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【书籍搬运】A Dance in Fire, v1 火中舞——第一章

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文地址:http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Tamriel:A_Dance_in_Fire#Chapter_1

作者:沃金· 贾斯

翻译:花溪流萤

地点:赛瑞迪尔,帝都

日期:第三纪元397年 霜降月7日

阿特利乌斯建筑委员会似乎自建立日起一直都在宫廷当中占有一席之地,这个部门下辖诸多文员以及地产代理,专门授权以及论证帝国建设相关草案,并且承揽对应工程,帝国绝大多数建筑文案皆出于此。办公场所位于一栋简朴内敛的厚重建筑之中,座落在帝都一片占地面积不大但是地段尊崇的广场之上,自玛格纳斯继位之日算起,已经屹立此地长达二百五十余年。

职员之中既有精力充沛,野心勃勃的中产阶级青年才俊,也有如同德库姆斯·斯科蒂之流的中年男女。(职员当中)根本没人能够想像,如果世上没有了委员会,世界会是何种光景,最起码斯科蒂难以想象。准确的说,他是不敢想象倘若自己不幸被委员会除名后应该怎么过活。

“阿特利乌斯爵士十分欣赏你的往日成绩”某日,人事主管走入斯科蒂办公室中,带上身后大门之后说道。“但你知道现在局势比较复杂。”

“我懂”斯科蒂呆呆应答道

“瓦奈克爵士最近带给我们的竞争压力愈来愈大,我们想要生存必须提高效率,精简人事。非常不幸,这意味着我们必须解雇一些曾经业绩出色但是近期表现不佳的老职工”

“我很了解,这也是不可避免的。”

“感谢你能理解,”人事主管微笑过后,马上收敛笑容命令道。“那么请你尽快腾出这间办公室来。”

接着斯科蒂不得不用开始准备进行手头工作交接,继任者最有可能会是年轻的易卜拉琉斯,这也无可厚非,毕竟那个年轻人更懂如何寻找商机。之后,他更百无聊赖的开始盘算那个家伙到底怎样处理真神神殿修建新的圣爱丽西亚雕像这单契约,或许他会捏造一处笔误,并将责任全数推诿到前任德库姆斯·斯科蒂的身上,之后再为新的方案申请更多金币。

这时,声音传来,“我这有封给阿特利乌斯建筑委员会职员德库姆斯·斯科蒂的信函”

斯科蒂忙抬起头来,只见一个肥头大耳邮差走入他的办公室中然后递上一份密封卷轴。付给邮差一枚金币将其打发走后,他展开了卷轴。通过信上潦草笔迹,错拼单词外加谬误语法以及通篇戏谑语气可以看出,这件信函毫无疑问是出自里奥德斯 居鲁斯之手,此人数年之前曾是斯科蒂的同僚,因被指控参与非法交易而被逐出了委员会。

亲爱的斯考(科)蒂,

我相(想),你一直都很好奇,在我身上到底发生什么事情。你也一定无法猜到,当下我正位于从(丛)林之中。但我的确就在那里。哈哈。若你脑袋开窍并且想给阿特利乌斯委员会捞些外快的话(当然自己也有油水,哈哈),那么也来瓦林林地(瓦伦林地)吧。不知你是否关心时事,是否知道那些波士莫(波兹莫)最近两年正同邻居艾斯维尔(艾尔斯维尔)打仗。局势刚刚得以好转,百废待兴,很多地方亟需重建。

当前我的生意太多,令我应接不暇,但我需要一些官方背景,需要一位来自正式机关的代立(代理)为我起草文书。那人就是你呀,我的朋友。速来瓦林林地(瓦伦林地)的帕斯科斯大娘旅店与我会面,我会在那待上两个星期,你会不需(虚)此行。

居鲁斯

附言:如若可能,请带一扯(车)木料。”

