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Thread: Dangerous Liaisons

  1. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by canonized View Post
    I'm just putting the ole girl on ice for now
    That sounds like the Liasons were Dangerous indeed!

    (In the words of Deputy Director Bullock, "I told you I was rusty!")

    As for everyone being victims, strictly speaking, it is untrue. Most of them are. Others, will be first against the wall when the revolution comes, and there will be much rejoicing.
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    saw what you did there Davout's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGB View Post
    That sounds like the Liasons were Dangerous indeed!

    (In the words of Deputy Director Bullock, "I told you I was rusty!")

    As for everyone being victims, strictly speaking, it is untrue. Most of them are. Others, will be first against the wall when the revolution comes, and there will be much rejoicing.
    Haha . You and your revolutionary tendencies !

    Quote Originally Posted by Davout View Post
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  4. #84
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    Hrm hrm, I believe it's actually tomorrow today, which would mean that according to the statement above, we should have a Wall of Text to indulge ourselves in.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Najs View Post
    Hrm hrm, I believe it's actually tomorrow today, which would mean that according to the statement above, we should have a Wall of Text to indulge ourselves in.
    Yeah I was actually trying to calculate the time difference to see what day he was talking about XD
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    Chapter VII: Cécile de Volanges


    27 June 1783

    Dear Elly,

    I've been playing lots of Eastern games as of late. The Chinese merchants that I've come into contact with hail from a culture that has a long tradition of power struggle and intrigue that dates back almost unbroken to when Rome was still a hill-top tribe of brutes. Nowadays, we Europeans are scrambling to take advantage of the unstable nature of that faraway realm. Nowadays, many people will tell you about how barbarous
    they are. In many ways it's true, but in many ways, they have cultivated a culture of deceit that puts a Parisian court to shame. Much like their violence, this deceit comes with a kind of elegance. Cunning becomes a standard of prowess.

    There was once a man over a thousand years ago, I was told, who was nicknamed the Crouching Dragon. He was named this because of his wisdom and his subtlety. One of his more famous exploits actually came about because of a mistake he had made. He had sent his main army forward away from the town he was camping at. It so happened that a rival of his decided to launch a surprise attack against the town he was in. Instead of lamenting his imminent capture, he instructed all of his soldiers to take down his banners, to open all of the gates of the city, and to make no preparations for an attack. Instead, they were to pretend that the entire area was deserted.

    When his rival approached, his men were eager to storm the open gates, but the rival paused. He saw the Crouching Dragon on top of the gate strumming an instrument and in a Daoist robe... seemingly taunting him to enter. The rival, instead, ordered a full retreat. How was this possible? The answer is simple. When you face someone who is rumoured to be the most clever man in China, then you second guess your own footing. The Crouching Dragon was known for his traps and cunning: only a fool walks into one. The rival did not wish to take that chance. Reputation is so important that it can turn away armies and protect you from harm. You must learn to guard your reputation with your life, Elly...


    ~~


    “I'll raise it another three hundred,” Léon smiled to the gentlemen around him.

    “You seem to be in a good mood, Vicomte,” one of the men in the table commented.

    “So does your wife. Calling or raising me, M. Uliel?” Léon flashed a larger grin. There was a quiver in Uliel's brow and Léon could detect in the periphery of his vision the slight twitch of a finger hoping to raise. Frustration was easy to detect in some of the more unprepared, Léon might have said. Usually the player would let his cards do the revenge for him, but unsightly anger from the man playing to his left meant that any raise would be a bluff.

    “I'll raise,” Uliel responded before looking quickly to the next one in line.

    He can't wait fast enough for the others to get out of his way, Léon calmly thought to himself. The other two, as expected, folded. Léon pushed some more of his chips in. “Relancer,” he said quietly before flashing a quick glance over to the other side of the parlour. Uliel followed those eyes and was mortified when he realized it was his wife at the other end of that gaze. His wife was watching the game from afar.

    Sweat began to build on Uliel's head. His heart beat so loudly that he could hear it in his neck and ears. He looked to Léon who had gone back to staring at him. There was more at stake than losing money now... there was his wife to consider. Not only was Léon's reputation that of a lucky man at cards, but that he was lucky with women. Especially women who had husbands who were unlucky...

