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【书籍搬运】Mystery of Talara, v 1 塔拉拉之谜,卷1

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原文地址:http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:Mystery_of_Talara,_v_1

中文翻译:

塔拉拉之谜,卷1

——梅拉·利吉思

故事发生在第三纪元的405年,当时布莱顿王国卡姆洛恩正迎来建国千年的庆典。大街小巷全都挂满了金紫交错的旗帜,有些独色一面,其他的则绣有王室纹章以及其他国王封臣公国领地的族徽。大小广场上音乐家处处演奏,街头巷尾也总有外来的表演家倾情献艺:赤色守卫舞蛇人,虎人杂技师,真正神奇的魔术师还有把火焰弄得像大型幻术一样惊人的吐火人。

但吸引住卡姆洛恩城绝大多数男性公民眼球的则是美人大游行。一千个年轻的漂亮姑娘穿着艳丽又暴露,沿着又长又宽的城市主大道一路跳舞下去,从塞希特神殿(Temple of Sethiete)一直跳到王宫。男人们摩肩接踵,伸长脖子,从姑娘里挑出自己的最爱。大家都知道这群姑娘全是娼妓,在游行和晚上的鲜花庆典结束后,她们就要去做更亲密的生意了。

吉娜身材高挑,曲线玲珑,身上除了丝带与她本人洒满花瓣的曲长卷发以外一丝不挂,引来多少目光流连。她年近三十,并非是娼妓里最年轻的,但却一定是最被人爱慕的。从她自若举止便可看出她早已习惯了那些投向她的淫荡目光,但她对这优雅城市的街景却远没有厌倦。和她老家匕落城的方块街区相比,欢庆高潮中的卡姆洛恩城简直是如梦似幻。而更令她感到奇怪的就是,尽管她是初来乍到,她却觉得这城市的景象很是熟悉。

国王的女儿吉莉娅小姐骑马穿过宫门,几乎是立刻就诅咒起自己的不走运了。她完全忘记了美人大游行这回事,现在大街上是狂呼四起又人群拥堵。等游行彻底通过还要再过好几个小时,可她却有约在身,要去城南拜访自己的老乳母兰卡。吉莉娅思索片刻,脑海中重构了一下城市街区结构图,就决定绕开大街和游行,直接走小道前去。

在最初的几分钟里她还为自己头脑灵活而沾沾自喜,在狭窄又弯曲的小巷里东突西闯,但很快她就被为举行庆典而临时搭建起的建筑、帐篷和戏台堵住了去路,只能另辟蹊径。结果没过多久,她就在这座她一共只生活了五年的城市里彻底迷路了。

从小巷这边往尽头望去,她能瞥见还在因美人大游行而人潮汹涌的大街。原希望麻烦到此结束,也不愿继续迷路下去,吉莉娅公主策马走向庆典。她并没有注意到巷口的舞蛇人,结果当舞蛇人的宠物蛇嘶声作响羽冠全开,她的马顿时受了惊,蹶子高高尥起。

游行队伍中的女子全都吓了一跳,见此情此景就纷纷避让开来,但吉莉娅公主总算是飞快安抚住了自己的坐骑。可她毕竟还是引发了混乱,这让她满面羞愧。

“小姐们,对此我很是抱歉。”她说,模仿着军礼向她们致歉。

“不要紧,女士。”一个全身丝带的金发姑娘回答道,“我们很快就不会挡您的路了。”

吉莉娅目送游行队伍从她面前经过。可她盯着那名妓女看,却好像正盯着一面镜子。年龄、身高、头发、双眼、以至身形,一模一样,别无二致。那个女子也回头看向她,似乎想的与她分毫不差。

吉娜确实正是如此。去到匕落城的老女巫们有时会谈论拟像怪,那些精怪伪装成受害者的样貌,并把他们引向死路。但这经历倒没有吓到她:似乎这只是她所熟悉的这座异邦的古怪特征之一。在游行队伍舞到王宫大门之前,她已经把这件事彻底抛到脑后了。

娼妓们冲入王家庭院,而国王本人亲自在阳台现身向她们致意。他身边站着他的护卫长,看长相是个战斗法师。国王本人虽已人过中年却还是英俊帅气,煞是甚看,而吉娜一见他就敬畏不堪。也许是在梦中吧。没错,正是如此:她看着他仿佛她正在梦中与他相遇,他如现在一样身居高处,弯腰亲吻她:并不是她很为了解的欲念之吻,而是富含喜爱之情的恭顺一吻。

