Ashina, as I believe, is a story best told in comic form. There are many things I want to tell with just pictures. I am a writer as inexperienced as inexperienced gets, for this is the first time I truly "write" a serious story. English is not my first language, and being from as distant a culture as can be with English readers certainly has put me at disadvantage, not to mention I have no talent for word. Thus, my writing, translated from Vietnamese, is certainly insufficient, and might came off as rough and clumsy for English readers. However, this project might be delayed until I get enough experience to pull it off, so I decided to post the script here, to gather ideas and critique to improve it as I do other comic projects. Be warned that there is nothing but spoiler here for those who want to read Ashina as a comic.
To help readers picture the characters, which I didn't describe clearly in the script, I illustrated some of them.
! Aledias Eliades’s letter to his sister, 27/10/1982.
My dearest sister Iris,
Kiss mother for me, and tell her I love her.
I have received the package of salt I asked you to send half a month ago. Good old salt. Few things would be greater for a Cyprian man separated from his country. Its taste is like the taste of our soil, our field, our wind, the very soul of Cypria, giving me this cozy sentiment called "home" absolutely needed for me to wrestle with the nasty weather of Gerasian land. And to wear off this increasing feeling of isolation, dear sister. This salt made me feel home, feel warm, feel accompanied, feel immersed in the familiar water of our village, and drag me out of this dark chasm called frustration. Expensive city life, various problems arose. Persistent financial crisis and pressure of conflicts drove me at times to complete disgust with life. And my spirit would have crumbled, and the cold wind would have gnawed my heart off. Zephyrus, however, is doing his own things as usual, and seems to be at the height of his spirit.
! Last week, I finally got a chance to set my feet upon the mausoleum of empress Ashina, to pay off my respect and fulfill father’s last wish, as we have longed to do. The scale of the mausoleum lived up to its name as one of nine wonders of the world. Hundred meter high, covering about 80 meters square, located in the Chaue mountain, half a mile from the ground. Indeed a great work of architecture. Flawlessly combined the highest art of sculpture and paintings as the finest product of XVII century’s craftsmanship. I was filled with amazement.
! At the main yard lied a huge cooper statue of the empress herself. Fine work, about twenty feet tall, greened by time, valiantly standing through centuries. I stood in its shadow, looking up with admiration. We are all living in the shadow of Ashina. At the pedestal of the statue carved a poem:
“Bright heart rivaling Sunlight and Moonlight
Untainted soul not ashamed with Rivers and Mountains
One sharp blade to compete with Heaven and Earth
Two naked hands to construct career of Spring and Autumn*”
The woman has rested, yet her will is still piercing the sky. Already 300 years, yet not once was the incense-smoke in her mausoleum decreased, always pervading like the overflowing aroma of Suavant flowers in the Haen street at spring-times. The world is at chaos, yet ever crowded are the visitors of this sacred temple. In the heavy, suffocating atmosphere of an upcoming world war, a terrific catastrophe impending in the air, people for even more want to escape to their spiritual world, to seek for divine protection. And to Gerasian people, so significant a meaning does the name Ashina carry. For generations after generations, that name has become a symbol, an embodiment of military might and justice. She was then a Gerasian soul more Gerasian than any, a herald of her people. None can study the Gerasian mind without studying Ashina-the very essence of this land’s culture, implanted in the sub-consciousness of its children. The native people talk about her tales, her legendary feats with a strangely passionate tone, almost incomprehensible to foreigners, mixed of overly national pride and warm hospitality.
The magnitude of her martial and political talent, as evidenced by history, leaves today men wondering if she had been alive, how would she handle to the dreadful mess that is modern world issues.
Immersed in my own thoughts about the past and the future, my feet walked on it own, and when I came to myself, the dusk has crawled. Visitors all left. I ended up at the highest floor of the mausoleum, in a worshiping chamber. Looking down from this chamber, a magnificent landscape gathered at my eyes, as beautiful as a Laphane’s painting, and raised in me was then a powerful emotion. The whole world seemed to be at my embrace. And I wanted to embrace the world. Aspiration followed aspiration, dreams went after dream, all those grandiose desires flowed into my heart with the wind. Was it also what she felt, a woman who once stood at the top of the world, when she was here, at her to-be-grave?
The wind blew violently, the clouds constantly changed their colors, like a warning of an upcoming storm of time. My eyes quickly shifted to a framed painting next to her altar, in which was her last poem recorded:
“Honor and filial duty, so dearly held
Through a whole life, adrift with fatherland
With utmost glory comes utmost burden
When the night arrives, who to rouge rosy cheek?
Years after yeas, conquests after conquests,
Blood stained is the commanding spear, crying with the Earth
Thousand of troops wielded at whim,
Looking back, only me laughing with myself
Drunken yet, o my good friend?
For evermore in vain sanity struggles.”
I read from those lines a seemingly unspoken regret. Melancholy suddenly stroke my heart, imbued in the buried desire of a heroic monarch who changed her time. Went home with a jumbled mind, filled with questions. Mid-night. Was cold and quiet. At times dreaded with the shrieks of the crows. Path to home was lonely. The wind howled yet again, sounded as doleful as the cry in bed of a lonesome wife waiting for her husband to come back from the battlefield. All those sounds and wonderings followed me into my dream that morning. A bizarre dream. So bizarre I would rather not tell it to my doctor, in case he might send me to an asylum. Even so, I can hardly ensure you that I am in the right state of mind right now. What I saw then, though almost impossible to be described in words, was our world awashed in countless streams of blood, with thousand and thousand of corpses drifting and exploding, children running and screaming in terror. All the world’s top-notch politicians’ severed heads whirled around a tornado, striking the sky reddened with lava, and at the center of that tornado…was me.
And when I was still at shock, from the sky descended a valiant, saintly knight, dressed in golden armor, hand holding a strangely shaped sword. Seemed to be female. Not yet to see her face for clear, but from her emitted an incredibly overwhelming aura, the likes of which would make an ordinary man instantly want to bow his head. She thus called to me, with a voice as stately as it is warm: “Lo, man of present. Go west for two miles, and you will find an ancient cedar tree. Move the tree, and see the forest.”
Just then I woke up, trembling and sweating with throbbing heart and stirred mind. Full of doubt, I followed the instruction of the knight. And without a doubt, what I discovered there, as breath-taking as breath-taking goes, is a secret buried for centuries, that which once brought to light, will have countries and countries shaken. And the liberals will go rampant with their most ridiculous propagandas. And all the conservatives will be brought their knees, screaming hopelessly in panic. And our lives will be profoundly changed. Our world will be turned upside down. Our common knowledge will lose its ground. So many many things we were taught about the woman called Ashina Bonaparte the empress will no longer hold value. History shall be rewritten, for what I am about to reveal to you via this letter is nothing you would find in any book of any library, or from any historian or scholar. Upon learning the truth, I was dead for a few hours. Never have I yelled like that day. Never have I laughed like that day. And never have I cried as much either. Up to this point I has only discussed this with Zephyrus and professor Ruberg Beward, but I trust you to keep this a secret until we decide about what to do with this mind-shattering discovery.
Submission for the Bi-weekly competition.
Chapter one: Oath:
! [part 1: Narrative: Omnipotent third person.]