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2020-07-16 01:15:51

天一影院七八二年六月一六日。大魔神堡,卡丹公主府。凌晨,贴身佣人战战兢兢地唤醒了熟睡中的卡丹公主和驸马亲王云浅雪:“公主殿下、亲王殿下,陛下有紧急旨意到。钦差就在前厅等候,请两位大人速去迎接。”两人手忙脚乱地披上睡衣,赶到前厅。那里,明晃晃的一片火光通明,影影绰绰的到处是武装的士兵。云浅雪心头一突,不知发生了什么事情。一个高大魁梧的近卫旅军官快步迎了上来:“是羽林亲王殿下吗?”“正是我。”“十分抱歉,亲王殿下,陛下紧急召见,请立即随我前去。”手持火把的军官说得太快又含糊,睡眼惺忪的云浅雪几乎一个字都听不清楚,问:“你说什么?”军官再重复了一次。云浅雪轻轻地“哦”了一声,过了一阵,他反应过来,“啊”的一声惊叫:“请稍等,让我换件衣服。”手忙脚乱地找正式觐见的服装,卡丹早已将服饰准备好了。她一边帮助云浅雪穿上,一边问传令的近卫旅军官:“父皇有没有叫我一同过去?”“回禀公主殿下,陛下只让我们通知亲王阁下立即到,并没有提到公主殿下您。”“是吗?”卡丹看看一片漆黑的夜色,几颗星星在黑暗的夜幕中闪烁着光芒,正是凌晨三点左右时分。她心头不安,如此紧急的深夜召见,绝非好事。云浅雪匆匆换好衣服,卡丹迎上来,小声说:“一切小心。”云浅雪点头:“知道了。”他跟着举着火把的近卫旅士兵一同出了门。走过漆黑的长街,迎面就是巍峨的皇宫。整个皇宫沉睡在一片黑暗中,仿佛一头沉睡的巨兽。火把的光亮映照在米亚大理石圆柱上,给整个柱子染上了一片猩红。走近这雄伟的建筑,在那华丽堂皇的圆柱装饰之间,宽阔的走廊中回响着近卫旅工兵空洞的脚步声,云浅雪仿佛嗅到了一种杀戮和血腥的味道。八十年前,就在这洁白的大理石台阶上,加林族的士兵将叶塞族的皇族全数屠杀,连婴儿都一一被撞死在石头上;接着,又在同样的地方,踌躇满志的加林族皇帝被囚禁在地窖里活生生地饿死,他的整个家庭被通通投入了火堆中;占据皇宫的雷族皇疯狂一时,残酷好杀,终于连他的族人也无法忍受他的残酷,受雷族长老会的指示,一个雷族近卫军官一刀砍下了他的脑袋,他的斑斑血迹洒在皇宫门口的接见走廊里。接下来爆发长达三年的雷族内战,雷族的皇族们率领各自的军队互相攻击,直到更强大的冬日族出来取代了他们……云浅雪长长地呼吸一声,不知怎么回事,每次到皇宫来他总感觉到很不舒服,今晚这种感觉尤其明显。或许真如传言中所说的,这座皇宫已经给诅咒了,每一面墙壁都曾回响过那些临终的人的呻吟和断气时候发出的呼噜声,每一块华丽的石头后面都隐藏着一个屈死的冤魂。笔宫门口处,两排近卫旅士兵乎持火把肃立,近卫旅统帅雷欧公爵正守候在门边,看到云浅雪的到来,公爵毫无表情地说:“你来迟了,陛下在里面等候。”别把摇动的光亮照在公爵如同花岗石似的呆板面上,照着他毫无表情的脸。旁边的两行近卫旅士兵一手持矛,一手举着火把,脸色冷峻。云浅雪瞧瞧他,也没跟他寒暄。雷欧神经兮兮的,让他产生了不祥的预感。联想到最近两位皇子之间的明争暗斗,云浅雪心头一紧:莫非冲突已经爆发了吗?是谁先发难的?不可能是卡兰,否则自己不会一无所知,但陛下还健在的时候,卡顿也不应该这么蠢吧……一边胡思乱想着,云浅雪沿着华丽的红地毯走向宫殿的议事大厅,他注意到,今天皇宫的守卫比平日森严了很多,在宫殿门口到议事大厅之间的长长的走道上,肃立着手持锋利武器的近卫旅士兵在守卫,冷峻、阴森、肃静,只有自己沉重的脚步声在回荡,火光摇曳,阴影幢幢,这种感觉叫人不寒而栗。一个佣仆为他推开了议事大厅的门,近三百根大蜡烛将整个大厅照得一片通明。在靠近陛下座位的地方,几个人聚在一起。云浅雪快步走近,他已经清楚了,叶尔马公爵、米罗总督、达科总督、加山侯爵等王国重臣已经先到了。“可知道是什么事情呢?”顾不得寒暄了,云浅雪问几位重臣。大家都是茫然地摇头,目光中流露出惶恐。看到他们那彷徨的样子,知道自己并不是被孤立的,云浅雪稍微感到轻松一点了:“大家都一样被蒙在鼓里呢!”等了不到两分钟,接着,卡顿亲王和卡兰两人先后急匆匆地过来了,衣服有点凌乱,都问:“发生了什么事?”但是没有人可以回答。空气中荡漾着不安。“陛下到!”站在门边的宫廷侍卫扬开了嗓子清朗地喊了一声,所有人立即匍匐在地。边门打开了,魔神皇出现在门口,披一身黑色的绒披风,身影萧瑟、孤独。不知为什么,往常总是和他形影不离的黑沙军师没有出现。雷欧从外面进来,顺手把议事大厅的门口给关上了。“都起来吧!”魔神皇清朗的声音中带着一丝疲倦,随即严厉起来了:“根据报告,出现了叛逆,朕和朕的国家被叛徒出卖了!”他冷冰冰地说,然后缓慢又毫不留情地从这张脸看到那张脸。空气一瞬间凝结成了固体。过了好久,没有人敢稍动一下,每个人感到了深切的恐惧,魔神皇那可怕的威严几乎将整个议事大厅压成了齑粉。卡兰起身向魔神皇深深地一鞠躬:“父皇陛下,不知您所称的叛逆是指何事?”“鲁帝!远东的鲁帝,他背叛了国家,背叛了朕!”魔神皇一掌拍在几子上:“出此逆贼,那是国家的耻辱!这厮欺骗了朕整整一年!”坚固的檀木几子瞬刻间无声无息的粉碎,细小的木碎片化成了一片粉末。众人暗暗心惊,神皇武功已经至化境,他的涵养也深藏不露,近年来鲜少出手,没想到今晚竟然有这么失态的表现。鲁帝的小命完蛋了!这是所有人的感想。“雷欧,你把事情给大伙说说!”站在众人身后,一直没有出声的近卫统帅雷欧公爵应声:“是!”转而面对大家:“今天晚上我们收到西南大营凌步虚的报告,简直是骇人听闻!我王国军队一败再败,伤亡惨重,远东国土几乎已不属王国所有了!可恨鲁帝,辱国丧师不说,还一直封锁消息,隐瞒败绩,甚至派出人手截杀求援信使,欺君瞒上。这厮罪无可赦!”众人震惊。叶尔马公爵出声问:“究竟是怎么一回事?鲁帝败给了谁?紫川家卷土重来了吗?”“不是紫川家——比败给人类更可耻!鲁帝居然被一群远东的造反刁民打垮,在科雨尼、在亚速达、在云省、在枫林丹叶,我们的军队一败再败,近十万王国士兵被杀害,丢弃行省十几个,甚至让人一直打到了我们的王国本土!惫记得年初边境上的那次盗灾吗?那根本不是什么盗贼,那是造反的半兽人杀了进来!”雷欧花岗石似的淳朴面容涨得通红。“够了。”魔神皇不耐烦地打断了雷欧的陈述,这个力大无穷的战士在战场上杀来杀去纵横无敌,但要他有条有理地叙述事情根本是奢望。他激动地说了半天,根本还没说到要点,让人一头雾水。“把凌步虚的信拿出来让大伙看看。”雷欧听命地取出信件,让众人传阅。云浅雪最后一个拿到信件,看到淡黄色羊皮纸上凌步虚那已经凝固成了黑色的血书,云浅雪心头一震:局势竟到了要用血书来传信的地步了?他低下头来匆匆一阅:“七八一年的科尔尼会战王国军伤亡六万多、亚速达会战、得亚会战、云省事件、枫林丹叶会战、明斯克行省沦陷、塔杰行省沦陷、杜莎行省沦陷、西南大营面临被叛军包围的威胁、派出的信使不见回头……”凌步虚的笔调就如他的人一样低调,他并没有在信中对鲁帝加以评论,只是把发生了的事情一桩桩平静地罗列出来,那份冷静简直叫人毛骨悚然。云浅雪额头上冷汗渗出。雷欧说得一点没错,鲁帝所作所为,死一千次不足赎其罪。他抬起头来,看着众人惨白的脸色,于是也做出一副沉痛而愤慨的表情:与众不同是要冒风险的。“消息可靠吗?可否把凌步虚的信使召上来,让我们当面问话?”叶尔马公爵问,他个性素来沉稳,这件事情实在太骇人听闻,就在大家都还蒙在鼓里时,远东国土已经有大半不属于王国领土了,让人难以接受。“应该是真的。”卡兰皇子也看完了信件:“凌步虚不是那种信口雌黄的人,结合远东去年和今年的贡粮拖欠的事实,可以确认远东地区真的发生了大规模的民乱。我只是奇怪,去年发生的大叛乱,他怎么如今才报告?”“信使已经殉职。”魔神皇冷冷说,众人悚然。雷欧给大家讲述了事情的经过:就在今天晚上的深夜十二点,一个风尘仆仆负伤在身的塞内亚族人自称是西南大营派回的信使,紧急求见魔神皇,却在门口被值勤的近卫旅士兵拦住:“陛下已经休息,任何人不得惊扰!”信使几番劝说:“军情紧急,麻烦各位通融通报!”但近卫旅士兵顽固得犹如花岗石一样蛮冥不化(用雷欧公爵的话说是纪律严明),坚决不肯通融:“此是皇宫禁地,深夜禁止生人靠近。任何事情都可以等天亮再禀告。”他们将那个年轻人赶出了宫殿门口,但那人并没有离开,徘徊在门口梭巡,嚎啕大哭。这激怒了卫兵们,他们将他痛揍一顿然后丢到了大街上,警告他:“再敢靠近我们就放箭!耙出声惊扰了陛下休息,我等将你格杀当场!”但仅仅过了十几分钟,值勤的士兵听见外面传来杂乱、大声的喧哗和搏斗声音,他们赶到时候,凶手已经逃离,那个使者要害处身中五刀,奄奄一息了。他只来得及说了最后一句话:“鲁帝谋反!”在他的尸身上,他们发现了王国远东地区西南军团总司令凌步虚的亲笔信和身份证明,确认此人是西南军团凌步虚麾下第三十一团队的标骑军官。士兵们再不敢怠慢。他们立即通报了当晚的值勤军官,值勤军官眼看事情重大,又通知了近卫旅统帅雷欧公爵。雷欧公爵到来后,只把信看了一遍,立即意识到事关重大。他低沉地向宫廷的侍从吩咐说:“相烦唤醒陛下,微臣雷欧有急事禀告。”“不能责怪凌步虚。他在信中报告说,他已经是第九次派出信使,都没有得到回音。可以想像,前八次的信使都给鲁帝一手遮天的暗杀掉了!这个运气好一点,虽然身死,却终于完成了任务。”“鲁帝好大胆子!”听了陈述,几个重臣同时被如此肆无忌惮的狂妄震惊了:“就在陛下身边、皇宫的咫尺之遥,他竟不畏陛下的神圣天威,派遣杀手行凶!就算没有其他事,光这一条已经足够让他碎尸万段了!”“凶手抓到了吗?”“还没有。”雷欧回答:“我们已经封锁了城门,严密盘查出入,一定要把他拿住!”他说得豪气,但大家都知道,这不过是说说而已。魔神堡一日进出人流数以十万计,凶手面上又没刻字,混迹人群中被发现的可能几乎被零。“这件事情的发生,近卫旅防御不严,是有责任的。”卡顿亲王很严肃地说。雷欧默默地屈膝,向魔神皇请罪。卡顿亲王继续发言:“父皇陛下,我建议,立即派执法使者前往远东,诛杀鲁帝!”卡兰冷冷一笑,和云浅雪对视一眼,又无声地移开了视线。米罗总督与达科侯爵连忙出声附和,异口同声地宣称:早二十年自己就看出鲁帝这家伙的脑后长有反骨,但幸好现在也还不晚,陛下的如电神目看穿了他的伪装。坚决支持陛下诛杀鲁帝!魔神皇望向卡兰和云浅雪:“你们是怎么看的?”卡兰恭敬地回答:“皇兄所言甚是。只是到目前为止,我们所有的证据都只是凌步虚的一面之辞,鲁帝和西南大将都是手掌兵权的王国重臣,对他们的争议,我们必须要慎重。我相信西南大将绝非那种信口雌黄之人,但为了稳妥起见,在做出下一步决定之前,无论在程序上还是实质上,我们需要立即派遣钦差前往远东调查!”神皇眼中流露赞赏之色,又问:“若调查确为事实,那又将如何呢?”“父皇,我等必须赋予钦差以全权,责令其判断事实,伺机而行!若西南大将所禀报确为事实,则钦差不必回禀,当机立断,果断将鲁帝拿下以待陛下处置,并安抚其军队——赋予钦差的权力极大,所以,对于钦差的人选必须慎重!我们派遣的钦差既要绝对忠实于陛下,精明干练,又要与鲁帝和凌步虚两人都没有过节恩怨,这样才能做到对鲁帝和凌步虚都不偏不倚,公正明断。”卡顿亲王出声说:“皇弟所说很有道理。只是鲁帝竟敢在皇畿行凶,公然藐视吾皇神威,此人实在胆大狂妄!他反迹已露,证据确凿,我看此事不宜拖延,必须尽早解决!我建议不必再浪费时间了,立即派执法队前去取鲁帝人头就是了!”“光凭一个统兵大将的证词就杀掉了另一个高级的贵族将领,这样行事恐怕难以让天下人心服。”“此等狼子野心之徒,杀了就杀了,还有什么不妥?”在魔神皇面前,两位皇子你一言我一语地辩论起来,卡顿亲王力主立即下旨诛杀鲁帝,卡兰却主张必须先经过调查程序。放在不明就里的人眼里,还真的以为鲁帝是卡兰皇子的嫡系亲信。云浅雪微微一笑,其实恰恰相反,鲁帝是卡顿亲王派系中的得力人物,他能当上远东大总督,卡顿亲王的推荐在其中作用不小。现在眼看他闯下了弥天大祸,卡顿忙不迭地与他划清界线,他现在恨不得一刀杀了鲁帝,好早日去掉这个让自己丢脸的祸害。二皇子卡兰却有意把这件事情扩大,加以调查——不是调查鲁帝是否该死,那么严重的罪行,鲁帝便是有一千个脑袋也不够砍——鲁帝担任远东大总督搜刮民脂民膏无数,这么大的财产他一个人独吞不下,那上亿的财产究竟是私下进贡给了魔神堡的哪位大老?有哪些大人物从中得了好处?不需要天才的脑筋,只需要想想鲁帝的远东大总督是谁推荐的,自然可以明了了。但这样顺藤摸瓜,卡顿亲王殿下马上就坐不住了。鲁帝您还是赶紧一死百了的好!“够了!”魔神皇声音不高,却自有一番威严。两位皇子都住了嘴。“关于鲁帝种种,只是小事而已;远东的叛乱如何处置应对,这才是要点!”云浅雪平静地出声说:“如果陛下允许的话,微臣愿率本部兵马前往远东为陛下扫平叛乱。至于取鲁帝人头,只要陛下一声令下,那不过举手之劳。”他表现得尽量镇定,让卡顿亲王的失态显得格外可笑。叶尔马公爵沉声说:“陛下,羽林阁下刚刚大婚,此时让他出征,岂不让人笑话我王国无人?还是让老臣前去吧!”“陛下,近卫旅愿为陛下斩杀叛逆,扫除祸害!”卡顿亲王、达科侯爵等重臣也纷纷表示自己愿率军前往远东,指日内将荡平远东的叛乱,气势豪迈。但魔神皇都不置可否,最后还是卡兰皇子出声说:“陛下,远东之乱,不过一群暴民闹事而已,何必惊动我王国重臣甚至于太子?”卡顿亲王斜睥着弟弟:“难道王弟可也有意亲临敌?”“不是。我只是想向父皇推荐一员良将,保管可以杀敌破阵!”“是谁?”“加纳总督罗斯。罗斯大人乃我王国名将,久经沙场,经验丰富,麾下兵将众多而精锐——由他前去,保管可以一举扑灭叛乱!”云浅雪诧异地望着卡兰:自从上次的紫川秀脱逃事件以来,罗斯总督就与自己结下了仇怨,这点卡兰明明是知道的。现在他为什么又要保举罗斯呢?何况,罗斯部下的军队除了少数以外,大部分都是募集而来,并非常备军,现在要重新筹集的话需要大量的时间,而且战斗力比起自己的麾下的羽林军来差了一大截。包令他意外的是,魔神皇听了卡兰的推举,竟然立即同意了:“好!笔儿所荐之人甚合朕意!雷欧,快马传令,通知加纳大人着手准备出征!”“给西南大将发去命令,责令他配合加纳大人的行动,立即出兵,剿灭叛乱的各路暴民!”魔神皇站起了身子,往常这往往意味着会议已经结束了。但这次,他的身形顿了一下:“卡兰,你跟朕进来!”“是!”卡兰喜孜孜地应了一声,故意不看卡顿亲王。后者整张脸都已经涨得通红了:卡兰那小子竟然得到父皇赏识,这比远东打了一百场败仗还要让他痛心疾首啊!走出皇宫的大门,微红的霞光照在洁白的台阶上,—队威武的宫廷近卫旅士兵正在换岗。天色才刚刚蒙蒙亮。尽避一夜没睡,云浅雪却毫无睡意。刚才发生的一幕让他不解,他心存疑惑:陛下的意图到底是什么?卡兰二皇子莫名其妙的提议为什么能打动陛下?他感觉一头雾水,而被蒙在鼓里什么都不知道的滋味是怪难受的。云浅雪傻傻地站在宫殿门口好一阵子,那些换岗的近卫旅士兵都用奇怪的眼神看着他,若不是看出他是皇族,他们早举起长矛驱赶他了。必到家中,卡丹迎上来:“没发生什么事吧?”“呃……发生了了不得的大事。”犹豫了一下,云浅雪把刚才的枢密会议经过给妻子讲了。虽然枢秘会议规定是绝不能向外泄露的,但如果自己的妻子是王国公主的话,那当然又另当别论了。“我不明白,为什么陛下要调罗斯军团去远东平叛?羽林军难道不是王国最精锐的部队之一吗?难道在陛下心中,我还不如罗斯?我实在无法理解。”——这正是云浅雪最大的担心:难道,在陛下心目中,我已经失宠了吗?卡丹一手托着下巴,静静地听着云浅雪忿忿不平的抱怨。等云浅雪说完,卡丹微微一笑,她已经知道云浅雪担心却又不便说出口的话了。“云君,你过虑了。请不必担心,父皇对你的信任和倚重一如从前。”“啊,但是为什么……”“呵呵,云君,我相信以您的智慧,一定能看出来的。”卡丹微笑说:“您想想,罗斯阁下与您最大的不同是在哪里呢?”“他又蠢又丑,而我既聪明又帅!”云浅雪一本正经地说。卡丹给逗得笑出声来了:“真是不要脸的家伙!”夫妻相视而笑。“云君,您出身我塞内亚的皇族,部下的羽林军团士兵大多来自我塞内亚族的战士,而罗斯阁下则是鞑塔族的首领,他统帅的军队绝大部分都是来自鞑塔和叶塞两族——这其间的差别,您可想明白了吗?”云浅雪很认真地想了一下,最后浮出一丝浅笑:“我明白了。”卡丹赞许地微笑:云浅雪是个很聪明的人,他不但在军事方面才华出众,对政治领域的种种人心鬼蜮,他的领会力奇高,只要稍加点拨,他马上就能明白过来。不知怎么的,她又一次想起了那个人,暗地里将他与云浅雪比较:远方的他与自己的丈夫一样,都是驰骋沙场的武将,但两个人却是截然不同的两个人。云浅雪出身名门,精明能干,才华出众而且深通生活情趣,品味高雅,诗人接物,可谓无懈可击。遵照父皇之命,也为了云浅雪对自己的痴情有所感动和愧疚,自己在半年前与云浅雪成亲。应该说,自己对这件事情并没有后悔。与自己成亲后,他对自己一直体贴关怀,而且尊重自己,凡事与自己商量,并没有一般魔族男子那种视妇女如无物的大男人主义。无论从哪个角度来说,女孩子能嫁给像云浅雪这样的男人,可以说是再无遗憾了。但不知为何,自己却一直不能忘记远方的那个人类:那个人,应该算是自己国家的敌人。他粗犷,耿直,固执,就拿他自己的话说:“我是个除了把剑以外一无所有的穷大兵。”相比之下,他更有那种真正男人特有的刚强血性,不屈不挠,面对困难绝不妥协,他是那种天生的顶天立地的英雄。就是这个穷大兵,那刚毅中带出的一分笨拙的柔情牢牢地系住了自己,让自己一生不能忘怀……“……你说什么?”云浅雪正在说什么,卡丹走神了没听清楚。云浅雪好脾气地笑笑,把话再重复了一遍:“你真的有把握,事情是……我意思是说……”他有点难以启齿,最好还是吞吞吐吐地说了:“陛下为了保证我塞内亚族的地位而……”卡丹还以一个同样意味深长的微笑:“你没注意到吗?刚才参加会议的人,叶尔马公爵、米罗总督、达科总督、加山侯爵、雷欧公爵——再加上大哥、二哥和你,全部是出身塞内亚族的皇族。从地位上来说,罗斯公爵的地位在你之上,他也在神堡,却没通知他参加。从这个就可以看出父皇的用意了:会议的重点并非远东,更非鲁帝,这是关于一次如何维持我族统治地位的枢密会议!只有二哥领会到了父皇的意思。”“难道陛下认为罗斯阁下有谋反之心?”“鞑塔部族近年迅速地扩充实力,还吞并了没落了的叶塞部族,他们一跃成为了仅次于我族的王国第二大族。至于罗斯本人是否有反意、他如何想的,这并不要紧,关键的是鞑塔族破坏了神族部族之间历来的实力均衡,拥有了可以威胁我们的实力!”“如果光是鞑塔一族的谋反,我们可以轻易将其镇压,但是事情一旦开始,就会产生连锁反应,看到我族与鞑塔族战斗后出现衰弱,新的挑战者会接踵而至,最终我们将陷入没顶之灾,就如八十七年前的叶塞族一样!”云浅雪凝视着妻子美丽的容颜,陷入了深沉的思索。在魔族国内,王者的地位是至高无上的,可以号令百族。但是王权的传承并非像人类一样从世袭而来,而是依靠实力。魔族各部族一直信奉实力至上的真理,王者一直由最实力强大的部族产生。按照这个原则,如果该部族实力衰退了,或者是出现了新的强大部族前来挑战他的霸权,那新旧两个部族之间就会出现一场不可避免的战争来决定究竟新的王者。按照历来的传统,无论对原来的王多么忠心耿耿,其他的部族是不能插手进这场战争里来的。他们唯一能做的事情就是在那静静的看着,等待这场战争的胜利者产生,那就是他们新的王了,他们好赶紧上前祝贺欢呼吾皇万岁,然后合力发兵将在这场战争中落败的部族来个斩草除根,好向新主子表示自己的效忠之意。所以,赢则号令天下,败则全族灭亡,魔族王国的权力交替比起人类,来得更加的直接,也更加的血腥。无论是原来的王也好,新的挑战者也好,这都是一场绝对输不起的赌博,这场袄赌被魔族敬畏地称为:“王权战争”。魔族的老人们还能回忆起最近一次的王权战争,是在八十年前的事情了。当时掌权的叶塞族王突然暴亡,实力大损的叶塞族想维持他们的统治,受到了来自四面八方的挑战。——当然,他们不失尊严地战斗了,但最后还是作为一个勇敢的民族被整个消灭了,叶塞皇族从此成为了历史名词。前后共有近十个部族参加了这次的角逐,那次战争前后持续近七年,被称为恐怖的灭绝战争。最后,当今魔神皇祖父卡雷(人称恐怖的红胡子),依靠了塞内亚战士的骁勇与忠诚,连连战胜了冬日族、傲族、雷族等当时远比塞内亚族强大的几个部族,并将他们从原来的土地上驱赶、放逐到了僻远的不毛之地去。就在这个恐怖的红胡子将半个国家杀得血流成河、其霸主地位得到所有部族都承认了的第二周,一场莫名其妙的暴病又夺走了他生命。就在王国将要又一次陷入可怕的内战、流血冲突将继续重演的危急时刻,当今魔神皇的父亲卡林即位。他对外隐瞒了他父亲的死讯,在族中元老的帮助下,以太子身份掌握朝政。几年后,当塞内亚族的统治已经巩固以后,他才正式对外公布自己父亲的死讯。虽然引起了一阵骚动,但是经过卡林几年的精心经营,此时的塞内亚族已经是无庸置疑的魔族第一强族了,再加上塞内亚战士强悍的名声,并没有什么部族敢冒着灭族的巨大风险出来挑战,这次危机于是平安无事的度过了。但是由此以后的八十多年来,对自身部族实力会被其他部族赶超的恐惧,就像幽灵那样的阴魂不散,始终萦绕在塞内亚皇族高层的心头,而这个幽灵从没有追逐得像现在这般的接近,几乎就要化为实体从想像中走了出来。经过近百年的休养生息,在上次战争中战败、几乎要灭族的几个部族已经恢复了生气,重新强大了起来,其中并不乏对王座有觊觎之心的野心狂徒。正是基于这个考虑,当今魔神皇才发动了对人类的大征讨。这是一举两得之举:为整个魔神王国开疆拓土,求得生存空间。同时通过对外的战争,使得整个国家、所有部族同仇敌忾,团结起来,减少内斗;也通过对外战争,用人类之手消耗那些对王权构成威胁的部族实力——这当然是只能意会不能言传的了。“难道,陛下已经感觉到我塞内亚族的地位已经不巩固了吗?”“目前来说,还没到那种地步。”卡丹安静地说:“在神族的所有部族之中,我族的强大依旧是不可怀疑的,无论鞑塔族也好、哥昂族也好、亚昆族也好、叶塞族也好,都不能与我族相提并论。但是,发生在远东的这场叛乱可能会改变形势。光在科尔尼城下,就有六万多的精良骑、步兵,一整路大军被毁灭性全歼:这样的惨败,在我塞内亚族的历史上,还是第一次。比起军事上的直接损失——丧失了大概二十来个团队的精锐部队,我更担心的是这件事在政治上带来的影响……”她注视着云浅雪,后者立即领会了她的意思,不寒而栗:被清灭的五万多人,并不是魔族王国普通部族的杂牌军队,也不是车草成军的远东叛军,而是整个魔族王国的骄傲,纯粹的塞内亚血液,与当今神皇陛下同族的嫡系子弟兵!塞内亚族的本身实力遭受了沉重的打击,更可怕的是,塞内亚军队天下无敌的神话,被彻底地打破了。军团长鲁帝逃跑,大批精锐士卒丧生——对于王国的最高层来说,这次的惨败,甚至比上次卡顿亲王在帕伊城下败给斯特林更令人难以接受。斯特林是人类世界最出色的将领之—,中央军也是名声卓著的功勋部队,大家还勉强能够承受这个事实。但是败给一群披着兽皮、扛着土制标枪的半兽人,这件事情会让塞内亚部族成为整个魔族王国的笑柄。统治的力量来自尊严和畏惧,而一旦落于被嘲笑的地位,尊严将荡然无存。“你认为,陛下和二皇子派遣罗斯出征的目的,就是为了消耗鞑塔族的实力,以维护目前实力平衡的吗?”“很有可能——虽然目前我们还没看出鞑塔族有不稳,但作为王者,应该有比常人看得更远的眼光。陛下是想把威胁消灭在萌芽状态。”“但是这样会不会造成相反的后果?如果罗斯将叛乱给平定下来了,他将顺理成章地成为新任的远东总督,实力和威望都会大增,这样不是更不利吗?”“目前所得资料太少,我们还无从得知远东的具体情形,但有一点是无庸置疑的:鲁帝定然败得极惨,很可能已经无力再战了。不然,他不会干出这种刺杀信使的蠢事来。而且这场叛乱的规模肯定超乎我们的想像地巨大,不然凌步虚早就独力把它平息下来了,他不可能对远东总督的位置一点野心没有吧?“云君,鲁帝为人虽然粗俗无礼,但是他出身低层,却能依靠战功一步步爬到如今的地位,身经百战,作战经验异常丰富,绝非你想像中的那样无能。他败得如此凄惨,可见此次远东叛乱来得不寻常,像罗斯总督——请原谅,云君,不过我认为,鲁帝起码还有经验和强悍,罗斯却只有一肚子的傲慢自大!”云浅雪微笑着接下去说:“所以,罗斯必然也遭惨败?嗯,罗斯败后,两虎相争必有一伤,叛军实力肯定也会受到重创,这时候……”“陛下必然会派遣我族的主力军团出战,云君你,或者是叶尔马爵爷,或者是我的大哥——都有可能。云君,你要为此做好准备!”“为什么不能是卡兰殿下呢?”卡丹笑笑:“你知道的,二哥不是打仗的料子。他耍点小报样还可以,到沙场上,他不行的。”对于这点,云浅雪的看法不同。但他只是笑笑,说:“如果陛下差我出战,我定然恳请陛下任命你为我的随军参谋。”“呵呵,云君,你太看重我了。妇人之见只擅长纸上谈兵,真正的沙场厮杀真刀真枪,来不得半点虚假,我的那点小见识未必派得上用场。”“公主,我们夫妻之间,你又何必过谦呢?”云浅雪笑咪咪地说,心情大好。经过卡丹这么一剖析,他对前程顿时明了,那种如在雾中的彷徨感觉消失了。他暗暗庆幸:对女人来说,美貌与智慧往往难以并全。美女因为外表上的优势而懒于运用自己的脑子,她们一生最大的成就就是找到一个有钱的老公;而不得不依靠自己脑子的女人往往在外表上又难以恭维,所以人们常常看到那种空有着一张漂亮脸蛋却蠢得像白痴的女人,要不就是另外一种女人,那种为不伤自尊心,人们通常委婉地以“心灵很美”来称赞的女人。自己是幸运的,上天竟然赐给自己一个如此完美的妻子,不但美丽、聪慧过人,而且对自己的前程大有裨益。得妻如此,夫复何求?※※※帝国历七八二年六月二十三日,天气炎热,气候潮湿。在魔族王国前往远东行省的路上,旌旗飘舞,尘土飞扬。长长的队伍正在由东向西徐徐前进,这是魔族讨伐军的罗斯军团。应魔族皇帝的钦令,鞑塔和叶塞两族的农民晕头转向地从忙碌的田地里,丢下了锄地的犁耙集结起来,征兵官发给了他们武器,告知:“远东地区发生了反对我们神族的大叛乱!勇敢的神族勇士们,去吧,讨伐他们,消灭他们,显示我们神族的光荣!”“噢!”士兵群中响起了稀稀落落的回应声,更多的士兵拿着武器茫然不知所措,他们那贫乏的头脑还搞不清楚远东发生叛乱,与自己突然被从家里叫出来有什么必然的关系。叶塞族并不是像塞内亚族、傲族、雷族一样以战斗力出名的种族,有人想起了刚刚结束的远东战争,想到了丧命在帕伊城下、瓦伦城下的叔叔和舅舅,想到可能要从此见不到自己那丑陋的婆娘、白痴般的儿子,还有快塌掉的老房子,于是神情黯然。与士兵们心情截然不同,军团长罗斯公爵心情舒畅,他策马扬鞭走在部队的旁边,不时回头张望着浩浩荡荡的军队,踌躇满志。这是他第二次前往远东作战了,他还记得在七八零年的那场战争中,他的军队连续血洗了得亚和伊里亚两行省的十一座人类城市,成千上万的人类被砍掉了脑袋,那种鲜血喷涌的壮观场面让他激动得不能自已,体内仿佛有一股热流在滚动,浑身颤抖。在接下来的掠夺城市时候,那如山般堆积的战利品更让罗斯大开眼界,发出由衷的感叹:“人类可真会囤积财富啊!”远东战争结束后,陛下与人类议和了,罗斯以为再也没有机会重温一遍过去的好时光,重温那种杀戮和掠夺的快感了,谁知道,机会来得这么快,远东发生了叛乱,而陛下则把平乱的任务交给了自己,而不是王国出名的战将云浅雪,或者干练的卡顿亲王。罗斯公爵不由得衷地感谢上苍…真是待我不薄啊!促使他欣然接受任务的,还有另外一个重要原因:陛下指明要他作为钦使取鲁帝的人头,其中含义不言而明:等镇压下了叛乱,罗斯阁下您就是新的远东总督了!想到占据了远东这二十三个富裕的行省可以给自己带来的巨大好处,罗斯抑制不住地微笑。鲁帝,你这个狂妄自大的家伙,你也有今天!仿佛生怕陛下改变主意似的,罗斯急不可耐地派出前军,手持魔神皇手令去逮捕鲁帝。想到鲁帝的脑袋被挂在旗杆上那龇牙咧嘴的狼狈样子,罗斯兴奋不已。远东的贱民们,你们的末日到了!“爵爷!”一员传令兵急匆匆地从前面策马迎来,马匹都已经跑到口吐白沫的地步了,队伍前面的步兵自觉地让开一条路,让这通信兵不受阻拦地冲到罗斯跟前。“什么事情?”“报告爵爷,加朗大人派我前来报告……”罗斯满意地点头:“可把鲁帝给逮住了?”“十分抱歉,大人!在加朗大人到达之前,鲁帝已经率军逃跑了,目前行踪不明。现在,特兰要塞十分混乱,守军已经溃散,加朗大人恳请大人迅速赶到主持大局!”“什么!鲁帝逃了?!”罗斯震惊莫各。※※※七八二年,六月二十三日。远东杜莎行省沙丘高地,远东起义军光明王军团宿营地。烽火漫天。朦胧的月亮已经升上了半空,荒郊的野地上,竖立起了无数顶帐篷和树枝搭建的小棚子,像是在平地上忽然出现了一片林子,光明王进攻特兰要塞的主力大军正在此地安静的睡眠。泛黄的沙地像是镀上了一层金。在一座又一座营帐之间的空地上,棉絮似的薄雾被风吹着,一切都变得蒙蒙胧胧。经过一天辛苦的行军跋涉,士兵们在打来水喂完战马后早已经睡下,各个营帐中响起了忽高忽低的呼噜声。安排值夜的哨兵们也无精打采地围坐在火堆前打着瞌睡,空旷的原野静得吓人。中军大帐篷内依旧灯火通明,在接到西南军团长官明羽的失利报告后,紫川秀翻来覆去难以入眠。他干脆起来继续完成那份写了一半的作战训令:“……经过六个月来同敌人强大兵力顽强而残酷的搏斗,我军在各条战线上都取得了相当的成就。各军团累计歼灭了装备优良的魔族地方守备部队与野战部队的大部分。鲁帝军团实质上已经丧失了大部分的突击力量,而且也逐渐丧失了以其兵力对我军进行反击的能力,远东军已经收复了国土的百分之七十以上。我军已经摆脱了被动的游击逃亡局面,转而控制了战场的主动权,我各军团指挥官应该适时主动地将战争形式转向顽强的防御和积极的进攻!”煤油灯小小的火种轻轻地跳跃了一下,紫川秀停住了笔斟酌一下,又继续写下去:“形势是乐观的,但我们决不能就此掉以轻心。要清楚地认识到,远东的解放是一条很遥远的道路,我们还要经历无数的苦战和艰争。一、在西南前线,魔族的凌步虚军团对我占领区侧后构成了很大的威胁。魔族军曾两次对古迪撒行省发动进攻,遭到了我西南军团的坚决抵抗。凌步虚是一员十分灵活的指挥官,他的作战具有高度的弹性。凡是他的骑、步兵遭到我正规军和地方游击队有组织的坚决抵抗的地方,他就抛开这个地段,转向其他方向,寻找我防御中的薄弱环节进行突击,然后穿插渗透,在部分地段上制造局部兵力优势,实施包围歼灭。再者,用小辨模的全骑兵机动部队进行长距离的突击,袭击我们的粮仓和辎重车队,屠杀我们的平民和衬庄,然后在我军保卫武装进行有组织的抵抗之前,敌人机动部队已经转移。初次面对这种灵活而残酷的战术,我军付出了不应有的损失。”紫川秀考虑了一下,把“不应有的损失”划去,代之以“很大的代价”。这样是为了照顾明羽的自尊心。在马兰湖一战中,凌步虚利用小鄙部队引诱马兰城的半兽人守备队离开城池,然后在马兰湖一带全歼了该守备部队,五千多半兽人战士战死,四个团队失去了战斗力,番号从此消失在战斗队伍中。但损失并不仅于此。趁着马兰城守军被歼灭防线上出现的缺口,凌步虚趁机攻进城里,一把火烧掉了半个马兰城,城中储备的粮草全部被缴获了。想到自己辛辛苦苦积攒了半年的黄金,好不容易从家族内地购买来的粮食,最终却喂了凌步虚和他部下的绿毛鬼,紫川秀差点想把明羽活生生地掐死。抑制了下愤怒的心情,紫川秀尽量用冷静的语句继续写作战训令:“……鉴于此情况,大本营坚决要求西南军团所属各部队以及地方民兵、游击武装均应在防御前沿展开最积极的行动。为此,应该不停地进行侦察,广泛地设立观察哨卡并辅以灵敏的交通线。前沿部队指挥官切不可满足于被动防御,要与敌人展开以牙还牙的坚决反击,昼夜派出小分队和小集群袭击敌人的营地、指挥中心、粮仓、辎重、仓库等重要战术目标,对敌人的哨卡、巡逻队以及机动营地实施出其不意的打击,破坏其后方,使敌人不得安宁;消灭敌人的侦察哨卡与突击骑兵部队,尤其注意消灭敌人的骑兵部队,以便限制敌人大规模突进我军内部的机动力量。另,大本营建议西南军团指挥官注意兵力的有效配置。就以往三个星期的战斗来看,处于防守姿态的西南军团将兵力分配得过于平均和分散了,难以形成对敌人有效打击力量,在战斗中处于被动状态。