    Filer...” Uliel shuddered a response and threw his cards away. The chips had already begun to move in Léon's direction.

    ~~


    …there was one more thing I wanted to add about Reputation. Reputation need not be based on reality. In fact, if you are able to build your Reputation out of illusion, then you are doubly the master of the art. Naturally there will be some requirement to base your reputation off of. Perhaps a victory or two at something. Perhaps a winning hand. Perhaps a great conquest. However, the manipulation of events afterward can maintain or stretch that reputation to a higher level. For example: I lose my share of games at Bouillotte: no one is infallible in that game, but I always lose on the games with the smallest stakes. Because then, when those men who had beaten me before come against me where the stakes are higher, and they lose: then they believe to themselves that I had somehow tricked them or purposefully lost earlier in order to gain information about them. Either way, they believe me to be a better player than I really am. They think of me as only losing when I want to.

    It is methods like these that will get you ahead, my dear. Of course, there is always the idea of one of the most supremely excellent coups of power and seduction. It is not advisable to set yourself up for such an endeavor but when the opportunity comes along, you might be counted amongst the greatest. What scenario do I speak of? Why, tricking someone despite a tarnished reputation. That, however, requires a cunning that most men are unable to accomplish...

    Sincerely,
    Léon


    ~~


    “But Mother--”

    “Don't but mother me... just because your father isn't here,” Madame de Volanges retorted to her daughter.

    Cécile looked up to the waning luminescence of the afternoon sun before returning to observe her mother get into the carriage. “Will you at least leave me Gerard?” Cécile sighed.

    Cécile's mother paused at the foot of the carriage and swung herself around. It was clear where Cécile's features came from. The flowing blonde curls were a bit more strained on the crown of her mother, but they still hung down like healthy willow leaves. The only major difference between the two of them aside from the more matured vintage of the mother's countenance was the lack of a healthy Caribbean tan. Cécile wasn't so bronzed to make her look plain, but her sun bathed skin emanated through all that powder.

    “Very well... I'll leave you Gerard, but Albert and Saint-Germaine go with me. I can't have you keeping all the good horses to yourself.”

    “You shouldn't be riding them in the first place!” Cécile complained with a smile. “You're getting too old...”

    Cécile's mother swatted at her with her fan. “I'll show you old, young lady,” she chided hardly able to keep a smile from forming. “With your father overseas, I have to find some way of distracting myself. You should be lucky I like to ride horses when I'm on holiday. Some of the other women here ride cruder animals,” she rolled her eyes as she pointed in either direction of the road.

    “Have a good trip, mama. Say hello to Aunt Dorothie for me!” Cécile bid her mother farewell with an embrace and a kiss on her cheek.

    The matriarch kissed her daughter in return. Laced hands found those cheeks as Madame de Volanges looked at Cécile with eyebrows raised as if she was talking to a young child. “Take care of your cousin while I'm gone. That poor boy doesn't get enough sleep. Take him out to the coast sometime if you want. I'll leave you some money--”

    “We'll be alright, mama. I'm taking him with me down to the cottage near Troyes with me this weekend. I think a spell outside of the city might do him some good.”

    Madame de Volanges shook her head. “It's not the country that boy needs, my dear. It's learning how to trust people again.”

    “And you think he can do that here in Paris?” Cécile smirked a little bit.

    “No, I guess not,” the mother conceded as she spun around on the step and entered the carriage. “I'll see you in a few days then darling. Don't get too rowdy in the woods over there.”

    “Have a good trip, mama!”

    ~~


    “Good to see you again Mademoiselle!” the groundskeeper bowed lowly and tipped his leather cap. The man smiled crooked teeth at the young lady. Cécile was giving him a genuine smile in return.

    “Good to see you again Guilbert,” Cécile greeted him. “How has the cottage been?”

    “In tip top shape, Mademoiselle! Michel and I have been taking care of your place for you according to your instructions.”

    “I brought Gerard with me, could you put him in the stable for me?”

