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【书籍搬运】Scared Witness 神圣的见证

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原文出处:http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Oblivion:Sacred_Witness
收集翻译:西瓜
校订:安维尔的盖乌斯

我曾经见过女爵与娼妓,女皇与女巫,战争中的淑女与和平时的荡妇,但是我从来没有见过一个像夜母这样的女性,并且以后也不会再见到.

我是一个作家,一个有点小小声望的诗人.如果我告诉你我的名字,你也许听说过我,但是非常可能没有听说过.近十年来我选择了在落锤海岸上的哨卫城作为我的家,并且保持着和其他的艺术家,画家,编织者,作家的交往.据我所知,他们中没有一个人认识一名刺客,尤其是刺客中的女王—-鲜血之花,死亡之女,夜母.

不是因为那件事情我是不会知道夜母这个人.

几年前,我有幸见到了前往落锤研究一本关于迪亚戈纳骑士团的书的受人尊敬的学者佩拉恩·阿西.他的杂记《黑暗兄弟会》和英尼尔·高明的《火与黑暗:死亡的兄弟会》被认为是反映塔玛瑞尔刺客组织的经典著作.幸运的是当时高明他也在哨卫城,并且我被特许和他们2个人在城市那发霉的贫民窟中的一个昏暗的斯库玛洞穴里面坐在一起,边抽烟边聊起了黑暗兄弟会,莫拉格帮以及夜母.当还没有开始争论夜母是不死的或者至少非常的长寿的可能性时,阿西认为极有可能在各个年龄段的一些女人,并且也许还有一些男人担任这个荣誉职位.他断言,相对于哨卫之王只有一位,没有任何逻辑可以说明夜母也仅仅只有一位.

高明争论说夜母从未有过,至少不会是一个人类.夜母是仅次于希提斯受黑暗兄弟会尊敬的蜘蛛女神梅法拉.

我用外交辞令式的语调说到:“我不能猜测是否有确切了解的方法”

“当然如此,”高明咧开嘴低声说道:“也许你可以和角落里那个披斗蓬的家伙谈谈.”

先前我一直没有注意到这个独自坐着的人,眼睛藏在他的斗蓬之中,看起来就像是在这个邋遢的地方里一块布满灰尘的粗糙的石头.我背向英尼尔,问他为什么这个人知道夜母.

“他是黑暗兄弟会的,”佩拉恩·阿西悄声的说:“显而易见,和他谈起夜母不是一件儿戏的事情.”

我们将争论的话题转移到黑暗兄弟会和莫拉格帮上,但是我忘不掉那个似有似无的男人的轮廓,在那个肮脏的房间的角落里被漂浮的斯库玛烟所环绕,看上去就像是一个鬼魂.当一周以后我在哨卫的街道上再次看见他时候,我跟踪了他.

是的,我跟踪了他.读者也许会稍稍问下"为什么"和"如何做",我是不会埋怨你这些问题的.

如果你和我一样了解这个城市时,"如何做"就是一个简单的问题.我不是一个盗贼,没有安静而娇健的特殊脚法,但是数十年来漫步在这个城市里的回报就是我熟悉哨卫的每一条大街小巷.我知道哪座桥走上去会吱吱作响,哪些建筑有长而不规则的阴影,以及鸟儿们开始啼鸣夜曲的间隔时间.我还算轻松的在这个黑暗兄弟会成员的视力及听力范围之外慢慢跟着他.

"为什么"的答案更简单.我有一个天生的作家的正常好奇心.当我看见一个新的奇怪生物时候,我一定会观察一番.这是一个作家的宿命啊.

我跟踪这个披斗蓬的男人深入到城市里,沿着两栋房子之间狭窄的几乎没有空隙的小路走下去,越过一道蜿蜒的栅栏,然后突然,我奇迹般的来到了我从来没有见过的一个地方.一个小小的墓地庭院,里面有一打陈旧腐朽的木制墓碑.周围所环绕的建筑没有一个有窗户对着这里,所以没有人知道小型墓地的存在.

没有其他人,除了6个男人和一个女人站在这里.还有我.

