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【书籍搬运】The Wolf Queen, v4 狼心女王 第四部

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狼心女王 第四部

渥金·贾思编著

选自第三纪元第一纪的智者Montocai的手稿

3E109:

即位已十年的安提奥卡斯•赛普丁并没有给臣民们留下多少印象,除了他本人的荒淫无度。104年,皇帝的第二任妻子Gysilla为他生下一个女儿。他把她命做肯蒂娜,也就是他的曾曾曾姑婆,伟大的女皇陛下的名字。臃肿的体型加上缠身的恶疾,安提奥卡斯本人极少过问政事,但是他的兄弟姊妹们却对此甚是热心。玛格纳斯娶了Hellena,里尔莫斯城的赛瑞迪尔女王作为妻子——当亚龙人的圣王(priest-king)被处决后。他在忠实地维护着帝国在黑沼泽利益的同时,也给当地人留下了良好的形象。塞佛鲁斯和他的妻子Bianki则统治着吉蓝恩王国的翰玛非尔,膝下多有子女。但是无论如何,他们都不像帕特玛——天际省孤寂王国的狼王后——那样对政治如此热衷。

在她的丈夫Mantiarco国王去世九年之后,帕特玛仍然以摄政女王的身份代她年轻的儿子尤里尔处理孤寂城的事务。她们的宫廷成了广受欢迎的所在,特别是那些对帝国心怀不满的领主来说。所有天际省的国王们都会定期访问孤寂城。后来,连晨风和高岩大陆也会派遣使节过来,不仅如此,孤寂城还有来自更远地方的客人。

3E110:

帕特玛站在岸上,静静地望着一艘派安多尼帆船缓缓驶入港口。粼粼波光和破开的浪花,让她想起这里曾来往过多少泰姆瑞尔的船只。太多太多,以至于眼前的这条船失去了它本该有的异国情调:从外表上看,它像一只爬行在海面上巨大昆虫,风帆是它透明的翼,粗犷不平的船身是它牢固的甲壳。但帕特玛总觉得她在一条来自晨风的船上见过这样的设计——即便跟眼前不是完全相同,也是极其神似。是的,要不是这条船挂的是异域的旗子,她是决计不会把它从停在港口的许许多多的船里认出来的。迎着潮湿的海风,帕特玛缓步上前,欢迎这些域外岛国的客人到来。

从船上下来的人有着骇人的外表,他们的皮肤不光苍白,甚至可以说了无生气,以至于让人觉得这些人是由白色透明的胶冻做的一样。好在事先有人提醒过帕特玛,当国王跟他的翻译下船的时候,她生生地只盯着他们无生气的眼睛,然后伸出手来。此时,国王也向帕特玛说着什么。

“我们的陛下,伟大的沃格纳姆国王”钻进帕特玛耳朵的是翻译高傲的口吻,“让我转达他对您美貌的由衷的赞誉。当然,他也感谢您能为他漫长艰险的航行提供这么一个良好的港湾。”

“你的赛瑞迪尔语说得很不错,”

“我能流利地说四大陆的很多语言。具体地说,我能说几十种语言,除了我们国家派安多尼外,也包括阿特莫拉,阿卡维尔,以及这儿,泰姆瑞尔。呃,在我看来,事实上您这里的语言是最简单的…话说回来,我个人对这次旅途充满了期待。”

“请转告国王陛下我们欢迎他的到来,我个人也愿意提供一切方便。”帕特玛笑着说“你知道我说的是什么吧,也就是…我不只是在客套?”

“当然,”翻译一边说,一边回头向国王咕哝了一阵,而国王则随后报以微笑。趁着他们谈话的当口,帕特玛抬头望了望那些一早就站在码头上的灰袍人士。她注意到他们也在盯着她,同时还不停跟身边的Levlet——安提奥卡斯的人!——指点着什么。夏暮岛的赛伊克修士,麻烦的家伙。帕特玛心想。

“我的外交专员Vhokken领主会负责把你们带到你们的房间,”帕特玛说,“至于我本人,很抱歉接下来有一个会议我必须要出席。希望你的国王能谅解我的这种怠慢。”

帕特玛知道沃格纳姆国王自然不会说什么,何况她已经与派安多尼人约好接下来的晚宴。不论如何,至少就眼前来说,跟赛伊克修道会交涉这件事需要集中她全部的精力。她穿上一身素朴的黑色镶金边的礼服,来到大殿准备。此时,她的儿子尤里尔正坐在王座上,把玩着那顶小王冠。

“早上好,妈妈。”

“早上好,亲爱的。”帕特玛一边说,一边装出一副很吃力的样子把他抱了起来,“我的塔洛斯神,真沉。我是在抱一个十岁大的孩子吗?”

