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The setting of Laura Antoniou's
Marketplace series of novels and short
stories is a detailed
and nuanced secret institution that arranges and oversees the training,
sale, and ownership
of consensual slaves who generally serve a succession of two-year
contracts until they retire.
The following article provides a general summary of the common protocols
slaves, organized as a protocol schema,
requirements and protocols vary among Marketplace owners.
Five classes of people make up the Marketplace: owners, trainers,
slaves, spotters, and
employees. In general, spotters locate potential slaves (called clients
by the Marketplace),
assess them and provide their initial training before passing them on to
who will prepare them for their initial sale to one of the Marketplace's
owners. Slaves will
often return to their trainers to improve themselves and learn new
skills in between
contracts. Trainers generally apprentice themselves to experienced
trainers (Master Trainers)
to learn their craft. The large and complex infrastructure of the
Marketplace requires many
employees who are well compensated for their discretion. Note that these
overlap. For example, some trainers (and owners) also spot slaves, and
some of the
Marketplace's trainers are themselves slaves. Some Marketplace owners
have several slaves
in their households, and in these situations one slave generally has
disciplinary authority over the others.
Dress and symbols
Marketplace slaves generally wear traditional chain and padlock collars during their training. These are replaced after their sale (generally by auction) with the collar style and design of their owner. These are usually also chain and padlock collars, though the books mention other styles as well--particularly for more expensive slaves. Beyond the collar, preferences for dress and symbols vary widely among Marketplace owners. In general, slaves' attire (or lack thereof) varies by circumstance and is often functional rather than erotic. It lacks the rigid specificity found in other erotic fiction, such as the Story of O. Overt symbols, such as O's Roissy ring, are apparently discouraged.
Reflecting the tastes of the author, tattooing, piercing, and branding
appear frequently in
Marketplace stories, and a slave's contract will specify any limitations
for these and other
body modifications. In past generations, it was common for Marketplace
master trainers to
mark their apprentices. Imala Anderson, for example, marked Chris Parker
as her apprentice
with a rose cutting, but this practice has become rare.
Marketplace slaves are generally expected to remain silent unless spoken to, and to respond to any questions quickly and honestly. They are expected to be courteous, respectful, and thank their owners for disciplining them, allowing them pleasure, and just about “every kind of attention” (The Slave, 76). They address free individuals as sir or ma'am and their owners as master, mistress, or whatever other title they specify. The Marketplace's best slaves are voice trained. Voice-trained slaves never indicate their personal desires when responding to their owners, often employing such stock phrases as “whatever pleases you Master.”
Slaves undergoing their initial training often live under considerable
restrictions. At the
training establishment of Alexandra Selador and Grendel Elliot, for
example, trainees are
expected to “maintain absolute respect and obedience.” They are “not
allowed to ask
questions unless given direct permission to do so,” nor are they allowed
freedom of discussion, choices in anything, or pleasure,” unless
directly approved by their
trainers (Marketplace, 65). They must offer their “most profound and
along with “absolute, trusting obedience,” and accept everything they
are taught with
“gratitude and respect” (Marketplace, 139). They must also keep
themselves “clean and
available for inspection and use at all times” (The Slave, 68).
Marketplace slaves are commonly prohibited from using furniture, masturbating or seeking other pleasures without permission. A Marketplace slave is trained to respond to a variety of position commands, including “present,” which involves presenting oneself for punishment or sexual use, and “show yourself,” which involves stripping off one's clothing and executing three maneuvers:
1) lacing fingers behind the neck, standing straight, spreading one's legs, and turning slowly in place to show off one's body;
2) bending forward and bracing hands on knees; and then
3) kneeling with knees widespread, back straight, head bowed, and hands crossed behind back.
(The Marketplace 286; The Slave, 112; and The Reunion 482)
Marketplace training manuals include instruction for deportment in a variety of situations and roles. For example, slaves may be required to act as pets. Pets crawl, carry items in their mouths (gently so as not to leave teeth marks), may not use furniture, and may not talk, making only animal whines and other noises (The Marketplace, 302).
*The page references for The Marketplace and The Slave refer to the
Books editions. The references for the others are to the Mystic Rose
This article is published under the terms of the GFDL. The contributors to this article were: Steve_Vakesh, Tanos, Yarakot
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