A New Premium Festive Tale: The Ceremony

[quote=Vavakx Nonexus]Please bring Khaw around for more projects, she makes wonderful words.[/quote]Indeed.

The writing was superb. I had missed that kind of lyricism, the imagery, the emotion. I am looking forward to her next one!

I won’t lie, I was weeping by the end of this. Beautifully done and well-worth the fate.

I agree with Vavakx‘s statement about the Opal-Eyed Shopkeeper. I would gladly pay a lot of fate and also divorce my cultured attachée for a chance to wed that tea-loving darling.
edited by Hellion on 12/20/2018

For those curious about the Third Option, my path led me to receive:

The third BDR double, but still +2 overall. The gist of this ending: The Fluke appreciates the gesture, the congregation does not, the Gilded Sacrifice is too pure for this world. The last eight entries in my journal show most of the story, and despite my glib bracketed commentary I am thoroughly shook by the line &quotYou return to your abode in London, laden with the burden of someone you might have known.&quot
Edit: perma-link for posterity

edited by elderfleur on 12/20/2018

I picked this option, and I wonder what would have happened if you didn’t let them go…could I have saved them?

[quote=The Curious Watcher]I picked this option, and I wonder what would have happened if you didn’t let them go…could I have saved them?[/quote] It’s either a false choice (why would they listen to us after we ruined the party?) or it’d be a weak ending, I think. Just… &quotparty cancelled, everyone go home&quot. Although I suppose receiving a Tea Set as a peace-offering/reminder-of-better-times could be sufficiently heart-wrenching.

Just about every line of this story sent a chill down my spine. Thank you, Ms Khaw

I’d highly recommend this story; it’s well-paced and well-written, with good rewards and interesting lore and themes. Appropriate for a detective story, it never tried to emphasize any revelations until the very end, instead communicating information naturally through the story to allow readers to reach the correct conclusions on their own.

More thoughts on the story itself are below the spoiler tag.

[quote=The Curious Watcher]I picked this option, and I wonder what would have happened if you didn’t let them go…could I have saved them?[/quote]Depends on your perspective. [spoiler]The Rubbery Men, especially in this story, are walking tragedies - they’re alien guests in an uncaring world. Their own creators despise them. All they want is transformation - to regain what they have lost: the love and care of their creators. By consuming the Fluke, they try to climb their way up the Chain (or laterally along, perhaps). It’s a method of advancement that has been previously described but not particularly explored in lore. I doubt it will lead them to their destination, though; I doubt anything will. All you could do is give them hope and an opportunity to be something more.

The tea set is a memento of the Opal-Eyed Shopkeeper and the Rubbery Men, just like the skeleton, and they’re both gifted by the saved god-figure: the Fluke or the Gilded Sacrifice (having metaphorically usurped the Fluke). In it is inscribed their hopes and dreams - communion with the Flukes and the rediscovery of love. You’ve given them a chance at the former - and you’ve created the latter. Fulfilled, they no longer need the promise provided by the tea set. The promise? That all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. It gives hope not only for the House of Homes but for all Axiles by drawing parallels to the Lorn-Flukes. They were promised that all shall be well, but now they only long for home, full of bitterness and pain. If the House of Homes - and the Opal-Eyed Shopkeeper in particular - can find a kind of catharsis in such a cruel world, then perhaps there is hope for all of them. I wouldn’t call that &quotsaving&quot them, but it gives them a chance to save themselves.

They may very well fail, though. The Gilded Sacrifice is a messianic figure. It is the bringer of salvation, and it is the martyr of the House of Homes. The endings emphasize different aspects, but they are still intertwined. There is salvation in the drowning of the Rubbery Men - it puts them out of their misery. The martyrdom of the Gilded Sacrifice too is what enables this salvation: it is by partaking in its flesh and blood(?) of the messianic figure that the Rubbery Men may descend into the zee in pale imitation of their intended ritual. And, as an added benefit, they’re obeying the will of their creator to drown. By driving the Fluke away, you have &quotsaved&quot the House of Homes, in a way. One might read more deeply into the symbolism behind that salvation. I know I’m projecting my own beliefs and perspectives on it. Someone more religious than myself might see things differently.[/spoiler]
edited by Azothi on 12/20/2018

So to help gather my thoughts and evaluate my interpretations, I did a bit of research into Cass Khaw’s other work, and honestly, what this tells me is that she is a perfect fit for the Fallen London / Sunless universe. &quotThe Ceremony&quot is rooted in some common aspects of her storytelling, but there’s a lot more that’s still left to explore.

While Rubberies are the focus of &quotThe Ceremony&quot, there’s not much writing about the prejudice against them, which is unfortunate, I think, because Khaw can write prejudice quite well:

There’s also quite a bit of room for horror and examination of human depravity that’s still unexplored. I won’t spoil it because it’s a quick read, but &quotThese Deathless Bones&quot is an interesting example of ideas that would fit nicely in the Neath. Or consider, for instance, just the title of one of her other books: Rupert Wong, Cannibal Chef.

And while we see a taste of it in Spite, there’s not much violence in the story, which seems to be one of Khaw’s strong suits:

The point is, I suppose: this is very good. It would be greatly appreciated if more was forthcoming in the future.

OMG. This is Cass Khaw of M:tG’s Vivien Reid stories?!? Wow!

Become As Gods.

I greatly enjoyed this. Even by the high standards of Fallen London it is extremely well written. I confess I rather took to the Opal-Eyed Shopkeeper and suspect whoever wrote them must really enjoy tea. It was a wonderful story with a wonderful reward and I enjoyed and recommended it all round.

Caroline, for her part, was rather disquieted by the whole experience, but was fond of the Opal-Eyed Shopkeeper as well.

If that is any consolation, this is not a story of cozy ends. In the end, it was tragic through and through.

An excellent story! Deeply gripping, with incredible prose and one of my favorite new characters in a long time. My only gripe is that it’s terribly unclear that checking out the mysterious light and having an intimate moment with the Opal-Eyed Shopkeeper are mutually exclusive, and in the most character-breaking moment in my life I missed out on the chance for Gul to do the latter. Has anyone echoed it? Follow up: if you do spend time with the Shopkeeper, do they still have to leave at the end? I miss them… :(
edited by Gul al-Ahlaam on 12/22/2018

Here it is: Fallen London

I made exactly the same mistake :( Fortunately it doesn’t have any further consequences in the story, but this part could really use a gameplay note to warn us we only have time for one.

By the way, does anyone have an idea what the light was?

P.S. FBG PLEASE add a confirmation for reporting posts, this is the third time I’ve accidentally pressed it while trying to reply/edit.
edited by Monara on 12/22/2018

Thank you to both of you. ^_^

A very, very good story and a wonderful Fallen London debut. Cass Khaw is indeed a perfect fit for Fallen London, and I hope they’re brought back for more!

I was admiring my tea set and I noticed that &quotaged bone china&quot can be read both ways…
edited by Jolanda Swan on 12/23/2018

I finally found the time to play this story, and. Wow. This story is fantastic. The eerie writing, the complex characterization, the subject, the lore, the rewards, the everything. It’s an Experience.