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【书籍搬运】Argonian Account, Book 3 亚龙轶事 第三部

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原文地址:http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Argonian_Account,_Book_3

作者:渥金·贾思

翻译:花溪流萤

(前请提要)作为Vanech领主建筑委员会麾下特使,Decumus Scotti本要前往位于黑沼泽南部的一座帝国化城市Gideon开展工作以促进省际贸易。然而阴差阳错,现却来到一座半掩泥中的破旧小村Hixinoag,他在此处举目无亲,唯独认识一位名叫Chaero Gemullus的毒贩。

对于商队篷车北上而非南下这件事情,Gemullus丝毫不以为意。他甚至有心情同Scotti分食买自村民手中的一桶trodh鲜鱼,这种小鱼又薄又脆。Scotti想将他们烤熟,最低限度不能生吞,然而Gemullus对他嗤之以鼻,声称trodh蒸煮或者杀死之后将会变成致命毒药。

“现下要在Gideon,该有多好”Scotti一面抱怨,一面将扑棱着的小鱼丢进嘴里。“那样我就可以嚼着烤肉,就上一些奶酪,喝上一杯美酒。”

“我从南部购进月亮糖,然后贩到北方,”毒贩耸肩说道。“别在一棵树上吊死(北方也是大有可为滴),我的朋友。(此处还把他当商人?)”

“但我业务只在Gideon。”Scotti蹙眉道。

“好吧,面前有两条路,”毒贩答道。“可以选择安心待在这里。多数亚龙村落不会逗留原地太久,赌下运气,或许一到两个月后,Hixinoag会向 Gideon方向迁徙。这种方式最为简单。”

“时间太久,严重打乱我的先期计划。”

“另种方式,再次加入一支商队,”Gemullus说道。“这次或许真有商队南下,或许路途当中也不过多停留,同样不会被娜迦杀个精光。”

“指望不上”Scotti皱眉问道。“没有别的方法了么?”

“搭乘地底根系快车,”Gemullus笑道。“跟我来。”

Scotti跟着Gemullus走出村子,来到一片覆有束状苔藓死亡树丛。毒贩仔细盯着地面,间或戳戳泥坑。最终,当他戳中某点之时,地底涌出大量油状泡沫。

“好棒,”他说道。“现下,最要紧的事是莫要害怕,地底快车将会带你直达南方,当前正是(roots)越冬迁徙时节,如若看到大片红色黏土,说明你已距离Gideon不远。别怕,冒有巨量气泡之处,通常都是呼吸口径,大可从那离开。”

Scotti怔怔望着Gemullus。这个男人所说着实令人费解。“你说什么?”

Gemullus斜肩撞向Scotti,将他撞上气泡沸腾泥坑。“站在那里就好…”

Scotti身体迅速沉入泥中,不禁惊恐望向毒贩。

“记住,发现红色粘土之后,留意气泡,到达下个气泡聚集之处之时,马上出去…”

Scotti奋力挣扎,然而下陷速度愈来愈快。淤泥很快没过脖颈,惊恐之余,双眼圆瞪,口中只能发出“咕咕”声音。

“莫要担心会被食根蠕虫消化。在它胃里待上数月都没问题。”

赶在完全没入地面以前,Scotti喘下最后一口新鲜空气,随即闭上眼睛。

不久,忽然察觉四周出人意料的温暖,他张开眼,发觉自身完全被透明胶体包裹,正在疾驰向南,穿行于错综复杂根系之间,土壤流逝而过,宛若大气湍流。四周一片陌生黑暗,浓密须根纵横交错,急遽奔行其中,Scotti困惑中夹杂着欢欣。他甚至觉得,自己乃是翱翔夜空之上,而非位于沼泽之下,地底快车之中。

仰望头顶树根迷宫一隅,Scotti看见某种东西正在其中蠕动,该物长约8尺,平平一团,无手无脚,无色无骨,无眼无形,正在根间穿行。唯其内部有块漆黑小点,待得逼近以后,方才发现那是一位亚龙男人。对方朝他打了个招呼,这时他才发现包裹对方身体的乃是一种身躯扁平,正在极速前行的恶心生物。

