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  1. "So...Xiao Lu. You have expressed interest in this particular carp. Your purse is sufficient for the purchase. Nevertheless, I will only sell to a man with the proper appreciation of the fish, a scholar who can truly cherish it as it deserves. Tell me, Xiao Lu. What are the Noble Virtues of the carp?" "Truly, Master Fang, only the injudicious man would sell such a precious gift to a fool. The different colors and patterns of the carp indicate different virtues, some those of the father, some of the mother, some of daughters or sons, or scholars or businessmen or soldiers. But the virtues common to all carp are: Firstly, courageous independence. It swims upstream, heading into the current always. An indomitable will to face what comes. A carp swimming downstream bodes ill; this is known to all. Secondly, prosperity. Their scales of gold, silver, platinum, and bronze are all auspicious, reflecting money and attracting luck. Thirdly, fecundity. Their fertility fills the rivers; does not their very name evoke abundance and plenty? Fourthly, success and transformation through diligence and perseverance. As it is said, 'the carp has leapt through the Dragon's Gate.' With enough work, the carp may surmount even the waterfall that streams down the mountain. And does not the carp that passes the Dragon Gate itself become a dragon? So too will the man who applies himself become accomplished and recognized." These are two truly magnificent sculpts. The short fellow with the oval base is from an 80's-era Grenadier set of "Vile Villains." (He comes with a Casper Gutman/Sydney Greenstreet Fat Man and a tall trenchcoated fellow with beard and hat, perhaps a Rasputin figure? All very different heights and builds, which I appreciate.) Anyway, he's the star of the show. Those old minis had some fantastic detail work on the faces. And you have to love his long twisty fingernails. Here's more of him: Dr. Fang was another sculpt I had to get when I heard Statuesque was discontinuing its Pulp Alley line. Very much in the Pei Mei / Fu Manchu line. The exact sort of person you think of when you hear the phrase "undying leaders of the cult in China." Definitely an old man whom it would be unwise to challenge. I had a lot of fun with the gradient (hey, Breast Cancer Pink in action!) and the koi on his robes. Here's a thorough turnaround: The rear wall is GreenstuffWorld's "China" roller on foamboard, airbrushed. Heavily inspired by the opulent color gradients from "Curse of the Golden Flower" (a splendid palace tragedy). The aquaria are of course Chessex dice boxes and some stuff I had lying around. The koi pond is a metal lid from a tube of biscuit dough with a lick of paint and some 'Ardcoat. The lantern comes from the Tortoise Merchant and Drayman.
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