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Fallen London New Year’s Eve Competition: The Winners

Last year, before the Empress so rudely cancelled 1900, we set a creative challenge to the Fallen London community. We asked for responses to the prompt: “What does your character usually do on New Year’s Eve?”

As you might expect, the range of activities Fallen London citizens get up to for such an occasion were extremely varied. As usual, we found it agonising to choose between them. (That it is always so agonising doesn’t surprise us; there are so many talents on display in the community, and particularly in our Discord, where art and creative writing are shared often.)

We hope that everyone who entered is proud of their submission, and had a good time making it, which is after all a good chunk of the point. We hope to have further competitions like this in the future, so don’t be too disheartened if your entry wasn’t chosen.

Due to the volume and quality of entries, we have elected to award prizes to a total of ten entries: five in various media, and five in writing. They represent a breadth of the kinds of activities people suggested for their characters: some jovial, some lonely, some a performance, some requiring privacy. Imagine if you will that on a given New Year’s Eve, any and all of these things will be happening, throughout London, all at once.

Winners in the Category of Various Media

First, a gallery of winning images:

Jamey Combs’ Photo Series

“A revel for the Century? Even if 1900 is canceled, that’s no excuse to not party. Hopefully the hangover doesn’t send them to Venderbight. Or to New Newgate.”

These are frankly hilarious, right down to the artful blurring, and we respect the total commitment to the bit.

Jonathan Giese’s Midnight LEGO Scene

“It depicts my character uncorking a bottle of Broken Giant as they watch fireworks light up the London skyline.”

We could barely contain ourselves at the detail in this LEGO creation. The cats and rats, the perfect angle on the House of Chimes, and the fireworks caught in bloom. Plus we think the first depiction of the Bazaar in LEGO!

Harvey Hattington’s Heartfelt Artwork

“New Years Eve had ever been a quiet affair in the Hattington household. A meal, a glass of wine, a bit of dancing.
One of them lying dead and buried on the surface had never struck Harvey as a reason to break with tradition.”

Touching, melancholy, and beautifully composed.

And now, two video winners:

Penelope Crumberbun’s Soiree

“On New Year’s Eve, Penelope Crumberbun entertains at an elegant soiree at Mahogany Hall with a display of grace and daring. And if some guests returned home having lost jewels or echoes, no connection to Penelope can be known from what as recorded.”

We were bowled over by the efforts and skill on display in this entry. Such artistry.

My Lord, by Wrenish

“Masked and decked to the nine, tens and twelves, she played to an empty room, before a mirror. Jewels acquired through…questionable means. Song, appropriately somber and macabre.

If a certain Individual was watching through that mirror, more the better.”

Carefully arranged, beautiful, and skillful. What can you say to a harp? We can hear it playing out across the rooftops now.

Winners in the Category of Writing

The Violant-Scrawling Apologist/William Elliss

Such a specifically Neathy tradition, and a neat way to show the theme of reflection on times past.

The journey was dangerous. Not the sort of thing the Violant-Scrawling Apologist would have enjoyed, if he hadn’t been so outrageously drunk. It was tradition – one he’d started in his more reckless days, before the Boatman had learnt his middlegame. Besides, the journey was much simpler now than it had been back then.

London spread out dizzyingly below him, its streets seeming to shift and adjust as he gazed out over the city’s dark and smoggy magnificence. The Apologist blinked a couple of times. Probably just the alcohol.

He leaned back against the spire, aching legs dangling over the edge. Climbing was hard work, especially when you were carrying such a variety of liquids as he was. The Apologist’s head lay against the dark carapace for a second, felt its familiar warmth. His touch never left the surface, even as he continued along the makeshift walkway.

Now here they were. The beginnings of the tradition. Words, sentences, scratched into the carapace. Crude and worn, but still legible.

“Met this cute Artist’s Model the other day,” the first begins. A younger Apologist, new to the Neath, had heard the tales of the burning sigils on the skin of the Bazaar. And, like a rebellious schoolchild with a compass, he’d decided to leave his mark, too. But not just his name, not just the date he was there. The Apologist had left his stories.

Stories of love, at first. Soon, though, it had become a diary of sorts, added to each New Year’s. His escape from New Newgate, his reconnection with his aunt, his first death. His first steps into hunting the Vake. As the Apologist walked through the years, he reread each story in turn. His finger traced underlines on his journey, and the writing slowly improved. Both literarily and chirographically – even errant sigils of the Correspondence began sneaking into the tales of later years.

Eventually, the Apologist reached last year’s visit. The stories here were entirely Correspondence, carefully inscribed in the colour of memory. His campaigns in Parabola. A dream of Mr Wines. The fate of the Vake.