建议西南军团指挥部考虑将分散于沿战线一带的三十六个城市和六百一十三个村庄中的驻守部队进行集中,组建两个到三个规模较大且具相当战斗力的野战集群(十到十五个团队为一集群,驻地可由军团根据实际情况自行决定);另外筹建若干全骑兵机动纵队(两列三团队),该机动部队将用于侦察、大规模骚扰敌人后方以及拦截、消灭敌人的骚扰部队。各部队原驻守地区,除有粮仓、指挥中心、重要矿产中心等需要重点保护的战略目标外,正规部队撤离后,防务原则上移交给地方政府组织的民兵、游击队、自卫队来接管。”紫川秀非常烦恼,明羽在凌步虚手上已经吃了几次亏了。今天被吃掉一个团,明天又拿下一座城,这样零碎的打下去,虽没有决定性的大会战,但损失加起来也相当可观。紫川秀曾考虑过换一员将领,但白川和罗杰都各自统帅大军在执行任务,此时不宜抽调他们。半兽人将军布兰倒是智勇双全,只是对上凌步虚这样的经验丰富的老手,他还太嫩。换他去,未必能比明羽更好——明羽怎么就不想想,把他分散在那十几个城市、几百个乡镇里的守备队集结起来的话,足可以组织十万人、三个整编军团,可以使他在总兵力凌驾于凌步虚之上,足可以威慑敌寇保卫整个西南战线了。想了下,紫川秀又加上一句:“在尚未建立地方政府和地方武装的地区,正规部队应组织地方居民进行民主选举,选出地方政府,待地方政府控制住局势并组建起足以维护本地区安全的武装力量后再行撤离。“鉴于西南战线的重要性,大本营拟从东南军团(罗杰军团)和大本营预备队军团(紫川秀直属军团)中抽调力量增强西南军团的力量。增援总计有:佐伊一六团、佐伊一九图、佐伊八九团、哈特三三团、龙人四团,及秀字营之九、十、一一、一二等四大队。以上部队将在五月底之前全部划归西南军团指挥。”写完这一段作战训令,紫川秀放下笔来,长长地舒了口气。“凌步虚,王国一流的名将。”紫川秀轻声地喃喃自语。他打开帐篷的帘子到外面伸伸懒腰舒展身子。远远近近的一切都沉浸在静谧的梦乡中,仿佛连大地都沉睡,习习夜风扑面。天上的星星显得更高了,黑暗更加浓重。他又回到帐篷中来,夜已经很深了,他却也没有睡意,心头像梗着点什么事似的觉得不自在。当年在魔族军中的时候,凌步虚那双精光四射的眸子给他留下了深刻的印象。第一眼紫川秀就看出来了:那是个极其聪明干练的人。凌步虚的战斗经验十分丰富,明羽虽然也是自己麾下屈指可数的防守型好手,但凌步虚经验的老辣不是他所能比拟的。他计算了下,加上了增援部队,明羽手上的力量应该可以和凌步虚持平,紫川秀并没有奢望明羽能战胜对方,他只是希望明羽就算赢不了,也不该输得很惨,只要可以维持住战线,拖住凌步虚就可以了。在他的计画中,现阶段的目标分三步。第一步是先全力铲除掉鲁帝的残兵败将,夺下魔族在东部最后的据点——特兰要塞,起义军在东部就有了一个坚实的防守堡垒。接着留下一员可靠的将领,比如说白川,镇守特兰要塞,建立远东的东部防线。第二步,将远东军的主力掉头西向,与凌步虚决战,力争尽快将其部队击溃。第三步,击败凌步虚后,远东境内基本已经肃清了魔族的大部队,除了由少量部队进行境内的治安和剿匪工作外,接下来可以将防卫的重心放在东部。紫川秀打算以特兰、沙加等几个大的要塞为要点,重建远东的东部防线。当然,紫川秀想,等到可以御敌人于国境之外,自己就可以将精力放在国内的建设上面,战争时期抛荒的耕田要重新耕种、要进行土地的平均分配、要建设工矿业、要从家族内地引进远东自己的工厂和技术——用不了五年,自己曾向布丹长老许诺过的新远东就将要出现了!当然,这一切得有个前提,前提是魔族不再向远东派遣新的镇压部队,起码在自己击败凌步虚之前不要派遣,否则,自己将重又陷入东西两线双面作战的困境。紫川秀也知道,要魔族王国眼睁睁地看着它手边的肥肉被人夺走而不做声,这是根本不可能的。但既然魔族王国的高层在一年多的时间里都没有对远东的反叛做出反应,也没有发现新出现的镇压部队,这令紫川秀产生了一丝希望:也许奇迹会出现呢?等到新远东建立……紫川秀心头泛起一阵悲哀:此生已经注定孤独了,再多的丰功伟业,又有什么意义?他记得,在那些最绝望的日子里,最为了排斥心头那荒漠似的空白,自己亡命地战斗,在每次战斗中都身先士卒,策马冲锋在全军阵头的最前面,近乎疯狂地冒险,无数箭矢“飕飕”地从耳边擦过的风声连续不断,体验那生死边缘的极度刺激来使自己忘却孤寂,并且以此为乐。他意识到,在战争初期自己种种显得幼稚的心情,已经变得一去不复返了。他变得冷酷无情,怀着冷漠、蔑视的心情拿自己和别人的生命当儿戏,这赢得了部下们的尊重:“光明王好样的!”只有自己知道,这不过是一种自暴自弃,是一种失去挚爱之人后,绝望地自寻死路。隐隐地,他泛起了一丝恐惧:当有那么一天,真的驱逐了魔族恢复了远东的自由,自己将何去何从?到哪里再去寻找这种出生入死的刺激来使自己排遣寂寞?哪里还有新的战场可以让自己忘却悲痛?或者,难道,曾经叱吒风云的伟大光明王,他的下半辈子就要在酒精的浸泡中度过了吗?自己会变成一个浑身酒气、口齿含糊不清的乖张老头,每天最大的事业就是调戏稍有姿色的女招待?紫川秀嘴角露出一丝冷笑:与其这样慢慢地糜烂沉醉,倒不如在与魔族的战争中壮烈地战死——当真相大白,消息传回帝都的时候,她还会不会为自己痛心?想哭吗?夜已经很深了,外面传来了孤独的荒外野狼鸣叫声,声音凄凉又悠长。今天大军一气走了四十多里路,想到明天还要继续赶路,紫川秀收回思索,打了个呵欠打开了行军毯子。忽然,他住了手:帐篷门外传来窸窸嗦嗦的布帘响声和轻微的脚步声。紫川秀反手按上了腰间的洗月刀,出声问:“谁?”“光明济世。”一个清朗的男声隔着门帘回答,正是今晚的安全口令:“殿下,我是布兰大人派来的传令兵,有紧急军情求见!”“永照大地,请进。”紫川秀回答了口令的下半截,白光一闪,洗月刀无声地出鞘,紧紧握在手中。他目光炯炯地盯住了帐篷门帘的方向,眼睛一眨不眨。“滋!”突然响起一阵撕裂耳膜的尖锐剌响,厚帆布制造的帐篷门帘无声无息地被击个粉碎,碎片迎风卷进了帐篷中,片片锐利如刀。犹如平地里忽然出现了可怕的风暴,无数的光点像雨点般倾泻灌涌进了帐篷中,无坚不摧的剑气如同风暴般席卷一切,一阵密集的“哧哧哧”轻响,紫川秀原来站立位置后面的帐篷壁上已经出现了无数的洞眼,蜡烛的光亮从洞眼里斑斑点点地射进营帐外的黑暗中。紫川秀来不及反击,就地一个翻身滚出好远,一脚踢飞了摆蜡烛的案台,营帐顿时陷入了一片伸手不见五指的黑暗中。只听到“哧哧哧”几声尖锐的剑气破风声和剑刺入钝物的声音,自己原来的座位已经中了无数剑。听风辨声判断敌人的位置,紫川秀在黑暗中像豹子般无声摸近,挥刀还击,耀眼的刀光在黑暗中一闪而逝,洗月刀在黑暗中划了个弧线,却少有地落空了:对方早已经转移了。几乎就在同一时刻,他与其说看到,不如说是感到一股冰寒刺骨的剑气正在向他的胸口袭来,紫川秀机敏地一个闪身,躲过了这一剑,心里明白:是刚才落空的那一刀暴露了自己的位置。通过那剑的剑路,紫川秀再次捕捉到对方的位置,挥刀还击。“叮!”的一声剌耳的金属交击声,刀剑在空中激烈地斩击,蹦出了几点火花,俩人同时闷哼一声,接着是沉寂。紫川秀屈膝半蹲在地上,用衣袖盖住了刀刃的锋锐闪光,一动不动。他屏住棒吸,压抑了全身的生机,闭上了眼睛,聚精会神,两只耳朵几乎像兔子一样竖了起来。营帐内笼罩在可怕的沉寂和黑暗中。可以听到,在营帐帆布的缝隙中,风在轻轻的呜鸣着,静得让人心寒,黑得简直像掉进了一个大墨缸里,伸手不见五指。刺客还停留在帐篷中。现在双方的眼睛都没办法适应这突来的黑暗,只能依靠耳朵来捕捉对方的位置。对方从破门到偷袭杀人,自己则立即躺倒并且踢灭蜡烛,这一连串的动作全部发生在电闪雷鸣间,双方全都是以快打快,他连看清楚对方面目的机会都没有。紫川秀知道,自己碰上了平生罕见的高手。对方的剑法太可怕了,剑光简直如雨点般倾泻,刚才一瞬间就同时剌出十几剑,放眼望去,剑光形成了一个耀眼的光团,如云雾般向自己罩来,不要说见招拆招,他根本连哪一剑在先哪一剑在后都无法分辨。幸好自己反应迅速踢灭了蜡烛使得营帐中一片黑暗,否则不到几个回合,自己早就被刺得千疮百孔了。恍惚中,紫川秀有种感觉,这人的剑路和好友帝林有几分相似,但更快、更狠、更可怕!沉闷的黑暗中充满了杀机,恐怖,压抑,像是绷得快要断掉的弦。面前的漆黑中隐藏着自己的大敌,军队就在咫尺左右,紫川秀却不敢发声求救:谁先发出声音暴露自己,势必会引来对方如同*般的攻击。而对于这种层次的高手,一击就足以致命了,自己绝对撑不到军队赶来解救自己。他思维里一片空白,紧张得脑筋都快断掉了——这是种难以忍受的考验和折磨。紫川秀的背后,汗水已经湿透了衣裳。尽避他一再强迫自己要集中精神,但大脑已经在不由自主地胡思乱想了:这是哪里来的可怕高手?这么可怕的快剑,防守是守不住的,如果真的面对面比试的话,自己唯一的机会就是只攻不守,拚命跟他来个同归于尽了……“嗒嗒”的脚步声传来,主帅营帐里的响声惊动了几个过路的值勤警卫。有人在外面很近的地方喊话:“我们是今晚的警卫,大人,您没事吧?”紫川秀暗自欢喜:自己的人终于来了!他没有出声。摆暗中的刺客也没有做声。帐篷门帘处出现了火把的一丝光亮,一个半兽人卫兵举着火把走进了漆黑一片的帐篷中,大声地喊道:“殿下,我听到声音。你……”紫川秀突然觉察不妙,他冒着暴露的危险猛然喊出声来:“不要,快出去……”“哧”的一声轻响,半兽人卫兵整个人僵住了,脸上表情古怪,火把昏黄的火光照耀下,他嘴咧开,似笑非笑地像是看到什么非常荒谬的事情似的。手渐渐地松开了,燃烧着的火把掉到了地上。半兽人喉咙中发出“咯咯”的怪声,却是说不出来话来:一把锋利的锐剑从脖后剌入,已经穿透了他粗壮的脖子,血淋淋的剑锋从喉咙部位伸了出来。“嗖”的一声,剑被抽了回去。半兽人士兵踉踉跄跄地向前走了两步,一头撞到了紫川秀身上。紫川秀急忙扶住他,手上触摸到了一种滚烫而黏稠的液体。半兽人徒劳地大口喘着气,捂住喉咙的伤口,殷红的鲜血大股大股地从手指里渗透出来,喉咙处发出了“咕咕”的怪声。他含糊不清地喊道:“殿下,小心……”向后一挣扎脱离了紫川秀的扶持,整个人仰倒摔在了地上,身体恰懊压灭了火把。营帐中又回复了一片漆黑。“砰、砰”两声响门帘被撞开,又有两个卫兵觉得不妙,拿着刀冲进了黑暗的营帐中,紫川秀再次发出警告:“小心!”卫士一愣:“殿下您说什么?”他们从月光下忽然进入黑暗的营帐中,眼睛还无法适应这变化,一个幽灵般的影子已经无声无息地贴在了他们身后,黑暗中一道剑光如闪电般掠过,只听见“嗤嗤!”两声轻响,接着就是两个士兵的惨叫:“啊——”惨叫声在寂静的夜晚里远远地传了出去,整个大营都听得清清楚楚。沉睡的起义军士兵纷纷给惊醒了:“那是怎么回事?”“哪里来的叫声?”忠实的士兵惨死在自己面前,自己只能眼睁睁地看着,束手无策!那种无力的挫折感使得紫川秀愤怒,他血脉贲张,热血上冲,视野里充满了一片红色,意识变得模糊,脑子混沌,只有一个声音在脑海中不断地回响:杀死他!杀死那个畜生!他能够感觉到,自己的身体正在发生一种奇妙的变化,整个身体变得滚烫,像是在火炉里闷烧似的,感觉器官数以倍增地灵敏,尤其是视觉:刚才还是伸手不见五指的漆黑已变成一片深红色……看到了,看到了:朦朦胧胧,一米外的帐篷边上,一个深红色的人影正一点点地逼近自己。刺客无声地冷笑:如果这个光明王像刚才那样继续躲藏在黑暗中,自己不敢点火把在黑暗中找他,他的大批卫士正在赶来,拖延下去对他是有利的。但没想到他那么愚蠢,看到几个士兵被杀就失去了理智,竟然主动出声暴露了身形。他悄无声息地接近了紫川秀的位置,一剑剌过去,又慢又稳,不带起一点风声。“叮”的一声清脆的金属碰撞响,紫川秀身形一转,洗月刀在黑暗中分毫不差地架住了敌剑,钢刀顺势灵活地一绞,刺客手腕顿时一阵酥麻,险些拿不住剑。紫川秀旋风般转身,“唰唰唰”就是三刀,刀光如雷霆闪动,刀刀不离刺客的要害。刺客狼狈地一个草驴打滚险险地躲过,这个变化实在出乎他的意料了,要刺杀的对象突然变得如此强悍,他的速度和凶猛比起刚才简直有天渊之别!包可怕的是,黑暗中他是如何能如此准确地格挡自己招数的?“去死!”紫川秀猛喝一声,直冲过来。刺客立即放弃了偷袭的想法,正面挥剑迎击,一时间,两人刀来剑往,杀成一团。漆黑之中,刺客目不能见物,只能依靠那刀刃的闪光和风声来判断对方兵器的来路,这就格外的惊险,稍有不慎就是白刃加身。他唯一可倚靠的是那丰富的临阵经验和超乎常人的快剑,努力封挡紫川秀的层出不穷的杀招,顷刻之间,他已经落在下风。他的反应亦是一等一的快捷,立即就明白过来:“你能看见了?”紫川秀不答,报以更加疯狂的攻击,刀刀迅如风,猛如雷,刀子快得已经看不出本来形状了,仿佛无数银白色的闪电罩住了两人,双方全是以快打快,刀剑以快得超乎常人听觉的速度,连续不断地碰撞:“叮叮叮叮叮——”听起来就像一声拖长的撞击似的。“喝!”紫川秀一声暴喝,刀光陡然暴涨,雪白的刀光中已经带了一抹殷红。“嘿!”刺客低沉地怪叫一声,左边肩头已经挂了彩。但拚着受这一轻伤,他已经脱离了紫川秀的刀气笼罩,只是人影一晃,他已经退到了帐篷边,身法之快,形如鬼魅。“想跑!?”紫川秀低喝一声追了过去。但刺客并非想逃,只听见“哧”“哧”两声裂响,刺客反手一剑,身后的帐篷帆布一划之下已经多了两条半尺长的交叉剑痕,从那个三角星的裂口处,清亮的月光洒了进来。——虽然不是很清晰,但帐篷里人和物的轮廓都可以看得清楚了。这下,双方都可以看见了!紫川秀明白了对方的用意,也不作声,挺刀上前再战,刀上已经运上了内力。刺客看得清楚,长剑如同毒蛇般吐出,后发先至地击上刀脊。火星四溅,刀剑再次交击,发出震耳低沉“嗡”的一声,双方都是手臂酥麻。刺客只觉得一股麻痹感从手腕向上延伸,一直到了肩膀,大惊之下他向后一跳,喝问:“住手!这波纹功,你哪里学来的?”紫川秀闷声不吭,把刀换到左手。刚才那一下碰击,他也同样的手臂酥麻不能动弹,但幸好他的左右手都是同样灵活,上前又要拚杀,刺客又再次向后一跳,喊道:“住手!扁明王,你到底是谁?与“河丘林家”有何渊源?”紫川秀不答,刀光一闪,刀子斜斜翻上去,刀锋闪电般从下向上削往对方脖子。这正是他绝技“逆雪”中的一招。该套武功的招式全部是逆反常理习惯而行的,在这种以快打快的战斗中,双方都没有时间来思考,只能凭着平时的习惯来应战,紫川秀相信,任他武功再高,碰上了这种反常的刀法也要吃上大亏。不料紫川秀刀才只砍了一半,对方就已经闪电般一剑回刺紫川秀的面目,逼得他不得不后跳躲避。紫川秀跳起,举刀欲劈砍对方脑袋,但刀才举到一半,对方又一剑刺往他空门大开的胸口部位,逼得紫川秀再次仓皇后退。紫川秀使尽彪身招式,奇招妙式层出不穷,但这些全归无用,无论他如何腾挪变化,对方都始终比他快一点,自己的招式变化全部落入对方掌握之中,往往一刀没出对方的剑已经料敌机先地先行破解了,还屡次遭遇危机几次险些中招——奇怪的是,对方仿佛也有留情之意,有些时候明明紫川秀都已经躲避不及了,对方却故意把剑一缓,放了紫川秀一条生路。紫川秀气急败坏,要能这么料敌机先地准确破解自己的招数,除非这人对自己的武功和招式了若指掌,但自己的武功来历除了一个人以外,世界上无人知道——但这不可能的事情却偏偏发生在了自己身上!紫川秀怒吼一声:“去死!”手腕一翻,一片雪花般密集的刀光护住了全身上下,整个人旋风般扑近前。刺客的瞳孔猛然收缩:“漫天雪花!”他知道这招的可怕,这本来是防守的招式,一把刀极尽变幻之能事,幻化出无数的刀花,刀花就像那纷纷扬扬的雪花一样,环绕飘落地保护住全身上下——这本是无懈可击的防守招式,但紫川秀凭着悍不畏死的气势和胆色,竟然把这招演化成了可怕的进攻招数,只要给他扑近身来,自己会在一瞬间给那无数看似美丽的“雪花”绞成碎片的!危急之刻,刺客“哈”的一声大喝,挥剑直刺:对这种繁杂的招式以变化来破解是不可能的,唯一的破解就是以攻对攻,以强劲的内力正面克制对方!那耀眼的雪花虽然有无数,但真正的刀却只有一把,只要制住了那把真正的刀,这招将不破自解!“叮!”一声响,刀剑再次格挡,两人都是全身一震,各自退后一步。“我知道你是谁了,紫川秀!”刺客开口说,尽量忍住手臂上对方真气入侵的痛楚,那种如同蚂蚁在血管里爬行般的痛苦,正是“波纹功”特有的杀伤力。紫川秀连话都说不出声了,大口大口地喘着粗气。五脏六腑如被火烧似的炽热感觉,痛得像是有人用沙子在磨自己的内脏。对方的真气十分犀利,稍一接触就直接杀伤自己的内脏和丹田,这种古怪的真气自己还是第一次接触。现在自己正在运气企图化去那股古怪的杀伤真气,一时再无法上前厮杀。紫川秀本来期望自己能比对方更快地将攻入体内的真气化去,但突然被对方叫破身份,他心神一震,真气震荡不安。“没有用的。”黑暗中传来刺客冷冷的声音:“你我真气同源同种,造成的杀伤力是双倍的。紫川秀,没有一个时辰,你休想动弹。”紫川秀反口讥讽道:“你不也一样?外面是我的人,挨下去你只有等死了!只要我大叫一声……”仿佛为他的话做注释似的,远处,半兽人士兵粗鲁的叫喊声此起彼伏:“有刺客!”、“快去保护光明王殿下!”人声沸腾,喧嚣声杂乱无章。这深夜的格斗和惨叫声已经惊动了大营,尽避双方都是动弹不得,但紫川秀的部下正在赶来,刺客的处境十分不妙。紫川秀突然停顿住了:对方冰冷的剑锋正压在自己的喉咙处,寒气逼人。接着身上的几处要穴同时一麻,对方已经点了自己的穴位。“嚓”一声轻响,刺客收剑入鞘,左手单手打着了火折子,把翻落地上的油灯重又点燃,动作十分灵巧,营帐中重又恢复了光明。于是紫川秀得以看到了今晚的大敌,平生罕见的绝顶高手。被打翻的几子前,一个穿着秀字营黑色制服的蒙面人一手拿着油灯,若有所思地望着紫川秀,目光中充满了好奇。他的身材硕长削瘦,只有一双眼睛露出面具外,眼神亮得惊人。两人目光对视,谁都没有说话。紫川秀震惊:对方竟然这么快就恢复了!他更不服的是,刺客仿佛对自己的一身武功了若指掌,尽避自己已经在最好状态下出了全力,却还是不得不以落败收场。有生以来第一次,他对自己的武功失去了信心。在营帐的外面,纷乱的脚步声越来越近,还伴随着武器金属的铿锵响声,大批人马从四面八方围近了指挥帐。起义军的将领们已经发现了主帅出问题了,纷纷率领自己的部下前来营救。他们团团围住了帐篷,金属冰冷的反光透过营帐的破洞照了进来,树林一般密集的刀枪剑戟的在帐篷上投下了清晰的影子,火把的光亮摇缀不定。这种场面让紫川秀有种熟悉的感觉:他记起来了,当年自己也是这样劫持卡丹公主逃跑的。刺客突然出声道:“外面的人听着,光明王在我手里。想他死的话,你们尽避进来吧!”话声带着浑厚的内力传出好远,惊得旁边林子中沉睡中的斑鸠噗嗤噗嗤飞起。赶来的士兵们一阵慌乱,纷纷停住了脚步。军官们不明白营帐中的实际情况如何,连忙约束部下们。外面有个半兽人在喊:“你是什么人?休想骗我们,光明王大人神勇无比,你根本不是他老人家对手!不马上出来的话,我们进去将你千刀万剐!”紫川秀听出这是布森的声音。刺客用剑鞘点点紫川秀的喉咙,紫川秀知道他的意思,无奈地开口了:“布森,是你吗?你们先不要进来。”“殿下,你还好吗?”“我很好,再好没有了——”刺客不耐烦地用剑鞘乱戳紫川秀胸口,紫川秀心头大骂却不得不出声:“你们退后一点,退出十步。我和这位朋友有点事情要谈。”布森犹豫了一下,开口道:“遵命,殿下!”随即大声发令:“所有人,离开帐篷十步,不得靠近。”军队开始像潮水一般后退,一片混乱的脚步声中,紫川秀听到有个不知名的半兽人军官在小声地发令:“弓箭队哪里去了?快把弓箭队调来!——给我瞄准了门口,只管射!”他说得小声,却不料帐篷中两人都是高手,同时听得清清楚楚。紫川秀尴尬地干笑一声:“嘿嘿。”蒙面人安静地凝视着他,眼睛一眨不眨,查看着紫川秀的面貌和轮廓。紫川秀对他怒目以视,却发现对方的眼神非常温和。不知是否错觉,在对视的一瞬间,紫川秀感觉到对方流露复杂的感情:关切、惋惜、感慨、慈祥……并没有杀意。饼了好久,刺客才开口说:“真是没想到,光明王就是你。”他的声音清朗而悦耳,语气中带有种秋风萧瑟的感慨。紫川秀皱皱眉头:“你认识我?你是谁?”对方的眼神令他有种熟悉的感觉,却偏偏想不出是在哪里见过。按道理来说这是不可能的,对方武功之高自己生平罕见,如果自己曾经碰到过这样的人,绝对没有理由记不得的。蒙面人笑笑——他蒙着脸,紫川秀也不能肯定他是否真的在笑,只是看到他眼角的鱼尾纹突然地堆积了一下。——看来他年纪不轻了,紫川秀暗想。“你不必知道我的真名,但魔族都叫我黑沙,”顿了一下,他慢慢地补充说:“黑沙军师。”紫川秀的眼睛眯成了一条细缝,眸子突然紧紧地收缩。对这个名字,他早有所闻。在投靠魔族的时候,他多次听过他的名声:魔族王国权势熏天的第一权臣,神皇最信任的大臣,来历诡秘的神秘人物,当年在魔族军中没有机会见到的人物,如今却活生生地站在自己面前。谁也想不到,他竟然敢于孤身潜入起义军大营刺杀自己,而且武功那么好,能在一对一交手时候将紫川秀击败。“紫川秀,我的口令应该是正确的,你看起来却像早有准备——你是怎么样发现我的?”黑沙问,口气和蔼又亲热。他不像是问被一个被自己击败的敌人,倒像是在问候一个多年不见的老朋友。紫川秀“哼”了一声,本来不想答的,但想想对方已经回答了自己一个问题,自己不答倒显得有点小家子气了。“你刚才的口令是军队的一般口令,进我的营帐则需要另一套级别更高的口令。而且就算有紧急军情,通报的也应该是我的亲卫们,不应该是个陌生的通讯兵。——我身边的卫兵们怎么样了?”摆沙歉意地点了下头:“非常抱歉……”紫川秀秀眉一轩:“都死了吗?”“我不第135章历史借镜七八二年六月一六日。大魔神堡,卡丹公主府。凌晨,贴身佣人战战兢兢地唤醒了熟睡中的卡丹公主和驸马亲王云浅雪:“公主殿下、亲王殿下,陛下有紧急旨意到。钦差就在前厅等候,请两位大人速去迎接。”两人手忙脚乱地披上睡衣,赶到前厅。那里,明晃晃的一片火光通明,影影绰绰的到处是武装的士兵。云浅雪心头一突,不知发生了什么事情。一个高大魁梧的近卫旅军官快步迎了上来:“是羽林亲王殿下吗?”“正是我。”“十分抱歉,亲王殿下,陛下紧急召见,请立即随我前去。”手持火把的军官说得太快又含糊,睡眼惺忪的云浅雪几乎一个字都听不清楚,问:“你说什么?”军官再重复了一次。云浅雪轻轻地“哦”了一声,过了一阵,他反应过来,“啊”的一声惊叫:“请稍等,让我换件衣服。”手忙脚乱地找正式觐见的服装,卡丹早已将服饰准备好了。她一边帮助云浅雪穿上,一边问传令的近卫旅军官:“父皇有没有叫我一同过去?”“回禀公主殿下,陛下只让我们通知亲王阁下立即到,并没有提到公主殿下您。”“是吗?”卡丹看看一片漆黑的夜色,几颗星星在黑暗的夜幕中闪烁着光芒,正是凌晨三点左右时分。她心头不安,如此紧急的深夜召见,绝非好事。云浅雪匆匆换好衣服,卡丹迎上来,小声说:“一切小心。”云浅雪点头:“知道了。”他跟着举着火把的近卫旅士兵一同出了门。走过漆黑的长街,迎面就是巍峨的皇宫。整个皇宫沉睡在一片黑暗中,仿佛一头沉睡的巨兽。火把的光亮映照在米亚大理石圆柱上,给整个柱子染上了一片猩红。走近这雄伟的建筑,在那华丽堂皇的圆柱装饰之间,宽阔的走廊中回响着近卫旅工兵空洞的脚步声,云浅雪仿佛嗅到了一种杀戮和血腥的味道。八十年前,就在这洁白的大理石台阶上,加林族的士兵将叶塞族的皇族全数屠杀,连婴儿都一一被撞死在石头上;接着,又在同样的地方,踌躇满志的加林族皇帝被囚禁在地窖里活生生地饿死,他的整个家庭被通通投入了火堆中;占据皇宫的雷族皇疯狂一时,残酷好杀,终于连他的族人也无法忍受他的残酷,受雷族长老会的指示,一个雷族近卫军官一刀砍下了他的脑袋,他的斑斑血迹洒在皇宫门口的接见走廊里。接下来爆发长达三年的雷族内战,雷族的皇族们率领各自的军队互相攻击,直到更强大的冬日族出来取代了他们……云浅雪长长地呼吸一声,不知怎么回事,每次到皇宫来他总感觉到很不舒服,今晚这种感觉尤其明显。或许真如传言中所说的,这座皇宫已经给诅咒了,每一面墙壁都曾回响过那些临终的人的呻吟和断气时候发出的呼噜声,每一块华丽的石头后面都隐藏着一个屈死的冤魂。笔宫门口处,两排近卫旅士兵乎持火把肃立,近卫旅统帅雷欧公爵正守候在门边,看到云浅雪的到来,公爵毫无表情地说:“你来迟了,陛下在里面等候。”别把摇动的光亮照在公爵如同花岗石似的呆板面上,照着他毫无表情的脸。旁边的两行近卫旅士兵一手持矛,一手举着火把,脸色冷峻。云浅雪瞧瞧他,也没跟他寒暄。雷欧神经兮兮的,让他产生了不祥的预感。联想到最近两位皇子之间的明争暗斗,云浅雪心头一紧:莫非冲突已经爆发了吗?是谁先发难的?不可能是卡兰,否则自己不会一无所知,但陛下还健在的时候,卡顿也不应该这么蠢吧……一边胡思乱想着,云浅雪沿着华丽的红地毯走向宫殿的议事大厅,他注意到,今天皇宫的守卫比平日森严了很多,在宫殿门口到议事大厅之间的长长的走道上,肃立着手持锋利武器的近卫旅士兵在守卫,冷峻、阴森、肃静,只有自己沉重的脚步声在回荡,火光摇曳,阴影幢幢,这种感觉叫人不寒而栗。一个佣仆为他推开了议事大厅的门,近三百根大蜡烛将整个大厅照得一片通明。在靠近陛下座位的地方,几个人聚在一起。云浅雪快步走近,他已经清楚了,叶尔马公爵、米罗总督、达科总督、加山侯爵等王国重臣已经先到了。“可知道是什么事情呢?”顾不得寒暄了,云浅雪问几位重臣。大家都是茫然地摇头,目光中流露出惶恐。看到他们那彷徨的样子,知道自己并不是被孤立的,云浅雪稍微感到轻松一点了:“大家都一样被蒙在鼓里呢!”等了不到两分钟,接着,卡顿亲王和卡兰两人先后急匆匆地过来了,衣服有点凌乱,都问:“发生了什么事?”但是没有人可以回答。空气中荡漾着不安。“陛下到!”站在门边的宫廷侍卫扬开了嗓子清朗地喊了一声,所有人立即匍匐在地。边门打开了,魔神皇出现在门口,披一身黑色的绒披风,身影萧瑟、孤独。不知为什么,往常总是和他形影不离的黑沙军师没有出现。雷欧从外面进来,顺手把议事大厅的门口给关上了。“都起来吧!”魔神皇清朗的声音中带着一丝疲倦,随即严厉起来了:“根据报告,出现了叛逆,朕和朕的国家被叛徒出卖了!”他冷冰冰地说,然后缓慢又毫不留情地从这张脸看到那张脸。空气一瞬间凝结成了固体。过了好久,没有人敢稍动一下,每个人感到了深切的恐惧,魔神皇那可怕的威严几乎将整个议事大厅压成了齑粉。卡兰起身向魔神皇深深地一鞠躬:“父皇陛下,不知您所称的叛逆是指何事?”“鲁帝!远东的鲁帝,他背叛了国家,背叛了朕!”魔神皇一掌拍在几子上:“出此逆贼,那是国家的耻辱!这厮欺骗了朕整整一年!”坚固的檀木几子瞬刻间无声无息的粉碎,细小的木碎片化成了一片粉末。众人暗暗心惊,神皇武功已经至化境,他的涵养也深藏不露,近年来鲜少出手,没想到今晚竟然有这么失态的表现。鲁帝的小命完蛋了!这是所有人的感想。“雷欧,你把事情给大伙说说!”站在众人身后,一直没有出声的近卫统帅雷欧公爵应声:“是!”转而面对大家:“今天晚上我们收到西南大营凌步虚的报告,简直是骇人听闻!我王国军队一败再败,伤亡惨重,远东国土几乎已不属王国所有了!可恨鲁帝,辱国丧师不说,还一直封锁消息,隐瞒败绩,甚至派出人手截杀求援信使,欺君瞒上。这厮罪无可赦!”众人震惊。叶尔马公爵出声问:“究竟是怎么一回事?鲁帝败给了谁?紫川家卷土重来了吗?”“不是紫川家——比败给人类更可耻!鲁帝居然被一群远东的造反刁民打垮,在科雨尼、在亚速达、在云省、在枫林丹叶,我们的军队一败再败,近十万王国士兵被杀害,丢弃行省十几个,甚至让人一直打到了我们的王国本土!惫记得年初边境上的那次盗灾吗?那根本不是什么盗贼,那是造反的半兽人杀了进来!”雷欧花岗石似的淳朴面容涨得通红。“够了。”魔神皇不耐烦地打断了雷欧的陈述,这个力大无穷的战士在战场上杀来杀去纵横无敌,但要他有条有理地叙述事情根本是奢望。他激动地说了半天,根本还没说到要点,让人一头雾水。“把凌步虚的信拿出来让大伙看看。”雷欧听命地取出信件,让众人传阅。云浅雪最后一个拿到信件,看到淡黄色羊皮纸上凌步虚那已经凝固成了黑色的血书,云浅雪心头一震:局势竟到了要用血书来传信的地步了?他低下头来匆匆一阅:“七八一年的科尔尼会战王国军伤亡六万多、亚速达会战、得亚会战、云省事件、枫林丹叶会战、明斯克行省沦陷、塔杰行省沦陷、杜莎行省沦陷、西南大营面临被叛军包围的威胁、派出的信使不见回头……”凌步虚的笔调就如他的人一样低调,他并没有在信中对鲁帝加以评论,只是把发生了的事情一桩桩平静地罗列出来,那份冷静简直叫人毛骨悚然。云浅雪额头上冷汗渗出。雷欧说得一点没错,鲁帝所作所为,死一千次不足赎其罪。他抬起头来,看着众人惨白的脸色,于是也做出一副沉痛而愤慨的表情:与众不同是要冒风险的。“消息可靠吗?可否把凌步虚的信使召上来,让我们当面问话?”叶尔马公爵问,他个性素来沉稳,这件事情实在太骇人听闻,就在大家都还蒙在鼓里时,远东国土已经有大半不属于王国领土了,让人难以接受。“应该是真的。”卡兰皇子也看完了信件:“凌步虚不是那种信口雌黄的人,结合远东去年和今年的贡粮拖欠的事实,可以确认远东地区真的发生了大规模的民乱。我只是奇怪,去年发生的大叛乱,他怎么如今才报告?”“信使已经殉职。”魔神皇冷冷说,众人悚然。雷欧给大家讲述了事情的经过:就在今天晚上的深夜十二点,一个风尘仆仆负伤在身的塞内亚族人自称是西南大营派回的信使,紧急求见魔神皇,却在门口被值勤的近卫旅士兵拦住:“陛下已经休息,任何人不得惊扰!”信使几番劝说:“军情紧急,麻烦各位通融通报!”但近卫旅士兵顽固得犹如花岗石一样蛮冥不化(用雷欧公爵的话说是纪律严明),坚决不肯通融:“此是皇宫禁地,深夜禁止生人靠近。任何事情都可以等天亮再禀告。”他们将那个年轻人赶出了宫殿门口,但那人并没有离开,徘徊在门口梭巡,嚎啕大哭。这激怒了卫兵们,他们将他痛揍一顿然后丢到了大街上,警告他:“再敢靠近我们就放箭!耙出声惊扰了陛下休息,我等将你格杀当场!”但仅仅过了十几分钟,值勤的士兵听见外面传来杂乱、大声的喧哗和搏斗声音,他们赶到时候,凶手已经逃离,那个使者要害处身中五刀,奄奄一息了。他只来得及说了最后一句话:“鲁帝谋反!”在他的尸身上,他们发现了王国远东地区西南军团总司令凌步虚的亲笔信和身份证明,确认此人是西南军团凌步虚麾下第三十一团队的标骑军官。士兵们再不敢怠慢。他们立即通报了当晚的值勤军官,值勤军官眼看事情重大,又通知了近卫旅统帅雷欧公爵。雷欧公爵到来后,只把信看了一遍,立即意识到事关重大。他低沉地向宫廷的侍从吩咐说:“相烦唤醒陛下,微臣雷欧有急事禀告。”“不能责怪凌步虚。他在信中报告说,他已经是第九次派出信使,都没有得到回音。可以想像,前八次的信使都给鲁帝一手遮天的暗杀掉了!这个运气好一点,虽然身死,却终于完成了任务。”“鲁帝好大胆子!”听了陈述,几个重臣同时被如此肆无忌惮的狂妄震惊了:“就在陛下身边、皇宫的咫尺之遥,他竟不畏陛下的神圣天威,派遣杀手行凶!就算没有其他事,光这一条已经足够让他碎尸万段了!”“凶手抓到了吗?”“还没有。”雷欧回答:“我们已经封锁了城门,严密盘查出入,一定要把他拿住!”他说得豪气,但大家都知道,这不过是说说而已。魔神堡一日进出人流数以十万计,凶手面上又没刻字,混迹人群中被发现的可能几乎被零。“这件事情的发生,近卫旅防御不严,是有责任的。”卡顿亲王很严肃地说。雷欧默默地屈膝,向魔神皇请罪。卡顿亲王继续发言:“父皇陛下,我建议,立即派执法使者前往远东,诛杀鲁帝!”卡兰冷冷一笑,和云浅雪对视一眼,又无声地移开了视线。米罗总督与达科侯爵连忙出声附和,异口同声地宣称:早二十年自己就看出鲁帝这家伙的脑后长有反骨,但幸好现在也还不晚,陛下的如电神目看穿了他的伪装。坚决支持陛下诛杀鲁帝!魔神皇望向卡兰和云浅雪:“你们是怎么看的?”卡兰恭敬地回答:“皇兄所言甚是。只是到目前为止,我们所有的证据都只是凌步虚的一面之辞,鲁帝和西南大将都是手掌兵权的王国重臣,对他们的争议,我们必须要慎重。我相信西南大将绝非那种信口雌黄之人,但为了稳妥起见,在做出下一步决定之前,无论在程序上还是实质上,我们需要立即派遣钦差前往远东调查!”神皇眼中流露赞赏之色,又问:“若调查确为事实,那又将如何呢?”“父皇,我等必须赋予钦差以全权,责令其判断事实,伺机而行!若西南大将所禀报确为事实,则钦差不必回禀,当机立断,果断将鲁帝拿下以待陛下处置,并安抚其军队——赋予钦差的权力极大,所以,对于钦差的人选必须慎重!我们派遣的钦差既要绝对忠实于陛下,精明干练,又要与鲁帝和凌步虚两人都没有过节恩怨,这样才能做到对鲁帝和凌步虚都不偏不倚,公正明断。”