“亲爱的女士们,你们的美丽容光洒满了卡姆洛恩国都的街道。”国王高喊出来,镇住了台下了种种欢笑和窃窃私语。他原本笑得高傲,可当视线同吉娜的相遇,他却骤然僵直,全身颤抖。他们彼此相望似乎时间已经停止,而后陛下才恢复过来,继续演讲。

之后,当姑娘们全都走回各自的帐篷为晚上的活动换装,一个年长一些的妓女凑到吉娜身边。“你注意到国王是怎么盯着你看的了么?你要是个聪明姑娘,这次庆典结束之前你就能成为新的王家情人了。”

“我以前见过饥渴的目光,但刚才那道才不是。”吉娜笑道,“我猜他是把我错认成别人了,比如说那位差点用马把我们都踩倒的女士。她大概是他的亲戚吧,然后他就以为是她穿得像个婊子参加美人大游行了。你能想象出流言蜚语都会说些什么吗?”

她们走入帐篷的时候,却过来了一个又矮又胖穿着华丽的年轻人,仿佛身居要职,身边还带着个秃头侍从。他朝她们问好,自我介绍身份为斯特雷尔爵士,皇帝本人的特使,也是她们的主要赞助人。正是斯特雷尔以皇帝之名雇佣了她们,把游行作为送给国王与卡姆洛恩王国的礼物。

“美人大游行只是今晚鲜花庆典的前奏。”他说。和国王不一样,他要让别人能听清他说些什么,并不用声嘶力竭。他的嗓音天生就是又大又清晰。“我要你们每一个都好好表现,配得上我不辞劳苦把你们带来这里花费的金子。现在快去准备。在太阳下山前你们就必须打扮完毕,在卡维斯提尔巨石(Cavilstyr Rock)上各就各位了。”

大使根本没有着急的必要。所有的姑娘都是专业人士,无论穿衣还是脱衣都不会像那些业余水平的那样花费多余功夫。他的男仆戈诺布斯本想帮她们一下,却发现自己就是个多余人。她们的服装本身也很简单:就是又软又窄的布单上剪出个窟窿,让她们能把脑袋伸出来。连腰带都用不上,这礼服就是两边春光四溢,把她们的肌肤轮廓全都暴露出来了。

结果就是太阳还没落山,妓女们变作的舞者就在卡维斯提尔巨石集合好了。那是一块巨大宽阔的面向大海的岬角,为了迎接鲜花庆典上面放好了一圈没点燃的火炬和盖着布的篮子。虽然她们去得很早,拥挤的观众群却早就到了。姑娘们聚在圈子的中心,等待仪式开始。

吉娜眼看人群越来越拥挤,而发现那个在游行中遇见的女士时她也并不惊讶。女士同一名非常年迈而且一头剪短白发的老太太手牵着手,老太太心烦意乱,盯向海外的群岛。金发女士似乎很紧张,不知道该说什么。吉娜对付紧张的客人很有一套,于是她先开口了。

“很高兴能同您再次碰面,女士。我是匕落城的吉娜。”

“很高兴你并没有生我的气,因为妓……我是说,惊马。”女士笑了笑,多少放下心来,“我是吉莉娅·雷兹小姐,国王的女儿。”

“我总以为国王的女儿都有公主的名号。”吉娜微笑道。

“在卡姆洛恩城,只在她们是王位继承人的情况下如此。我父王宠爱的新妻子给我生了一个弟弟。”吉莉娅回答道。她头晕脑胀起来,简直是疯了,她竟然在同一个再普通不过的娼妓如此亲密地谈论王家政治,“和那个话题相关的话,我必须要问你一个特别的问题。你听说过塔拉拉公主吗?”

吉娜想了想。“这名字听起来挺耳熟。为什么专门问我?”

“我不清楚。这个名字我以为你也许知道。”吉莉娅小姐叹了口气,“你以前来过卡姆洛恩城吗?”