“那是因为我已经十一岁了,”尤里尔很清楚母亲想说什么,“而且你会说,作为十一岁的孩子,这时候你应该跟你的老师在一起。”

“妈妈在你这年纪的时候,可好学了。”

“可我是国王…”尤里尔显得有些任性。

“但是别就此满足了,”帕特玛说,“按理来说,其实你已经是皇帝了。你懂我在说什么吗,孩子?”

尤里尔点了点头。实在是跟泰伯•赛普丁像极了,帕特玛想。是的,同样的粗眉毛和孔武的下巴,长大后简直就是活生生的他那个曾曾曾曾曾曾祖父。背后的开门声打断了女王的思绪,她知道礼宾官把那几个灰袍人领进来了。帕特玛微微地挺了下身子,而尤里尔则适时从王座上下来,准备离开——他知道母亲有紧要的事要办。在经过灰袍人的时候,尤里尔停了下来——作为国王,向客人致意是必要的礼节。

“早上好,Iachesis大师”尤里尔一字一顿的帝王腔让帕特玛心中一凛,“我希望孤寂城并没有怠慢到您什么。”

“完全没有,国王陛下,感谢您的盛情招待”Iachesis的声音显得愉悦而动听。

当Iachesis和他的赛伊克修士们步入会堂的时候,帕特玛已经端坐在王座。修士背后的大门已经关上,而女王却没任何表示。直到好一小会,帕特玛才缓缓站起身来,走下台阶,向她的客人们致意。

“很抱歉让你们久等了,”女王说,“想到你们一路从夏暮岛远道而来,即便我们确实是出于无意,也不该让你们这般地等。请务必接受我最诚挚的歉意。”

“远道?我倒真不觉得这航程有多么漫长”一个灰袍人有点愠怒地说,“特别是对于来自…派安多尼…的我们来说。”

“啊,您看到了我今天迎来的新客人,沃格纳姆国王和他的随从们。一定是的。”帕特玛轻快地说,“我们都知道这些派安多尼人正打算入侵泰姆瑞尔大陆。在这样的背景下,我猜您一定会觉得这很不寻常——我,帝国领内的一个女王,皇帝的妹妹,居然会跟他们来往。不过话说回来,我觉得对您来说,这没有什么区别——既然你们对所有政治事务一直以来都持一个中立态度。不是吗?”

“当然,”Iachesis自信地说,“不论这场入侵是成是败,对我们来说都无得无失。赛伊克修会在赛普丁王朝统一泰姆瑞尔大陆之前就已经存在了,之后,不论政权转入谁手,它也必定会继续存在下去。”

“哟,您这是在说跳蚤吗?逮到个活物就往它身上跳,也不管那东西是不是杂种?”帕特玛不禁眯起她的眼睛,“别高估了自己,Iachesis。想想你们的后继者,有着你们两倍力量的法师行会,可是无保留地站在我这边。这么说吧,这次沃格纳姆国王来,为的就是跟我们达成一个协议。当派安多尼人接管整个大陆的时候,我本人将成为这片大陆的女王。如果现在你们搞不清楚自己的位子,我想到时候你们会明白的。”

说罢,带着一副女皇的威严,帕特玛大步径直走出会堂,甩下灰袍人在那面面相觑。

“我们得跟Levlet领主好好谈谈!”一个灰袍人说。

“是的,”Iachesis说,“我们得谈谈。”

很快,他们在Moon and Nausea酒馆找到了Levlet,他还是在他的老位置上。当以Iachesis为首的三个灰袍人进来的时候,酒馆原先的生气似乎一下子就被带走了:人们纷纷地停下了手头的活,不论之前是在抽烟,还是玩闹。甚至连着原先弥漫着的浓浓烟草味,也一并被卷到了九霄云外。待修士们走到跟前,Levlet起身把他们领到酒馆二楼的一个小房间。

“看来你们重新考虑过了。怎么说?”Levlet笑着。

“你们的皇帝,”Iachesis略觉不妥,“我们的皇帝原先希望以1200万金币的代价来换取我们的支持。而我们当时的报价是1500万。现在,考虑到迫在眉睫的派安多尼人的入侵及其可能造成的严重后果,我们接受皇帝最早的价码。”

“可是,您不知道法师行会已经慷慨地同意…”

“好吧,那就压低到1000万金币。” Iachesis忙抢过话来。

在晚宴上,帕特玛通过翻译向沃格纳姆国王保证,她会亲自发动一场起义来反对她的兄长。女王很得意自己撒谎的本领能够在多种文化下尽皆通用。晚上,帕特玛跟沃格纳姆国王同床——作为礼节或者外交上的惯例。事后帕特玛才发现这是她拥有过的最好伴侣之一。行事之前,国王先教她服下一些草药,她觉得自己飘飘然浮在时间之上,感到那些动作是如此地充满了爱意以至于她不自觉地配合起来。此时的她,好似一团飒爽的秋雾,一次,一次又一次地平息她爱人的欲火,一起地交融。早晨,当国王吻着帕特玛的面颊,告诉她他得走了,帕特玛不禁感到一种怅然与失落。

