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【书籍搬运】Argonian Account, Book 2 亚龙轶事 第二部

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原文地址:http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Argonian_Account,_Book_2

作者:渥金·贾思

翻译:花溪流萤

待得Decumus Scotti浑身淤泥冲出芦苇荡,已然精疲力竭,脸上和手臂上更是爬满红色(嗜)肉蝇。回望赛瑞迪尔,来时桥梁早已隐没于黑浓泥河之下。看来,若想回去必须待得数日之后湍流平息才行。河水同时也将自己携带的黑沼泽公文卷宗淹没,接下来只好凭借印象前去Gideon找寻联系人了。

Mailic自顾自的走在芦苇荡中开路,Scotti尝试驱赶肉蝇无果,只好悻悻紧跟Mailic身后。

“我们真是幸运,”这位Redguard如此说道,这句话起初令Scotti大惑不解,不过顺着Mailic指尖望去,随即释然。“前面有支商队。”

商队由21辆锈迹斑斑,通身泥浆的货车组成,货车轮子破败不堪,摇摇欲坠,车辙更是半陷松软泥浆之中。一群赛瑞迪尔随处可见的暴躁苦力,灰鳞灰目的亚龙人,正在试图将其中一辆拉出。等到两人走近,方才看清车上载满高度腐烂,难以辨识的黑莓…与其说是水果,不如说是一堆腐烂凝胶。

好消息是,他们也要前往Gideon,同时更令人喜出望外的是,他们同意等到装完这单货物,可以带上Scotti一路随行。

“这些黑莓采摘多久了?”Scotti望着货车中的腐烂货物问道

“自然是上个收获时节”一位看上去像是货车车主的亚龙人说道。当下已是日暮月,这意味着众人已在路上耽搁两月之久。

显而易见,运输环节出现了问题。这很正常,毕竟Vanech领主的建筑委员会派遣自己前来此处就是为了解决这一问题。

为了躲避加速黑莓腐烂的阳光直射,众人从拉车马匹(各辆马车首尾相连,头车拥有8匹马拉乘)抽出一匹,耗费近一小时,方将陷入泥浆货车拉出泥泞。趁着无精打采的劳工拖车这个当口, Scotti前去拜访其余马车,并与同行旅伴寒暄。

其中四辆货车内置长条凳椅,留给桀骜不驯的骑手休息(8匹马,8个骑手?4条长椅?断背么…)。其余货车搭载着呈现不同程度腐烂的粟谷,肉类以及熟菜。

商队之中拥有六位亚龙劳工,以及3位被蚊虫叮咬的体无完肤,(皮肤伤痕累累)看上去仿佛亚龙人近亲的帝国商人,另外3位头戴头巾的旅伴,从头罩底下露出的红色眼睛推断,毫无疑问应是黑暗精灵。众人均是通过这条帝国商道运送货物。

“这也能称作路?”Scotti望着眼前一望无际,高度齐身甚至犹有过之的芦苇荡叹道。

“某种意义上来讲,这片土地还真顽固。”其中一位头戴头巾的黑暗精灵耸肩道。“我们放马啃食芦苇,有时还纵火烧之,但是没过多久,便又恢复旧观(正可谓,野草烧不尽,春风吹又生也)。”

最后,马车车主失意众人准备启程,Scotti登上第三辆货车同其余帝国商人坐在一起。他左顾右盼,然而Mailic并未上车。

“我的职责是将你带往黑沼泽并且将你送回去,” Redguard说着从芦苇荡中找了一块石头坐下,取出一根长满须根的胡萝卜嚼了起来。“我在这儿等你回来。”

Scotti蹙眉不悦,不单因为Mailic招呼他时,去掉“先生”这一敬语。而是当下自己在黑沼泽中已是举目无亲, 然而不及发作,车队已然缓缓开动,颠簸向前。

中人欲呕的腥风拂过商道,吹皱无垠苇地,泛起阵阵涟漪。放眼远眺,远方似有山峦隐约浮现,但又变幻多端,Scotti这才意识到,那不过是缭绕烟雾的界线。阴影掠过地面,抬头望去,竟是一群齿状长喙几与余身等长的巨鸟剪影。

“齿翼鸟。”坐在Scotti左侧的一位少年老成的帝国商人Chaero Gemullus叫到。“同这片穷山恶水其他东西一样,如果站着发呆,它们便会对你进行攻击。这些家伙俯冲下来给你一口,然后盘旋飞走,待你失血过多倒毙之后,再返回吃肉。”

Scotti吓得发抖。他希望能在日落之前赶到Gideon。直至这时,他才留意到,商队的行进方向竟是南辕北辙。

“先生,请问,”Scotti向着车主说道。“你不是说要去Gideon么?”

