It happened at the convent. I was just five when I first entered it, and my memories of it are far from fully formed. Just impressions, really: long rows of beds; a distinct but slightly disconnected memory of glancing outside a window crowned with frost and seeing the tops of the trees rising above billowing skirts of mist; and.
Bent over and bitter, the Mother Superior was known for her cruelty. In her office it was laid across her desk. The cane, she said, would wipe that smirk off my face. And then one day Mother and Father arrived to see the Mother Superior on what matter I have no idea, and I was called to the office at their request.
There I found my parents turned in their seats to greet me, Mother Superior standing from behind her desk, the usual look of undisguised contempt upon her face, a frank assessment of my many shortcomings only just dry on her lips. If it had been Mother alone to see me, I should not have been so formal. I would have run to her and hoped I might slip into the folds of her dress and into another world out of that horrible place. But it was both of them, and my father was my king. It was he who dictated what modes of politeness we abided by; he who had insisted I was placed in the convent in the first place.
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So I approached and curtsied and waited to be addressed. My mother snatched up my hand. I had never seen the Mother Superior look anything less than composed. But now I would say that she paled. In an instant my mother had transformed from proper and polite, just what was expected of a guest of the Mother Superior, to an instrument of potential anger. We all felt it. Mother Superior the most. She stammered a little. Mother snatched up the cane.
Do you think this makes you strong? Mother Superior jumped and swallowed and her eyes darted to my father, who was keeping watch with an odd, unreadable expression, as though these were events that did not require his participation. She stood, glaring at the Mother Superior, and made her jump again as she slapped the cane to the desk a second time. Then she took my hand. I knew one thing as we bustled out of the convent and into our carriage for a silent ride home. As Mother and Father bristled with things left unsaid, I knew that ladies did not behave the way my mother had just done.
Not normal ladies, anyway.
Another clue. Other girls my age played with dolls, setting them up to take tea, only a tea for dolls, where there was no real tea or cake, just little girls pretending to feed tea and cake to dolls, which to me, even then, seemed stupid. Not far away the boys were playing with toy soldiers, so I stood to join them, oblivious to the shocked silence that fell over the gathering.
My nursemaid Ruth dragged me away. I did as I was told, sinking to my haunches and affecting interest in the pretend tea and cake, and with the embarrassing interruption over, the lawn returned to its natural state: boys playing with toy soldiers, the girls with their dolls, nursemaids watching us both, and not far away a gaggle of mothers, highborn ladies who gossiped on wrought-iron lawn chairs.
I have had a note from Mr. Writing in his native English, he tells me that he wishes to see Mother and asks that I meet him in the library at midnight to escort him to her room. He urges me not to tell Father. Yet another secret I must keep. Sometimes I feel like one of those poor wretches we see in Paris, hunched over beneath the weight of expectations forced upon me. At midnight, I pulled on a gown, took a candle and crept downstairs to the library, where I waited for Mr. His eyes closed, and though he was not at all old—in his mid-thirties, the same age as Mother and Father—the years were etched upon his face.
I fancy that she blushed. It was a freezing-cold day in February the first time I met Mr. That winter was the first of the really cruel winters, but while in Paris the River Seine had flooded and frozen, and the poverty-stricken were dying in the streets, things were very different in Versailles. By the time we awoke, the staff had made up the fires that roared in the grates, and we ate steaming breakfast and wrapped up warm in furs, our hands kept warm by muffs as we took morning and afternoon strolls in the grounds.
That particular day the sun was shining although it did nothing to offset the bone-chilling cold. A crust of ice sparkled prettily on a thick layer of snow, and it was so hard that Scratch, our Irish wolfhound, was able to walk upon it without his paws sinking in. Holding her hand, I glanced over my shoulder as we walked. We were farther out than usual, I realized, no longer within reach of its shelter. Her voice was quiet. I clutched her hand a little tighter at the very idea and she laughed. Frost confers stillness on the world.
In the trees it was even quieter than on the snow-covered lawn and we were absorbed by an absolute tranquility as we took a narrow path into the depth of the wood. We take into account our surroundings and cast our expectations accordingly. Do you see tracks? Then we can be sure of our radius. Now, where might a man hide in such conditions?
