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【书籍搬运】Argonian Account, Book 1 亚龙轶事 第一部

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原文地址:http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Argonian_Account,_Book_1

作者:渥金·贾思

翻译:花溪流萤

领主Vanech的建筑委员会坐落于(确切的说,应是占据着)帝都一片狭小但气派的广场之上。这座建筑占地甚大,然而外观设计着实平实无华,并未掺杂过多审美元素以及设计考量。批评者们一直不解,Vanech领主缘何对如此庞杂无趣建筑情有独钟,但是迫于威严,无人敢于公开抱怨。

时值第三纪元398年,Decumus Scotti正任委员会高级文员。

数月之前,这位腼腆的中年男子刚为Vanech领主签下一笔最为有利可图的肥单,为委员会揽下瓦伦伍德五年战争期间战损道路的独家修缮权。为此,他成为众经理职员眼中炙手可热的人物,日复一日的被缠着复述自己的冒险传奇,故事几乎忠于事实…尽管结局被刻意隐瞒,由于众人大多参与了Silenstri举办的 Unthrappa烧烤宴会。告诉他们当时大快朵颐啖下之物乃是人肉,实在大煞风景,无论何等冒险故事均会索然无味。

Scotti既无野心,亦无勤勉工作之魄力,所以对于Vanech领主并不给予自己实际工作毫不在意。

每当Vanech 领主,这位身材矮小的侏儒在办公室遇到Decumus Scotti之时,总是用同一口吻说道,“你乃委员会栋梁之才,再接再厉。”

起初,Scotti尚且受宠若惊,盘算做些实事报答赏识。但是日子久了,他亦习以为常,只需回应一句“谢谢,我会努力”。

但是,为了未来,必须做好两手准备。他已不再年轻,尽管现在薪资优渥,可以不劳而获。但他担心,长此以往单位肯定因他整日无所事事而将他扫地出门。他寻思到,如若Vanech领主能因自己签下瓦伦伍德价值百万的订单,让自己也参与建设,那该多好。最低限度也要奖赏给他部分佣金吧。

Decumus Scotti并不擅长请求奖赏,原因之一就是,成为A特利乌斯领主高级幕僚,在瓦伦伍德取得事业成功之前,他还是一位糟糕的经纪人。当他鼓足勇气前去觐见Vanech领主之前,出人意料的是,领主率先开口。

“你乃委员会之栋梁,”脚步蹒跚的侏儒说完,停顿道。“现在能抽出时间么?”

Vanech连忙点头,随后跟随上司前往那间装饰得一塌糊涂(呼应前文审美问题),面积却大得令人羡嫉的办公室中。

“泽尼萨尔在上,委员会竟然拥有你等人才,”侏儒郑重其事的叹道。“不知你是否知晓,在你到来之前,我们的确步履维艰。我们不乏赚钱项目,但是无一顺利进行。举例来说,在黑沼泽,多年以来,我们一直致力于修缮商队途径的大小商路。并派遣我的得力助手Flesus Tijjo前往督工,但是年复一年,无论投入多少时间金钱,商路贸易却是每况愈下。现在好了,你那笔利润丰厚的瓦伦伍德竞标着实为委员会带来极大利好。是时候论功行赏了。”

Scotti谦逊的点了点头,表情中却透漏出微妙的贪婪。

“我希望你能接手Flesus Tijjo在黑沼泽地区的工作。”

这条决定将Scotti 从美妙幻想之中拉回残酷现实,“大人,我-我不能-”

“行了”Vanech领主尖声道。“别担心Tijjo。相比他在黑沼泽的糟糕表现来讲,我给他的退休抚恤金已经足够,他肯定乐于接受成命。亲爱的Decumus,现在重担落在你肩上了。”

随后,Vanech领主搬出成箱黑沼泽卷宗置于Scotti面前,他很想说“不”,但是嘴唇嗫嚅着,始终没有说出口。

“依照你的阅读速度”Vanech领主揣摩道。“前去路上,理应能够读完。”

“去哪呀…”

“自然是黑沼泽咯,”侏儒咯咯笑道。“你真幽默。想要掌握(黑沼泽工程的)工作进展并且展开切实有效的改进,还能去哪?”

