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New Year's Eve Competition Messages in this topic - RSS

Posts: 7

Five weeks of G_d damned diplomacy.

Not all at once, and not all done by her, but done nonetheless. The stage was set. The silver polished.

The Reckless Academic found it peculiarily easy to get her brand of science done in the name of art. Persons with lidded eyes would murmur at the temerity of the thing, and pay her, and it was easy. Cats purred around her ankles. The Hall lent her the use of the prop cupboard, possibly the most haunted artifact in London proper. The honey-dens from which she sourced her cast abutted the well-weathered, still-plastered manors.

She'd float the seating on barges. Yes. On the River, so that the River stole the eye, and the cataclysmic amount of apocyan was perceived as highlights only. The stage itself was layered in triplicate: A thick glass shell over loose linen to be pulled away and, below, the mirrors. Behind every high-hanging spotlight was a daguerrotype personally, feverishly taken by her, so that when midnight came, midnight came...


The name of the opera. The name of the ship that sunk the submarine potlights. The name of the foundation that cut checks and paid widows. Every subversive element in London believed they had a favored seat in the writer's room, and they were right.

The mirror reflected the memory. The people, caught in between, well-salted with the (transgression and nostalgia) themes of the opera. A bone, stressed repeatedly along a single radial, will crack in half if tapped correctly.

Five hundred fee-paying operagoers would fall beneath the mirror surface of the River and every memory they ever had would be splayed like a vivisectionist's dream along the mist-mounted roof of the Neath. Ideally. Some of them would even return, wielding a stranger's fingers. Ideally. Speaking in riddles, speaking in someone else's rhyme. She'd probably have to lay low for a while, but then why else would one do the diplomacy?

People tended to dispense with the purpose of the self in mirrors. Either a focus or an afterthought. But in kaleidoscope, they would be mixed. Crudely, like candies in cement, but still. Refinement comes after principles are proven. And the turn of the century makes audacity comprehensible.

The people, eaten, but not by cats. They would eat themselves, and become what they eat. With luck, it would be as a firework among fireworks. Arcane. Forgotten in the hangover, until they wake in stranger bodies.

Nico Palla, the Reckless Academic, sipped her wine and etched her patterns. Two sins became the same. None could say she did not earn her seat in hell.

Days coming. Days still.
edited by Othernaut on 12/11/2021

We have still so much to discover: https://www.fallenlondon.com/profile/Nico%20Palla
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Posts: 287

The Party

My lab was deserted. Not a trace of a student furtively scurrying off; April mysteriously absent; even FF was not at her bench. Most uncharacteristically, FF had left jars of chemicals haphazardly on her desk - filings of aluminium and magnesium, and a most peculiar assortment of salts: calcium chloride, sodium nitrate, barium chloride, copper chloride and even strontium carbonate. What could she have meant to do? We were only making glass gazettes, statistical compendia and the like. I'd scheduled an interlude of a few short projects to give the students some leeway to come and go for the festive season.

Oh.The festive season. What was the date again? I checked the calendar, and then checked my pocket watch. I was going to be late if I did not move swiftly. There would be Words Spoken. I pedalled furiously back to the townhouse, and loaded up the sedan chair with wine, absinthe, and all the snacks that Miranda had organised. Jellied eels and mushroom scones, peppercap puffs, Murgatroyd’s fungal crackers and some eye-wateringly expensive cheese imported from the surface; it was all packed ready to go. Not to mention those rather suspicious honey cakes that Miranda baked herself.

I remounted the velocipede and pedalled off to the docks, with George and Garfield trotting briskly behind me carrying the supplies. My party were all there, and by their stares I could tell they had been waiting for me for more time than pleased them.

“Darling, where have you been?” cried Miranda. “At last! I don’t believe I could have held April back from the explosions for even one moment longer!” And indeed April turned her back on me without so much as a sign of a how-d’ye-do, and strode determinedly off to the end of the pier, wielding a large box of Vestas. “Such larks!” exclaimed a young aristocratic lady, who appeared to be wearing some kind of bird on her head. How Miranda persuaded Lady G.S. to attend is a mystery. She is a great loss to science, but I was glad to see her nonetheless.

And then there was a deafening explosion and the Neath-sky lit up in bright bursts of red and gold. Another came in showers of blue and white sparks, and I could see our little meticulous lab girl standing by next to April, with buckets of water, spare vestas &c. April was striding from point to point and occasionally had to be restrained from falling in the water or stepping on still burning fuses. Our newest student sat tailor-fashion on the blanket, and gazed up silently as another explosion of green fire, and another, and another, and more shook the pier.

