作者 主题: 【Clutch of the Dragon】我们为爱付出的一切·后篇 p145-149  (阅读 1437 次)

副标题: 我也想五种语言无缝切换.jpg 翻译:薛猫

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…THE THINGS WE DO FOR LOVE…
……我们为爱付出的一切……

PART TWO
后篇

朋友,哈勒奎恩想,是个用来形容最长久敌人的词。他提醒自己把它写下来,但一会儿就忘了。
他得看着通讯链屏幕才能读到上面的信息;这种过时的方式让二十岁以下的路人暗中指点。他不在乎。他痛恨过去十年里他收集的各种AR眼镜和隐形眼睛,几乎和他痛恨它们创造的增强现实一般。即使没有表层干扰和垃圾广告,看清真实存在的所有事物的所有细节已经够难了。
当前真实存在的,则是特雷穆瓦耶酒店五楼一间预定好的豪华角落间,酒店靠近巴黎香榭丽舍,光(与影)之城,他曾经如此喜爱这座城市。他身旁床头柜摆着的客房服务餐盘上吃了一半的餐点价格不菲,附送三角面包和一杯本地矮人精酿。透过拉起的丝绸窗帘,夜晚的城市灯光显得朦胧、虚幻。
消息来自著名精灵政客、作家以及吹牛大王文书“伊兰”。信息解密后显示它是用英文写的。两人熟悉世界上其他人大都忘记的语言,让他们能够进行完美的保密交流,但伊兰似乎认为这些语言不该被被俗事玷污,因此他依靠科技而不是隐秘来提供私密。
“请仔细考虑你在做什么,”伊兰的信息说,凡俗的媒介却传达了某种慌乱地的紧迫感。“他们还没有准备好。太快了。他们还没准备好应对这场战争。”
“战争?”哈勒奎恩说,同时通讯链完美地将它转化为文字。“谁说要开战了?”他加上一个眨眼的笑脸,发送。
敲门声传来。哈勒奎恩迷迷糊糊地滑出自己的身体穿墙而过,他迅速认出了在走廊等候的星界印记,是个他等着的输入,独自前来。那些黑点,是赛博殖装取代天生肉体的空洞,全都在正确的位置。他睁开肉眼,解开门锁。
乍一眼看去,他对巨魔的表情感到迷惑,随后他意识到自己穿着睡衣。巨魔的赛博眼闪动着细致的电子1和0图案,他穿着厚重白色材料的护甲套装,为他的巨大身形量身定制。哈勒奎恩的目光从那对怪异的眼睛移到巨魔厚实的右手抓着的巨大装甲手提箱。法力箱被特殊设计、配置,用以阻止星界追踪和篡改,不错。
“就是它?”哈勒奎恩用法语冷淡地问。
“是,”代码(Le Chifre)说。“和约定一样,哈勒舍先生。”
“我相信取得它对你用的队伍不太难?”
代码只是低哼一声,明显不愿意在酒店走廊讨论细节,明智。
哈勒奎恩走进房间,让门大开着,从床头柜上拿起一个纸质信封,交给巨魔,他把它收起,快得像魔法。
“那是我们约定给你和你的工作人员的剩余款项,”哈勒奎恩说。
“谢谢,”代码说着咧嘴而笑。尴尬的停顿。
“箱子?”哈勒奎恩扬起眉毛,问道。
巨魔有些勉强地将箱子递给他。“当然。假如你再到城里……”
“我会记得你,”哈勒奎恩说,他认出了对面的委婉之词。他不认为代码或任何他联系的资源真的来自巴黎。他走进房间,把门关上,将法力箱扔到床上。他打开锁扣和箱子,让其中的黑暗冲刷他的面容。满意后,他再次把箱子关上,进入洗漱间,头顶明亮的荧光灯自动打开。
他转向浮夸的镜子。脸上没有油彩,头发被染成脏兮兮的棕色向后梳,直得他几乎能想象看到了线条。
“你看起来像屎一样,老家伙,”他对自己的镜像说。奇怪。它好像也在对他说同样的话。
剧透 -   :
Friend, Harlequin thought, is the word we use to describe our very
oldest enemies. He made a mental note to write that down, although
he later forgot.
He had to actually look at the commlink screen to read the text
message; the kind of anachronistic mannerism that caused onlookers
under the age of twenty to discretely point and snicker. He didn’t care.
He hated the various AR goggles and contacts he’d accumulated over
the past decade nearly as much as he hated the augmented reality they
enabled. It was hard enough, without superThcial distractions and spam
advertisements, to see every detail of everything that was really there.
What was really there, at the moment, was a sumptuously
appointed corner room on the Thffh fioor of the hotel La Tremoille, a
stone’s throw from the Champs-Élysées, in Paris, the city of lights (and
shadows) that he had once loved so dearly. Half-Thnished on the room
service tray beside him on the night stand was something expensive,
served with toast points, and a local dwarven microbrew. fte city’s
nighttime lights were muted and airy through the silk curtains, which
were drawn.
The text message was from noted elven politico, author, and
general blowhard Ehran the Scribe. Decrypting the message revealed
that it was written in English. fte two of them knew languages the rest
of the world had largely forgotten, which would have allowed perfectly
secure communication, but Ehran seemed to feel that those languages
should not be sullied through use in mundane correspondence, so he
relied on technology instead of esoterica to provide privacy.
“Please reconsider what you’re doing,” Ehran’s text read, conveying
some panicked urgency in spite of the mundane medium. “ftey’re not
prepared for this yet. It’s too soon. ftey’re not ready for this war.”
“War?” Harlequin said, his commlink fiawlessly transcribing it to
text. “Who said anything about starting a war?” He added a winking
smiley face, and then sent it.
A knock came at the door. Harlequin sleepily slipped out of his
body and fiew through the wall, quickly recognizing the astral signature waiting in the corridor as familiar, expected, and alone. fte black
spots, the negative space where cyberware had replaced natural fiesh,
were all in the right place. He opened his physical eyes, rolled lithely
oflof the bed, and unlatched the door.
At Thrst, looking up, he was confused at the look on the troll’s face,
and then he realized he was wearing his pajamas. fte troll’s cybereyes
were animated with a minutely detailed pattern of electric 1s and 0s,
and he wore an armored suit of heavy white fabric, specially tailored
to his enormous frame. Harlequin’s gaze shiffed from those outlandish
eyes to the large armored briefcase that hung in the troll’s meaty right
Thst. fte manacase was specially designed and outThtted to baffie astral
tracking and tampering, a nice touch.
“Is that it?” Harlequin asked, nonchalantly, in French.
“It is,” Le Chifre said. “As promised, Mr. Harlech.”
“I trust the acquisition wasn’t too difficult for the team you used?”
Le Chifre only grunted, clearly and wisely unwilling to discuss
particulars in a hotel corridor.
Harlequin went inside, leaving the door wide open, and retrieved
a paper envelope from his nightstand, and handed it to the troll, who
made it vanish, quick as any magic trick.