卡顿亲王出声说:“皇弟所说很有道理。只是鲁帝竟敢在皇畿行凶,公然藐视吾皇神威,此人实在胆大狂妄!他反迹已露,证据确凿,我看此事不宜拖延,必须尽早解决!我建议不必再浪费时间了,立即派执法队前去取鲁帝人头就是了!”“光凭一个统兵大将的证词就杀掉了另一个高级的贵族将领,这样行事恐怕难以让天下人心服。”“此等狼子野心之徒,杀了就杀了,还有什么不妥?”在魔神皇面前,两位皇子你一言我一语地辩论起来,卡顿亲王力主立即下旨诛杀鲁帝,卡兰却主张必须先经过调查程序。放在不明就里的人眼里,还真的以为鲁帝是卡兰皇子的嫡系亲信。云浅雪微微一笑,其实恰恰相反,鲁帝是卡顿亲王派系中的得力人物,他能当上远东大总督,卡顿亲王的推荐在其中作用不小。现在眼看他闯下了弥天大祸,卡顿忙不迭地与他划清界线,他现在恨不得一刀杀了鲁帝,好早日去掉这个让自己丢脸的祸害。二皇子卡兰却有意把这件事情扩大,加以调查——不是调查鲁帝是否该死,那么严重的罪行,鲁帝便是有一千个脑袋也不够砍——鲁帝担任远东大总督搜刮民脂民膏无数,这么大的财产他一个人独吞不下,那上亿的财产究竟是私下进贡给了魔神堡的哪位大老?有哪些大人物从中得了好处?不需要天才的脑筋,只需要想想鲁帝的远东大总督是谁推荐的,自然可以明了了。但这样顺藤摸瓜,卡顿亲王殿下马上就坐不住了。鲁帝您还是赶紧一死百了的好!“够了!”魔神皇声音不高,却自有一番威严。两位皇子都住了嘴。“关于鲁帝种种,只是小事而已;远东的叛乱如何处置应对,这才是要点!”云浅雪平静地出声说:“如果陛下允许的话,微臣愿率本部兵马前往远东为陛下扫平叛乱。至于取鲁帝人头,只要陛下一声令下,那不过举手之劳。”他表现得尽量镇定,让卡顿亲王的失态显得格外可笑。叶尔马公爵沉声说:“陛下,羽林阁下刚刚大婚,此时让他出征,岂不让人笑话我王国无人?还是让老臣前去吧!”“陛下,近卫旅愿为陛下斩杀叛逆,扫除祸害!”卡顿亲王、达科侯爵等重臣也纷纷表示自己愿率军前往远东,指日内将荡平远东的叛乱,气势豪迈。但魔神皇都不置可否,最后还是卡兰皇子出声说:“陛下,远东之乱,不过一群暴民闹事而已,何必惊动我王国重臣甚至于太子?”卡顿亲王斜睥着弟弟:“难道王弟可也有意亲临敌?”“不是。我只是想向父皇推荐一员良将,保管可以杀敌破阵!”“是谁?”“加纳总督罗斯。罗斯大人乃我王国名将,久经沙场,经验丰富,麾下兵将众多而精锐——由他前去,保管可以一举扑灭叛乱!”云浅雪诧异地望着卡兰:自从上次的紫川秀脱逃事件以来,罗斯总督就与自己结下了仇怨,这点卡兰明明是知道的。现在他为什么又要保举罗斯呢?何况,罗斯部下的军队除了少数以外,大部分都是募集而来,并非常备军,现在要重新筹集的话需要大量的时间,而且战斗力比起自己的麾下的羽林军来差了一大截。包令他意外的是,魔神皇听了卡兰的推举,竟然立即同意了:“好!笔儿所荐之人甚合朕意!雷欧,快马传令,通知加纳大人着手准备出征!”“给西南大将发去命令,责令他配合加纳大人的行动,立即出兵,剿灭叛乱的各路暴民!”魔神皇站起了身子,往常这往往意味着会议已经结束了。但这次,他的身形顿了一下:“卡兰,你跟朕进来!”“是!”卡兰喜孜孜地应了一声,故意不看卡顿亲王。后者整张脸都已经涨得通红了:卡兰那小子竟然得到父皇赏识,这比远东打了一百场败仗还要让他痛心疾首啊!走出皇宫的大门,微红的霞光照在洁白的台阶上,—队威武的宫廷近卫旅士兵正在换岗。天色才刚刚蒙蒙亮。尽避一夜没睡,云浅雪却毫无睡意。刚才发生的一幕让他不解,他心存疑惑:陛下的意图到底是什么?卡兰二皇子莫名其妙的提议为什么能打动陛下?他感觉一头雾水,而被蒙在鼓里什么都不知道的滋味是怪难受的。云浅雪傻傻地站在宫殿门口好一阵子,那些换岗的近卫旅士兵都用奇怪的眼神看着他,若不是看出他是皇族,他们早举起长矛驱赶他了。必到家中,卡丹迎上来:“没发生什么事吧?”“呃……发生了了不得的大事。”犹豫了一下,云浅雪把刚才的枢密会议经过给妻子讲了。虽然枢秘会议规定是绝不能向外泄露的,但如果自己的妻子是王国公主的话,那当然又另当别论了。“我不明白,为什么陛下要调罗斯军团去远东平叛?羽林军难道不是王国最精锐的部队之一吗?难道在陛下心中,我还不如罗斯?我实在无法理解。”——这正是云浅雪最大的担心:难道,在陛下心目中,我已经失宠了吗?卡丹一手托着下巴,静静地听着云浅雪忿忿不平的抱怨。等云浅雪说完,卡丹微微一笑,她已经知道云浅雪担心却又不便说出口的话了。“云君,你过虑了。请不必担心,父皇对你的信任和倚重一如从前。”“啊,但是为什么……”“呵呵,云君,我相信以您的智慧,一定能看出来的。”卡丹微笑说:“您想想,罗斯阁下与您最大的不同是在哪里呢?”“他又蠢又丑,而我既聪明又帅!”云浅雪一本正经地说。卡丹给逗得笑出声来了:“真是不要脸的家伙!”夫妻相视而笑。“云君,您出身我塞内亚的皇族,部下的羽林军团士兵大多来自我塞内亚族的战士,而罗斯阁下则是鞑塔族的首领,他统帅的军队绝大部分都是来自鞑塔和叶塞两族——这其间的差别,您可想明白了吗?”云浅雪很认真地想了一下,最后浮出一丝浅笑:“我明白了。”卡丹赞许地微笑:云浅雪是个很聪明的人,他不但在军事方面才华出众,对政治领域的种种人心鬼蜮,他的领会力奇高,只要稍加点拨,他马上就能明白过来。不知怎么的,她又一次想起了那个人,暗地里将他与云浅雪比较:远方的他与自己的丈夫一样,都是驰骋沙场的武将,但两个人却是截然不同的两个人。云浅雪出身名门,精明能干,才华出众而且深通生活情趣,品味高雅,诗人接物,可谓无懈可击。遵照父皇之命,也为了云浅雪对自己的痴情有所感动和愧疚,自己在半年前与云浅雪成亲。应该说,自己对这件事情并没有后悔。与自己成亲后,他对自己一直体贴关怀,而且尊重自己,凡事与自己商量,并没有一般魔族男子那种视妇女如无物的大男人主义。无论从哪个角度来说,女孩子能嫁给像云浅雪这样的男人,可以说是再无遗憾了。但不知为何,自己却一直不能忘记远方的那个人类:那个人,应该算是自己国家的敌人。他粗犷,耿直,固执,就拿他自己的话说:“我是个除了把剑以外一无所有的穷大兵。”相比之下,他更有那种真正男人特有的刚强血性,不屈不挠,面对困难绝不妥协,他是那种天生的顶天立地的英雄。就是这个穷大兵,那刚毅中带出的一分笨拙的柔情牢牢地系住了自己,让自己一生不能忘怀……“……你说什么?”云浅雪正在说什么,卡丹走神了没听清楚。云浅雪好脾气地笑笑,把话再重复了一遍:“你真的有把握,事情是……我意思是说……”他有点难以启齿,最好还是吞吞吐吐地说了:“陛下为了保证我塞内亚族的地位而……”卡丹还以一个同样意味深长的微笑:“你没注意到吗?刚才参加会议的人,叶尔马公爵、米罗总督、达科总督、加山侯爵、雷欧公爵——再加上大哥、二哥和你,全部是出身塞内亚族的皇族。从地位上来说,罗斯公爵的地位在你之上,他也在神堡,却没通知他参加。从这个就可以看出父皇的用意了:会议的重点并非远东,更非鲁帝,这是关于一次如何维持我族统治地位的枢密会议!只有二哥领会到了父皇的意思。”“难道陛下认为罗斯阁下有谋反之心?”“鞑塔部族近年迅速地扩充实力,还吞并了没落了的叶塞部族,他们一跃成为了仅次于我族的王国第二大族。至于罗斯本人是否有反意、他如何想的,这并不要紧,关键的是鞑塔族破坏了神族部族之间历来的实力均衡,拥有了可以威胁我们的实力!”“如果光是鞑塔一族的谋反,我们可以轻易将其镇压,但是事情一旦开始,就会产生连锁反应,看到我族与鞑塔族战斗后出现衰弱,新的挑战者会接踵而至,最终我们将陷入没顶之灾,就如八十七年前的叶塞族一样!”云浅雪凝视着妻子美丽的容颜,陷入了深沉的思索。在魔族国内,王者的地位是至高无上的,可以号令百族。但是王权的传承并非像人类一样从世袭而来,而是依靠实力。魔族各部族一直信奉实力至上的真理,王者一直由最实力强大的部族产生。按照这个原则,如果该部族实力衰退了,或者是出现了新的强大部族前来挑战他的霸权,那新旧两个部族之间就会出现一场不可避免的战争来决定究竟新的王者。按照历来的传统,无论对原来的王多么忠心耿耿,其他的部族是不能插手进这场战争里来的。他们唯一能做的事情就是在那静静的看着,等待这场战争的胜利者产生,那就是他们新的王了,他们好赶紧上前祝贺欢呼吾皇万岁,然后合力发兵将在这场战争中落败的部族来个斩草除根,好向新主子表示自己的效忠之意。所以,赢则号令天下,败则全族灭亡,魔族王国的权力交替比起人类,来得更加的直接,也更加的血腥。无论是原来的王也好,新的挑战者也好,这都是一场绝对输不起的赌博,这场袄赌被魔族敬畏地称为:“王权战争”。魔族的老人们还能回忆起最近一次的王权战争,是在八十年前的事情了。当时掌权的叶塞族王突然暴亡,实力大损的叶塞族想维持他们的统治,受到了来自四面八方的挑战。——当然,他们不失尊严地战斗了,但最后还是作为一个勇敢的民族被整个消灭了,叶塞皇族从此成为了历史名词。前后共有近十个部族参加了这次的角逐,那次战争前后持续近七年,被称为恐怖的灭绝战争。最后,当今魔神皇祖父卡雷(人称恐怖的红胡子),依靠了塞内亚战士的骁勇与忠诚,连连战胜了冬日族、傲族、雷族等当时远比塞内亚族强大的几个部族,并将他们从原来的土地上驱赶、放逐到了僻远的不毛之地去。就在这个恐怖的红胡子将半个国家杀得血流成河、其霸主地位得到所有部族都承认了的第二周,一场莫名其妙的暴病又夺走了他生命。就在王国将要又一次陷入可怕的内战、流血冲突将继续重演的危急时刻,当今魔神皇的父亲卡林即位。他对外隐瞒了他父亲的死讯,在族中元老的帮助下,以太子身份掌握朝政。几年后,当塞内亚族的统治已经巩固以后,他才正式对外公布自己父亲的死讯。虽然引起了一阵骚动,但是经过卡林几年的精心经营,此时的塞内亚族已经是无庸置疑的魔族第一强族了,再加上塞内亚战士强悍的名声,并没有什么部族敢冒着灭族的巨大风险出来挑战,这次危机于是平安无事的度过了。但是由此以后的八十多年来,对自身部族实力会被其他部族赶超的恐惧,就像幽灵那样的阴魂不散,始终萦绕在塞内亚皇族高层的心头,而这个幽灵从没有追逐得像现在这般的接近,几乎就要化为实体从想像中走了出来。经过近百年的休养生息,在上次战争中战败、几乎要灭族的几个部族已经恢复了生气,重新强大了起来,其中并不乏对王座有觊觎之心的野心狂徒。正是基于这个考虑,当今魔神皇才发动了对人类的大征讨。这是一举两得之举:为整个魔神王国开疆拓土,求得生存空间。同时通过对外的战争,使得整个国家、所有部族同仇敌忾,团结起来,减少内斗;也通过对外战争,用人类之手消耗那些对王权构成威胁的部族实力——这当然是只能意会不能言传的了。“难道,陛下已经感觉到我塞内亚族的地位已经不巩固了吗?”“目前来说,还没到那种地步。”卡丹安静地说:“在神族的所有部族之中,我族的强大依旧是不可怀疑的,无论鞑塔族也好、哥昂族也好、亚昆族也好、叶塞族也好,都不能与我族相提并论。但是,发生在远东的这场叛乱可能会改变形势。光在科尔尼城下,就有六万多的精良骑、步兵,一整路大军被毁灭性全歼:这样的惨败,在我塞内亚族的历史上,还是第一次。比起军事上的直接损失——丧失了大概二十来个团队的精锐部队,我更担心的是这件事在政治上带来的影响……”她注视着云浅雪,后者立即领会了她的意思,不寒而栗:被清灭的五万多人,并不是魔族王国普通部族的杂牌军队,也不是车草成军的远东叛军,而是整个魔族王国的骄傲,纯粹的塞内亚血液,与当今神皇陛下同族的嫡系子弟兵!塞内亚族的本身实力遭受了沉重的打击,更可怕的是,塞内亚军队天下无敌的神话,被彻底地打破了。军团长鲁帝逃跑,大批精锐士卒丧生——对于王国的最高层来说,这次的惨败,甚至比上次卡顿亲王在帕伊城下败给斯特林更令人难以接受。斯特林是人类世界最出色的将领之—,中央军也是名声卓著的功勋部队,大家还勉强能够承受这个事实。但是败给一群披着兽皮、扛着土制标枪的半兽人,这件事情会让塞内亚部族成为整个魔族王国的笑柄。统治的力量来自尊严和畏惧,而一旦落于被嘲笑的地位,尊严将荡然无存。“你认为,陛下和二皇子派遣罗斯出征的目的,就是为了消耗鞑塔族的实力,以维护目前实力平衡的吗?”“很有可能——虽然目前我们还没看出鞑塔族有不稳,但作为王者,应该有比常人看得更远的眼光。陛下是想把威胁消灭在萌芽状态。”“但是这样会不会造成相反的后果?如果罗斯将叛乱给平定下来了,他将顺理成章地成为新任的远东总督,实力和威望都会大增,这样不是更不利吗?”“目前所得资料太少,我们还无从得知远东的具体情形,但有一点是无庸置疑的:鲁帝定然败得极惨,很可能已经无力再战了。不然,他不会干出这种刺杀信使的蠢事来。而且这场叛乱的规模肯定超乎我们的想像地巨大,不然凌步虚早就独力把它平息下来了,他不可能对远东总督的位置一点野心没有吧?“云君,鲁帝为人虽然粗俗无礼,但是他出身低层,却能依靠战功一步步爬到如今的地位,身经百战,作战经验异常丰富,绝非你想像中的那样无能。他败得如此凄惨,可见此次远东叛乱来得不寻常,像罗斯总督——请原谅,云君,不过我认为,鲁帝起码还有经验和强悍,罗斯却只有一肚子的傲慢自大!”云浅雪微笑着接下去说:“所以,罗斯必然也遭惨败?嗯,罗斯败后,两虎相争必有一伤,叛军实力肯定也会受到重创,这时候……”“陛下必然会派遣我族的主力军团出战,云君你,或者是叶尔马爵爷,或者是我的大哥——都有可能。云君,你要为此做好准备!”“为什么不能是卡兰殿下呢?”卡丹笑笑:“你知道的,二哥不是打仗的料子。他耍点小报样还可以,到沙场上,他不行的。”对于这点,云浅雪的看法不同。但他只是笑笑,说:“如果陛下差我出战,我定然恳请陛下任命你为我的随军参谋。”“呵呵,云君,你太看重我了。妇人之见只擅长纸上谈兵,真正的沙场厮杀真刀真枪,来不得半点虚假,我的那点小见识未必派得上用场。”“公主,我们夫妻之间,你又何必过谦呢?”云浅雪笑咪咪地说,心情大好。经过卡丹这么一剖析,他对前程顿时明了,那种如在雾中的彷徨感觉消失了。他暗暗庆幸:对女人来说,美貌与智慧往往难以并全。美女因为外表上的优势而懒于运用自己的脑子,她们一生最大的成就就是找到一个有钱的老公;而不得不依靠自己脑子的女人往往在外表上又难以恭维,所以人们常常看到那种空有着一张漂亮脸蛋却蠢得像白痴的女人,要不就是另外一种女人,那种为不伤自尊心,人们通常委婉地以“心灵很美”来称赞的女人。自己是幸运的,上天竟然赐给自己一个如此完美的妻子,不但美丽、聪慧过人,而且对自己的前程大有裨益。得妻如此,夫复何求?※※※帝国历七八二年六月二十三日,天气炎热,气候潮湿。在魔族王国前往远东行省的路上,旌旗飘舞,尘土飞扬。长长的队伍正在由东向西徐徐前进,这是魔族讨伐军的罗斯军团。应魔族皇帝的钦令,鞑塔和叶塞两族的农民晕头转向地从忙碌的田地里,丢下了锄地的犁耙集结起来,征兵官发给了他们武器,告知:“远东地区发生了反对我们神族的大叛乱!勇敢的神族勇士们,去吧,讨伐他们,消灭他们,显示我们神族的光荣!”“噢!”士兵群中响起了稀稀落落的回应声,更多的士兵拿着武器茫然不知所措,他们那贫乏的头脑还搞不清楚远东发生叛乱,与自己突然被从家里叫出来有什么必然的关系。叶塞族并不是像塞内亚族、傲族、雷族一样以战斗力出名的种族,有人想起了刚刚结束的远东战争,想到了丧命在帕伊城下、瓦伦城下的叔叔和舅舅,想到可能要从此见不到自己那丑陋的婆娘、白痴般的儿子,还有快塌掉的老房子,于是神情黯然。与士兵们心情截然不同,军团长罗斯公爵心情舒畅,他策马扬鞭走在部队的旁边,不时回头张望着浩浩荡荡的军队,踌躇满志。这是他第二次前往远东作战了,他还记得在七八零年的那场战争中,他的军队连续血洗了得亚和伊里亚两行省的十一座人类城市,成千上万的人类被砍掉了脑袋,那种鲜血喷涌的壮观场面让他激动得不能自已,体内仿佛有一股热流在滚动,浑身颤抖。在接下来的掠夺城市时候,那如山般堆积的战利品更让罗斯大开眼界,发出由衷的感叹:“人类可真会囤积财富啊!”远东战争结束后,陛下与人类议和了,罗斯以为再也没有机会重温一遍过去的好时光,重温那种杀戮和掠夺的快感了,谁知道,机会来得这么快,远东发生了叛乱,而陛下则把平乱的任务交给了自己,而不是王国出名的战将云浅雪,或者干练的卡顿亲王。罗斯公爵不由得衷地感谢上苍…真是待我不薄啊!促使他欣然接受任务的,还有另外一个重要原因:陛下指明要他作为钦使取鲁帝的人头,其中含义不言而明:等镇压下了叛乱,罗斯阁下您就是新的远东总督了!想到占据了远东这二十三个富裕的行省可以给自己带来的巨大好处,罗斯抑制不住地微笑。鲁帝,你这个狂妄自大的家伙,你也有今天!仿佛生怕陛下改变主意似的,罗斯急不可耐地派出前军,手持魔神皇手令去逮捕鲁帝。想到鲁帝的脑袋被挂在旗杆上那龇牙咧嘴的狼狈样子,罗斯兴奋不已。远东的贱民们,你们的末日到了!“爵爷!”一员传令兵急匆匆地从前面策马迎来,马匹都已经跑到口吐白沫的地步了,队伍前面的步兵自觉地让开一条路,让这通信兵不受阻拦地冲到罗斯跟前。“什么事情?”“报告爵爷,加朗大人派我前来报告……”罗斯满意地点头:“可把鲁帝给逮住了?”“十分抱歉,大人!在加朗大人到达之前,鲁帝已经率军逃跑了,目前行踪不明。现在,特兰要塞十分混乱,守军已经溃散,加朗大人恳请大人迅速赶到主持大局!”“什么!鲁帝逃了?!”罗斯震惊莫各。※※※七八二年,六月二十三日。远东杜莎行省沙丘高地,远东起义军光明王军团宿营地。烽火漫天。朦胧的月亮已经升上了半空,荒郊的野地上,竖立起了无数顶帐篷和树枝搭建的小棚子,像是在平地上忽然出现了一片林子,光明王进攻特兰要塞的主力大军正在此地安静的睡眠。泛黄的沙地像是镀上了一层金。在一座又一座营帐之间的空地上,棉絮似的薄雾被风吹着,一切都变得蒙蒙胧胧。经过一天辛苦的行军跋涉,士兵们在打来水喂完战马后早已经睡下,各个营帐中响起了忽高忽低的呼噜声。安排值夜的哨兵们也无精打采地围坐在火堆前打着瞌睡,空旷的原野静得吓人。中军大帐篷内依旧灯火通明,在接到西南军团长官明羽的失利报告后,紫川秀翻来覆去难以入眠。他干脆起来继续完成那份写了一半的作战训令:“……经过六个月来同敌人强大兵力顽强而残酷的搏斗,我军在各条战线上都取得了相当的成就。各军团累计歼灭了装备优良的魔族地方守备部队与野战部队的大部分。鲁帝军团实质上已经丧失了大部分的突击力量,而且也逐渐丧失了以其兵力对我军进行反击的能力,远东军已经收复了国土的百分之七十以上。我军已经摆脱了被动的游击逃亡局面,转而控制了战场的主动权,我各军团指挥官应该适时主动地将战争形式转向顽强的防御和积极的进攻!”煤油灯小小的火种轻轻地跳跃了一下,紫川秀停住了笔斟酌一下,又继续写下去:“形势是乐观的,但我们决不能就此掉以轻心。要清楚地认识到,远东的解放是一条很遥远的道路,我们还要经历无数的苦战和艰争。一、在西南前线,魔族的凌步虚军团对我占领区侧后构成了很大的威胁。魔族军曾两次对古迪撒行省发动进攻,遭到了我西南军团的坚决抵抗。凌步虚是一员十分灵活的指挥官,他的作战具有高度的弹性。凡是他的骑、步兵遭到我正规军和地方游击队有组织的坚决抵抗的地方,他就抛开这个地段,转向其他方向,寻找我防御中的薄弱环节进行突击,然后穿插渗透,在部分地段上制造局部兵力优势,实施包围歼灭。再者,用小辨模的全骑兵机动部队进行长距离的突击,袭击我们的粮仓和辎重车队,屠杀我们的平民和衬庄,然后在我军保卫武装进行有组织的抵抗之前,敌人机动部队已经转移。初次面对这种灵活而残酷的战术,我军付出了不应有的损失。”紫川秀考虑了一下,把“不应有的损失”划去,代之以“很大的代价”。这样是为了照顾明羽的自尊心。在马兰湖一战中,凌步虚利用小鄙部队引诱马兰城的半兽人守备队离开城池,然后在马兰湖一带全歼了该守备部队,五千多半兽人战士战死,四个团队失去了战斗力,番号从此消失在战斗队伍中。但损失并不仅于此。趁着马兰城守军被歼灭防线上出现的缺口,凌步虚趁机攻进城里,一把火烧掉了半个马兰城,城中储备的粮草全部被缴获了。想到自己辛辛苦苦积攒了半年的黄金,好不容易从家族内地购买来的粮食,最终却喂了凌步虚和他部下的绿毛鬼,紫川秀差点想把明羽活生生地掐死。抑制了下愤怒的心情,紫川秀尽量用冷静的语句继续写作战训令:“……鉴于此情况,大本营坚决要求西南军团所属各部队以及地方民兵、游击武装均应在防御前沿展开最积极的行动。为此,应该不停地进行侦察,广泛地设立观察哨卡并辅以灵敏的交通线。前沿部队指挥官切不可满足于被动防御,要与敌人展开以牙还牙的坚决反击,昼夜派出小分队和小集群袭击敌人的营地、指挥中心、粮仓、辎重、仓库等重要战术目标,对敌人的哨卡、巡逻队以及机动营地实施出其不意的打击,破坏其后方,使敌人不得安宁;消灭敌人的侦察哨卡与突击骑兵部队,尤其注意消灭敌人的骑兵部队,以便限制敌人大规模突进我军内部的机动力量。另,大本营建议西南军团指挥官注意兵力的有效配置。就以往三个星期的战斗来看,处于防守姿态的西南军团将兵力分配得过于平均和分散了,难以形成对敌人有效打击力量,在战斗中处于被动状态。建议西南军团指挥部考虑将分散于沿战线一带的三十六个城市和六百一十三个村庄中的驻守部队进行集中,组建两个到三个规模较大且具相当战斗力的野战集群(十到十五个团队为一集群,驻地可由军团根据实际情况自行决定);另外筹建若干全骑兵机动纵队(两列三团队),该机动部队将用于侦察、大规模骚扰敌人后方以及拦截、消灭敌人的骚扰部队。各部队原驻守地区,除有粮仓、指挥中心、重要矿产中心等需要重点保护的战略目标外,正规部队撤离后,防务原则上移交给地方政府组织的民兵、游击队、自卫队来接管。”紫川秀非常烦恼,明羽在凌步虚手上已经吃了几次亏了。今天被吃掉一个团,明天又拿下一座城,这样零碎的打下去,虽没有决定性的大会战,但损失加起来也相当可观。紫川秀曾考虑过换一员将领,但白川和罗杰都各自统帅大军在执行任务,此时不宜抽调他们。半兽人将军布兰倒是智勇双全,只是对上凌步虚这样的经验丰富的老手,他还太嫩。换他去,未必能比明羽更好——明羽怎么就不想想,把他分散在那十几个城市、几百个乡镇里的守备队集结起来的话,足可以组织十万人、三个整编军团,可以使他在总兵力凌驾于凌步虚之上,足可以威慑敌寇保卫整个西南战线了。想了下,紫川秀又加上一句:“在尚未建立地方政府和地方武装的地区,正规部队应组织地方居民进行民主选举,选出地方政府,待地方政府控制住局势并组建起足以维护本地区安全的武装力量后再行撤离。“鉴于西南战线的重要性,大本营拟从东南军团(罗杰军团)和大本营预备队军团(紫川秀直属军团)中抽调力量增强西南军团的力量。增援总计有:佐伊一六团、佐伊一九图、佐伊八九团、哈特三三团、龙人四团,及秀字营之九、十、一一、一二等四大队。以上部队将在五月底之前全部划归西南军团指挥。”写完这一段作战训令,紫川秀放下笔来,长长地舒了口气。“凌步虚,王国一流的名将。”紫川秀轻声地喃喃自语。他打开帐篷的帘子到外面伸伸懒腰舒展身子。远远近近的一切都沉浸在静谧的梦乡中,仿佛连大地都沉睡,习习夜风扑面。天上的星星显得更高了,黑暗更加浓重。他又回到帐篷中来,夜已经很深了,他却也没有睡意,心头像梗着点什么事似的觉得不自在。当年在魔族军中的时候,凌步虚那双精光四射的眸子给他留下了深刻的印象。第一眼紫川秀就看出来了:那是个极其聪明干练的人。凌步虚的战斗经验十分丰富,明羽虽然也是自己麾下屈指可数的防守型好手,但凌步虚经验的老辣不是他所能比拟的。他计算了下,加上了增援部队,明羽手上的力量应该可以和凌步虚持平,紫川秀并没有奢望明羽能战胜对方,他只是希望明羽就算赢不了,也不该输得很惨,只要可以维持住战线,拖住凌步虚就可以了。在他的计画中,现阶段的目标分三步。第一步是先全力铲除掉鲁帝的残兵败将,夺下魔族在东部最后的据点——特兰要塞,起义军在东部就有了一个坚实的防守堡垒。接着留下一员可靠的将领,比如说白川,镇守特兰要塞,建立远东的东部防线。第二步,将远东军的主力掉头西向,与凌步虚决战,力争尽快将其部队击溃。第三步,击败凌步虚后,远东境内基本已经肃清了魔族的大部队,除了由少量部队进行境内的治安和剿匪工作外,接下来可以将防卫的重心放在东部。紫川秀打算以特兰、沙加等几个大的要塞为要点,重建远东的东部防线。当然,紫川秀想,等到可以御敌人于国境之外,自己就可以将精力放在国内的建设上面,战争时期抛荒的耕田要重新耕种、要进行土地的平均分配、要建设工矿业、要从家族内地引进远东自己的工厂和技术——用不了五年,自己曾向布丹长老许诺过的新远东就将要出现了!当然,这一切得有个前提,前提是魔族不再向远东派遣新的镇压部队,起码在自己击败凌步虚之前不要派遣,否则,自己将重又陷入东西两线双面作战的困境。紫川秀也知道,要魔族王国眼睁睁地看着它手边的肥肉被人夺走而不做声,这是根本不可能的。但既然魔族王国的高层在一年多的时间里都没有对远东的反叛做出反应,也没有发现新出现的镇压部队,这令紫川秀产生了一丝希望:也许奇迹会出现呢?等到新远东建立……紫川秀心头泛起一阵悲哀:此生已经注定孤独了,再多的丰功伟业,又有什么意义?他记得,在那些最绝望的日子里,最为了排斥心头那荒漠似的空白,自己亡命地战斗,在每次战斗中都身先士卒,策马冲锋在全军阵头的最前面,近乎疯狂地冒险,无数箭矢“飕飕”地从耳边擦过的风声连续不断,体验那生死边缘的极度刺激来使自己忘却孤寂,并且以此为乐。他意识到,在战争初期自己种种显得幼稚的心情,已经变得一去不复返了。他变得冷酷无情,怀着冷漠、蔑视的心情拿自己和别人的生命当儿戏,这赢得了部下们的尊重:“光明王好样的!”只有自己知道,这不过是一种自暴自弃,是一种失去挚爱之人后,绝望地自寻死路。隐隐地,他泛起了一丝恐惧:当有那么一天,真的驱逐了魔族恢复了远东的自由,自己将何去何从?到哪里再去寻找这种出生入死的刺激来使自己排遣寂寞?哪里还有新的战场可以让自己忘却悲痛?或者,难道,曾经叱吒风云的伟大光明王,他的下半辈子就要在酒精的浸泡中度过了吗?自己会变成一个浑身酒气、口齿含糊不清的乖张老头,每天最大的事业就是调戏稍有姿色的女招待?紫川秀嘴角露出一丝冷笑:与其这样慢慢地糜烂沉醉,倒不如在与魔族的战争中壮烈地战死——当真相大白,消息传回帝都的时候,她还会不会为自己痛心?想哭吗?夜已经很深了,外面传来了孤独的荒外野狼鸣叫声,声音凄凉又悠长。今天大军一气走了四十多里路,想到明天还要继续赶路,紫川秀收回思索,打了个呵欠打开了行军毯子。忽然,他住了手:帐篷门外传来窸窸嗦嗦的布帘响声和轻微的脚步声。紫川秀反手按上了腰间的洗月刀,出声问:“谁?”“光明济世。”一个清朗的男声隔着门帘回答,正是今晚的安全口令:“殿下,我是布兰大人派来的传令兵,有紧急军情求见!”“永照大地,请进。”紫川秀回答了口令的下半截,白光一闪,洗月刀无声地出鞘,紧紧握在手中。他目光炯炯地盯住了帐篷门帘的方向,眼睛一眨不眨。“滋!”突然响起一阵撕裂耳膜的尖锐剌响,厚帆布制造的帐篷门帘无声无息地被击个粉碎,碎片迎风卷进了帐篷中,片片锐利如刀。犹如平地里忽然出现了可怕的风暴,无数的光点像雨点般倾泻灌涌进了帐篷中,无坚不摧的剑气如同风暴般席卷一切,一阵密集的“哧哧哧”轻响,紫川秀原来站立位置后面的帐篷壁上已经出现了无数的洞眼,蜡烛的光亮从洞眼里斑斑点点地射进营帐外的黑暗中。紫川秀来不及反击,就地一个翻身滚出好远,一脚踢飞了摆蜡烛的案台,营帐顿时陷入了一片伸手不见五指的黑暗中。只听到“哧哧哧”几声尖锐的剑气破风声和剑刺入钝物的声音,自己原来的座位已经中了无数剑。听风辨声判断敌人的位置,紫川秀在黑暗中像豹子般无声摸近,挥刀还击,耀眼的刀光在黑暗中一闪而逝,洗月刀在黑暗中划了个弧线,却少有地落空了:对方早已经转移了。几乎就在同一时刻,他与其说看到,不如说是感到一股冰寒刺骨的剑气正在向他的胸口袭来,紫川秀机敏地一个闪身,躲过了这一剑,心里明白:是刚才落空的那一刀暴露了自己的位置。通过那剑的剑路,紫川秀再次捕捉到对方的位置,挥刀还击。“叮!”的一声剌耳的金属交击声,刀剑在空中激烈地斩击,蹦出了几点火花,俩人同时闷哼一声,接着是沉寂。紫川秀屈膝半蹲在地上,用衣袖盖住了刀刃的锋锐闪光,一动不动。他屏住棒吸,压抑了全身的生机,闭上了眼睛,聚精会神,两只耳朵几乎像兔子一样竖了起来。营帐内笼罩在可怕的沉寂和黑暗中。可以听到,在营帐帆布的缝隙中,风在轻轻的呜鸣着,静得让人心寒,黑得简直像掉进了一个大墨缸里,伸手不见五指。刺客还停留在帐篷中。现在双方的眼睛都没办法适应这突来的黑暗,只能依靠耳朵来捕捉对方的位置。对方从破门到偷袭杀人,自己则立即躺倒并且踢灭蜡烛,这一连串的动作全部发生在电闪雷鸣间,双方全都是以快打快,他连看清楚对方面目的机会都没有。紫川秀知道,自己碰上了平生罕见的高手。对方的剑法太可怕了,剑光简直如雨点般倾泻,刚才一瞬间就同时剌出十几剑,放眼望去,剑光形成了一个耀眼的光团,如云雾般向自己罩来,不要说见招拆招,他根本连哪一剑在先哪一剑在后都无法分辨。幸好自己反应迅速踢灭了蜡烛使得营帐中一片黑暗,否则不到几个回合,自己早就被刺得千疮百孔了。恍惚中,紫川秀有种感觉,这人的剑路和好友帝林有几分相似,但更快、更狠、更可怕!沉闷的黑暗中充满了杀机,恐怖,压抑,像是绷得快要断掉的弦。面前的漆黑中隐藏着自己的大敌,军队就在咫尺左右,紫川秀却不敢发声求救:谁先发出声音暴露自己,势必会引来对方如同*般的攻击。而对于这种层次的高手,一击就足以致命了,自己绝对撑不到军队赶来解救自己。他思维里一片空白,紧张得脑筋都快断掉了——这是种难以忍受的考验和折磨。紫川秀的背后,汗水已经湿透了衣裳。尽避他一再强迫自己要集中精神,但大脑已经在不由自主地胡思乱想了:这是哪里来的可怕高手?这么可怕的快剑,防守是守不住的,如果真的面对面比试的话,自己唯一的机会就是只攻不守,拚命跟他来个同归于尽了……“嗒嗒”的脚步声传来,主帅营帐里的响声惊动了几个过路的值勤警卫。有人在外面很近的地方喊话:“我们是今晚的警卫,大人,您没事吧?”紫川秀暗自欢喜:自己的人终于来了!他没有出声。摆暗中的刺客也没有做声。帐篷门帘处出现了火把的一丝光亮,一个半兽人卫兵举着火把走进了漆黑一片的帐篷中,大声地喊道:“殿下,我听到声音。你……”紫川秀突然觉察不妙,他冒着暴露的危险猛然喊出声来:“不要,快出去……”“哧”的一声轻响,半兽人卫兵整个人僵住了,脸上表情古怪,火把昏黄的火光照耀下,他嘴咧开,似笑非笑地像是看到什么非常荒谬的事情似的。手渐渐地松开了,燃烧着的火把掉到了地上。半兽人喉咙中发出“咯咯”的怪声,却是说不出来话来:一把锋利的锐剑从脖后剌入,已经穿透了他粗壮的脖子,血淋淋的剑锋从喉咙部位伸了出来。“嗖”的一声,剑被抽了回去。半兽人士兵踉踉跄跄地向前走了两步,一头撞到了紫川秀身上。紫川秀急忙扶住他,手上触摸到了一种滚烫而黏稠的液体。半兽人徒劳地大口喘着气,捂住喉咙的伤口,殷红的鲜血大股大股地从手指里渗透出来,喉咙处发出了“咕咕”的怪声。他含糊不清地喊道:“殿下,小心……”向后一挣扎脱离了紫川秀的扶持,整个人仰倒摔在了地上,身体恰懊压灭了火把。营帐中又回复了一片漆黑。“砰、砰”两声响门帘被撞开,又有两个卫兵觉得不妙,拿着刀冲进了黑暗的营帐中,紫川秀再次发出警告:“小心!”卫士一愣:“殿下您说什么?”他们从月光下忽然进入黑暗的营帐中,眼睛还无法适应这变化,一个幽灵般的影子已经无声无息地贴在了他们身后,黑暗中一道剑光如闪电般掠过,只听见“嗤嗤!”两声轻响,接着就是两个士兵的惨叫:“啊——”惨叫声在寂静的夜晚里远远地传了出去,整个大营都听得清清楚楚。沉睡的起义军士兵纷纷给惊醒了:“那是怎么回事?”“哪里来的叫声?”忠实的士兵惨死在自己面前,自己只能眼睁睁地看着,束手无策!那种无力的挫折感使得紫川秀愤怒,他血脉贲张,热血上冲,视野里充满了一片红色,意识变得模糊,脑子混沌,只有一个声音在脑海中不断地回响:杀死他!杀死那个畜生!他能够感觉到,自己的身体正在发生一种奇妙的变化,整个身体变得滚烫,像是在火炉里闷烧似的,感觉器官数以倍增地灵敏,尤其是视觉:刚才还是伸手不见五指的漆黑已变成一片深红色……看到了,看到了:朦朦胧胧,一米外的帐篷边上,一个深红色的人影正一点点地逼近自己。