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【书籍搬运】The Wolf Queen, v7 狼心女王 卷七

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下由第二纪元贤者Inzolicus所撰:

3E 125年 有关肯蒂娜•赛普丁二世女王受刑的具体日期至今尚存疑问,有人说她在121年被俘后不久即被处死,也有人说她被扣作人质,直到125年夏,其叔父吉蓝恩王塞佛鲁斯收复高岩西部前不久才遭杀害。但无论如何,肯蒂娜的死最终令狼心女王帕特玛及其子成了众矢之的,后者于四年前趁虚攻占帝都并篡位,史称乌瑞尔•赛普丁三世。

正当塞佛鲁斯的军队在高岩鏖战之际,利尔莫兹王玛格努斯已率部穿越晨风进入天际,剑指帕特玛的故乡。夏天时,玛格努斯的军队尚能占据上风,可一入冬,他们就只能退回南方休整,待来年天气转暖后再战。由此,双方陷入僵局,战争持续两年多也未能分出胜负。

是年,玛格努斯的妻子海伦娜为其生下家中长子,起名派拉吉乌斯,与玛格努斯、塞佛鲁斯、先皇安提奥卡斯与帕特玛之父,即先皇派拉吉乌斯二世同名。

3E 127年

帕特玛坐在营帐前松软的丝绒垫上,周围满是温润的绿草,旭日自林地尽头幽暗的密林后缓缓升起。如此朝气蓬勃的清晨在夏日的天际省早已司空见惯。只听得虫鸣四起,天上数不尽的候鸟密密层层,不时排出各种队形。她不禁揣测,大自然竟对即将降临到苍鹰之星头上的战争浑然不觉。

“陛下,落锤的军队捎信来了。”一位侍女说着,将信差引上前来。这信差累得上气不接下气,浑身沾满了汗水和泥巴,显然刚刚赶了很远的路。

“女王陛下,”信差低着头说,“我有要事向您禀告。您的儿子,也就是皇上,在伊希达克的乡间撞上了您兄长塞佛鲁斯的军队,双方爆发了激战。虽然他没有辜负您的教导,与敌军奋勇作战,但帝国军还是溃败了,您的儿子,我们的皇上,也已被俘。眼下塞佛鲁斯正将他解往吉雷恩。”

帕特玛一脸愠怒地听完他的汇报,许久才吐出几个字来:“没用的东西。”

她起身踱入营地,看见士兵正在披盔戴甲,准备应战。他们早就知道,女王不喜欢繁文缛节,宁可见他们驰骋沙场,也不愿让他们行礼。她面前站着Vhokken领主,眼下他正和战斗法师的指挥官一起商讨应急策略。

“女王陛下,”跟着她的信差说道,“您有何打算?”

“我要赢下和玛格诺斯的这场硬仗,即使他现在占据地利,坐拥着Kogmenthist城堡废墟,也不在话下。”女王说。“至于塞佛鲁斯,等搞明白他劫持皇帝的意图,我自去理会。他想要赎金,那就给他;如果他想交换人质,那也没问题。好了,你先去更衣休息吧,记着走时可别撞上我们的军队。”

“目前局势并非对我们有利。” Vhokken领主说,“如果我们从西面进攻城堡,就会和敌人的法师和弓箭手撞个正着。如果走东面,只能横穿沼泽,而亚龙人应付这种环境比我们要拿手得多。”

“那南北呢?都是山,对吗?”

“全是陡峭的山岭,陛下。”指挥官说道,“我们可以在那儿布置弓箭手,但要说把大部队开到那儿,绝对是自讨苦吃。”

“那就走沼泽吧。”帕特玛说,接着,她又颇有自信地补充道:“否则我们就只能龟缩在这儿,坐等他们倾巢而出。”

“再等下去,塞佛鲁斯的军队就要从高岩开到这儿来了。那样我们就会腹背受敌。” Vhokken领主说,“这可不值当。”

“我去动员士兵,”指挥官说,“让他们做好横穿沼泽的准备。”

“不,”帕特玛说,“由我来吧。”

士兵们早已穿戴整齐,集合在营地中央。他们中有男有女,有赛瑞迪尔人,诺德人,布莱顿人,还有锻莫人;有稚气未脱的年轻人,也有饱经风霜的老兵;有良家子弟,也有商人,农奴,牧师,妓女,佃农,学者和冒险家,活脱脱一支杂牌军。然而此刻他们都团结在红钻的旗帜之下,那是泰姆瑞尔帝国的皇家徽记。

“我的孩子们,”帕特玛说道,她的声音在朝岚中回荡。“我们已共同经历了无数战斗,越过群山,横跨海角,踏遍密林与沙漠。在你们身上,我看到了过人的勇气,这让我倍感自豪。同样,我也看到了狡诈和阴险,凶残与野蛮,我也为此颇感欣喜。因为你们是真正的战士。”

