Lux: City of Secrets - Book 3 of The Evertree Saga by Thom Baylay

high-fantasy
young-adult-fiction
nonbinary-inclusive
gender-choice
#12

Hello!!
The deadline for this competition has now closed but if you missed it, please don’t despair! Send over your fan works if you have them!

It makes me very happy seeing other people’s creativity so while a late entry won’t be eligible to win the main prize, you will still get an email back from me and the chance to ask a question about the series/my writing.

Best of luck to all the contestants. I’ll announce the results next week.

Thank you again to everyone!!

T x

8 Likes
#13

i can’t wait to see the winning entries! i also hope we can see the others as well.

2 Likes
#14

COMPETITION RESULTS
Congratulations to the five winning entries for the competition!
(Listed in no particular order!)
@Jender - For your awesome mixtapes for Dandy and Orion! I’ll definitely be listening to those as I write Book 3. Such a fun idea!
@pimenita - For the intriguing short story about Evertree halfling Tobin’s adventures in the mysterious North.
@ryan_khong - For the moving short story about the sibling left behind in Blackstone and the mysteries surrounding the family fire.
@selpuku - For the ridiculously cute and really fun depiction of the dining room at Evertree Inn. All the small details really bring the room to life.
@Unregistered - For the highly meta and very clever ChoiceScript mini-adventure, Nameless. I’m sure I still haven’t completed every path!

There were lots of really strong entries and it was definitely a real challenge to choose the winners so thank you to everyone for entering and keep an eye on this thread and on my Twitter where I’ll be posting the entries over the next few days.

In the meantime, make sure you check out Sordwin! It’s finally here! :smiley: :smiley: :smiley:

T xxx

18 Likes
#15

Congrats to everyone, and to you Thom :smile:

I’ll be waiting for that steam release :hugs:

4 Likes
#16

Check out these awesome playlists from competition winner @Jender. This was such a fun and original idea for an entry and particularly resonated with me as I always compile a playlist of music before I start writing a new scene or character!

Dandy’s playlist:

Orion’s playlist:

9 Likes
#17

And next winning entry, a short story by @pimenita which gives us a snapshot into the adventures of Tobin Brushgather, the halfling from Evertree Inn.


Click here to read!

This has to be one of the strangest sights I’ve ever seen, Tobin Brushgather thinks as he stares at the fancy dressed, dark skinned elf currently knelt on the road with an ear pressed to the ground.

Near the woods that divide this dirt poor town from the next one, the elf lies unmoving. The only sign of life is the slow raise and fall of their bluish travelling cloak, but Tobin isn’t really paying attention to that; his eyes are too busy running up and down the silver hems adorning the elf’s clothes, and the leather satchel bag resting right next to them.

Gingerly, noiselessly, he tip toes closer to the sleeping form. He would love taking that cloak with him, but trying to pry it off its owner could result in them waking up—not even Tobin and his deft fingers are that good—and he doesn’t like his chances against somebody that almost doubles him in size.

He opens and closes his hands in preparation—although by now it’s more out of habit than anything else; a silent ritual for good luck. Then he starts to work on the leather straps. Hm, a little bit sturdier than he’d thought. Maybe it’s new? Or made out of some creature with a strange name, native of the caves of some country he hasn’t heard of—

Deep brown eyes are staring at him. Tobin jumps back; adrenaline building up, and a hand going to his hidden dagger in anticipation for the fight. He decides against unsheathing it though, when the elf’s only reaction is to blink in confusion.

For what feels like a whole minute both of them stare at each other in complete silence, then the elf speaks.

“You’re here,” their words have a musical tilt to them. “I musta fell asleep.” They stand up and brush the dirt off their clothes, then give him a small bow. “Jorildyn Bibella.”

“What?”

“Jo-ril-dyn Bi-be-lla,” they repeat. “And you are guide, yes? What’s your name?”

Guide, uh? Sure, he can roll with that. “Tobin Brushgather,” he says sketching a bow. “You need to go through the woods, right?”

The elf’s eyes shine with glee. “Yes please, Mr. Brushgather.” Tobin tries not to wince at the way his name’s been butchered.

“Tobin’s fine,” he says. “Just to be sure; you’re a man, right?”

The elf nods. “How interesting,” he says. “People in this place asks for gender clarification?”

“Nah, I just can never tell with you elves,” Tobin simply says.

The elf blinks again and then laughs, probably thinking Tobin is joking. He isn’t.