I turned to FF, who was ensconced comfortably in a bath chair with a glass of the Giant in hand. “Lovely display”, she remarked. “It's so good to see proper colours, and none of your foolish gant and violant and what have you.” “Excellent work by our April there,” I replied, “how DID she make those colours?” FF looked askance at me for a moment, and then relented and winked. “Trade secret, I’m afraid. FF Gebrant’s patent pending.”
edited by Bluestocking on 12/12/2021
edited by Bluestocking on 1/12/2022

Main http://fallenlondon.com/Profile/Alethea_Blueleg
Alt http://fallenlondon.com/Profile/Miranda%20Podoserpula

Send me anything you like. Be decent, though. Bad stuff is fine if you attach a warning.
Timezone eastern Australia. Embrace asynchronicity.
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Mister Vanishment
Mister Vanishment
Posts: 9

28 days ago
As a general rule, Mister Vanishment doesn’t have time for socializing. Between the laboratory, the railway, the zailing and espionage, there are never enough hours.

Add to that the tedious weekly reports to the counter-church, where he needs to provide an update on the souls he has tricked, tempted or led astray. He recently took to submitting lists of fake names to save time and so far it seems to be working. Hopefully, if he is ever found out the Unbishop will at least appreciate the irony.

But there are always exceptions to the general rule. New Year’s Eve is a special night and not one to be spent alone. Even in a city where death is a mild inconvenience, it is important to mark the passing of the year as a reminder that one is still alive and changing.

A minute or two still to go. He looks out the window. All around the city, he can hear the sound of festivities. Plumes of smoke drift lazily from the chimneys. The streets are invisible, hidden under the almost-white of almost-snow. A solitary figure cuts through the alabaster sea, their crimson robe flapping in the breeze. Silas on his rounds, no doubt.

Then it begins. Or rather, it ends. The university bells begin to chime, followed by the church, the courts and the bazaar. A few smaller bells ring from the rooftops – urchins or the LBs. The bells in the palace remain gloriously still, their silence so loud that one can’t help but not hear them even over the chorus of chimes.

He turns back into the study. Each wall is covered in mirrors inscribed with the Correspondence. Some of the symbols link their mirrors to elsewhere in London or places over the zee. The most expensive go to the surface. The rarest curve inward to Parabola or stranger shores. As the final bells falls silent the mirrors fill with faces. Some smile or grin while others stare impassively. One or two scowl. All are carrying drinks, apart from a tiger with a cigar that chuffs briefly.

He lifts a glass filled with brandy and calls a toast. To friends and enemies. Allies and rivals. Present and departed. Near and far. Real and imaginary. And all as one, the assembled host raise their glasses and bid all present a happy new year.

Soon, the mirrors are clear once more. The year has come and gone. He pours a second glass (the last for tonight) and returns to his balcony. His own reflection was notably absent from the crowd. Differences of opinion had recently come between them, but he still held hopes for reconciliation. For now, he had to settle for a respectful truce.

Over the city, fireworks explode in flowers of viric, cosmogone and violant. The irrigo plumes are his favorite, or would be if it were possible to remember them. He sips deeply from the glass and smiles.

Happy New Year – And all shall be well”.
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Posts: 1461

12 days ago
The best things in life aren’t given away for free, especially in this city of merchants and Masters. They are guarded closely, traded dearly, or taken by force or fraud. I must begin my year on a high note, among the best celebrations and the most exclusive companies, so each year I must seek out festivities where I am not welcome, until I retain some forbidden memento.

It’s different each time. Several years back I found myself in the inner sanctum of the Brass Embassy. Not the ball in the entrance hall that is open to anyone willing to pay the cover charge, but a more intimate gathering of Devils and those who had done some Duty to Hell. (I was invited this year, so I shan’t be returning.)

I slipped into a hallway, and lifted a document whose title I can’t recall, no matter how long I stare at it. The way Devils smile, I can never quite be sure they didn’t let it be stolen. I keep it on a high shelf on my study, where I can always find it but am never tempted to read it.

Last year, I let myself into a silent apartment and spent a quiet evening with a lonely gentleman. He had no living relatives, no remaining friend, nor spoken or corresponded with another person in two years, and it took every ounce of my persuasive abilities to convince them that I had an invitation to his dinner table.

I told him vague things about myself which are true, but true of most people. He told me how he came to be by himself, by circumstance and first and then by choice. The story would fetch a good price from certain buyers, but if I sold it then that evening would have been work. These evenings are for myself.