In life you will have opponents, and those opponents will attempt to read you for clues as to your intentions. Maintain your advantage by making them guess. The men of Versailles were a certain way. They looked down their noses at anybody not like them. This man was not a man of Versailles, the beard alone saw to that. And though he was smiling, it was not a Versailles smile; instead, it was soft but serious, the face of a man who thought before he spoke and made his words count.
Weatherall, an Englishman. An associate of mine. An associate? Like the Crows? No, he was nothing like them. Instead of glaring at me, he took my hand, bowed and kissed it. Mother fixed me with a serious expression. A man to whom you may always turn when in need of help. This is why we have Mr. I stayed some steps behind, hearing brief snatches and disjointed snippets of their hushed conversation.
I remember seeing Mother and Mr. Weatherall tense at the same time as Scratch bristled and growled. Then my mother wheeled. My gaze went in the direction of her eyes and I saw it there, a wolf standing in the undergrowth to my left, a black-and-gray wolf standing absolutely still in the trees, regarding me with hungry eyes. Across the way Mr.
Weatherall held a straining, growling, hackles-risen Scratch by the scruff of his neck, and I noticed that his other hand reached for the hilt of a sword that hung at his side. An upraised hand stopped Mr. Weatherall in his tracks. The wolf stared at my mother. She looked right back, talking to us at the same time. But I think this wolf knows that by attacking us, he makes an enemy of us. Far better for it to retreat in the face of implacable strength and forage elsewhere.
The wolf stared for a few moments more, never taking its eyes from Mother, until at last it dipped its head, turned and slowly trotted away. We watched it disappear into the tress and my mother stood down, her blade replaced in her muff. I looked at Mr.
Weatherall; his jacket was once again buttoned and there was no sign of his sword. I showed Mr. Weatherall to her room and he asked that he see her alone, assuring me that he could see himself out. Curious, I peered through the keyhole and saw him take a seat by her side, reach for her hand and bow his head. Moments later I thought I heard the sound of him weeping. I gaze from my window and remember last summer, when in moments of play with Arno I ascended from my cares and enjoyed blissful days of being a little girl again, running with him through the hedge maze in the grounds of the palace, squabbling over dessert, little knowing that the respite from worry would be so temporary.
The Carrolls arrived in the spring of the year I first met Mr. What a gorgeous spring it was. The snows had melted to reveal lush carpets of perfectly trimmed lawn beneath, returning Versailles to its natural state of immaculate perfection.
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Surrounded by the perfectly cut topiary of our grounds, we could barely hear the hum of the town, while away to our right the slopes of the palace were visible, wide stone steps leading to the columns of its vast frontage. Quite the splendor in which to entertain the Carrolls from Mayfair in London, England. Carroll and Father spent hours in the drawing room, apparently deep in conversation and occasionally visited by the Crows, while Mother and I were tasked with entertaining Madame Carroll and her daughter, May, who lost no time at all telling me that she was ten and that because I was only six, that made her much better than me.
We invited them for a walk and wrapped up against a slight morning chill soon to be burned away by the sun: Mother and I, Madame Carroll and May. Mother and Madame Carroll walked some steps in front of us. Mother, I noticed, wore her muff, and I wondered if the blade was secreted within. I had asked about it, of course, after the incident with the wolf. And anyway, the blade helps the muff keep its shape. Which meant that when Mr. May and I walked a polite distance behind our mothers.
The hems of our skirts brushed the lawn so that from a distance we would appear to be gliding across the grounds, four ladies in perfect transport. Twice, in fact. She gave a six-is-a-terrible-age-to-be chortle, like she herself had never been six. And as an aside, May Carroll said everything haughtily. In fact, unless I say otherwise, just assume she said it haughtily.
What was it Mr. Weatherall had told me? The bigger they are, the harder they fall. And now I have reached the age of ten I wonder if I am arrogant like her. Do I have that mocking tone when I talk to those younger or lower in status than I? According to Mr. And as we both know, it is our duty to ensure our husbands do the right thing. My mother chortled. In England you refuse to accept change of any kind. Madame Carroll bridled. Your reading of our national character lacks subtlety. You yourself are petitioning for change?