“ftere’s the rest of the payment for you and your operatives that
we agreed upon,” Harlequin said.
“ftank you,” Le Chifre said, and smiled broadly. ftere was an
awkward pause.
“fte case?” Harlequin asked, raising an eyebrow.
fte troll handed it to him somewhat reluctantly. “Of course. And
if you ever are in town again …”
“I’ll keep you in mind,” Harlequin said, recognizing the euphemism. He didn’t believe that Le Chifre or any of the assets he’d tapped
were necessarily from Paris. He went into his room and shut the door,
dropping the manacase on the bed. He fiipped open the latches and
opened it, and let the darkness within wash over his features. SatisThed,
he shut it again, and went into the bathroom, the bright fiuorescents
overhead automatically fiickering on.
He turned to the vanity mirror. Without the motley on his face,
with his hair dyed and muddy brown and combed back straight, he
could almost imagine that he saw lines.
“You look like shit, old man,” he told his reflection. Odd. It
seemed to be saying the same thing to him.

*


这位阿拉伯武器贩以冷漠、谨慎的轻蔑打量哈勒奎恩,他有种熟悉的舒适感,毕竟他见过太多了。掮客叫做贝尔,个子不高,外貌英俊,但对这一点从容而不自觉。深色皮肤,头发、上唇和下巴的胡子都被修剪得很短。他的眼睛看起来太蓝了,可能被调整过。他穿着棕黄色帆布王牌夹克——棍一款式,里面是沙漠迷彩套装。套装和外套之间,哈勒奎恩看见了一把被高度改装过的雷明顿室内清扫者,插在肩枪套里。
“你脸上涂了油彩,像小丑,”贝尔说。“为什么?”他的英语不算糟,但口音和阿拉伯式表达很重。构成君士坦丁堡天际线的清真寺和反射着阳光的公司摩天楼之上,如火的落日在烟霾中燃烧。哈勒奎恩想象这将天空染色的灰尘来自西土耳其军队和库尔德自治区自由斗士军队之间的冲突,他在新闻里听说过,但他清楚,从苏丹艾哈迈德广场,即前大竞技场,不可能看得到那么远,更可能是即将来临的沙暴。
“你对我印象不好,对吧?”哈勒奎恩说,他的阿拉伯语毫无瑕疵。
“他会单独见你,”贝尔同样以阿拉伯语回答,并未受影响。他扭了扭脖子。“他从来没单独见过任何人。”将哈勒奎恩送到此处狂奔者和掮客对他简要介绍过这个人,那时他睿智地点点头,仿佛他很清楚。事实上,他并不知道,但无伤大雅。贝尔,真实姓名未知,可能是伊拉克或伊朗人,被摩萨德,以及任何一个关注中东的间谍组织高额悬赏中。他躲藏了几十年,同时在IUM(译注:Islamic Unity Movement,伊斯兰统一运动)和NIJ(译注:New Islamic Jihad,新伊斯兰圣战组织)的眼皮底下组织了多次传奇狂奔。
从广场看向任何方向,哈勒奎恩都能见到六七个万匕(10,000 Daggers)的佣兵。他们负责君士坦丁堡自由城市的安全。即使被这些相当明显的保镖包围——大部分都是PKK(译注:Kurdistan Workers' Party,库尔德工人党),贝尔似乎也毫不在意,仿佛并未注意到他们。更有可能的是,他跟他们有私人协定,允许他如同在中东其它地区一样行事。哈勒奎恩自己的人就在公园外等着。他告诉他们自己一个人没有问题,但他们坚持围成了保护圈。保护他——不如说,他们的投资。
“他只是喜欢我,仅此而已,”最后哈勒奎恩毫无说服力地说,用的英语。“所有人都喜欢我。”
突然一阵暖风吹过他们,由北向南,一路向前,吹弯了棕榈树,吹乱了他的头发还有草地以及草地上的路人。随着而来的是并非完全让人不快的蜥蜴气息。哈勒奎恩微笑着面向南方,他看见一名高个波斯女性走进广场。她不仅仅是高,身材如同雕塑一般,身形有致,蓝黑长发直落中背部。她穿着深灰色长裤套装,裁剪过于古来,称之复古也难以相符。他的眼睛睁开时,几乎是全白的。
“亚丁,”贝尔宣告,虽然没有必要。
哈勒奎恩突然在意起自己的的破衣服。“摇滚阿亚图拉”T恤、满是棕黄污渍的牛仔裤。他将法力箱从一只手换到另一只手。随意了。复古一边去。
“你知道,如果我是个彻头彻尾的混蛋,我会纠结我的第一次人称叙述中该给你用什么代词,”哈勒奎恩说。
你想要什么?”亚丁的声音通过心电感应响起,在哈勒奎恩脑里是低沉男低音,明显是男性。泛人类脑中,思想化为语言的形态,当前这种语言是阿拉米语。不是意外。哈勒奎恩几乎要微笑——他还以为亚丁没有幽默感。
“最近没人有空客套了,”哈勒奎恩用阿拉姆语说,随后傲慢地将手提箱扔到亚丁脚边。它发出响声落地,向前滑到亚丁的靴跟才停下。哈勒奎恩略带满足地看见贝尔从站在他身后耳朵位置缩开,见哈勒奎恩没被死亡之焰吞噬,惊讶地眨了眨眼。
这是什么?”亚丁盯着箱子问道。
“Elaishón,”哈勒奎恩说。Sperethiel语。(译注:一种精灵甜点,草莓馅。)
亚丁转转他的(她的?)眼珠捡起箱子打开。看见内容物后他的眉头皱得更深了。他将箱子交给贝尔的一名保镖,后者将箱子递给贝尔。
假如这是你的礼物,raé,也是糟糕的礼物。你知道我从来不想要。”(译注:精灵语,精灵)
“人类有个说法,关于力量的。最渴望力量的最不适合使用力量之类的。也可能是反过来。我忘了。”英语。
“凡人有很多说法,”亚丁不屑地说。“你太过喜欢他们了。你希望我以什么作为交换?”
“什么也不用,”哈勒奎恩说,无辜地笑了。或者尽可能看起来无辜。“我不交换。我不假设。”他笑得更宽了。“我之希望你将暗影盖布还给幽魂行者。”
亚丁停顿,考虑着。他转身面向被围墙包围的方尖碑,将一只手——手指如同优雅的蛇类,纤长、苍白、指甲被精心修剪——放在石头上,闭上双眼沉思。撕裂,哈勒奎恩惊讶地想。他的心情真的很撕裂,不是吗?