Since my travels to the Ceiling, it’s easier not to look like a person that’s out of place. I want to see the best this city has but doesn’t offer, and I would ask more of myself to get it. I don’t think I’ll be spending my evening at the shrouded celebrations of the Foreign Office (skip the hors d’oeuvres), or the Bishop’s private gathering (the ringing in the ears lasts longer than the bruises).

I’ve heard tell the Rats attend a mass on certain evenings. LBs are usually an easy mark to deceive, but it’s not easy to avoid attention as a human in a crowd of a thousand rodents, contorted into the six-inch space between ceiling and floorboard. No one knows what sermon is delivered, or libation offered, or sacred relic shown, but whatever it is, I hope to keep one for myself. Wish me luck.

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Bonny Kate
Bonny Kate
Posts: 97

9 days ago
It is the middle of a raucous party atop a spire, a soiree fit for a princess in exile, and Bonny Kate is melancholy.

The finest Morelways drip with condensation in their chilled baths in the kitchen sink, the bath, the laundry tub. The tables are heaped with with mushrooms stuffed with soft red cheese, fried crackling rubbery lumps, exorbitantly expensive candied fruits from the surface.

Bonny Kate stands by herself in a corner, her glass of wine grown warm, untouched. She watches actors laughing as the wine overflows their glasses, artists dancing forbidden waltzes, authors reciting limericks that grow more baudy as the night progresses. In the corner an artist is painting a tableau, his models flush with wine. Prisoner’s honey gleams golden from crystal carafes in every room.

She always feels a little lost on New Year’s Eve. The last time she saw the person she loved most in the world or below was on New Year’s Eve, nine years ago.

But she cannot remember their face or even their name. She cannot remember if it was her
brother or her lover. She only knows that they were murdered nine years ago, that she swore revenge, that she has not fulfilled her vow, that she loved them more than life.

She has forgotten their eyes, their laughter, their name, as thoroughly as she has forgotten what it is to live under the golden sun. She is not sure when these memories slipped away – whether they dissolved gently in the cave of irrigo that washes away cares and memories, or were lost among the mirror-marches like a dropped glove, or slipped away in the bliss of honeyed dreams, or whether they simply faded away through the passage of time.

She is not usually given to introspection. She would rather live merrily, drink deeply, dream often, and try to be as good as a woman may be in the Neath.

Every New Year’s Eve she tries to forgot her grief with a fete more extravagant than the last – the feast more lavish, the wine more intoxicating, the dances more scandalous, the guests more numerous. As though the dancing and flirting and drinking would somehow be enough. She wills herself to forget.

It never works.

Every year her grief finds her again in the dark before the new year.

And then the clocks strike midnight, all across the Neath, a fury of glorious dissonance, of church bells ringing and urchins and socialites crashing pots and pans and musicians playing bright brassy fanfares, shaking her from her thoughts, and she is pulling her wife into an embrace. She kisses her wife and drinks her wine laced with prisoner’s honey, until she forgets and is merry, until the next year comes again.

I am open to most social actions (including trading boxed cats), and am happy to help with menaces or actions involving second chances.
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Posts: 4

9 days ago
(Apologies in advance if this post requires a lot of scrolling--I'm having trouble figuring out formatting line spaces.)

The short answer:

Zyn Arcturus celebrates New Year’s Eve with the crew of her zee-clipper and their families, and anyone from her orphanage who wants to join. They sing a tune Wellerman-melody-esque (some verses with triplet and eighths? subdivision), about things they do at this time of year.

The long (real) answer:

[fiddle and fife trill] [stomping feet] [raucous cheers!]

Step into the circle and join the song,
‘Bout the tasks set forth to forge spirits strong!
Cast off old woes and look t’wards the waves,
We’ll sing ‘till our hearts ring clear!

This here's the chorus, we’ll teach it for free,
We're the dauntless crew of the Raikiri!
On the fastest ship to clip through the zee
We’ll zail in the brand-new year!

(“Where’s the Cook?”)

Each year we recall what our lines have caught,
Overboard goes their share, to the monsters fought,
Tradition the dragon boats have brought,
Our treat to the zee-beasts dear.

(“Chief Engineer, ma'am!”)

Rats in the hold, stowaways in the night,
Check the engine’s hum, say when all’s alright,
With her iron sharp and her mirrors bright
She’ll zail in the brand-new year!

(“Gunnery Officer, report!”)