    “Absolutely, Mademoiselle. I'll have Michel carry your bags,” the old man smiled before leaning slightly to the right. “Ahh! I see you've brought the young master with you.”

    “He was reluctant to come, but I think getting out a little bit would be good for him,” Cécile turned back to the lanky young man stepping out of the car. Michel, the groundkeeper's boy, had run up to where Luc was, gave the young man a bow, and then began to grab some of the luggage from the carriage. Luc, almost embarrassed by the bow the younger boy gave him, watched in shock the resilience of the servant boy carrying the luggage away. Cécile smirked a little bit. “He's still a bit awkward even out here,” she said quietly more to himself than to Guilbert.

    “There is something I should tell you about, Mademoiselle,” Guilbert said lowly. The bushy eyebrows of the old man shielded his pale eyes. Cécile twisted around quickly to wait for the news.

    “It's not about--”

    “Oh no,” Guilbert was quick to alleviate her expression. “That is still safe... actually it was something a bit more mundane. There's been someone at the local tavern that had asked about you the other night.”

    “Who?” Cécile took a step closer to the shy groundskeeper who was holding his leather cap in both of his hands.

    “I'm afraid I don't know, Mademoiselle. He apparently kept to himself. He was asking about where your cottage was.”

    “Do you think... he's one of them?” Cécile asked even more quietly.

    “I'm not sure. He paid the innkeeper well apparently so he wouldn't tell me much more unless I 'paid him as much as the other man did.' Sharks at that tavern, I tell you, Mademoiselle.”

    Cécile thought for a moment and her eyes wandered around the estate. Treeline covered most of the wooded area behind the rather substantial cottage. In fact, it was more like a country home than it was a Spartan like structure. There were other subsidiary buildings here and there: one for woodcutting, a stable, and the domicile of Guilbert and his family. She noticed young Michel ferrying the bags into the house.

    “Your cousins are still in the area this time of year aren't they?” Cécile asked.

    “Yes ma'am,” Guilbert replied.

    “Tell them that I want their wives to help Adelina out. We're going to have a feast this Sunday. I'll pay them a little extra. I'll also want them to go around the grounds and gather firewood and find something to eat on Sunday. Tell them to bring their rifles either way.”

    Guilbert nodded in understanding. “I'll get them on it. Should I tell them to shoot on sight?”

    Cécile thought for a moment and looked to her left at Luc dragging one of his bags down to the house. “Yes... tell them to shoot on sight.”

    ~~


    28 June 1783

    They had placed the bleeding man on one of the beds. There would be no doctor for miles, but Guilbert at least had experience with the matter. A heated needle and some fine string worked in his hands so well that it was hard to believe that he was old enough to be the bleeding man's grandfather.

    “I don't know!” Guilbert's cousin Antoine was complaining. “He just came out of the treeline and I just...”

    “Get him out of here before he disturbs my concentration! All of you get out! I need to think” Guilbert yelled as the maids rushed the other man out of the room. The door was shut and the candlelight flickered angrily.

    ~~


    “He should be alright,” Guilbert reported to Cécile.

    Cécile's face was white even as the flame of the candle attempted to impress a blushing red-orange on her face. “I can't believe it,” she tried to say.

    “You're lucky my cousin's a terrible shot, he might have killed him at that range,” Guilbert sighed. “Just why on earth would he be here?”

    “I wanted to deliver these,” Léon de Valmont was at the darkened doorway of the guest room. A bandage covered his right shoulder which seeped a wine-red hue. His hair was wrinkling around his eyes as he managed a self-assured grin. His body was positioned awkwardly against the door and sweat dripped down his shirtless frame: he was trying to hide the pain. In his left hand held out a small package of wrapped correspondence.

    At first Cécile was taken by surprise and had swerved the candlestick in the direction of the guest room before catching her breath at the disheveled sight of the Vicomte.

    “You should be in bed, sir!” Guilbert objected and attempted to take a step towards the gentleman who merely kept staring at Cécile.

