Greetings one and all, my pseudonym is Low Candela. This is the first story I have written for and published on this site, as such I suppose it is something of an experiment. If you've any thoughts at all on my story, I welcome you to share them. My being new to this game, I could probably use all the advice I can get. I plan to rate this story as M, for later themes and a possibility of 'Lemon' if I am using the term correctly. Without further delay, on with the story.

Chapter 1

Heavy clouds loomed sullenly over the plains, denying those below the pleasure of direct sunlight. Most would associate such dreary weather with sadness, but the young woman staring up into the overcast thought differently. She couldn't even tolerate the sunlight, much less begin to enjoy it. So it was these gray days she relished, allowing her free roam of the world at an hour when she could actually interact with others. She regarded the clouds for the freedom they allowed her in the otherwise inhospitable daylight hours.

"Funny," she murmured as her thoughts turned toward her current agenda. Here she was thinking of the power she had to wander about freely, while conversely her plans for the day would be in direct opposition to the notion of freedom.

The girl stood in the middle of a large bazaar, a mass gathering of merchants and tradesmen, situated on the rim of the Great Plains of Ooo. Just about everything one could imagine could be bought and sold here, from clothing to armor, potions to exotic pets, ancient texts, magical items and even narcotics (if you knew the right people, at least). But the girl did not come to browse, she had a very specific purchase in mind. She was here to buy a slave.

Slavery in Ooo, though not always held in high regards, was technically legal across the continent. Some have tried to abolish it, but more often than not the opposition forces are always too great to make any real progress. Influential proponents of slavery argued that Ooo's fragile economy would collapse completely without a source of cheap labor, and perhaps they are right. Still, most kingdoms have imposed strict regulations on the trade to ensure the system is not abused. Most slaves come from debtors and minor criminals. However certain loopholes exist that allow for some rather unscrupulous exploitations of the system. No age limitations exist, meaning there is a decently sized market for children slaves, most of whom are orphans.

The young woman pushed her way through the throngs of citizens, ignoring the merchants and con-men desperately trying to shill their cheap merchandise and services. She had experience shopping here before, and would not be distracted by petty trinkets. She knew to keep her eyes straight and her feet moving. The bazaar was not a place for the timid. An inexperienced customer could be easily overwhelmed by an over-stimulation of the senses. The entire market was constantly buzzing with random chatter, deals being made, strange music playing and all other manner of noises. Exotic scents followed a person at every turn, spit-fired boar blending seamlessly into perfumes. Bright colors attract ones ayes every which-way, tents are adorned with vibrant cloth and shiny ornaments.

Just as exciting, or perhaps merely as strange, as the caravans were the people crowding the market, if they could even be called that. Brightly colored humanoids mingled with talking candy pieces and bipedal animal-folk interacted with sentient rocks. All kinds of things you or I would regard as strange walked about, completely uncaring of the extreme differences between themselves, and indeed what you or I would consider normal would, at best, be considered exotic by them.

As always, upon pondering these differences, the young woman pulled her hood lower over her face. Even amongst a crowd of mutants and monsters, she would be regarded as the strange one, and preferred to avoid any curious glances or hostile glares. Her kind, though fairly well known by this point, still drew a considerable deal of fear from the general populace, and though she was equal before the law, many individuals would still prefer to treat her with open hostilities. It was easier to simply don a cloak.

Finally she came across what she was looking for. She stood before a walled area near the heart of the market, a notable oddity when the rest of the bazaar appears so open. The bazaar had no appointed police force, so merchants and companies desiring protection would have to hire private guards. They could often be easily distinguished by their generally dull but still sturdy armor. One such mercenary stood outside the only small door leading into the enclosure. As soon as the girl approached he pulled back a bar and opened the door for her…