“斯科蒂啊,你手上拿的是什么?”周围突然响起一个声音

斯科蒂被吓了一跳。原来是易卜拉琉斯来了,他那可憎的俏脸正透着门上小窗向里窥视,脸上挂着最吝啬投资人以及最粗鲁石匠都难以招架的微笑。看到他后,斯科蒂忙将手中信件塞入衣服口袋之中。

“只是私人信件”他不悦道。“不用催我,我很快就会把办公室给你腾出来。”

“我并不想催你,”易卜拉琉斯回答道,然后从斯科蒂书桌上面抓起一叠空白合约表格。“我刚刚审阅了一堆合同,现在那些抄录员下属的手都写的抽筋了,所以你这儿应该没剩多少了,收拾起来不费时间。”

年轻人离开后,斯科蒂掏出了信函,再次审视起来。他要开始为自己今后生活打算了,这在以前(工作稳定之时)根本都没想过。在他看来,今后人生宛如一片灰色汪洋,周遭均是难以逾越的高墙。高墙之上唯有一处窄缝可以逃脱(寓意就是前往瓦伦林地乃是最后一支救命稻草)。想到这里,他便不再犹豫,连忙抓起一打烫有皇家授权,阿特利乌斯建筑委员会金印的空白合同卷纸,并将他们藏入私人包裹之中。

次日,他毫不犹豫的踏上了征程。他在本周前往瓦伦林地并有武装押运(毕竟那里战火刚熄,为了安全起见)的唯一一个商队订了席位,尽管启程准备匆忙,他还是没忘捎上一车木材。

“雇佣马匹运送木材需要额外加钱,”护航卫队头目蹙眉说道。

“这个我懂,”斯科蒂模仿着易卜拉琉斯的样子谄笑说道。

计有十辆马车的车队当日下午启程,穿行于熟悉的赛瑞迪尔乡野之间,一路南下。马车不断驰过野花盛开的原野,摇曳多姿的林地,以及平和安详的村落。马蹄踏在石板路上的笃笃声令斯科蒂忆起,这些道路都是建自阿特利乌斯建筑委员会之手。促成道路建成的重要草案之中,十八分之五都由自己起草。

“你能携带一车木头过去真是非常明智,”马车邻座一位胡须花白的布莱顿人说道。“你肯定是个商人。”

“差不多吧,”斯科蒂应道,在他看来这种小事不用计较准确与否(说我是就是咯),随后他又自我介绍道:“我叫德库姆斯·斯科蒂。”

“格里夫·马兰,”对方同样做了自我介绍,“我虽是个诗人,但实际上一直从事古波兹莫文献译制工作。两年以前,我发现了有关《穆恩莱德宗教条目》的多条最新线索,但是随后战争爆发,我不得不逃离瓦伦林地。如若你熟知绿色协定,无疑会对穆恩莱德有所耳闻。”

斯科蒂虽然认为那个男人是在信口开河,但还是附和般的点了点头。

“诚然,我不会辩称穆恩莱德会和《埃雷迪恩馈赠》(Meh Ayleidion,波兹莫流行诗篇,意为躲藏千般好)一样闻名遐迩,也不会扬言它会像《丹瑟高尔》(Dansir Gol)那般历史久远,但我认为它在理解波兹莫思想本源方面,同样意义重大。木精灵们发自内心的抵制砍伐树木,并且不吃任何植物,但却乐于从外省进口木料以及熟菜,这点岂非自相矛盾。我认为这在穆恩莱德书中某个段落可以找到答案。说着他便开始翻阅手头文宗,想要找篇证据出来。”

还好,马车很快停下宿营,斯科蒂也从唠叨之中解脱出来。他们驻扎之处乃是一块千仞绝壁,下临灰白溪流,前方就是瓦伦林地宏伟峡谷。此处树木又高又粗,盘根错节,枝桠参天,宛若生长万年有余,一眼望不到边。西方传来海鸟啼鸣,唯有这时方能感到西方海湾之处有海存在。营地四周悬崖之上生活着一些“较低”树木,枝头最低之处距地仅有五十英尺。这种景象令斯科蒂感到无比新鲜,迫不及待想要进入这片密林之中,以至当夜根本无法安眠。

