|Shaharazade and the King, Chapter 1 (of 2), Part 1 (of 2)|
by Julian X  /  scripts  /  6 Oct 2007
This story has 70 story pages, split across two chapters. The first chapter, entitled "Two Brothers and Their Women," runs 36 pages. The second chapter, entitled simply "Shaharazade," runs 34 pages.
The story is an adaptation of the framing sequence of The Arabian Nights (a.k.a. 1001 Nights). I began it during the autumn of 2003, scripting a good portion of this issue, though I did so in a notebook at a café. I did not start to type what I had written until late March 2004.
The captions and dialogue ought to be in phony Arabian script, not unlike that used in Sandman #50. In fact, P. Craig Russell would be a brilliant illustrator for this tale, given both his remarkable talents to animate prose and his record of adaptations.
This first chapter sets up the status quo into which Shaharazade will enter. It focuses on Shahzaman and Shahrayar, setting up king Shahzaman's killing of his city's women.
It has three parts. The first focuses on the two brothers before they set off from Shahrayar's city. The second tells the brothers' adventure with a jinn and has a different narrative tone. The third rejoins the main narrative as the brothers return to Shahrayar's city.
This first chapter runs 36 pages.
1. A black panel: Caption (in larger, particularly loving script): "In the name of Allah the Compassionate." Caption (in smaller script): "Praise be to Allah, the Beneficent King, who raised the heavens. I praise Him the Supreme Lord for His guidance, and I thank him for His infinite grace."
2. A shot of a thriving Persian city. Caption: "It is told that long ago, during the Sasanid dynasty of Persian kings who ruled, by your account, from 226 to 641 A.D., on the peninsula of India and Indochina, there lived two kings who were brothers."
1. A shot of Shahrayar, looking out from his palace balcony over his city. Caption: "The older was named Shahrayar, a tall warrior of daring, full of energy. His power reached the furthest corners of the land, and its people were loyal and obedient."
2. A shot of the two lavish palaces and the garden between and around them. Caption: "He built two palaces, beautiful and towering in his garden -- one for guests, the other for his household."
3. A parallel shot of Shahzaman, looking out from his palace balcony over his city. Caption: "The younger, Shahzaman, ruled the land of Samarkand, bequeathed by his brother to rule as a king.
1. A close-up on one of the king's beards. Caption: "Ten years past in which the two brothers ruled without seeing one another.
2. Shahrayar dictating to his vizier. Caption: "One day Shahrayar longed to see his brother and summoned his vizier -- the highest administrator under a caliph or a king -- and bade him to visit Shahzaman."
3. The vizier, on camel, crossing the desert alone. Caption: "The vizier made his preparations and left, traveling many days and nights until he reached Samarkand."
4. Outside Shahzaman's city, we see Shahzaman and his entourage -- on horseback -- greeting the weathered vizier as he arrives. Caption: "Shahzaman went with his retainers to see the vizier, having heard of his approach."
5. Shahzaman dismounting and running over to the vizier. Caption: "Seeing the vizier, Shahzaman dismounted, embraced him, and asked for news of his brother."
6. Shahzaman being intimate -- in the sense of close -- with the vizier, interrogating about what is obviously a personal matter. Vizier: "Shahrayar is well, but requests your company."
A full-page shot of the tent for the vizier. The city walls are visible, with the spires above them. Great attention is paid to the lavishness of the city. Caption: "Shahzaman prepared for the journey for ten days, keeping the vizier well-fed and honored in a tent outside the city."
This page is symmetrical, centered around a central, large panel. Panels 1-4 are small and comprise a section of their own on the page, over the central panel 5. Panels 6-9, which mirror panels 1-4, similarly form a section of their own, under the central panel 5.
1. Shahzaman walking down the steps in his lavish palace.
2. Shahzaman leaving the palace.
3. Shahzaman exiting the city walls.
4. Shahzaman approaching the camp.
5. A larger, tier-wide shot, central to the page, of Shahzaman and the vizier, alone in the intimacy of the vizier's tent, sitting on the ground over a small Persian rug and talking. Caption (running over panel 6): "The king appointed a chamberlain in his place, and on the last night before departure visited the vizier and talked of many things." Caption (running under panel 6: "At midnight, he returned to his palace to bid his wife goodbye."
6. Shahzaman exiting the tent and heading back toward the city.
7. Shahzaman entering the city walls.
8. Shahzaman entering the palace.
9. Shahzaman walking up the steps in his lavish palace.
1. A shot of the wife and her kitchen boy on the king's lavish bed, the king standing in the foreground, first spying them. Caption: "When he entered his palace, he found his wife lying with one of the kitchen boys."
2. A close-up of the lovers' thighs, cast through a red filter. Caption: "The world turned dark before his eyes."
3. Shahzaman, mad, yelling at the couple, who react in fear. Shahzaman: "This is what you do when I have barely left the city? What will you do when I am visiting my brother in India?"
4. Shahzaman slashing them both to death -- a panel depicting the utter violence of the act. Caption: "His anger consumed him, he drew his sword, and he slashed apart both wife and cook."
5. Shahzaman standing, bloody, over their bodies. Shahzaman: "Women are not to be trusted. By Allah, I am king, yet my wife has betrayed me."
