「シンドゥラの黒豹」 (Shindoura no Kurohyou)
“The Black Leopard of Sindhura”
Can Arslan continue to do what Andragoras could not?
This episode was rife with traitors, but the only man who was explicitly called as much was the only one who wasn’t. Take Rajendra—he’s currently a traitor against all of Sindhura, though his is a treachery that can be washed away with victory. The same went for Gauvin & Taara, who could have elected to betray Sindhura (and Gadevi) in the hopes that Rajendra would win—though they did not, and ended up paying for their loyalty. And of course, there’s Rajendra’s attempted betrayal of Arslan by splitting their forces, though that was so inevitable as to be utterly unsurprising.
Actually, let’s talk about that one. I like how everyone rightly sniffed out the betrayal, and counseled against splitting their forces. That shows a good grasp of human nature and an average grasp of tactical theory. Once again, Narsus is leagues ahead. His advice was the right choice, because it’s the one that Rajendra won’t expect. That is, instead of A) splitting their forces in ignorance of Rajendra’s planned betrayal, and B) refusing to split forces for fear of said betrayal, they instead chose C), splitting up in full knowledge of Rajendra’s planned betrayal, while setting plans into motion to counteract it. Rather than falling into the trap or backing away like frightened animals, Narsus’ path is to play along with the trap in order to lure their enemy in, and then defeat him utterly. It’s the same thing he does with his Trojan supply convoy. Layers within layers within layers.
The Loyal Betrayer
In contrast to all these actual traitors, Jaswant, though the only one actually called a traitor, isn’t really one. Sure, he attempted to lead the Parsians into a trap, but that’s because he was never on their side in the first place. Less a traitor and more a double agent, he was always loyal to Mahendra.
The more twists and turns we go through with this guy, the more I wonder how he’ll end up on Arslan’s side. He obviously respects, and is more than a little confused by, Arslan, after the prince spared his life for his loyalty to his adopted father. But his loyalty seems such that I can’t imagine him abandoning Mahendra, unless the Grand Vizier abandons him first. Perhaps that’s what will happen. Alternately, perhaps neither Gadevi or Rajendra will take the throne, and a third son(?), or even Mahendra himself, will ascend instead. This intrigue too has layers within layers. That, plus the drugged-up war elephants who are on their way, have me enjoying with Sindhuran campaign.
His Blood Doesn’t Matter
For those who still suspect otherwise, further proof: Narsus and Daryun both suspect that Arslan isn’t the son of Andragoras, as does Arslan himself. The beautiful thing is that, just like I suspected, they don’t care. Compared especially to the treacherous rage-monster that Hermes (Silvermask) has become, Arslan is the best choice for Pars. Beyond that, there’s little else to say, save what Daryun said at just the right time. With friends like that, Arslan is a lucky future king.
Looking Ahead – Operation Dumbo Stomp
tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Rajendra, Mahendra, Jaswant, & Narsus–who’s the better duplicitous bastard. Easy answer. Always bet on Narsus #arslan 15
- Gieve was undoubtedly the star of this episode, from delighting all the Sindhuran ladies to holding back against Jaswant, only to kick his butt later on. Just don’t act like he does with Farangis, lads. It’s clear she isn’t interested. Gieve only gets away with it because it’s fiction, and because it’s funny.
- Even Narsus thinks Arslan was being too soft. He probably is. But to reward loyal service, even if it’s an enemy’s service to your enemy … that’s not so bad. Pars could use a king like that for once, as well.
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: If you find yourself using buzzwords, STOP, How to save Twitter, The secret to enjoying a long life, and Story Review: Mad Max Fury Road.