幸运的是(自己不缺人陪),因为马兰认为自己找到一位同自己志趣相投,同样对古波兹莫文化谜团有着浓厚兴趣的学者。所以整夜,都在对他诵读波兹莫诗篇原本以及自己所做注解,读到兴处,自己亦为故事所感,开始随着情节哭泣,怒吼,低语。渐渐的,斯科蒂有了困意,但是一阵断木之声蓦地将他惊得直坐起来。

“那是什么?”

马兰笑道:“我也喜欢这句。‘无月之夜,邪恶聚会,火焰起舞…’”

“周围树上有些大鸟飞来飞去。”斯科蒂指着上方的黑影,悄声说道

“我才不管那些”被听众打断的马兰忿然说道。“现在,我们来听第四本书第十八章诗篇如何描述赫玛·玛拉祷文。”

树间黑影有的如同鸟般栖止,有的如同蛇般穿行,另外一些则呈人形。马兰朗诵诗篇之际,S斯科蒂一直盯着那些悄然跳跃在树梢之间的黑影,它们的滑翔距离远非一般无翼生物可及。它们先是聚为一团,接着分散到周围树上,并将营地重重包围。随后,突然纷纷自树上跃下。

“玛拉!”斯科蒂i叫道。“他们冲下来了,就像下雨一样!”

“可能只是豆荚种子,”马兰头也不回,耸肩说道。“一些树木不同寻常—”

营地陷入一片混乱当中,马车最先遭殃,接着马匹因被重创发出哀鸣,盛放美酒,淡水的木桶被刺破,酒水喷洒的满地都是。一个敏捷黑影越过斯科蒂以及马兰二人,凭藉着惊人速度以及优雅姿态将成袋粮食连同金币抢入手中。斯科蒂借着附近稍纵即逝的火光,一瞥之下方才发现那是一只健美生物,长着尖尖耳朵,一对黄色大眼,身披斑驳杂毛,身后还有一条鞭状长尾。

“狼人,”他啜泣道,身子紧紧缩成一团。

“卡萨-纳,”马兰抱怨道。“更糟的是,这些似是虎人近亲一类的东西,是来劫道的。”

“你确定吗?”

众人甫一开始反攻,这些生物便开始撤退,赶在商队守卫—那些战斗法师以及骑士如梦初醒,反应过来之前,他们早已冲下悬崖,遁入岩下溪流之中。马兰和斯科蒂两人奔到悬崖边上,向下望去,只见一百英尺之下,一些微小(远处所见)生物破河而出,抖落身上溪水之后,随即消失林中。

“狼人可没这么灵敏,”马兰说道。“这些家伙明显就是卡萨-纳,一堆该死盗贼。感谢斯丹纳尔,他们不懂我笔记的价值,我还不算一无所有。”

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Scene: The Imperial CityCyrodiil