次日清晨,驮载着堆叠如山的卷宗,Decumus Scotti开始朝向东南方向的黑沼泽挺进。Vanech领主雇佣了一位名叫Mailic,虽然沉默寡言但是忠实可靠的Redguard护卫一路随行。他们沿着尼本一路南下,然后向东南挺进,改道Silverfish(银鱼河),步入赛瑞迪尔荒蛮之地,此处拥有众多无名支流流经,此外相比帝国北部行省修剪齐整的美丽花园来讲,这里的奇花异草宛若来自异国国度。

Scotti骑乘马匹与Mailic之马相连,所以这位职员尚能抽出机会读书。尽管颠簸之中,阅读多有不便,但是Scotti明白,他至少要对委员会在黑沼泽的生意状况做出大致了解。

巨大木箱之中,铺陈着远溯至四十年前的庞杂卷宗,那时委员会刚从一位富商Xellicles Pinos-Revina手中接过数百万金币用于修缮Gideon通往赛瑞迪尔的道路。此举花费时间甚巨,足达3星期之久,以至商人跨境运送的粟米以及幼苗抵达帝国行省境内时,半数以上已经腐烂。Pinos-Revina早已仙去,然而其后数十年间,包括皇帝柏拉鸠斯四世在内的众多投资者不断拨款,委托委员会修缮道路,清理沼泽,搭建桥梁,构建打击走私系统,招募佣兵,总而言之,伟大帝国使劲浑身解数意图打通黑沼泽贸易通道。然而最近统计表明,经由黑沼泽运往帝国的货物需要2个半月才能运达,而此时,货物早已腐烂殆尽。

Scotti从卷宗中回过神来,抬眼望去,周围景象已经大相径庭,漆黑一片。强烈的视觉反差,总是令人难以适应。

“先生,黑森林到了,”Mailic的话语解答了Scotti心中犹疑。此地暗无天日,树木丛生,Decumus Scotti想到,这个名字还真是恰如其分的贴切。

有个问题他早就想问,此时终于按捺不住,“这是什么怪味儿?”

“腐沼之岬”Mailic说着便将马头调转,眼前出现一条小路,藤蔓缠绕巨树夹道小径两旁,小径尽头乃是一片空地。空地之上,井然有序的矗立着一片沉闷的帝国式样房屋,很明显(这种无趣风格)出自Vanech委员会之手,自泰伯赛普仃起,历经数代方有此规模,先前Scotti踟蹰的如同致命毒药般刺眼反胃的恶臭正是来源于此。沙砾大小的血色小虫成群盘旋其间,视线无法看的真切。

两人一路驱赶着嗡嗡作响的虫群拍马来到最大的房屋面前,房屋位置紧倚一条黏稠昏黑的大河。从其大小以及式样来看,Scotti猜想其应为本地行政中心,一坐精致,鲜亮,坚固白桥横跨黑河,直伸彼岸芦苇丛中,Scotti一眼便可看出,桥梁同样是委员会的杰作。

Scotti刚叩响门,一位面色虚弱,暴躁如雷的职员便立即打开了门。“赶快进来,快进,快点儿!别把嗜肉蝇放进来!”

“嗜肉蝇?”Decumus Scotti颤栗道。“你的意思,该不会说,他们吃人肉吧?”

“除非你傻站在他们中间,任由他们咬你,”士兵白了他一眼道。这时, Scotti方才发现,他只有一只耳朵,环顾四周,其余士兵皆有被咬痕迹。其中一位失去鼻子的士兵问道。“说吧,你们到此有何贵干?”

Scotti据实以告,随后补充道,如果出去要塞执勤,而不是躲在堡垒内部,他们就能抓到更多走私者。

“在此之前,你还是先考虑自己怎么过桥吧,”士兵冷笑道。“快要涨潮了,如果你不立即渡河,四天之内,你可别想离开这里,前往黑沼泽。”

真是无稽之谈。一座大桥会被河中潮汐淹没?但从士兵认真的眼神中间,Scotti可以看出,这绝非危言耸听。

待得走出要塞,自己所乘马匹已然不胜嗜肉蝇叮扰,挣脱缰绳,逃入林中躲藏。透过桥板缝隙,油亮河水业已逼近。Scotti意识到与其强行渡河不如在此暂留四天,然而Mailic 已然径直朝向对岸奔去。

Scotti只好气喘吁吁的紧随其后。他从来都不擅长奔跑。身后背负沉重委员会卷宗箱时则更显吃力。半途,他停下来调整呼吸,但是随后发现自己双脚深陷桥中,已经动弹不得。

随同河水涨起的黑色淤泥宛如厚重胶团,迅速漫过Scotti所立桥板,很快没过脚面。惊恐万状的Scotti从泥潭中放眼望去,Mailic正见缝插针的在空余桥板之间跳跃,马上就要抵达对岸芦苇荡中。

“救命!”Scotti哭喊道。“我被卡住了!”

