Cleo’s Dream of New Years Day
The laughter of children could be heard for miles around. The parade started the New Year off in the same hopeful tone it always did. Cherry Blossom petals floated the around joyous occasion as if they fell from the sky. The sound of fire crackers and music played in the background, alerted all to the presence of the Golden Dragon. Her long beautiful body swayed back and forth through the street, offering the gods her dance of good will and hope for the new year.
When the parade ended, the show started at the makeshift shadow theatre that was set up every year as a tradition for those who were far from home. A bright light shined in the background of the clouded screen. A scenery was painted along the edges for the delicate shadow puppets. The crowds took their seats while intricate music of flutes and pans played. The music stopped, letting everyone know it was time for the story to be told. A woman in dressed in an ancient robe with her hair pulled up in a soft bun began to play her pan. A small paper turtle puppet floated across the sky of the scenery, letting the people know it was a story from the time the turtle city could be seen floating across the sky. This year, the story was called The Tribes of the Moon.
As the music grew darker, the younger children could be seen covering their eyes in anticipation of what was going to happen next. The background light transformed from a bright white color to red then back to white. Small puppets of all the gods danced around the screen.
It is said, a demon named Asmodeus , the demon king, wanted to roam free on the world below so he took the body of a hunter whose heart was as black as his own. Asmodeus walked about the world in the body of the hunter and observed man in all his infinite appeal and love for violence.
Along his travels, he fell in love with a young girl in a village who was engaged to another. Asmodeus killed the man on their wedding night and sought her hand in marriage. Rather than live her life with a man she didn’t love, the girl threw herself off a cliff. Over come with grief and angered by the realization she never loved him, he decided to use his powers to enslave man.
The magical feel of the music softened allowing the movement of the puppet of Asmodeus lead the audience. A puff of smoke surrounded the Asmodeus puppet and like magic the puppet was now in the hunter‘s body. Gasps echoed through the audience at the small special effects. One little boy stood up and yelled, “Oh no” to the small stage.
With a crash on the drums, the music grew louder and more sinister again. The audience jumped when fire crackers sounded in the back ground while a wave of small army puppets marches across the stage. Asmodeus’s desire to control and enslave the people of the world grew with every conquest. His small army had grown and was threatening to take control of the emperor’s throne.
In a small pagoda on the right of the stage, the emperor kneeled in prayer to the Jade Emperor, pleading for help. The small puppets of the gods in the clouds once again floated across the stage when the music lightened. A single dancing puppet of the Monkey flipped across the clouds and knocked the Jade Emperor in the head. The whole crowd laughed and clapped. The music continued on as the Monkey King brought his hand to his ear. The prayer was intercepted by the Monkey King, the greatest prankster in all of Heaven. He jumped up and down in delight, at the thought of a small prank he could pull on man kind.
The light faded again to give the illusion of peering down at the world from above. The Monkey King called upon the single tribe of the Shakya clan and changed them into the Tribe of the Moon. The whole screen went black to show the full moon. Another puff of smoke combined with mystical music made the children once again echo joyful sounds of awe and wander.
At night when the moon was full, the people of the tribe who had reached the age of maturity changed into lions and lionesses. The Shakya clan fought a large battle against Asmodeus and his assassins and slave hunters. The whole country rejoiced when the demon known as the Asmodeus was driven away.
The Buddha took notice of the prank and the great sacrifice of the Shakya clan and appointed them as the warriors of justice. That should be the end of the story, but Asmodeus crossed the large body of water and landed on a new continent. Where the Native American’s of the land had just finished fighting the demon and the first of Tibolt’s clan was created.
When Asmodeus landed on the new land, The Great Spirit directed them drive out the evil that had invaded mother nature once again. The Buddha told the Shakya clan about the war that raged between Tibolt’s clan and the Asmodeus. Feeling like it’s their responsibility to defeat the Asmodeus, the Shakya clan traveled to the western world for the first time where they meet one of the other Tribes of the Moon, the wolf tribe known as Tibolt’s clan.
Together, the Shakya clan and Tibolt’s clan raged a war against the demon and his armies. In the end, the two clans were only able to trap Asmodeus into a cage that was sent to them by Buddha. The two clans celebrated on the night of victory. The two clans became one under the moon in the embracing ceremony.
With the beat of the Native American drums and the music of the pan, the two tribes stood side by side in honor and remembrance of all the great warriors that had fallen because of the demon. The shadow puppets graceful movements echoed the soft music as the two clans became one under the moon.
Once again, the lights faded out. When they appeared again, the scenery had changed to a small meadow where the puppet of a young girl by the name of Tai chased after the warrior Grey Ghost. The music grew sad as the warrior Tiokisan rejected her advances because he was in love with his wife. The two clans lived in harmony until the night of the next full moon. When Grey Ghost’s wife was attacked and killed by Tai in her lioness form, the same little boy stood in the audience and yelled at the lioness for her treachery. The enraged warrior set out to kill the lioness for what she had done to his wife.
The small puppet of the Jade emperor sitting on the clouds, yawned when he heard the cries of blood from the world beneath him and couldn’t be bothered. The whole audience cheered when the Monkey King, who had just learned about compassion, felt for the people and the suffering. He sent a scroll to the Jade Emperor with a plea for justice. The defenders of justice were the ones at fault. In his wisdom, he shot down the lioness and declared from that day forward, only those who were truly pure of heart were allowed to be considered for the gift of change into the mountain lion and lioness.
The stain of shame brought about by the Shakya clan was not unpunished. The whole clan was not allowed to return to China until the stain was washed away. The legend for tales of an impending war that will be raged in the future. The war will cleanse the stain from the Shakya clan, allowing all to return to their home land. On that day, the birds will fill the heaven’s and create a bridge across the ocean so they may walk home. The city on the back of the Turtle’s back will be seen again by all who believe and peace will reign among the Tribes of the Moon.
The audience cheered at the magical performance of puppeteers and the musicians who brought the myth to life. The Tribes of the Moon was one of Cleo’s favorite stories. Even though most of her heart didn’t know how much of the story was true, she had a strong connection to it because she was a part of the Shakya clan. Throughout time and history, her whole life had been reduced to a secret. It was taboo to even talk about the Shakya clan’s past. Still, all of it made her wonder if Tibolt’s clan was real, or if it was all some part of a story tellers dream.
Cleo woke up in her human form, naked and alone. She felt hope though because of her small visit to the story. She was certain she was being given a sign from the gods.
‘I must track down Tibolt’s clan. The wolf pack must still be out there.’