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【书籍搬运】Ice and Chitin 冰与壳胄

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原文地址:http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Ice_and_Chitin

作者:Pletius Spatec

翻译:花溪流萤

本故事可以追溯到第二纪元855年,当其时也,塔洛斯将军刚刚取得泰伯赛普仃这一封号,开始致力于武力统一泰姆瑞尔大陆。他的一位属下军官,Ylliolos的Beatia ,在与皇帝会晤完毕之后返回的路上遭遇了伏击。她和她的五个贴身侍卫想法设法逃出生天,随后便与大部队失去联络。他们徒步跋涉在荒凉,白雪皑皑的悬崖峭壁间,袭击来的如此突然,以至于众人均腾不出时间披挂盔甲以及骑马。

“如果我们可以抵达Gorvigh山脉”副官Ascutus指着远处模糊的高峰叫道,他的声音在狂风中几近辨识不清。“我们就能与当地守军汇合。”

Beatia环顾四周崎岖的地表,以及林中被风吹起的蒸汽,摇头道:“这行不通,不等我们攀上山腰,他们就追上了来。透过树林望去,已经可以看到他们战马呼出的雾气了。”

随后,她径直带领自己的护卫走向Nerone地峡一座冰封的古堡废墟,废墟位于海岬一块凸出的巨石上,与Gorvigh山脉隔海相望。同诺德北部区域大量的废弃堡垒相同,这座壁垒亦是莱曼统治赛瑞迪尔期间用于防御阿卡维尔进犯的前哨壁垒的遗迹。进入废墟并燃起篝火之后,身后响起了追兵Danstrar的军队安营扎寨的声音,他们就驻扎在大陆的西南角,封锁住他们逃向陆地的通道。当侍卫们对这个堡垒进行搜寻时,Beatia正透过遗迹窗扉望向眼前弥漫着一层白雾的大海。

她丢下一块石头,看着它在冰上跳跃,在白雾中划出一道道的轨迹,最终溅起一朵水花消失于冰面裂缝之中。

“长官,搜寻完毕,未发现食物和武器”副官Ascutus前来汇报道。“仓库里只有一堆盔甲,但看上去相当有年岁了,我很怀疑其是否还有使用价值。”

“我们在此待不了多久的”Beatia回应道。“那些诺德人很清楚,等到夜幕降临,我们的防御便会瓦解,面前的石壁不会阻止他们分毫。找找壁垒中是否还有其他可以利用的东西,我们必须利用它们穿越眼前的浮冰抵达对岸山脚。”

经过数分钟的搜寻和甄选,侍卫呈上两副污秽不堪,残缺不全的壳胄。(它们太寒酸了,以至于)这些年来,即便最没品的冒险家和海盗,劫掠废墟时,都不会看上它们一眼。侍卫甚至不敢将上面的灰尘掸去:它们看上去是盔甲的唯一粘合剂。

“它们不能带给我们任何防护,反而会拖累我们的速度”Ascutus苦笑道。“如果我们一等天黑,马上穿越浮冰的话—”

“既然对方都能策划先前那样的突然袭击,没有理由料不到你的方案。所以,趁他们距此尚有一段距离,我们必须马上行动。”Beatia在地上的沙土中绘出了海湾的地图,接着沿着海岸画了个穿越海湾的圆弧,将壁垒和 Gorvigh联系起来。“你们沿着这条路径突围,沿岸的冰层较厚,而且岩石嶙峋易于掩护行动。”

“您不能留下独守堡垒!”

