「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

Random thoughts:

  • 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.
  • Parkour!

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.



End Card


  1. Today’s endcard is by mangaka Satou Fumiya (aka Satou Ayako), who draws mystery manga series “The Kindaichi Casefiles(Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbou)”.

    The text says,”For starters I tried drawing Arslan and a rosy-faced lovebird to hype things up.”

  2. Had to adjust my monitor in the second half of the episode because I thought that my screen was malfunctioning. Turns out that that part of the episode was just dark.

  3. More often than not, that kind of secret tunnel is not known by anybody but Royal family members. and limited numbers of people who are very close to the family.
    Sam didn’t know anything about it. He guessed Lucitanians used the waterworks(btw you HAVE TO have waterworks in order to maintain a city of a million with very dry atomosphere), but he had no idea how they were able to show up in the middle of the Palace all of a sudden. And that means there is a strong chance that Kharlan is not the one who let the Lucitanians march into the Palace through the tunnel.
    Everything points to one guy…masked…

    1. A good point. It could have been Silvermask instead of Kharlan, or they could have figured someone like Kharlan knowing was fine, and ended up wrong. My point was more to not depend on such things. Like Mr. Vetinari said, such a ruler doesn’t have his or her heart in the job.

    2. I can definitely say there are differences and similarities between Arslan Senki and Akatsuki no Yona. I think they are both really well told narratives that deserve attention so with that in mind check out Arslan Senki granted the main concept of the show pre dates Akatsuki no Yona since Arslan Senki was created toward the end of the 80’s, but I think Arslan eventual rise to power and the gathering of his comrades is a lot of fun ^_^. I hope that answers your question.

    1. In the chaos following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, protecting historical artifacts and museums was not high on anyone’s to-do list. I read more than one article around that time about museums and tombs being looted by opportunistic thieves.
      In light of this, would you classify the Coalition as barbarians or would you expand your statement to include ‘civilized’ countries?

  4. Gosh, this episode was much too dark ._. It totally took away from the experience…

    Having said that, I find it odd that I’m rooting for the “bad guys” 😛 Pars only got what they deserve!

    Now, I’m more interested in how things will go forward from here… But, I’ve got to say, I’m liking the “bard” guy and also… those oppais… how, just how? I suppose their being supported by a [Anti-Gravity X] LOL

  5. Given how the Queen doesn’t show any concern for Arslan, whilst she worries about the King creates a new question: is Arslan even their biological child at all?

    1. I have suspicions as to why that may be, and just in case that I may be right…
      Show Spoiler ▼

    1. Couldn’t tell you, since I haven’t had a chance to watch Akatsuki no Yona yet. (I’m hella behind on the last ~3 seasons >< ) I hear a lot of people comparing the two shows though, usually favorably for both of them (though for different reasons). So bearing in mind that I haven't seen Yona, you may want to give this one a shot.

      1. Already watched the first 3 episodes and all I can say is that this is a keeper.

        Compared to Akatsuki no Yona, Arslan’s pacing is much faster. Much much faster.

        Akatsuki no Yona took its sweet time slowly developing Yona and her bishonen casts that only at the 24th/final episode that the last piece to her bishounen crew joined. So there’s a lot of clamor for a season 2 as better narratives and plots took place afterwards based on the source material. Not that the first 24 episodes were boring, they were really great. What will happen next will be much greater.

        You have 24 episodes to catch up Stilts until season 2… well hopefully.

      2. I thought Yona was better executed than Arslan has been so far, but that might just be my personal preferences.
        On a more objective note:
        Arslan is somewhat grimmer and darker than Yona.
        Yona is shojo and has a female main character, whereas Arslan just looks like a girl and is more oriented to the shonen demographic.
        Yona has more comedy.
        Yona has less CG animated bits (the battle scenes in Arslan always look off to me due to the CG).
        Yona draws from Korean history for its setting while Arslan draws from Persian history, in neither case is the historical angle the main element of the show. (I suspect that there are very few examples of non-Japanese, historical settings in anime as a whole so I think they get compared a lot due to that.)
        Personally I’d recommend the first couple of episodes of Yona to anyone, I’d be hesitant to recommend Arslan (thus far) unless I knew there was something they would want.

    2. Yona is one of the few Jousei shows I actually tried to pick up. I don’t really see the comparison. Yona’s not very good in my opinion.

      I hate…. 90%? (maybe less) Of Yona’s cast. Yona especially, and the pacing of it really bothers me.

      I feel like the comparison’s similar to comparing YuGiOh! To other collectible card game anime.

      1. I think most movies just use the Wilhelm scream as a joke. It’s been a long running trend after all. Even during serious fights you’ll hear it randomly inserted. I highly doubt that productions are so cheap that they’d couldn’t just have a person insert a regular scream.

      1. “i am the chosen One blessed from the God’s my Comrades. Follow me and i should bring Paradise to Earth and drive out the Bad Guys/unbelievers/not worthy with God’s Help. So just do what i say, and do not see what i do!”

        That kind of thing? Even today it works..

  6. RIP brave handmaid, you lived and died with honor certain men will lack forever…
    But Silvermask surely earned a lot of negative karma points by killing her.
    As for our lveable scoundrel/bard I think I like his skill with bow, sword, words and finally his attitude. He could surely slink away into darkness after the handmaid was killed – but he chose to try to avenge her, yet he did not blindly ty and overdo the heroics.
    I am not sure about the Grand Vizier, but either he is just ruthless, knowingly using handmaid AND the bard as sacrificial pawns (I assume he knew about Kharlans treason by now and was aware that sewr escape route was compromised) OR he has decided to join the ranks of traitors himself. We shall see,
    So far silver Mask and his Lusitanian allies easily have maintained OODA ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OODA_loop )advantage over Pars side, not in small measure due to the qualities of the former King. Now, the newly appointed Court Painter has a chance to turn the tables, starting with gathering enough intelligence to formulate acting plans. Kharlan is definitely good starting point in search of answers!

  7. Goodness…I’m really enjoying this anime. When I already have two (or three?!) characters I really like, it’s bound to be an anime I’m going to cherish.


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