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【书籍搬运】Sacred Witness 神圣见证

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

作者:Enric Milres

翻译:花溪流萤

我见识过很多女人,从女爵到娼妓,从女王到魔女,从战争中的高岭之花到和平期间的低贱荡妇,但夜母却是我生平仅见的(精彩)女性,并且空前绝后(余生中在未得见)。

我曾是一个作家,一个小有名气的诗人。如果我讲出自己的名字,你可能有所耳闻,但可能性甚低。数十年前,我曾居住在翰玛菲尔的海滨城市Sentinel,并同其他艺术家,画家,纺织技工,以及作家保持着联系。据我所知,他们之中无人认识刺客,更别提刺客女皇,血腥之花,死亡之祖夜母了。

甚至没有下面这件事,我也不会知晓她的存在。

数年前,我有幸得见Pelarne Assi,一位受人尊崇的学者,适逢前来翰玛菲尔做Order of 迪亚戈纳书籍的相关研究。他的专著“黑暗兄弟会”连同Y奈尔 戈姆ing的著作“火与暗:死亡兄弟会”一起,被尊为研究泰姆瑞尔刺客组织的两大理论基石。更为幸运的是,戈姆ing本人当时也在Sentinel,我被特许加入两人的会谈中,地点选在位于城市发霉贫民窟的一处吸食斯库玛的秘密会所。我们边抽边聊起了黑暗兄弟会的相关话题,随后谈起了莫拉各帮以及夜母。

当时有关夜母永生或者长寿可能性的争论还没有兴起,所以Assi推想夜母本身可能只是一种代代流传的荣誉头衔,世代以来,在会中女子亦或是男子之间传承。他断言,如同Sentinel之王不能亘古不变,推断夜母唯一非常荒谬。

戈姆ing则争辩道,夜母本身是个伪命题,从来就没有存在过,起码没有人担当过这一角色。夜母代指梅法拉,她在兄弟会中所受尊崇仅次于西帝斯。

“我不认为存在某种方法可以了解真相”我从中斡旋道

“有的”戈姆ing笑着对我耳语道。“你可以找角落里的那个斗篷男聊聊。”

此前我一直未曾注意那个孤零零坐着,眼睛藏匿在斗篷中的人,他看起来完全融入了昏暗的环境中,同粗糙的石头以及积灰的地面浑然一体。我转过头来问Y奈尔,为何那个人了解夜母的真相。

‘显而易见,他是黑暗兄弟会中一员’ Pellarne Assi悄声说道。‘在他面前谈论夜母,一定要小心谨慎。’

我们随后将讨论话题转移到莫拉格帮和黑暗兄弟会身上,但我始终无法遗忘那个在肮脏的角落孑然而坐,眼神虚无却似洞察万物,身旁缭绕着斯库玛烟雾的幽灵般男子。(所以)当我数周之后在 Sentinel的街上再次看到了他的身影,我对他进行了跟踪。

是的,我跟踪了他。读者读到这里可能会问‘为什么(跟踪动机)’和‘如何(跟踪方式)’,这是合理质疑,我不会责备你们。

方式’对于一位老市民来讲不是问题。我随然不是贼,没有矫健无声的步伐,但得益于数十年来的街头漫步,我已对城市的大街小巷了如指掌。我会避开踩上去嘎吱作响的危桥,找寻参差厚重的阴影藏匿,并利用当地鸟儿夜啼的时机隐匿脚步声。我游刃有余的紧跟黑暗兄弟会众的步伐,一路上都未被察觉。

’跟踪动机’这条更为简单,作为一个作家,我天生具有好奇心。每当观察到一个奇怪生物,我必须刨根问底。这就是作家的宿命。

在目标的带领下,我深入到城市中间,并沿一条窄至仅容一人通过的狭窄小巷走入地下,越过一道蜿蜒栅栏,我奇迹般的来到了一处前所未见的地方。一方小小的陵园,矗立着不少已近腐朽的古老木质墓碑。没有窗户正对这片墓地,所以这片小型墓园无人知晓。