“当然不会”Beatia摇了摇头,在城堡和对岸之间画了一条径直穿越海峡的直线,“我将穿上一套壳胄,然后径直穿越这片水域。如果你们渡海之后找不到我的踪迹,不要傻等—直接前往Porhnak。

副官Ascutus试着劝解自己的长官,但他深知她不可能命令自己的部下去执行这种自杀性的诱敌计划。并且,不把敌军注意力引开,他们在抵达对岸Gorvigh山脉前就已全军覆没。他只能想到一种方法来坚守自己保护上司的岗位。要说服长官Beatia答应自己同行非常困难,但她最终还是妥协了。

落日低垂,晖光映照在白雪上,泛起朦朦亮光。与此同时,五男一女悄悄离开堡垒,行于鹅卵石道上,向冰冷的海岸移动。Beatia和Ascutus小心翼翼的踱着步伐,尽力避免壳胄与石头碰撞产生的嘎吱声。剩下的轻装四人组,则谨遵长官号令,极速穿越冰层,一路向北。

目送着自己的属下抵达第一处掩体,一块距离岬底数码之遥的螺旋石之后,Beatia转过头来,凝神留意上方敌军的响动。空寂无声。看来敌人还没有察觉。Ascutus对她点了点头,透过头盔望去,他的眼神没有丝毫恐惧。随后,指挥官和她的助手踏上冰层,开始向对岸跑去。

当Beatia从堡垒上凭栏俯瞰时,海湾已然如同一片广袤,了无生机的白色莽原。现在置身其中,更觉平坦荒芜:海面迷雾只及脚踝,但随着奔跑便会奔涌开来,就像向敌人指明自身逃跑路线的自然之手。他们的行踪很快暴露。但当Beatia听到敌军斥候用哨声向首领示警时,心中反而安定了下来。

他们毋须回头便已了解敌人已经追了过来。哒哒的马蹄省和踏碎树枝的嘈杂声挟裹着风声远远传来,清晰可闻。

Beatia希望可以冒险向北方一望,以确定自己的部下是否藏好,但她不敢这么做。她能够听到Ascutus气喘吁吁的紧跟在自己右侧。他虽然常年穿着重甲,但是壳胄的连接处因长年累月的风化而变的又脆又硬,他用尽全力,方能弯膝。

当第一批箭矢破空之声传来时,对岸的Ridge山脉看起来依然遥不可及。大部分的箭矢都射到脚边的冰上,发出尖锐的碎裂声。但仍有部分几近命中目标,甫一触及后背,便被弹射开去。她在心中暗暗感激那位如今早已作古的铸甲师打造了这副盔甲。他们一刻不停的跑着,身后的箭雨一拨拨的袭来。

“感谢斯丹纳尔大神”Ascutus喘气道。“如果我们只穿着皮革,现在恐怕早就被射成刺猬了。现在我只求它们不要…这么硬…”

Beatia亦觉自身盔甲的连接处开始绷紧,每跑一步,自身关节的压力便增重一分。不得不承认:虽然离岸愈来愈近,但他们的速度也在不断下降。她已经可以听清首批踏冰而来的铁骑的马蹄声。虽然骑士们在光滑的冰面上表现的小心谨慎,并没有全速追击,但Beatia明白,这样下去,迟早会被追上。

这些破旧的壳胄或许能够抵挡几支冷箭,但是远防不住马上骑士刺出的长枪。唯一的利好是,还有时间。

当两人抵达岸边之际,雷霆万钧的马蹄声已经离得很近了。海岸线上满布犬牙交错的巨大岩石,严重妨碍两人登陆。这时他们脚下的冰面突然开裂,两人站立不稳,左右支拙,只得尽力屈膝,朝岸边岩石跃去。

他们的首个着陆点踏上了一块碎冰,不等再次发力,两人就均跌落在浪中。冰冷的海水,漫过薄薄的盔甲浸在皮肤上,感觉火烧火燎。Ascutus的右手紧扒一条岩石裂缝,Beatia则双手紧抱岩石,但是那块岩石长满苔藓滑不溜手,所以他们只得紧贴岩石,根本无法回头查探敌人。

