In the Summer of 2006, Arthur Milligan was a reporter staying at a quiet inn in a sleepy Maine resort town, doing a story on the local beerfest. To pass the time, he started a blog documenting the experience, and invited some of his fellow guests to participate. Then one night, things got interesting.
In the middle of the night, all 13 guests at the inn were magically transformed. They took on the forms of the previous 13 guests, who had in turn taken the forms of the 13 guests before them. Each of the transformees — victims of a curse dating back at least to the early 20th Century — had to go on living their new lives, due to the fact that the curse (at least initially) prevented them from ever explaining their true identities. All they could do was settle into their new lives, and wait.
Arthur and his friend Jake moved to Boston where they lived as Elizabeth Lee and Ashlyn Shelley, two young women with very different lives, both from each other and from Art's and Jake's backgrounds. As time went by. Art devised a plan to return and reclaim his own body, but when it was finally time to put it into action, Jake had lost hope of regaining his own body, and Art was to find a similar fate. Every year, the Inn welcomes many new victims and returning hopefuls. The blog has become a haven for those who wish to share their stories.
The Trading Post is an ongoing Blog Fic written from the perspective of several of these victims as they go on to live their new lives, coming up against new careers, love lives, a possible conspiracy against them, and more often than not, new sexual equipment.
- Aborted Arc: Many characters who don't manage to be Put on a Bus become this.
- Attractive Bent-Gender: Not inherently, but many characters are noted for their looks.
- Author Appeal: Aside from the focus on gender bending antics, many characters are given quirks and interests particular to the author responsible for him/her.
- Character Blog: Well, yeah.
- Easy Sex Change: The Inn is used this way deliberately at least once.
- First Law of Gender-Bending: Played straight and occasionally averted
- Straight examples:
- Jake was denied the chance to return to his original body and opted to remain as Ashlyn.
- Art initially had a plan in place to return to his own body, but the "New Art" backed out at the last moment and set someone else in his place... namely female reporter Penelope Lincoln, whose body he now occupies on a permanent basis.
- Cliff has apparently opted to remain as Tori.
- Greg has occupied three bodies since his transformation, all female.
- Todd and Bryan managed to get back to their original bodies without much fuss.
- Straight examples:
- Gender Bender: The main thrust of the blog. Nearly all the original main characters were men changed into women. Female-to-male characters and non-gender-crossed ones would appear later, but still less frequently.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Every year numerous new characters are introduced. That immediately comes with two "links" on other side, the person whose body they occupy and the person occupying theirs, not to mention the supporting characters inherent in every new story. Very much a Geodesic Cast.
- Pinball Protagonist: To some degree. It can be hard for the characters to do much more than react to what's being thrown at them, and adapt, at least for the first while.
- Pronoun Trouble: Often with new characters.
- Put on a Bus: Many, many characters. The first trip took all the original cast, and then their replacements took one, and then...
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Emotional artist Jake/Ashlyn and rational writer Art/Liz/Penny..
- Second Law of Gender Bending: Often, but not universally applied: it helps that for all intents and purposes they are living a fully-set-up life with an apparently-bulletproof cover (nobody would believe them if they revealed their identities.)
- The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body
- Third Law of Gender Bending: More defied than not. There are concessions and changes of all sorts, but few if any main characters are shown to embrace overt stereotypes at the expense of their earlier selves. The phrase "Going Native" is used by Art to describe Jake/Ashlyn, though.