Freedom Harbor was an ironic name, given to a port city inside of the hedge around New Haven. It was a small little area - it qualified as one of the Goblin Markets, though it was a small one - owned and operated by an entity that called itself the Ferryman. It called itself that because the center of commerce involved passage to the Azure Seas Trading Company - the large city ship market that otherwise only came once a month. The Ferryman offered an alternative in the form of ships with token passage allowing them to dock to the trade city - but the price of using his ships or his token passage was that on the way there or back, you fulfill a task for them.
You see, Freedom Harbor was a slave city - and the need for the traffic of such trade was always booming. They traded in people, hobs, changelings, as well as in exotic fruit and other materials. Sometimes, the Ferryman used the people who used his ship to get merchandise for him from the Azure Seas - but even when he did, it was the responsibility of the person using the ship to purchase the items. For those new to the market, never let the goblins know that you -have- to buy what they are selling you.
Even in the hedge, New Haven stormed constantly. Here though, the rain is thick, brownnish red, and coagulates and stains clothes if you aren't properly dressed for it. The rain covered the suffering of the oppressed. It camouflaged the whipped backs of the rebellious, the bruises of the abused, and the wrists of those desperate for any other alternative.
Just being in a place like this made Rose hurt: An appropriate thing, given the hedge. With hope as an ideal, she could hardly look at such a location without feeling just a little sick. Without dying, just a little bit on the inside. But the desire to fight was tempered by the knowledge that she would lose - and by losing a fight for this place, she would only create more pain. No - releasing this city would be a later war. Now though, she needed materials and - while she wasn't willing to buy a ship - she was willing to make small purchases here until the new moon came and the trade ship came.
Perhaps... perhaps we can buy one or two of the people?
Cassandra's voice quietly mumbled. There is a consideration to it. It wasn't a thought given to take a slave or two for them - but rather to buy their freedom.
We can't afford it. Almvieg's stern voice said, not without it's compassion for the plight that the sisters had within them. Not unless you want to forfeit the materials needed to connect the Inn properly. Don't forget that while saving one person might do good, the Inn will in the end save hundreds if not thousands of fleeing changelings once it' done.
Don't forget that we are also a prime target for the slavers if we are not careful. Just because they can't take us now, does not mean they aren't waiting for us to leave the market. The fact that Midnight spoke was enough to quiet the rest of them with that observation.
Rose is a beautiful creature. This is a truth that is nearly impossible to hide, even wearing the rags that she'd acquired to try to cover her from the crimson rain. She is an angel in the most literal sense - beautiful golden wings soaked in that bloody texture, her hair now colored like a crimson sun at it's edges rather than the normally golden texture it was usually. Her eyes are a rainbow color with a hint of black flowing within that - they glow in the dark shadows that made up the city, critical of this sickening city. A small spark of light in the darkness.
She wore a black ragged cloak that went over her head, but could not hold all her hair or hide the protective armor she wore, nor the various weapons she had at her sides and hips. At the very least, the weapons were used to the rain - though usually in different circumstances. What's evident is the buckler at her right hand - a blade at each hip. They almost seemed to take on their own shimmering hues, as though each is important for a very different reason.
"Out, out, out!" A vendor calls, a snappish hog of a womanoid thing, holding a prod which seemed laced with memory. Probably painful memories. She used them to prod a small group of people with little golden bands on their neck. She didn't -need- to mind; The gold bands forced people to obey whether they wanted to or not, but she seemed to enjoy making sport of it. Part of their training perhaps. What appears to be a child, no older than seven at the most, falls to the ground before the adults can obey. The vendor stabs her with the spike, and she screams.
No one stops her. The slaves overt their eyes, the vendors just don't care, and the people who are neither have long learned not to stick their necks out. It was one of the rules of the market - you do with the merchandise what you like, and no one is to stop you. Disobeying the market rules in any market was never wise. At least not if you didn't want to become merchandise.
The vendor continues prodding the poor child, screaming about how useless and weak she is. "Stand there. STAND so they can see you! Smile and look pretty." She reaches and grabs the girl by the hair, and sets her on sitting on the stand. The rain washes away any tears she might have, and she smiles and looks almost doll-like, next to the adult forms.
Keep... Walking... Almvieg told rose, though even if it's a thought one can hear the gritting of teeth.
She made her way onward, past the child as the vendor was raising the memory prod again. Almost without thinking, Rose moved between the vendor and the Slave. The Vendor's eyes widened at the sudden and swift movement, and tried to pull the prod back before it connected and...
The mind is a fragile thing. One of the most painful tools a person can have is being exposed to their own memories, and that is perhaps the reason that this prod was so effective - it's hard to be reminded of the things that hurt you the most. In this case, she was small - small enough that she stood on the backs of giants. She identifies the substance she's sitting on as her brother - the most important person in her life. He held her on his back while she pointed for him to go forward - laughing. And when they were done, he threw her onto a bed and blew rasberries onto her tummy.
So why, when the prod left Rose's skin, was she crying? Little beads of light fell as she did, her eyes now crimson with rage. The prod leaves her skin, and it's results are camouflaged by the rain. The vendor looks at the Fairest's eyes of rage with what can only be described as abject terror.
"No, I - I didn't mean to! It was for the slave!" She calls out, not to Rose, but through her. Rose turns towards the girl, the little one who she'd instinctively shielded - but it wasn't her that was being looked at either. It was another creature.
The creature that was now looking at them could not be described to have a shape. Really, it was a figure in a cloak - with a darkness not even Rose's light could penetrate. Even Rose herself found herself trembling, looking at the creature - for she identified this realm's master fairly easily. It reached out a hand - bone and flesh, covered in rain, towards the hog vendor.
"No! It's her fault!" She says, screaming and pointing at Rose. "She got in my way!"
The voice does not find mercy. It grabs the hog, and starts to drag her into the streets, as she screamed and kicked in desperation. The bones dragged her through the dirt, like one might drag a bag of trash. Like that same bag of trash, the vendor tore open as she is dragged - bits of filth splashing onto the streets. They are quickly cleaned by small spiderlike hobs and the pieces are dragged into alleyways.
Like many goblin markets, there was a rule against violence between vendor and customer, it seemed.
Rose turned to look to the girl. She wasn't a hob, or a changeling. She was human. Rose tries a gentle smile, and asks very softly - so softly that the angelic tones could only be heard by the girl, "Are you alright?"
The girl sniffs a bit - instantly calming from the sound of Rose's voice - and whispers a hoarse, "Thank you." Then, after a moment of realizing what Rose was, she asked the question that most of the Host was afraid of - the question anyone in her situation might ask.
And just like that - in an instant, Rose had given the girl the most lethal of poisons: Hope. Hope, the very blade which Rose had mastered. She knew now, if she said yes, she would inevitably evoke a riot in the slaves nearby - a desperate desire to be freed, to escape. It wasn't like being bought - that implied new ownership. The girl was asking if Rose was there to free her - and freedom was a thing so desperately craved.
But if she said no... if she said no, Rose would be betraying herself. Rose would be taking the Hope she'd created, and crushing that little ounce of light beneath her heels. It would be worse than if she had done nothing while the vendor struck her - she'd be destroying the girl's very soul. In order for Hope to thrive, in order to make a change, one had to be willing to make a sacrifice - or else stasis remained.
"Yes, sweetie. I'm here to take you home." She said the damning words - and knew that everything was about to change.