刺客无声地冷笑:如果这个光明王像刚才那样继续躲藏在黑暗中,自己不敢点火把在黑暗中找他,他的大批卫士正在赶来,拖延下去对他是有利的。但没想到他那么愚蠢,看到几个士兵被杀就失去了理智,竟然主动出声暴露了身形。他悄无声息地接近了紫川秀的位置,一剑剌过去,又慢又稳,不带起一点风声。“叮”的一声清脆的金属碰撞响,紫川秀身形一转,洗月刀在黑暗中分毫不差地架住了敌剑,钢刀顺势灵活地一绞,刺客手腕顿时一阵酥麻,险些拿不住剑。紫川秀旋风般转身,“唰唰唰”就是三刀,刀光如雷霆闪动,刀刀不离刺客的要害。刺客狼狈地一个草驴打滚险险地躲过,这个变化实在出乎他的意料了,要刺杀的对象突然变得如此强悍,他的速度和凶猛比起刚才简直有天渊之别!包可怕的是,黑暗中他是如何能如此准确地格挡自己招数的?“去死!”紫川秀猛喝一声,直冲过来。刺客立即放弃了偷袭的想法,正面挥剑迎击,一时间,两人刀来剑往,杀成一团。漆黑之中,刺客目不能见物,只能依靠那刀刃的闪光和风声来判断对方兵器的来路,这就格外的惊险,稍有不慎就是白刃加身。他唯一可倚靠的是那丰富的临阵经验和超乎常人的快剑,努力封挡紫川秀的层出不穷的杀招,顷刻之间,他已经落在下风。他的反应亦是一等一的快捷,立即就明白过来:“你能看见了?”紫川秀不答,报以更加疯狂的攻击,刀刀迅如风,猛如雷,刀子快得已经看不出本来形状了,仿佛无数银白色的闪电罩住了两人,双方全是以快打快,刀剑以快得超乎常人听觉的速度,连续不断地碰撞:“叮叮叮叮叮——”听起来就像一声拖长的撞击似的。“喝!”紫川秀一声暴喝,刀光陡然暴涨,雪白的刀光中已经带了一抹殷红。“嘿!”刺客低沉地怪叫一声,左边肩头已经挂了彩。但拚着受这一轻伤,他已经脱离了紫川秀的刀气笼罩,只是人影一晃,他已经退到了帐篷边,身法之快,形如鬼魅。“想跑!?”紫川秀低喝一声追了过去。但刺客并非想逃,只听见“哧”“哧”两声裂响,刺客反手一剑,身后的帐篷帆布一划之下已经多了两条半尺长的交叉剑痕,从那个三角星的裂口处,清亮的月光洒了进来。——虽然不是很清晰,但帐篷里人和物的轮廓都可以看得清楚了。这下,双方都可以看见了!紫川秀明白了对方的用意,也不作声,挺刀上前再战,刀上已经运上了内力。刺客看得清楚,长剑如同毒蛇般吐出,后发先至地击上刀脊。火星四溅,刀剑再次交击,发出震耳低沉“嗡”的一声,双方都是手臂酥麻。刺客只觉得一股麻痹感从手腕向上延伸,一直到了肩膀,大惊之下他向后一跳,喝问:“住手!这波纹功,你哪里学来的?”紫川秀闷声不吭,把刀换到左手。刚才那一下碰击,他也同样的手臂酥麻不能动弹,但幸好他的左右手都是同样灵活,上前又要拚杀,刺客又再次向后一跳,喊道:“住手!扁明王,你到底是谁?与“河丘林家”有何渊源?”紫川秀不答,刀光一闪,刀子斜斜翻上去,刀锋闪电般从下向上削往对方脖子。这正是他绝技“逆雪”中的一招。该套武功的招式全部是逆反常理习惯而行的,在这种以快打快的战斗中,双方都没有时间来思考,只能凭着平时的习惯来应战,紫川秀相信,任他武功再高,碰上了这种反常的刀法也要吃上大亏。不料紫川秀刀才只砍了一半,对方就已经闪电般一剑回刺紫川秀的面目,逼得他不得不后跳躲避。紫川秀跳起,举刀欲劈砍对方脑袋,但刀才举到一半,对方又一剑刺往他空门大开的胸口部位,逼得紫川秀再次仓皇后退。紫川秀使尽彪身招式,奇招妙式层出不穷,但这些全归无用,无论他如何腾挪变化,对方都始终比他快一点,自己的招式变化全部落入对方掌握之中,往往一刀没出对方的剑已经料敌机先地先行破解了,还屡次遭遇危机几次险些中招——奇怪的是,对方仿佛也有留情之意,有些时候明明紫川秀都已经躲避不及了,对方却故意把剑一缓,放了紫川秀一条生路。紫川秀气急败坏,要能这么料敌机先地准确破解自己的招数,除非这人对自己的武功和招式了若指掌,但自己的武功来历除了一个人以外,世界上无人知道——但这不可能的事情却偏偏发生在了自己身上!紫川秀怒吼一声:“去死!”手腕一翻,一片雪花般密集的刀光护住了全身上下,整个人旋风般扑近前。刺客的瞳孔猛然收缩:“漫天雪花!”他知道这招的可怕,这本来是防守的招式,一把刀极尽变幻之能事,幻化出无数的刀花,刀花就像那纷纷扬扬的雪花一样,环绕飘落地保护住全身上下——这本是无懈可击的防守招式,但紫川秀凭着悍不畏死的气势和胆色,竟然把这招演化成了可怕的进攻招数,只要给他扑近身来,自己会在一瞬间给那无数看似美丽的“雪花”绞成碎片的!危急之刻,刺客“哈”的一声大喝,挥剑直刺:对这种繁杂的招式以变化来破解是不可能的,唯一的破解就是以攻对攻,以强劲的内力正面克制对方!那耀眼的雪花虽然有无数,但真正的刀却只有一把,只要制住了那把真正的刀,这招将不破自解!“叮!”一声响,刀剑再次格挡,两人都是全身一震,各自退后一步。“我知道你是谁了,紫川秀!”刺客开口说,尽量忍住手臂上对方真气入侵的痛楚,那种如同蚂蚁在血管里爬行般的痛苦,正是“波纹功”特有的杀伤力。紫川秀连话都说不出声了,大口大口地喘着粗气。五脏六腑如被火烧似的炽热感觉,痛得像是有人用沙子在磨自己的内脏。对方的真气十分犀利,稍一接触就直接杀伤自己的内脏和丹田,这种古怪的真气自己还是第一次接触。现在自己正在运气企图化去那股古怪的杀伤真气,一时再无法上前厮杀。紫川秀本来期望自己能比对方更快地将攻入体内的真气化去,但突然被对方叫破身份,他心神一震,真气震荡不安。“没有用的。”黑暗中传来刺客冷冷的声音:“你我真气同源同种,造成的杀伤力是双倍的。紫川秀,没有一个时辰,你休想动弹。”紫川秀反口讥讽道:“你不也一样?外面是我的人,挨下去你只有等死了!只要我大叫一声……”仿佛为他的话做注释似的,远处,半兽人士兵粗鲁的叫喊声此起彼伏:“有刺客!”、“快去保护光明王殿下!”人声沸腾,喧嚣声杂乱无章。这深夜的格斗和惨叫声已经惊动了大营,尽避双方都是动弹不得,但紫川秀的部下正在赶来,刺客的处境十分不妙。紫川秀突然停顿住了:对方冰冷的剑锋正压在自己的喉咙处,寒气逼人。接着身上的几处要穴同时一麻,对方已经点了自己的穴位。“嚓”一声轻响,刺客收剑入鞘,左手单手打着了火折子,把翻落地上的油灯重又点燃,动作十分灵巧,营帐中重又恢复了光明。于是紫川秀得以看到了今晚的大敌,平生罕见的绝顶高手。被打翻的几子前,一个穿着秀字营黑色制服的蒙面人一手拿着油灯,若有所思地望着紫川秀,目光中充满了好奇。他的身材硕长削瘦,只有一双眼睛露出面具外,眼神亮得惊人。两人目光对视,谁都没有说话。紫川秀震惊:对方竟然这么快就恢复了!他更不服的是,刺客仿佛对自己的一身武功了若指掌,尽避自己已经在最好状态下出了全力,却还是不得不以落败收场。有生以来第一次,他对自己的武功失去了信心。在营帐的外面,纷乱的脚步声越来越近,还伴随着武器金属的铿锵响声,大批人马从四面八方围近了指挥帐。起义军的将领们已经发现了主帅出问题了,纷纷率领自己的部下前来营救。他们团团围住了帐篷,金属冰冷的反光透过营帐的破洞照了进来,树林一般密集的刀枪剑戟的在帐篷上投下了清晰的影子,火把的光亮摇缀不定。这种场面让紫川秀有种熟悉的感觉:他记起来了,当年自己也是这样劫持卡丹公主逃跑的。刺客突然出声道:“外面的人听着,光明王在我手里。想他死的话,你们尽避进来吧!”话声带着浑厚的内力传出好远,惊得旁边林子中沉睡中的斑鸠噗嗤噗嗤飞起。赶来的士兵们一阵慌乱,纷纷停住了脚步。军官们不明白营帐中的实际情况如何,连忙约束部下们。外面有个半兽人在喊:“你是什么人?休想骗我们,光明王大人神勇无比,你根本不是他老人家对手!不马上出来的话,我们进去将你千刀万剐!”紫川秀听出这是布森的声音。刺客用剑鞘点点紫川秀的喉咙,紫川秀知道他的意思,无奈地开口了:“布森,是你吗?你们先不要进来。”“殿下,你还好吗?”“我很好,再好没有了——”刺客不耐烦地用剑鞘乱戳紫川秀胸口,紫川秀心头大骂却不得不出声:“你们退后一点,退出十步。我和这位朋友有点事情要谈。”布森犹豫了一下,开口道:“遵命,殿下!”随即大声发令:“所有人,离开帐篷十步,不得靠近。”军队开始像潮水一般后退,一片混乱的脚步声中,紫川秀听到有个不知名的半兽人军官在小声地发令:“弓箭队哪里去了?快把弓箭队调来!——给我瞄准了门口,只管射!”他说得小声,却不料帐篷中两人都是高手,同时听得清清楚楚。紫川秀尴尬地干笑一声:“嘿嘿。”蒙面人安静地凝视着他,眼睛一眨不眨,查看着紫川秀的面貌和轮廓。紫川秀对他怒目以视,却发现对方的眼神非常温和。不知是否错觉,在对视的一瞬间,紫川秀感觉到对方流露复杂的感情:关切、惋惜、感慨、慈祥……并没有杀意。饼了好久,刺客才开口说:“真是没想到,光明王就是你。”他的声音清朗而悦耳,语气中带有种秋风萧瑟的感慨。紫川秀皱皱眉头:“你认识我?你是谁?”对方的眼神令他有种熟悉的感觉,却偏偏想不出是在哪里见过。按道理来说这是不可能的,对方武功之高自己生平罕见,如果自己曾经碰到过这样的人,绝对没有理由记不得的。蒙面人笑笑——他蒙着脸,紫川秀也不能肯定他是否真的在笑,只是看到他眼角的鱼尾纹突然地堆积了一下。——看来他年纪不轻了,紫川秀暗想。“你不必知道我的真名,但魔族都叫我黑沙,”顿了一下,他慢慢地补充说:“黑沙军师。”紫川秀的眼睛眯成了一条细缝,眸子突然紧紧地收缩。对这个名字,他早有所闻。在投靠魔族的时候,他多次听过他的名声:魔族王国权势熏天的第一权臣,神皇最信任的大臣,来历诡秘的神秘人物,当年在魔族军中没有机会见到的人物,如今却活生生地站在自己面前。谁也想不到,他竟然敢于孤身潜入起义军大营刺杀自己,而且武功那么好,能在一对一交手时候将紫川秀击败。“紫川秀,我的口令应该是正确的,你看起来却像早有准备——你是怎么样发现我的?”黑沙问,口气和蔼又亲热。他不像是问被一个被自己击败的敌人,倒像是在问候一个多年不见的老朋友。紫川秀“哼”了一声,本来不想答的,但想想对方已经回答了自己一个问题,自己不答倒显得有点小家子气了。“你刚才的口令是军队的一般口令,进我的营帐则需要另一套级别更高的口令。而且就算有紧急军情,通报的也应该是我的亲卫们,不应该是个陌生的通讯兵。——我身边的卫兵们怎么样了?”摆沙歉意地点了下头:“非常抱歉……”紫川秀秀眉一轩:“都死了吗?”“我不第135章历史借镜“请进。”斯特林从档案堆里抬起头来。“大人,”秦路从门外探头出来:“紫川宁小姐求见。”斯特林一阵慌乱。尽管他已经结婚成家了,但他还是承认自己不懂女人。在他看来,女人是很麻烦的动物。他知道紫川宁来找自己是为了什么——他宁愿面对着二十个魔族团队也不愿应付一个哭哭啼啼的哀怨少女。他托着下巴,好声气地和秦路商量:“能不能跟宁小姐说,我不在?”“晚了。”秦路面无表情地说:“我已经跟她说你在,而且很有空。”“你!”斯特林一时气结,他苦笑。七十三个师团的预备役士兵要转入现役,家族要增添近五十万的军队编制,要给这批部队安置集结点和部署在各个战略要地上;流风霜在西部蠢蠢欲动,流风家的十字军已经开到了多伦湖前线,大兵压境,西部军十个师团的部队面临被包围的危险,明辉统领的告急文书如同雪花般飞来。在瓦伦前线的军事演习中,演习部队又和魔族发生流血冲突,二十一个士兵和三个军官在冲突中阵亡,凌步虚向紫川家正式递交了警告,火yao味非常浓烈,第二次远东战争已经近在眼前。同时,各行省驻军发来的报告堆得有小山那么高。行省总督们深通为官之道,为了让自己的档案得到重视,每份信封上都用红字标明了:“紧急!”、“十万紧急!”、“火急!”、“极端重要!”、“危急!”自己哪一份都不敢遗漏,一一批覆,结果大多的报告都只是:“对某某军官的调令的请示”、“缺少一百套夏季服装申请补给”、“驻地营地水涝,请示是否转移驻地?”昨晚自己工作到凌晨三点,早上七点又起床继续干,八点进总长府做简单汇报,九点到元老会答覆关于帝都驻军扰民事件的处理结果,十点视察新组建的部队,听取师团长官们的汇报,中午也不能休息,自己和部下们忙得象狗一样把舌头都吐出来了,而现在……“给我准备一杯茶,要浓的。”斯特林吩咐进来的秘书,同时站起身跟秦路说:“走吧,一起出门去迎接宁小姐。”“宁小姐大驾光临视察,军务处全体同仁同感荣幸!”领着部属们站在门口,斯特林微笑地欢迎紫川宁,深深地鞠了一躬。尽管已是初春时节了,天气还是很冷。紫川宁静静地站在门口,披着一件洁白的绍皮大衣,缠着红色的围巾,美丽得令人目眩神驰。那些第一次见到她的年轻军官们被这位家族继承人的美丽所慑,不敢抬头正视。她身边没有一个随从。看着斯特林摆出了这般隆重而正式的仪仗,她秀眉一蹙,随即开颜:“斯特林大人大客气了,我只是随便来看看。叨搅各位了?”她望向一边的秦路等人。“哪里,哪里。宁小姐大驾光临,这是我们的荣幸,请都请不来呢!”秦路笑着说。斯特林微笑着不作声,在紫川宁的目光中,他看到了焦急。他和她都明白,这次拜访绝非一次“随便看看”。虽然紫川宁并没有担任任何实职,但她是家族的第一顺位继承人,这个身份相当于家族首脑,凌驾于任何家族官员之上。斯特林将紫川宁请入了办公室,按照正式的程序,他和一众军官开始给这位前来视察的家族继承人进行汇报。“不知小姐有意了解军务处哪一方面的工作呢?”斯特林问。紫川宁不动声色地望了他一眼,目光中大有深意,微笑说:“随便谈谈吧。”斯特林非常了解这个眼神的意思:“斯特林,你这个家伙竟敢和我装傻!”于是他就憨憨地傻笑起来,吩咐秦路说:“老路,给宁小姐汇报一下西部边境的局势吧,那边情况比较重要。”“明白!宁小姐、斯特林大人,众所周知,在西部对我家族构成最大威胁的是流风家族。它是我们家族的死敌!流风家族的军队分为三个系统,国防军系统,十字军系统、还有就是远京卫戍军区。”“一说到流风家就不能不说到流风霜。在流风家族内部,流风霜无疑是首屈一指的重将和权臣。但人们往往不知道,虽被流风西山册封为‘终身护国统领’的荣誉称号,但是就实际宫职来说,她不过是习冰军区的司令,辖地不到三千平方里,论职位,她不过和我紫川家的一个行省总督差不多。但实际上,习冰军区位于流风家与我紫川家和林家接壤的三角地区,是兵家必争之地,流风家族在此地部署了重兵死守。就在习冰军区以及周边邻近地区的防守地域,部署了十字军的主力和国防军系统的一百三十个联队,而且自从流风霜在远京失势来到习冰地区后,得到了流风路的大力支持,她一直致力于流风家军力的加强,自行在三大系统外一手创建新军——风霜团。她所指挥的部队包括了流风家族最强的实战部队,是流风家实质上的“兵马大元帅”。就目前来说,她和她的军队对我紫川家的安全造成了最大的威胁,而且近来的诸多迹象表明,她对我紫川家怀有强烈的野、心……”秦路抓住了机会,从当前形势一直说到展望未来,“我神勇的家族军队必将战胜无耻的冠以流风姓氏的无耻人类败类”云云,说得滔滔不绝。斯特林默不作声地观察着:表面上,紫川宁听得非常认真,身子微微前倾,不时轻轻点头:“哦,是这样的吗……”、“嗯,对……”但她那双游离不定的眸子已经暴露了她内心的焦急和心不在焉,白皙的手指抓住了衣角,紧紧捏住。斯特林暗叹一声:“何必呢。”汇报进行得又长又臭,接下来军务处所属的几个高级军官分别进行了关于各地区战备工作的汇报,一共进行了两个多小时。眼看时间已经是中午了,斯特林微笑着终止了汇报会:“好了,大家说得都很好,宁小姐,您还需要了解些什么情况吗?”“啊,”心不在焉的紫川宁回过神来,有种如梦初醒的感觉,犹豫一下,她笑笑说:“斯特林大人,有个情况我想向你了解一下。”斯特林平静地说:“好的。”旁边的军官们识趣地起身,离开了办公室,最后一个人出了门,脚步声渐渐远去。他看着她,她却局促不安,眼神游离不定。斯特林轻声咳嗽—声。“斯特林大哥,”紫川宁终于下定了决心,开口就直奔主题:“阿秀哥哥,他……他在哪里?”斯特林犹豫一下,还是回答了:“远东。这几年,他一直在远东。”紫川宁猛然后退一步:“啊!难道,他真的……”“情况不是你想的这样。”斯特林站了起身,走到窗前,窗外的园子里,树木已经长出了娇嫩的绿叶。他回过头来,直视着紫川宁,缓慢地说:“阿秀对家族的忠诚,没有谁能比得上。他是个真正的忠贞之士。”紫川宁呆呆地看着他。“事情要从七八九年的帕伊围城说起。”斯特林开始讲述紫川秀两年多的经历:他忍辱负重,伪装向魔族投诚,讲述他英勇过人,于魔族聚会之时将雷洪当场格杀,杀伤魔族将领无数,国家得以惩罚奸逆,洗刷耻辱,魔族嚣张的气焰遭到沉重打击。他凭着大智大勇,经历九死一生的磨难,终于逃脱了魔族的魔掌。但狠毒的敌人不甘心失败,捏造出可耻的谎言来中伤他,让他有家归不得,被迫流亡远东。但就在这种艰难的情形下,紫川秀仍旧没有放弃他对家族的忠诚与坚贞,在远东卧薪尝胆,秘密练兵,苦心积攒力量,终于等到时机成熟,他一手发动了远东大起义,给予魔族沉重打击,在不为人知的情形下默默地捍卫了紫川家的东方防线。当他从远东归来时候,又恰好遭遇神秘的刺客对紫川宁的行刺,他单枪匹马狙击对方全部高手,力保紫川宁得以幸免于难,自己却被敌人所重创……紫川宁安静地听着,腰挺得笔直,身形一动不动。尽管知道紫川秀后来一定没事,但听得斯特林叙述紫川秀经历之险,她脸上情不自禁地流露出紧张的神情。当得知那晚紫川秀为拯救自己受了重伤,她低下了头侧过睑去,以免让斯特林看见她眼中的波光闪动。斯特林理解她此刻的心情:自己心上人非但不是叛逆,而且还是个了不起的大英雄,这更让她自己的作为显得难以容忍。“一个人,在远离亲人与朋友的地方,断绝了消息,蒙受耻辱和骂名,默默地战斗。没有得到家族一兵一卒的援助,凭个人的努力,他已经收复了远东国土的大半,这在历史上是从没有过的!此功此业,足可光耀日月,彪炳千秋!可以说,阿秀他完全无愧于当年远星大人对他的栽培,无愧于哥应星大人对他的厚望,也无愧于——”斯特林若有所思地看了紫川宁一下:“——宁小姐您曾经对他寄予的期望。”紫川宁一直在压抑着自己,告诫自己要冷静。但听着斯特林平和有力的陈述,不知不觉的,泪水已经夺眶而出。她再也忍受不住了,起身在房间里急切地走来走去。仿佛发着高烧,她苍白的脸上现出了斑斑红晕,心胸在起伏,呼吸急速,仿佛她正在承受着巨大的苦痛。不敢面对斯特林严肃的脸,也因为双脚已经不能支持自己了,她双手扶着墙,对着墙壁长久地站立。斯特林暗叹一口气,他打开窗户,大量涌进来的新鲜空气中饱含着春天的气息。黎明前下过一阵短时间的绵绵细雨,花园中的泥土被雨水冲过,到处留下了水流的痕迹,园子里,大量的新芽正在干枯的枝头上争先恐后地绽放,雨水洗过的新芽像是泡沫似的在阳光下闪着光芒,充满了勃勃生机。他听到了身后隐隐传来的啜泣声音,但却故意忽略了。过了几分钟,哭声低了下来,斯特林转过身去,走到紫川宁身边,善解人意地递上手帕。紫川宁没有回过头,低声说:“谢谢。”接过了手帕。当她回转头时候,她已经能控制自己了,除了眼睛有点潮湿相通红外,她看上去一切正常。对着斯特林,她苦涩地一笑:“斯特林大哥,谢谢你告诉我这些。”“不客气,这是你应该知道的。宁小姐,你——”仿佛害怕什么,紫川宁匆匆地说:“我知道,斯特林大哥你是很忙的,我已经耽误你很多时间了,实在不好意思。这就告辞了,代我向清姐问好。”斯特林默默地点头,看着紫川宁向门口走去,他突然出声:“宁小姐,请留步一下。”紫川宁的身影僵住了,诧异地回头望来。斯特林有点懊悔地挥一下手,却不知该说什么。为了紫川秀——也为了紫川宁,他只是知道,绝不能让紫川宁就这么走掉。他总想为自己最疼爱的小弟做点事情,好挽回这段感情。“宁小姐,以我的身份,也许我不该说,但是……有些事情……有些事情……你也许真应该好好的考虑一下呢?”他皱着眉头在苦苦思索,想找一个恰当又不伤害紫川宁自尊心的方式把自己的真正意思表白出来。这时候,紫川宁反倒是善解人意,她笑了:“斯特林大哥,你是想不是想说,我和阿秀还有在一起的希望?”紫川宁挑破了这层纸,斯特林大感轻松。他道:“正是。”“阿宁,你是家族未来总长,是我的主君,以我紫川家家臣的身份,有些话我是不该说的。但我又是看着你和阿秀长大的,承蒙你不弃,一直称我为大哥,那今天,就允许我逾越一下臣子的本分。”紫川宁柔声说:“斯特林大哥,从小我是一直真的把你当大哥。你想说什么,我大概也猜到了一点。你是想劝说我回头,和阿秀哥哥重归于好吧?”“正是。”“前天早上,我已经和元老会的马维阁下谈过了。”紫川宁欲言又止。斯特林急切地追问:“怎么样?”她嫣然一笑,美丽得犹如海棠带雨:“今后,大家都还是好朋友。”花了足足半分钟斯特林统领才明白这句话的意思。他不禁感慨:青春年华的女孩子都能无师自通地拥有和外交官相媲美的言辞,明明是无情的分手绝交,她们却有办法说得那么动听:“我们做一生一世的好朋友吧!”让男人吃了哑巴亏还得扮出一副很有风度的样子表示:我不要紧,我真的一点都不要紧,最后还得深情脉脉地祝她永远幸福。一瞬间,他感觉自己的同情是站在那个花花公子的元老议员一边的。他欣喜说:“那就好!宁小姐,只要您……”“斯特林大哥,你不明白的。”紫川宁柔声却坚决地打断了他的话:“问题的关键不在这里。我配不上阿秀。”斯特林诧异地望着她,她笑了,笑得凄婉又坚决:“真的,我配不上他。他是那么高尚,那么勇敢。为了国家,为了人类,他浴血奋战,捍卫国土。面对祖国,面对上天,他问心无愧。而我呢?就在他冒着生命危险,为我紫川家斩奸除逆;就在他九死一生,被魔族追捕的那些最危险的日日夜夜里;在他冲锋陷阵,冒着魔族的刀剑弓箭奋勇杀敌的时候,我没能为他祈祷一声,甚至我还怀疑,他是不是真的投降魔族了!”斯特林安慰说:“这并不是小姐您的错,当时几乎所有人都是这么认为的。”“但我不是‘一般人’,我是他的……我应该是最了解他的人!就算天底下所有人都怀疑他,我也应该相信他,坚定不移。何况,斯特林大哥你,还有监察总长帝林阁下——你们始终都相信阿秀,不是吗?而我更应该相信他,相信他不会死,相信他的忠诚,相信他对我的承诺!”紫川宁的声音渐渐低落下去了:“但我没能做到。爱情是对双方的考验,而这个考验,我没能经得住。诚然,我紫川家对阿秀是有所亏欠,但我对他的负义更是超过任何人。从孩提时代起,我欠他的,实在太多。多少次,他为我出生入死,但我能回报他的,只有伤心和痛苦。我不是个值得他爱的人,如果没有我,他会更幸福的。“人们常说破镜重圆——但破了的镜子,裂痕还在,始终不可能恢复成原来的样子。”斯特林望着她,他想到了阿秀告别时候那悲哀的背影,他理解紫川宁此刻的心情,深深的罪恶感使得她无法坦然地面对他,而紫川秀傲气和自尊更是使得他是不可能回头的——误会已冰消瓦解了,但隔阂依旧存在。彼此思念的两个人依旧不能在一起,感情的事情真是复杂。两人心头有很多话想说,却不知该怎么说起。最后,她盈盈地站起来:“斯特林大哥,谢谢你了,我想,我已经耽误你太多时间了,该走了。”“阿宁!”斯特林第二次叫住了她:“你再坐一下,我有些话要说。”斯特林站起来,倾身直视着紫川宁:“宁小姐,以我二十多年的人生经历来看,我不相信世界上没有不可挽回的事情。即使有,纵使凶难临头,纵使形势险恶,作为人类,我们只要一息尚存,就要尽最俊一分努力。我明白你此刻的心情,你与阿秀的感情遇到了挫折,相互之间存在着误会,但无论什么时候,绝不可放弃希望,绝不可自暴自弃,就权当一切回到了空白,一切重头再来,那又怎样?只要我们努力争取,付出真心,事情并非不可挽回!”斯特林语调铿锵有力,其中流露坚定的信心。紫川宁听得霍然动容。她明白了,为什么斯特林能成为首屈一指的名将。他平时行事并不高调,也不引人瞩目,但无论在如何艰难困苦的环境中,他都能显示出真止男子汉的气度,他坚定的信心就像阳光一样洒遍左右,给周围的人们依靠,成为人们精神上的支柱。“阿宁,现在他遇到了麻烦,需要你的帮助。你愿意吗?”“我愿意,哪怕赴汤蹈火!”紫川宁立即回答,随即又有点犹豫:“将来有那么一天,当我——到那时候,我自然会为阿秀平反,恢复名声。但现在,我无职无权,如何能对阿秀有所帮助呢?”“首先,关于阿秀的一切情况,你还不能向外公布。阿秀的名誉还没能恢复,如果泄露了,监察长大人、阿秀本人还有我都会很麻烦的。”“我发誓,在没得到斯特林阁下同意以前,我绝不将今天在这里的谈话内容向外泄露。若违此誓,让我千刀——”“行,行了。宁小姐,没必要发毒誓那么严重,只要你答应就可以了。”斯特林打断,笑说:“要未来的总长向我发誓保证,我还没那么大胆子啊!”“斯特林大哥!”紫川宁娇嗔道,不依地跺着脚,那女儿家的娇态让斯特林看得呆了。他简单地跟紫川宁形容了一下紫川秀的处境:尽管他在远东屡战屡胜,但后勤供给能力的薄弱却限制了他进一步扩展战果。自己与帝林已经想尽办法为他在不为人知的情况下筹集补给,但总还有存在着一些障碍和阻拦。“军务处这里的事务我可以处理,监察厅的监督帝林阁下也可以解决。在家族的高级官员中,我们唯一顾忌的就是幕僚长哥珊阁卜。她负责后勤部和行政处,全面统筹家族军队的补给和财政开支,是家族的文宫之首。她精干明练,眼光老辣,上次就是她从各行省物资价格的变动中发现蹊跷,最后导致了“战略物资禁止流通法案”的颁布,让阿秀十分为难。我们要长期这样瞒天过海,大规模供应阿秀各种物资和补给,恐怕难以瞒过她。“现在的问题是,哥珊阁下是总统领罗明海阁下的人,在她的后勤部系统内,我们缺少一个够分量的人来配合我们牵制和监视她……”说到这里,斯特林眯起了眼睛,故意停住了话头。紫川宁想了一阵才明白他的用意:“斯特林大哥,你的意思是……”“我什么意思也没有。”斯特林笑眯咪的,慈祥得一面和气。他仿佛是不经意地提起:“据我所知,根据传统,总长继承人在正式接位之前都要到统领处的具体部门工作一段时间,锻链才干,熟悉业务和环境,为将来的正式接位做好准备。宁小姐,您今年已经二十了吧?该做准备了。”他起身和紫川宁握手,送她出门。马车定了好久,紫川宁才理解斯特林的用意。尽管心情郁闷,她还是哑然失笑。紫川家的三杰,果然名不虚传,没有一个是好相与的。就连最以耿直方正闻名的斯特林,在情况需要,只要他愿意的话,也是能要点诡计的。“也好吧。”想到能对紫川秀的事业有所帮助,紫川宁的心里稍微有了点慰依。她细细品味斯特林的话:“就权当一切回到了空白,一切重头再来又如何呢?世界上没有不可挽回的事情!”世界上有种人不会轻许诺言,但一旦答应,他做的会比预期的多很多。斯特林无疑就是这种人了。紫川宁心头重又燃起了希望,她默默地想:“阿秀在远东做出了那么大的成就,我也不能光等着。就让我来见识一下,号称“统领处千年坚冰”的哥珊阁下,您到底是如何的三头六臂了不起吧!”站在门口,看着马车渐渐远去,斯特林嘴角浮出了会心的笑容。回到办公室,他开始写信,把今天发生的事情原原本本地记述下来,这封信将通过秘密渠道寄给远东的紫川秀。信中他详细地把今天紫川宁的言行给记录下来。阿秀是个聪明人,他会领会自己用意的。斯特林边写边想:媒人是最吃力不讨好的角色了。自己是不是有点傻里傻气的呢?但他还是做了。经历过那场无望的苦恋,他深深懂得失去所爱的痛苦,多少次梦中徘徊缠mian,醒来却只剩眼角泪水的痛心,梦中人远在天涯。愿世间有情人终成眷属。如果有可能,他希望紫川秀和紫川宁能有个比他们好的结局。“就当是我为他们做点事吧。愿他们知道,生命中最值得他们珍惜的,并非百万财产,更非权势荣华。”放下笔,打开窗户,湛蓝的天空一望无际。仰望东方的天际,斯特林长久站立,眼角早已经湿润。祝你幸福啊,卡丹。※※※帝国历七八二年的六月,一阵罕见的酷暑袭击了整个西川大陆。在往常四季如春的帝都城内,最高温度突破了摄氏三十六度。但比起恶劣的天气,更恶劣的却是人间的形势。伴随着远东的沦陷,数以百万计的难民涌入了家族本土。这批失去了土地和生产原料的人群一贫如洗,他们露宿街头,在每个城市的周边构成了庞大的难民营和贫民窟,乞丐群到处都是,衣裳褴褛的男子游荡在街头,饥肠辘辘,对城市和乡镇的安全构成了极大的威胁,刑事案件发案奉直线上升,警察机构疲于奔命。家族的军事力量在远东和西线都遭到挫败,但家族的经济力量——规模庞大的农业、工业产业没有受到损害,他们的生产力量是保持着完好的。在七八二年这罕见的丰收年,农民却因为农业产品价格暴跌处于饥饿边缘——这真是极大的讽刺:一边是成熟的粮食大片大片地烂在地里,一边却是失业居民们被饿得饥肠碌碌。因为失去了庞大的远东市场和原料基地,数以千计的工厂和工作坊因无法忍受高昂的原料产品和维持销路而倒闭,成千上万的工人失去工作,不得不露宿街头,物价却直线上升,低层的政府官员无法忍受低廉的薪水而公然索要贿赂的丑闻不断。就连一向是社会支柱的军队机构也未能幸免。由于军队的大量扩展和经济不景气,很多年轻人,尤其是出身小地主和小商人家庭的年轻人,选择了以军官为职业。他们从士兵口中更深地了解到社会的状况已经到了灾难边缘,这些士兵每当收到家信都会失声痛哭:由于儿子远离,全家人都处于饥饿边缘。而同时,军官们却亲眼目睹了他们的上级:那些出身良好、拥有巨大财富的贵族们生活的糜烂和奢华。面对现状,军队浮躁不安,忠诚度下降。人们迷失了生活的信仰、希望和方向,低迷、糜烂的挫折感弥漫在心头。人们不知道该信仰什么、奉行什么,甚至不知道该仇恨什么。面对着无能和腐败的指责,元老会逢周二、周四的弹劾威胁,统领处虽无能力找到解决问题的办法,却善于寻找替罪羔羊。家族统领处宣称:一切都是魔族的错!是魔族强占了我们的远东二十三行省,让农民的产品无法销售!是魔族,强占了我们远东的铁、煤、矿石,让我们的工厂无法开工!更是魔族的侵略,导致了数以百万的难民流入内地,导致我们社会不安定,就业率直线下降!魔族对远东的侵略是我们一切不幸的根本原因!就如猛烈的狂风突然吹散迷雾,在七八二年的年中,炽热的烈风突然袭来,低迷的浓雾一吹而散,人们找到了宣泄仇恨的对象,整个民族异口同声地欢呼:“战争!战争!”——监察总长帝林曾预计紫川家需要十年的时间恢复,他估计得太保守了。耻辱是一个民族成长的加速器,仅仅两年不到的时间,创伤表面上才刚刚愈合,善忘的民众立即好了疤痕忘了痛,好战的浪潮又一次狂热地席卷家族领土。从上到下都是一片喧嚣:“开战!开战!夺回远东!用魔族的鲜血洗刷我们的耻辱!”仿佛在一夜之间达成了共识,从上到下——从家族元老到一贫如洗的乞丐——普遍都认为,只有通过一场战争夺回远东——或者管他什么地方,反正打仗就行——才能对现状有所改善。帝都街头每天都有宣战游行,人数从千人到十万人不等。游行人群举着各种各样的旗帜招摇地从总长府、元老会和统领处面前经过,口号声排山倒海:“打倒魔族!”、“为远东事变中死难的同胞复仇!”、“为九月事件复仇!”、“直捣黄龙,踏平魔神堡,活抓魔神皇!”游行人群一望无际,他们堵塞了帝都大大小小的道路,治部少的员警们在烈日下徒劳无功地呼喊和指挥,却成效不大。反倒是帝都的市民们对游行的激进分子们抱有极大的宽容心,容忍了他们在街头的墙壁上乱写乱涂,和砸烂“禁止通行”的交通栏杆。由于军事上的连续失利,军务部成为众矢之的。那些热血沸腾的军校学生和精力过剩的小伙子们为发泄胸中燃烧的激情,把军务部当成了魔神堡,斯特林当成了大魔神皇,三天两头地围攻,高呼着“军队无能,辱权丧国”的口号,他们不断地向守卫们投掷石子、瓦片、垃圾、污水袋,用颜料将军务处的大门涂抹得一塌糊涂。斯特林不得不向帝林借调了一个中队的宪兵来守卫门口,当他们回去时,身上伤痕累累,全是斑斑点点的污迹。在六月十一日的一次游行中,游行的队伍和维持秩序的员警们发生了激烈的冲突,十四人死亡,一百多人受伤。同日,四个后备役军官口袋里藏着折叠的刺刀冲入后勤部,他们要杀死家族幕僚长官哥珊——她反对扩大军队的征召范围,和再增加军队已经极庞大的军费开支——结果由于过于慌乱,其中一人的刀子从口袋里露了出来,引起了值班守卫的留意。他喝住了他们。四人以为事件败露了,立即抽出刀子袭击了警卫,将其活生生地捅死,旋被赶来的其他警卫制服。四人立即被捕。这极其残酷而无视法纪的袭警和谋杀案件,引起了公众极大的关注。在公开审判时候,凶手表达了对那位失去丈夫的员警遗孀的歉意后,公开宣称:“国家状况令人担忧,民众困苦不堪,国防软弱无力,官吏腐败成风”。他和他的同伙对哥珊统领和遇害的员警并没有私仇,他们的目的为“唤醒沉睡的祖国而敲醒警钟”,要除掉“阻碍祖国强大的一切障碍”!哥珊从嘴边轻轻吐出两个字:“蠢货!”旁听的公众全体起立鼓掌,掌声经久不息。在民众的心目中,他们是烈士,是代表民众利益的斗士。对凶手的同情竟然高达这般地步,以致有几万人自发地签名为其求宽恕,甚至有人寄来用血写的请愿书。