    “I must deliver these to Mademoiselle de Volanges,” Léon reiterated as he too took a step forward, releasing himself from the support of the doorframe and eliciting a stab of pain across his right cheek which he quickly suppressed. His voice strained slightly at his concentration. “Your paperwork has been completed as per your request so I thought I'd deliver them--”

    “Vicomte... you could have waited back in Paris--”

    “Paris would also not have been the proper place to deliver these,” Léon added as he slid some papers forward at the very bottom of the stack. “From our mutual friend Monsieur de Rochambeau...”

    Cécile stopped breathing for a second. Her hand reached out, as if in a trance, to take the correspondence from Léon's hands. The candlestick found its way to a side table as she skipped through the official grants for her request to the sealed handwritten envelopes of her lover. Quickly, she crumbled the seal in between her fingers so fast and in such a dim light that she did not even notice that they had been sealed over twice. With her face and the paper nearly burning at the proximity to the candle, she read the letters quickly.

    “Now that my mission is complete,” Léon smiled painfully, “if you'll kindly loan me a horse for the evening I can head back to the tav--”

    Cécile quickly straightened herself up. “I don't understand, Vicomte, how did you get these and why did you deliver them personally here?” Léon took a moment to sober his expression. He passed a glance to Guilbert before looking back at Cécile. Cécile blinked for a second before realizing the message. “You may leave us for now, Guilbert,” Cécile instructed Guilbert.

    Guilbert gave a suspicious look to Léon before backing away and exiting through one of the hall doors.

    “Getting them was probably more difficult than those grants you asked me to procure,” Léon began. “They were being held by the Marquise de Merteuil: I'm sure you know exactly why. As for why I wanted to give them to you personally, I didn't. I was hoping to drop it off into your box, but one of your servants seemed to have gotten the better of me before I could do it.”

    “That's not what I mean,” Cécile was holding onto the letters closely to her chest. “Why are you doing any of this at all?”

    Léon maintained his smile and stepped backward to find the support of the doorframe once more. “This was why I wanted to merely do it without anyone noticing—I wouldn't have to explain myself.”

    “Well now you do,” Cécile pressed.

    There was a pause. The candlelight on the sidetable was barely enough to illuminate the five feet gap between them. Léon's body glistened quietly in the unstable illumination. “A few years ago, I had run away to the Indies,” Léon began to explain. “At the time, my parents were already dead. I had hoped to get away from the cold black heart of Paris and to somewhere freer. At the time, I had a lady friend who shared my want to let go of France. I was hoping to build a new life there in the New World.

    “I eventually learned the plantation system and she had gone back to Paris to get a charter to start a few more on Saint Martin. She asked around, but no one would listen to her. Instead, she had accumulated some debt in order to pay for expenses while there and for her petitions. She couldn't pay them off and in time, she had to ask for help from other personages. People would lead her on and tell her that she would get what she asked for only to confess ignorance about any 'bribe' later that week. She couldn't pay her debts. Debt collectors came. No one cared if some colonial was robbed and raped in her Paris apartment. She killed herself instead of telling me.” Léon's face had descended downward, and his lips were slack as he spoke as if a doll was talking. There was no more reaction to the wound on Léon's face. Something else had superseded it.

    “Vicomte--”

    “I went back, you know,” he said while looking at the floor: looking at the shadow he was casting behind his feet down there. “That's how I came back here. That's why I'm as tanned as you see me now,” Léon began to speak faster. “No one would answer my demands for a duel even though I knew which of those pigs did it. Killing them would be too easy for them, anyway. I couldn't get them to respond to my challenges, so I had to make them do it. I slept with every one of their wives until they contested me with pistols. None of them survived. None of them...” Léon winced and the area around his shoulder deepened in that vermilion hue. He shuddered back against the doorframe and his knees buckled slightly.

    “Valmont...” Cécile rushed forward. Those letters dropped out of her hands. Her arms swung underneath that man's frame and for a second, his chin rested on the top of her head. Her cheek was feeling the heat coming off his collarbone and a scent of something like chocolate from that sweating body.