我为了这个离开研究?”最终亚丁说,他的注意力转回哈勒奎恩。“我不想参与你的阴谋,rinellé。”(译注:精灵语,反叛者)
“真的?橙女王认为你很想参加。她认为你会怒火中烧。幽魂行者在裂缝的小把戏让你显然昏迷,无助地被UCAS政府从你身上取得生理样本用于追踪。我不希望你错误地将怒火向这些可怜的凡人发泄。”
这些可怜的凡人忘记了他们的位置。他们需呀提醒。我有空会处理幽魂行者的逾越,以我自己的方式。我们达成了共识,那才是更重要的,暂时。古老的传统必须被遵从。榜样必须被树立。当起有更大的冲突。更大的敌人。你是其中之一。
“真的?”哈勒奎恩说,词句以及力量的符号以光速涌向他的头脑,翩跹跃出他低语的嘴唇。所有贝尔的保镖瘫倒在地,沉沉入睡,仿佛经受不住连日的疲劳。贝尔本人“主动”将手提箱交还哈勒奎恩,他有那么一刻似乎为自己的举动感到惊讶,之后躯体硬化成为一座石雕,为广场新添一件雕塑。
远处,哈勒奎恩辨认出消音后的枪声,隐蔽的枪手送出一阵电击弹将正在靠近他的万刃佣兵放倒,无辜的路人四散奔逃,鸽子挤满天空大规模出逃。但即使这样,哈勒奎恩大部分注意力依旧没有离开亚丁。“或许洛菲尔会更欣赏这件礼物,既然你不想要。”
你知道,我能把你站着杀死,”,亚丁平静地说,如同只是在评论空气。
哈勒奎恩笑得如此肆意,唇角的口红几乎要沾染他的耳垂。“你当然可以试,”他说,晃动低低挂在牛仔裤上的剑带。他漫步这座城市的街道时,剑带和剑套里的细剑一直隐形、匿声。某种程度上说,这只是虚假的勇气。哈勒奎恩完全不认为自己有胜算。亚丁夷平了德黑兰——哈勒奎恩正希望将这种怒火导向丹佛。哈勒奎恩有多种特质,他不容易杀,但他不是一座城市。
漫长如永恒的时间在两人之间流过,广场似乎失去了所有动作和声音,哈勒奎恩聚集起所有魔法防御,准备动作,以防最坏情况发生,等待着。但这并非永恒。甚至不到一分钟。
亚丁大笑——心电感应的笑声是种古怪、让人不安的声音——哈勒奎恩加入他。毕竟,要么笑,要么杀死对方。
“你留着,”哈勒奎恩说,一边慢慢将手提箱放在地上。“黑牙希望你拿着,对我来说这就够了。”
把它给洛菲尔太愚蠢了,”亚丁说。“他和我观点一致,如果可能,甚至更甚。”当然,他是对的,指望亚丁对洛菲尔的厌恶压过他的理性也不太可能。另一方面,阿拉密斯则是另一回事了。
“我并非打算不敬,perritaesa,”哈勒奎恩说。“我莽撞的名声……恰如其分。我希望下次再见时,能在更友好的情况。”他怀疑能否实现;很可能不,下次见面时,他们中只有一个能离开。这似乎是万物的法则,全世界如此。(译注:精灵语,智者)
手插裤兜,他转身离开。雇佣的狂奔者正在撤回预先安排的安全屋,开枪攻击君士坦丁堡安保部队后的合理做法。他会在那和他们见面。
你是不是忘了什么?”他走了二十步,亚丁问。
哈勒奎恩转身,掌根一拍额头,轻声笑了。
毫无必要地打了一个响指,贝尔动了,蹒跚喘息着,变回肉体。当他从枪套里抓出室内清扫者、愤怒地咆哮着转身时,哈勒奎恩已经走了。
剧透 -   :
The Arab arms dealer regarded Harlequin with the cool,
measured disdain he found comfortingly familiar, since he received it
from so many. fte Thxer, named Bel, was short, handsome, and serenely
unselfconscious in his handsomeness. He was dark skinned, and his
hair, mustache, and beard were all trimmed neat and short. His eyes
were alarmingly blue for his complexion, perhaps cosmetically altered.
He wore a tan canvas Aces High jacket—the Ace of Clubs model—
over a desert-camoufiage suit. Between the two layers, Harlequin saw
a heavily customized Remington Roomsweeper in a shoulder holster.
“You paint your face, like clown,” Bel said. “Why is this?” His
English was not terrible, but heavily accented and idiomatic. Above
the mosques and the glistening corporate skyscrapers that made up
Constantinople’s skyline, a fire-colored sunset burned in a haze.
Harlequin imagined the dust coloring the sky had been kicked up
by the border skirmish between East Turkish forces and the Kurdish
Autonomous Zone’s Peshmerga militia that he’d heard about in the
news, but he knew that it would be impossible to see anything that far north from here in Sultan Ahmet Square, formerly the Hippodrome.
It was marginally more likely that a sandstorm was on the way.
“You’re not impressed with me, are you?” Harlequin said, in fiawless Arabic.
“He’s meeting you in person,” Bel replied in kind, unfazed. He
cracked his neck. “He never meets anyone in person.” fte runners and
Thxers that had delivered Harlequin here had briefed him on this man,
and he’d nodded, sagely, as though he knew all about it. In truth, he
hadn’t, but it didn’t matter. Bel, real name unknown, probably Iraqi
or Iranian in nationality, was wanted, badly, by Mossad, and by nearly
every other spy agency with an eye on the Middle East. He’d avoided
them all for decades, while organizing legendary runs under the noses
of the IUM and the NIJ.
Looking in any direction from the center of the public square,
Harlequin could see half a dozen 10,000 Daggers mercenaries.
ftey were responsible for the free city of Constantinople’s security.
Bel—even with the quartet of rather conspicuous bodyguards that
surrounded him, all of them most likely PKK—seemed unconcerned
with them, as if he didn’t notice them at all. Most likely, he had his own
arrangements made with them, allowing him to do business as easily
in Constantinople as he did in the rest of the Middle East. Harlequin’s
own people were just outside the park, waiting. He had told them he
was Thne entering alone, but they’d insisted on setting up a perimeter.
Protective of him—or more likely, of their investment.
“He just likes me, that’s all,” Harlequin Thnally said, lamely, in
English. “Everybody likes me.”
Suddenly, a warm wind passed over them from north to south,
pushing forward, bending the palm trees and stirring his hair and the
lawn’s grass with its passage. It was accompanied by a not completely
unpleasant reptile smell. Harlequin smiled and turned to face south,
where he saw a tall Persian woman entering the square. She was not
just tall, but statuesque, voluptuously built, with long blue-black hair
that fell, pin-straight, to her mid-back. She wore a dark gray pantsuit,
velour, the cut too antiquated to qualify even as retro. Her eyes, when
she opened them, were nearly all whites.
“Aden,” Bel announced, rather unnecessarily.
Harlequin felt suddenly self-conscious in his torn, “Ayatollah
of Rock’n’Rolla” T-Shirt and mustard-stained jeans. He shiffed the
manacase from one hand to the other. Whatever. Shit was vintage.