Scotti脑海之中开始浮现Gemullus所说话语。“越冬,”“气孔,”“消化,”—他的大脑虽然一直极力抗拒思考这些字眼。但是当下状况,根本无他解释。毫无疑问,如同自己生吞活鱼那样,Scotti为了快速旅行,亦被活活吃下。现正位于某条蠕虫肚中。

念及此处,Scotti随即昏倒。

不知过了多久,他从躺在女人温暖怀抱的美梦之中微笑醒来,睁眼望去,眼前景象令他浑身一震。

虫子仍在不知疲倦般的在树根间极速滑行,但是现在观感亦非遨游夜空。现在感受恰如旭日东升,四周一片赤红。 Scotti忆起Gemullus曾经提醒与他定要留心红色黏土,那时距离Gideon已然不远。下面,就该留意泡泡了。

到处都找不见泡泡。尽管蠕虫体内温暖舒适如初,但是Scotti心中焦急,只觉四周土壤重量全都压向自己。“莫要害怕”Gemullus曾提醒过自己,但站着说话不腰疼,真正做到,谈何容易。他开始不安扭动,觉察到内部压力逐渐增加以后,虫子愈发卖力的开始疾行向前。

突然,Scotti发现前方有细长气泡螺线自地底气脉涌出,径直往上穿透头顶地表。待到蠕虫途经之际,Scotti双腿一蹬,用尽全力跃出,穿透蠕虫孱弱外皮之后,直插泡泡内部。泡泡飞速上升,眨眼之间,他已冲出地面。

周围大树之下,站着两位手持猎网的灰亚龙人。他们好奇的望向Scotti,彬彬有礼。Scotti注意到,他们网中,是些正在扭动的多毛鼠状生物。当向他们致意之际,又有一只从树顶跌落。尽管Scotti生平不曾见到如此景象,然而也能知道两人是在捕猎。

“打搅一下,朋友,”Scotti愉快的打着招呼。“你们能否为我指下前去 Gideon的路?”

自称分别叫做Drawing-Flame(喷焰)以及Furl-Of-Fresh-Leaves(鲜叶卷),的两亚龙人,面面相觑,不知所谓。

“你找谁呀?”Furl-of-Fresh-Leaves问道。

“我猜他的名字是,”Scotti一面尝试回想自己早已遗矢卷宗之上的联系人之名,一边嗫嚅道。“Archein 右足…岩石?”

Drawing-Flame(喷焰)点了点头说道,“给我5枚金币,我就指给你路,一直往东,有座非常漂亮的种植园。就坐落在Gideon城东。”

Scotti觉得这笔交易是这两天来最为划算的一笔,于是交给Drawing-Flames 5赛普仃。

两亚龙人将Scotti带上一条泥泞小径,穿过芦苇荡后,明亮蔚蓝的托帕尔湾很快浮现在遥远西方。Scotti环顾四周鲜花点缀的恢弘庄园外墙(鲜花盛开墙缝之中,别有一番风味),心中不觉讶异,“此景着实美不胜收”

道路与一条托帕尔湾向东汇出的名唤Onkobra河的激流平行,该河流域直入黑沼泽深处,远达省份腹地。

行至Gideon城东种植园之时,透过大门望去,只有少数土地尚在运作,其余多数均告荒芜,仍残留着过往丰收时节遗留下来的枯萎葡萄藤,以及满是调零果树的废弃果园。工作田间的亚龙农奴个个骨瘦如柴,身材羸弱,已近奄奄一息,望去更似游荡亡魂而非血肉实体。

两小时后,三人仍在往东跋涉,放眼远眺,庄园仍然历历在目,道路逐渐不再泥泞,但Scotti 为方才所见农家田园印象深深刺痛,再也无心留意周遭景色。“还有多远才到?”