不过他们可以听见冰块碎裂的声音,接着传来敌军士兵惊恐的叫喊。随后声音渐不可闻,只留海风呼啸和浪花拍岸之声。不一会儿,头顶悬崖传来脚步声。

那是已经穿越海峡的四位属下。他们两人一组,将Beatia和Ascutus分别拉起。他们一边口呼“好重”,一边将两人平安拉上岸边。

“玛拉啊,这种轻甲还真够重的。”

“是啊”Beatia疲倦的笑道,回头望向碎裂的浮冰,裂纹一直延伸到她和Ascutus的出发点。“但是它们还算实用。”

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Ice and Chitin
by Pletius Spatec
A tale of the manipulation of chitin armor

 Note: This book exists in MorrowindOblivion and Skyrim and is identical in the three games, except that the inventory name of the Morrowind version is "Ice and Chiton". (It's spelled correctly in the text.)
 The tale dates to the year 855 of the Second Era, after General Talos had taken the name Tiber Septim and begun his conquest of Tamriel. One of his commanding officers, Beatia of Ylliolos, had been surprised in an ambush while returning from a meeting with the Emperor. She and her personal guard of five soldiers barely escaped, and were separated from their army. They fled across the desolate, sleet-painted rocky cliffs by foot. The attack had been so sudden, they had not even the time to don armor or get to their horses.
“If we can get to the Gorvigh Ridge,” hollered Lieutenant Ascutus, gesturing toward a peak off in the mist, his voice barely discernible over the wind. “We can meet the legion you stationed in Porhnak.”
Beatia looked across the craggy landscape, through the windswept hoary trees, and shook her head: “Not that way. We'll be struck down before we make it halfway to the mountain. You can see their horses' breath through the trees.”
She directed her guard toward a ruined old keep on the frozen isthmus of Nerone, across the bay from Gorvigh Ridge. Jutting out on a promontory of rock, it was like many other abandoned castles in northern Skyrim, remnants of Reman Cyrodiil's protective shield against the continent of Akavir. As they reached their destination and made a fire, they could hear the army of the warchiefs of Danstrar behind them, making camp on the land southwest, blocking the only escape but the sea. The soldiers assessed the stock of the keep while Beatia looked out to the fog-veiled water through the casements of the ruin.
She threw a stone, watching it skip across the ice trailing puffs of mist before it disappeared with a splash into a crack in the surface.
“No food or weaponry to be found, commander,” Lieutenant Ascutus reported. “There's a pile of armor in storage, but it's definitely taken on the elements over the years. I don't know if it's salvageable at all.”
“We won't last long here,” Beatia replied. “The Nords know that we'll be vulnerable when night falls, and this old rock won't hold them off. If there's anything in the keep we can use, find it. We have to make it across the ice floe to the Ridge.”
After a few minutes of searching and matching pieces, the guards presented two very grimy, scuffed and cracked suits of chitin armor. Even the least proud of the adventurers and pirates who had looted the castle over the years had thought the shells of chitin beneath their notice. The soldiers did not dare to clean them: the dust looked to be the only adhesive holding them together.
“They won't offer us much protection, just slow us down,” grimaced Ascutus. “If we run across the ice as soon as it gets dark--“
“Anyone who can plan and execute an ambush like the warchiefs of Danstrar will be expecting that. We need to move quickly, now, before they're any closer.” Beatia drew a map of the bay in the dust, and then a semicircular path across the water, an arc stretching from the castle to the Gorvigh Ridge. “The men should go the long way across the bay like so. The ice is thick there a ways from the shoreline, and there are a lot of rocks for cover.”
“You're not staying behind to hold the castle!”
“Of course not,” Beatia shook her head and drew a straight line from the castle to the closest shore across the Bay. “I'll take one of the chitin suits, and try to cross the water here. If you don't see or hear me when you've made it to land, don't wait -- just get to Porhnak.”
Lieutenant Ascutus tried to dissuade his commander, but he knew that she was would never order one of her men to perform the suicidal act of diversion, that all would die before they reached Gorvigh Ridge if the warlords' army was not distracted. He could find only one way to honor his duty to protect his commanding officer. It was not easy convincing Commander Beatia that he should accompany her, but at last, she relented.
