The Nameless Market
If you go down to the woods today, you're sure of a big surprise...Those who wander in woods and forests across Istralar are ever warned of the dangers lurking therein; lengthy lists of terrifying beasts and undead monstrosities that may cross their paths. And as always, travellers and wanderers are given one simple directive: avoid the fey, and where that isn't possible, be wary. But the fey are masters of craft and magic alike, and should a person be either brave enough or desperate enough, they do accept bargains, trades, and the like. Numerous stories warn of why these are a bad idea - breaching a fey deal could see one trapped in the First World for all eternity as an enchanted toy (quite literally, in fact), if not worse. The allure of fey magic is often too strong, however, and if a relatively trustworthy fey accepts a reasonable trade, there will be no negative consequence for either party. The fey are still people, after all. They do like gifts and trade, for the most part. Not all seek to bring mortals to ruin. Perhaps all of these reasons lent themselves to the construction of the Nameless Market, or perhaps none of them did. Whatever the reason, mortal forests often sprout doors embedded into trees, glowing circles of mushrooms, and menhir archways - stepping through any of this sort is a quick way to end up in the First World, and hopefully in the Nameless Market.
Stalls and rooftops, each more brightly coloured than the last, painting a haphazard sprawl throughout the thick forest - where else could I be, if not that famous market of faerie fortune?The Market is the most-visited destination on the First World for mortals, though it still holds dangers that the Material Plane does not. It is located within a large grove of interlaced trees, and isolated from the rest of the plane by the dense forest and rapid-filled rivers that surround it. Sunlight filters down into the Market through a thick canopy of leaves above, tinting everything with the rainbows contained in each leaf - for the trees are certainly not restrained to boring mortal green. The stalls are many in shape and size, and don't restrict themselves to wooden constructions on the ground. Some enterprising feyfolk build their stalls to float or fly around the Market, or to be entered via small doors embedded in mushrooms, or take the more mundane route of hanging them from the canopy or into the trees -- though for the latter, the consent of the tree involved is paramount, lest the fey involved be destroyed by the Treasurer. Virtually anything can be bought or sold here, so long as a willing buyer or seller can be found. There are absolutely no restrictions on trade, so long as the grove, trees, and Market are respected. Visitors are rarely informed of the informal code that has sprung up, but those travelling by intent should already be aware:
In the Market, do not use your name. Do not speak of what you do not wish to share, and dress only in what you could part with. Bring only that which belongs to you that you could then bear to lose.Too many travellers have come with their siblings, to then leave with what they desire at the cost of said sibling. Husbands seek gifts for their wives, to go away missing their love for her. Hapless adventurers come wishing for weapons, and leave with terrifying blades of enchantment that have already claimed their minds. And most commonly, visitors wander in without a care in the world, give their name when asked, and find themselves nameless and alone. The fey can give much, but they can always take more.
Almost every native inhabitant of the Market is some variant of fey, with some more prevalent than others. Pixies and fairies are some of the most common, often offering small pranks or magic tricks in exchange for sweets and fruits from the mortal realm. There is also a surprisingly large gnome population, comprised of both First World natives and immigrants from mortal realms, and they trade more commonly in coin and even bargains. Powerful fey do not typically show themselves in person, instead sending representatives to learn who wishes for their favours, and what those people may offer. Each of the fey demigods - the Eldest - has a permanent bastion in the Market, where mortals and fey alike can seek to gain the favour of the planar masters. These deals are always the most dangerous.
Who rules a rule-less land?
Though the Market could technically be claimed by any of the Eldest, none have done so - instead, it is ruled solely by an ancient hamadryad whose ancient grove the Market's centre lies at. She is referred to by no name, keeping hers safe - instead, visitors and residents alike refer to her as the Treasurer. She enforces the few Market rules with a strict hand - any who bring unwarranted violence in, for instance, find themselves consumed by the roots of her trees at their first swing. Her lieutenants, sentient plants, keep watch where her eyes do not reach.
Rulers of the First WorldAuthority in the First World is fluid, and not constrained to mortal norms. The Eldest may be the most powerful of the plane's denizens, and certainly hold the worship and honour of many, but they do not claim the entire realm as theirs. Like the true gods, they prefer to remain in specific domains directly, and instead exert influence through their followers elsewhere. Much of the First World is, thus, ruled by various fey monarchs, such as the nymph queen Nyrissa, and indeed the Treasurer herself.
Stolen children, lost jewellery, mysterious disappearances. All traced back to that market, in one way or another. We can't place only negative outcomes there, though - those odd victories, strokes of luck, and miraculous cures? Also from the fey. They help as much as they harm, and they give as much as they take.The Nameless Market has existed for millennia, from the perspective of the Material Plane - and for a very long time, from the perspective of the fey. Time is a mutable, changeable thing upon the First World, and the Treasurer's whim to create it was related to no given time period. Mortal stories and histories have entwined themselves with the Market's a thousand times over. Historical royalty have run there in times of need, seeking emergency cures for heirs fallen ill. Soldiers have stumbled across the Market whilst fleeing losing battles, choosing the escapes offered by the fae over the death awaiting them on their plane. Some return armed in elven chain and wielding weapons of faerie power to fight on, only to disappear shortly after - or to lose all meaningful to them afterwards, leading miserable lives of little meaning. Those who knew full well where they were headed do tend to leave the Market with what they intended, exiting the realm with magic in hand and having given up only the favours they wished. This has been most evident with nations headed by elves, gnomes, and other fey-adjacent species, such as when a former Grand Lowness of Soniuch Zan in the mid-3000s traded a significant portion of the nation's sugar supply and recipes as payment for a number of fey building guides. That specific bargain, made with a group of fey architects, led to a later migration from the First World to Soniuch Zan that has influenced the region to this day.