“The Serpent Cross”
By Joshua Gamon
© 2002 Joshua Gamon
PAGE 1 (five panels)
Establishing shot on a forest interior. Massive buildings of Asian influence are built into the trunks of these trees. We can see an integrate system of pulleys, ladders, makeshift platform elevators woven throughout the forest. The buildings stretch as far back into the misty forest as we can see. The central building should be the focus in the panel. It should be a heavily guarded fortress, more elaborate than the rest. The guards are Asian, dressed in simple garbs.
CAPTION: THE TEMPLE OF KINSURA.
SARAE, a stern and fair looking female solider is escorting KINRUI, an aging general dressed traditionally in military gear, down a torch lit hallway. On their left is a wall of sliding paper doors. Both have sword sheaths attached to their waists by a brown belt.
KINRUI: I TRUST YOUR TRAVELS INTO THE NI PROVIDENCE PROVED FRUITFUL, SARAE. WHAT HAVE YOU TO REPORT?
SARAE 1: OUR SITUATION IS FAR DIRE THAN WE ANTICIPATED. WE LOST THE WESTERLAND TREATY TO THE GUJI, AND THEY’RE GATHERING THEIR FORCES ON THE EASTERN SEABOARD AS WE SPEAK.
SARAE 2: OUR ONLY ALLY, HUNZO, NO LONGER SUPPORTS OUR STRUGGLE, AND HIS TROOPS HAVE ALREADY BEGUN THEIR WITHDRAWAL BY AIR IN THE NORTH…
SARAE 3: LEAVING OUR BORDER COMPLETELY VULNERABLE TO OUR ENEMIES.
QUEIN, a ninja with an Oni mask, is bracing himself up against the hallway’s ceiling like a spider as Sarae and Kinrui walk by underneath him.
KINRUI 1: A DIRE SITUATION INDEED. AT LEAST WE ARE STILL IN POSSESSION OF THE SERPENT CROSS.
SARAE 1: KINRUI, PLEASE ALLOW MY MEN AND I TO TRANSPORT THE SERPENT CROSS INTO JIN.
SARAE 2: THAT SEAL IS THE ONLY DEFENSE WE HAVE AGAINST THE GUJI. IT CAN HELP TILT THE WAR IN OUR FAVOR.
SARAE 3: LEAVING IT HERE IS TOO RISKY. ITS POWER NEEDS TO BE UNLOCKED BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE—
A giant iron anchor crashes through the paper wall of the hallway and pierces the natural wooden wall adjacent to it. Kinrui and Sarae are surprised by the action, and she goes for her blade.
SFX (COLLISION): PH-KRACK
The two warriors are now standing inside the chamber room where the Serpent Cross, a blade that curves like a snake, is now in the hands of a Quein. The very heavy metal chain’s slack is pulled tightly, and it is placed right down the center of the room. Three bodies of dead guards are lying on the floor.
QUEIN 1: IT’S ALREADY TOO LATE. THE GUJI NOW HAVE THE SERPENT CROSS.
QUEIN 2: LONG LIVE THE EMPIRE.
PAGE 2 (four panels)
Nighttime. We have an aerial shot above the forest’s canopy where four giant airships that look like a hybrid of a zeppelin and a gyrocopter are in orbit. Large metal anchors are dropped down below. Hundreds of queins are gliding down ropes. Others are gliding down with paper gliders shaped like serpents. We can see two moons in the sky, one is full and small while the other is large and shown as a sliver.
Back inside. We can see a tiny metal wire lowering from the ceiling to latch around Sarae’s neck.
SARAE: DON’T WORRY, KINRUI—
Without looking, Sarae impales someone with her sword above her.
SFX (IMPALE): TWART
SARAE/CONT: I WILL GET THAT SWORD BACK.
Sarae is now outside the fortress, fluidly running up the metal chain links of the anchor with her sword in hand. We can see the quein, with the Serpent Cross secured on his back, further up ahead of her on the chain heading for the canopy. All around her is chaos. Soldiers and queins are locked in mortal combat: sword and archery play, and queins are seen hopping from branch to branch like nibble animals.
SARAE (THOUGHT) 1: SO THE GUJI AND HANZO HAVE JOINED FORCES? MAKES SENSE.
SARAE (THOUGHT) 2: ONLY THE HANZO AIRSHIPS HAVE THE CAPABILITES TO INVADE KINSURA, AND THE GUJI WOULD HAVE EVENTUALLY CONQUERED THEM, TOO.
PAGE 3 (five panels)
Inside another room of the temple of Kinsura, five chanting monks are meditating cross-legged an inch above the floor in a circle. Their hands are in the form of an ‘ok’ symbol. A tiny blue flame burns in their centre, and it is the room’s only source of light.
SARAE (NARRATIVE): AND WITHOUT THE SERPENT CROSS OUR MONKS CAN ONLY DO SO MUCH TO STOP THEM.
We are now outside amidst the conflict. A large blue lightning bolt streaks out of the temple of Kinsura as Sarae slashes two quein in her pursuit up the chain. We can see a large volley attack on the quein coming from the temple.
One of the airships explodes over the forest when it is hit by this lightning, severing one of the chain anchors.
SFX (EXPLOSIONS): KA-OOM
The quein and Sarae have jumped onto a large branch in the forest’s canopy as the chain plummets to the ground below, leaving one large path of destruction behind in its wake.