“如果我来过,那也是我很小的时候了。”吉娜回答说,突然觉得现在轮到她回报信任了。吉莉娅小姐友好且直接的待人接物打动了她。“实话实说,我九岁还是十岁以前的童年生活已经全都不记得了。我跟您讲,我觉得吧,尽管我不记得自己以前来过这里,但这里我所见到的一切,城市本身,您,还有国王本人,都显得……就像我很早之前曾经就住在这里一样。”

吉莉娅小姐倒吸一口凉气,向后退了一步。她紧紧攥住那名还在嘟哝着看海的老妇人的手。老人惊讶地瞅了瞅吉莉娅,然后又朝吉娜看了看。她那双老迈昏花的眼睛突然迸发出光芒,而她也发出了一阵类似惊呼的声音。吉娜也跳了起来。如果国王看上去像是从多半遗忘的梦境中走出,那这名妇人就是她切实认识的某人,就像守护灵一样清晰却又不明确。

“我向你道歉。”吉莉娅结结巴巴地说,“这是我幼年时的乳母,兰卡。”

“就是她!”老妇人尖声叫道,双目圆睁。她想冲上前,张开双臂,但吉莉娅把她拉住了。吉娜突然觉得自己近乎赤身裸体,连忙拉紧了身上的袍子。

“不对,你认错了。”吉莉娅小姐对兰卡低语,紧紧抓着老妇人不放,“塔拉拉公主死了,你知道的。我不应该把你带到这里来。我带你回家去。”她朝吉娜转过身,眼中泪水盈盈,“卡姆洛恩城的王室全体都在二十年前被暗杀了。我父王那时是奥洛尼公爵(Duke of Oloine),国王的弟弟,然后他便继承了王位。打扰到你了我很抱歉。晚安。”

吉娜目光紧盯吉莉娅小姐和她的乳母,直到她们消失在人群中,但她完全没时间思索品味自己刚才听到的那些事情。太阳正在落山,鲜花庆典的时间到了。黑暗中走出十二个年轻人,只穿着兜档布,戴着面具,又点燃了火炬。在火光燃起的同时,吉娜和所有其他舞者就都奔向篮子,拽出满手的鲜花与藤蔓。

最初,姑娘们彼此作为舞伴,把花瓣撒入风中。可当音乐增强之后,人群也加入了舞蹈之中。这混乱虽疯狂却美丽。吉娜心跳雀跃又狂喜不已,仿佛已经变成了森林中的狂野水仙女。尔后,毫无警告地,她察觉到一双粗糙大手从她身后抓住了她,把她推挤向前。

在明白到底发生了什么之前她就已经坠落下去了。而在这理解一击之时,她发现比起原先所处的崖顶,自己更接近这百尺悬崖之底。她急忙展开胳膊攀住悬崖。她的手指滑过砾石,皮开肉绽,但她还是紧抓住石头,把自己牢牢固定在悬崖之上。一时她就这么呆在那里,大口喘息。然后她开始尖叫。

上方的音乐和庆典噪音太过轰鸣,没人能听见她的呼喊——就连她自己也几乎听不见自己的声音。在她之下,惊涛拍岸,若她落下则定然粉身碎骨。她闭上双眼,眼前却出现了幻象。一个男人正站在她下方,那是一位智慧过人且饱含同情的国王,他抬头上看,满面微笑。而一个小女孩,金色头发,淘气异常,是她的好友与表亲,在她身边和她一起攀住岩石。

“是坠落的秘密让你四肢蹒跚。幸运的话,你绝不会受伤。”女孩说。她点了点头,回想起自己究竟是谁了。八年的黑暗就此曝光。

她松开手,让自己如落叶一般坠入身下的汪洋。

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The Mystery of Princess Talara, Part I
by Mera Llykith
Part one of the story of Princess Talara