Decumus Scotti知道自己有些肥胖,必须少食多动,但是远水不解近渴。当下,奈恩任何减肥方案都已于事无补。不久,他才意识到Redguard(红卫)人的意思是他应该丢掉身上卷宗,反观Mailic,早将之前身上所带一切辎重丢弃。

一声叹息之后,Scotti将盛满委员会清单的箱子扔入泥中,立即察觉脚下桥板上浮数寸,恰好足够挣脱泥浆束缚。惊魂甫定之后,Scotti学着 Mailic,蹦蹦跳跳的跟在身后,每步均跨过三块桥板,之后在河水浸没之前继续跳跃。

跳得56步,Decumus Scotti终于冲过芦苇荡,踏上实地,这时他发现自己已然身处黑沼泽中。身后传来桥梁被吞没之声,他曾随身携带的那个记满委员会重要信息的箱子,早已被高涨的污秽黑河吞没,踪迹全无。

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The Argonian Account, Book One
by Waughin Jarth
Decumus Scotti's continued adventures in Black Marsh, Volume 1


Note: The character Decumus Scotti was first introduced in the book A Dance in Fire.

On a minor but respectable plaza in the Imperial City sat, or perhaps lounged, Lord Vanech's Building Commission. It was an unimaginative, austere building not noted so much for its aesthetic or architectural design as for its prodigious length. If any critics wondered why such an unornamented, extended erection held such fascination for Lord Vanech, they kept it to themselves.
In the 398th year of the 3rd Era, Decumus Scotti was a senior clerk at the Commission.
It had been a few months since the shy, middle-aged man had brought Lord Vanech the most lucrative of all contracts, granting the Commission the exclusive right to rebuild the roads ofValenwood which had been destroyed in the Five Year War. For this, he had become the darling of the managers and the clerks, spending his days recounting his adventures, more or less faithfully... although he did omit the ending of the tale, since many of them had partaken in the celebratory Unthrappa roast provided by the Silenstri. Informing one's listeners that they've gorged on human flesh improves very few stories of any good taste.
Scotti was neither particularly ambitious nor hard-working, so he did not mind that Lord Vanech had not given him anything to actually do.
Whenever the squat little gnomish man would happen upon Decumus Scotti in the offices, Lord Vanech would always say, "You're a credit to the Commission. Keep up the good work."
In the beginning, Scotti had worried that he was supposed to be doing something, but as the months went on, he merely replied, "Thank you. I will."
There was, on the other hand, the future to consider. He was not a young man, and though he was receiving a respectable salary for someone not doing actual work, Scotti considered that soon he might have to retire and not get paid for not doing work. It would be nice, he decided, if Lord Vanech, out of gratitude for the millions of gold the Valenwood contract was generating, might deign to make Scotti a partner. Or at least give him a small percentage of the bounty.
Decumus Scotti was no good at asking for things like that, which was one of the reasons why, previous to his signal successes in Valenwood as a senior clerk for Lord Atrius, he was a lousy agent. He had just about made up his mind to say something to Lord Vanech, when his lordship unexpectedly pushed things along.
"You're a credit to the Commission," the waddling little thing said, and then paused. "Do you have a moment free on your schedule?"
Scotti nodded eagerly, and followed his lordship to his hideously decorated and very enviable hectare of office space.