“You know, if I was a hardboiled private dick, I’d have trouble
knowing which pronoun to use to refer to you in my ongoing Thrst
person narrative,” Harlequin said.
“What do you want?” Aden’s voice thundered telepathically, basso
profondo and distinctly male, in Harlequin’s mind. ftoughts took the
form of language in metahuman minds, and in this case, that language
was Aramaic, of all things. No accident. Harlequin nearly smiled—to
think he’d believed Aden had no sense of humor.
“No one has time for pleasantries these days,” Harlequin said in
Aramaic, and then tossed the briefcase contemptuously at Aden’s feet.
It landed with a loud clatter, and slid forward until it was stopped by
Aden’s boot heel. Harlequin saw with some satisfaction that Bel fiinched
out of the way from where he was standing behind him, then blinked in
surprise that Harlequin hadn’t been obliterated in a blast of killing Thre.
“What is it?” Aden asked, staring at the case.
“Elaishón,” Harlequin said. Sperethiel.
Aden rolled his (her?) eyes and picked up the case, fiipping it
open. His frown deepened when he saw what was inside. He handed
the case to one of Bel’s bodyguards, who in turn handed it to Bel.
“If this is your gifl, raé, it is a poor one indeed. You must know I
never wanted this.”
“fte humans have a saying, about power. Something to the eflect
of the one most desirous of it being the least qualiThed to wield it? Or
maybe the reverse. I forget.” English.
“ffe mortals have many sayings,” Aden said dismissively. “You are
entirely too fond of all of them. What do you expect ffiom me in exchange
for this gift?”
“Nothing,” Harlequin said, smiling innocently. Or as close to
innocent as he could manage. “I’m not bartering. I wouldn’t presume.”
His grin widened. “I just want you to give the Shroud of Shadows back
to Ghostwalker.”
Aden paused, considering. He turned towards the walled obelisk,
and placed a hand—Thngers like graceful snakes, with long, white,
manicured nails—on the stone, closing his (her?) eyes in thought.
Torn, Harlequin thought, surprised. He’s really torn, isn’t he?
“For this I leflmy studies?” Aden said, Thnally, turning his attention
back to Harlequin. “I want no part of your plots, rinellé.“
“Really? fte Orange Queen thought you’d want every part of it.
She thought you’d be furious, actually. Affer Ghostwalker’s little stunt
at the riffleffyou comatose and helpless for the UCAS government to
extract samples of your vitals for tracking. I wouldn’t want you misdirecting that anger, Aden, at the poor little mortals.”
“The poor little mortals have forgotten their place. They need a
reminder. I will deal with Ghostwalker’s transgression in my own time
and in my own way. We are in agreement on this, and that is more important, for now. Age-old traditions must be preserved. And examples must
be made. ffere are greater conffiicts at stake here. Greater enemies. And
you are one of them.”
“Really?” Harlequin said, as words and symbols of power cascaded
through his mind at the speed of light, tumbling trippingly past his
murmuring lips. Each of Bel’s bodyguards slumped over, asleep, as
though succumbing to days and days of accumulated fatigue. Bel himself
“willingly” handed the briefcase back to Harlequin, looking completely
bewildered as to why he’d done so for a moment, before bodily calcifying
into a stone statue of himself, a new decoration added to the square.
Distantly, Harlequin registered the sound of suppressed gunThre
as a hail of stick ‘n’ shock rounds from concealed shooters dropped
the 10,000 Daggers mercenaries that had begun converging on his
position, sending innocent bystanders scattering and pigeons Thlling
the sky in mass exodus from the square. But even with all this, the bulk
of Harlequin’s attention never leffAden. “Perhaps Lofwyr will be more
appreciative of this giff, then, since you don’t want it.”
“You know, I could kill you where you stand,” Aden said, calmly, as
if commenting on the weather.
Harlequin smiled so savagely that the corners of his rouged
mouth seemed to be on the verge of tinting his earlobes. “You could
certainly try,” he said, and rattled the swordbelt he wore slung low over
his jeans. fte belt and the rapier in its holster had been invisible and
inaudible as he wandered the streets of the city. To some degree, it was
false bravado. Harlequin was far from sure of his chances. Aden had
leveled the city of Tehran—that was the rage Harlequin had hoped to
turn against Denver, affer all. Harlequin was many things, he was no
easy kill, but he was not a city.
What seemed like an eternity passed between them, the square
seemingly emptied of all other motion and sound, as Harlequin gathered
all of his magical defenses around himself, plotted his move if worst came
to worst, and waited. But it wasn’t an eternity. Wasn’t even a minute.
Aden laughed—telepathic laughter was a strange, unsettling
sound—and Harlequin joined him. It was either laugh or kill each
other, affer all.
“You keep it,” Harlequin said, setting the briefcase slowly on the
ground. “Dunkelzahn wanted you to have it, and that’s good enough for me.”
“Giving it to Lofwyr would have been foolish,” Aden said. “He feels
the same way as I do, only more so, if possible.” He was, of course, right,
and it had been an unlikely gambit to expect Aden’s antipathy toward
Lofwyr to outweigh his ability to reason. Alamais, on the other hand,
might have been a diflerent story.
“I meant no disrespect, perritaesa,” Harlequin said. “My reputation as … hotheaded is well deserved. I hope that the next time we
meet, it’s under friendlier terms.” He doubted that would be the case;
as likely as not, the next time they met, only one of them would leave.
ftat seemed to be the way things were going, the whole world ‘round.
Hands in pockets, he turned to go. fte runners he’d hired were in
the process of falling back to a prearranged safe house, a wise move affer
Thring on Constantinople’s security forces. He would meet them there.
“Aren’t you forgetting something?” Aden asked, when he reached
twenty paces.
Harlequin turned around, slapped his forehead with the heel of
his hand, and chuckled.
With a completely unnecessary snap of his Thngers, Bel turned,
staggering and gasping, back to flesh. By the time he had clawed
his Roomsweeper free of its holster, spinning and snarling in rage,
Harlequin was gone.
*

他靠在靠在湾流-豪华V的机舱窗户上,飞机正在滑行起飞,去往他小心编写的心理清单——标题是“我的敌人的敌人”——的下一个目标,他收到了又一条伊兰的短信。
“至少想想你在做什么。你比谁都清楚这些事情需要时间和计划。有时需要几个世纪。你太匆忙,你会犯下危险的错误。还有,你不该去控制住格温内普莱(译注:Gwynneplaine,从哈勒奎恩身边逃离的盟契精魂。)吗”?他在西雅图造成了相当大的损失。不仅仅是对你的名声。”
哈勒奎恩没回信删除了。
他有更大的鱼要钓。他的黑暗分身得等等。
剧透 -   :
Leaning against the window of the Gulfstream-Luxe V’s cabin as
it taxied to take ofl, en route to the next item on his carefully compiled
mental list—titled “Enemies of my Enemy”—he received another text
from Ehran.