And then they ended. Here, the Bazaar’s dark skin was pristine and unmarked. Here was where the Apologist had had no more stories to tell. But that was then, and a lot could happen in a year. He shrugged off his backpack, and the bottles of wine clinked against pots of violant ink. He dipped a quill into the first pot. As midnight approached, he lay a hand on the skin of the Bazaar, and began to write.


Another essentially Neathy tradition, beautifully evoked.

A slow boat. A dark river.

In a louder, brighter place, there is revelry. A city dons its finery in celebration of a future rich with industry and blood. Here, not even dust motes catch the lantern’s beam. The taste of painless poison lingers on her lips. Black water flows between her fingers when she reaches overboard, always colder than expected. The cloaked man at the prow grins at her, but then, he never does anything else.

Does time mean anything, where she is now? The Boatman must have seen centuries come and go, but she can’t guess whether he marked their passing. He sets the chessboard up in the way their games have taken: gleaming white for him, the color of Surface pearls and children’s teeth, and for her the black of Liberation. She can’t promise him his chains will someday break, but she still wins as often as she loses.

She takes from beneath her coat a box containing two wineglasses and a slender bottle of Broken Giant. A fine year. No doubt he’s tasted finer, if he drinks at all, but even a middling vintage is better than the memory of Second City tomb wines long gone.

“A bribe?” The Boatman’s voice is dry, perhaps amused. The pits of his eyes are wilderness devoid of stars. He frightens her. She thinks he always will.

“A gift,” she says, and pours a draught for each of them, deep and dark. “To old acquaintance.”

In a place where time still matters, clocks strike twelve across the city. Fireworks crack the century open, and urchins throw their hats aloft for the wind to steal and, with luck, return. Here, where there is no wind, a game begins with its ending already written. The Boatman makes his opening gambit. She counters. Slow waves rock the boat, and ceaseless currents carry it. And in the lull between one move and the next, there is the sound of two glasses clinking in the still air.


Expertly captures the way New Year celebrations can turn from one thing into another, and there’s a little extra gag in the tail. 

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.”

Nicholas Octavian

A quiet moment to realise exactly what it must be like, living underground, trying to find warmth and joy where you can.

Warmth is rare in the Neath.

Not heat, which one can find in many places, from the searing Correspondence to the water pipes of the rich, but warmth: the middle of two extremes; the center where comfort lies. The people of London seek warmth in many places: they seek company in Veilgarden, they mull their mushroom wine, and they gather around gaslamps to swap stories and bawdy jokes.

Yes, for many, warmth means company. Already London draws in upon herself, shivering and flexing and pumping warm blood through her streets. Its people announce their parties, draw up their decorations, and guzzle their wine by the gallon. It is a strange sort of winter beneath miles of stone and shadow, and it makes it all the stranger that one would spend New Years’ in solitude.

A man sits in a manor nestled at the foot of the Bazaar, lacre piled outside. His coat is draped across the back of a plush russet armchair, and a wan coal fire spills ruddy light across the room. The man rests, feet kicked up on a scuffed ottoman. He is many things to many people: scholar, poet, scientist.


But tonight, he is alone. For once, he allows his spindly frame to rest. His hands are scarred and gnarled, at odds with his delicate Society image. They are marred with nicks and callouses and the million tiny burns of a Correspondent. For tonight, and tonight only, those scars are uncovered. His hands crease around a delicate cup of cocoa, and for once, he allows himself to reminisce.

New Years’ is a time for rebirth and renewal, to shed the skin of the previous year and emerge anew. However, for a man who lives and breathes by metamorphic adage, such renascence is old hat, almost trite. So instead, he indulges his weariness and allows himself to relax. He drums his fingers on the porcelain of his cup before taking a languid sip of cocoa. The heat and sweetness ease into his body: bliss.

Warmth is rare in the Neath.

Natasha Daybright

A love story. Of course.

London was an engine fueled by want, a loop Natasha Daybright loved to throw herself into with the abandon of someone who thought they were going to live forever. Good work to pay for great parties that, obviously, merited more great parties that needed more good works to pay off and so on and so on like a huffing steam engine. She loved it, the people, the scheming, the spice of targeted violence when words weren’t sharp enough. All part of the thrumming, clattering buzz of the human hive down here in the Neath.

But as the old year died, Natasha stepped aside from the engine, dismissed all her allies and servants, paused her scheming. She boiled up a stick to your ribs stew and pulled out a cheap wine. Set out out two bowls, two wine glasses, on a table in her mostly-darkened Sanctum. Alone.

Until her wife joined her in the glow of a few candles with soft words and gentle mockery and warm love for a meal that Natasha prepared every New Year’s Eve since she fled the sun that was her namesake..

Tomorrow, she’d join the roar of the engine again, a happy cog in the Bazaar’s design for her city. But tonight? Tonight she’d celebrate the New Year with the reason she wanted to live forever.