Empress of Sand - A Visual Novel

A Visual Novel Script-in-Progress.

Aisha, heir to the Asakhara Empire, is exiled by her brother. Now she plots revenge, gathering allies and enemies alike in order to shed the blood of one...or the blood of all that live under the Sun.

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4. Prologue - 3

She looks around, bewildered. Saying those words is not mere ceremony; it is a sacred prayer, to be spoken by the heir of Asakhara at the passing of the crown.

All three generals lower their heads as her gaze falls upon them; whether they are doing it out of shame or mirth or grief she does not know. Nor does it really matter. Everyone knew this was coming. Everyone but her.

The world begins to spin. There is a painful hollowness in her chest, where her heart should be. On the walls, the shadows are dancing as if possessed.

Slowly, she lets go of her father’s hand and folds it gently across his chest. Tears are threatening to flow again, but she bites down on her tongue, hard. The tang of blood clears her head a little.

She grabs Siegfried’s axe and throws it onto the floor.

AISHA: How long have you known?

SIEGFRIED: I…I…

AISHA: Did you hate me all this time?

SIEGFRIED: No! Of course not! You know you have my love –

AISHA: But not your loyalty.

BASHAAR: You’ve done nothing to inspire loyalty from anyone, sister. Twenty thousand souls have burnt away on the Great Sand because you wanted to play at war. Enough is enough.

AISHA: You wanted to bargain with traitors, brother.

BASHAAR: I wanted to be reasonable. A dozen times I implored father to treat with Akai, but you – you’re the only one he listened to, even though you know nothing. I wonder who it was that urged him into battle. It wasn’t me. He never listened to me.

AISHA: Watch your words.

BASHAAR: No. No I will not. I’ve watched my words for seventeen years. No more.

BASHAAR: Kael, take her.

KAEL: …

MOROS: Perhaps it would be better to wait until the wake has concluded before –

BASHAAR: It would be, but I doubt my sister has the patience to wait.  

She is taken aback by the conviction in his voice. The Seneschals are too, judging by their surprise.

KAEL: What do you intend to do?

BASHAAR: A trial. For conspiring against the crown.

MOROS: That is not what we have agreed!

BASHAAR: She will be found innocent, but only after my coronation is done. When everything’s settled you’ll still have her hand in marriage, Seneschal Moros. Nothing changes.

MOROS: …I do not like this.

BASHAAR: How much coin have you lost funding this war? How many millions?

MOROS: ...

BASHAAR: Then it’s done.

She suddenly feels an insane urge to laugh.

AISHA: What about you, Kael? You love your gold too?

KAEL: No, but I know you too well, princess.

AISHA: What’s that supposed to mean?

KAEL: It is better this way.

The urge to laugh turns suddenly to weeping. Once, the two of them had sat under a sycamore tree, debating how many children they wanted to have. Kael had wanted girls, but she had wanted only boys, so they would grow up to be as cunning and wise as her brother, not rash and stupid like her.

A dream – that’s all it was. A beautiful dream that had come to an end.

When she speaks again her voice is much softer.

AISHA: Sieg. Why do you want to get rid of me?

SIEGFRIED: No, I…I never wanted…

MOROS: I am sorry, Aisha, but it was my city that funded your expedition to the dragon isles, my ships that you took and lost in the Jade Sea, and my mercenaries that died storming the castles of the East that didn’t need to be stormed, had we sat down and discussed terms. This string of follies has put great strain on the South. You will always have my love, my princess, but an empress you are not. Please understand.

Moros has a way with words, such that no matter how calm or reasonable they sound they can still make her angry. Yet she knows he’s speaking the truth. In her heart she has always known that she is no more than a mascot of the imperial legion, loved by all in the same sense that a puppy is loved.

Not Bashaar. Bashaar has never truly been a child. He’s lean as a leaf – his arms skinnier than hers – yet he’s attended court since the age of five, and has written a hundred laws so complex she could stare at them all day and not comprehend a word.  

Yet, not once has their father mentioned that he should secede him. It has always been her, even though by all accounts she knows nothing. Stupidly, she has never questioned the decision. Stupidly.

AISHA: I understand well, Moros. None of you want me here. It is kind of you to tell me this at the deathbed of my father, rather than putting a knife to my throat in the dead of night.

BASHAAR: Don’t make it difficult, sister.

AISHA: Brother, oh clever and competent brother, I bear you no ill. You know that.

BASHAAR: …

AISHA: If it is up to me, I’d gladly let you run the place, and you’ll certainly be a wiser ruler than I could ever be.

BASHAAR: Then –

AISHA: But it is not up to me. It is the will of our father for me to rule in his stead, as you have all heard. Whatever his reasons may be, I intend to obey his will, for he was my emperor. So I will not go.

Bashaar’s frown deepens. His look is one of disgust.

BASHAAR: Always so stubborn, so ignorant. I’ll not debate logic with one who refuses to think.

BASHAAR: Kael, take her.

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