Has my errand been in vain? How comforting it is to know that I enjoy the support of my English colleagues in opposing drastic measures. But I cannot claim to share your ultimate goal. A third way, if you like. My apologies if that makes me a somewhat unreliable confidante. The other woman nodded. Well, if I were you, Madame de la Serre, I would use my influence with both sides in order to propose your middle line. My respect for you and your branch of the Order remains a steadfast as I hope it does in return.
From me you can rely on two things: firstly that I will abide by my own principles, and secondly that I will not allow my husband to be swayed by his advisers. She put a hand to her mouth, pretending to have said too much. Just as they did me. How old are you, by the way?
As I have said, while she was contemptuous of most fashions, detesting fans and wigs, conforming to the very minimum of flamboyance when it came to her gowns, there was one thing about which she was fastidious. She bought silk pairs from Christian in Paris, where we would go, regular as clockwork, once every two weeks, because it was her one extravagance, she said, and mine too, since we always came away with a pair of shoes for me as well as her. The sound of Paris. Above us women leaned from windows across folded arms and watched the world go by.
Lining the street were stalls that sold fruit and fabrics, barrows piled high with goods manned by shouting men and women in aprons who immediately called to us. My eyes were drawn to the shadows at the edges of the street, where I saw blank faces in the gloom, and I fancied I saw starvation and desperation in those eyes as they watched us reproachfully, hungrily.
The door slammed behind us, the outside world denied. Christian wore a white wig tied back with a black ribbon, a justaucorps and white breeches. He was a perfect approximation of half nobleman, half footman, which was how he saw himself on the social ladder. He was fond of saying that it was in his power to make women feel beautiful, which was the greatest power a man possessed.
And yet to him Mother remained an enigma, as though she was the one customer upon whom his power did not quite work. It was because other women simply saw the shoes as tributes to their own vanity, whereas Mother adored them as things of beauty. I cast an eye at the shop boy, who returned my look with an unreadable gaze, and followed.
She chose briskly. She made her choices with a certainty that Christian remained bewildered by her.
I, her constant companion, saw the difference in her as she chose her shoes. A lightness. We made our choices, Mother arranged for payment and delivery and we left, Christian helping us out onto the street where. I felt her stiffen, saw the tilt of her chin as her eyes roamed the street around us.
We shall enjoy the sights and sounds of Paris as we await its return here. It was beginning to get dark and there was a chill in the air, which had thickened with the first of the evening fog. Now please, go back inside. Knowing my mother as a woman who rarely changed her mind, and knowing she was right about the next customer, Christian bowed acquiescence, bid usau revoir and returned to the shop, leaving us alone on the street, where the barrows were being removed, where people dissolved into shapes moving within the murky fog. She was tense and watchful as she began to lead us along the street, incongruous in our long skirts and bonnets.
From her purse she took a compact to check her rouge and we stopped to gaze in the window of a shop. Still as we walked she used the opportunity to teach me. Maintain your calm exterior. Maintain control. The streets were thinning out now. First, though, I have something I need to tell you. When I tell you, you must not react, you must not turn your head. Do you understand? We are being followed. A man in a tall felt hat and cloak. Just keep walking.
We stopped to look into another shop window. There was concern on her face. I liked him where I could see him. He will expect us to use the main road. Taking my hand she led us off the street, first onto a narrower highway, then into a long alleyway, dark apart from a lit lantern at each end.
We were halfway along when the figure stepped out of the fog in front of us. Disturbed mist billowed along the slick walls on either side of the narrow alley. And I knew Mother had made a mistake. He had a thin face framed by a spill of almost pure white hair, looking like a dandyish but down-at-the-heel doctor in his long black cape and tall shabby hat, the ruff of a shirt spilling over his collar. I believed her because I was an eight-year-old girl and of course I believed my mother.
But also because having seen her with the wolf, I had good reason to believe her. At the alley entrance a shadow flickered and a second figure appeared in the orange glow of the lantern. It was a lamplighter; we could tell by the pole he carried. Even so, Mother stopped. The lamplighter said nothing, going instead to where the lamp burned and raising his pole.
