Once the feast had ended, Arslan, Farangis, and the other four were each allocated separate lodgings…
Notes under the cut:
1. black lotus: written as レセーン (re-seh-n) and translated as 黒蓮, which is literally black + lotus/water lily. Not a flower that exists IRL as far as I know. I wondered if it might be this instead at first, but why lotus in that case? M.A.Kh pointed out Nymphaea caerulea (colloquially Egyptian lotus/blue lotus), which makes A LOT more sense.
Why black instead of blue then? Well, I assume “blue lotus” would be written 青蓮, but the problem is 青 can mean green, blue… or even black in very specific contexts (animal color, in particular horses — perhaps surprisingly, it refers to true black, not blue roan — though I’ll note that most people nowadays will just describe black horses as 黒 [as Dariun’s horse is described]). Also, 青蓮 has East Asian religious connotations (won’t go into it, but frex it’s the name of a temple). So since white lotuses are a symbol of purity and whatnot, I guess it’s not that much of a stretch to fictionalize one with narcotic properties as being black. I think we can assume that it’s a reference to the above RL plant though.
That said, the term itself is still hard to track. Originally I went with the random transcription “resen” (Not that random — Resen was an Assyrian city. Etymology supposedly derives from “head of the spring”, and lotuses grow in the water; huge stretch I know :P). But eh. And apparently the Egyptian word for this flower is “seshen” (from which the name Susan is derived), which… well, it rhymes. It’s also really tempting to wonder if he meant the word “resin,” which is NOT a standard loan word in Japanese.
… so I finally decided to cheat and assume he meant resin. If anything, I bet the term is from Avicenna‘s Canon of Medicine… but I confess, this is NOT my area of interest. :’) I’ll reconsider if the term ever shows up again, but just don’t want to spend any more time on it.
2. “ready to rumble”: 英気を養って. It’s hard to give this a literal translation. Basically he’s saying let’s get rested up, except with a less passive connotation. I’m normally a bit nervous about getting slangy in the dialogue… but Giv is a definite exception.
3. For anybody curious, Arslan’s birthday is on 9/21 exactly according to the reader’s guide. As I mentioned way back in the very first update, I’ve been avoiding month names because who knows what calendar Tanaka is using — but this would make him a Virgo if it were the Gregorian calendar, heh. Anyway, this means that Arslan had only just turned fourteen less than a month before Atropatene.
Edit 7/8/2016: Guide could be mistaken though. Volume 8 gives his bday as 9/29…
(And so we see that Narses does have suspicions about the soap opera that is the royal family of Pars. :P)
4. “King of Kings”: Referencing the Shahanshah title. I took liberties here; the text just has it as 大王 (literally “Great King”). I know Great King is an actual title in several cultures, but it sounds weird in English. I also considered “High King,” which is a title I’m fond of despite its overuse in fantasy settings, but since there’s a culturally appropriate option available (and 王 is regularly equated to “Shah” in the text), I decided to go with that. I think I previously translated this phrase as “great king” (back in 2-iii of the first book) because I didn’t realize it was intended as a title, but in context I don’t think it’s wrong either, so I’m not planning to go back and change it.
5. I really enjoy it when Narses and Dariun are just shooting the breeze like this. When they first reunited back in book one, they were still feeling each other out, but they’ve been progressively loosening up in private. Like I said above, I get nervous about slanging things up, but one of the things I really like seeing is the contrast in characters’ “private” vs. “public” faces. If something ever bothers you though, let me know.