这个女人扫了我一眼,示意我走近一些.我能够逃跑,但是不,我没有这样做.我正在揭开我所居住的哨卫的神秘事件,我不能逃避.

她竟然知道我的名字,并且带着甜蜜的微笑说出它.夜母是一个有着蓬松的白发的小老妇人.双颊如同一个皱褶的苹果般还保留有年轻时的红晕,充满亲切之情的双眼蔚蓝的如同骼骨湾里的海水.她温柔的拉着我的手臂,我们坐在了一圈墓碑之中开始讨论谋杀的事宜.

她不是经常在落锤,也不常直接接收任务,但是看起来她实际上挺喜欢和她的客户交谈.

“我来此地不是为雇佣之事.”我恭敬地的说道.

“那么你为何来此?”夜母问道,她的眼睛注视着我.

我告诉她我想了解她.但是她给了我一个不期望得到的答案.

“我不介意你们在故事中虚构的我的形象.”她轻笑到:"他们之中有些非常有趣,有些擅长于买卖交易.我特别喜欢卡尔洛瓦克·汤维的小说中描写的那个懒洋洋的斜卧在长沙发椅上的性感的黑暗之女.事实上我过去并没有那么多辉煌的传闻.很久很久以前,追溯到盗贼公会刚刚成立的时候,我就是一个盗贼了.在入室行窃时潜行于房屋旁是件多么令人厌烦的事情啊!我们之中很多人发现最有效的方法就是扼死房屋的主人.这样仅仅是为了方便行窃.我建议公会中属于我的组织的那部分人献身与谋杀的艺术和技巧中.

对我而言,这并不是一个如此有争议的想法,“夜母耸耸肩说:”我们拥有入室行窃,扒窃,开锁,买卖赃物以及所有其他这份工作所需要的基本技能的专家.但是公会认为奖励谋杀对这行有负面效果.他们争论了太多太多了."

“也许他们是对的,”老妇人继续道.“但是我发现从他人的暴死中可以获得利益.不仅是抢夺死者的财物,而且如果死于你手上的牺牲者还有仇人,你可以从他那些仇人手上获得更多的报酬,通常有钱人会这么做.当我发现这点时候我开始杀死各种不同的人.当我扼死他们以后,我通常会放入两块石头在他们眼睛里,一块黑一块白.”

“为什么这样做?”我问道.

“这算是我名片的一种吧.你是一个作家,难道你不想在你的书上写上你自己的名字吗?我不能用自己的名字来签,但是我想潜在的顾客知道我和我的工作成果.我现在再也不这样做了,没有必要.但是在那个时候,这是我的签名.流言传开以后,我不久就有相当成功的生意了.

“那么莫拉格帮是由此形成的吗?”我问道.

“噢,亲爱的,不是,”夜母笑着说:"莫拉格帮在我出生前很久就存在了.我知道我很老了,但是我还没有那么老.在他们谋杀上一个皇帝之后就开始分裂了.我只是雇佣一些他们的刺客而已.那些是再也不想成为帮会分子的刺客,而且既然我的组织是唯一的暗杀团伙,他们只好加入.

我小心翼翼的说出我下一个问题:“你告诉了我这么多那么你现在会杀了我吗?”

她悲伤的点点头,如祖母般的叹了口气.“你是这么一个优秀的有礼貌的年轻人,我憎恨这样结束我们之间的相识.我认为你不会同意用一两个让步来交换你的生命,是么?”

我同意了,这是我永远的羞耻.我说我不会说起我们之间的会面,也就是现在读者们看到的这些.这是一些年后我最后决定不遵守的诺言.为什么我要这样将自己的生命置于危险之中呢?

因为我遵守的这个诺言

我帮助夜母和黑暗兄弟会的行动,这些都太卑劣,太血腥以至于对我而言难以写出.当我想起我背叛的那些人们时我的双手在颤抖.在最初的那些夜晚,我设法去写我的诗,但是墨水看起来都变成了血.最后我逃跑了.更名换姓,去了一个无人知晓我的地方.