暖场过后,帕特玛开始沿着队列逐一打量每个士兵,她继续说道:“你们的每一滴血液,每一缕思绪,每一寸肌肤,都已与‘战争’二字紧密相连。你们的一言一行,一举一动,全是为了战争!等这场战争结束,等剿除了那些敢与我们的真命之君——乌瑞尔三世作对的乱党,你们可以卸下战士的重担,选择去过常人的生活。那时,等你们荣归故里,你们就能向惊诧万状的邻里亮出自己的伤疤,向他们宣告,你们曾在今天立下过无上的功勋。然而今天,你们必须取胜,因为你们是战士,你们就是战争。”

她知道这番话的作用。士兵们纷纷瞪红了双眼,攥紧了武器,期待着一场厮杀的到来。随后她用尽力气大声喊道:“你们将跨越沼地,仿佛一股神力所向披靡,从湮没地狱的最深处喷涌而出,你们要将盘踞在Kogmenthist 城堡内的那些爬虫们统统剥鳞抽筋。你们是战士,可你们不仅仅要战斗,还要取胜!你们必须取胜!”

士兵们振臂高呼,将营地周围的鸟儿惊得纷纷逃散。

帕特玛和Vhokken领主登上南面山丘的制高点,从这里俯瞰整个战场。只见双方士兵犹如两支不同颜色的虫群,在一片沙地上你来我往,而那沙地就是城堡废墟。不时有火球或酸云从法师手上飞出,划过战场上空,引起他们的注意,然而数小时过去,战场上仍旧是一片混乱。

“来了个骑兵。” Vhokken领主打破了沉默。

一位年轻的红卫女子,身配吉雷恩的纹章,手执白旗策马临近。帕特玛准许她上前。如同上午的那位信差,她也是筋疲力尽。

“陛下,”她气喘吁吁地说,“我是奉您兄长,吾主塞佛鲁斯国王之命,特来向您禀告要事的。您的儿子乌瑞尔已在伊希达克的战场上被俘,正解往吉雷恩。”

“我已经知道了,”帕特玛轻蔑地说,“我手上也有信使。你回去转告你的主人,等我赢下这场战役,无论他要多少赎金或人质……”

“陛下,押解您儿子的车队在前往吉雷恩途中遇上了一伙暴民,”骑兵迅速说道,“您的儿子死了。他是被关在囚车里活活烧死的,他已经死了。”

帕特玛将目光从女子身上移开,重新望向战场。胜利在望了,玛格努斯的军队正在节节败退。

“还有一则消息,陛下。”骑士说,“塞佛鲁斯国王已经宣布加冕了。”

帕特玛丝毫不为那女子的言语所动。她的士兵们已在欢呼胜利。

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

 From the pen of Inzolicus, Second Century Sage:
3E 125:
The exact date of the Empress Kintyra Septim II's execution in the tower at Glenpoint Castle is open to some speculation. Some believe she was slain shortly after her imprisonment in the 121styear, while others maintain that she was likely kept alive as a hostage until shortly before her uncle Cephorus, King of Gilane, reconquered western High Rock in the summer of the 125th year. The certainty of Kintyra's demise rallied many against the Wolf Queen Potema and her son, who had been crowned Emperor Uriel Septim III four years previously when he invaded the under-guarded Imperial City.
Cephorus concentrated his army on the war in High Rock, while his brother Magnus, King ofLilmoth, brought his Argonian troops through loyal Morrowind and into Skyrim to fight in Potema's home province. The reptilian troops fought well in the summer months, but during the winter, they retired south to regroup and attack again when the weather was warm. At this stalemate, the War lasted out two more years.
Also, in the 125th year, Magnus's wife Hellena gave birth to their first child, a boy who they named Pelagius, after the Emperor who fathered Magnus, Cephorus, the late Emperor Antiochus, and the dread Wolf Queen of Solitude.
 