The sun hung low but still cast a diffused glow, illuminating the snow with a ghostly light, when the five men and one woman slipped through the boulders beneath the castle to the water's frozen edge. Beatia and Ascutus moved carefully and precisely, painfully aware of each dull crunch of chitin against stone. At their commander's signal, the four unarmored men dashed towards the north across the ice.
When her men had reached the first fragment of cover, a spiral of stone jutting a few yards from the base of the promontory, Beatia turned to listen for the sound of the army above. Nothing but silence. They were still unseen. Ascutus nodded, his eyes through the helm showing no fear. The commander and her lieutenant stepped onto the ice and began to run.
When Beatia had surveyed the bay from the castle ramparts, the crossing closest to shore had seemed like a vast, featureless plane of white. Now that she was down on the ice, it was even more flat and stark: the sheet of mist rose only up their ankles, but it billowed up at their approach like the hand of nature itself was pointing out their presence to their enemies. They were utterly exposed. It came almost as a relief when Beatia heard one of the warchiefs' scouts whistle a signal to his masters.
They didn't have to turn around to see if the army was coming. The sound of galloping hoofs and the crash of trees giving way was very clear over the whistling wind.
Beatia wished she could risk a glance to the north to see if her men were hidden from view, but she didn't dare. She could hear Ascutus running to her right, keeping pace, breathing hard. He was used to wearing heavier armor, but the chitin joints were so brittle and tight from years of disuse, it was all he could do to bend them.
The rocky shore to the Ridge still looked at eternity away when Beatia felt and heard the first volley of arrows. Most struck the ice at their feet with sharp cracking sounds, but a few nearly found home, ricocheting off their backs. She silently offered a prayer of thanks to whatever anonymous shellsmith, now long dead, had crafted the armor. They continued to run, as the first rain of arrows was quickly followed by a second and a third.
“Thank Stendarr,” Ascutus gasped. “If there was only leather in the keep, we'd be pierced through and through. Now if only it weren't... so rigid...”
Beatia felt her own armor joints begin to set, her knees and hips finding more and more resistance with every step. There could be no denying it: they were drawing closer toward the shore, but they were running much more slowly. She heard the first dreadful galloping crunch of the army charging across the floe toward them. The riders were cautious on the slippery ice, not driving their horses at full speed, but Beatia knew that they would be upon the two of them soon.
The old chitin armor could withstand the bite of a few arrows, but not a lance driven with the force of a galloping horse. The only great unknown was time.
The thunder of beating hooves was deafening behind them when Ascutus and Beatia reached the edge of the shore. The giant, jagged stones that strung around the beach blockaded the approach. Beneath their feet, the ice sighed and crackled. They could not stand still, run forward, nor run back. Straining against the tired metal in the armor joints, they took two bounds forward and flew at the boulders.
The first landing on the ice sounded an explosive crack. When they rose for the final jump, it was on a wave of water so cold it felt like fire through the thin armor. Ascutus's right hand found purchase in a deep fissure. Beatia gripped with both hands, but her boulder was slick with frost. Faces pressed to the stone, they could not turn to face the army behind them.
But they heard the ice splintering, and the soldiers cry out in terror for just an instant. Then there was no sound but the whining of the wind and the purring lap of the water. A moment later, there were footsteps on the cliff above.
The four guardsmen had crossed the bay. There were two to pull Beatia up from the face of the boulder, and another two for Ascutus. They strained and swore at the weight, but finally they had their commander and her lieutenant safely on the edge of Gorvigh Ridge.
“By Mara, that's heavy for light armor.”
“Yes,” smiled Beatia wearily, looking back over the empty broken ice floe, the cracks radiating from the parallel paths she and Ascutus had run. “But sometimes that's good.”

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