然后我写下了这些.真实的夜母的往事,由那天晚上见到她时她所告诉我的而来.我也知道这也是我最后写的东西了.每一个字都是真实的.

愿神保佑我.

编者后记:虽然最开始是匿名出版,但是作者的身份从没有被严重怀疑过.任何熟悉诗人恩里克·米尔恩斯的作品的外行人都会认出《神圣的见证》那本书中的《阿里克尔》那熟悉的韵律和风格.在那出版后的短时间内,米尔恩斯被谋杀,凶手至今未能找到.他是被扼死的,而且他的眼窝中塞入两块石头,一块黑一块白.非常的残忍.

盖乌斯注:

《阿里克尔》是恩里克·米尔恩斯的另一部作品。

本文原来的的译名如下,但是我在uesp上发现根本没有“真实往事”之类的副标题。。。
Sacred Witness: A True History Of The Night Mother – Enric Milnes
Sacred Witness:黑暗之母真实的往事 – Enric Milnes

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I have met countesses and courtesans, empresses and witches, ladies of war and slatterns of peace, but I have never met a woman like The Night Mother. And I never will again.

I am a writer, a poet of some small renown. If I told you my name, you may have heard of me, but very likely, not. For decades until very recently, I had adopted the city of Sentinel on the coast of Hammerfell as my home, and kept the company of other artists, painters, tapestrists, and writers. No one I knew would have known an assassin by sight, least of all the queen of them, the Blood Flower, the Lady Death, the Night Mother.

Not that I had not heard of her.

Some years ago, I had the good fortune of meeting Pelarne Assi, a respected scholar, who had come to Hammerfell to do research for a book about the Order of Diagna. His essay, 'The Brothers of Darkness' together with Ynir Gorming's 'Fire and Darkness: The Brotherhoods of Death' are considered to be the canon tomes on the subject of Tamriel's orders of assassins. By luck, Gorming himself was also in Sentinel, and I was priveleged [sic] to sit with the two in a dark skoomaden in the musty slums of the city, as we smoked and talked about the Dark Brotherhood, the Morag Tong, and the Night Mother.

While not disputing the possibility that the Night Mother may be immortal or at least very long-lived, Assi thought it most likely that several women - and perhaps some men - throughout the ages had assumed the honorary title. It was no more logical to say there was only one Night Mother, he asserted, than to say there was only one King of Sentinel.

Gorming argued that there never was a Night Mother, at least no human one. The Night Mother was Mephala herself, whom the Brotherhood revered second only to Sithis.

'I don't suppose there's any way of knowing for certain,' I said, in a note of diplomacy.

'Certainly there is,' whispered Gorming with a grin. 'You could talk to that cloaked fellow in the corner.'

I had not noticed the man before, who sat by himself, eyes hidden by his cloak, seemingly as much a part of the dingy place as the rough stone and unswept floor. Turning back to Ynir, I asked him why that man would know about the Night Mother.

'He's a Dark Brother,' hissed Pellarne Assi. 'That's as plain as the moons. Don't even joke about speaking with him about Her.'

We moved on to other arguments about the Morag Tong and the Brotherhood, but I never forgot the image of the lone man, looking at nothing and everything, in the corner of the dirty room, with fumes of skooma smoke floating around him like ghosts. When I saw him weeks later on the streets of Sentinel, I followed him.

Yes, I followed him. The reader may reasonably ask 'why' and 'how.' I don't blame you for that.

'How' was simply a question of knowing my city as well as I do. I'm not a thief, not particularly sure-footed and quiet, but I know the alleys and streets of Sentinel intimately from decades worth of ambling. I know which bridges creak, which buildings cast long irregular shadows, the intervals at which the native birds begin the ululations of their evening songs. With relative ease, I kept pace with the Dark Brother and out of his sight and hearing.

The answer to 'Why' is even simpler. I have the natural curiosity of the born writer. When I see a strange new animal, I must observe. It is the writer's curse.