Date: 7 Frost Fall, 3E 397

It seemed as if the palace had always housed the Atrius Building Commission, the company of clerks and estate agents who authored and notarized nearly every construction of any note in the Empire. It had stood for two hundred and fifty years, since the reign of the Emperor Magnus, a plain-fronted and austere hall on a minor but respectable plaza in the Imperial City. Energetic and ambitious middle-class lads and ladies worked there, as well as complacent middle-aged ones like Decumus Scotti. No one could imagine a world without the Commission, least of all Scotti. To be accurate, he could not imagine a world without himself in the Commission.
“Lord Atrius is perfectly aware of your contributions,” said the managing clerk, closing the shutter that demarcated Scotti's office behind him. “But you know that things have been difficult.”
“Yes,” said Scotti, stiffly.
“Lord Vanech's men have been giving us a lot of competition lately, and we must be more efficient if we are to survive. Unfortunately, that means releasing some of our historically best but presently underachieving senior clerks.”
“I understand. Can't be helped.”
“I'm glad that you understand,” smiled the managing clerk, smiling thinly and withdrawing. “Please have your room cleared immediately.”
Scotti began the task of organizing all his work to pass on to his successor. It would probably be young Imbrallius who would take most of it on, which was as it should be, he considered philosophically. The lad knew how to find business. Scotti wondered idly what the fellow would do with the contracts for the new statue of St Alessia for which the Temple of the One had applied. Probably invent a clerical error, blame it on his old predecessor Decumus Scotti, and require an additional cost to rectify.
“I have correspondence for Decumus Scotti of the Atrius Building Commission.”
Scotti looked up. A fat-faced courier had entered his office and was thrusting forth a sealed scroll. He handed the boy a gold piece, and opened it up. By the poor penmanship, atrocious spelling and grammar, and overall unprofessional tone, it was manifestly evident who the writer was. Liodes Jurus, a fellow clerk some years before, who had left the Commission after being accused of unethical business practices.


“Dear Sckotti,



I emagine you alway wondered what happened to me, and the last plase you would have expected to find me is out in the woods. But thats exactly where I am. Ha ha. If your'e smart and want to make lot of extra gold for Lord Atrius (and yourself, ha ha), youll come down to Vallinwood too. If you have'nt or have been following the politics hear lately, you may or may not know that ther's bin a war between the Boshmer and there neighbors Elswere over the past two years. Things have only just calm down, and ther's a lot that needs to be rebuilt.



Now Ive got more business than I can handel, but I need somone with some clout, someone representing a respected agencie to get the quill in the ink. That somone is you, my fiend. Come & meat me at the M'ther Paskos Tavern in Falinnesti, Vallinwood. Ill be here 2 weeks and you wont be sorrie.



-- Jurus



P.S.: Bring a wagenload of timber if you can.”