在元老会最后出面干涉下,本该以谋逆罪处死的四名军官全部判了无期徒刑,预计用不了几年,他们将很快就从监狱里出来。还是老规炬:任何采取暴力行为者,如果是为了国家荣誉,都应该特赦。军队竟然发生此种目无法纪的行为,军务处长官斯持林向哥珊幕僚长郑重地书面道歉,并保证将尽量约束军队,绝不会让同类事件再行发生。后者毫不客气地打断了他的话:“你现在要做的不是道歉。”哥珊面无表情地说:“局势的发展并非你我能够控制,下一个的目标很可能就是你了,你应该调一些可靠的部队到身边来。小心啊,斯特林,你是军队最后的一丝理智。如果你死,我们就再也无法遏制军队的盲动了。”斯特林愕然。※※※七八二年六月二十三日。天气非常的好,午后两点,气温高达三十三度,阳光热辣辣的,晒得马路成了一片白地。连那些歇斯底里狂叫口号的激进分子也忍受不了这样的酷暑,帝都街头出现了罕见的平静,人们懒洋洋的悠闲地在绿荫底下乘凉,摇着蒲扇。啤酒店门口五光十色的招牌在烈日下生辉,穿着清凉的美女姿态婀娜、目不斜视地从绿荫道上走过,引起乘凉的小伙子们的一片口哨声。倚靠在奔驰的马车窗口,斯特林望着街景出神,看着那打情骂俏的俊男俏女和灯红酒绿,这使他感到心情轻松。但在经过一个十字路口处,他的心情被小小地破坏了一下:迎来赶来了两辆马车,在前面的车子赶得飞快,车夫大声地吆暍着:“让路!让路!”马鞭“劈啪”地扬得天响,行人和路边的商贩们赶紧躲避,大街上平静的气氛给闹得鸡飞狗跳。斯特林皱皱眉,对随行的秦路说:“那是谁的车子?街上那么多人,怎么能这么快马,治部少怎么不管?你查一下。”秦路也探出头去窗外观察,转而对斯特林说:“大人,那是监察厅的人,我们管不了。”“喔?”斯特林微微惊讶,再认真看去,果然,那辆马车的车辕上面悬挂着蓝底金色的剑与盾牌的旗帜,表示车上有监察厅的高级军官在。他淡淡说:“知道了。”心头却老大的不是滋味。在二月十五日的紫川宁事件,帝林率领的监察厅立下大功,检查官们的气焰也随即张扬起来,言行嚣张。斯特林一向认为,因为军队身负保卫国家使命的特殊性,它本身是国家内最大也是最强的武力集团,如果失去约束,它成为凌驾于整个社会之上的暴力集团,那些高级军官会堕落成为超越法律和政府的“军队贵族”,所以,监察和军法系统的设置对于军队来说是十分必要的。但事情不能从一个极端走向另一个极端,负责监督的监察系统变得如此乖张,这绝对不是国家设置监察系统的本意。他决定改天找帝林好好谈一下,劝他约束一下部下。自己的大哥最近把罗明海打得大败,春风得意之下,他有点忘形了。那两辆马车在十字路口来了一个右转弯,上了宽阔的皇都大道,正好与斯特林的马车同向并行。斯特林正琢磨着,这车该不会也是去总长府的吧,正在这时候,惊变骤发。在人行道上闪避的人群堆里突然斜斜窜出一个壮汉来,手持一条长长的铁棍。斯特林还没来得及反应,这汉子猛虎般扑近了悬挂监察厅旗帜的前面那辆马车,狂吼一声,将铁棍猛然插进了飞速旋转的右边车轮里。“当啷”一声巨大的响声,接着就是像是刮玻璃一样刺耳的铁器摩擦声音、“格啦格啦”连续清脆的铁器粉碎声,右边车轮被铁棍死死地卡住,“砰”的一声巨响,漫天的碎片中,马车的右轮整个飞了出去,右边车厢外皮倾斜擦到了路面上,火花四溅,奔马却仍在死命地往前拉,整个车子没有停止前进,“吱——”车厢摩擦地面的石头路基发出了巨大而刺耳的声音,令人听得牙根发软。“砰!”的一声巨响,马厢碰上了路边花圃的台阶上,倾斜的车厢整个儿翻倒过来。“哎呀!”一声怪叫,马车夫已经从驾驶座给甩了出去,重重地摔到了车子前面的路面上,半天爬不起身来,不知死活。路边的人众中冲出了几个手持兵器的男女,朝着翻倒的马车扑将上去。冲在最前面的青年女子高举着单刀剑,披着一件浅黄色的大衣,嘴里尖声尖气地喊着:“呀——呀——呀!”的怪声,后面跟着四条拿单刀的汉子,沉默地扑杀上前。那个最先冲出来卡住车轮的壮汉也从衣服下面抽出了一把砍斧,一下就将那个挣扎着要爬起来的车夫砍翻在地。事情发生得太过突然,街道上的行人都睁大了眼睛,不敢相信地看着面前发生的一幕。一个女声尖叫刺破错愕:“杀人啦!”一瞬间,目瞪口呆的行人们发出了各种各样的惊呼声,慌忙四散。冲在前面的女子速度极快,一眨眼的功夫,她已经冲到了翻过来的马车前,但却无处可下手:车子已经整个翻过来了,车门被压在下面。她围着车厢团团转,暴躁地用剑乱砍车厢壁,将车厢外面的木板砍出了一道道裂痕,露出了里层黑黝黝的铁板。“让开,让我来!”那个使用板斧的壮汉扑近身来。他放下板斧,蹲下抓住车厢的一侧,全身用力,低喝一声:“呀!”车厢动弹了一下,缓慢地又翻转了过来,恢复了原来的位置,露出了车门的一侧。刺客们喜形于色,那个领头的女刺客娇叱一声:“帝林受死!”迫不及待地就要从开了一半的车门里爬进去。斯特林心下一震:这是帝林的车子?!他这才反应过来,马上出声:“停车!”车夫猛拉缰绳,马车缓缓地停下了,斯特林从马车里冲了出来,但距离太远,无论如何已来不及。“噌!”一声响亮的弓弦脆响传得远远的,一个使单刀的男刺客惨叫一声,反手捂住了自己后背。他的后背上中了一箭。斯特林看得清楚,事变突发,跟在翻倒车子后面的第二辆马车出于惯性的无法停住车子,冲出前面数十米才慌忙停住的。箭正是从那辆马车视窗处射出来。“砰”的一下车门洞开,几名宪兵从车上跳了下来,领头的军官暴喝一声:“大胆狂徒,造反了吗!”刺客们只一愣,有两人回转身来迎击宪兵们,剩下的仍旧围着那辆车子。那个使板斧的壮汉两下劈掉了残缺不全的车门:“帝林,这下看你往哪里跑!”语音未落,车门处寒光一闪,一柄长剑闪电般刺进了他的右眼。壮汉痛喝一声,向后翻倒。其余的刺客惊骇于这一剑的威势,不由自主地向后退开几步。没有任何预兆,帝林颀长的身影出现在车门口,风度翩翩,手中长剑闪烁,温柔的眼睛此刻杀气毕露。除了衣裳稍微凌乱以外,他毫发无伤。一瞬间,斯特林安下心来了。同时他也知道,那几个刺客的命运了。宪兵们七手八脚地将被打得半死的刺客们抓着脚拖上马车,经过的地方赫然留下一条让人心有余悸的鲜红血痕。看着马车运着俘虏往监察厅方向去,帝林转过头对斯特林说:“如果你去总长府的话,我们就同路了。载我一程吧!”斯特林点头:“没问题。”他转过头跟秦路商量了下,秦路让出了车厢里的位置,到外面和车夫同坐。上了车,帝林舒服地伸展了下身子,把脚摊得开开的:“你的车子很宽敞,坐起来很舒服。改天我也要去订做一辆同样的。要多少钱呢?”斯特林笑笑,没有出声。“今年的天气有点怪,六月热得要死人了,恐怕收成不好。对了,斯特林,秀佳很挂念着弟妹李清,说很长时间都没见过她了,挂念得很。”“啊,这么巧,清也说过该去拜访下你们了,她想跟嫂子学点厨艺。”“嘿嘿,秀佳也说清弟妹的针织手艺好,她也想学——瞎!娘们儿,就净关心这些东西!我都纳闷了:一天到晚就是房间里那点玩意,她们怎么就不烦?特别是弟妹,那么出众的一个人,怎么也跟一般婆娘一样,整天就热哀什么针织啊、厨艺啊什么的?多可惜啊!斯特林,你得给她说说!”帝林侃侃而谈,只字不提刚刚遭受的袭击,神色平静,好整以暇,除了衣服稍微有点凌乱,他根本不像一个刚刚遭受刺杀,死里逃生的人。“刚才那是些什么人?”斯特林忍不住了,突然问。帝林奇怪地扬扬眉毛,斯特林说明:“我是说刚才的那群刺客。”“谁知道呢?一小撮野心勃勃的叛乱分子?某个图谋不轨的权臣——比如罗明海——对我怀有敌意所派遣的雇佣杀手?杨明华一伙死心不息的残党?家族敌人的阴谋?谁知道?”帝林笑着说。斯特林微微摇头:“从行事的方式上看,他们不像是训练有素的职业杀手。职业杀手讲究冶静,以最小的代价谋取成功,要求迅疾和效率,一击不中立即撤退,而这伙人——在光天化日的大街上公然强行袭击,他们太过于张扬和狂热了。”帝林嘿嘿一笑:“也许吧。”他转了话题,谈论起当前帝都的流行服饰和歌曲——不像斯特林那种两耳不闻窗外事的工作狂,帝林是个时代潮流的追随者,尤其对流行歌曲和文学情有独钟。但斯特林一个字也听不下去,他脑子里却总是想着刚才发生、惊心动魄的一幕:一滩滩殷红的鲜血,纷杂的军靴声,人声鼎沸,那个受伤女刺客撕心裂肺地呐喊:“打倒帝林!”“混蛋,叫什么呢!”几个强壮的宪兵强将她按倒在地,一个宪兵小旗有力的大手抓住她的头发,把她的脑袋按进了路边污水沟里,使劲地往下压,她的脸被浸进了黑色、发臭、冒着白色泡沫的污水里,但她脑袋每次从水里挣扎出来,总要用尽全身气力、沙哑地、含糊不清地喊:“打倒帝林!——帝林不死,紫川家不宁!”围观的路人和斯特林都为之动容。这种不在乎成败和生死的气势,决非职业杀手所能办到,倒像是某种信念的狂热殉道者。望着帝林那快活的笑容,出于某种直觉或者灵犀一闪,一瞬间,斯特林看到了他眉飞色舞的表情下掩盖的真正感情:那种隐藏在眼眸深处的、一闪而逝的绝望和厌倦。心底的声音告诉斯特林:这就是权力之路的代价。在显赫一时的光耀背后,他恐怕没有一个可以安心睡眠的夜晚。在权力这条道路上,自己又付出了什么样的代价呢?他想起家中那束早已经枯萎,却一直被自己珍藏着的“勿忘我”花,心头一阵刺痛。车声嘎然而止,秦路从外面敲敲车门:“监察长大人、斯特林大人,总长府到了!”当斯特林和帝林踏入时候,会议室里早已经济济一堂,家族的重量级人物齐集。紫川参星坐在会议桌的顶端,望向斯特林的目光中带有几分疑惑:以严谨守时出了名的斯特林,怎么也会有迟到的事情呢?斯特林朝众人歉意地笑笑:“不好意思,路上发生点意外。”他坐下来环顾四周:以总长紫川参星为首,总统领罗明海、禁卫统领皮古、幕僚长哥珊,就连一直戍守西部边疆的明辉统领、瓦伦要塞的镇守司令林冰副统领等边区重将都在场。而且在这群人中,斯特林还看到了个新面孔(其实也不能算是新面孔,是个大家都很热的人!)紫川宁正端坐在总长紫川参星的旁边,正襟危坐。紫川参星谅解地点点头:“人都到齐了。现在可以开始了。紧急召集大家过来,有个事情想听听大家意见——明辉,你给大家说说。”西部边防军区司令明辉统领干咳一声:“总长殿下,诸位大人,近来我边防军部门得到一个很重要的情报:流风家的家主流风西山病情已经快不行了。”会议室中起了一阵轻微的骚动,幕僚副统领哥珊轻声地嘀咕了一句:“废话!”若不是发言的人是掌握重兵的家族重臣明辉的话,那大家真的要哗然了:这也算是情报?哪怕就是帝都街头的小混混都知道的,号称“流风狐狸”的流风家当代家主自从九年前给紫川秀一个少年杀得大败回去以后,郁愤交加之下他一病不起,一直缠mian病榻。“这真是了不起的情报啊!”远东副统领林冰赞叹地说,带着浅浅的笑容,谁也搞不清楚这位远东重臣的真正意思。明辉面红了一下,很快又恢复正常:“我知道诸位大人的意思。打从七七二年到现在,都快十年了,我们哪天得到都能得到消息说流风西山快死了,但这次不同了,消息的来源非常可靠:流风西山的贴身医师逃亡到我们这边来了。”幕僚长哥珊怀疑地问:“他为什么要这样做?”“流风西山是注定不治了,流风家内部的倾轧争斗非常激烈。流风波公开威胁:“如果父亲有什么不测,治疗组的全体人员都要为他殉葬!”而流风清、流风明两位——他们内心怎么想的,无人能知,但外表上,他们也会做出义愤非常的样子,很可能杀几个“无能”的医生来表现自己的孝心。医生很担心在流风西山死后,自己会成为政治斗争中的牺牲品。”哥珊微微点头,又问:“多长时间?”“‘即使采取最好的药物、技术和最恰当的医护手段,他的寿命也不可能超过五个月!’——这是他的原话。”明辉的语气相当肯定。“明统领的消息应该是真的。”在寂静中,帝林缓缓地开口了:“与他的消息渠道来源不同,我掌握遍布流风家族境内数以百计的间谍,他们时常有报告送来——根据流风霜的命令,习冰行省与远京之间缓冲地带——加顿军区已经开始布防,禁止任何武装部队通过,六十个联队从东部阵线抽调过去以战斗队伍驻守,对远京虎视眈眈;流风清在自己领地内动员了二十万士兵修筑工事;流风明不顾禁令,命令其两万近卫部队公然进驻其在远京的住所:远京总参谋部连续一个月发布宵禁令却不公布敌人是谁——如果流风西山还健在,这些事情是绝对不可能发生的。这证明,他的病情已经恶化到无法控制局势的地步了。”屋子中一时间安静得可以听见呼吸的声音,人们在沉默中消化这个事实:流风家的首脑流风西山即将死去。此人是紫川家不共戴天的仇敌,曾给家族造成了巨大的灾难,但是听闻他的死讯,斯特林不禁还是有了点莫名的黯然感慨:随着哥应星的逝去,曾经是上个时代中最灿烂的星辰中,又有一个重要人物即将消失。他有种眼看着历史发生的感觉。哥珊问:“可知道是谁将接任?”“目前还很难说。”帝林摇头:“目前流风家的局势太过混乱,三个皇子在军中有各自的支持者,势力难分高下——任何一个占了上风,另外两个立即联手把他压下去,然后胜利者又内讧,开始新一轮的争斗。而流风西山又没指定继承人。”“到这个地步,一个行将就木的垂死老人,他指定与否其实已经毫无意义了。”林冰一针见血地指出问题的关键:“决定流风家命运的只有一个人:流风霜!无论她支持哪一个继承人,他立即可以以绝对的强势压倒另外两人,成为流风家新的霸主!”帝林表示赞同,又说:“但流风霜尚未表明态度。”哥珊冷冷说:“如此非常时刻,流风霜态度暧mei,难道她有野心谋求至尊之位?”屋子中众人面面相觑,紫川参星缓缓说:“她掌握流风家将近四成的精锐军队——不是没有可能。但,无论如何,这次流风家的乱象已成,这次权力交替决不可能和平进行。”众人一起点头,表示赞成总长殿下的深知睿见。紫川参星继续说:“如果我们可以乐观地猜测,流风家即将出现大规模混乱或者内战局面的话——”帝林插嘴说:“流风家的内战势不可免!问题不是会不会打,而是什么时候开打!”“——那我们家族将如何应对呢?”在紫川参星望向众人的目光中带有几分殷切的期待:“我们是不是应该趁这个难得的机会,一举将流风家摧毁,完成我们一统天下的霸业呢?——斯特林,你怎么看?”斯特林勉强地笑笑,他选择了尽量委婉的措辞:“摧毁流风家,这是个非常庞大的战略目标,要有计划地分多步进行,需要做长期的计算、谋划和准备。军事层面的较量是最终的手段,但在我们的军队到达战场之前,家族在经济、组织、动员、后勤、财政方面的准备是非常必要的,就这些方面来说……”“这些方面你不用担心!”紫川参星豪气十足:“我只问你,作为我家族首屈一指的名将,你有没有信心打败流风霜?”明辉、林冰等统兵将领都皱起了眉头,帝林则对斯特林投来同情的目光:这就是那种外行领导内行的悲哀。斯特林沉吟一下,他很不愿意败紫川参星的兴,但作为统管全面的军方代表,把真实的情况告诉总长,是他的责任,尽管这实情有时候让人不快。“这个……要视乎当时的具体情况而定,殿下。要看流风家的军队在内战中遭受了多大的损伤、他们的士气和武器水平,还有我们家族军队恢复程度——”斯特林看到紫川参星的眉皱了起来,但他只当没看见继续说:“殿下,很抱歉,没有人能保证自己一定能打胜仗——除非他是骗子。战场上,将领的工作是搜集尽可能齐全和准确的情报,根据情报选择战术,指挥军队行进,给部队下达各种作战命令——仅此而已。优秀的将领能把这些工作完成得较好,但不可能百分百保证胜利。战场形势变化莫测,不可能有人能完全把握。假如在骑兵冲锋时候突然来了一场突如其来的暴雨,或者山洪爆发冲垮了一座重要的桥梁使得增援军队不能及时赶到、或者一根流矢击中了敌方或者我方的重要人物——那会完全改变整个战场的形势。”“这就是所谓三分努力七分天意了,殿下。”帝林适时地插嘴,他笑着说:“但幸好,我们的斯特林统领运势一直很强——我跟他赌钱就没赢过,除非作弊。”几个人轻声地笑出来了,把紧张的气氛化解不少。罗明海总统领冷冷说:“斯特林统领可能没有理解清楚。—场战斗结果有可能出乎意料,但就一场长期战争来说,胜负一般是取决于双方的军事力量对比的。总长想询问斯特林阁下,如果开战,我们的军队能不能取胜?”“再加上了新征集的预备部队和民兵武装后,在数量上,我军对比流风军并没有处于太大的劣势,但我们存在着不少问题:军队的训练程度较差;熟练兵员的比例,比起七八一年以前,下降的程度非常明显;在年龄结构相身体方面,士兵的总体素质不能令人乐观;武器装备的生产和补充尚需要时间;战略补充能力比较薄弱,地方预备武装机构尚没做好新一轮大规模征召的准备——”“斯特林统领你能不能简单地回答我:究竟能不能?”斯特林不动声色地扫了他一眼,罗明海咄咄逼人的态度令他很反感。他苦涩地吞了口水:“如果要摧毁流风家,那需要举国动员——目前军队还没做好承担这个任务的准备。”罗明海心满意足地“嗯”了一声,面上得意的表情分明在说:我早知道这样。“需要多少时间呢?”“军务部会尽自己的最大努力,但这取决于很多外来因素:经济上,家族对军队的财政投入已经很大了,但要达到让军队在短时间内恢复甚至超过远东战前实力的这个要求来说,还是略有不足;元老会宣布国家是处于战备状态,但却没有授权我们发布全民动员令;我们曾提出建议把兵役时间适当延长,另外,扩大征兵范围——但都没能得到批准。”“延长兵役时间是我反对的。”哥珊副统领推推黑框的宽边眼镜,淡淡说:“在家族尚未受到外来攻击的情况下,我们不能任意延长兵役时间,这是对士兵们失信,会导致家族的威望败坏。另外,斯特林统领所提到的扩大征兵范围——你实质上指的是在农村中实行七男一征,城市中实行十男一征吧——我可以明确表态:我坚决反对!”没有人出声,哥珊副统领喝了口茶水,又说了下去:“斯特林统领,从七七八年起的这五年,家族军队的损失总数,你们军务处应该有个数字吧?”斯特林略显尴尬:“没有正式的统计,但哥珊阁下您如果想要的话,我可以立即让人计算……”“没这个必要。”哥珊干脆地说:“我这就可以给你个大概的数字。七七八年是我紫川家运气较好的一年,虽然在西部吃了流风霜败仗,在远东却打了胜仗,一年下来,我们士兵的损伤人数约为三万——可以称得上正常消耗。”她在纸上迅速地写了个“3”字。“七七九年开初,帝林大人在远东非常活跃,连战连捷——但我估计,五、六万的伤亡肯定是有的吧?”面对哥珊的问话,帝林面无表情,默不作声,于是哥珊又在纸上写了个“6”字。“接下来就是在平定杨明华的叛乱中,帝都军民的损伤程度——起码又是4万人,帝林大人,您没意见吧?”哥珊的语气中充满了愤怒和嘲讽的味道,谁都知道,在帝都流血夜中,正因为企图阻止帝林的暴行,哥珊被总长紫川参星处分过。“在远东的叛乱中,雷洪二十五个师团的兵力叛变,我们立即就损失了二十万的军队却增加了二十万的敌人、远东叛乱初期,抛开平民的损伤不计,各行省的守备军队的损伤起码在十五万左右;接着就是可耻的赤水滩,非常惨重:二十三万军队伤亡!“从七七九年八月到七八零年年初将近丰年的时间里,那是家族王军和远东叛军之间的拉锯战了,虽然我军取得了相当的战果,但伤亡估计不会低于七、八万。”“再往下就是魔族的突然袭击了。这段时期的伤亡资料非常混乱,很多部队名义上还存在,但事实上只剩下一面旗帜加一个司令;有些部队在最初的报告中是落入了魔族的包围圈全军覆没了,但结果我们却在瓦伦要塞看到他们在安然无恙地吃烤红薯,一个人没少,连厨房的炉子都带出来了。——但总体来说,伤亡之惨重是空前的。民众的损失那是没办法计算了,军队的损失——有没有达到四十万?”斯特林枯涩地吞了下口水:“三十八万七千。”“好!最后就是斯特林大人您在帕伊抗击魔族的壮举了,这个就比较好计算了:中央军在开战前有将近十一万的兵力,最后能回瓦伦的不到五万。”“现在,资料基本上已经齐全了——声明一下,这是按照最保守资料统计的,还有很多我没注意到的可能遗漏了。”哥珊将手上白纸高高举起,上面一个大大的红色数字连瞎子都看得清楚:一○六○○○○○○“一百零六万!各位大人,一百零六万!”一片寂静中,只有哥珊略显沙哑的嗓音在仿佛空无人迹的会议室中回荡:“对于各位大人来说,士兵、部队可能都只是一个数字,但军队和士兵不可能凭空生成!每一个士兵都是爹妈生父母养的,把他从嚎啕的婴儿养成一个成年男子起码需要二十年的光阴,耗费的社会劳动力和物资资料难以计数!“本应该是生产主力的壮年男子被大量地抽调到军队中,毫无裨益地被消耗在战场上,本来就衰弱的工业生产力,绝大部分还要倾注在军工产业上,而极大地压缩了其他部门的生产能力,导致生活物资匮乏、物价飞涨、黑市交易泛滥,我们的整个社会经济都正在萎缩之中!“如果是为了应付迫在眉睫的危机,短时间地节衣缩食,我相信民众可以忍耐。但仅仅是为了一个争霸天下的虚名,我们毫无目的的穷兵黩武,军队还要扩大征召的范围和延长兵役时间、我们还要把日益庞大的军费赋税加诸于不堪负荷的民众——”帝林插嘴说:“增加军费的问题,绝大部分民众是赞成的。”“——那是因为你们欺骗民众,说一切灾难都是因为魔族的入侵造成的!别以为我不清楚你们监察厅私下干的肮脏勾当,无耻之极!我们面临的本来就是一个经济困难,经济的问题的解决完全可以依靠经济手段:调整产业结构、减免赋税、减少对工商业的控制和审批,采用积极的财政政策,用各种渠道增加就业——只要持之以恒,形势肯定会逐步好转。但你们却利用了民众的无知,借助对外战争来转移内部视线,把民众的绝望心理煽动成好战!“一旦开战,兵火连接,伤亡惨重,我们都将成为罪人!我们将如何向历史交代?家族还有多少个一百零六万青壮年?一旦民众醒悟过来,他们还能忍耐多久?”没有一个人出声。斯特林眼盯着自己面前光滑的桌面,脊背上汗水直流。而且,他相信这绝不是他一个人的感受,会议室中人人面色铁青,像是带了个金属的面具。紫川参星冰冷的目光注视着哥珊,后者毫无惧意地抬头与之对视。僵持了一阵,他移开了眼睛,毫无表情地宣布:“散会,大家休息十分钟。”斯特林从总长府七楼休息室的窗户向外望去,夜色苍茫。帝都的万家灯火呈现在眼前,远远近近,密集的灯火如同海洋一样蔓延开去,一直到目光不能及的天际。星星在大地上空悲哀地眨着眼睛,夜雾似烟,朦胧,飘忽。习习的夜风透过敞开的窗户吹进来,把充满了夏天和泥士气息的空气带进房间里。身后传来熟悉的脚步声,沉稳,坚定。来人一直走到了自己的身边才停下脚步。帝林由衷地赞叹:“好美的夜景。”斯特林笑了一下,回答道:“是啊,只是你我平时都没留意。会议什么时候开始?”帝林耸耸肩膀:“罗明海正在总长办公室里。”斯特林笑笑,这十分钟的休息时间还真是漫长啊,从下午四点一直到晚上七点,三个小时过去了,还没有要重新开始的通知。“哥珊已经被逮捕了。”帝林平淡地说,仿佛在说着与自己根本无关的事情。斯特林点头。一个小时前,他从休息室的窗户里看到哥珊在一队宪兵的簇拥下经过总长府门口的小广场,上了一架挂有监察厅标志的马车。“帝林,我知道哥珊一直对你抱有偏见,但……”“我知道你要说什么。放心,她不会受到任何虐待和暴力。”望着窗外的灯火,帝林说:“我不是那种公报私仇的人。不过,在会上她让你那么难堪,你还要保护她?”“无论立场怎样,我很佩服她的勇气。何况,她的话不无道理。”“就算有一万个道理也不能在那个场合说!哥珊很会做事,却不会做人,总是不懂判断形势和气氛。总长很固执又好强,自从远东失利后,如果没什么意外的话,在后世的历史上他会被冠以称号:‘丢了远东二十三行省的八代总长紫川参星’,他如何甘心?好不容易流风家有了内乱的迹象,他当然希望把自己称号变成:‘灭亡了流风家族的八代总长紫川参星’。“八代总长紫川参星殿下在远东遭受小挫,失败之后忍辱负重,卧薪尝胆,在六十多岁的高龄最终一举灭亡我紫川家百世的仇敌流风一族!烈士暮年,壮心不已,这是堪与云殿下开创紫川一姓的丰功匹敌的壮举!紫川一族香火延绵,后继有人了!家族列祖列宗部应该在天国为此喜笑颜开,赞叹不已!后世的子子孙孙更是对其崇拜得五体投地,无限向往!紫川家族罕见的英主,中兴的伟大君主,紫川帝国的开创者,紫川参星陛下万岁!”帝林说得很小声,只能让斯特林听见,后者一边听一边“哧哧”地偷笑。“——斯特林,你想想,如果能在家族的史书来上这么一段,那多带劲啊!这次会议,他把明辉和林冰都召了回来,表示他是下了很大的决心了。偏偏哥珊不识趣,这个时候来谈什么‘穷兵黩武’,甚至敢骂我们是采取‘愚民政策’——她骂我无所谓,但宣传的口号和政策那可是总长自己亲自制定的啊——那不是自己找死吗?你也不用为她担心,被革职和拘禁在她也不是第一次了,罗明海会保她的,她很快就会出来了。”“我不是担心她……”斯特林摇摇头:“我担心的是总长。”帝林眯起了眼睛:“我看得出,刚才你有所保留:能不能跟我说实话,如果开战的话,军方——军务处和总参谋部——认为有多少胜算?”斯特林斟字酌句地回答:“我们目前所有的部署都是着眼于防守反击,要突然转变成为主动进攻,需要时间调整军队的布置。”“流风家不会明天就内乱,调整有的是时间。”“流风霜很可怕,她从没打过败仗。”“人总会犯错误,何况一个女人,那她就更有理由犯错误。”“流风家的军队庞大而强悍。”“而这庞大的军队眼看着就要在三个皇子的带领下来一场自相残杀了——斯特林,你该不会给那个该死的哥珊传染了吧?难道你也反对开战?”“你呢?”斯特林反问。帝林轻轻一笑:“哥珊是从民生的角度考虑,我考虑的却是紫川家的长期战略。斯特林,跟你说实话:从现在开始的五年之内,如果我们打不垮流风霜的话,那我们就只有注定被流风家消灭的命运。”“什么?!”“奇怪吗?你想想,在远东战争之前,我们与流风家一直保持着相对的均衡状态,不分上下。但失去了远东二十三省后,均衡的状态已被打破,随着时间的推栘,实力的对比会更加地不利于我们。流风的内战是上天赐予我们的最后机会,一旦流风家从内战中恢复过来,不用五年的,他们的国力就会将我们远远抛在脑后!那时候的流风家,会强大到连碰一碰都是危险的事情。”斯特林眼角微微抽搐,帝林考虑问题的方式令他震惊,但听起来不无道理。“但我们刚刚战败,也是很衰弱。”“还有时间,军队——要尽量为此做好准备,恢复实力。现在,我们还有一拚的机会,但错过这个机会,我们就连拚的机会都没有了!”帝林忽然笑了:“听过一个笑话吗?乌龟打劫蜗牛,蜗牛跑去报案说:‘当时一切发生得实在太快了……’”斯特林一笑。“现在,我们是乌龟,就是要趁内乱时候打劫流风家那只蜗牛!虽然我们也是伤痕累累,但只要趁流风家混乱,在最脆弱的时候给他们致命的一击,这就足够了!”“如果这一击没能奏效呢?”“那战争就要持年况久了。我们已经没有退路了,只有拚命打下去,耗尽最后一分潜力:把从十六岁到六十岁的最后一个男人都送上了战场,把最后一把勺子铸成钢刀,烧光最后一亩稻田,拆掉最后一间房子做掩体——我相信流风家也不会比我们好过多少的。”斯特林不寒而栗,帝林描述的前景令他心寒。他沉重地说:“紫川家拚光了,流风家也奄奄一息。这样,在我们——紫川与流风——两家的废墟上,最后还会剩下什么呢?人类如此自相残杀,最后只便宜了魔族。”“这样不是很好吗?分裂已经两百年了,打打歇歇了两百年,该有一个结局了。”帝林开玩笑地说:“说不定,一个统一的新帝国即将在废墟上诞生呢!”“但我们真的有必要打到如此程度吗?”“不是我们希望如此,而是事实和形势逼迫我们必须如此——我们也不得不战!国民的热情和好战精神必须寻找一个宣泄点,否则的话,他们对于外部侵略和经济灾难的不满就会演变成为对于家族当局——也就是我们——无能和无所作为的不满,进而威胁政权。何况,如此狂热的好战精神和激情,那种万众一心的国民意志,身为家族的领导人如果任由其毫无目标的发泄,让他们把这种热量倾泻在毫无意义的游行和示威上,那将是极其愚蠢的浪费。民众这种狂热的好战情绪,将会导致元老会进入一种状态——”“在这种状态下,元老会会同意我们提出的任何疯狂的提议,哪怕是同时对流风和魔族开战,哪怕是今年的赋税加三倍!”“已经提出了,斯特林,已经提出了,甚至不用我们开口。”望着惊呆了的斯特林,帝林笑笑:“元老会今天上午已经自发地通过提议,今年的赋税加两倍,用于新增加的军费。他们现在正在讨论通过给予总长宣战权的问题——斯特林,你的消息落伍了!——正是因为这样,总长这才紧急召集我们开这个会议。反战的最后一个障碍是哥珊,嗯,她的下场你也看见了。”斯特林无力地呻吟一声:“天,这该死的鬼天气把大家都烧昏头了吗?”“呵呵,不客气地说,如今国民陷入的这种自发的狂热状态,正是多少统治者曾梦寐以求的,多好的国民啊,一个劲地嚷嚷着:‘战斗!战斗!我们要战斗!’我们的任务是,用一场战争来引导这股好战的能量——”他笑容一敛转为严肃:“斯特林,上个月,你不是提出扩大徽召范围没得到元老会同意吗?明天你把提案再交上去,准行!”“就算批准也需要程序,起码需要一个星期的时间。”“在得到批准之前,你可以干点别的事啊!我有个办法可以避开元老会。不过当你扩军时候,你也得分我一杯羹:隶属监察厅的宪兵纪律部队也要扩充二十万人。”斯特林惊讶:“哦,说来听听。”“附耳上来!”帝林小声在斯特林的耳朵边嘀咕了一阵,斯特林一拍手:“哎呀,我怎么就没想到?”“不过,”他凝视着帝林:“这么好的法子,你怎么不在会议上提出呢?”“呵呵,斯特林,军务是属于你的管辖范围,我怎么好插手?我提的话,罗明海准会出来反对,由你来提这个建议,那是顺理成章的事,谁都没话说。”有人轻轻敲一下候见室的门,两人都住了口。一个身材高大、服饰漂亮的禁卫军官出现在门口处:“监察长大人、统领大人,会议即将开始了,请下来吧。”家族的重员们再次聚集在会议室时候,时间已经将近晚上八点了。大多数人的眼中已经露出疲态,与会成员中年纪最大的紫川参星反倒是精神矍铄,他扬起嗓门招呼大家:“快进来,坐好了!”哥珊的位置空了出来,望着那空荡荡的椅子,没有人表示惊讶和询问,冷漠得就像那位置本来就是空的。毕竟能在这个房间里有一席之位的人,像哥珊那么不懂进退的毕竟是很少的。“会议继续进行——刚才忘记介绍了,这位大家应该都很熟悉,我侄女紫川宁。”紫川宁婷婷起身,朝各位重臣们欠身示意,脸上带着浅浅的微笑。大家都对自己未来的君主报以亲切的微笑。“阿宁还是第一次参与家族的决策会议。”紫川参星的脸上有几分感慨:“呵呵,小女孩终于长大了,知道为家族分忧了。阿宁是很能干的,但经验有所欠缺,需要锻链。我考虑,她暂时不挂实职,任总长助理,在各部、处实习——大家看怎么样?”若是哥珊在的话说不定会寻根刨底:总长助理?这到底是什么官职?级别是红衣旗本还是副统领?许可权有多大?但她不在,谁会干这种杀风景的事情。“宁小姐出来为家族分忧,那是再好不过的事情了!”边防军统领明辉笑得亲切无比:“我家族又一栋梁之才即将成长起来了!欢迎小姐来边防军视察和指导!”大家暗暗骂明辉:滑头!这家伙心里有数,以紫川宁家族继承人的身份何等尊贵,紫川参星绝不可能放她到随时有可能爆发战争的西方边境第一线的,于是他就放心地大说漂亮话,惠而不费。远东副统领林冰也笑说:“两年前我见过宁小姐,那时候她还是个小姑娘。一眨眼,呵呵,变得这么漂亮了!家族后继有人啊!我代表全体远东将士欢迎宁小姐前来瓦伦视察!”她的情况与明辉相同,并不太担心紫川宁会真的前往瓦伦。其他人也七嘴八舌地说了些赞美的话:“宁小姐天生聪慧,前途定然无量!”“小姐只要稍微锻链个两年,呵呵,我紫川家也有个‘流风霜’啦!”“有着远星大人血统,在参星大人的栽培下长大,准是好样的!”帝林结结巴巴也说了两句:“欢迎宁小姐到监察厅视察。”只是比起林冰和明辉来,他语气勉强了很多。斯特林微笑,他是明白怎么回事的,他更明白帝林在担心什么,换成自己也不会希望这么一个有着未来总长身份的特殊人物到自己的部下工作,每天都得小心翼翼地侍候她,一下小心就得罪了未来的总长,那还有什么前途?更何况,统领处和监察厅,哪个部门没有见不得人的手段和花样?如果这些都让紫川宁看到了,不说将来,只要她跑回去跟她叔叔打个小报告:“参星叔叔啊,监察厅私设小金库,他们很有钱喔!”“参星叔叔喔,帝林的办公室装饰非常豪华,严重超标喔!他的钱哪里来的呢?”“参星叔叔喔,今天维加副统领来见帝林,他们两个鬼鬼祟祟单独关上门说了足足有半个钟头,也没留下谈话记录,不知搞什么花样?——不是说监察系统官员不得私下结交行政官员的吗?”光是这些就足够让帝林头疼的了。幸好,紫川参星立即就解除了他的担心:“我先前已经和阿宁商量过了,女孩子不适宜到弄刀弄枪的军队中去,打算还是让她先到文职的后勤部和行政处去学点东西——呃,罗明海,以后阿宁可就是你的手下了,她有什么做得不对的,你只管批评她!”紫川事盈盈起身向罗明海行一礼:“总统领大人,以后请多指教了!”