The quein is perched on very a flimsy branch that doesn’t look capable of supporting anything, let alone him. But he is taunting her onward with a singling of his hand.
QUEIN: COME, WARRIOR OF THE KINSURA…
From a low angle looking up, we can see the same scene as PANEL 5, but dozens of quein soldiers are jumping down from high above Sarae. Tiny Chinese stars are coming her way. Her reaction should suggest surprise.
QUEIN: YOUR DESTINY ENDS WHERE MY LEGACY BEGINS… WITH YOUR DEATH.
PAGE 4 (six panels)
Sarae darts away from her previous position now occupied heavily with Chinese stars impaled in the wood. Many quein are already in pursuit.
In a motion flurry, Sarae is running backwards parrying, what appears to be dozens of blades. Her gi is slightly slashed, revealing cuts on her shoulder.
SFX (PARRYING): CHING-CHING-CHING
Sarae is now leaping upwards from branch to branch, in an echoing effect. The queins are just relentless with their pursuit. Jumping after her from every direction.
Sarae, sweaty and bleeding, is now on a thick and ancient tree branch running into the panel’s fourth wall. She is reaching for something from within her gi through the area around her cleavage. Although she is now into the heavy foliage of the canopy, we can still see the battle below through patches.
We have a close up on three little pearls are thrown through the air with speed lines in the background.
The dozens of queins in pursuit are caught in a tremendous tri-explosion, sending bodies, body parts, and foliage flying in every direction.
SFX (EXPLOSION) 1: KA-BOOM
SFX (EXPLOSION) 2: KA-KA BOOM
PAGE 5 (six panels)
Sarae has broken through the forest canopy, and is once again running up a massive anchor chain leading up to an airship. The quein thief is now just ahead of her. The sky is filled with aerial gliders in combat. In the far background, another airship explodes from the blue lightning.
SARAE: THIS GAME HAS COME TO AN END. YOU’VE LOST.
Sarae is seen from over the shoulder of the quein who is looking into the panel’s fourth wall. She is removing a small dagger from her gi as she cautiously moves forward.
QUEIN 1: OH IS THAT SO?
QUEIN 2: YOUR MEN ARE BEING SLAUGHTERED BY THE THOUSANDS. YOUR ONCE GLORIOUS TEMPLE WILL SOON BE IN RUIN.
QUEIN 3: AND THE LEGENDARY SERPENT CROSS IS NOW IN THE HANDS OF YOUR ENEMIES. TELL ME AGAIN HOW WE’VE LOST.
She throws the small dagger.
SARAE: I’M STILL ALIVE.
The quein catches the dagger with ease by its pearl-beaded handle.
QUEIN: YOU’RE KINSURA’S BEST? PATHETIC.
The upper half of the quein’s body explodes in a red mist caught in the wind, sending the Serpent Cross sailing upwards.
SARAE: I AM KINSURA’S BEST.
SFX (EXPLOSION): KA-BOOM
We have a tight shot on Sarae’s hand catching the Serpent Cross.
PAGE 6 (five panels)
We are back inside the meditation room from PAGE 3, PANEL 1. The Serpent Cross is levitating in the center of the circle of monks. The blue flame has consumed the sword, and it is now shaped like a mythical Asian dragon, long and skinny. Sarae and Kinrui are standing in the background.
CAPTION: MOMENTS LATER.
Outside of the temple, a giant blue dragon is spiraling upwards towards the sky. We can see Kinsuran soldiers cheering it on as it flies. We can definitely see the damage done by the conflict. Death, fire, and destruction are everywhere.
The dragon is attacking the three remaining airships in a fury of blue fire.
Sarae and Kinrui are walking down another hallway similar to the one from PAGE 1.
KINRUI 1: WE WERE FORTUNATE THIS NIGHT, SARAE. IF THE GUJI HELD POSSESSION OF THE SERPENT CROSS, WE WOULD ALL BE DEAD.
KINRUI 2: AND OUR ENEMIES WOULDN’T JUST SETTLE FOR US. WITH THE POWER OF THE SERPENT CROSS UNDER THEIR CONTROL, EVERY MAN WOULD SUFFER.
The two warriors are now outside standing on a platform overlooking the forest around them.
KINRUI 1: YOUR VALOR IN BATTLE NOT ONLY SAVED US ALL, BUT EVERY MAN, WOMAN, AND CHILD FOR GENERATIONS TO COME. BUT WE HAVE LITTLE TIME FOR CELEBRATION.
KINRUI 2: THE HANZO HAVE TO PAY FOR THEIR ACTIONS.
KINRUI 3: AND SMALL POCKETS OF GUJI REMAIN STILL WITHIN THE FOREST.
SARAE: I WILL REGROUP WHAT’S LEFT OF OUR MEN, AND HUNT THE REMAINING GUJI DOWN, MY LORD.
We have a group shot of Sarae and Kinrui from the chest up.
KINRUI: THIS OLD MAN HAD SEEN TOO MUCH WAR IN HIS LIFETIME. I WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE FIGHTING COME TO END, ONE DAY. THE PEOPLE OF KINSURA DESERVE IT.
SARAE: MY LORD…
SARAE: WE ALL DO.