派安多尼人的船一早就离开了孤寂城,去往夏暮岛方向,准备接下来的入侵。在帕特玛挥手向他们作别的时候,她听到了背后的脚步声。是Levlet。

“王后陛下,他们接受了。价格是800万。”

“感谢玛拉” 帕特玛说。“对我来说,我需要更多的时间准备一次起义。你先从我的金库里提钱给他们,然后再去帝都,问安提奥卡斯要1200万。这进出能为我们带来丰厚的收益,当然,这自然少不了你的好处。”

三个月之后,派安多尼舰队被一场风暴彻底摧毁的消息传到了帕特玛这里。地点在赛伊克修道会的本部亚蒂姆岛附近。沃格纳姆国王本人及其下属全部遇难。

“有时候让别人恨你”帕特玛抱起她的孩子尤里尔,“为的是让我们从中获益”

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The Wolf Queen, Book Four
by Waughin Jarth
Life of Queen Potema, Book Four

 Note: This book contains an error. The Iachesis in the text should really be Celarus.
 From the pen of the first century third era sage Montocai:
3E 109:
Ten years after being crowned Emperor of TamrielAntiochus Septim had impressed his subjects with little but the enormity of his lust for carnal pleasures. By his second wife, Gysilla, he had a daughter in the year 104, who he named Kintyra, after his great-great-great grandaunt, theEmpress. Enormously fat and marked by every venereal disease known to the Healers, Antiochus spent little time on politics. His siblings, by marked contrast, excelled in this field. Magnus had married Hellena, the Cyrodiil Queen of Lilmoth -- the Argonian priest-king having been executed -- and was representing the Imperial interests in Black Marsh admirably. Cephorus and his wife Bianki were ruling the Hammerfell kingdom of Gilane with a healthy brood of children. But no one was more politically active than Potema, the Wolf-Queen of the Skyrim kingdom of Solitude.
Nine years after the death of her husband, King Mantiarco, Potema still ruled as regent for her young son, Uriel. Their court had become very fashionable, particularly for rulers who had a grudge to bear against the Emperor. All the kings of Skyrim visited Castle Solitude regularly, and over the years, emissaries from the lands of Morrowind and High Rock did as well. Some guests came from even farther away.
 
