An earlier version of this piece originally appeared at the Old School Heretic Blog.
Back past the less well-lit streets and canals that connect the Low Esplanades with the Waterfront to the not so nice parts of the districts just behind them, there are a set of decrepit and run-down rampways that will take one past the neglected domains overrun by roacher-gangs and other unpleasant sorts. The rampways are all marked pheromonally and otherwise so that the verministas and their ilk usually avoid them. Usually. You'd best take along an escort just in case. Only a fool or a low-born would dare to travel in those places alone, especially at night.
Yes. I said night. The market is a nocturnal one and they operate on the Sub-Lunar Calendar, so you'd best consult one of the cthonorreries before you leave just to make sure that it is an auspicious time for your visit. Also make sure that you leave behind any House currencies that you might have considered taking along -- using House coinage marks you as a newcomer and the merchants will be encouraged to take advantage of you, as is their right. Be sure to take along a decent assortment of currencies, not just one denomination or type and absolutely avoid large sums of precious metals as you never quite know which way the exchange rates have gone this time. They fluctuate like the weather.
You downloaded the visitor tutorial and reference like I suggested, correct? Good. You had better. The fleas dislike gawkers and they take exception to people who waste their time without tipping. And whatever you do, make certain that you do not mention any damn fool nonsense about plagues or feeling ill while you are in their domain, and make no mistake about it, you shall be in their domain and operating under their sufferance and their rules while you are in the market. If you have the bad taste to insult the fleas, they will not hesitate to infect you with a dozen different encrypted-contagions that no one else even has a name for, let alone any hope of curing them. For your own sake, make every effort to show respect and do not get them riled. If you are generous and mind your manners, the fleas can help you find quite a number of things that can be found nowhere else in all the waking worlds or dreaming realms and they will bargain with you fairly, so long as you don't infringe upon their rituals or rules -- so familiarize yourself with the tutorial before you run off all wild eyed and without a care in the world.
Now remember, this is not like the Open Market that you've already visited in your dreams, though there are dreams for sale in this market, this is a manifest place, very real and very dangerous to the unwary or the foolish. Slavers pay handsomely for good stock such as yourself and once you leave the grid and go off beyond the cameras, dronecops and monitors you're considered fair game. I've lost several otherwise promising students to this market. I know that I can't talk you out of this trip. You still think it's exciting. An adventure. I just hope you make it back is all.
Look, take this. It's a luxwand. My great grandsib carried it into battle during the Black Bastion Riots and it has served six generations of my genelineage very well. No. I'm serious. Take it. You may need it, and by all the Embodied Principles if you have cause to use it, do not hesitate. Use it.
Well. I guess you're as ready as you'll ever be. Good shopping cousin.