| "Are you sure you want to know this?"
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"The Masters of the Bazaar - Mr Wines, Mr Spices, Mr Veils and the rest - speak in high-pitched whispers, and under their concealing cloaks they seem winged or hunchbacked. Fallen angels, stunted pterodactyls, mobile colonies of fungus? They dismiss all personal questions with an airy wave of their gloved hands."
"The Masters apply peculiar customs duties: to fish below a certain size, to green ribbons but not red, to speckled eggs but not plain. Perhaps their strangest tax is a heavy duty on stories of love, but it only applies to stories leaving the Neath..."
The Masters of the Bazaar: it's hard to describe these cloaked, slightly creepy things as anything but, well, alien space bats. They call themselves Mr, but they may not really be men. There are eleven titles, but two Masters take up four of them, and the rest have one apiece for a total of nine total Masters. Oh, and there are a few other titles that aren't really Masters, empirically speaking. Confusing? London is generally that way...
"Authority is what's left when the money runs out."
The Masters of the Bazaar are in near-complete control of London's trade economy. Each Master oversees a certain form of trade; for example, Mr Iron oversees the trade of metals and weapons. The Masters may seem united, but in truth, many of them run independent (and sometimes incompatible and clashing) schemes that occasionally span far beyond the scope of London.
The Masters generally took on similar jobs and roles in the previous Fallen Cities; for example, they were called Khans during the time of the Fourth. As might be expected of these beings, the Masters are thousands of years old. Don't ever mention the Second City in their presence, however; they will all react in different but unanimously negative ways.
The Masters as a Group
The Masters' Artifacts
Everyone has treasures they'd like to keep under wraps, and the Masters are no exception.
The Crimson Book contains the most 'savage tales of love and loss' and has 'passed through fire and flood'. This indicates that the Crimson Book may have been written long before the Fifth City; perhaps it is still being added to today? The Masters have allegedly assigned a group of Special Constables to specifically seek out and confiscate any and all copies.
Little is known about Veils-Velvet aside from this quote, which would explain why this fabric is so incredibly valuable.
The Sceptre of Mr Wines
A symbol of power that once belonged to a king. The Scepter of Mr Wines is as heavy as lead, covered in frost and talon-marks, and is topped with a jewel from a faraway land. Mr Wines doesn't like looking at it much; maybe it's just insecure.
What Lies Under the Cloak
"The second source is A Rhyming Revelry, a slim book of nonsense rhymes written by a once-celebrated cellist. He was, for a time, a favourite at Mr Wines’ revels. One rhyme concerns eleven pilgrims who travelled from a cold and windy waste. It enumerates each of the reasons the pilgrims were unwelcome in their homeland."
Based on two controversial sources, one called On the Origins and Descent of the Masters and another called A Rhyming Revelry, we may reveal the following information.
The Masters belong to a species native to the High Wilderness called Curators. These oversized space-bats hunt in the space between stars, often alone. On occasion, a group of Curators may band together to boast of their hoards and trade deals, and may fight amongst themselves for supremacy. Curator chiefs are described as "victorious, merciless pedlar-magnates."
In the grand scheme of things, the Masters of the Bazaar weren't Masters at all. Rather, they were a group of misfit criminals who joined forces with the Bazaar to escape "misfortune, failure, and fruitlessness."
A Rhyming Revelry provides hints about the crimes of the Masters, though which crimes correspond to what bat are based on conjecture and guesswork. The circumstances given in A Rhyming Revelry are:
- Hoarding (Stones?)
- Light-bringing (Fires?)
- Impersonation, and the delivery of false testimony (Cups?)
- Perpetration of the crimes of knife and of candle (Iron?)
- Idleness, and the dwelling-on of dreams (Spices?)
- Runtery, aberration (Eaten)
- Pursuit of a Treachery (Apples/Hearts?)
- Failure and defeat; a fall from king to beggar (Wines?)
- Glass-whispering. And worse: charity (Mirrors?)
- Violation of the Order of Days, “which determines the hour of the hunt, the feast, the council, the bargain, and the slaughter” (Veils?)