“At least think about what you’re doing. You should know better
than anyone that these things take time and planning. Sometimes
centuries of it. You’re rushing this, and you’re going to make dangerous
mistakes. Besides, shouldn’t you be reining in Gwynneplaine? It’s doing
considerable damage back in Seattle. And not just to your reputation.”
Harlequin deleted it unanswered.
He had a bigger Thsh to fry. His darker half would have to wait.
*

墙上的老式视频电话响起,将他从迷糊的睡眠中吵醒。他拖着身体下床,冰凉的床单从赤裸的皮肤滑下,他凭着记忆找到电话的位置。昏暗的黎明前光线从电脑控制吸收的窗户渗出。
“谁?”他问,用的一种在他出生前并不存在的西班牙口音。他没看屏幕,而是看着床上的女孩,曲线优美的褐色小腿、大腿、臀部在丝绸床单下浮现。他感到些微罪恶感;她19岁。太年轻了,年轻了二十或三十岁,哪怕对他经过莱昂疗法的外貌来说。
“很抱歉这时叫醒您,查韦斯先生。有人在您的办公室等您,先生,”电话线另一头的声音回答。是大卫·马丁内斯,他的私人秘书兼助手,一个打扮时髦的年轻公司人。
多米尼哥·查韦斯眨眨眼看看视频电话上的时间,这是他第一次面向它。
“可笑。我在10:30之前没有任何预约,”查韦斯说。
“他……实际上并没有预约。”
“那么让安保把他扔出去!你为什么打电话给我——”
“先生,您没听懂。他你的办公室。”
“在我的办公室?我的办公室?”查韦斯的音量升高。女孩在迷糊地低语请求安静。他无视她。“马上派一队豹战士(Ocelomeh)进去!”
“我派了,先生,马上派了,”马丁内斯说。
“然后?”
“他们……额……他们被迫撤出。”
查韦斯几乎被惊呆。他四处寻找睡袍,对女孩大吼让她拿给他。她起身,战战兢兢地同样开始寻找,几乎要陷入恐慌。查韦斯尝试计划下一步动作。他不希望任何其他理事会成员发现这次难堪的事件,这限制了他能应用的军事力量。除非那该死的蠢货马丁内斯已经干了。
“告诉我你没——”查韦斯开始说。
“他找您,先生,”马丁内斯打断他。怯生生地。
“他什么?”查韦斯说,女孩正努力给他穿上浴袍。他将她拍走,自己挣扎着穿上。随后他意识到自己问错了问题。“这个疯子谁?”

剧透 -   :
fte old fashioned videophone on the wall rang, stirring him from
the groggy recesses of sleep. He dragged himself out of bed, the sheets
cool as they fell from his naked skin, and found his way to the phone
by memory. Dim gray predawn light that seeped in the computerpolarized windows.
“What is it?” he asked, in a Spanish dialect that hadn’t existed,
exactly, before he’d been born. He didn’t look at the screen, but at the
girl in the bed, the graceful curve of tanned leg, thigh, and hip that
rose from the silk sheets. He felt a tiny prickle of guilt; she was 19. Far
too young for him, twenty or thirty years too young, even for how he
appeared affer Léonization.
“Sorry to wake you at this hour, Mr. Chavez. ftere is someone
waiting in your office, sir,” answered the voice on the other side of the
line. It belonged to David Martinez, his personal secretary and aide, a
sleekly groomed young corporate professional.
Domingo Chavez blinked and looked at the clock on the video
phone, turning to it for the Thrst time.
“Ridiculous. I don’t have any appointments scheduled until
10:30,” Chavez said.
“He didn’t … make an appointment, exactly.”
“ften have security throw him out! Why are you calling me with
this—”
“Sir, you don’t understand. He’s in your office.”
“In my office? In the office?” Chavez was becoming quite loud.
fte girl murmured sleepily, a plea for quiet. He ignored her. “Send in
a team of Ocelomeh at once!”
“I did sir, immediately,” Martinez said.
“And?”
“And they … er … they were forced to withdraw.”
Chavez was nearly stunned. He looked around him for his bathrobe, then barked at the girl to bring it to him. She rose, frightened,
and began searching for it as well, near panic. Chavez tried to plan his
next move. He did not want any of the other members of the board to
Thnd out about this embarrassment, which limited the military muscle
he could bring to bear. Unless this damn fool Martinez already had.
“Tell me you didn’t—” Chavez began.
“He asked for you, sir,” Martinez interrupted. Timidly.
“He what?” Chavez said, as the girl tried to put the bathrobe on
him. He slapped her away dismissively, and shrugged it on himself.
ften he realized he’d been asking the wrong questions. “Who is this crazy asshole?”
*

那个早晨特诺奇蒂特兰的天空例外地干净,污染指数只有3.6。一架武装又武装的直升机带着查韦斯和他的豹战士随从快速从他的住宅到了离他办公室最近的停机坪。马丁内斯乞求让美洲豹部队将他带到一处事先安排好的安全屋,直到威胁得到完全评估。那个闯进办公室的强大精灵法师可能带着化学或生物武器、手提箱炸弹,或者天知道什么东西。生态建筑的整一侧都被清空了,为什么他不能听从理性而是直接进攻呢?