车主点了点头。

“那为什么要一路往北,我们不应朝南行进么?”

车主没有回答,只是长叹一声。

Scotti前去求证旅伴,确信众人也是要到Gideon,并且均对这条迂回路线不置可否之后,方才安下心来(原来是偶少见多怪哇)。条凳相对他这把老骨头而言略显坚硬,但是受到货车颠簸韵律,以及乏味芦苇摆动节奏的影响下,Scotti最终沉沉睡去。

数小时后,他在黑暗之中醒来,也不知道现下在哪。货车已经停下,他已跌落在放置条凳的地板上,毗邻一些小箱。外面传来咝咝咔咔的说话声,Scotti不懂这种语言,只好透过某人腿部缝隙向外望去,想要知道什么情况。

疏朗月光堪堪射透货车四周浓厚雾霭,Scotti当前角度无法看清对话双方。片刻之后,听来似是那位车主暗中自言自语,然而黑暗开始褪去,透出雾状薄光,其实那是鳞片反光。很难讲明这些东西数量几何,但是他们全都又黑又大,随着Scotti观察深入,更多细节业已浮现出来。

这时,一处特别细节显现出来,那是一张犬牙交错的湿漉大嘴,Scotti大吃一惊,急忙将身形缩回长条凳下。还好,那些暗处小眼尚未留意到他。

Scotti眼前双腿蓦地移动,腿的主人随即被抓扔往车外。Scotti蜷缩到货车更深处,躲在小箱子后。他并不擅长潜藏,但对用盾颇有心得。他深知,在你和敌人之间,任意阻隔聊胜于无。

那双腿从视野消失数秒之后,传来一声惨叫。随后惨叫声音此起彼伏。虽然腔调口音大相径庭,但却传递出同种信息…惊骇,痛苦,以及可怕疼痛。Scotti忆起一段久被遗忘的斯丹纳尔祷词,不住在心中默念起来。

随后一片沉寂…阴森的沉寂仅仅持续数分,但是感觉却像数个小时…甚至数年。

随后,货车继续向前驶去。

Scotti蹑手蹑脚的爬将出来。迎面而来的Chaero Gemullus,发出困惑微笑。

“原来你在这里,”他说道。“我还以为娜迦将你掳走了。”

“娜迦?”

“不洁生物”Gemullus皱眉道。“长有手脚的鼓腹巨蝰,身长7尺,发狂之时可达8尺。它们来自沼泽深处,但对周遭环境不甚满意,所以显得狂暴异常。像你这般帝国贵族正对其胃口。”

Scotti一生之中从未认为自己是位贵族。所穿满是污泥,爬满肉蝇的行装,看去充其量不过中产阶级,“他们为何要针对我?”

“当然是打劫”帝国人笑道。“然后杀掉。难道你没留心其他富商下场?”帝国人微微蹙眉,若有所思道“你没有翻看椅下箱中东西吧?像糖那种(此处应是月亮糖),没吧?”

“对天发誓,没有。”愁眉苦脸的Scotti回应道

帝国人点了点头,宽下心来。“看来你还真迟钝。我猜你是首次来黑沼泽吧?哦!见鬼,西斯特又要撒尿。”

Scotti刚欲开口询问方才俚语涵义,雨珠已然从天而降。伴随远处隆隆雷声,仿佛来自幽冥的混黄恶臭雨水向着货车倾泻而下。Gemullus开始为每辆货车搭上顶篷,并对袖手旁观的Scotti怒目而视,Scotti最终只得上前搭手。

