There was Picadilly Circus, bright and sunny, a million dreams and a million hopes sold by whisker-faced goblins, fruits and fobiles sold to whoever paid the proper price. It was the public market, the open market, the largest and greatest, where the shadows were fewest. A neutral ground, under the protection of the Freehold, of New Jerusalem.
There was the Clock Tower Market, when time itself could be sold. A good time for yourself? A bad time for one's enemy? The time to make a decision? The time of your life? Or merely the ending of time for a specific life. It was a small market, specialist, and oh so very dangerous. But it would not be open for another week or two, when the moon was full and rosy, and Big Ben sounded midnight.
There was the Thames Market, not so large as Picadilly, but more ecletic, for it was a mobile market that travelled the very world. From that old cargo ship, when it called into port, one could buy the silks of the Orient or the gold of the Andes. Foreign, exotic, with that hidden allure made of sunlight and moonbeams woven into a carpet. But the Thames Market was not yet here, the good ship Decision not in port.
And there was the Twelfth Bridge.
If one were to look upon the guidebook, they would notice that there are eleven bridges crossing the Thames in central London. Going from West to East, there was the Vauxhill Bridge, the Lambeth Bridge, the Westminster Bridge, the Hungerford Bridges and the Golden Jubilee Bridges (in truth a single bridge), the Waterloo Bridge, the Blackfriar’s Bridge, the Blackfriars Railway Bridge, which is a distinct Bridge, the Millenium Bridge, the Southwark Bridge, the Canon Street Railway Bridge, London Bridge, and the infamous Tower Bridge.
If one were to ask the Lost, they would tell you that there are thirteen bridges, but no one likes to talk about the Thirteenth Bridge. No one very much likes to talk about the Twelfth Bridge either, but it is there, and people used it. It was called the Spider-Span, the Silken Span, and it marked the location of the darkest Goblin Market in London. Here one could buy the blackest miracles of life and death. Black miracles of death, one could understand. Black miracles of life were even more mysterious, and whispered those in the know, quite as black.
It took a strong stomach, or a very particularly Fae sensibility to visit the Spider-Span. The bridge crossed the black waters of the Other-Thames on cables of spider-silk as thick as steel girders, as the ephemeral shapes of the Blackfriars and Waterloo Bridges in the distance, on the other side of the Hedge. The entire bridge was a single vast web, spun by a million spiders. You walked on the faintly sticky strands, and everywhere one looked there were spiders. Spiders were the watch-dogs of the Market, the repairers of webs and the beasts of burden, and not a few of the merchants were spiders as well. Some were things of beauty, shining like living jewels or with soft, polychromatic fur to rival any butterfly’s wings. Others were hideous, bloated monsters of asymmetrical and grotesque appearance. Many of the hobgoblin barterers were simple hobs much as one would find at any Market, but others had a distinctly arachnid aspect; one might speak with a monastically robed goblin with the bright-eyed face of a jumping spider, or visit a tent where beautiful women dance, clusters of writhing arachnid legs where their hair would be and trails of cobweb spinning off their glistening forms.
Many of the goods bought and sold on the Spider-Span were of the same sort as could be found elsewhere, though there was something of a discount on goods made of spider-silk (the stuff had a tendency to pile up). Pet Hedge-spiders were often sold as well, though the wise buyer would make certain to learn all of the information for proper care and feeding (as well as just how large the pet was expected to get someday). Rare venoms were solid in little glass bottles, and slaves were bought and sold, bound in chains of spidersilk, or wrapped in living coccoons. But most relevantly for Daphne, one could buy secrets.
"A seed that sprouts in the heart." The old woman said, seated in the half-darkness beneath the Silken Span's shadowy webs. She was a shriveled little thing, in silk robes, her fingers long and slender. Daphne couldn't see her eyes, beneath the hood, but there were entirely too many gleaming reflections from beneath it. "I know of such a thing, dearie bright. And what do you need for such a horrid fright?"