不包括我,内里只站着6个男人以及一个女人。

女人马上发现了我的存在,并示意我走进一些。我有机会逃跑,然而—我不能这么做。我即将揭开我所居住的Sentinel城的神秘谜团,我不能错失良机。

她微笑着叫出了我的名字。夜母是一个有着银白蓬松头发的小老妇人,双颊如同皱皱巴巴的红苹果,虽满布皱纹但洋溢着青春的红晕,她的亲切眼眸深邃的如同伊利亚克港湾的海水。她温柔的拉着我的手,坐到一处坟堆上开始探讨谋杀事宜。

她并不经常来翰玛菲尔,通常亦不直接下达命令,但是看起来她对自己的客户相当友善。

‘我来此并不是为了雇佣兄弟会杀人,’我恭敬的说道

‘那你来此所为何事?’夜母问道,眼睛始终不曾从我身上移开。

我将自己希望了解夜母真相的想法据实以告。我并不期望她能够回答,但是她告诉了我。

“我并不介意你们作家臆测我的形象。”她微笑道。“其中一些想法相当有趣,也有一些非常吸引读者,卖相很好。我特别喜欢Carlovac Townway笔下的那个懒洋洋斜倚在长沙发椅中的性感忧郁女子形象。有关我的历史真相并没有如此多的戏剧色彩。很久很久以前,上溯至盗贼工会创立时起,我就是一个大盗了。行窃途中,在房屋周围潜行实在令人厌烦,我们之中很多人发觉提前扼死屋主更加有效。为了盗窃之便,我建议工会投入一部分人手投入谋杀艺术和技巧的训练当中。”

‘我从未想到这个想法引起了很大争议’夜母耸肩叹道。‘我们拥有入室行窃,扒窃,撬锁,剑术以及其他偷盗相关环节的专家。但是工会认为杀人越货对行业道德具有负面影响。争议持续了很长时间。’

‘或许他们是对的’老妇人继续补充道,“但与此同时,我亦从谋杀中发现了商机,不仅可以抢夺死者的财产,而且如果某富人同受害者有仇,你可以从他手中获取额外收益。当我发现这点以后,我开始谋杀越来越多的人。当我掐死他们之后,通常会在他们的眼窝中,嵌一白一黑两块石头。”

‘为什么这么做?’我问道

‘这是我的一种标志。你是作家-难道你不想在著作上署上自己的名字?我不能署名,但我希望潜在客户了解我和我的工作成效。如今我再也没有采取过那样的举动,已然没有必要。但在当时,那是我的标签。等到名声传开以后,我的生意日渐兴隆。’

‘莫拉格帮便是据此形成的么?’我问道。

‘哦,亲爱的,不是,’夜母笑道。‘莫拉格帮在我出生前就已经存在很长时间了。我知道我已年纪不轻,但是仍不如他们的历史来的古老,我只是雇佣他们组织的刺客而已,要知道在他们完成最后一项皇帝刺杀任务后便土崩瓦解。那些刺客已经不想成为帮会的一员,作为当时仅存的暗杀组织,他们只好加入我们。’

我小心翼翼的抛出下一个问题。“你告诉了我这么多秘密之后,会杀了我么?”

她悲伤的点了点头,如同慈祥祖母般长叹了一口气说道。“你是如此优秀谦恭的年轻人,我也不想就此结束我们之间的相识。我认为为了换取性命,你不会在意一两个小妥协吧,对吧?”

我同意了,这是我终生耻辱。我答应她永远不泄露会面内容,正如读者看到的那样,我信守承诺多年,最终还是泄漏出来。为什么我冒着生命危险选择这么做呢?