    “You'll never be my Madeleine, Cécile,” Léon said with a rueful smile. “She's gone now and she was beautiful. But seeing you... and how much you are like her...” every time he spoke, the vibration of his voice pressed against Cécile's body. “Showed me just how much I disgraced her memory doing what I've done... and I just...” Léon winced, “I just.. wanted... to try and do something that would make me,” he grimaced again and his frame leaned more heavily against Cécile, “that would make me... worthy of recalling her memory...” he collapsed into her arms with a quick grunt.

    Cécile panicked and lowered him to the ground. Her hand pressed against his cheek trying to quicken him. “Valmont!” she yelled. “Valmont!” When she couldn't wake him, she looked down either side of the hall. “Just wait... I'll get Guilbert again...” she said desperately to his unresponsive face. She quickly stood up and ran down the hallway.

    When she was safely out of earshot and view, Léon quickly got up from the floor, reached back into the guest room and procured a small pouch. He rushed to the back window of the room and opened it silently. The man below looked up. “As promised,” Léon whispered as he dropped the pouch down to the man below. “Now, be quick about it, she's coming to find you.”
    Last edited by canonized; 16-01-2011 at 22:38.
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  7. #87
    In Hiding dinofs's Avatar
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    Superb writing as ever, Canonized! I especially liked the letter Léon wrote to Elly. It had some interesting advice.
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  8. #88
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Najs View Post
    Hrm hrm, I believe it's actually tomorrow today, which would mean that according to the statement above, we should have a Wall of Text to indulge ourselves in.
    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Man View Post
    Yeah I was actually trying to calculate the time difference to see what day he was talking about XD
    Sorry for the delay XD ended up spending some quality time with some friends . Including an epic mahjong night . 1-9 bamboo , full conceal , all chow . it was pretty epic ! The night before I had 7 pair THREE TIMES .

    Quote Originally Posted by dinofs View Post
    Superb writing as ever, Canonized! I especially liked the letter Léon wrote to Elly. It had some interesting advice.
    Thank you very much Glad you liked the letters ! Life lessons to be learned ! just be careful what you do with it ! With great power comes great responsibility XD
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    Hahaha, Leon is as sly as ever, and is that a backstory I see before me? Or just a cover?
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  10. #90
    saw what you did there Davout's Avatar
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    Well done again. Although I think Cecile is obviously too generous in her pay if French peasants in 1780's could afford rifles instead of smooth bore muskets or shotguns.

    I must admit that I was not surprised by the "twists" but I suspect that was the intent since we are looking from Leon POV. I do not believe Mlle Cecile is so easily taken in.

    And the delay in the update is forgiven. I note you spent quality time with friends. How is Starcraft II then?
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  11. #91
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    How would a 18th century Frenchman know of Zhuge Liang? Romance of three kingdoms was not yet translated, I'd think?
    I love RTK.

  12. #92
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    Card gambling, pah!

    The number one reason why aristocracies fall and revolutions happen. Not to mention frightfully boring.

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    Reputation is a curious thing. Leon is telling of a tragic backtory and the reader does not believe. He should read his own letters, sometimes.

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    I like it how in the 18th c. you could just order to shoot on sight. If it wasn't for all those card games, maybe that would still be the case.
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  13. #93
    Only human Najs's Avatar
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    Excellent update, however, shouldn't Leon be more concerned with winning Cécile's heart rather than sneak around and drop things off to suspicious persons hanging around outside windows?

  14. #94
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woody Man View Post
    Hahaha, Leon is as sly as ever, and is that a backstory I see before me? Or just a cover?
    haha intentionally ambiguous !

    Quote Originally Posted by Davout View Post
    Well done again. Although I think Cecile is obviously too generous in her pay if French peasants in 1780's could afford rifles instead of smooth bore muskets or shotguns.

    I must admit that I was not surprised by the "twists" but I suspect that was the intent since we are looking from Leon POV. I do not believe Mlle Cecile is so easily taken in.

    And the delay in the update is forgiven. I note you spent quality time with friends. How is Starcraft II then?
    I haven't bought SCII yet actually . Don't have the money or the time to play it . And yes , definitely watching him in action this time around haha . Cécile is a strong enough girl . We'll have to see how she fares in this regard ! Ahh but how dashing and romantic Léon must seem !