罗明海起身回礼,强笑道:“请多指教。宁小姐冰雪聪明,我们统领处又多一名栋梁之才啊!”看到罗明海的困窘,帝林恨不得放声大笑:有这个未来的总长做部下,今后罗明海的日子就难熬了。只是……帝林皱起了眉头:后勤部统筹家族军队的财政和物资补给,行政处不但是家族文职官员的管理中枢,还管辖着帝都治部少这个强力部门。两部门都是家族的要害部门,历来是归幕僚长官亲自掌握的。只是现任幕僚长哥珊正在监察厅的大牢里面,在两部门权力出现真空时候,紫川宁这一强势人物进去,势必统揽全局。她虽然没有正式任职,但位置绝对举足轻重。哥珊刚刚被逮捕失势,紫川宁立即取代了她的位置——是无意中的巧合,还是这个女孩子刻意的安排?日后即使哥珊从狱中出来,但紫川宁已经先入为主了,你哥珊唯一的出路就是辅佐紫川宁大人吧!望着微微颤抖的长睫毛低掩下那双漂亮的眼眸,帝林发觉,比起往日的天真烂漫带一点少女的调皮,今日的紫川宁,表现出了与其年龄不相符的沉稳。她一直保持着低调,话语不多,但每一句都很有分寸,得体大方,眼神游离不定,从这个看到那个,脸上始终带着笑,让人琢磨不透。——再不能以那个爱哭爱闹的小女孩来看待她了!今后的紫川宁,将正式成为那些手掌天下命运的重量级政治人物之一。等紫川宁的介绍告一段落,接下来是听取东面、西面两条战线的负责防务长官的汇报。瓦伦要塞镇守司令林冰向总长和统领处报告:在瓦伦正面,魔族状态十分平静。魔族的西南大营已经放弃了贴近瓦伦要塞的第一线阵地,战斗部队从设置了壕沟和堡垒的前线后退,也停止了那种挑衅性的十分靠近瓦伦要塞周边的日常巡逻。魔族在第一线的部队人数大大地减少了,人类的侦察部队甚至可以越境深入近十公里还没有碰到一个魔族士兵,即使碰到了,魔族士兵的态度比先前也要温和了许多,他们往往采用语言警告的方式而不是战斗来驱赶人类出境,仿佛他们的指挥官也在有意识地避免发生与人类军队的摩擦和战斗。有传言——注意,仅仅是未经核实的传言——在魔族王国的远东境内发生了大规模的反叛事件,魔族第一线的作战部队都被抽调回去镇压了,也有传言说是在魔族王国的本上发生了魔族皇族之间的内讧,魔神皇已经被迫下台了。估计在近期,今后的半年之内,魔族是不会对人类世界发动大规模的攻势。边防军统领明辉笑笑:“我的情况与林冰阁下惊人地相似。”他报告说,在西部边境上,十字军的部分精锐部队已经向西开拔,流风家族的战斗部队已经停止了经常性的挑衅活动,一片风平浪静,边境发生大规模战事的可能不大。“这是个好消息。家族一天天地强大起来,我们的敌人已经在害怕了!好,就是要让他们更害怕!大家要注意到,战略性转折的时机已经到来了!家族已经摆脱了受威胁的被动状态了,但我们绝不能掉以轻心——”紫川参星总结说:“——无论什么时候,军队的加强始终是我们当前迫在眉睫的问题,斯特林,你身为统领处内军务的主管,对此要切实地负起责任来。”“总长殿下,各位大人,军务处有两个提议。”斯特林平静地举起手来。“哦?你说说。”“元老会一直担心过度的扩军会影响第一线生产,迟迟不肯批准实施国民征召令——为此,我提议,军队把下一次征兵重点放在远东的流亡难民中。”此言一出,举座震惊。林冰睁大了眼睛望着斯特林,喃喃道:“绝妙!”明辉拍拍自己的脑门:“怎么我就想不到?”远东战争中,数以百万计的远东人类居民失去家园,流亡在瓦伦要塞以西的家族行省,他们失去了生存的工作和上地,流离失所,到处流浪。这大股大股的难民潮所到之处给当地的社会治安造成了极大的隐患,各行省政府都为此极其头痛。为了安置这批难民,紫川家族的民政部门每个月都要耗费上亿的金钱给他们发放补助和食品。“将流亡难民中的壮年男子征收入伍有以下几点好处:一、是避开元老会的控制。难民在当地政府中都没有户籍和土地,属于无业人员——既然没有户籍,从纸上作业来说,他们是不存在的。征收他们,不算是从生产第一线抽调劳动力,不会引起元老会的反对。“二、减轻家族民政系统的负担和开支。从理论上来说,一个从军的战士,他所得薪水可以养活一个三口之家。如果我们假设在五百万难民中哪怕就有四十万人参军,那就解决了一百二十万人的温饱问题。“三、对于增强军队的战斗力也有好处。难民们在远东战争中失去了土地、家园和亲人的,再没有什么牵挂和留恋,对魔族怀有最深刻的仇恨——在我的经验里,由这种人组成的军队,只要稍加训练和数导,他们会很容易就成为那种无所畏惧的敢死之师!——不知总长殿下意下如何?”“好!好!”紫川参星听得眼睛发亮,连声地说好:“这是个好主意!统观全局,面面俱到。斯特林,你是用心的!”斯特林低下头表示谦虚,抬起头时候,他微微向帝林使了个眼色表示感谢,后者则若无其事地在一边低头看报告。罗明海在一旁泼冷水:“斯特林统领的主意虽好,但将大批的难民征召,组编成军,训练——没有个一年半载的时间恐怕还看不出效果吧?但流风家的内乱却就在眼前,恐怕远水救不了近火啊!”斯特林一笑:“是。总长殿下,总统领大人,下官还有第二个提议:我紫川家族并不是没有军队,只是军队并不在我们手里。”“在谁手里?”“在元老们的手里!就在军务处为兵力的缺乏而大伤脑筋的时候,贵族们却掌握着大量私人军队,拥兵自重。例如——”斯特林摊开了手上的一张纸,那是刚才帝林交给他秘密报告:“洛克辛威行省的元老会代表杜丘伯爵在其封地内养了三万多私人军队,达玛行省元老会代表的费沙男爵蓄兵一万六千多人,辛加行省的元老会代表余兰女伯爵拥兵两万七干人;瓦林行省的马维伯爵(这个名字让他觉得有点耳熟)拥有四个雇佣师团,总共两万三千名雇佣兵:利加行省的元老会代表,大富商祖巴的护卫团有一万一千人……”帝林的报告来得又长又详细,一共有四十三个元老贵族藉以护卫队、自卫团、乡镇治安联防队、城市保安团等名义私下组建军队,总兵力多达近六十万。没有一个人出声,大家看着斯特林慢吞吞地将那张纸折了起来装进口袋里,有种坐在火山口的感觉。当代总长紫川参星与元老会的关系一向是敏感中之最敏感,现在,斯特林摸到了这条最高压的线上了。总长看着斯特林,问:“情报确切吗?”斯特林谁也不看:“基本上可以肯定了。军务处的提议是,将这批私人军队收编列入正规军编制,由家族军务处统一指挥。”这是一次对紫川参星的反将军。如果他对此报告装聋作哑,那就不要再跟大家提什么‘争霸天下,击灭流风’,元老会始终是一道必须面对的考验,现在就看总长有没有勇气了。“据我所知,”帝林慢条斯理地说:“在二代总长紫川星殿下与贵族们达成的协议中明确规定,贵族的私兵不能超过三千,这是写进了元老会法案里面的铁律。以上的诸位贵族元老,毫无疑问地,他们触犯了法律。”谁也没有出声,所有人都在看着总长。感觉到无数的目光聚在自己面上,紫川参星的表情渐渐变得僵硬,脸上肌肉绷紧,手上的拳头捏紧:“监察总长帝林,我命令你,以谋逆罪——”“等一下!”令所有人吃惊,出声的人竟然是刚刚任命的“总长助理”紫川宁。她匆匆地说:“叔叔——哦,不,总长殿下,各位大人,很抱歉,但在您做决策之前,能不能先让我说两句呢?”“啊,阿宁啊。”看到出声的人是自己的亲侄女,紫川参星的表情缓和了下来:“你有什么要说的呢?”“是。总长殿下,各位大人,诚如监察长大人所言,刚才提到名字的贵族们违反了法令。但贵族蓄兵不得超过三千的这条法令颁布是在二代总长时代,距离如今有近两百年了,很多人都忘记了。平日里,大家都对此习以为常了。——就连我,如果监察长大人不提起的话,我也记不起有这么规定的了。他们未必就有谋逆的心。所以,恳请总长殿下给以上犯错的贵族们一次机会,只要他们交出兵权,配合军务处做好改编工作的话,对此就不加追究了,显示家族的宽容的胸怀。”她一边说一边对紫川参星使眼色,后者立即领悟了她的意思,口中“嗯、嗯”有声,好像正在思考该不该给那群犯错的贵族显示下“家族的宽容的胸怀”。帝林眼中流露赞叹之色,故意问:“如果他们不肯交出兵权呢?”“他们应该会肯的。否则,我们就将此事提交元老会,由元老会议来裁决。”“但这些贵族本身就是元老会成员……”“四十三名贵族在近五千的元老会议中只是很小的一部分,我相信这不会妨碍元老会作出正确裁决的。毕竟,这件事的事实和法律都非常的清楚。而且当前的形势下,元老会更不可能包庇他们。如果拒绝交出兵权,那些贵族立即就会成为众矢之的。“建议军务部给予那些贵族必要的补偿,或者将‘征用军队’的说法改成‘购调军队’,让人更容易接受。“而监察厅注意搜集相关的证据和材料,以便我们能在元老会议上能明确地指证。“命令各行省正规驻军进入戒备状态,对私人军队进行严密监视,造成声势和压力,也防止有人铤而走险,行大逆不道之事。“建议军务部为此事做好必要的准备工作,在整编的谈判中坚持重点突破。人人都有从众心理,只要有一个同意了,剩下的人会想:‘连某某大贵族都同意,我还撑什么呢?’那剩下的谈判就比较好解决了。”紫川宁侃侃而谈,大家像不认识似的睁大了眼睛望着她。就在这一眨眼的时间,她已经提出了和平地夺取贵族兵权的一系列步骤,而且分轻重缓急,有威胁(各行省驻军整军监视,摆明一旦不服从改编就要动手),也给出路(服从改编的,给予适当的经济补偿),恩威并施。帝林微笑着轻轻一欠身:“宁小姐思虑周到,下官十分佩服。”帝林说的是真心话。他是最清楚这件事的厉害关系的:如果按照刚才紫川参星恼怒之下的决定,真的逮捕了那些元老贵族的话,将会彻底激怒元老会,搞不好在流风家全面内战之前,紫川的内战就先爆发了。而紫川宁则提议把事情先交元老会审判,算是给了元老会的面子,还藉元老会的力量来压制那些坐拥私兵的贵族——即使他们不服元老会的裁决,那家族要对付的敌人也只是四十三名贵族而非整个元老会,阻力少了很多。整个步骤环环相扣,妥当又切实可行,即使那些最有经验的老手也不过如此。谁也没想到,这个家族未来的继承人,会是这般能干和睿智的一员政治家。帝林轻轻捅捅斯特林的胳膊:“怎么样?”斯特林小声:“非常了不起!见事极快,应变敏捷,稍加锻链的话,很有可能是不输于远星和参星两位殿下的一代明君!”“是啊。”帝林轻声感叹着。有一句话他忍住了没说出来:“正是这样我才担心啊!”第134章不义之降。”

“请进。”斯特林从档案堆里抬起头来。“大人,”秦路从门外探头出来:“紫川宁小姐求见。”斯特林一阵慌乱。尽管他已经结婚成家了,但他还是承认自己不懂女人。在他看来,女人是很麻烦的动物。他知道紫川宁来找自己是为了什么——他宁愿面对着二十个魔族团队也不愿应付一个哭哭啼啼的哀怨少女。他托着下巴,好声气地和秦路商量:“能不能跟宁小姐说,我不在?”“晚了。”秦路面无表情地说:“我已经跟她说你在,而且很有空。”“你!”斯特林一时气结,他苦笑。七十三个师团的预备役士兵要转入现役,家族要增添近五十万的军队编制,要给这批部队安置集结点和部署在各个战略要地上;流风霜在西部蠢蠢欲动,流风家的十字军已经开到了多伦湖前线,大兵压境,西部军十个师团的部队面临被包围的危险,明辉统领的告急文书如同雪花般飞来。在瓦伦前线的军事演习中,演习部队又和魔族发生流血冲突,二十一个士兵和三个军官在冲突中阵亡,凌步虚向紫川家正式递交了警告,火yao味非常浓烈,第二次远东战争已经近在眼前。同时,各行省驻军发来的报告堆得有小山那么高。行省总督们深通为官之道,为了让自己的档案得到重视,每份信封上都用红字标明了:“紧急!”、“十万紧急!”、“火急!”、“极端重要!”、“危急!”自己哪一份都不敢遗漏,一一批覆,结果大多的报告都只是:“对某某军官的调令的请示”、“缺少一百套夏季服装申请补给”、“驻地营地水涝,请示是否转移驻地?”昨晚自己工作到凌晨三点,早上七点又起床继续干,八点进总长府做简单汇报,九点到元老会答覆关于帝都驻军扰民事件的处理结果,十点视察新组建的部队,听取师团长官们的汇报,中午也不能休息,自己和部下们忙得象狗一样把舌头都吐出来了,而现在……“给我准备一杯茶,要浓的。”斯特林吩咐进来的秘书,同时站起身跟秦路说:“走吧,一起出门去迎接宁小姐。”“宁小姐大驾光临视察,军务处全体同仁同感荣幸!”领着部属们站在门口,斯特林微笑地欢迎紫川宁,深深地鞠了一躬。尽管已是初春时节了,天气还是很冷。紫川宁静静地站在门口,披着一件洁白的绍皮大衣,缠着红色的围巾,美丽得令人目眩神驰。那些第一次见到她的年轻军官们被这位家族继承人的美丽所慑,不敢抬头正视。她身边没有一个随从。看着斯特林摆出了这般隆重而正式的仪仗,她秀眉一蹙,随即开颜:“斯特林大人大客气了,我只是随便来看看。叨搅各位了?”她望向一边的秦路等人。“哪里,哪里。宁小姐大驾光临,这是我们的荣幸,请都请不来呢!”秦路笑着说。斯特林微笑着不作声,在紫川宁的目光中,他看到了焦急。他和她都明白,这次拜访绝非一次“随便看看”。虽然紫川宁并没有担任任何实职,但她是家族的第一顺位继承人,这个身份相当于家族首脑,凌驾于任何家族官员之上。斯特林将紫川宁请入了办公室,按照正式的程序,他和一众军官开始给这位前来视察的家族继承人进行汇报。“不知小姐有意了解军务处哪一方面的工作呢?”斯特林问。紫川宁不动声色地望了他一眼,目光中大有深意,微笑说:“随便谈谈吧。”斯特林非常了解这个眼神的意思:“斯特林,你这个家伙竟敢和我装傻!”于是他就憨憨地傻笑起来,吩咐秦路说:“老路,给宁小姐汇报一下西部边境的局势吧,那边情况比较重要。”“明白!宁小姐、斯特林大人,众所周知,在西部对我家族构成最大威胁的是流风家族。它是我们家族的死敌!流风家族的军队分为三个系统,国防军系统,十字军系统、还有就是远京卫戍军区。”“一说到流风家就不能不说到流风霜。在流风家族内部,流风霜无疑是首屈一指的重将和权臣。但人们往往不知道,虽被流风西山册封为‘终身护国统领’的荣誉称号,但是就实际宫职来说,她不过是习冰军区的司令,辖地不到三千平方里,论职位,她不过和我紫川家的一个行省总督差不多。但实际上,习冰军区位于流风家与我紫川家和林家接壤的三角地区,是兵家必争之地,流风家族在此地部署了重兵死守。就在习冰军区以及周边邻近地区的防守地域,部署了十字军的主力和国防军系统的一百三十个联队,而且自从流风霜在远京失势来到习冰地区后,得到了流风路的大力支持,她一直致力于流风家军力的加强,自行在三大系统外一手创建新军——风霜团。她所指挥的部队包括了流风家族最强的实战部队,是流风家实质上的“兵马大元帅”。就目前来说,她和她的军队对我紫川家的安全造成了最大的威胁,而且近来的诸多迹象表明,她对我紫川家怀有强烈的野、心……”秦路抓住了机会,从当前形势一直说到展望未来,“我神勇的家族军队必将战胜无耻的冠以流风姓氏的无耻人类败类”云云,说得滔滔不绝。斯特林默不作声地观察着:表面上,紫川宁听得非常认真,身子微微前倾,不时轻轻点头:“哦,是这样的吗……”、“嗯,对……”但她那双游离不定的眸子已经暴露了她内心的焦急和心不在焉,白皙的手指抓住了衣角,紧紧捏住。斯特林暗叹一声:“何必呢。”汇报进行得又长又臭,接下来军务处所属的几个高级军官分别进行了关于各地区战备工作的汇报,一共进行了两个多小时。眼看时间已经是中午了,斯特林微笑着终止了汇报会:“好了,大家说得都很好,宁小姐,您还需要了解些什么情况吗?”“啊,”心不在焉的紫川宁回过神来,有种如梦初醒的感觉,犹豫一下,她笑笑说:“斯特林大人,有个情况我想向你了解一下。”斯特林平静地说:“好的。”旁边的军官们识趣地起身,离开了办公室,最后一个人出了门,脚步声渐渐远去。他看着她,她却局促不安,眼神游离不定。斯特林轻声咳嗽—声。“斯特林大哥,”紫川宁终于下定了决心,开口就直奔主题:“阿秀哥哥,他……他在哪里?”斯特林犹豫一下,还是回答了:“远东。这几年,他一直在远东。”紫川宁猛然后退一步:“啊!难道,他真的……”“情况不是你想的这样。”斯特林站了起身,走到窗前,窗外的园子里,树木已经长出了娇嫩的绿叶。他回过头来,直视着紫川宁,缓慢地说:“阿秀对家族的忠诚,没有谁能比得上。他是个真正的忠贞之士。”紫川宁呆呆地看着他。“事情要从七八九年的帕伊围城说起。”斯特林开始讲述紫川秀两年多的经历:他忍辱负重,伪装向魔族投诚,讲述他英勇过人,于魔族聚会之时将雷洪当场格杀,杀伤魔族将领无数,国家得以惩罚奸逆,洗刷耻辱,魔族嚣张的气焰遭到沉重打击。他凭着大智大勇,经历九死一生的磨难,终于逃脱了魔族的魔掌。但狠毒的敌人不甘心失败,捏造出可耻的谎言来中伤他,让他有家归不得,被迫流亡远东。但就在这种艰难的情形下,紫川秀仍旧没有放弃他对家族的忠诚与坚贞,在远东卧薪尝胆,秘密练兵,苦心积攒力量,终于等到时机成熟,他一手发动了远东大起义,给予魔族沉重打击,在不为人知的情形下默默地捍卫了紫川家的东方防线。当他从远东归来时候,又恰好遭遇神秘的刺客对紫川宁的行刺,他单枪匹马狙击对方全部高手,力保紫川宁得以幸免于难,自己却被敌人所重创……紫川宁安静地听着,腰挺得笔直,身形一动不动。尽管知道紫川秀后来一定没事,但听得斯特林叙述紫川秀经历之险,她脸上情不自禁地流露出紧张的神情。当得知那晚紫川秀为拯救自己受了重伤,她低下了头侧过睑去,以免让斯特林看见她眼中的波光闪动。斯特林理解她此刻的心情:自己心上人非但不是叛逆,而且还是个了不起的大英雄,这更让她自己的作为显得难以容忍。“一个人,在远离亲人与朋友的地方,断绝了消息,蒙受耻辱和骂名,默默地战斗。没有得到家族一兵一卒的援助,凭个人的努力,他已经收复了远东国土的大半,这在历史上是从没有过的!此功此业,足可光耀日月,彪炳千秋!可以说,阿秀他完全无愧于当年远星大人对他的栽培,无愧于哥应星大人对他的厚望,也无愧于——”斯特林若有所思地看了紫川宁一下:“——宁小姐您曾经对他寄予的期望。”紫川宁一直在压抑着自己,告诫自己要冷静。但听着斯特林平和有力的陈述,不知不觉的,泪水已经夺眶而出。她再也忍受不住了,起身在房间里急切地走来走去。仿佛发着高烧,她苍白的脸上现出了斑斑红晕,心胸在起伏,呼吸急速,仿佛她正在承受着巨大的苦痛。不敢面对斯特林严肃的脸,也因为双脚已经不能支持自己了,她双手扶着墙,对着墙壁长久地站立。斯特林暗叹一口气,他打开窗户,大量涌进来的新鲜空气中饱含着春天的气息。黎明前下过一阵短时间的绵绵细雨,花园中的泥土被雨水冲过,到处留下了水流的痕迹,园子里,大量的新芽正在干枯的枝头上争先恐后地绽放,雨水洗过的新芽像是泡沫似的在阳光下闪着光芒,充满了勃勃生机。他听到了身后隐隐传来的啜泣声音,但却故意忽略了。过了几分钟,哭声低了下来,斯特林转过身去,走到紫川宁身边,善解人意地递上手帕。紫川宁没有回过头,低声说:“谢谢。”接过了手帕。当她回转头时候,她已经能控制自己了,除了眼睛有点潮湿相通红外,她看上去一切正常。对着斯特林,她苦涩地一笑:“斯特林大哥,谢谢你告诉我这些。”“不客气,这是你应该知道的。宁小姐,你——”仿佛害怕什么,紫川宁匆匆地说:“我知道,斯特林大哥你是很忙的,我已经耽误你很多时间了,实在不好意思。这就告辞了,代我向清姐问好。”斯特林默默地点头,看着紫川宁向门口走去,他突然出声:“宁小姐,请留步一下。”紫川宁的身影僵住了,诧异地回头望来。斯特林有点懊悔地挥一下手,却不知该说什么。为了紫川秀——也为了紫川宁,他只是知道,绝不能让紫川宁就这么走掉。他总想为自己最疼爱的小弟做点事情,好挽回这段感情。“宁小姐,以我的身份,也许我不该说,但是……有些事情……有些事情……你也许真应该好好的考虑一下呢?”他皱着眉头在苦苦思索,想找一个恰当又不伤害紫川宁自尊心的方式把自己的真正意思表白出来。这时候,紫川宁反倒是善解人意,她笑了:“斯特林大哥,你是想不是想说,我和阿秀还有在一起的希望?”紫川宁挑破了这层纸,斯特林大感轻松。他道:“正是。”“阿宁,你是家族未来总长,是我的主君,以我紫川家家臣的身份,有些话我是不该说的。但我又是看着你和阿秀长大的,承蒙你不弃,一直称我为大哥,那今天,就允许我逾越一下臣子的本分。”紫川宁柔声说:“斯特林大哥,从小我是一直真的把你当大哥。你想说什么,我大概也猜到了一点。你是想劝说我回头,和阿秀哥哥重归于好吧?”“正是。”“前天早上,我已经和元老会的马维阁下谈过了。”紫川宁欲言又止。斯特林急切地追问:“怎么样?”她嫣然一笑,美丽得犹如海棠带雨:“今后,大家都还是好朋友。”花了足足半分钟斯特林统领才明白这句话的意思。他不禁感慨:青春年华的女孩子都能无师自通地拥有和外交官相媲美的言辞,明明是无情的分手绝交,她们却有办法说得那么动听:“我们做一生一世的好朋友吧!”让男人吃了哑巴亏还得扮出一副很有风度的样子表示:我不要紧,我真的一点都不要紧,最后还得深情脉脉地祝她永远幸福。一瞬间,他感觉自己的同情是站在那个花花公子的元老议员一边的。他欣喜说:“那就好!宁小姐,只要您……”“斯特林大哥,你不明白的。”紫川宁柔声却坚决地打断了他的话:“问题的关键不在这里。我配不上阿秀。”斯特林诧异地望着她,她笑了,笑得凄婉又坚决:“真的,我配不上他。他是那么高尚,那么勇敢。为了国家,为了人类,他浴血奋战,捍卫国土。面对祖国,面对上天,他问心无愧。而我呢?就在他冒着生命危险,为我紫川家斩奸除逆;就在他九死一生,被魔族追捕的那些最危险的日日夜夜里;在他冲锋陷阵,冒着魔族的刀剑弓箭奋勇杀敌的时候,我没能为他祈祷一声,甚至我还怀疑,他是不是真的投降魔族了!”斯特林安慰说:“这并不是小姐您的错,当时几乎所有人都是这么认为的。”“但我不是‘一般人’,我是他的……我应该是最了解他的人!就算天底下所有人都怀疑他,我也应该相信他,坚定不移。何况,斯特林大哥你,还有监察总长帝林阁下——你们始终都相信阿秀,不是吗?而我更应该相信他,相信他不会死,相信他的忠诚,相信他对我的承诺!”紫川宁的声音渐渐低落下去了:“但我没能做到。爱情是对双方的考验,而这个考验,我没能经得住。诚然,我紫川家对阿秀是有所亏欠,但我对他的负义更是超过任何人。从孩提时代起,我欠他的,实在太多。多少次,他为我出生入死,但我能回报他的,只有伤心和痛苦。我不是个值得他爱的人,如果没有我,他会更幸福的。“人们常说破镜重圆——但破了的镜子,裂痕还在,始终不可能恢复成原来的样子。”斯特林望着她,他想到了阿秀告别时候那悲哀的背影,他理解紫川宁此刻的心情,深深的罪恶感使得她无法坦然地面对他,而紫川秀傲气和自尊更是使得他是不可能回头的——误会已冰消瓦解了,但隔阂依旧存在。彼此思念的两个人依旧不能在一起,感情的事情真是复杂。两人心头有很多话想说,却不知该怎么说起。最后,她盈盈地站起来:“斯特林大哥,谢谢你了,我想,我已经耽误你太多时间了,该走了。”“阿宁!”斯特林第二次叫住了她:“你再坐一下,我有些话要说。”斯特林站起来,倾身直视着紫川宁:“宁小姐,以我二十多年的人生经历来看,我不相信世界上没有不可挽回的事情。即使有,纵使凶难临头,纵使形势险恶,作为人类,我们只要一息尚存,就要尽最俊一分努力。我明白你此刻的心情,你与阿秀的感情遇到了挫折,相互之间存在着误会,但无论什么时候,绝不可放弃希望,绝不可自暴自弃,就权当一切回到了空白,一切重头再来,那又怎样?只要我们努力争取,付出真心,事情并非不可挽回!”斯特林语调铿锵有力,其中流露坚定的信心。紫川宁听得霍然动容。她明白了,为什么斯特林能成为首屈一指的名将。他平时行事并不高调,也不引人瞩目,但无论在如何艰难困苦的环境中,他都能显示出真止男子汉的气度,他坚定的信心就像阳光一样洒遍左右,给周围的人们依靠,成为人们精神上的支柱。“阿宁,现在他遇到了麻烦,需要你的帮助。你愿意吗?”“我愿意,哪怕赴汤蹈火!”紫川宁立即回答,随即又有点犹豫:“将来有那么一天,当我——到那时候,我自然会为阿秀平反,恢复名声。但现在,我无职无权,如何能对阿秀有所帮助呢?”“首先,关于阿秀的一切情况,你还不能向外公布。阿秀的名誉还没能恢复,如果泄露了,监察长大人、阿秀本人还有我都会很麻烦的。”“我发誓,在没得到斯特林阁下同意以前,我绝不将今天在这里的谈话内容向外泄露。若违此誓,让我千刀——”“行,行了。宁小姐,没必要发毒誓那么严重,只要你答应就可以了。”斯特林打断,笑说:“要未来的总长向我发誓保证,我还没那么大胆子啊!”“斯特林大哥!”紫川宁娇嗔道,不依地跺着脚,那女儿家的娇态让斯特林看得呆了。他简单地跟紫川宁形容了一下紫川秀的处境:尽管他在远东屡战屡胜,但后勤供给能力的薄弱却限制了他进一步扩展战果。自己与帝林已经想尽办法为他在不为人知的情况下筹集补给,但总还有存在着一些障碍和阻拦。“军务处这里的事务我可以处理,监察厅的监督帝林阁下也可以解决。在家族的高级官员中,我们唯一顾忌的就是幕僚长哥珊阁卜。她负责后勤部和行政处,全面统筹家族军队的补给和财政开支,是家族的文宫之首。她精干明练,眼光老辣,上次就是她从各行省物资价格的变动中发现蹊跷,最后导致了“战略物资禁止流通法案”的颁布,让阿秀十分为难。我们要长期这样瞒天过海,大规模供应阿秀各种物资和补给,恐怕难以瞒过她。“现在的问题是,哥珊阁下是总统领罗明海阁下的人,在她的后勤部系统内,我们缺少一个够分量的人来配合我们牵制和监视她……”说到这里,斯特林眯起了眼睛,故意停住了话头。紫川宁想了一阵才明白他的用意:“斯特林大哥,你的意思是……”“我什么意思也没有。”斯特林笑眯咪的,慈祥得一面和气。他仿佛是不经意地提起:“据我所知,根据传统,总长继承人在正式接位之前都要到统领处的具体部门工作一段时间,锻链才干,熟悉业务和环境,为将来的正式接位做好准备。宁小姐,您今年已经二十了吧?该做准备了。”他起身和紫川宁握手,送她出门。马车定了好久,紫川宁才理解斯特林的用意。尽管心情郁闷,她还是哑然失笑。紫川家的三杰,果然名不虚传,没有一个是好相与的。就连最以耿直方正闻名的斯特林,在情况需要,只要他愿意的话,也是能要点诡计的。“也好吧。”想到能对紫川秀的事业有所帮助,紫川宁的心里稍微有了点慰依。她细细品味斯特林的话:“就权当一切回到了空白,一切重头再来又如何呢?世界上没有不可挽回的事情!”世界上有种人不会轻许诺言,但一旦答应,他做的会比预期的多很多。斯特林无疑就是这种人了。紫川宁心头重又燃起了希望,她默默地想:“阿秀在远东做出了那么大的成就,我也不能光等着。就让我来见识一下,号称“统领处千年坚冰”的哥珊阁下,您到底是如何的三头六臂了不起吧!”站在门口,看着马车渐渐远去,斯特林嘴角浮出了会心的笑容。回到办公室,他开始写信,把今天发生的事情原原本本地记述下来,这封信将通过秘密渠道寄给远东的紫川秀。信中他详细地把今天紫川宁的言行给记录下来。阿秀是个聪明人,他会领会自己用意的。斯特林边写边想:媒人是最吃力不讨好的角色了。自己是不是有点傻里傻气的呢?但他还是做了。经历过那场无望的苦恋,他深深懂得失去所爱的痛苦,多少次梦中徘徊缠mian,醒来却只剩眼角泪水的痛心,梦中人远在天涯。愿世间有情人终成眷属。如果有可能,他希望紫川秀和紫川宁能有个比他们好的结局。“就当是我为他们做点事吧。愿他们知道,生命中最值得他们珍惜的,并非百万财产,更非权势荣华。”放下笔,打开窗户,湛蓝的天空一望无际。仰望东方的天际,斯特林长久站立,眼角早已经湿润。祝你幸福啊,卡丹。※※※帝国历七八二年的六月,一阵罕见的酷暑袭击了整个西川大陆。在往常四季如春的帝都城内,最高温度突破了摄氏三十六度。但比起恶劣的天气,更恶劣的却是人间的形势。伴随着远东的沦陷,数以百万计的难民涌入了家族本土。这批失去了土地和生产原料的人群一贫如洗,他们露宿街头,在每个城市的周边构成了庞大的难民营和贫民窟,乞丐群到处都是,衣裳褴褛的男子游荡在街头,饥肠辘辘,对城市和乡镇的安全构成了极大的威胁,刑事案件发案奉直线上升,警察机构疲于奔命。家族的军事力量在远东和西线都遭到挫败,但家族的经济力量——规模庞大的农业、工业产业没有受到损害,他们的生产力量是保持着完好的。在七八二年这罕见的丰收年,农民却因为农业产品价格暴跌处于饥饿边缘——这真是极大的讽刺:一边是成熟的粮食大片大片地烂在地里,一边却是失业居民们被饿得饥肠碌碌。因为失去了庞大的远东市场和原料基地,数以千计的工厂和工作坊因无法忍受高昂的原料产品和维持销路而倒闭,成千上万的工人失去工作,不得不露宿街头,物价却直线上升,低层的政府官员无法忍受低廉的薪水而公然索要贿赂的丑闻不断。就连一向是社会支柱的军队机构也未能幸免。由于军队的大量扩展和经济不景气,很多年轻人,尤其是出身小地主和小商人家庭的年轻人,选择了以军官为职业。他们从士兵口中更深地了解到社会的状况已经到了灾难边缘,这些士兵每当收到家信都会失声痛哭:由于儿子远离,全家人都处于饥饿边缘。而同时,军官们却亲眼目睹了他们的上级:那些出身良好、拥有巨大财富的贵族们生活的糜烂和奢华。面对现状,军队浮躁不安,忠诚度下降。人们迷失了生活的信仰、希望和方向,低迷、糜烂的挫折感弥漫在心头。人们不知道该信仰什么、奉行什么,甚至不知道该仇恨什么。面对着无能和腐败的指责,元老会逢周二、周四的弹劾威胁,统领处虽无能力找到解决问题的办法,却善于寻找替罪羔羊。家族统领处宣称:一切都是魔族的错!是魔族强占了我们的远东二十三行省,让农民的产品无法销售!是魔族,强占了我们远东的铁、煤、矿石,让我们的工厂无法开工!更是魔族的侵略,导致了数以百万的难民流入内地,导致我们社会不安定,就业率直线下降!魔族对远东的侵略是我们一切不幸的根本原因!就如猛烈的狂风突然吹散迷雾,在七八二年的年中,炽热的烈风突然袭来,低迷的浓雾一吹而散,人们找到了宣泄仇恨的对象,整个民族异口同声地欢呼:“战争!战争!”——监察总长帝林曾预计紫川家需要十年的时间恢复,他估计得太保守了。耻辱是一个民族成长的加速器,仅仅两年不到的时间,创伤表面上才刚刚愈合,善忘的民众立即好了疤痕忘了痛,好战的浪潮又一次狂热地席卷家族领土。从上到下都是一片喧嚣:“开战!开战!夺回远东!用魔族的鲜血洗刷我们的耻辱!”仿佛在一夜之间达成了共识,从上到下——从家族元老到一贫如洗的乞丐——普遍都认为,只有通过一场战争夺回远东——或者管他什么地方,反正打仗就行——才能对现状有所改善。帝都街头每天都有宣战游行,人数从千人到十万人不等。游行人群举着各种各样的旗帜招摇地从总长府、元老会和统领处面前经过,口号声排山倒海:“打倒魔族!”、“为远东事变中死难的同胞复仇!”、“为九月事件复仇!”、“直捣黄龙,踏平魔神堡,活抓魔神皇!”游行人群一望无际,他们堵塞了帝都大大小小的道路,治部少的员警们在烈日下徒劳无功地呼喊和指挥,却成效不大。反倒是帝都的市民们对游行的激进分子们抱有极大的宽容心,容忍了他们在街头的墙壁上乱写乱涂,和砸烂“禁止通行”的交通栏杆。由于军事上的连续失利,军务部成为众矢之的。那些热血沸腾的军校学生和精力过剩的小伙子们为发泄胸中燃烧的激情,把军务部当成了魔神堡,斯特林当成了大魔神皇,三天两头地围攻,高呼着“军队无能,辱权丧国”的口号,他们不断地向守卫们投掷石子、瓦片、垃圾、污水袋,用颜料将军务处的大门涂抹得一塌糊涂。斯特林不得不向帝林借调了一个中队的宪兵来守卫门口,当他们回去时,身上伤痕累累,全是斑斑点点的污迹。在六月十一日的一次游行中,游行的队伍和维持秩序的员警们发生了激烈的冲突,十四人死亡,一百多人受伤。同日,四个后备役军官口袋里藏着折叠的刺刀冲入后勤部,他们要杀死家族幕僚长官哥珊——她反对扩大军队的征召范围,和再增加军队已经极庞大的军费开支——结果由于过于慌乱,其中一人的刀子从口袋里露了出来,引起了值班守卫的留意。他喝住了他们。四人以为事件败露了,立即抽出刀子袭击了警卫,将其活生生地捅死,旋被赶来的其他警卫制服。四人立即被捕。这极其残酷而无视法纪的袭警和谋杀案件,引起了公众极大的关注。在公开审判时候,凶手表达了对那位失去丈夫的员警遗孀的歉意后,公开宣称:“国家状况令人担忧,民众困苦不堪,国防软弱无力,官吏腐败成风”。他和他的同伙对哥珊统领和遇害的员警并没有私仇,他们的目的为“唤醒沉睡的祖国而敲醒警钟”,要除掉“阻碍祖国强大的一切障碍”!哥珊从嘴边轻轻吐出两个字:“蠢货!”旁听的公众全体起立鼓掌,掌声经久不息。在民众的心目中,他们是烈士,是代表民众利益的斗士。对凶手的同情竟然高达这般地步,以致有几万人自发地签名为其求宽恕,甚至有人寄来用血写的请愿书。在元老会最后出面干涉下,本该以谋逆罪处死的四名军官全部判了无期徒刑,预计用不了几年,他们将很快就从监狱里出来。