 The year was 3E 405. The occasion was the millennial celebration of the founding of the Breton Kingdom of Camlorn. Every grand boulevard and narrow alley was strung with gold and purple banners, some plain, some marked with the heraldic symbols of the Royal Family or the various principalities and dukedoms which were vassals of the King. Musicians played in the plazas great and small, and on every street corner was a new exotic entertainer: Redguard snake charmers, Khajiiti acrobats, magicians of genuine power and those whose flamboyant skill was equally impressive if largely illusion.
The sight that drew most of the male citizens of Camlorn was the March of Beauty. A thousand comely young women, brightly and provocatively dressed, danced their way down the long, wide main street of the city, from the Temple of Sethiete to the Royal Palace. The menfolk jostled one another and craned their necks, picking their favorites. It was no secret that they were all prostitutes, and after the March and the Flower Festival that evening, they would be available for more intimate business.
Gyna attracted much of the attention with her tall, curvaceous figure barely covered by strips of silk and her curls of flaxen hair specked with flower petals. In her late twenties, she wasn't the youngest of the prostitutes, but she was certainly one of the most desirable. It was clear by her demeanor that she was used to the lascivious glances, though she was far from jaded at the sight of the city in splendor. Compared to the squalid quarter of Daggerfall where she made her home, Camlorn at the height of celebration seemed so unreal. And yet, what was even stranger was how, at the same time, familiar it all looked, though she had never been there before.
The King's daughter Lady Jyllia rode out of the palace gates, and immediately cursed her misfortune. She had completely forgotten about the March of Beauty. The streets were snarled, at a standstill. It would take hours to wait for the March to pass, and she had promised her old nurse Ramke a visit in her house south of the city. Jyllia thought for a moment, picturing in her mind the arrangement of streets in the city, and devised a shortcut to avoid the main street and the March.
For a few minutes she felt very clever as she wound her way through tight, curving side streets, but presently she came upon temporary structures, tents and theaters set up for the celebration, and had to improvise a new path. In no time at all, she was lost in the city where she had lived all but five years of her life.
Peering down an alley, she saw the main avenue crowded with the March of Beauty. Hoping that it was the tale [sic] end, and desirous not to be lost again, Lady Jyllia guided her horse toward the festival. She did not see the snake-charmer at the mouth of the alley, and when his pet hissed and spread its hood, her charge reared up in fear.
The women in the parade gasped and surged back at the sight, but Lady Jyllia quickly calmed her stallion down. She looked abashed at the spectacle she had caused.
"My apologies, ladies," she said with a mock military salute.
"It's all right, madam," said a blonde in silk. "We'll be out of your way in a moment."
Jyllia stared as the March passed her. Looking at that whore had been like looking in a mirror. The same age, and height, and hair, and eyes, and figure, almost exactly. The woman looked back at her, and it seemed as if she was thinking the same thing.
And so Gyna was. The old witches who sometimes came in to Daggerfall had sometimes spoke of doppelgangers, spirits that assumed the guise of their victims and portended certain death. Yet the experience had not frightened her: it seemed only one more strangely familiar aspect of the alien city. Before the March had danced it way into the palace gates, she had all but forgotten the encounter.
The prostitutes crushed into the courtyard, as the King himself came to the balcony to greet them. At his side was his chief bodyguard, a battlemage by the look of him. As for the King himself, he was a handsome man of middle age, rather unremarkable, but Gyna was awed at the sight of him. A dream, perhaps. Yes, that was it: she could see him as she had dreamt of him, high above her as he was now, bending now to kiss her. Not a one of lust as she had experienced before, but one of small fondness, a dutiful kiss.
"Dear ladies, you have filled the streets of the great capitol of Camlorn with your beauty," cried the King, forcing a silence on the giggling, murmuring assembly. He smiled proudly. His eyes met Gyna's and he stopped, shaken. For an eternity, they stayed locked together before His Highness recovered and continued his speech.
Afterwards, while the women were all en route back to their tents to change into their costumes for the evening, one of the older prostitutes approached Gyna: "Did you see how the King looked at you? If you're smart, you'll be the new royal mistress before this celebration ends."
"I've seen looks of hunger before, and that wasn't one of them," laughed Gyna. "I'd wager he thought I was someone else, like that lady who tried to run us over with her horse. She's probably his kin, and he thought she had dressed up like a courtesan and joined the March of Beauty. Can you imagine the scandal?"
When they arrived at the tents, they were greeted by a stocky, well-dressed young man with a bald pate and a commanding presence of authority. He introduced himself as Lord Strale, ambassador to the Emperor himself, and their chief patron. It was Strale who had hired them, on the Emperor's behalf, as a gift to the King and the kingdom of Camlorn.