他颤栗着开始工作,不仅因为寒冷湿气,更因留意到为车搭蓬之时,浇透全身的肮脏恶臭雨水,这令自己本就恶心的衣物雪上加霜。

“衣服很快就能烤干,”Gemullus指向浓雾笑道

Scotti虽未到过Gideon,但也知道大体轮廓。那里起码应是一座多少带有帝国风格的巨大城市,或多或少总有些帝国式样建筑,起码得有些帝国传统特色以及舒适氛围吧。

但是眼前这堆半陷泥中,杂乱散布的群落,显然不是Gideon。

“这是哪?” Scotti困惑的问道

“Hixinoag” Gemullus确信无疑的拼出这个拗口城名。“你说的对,我们本该向南,但却转而向北了。”

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The Argonian Account, Book Two
by Waughin Jarth
Decumus Scotti's continued adventures in Black Marsh, Volume 2


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

Decumus Scotti emerged from the dirt and reeds, exhausted from running, his face and arms sheathed in red fleshflies. Looking back towards Cyrodiil, he saw the bridge disappear beneath the thick black river, and he knew he was not getting back until the tide went down in a few days' time. The river also held in its adhesive depths his files on the Black Marsh account. He would have to rely on his memory for his contacts in Gideon.
Mailic was purposefully striding through the reeds ahead. Flailing ineffectually at the fleshflies, Scotti hurried after him.
"We're lucky, sir," said the Redguard, which struck Scotti as an extraordinarily odd thing to say, until his eyes followed where the man's finger was pointing. "The caravan is here."
Twenty-one rusted, mud-spattered wagons with rotting wood and wobbly wheels sat half-sunk in the soft earth ahead. A crowd of Argonians, gray-scaled and gray-eyed, the sort of sullen manual laborers that were common in Cyrodiil, pulled at one of the wagons which had been detached from the others. As Scotti and Mailic came closer, they saw it was filled with a cargo of black berries so decayed that they had become hardly recognizable... more a festering jelly than a wagonload of fruit.
Yes, they were going to the city of Gideon, and, yes, they said, Scotti could get a ride with them after they were finished unloading this shipment of lumberries.
"How long ago were they picked?" Scotti asked, looking at the wagon's rotten produce.
"The harvest was in Last Seed, of course," said the Argonian who seemed to be in charge of the wagon. It was now Sun's Dusk, so they had been en route from the fields for a little over two months.
Clearly, Scotti thought, there were problems with transportation. But fixing that, after all, was what he was doing here as a representative of Lord Vanech's Building Commission.
It took close to an hour of the berries rotting even more in the sun for the wagon to be pushed to the side, the wagons in front of it and behind it to be attached to one another, and one of the eight horses from the front of the caravan to be brought around to the now independent wagon. The laborers moved with dispirited lethargy, and Scotti took the opportunity to inspect the rest of the caravan and talk to his fellow travellers.
Four of the wagons had benches in them, fit for uncomfortable riders. All the rest were filled with grain, meat, and vegetation in various stages of corruption.
The travellers consisted of the six Argonian laborers, three Imperial merchants so bug-bitten that their skin looked as scaly as the Argonians themselves, and three cloaked fellows who were evidently Dunmer, judging by the red eyes that gleamed in the shadows under their hoods. All were transporting their goods along this, the Imperial Commerce Road.
"This is a road?" Scotti exclaimed, looking at the endless field of reeds that reached up to his chin or higher.
"It's solid ground, of a sort," one of the hooded Dunmer shrugged. "The horses eat some of the reed, and sometimes we set fire to it, but it just grows right back up."
Finally, the wagonmaster signalled that the caravan was ready to go, and Scotti took a seat in the third wagon with the other Imperials. He looked around, but Mailic was not on board.
"I agreed to get to you to Black Marsh and take you back out," said the Redguard, who had plumped down a rock in the sea of reeds and was munching on a hairy carrot. "I'll be here when you get back."
Scotti frowned, and not only because Mailic had dropped the deferential title "sir" while addressing him. Now he truly knew no one in Black Marsh, but the caravan slowly grinded and bumped forward, so there was no time to argue.
A noxious wind blew across the Commerce Road, casting patterns in the endless featureless expanse of reeds. In the distance, there seemed to be mountains, but they constantly shifted, and Scotti realized they were banks of mist and fog. Shadows flitted across the landscape, and when Scotti looked up, he saw they were being cast by giant birds with long, saw-like beaks nearly the size of the rest of their bodies.