This Jorildyn is lithe, with high cheekbones, and brown hair kept in a hundred tiny braids. Not too different from every other elf he’s ever come across—aside from his caramel skin, that is. Tobin has never seen one like that.

“So,” he says, making his way into the forest—once there it’ll be easier to wiggle his fingers into that bag and lose the elf through the trees. “Jorildyn. Quite a mouthful, isn’t it?”

“Mouthful?” The elf asks, falling into step with him.

“Do you mind if I call you Jordi?”

Jorildyn frowns. “My people thinks shortening names demeans person. I has it easy; three syllables. Elders, longer names; one I met, eleven syllables. By the time I finish calling for them, whole reason to do so forgotten.”

It figures elves would come up with something like that… “Since I’m not an elf,” Tobin says with a half-smile, “what do you say we forget formalities for a moment?”

His companion thinks about it. “Yes, that’s fine. I can call you Bin.”

“No. No, you can’t.” Tobin glances at the elf’s waist; no dagger, no sword. “Not a lot of reasons to go to a town like Ashenfield,” he mutters loud enough for Jordi to hear.

“I need to find someone and they says he’s there,” Jordi says. “A man of magic.”

“You a mage?”

“Me?” Jordi laughs. “No no no. Magic is not my, uh, thing?”

Tobin nods; that certainly makes his job a lot easier.

After half an hour of friendly chit-chat, and knowing Ashenfield is just around the corner, Tobin decides to go for it. “Jordi,” he starts, “you ever seen a Brownie’s Tear ? It’s a beautiful flower that only grows in these woods.”

The elf looks at him with utmost curiosity.

Tobin motions for him to follow. “This strange flower is found in caves and other dark places, and it shines with this iridescent… dust,” Is he overdoing it? He glances back at Jordi; the elf is looking more than eager to see the made-up flower.

Coming to a stop just outside a small cavern, Tobin points ahead, “Riiight there. Can you see it?”

Jordi walks in, narrowing his eyes. “Where?”

“There,” Tobin repeats, his hands already working on the leather straps. Now that he knows the feel of them, he can do this faster. The satchel bag is finally open, and so he slides his hand—and half his arm—in.

Jordi keeps moving slowly, further into the cave, while Tobin copies his steps with perfect synchronicity. His fingers graze something hard and smooth—rocks?—but no coin pouches, and he gives up after trying for another moment. Feeling annoyed and a little betrayed—why would someone that looks this loaded, have no money on them?—he starts to pull his arm out of the bag. However, at the last moment a weird urge to peek at whatever Jordi is carrying takes a hold of him. After all this trouble, he might as well go ahead and do it.

His hand picks one of the rocks and he carefully slips it out.

At first he isn’t quite sure of what he’s staring at; then the realization hits him hard. A skull, he’s holding a skull. But not any kind of skull: this is a small one that looks a lot like his own.

A halfling’s skull.

“Tobin?” Jordi is watching him, and then his gaze goes to what he’s holding. “Oh…”

Tobin throws it aside, and unsheathes his dagger in a swift motion. “Get away from me!”

“I can explain!” the elf says, showing him the palm of his hands. Both of them stare at each other in silence. “Maybe I can’t,” Jordi finally admits. “But I’m no murderer.”

Tobin narrows his eyes at him, “That’s exactly what a murderer would say. Hand over the cloak!”

Jordi undoes the clasps and takes a step in his direction before Tobin swings his dagger at him. “Get away!”

“But how—“

“Just throw it over here, you maniac!”

Once he’s got the blue cloak, he walks backwards out of the cavern; his eyes never leaving the elf in front of him. With a quick spin, Tobin dashes into the trees without looking back once.

And he thought the common elves were insane…


@pimenita also has a WIP which you can read here. I definitely encourage people to check it out :smiley:

10 Likes
#18

Winning entry No. 3!

@ryan_khong explores the life of the sibling left behind and delves into a possible cause behind the fire that started it all. Perhaps we’ll see more of this particular story thread in future volumes of the Evertree Saga :wink:


Click here to read!

You:
Why do I always end up in these situations?

The question races through your mind, as you struggle through the underbrush. Barren branches rake your skin, and the smell of charred wood fills yours lungs as you desperately flee the encroaching flames. Your brother was traveling towards Lux to pursue his dreams, and you’re hot on his trail. Unfortunately the flames are close behind you. As the flames swallow trees and shrubs alike, you see images of the past in the flames. The flames never let you forget. They morph into images of your home and family being engulfed by flame, your face crying in pain for those you lost along the way. These flames haven’t left you alone, and your brother is the reason why.