This one’s for our crew who’ve shed blood before,
To the bell, set at peace your uneven score,
Knock seven rings, hold, then one more,
Keep mind of the path you steer.

(“Surgeon, to the deck!”)

The oil of rose, eight drops through hair,
May you keep your nerves and your health so fair!
If a man can stay of his limbs aware,
He’ll zail in the brand-new year!

(“Ship's Mascot?”) (“Meow, I'm here.”) (“Everyone Shh!”)

My apprentice declared, let them try their eyes,
Calling glim-fall ahead on the tide’s first rise,
If they’re right every time, well, no surprise,
We have a ship’s cat without peer!

(“First Officer, sir!”)

Been twelve months, holystoning to match
Pour a bottle of wine on the deck to catch
When the crew can spot and repair each scratch
They’ll zail in the brand-new year!

(“Cap’n, your turn!”)

An honor most high to have zailed with you,
Matched blades, broken bread, through it all, stayed true
Clasp hands with the arms bearing shark tattoo
Let us stride forth without fear!

The Mandrake’s fresh tune will be penned and sung
Then the past sheet’s burned and the ashes flung,
As soon as the ink-dried parchment is hung,
We’ll zail in the brand-new year!

(“Steward's assistant!”)

Now I may be new but I’m quick and smart,
I’ve earned my chance and I’ll do my part,
Throw Neptune’s coins, let the journey start,
May we all be of good cheer.

(“All-hands!”) [raucous cheers!]

This here's the chorus, we’ll teach it for free,
We're the dauntless crew of the Raikiri!
On the fastest ship to clip through the zee
We’ll zail in the brand-new year!
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Jules Asimov
Jules Asimov
Posts: 150

8 days ago
People are a hell of thing, Jules Asimov thought to himself. Even after all this time, they still surprise me. It’s the casual cruelty that gets me the most. Any reason to make yourself feel better is a good enough reason to make someone else’s day that much worse.

London was a sour city, stewed in past glories. Gas lamps instead of electricity. Monarchy instead of democracy. And now that calendar nonsense. London was trapped in the past, refusing to modernize, and it would almost certainly pay a heavy price for it when the world fully left it behind.

With this attitude came the appropriate social consequences. The cops were all corrupt, the clergy was worse, and high society made the devils look like angels in comparison. And all throughout the streets, desperation ran rampant, and cruelty was constantly on display. Slums filled with filth and hunger crowded a city marked by crime, and no one had the power to really do anything about it.

Jules didn’t like London. He didn’t like the fog, he didn’t like the filth, he definitely didn’t like the food, and he did not like the people. He had retreated from them, looking into academia and projects abroad, and he loathed having to come back to the crowded streets, over and over.

But this was where he lived. And unless someone found a way to undo the consequences of a trip to the boatman, this is where he’d likely live for the rest of his life.

And so he walked the streets near the university, intent on heading to his home. He’d retire this year with a glass of First Sporing and nice nap by the fire side. Maybe a good book? Or perhaps he’d splurge and have a little Solacefruit as a treat.

Jules mused on this as he walked through the fog, the crowds around him shifting and moving like the tide. And then he saw something that gave him pause.

Across the street, a homeless man curled in the nook of an alleyway, begging for scraps and pennies. His clothes were threadbare and tattered, and by his side was a mangy hound, ribs showing through the fur.

The homeless man was looking at a young woman standing over him. The woman’s clothes were the finest fashion, and her bearing was regal and calm. She had a bag in her hand. From across the street, Jules could see a pale glint inside. Moonpearls.

The woman handed the pearls to the homeless man, who looked at her with awe. She smiled at him, and walked away, never having said a word.

The man hid the pearls under his shirt and walked towards a nearby pawnshop, dog in tow.
They would both eat well tonight.

Jules stood there, in the fog, staring at the spot this strange kindness had occurred, before smiling softly.

People are a hell of a thing, he thought as he walked off. Even after all this time, they still surprise me.

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Posts: 3882

7 days ago
The couple's evening had been modest, to begin with. Tea for two at Beatrice's, followed by a stroll through the streets (already beginning to crowd with revellers) and a debate regarding the possibilities of dinner - find a restaurant, or slip home and send down to the hotel kitchen? The question was settled by a chance encounter with an old friend - who, being eight feet tall and covered head to toe with poetry, was easy to spot above the throng, and who insisted the couple join her to dine with a friend at Dante's.