Furl-of-Fresh-Leaves和Drawing-Flame,面面相觑,仿佛这个问题同自己毫无干系。

“Archein是在东面?”Furl-of-Fresh-Leaves踌躇道。“到底有多远呢?”

Drawing-Flame耸了下肩,含糊答道,“给我5枚金币,给你指路。一路向东。有座种植园。非常漂亮。”

“你们压根儿就不知道,对不对?” Scotti叫道。“为什么最开始不挑明了,我还能去问别人?”

前方转角周围,传来马蹄响声,有匹马正朝这边奔来。

Scotti朝着声音源头走去,想要拦下骑手,谁曾想 Drawing-Flame突然伸出爪子,朝他放出魔法。魔法击中身体之后,感觉冰入骨髓,浑身肌肉如同灌铅一般动弹不得。他麻痹瘫痪了。

有些读者可能不幸体验过,麻痹的另一大诅咒亦即当你身体无法动弹之际,仍然保有知觉,大脑亦保持清醒。此时Scotti心中所想,唯有一句,“他妈的。”

Drawing-Flame以及Furl-of-Fresh-Leaves两人,如同黑沼泽多数劳工一样,均为进阶法师。对帝国人并不友善。

当骑手转过转角来到众人之前所处道路之时,两亚龙人早将 Scotti 推到路边。骑手是位外表卓尔不群的贵族,身披同身上鳞片颜色相仿的绿色斗篷,头上肉冠看上去绝类角质皇冠。

“好啊,兄弟们!”骑手招呼二人道。

“你好,Archein 右足-岩石,”他们应道,Furl-of-Fresh-Leaves接着问道。“老爷,天儿不错,你这是去做什么?”

“没得空闲,没法休息啊,”Archein故作叹息。“我的一位女佣生了一对双胞胎。双胞胎啊!幸运的是,镇上有位人口贩子擅长处理这事儿(卖掉孩子?),她也没有寻死觅活,惹出大麻烦来。然后,一位傻帝国佬已从Vanech的建设委员会前来,我得前去Gideon同他会面。谈正事儿前,估计还得带他四处转转。烦心事儿,一大堆啊。”

Drawing-Flame和Furl-of-Fresh-Leaves同情的附和两下,当 Archein右足-岩石离去之后,他们前去处理受害者。

但很不幸,黑沼泽如同塔姆瑞尔其余地域一样,拥有地心引力,受害者Decumus Scotti自被推下之时,便一路滚落,如今早已沉入 Onkobra河中,踪影全无。

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The Argonian Account, Book Three
by Waughin Jarth
Decumus Scotti's continued adventures in Black Marsh, Volume 3