Your orange pursuers dredge up the memories of your brother from a time before the flames. You had watched him transform during the two years after the accident. His whimsical nature was replaced by solemn shell, his eyes that once shined with mischief, turned cold from the crimes he commited so we could survive.

You didn’t escape the fire unscathed like your brother. The right side of your face is now a permanent reminder of what you lost. Children pointed at you in horror, the adults looked down upon you in either pity or disdain, and your brother only added to your torment. He never looked at you during those two years, and you hated him for it. Why? For the first year you yearned for an answer, but once you heard it, it didn’t matter to you. He caused you more anguish than anyone, and you hated him for it. He sacrificed so much for you yet scorned the sight of you. He kept you alive while he slowly killed you on the inside.

On the night you became an adult, your brother decided to leave Blackstone to pursue his dreams. He left you in the hands of some of his friends, but most of them didn’t even bother checking in on you. Well all except one.

His name is Nayr, an elf who had lost his sight in a magical accident. He adopted masks to hide his scars, and he eventually began a collection of masks. While his masks made him easily recognizable, his personality made him memorable. As a bard many witnessed his charisma and musical skill at the tavern, to them he was a humble and charming bard, but to us he was something else. Behind closed doors he was cocky to the point of arrogance. Anything about Nayr, is something for Nayr to boast about.

You and many of his friends have taken upon yourselves to keeping Nayr’s ego in check. You focused on his skills as a musician. Having been lucky enough to have your mother take you to an Isaria Evenveil concert, you knew Nayr was about as good as the floor Isaria stood on. You told him as such after one of his particularly boastful sessions. But to your surprise he agreed with your snide comment, and just like that your “friendship” began.

You spent many a night outside the tavern window listening to his songs, and if he had free time he would teach you to play the lute.While learning an instrument was rewarding, you found yourself drawn to painting. Unfortunately it was a rather costly trade when it came to the materials. Nayr tried his best to provide some supplies, but you don’t become a bard in Blackstone for the pay. While Nayr offered you the same opportunities he did to your brother, you scorned the thought of following your brother’s path. Instead you asked for a job at the herbery. An alchemical store to city officials but a place to reach the clouds to those with the right connections. Nayr charmed the owner’s daughter to get you a job in the front,which exposed you to the uses of a variety of herbs; legal or otherwise.

While your brother washed his hands from the tragic fire, you couldn’t let it go. Your investigation into the fire through legal channels always produced the same answers, that it was an accident. A fire started from the hearth then spread to the rest of the house. You distinctly remember your parents telling you to put out the fire because you were the last one going to bed. You are convinced that you put out the fire, and that something was afoot. Even Nayr’s inquiries yielded unsatisfactory answers. You still refused to believe that your negligence caused the fire. So you continued to pursue every lead you could, every lead delivering the same answer. Your mad search for answers plagued your days, and it eventually infected your dreams.

A couple months after your brother left the nightmares begin. You’re surrounded by flame, watching from inside a glass dome, with your mom and dad melting in the flames, their screams bouncing off the glass, a never ending echo. Always the same dream, burning and screaming, every night. One night the glass dome broke. Flames dance around you as the falling shards begin to replay the night you lost everything. You feel yourself being pulled back to that night, and the panic sets in. Before you can scream the smoke lodges itself in your throat, prostrating you before the encroaching flames. You begin frantically clawing at your arms, your flesh and blood building underneath nails, but even the pain wouldn’t wake you up. You close your eyes only to have the same scene appear in your mind. As the smoke begins to clear you begin to see…

Nayr:
A familiar voice rings from the tavern entrance. “I need you to come with me Nayr”, “ Ooo I like how that sounds” Where I expected to hear her trademark exasperated sigh, I hear nothing but the scraping and clattering of wood. Well that was unexpected. As my chair flies out from underneath me, I find myself on the floor, the smell of dried and spilt ale filling my nose. My behind unfortunately made a rather painful introduction to the splintery floor. Mustering my most playful tone, “Come now Fen, if you wanted to forgo the chair, you had but to ask,” As I raise myself onto one knee I muster my most radiant smile, “I have no problem starting on my knees”. You hear the patrons around you roar with laughter as you feel her footsteps reverberating through the wood as she stops in front of you. A scent drifts to your nose. Hm a new perfume? What is that? Lilac and gooseberries? An odd combination to be sure. “Get up Nayr, NOW”. Oh geez am I in trouble. As soon as I get to my feet she grabs my hand and drags me out the door. The laughter and sexual jests fade as the tavern’s door closes. Always gotta put on a show.