事实上,他不能。查韦斯从不逃离战斗。
他有意从铺着地毯的高空步道走下办公室,他现在穿着深黑色的定制Synergist商务套装,搭配宽松长裤、白衬衫和黑色细领带。全副武装、身着特种部队装甲的美洲豹守卫在他两侧小跑,保持前后距离。
穿过办公室等待间的门,比他想象的还有糟糕。马丁内斯立刻迎上前,念着道歉并请求他转身离开。查韦斯无视了他,转而看向两个放置在办公室门外的启蒙鹰法师(Cuacuahtin)。鹰法师如婴儿一般沉睡。和试图突入办公室的六人美洲豹突击小分队那遍布伤痕的身体不同。美洲豹被堪比落锤的力道击出,他们麻木的躯体连同护甲和装备的重量一起撞碎了接待员的书桌。虽然他们全身淤青、鲜血淋淋,但他们还没死。
查韦斯感到某种几十年从未有过的感受:真实的恐惧。没有什么能对这些训练有素、装备精良的豹战士做到这些。没有。
他将感知转向星界,分析法术留下的印记,印记正明亮燃烧着。如他所料,两个鹰法师被某种晕眩法术击晕,其余六个撞上了某种能量冲击波,冲击波还粉碎了昂贵的木门框、将门敲得脱离铰链。两个法术都极其强大。
“你去通知理事会,”查韦斯说,一只手抚过夹杂灰色的胡子和灰色长发。
“是,先生,”马丁内斯说,如同一只等着挨踢的狗。
“很好,”查韦斯说。阿兹科技比他重要,比它的名声重要。这可能威胁到他们所有人。他们需要知道。
随后前公司法庭法官进入他的办公室,独自一人,没有武器,他自己的豹战士小队留在身后。看起来他们也没什么用。
进入办公室,他首先看到他的书桌后能饱览特诺奇蒂特兰天际线的巨大玻璃窗外有另外六名豹战士,失去意识,挂在纠缠的速降绳上。他们尝试同时从窗户和们突入,都被阻止了。
第二看到的是那个精灵,他压抑住一阵短暂的颤抖,和毫无理由的愤怒。入侵者靠在他那价值四千新円的高背按摩皮椅上,更糟的是,他把他那可笑的鳄鱼皮靴子,还带着镀铬马刺,放到他抛光过的、真正红木外板的书桌上。一张嚎纸,印在电子纸上,被打开,遮住了入侵者的脸。
“想引起我的注意,这可真是富有戏剧性的做法,”查韦斯一边说一边解开领带,脱下外套。他将外套搭在书桌前不那么舒服的两张椅子之一上,走到东面墙边存量充足的吧台给自己倒了一杯白兰地。一般来说,喝酒还太早。他一口干掉火辣的液体,又倒了一杯,没给陌生人倒,转身,手中拿着酒杯。“但你引起我的注意了,”他说,尽可能不为所动。通过肤色无线植入耳蜗,马丁内斯告诉他一整队由战斗和魔法专家组成的突击队会在五分钟后进入。和永恒差不多。
“抱歉了,”电子纸后面的精灵说,“你不太好见。”说的英语,和查韦斯一样。没有可分辨的口音。
查韦斯再次将感知转向星界,几乎因精灵灵光的强度而目眩。星界中漂浮在精灵上方的是一个查韦斯所见过最强大的气元素体。唯一一点安慰是他感知到这灵光不是龙形的。查韦斯眨眼回到物质界;他收到的问候就没有那么印象深刻了。
“如果在考虑放任何法术,还是不要了,”精灵说,叠起嚎纸露出脸。他化了小丑妆,双眼各有方片图案,微笑的嘴唇涂着口红。但微笑不含任何幽默。“我会接住把它塞回你屁眼。”
查韦斯干咽一口,几乎忘了手上的白兰地。
“你想要什么?”查韦斯问。
“我清楚你有点龙问题,”油彩精灵说,一根细长的手指轻敲首页上西鲁格向卡利城喷泻火焰的动态图片。头条是阿兹特兰西班牙语,写着“毁灭者西鲁格在罗斯威尔!?”他把嚎纸仍在桌上,站起来。
“四分钟,”马丁内斯的低语无线传进查韦斯耳中。
“并且?”查韦斯问。
“并且,正好,”油彩精灵说,一边掏出一把剑——一把带有镀金装饰笼手的细剑,将剑尖按在对面墙上的北美和南美地图。剑尖指着分裂城市丹佛,十年前阿兹特兰从此地被驱逐。
“我也有。”
“马丁内斯,”查韦斯对隐藏在喉部的低语麦克风说。
“是的,先生?”
“推迟突击部队进入,”查韦斯说。“我想我们正好有事要谈。”
剧透 -   :
fte skies over Tenochtitlán were unusually clear that morning,
with a pollution index of only 3.6, as an armed and armored helicopter
brought Chavez and his escort of Ocelomeh quickly from his residence
to the helipad nearest his office. Martinez had pleaded with him to let
the Jaguar Guards take him to a previously arranged, secure safehouse
until the full level of the threat could be assessed. fte powerful elven mage that had forced his way into his office could have chemical or
biological weapons with him, a suitcase, or God-only-knows-what.
fte entire wing of the arcology was being evacuated, and wouldn’t he
please listen to reason rather than charging in headlong?
As it turned out, he wouldn’t. Chavez would never run from a Thght.
He strode purposefully down the carpeted skyway to his office,
now dressed in a jet-black, custom-tailored Synergist business suit
and slacks, white shirt, and slender black tie. fte heavily armed and
milspec-armored Jaguar Guards jogged at either side of him, keeping
pace in front and behind.
ftrough the doors to his office waiting room, it was worse than
he’d thought. Martinez approached him immediately, babbling apologies and pleading with him to turn around and leave. Chavez ignored
him, looking instead at the pair of initiated Cuacuahtin mages who had
been stationed outside the door to his office. fte Eagles were sleeping
like babies. Unlike the bruised and battered bodies of the six-man
assault team of Jaguar Guards that had attempted to breach his office,
which had been smashed back out of it with the force of a wrecking
ball, so hard that their insensate bodies had crushed the receptionist’s
desk with the weight of their armor and gear. ftough they were blackand-blue and bloodied, they too weren’t dead.
Chavez felt something he hadn’t felt in decades: actual fear.
Nothing could do this to properly trained, properly equipped
Ocelomeh. Nothing.
He shiffed his perception to the astral, analyzing the brightly
burning residue-signature that the spells had left behind. As he
expected, the two Eagles had been subdued with a stun spell of some
kind, while the other six had been caught in the radius of a blast of
some sort of energy, which had also shattered the expensive wood of
the door frame and knocked the doors oflof their hinges. Both spells
were alarmingly powerful.
“You alerted the board of directors,” Chavez said, running a hand
through his patchy gray beard and longish gray hair.
“Yes, sir,” Martinez said, like a dog expecting to be kicked.
“Good,” Chavez said. Aztechnology was bigger than him, and
bigger than its reputation. ftis could potentially threaten all of them.
ftey needed to know.
ften the former Corporate Court justice went into his office,
alone and unarmed, leaving his own squad of Ocelomeh behind him.
It didn’t look like they’d be able to do much good.
fte Thrst thing that he saw when he entered his office was that
behind the massive window in back of his desk, a window that
commanded an impressive view of Tenochtitlán’s skyline, six more
Ocelomeh dangled unconscious from their tangled rappelling lines.
ftey’d attempted to breach simultaneously through the windows and
the door, and been thwarted at both.
He saw the elf second and suppressed a momentary seizure of
quivering, unreasonable rage. fte intruder leaned back in his highbacked forty-thousand nuyen leather chair with the massaging liners,
and worse, he had his ridiculous anaconda-skin boots, fixed with
chrome spurs, up on the polished, real mahogany veneer of Chavez’s
desk. A screamsheet, printed on electronic paper, was folded open,
concealing the intruder’s face.
“Well, this quite a dramatic way to get my attention,” Chavez
said, loosening his tie and shrugging oflhis jacket. He draped it over
one of the two not-quite-as-comfortable chairs placed in front of his
desk, and crossed to the well-stocked bar on the east wall of the room,
pouring himself a brandy. Ordinarily, it would have been much too
early. He knocked it back in one burning gulp and poured himself
another, not oflering the stranger any as he turned around, glass in
hand. “But you have it,” he said, as nonchalantly as he could manage.
ftrough his fiesh-colored wireless cochlear implant, Martinez told
him that a full assault team of combat and magical specialists would
be on hand in Thve minutes. It might as well have been an eternity.
“Sorry about that,” said the elf behind the electronic newspaper.
“You’re not an easy man to see.” Speaking English, like Chavez had
been. No discernible accent.