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

Decumus Scotti was supposed to be in Gideon, a thoroughly Imperialized city in southern Black Marsh, arranging business dealings to improve commerce in the province on behalf of Lord Vanech's Building Commission and its clients. Instead, he was in a half-submerged, rotten little village called Hixinoag, where he knew no one. Except for a drug smuggler named Chaero Gemullus.
Gemullus was not at all perturbed that the merchant caravan had gone north instead of south. He even let Scotti share his bucket of trodh, tiny little crunchy fish, he had bought from the villagers. Scotti would have preferred them cooked, or at any rate, dead, but Gemullus blithely explained that dead, cooked trodh are deadly poison.
"If I were where I was supposed to be," Scotti pouted, putting one of the wriggling little creatures in his mouth. "I could be having a roast, and some cheese, and a glass of wine."
"I sell moon sugar in the north, and buy it in the south," he shrugged. "You have to be more flexible, my friend."
"My only business is in Gideon," Scotti frowned.
"Well, you have a couple choices," replied the smuggler. "You could just stay here. Most villages in Argonia don't stay put for very long, and there's a good chance Hixinoag will drift right down to the gates of Gideon. Might take you a month or two. Probably the easiest way."
"That'd put me far behind schedule."
"Next option, you could join up with the caravan again," said Gemullus. "They might be going in the right direction this time, and they might not get stuck in the mud, and they might not be all murdered by Naga highwaymen."
"Not tempting," Scotti frowned. "Any other ideas?"
"Ride the roots. The underground express," Gemullus grinned. "Follow me."
Scotti followed Gemullus out of the village and into a copse of trees shrouded by veils of wispy moss. The smuggler kept his eye on the ground, poking at the viscuous [sic] mud intermittently. Finally he found a spot which triggered a mass of big oily bubbles to rise to the surface.
"Perfect," he said. "Now, the important thing is not to panic. The express will take you due south, that's the wintertide migration, and you'll know you're near Gideon when you see a lot of red clay. Just don't panic, and when you see a mass of bubbles, that's a breathing hole you can use to get out."
Scotti looked at Gemullus blankly. The man was talking perfect gibberish. "What?"
Gemullus took Scotti by the shoulder and positioning him on top of the mass of bubbles. "You stand right here …"
Scotti sank quickly into the mud, staring at the smuggler, horror-struck.
"And remember to wait 'til you see the red clay, and then the next time you see bubbles, push up …"
The more Scotti wriggled to get free, the faster he sunk. The mud enveloped Scotti to his neck, and he continued staring, unable to articulate anything but a noise like "Oog."
"And don't panic at the idea that you're being digested. You could live in a rootworm's belly for months."
Scotti took one last panicked gasp of air and closed his eyes before he disappeared into the mud.
The clerk felt a warmth he hadn't expected all around him. When he opened his eyes, he found that he was entirely surrounded by a translucent goo, and was traveling rapidly forward, southward, gliding through the mud as if it were air, skipping along an intricate network of roots. Scotti felt confusion and euphoria in equal measures, madly rushing forward through an alien environment of darkness, spinning around and over the thick fibrous tentacles of the trees. It was if he were high in the sky at midnight, not deep beneath the swamp in the Underground Express.
Looking up slightly at the massive root structure above, Scotti saw something wriggle past. A eight-foot-long, armless, legless, colorless, boneless, eyeless, nearly shapeless creature, riding the roots. Something dark was inside of it, and as it came closer, Scotti could see it was anArgonian man. He waved, and the disgusting creature the Argonian was in flattened slightly and rushed onward.
Gemullus's words began to reappear in Scotti's mind at this sight. "The wintertide migration," "air hole," "you're being digested," -- these were the phrases that danced around as if trying to find some place to live in a brain which was highly resistant to them coming in. But there was no other way to look at the situation. Scotti had gone from eating living fish to being eaten alive as a way of transport. He was in one of those worms.
Scotti made an executive decision to faint.
He awoke in stages, having a beautiful dream of being held in a woman's warm embrace. Smiling and opening his eyes, the reality of where he really was rushed over him.
The creature was still rushing madly, blindly forward, gliding over roots, but it was no longer like a flight through the night sky. Now it was like the sky at sunrise, in pinks and reds. Scotti remembered Gemullus telling him to look for the red clay, and he would be near Gideon. The next thing he had to find was the bubbles.
There were no bubbles anywhere. Though the inside of the worm was still warm and comfortable, Scotti felt the weight of the earth all around him. "Just don't panic" Gemullus had said, but it was one thing to hear that advice, and quite another to take it. He began to squirm, and the creature began to move faster at the increased pressure from within.