“Alright Fen what’s going on,” her calloused hands retreats from my own. “The aura coming from their home is colder than usual, so I came to get you” I raise an eyebrow, “A little chill and you came to get me? If I knew any better,you just wanted to hold my hand again.” I reach out my hand and warmth envelopes it as Fen leads me toward the cabin. “ I’ve heard all of your lines before Nayr, they won’t work on me.” She mutters under her breath “I wouldn’t mind you being on your knees…” I quip “You say something Fen?” “You heard me”.My oh my how I miss our banter. Although the which is soon replaced with an irritation I am all to familiar with. “I don’t understand why you insist on watching over her.” “Because I won’t let my discomfort stop me from doing my job” Fen replies incredulously “Job? Where’s the money for this job? If anything you LOSE money doing this Nayr! ” There’s no use arguing with her, we’ve spoken about this countless times before. “Now now Fen, if I only did things for money how much would you owe me?” Fen quiets as your senses turn in their reports. The air has grown still, there’s nervous stomping of hooves on stone, no rats squeaking or pattering about, the lively chatter of merchants and passerbys have been replaced with low murmurs. Something’s off here.

“Well it has been a long time since we’ve done something like this” You feel her shoulder nudge you. I chuckle “My oh my, now what’s gotten into you Fen? New perfume and wanting my company?” I turn towards her direction and grin, “Shall I re add you to the list of women who have fallen under my spell?” Wait for it… and there it, is her exasperated sigh, “Oh please Nayr, you talk this big game, but you’re as pure as the first snows,” My head turns in her direction “I think being that pure is quite impressive seeing the amount of sticky situations I’ve been in,” Fen drops your hand followed with her trademark sigh, “You’re such a manwhore Nayr”. My laugh breaks the still air “As pure as snow and a manwhore at the same time? Did any of that make sense in your head?” Fen huffs, “Perfect sense”. A sigh escapes me, I miss these interactions between us, I’ve been seeing less of Fen once I started watching over our friend’s sibling, since Fen doesn’t want to go anywhere near them.

Fen:
It’s getting colder, far colder than usual. It feels like the cold has slipped past your clothing’s warmth and settled upon your skin. As you shiver, Nayr’s sigh catches your attention as you see his cold breath fade with the breeze. To your surprise he has removed his domino mask, revealing his once brown eyes now a dimmer version of their former selves. The magical scars appear to be dark tendrils moving towards his eyes, but they stop before they invade the white’s of his eyes. His empty gaze accompanied with the dark tendrils, forces you to look away. “That bad huh?” the playfulness gone from his voice. “Yeah it is” I reply curtly. He laughs as the playfulness returns to his voice “I can always count on your honesty Fen”. I turn back to see the domino mask upon his face, his hand outreached. I grab his hand as we hurry to the house. As we reach the slums of Blackstone I lead Nayr down the narrow alleyways. As we approached the house the temperature continues to drop, and I begin shivering. “I’ve never seen you react this badly are you feeling okay?” “I-I-I t-t-told y-y-you t-that i-i-i-t w-w-was c-c-c-cold” As soon as I finish my statement the house comes into view, a rundown cabin in desperate need for repair. A cabin built from the salvaged wood from their last home, it’s a sorry sight and not as structurally sound as one could hope for, but it was their home.

As we approach Nayr pulls me back. But before he can say anything orange orbs sets the night sky alight. They circles around Blackstone cutting through the dark clouds, I watch in awe as they appear to dance through the sky. You can see the people start to notice this light show, and the oos and aws of children fill the night air.

Until the orbs start raining down upon Blackstone, that’s when sounds of terror filled the night. One orb in particular beelined towards us. As I dive on top of Nayr, the orb flies overhead, but the orb continues to glow like the sun forcing me to look away. I open my eyes to see Nayr’s eyes twinkling with mischief, but before I can say anything he reverses our positions only straddling me briefly before he stands up. “I’ve learned some new tricks just for you Fen,” Nayr extends a hand, which I promptly swat away. Of all the times for his shenanigans, I irritably reply “Is everything always a line with you?” “It’s all part of the charm,” god that smile of his. As I turn from Nayr I notice the cold is gone, replaced by a heat. I’m flushed, sweat dripping from my brow, I was just freezing a moment ago, where did the orb go? I don’t have to wait long until the flames enveloped the house. They spread unnaturally fast, as I run towards the house I yell at Nayr to stay put. As I reach the door I find myself soaring in the opposite direction as my world goes black.