还是老规炬:任何采取暴力行为者,如果是为了国家荣誉,都应该特赦。军队竟然发生此种目无法纪的行为,军务处长官斯持林向哥珊幕僚长郑重地书面道歉,并保证将尽量约束军队,绝不会让同类事件再行发生。后者毫不客气地打断了他的话:“你现在要做的不是道歉。”哥珊面无表情地说:“局势的发展并非你我能够控制,下一个的目标很可能就是你了,你应该调一些可靠的部队到身边来。小心啊,斯特林,你是军队最后的一丝理智。如果你死,我们就再也无法遏制军队的盲动了。”斯特林愕然。※※※七八二年六月二十三日。天气非常的好,午后两点,气温高达三十三度,阳光热辣辣的,晒得马路成了一片白地。连那些歇斯底里狂叫口号的激进分子也忍受不了这样的酷暑,帝都街头出现了罕见的平静,人们懒洋洋的悠闲地在绿荫底下乘凉,摇着蒲扇。啤酒店门口五光十色的招牌在烈日下生辉,穿着清凉的美女姿态婀娜、目不斜视地从绿荫道上走过,引起乘凉的小伙子们的一片口哨声。倚靠在奔驰的马车窗口,斯特林望着街景出神,看着那打情骂俏的俊男俏女和灯红酒绿,这使他感到心情轻松。但在经过一个十字路口处,他的心情被小小地破坏了一下:迎来赶来了两辆马车,在前面的车子赶得飞快,车夫大声地吆暍着:“让路!让路!”马鞭“劈啪”地扬得天响,行人和路边的商贩们赶紧躲避,大街上平静的气氛给闹得鸡飞狗跳。斯特林皱皱眉,对随行的秦路说:“那是谁的车子?街上那么多人,怎么能这么快马,治部少怎么不管?你查一下。”秦路也探出头去窗外观察,转而对斯特林说:“大人,那是监察厅的人,我们管不了。”“喔?”斯特林微微惊讶,再认真看去,果然,那辆马车的车辕上面悬挂着蓝底金色的剑与盾牌的旗帜,表示车上有监察厅的高级军官在。他淡淡说:“知道了。”心头却老大的不是滋味。在二月十五日的紫川宁事件,帝林率领的监察厅立下大功,检查官们的气焰也随即张扬起来,言行嚣张。斯特林一向认为,因为军队身负保卫国家使命的特殊性,它本身是国家内最大也是最强的武力集团,如果失去约束,它成为凌驾于整个社会之上的暴力集团,那些高级军官会堕落成为超越法律和政府的“军队贵族”,所以,监察和军法系统的设置对于军队来说是十分必要的。但事情不能从一个极端走向另一个极端,负责监督的监察系统变得如此乖张,这绝对不是国家设置监察系统的本意。他决定改天找帝林好好谈一下,劝他约束一下部下。自己的大哥最近把罗明海打得大败,春风得意之下,他有点忘形了。那两辆马车在十字路口来了一个右转弯,上了宽阔的皇都大道,正好与斯特林的马车同向并行。斯特林正琢磨着,这车该不会也是去总长府的吧,正在这时候,惊变骤发。在人行道上闪避的人群堆里突然斜斜窜出一个壮汉来,手持一条长长的铁棍。斯特林还没来得及反应,这汉子猛虎般扑近了悬挂监察厅旗帜的前面那辆马车,狂吼一声,将铁棍猛然插进了飞速旋转的右边车轮里。“当啷”一声巨大的响声,接着就是像是刮玻璃一样刺耳的铁器摩擦声音、“格啦格啦”连续清脆的铁器粉碎声,右边车轮被铁棍死死地卡住,“砰”的一声巨响,漫天的碎片中,马车的右轮整个飞了出去,右边车厢外皮倾斜擦到了路面上,火花四溅,奔马却仍在死命地往前拉,整个车子没有停止前进,“吱——”车厢摩擦地面的石头路基发出了巨大而刺耳的声音,令人听得牙根发软。“砰!”的一声巨响,马厢碰上了路边花圃的台阶上,倾斜的车厢整个儿翻倒过来。“哎呀!”一声怪叫,马车夫已经从驾驶座给甩了出去,重重地摔到了车子前面的路面上,半天爬不起身来,不知死活。路边的人众中冲出了几个手持兵器的男女,朝着翻倒的马车扑将上去。冲在最前面的青年女子高举着单刀剑,披着一件浅黄色的大衣,嘴里尖声尖气地喊着:“呀——呀——呀!”的怪声,后面跟着四条拿单刀的汉子,沉默地扑杀上前。那个最先冲出来卡住车轮的壮汉也从衣服下面抽出了一把砍斧,一下就将那个挣扎着要爬起来的车夫砍翻在地。事情发生得太过突然,街道上的行人都睁大了眼睛,不敢相信地看着面前发生的一幕。一个女声尖叫刺破错愕:“杀人啦!”一瞬间,目瞪口呆的行人们发出了各种各样的惊呼声,慌忙四散。冲在前面的女子速度极快,一眨眼的功夫,她已经冲到了翻过来的马车前,但却无处可下手:车子已经整个翻过来了,车门被压在下面。她围着车厢团团转,暴躁地用剑乱砍车厢壁,将车厢外面的木板砍出了一道道裂痕,露出了里层黑黝黝的铁板。“让开,让我来!”那个使用板斧的壮汉扑近身来。他放下板斧,蹲下抓住车厢的一侧,全身用力,低喝一声:“呀!”车厢动弹了一下,缓慢地又翻转了过来,恢复了原来的位置,露出了车门的一侧。刺客们喜形于色,那个领头的女刺客娇叱一声:“帝林受死!”迫不及待地就要从开了一半的车门里爬进去。斯特林心下一震:这是帝林的车子?!他这才反应过来,马上出声:“停车!”车夫猛拉缰绳,马车缓缓地停下了,斯特林从马车里冲了出来,但距离太远,无论如何已来不及。“噌!”一声响亮的弓弦脆响传得远远的,一个使单刀的男刺客惨叫一声,反手捂住了自己后背。他的后背上中了一箭。斯特林看得清楚,事变突发,跟在翻倒车子后面的第二辆马车出于惯性的无法停住车子,冲出前面数十米才慌忙停住的。箭正是从那辆马车视窗处射出来。“砰”的一下车门洞开,几名宪兵从车上跳了下来,领头的军官暴喝一声:“大胆狂徒,造反了吗!”刺客们只一愣,有两人回转身来迎击宪兵们,剩下的仍旧围着那辆车子。那个使板斧的壮汉两下劈掉了残缺不全的车门:“帝林,这下看你往哪里跑!”语音未落,车门处寒光一闪,一柄长剑闪电般刺进了他的右眼。壮汉痛喝一声,向后翻倒。其余的刺客惊骇于这一剑的威势,不由自主地向后退开几步。没有任何预兆,帝林颀长的身影出现在车门口,风度翩翩,手中长剑闪烁,温柔的眼睛此刻杀气毕露。除了衣裳稍微凌乱以外,他毫发无伤。一瞬间,斯特林安下心来了。同时他也知道,那几个刺客的命运了。宪兵们七手八脚地将被打得半死的刺客们抓着脚拖上马车,经过的地方赫然留下一条让人心有余悸的鲜红血痕。看着马车运着俘虏往监察厅方向去,帝林转过头对斯特林说:“如果你去总长府的话,我们就同路了。载我一程吧!”斯特林点头:“没问题。”他转过头跟秦路商量了下,秦路让出了车厢里的位置,到外面和车夫同坐。上了车,帝林舒服地伸展了下身子,把脚摊得开开的:“你的车子很宽敞,坐起来很舒服。改天我也要去订做一辆同样的。要多少钱呢?”斯特林笑笑,没有出声。“今年的天气有点怪,六月热得要死人了,恐怕收成不好。对了,斯特林,秀佳很挂念着弟妹李清,说很长时间都没见过她了,挂念得很。”“啊,这么巧,清也说过该去拜访下你们了,她想跟嫂子学点厨艺。”“嘿嘿,秀佳也说清弟妹的针织手艺好,她也想学——瞎!娘们儿,就净关心这些东西!我都纳闷了:一天到晚就是房间里那点玩意,她们怎么就不烦?特别是弟妹,那么出众的一个人,怎么也跟一般婆娘一样,整天就热哀什么针织啊、厨艺啊什么的?多可惜啊!斯特林,你得给她说说!”帝林侃侃而谈,只字不提刚刚遭受的袭击,神色平静,好整以暇,除了衣服稍微有点凌乱,他根本不像一个刚刚遭受刺杀,死里逃生的人。“刚才那是些什么人?”斯特林忍不住了,突然问。帝林奇怪地扬扬眉毛,斯特林说明:“我是说刚才的那群刺客。”“谁知道呢?一小撮野心勃勃的叛乱分子?某个图谋不轨的权臣——比如罗明海——对我怀有敌意所派遣的雇佣杀手?杨明华一伙死心不息的残党?家族敌人的阴谋?谁知道?”帝林笑着说。斯特林微微摇头:“从行事的方式上看,他们不像是训练有素的职业杀手。职业杀手讲究冶静,以最小的代价谋取成功,要求迅疾和效率,一击不中立即撤退,而这伙人——在光天化日的大街上公然强行袭击,他们太过于张扬和狂热了。”帝林嘿嘿一笑:“也许吧。”他转了话题,谈论起当前帝都的流行服饰和歌曲——不像斯特林那种两耳不闻窗外事的工作狂,帝林是个时代潮流的追随者,尤其对流行歌曲和文学情有独钟。但斯特林一个字也听不下去,他脑子里却总是想着刚才发生、惊心动魄的一幕:一滩滩殷红的鲜血,纷杂的军靴声,人声鼎沸,那个受伤女刺客撕心裂肺地呐喊:“打倒帝林!”“混蛋,叫什么呢!”几个强壮的宪兵强将她按倒在地,一个宪兵小旗有力的大手抓住她的头发,把她的脑袋按进了路边污水沟里,使劲地往下压,她的脸被浸进了黑色、发臭、冒着白色泡沫的污水里,但她脑袋每次从水里挣扎出来,总要用尽全身气力、沙哑地、含糊不清地喊:“打倒帝林!——帝林不死,紫川家不宁!”围观的路人和斯特林都为之动容。这种不在乎成败和生死的气势,决非职业杀手所能办到,倒像是某种信念的狂热殉道者。望着帝林那快活的笑容,出于某种直觉或者灵犀一闪,一瞬间,斯特林看到了他眉飞色舞的表情下掩盖的真正感情:那种隐藏在眼眸深处的、一闪而逝的绝望和厌倦。心底的声音告诉斯特林:这就是权力之路的代价。在显赫一时的光耀背后,他恐怕没有一个可以安心睡眠的夜晚。在权力这条道路上,自己又付出了什么样的代价呢?他想起家中那束早已经枯萎,却一直被自己珍藏着的“勿忘我”花,心头一阵刺痛。车声嘎然而止,秦路从外面敲敲车门:“监察长大人、斯特林大人,总长府到了!”当斯特林和帝林踏入时候,会议室里早已经济济一堂,家族的重量级人物齐集。紫川参星坐在会议桌的顶端,望向斯特林的目光中带有几分疑惑:以严谨守时出了名的斯特林,怎么也会有迟到的事情呢?斯特林朝众人歉意地笑笑:“不好意思,路上发生点意外。”他坐下来环顾四周:以总长紫川参星为首,总统领罗明海、禁卫统领皮古、幕僚长哥珊,就连一直戍守西部边疆的明辉统领、瓦伦要塞的镇守司令林冰副统领等边区重将都在场。而且在这群人中,斯特林还看到了个新面孔(其实也不能算是新面孔,是个大家都很热的人!)紫川宁正端坐在总长紫川参星的旁边,正襟危坐。紫川参星谅解地点点头:“人都到齐了。现在可以开始了。紧急召集大家过来,有个事情想听听大家意见——明辉,你给大家说说。”西部边防军区司令明辉统领干咳一声:“总长殿下,诸位大人,近来我边防军部门得到一个很重要的情报:流风家的家主流风西山病情已经快不行了。”会议室中起了一阵轻微的骚动,幕僚副统领哥珊轻声地嘀咕了一句:“废话!”若不是发言的人是掌握重兵的家族重臣明辉的话,那大家真的要哗然了:这也算是情报?哪怕就是帝都街头的小混混都知道的,号称“流风狐狸”的流风家当代家主自从九年前给紫川秀一个少年杀得大败回去以后,郁愤交加之下他一病不起,一直缠mian病榻。“这真是了不起的情报啊!”远东副统领林冰赞叹地说,带着浅浅的笑容,谁也搞不清楚这位远东重臣的真正意思。明辉面红了一下,很快又恢复正常:“我知道诸位大人的意思。打从七七二年到现在,都快十年了,我们哪天得到都能得到消息说流风西山快死了,但这次不同了,消息的来源非常可靠:流风西山的贴身医师逃亡到我们这边来了。”幕僚长哥珊怀疑地问:“他为什么要这样做?”“流风西山是注定不治了,流风家内部的倾轧争斗非常激烈。流风波公开威胁:“如果父亲有什么不测,治疗组的全体人员都要为他殉葬!”而流风清、流风明两位——他们内心怎么想的,无人能知,但外表上,他们也会做出义愤非常的样子,很可能杀几个“无能”的医生来表现自己的孝心。医生很担心在流风西山死后,自己会成为政治斗争中的牺牲品。”哥珊微微点头,又问:“多长时间?”“‘即使采取最好的药物、技术和最恰当的医护手段,他的寿命也不可能超过五个月!’——这是他的原话。”明辉的语气相当肯定。“明统领的消息应该是真的。”在寂静中,帝林缓缓地开口了:“与他的消息渠道来源不同,我掌握遍布流风家族境内数以百计的间谍,他们时常有报告送来——根据流风霜的命令,习冰行省与远京之间缓冲地带——加顿军区已经开始布防,禁止任何武装部队通过,六十个联队从东部阵线抽调过去以战斗队伍驻守,对远京虎视眈眈;流风清在自己领地内动员了二十万士兵修筑工事;流风明不顾禁令,命令其两万近卫部队公然进驻其在远京的住所:远京总参谋部连续一个月发布宵禁令却不公布敌人是谁——如果流风西山还健在,这些事情是绝对不可能发生的。这证明,他的病情已经恶化到无法控制局势的地步了。”屋子中一时间安静得可以听见呼吸的声音,人们在沉默中消化这个事实:流风家的首脑流风西山即将死去。此人是紫川家不共戴天的仇敌,曾给家族造成了巨大的灾难,但是听闻他的死讯,斯特林不禁还是有了点莫名的黯然感慨:随着哥应星的逝去,曾经是上个时代中最灿烂的星辰中,又有一个重要人物即将消失。他有种眼看着历史发生的感觉。哥珊问:“可知道是谁将接任?”“目前还很难说。”帝林摇头:“目前流风家的局势太过混乱,三个皇子在军中有各自的支持者,势力难分高下——任何一个占了上风,另外两个立即联手把他压下去,然后胜利者又内讧,开始新一轮的争斗。而流风西山又没指定继承人。”“到这个地步,一个行将就木的垂死老人,他指定与否其实已经毫无意义了。”林冰一针见血地指出问题的关键:“决定流风家命运的只有一个人:流风霜!无论她支持哪一个继承人,他立即可以以绝对的强势压倒另外两人,成为流风家新的霸主!”帝林表示赞同,又说:“但流风霜尚未表明态度。”哥珊冷冷说:“如此非常时刻,流风霜态度暧mei,难道她有野心谋求至尊之位?”屋子中众人面面相觑,紫川参星缓缓说:“她掌握流风家将近四成的精锐军队——不是没有可能。但,无论如何,这次流风家的乱象已成,这次权力交替决不可能和平进行。”众人一起点头,表示赞成总长殿下的深知睿见。紫川参星继续说:“如果我们可以乐观地猜测,流风家即将出现大规模混乱或者内战局面的话——”帝林插嘴说:“流风家的内战势不可免!问题不是会不会打,而是什么时候开打!”“——那我们家族将如何应对呢?”在紫川参星望向众人的目光中带有几分殷切的期待:“我们是不是应该趁这个难得的机会,一举将流风家摧毁,完成我们一统天下的霸业呢?——斯特林,你怎么看?”斯特林勉强地笑笑,他选择了尽量委婉的措辞:“摧毁流风家,这是个非常庞大的战略目标,要有计划地分多步进行,需要做长期的计算、谋划和准备。军事层面的较量是最终的手段,但在我们的军队到达战场之前,家族在经济、组织、动员、后勤、财政方面的准备是非常必要的,就这些方面来说……”“这些方面你不用担心!”紫川参星豪气十足:“我只问你,作为我家族首屈一指的名将,你有没有信心打败流风霜?”明辉、林冰等统兵将领都皱起了眉头,帝林则对斯特林投来同情的目光:这就是那种外行领导内行的悲哀。斯特林沉吟一下,他很不愿意败紫川参星的兴,但作为统管全面的军方代表,把真实的情况告诉总长,是他的责任,尽管这实情有时候让人不快。“这个……要视乎当时的具体情况而定,殿下。要看流风家的军队在内战中遭受了多大的损伤、他们的士气和武器水平,还有我们家族军队恢复程度——”斯特林看到紫川参星的眉皱了起来,但他只当没看见继续说:“殿下,很抱歉,没有人能保证自己一定能打胜仗——除非他是骗子。战场上,将领的工作是搜集尽可能齐全和准确的情报,根据情报选择战术,指挥军队行进,给部队下达各种作战命令——仅此而已。优秀的将领能把这些工作完成得较好,但不可能百分百保证胜利。战场形势变化莫测,不可能有人能完全把握。假如在骑兵冲锋时候突然来了一场突如其来的暴雨,或者山洪爆发冲垮了一座重要的桥梁使得增援军队不能及时赶到、或者一根流矢击中了敌方或者我方的重要人物——那会完全改变整个战场的形势。”“这就是所谓三分努力七分天意了,殿下。”帝林适时地插嘴,他笑着说:“但幸好,我们的斯特林统领运势一直很强——我跟他赌钱就没赢过,除非作弊。”几个人轻声地笑出来了,把紧张的气氛化解不少。罗明海总统领冷冷说:“斯特林统领可能没有理解清楚。—场战斗结果有可能出乎意料,但就一场长期战争来说,胜负一般是取决于双方的军事力量对比的。总长想询问斯特林阁下,如果开战,我们的军队能不能取胜?”“再加上了新征集的预备部队和民兵武装后,在数量上,我军对比流风军并没有处于太大的劣势,但我们存在着不少问题:军队的训练程度较差;熟练兵员的比例,比起七八一年以前,下降的程度非常明显;在年龄结构相身体方面,士兵的总体素质不能令人乐观;武器装备的生产和补充尚需要时间;战略补充能力比较薄弱,地方预备武装机构尚没做好新一轮大规模征召的准备——”“斯特林统领你能不能简单地回答我:究竟能不能?”斯特林不动声色地扫了他一眼,罗明海咄咄逼人的态度令他很反感。他苦涩地吞了口水:“如果要摧毁流风家,那需要举国动员——目前军队还没做好承担这个任务的准备。”罗明海心满意足地“嗯”了一声,面上得意的表情分明在说:我早知道这样。“需要多少时间呢?”“军务部会尽自己的最大努力,但这取决于很多外来因素:经济上,家族对军队的财政投入已经很大了,但要达到让军队在短时间内恢复甚至超过远东战前实力的这个要求来说,还是略有不足;元老会宣布国家是处于战备状态,但却没有授权我们发布全民动员令;我们曾提出建议把兵役时间适当延长,另外,扩大征兵范围——但都没能得到批准。”“延长兵役时间是我反对的。”哥珊副统领推推黑框的宽边眼镜,淡淡说:“在家族尚未受到外来攻击的情况下,我们不能任意延长兵役时间,这是对士兵们失信,会导致家族的威望败坏。另外,斯特林统领所提到的扩大征兵范围——你实质上指的是在农村中实行七男一征,城市中实行十男一征吧——我可以明确表态:我坚决反对!”没有人出声,哥珊副统领喝了口茶水,又说了下去:“斯特林统领,从七七八年起的这五年,家族军队的损失总数,你们军务处应该有个数字吧?”斯特林略显尴尬:“没有正式的统计,但哥珊阁下您如果想要的话,我可以立即让人计算……”“没这个必要。”哥珊干脆地说:“我这就可以给你个大概的数字。七七八年是我紫川家运气较好的一年,虽然在西部吃了流风霜败仗,在远东却打了胜仗,一年下来,我们士兵的损伤人数约为三万——可以称得上正常消耗。”她在纸上迅速地写了个“3”字。“七七九年开初,帝林大人在远东非常活跃,连战连捷——但我估计,五、六万的伤亡肯定是有的吧?”面对哥珊的问话,帝林面无表情,默不作声,于是哥珊又在纸上写了个“6”字。“接下来就是在平定杨明华的叛乱中,帝都军民的损伤程度——起码又是4万人,帝林大人,您没意见吧?”哥珊的语气中充满了愤怒和嘲讽的味道,谁都知道,在帝都流血夜中,正因为企图阻止帝林的暴行,哥珊被总长紫川参星处分过。“在远东的叛乱中,雷洪二十五个师团的兵力叛变,我们立即就损失了二十万的军队却增加了二十万的敌人、远东叛乱初期,抛开平民的损伤不计,各行省的守备军队的损伤起码在十五万左右;接着就是可耻的赤水滩,非常惨重:二十三万军队伤亡!“从七七九年八月到七八零年年初将近丰年的时间里,那是家族王军和远东叛军之间的拉锯战了,虽然我军取得了相当的战果,但伤亡估计不会低于七、八万。”“再往下就是魔族的突然袭击了。这段时期的伤亡资料非常混乱,很多部队名义上还存在,但事实上只剩下一面旗帜加一个司令;有些部队在最初的报告中是落入了魔族的包围圈全军覆没了,但结果我们却在瓦伦要塞看到他们在安然无恙地吃烤红薯,一个人没少,连厨房的炉子都带出来了。——但总体来说,伤亡之惨重是空前的。民众的损失那是没办法计算了,军队的损失——有没有达到四十万?”斯特林枯涩地吞了下口水:“三十八万七千。”“好!最后就是斯特林大人您在帕伊抗击魔族的壮举了,这个就比较好计算了:中央军在开战前有将近十一万的兵力,最后能回瓦伦的不到五万。”“现在,资料基本上已经齐全了——声明一下,这是按照最保守资料统计的,还有很多我没注意到的可能遗漏了。”哥珊将手上白纸高高举起,上面一个大大的红色数字连瞎子都看得清楚:一○六○○○○○○“一百零六万!各位大人,一百零六万!”一片寂静中,只有哥珊略显沙哑的嗓音在仿佛空无人迹的会议室中回荡:“对于各位大人来说,士兵、部队可能都只是一个数字,但军队和士兵不可能凭空生成!每一个士兵都是爹妈生父母养的,把他从嚎啕的婴儿养成一个成年男子起码需要二十年的光阴,耗费的社会劳动力和物资资料难以计数!“本应该是生产主力的壮年男子被大量地抽调到军队中,毫无裨益地被消耗在战场上,本来就衰弱的工业生产力,绝大部分还要倾注在军工产业上,而极大地压缩了其他部门的生产能力,导致生活物资匮乏、物价飞涨、黑市交易泛滥,我们的整个社会经济都正在萎缩之中!“如果是为了应付迫在眉睫的危机,短时间地节衣缩食,我相信民众可以忍耐。但仅仅是为了一个争霸天下的虚名,我们毫无目的的穷兵黩武,军队还要扩大征召的范围和延长兵役时间、我们还要把日益庞大的军费赋税加诸于不堪负荷的民众——”帝林插嘴说:“增加军费的问题,绝大部分民众是赞成的。”“——那是因为你们欺骗民众,说一切灾难都是因为魔族的入侵造成的!别以为我不清楚你们监察厅私下干的肮脏勾当,无耻之极!我们面临的本来就是一个经济困难,经济的问题的解决完全可以依靠经济手段:调整产业结构、减免赋税、减少对工商业的控制和审批,采用积极的财政政策,用各种渠道增加就业——只要持之以恒,形势肯定会逐步好转。但你们却利用了民众的无知,借助对外战争来转移内部视线,把民众的绝望心理煽动成好战!“一旦开战,兵火连接,伤亡惨重,我们都将成为罪人!我们将如何向历史交代?家族还有多少个一百零六万青壮年?一旦民众醒悟过来,他们还能忍耐多久?”没有一个人出声。斯特林眼盯着自己面前光滑的桌面,脊背上汗水直流。而且,他相信这绝不是他一个人的感受,会议室中人人面色铁青,像是带了个金属的面具。紫川参星冰冷的目光注视着哥珊,后者毫无惧意地抬头与之对视。僵持了一阵,他移开了眼睛,毫无表情地宣布:“散会,大家休息十分钟。”斯特林从总长府七楼休息室的窗户向外望去,夜色苍茫。帝都的万家灯火呈现在眼前,远远近近,密集的灯火如同海洋一样蔓延开去,一直到目光不能及的天际。星星在大地上空悲哀地眨着眼睛,夜雾似烟,朦胧,飘忽。习习的夜风透过敞开的窗户吹进来,把充满了夏天和泥士气息的空气带进房间里。身后传来熟悉的脚步声,沉稳,坚定。来人一直走到了自己的身边才停下脚步。帝林由衷地赞叹:“好美的夜景。”斯特林笑了一下,回答道:“是啊,只是你我平时都没留意。会议什么时候开始?”帝林耸耸肩膀:“罗明海正在总长办公室里。”斯特林笑笑,这十分钟的休息时间还真是漫长啊,从下午四点一直到晚上七点,三个小时过去了,还没有要重新开始的通知。“哥珊已经被逮捕了。”帝林平淡地说,仿佛在说着与自己根本无关的事情。斯特林点头。一个小时前,他从休息室的窗户里看到哥珊在一队宪兵的簇拥下经过总长府门口的小广场,上了一架挂有监察厅标志的马车。“帝林,我知道哥珊一直对你抱有偏见,但……”“我知道你要说什么。放心,她不会受到任何虐待和暴力。”望着窗外的灯火,帝林说:“我不是那种公报私仇的人。不过,在会上她让你那么难堪,你还要保护她?”“无论立场怎样,我很佩服她的勇气。何况,她的话不无道理。”“就算有一万个道理也不能在那个场合说!哥珊很会做事,却不会做人,总是不懂判断形势和气氛。总长很固执又好强,自从远东失利后,如果没什么意外的话,在后世的历史上他会被冠以称号:‘丢了远东二十三行省的八代总长紫川参星’,他如何甘心?好不容易流风家有了内乱的迹象,他当然希望把自己称号变成:‘灭亡了流风家族的八代总长紫川参星’。“八代总长紫川参星殿下在远东遭受小挫,失败之后忍辱负重,卧薪尝胆,在六十多岁的高龄最终一举灭亡我紫川家百世的仇敌流风一族!烈士暮年,壮心不已,这是堪与云殿下开创紫川一姓的丰功匹敌的壮举!紫川一族香火延绵,后继有人了!家族列祖列宗部应该在天国为此喜笑颜开,赞叹不已!后世的子子孙孙更是对其崇拜得五体投地,无限向往!紫川家族罕见的英主,中兴的伟大君主,紫川帝国的开创者,紫川参星陛下万岁!”帝林说得很小声,只能让斯特林听见,后者一边听一边“哧哧”地偷笑。“——斯特林,你想想,如果能在家族的史书来上这么一段,那多带劲啊!这次会议,他把明辉和林冰都召了回来,表示他是下了很大的决心了。偏偏哥珊不识趣,这个时候来谈什么‘穷兵黩武’,甚至敢骂我们是采取‘愚民政策’——她骂我无所谓,但宣传的口号和政策那可是总长自己亲自制定的啊——那不是自己找死吗?你也不用为她担心,被革职和拘禁在她也不是第一次了,罗明海会保她的,她很快就会出来了。”“我不是担心她……”斯特林摇摇头:“我担心的是总长。”帝林眯起了眼睛:“我看得出,刚才你有所保留:能不能跟我说实话,如果开战的话,军方——军务处和总参谋部——认为有多少胜算?”斯特林斟字酌句地回答:“我们目前所有的部署都是着眼于防守反击,要突然转变成为主动进攻,需要时间调整军队的布置。”“流风家不会明天就内乱,调整有的是时间。”“流风霜很可怕,她从没打过败仗。”“人总会犯错误,何况一个女人,那她就更有理由犯错误。”“流风家的军队庞大而强悍。”“而这庞大的军队眼看着就要在三个皇子的带领下来一场自相残杀了——斯特林,你该不会给那个该死的哥珊传染了吧?难道你也反对开战?”“你呢?”斯特林反问。帝林轻轻一笑:“哥珊是从民生的角度考虑,我考虑的却是紫川家的长期战略。斯特林,跟你说实话:从现在开始的五年之内,如果我们打不垮流风霜的话,那我们就只有注定被流风家消灭的命运。”“什么?!”“奇怪吗?你想想,在远东战争之前,我们与流风家一直保持着相对的均衡状态,不分上下。但失去了远东二十三省后,均衡的状态已被打破,随着时间的推栘,实力的对比会更加地不利于我们。流风的内战是上天赐予我们的最后机会,一旦流风家从内战中恢复过来,不用五年的,他们的国力就会将我们远远抛在脑后!那时候的流风家,会强大到连碰一碰都是危险的事情。”斯特林眼角微微抽搐,帝林考虑问题的方式令他震惊,但听起来不无道理。“但我们刚刚战败,也是很衰弱。”“还有时间,军队——要尽量为此做好准备,恢复实力。现在,我们还有一拚的机会,但错过这个机会,我们就连拚的机会都没有了!”帝林忽然笑了:“听过一个笑话吗?乌龟打劫蜗牛,蜗牛跑去报案说:‘当时一切发生得实在太快了……’”斯特林一笑。“现在,我们是乌龟,就是要趁内乱时候打劫流风家那只蜗牛!虽然我们也是伤痕累累,但只要趁流风家混乱,在最脆弱的时候给他们致命的一击,这就足够了!”“如果这一击没能奏效呢?”“那战争就要持年况久了。我们已经没有退路了,只有拚命打下去,耗尽最后一分潜力:把从十六岁到六十岁的最后一个男人都送上了战场,把最后一把勺子铸成钢刀,烧光最后一亩稻田,拆掉最后一间房子做掩体——我相信流风家也不会比我们好过多少的。”斯特林不寒而栗,帝林描述的前景令他心寒。他沉重地说:“紫川家拚光了,流风家也奄奄一息。这样,在我们——紫川与流风——两家的废墟上,最后还会剩下什么呢?人类如此自相残杀,最后只便宜了魔族。”“这样不是很好吗?分裂已经两百年了,打打歇歇了两百年,该有一个结局了。”帝林开玩笑地说:“说不定,一个统一的新帝国即将在废墟上诞生呢!”“但我们真的有必要打到如此程度吗?”“不是我们希望如此,而是事实和形势逼迫我们必须如此——我们也不得不战!国民的热情和好战精神必须寻找一个宣泄点,否则的话,他们对于外部侵略和经济灾难的不满就会演变成为对于家族当局——也就是我们——无能和无所作为的不满,进而威胁政权。何况,如此狂热的好战精神和激情,那种万众一心的国民意志,身为家族的领导人如果任由其毫无目标的发泄,让他们把这种热量倾泻在毫无意义的游行和示威上,那将是极其愚蠢的浪费。民众这种狂热的好战情绪,将会导致元老会进入一种状态——”“在这种状态下,元老会会同意我们提出的任何疯狂的提议,哪怕是同时对流风和魔族开战,哪怕是今年的赋税加三倍!”“已经提出了,斯特林,已经提出了,甚至不用我们开口。”望着惊呆了的斯特林,帝林笑笑:“元老会今天上午已经自发地通过提议,今年的赋税加两倍,用于新增加的军费。他们现在正在讨论通过给予总长宣战权的问题——斯特林,你的消息落伍了!——正是因为这样,总长这才紧急召集我们开这个会议。反战的最后一个障碍是哥珊,嗯,她的下场你也看见了。”斯特林无力地呻吟一声:“天,这该死的鬼天气把大家都烧昏头了吗?”“呵呵,不客气地说,如今国民陷入的这种自发的狂热状态,正是多少统治者曾梦寐以求的,多好的国民啊,一个劲地嚷嚷着:‘战斗!战斗!我们要战斗!’我们的任务是,用一场战争来引导这股好战的能量——”他笑容一敛转为严肃:“斯特林,上个月,你不是提出扩大徽召范围没得到元老会同意吗?明天你把提案再交上去,准行!”“就算批准也需要程序,起码需要一个星期的时间。”“在得到批准之前,你可以干点别的事啊!我有个办法可以避开元老会。不过当你扩军时候,你也得分我一杯羹:隶属监察厅的宪兵纪律部队也要扩充二十万人。”斯特林惊讶:“哦,说来听听。”“附耳上来!”帝林小声在斯特林的耳朵边嘀咕了一阵,斯特林一拍手:“哎呀,我怎么就没想到?”“不过,”他凝视着帝林:“这么好的法子,你怎么不在会议上提出呢?”“呵呵,斯特林,军务是属于你的管辖范围,我怎么好插手?我提的话,罗明海准会出来反对,由你来提这个建议,那是顺理成章的事,谁都没话说。”有人轻轻敲一下候见室的门,两人都住了口。一个身材高大、服饰漂亮的禁卫军官出现在门口处:“监察长大人、统领大人,会议即将开始了,请下来吧。”家族的重员们再次聚集在会议室时候,时间已经将近晚上八点了。大多数人的眼中已经露出疲态,与会成员中年纪最大的紫川参星反倒是精神矍铄,他扬起嗓门招呼大家:“快进来,坐好了!”哥珊的位置空了出来,望着那空荡荡的椅子,没有人表示惊讶和询问,冷漠得就像那位置本来就是空的。毕竟能在这个房间里有一席之位的人,像哥珊那么不懂进退的毕竟是很少的。“会议继续进行——刚才忘记介绍了,这位大家应该都很熟悉,我侄女紫川宁。”紫川宁婷婷起身,朝各位重臣们欠身示意,脸上带着浅浅的微笑。大家都对自己未来的君主报以亲切的微笑。“阿宁还是第一次参与家族的决策会议。”紫川参星的脸上有几分感慨:“呵呵,小女孩终于长大了,知道为家族分忧了。阿宁是很能干的,但经验有所欠缺,需要锻链。我考虑,她暂时不挂实职,任总长助理,在各部、处实习——大家看怎么样?”若是哥珊在的话说不定会寻根刨底:总长助理?这到底是什么官职?级别是红衣旗本还是副统领?许可权有多大?但她不在,谁会干这种杀风景的事情。“宁小姐出来为家族分忧,那是再好不过的事情了!”边防军统领明辉笑得亲切无比:“我家族又一栋梁之才即将成长起来了!欢迎小姐来边防军视察和指导!”大家暗暗骂明辉:滑头!这家伙心里有数,以紫川宁家族继承人的身份何等尊贵,紫川参星绝不可能放她到随时有可能爆发战争的西方边境第一线的,于是他就放心地大说漂亮话,惠而不费。远东副统领林冰也笑说:“两年前我见过宁小姐,那时候她还是个小姑娘。一眨眼,呵呵,变得这么漂亮了!家族后继有人啊!我代表全体远东将士欢迎宁小姐前来瓦伦视察!”她的情况与明辉相同,并不太担心紫川宁会真的前往瓦伦。其他人也七嘴八舌地说了些赞美的话:“宁小姐天生聪慧,前途定然无量!”“小姐只要稍微锻链个两年,呵呵,我紫川家也有个‘流风霜’啦!”“有着远星大人血统,在参星大人的栽培下长大,准是好样的!”帝林结结巴巴也说了两句:“欢迎宁小姐到监察厅视察。”只是比起林冰和明辉来,他语气勉强了很多。斯特林微笑,他是明白怎么回事的,他更明白帝林在担心什么,换成自己也不会希望这么一个有着未来总长身份的特殊人物到自己的部下工作,每天都得小心翼翼地侍候她,一下小心就得罪了未来的总长,那还有什么前途?更何况,统领处和监察厅,哪个部门没有见不得人的手段和花样?如果这些都让紫川宁看到了,不说将来,只要她跑回去跟她叔叔打个小报告:“参星叔叔啊,监察厅私设小金库,他们很有钱喔!”“参星叔叔喔,帝林的办公室装饰非常豪华,严重超标喔!他的钱哪里来的呢?”“参星叔叔喔,今天维加副统领来见帝林,他们两个鬼鬼祟祟单独关上门说了足足有半个钟头,也没留下谈话记录,不知搞什么花样?——不是说监察系统官员不得私下结交行政官员的吗?”光是这些就足够让帝林头疼的了。幸好,紫川参星立即就解除了他的担心:“我先前已经和阿宁商量过了,女孩子不适宜到弄刀弄枪的军队中去,打算还是让她先到文职的后勤部和行政处去学点东西——呃,罗明海,以后阿宁可就是你的手下了,她有什么做得不对的,你只管批评她!”紫川事盈盈起身向罗明海行一礼:“总统领大人,以后请多指教了!”罗明海起身回礼,强笑道:“请多指教。宁小姐冰雪聪明,我们统领处又多一名栋梁之才啊!”