helming negotiations with trade rivals for access to resources and safe passage in travel. While these contracts are not set in stone, breaking a contract is no simple feat. In the face of a breach, the Gaikō will commandeer nearby ships, regardless of clan or faction and cease an equivalent value in holdings or ships from the malefactor. No one who wants a future in Nanjing would refuse to aid the Gaikō in their quest to settle accounts.
Their task is not without its share of risks, although it is widely known amongst the merchant clans that killing these envoys would come with dire consequences for the perpetrators. Anyone foolhardy enough to try would quickly find themselves adrift; a toothless lone wolf with neither a backing family nor trading opportunity. A merchant who finds himself in such a situation is as good as a dead man.