The entrance was plunged into darkness. We heard him drop his pole with a clatter and as ours eyes adjusted I could see him reach into his coat to bring something out. Another dagger. Now he, too, moved forward a step. In reply the doctor brought his other arm to bear. With a snicking sound a second blade appeared from his wrist.
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The lamplighter was close now too—close enough for us to see the harsh set of his mouth and his narrowed eyes. Mother jerked her head in the other direction and saw the doctor, both blades held at his side. Still he smiled. He was enjoying this—or trying to make it look as though he was. Either way, Mother was as immune to his malevolence as she was to the charms of Christian, and her next move was as graceful as a dance step. Her heels clip-clopped on the stone as she kicked out one foot, bent and drew a boot knife, all in the blink of an eye.
One second we were a defenseless woman and her child trapped in a darkened passageway, the next we were not: she was a woman brandishing a knife to protect her child. She held her knife in her right hand, and I knew something was amiss because she was left-handed, and presented her shoulder to the doctor. The doctor moved forward.
At the same time my mother passed her knife from her right hand to her left, and her skirts pooled as she dipped and with her right hand outflung for balance slashed her left across the front of the doctor, whose justaucorps opened just as neatly as though cut by a tailor, the fabric instantly soaked with blood. He was cut but not badly wounded. For all his sinister act, he looked frightened, and amid my own fear I felt something else: pride and awe. Never before had I felt so protected.
Her speed took him by surprise—not just the speed with which she moved but the speed of her decision, that if she allowed the lamplighter to take me hostage, then all was lost. And it gave her the advantage as she swung into him, finding the space between my body and his, leading with her elbow, which with a yell she jabbed into his throat. He made a sound like boak and I felt his grip give, then saw the flash of a blade as Mother pressed home her advantage and drove her boot knife deep into his stomach, shoving him up against the alley wall and with a small grunt of effort driving the blade upward, then stepping smartly away as the front of his shirt darkened with blood and bulged with his spilling guts as he slid to the floor.
Mother straightened to face a second attack from the doctor, but all we saw of him was his cloak as he turned and ran, leaving the alley and running for the street. Only Mother seemed unruffled. She had the poise and authority of one who has acquitted herself well. Foes and friends, and foes turned friends. The earliest iterations required the user to sacrifice their ring finger to use it. The iconic weapon has evolved over time, being paired with a twin, coupled with various swords, and even adding things like shock capability, miniaturized firearms, and a variety of poisons.
Bouncing around the globe, there is no doubt that the series has taken us to amazing times and places in history. England, The Caribbean, Prague, Italy, Spain, Russia, and many other places are represented in a timeline that can be aligned with the games in the series, with many of them receiving a multi-page description of what Templar and Assassin actions were carried out there, as well as in-game screenshots or artwork. Love the in-depth analysis of technologies. Nearly every game features some modern-day tie in, some playing a larger role than others. Focused heavily on Abstergo and its evolution from the 70s to modern day, this chapter also gives a window into possible future technology we might see in the next game.
Like their historical counterparts, this chapter gives a full dossier on the Templars and Assassins of modern day. The final section of the book is a little meta, and that makes it more than a little awesome — the real world. Arin Murphy-Hiscock pulled together some fantastic material using her two-decade-long connection with the Ubisoft team. These cosplay examples are fantastic, and not even the best of them!
Featuring beautiful artwork, detailed background, and enough information to stitch all of the sometimes confusing storylines together, this book belongs on the shelf of any would-be Assassin or Templar. With its quirky characters, beautiful and lush flora, and fixation on puzzles, Trine Admittedly, despite my love of the slasher flick, I missed the boat on the Friday the 13th game.
Now, in a rare Spiders Games, a Paris-based person strong indie studio behind games like The Technomancer our Unraveling the complicated timeline. The real-world parallels are kinda scary. PROS Information straight from the source Gorgeous previously-unseen artwork In-depth information and background on both sides of the conflict Hardbound and oversized Integrates comic stories and timelines. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Latest reviews. Ghostbusters, whaddya want?!?
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