You:
As your eyes begin to focus you see the trademark domino mask and a ghost of a smile. You also notice an unconscious Fen nestled upon Nayr’s shoulder. As you sit up from Nayr’s lap you take a look at your surroundings, your home in flames, piles of smouldering ash lie around the plot. As you gaze falls upon Nayr and Fen, both of their clothes appear singed, the smell of burnt wood emanating from them. Nayr is breathing heavily as Fen appears to be barely breathing at all. Before you can move to help them, Nayr’s stern gaze stops you in your tracks. “You can’t stay here any longer, you need to find your brother fast” You open your mouth to speak but Nayr cuts you off, “Shut the hell up and listen to me, you need to get out of here, this was not an accident, all of Blackstone is in flames, you have to get out of here.” You take a look up to see that it appears to be late afternoon, until you look out away from Blackstone to see the sky pitch black. You can barely begin to process everything until Nayr shoves a backpack in your arms, “This was all I could save, get going, find your brother, follow the edge of the Firstwood, and you will eventually get there” you see Nayr’s eyes go wide, as you follow their gaze. The ash piles that litter the area start to glow a dark orange, “RUN NOW!” and with that you ran, through familiar roads and buildings, all of them alight, shops and houses you walked by everyday, the herbery. Everything you knew was in flame, and just like that, you lost everything again.


10 Likes
#19

Winner number 4! This fantastic scene of the Evertree Dining Room in Chapter 3 :smiley:
Thanks @selpuku, I love it!

24 Likes
#20

Trying to recognise everyone on the pic:
Wen and Gunther are obvious, and I assume the guy with the green clothes must be @selpuku’s MC. But the blonde guy sitting with MC and the one at the counter leave me a bit confused. The pointy ear and my memories of that scene suggest that the former must be Dandy, but isn’t he described to have black hair and blue eyes? Guess that leaves us with Lamuel as to who the guy at the counter could be, he is also drawn differently than how he is described in the game. (Sorry, I tend to get nitpicky when it comes to such details.)

Otherwise I like it. The drawing style is really cute.

4 Likes
#21

I guess my brain isn’t good in remembering any physical descriptions in games lol this is actually how I imagine everyone in Evertree :flushed::sweat_drops: (tbh I imagine Wen with reddish brown hair but darker hair looks better in the drawing)
glad you like it tho haha

4 Likes
#22

Haha, half the time I don’t imagine them how I wrote them either :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

6 Likes
#24

And the final winner of the Evertree competition (sorry it took so long to update!):

@Unregistered’s incredible mini choice adventure set in the Evertree Universe. It’s a lot of fun and a very clever play on the theme of the competititon where the prize is to name a new character in the series!

https://dashingdon.com/play/unregistered/nameless--an-evertree-saga-fan-game/

Thank you again to everyone who entered. Be sure to watch my social media for other fan entries which I’ll be posting as they come plus some of the runners up from the competition.

Now I’m going to go back to Chapter 1 of Book 3 :smiley:

15 Likes
#25

First glimpses :blush:

image

image

29 Likes
#26

@ThomB So how many characters will there be in this which are created by fans?

1 Like
#27

Oohhh so excited! I can’t wait :smiley:

This will not be the last book in the series, right?

2 Likes
#28

@Cari-san There will be 5 characters in this story whose name/appearance/personality was chosen by the winners of the competition, however you will never encounter more than 1 of them in a single play through, and even the winners don’t know what the stories of those characters will be. :smiling_imp:

@lynossa Yes, the plan is for the series to be more episodic. I have no plan for how many books it will be but at the moment I have ideas for 3 more. It’s nice to feel like I’m still at the beginning of the story :blush:

22 Likes
#29

You monster.

4 Likes
#30

Good strategy :slight_smile:

giving you a solid foundation to expand the universe/story

1 Like
#31

Oooh the chance of seeing my beloved Dandy again :heart_eyes: Looking forward to it :grin:

5 Likes
#32

Are you going to release a demo?

1 Like