3E 110:
Potema stood at the harbor and watched the boat from Pyandonea arrive. Against the gray, breaking waves where she had seen so many vessels of Tamrielic manufacture, it looked less than exotic. Insectoid, certainly, with its membranous sails and rugged chitin hull, but she had seen similar if not identical seacraft in Morrowind. No, if not for the flag which was markedly alien, she would not have picked out the ship from others in the harbor. As the salty mist ballooned around her, she held out her hand in welcome to the visitors from another island empire.
The men aboard were not merely pale, they were entirely colorless, as if their flesh were made of some white limpid jelly, but she had been forewarned. At the arrival of the King and his translator, she looked directly into their blank eyes and offered her hand. The King made noises.
"His Great Majesty, King Orgnum," said the translator, haltingly. "Expresses his delight at your beauty. He thanks you for giving him refuge from these dangerous seas."
"You speak Cyrodilic very well," said Potema.
"I am fluent in the languages of four continents," said the translator. "I can speak to the denizens of my own country Pyandonea, as well as those of AtmoraAkavir, and here, in Tamriel. Yours is the easiest, actually. I was looking forward to this voyage."
"Please tell his highness that he is welcome here, and that I am entirely at his disposal," said Potema, smiling. Then she added, "You understand the context? That I am just being polite?"
"Of course," said the translator, and then made several noises at the King, which the King reacted to with a smile. While they conversed, Potema looked up the dock and saw the now familiar gray cloaks watching her while they spoke with Levlet, Antiochus's man. The Psijic Order from theSummerset Isle. Very bothersome.
"My diplomatic emissary Lord Vhokken will show you to your rooms," said Potema. "Unfortunately, I have some other guests as well who require my attention. I hope your great majesty understands."
His Great Majesty King Orgnum did understand, and Potema made arrangements to dine with the Pyandoneans that evening. Meeting with the Psijic Order required all of her concentration. She dressed in her simplest black and gold robe and went to her stateroom to prepare. Her son, Uriel, was on the throne, playing with his pet joughat.
"Good morning, mom."
"Good morning, darling," said Potema, lifting her son in the air with feigned stain. "Talos, but you're heavy. I don't think I've ever carried such a heavy ten-year-old."
"That's probably because I'm eleven," said Uriel, perfectly aware of his mother's tricks. "And you're going to say that as an eleven-year-old, I should probably be with my tutor."
"I was fanatical about studying at your age," said Potema.
"I am king," said Uriel petulantly.
"But don't be satisfied with that," said Potema. "By all rights, you should be emperor already, you understand that, don't you?"
Uriel nodded his head. Potema took a moment to marvel at his likeness to the portraits of Tiber Septim. The same ruthless brow and powerful chin. When he was older and lost his baby fat, he'd be a splitting image of his great great great great great granduncle. Behind her, she heard the door opening and an usher bringing in several gray cloaks. She stiffened slightly, and Uriel, on cue, jumped down from the throne and left the stateroom, pausing to greet the most important of the Psijics.
"Good Morning, Master Iachesis," he said, enunciating each syllable with a regal accent that made Potema's heart soar. "I hope your accommodations at Castle Solitude meet with your approval."
"They do, King Uriel, thank you," said Iachesis, delighted and charmed.
Iachesis and his Psijics entered the chamber and the door was shut behind them. Potema sat only for a moment on the throne before stepping off the dais and greeting her guests.
"I am so sorry to have kept you waiting," said Potema. "To think that you sailed all the way from the Summerset Isles and I should keep you waiting any longer. You must forgive me."
"It's not all that long a voyage," said one of the gray cloaks, angrily. "It isn't as if we sailed all the way from Pyandonea."
"Ah. You've seen my most recent guests, King Orgnum and his retinue," said Potema breezily. "I suppose you think it unusual, me entertaining them, as we all know the Pyandoneans mean to invade Tamriel. You are, I take it, as neutral in this as you are in all political matters?"
"Of course," said Iachesis proudly. "We have nothing to gain or lose by the invasion. The Psijic Order preceded the organization of Tamriel under the Septim Dynasty and we shall survive under any political regime."
"Rather like a flea on whatever mongrel happens along, are you?" said Potema, narrowing her eyes. "Don't overestimate your importance, Iachesis. Your order's child, the Mages Guild, has twice the power you have, and they are entirely on my side. We are in the process of making an agreement with King Orgnum. When the Pyandoneans take over and I am in my proper place as Empress of this continent, then you shall know your proper place in the order of things."
With a majestic stride, Potema left the stateroom, leaving the grey cloaks to look from one to the other.
"We must speak to Lord Levlet," said one of the grey cloaks.
"Yes," said Iachesis. "Perhaps we should."
Levlet was quickly found at his usual place at the Moon and Nausea tavern. As the three grey cloaks entered, led by Iachesis, the smoke and the noise seemed to die in their path. Even the smell of tobacco and flin dissipated in their wake. He rose and then escorted them to a small room upstairs.
"You've reconsidered," said Levlet with a broad smile.
"Your Emperor," said Iachesis, and then corrected himself, "Our Emperor originally asked for our support in defending the west coast of Tamriel from the Pyandonean fleet in return for twelve million gold pieces. We offered our services at fifty. Upon reflection on the dangers that a Pyandonean invasion would have, we accept his earlier offer."
"The Mages Guild has generously -- "
"Perhaps for as low ten million gold pieces," said Iachesis quickly.
Over the course of dinner, Potema promised King Orgnum through the interpreter, to lead an insurrection against her brother. She was delighted to discover that her capacity for lying worked in many different cultures. Potema shared her bed that night with King Orgnum, as it seemed the polite and diplomatic thing to do. As it turned out, he was one of the better lovers she had ever had. He gave her some herbs before beginning that made her feel as if she was floating on the surface of time, conscious only of the gestures of love after she had found herself making them. She felt herself like the cooling mist, quenching the fire of his lust over and over and over again. In the morning, when he kissed her on the cheek, and said with his bald white eyes that he was leaving her, she felt a stab of regret.
The ship left harbor that morning, en route to the Summerset Isles and the imminent invasions. She waved them off to sea as she footsteps behind her. It was Levlet.
"They will do it for eight million, your highness" he said.
"Thank Mara," said Potema. "I need more time for an insurrection. Pay them from my treasury, and then go to the Imperial City and get the twelve million from Antiochus. We should make a good profit from this game, and you, of course, will have your share."
Three months later, Potema heard that the fleet of the Pyandoneans had been utterly destroyed by a storm that had appeared suddenly off the Isle of Artaeum. The home port of the Psijic Order. King Orgnum and all of his ships had been utterly annihilated.
"Sometimes making people hate you," she said, holding her son Uriel close, "Is how you make a profit  [sic]."

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