Tuesday, 24 December 2013

LOG&S Fluff: The Agora

While many strips of The Grand Stairway are little more than a yard or so between walls with the occasional alcove or recessed Door there are a few rare places that stand apart from the rest. Walk for long enough and you are sure  to find a part of the stair which crosses over itself and the claustrophobic corridors give way to an interconnected hallway or a spiralling tower.
     It is in one such place that a market can be found - wide stairways and layered halls with overhanging balconies, smaller staircases trailing from archway to pass across each other like a stone and wood cat's cradle. Packed thickly amongst the Doors and walls lay a hundred or so pavilion tents of many designs, twice as many gazebos and uncountable temporary tables and stands surrounded by a thousand or so denizens  of the Gossamer Worlds,  each buying or selling the displayed wares of their endless homelands.
     It has been known by many different names in its time but the Gossamer Lords know it by one. The Agora.
When approaching, one can first hear the barkers and throngs of The Agora and shortly after the scent of cooked goods, heady musks and travellers. When one turns a corner into the market proper it is a sudden assault of colour and movement that lurches out towards the viewer  and demands attention.
     The tents  and other constructions that make up The Agora are  as varied as their owners. A hide and leather yurt where a man with the head and hooves of a horse fletches elaborately carved arrows  of bone and wood sits beside a brightly coloured linen and silk covered stall where a pair of women from the Italian renaissance sell delicate perfumes created from the products of a handful of nearby Gossamer Worlds.
     The consumers  of a thousand realms jostle and brush past each other to see the goods available for trade and  barter, arguing the value of the coins of  their homeland even as the shopkeepers weight them for their precious metals or resale value in their  own worlds.
     All across The Agora you can find a trader who specialises in some form of food - from simple tables with barbeque grills cooking sweet vegetables basted in honey and star  anise to huge pavilions with enchanted hotplates frying immense cattle  meats and rich eggs. Other tents boast barrels of strange beers and alien spirits in  fluted bottles ready for drinking. The Agora has a taste for all who are brave  or inquisitive enough to try their luck at  the griddle.
    On the subject of luck, a single tent exists where a man can  trade some goods in exchange  for a handful  of silvery chips and entry through a Doorway to a casino known as 'The Laughing Mare' where you can make or lose a fortune on the roll of a single die. Many (though not  all) merchants in  the Agora accept  the distinctive chips as a  rough currency, meaning  the traders who work for the casino have a  wide  selection of ecletic and  rare things  for sale.
     A noticeboard hangs from a free standing post by one rickety Door at the edge of the Agora with a simple 'Ursula Axilla, PI' sign above it. A few pieces of folded up paper and vellum are tacked  to it - messages for its owner from various clients and informants.
     Naturally, where there  are travellers there are always  those who make their daily bread offering respite from a hard day. Whilst true privacy is all but an impossible dream in The Agora, there are a few private tents to the outskirts who'se only trade is in flesh. Some of the establishments of ill repute  attempt an air of secrecy - calling themselves bath tents and even occasionally actually providing washing services.

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