6-7. Shahzaman dragging the bodies and him throwing them from the top of the palace, two small panels with a single caption. Caption: "He drug them by the heels to the top of the palace, where he threw them to the trench below."
1. Shahzaman approaching the vizier's tent. Shahzaman has changed his clothes. Caption: "He left the city and met the vizier, saying nothing but ordering their departure that very hour."
2. The pair traveling through the desert at night. Caption: "They traveled day and night through the desert, and all the while Shahzaman's heart burned in secret turmoil."
3. Mirroring the vizier's arrival to Shahzaman, here we have Shahzaman and the vizier arriving and greeted by Shahrayar with his entourage, bearing gifts. Caption: "Shahrayar met them. He embraced his brother and lavished favors upon him."
4. A shot, like that earlier, of the two lavish palaces and the garden between and around them. Caption: "He gave his brother the palace adjoining his own and overlooking the garden. Attendants had scrubbed it and furnished it in preparation for Shahzaman."
1. A shot of the two palaces in the morning. Shahzaman walks through the garden from the guest palace to the main palace.
2. A shot of the two brothers at their lavish nightly feast. Shahzaman is not eating.
3. A shot of the two palaces at night. Shahzaman walks through the garden back to the guest palace.
4. Shahzaman alone in the lavish guest palace, looking bored and depressed.
Caption (over the first four panels): "For some time, Shahzaman spent his days with his brother in the main palace, returning to the guest palace to sleep.
1. Shahzaman on his balcony, looking out on the garden below. The house is mildly illuminated behind him, and the garden is dark below. He looks introspective, depressed. Caption: "But each night, alone, he sighed deeply and lamented that such a fate should befall one of his position." Shahzaman: "None have seen what I have seen."
2. Shahzaman looking white and skinny at dinner. The contrast with the earlier shot should emphasize Shahzaman's deterioration. Caption: "His spirit sagged, he ate less and less, and in time grew pale and ashen. He neglected all and looked ill.
3. Shahrayar noticing his brother without his brother noticing this. Caption: "Shahrayar, seeing his younger brother like this, thought him to be homesick for his country and his family."
4. Shahrayar, in private with his retainers, speaking calmly to them. Caption: "The elder brother prepared to send Shahzaman home with gifts." Shahrayar: "He is not happy here."
5. Shahrayar talking compassionately to his depressed brother at night. Caption: "For a month, Shahrayar gathered gifts for his brother." Shahrayar: "Brother, I plan to spend ten days hunting wild deer. Then I shall return to prepare to see you off. Would you like to go hunting with me?"
6. Shahzaman, unmoved, replying to his brother. Shahzaman: "No, brother, I feel too distracted and depressed. Leave me here."
7. Shahzaman walking back to the guest palace at night, mirroring the shot earlier. Caption: "Shahrayar thought his brother homesick and, not wanting to coerce, set out with his retainers to hunt."
1. A large shot of Shahzaman again on his balcony, now during the day. There should be a lot of detail of the garden, of its beautiful intricacy. Caption: "Shahzaman stayed in his palace and watched, from the window overlooking the garden, the birds and the trees, as he thought of his wife and what she had done to him, and sighed in sorrow."
2. The gate of the caption, here in the process of opening, shot from Shahzaman's P.O.V. Caption: "While he agonized, he turned a distracted eye to the garden and saw the private gate of his brother's palace open."
3. An illustration of the caption, from the same angle as the previous shot. The procession is something to see, quite dignified and royal in appearance. Caption: "There emerged his brother's wife the queen, strutting like a deer, with twenty slave-girls, his brother's concubines, ten white and ten black."
4. Also from Shahzaman's P.O.V., here we're looking down on the procession, just below Shahzaman's balcony. Caption: "They walked until they stopped below his window, never looking up, thinking that the two brothers had left together."
1. A large illustration of the caption. Everyone's naked, including the queen. Caption: "They sat down, took off their clothes, and suddenly there were ten slave-girls and ten black slaves dressed as girls."
2. A large illustration of the caption, with the ten couples in various stages of commencing coitus, lustily -- think of the illustrations in Indian editions of the Kama Sutra. The queen is looking up into the trees as she calls out. Caption: "The ten black slaves mounted the ten girls while the queen cried out a name." Queen: "Mas'ud! Mas'ud!"
3. A small illustration of the caption. He looks lusty, bulky, strong. Caption: "A black slave jumped down from a tree to the ground."
4. A small or medium-sized illustration of the caption. Caption: "He rushed to her, raised her legs, and went between her thighs."
1. A large illustration of the orgy in the garden, the sun now in its noon position overhead, with some time clearly having passed. Caption: "Mas'ud and the ten black slaves carried on until noon, each on their respective girls."
2. A fairly large illustration showing everyone bathing, nude, in the waters of the garden. Caption: "When they were done, they washed themselves in the garden."
3. A fairly large illustration showing everyone in various stages of putting on their clothes, their disguises. Caption: "The ten black slaves put on their clothes and mingled with the girls, and again there appeared to be twenty slave-girls."
4. A small shot of the bulky, strong Mas'ud leaping over the garden wall. Caption: "Mas'ud climbed over the garden wall and disappeared."
5. From Shahzaman's P.O.V., similar to the shot earlier, we here see the again-disguised procession leaving through the gate seen earlier. Caption: "And again the queen with twenty slave girls sauntered to the private gate, went in, and locked it behind them."
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