「王都炎上～後編～」 (Ou Toenjou ~ Kouhen ~)
“The Royal Capital Burns ~Part Two~”
And thus, Ecbatana falls.
The Fall of Ecbatana
“Never trust any ruler who puts his faith in tunnels and bunkers and escape routes. The chances are that his heart isn’t in the job.” -Havelock Vetinari
The fall of Ecbatana came about for two reasons. (Many reasons, actually, but two immediate ones.) First is, of course, the slaves. Having disaffected people among your population is a great way to weaken your own security, and once again, that’s something that the nations of today could do with remembering. Once Pars was in this situation, they were already screwed. They could have declared that they would treat the slaves better, but it would have still been Lusitania who brought about this change, and why should the slaves believe them? True, it could have maybe blunted the Lusitanian invasion and maybe given them time (years) to make real changes, but the queen didn’t think quickly enough for that (another reason Ecbatana fell, though not one of the main two). The rot was already at their core, because they let it fester. It was just waiting for someone to make use of it.
The other reason is that Kharlan knew how to get inside. As the quote above notes, you should never trust a ruler who flees and leaves his or her people to die. Yes, there’s value in keeping the commander alive, so King Andragoras retreating was not a stupid thing (in theory … in practice, everything about it was clearly bungled). Had the queen been scarpering, that would have been a betrayal. Granted, that might not have been the case—the preview makes it sound like she’s still in the city, and those tunnels weren’t just for escape, they were aqueducts. In that case, it was a simple defense oversight. Always watch the sewers, my friends. It’s the enemies who are willing to trudge through them that you have to worry about the most.
Gieve The Lovable Scoundrel
I haven’t totally settled on what the Grand Vizier was planning by sending the body double with Gieve, other than my usual assumption that, as a Grand Vizier, he was evil (trope!). To quote Pratchett again:
“Grand Viziers were always scheming megalomaniacs. It was probably in the job description: ‘Are you a devious, plotting, unreliable madman? Ah, good, then you can be my most trusted advisor.'”
In retrospect though, I’d lean toward Gieve’s assumption, though since it sounds like the queen didn’t make it out of the city, perhaps it was the Grand Vizier who wanted cover to run instead. So cowardly, but not evil. No, it was Silvermask who was busy earning all the villain points by throttling the lady-in-waiting with his bare hands. (Gods, the screen is dark.)
But Gieve, ahhh… Granted, he deserved the shot to the nuts he took for being such an irrepressible jackass, but he managed to do what Vahriz wasn’t able to do and stand up to Silvermask in a fight. He even earned a bit of useful intelligence—Silvermask doesn’t appear to have a good relationship with fire. The mask may have given that away somewhat, but now it’s confirmed. And Gieve looting the enemy he just killed and escaping? Classic Gieve!
One bit of storytelling wonkery: usually it’s bloody aggravating when the villain leaves a bunch of mooks to kill the heroes. Here, though, it makes perfect sense. Gieve is not the hero, he’s just a cheeky son of a bitch who’s too good with a sword to waste time on when they have a royal palace to storm. He’s not important, so leaving a few guys to finish him off is fine. Even them losing didn’t seriously inconvenience Silvermask’s plans, even if I’d wager Gieve’s continued existence is going to inconvenience him in time.
Looking Ahead – Target: Kharlan
Once again, Narsus’ plan is a good one. Rather than die in Ecbatana—die trying to get to Ecbatana—capturing Kharlan is the smarter move. I’m very interested to hear why he betrayed Pars, because I don’t think it’s for that god he’s paying lipservice to. Something has happened, and it would be good to know what … and depriving Lusitania of Kharlan would be of no small benefit either. By the looks of it, they’ll be getting some more help to make it happen as well.
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – And thus, in fire and betrayal, from open gates & secret tunnels, Ecbatana falls. Gieve is all right though, so it’s cool #arslan 06
- This is how priceless buildings and ancient art are lost forever. This is how we lose our history, or knowledge, our past—stupid wars over stupid gods who trample innocent people under foot and hoof. Art is a reflection of reality, and we’ve seen this many times before. In some places, it’s happening now, bodies and all. What a tragedy.
- It sounds like Gieve is disgusted with the rulers he sees. I bet that’s what will make him respond to the decent one in Arslan.
My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now available in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel short story. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: Practical Freedom, Old to them, Stop sending me job ideas, and Schrödinger’s Skill.