“What do you have there, Scotti?” asked a voice.
Scotti started. It was Imbrallius, his damnably handsome face peeking through the shutters, smiling in that way that melted the hearts of the stingiest of patrons and the roughest of stonemasons. Scotti shoved the letter in his jacket pocket.
“Personal correspondence,” he sniffed. “I'll be cleared up here in a just a moment.”
“I don't want to hurry you,” said Imbrallius, grabbing a few sheets of blank contracts from Scotti's desk. “I've just gone through a stack, and the junior scribes [sic] hands are all cramping up, so I thought you wouldn't miss a few.”
The lad vanished. Scotti retrieved the letter and read it again. He thought about his life, something he rarely did. It seemed a sea of gray with a black insurmountable wall looming. There was only one narrow passage he could see in that wall. Quickly, before he had a moment to reconsider it, he grabbed a dozen of the blank contracts with the shimmering gold leaf ATRIUS BUILDING COMMISSION BY APPOINTMENT OF HIS IMPERIAL MAJESTY and hid them in the satchel with his personal effects.
The next day he began his adventure with a giddy lack of hesitation. He arranged for a seat in a caravan bound for Valenwood, the single escorted conveyance to the southeast leaving the Imperial City that week. He had scarcely hours to pack, but he remembered to purchase a wagonload of timber.
“It will be extra gold to pay for a horse to pull that,” frowned the convoy head.
“So I anticipated,” smiled Scotti with his best Imbrallius grin.
Ten wagons in all set off that afternoon through the familiar Cyrodilic countryside. Past fields of wildflowers, gently rolling woodlands, friendly hamlets. The clop of the horses' hooves against the sound stone road reminded Scotti that the Atrius Building Commission constructed it. Five of the eighteen necessary contracts for its completion were drafted by his own hand.
“Very smart of you to bring that wood along,” said a gray-whiskered Breton man next to him on his wagon. “You must be in Commerce.”
“Of a sort,” said Scotti, in a way he hoped was mysterious, before introducing himself: “Decumus Scotti.”
“Gryf Mallon,” said the man. “I'm a poet, actually a translator of old Bosmer literature. I was researching some newly discovered tracts of the Mnoriad Pley Bar two years ago when the war broke out and I had to leave. You are no doubt familiar with the Mnoriad, if you're aware of theGreen Pact.”
Scotti thought the man might be speaking perfect gibberish, but he nodded his head.
“Naturally, I don't pretend that the Mnoriad is as renowned as the Meh Ayleidion, or as ancient as the Dansir Gol, but I think it has a remarkable significance to understanding the nature of the merelithic Bosmer mind. The origin of the Wood Elf aversion to cutting their own wood or eating any plant material at all, yet paradoxically their willingness to import plantstuff from other cultures, I feel can be linked to a passage in the Mnoriad,” Mallon shuffled through some of his papers, searching for the appropriate text.
To Scotti's vast relief, the carriage soon stopped to camp for the night. They were high on a bluff over a gray stream, and before them was the great valley of Valenwood. Only the cry of seabirds declared the presence of the ocean to the bay to the west: here the timber was so tall and wide, twisting around itself like an impossible knot begun eons ago, to be impenetrable. A few more modest trees, only fifty feet to the lowest branches, stood on the cliff at the edge of camp. The sight was so alien to Scotti and he found himself so anxious about the proposition of entering the wilderness that he could not imagine sleeping.
Fortunately, Mallon had supposed he had found another academic with a passion for the riddles of ancient cultures. Long into the night, he recited Bosmer verse in the original and in his own translation, sobbing and bellowing and whispering wherever appropriate. Gradually, Scotti began to feel drowsy, but a sudden crack of wood snapping made him sit straight up.
“What was that?”
Mallon smiled: “I like it too. 'Convocation in the malignity of the moonless speculum, a dance of fire --'”
“There are some enormous birds up in the trees moving around,” whispered Scotti, pointing in the direction of the dark shapes above.
“I wouldn't worry about that,” said Mallon, irritated with his audience. “Now listen to how the poet characterizes Herma-Mora's invocation in the eighteenth stanza of the fourth book.”
The dark shapes in the trees were some of them perched like birds, others slithered like snakes, and still others stood up straight like men. As Mallon recited his verse, Scotti watched the figures softly leap from branch to branch, half-gliding across impossible distances for anything without wings. They gathered in groups and then reorganized until they had spread to every tree around the camp. Suddenly they plummeted from the heights.
Mara!” cried Scotti. “They're falling like rain!”
“Probably seed pods,” Mallon shrugged, not turning around. “Some of the trees have remarkable --”
The camp erupted into chaos. Fires burst out in the wagons, the horses wailed from mortal blows, casks of wine, fresh water, and liquor gushed their contents to the ground. A nimble shadow dashed past Scotti and Mallon, gathering sacks of grain and gold with impossible agility and grace. Scotti had only one glance at it, lit up by a sudden nearby burst of flame. It was a sleek creature with pointed ears, wide yellow eyes, mottled pied fur and a tail like a whip.
“Werewolf,” he whimpered, shrinking back.
Cathay-raht,” groaned Mallon. “Much worse. Khajiti cousins or some such thing, come to plunder.”
“Are you sure?”
As quickly as they struck, the creatures retreated, diving off the bluff before the battlemage and knight, the caravan's escorts, had fully opened their eyes. Mallon and Scotti ran to the precipice and saw a hundred feet below the tiny figures dash out of the water, shake themselves, and disappear into the wood.
“Werewolves aren't acrobats like that,” said Mallon. “They were definitely Cathay-raht. Bastard thieves. Thank Stendarr they didn't realize the value of my notebooks. It wasn't a complete loss.”

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