正由于我一直恪守承诺。

我客观上成了黑暗兄弟会罄竹难书的卑劣血腥罪行的帮凶。每当想起自那夜起,因我的懦弱妥协而丧命之人,我的双手就会不自觉的打颤。我设法写诗平复心境,但是墨水放佛都变为血色。最终,我决定隐姓埋名,前往一片无人知晓我存在的陌生地方生活。

随后凭籍着那夜会谈的印象,我写下这篇文章,以此还原夜母往事的真相。这将是我的最后一篇著作,文字真实性毋庸置疑。

愿神宽恕我。

编者按:尽管本书起初匿名出版,但是作者的身份并不需要过多猜疑。任何熟悉Enric Milnes诗作的人均可看出,本篇的行文结构和写作规范同The 亚力卡尔相当类似。本书出版不久, Milnes旋被谋杀,凶手至今在逃。死因为扼杀,同时眼窝中亦被嵌入一黑一白两块石头,手段相当残忍。

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Sacred Witness
A True History of the Night Mother
by Enric Milres
Account of Enric's meeting with the Night Mother and career as an assassin

 Note: In the Oblivion and Skyrim versions of this book, the author's name is misspelled "Enric Milnes".
 I have met countesses and courtesans, empresses and witches, ladies of war and slatterns of peace, but I have never met a woman like the Night Mother. And I never will again.
I am a writer, a poet of some small renown. If I told you my name, you may have heard of me, but very likely, not. For decades until very recently, I had adopted the city of Sentinel on the coast of Hammerfell as my home, and kept the company of other artists, painters, tapestrists, and writers. No one I knew would have known an assassin by sight, least of all the queen of them, the Blood Flower, the Lady Death, the Night Mother.
Not that I had not heard of her.
Some years ago, I had the good fortune of meeting Pelarne Assi, a respected scholar, who had come to Hammerfell to do research for a book about the Order of Diagna. His essay, 'The Brothers of Darkness' together with Ynir Gorming's 'Fire and Darkness: The Brotherhoods of Death' are considered to be the canon tomes on the subject of Tamriel's orders of assassins. By luck, Gorming himself was also in Sentinel, and I was privileged to sit with the two in a dark skooma den in the musty slums of the city, as we smoked and talked about the Dark Brotherhood, the Morag Tong, and the Night Mother.
While not disputing the possibility that the Night Mother may be immortal or at least very long-lived, Assi thought it most likely that several women - and perhaps some men - throughout the ages had assumed the honorary title. It was no more logical to say there was only one Night Mother, he asserted, than to say there was only one King of Sentinel.
Gorming argued that there never was a Night Mother, at least no human one. The Night Mother wasMephala herself, whom the Brotherhood revered second only to Sithis.
'I don't suppose there's any way of knowing for certain,' I said, in a note of diplomacy.
'Certainly there is,' whispered Gorming with a grin. 'You could talk to that cloaked fellow in the corner.'
I had not noticed the man before, who sat by himself, eyes hidden by his cloak, seemingly as much a part of the dingy place as the rough stone and unswept floor. Turning back to Ynir, I asked him why that man would know about the Night Mother.
'He's a Dark Brother,' hissed Pellarne Assi. 'That's as plain as the moons. Don't even joke about speaking with him about Her.'
We moved on to other arguments about the Morag Tong and the Brotherhood, but I never forgot the image of the lone man, looking at nothing and everything, in the corner of the dirty room, with fumes of skooma smoke floating around him like ghosts. When I saw him weeks later on the streets of Sentinel, I followed him.
Yes, I followed him. The reader may reasonably ask 'why' and 'how.' I don't blame you for that.
'How' was simply a question of knowing my city as well as I do. I'm not a thief, not particularly sure-footed and quiet, but I know the alleys and streets of Sentinel intimately from decades worth of ambling. I know which bridges creak, which buildings cast long irregular shadows, the intervals at which the native birds begin the ululations of their evening songs. With relative ease, I kept pace with the Dark Brother and out of his sight and hearing.
The answer to 'Why' is even simpler. I have the natural curiosity of the born writer. When I see a strange new animal, I must observe. It is the writer's curse.
I trailed the cloaked man deeper into the city, down an alleyway so narrow it was scarcely a crack between two tenements, past a crooked fence, and suddenly, miraculously, I was in a place I had never seen before. A little courtyard cemetery, with a dozen old half-rotted wooden tombstones. None of the surrounding buildings had windows that faced it, so no one knew this miniature necropolis existed.
No one, except the six men and one woman standing in it. And me.
