The Goblin MarketsEdit
By the dark of the moon, under an abandoned overpass in the bad part of town, the fairies gather to hawk their wares. When the night of the Sabbath draws mortals home to bed, the creatures of dream set up shop in the darkened plazas of the local shopping mall. In the brightest noon, the path between two rowan trees in the park will take you to a hollow in the Hedge where your forgotten dreams will sell you your heart's desire. From faerie fruits to forbidden Contracts, arcane tokens to unbaptized human infants, anything can be had at the Goblin Market. The only question is: Are you willing to pay what the merchant asks?
A Goblin Market is at once a location and an event, a sort of black market for the fae where they can acquire the rare, the exotic and the mystical. Nearly every freehold boasts a relatively frequent Market, whether the Courts admit to it or not, and for those few that lack one there is no shortage of wandering Markets journeying from town to town via the treacherous byways of the Hedge.
Goblin Markets do not actually exist in the mortal realm, and instead are held in Hollows within the Hedge itself. These Markets are often even more fanciful.
Goblin merchants seem to have an uncanny sense for outsiders trying to work the Market; oddly, the goblins don't seem to care if changelings conduct business between themselves elsewhere, even if said business directly undercuts the Market. All that matters is that the sellers at a Goblin Market all be pledged to it and to each other.
How a changeling might fall in with a Market and swear its pledge is a mystery; few Lost are bold enough to claim they know the secret oath of the goblin merchants, and fewer still are correct in their claim. Given the paucity of information on the subject, most changelings suspect the pledge involves oaths of secrecy and detachment from Lost society in addition to those of loyalty to the Market.
Goblin Markets have no shortage of wares with which to entice the discerning changeling. Even the smallest Markets offer an array of goblin fruits and assorted trinkets from the wilds of the Hedge.
As ugly a practice as it is, slave trading is one of the most lucrative businesses in the shadowed recesses of the Goblin Markets. A Lost willing to engage in a little kidnapping can quickly discover that nothing at market is out of her price range. Such activities can be rough on a changeling's Clarity, however, as few things make a Lost more akin to her keeper than abducting another.
The Price Of Doing BusinessEdit
It's hardly surprising to the average changeling that the merchants at the Goblin Market don't take U.S. Cred or whatever the local mortal currency happens to be. What is often more surprising is that there seems to be no logic to what the Goblin Markets will accept as payment. A changeling might be able to purchase a priceless gem-encrusted goblet for the cost of a few locks of golden-blonde hair, while another might have to promise a rare and powerful token for a handful of magic stones. Sometimes the price isn't even an actual object, but some metaphysical requirement, such as a favorite memory from before a changeling's abduction or a pledge of a future favor.
Every Market has its laws, usually outgrowths of standard business practices extended through fae magic and enforced by a variety of ugly pledges and slinking enforcers. The following laws are certain to be enforced at all Goblin Markets, barring very unusual practices -- the sort that tend to lead to Markets crumbling after only a few moons.
- No Violence. Goblin merchants won't be intimidated, and they won't tolerate people trying to injure their customers. Bad for business.
- You Get What's Advertised. If a merchant tells you that a ten-penny nail has the power to kill someone when it's driven into its victim's shadow, it has that power. It may have other side effects, mind, and the method of death may be something unexpected and inconvenient -- but you get what's advertised. Note, though, that there is no law requiring a merchant to advertise all the properties or catches to his wares, and there never will be.
- Honor Your Deals. This cuts both ways. A merchant must provide the wares, and the customer must provide payment. Defaulting on a deal is more than just bad form (and a potential Clarity hit) -- it riles up the Market, potentially against the whole freehold and certainly against the defaulter.
- No Refunds. If you regret trading away something, you'd better find something the merchant really wants in order to buy it back -- at an inflated rate, most likely. That's a brand-new deal.