Chavez shiffed his perception into the astral again, and was nearly
blinded by the scintillating strength of this elf ’s aura. Hovering above
the elf on the astral plane was the most powerful air elemental that
Chavez had ever seen. fte only tiny grain of relief he felt was that the
aura had not been draconic in shape. Chavez blinked the view of the
material world back into his vision; what he was greeted with there
was far less impressive.
“Any spell you’re thinking about casting, you might as well not,”
the elf said, folding the screamsheet so his face could be seen. He wore
clown’s makeup, diamonds over both eyes, and rouge on his smiling
lips. But there was no humor in that smile. “I’ll just catch it and stuft
it back up your ass.”
Chavez swallowed, dryly, almost forgetting the glass of brandy
in his hand.
“What do you want?” Chavez asked.
“I understand you have a bit of a dragon problem,” the painted
elf said, tapping one long, slender Thnger against an animated graphic
of Sirrurg on the front page, spewing Thre down on the city of Cali.
fte headline, in Aztlaner Spanish, read “fte Destroyer Sighted In
Roswell!?” He tossed it on the desk and stood up.
“Four minutes,” Martinez subvocalized wirelessly into Chavez’s ear.
“And?” Chavez asked.
“And, it just so happens,” the painted elf said, and drew a sword—a
rapier with an ornate, gilded basket hilt—and pressed its point against
a map of North and South America that decorated the opposite wall.
Using it as a pointer, to indicate the divided city of Denver, from which
Aztlan had been ousted over a decade ago.
“So do I.”
“Martinez,” Chavez said into the subvocal microphone discretely
taped to his throat.
“Yes sir?”
“Have the assault team hold ofl,” Chavez said. “I think we might
just have something to discuss affer all.”
*

现在,正式宣告。
他们称之为洞窟(Hole)。幽魂行者趴在他的巢穴里,巨大的身躯放松而舒适。这是一个地底洞穴空间,曾经是个指挥碉堡,位于夏延山脉深处。将空间分隔为房间的墙被全数拆除,为他腾出空间。一个宽大的结构支撑竖井直通山脉表面,一个无线控制地特殊强化塑钢门闩让他可以方便出入,只要他乐意(最近很少)。
整个空间保持黑暗,满足这头龙的喜好。微弱的光线来自几十个全景显示屏,有序地放在暗室内。显示屏展示着各种不同视频信号——各类国际市场的股票报价、公共和私人新闻节目、火口湖的卫星影像,还有嵌套的视频信号,来自一队狂奔者的头盔摄像头。全景屏幕的光亮轻柔地照在幽魂行者硬如岩石的鳞片上,鳞片如同大理石般苍白,夹杂蓝色纹理。
幽魂行者的眼睛——比探照灯更大更亮——现在闭着,物质位面的旁观者或许会误以为他正在小睡。危险的错误,使用星界感知不可能这样看。幽魂行者的灵光明亮如同火焰,沉思算计着,他的注意力和思绪朝向各个方向,如同墙上的显示屏,每个方向的的思考、情绪负载在他的星界形体上留下彩色痕迹。
尽管如此,他还是立刻注意到了领域内的的闯入者。巢穴周围的守护十分强力,看守的精魂盟友警觉而强大。世界上能混过他的安保而不引起一丝变化和呼喊的存在并不太多。
这位闯入者的星界形体也难以被误认。
“是你,”游魂行者发出低沉的隆隆声,语气冷静而深思。因入侵产生的被冒犯感从他肩膀滚落,如同巨大的身躯耸了耸肩。
“是我,”坎贝尔回答。油彩精灵(今天是一只眼睛上有方片图案)的星界形体没有微笑。他的灵光色彩是一种深沉的悲伤和更深沉的无奈。
游魂行者是很长一段时间以来唯一一位没问精灵想要什么的。因为他认为自己已经知晓。
“对埃娜我很抱歉。”
“现在抱歉了?”精灵问,试图让语气随意,第一抹愤怒的红色爬上他的灵光。“你很抱歉。”
“她清楚风险。你们都清楚,你们同意了。”
“你把裂缝关上从来不是交易的一部分!”
“交易?”幽魂行者——星界形体和物质形态同时——站起来,身体直立,翅膀依旧收拢。“你那么喜欢的短命种——我从邪魔入侵和更坏的东西手中拯救了这个世界。”
“我应当感激你的慈善之举吗?是你的出现把他们放进来的。”
“我弥补了。我关闭了裂缝。我平衡了代价。”
“但你没有,不是吗?”坎贝尔问。有一瞬间,他的灵光几乎因仇恨变成黑色——比幽魂行者所见过的黑色更为深重——随后散作灰色,随后变澄清,变化速度比幽魂行者并非稀少的经验中见过的都要快。仅有悲伤,弥散着的古老悲伤,留下在了他的灵光和声音中。“你欠这个世界。欠我们。欠我。我会让它还清。”
他因愤怒而盲目,幽魂行者想。他没有意识到她并未真正离开。他不愿意听解释,我也同样不会。
“这就是你的看法?”
坎贝尔点头。
“那么我最好不要以为我能改变你的想法。没人能。”
“很多人试了。”
凝重的沉默。
“无论如何,”精灵的补充打破了沉默,“不管你可能听说了什么,不是我杀了山影。我对他的逝去感到难过。”
“假如我以为是你,你觉得我们还能这样对话吗?”幽魂行者低哼,他展开翅膀,复盖整个暗室。
“你的意思是我们该更早谈谈的?”
“这是Chal’han?你要说的是这个?”
精灵眯起眼。“不。Chal’han是对等者之间的竞争。”
“我们不是,永远也不会是。”
坎贝尔点头。
幽魂行者环顾暗室,考虑是否应该现在在此处了结。如果这样,他知道,这会使他们的种族在无一死亡的几千年后一年内逝去两位。在这里,巨龙必然胜出。但他依然没有攻击。此刻,他不明白是什么阻止了他。艰难回到这个世界、再次取回他的城市后的十三年里,他学习、记忆了许多东西,但他的心依然是某种未知。
“然后呢?你要试图伤害我?”