The friend, it transpired, "couldnae stay o'erlong", as he had a late meeting to attend. He couldn't share the specifics - "ver' clandestine, ver' hush-hush" - but, after four courses and a bottle of good wine, he felt compelled to invite them all along. A crowded cab-ride brought them to a bookshop for moral and improving literature. Its owner had been, in her youth, one of the most committed Radicals of her day, and the group that had gathered in the back room did appear to be politically forward-thinking.

Coffees were pressed into the newcomers' hands, and they joined the earnest discussion of the coming revolution. Of particular interest was the Traitor Empress's coming New Year's proclamation. A grey-haired anarchist ventured that it would highlight the growing divisions in the constabulary, torn between the Crown and the Masters. A young clerk with a centre parting opined that he didn't care at all what "Her Unendearing Majesty" had to say, and appeared very proud of himself.

As midnight approached, a lady in a velvet gown mentioned that her friends had planned "something like a fireworks display", and that they should go somewhere high up to watch it. An expedition to Watchmaker's Hill was tabled, but many hesitated at the thought of climbing through mud and Neath-snow. The couple suggested that they watch from their rooms at the Royal Bethlehem, instead, which was met with more enthusiasm. So, the party moved on again (two cabs this time, as well as the services of a passing velocipedestrian), and were soon seated on settees overlooking the Stolen River.

A crate of Morelways was located, glasses passed out, and polite discussion made. until someone's pocket-watch chimed to announce that midnight was imminent. The company moved to the window as, from some illicit staging-ground behind a riverside warehouse, a flurry of rockets leapt toward the cavern roof with a curious silence and burst into plumes of lightless, timeless space. The lady in velvet raised her glass and toasted "to the liberation!"

It wasn't long before coats, purses and excuses for found, and the parade of guests filed out of the hotel doors and into the dark streets. The couple reviewed the remaining scatter of teacups, champagne flutes, sandwich plates, and, inexplicably, a single bowl of French onion soup. "The one thing we need is someone to help with the washing-up. Preferably someone with at least six hands, or the equivalent quantity of grasping appendages."

Diptych, the Emancipationist Esotericist. Lord Hubris, the Bloody Baron.
Juniper Brown, the Ill-Fated Orphan. Esther Ellis-Hall, the Fashionable Fabian.
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Posts: 1

7 days ago
Vannesa had hoped that this New Year’s Day would be different.
Her quest finally accomplished, after so many years - and so close to the new century, it almost felt like fate.
For so long, the occasion had been merely another reminder of time wasted, year after year gone with progress slow and her entanglement in the underground darkness growing. Already she could not return, already her memories of sunlight were fading.
She was glad, sometimes, that her brother could not remember; could not compare the sister he knew with the lost, hardened woman who strayed out of her depth and only kept swimming further.
More frequently she wished that he did remember her as she was, that his memories of a better self had been there to keep her from falling further. As it was, she had only her own conscience to rely on - well, not quite. There was, or had been, another. But it had been long since her fiance called upon her, and her letters went equally unanswered. His nature was quiet, but not wantonly cold, and her concern mounted even as she continued to prepare for their union.

She sat with Daniel that afternoon, speaking yet again about the past and hoping yet again to coax the timid flame of memory. All her studies could not find an explanation for his amnesia upon returning to her, nor all her experiments a way to break its dam.
At least he was back, she thought again and again. The thought of her long vendetta felt so removed from her nature, but she had been desperate then. Or so she hoped to believe, for cruelty was one vice she remained determined to avoid. Not with with complete success, but surely intent counted for something…

A knock on the door, short and quiet. She rose to answer it, and was aware of the rapture her face broke into. He looked fatigued, but joy shone far above that substrate.
“Darling!” They exclaimed simultaneously, a rite of meeting since their first flush of love.
“Where on earth have you been, John? You look worked half to death! Still after that diamond?”
He chuckled, smoothing back an errant curl.
“In a sense. It got rather more… involved than I expected, so I’m afraid your grand wedding-present will be delayed. Oh!”
His eyes had been drawn to the other man in the room, sitting awkwardly by the table as they spoke.
“I’m sorry, I had no intention of being rude. Would I be right in thinking that you are Vannie’s brother, and that the hopeless desire which brought her to this benighted place is finally brought off? My dear gentleman, I owe you a thousand gratitudes for being the unwitting catalyst of our meeting. I know the inconvenience caused you is immense, but it is my solemn hope that your current situation is not overly distressing?”
Daniel appeared rather nonplussed at this verbal torrent, electing to offer a handshake.
“I’m pleased to meet you, sir.”

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