I trailed the cloaked man deeper into the city, down an alleyway so narrow it was scarcely a crack between two tenements, past a crooked fence, and suddenly, miraculously, I was in a place I had never seen before. A little courtyard cemetery, with a dozen old half-rotted wooden tombstones. None of the surrounding buildings had windows that faced it, so no one knew this miniature necropolis existed.

No one, except the six men and one woman standing in it. And me.

The woman saw me immediately, and gestured for me to come closer. I could have run, but - no, I couldn't have. I had pierced a mystery right in my adopted Sentinel, and I could not leave it.

She knew my name, and she said it with a sweet smile. The Night Mother was a little old lady with fluffy white hair, cheeks like wrinkled apples that still carried the flush of youth, friendly eyes, blue as the Iliac Bay. She softly took my arm as we sat down amidst the graves and discussed murder.

She was not always in Hammerfell, not always available for direct assignment, but it seemed she enjoyed actually talking to her clientele.

'I did not come here to hire the Brotherhood,' I said respectfully.

'Then why are you here?' the Night Mother asked, her eyes never leaving mine.

I told her I wanted to know about her. I did not expect an answer to that, but she told me.

'I do not mind the stories you writers dream up about me,' she chuckled. 'Some of them are very amusing, and some of them are good for business. I like the sexy dark woman lounging on the divan in Carlovac Townway's fiction particularly. The truth is that my history would not make a very dramatic tale. I was a thief, long, long ago, back when the Thieves Guild was only beginning. It's such a bother to sneak around a house when performing a burglary, and many of us found it most efficacious to strangle the occupant of the house. Just for convenience. I suggested to the Guild that a segment of our order be dedicated to the arts and sciences of murder.

'It did not seem like such a controversial idea to me,' the Night Mother shrugged. 'We had specialists in catburglary, pick-pocketing, lock-picking, fencing, all the other essential parts of the job. But the Guild thought that encouraging murder would be bad for business. Too much, too much, they argued.

'They might have been right,' the old woman continued. 'But I discovered there is a profit to be made, just the same, from sudden death. Not only can one rob the deceased, but, if your victim has enemies, which rich people often do, you can be paid for it even more. I began to murder people differently when I discovered that. After I strangled them, I would put two stones in their eyes, one black and one white.'

'Why?' I asked.

'It was a sort of calling card of mine. You're a writer - don't you want your name on your books? I couldn't use my name, but I wanted potential clients to know me and my work. I don't do it anymore, no need to, but at the time, it was my signature. Word spread, and I soon had quite a successful business.'

'And that became the Morag Tong?' I asked.

'Oh, dear me, no,' the Night Mother smiled. 'The Morag Tong was around long before my time. I know I'm old, but I'm not that old. I merely hired on some of their assassins when they began to fall apart after the murder of the last Potentate. They did not want to be members of the Tong anymore, and since I was the only other murder syndicate of any note, they just joined on.'

I phrased my next question carefully. 'Will you kill me now that you've told me all this?'

She nodded sadly, letting out a little grandmotherly sigh. 'You are such a nice, polite young man, I hate to end our acquaintanceship. I don't suppose you would agree to a concession or two in exchange for your life, would you?'

To my everlasting shame, I did agree. I said I would say nothing about our meeting, which, as the reader can see, was a promise I eventually, years later, chose not to keep. Why have I endangered my life thus?

Because of the promises I did keep.

I helped the Night Mother and the Dark Brotherhood in acts too despicable, too bloody for me to set to paper. My hand quivers as I think about the people I betrayed, beginning with that night. I tried to write my poetry, but ink seemed to turn to blood. Finally, I fled, changing my name, going to a land where no one would know me.

And I wrote this. The true history of the Night Mother, from the interview she gave me on the night we met. It will be the last thing I ever write, this I know. And every word is true.

Pray for me.

Editor's Note: Though originally published anonymously, the identity of the author has never been in serious doubt. Any layman familiar with the work of the poet Enric Milnes will recognize Sacred Witness's familiar cadence and style in such books of his as 'The Alik'r.' Shortly after publication, Milnes [sic] was murdered, and his killer was never found. He had been strangled, and two stones, a black one and a white one, crushed into his eyesockets. Very brutally.

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