坎贝尔露出他可怕、疯狂、崩坏的微笑。你这个坏掉的东西,幽魂行者想,太糟糕了,你活了这么久,忍受了独自一人几千年。
“试图伤害你?”坎贝尔问。“我是最后的泣塔骑士。我向你挑战。不是Chal’han。不是继承仪式。不是游戏,不是礼节性玩闹。我挑战你的一切。我不需要你的钱。我不需要你的王冠。我要将你的王国烧成灰烬。”
幽魂行者感到他的回应如同烈焰从古老的肺部升起,但当他的气息准备好回应挑战时,精灵的灵光消失了。已经开始。
“那么来吧,”幽魂行者说,重新趴下。“你这个疯狂的愚人。”
在他开始准备迎接战争前,巨龙感到周围一个让人舒心的存在,一个精魂雾一般落在他双重存在的躯体上。他叹气。他取回的短暂触碰让他理解了坎贝尔的损失。精灵以为自己知道发生了什么。他看见巨龙用埃娜换回了他自己的伴侣。并非如此,但本可能发生。若要交换,哪怕重复一千次,幽魂行者也无需考虑。因此,他理解坎贝尔的复仇不会终结,除非他的王国在他周围化为废墟,他的肢体残破。两个种族之间的和平从不能长久,但看着它被误解粉碎依然让人痛心,尤其这个误解如此地……人性。
“我想我们最坏的,”他叹气,最近才取回的精魂包裹着他,让人舒心,“便是我们为爱付出的一切。
剧透 -   :
And now, the formal declaration of intent.
ftey called it the Hole. Ghostwalker sprawled, massive, relaxed,
and comfortable, in his lair; a cavernous, subterranean space that
had once been a command bunker, deep in the depths of Cheyenne
Mountain. fte walls dividing the space into rooms had all been knocked down to give him his space. A wide, structurally supported
shaffled straight up to the mountian’s surface, where a wirelessly
controlled, specially reinforced plasteel hatch had been designed
so that he could come and go easily, when he pleased (which was
seldom, of late).
fte space was kept dark, as the dragon liked it. What little light
there was came from dozens of holographic view-screens spaced
evenly throughout the chamber. fte screens displayed a wide variety
of video feeds—stock quotes for various international markets, public
and pirate newscasts, satellite imagery of Crater Lake, and picturein-picture video feed straight from the helmet cameras of a team of
shadowrunners. fte holographic light shone soffly on Ghostwalker’s
stony scales, scales that were as pale as marble and veined with blue.
Ghostwalker’s eyes—larger and brighter than headlights—were
closed, and an observer on the physical plane might have mistook him
for dozing. A dangerous mistake to make, and impossible with astral
perception. Ghostwalker’s aura burned brightly with contemplation
and calculation, his attention and his thoughts pulled in nearly as many
directions as there were screens on the walls, the emotional payload of
each line of reasoning leaving its colored stain on his astral form.
In spite of this, he noticed the intruder in his domain at once.
fte wards around his lair were immensely powerful, the spirit allies
who stood guard there were alert and mighty. fte list of beings in the
entire world who could Thnesse their way past his safeguards without
even raising a hue and cry was a short list indeed.
And this intruder’s astral form was unmistakable.
“You,” Ghostwalker rumbled, his tone pensive, thoughtful.
Letting whatever oflense he may have felt at the intrusion roll oflhis
shoulders like a massive shrug.
“Me,” Caimbuel answered. fte astral shape of the painted elf (a
single diamond, today, over one eye) was unsmiling. fte colors of his
aura shone with a deep sadness and an even deeper resignation.
Ghostwalker was the Thrst person in quite some time not to ask
the elf what he wanted. Because he thought he already knew.
“I am sorry about Aina.”
“Are you now?” the elf asked, trying to sound casual as the Thrst
crimson threads of rage spun through his aura. “You’re sorry.”
“She knew the risks. You all did, and you agreed.”
“You closing the riffwas never part of the deal!”
“Deal?” Ghostwalker—astral form and physical body one,
moving in perfect unity—stood, drawing himself to his full height,
wings still furled. “fte ephemerals you so lovingly coddle—I saved this
world from the intrusion of the shedim, and worse.”
“Am I meant to be impressed with your philanthropy? Your
arrival was what let them in.”
“And I put it right. I closed the riff. I balanced the scales.”
“Except you didn’t, did you?” Caimbuel asked. For a moment,
his aura was nearly black with hatred—a darker and deeper color than
Ghostwalker had ever seen—and then it faded to cloudy, then cleared,
changing faster than any other in Ghostwalker’s not-inconsiderable
experience. Only the sadness, pervasive and ancient, remained, both
in his aura and his voice. “You owe a debt. To this world. To us. To me.
I will see it paid.”
His anger blinds him, Ghostwalker thought. He doesn’t realize
that she isn’t really gone. He won’t listen to reason, any more than I
would.
“Is that how you see it?”
Caimbuel nodded.
“ften I know better than to think I could ever change your mind.
No one ever could.”
“Many have tried.”
ftere was a heavy silence.
“For what it’s worth,” the elf added, breaking it, “whatever you
may have heard, I’m not the one who killed Mountainshadow. I was
sad to hear of his passing.”
“If I had ever thought it had been you, do you think we would
even be having this conversation?” Ghostwalker snorted, unfurling his
wings, which spanned the chamber from wall to wall.
“Don’t you mean we would have had this conversation much
sooner?”
“Is this a Chal’han? Is that what you’re talking about?”
fte elf narrowed his eyes. “No. A Chal’han is a contest of equals.”
“And that is something we are not, and will never be.”
Caimbuel nodded.
Ghostwalker looked around the chamber, wondering if the matter
would be decided here and now. If so, he knew, it would be two of their
kind dead in one year affer none of them dying for thousands. On this
ground, the dragon’s victory was all but certain. And yet, he did not
strike. He did not really understand, in that moment, what held him
back. He had learned and remembered much and more in the thirteen
years since clawing his way back into this world, since taking control of
his city again, but still his own heart was sometimes unknown to him.
“What then? You’re going to try and hurt me?”
Caimbuel smiled his terrible, mad, broken smile. You wretched
thing, Ghostwalker thought, how awful for you to have survived this
long, to have endured your own company for millennia.
“Try to hurt you?” Caimbuel asked. “I am the Last Knight of the
Crying Spire. I am coming for you. ftis is no Chal’han. No rite of
succession. No sport, no comedy of manners. I’m coming for everything. I don’t want your money. I don’t want your crown. I’ve come to
burn your kingdom down.”
Ghostwalker felt the response rising like Thre in his ancient lungs,
but by the time his breath was ready to answer the challenge, the elf ’s
aura was gone. It had begun.
“ften come,” Ghostwalker said, settling down onto his haunches
again. “You mad fool.”
Before he could begin to prepare for war, the dragon felt a
comforting presence all around him, a spirit descending on his dualnatured body like mist. He sighed. fte fieeting touch of what he’d
regained helped him understand the value of what Caimbuel had
lost. fte elf believed he knew what had happened. He saw that the
dragon had traded Aina for his own Mate. ftat wasn’t what really
had happened, though it could have. Ghostwalker would have made
that trade without a second thought, a thousand times over. Knowing
that, he understood that Caimbuel’s vendetta would not end until his
kingdom was in fiaming ruins around him, and his body broken. fte
peace between their kinds was never going to be permanent, but it was
painful to see it shattered by a misunderstanding so utterly … human.
“I don’t know what is the worst part of us,” he sighed, into the
comforting presence, newly regained, that cloaked him, “if not the
things we do for love.”
« 上次编辑: 2019-08-05, 周一 01:19:52 由 马非鱼 »
If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably an Andrik