The Court of Costs: a criminal empire is born!

A burly assistant ushers you into the room. The light is dim, your eyes adjust slowly. There is a desk with a ledger. A man sits behind the desk, a fountain pen is in his hand. The man is The Concise Scrivener, he is smiling. You offer the tribute: a string of one-hundred and six pearls, the sixty-eighth is glass; the ninety-fourth and ninety-fifth are wood. This is today’s passcode, perhaps tomorrow you’ll be required to provide a box of twelve teeth, six of which are molars, and three of which are incisors. The Concise Scrivener counts the pearls and nods. You don’t recieve a password, but you’ll have it yet. The man who comes in after you is apparently from the Ministry of Public Decency. The burly assistant drags him off into a back room and locks the door from the inside.

You leave the law firm (a cover) and start on the walk back home. A fishwife shouts at you when you bump into her, and a cutpurse tries to make off with your Echoes, but the trip is mostly uneventful. You open the front door and there is no envelope. You check your pockets but no one has snuck a note into them. It is when you go to the bathroom that you find the address finger-written into your mirror with grey ink.


Last tuesday, the Court of Costs was settled into the basement of a church. Yesterday, it was in one of the spider-webbed windmills to the north of Wolfstack Docks. Today, the Court of Costs is in the Clay Quarters, in a long tunnel with a tall ceiling. Dozens of merchants and peddlers are already set up, they are given five minutes beforehand to prepare their stalls and tables. You are the first to enter, but a crowd of criminals, urchins, revolutionaries and devils quickly pours in behind you.
Currently, you’re only in the market for some forged paperwork. The same Concise Scrivener from earlier oversees that particular branch of illegal business. He’s all the way at the back, next to a fellow with a french accent who sells Surface Currencies (his rates are always better than Merrigans’).

These are neutral grounds, every aspect of London’s underworld is present here. A portly Khaganian sells Proscribed Materials and Unapproved Romantic Literature, the bird in the cage by his table recites scandalous poetry as transactions are made. The Callow Abettor is hawking his daily haul of London Street Signs to a group of anarchists. Some of the Widow’s men are discussing business with a Rubbery man. Sunlight is sold in a veiled stall, but you aren’t allowed to keep the Mirrorcatch Boxes. The Languid Bacchante oversees purchases of Red Honey, she is currently handing out mint humbugs to a group of urchins. The Blind Bruiser is notably absent today. A Preening Devil stands in his usual spot, selling caged somethings from the Iron Republic.

Who is the mastermind behind all this? Who was ruthless or foolish enough to cross the Ministry and The Masters, and has enough wealth to fund a migrant black-market empire? Who was cunning enough to broker peace treaties between slumlords and bandit-kings, to gain the support of the Calendar Council, of the Cheery Man, and of every Urchin gang of note? The Mirthless Tomb-Colonist is making polite conversation with Lord B____, who is rumoured to have exotic cravings. He winks at you from beneath his bandages as you walk past. Welcome to the Court of Costs.

The Court of Costs is London’s foremost privately-owned black market. Every day, it is somewhere else. You may find things here that the Masters and the Ministry don’t approve of. Entrance is a commodity; you need the right connections to glance a visit. Don’t dawdle, the Court is only open for a single hour at a time.

edited by A Dimness on 9/2/2017
edited by A Dimness on 9/2/2017