    Quote Originally Posted by Enewald View Post
    How would a 18th century Frenchman know of Zhuge Liang? Romance of three kingdoms was not yet translated, I'd think?
    I love RTK.
    Chinese merchants : a quirk of Léon apparently since he likes gambling . Likely to be Mahjong which would mean the merchants who could afford to visit France , know French , and play Mahjong have to be educated enough to know of Zhuge Liang especially since RoTK was 14th century .

    Quote Originally Posted by RGB View Post
    Card gambling, pah!

    The number one reason why aristocracies fall and revolutions happen. Not to mention frightfully boring.

    ---

    Reputation is a curious thing. Leon is telling of a tragic backtory and the reader does not believe. He should read his own letters, sometimes.

    ---

    I like it how in the 18th c. you could just order to shoot on sight. If it wasn't for all those card games, maybe that would still be the case.
    Haha you find card games boring ? They're quite fun !! Won the weekly poker game last night too , now that you mention it .

    He obviously doesn't know that we are reading into his life , but we are not meant to accept what he says to Cécile as the truth anyway .


    Quote Originally Posted by Najs View Post
    Excellent update, however, shouldn't Leon be more concerned with winning Cécile's heart rather than sneak around and drop things off to suspicious persons hanging around outside windows?
    haha , the implication was that especially since Cécile went off to find Guilbert and Léon saying to the man that "she's looking for you" implies that Guilbert has been in cahoots with Léon for a little bit of a while now (c.f. preparations made in the previous chapters) . The implication might be that the shooting incident itself might have been staged . After all , Guilbert ordered everyone out of the room as he dressed the wound which his own cousin supposedly caused .
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  15. #95
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    Clearly, Canonized requires more Vespene Gas. SC2 is excellent, I might add.
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  16. #96
    saw what you did there Davout's Avatar
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    For some reason, I keep on reading the start of Leon's exchange with M Uliel as "so does your mom". It leads to a much more Freudian interpretation of their exchange.
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  17. #97
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColossusCrusher View Post
    Clearly, Canonized requires more Vespene Gas. SC2 is excellent, I might add.
    I like the bar scenes, although the transformation of Jim Raynor into a total cowboy totally caught me surprised. You have nary an inkling of that in SC1
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  18. #98
    Nerd Vesimir's Avatar
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    OK. I've read the first page.

    I wished you continued with the hitman. I hoped for a 18th century Agent 47.

    And how could Leons hair be jet black, when, as a noble, he should be wearing a white wig? I mean, how could a 18th century french noble commit a faux pas like that?
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  19. #99
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColossusCrusher View Post
    Clearly, Canonized requires more Vespene Gas. SC2 is excellent, I might add.
    haha an amazing reference ! I love it !

    Quote Originally Posted by Davout View Post
    For some reason, I keep on reading the start of Leon's exchange with M Uliel as "so does your mom". It leads to a much more Freudian interpretation of their exchange.
    haha . I should have done that . See ! you can write this better than I can I bet ! haha

    Quote Originally Posted by RGB View Post
    I like the bar scenes, although the transformation of Jim Raynor into a total cowboy totally caught me surprised. You have nary an inkling of that in SC1
    Ahh don't ruin anything for me !

    Quote Originally Posted by Vesimir View Post
    OK. I've read the first page.

    I wished you continued with the hitman. I hoped for a 18th century Agent 47.

    And how could Leons hair be jet black, when, as a noble, he should be wearing a white wig? I mean, how could a 18th century french noble commit a faux pas like that?
    It was the fashion amongst the young people to forego the wig and just powder their natural hair around this time . Valmont is a young one .
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  20. #100
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    Quote Originally Posted by canonized View Post
    Chinese merchants : a quirk of Léon apparently since he likes gambling . Likely to be Mahjong which would mean the merchants who could afford to visit France , know French , and play Mahjong have to be educated enough to know of Zhuge Liang especially since RoTK was 14th century .
    Qing merchants in Europe? Im not sure such creatures even existed! But I wouldnt be surprised.

    Took a while to catch up, though Guilbert sounds awfully familiar - or am I wrong?
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