"Zenithar blesses us for your presence at the Commission," the little fellow squeaked grandly. "I don't know whether you know this, but we were having a bad time before you came along. We had impressive projects, for certain, but they were not successful. In Black Marsh, for example, for years we've been trying to improve the roads and other routes of travel for commerce. I put my best man, Flesus Tijjo, on it, but every year, despite staggering investments of time and money, the trade along those routes only gets slower and slower. Now, we have your very clean, very, very profitable Valenwood contract to boost the Commission's profits. I think it's time you were rewarded."
Scotti grinned a grin of great modesty and subtle avarice.
"I want you to take over the Black Marsh account from Flesus Tijjo."
Scotti shook as if awaking from a pleasant dream to hideous reality, "My Lord, I - I couldn't -"
"Nonsense," chirped Lord Vanech. "Don't worry about Tijjo. He will be happy to retire on the money I give him, particularly as soul-wrenchingly difficult as this Black Marsh business has been. Just your sort of a challenge, my dear Decumus."
Scotti couldn't utter a sound, though his mouth feebly formed the word "No" as Lord Vanech brought out the box of documentation on Black Marsh.
"You're a fast reader," Lord Vanech guessed. "You can read it all en route."
"En route to …"
"Black Marsh, of course," the tiny fellow giggled. "You are a funny chap. Where else would you go to learn about the work that's being done, and how to improve it?"
The next morning, the stack of documentation hardly touched, Decumus Scotti began the journey south-east to Black Marsh. Lord Vanech had hired an able-bodied guard, a rather taciturn Redguardnamed Mailic, to protect his best agent. They rode south along the Niben, and then south-east along the Silverfish, continuing on into the wilds of Cyrodiil, where the river tributaries had no names and the very vegetation seemed to come from another world than the nice, civilized gardens of the northern Imperial Province.
Scotti's horse was tied to Mailic's, so the clerk was able to read. It made it difficult to pay attention to the path they were taking, but Scotti knew he needed at least a cursory familiarity with the Commission's business dealings in Black Marsh.
It was a huge box of paperwork going back forty years, when the Commission had first been given several million in gold by a wealthy trader, Lord Xellicles Pinos-Revina, to improve the condition of the road from Gideon to Cyrodiil. At that time, it took three weeks, a preposterously long time, for the rice and root he was importing to arrive, half-rotten, in the Imperial Province. Pinos-Revina was long dead, but many other investors over the decades, including Pelagius IV himself, had hired the Commission to build roads, drain swamps, construct bridges, devise anti-smuggling systems, hire mercenaries, and, in short, do everything that the greatest Empire in history knew would work to aid trade with Black Marsh. According to the latest figures, the result of this was that it took two and a half months for goods, now thoroughly rotten, to arrive.
Scotti found that when he looked up after concentrating on what he was reading, the landscape had always changed. Always dramatically. Always for the worse.
"This is Blackwood, sir," said Mailic to Scotti's unspoken question. It was dark and woodsy, so Decumus Scotti thought that a very appropriate name.
The question he longed to ask, which in due course he did ask, was, "What's that terrible smell?"
"Slough Point, sir," Mailic replied as they turned the next bend, where the umbrageous tunnel of tangled tree and vine opened to a clearing. There squatted a cluster of formal buildings in the dreary Imperial design favored by Lord Vanech's Commission and every Emperor since Tiber, together with a stench so eye-blindingly, stomach-wrenchingly awful that Scotti wondered, suddenly, if it were deadly poisonous. The swarms of blood-colored, sand-grain-sized insects obscuring the air did not improve the view.
Scotti and Mailic batted at the buzzing clouds as they rode their horses towards the largest of the buildings, which on approach revealed itself to be perched at the edge of a thick, black river. From its size and serious aspect, Scotti guessed it to be the census and excise office for the wide, white bridge that stretched across the burbling dark water to the reeds on the other side. It was a very nice, bright, sturdy-looking bridge, built, Scotti knew, by his Commission.
A poxy, irritable official opened the door quickly on Scotti's first knock. "Come in, come in, quickly! Don't let the fleshflies in!"
"Fleshflies?" Decumus Scotti trembled. "You mean, they eat human flesh?"
"If you're fool enough to stand around and let them," the soldier said, rolling his eyes. He had half an ear, and Scotti, looking around at the other soldiers in the fort noted that they all were well-chewed. One of them had no nose at all to speak of. "Now, what's your business?"
Scotti told them, and added that if they stood outside the fortress instead of inside, they might catch more smugglers.
"You better be more concerned with getting across that bridge," the soldier sneered. "Tide's coming up, and if you don't get a move on, you won't get to Black Marsh for four days."
That was absurd. A bridge swamped by a rising tide on a river? Only the look in the soldier's eyes told Scotti he wasn't joking.
Upon stepping out of the fort, he saw that the horses, evidently tired of being tortured by the fleshflies, had ripped free of their restraints and were bounding off into the woods. The oily water of the river was already lapping on the planks, oozing between the crevices. Scotti reflected that perhaps he would be more than willing to endure a wait of four days before going to Black Marsh, but Mailic was already running across.
Scotti followed him, wheezing. He was not in excellent shape, and never had been. The box of Commission materials was heavy. Halfway across, he paused to catch his breath, and then discovered he could not move. His feet were stuck.
The black mud that ran through the river was a thick gluey paste, and having washed over the plank Scotti was on, it held his feet fast. Panic seized him. Scotti looked up from his trap and saw Mailic leaping from plank to plank ahead of him, closing fast on the reeds on the other side.
"Help!" Scotti cried. "I'm stuck!"
Mailic did not even turn around, but kept jumping. "I know, sir. You need to lose weight."
Decumus Scotti knew he was a few pounds over, and had meant to start eating less and exercising more, but embarking on a diet hardly seemed to promise timely aid in his current predicament. No diet on Nirn would have helped him just then. However, on reflection, Scotti realized that the Redguard intended that he drop the box of documents, for Mailic was no longer carrying any of the essential supplies he had had with him previously.
With a sigh, Scotti threw the box of Commission notes into the glop, and felt the plank under him rise a quarter of an inch, just enough to free him from the mud's clutches. With an agility born of extreme fear, Scotti began leaping after Mailic, dropping onto every third plank, and springing up before the river gripped him.
In forty-six leaps, Decumus Scotti crashed through the reeds onto the solid ground behind Mailic, and found himself in Black Marsh. He could hear behind him a slurping sound as the bridge, and his container of important and official records of Commission affairs, was consumed by the rising flood of dark filth, never to be seen again.

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