I’m glad you were able to return. Most would have walked away, chuckling to themselves at the notions I shared with you last time. It takes a special kind of obsession to ask questions and return, inquisitive and demanding. Well if you want more answers, this old man is going to need more libation. After all in this world, everything has a price. Including this conversation. I want your full birth name. Last time? That was advertising. You want my story, I want your name. What I intend to do with it is none of your business. Thank You.
Now to your first question, who am I? I apologise that introductions were overshadowed previously. My name is of little consequence. I am a former trader of the market. I have distant memories of being alive during the first civilization, where I traded to all. I was unscrupulous. I would gouge hard and tear the shirts from their backs if I could. I took more than I gave and eventually I was noticed. One evening as I was closing up, I was visited by a blind old woman. She offered to purchase some food, and extended a hand holding currency far greater than the value of what she was buying. I didn’t even hesitate. I swiped the cash and gave her some rotten fruit. She thanked me, and left. I finished closing the stall, and took out the coins. Though I did not recognise the markings, gold was gold. It warmed in my hand, burning hotter, but when I went to fling it away it remained suck to my palm. The heat intensified until I started to scream, shout, beg and reason with the coin. The golden disc started to melt, and rivulets of molten gold burned up my arm, scoring channels as they beat a path to my face. It poured into my orifices, mouth, nose, ears and finally eyes. My mind burned and I knew nothing else.
Time passed, though I couldn’t tell you how long. I don’t know if I was in hell, but if I wasn’t, the underworld has some competition. Eventually pained abated and my mind was capable of cohesive thought. I was now within the Market. Looking around I saw the other stalls, and the people manning them. A young woman approached me and helped me to my feet. She told me how the first few minutes can be disorientating. And then she told me where I was.
Now like any reasonable individual, I took her words at face value. I laughed in said face and spun round searching for the exit. There was none. Turning back I asked how to get out. She had gone silent. She was staring over my shoulder. Looking around there was…I’m sorry I have difficulty with this part.. you see I can tell you what he looked like, but I don’t think that was what I was seeing. He was tall, far taller than any other in the market. He had long, stiff robes that gave him a pyramidal quality, raising to a tightly bound collar. I think he was wearing a mask. I hope he was wearing a mask. My eyes wouldn’t let me focus on his face, and sought the ground in self defence. He glided towards me, and leaned in. I felt hot breath on the top of my head as he addressed me. “Strong heart, Quick mind, Sharp eyes. ” I could feel his gaze move across my body. “Some stomach ulcers, early stages of arthritis, a broken leg at a young age”. His voice was refined, educated and filled with disdain. “You will make a fine addition to the Market. Now get to work. You have a quota to keep.”. The entity turned and swept away, disappearing in to the deep shadows.
I panicked and spun back to the young woman demanding answers. I begged and offered, but she would only repeat the motto of the Market. I heard this time and again over the centuries, and after a while found myself saying it, and truly believing it. Ministerium est Redemptio. It was years before I understood the meaning. Service is Redemption.
I asked who the entity was. She shrugged. They didn’t know, but they all referred to him as the Accountant. He was the one to appease here. She told stories of traders who had not made their quotas and were required to fill demand from their own bodies. In the Flesh Market, one way or another, you didn’t stay below quota for long. At this, my mind focused with single intent. I had a solution now. I would serve the market and earn my redemption. But life is rarely that simple.
How did I leave? I’m…not ready to tell that story just yet. Let’s just say there are some costs that are far greater than the skin off your back. But I understand you had questions pertaining to last time. It’s understandable. You want to play the game, you want to know all the rules. Now there are trades that can be made, even with organs that we ourselves consider useless. The appendix, the organ that fell from grace. Having this little obstruction torn from you will result in a change in the way in which your body sustains itself. You will be able to survive on nothing but raw meat. You will not require water, vegetables, nutrients of any kind. This may sound barbaric to us evolved folks, but understand that society is transitional, and we can’t always be assured where our next meal is coming from.
In recent years humanity has advanced in medicinal sciences to the level where they can actually place the organs of another within someone. To us in the market this was astounding, and we had no concept how this would impact on our commerce. It was not pleasant. One individual was noted repeatedly returning to the market. His torso was riddled with scars, and we realised that he was trading some of the less necessary organs and had made preparations to replace outside.
It was after the removal of his bladder for the fourth time. The trade gives you the ability to survive without need of water for three lunar months. The fool had been using it as a demonstration of his ‘skills’, and was fast becoming a celebrity as some form of holy man. As he offered his bladder again, the Accountant exploded out of the shadows. He swept towards the man wrenched him to ground, and leaned in close, screaming into his face. “Ungrateful, stupid, arrogant, obnoxious little man. You seek to defraud me?! Allow me to show you how to turn a prophet” His laughter echoed as the poor man was dragged into the shadows. A couple of days later one of other traders pointed out that a corner portion of the robe now seemed to a number of scars burned into it. So yeah. Don’t do that.
Threats of violence? you think that you could rob the market, like some convenience store? Do you really think that you are the first to think of that? As long as we fall under his ownership, we are protected. Violence yields no wounds on us, but I assure that is not a two way street. Intimidation is pointless as he is far more so.
What else? Some people sometimes get their trades confused. For instance, there has always been some issues between offering your ears, and offering your hearing. Giving up your ears will result in the trader clamping their hands down on the sides of your head. You might want to tense up at this point, because I hear the next one stings a bit. The end result is a sense of balance that would make a mountain goat jealous. Not just physically, but mentally as well. You will be at peace with yourself, and in full control at all times. Sacrificing your hearing, however will give you knowledge over all current languages. This does beg the question, is it better to be heard than to listen?
On this note, I feel we have to draw this to a close. Time has been called, and I have other places to be. You okay there, friend? You seem a little confused. Having trouble remembering who you are? You wanted the story, so you had to pay the price. You gave me your name. It’s mine now. Now run along. You have others to be telling of the Market.