The woman saw me immediately, and gestured for me to come closer. I could have run, but - no, I couldn't have. I had pierced a mystery right in my adopted Sentinel, and I could not leave it.
She knew my name, and she said it with a sweet smile. The Night Mother was a little old lady with fluffy white hair, cheeks like wrinkled apples that still carried the flush of youth, friendly eyes, blue as the Iliac Bay. She softly took my arm as we sat down amidst the graves and discussed murder.
She was not always in Hammerfell, not always available for direct assignment, but it seemed she enjoyed actually talking to her clientele.
'I did not come here to hire the Brotherhood,' I said respectfully.
'Then why are you here?' the Night Mother asked, her eyes never leaving mine.
I told her I wanted to know about her. I did not expect an answer to that, but she told me.
'I do not mind the stories you writers dream up about me,' she chuckled. 'Some of them are very amusing, and some of them are good for business. I like the sexy dark woman lounging on the divan in Carlovac Townway's fiction particularly. The truth is that my history would not make a very dramatic tale. I was a thief, long, long ago, back when the Thieves Guild was only beginning. It's such a bother to sneak around a house when performing a burglary, and many of us found it most efficacious to strangle the occupant of the house. Just for convenience. I suggested to the Guild that a segment of our order be dedicated to the arts and sciences of murder.
'It did not seem like such a controversial idea to me,' the Night Mother shrugged. 'We had specialists in catburglary, pick-pocketing, lock-picking, fencing, all the other essential parts of the job. But the Guild thought that encouraging murder would be bad for business. Too much, too much, they argued.
'They might have been right,' the old woman continued. 'But I discovered there is a profit to be made, just the same, from sudden death. Not only can one rob the deceased, but, if your victim has enemies, which rich people often do, you can be paid for it even more. I began to murder people differently when I discovered that. After I strangled them, I would put two stones in their eyes, one black and one white.'
'Why?' I asked.
'It was a sort of calling card of mine. You're a writer - don't you want your name on your books? I couldn't use my name, but I wanted potential clients to know me and my work. I don't do it anymore, no need to, but at the time, it was my signature. Word spread, and I soon had quite a successful business.'
'And that became the Morag Tong?' I asked.
'Oh, dear me, no,' the Night Mother smiled. 'The Morag Tong was around long before my time. I know I'm old, but I'm not that old. I merely hired on some of their assassins when they began to fall apart after the murder of the last Potentate. They did not want to be members of the Tong anymore, and since I was the only other murder syndicate of any note, they just joined on.'
I phrased my next question carefully. 'Will you kill me now that you've told me all this?'
She nodded sadly, letting out a little grandmotherly sigh. 'You are such a nice, polite young man, I hate to end our acquaintanceship. I don't suppose you would agree to a concession or two in exchange for your life, would you?'
To my everlasting shame, I did agree. I said I would say nothing about our meeting, which, as the reader can see, was a promise I eventually, years later, chose not to keep. Why have I endangered my life thus?
Because of the promises I did keep.
I helped the Night Mother and the Dark Brotherhood in acts too despicable, too bloody for me to set to paper. My hand quivers as I think about the people I betrayed, beginning with that night. I tried to write my poetry, but ink seemed to turn to blood. Finally, I fled, changing my name, going to a land where no one would know me.
And I wrote this. The true history of the Night Mother, from the interview she gave me on the night we met. It will be the last thing I ever write, this I know. And every word is true.
Pray for me.

Editor's Note: Though originally published anonymously, the identity of the author has never been in serious doubt. Any layman familiar with the work of the poet Enric Milres will recognize Sacred Witness's familiar cadence and style in such books of his as 'The Alik'r.' Shortly after publication, Milnes was murdered, and his killer was never found. He had been strangled, and two stones, a black one and a white one, crushed into his eyesockets. Very brutally.

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