"The March of Beauty is but a precursor to the Flower Festival tonight," he said. Unlike the King, he did not have to yell to be heard. His voice was loud and precise in its natural modulations. "I expect each of you to perform well, and justify the significant expense I've suffered bringing you all the way up here. Now hurry, you must be dressed and in position on Cavilstyr Rock before the sun goes down."
The ambassador needn't have worried. The women were all professionals, experts at getting dressed and undressed with none of the time-consuming measures less promiscuous females required. His manservant Gnorbooth offered his assistance, but found he had little to do. Their costumes were simplicity itself: soft, narrow sheets with a hole for their heads. Not even a belt was required, so the gowns were open at the sides exposing the frame of their skin.
So it was long before the sun had set that the prostitutes turned dancers [sic] were at Cavilstyr Rock. It was a great, wide promontory facing the sea, and for the occasion of the Festival of Flowers, a large circle of unlit torches and covered baskets had been arranged. As early as they were, a crowd of spectators had already arrived. The women gathered in the center of the circle and waited until it was time.
Gyna watched the crowd as it grew, and was not surprised when she saw the lady from the March approaching, hand-in-hand with a very old, very short white-haired woman. The old woman was distracted, pointing out islands out at sea. The blonde lady seemed nervous, unsure of what to say. Gyna was used to dealing with uneasy clients, and spoke first.
"Good to see you again, madam. I am Gyna of Daggerfall."
"I'm glad you bear me no ill will because of the whores, I mean horse," the lady laughed, somewhat relieved. "I am Lady Jyllia Raze, daughter of the King."
"I always thought that daughters of kings were called princess," smiled Gyna.
"In Camlorn, only when they are heirs to the throne. I have a younger brother from my father's new wife whom he favors," Jyllia replied. She felt her head swim. It was madness, speaking to a common prostitute, talking of family politics so intimately. "Relative to that subject, I must ask you something very peculiar. Have you ever heard of the Princess Talara?"
Gyna thought a moment: "The name sounds somewhat familiar. Why would I have?"
"I don't know. It was a name I just thought you might recognize," sighed Lady Jyllia. "Have you been to Camlorn before?"
"If I did, it was when I was very young," said Gyna, and suddenly she felt it was her turn to be trusting. Something about the Lady Jyllia's friendly and forthcoming manner touched her. "To be honest, I don't remember anything at all of my childhood before I was nine or ten. Perhaps I was here with my parents, whoever they were, when I was a little girl. I tell you, I think perhaps I was. I don't recall ever being here before, but everything I've seen, the city, you, the King himself, all seem ... like I've been here before, long ago."
Lady Jyllia gasped and took a step back. She gripped the old woman, who had been looking out to sea and murmuring, by the hand. The elderly creature looked to Jyllia, surprised, and then turned to Gyna. Her ancient, half-blind eyes sparkled with recognition and she made a sound like a grunt of surprise. Gyna also jumped. If the King had seemed like something out of a half-forgotten dream, this woman was someone she knew. As clear and yet indistinct as a guardian spirit.
"I apologize," stammered Lady Jyllia. "This is my childhood nursemaid, Ramke."
"It's her!" the old woman cried, wild-eyed. She tried to run forward, arms outstretched, but Jyllia held her back. Gyna felt strangely naked, and pulled her robe against her body.
"No, you're wrong," Lady Jyllia whispered to Ramke, holding the old woman tightly. "The Princess Talara is dead, you know that. I shouldn't have brought you here. I'll take you back home." She turned back to Gyna, her eyes welling with tears. "The entire royal family of Camlorn was assassinated over twenty years ago. My father was Duke of Oloine, the King's brother, and so he inherited the crown. I'm sorry to have bothered you. Goodnight."
Gyna gazed after Lady Jyllia and the old nurse as they disappeared into the crowd, but she had little time to consider all she had heard. The sun was setting, and it was time for the Flower Festival. Twelve young men emerged from the darkness wearing only loincloths and masks, and lit the torches. The moment the fire blazed, Gyna and all the rest of the dancers rushed to the baskets, pulling out blossoms and vines by the handful.
At first, the women danced with one another, sprinkling petals to the wind. The crowd then joined in as the music swelled. It was a mad, beautiful chaos. Gyna leapt and swooned like a wild forest nymph. Then, without warning, she felt rough hands grip her from behind and push her.
She was falling before she understood it. The moment the realization hit, she was closer to the bottom of the hundred foot tall cliff than she was to the top. She flailed out her arms and grasped at the cliff wall. Her fingers raked against the stone and her flesh tore, but she found a grip and held it. For a moment, she stayed there, breathing hard. Then she began to scream.
The music and the festival were too loud up above: no one could hear her - she could scarcely hear herself. Below her, the surf crashed. Every bone in her body would snap if she fell. She closed her eyes, and a vision came. A man was standing below her, a King of great wisdom, great compassion, looking up, smiling. A little girl, golden-haired, mischievous, her best friend and cousin, clung to the rock beside her.
"The secret to falling is making your body go limp. And with luck, you won't get hurt," the girl said. She nodded, remembering who she was. Eight years of darkness lifted.
She released her grip and let herself fall like a leaf into the water below.

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