Suddenly, Scotti saw it ahead of him, a slim spire of bubbles rising up through the mud from some underground stream, straight up, through the roots to the surface above him. The moment the rootworm went through it, Scotti pushed with all of his might upward, bursting through the creature's thin skin. The bubbles pushed Scotti up quickly, and before he could blink, he was popping out of the red slushy mud.
Two gray Argonians were standing under a tree nearby, holding a net. They looked in Scotti's direction with polite curiosity. In their net, Scotti noticed, were several squirming furry rat-like creatures. While he addressed them, another fell out of the tree. Though Scotti had not been educated in this practice, he recognized fishing when he saw it.
"Excuse me, lads," Scotti said jovially. "I was wondering if you'd point me in the direction of Gideon?"
The Argonians introduced themselves as Drawing-Flame and Furl-Of-Fresh-Leaves, and looked at one another, puzzling over the question.
"Who you seek?" asked Furl-of-Fresh-Leaves.
"I believe his name is," said Scotti, trying to remember the contents of his long gone file of Black Marsh contacts in Gideon. "Archein Right-Foot … Rock?"
Drawing-Flame nodded, "For five gold, show you way. Just east. Is plantation east of Gideon. Very nice."
Scotti thought that the best business he had heard of in two days, and handed Drawing-Flames the five septims.
The Argonians led Scotti onto a muddy ribbon of road that passed through the reeds, and soon revealed the bright blue expanse of Topal Bay far to the west. Scotti looked around at the magnificent walled estates, where bright crimson blossoms sprang forth from the very dirt of the walls, and surprised himself by thinking, "This is very pretty."
The road ran parallel to a fast-moving stream, running eastward from Topal Bay. It was called the Onkobra River, he was told. It ran deep into Black Marsh, to the very dark heart of the province.
Peeking past the gates to the plantations east of Gideon, Scotti saw that few of the fields were tended. Most had rotten crops from harvests past still clinging to wilted vines, orchards of desolate, leafless trees. The Argonian serfs who worked the fields were thin, weak, near death, more like haunting spirits than creatures of life and reason.
Two hours later, as the three continued their trudge east, the estates were still impressive at least from a distance, the road was still solid if weedy, but Scotti was irritated, horrified by the field workers and the agricultural state, and no longer charitable towards the area. "How much further?"
Furl-of-Fresh-Leaves and Drawing-Flame looked at one another, as if that question was something that hadn't occurred to them.
"Archein is east?" Furl-of-Fresh-Leaves pondered. "Near or far?"
Drawing-Flame shrugged noncommittally, and said to Scotti, "For five gold, show you way. Just east. Is plantation. Very nice."
"You don't have any idea, do you?" Scotti cried. "Why couldn't you tell me that in the first place when I might have asked someone else?"
Around the bend up ahead, there was the sound of hoofbeats. A horse coming closer.
Scotti began to walk towards the sound to hail the rider, and didn't see Drawing-Flame's taloned claws flash out and cast the spell at him. He felt it though. A kiss of ice along his spine, the muscles along his arms and legs suddenly immobile as if wrapped in rigid steel. He was paralyzed.
The great curse of paralysis, as the reader may be unfortunate enough to know, is that you continue to see and think even though your body does not respond. The thought that went through Scotti's mind was, "Damn."
For Drawing-Flame and Furl-of-Fresh-Leaves were, of course, like most simple day laborers in Black Marsh, accomplished Illusionists. And no friend of the Imperial.
The Argonians shoved Decumus Scotti to the side of the road, just as the horse and rider came around the corner. He was an impressive figure, a nobleman in a flashing dark green cloak the exact same color as his scaled skin, and a frilled hood that was part of his flesh and sat upon his head like a horned crown.
"Greetings, brothers!" the rider said to the two.
"Greetings, Archein Right-Foot-Rock," they responded, and then Furl-of-Fresh-Leaves added. "What is milord's business on this fine day?"
"No rest, no rest," the Archein sighed regally. "One of my she-workers gave birth to twins. Twins! Fortunately, there's a good trader in town for those, and she didn't put up too much of a fuss. And then there's a fool of an Imperial from Lord Vanech's Building Commission I am supposed to meet with in Gideon. I'm sure he'll want the grand tour before he opens up the treasury for me. Such a lot of fuss."
Drawing-Flame and Furl-of-Fresh-Leaves sympathesized [sic], and then, as Archein Right-Foot-Rock rode off, they went to look for their hostage.
Unfortunately for them, gravity being the same in Black Marsh as elsewhere in Tamriel, their hostage, Decumus Scotti, had continued to roll down from where they left him, and was, at that moment, in the Onkobra River, drowning.

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