3E 127:
Potema sat on soft silk cushions in the warm grass in front of her tent and watched the sun rise over the dark woods on the other side of the meadow. It was a peculiarly vibrant morning, typical of Skyrim summertide. The high chirrup of insects buzzed all around her and the sky surged with thousands of fallowing birds, rolling over one another and forming a multitude of patterns. Nature was unaware of the war coming to Falconstar, she surmised.
"Your highness, a message from the army in Hammerfell," said one of her maids, bringing in a courier. He was breathing hard, stained with sweat and mud. Evidence of a long, fast ride over many, many miles.
"My queen," said the courier, looking to the ground. "I bring grave news of your son, the Emperor. He met your brother King Cephorus's army in Hammerfell in the countryside of Ichidag and there did battle. You would be proud, for he fought well, but in the end, the Imperial army was defeated and your son, our Emperor, was captured. King Cephorus is bringing him to Gilane."
Potema listened to the news, scowling. "That clumsy fool," she said at last.
Potema stood up and strolled into camp, where the men were arming themselves, preparing for battle. Long ago, the soldiers understood that their lady did not stand on ceremony, and she would prefer that they work rather than salute her. Lord Vhokken was ahead of her, already meeting with the commander of the battlemages, discussing last minute strategy.
"My queen," said the courier, who had been following her. "What are you going to do?"
"I'm going to win this battle with Magnus, despite his superior position holding the ruins of Kogmenthist Castle," said Potema. "And then when I know what Cephorus means to do with the Emperor, I'll respond accordingly. If there's a ransom to be paid, I'll pay it; if there's a prison exchange needed, so be it. Now, please, bath yourself and rest, and try not to get in the way of the war."
"It's not an ideal scenario," said Lord Vhokken when Potema had entered the commander's tent. "If we attack the castle from the west, we'll be running directly into the fire from their mages and archers. If we come from the east, we'll be going through swamps, and the Argonians do better in that type of environment than we do. A lot better."
"What about the north and south? Just hills, correct?"
"Very steep hills, your highness," said the commander. "We should post bowmen there, but we'll be too vulnerable putting out the majority of our force."
"So it's the swamp," said Potema, and added, pragmatically. "Unless we withdraw and wait for them to come out before fighting."
"If we wait, Cephorus will have his army here from High Rock, and we'll be trapped between the two of them," said Lord Vhokken. "Not a preferable situation."
"I'll talk to the troops," said the commander. "Try to prepare them for the swamp attack."
"No," said Potema. "I'll speak to them."
In full battlegear, the soldiers gathered in the center of camp. They were a motley collection of men and women, CyrodiilsNordsBretons, and Dunmer, youngbloods and old veterans, the sons and daughters of nobles, shopkeepers, serfs, priests, prostitutes, farmers, academics, adventurers. All of them under the banner of the Red Diamond, the symbol of the Imperial Family of Tamriel.
"My children," Potema said, her voice ringing out, hanging in the still morning mist. "We have fought in many battles together, over mountaintops and beach heads, through forests and deserts. I have seen great acts of valor from each one of you, which does my heart proud. I have also seen dirty fighting, backstabbing, cruel and wanton feats of savagery, which pleases me equally well. For you are all warriors."
Warming to her theme, Potema walked the line from soldier to soldier, looking each one in the eye: "War is in your blood, in your brain, in your muscles, in everything you think and everything you do. When this war is over, when the forces are vanquished that seek to deny the throne to the true emperor, Uriel Septim III, you may cease to be warriors. You may choose to return to your lives before the war, to your farms and your cities, and show off your scars and tell tales of the deeds you did this day to your wondering neighbors. But on this day, make no mistake, you are warriors. You are war."
She could see her words were working. All around her, bloodshot eyes were focusing on the slaughter to come, arms tensing around weapons. She continued in her loudest cry, "And you will move through the swamplands, like an unstoppable power from the blackest part of Oblivion, and you will rip the scales from the reptilian things in Kogmenthist Castle. You are warriors, and you need not only fight, you must win. You must win!"
The soldiers roared in response, shocking the birds from the trees all around the camp.
From a vantage point on the hills to the south, Potema and Lord Vhokken had excellent views of the battle as it raged. It looked like two swarms of two colors of insect moving back and forth over a clump of dirt which was the castle ruins. Occasionally, a burst of flame or a cloud of acid from one of the mages would flicker over the battle arresting their attention, but hour after hour, the fighting seemed like nothing but chaos.
"A rider approaches," said Lord Vhokken, breaking the silence.
The young Redguard woman was wearing the crest of Gilane, but carried a white flag. Potema allowed her to approach. Like the courier from the morning, the rider was well travel-worn.
"Your Highness," she said, out of breath. "I have been sent from your brother, my lord King Cephorus, to bring you dire news. Your son Uriel was captured in Ichidag on the field in battle and from there transported to Gilane."
"I know all this," said Potema scornfully. "I have couriers of my own. You can tell your master that after I've won this battle, I'll pay whatever ransom or exchange --"
"Your Highness, an angry crowd met the caravan your son was in before it made it to Gilane," the rider said quickly, "Your son is dead. He had been burned to death within his carriage. He is dead."
Potema turned from the young woman and looked down at the battle. Her soldiers were going to win. Magnus's army was in retreat.
"One other item of news, your highness," said the rider. "King Cephorus is being proclaimed Emperor."
Potema did not look at the woman. Her army was celebrating their victory.

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