"Hackwings," Chaero Gemullus, an Imperial on Scotti's left, who might have been young but looked old and beaten, muttered. "Like everything else in this damnable place, they'll eat you if you don't keep moving. Beggars pounce down and give you a nasty chop, and then fly off and come back when you're mostly dead from blood loss."
Scotti shivered. He hoped they'd be in Gideon before nightfall. It was then it occurred to him that the sun was on the wrong side of the caravan.
"Excuse me, sir," Scotti called to the wagonmaster. "I thought you said we were going to Gideon?"
The wagonmaster nodded.
"Why are we going north then, when we should be going south?"
There was no reply but a sigh.
Scotti confirmed with his fellow travellers that they too were going to Gideon, and none of them seemed very concerned about the circuitous route to getting there. The seats were hard on his middle-aged back and buttocks, but the bumping rhythm of the caravan, and the hypnotic waving reeds gradually had an effect on him, and Scotti drifted off to sleep.
He awoke in the dark some hours later, not sure where he was. The caravan was no longer moving, and he was on the floor, under the bench, next to some small boxes. There were voices, speaking a hissing, clicking language Scotti didn't understand, and he peeked out between someone's legs to see what was happening.
The moons barely pierced the thick mist surrounding the caravan, and Scotti did not have the best angle to see who was talking. For a moment, it looked like the gray wagonmaster was talking to himself, but the darkness had movement and moisture, in fact, glistening scales. It was hard to tell how many of these things there were, but they were big, black, and the more Scotti looked at them, the more details he could see
When one particular detail emerged, huge mouths filled with dripping needle-like fangs, Scotti slipped back under the bench. Their black little eyes had not fallen on him yet.
The legs in front of Scotti moved and then began to thrash, as their owner was grabbed and pulled out of the wagon. Scotti crouched further back, getting behind the little boxes. He didn't know much about concealment, but had some experience with shields. He knew that having something, anything, in between you and bad things was always good.
A few seconds after the legs had disappeared from sight, there was a horrible scream. And then a second and a third. Different timbres, different accents, but the same inarticulate message... terror, and pain, horrible pain. Scotti remembered a long forgotten prayer to the god Stendarr and whispered it to himself.
Then there was silence... ghastly silence that lasted only a few minutes, but which seemed like hours... years.
And then the carriage started rolling forward again.
Scotti cautiously crawled out from under the carriage. Chaero Gemullus gave him a bemused grin.
"There you are," he said. "I thought the Nagas took you."
"Nagas?"
"Nasty characters," Gemullus said, frowning. "Puff adders with legs and arms, seven feet tall, eight when they're mad. Come from the inner swamp, and they don't like it here much so they're particularly peevish. You're the kind of posh Imperial they're looking for."
Scotti had never in his life thought of himself as posh. His mud and fleshfly-bespeckled clothing seemed eminently middle-class, at best, to him. "What would they want me for?"
"To rob, of course," the Imperial smiled. "And to kill. You didn't notice what happened to the others?" The Imperial frowned, as if struck by a thought. "You didn't sample from those boxes down below, did you? Like the sugar, do you?"
"Gods, no," Scotti grimaced.
The Imperial nodded, relieved. "You just seem a little slow. First time to Black Marsh, I gather? Oh! Heigh ho, Hist piss!"
Scotti was just about to ask Gemullus what that vulgar term meant when the rain began. It was an inferno of foul-smelling, yellow-brown rain that washed over the caravan, accompanied by the growl of thunder in the distance. Gemullus worked to pull the roof up over the wagon, glaring at Scotti until he helped with the laborious process.
He shuddered, not only from the cold damp, but from contemplation of the disgusting precipitation pouring down on the already nasty produce in the uncovered wagon.
"We'll be dry soon enough," Gemullus smiled, pointing out into the fog.
Scotti had never been to Gideon, but he knew what to expect. A large settlement more or less laid out like a Imperial city, with more or less Imperial style architecture, and all the Imperial comforts and traditions, more or less.
The jumble of huts half-sunk in mud was decidedly less.
"Where are we?" asked Scotti, bewildered.
"Hixinoag," replied Gemullus, pronouncing the queer name with confidence. "You were right. We were going north when we should have been going south."

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