看到罗明海的困窘,帝林恨不得放声大笑:有这个未来的总长做部下,今后罗明海的日子就难熬了。只是……帝林皱起了眉头:后勤部统筹家族军队的财政和物资补给,行政处不但是家族文职官员的管理中枢,还管辖着帝都治部少这个强力部门。两部门都是家族的要害部门,历来是归幕僚长官亲自掌握的。只是现任幕僚长哥珊正在监察厅的大牢里面,在两部门权力出现真空时候,紫川宁这一强势人物进去,势必统揽全局。她虽然没有正式任职,但位置绝对举足轻重。哥珊刚刚被逮捕失势,紫川宁立即取代了她的位置——是无意中的巧合,还是这个女孩子刻意的安排?日后即使哥珊从狱中出来,但紫川宁已经先入为主了,你哥珊唯一的出路就是辅佐紫川宁大人吧!望着微微颤抖的长睫毛低掩下那双漂亮的眼眸,帝林发觉,比起往日的天真烂漫带一点少女的调皮,今日的紫川宁,表现出了与其年龄不相符的沉稳。她一直保持着低调,话语不多,但每一句都很有分寸,得体大方,眼神游离不定,从这个看到那个,脸上始终带着笑,让人琢磨不透。——再不能以那个爱哭爱闹的小女孩来看待她了!今后的紫川宁,将正式成为那些手掌天下命运的重量级政治人物之一。等紫川宁的介绍告一段落,接下来是听取东面、西面两条战线的负责防务长官的汇报。瓦伦要塞镇守司令林冰向总长和统领处报告:在瓦伦正面,魔族状态十分平静。魔族的西南大营已经放弃了贴近瓦伦要塞的第一线阵地,战斗部队从设置了壕沟和堡垒的前线后退,也停止了那种挑衅性的十分靠近瓦伦要塞周边的日常巡逻。魔族在第一线的部队人数大大地减少了,人类的侦察部队甚至可以越境深入近十公里还没有碰到一个魔族士兵,即使碰到了,魔族士兵的态度比先前也要温和了许多,他们往往采用语言警告的方式而不是战斗来驱赶人类出境,仿佛他们的指挥官也在有意识地避免发生与人类军队的摩擦和战斗。有传言——注意,仅仅是未经核实的传言——在魔族王国的远东境内发生了大规模的反叛事件,魔族第一线的作战部队都被抽调回去镇压了,也有传言说是在魔族王国的本上发生了魔族皇族之间的内讧,魔神皇已经被迫下台了。估计在近期,今后的半年之内,魔族是不会对人类世界发动大规模的攻势。边防军统领明辉笑笑:“我的情况与林冰阁下惊人地相似。”他报告说,在西部边境上,十字军的部分精锐部队已经向西开拔,流风家族的战斗部队已经停止了经常性的挑衅活动,一片风平浪静,边境发生大规模战事的可能不大。“这是个好消息。家族一天天地强大起来,我们的敌人已经在害怕了!好,就是要让他们更害怕!大家要注意到,战略性转折的时机已经到来了!家族已经摆脱了受威胁的被动状态了,但我们绝不能掉以轻心——”紫川参星总结说:“——无论什么时候,军队的加强始终是我们当前迫在眉睫的问题,斯特林,你身为统领处内军务的主管,对此要切实地负起责任来。”“总长殿下,各位大人,军务处有两个提议。”斯特林平静地举起手来。“哦?你说说。”“元老会一直担心过度的扩军会影响第一线生产,迟迟不肯批准实施国民征召令——为此,我提议,军队把下一次征兵重点放在远东的流亡难民中。”此言一出,举座震惊。林冰睁大了眼睛望着斯特林,喃喃道:“绝妙!”明辉拍拍自己的脑门:“怎么我就想不到?”远东战争中,数以百万计的远东人类居民失去家园,流亡在瓦伦要塞以西的家族行省,他们失去了生存的工作和上地,流离失所,到处流浪。这大股大股的难民潮所到之处给当地的社会治安造成了极大的隐患,各行省政府都为此极其头痛。为了安置这批难民,紫川家族的民政部门每个月都要耗费上亿的金钱给他们发放补助和食品。“将流亡难民中的壮年男子征收入伍有以下几点好处:一、是避开元老会的控制。难民在当地政府中都没有户籍和土地,属于无业人员——既然没有户籍,从纸上作业来说,他们是不存在的。征收他们,不算是从生产第一线抽调劳动力,不会引起元老会的反对。“二、减轻家族民政系统的负担和开支。从理论上来说,一个从军的战士,他所得薪水可以养活一个三口之家。如果我们假设在五百万难民中哪怕就有四十万人参军,那就解决了一百二十万人的温饱问题。“三、对于增强军队的战斗力也有好处。难民们在远东战争中失去了土地、家园和亲人的,再没有什么牵挂和留恋,对魔族怀有最深刻的仇恨——在我的经验里,由这种人组成的军队,只要稍加训练和数导,他们会很容易就成为那种无所畏惧的敢死之师!——不知总长殿下意下如何?”“好!好!”紫川参星听得眼睛发亮,连声地说好:“这是个好主意!统观全局,面面俱到。斯特林,你是用心的!”斯特林低下头表示谦虚,抬起头时候,他微微向帝林使了个眼色表示感谢,后者则若无其事地在一边低头看报告。罗明海在一旁泼冷水:“斯特林统领的主意虽好,但将大批的难民征召,组编成军,训练——没有个一年半载的时间恐怕还看不出效果吧?但流风家的内乱却就在眼前,恐怕远水救不了近火啊!”斯特林一笑:“是。总长殿下,总统领大人,下官还有第二个提议:我紫川家族并不是没有军队,只是军队并不在我们手里。”“在谁手里?”“在元老们的手里!就在军务处为兵力的缺乏而大伤脑筋的时候,贵族们却掌握着大量私人军队,拥兵自重。例如——”斯特林摊开了手上的一张纸,那是刚才帝林交给他秘密报告:“洛克辛威行省的元老会代表杜丘伯爵在其封地内养了三万多私人军队,达玛行省元老会代表的费沙男爵蓄兵一万六千多人,辛加行省的元老会代表余兰女伯爵拥兵两万七干人;瓦林行省的马维伯爵(这个名字让他觉得有点耳熟)拥有四个雇佣师团,总共两万三千名雇佣兵:利加行省的元老会代表,大富商祖巴的护卫团有一万一千人……”帝林的报告来得又长又详细,一共有四十三个元老贵族藉以护卫队、自卫团、乡镇治安联防队、城市保安团等名义私下组建军队,总兵力多达近六十万。没有一个人出声,大家看着斯特林慢吞吞地将那张纸折了起来装进口袋里,有种坐在火山口的感觉。当代总长紫川参星与元老会的关系一向是敏感中之最敏感,现在,斯特林摸到了这条最高压的线上了。总长看着斯特林,问:“情报确切吗?”斯特林谁也不看:“基本上可以肯定了。军务处的提议是,将这批私人军队收编列入正规军编制,由家族军务处统一指挥。”这是一次对紫川参星的反将军。如果他对此报告装聋作哑,那就不要再跟大家提什么‘争霸天下,击灭流风’,元老会始终是一道必须面对的考验,现在就看总长有没有勇气了。“据我所知,”帝林慢条斯理地说:“在二代总长紫川星殿下与贵族们达成的协议中明确规定,贵族的私兵不能超过三千,这是写进了元老会法案里面的铁律。以上的诸位贵族元老,毫无疑问地,他们触犯了法律。”谁也没有出声,所有人都在看着总长。感觉到无数的目光聚在自己面上,紫川参星的表情渐渐变得僵硬,脸上肌肉绷紧,手上的拳头捏紧:“监察总长帝林,我命令你,以谋逆罪——”“等一下!”令所有人吃惊,出声的人竟然是刚刚任命的“总长助理”紫川宁。她匆匆地说:“叔叔——哦,不,总长殿下,各位大人,很抱歉,但在您做决策之前,能不能先让我说两句呢?”“啊,阿宁啊。”看到出声的人是自己的亲侄女,紫川参星的表情缓和了下来:“你有什么要说的呢?”“是。总长殿下,各位大人,诚如监察长大人所言,刚才提到名字的贵族们违反了法令。但贵族蓄兵不得超过三千的这条法令颁布是在二代总长时代,距离如今有近两百年了,很多人都忘记了。平日里,大家都对此习以为常了。——就连我,如果监察长大人不提起的话,我也记不起有这么规定的了。他们未必就有谋逆的心。所以,恳请总长殿下给以上犯错的贵族们一次机会,只要他们交出兵权,配合军务处做好改编工作的话,对此就不加追究了,显示家族的宽容的胸怀。”她一边说一边对紫川参星使眼色,后者立即领悟了她的意思,口中“嗯、嗯”有声,好像正在思考该不该给那群犯错的贵族显示下“家族的宽容的胸怀”。帝林眼中流露赞叹之色,故意问:“如果他们不肯交出兵权呢?”“他们应该会肯的。否则,我们就将此事提交元老会,由元老会议来裁决。”“但这些贵族本身就是元老会成员……”“四十三名贵族在近五千的元老会议中只是很小的一部分,我相信这不会妨碍元老会作出正确裁决的。毕竟,这件事的事实和法律都非常的清楚。而且当前的形势下,元老会更不可能包庇他们。如果拒绝交出兵权,那些贵族立即就会成为众矢之的。“建议军务部给予那些贵族必要的补偿,或者将‘征用军队’的说法改成‘购调军队’,让人更容易接受。“而监察厅注意搜集相关的证据和材料,以便我们能在元老会议上能明确地指证。“命令各行省正规驻军进入戒备状态,对私人军队进行严密监视,造成声势和压力,也防止有人铤而走险,行大逆不道之事。“建议军务部为此事做好必要的准备工作,在整编的谈判中坚持重点突破。人人都有从众心理,只要有一个同意了,剩下的人会想:‘连某某大贵族都同意,我还撑什么呢?’那剩下的谈判就比较好解决了。”紫川宁侃侃而谈,大家像不认识似的睁大了眼睛望着她。就在这一眨眼的时间,她已经提出了和平地夺取贵族兵权的一系列步骤,而且分轻重缓急,有威胁(各行省驻军整军监视,摆明一旦不服从改编就要动手),也给出路(服从改编的,给予适当的经济补偿),恩威并施。帝林微笑着轻轻一欠身:“宁小姐思虑周到,下官十分佩服。”帝林说的是真心话。他是最清楚这件事的厉害关系的:如果按照刚才紫川参星恼怒之下的决定,真的逮捕了那些元老贵族的话,将会彻底激怒元老会,搞不好在流风家全面内战之前,紫川的内战就先爆发了。而紫川宁则提议把事情先交元老会审判,算是给了元老会的面子,还藉元老会的力量来压制那些坐拥私兵的贵族——即使他们不服元老会的裁决,那家族要对付的敌人也只是四十三名贵族而非整个元老会,阻力少了很多。整个步骤环环相扣,妥当又切实可行,即使那些最有经验的老手也不过如此。谁也没想到,这个家族未来的继承人,会是这般能干和睿智的一员政治家。帝林轻轻捅捅斯特林的胳膊:“怎么样?”斯特林小声:“非常了不起!见事极快,应变敏捷,稍加锻链的话,很有可能是不输于远星和参星两位殿下的一代明君!”“是啊。”帝林轻声感叹着。有一句话他忍住了没说出来:“正是这样我才担心啊!”第134章不义之降“请进。”斯特林从档案堆里抬起头来。“大人,”秦路从门外探头出来:“紫川宁小姐求见。”斯特林一阵慌乱。尽管他已经结婚成家了,但他还是承认自己不懂女人。在他看来,女人是很麻烦的动物。他知道紫川宁来找自己是为了什么——他宁愿面对着二十个魔族团队也不愿应付一个哭哭啼啼的哀怨少女。他托着下巴,好声气地和秦路商量:“能不能跟宁小姐说,我不在?”“晚了。”秦路面无表情地说:“我已经跟她说你在,而且很有空。”“你!”斯特林一时气结,他苦笑。七十三个师团的预备役士兵要转入现役,家族要增添近五十万的军队编制,要给这批部队安置集结点和部署在各个战略要地上;流风霜在西部蠢蠢欲动,流风家的十字军已经开到了多伦湖前线,大兵压境,西部军十个师团的部队面临被包围的危险,明辉统领的告急文书如同雪花般飞来。在瓦伦前线的军事演习中,演习部队又和魔族发生流血冲突,二十一个士兵和三个军官在冲突中阵亡,凌步虚向紫川家正式递交了警告,火yao味非常浓烈,第二次远东战争已经近在眼前。同时,各行省驻军发来的报告堆得有小山那么高。行省总督们深通为官之道,为了让自己的档案得到重视,每份信封上都用红字标明了:“紧急!”、“十万紧急!”、“火急!”、“极端重要!”、“危急!”自己哪一份都不敢遗漏,一一批覆,结果大多的报告都只是:“对某某军官的调令的请示”、“缺少一百套夏季服装申请补给”、“驻地营地水涝,请示是否转移驻地?”昨晚自己工作到凌晨三点,早上七点又起床继续干,八点进总长府做简单汇报,九点到元老会答覆关于帝都驻军扰民事件的处理结果,十点视察新组建的部队,听取师团长官们的汇报,中午也不能休息,自己和部下们忙得象狗一样把舌头都吐出来了,而现在……“给我准备一杯茶,要浓的。”斯特林吩咐进来的秘书,同时站起身跟秦路说:“走吧,一起出门去迎接宁小姐。”“宁小姐大驾光临视察,军务处全体同仁同感荣幸!”领着部属们站在门口,斯特林微笑地欢迎紫川宁,深深地鞠了一躬。尽管已是初春时节了,天气还是很冷。紫川宁静静地站在门口,披着一件洁白的绍皮大衣,缠着红色的围巾,美丽得令人目眩神驰。那些第一次见到她的年轻军官们被这位家族继承人的美丽所慑,不敢抬头正视。她身边没有一个随从。看着斯特林摆出了这般隆重而正式的仪仗,她秀眉一蹙,随即开颜:“斯特林大人大客气了,我只是随便来看看。叨搅各位了?”她望向一边的秦路等人。“哪里,哪里。宁小姐大驾光临,这是我们的荣幸,请都请不来呢!”秦路笑着说。斯特林微笑着不作声,在紫川宁的目光中,他看到了焦急。他和她都明白,这次拜访绝非一次“随便看看”。虽然紫川宁并没有担任任何实职,但她是家族的第一顺位继承人,这个身份相当于家族首脑,凌驾于任何家族官员之上。斯特林将紫川宁请入了办公室,按照正式的程序,他和一众军官开始给这位前来视察的家族继承人进行汇报。“不知小姐有意了解军务处哪一方面的工作呢?”斯特林问。紫川宁不动声色地望了他一眼,目光中大有深意,微笑说:“随便谈谈吧。”斯特林非常了解这个眼神的意思:“斯特林,你这个家伙竟敢和我装傻!”于是他就憨憨地傻笑起来,吩咐秦路说:“老路,给宁小姐汇报一下西部边境的局势吧,那边情况比较重要。”“明白!宁小姐、斯特林大人,众所周知,在西部对我家族构成最大威胁的是流风家族。它是我们家族的死敌!流风家族的军队分为三个系统,国防军系统,十字军系统、还有就是远京卫戍军区。”“一说到流风家就不能不说到流风霜。在流风家族内部,流风霜无疑是首屈一指的重将和权臣。但人们往往不知道,虽被流风西山册封为‘终身护国统领’的荣誉称号,但是就实际宫职来说,她不过是习冰军区的司令,辖地不到三千平方里,论职位,她不过和我紫川家的一个行省总督差不多。但实际上,习冰军区位于流风家与我紫川家和林家接壤的三角地区,是兵家必争之地,流风家族在此地部署了重兵死守。就在习冰军区以及周边邻近地区的防守地域,部署了十字军的主力和国防军系统的一百三十个联队,而且自从流风霜在远京失势来到习冰地区后,得到了流风路的大力支持,她一直致力于流风家军力的加强,自行在三大系统外一手创建新军——风霜团。她所指挥的部队包括了流风家族最强的实战部队,是流风家实质上的“兵马大元帅”。就目前来说,她和她的军队对我紫川家的安全造成了最大的威胁,而且近来的诸多迹象表明,她对我紫川家怀有强烈的野、心……”秦路抓住了机会,从当前形势一直说到展望未来,“我神勇的家族军队必将战胜无耻的冠以流风姓氏的无耻人类败类”云云,说得滔滔不绝。斯特林默不作声地观察着:表面上,紫川宁听得非常认真,身子微微前倾,不时轻轻点头:“哦,是这样的吗……”、“嗯,对……”但她那双游离不定的眸子已经暴露了她内心的焦急和心不在焉,白皙的手指抓住了衣角,紧紧捏住。斯特林暗叹一声:“何必呢。”汇报进行得又长又臭,接下来军务处所属的几个高级军官分别进行了关于各地区战备工作的汇报,一共进行了两个多小时。眼看时间已经是中午了,斯特林微笑着终止了汇报会:“好了,大家说得都很好,宁小姐,您还需要了解些什么情况吗?”“啊,”心不在焉的紫川宁回过神来,有种如梦初醒的感觉,犹豫一下,她笑笑说:“斯特林大人,有个情况我想向你了解一下。”斯特林平静地说:“好的。”旁边的军官们识趣地起身,离开了办公室,最后一个人出了门,脚步声渐渐远去。他看着她,她却局促不安,眼神游离不定。斯特林轻声咳嗽—声。“斯特林大哥,”紫川宁终于下定了决心,开口就直奔主题:“阿秀哥哥,他……他在哪里?”斯特林犹豫一下,还是回答了:“远东。这几年,他一直在远东。”紫川宁猛然后退一步:“啊!难道,他真的……”“情况不是你想的这样。”斯特林站了起身,走到窗前,窗外的园子里,树木已经长出了娇嫩的绿叶。他回过头来,直视着紫川宁,缓慢地说:“阿秀对家族的忠诚,没有谁能比得上。他是个真正的忠贞之士。”紫川宁呆呆地看着他。“事情要从七八九年的帕伊围城说起。”斯特林开始讲述紫川秀两年多的经历:他忍辱负重,伪装向魔族投诚,讲述他英勇过人,于魔族聚会之时将雷洪当场格杀,杀伤魔族将领无数,国家得以惩罚奸逆,洗刷耻辱,魔族嚣张的气焰遭到沉重打击。他凭着大智大勇,经历九死一生的磨难,终于逃脱了魔族的魔掌。但狠毒的敌人不甘心失败,捏造出可耻的谎言来中伤他,让他有家归不得,被迫流亡远东。但就在这种艰难的情形下,紫川秀仍旧没有放弃他对家族的忠诚与坚贞,在远东卧薪尝胆,秘密练兵,苦心积攒力量,终于等到时机成熟,他一手发动了远东大起义,给予魔族沉重打击,在不为人知的情形下默默地捍卫了紫川家的东方防线。当他从远东归来时候,又恰好遭遇神秘的刺客对紫川宁的行刺,他单枪匹马狙击对方全部高手,力保紫川宁得以幸免于难,自己却被敌人所重创……紫川宁安静地听着,腰挺得笔直,身形一动不动。尽管知道紫川秀后来一定没事,但听得斯特林叙述紫川秀经历之险,她脸上情不自禁地流露出紧张的神情。当得知那晚紫川秀为拯救自己受了重伤,她低下了头侧过睑去,以免让斯特林看见她眼中的波光闪动。斯特林理解她此刻的心情:自己心上人非但不是叛逆,而且还是个了不起的大英雄,这更让她自己的作为显得难以容忍。“一个人,在远离亲人与朋友的地方,断绝了消息,蒙受耻辱和骂名,默默地战斗。没有得到家族一兵一卒的援助,凭个人的努力,他已经收复了远东国土的大半,这在历史上是从没有过的!此功此业,足可光耀日月,彪炳千秋!可以说,阿秀他完全无愧于当年远星大人对他的栽培,无愧于哥应星大人对他的厚望,也无愧于——”斯特林若有所思地看了紫川宁一下:“——宁小姐您曾经对他寄予的期望。”紫川宁一直在压抑着自己,告诫自己要冷静。但听着斯特林平和有力的陈述,不知不觉的,泪水已经夺眶而出。她再也忍受不住了,起身在房间里急切地走来走去。仿佛发着高烧,她苍白的脸上现出了斑斑红晕,心胸在起伏,呼吸急速,仿佛她正在承受着巨大的苦痛。不敢面对斯特林严肃的脸,也因为双脚已经不能支持自己了,她双手扶着墙,对着墙壁长久地站立。斯特林暗叹一口气,他打开窗户,大量涌进来的新鲜空气中饱含着春天的气息。黎明前下过一阵短时间的绵绵细雨,花园中的泥土被雨水冲过,到处留下了水流的痕迹,园子里,大量的新芽正在干枯的枝头上争先恐后地绽放,雨水洗过的新芽像是泡沫似的在阳光下闪着光芒,充满了勃勃生机。他听到了身后隐隐传来的啜泣声音,但却故意忽略了。过了几分钟,哭声低了下来,斯特林转过身去,走到紫川宁身边,善解人意地递上手帕。紫川宁没有回过头,低声说:“谢谢。”接过了手帕。当她回转头时候,她已经能控制自己了,除了眼睛有点潮湿相通红外,她看上去一切正常。对着斯特林,她苦涩地一笑:“斯特林大哥,谢谢你告诉我这些。”“不客气,这是你应该知道的。宁小姐,你——”仿佛害怕什么,紫川宁匆匆地说:“我知道,斯特林大哥你是很忙的,我已经耽误你很多时间了,实在不好意思。这就告辞了,代我向清姐问好。”斯特林默默地点头,看着紫川宁向门口走去,他突然出声:“宁小姐,请留步一下。”紫川宁的身影僵住了,诧异地回头望来。斯特林有点懊悔地挥一下手,却不知该说什么。为了紫川秀——也为了紫川宁,他只是知道,绝不能让紫川宁就这么走掉。他总想为自己最疼爱的小弟做点事情,好挽回这段感情。“宁小姐,以我的身份,也许我不该说,但是……有些事情……有些事情……你也许真应该好好的考虑一下呢?”他皱着眉头在苦苦思索,想找一个恰当又不伤害紫川宁自尊心的方式把自己的真正意思表白出来。这时候,紫川宁反倒是善解人意,她笑了:“斯特林大哥,你是想不是想说,我和阿秀还有在一起的希望?”紫川宁挑破了这层纸,斯特林大感轻松。他道:“正是。”“阿宁,你是家族未来总长,是我的主君,以我紫川家家臣的身份,有些话我是不该说的。但我又是看着你和阿秀长大的,承蒙你不弃,一直称我为大哥,那今天,就允许我逾越一下臣子的本分。”紫川宁柔声说:“斯特林大哥,从小我是一直真的把你当大哥。你想说什么,我大概也猜到了一点。你是想劝说我回头,和阿秀哥哥重归于好吧?”“正是。”“前天早上,我已经和元老会的马维阁下谈过了。”紫川宁欲言又止。斯特林急切地追问:“怎么样?”她嫣然一笑,美丽得犹如海棠带雨:“今后,大家都还是好朋友。”花了足足半分钟斯特林统领才明白这句话的意思。他不禁感慨:青春年华的女孩子都能无师自通地拥有和外交官相媲美的言辞,明明是无情的分手绝交,她们却有办法说得那么动听:“我们做一生一世的好朋友吧!”让男人吃了哑巴亏还得扮出一副很有风度的样子表示:我不要紧,我真的一点都不要紧,最后还得深情脉脉地祝她永远幸福。一瞬间,他感觉自己的同情是站在那个花花公子的元老议员一边的。他欣喜说:“那就好!宁小姐,只要您……”“斯特林大哥,你不明白的。”紫川宁柔声却坚决地打断了他的话:“问题的关键不在这里。我配不上阿秀。”斯特林诧异地望着她,她笑了,笑得凄婉又坚决:“真的,我配不上他。他是那么高尚,那么勇敢。为了国家,为了人类,他浴血奋战,捍卫国土。面对祖国,面对上天,他问心无愧。而我呢?就在他冒着生命危险,为我紫川家斩奸除逆;就在他九死一生,被魔族追捕的那些最危险的日日夜夜里;在他冲锋陷阵,冒着魔族的刀剑弓箭奋勇杀敌的时候,我没能为他祈祷一声,甚至我还怀疑,他是不是真的投降魔族了!”斯特林安慰说:“这并不是小姐您的错,当时几乎所有人都是这么认为的。”“但我不是‘一般人’,我是他的……我应该是最了解他的人!就算天底下所有人都怀疑他,我也应该相信他,坚定不移。何况,斯特林大哥你,还有监察总长帝林阁下——你们始终都相信阿秀,不是吗?而我更应该相信他,相信他不会死,相信他的忠诚,相信他对我的承诺!”紫川宁的声音渐渐低落下去了:“但我没能做到。爱情是对双方的考验,而这个考验,我没能经得住。诚然,我紫川家对阿秀是有所亏欠,但我对他的负义更是超过任何人。从孩提时代起,我欠他的,实在太多。多少次,他为我出生入死,但我能回报他的,只有伤心和痛苦。我不是个值得他爱的人,如果没有我,他会更幸福的。“人们常说破镜重圆——但破了的镜子,裂痕还在,始终不可能恢复成原来的样子。”斯特林望着她,他想到了阿秀告别时候那悲哀的背影,他理解紫川宁此刻的心情,深深的罪恶感使得她无法坦然地面对他,而紫川秀傲气和自尊更是使得他是不可能回头的——误会已冰消瓦解了,但隔阂依旧存在。彼此思念的两个人依旧不能在一起,感情的事情真是复杂。两人心头有很多话想说,却不知该怎么说起。最后,她盈盈地站起来:“斯特林大哥,谢谢你了,我想,我已经耽误你太多时间了,该走了。”“阿宁!”斯特林第二次叫住了她:“你再坐一下,我有些话要说。”斯特林站起来,倾身直视着紫川宁:“宁小姐,以我二十多年的人生经历来看,我不相信世界上没有不可挽回的事情。即使有,纵使凶难临头,纵使形势险恶,作为人类,我们只要一息尚存,就要尽最俊一分努力。我明白你此刻的心情,你与阿秀的感情遇到了挫折,相互之间存在着误会,但无论什么时候,绝不可放弃希望,绝不可自暴自弃,就权当一切回到了空白,一切重头再来,那又怎样?只要我们努力争取,付出真心,事情并非不可挽回!”斯特林语调铿锵有力,其中流露坚定的信心。紫川宁听得霍然动容。她明白了,为什么斯特林能成为首屈一指的名将。他平时行事并不高调,也不引人瞩目,但无论在如何艰难困苦的环境中,他都能显示出真止男子汉的气度,他坚定的信心就像阳光一样洒遍左右,给周围的人们依靠,成为人们精神上的支柱。“阿宁,现在他遇到了麻烦,需要你的帮助。你愿意吗?”“我愿意,哪怕赴汤蹈火!”紫川宁立即回答,随即又有点犹豫:“将来有那么一天,当我——到那时候,我自然会为阿秀平反,恢复名声。但现在,我无职无权,如何能对阿秀有所帮助呢?”“首先,关于阿秀的一切情况,你还不能向外公布。阿秀的名誉还没能恢复,如果泄露了,监察长大人、阿秀本人还有我都会很麻烦的。”“我发誓,在没得到斯特林阁下同意以前,我绝不将今天在这里的谈话内容向外泄露。若违此誓,让我千刀——”“行,行了。宁小姐,没必要发毒誓那么严重,只要你答应就可以了。”斯特林打断,笑说:“要未来的总长向我发誓保证,我还没那么大胆子啊!”“斯特林大哥!”紫川宁娇嗔道,不依地跺着脚,那女儿家的娇态让斯特林看得呆了。他简单地跟紫川宁形容了一下紫川秀的处境:尽管他在远东屡战屡胜,但后勤供给能力的薄弱却限制了他进一步扩展战果。自己与帝林已经想尽办法为他在不为人知的情况下筹集补给,但总还有存在着一些障碍和阻拦。“军务处这里的事务我可以处理,监察厅的监督帝林阁下也可以解决。在家族的高级官员中,我们唯一顾忌的就是幕僚长哥珊阁卜。她负责后勤部和行政处,全面统筹家族军队的补给和财政开支,是家族的文宫之首。她精干明练,眼光老辣,上次就是她从各行省物资价格的变动中发现蹊跷,最后导致了“战略物资禁止流通法案”的颁布,让阿秀十分为难。我们要长期这样瞒天过海,大规模供应阿秀各种物资和补给,恐怕难以瞒过她。“现在的问题是,哥珊阁下是总统领罗明海阁下的人,在她的后勤部系统内,我们缺少一个够分量的人来配合我们牵制和监视她……”说到这里,斯特林眯起了眼睛,故意停住了话头。紫川宁想了一阵才明白他的用意:“斯特林大哥,你的意思是……”“我什么意思也没有。”斯特林笑眯咪的,慈祥得一面和气。他仿佛是不经意地提起:“据我所知,根据传统,总长继承人在正式接位之前都要到统领处的具体部门工作一段时间,锻链才干,熟悉业务和环境,为将来的正式接位做好准备。宁小姐,您今年已经二十了吧?该做准备了。”他起身和紫川宁握手,送她出门。马车定了好久,紫川宁才理解斯特林的用意。尽管心情郁闷,她还是哑然失笑。紫川家的三杰,果然名不虚传,没有一个是好相与的。就连最以耿直方正闻名的斯特林,在情况需要,只要他愿意的话,也是能要点诡计的。“也好吧。”想到能对紫川秀的事业有所帮助,紫川宁的心里稍微有了点慰依。她细细品味斯特林的话:“就权当一切回到了空白,一切重头再来又如何呢?世界上没有不可挽回的事情!”世界上有种人不会轻许诺言,但一旦答应,他做的会比预期的多很多。斯特林无疑就是这种人了。紫川宁心头重又燃起了希望,她默默地想:“阿秀在远东做出了那么大的成就,我也不能光等着。就让我来见识一下,号称“统领处千年坚冰”的哥珊阁下,您到底是如何的三头六臂了不起吧!”站在门口,看着马车渐渐远去,斯特林嘴角浮出了会心的笑容。回到办公室,他开始写信,把今天发生的事情原原本本地记述下来,这封信将通过秘密渠道寄给远东的紫川秀。信中他详细地把今天紫川宁的言行给记录下来。阿秀是个聪明人,他会领会自己用意的。斯特林边写边想:媒人是最吃力不讨好的角色了。自己是不是有点傻里傻气的呢?但他还是做了。经历过那场无望的苦恋,他深深懂得失去所爱的痛苦,多少次梦中徘徊缠mian,醒来却只剩眼角泪水的痛心,梦中人远在天涯。愿世间有情人终成眷属。如果有可能,他希望紫川秀和紫川宁能有个比他们好的结局。“就当是我为他们做点事吧。愿他们知道,生命中最值得他们珍惜的,并非百万财产,更非权势荣华。”放下笔,打开窗户,湛蓝的天空一望无际。仰望东方的天际,斯特林长久站立,眼角早已经湿润。祝你幸福啊,卡丹。※※※帝国历七八二年的六月,一阵罕见的酷暑袭击了整个西川大陆。在往常四季如春的帝都城内,最高温度突破了摄氏三十六度。但比起恶劣的天气,更恶劣的却是人间的形势。伴随着远东的沦陷,数以百万计的难民涌入了家族本土。这批失去了土地和生产原料的人群一贫如洗,他们露宿街头,在每个城市的周边构成了庞大的难民营和贫民窟,乞丐群到处都是,衣裳褴褛的男子游荡在街头,饥肠辘辘,对城市和乡镇的安全构成了极大的威胁,刑事案件发案奉直线上升,警察机构疲于奔命。家族的军事力量在远东和西线都遭到挫败,但家族的经济力量——规模庞大的农业、工业产业没有受到损害,他们的生产力量是保持着完好的。在七八二年这罕见的丰收年,农民却因为农业产品价格暴跌处于饥饿边缘——这真是极大的讽刺:一边是成熟的粮食大片大片地烂在地里,一边却是失业居民们被饿得饥肠碌碌。因为失去了庞大的远东市场和原料基地,数以千计的工厂和工作坊因无法忍受高昂的原料产品和维持销路而倒闭,成千上万的工人失去工作,不得不露宿街头,物价却直线上升,低层的政府官员无法忍受低廉的薪水而公然索要贿赂的丑闻不断。就连一向是社会支柱的军队机构也未能幸免。由于军队的大量扩展和经济不景气,很多年轻人,尤其是出身小地主和小商人家庭的年轻人,选择了以军官为职业。他们从士兵口中更深地了解到社会的状况已经到了灾难边缘,这些士兵每当收到家信都会失声痛哭:由于儿子远离,全家人都处于饥饿边缘。而同时,军官们却亲眼目睹了他们的上级:那些出身良好、拥有巨大财富的贵族们生活的糜烂和奢华。面对现状,军队浮躁不安,忠诚度下降。人们迷失了生活的信仰、希望和方向,低迷、糜烂的挫折感弥漫在心头。人们不知道该信仰什么、奉行什么,甚至不知道该仇恨什么。面对着无能和腐败的指责,元老会逢周二、周四的弹劾威胁,统领处虽无能力找到解决问题的办法,却善于寻找替罪羔羊。家族统领处宣称:一切都是魔族的错!是魔族强占了我们的远东二十三行省,让农民的产品无法销售!是魔族,强占了我们远东的铁、煤、矿石,让我们的工厂无法开工!更是魔族的侵略,导致了数以百万的难民流入内地,导致我们社会不安定,就业率直线下降!魔族对远东的侵略是我们一切不幸的根本原因!就如猛烈的狂风突然吹散迷雾,在七八二年的年中,炽热的烈风突然袭来,低迷的浓雾一吹而散,人们找到了宣泄仇恨的对象,整个民族异口同声地欢呼:“战争!战争!”——监察总长帝林曾预计紫川家需要十年的时间恢复,他估计得太保守了。耻辱是一个民族成长的加速器,仅仅两年不到的时间,创伤表面上才刚刚愈合,善忘的民众立即好了疤痕忘了痛,好战的浪潮又一次狂热地席卷家族领土。从上到下都是一片喧嚣:“开战!开战!夺回远东!用魔族的鲜血洗刷我们的耻辱!”仿佛在一夜之间达成了共识,从上到下——从家族元老到一贫如洗的乞丐——普遍都认为,只有通过一场战争夺回远东——或者管他什么地方,反正打仗就行——才能对现状有所改善。帝都街头每天都有宣战游行,人数从千人到十万人不等。游行人群举着各种各样的旗帜招摇地从总长府、元老会和统领处面前经过,口号声排山倒海:“打倒魔族!”、“为远东事变中死难的同胞复仇!”、“为九月事件复仇!”、“直捣黄龙,踏平魔神堡,活抓魔神皇!”游行人群一望无际,他们堵塞了帝都大大小小的道路,治部少的员警们在烈日下徒劳无功地呼喊和指挥,却成效不大。反倒是帝都的市民们对游行的激进分子们抱有极大的宽容心,容忍了他们在街头的墙壁上乱写乱涂,和砸烂“禁止通行”的交通栏杆。由于军事上的连续失利,军务部成为众矢之的。那些热血沸腾的军校学生和精力过剩的小伙子们为发泄胸中燃烧的激情,把军务部当成了魔神堡,斯特林当成了大魔神皇,三天两头地围攻,高呼着“军队无能,辱权丧国”的口号,他们不断地向守卫们投掷石子、瓦片、垃圾、污水袋,用颜料将军务处的大门涂抹得一塌糊涂。斯特林不得不向帝林借调了一个中队的宪兵来守卫门口,当他们回去时,身上伤痕累累,全是斑斑点点的污迹。在六月十一日的一次游行中,游行的队伍和维持秩序的员警们发生了激烈的冲突,十四人死亡,一百多人受伤。同日,四个后备役军官口袋里藏着折叠的刺刀冲入后勤部,他们要杀死家族幕僚长官哥珊——她反对扩大军队的征召范围,和再增加军队已经极庞大的军费开支——结果由于过于慌乱,其中一人的刀子从口袋里露了出来,引起了值班守卫的留意。他喝住了他们。四人以为事件败露了,立即抽出刀子袭击了警卫,将其活生生地捅死,旋被赶来的其他警卫制服。四人立即被捕。这极其残酷而无视法纪的袭警和谋杀案件,引起了公众极大的关注。在公开审判时候,凶手表达了对那位失去丈夫的员警遗孀的歉意后,公开宣称:“国家状况令人担忧,民众困苦不堪,国防软弱无力,官吏腐败成风”。他和他的同伙对哥珊统领和遇害的员警并没有私仇,他们的目的为“唤醒沉睡的祖国而敲醒警钟”,要除掉“阻碍祖国强大的一切障碍”!哥珊从嘴边轻轻吐出两个字:“蠢货!”旁听的公众全体起立鼓掌,掌声经久不息。在民众的心目中,他们是烈士,是代表民众利益的斗士。对凶手的同情竟然高达这般地步,以致有几万人自发地签名为其求宽恕,甚至有人寄来用血写的请愿书。在元老会最后出面干涉下,本该以谋逆罪处死的四名军官全部判了无期徒刑,预计用不了几年,他们将很快就从监狱里出来。还是老规炬:任何采取暴力行为者,如果是为了国家荣誉,都应该特赦。军队竟然发生此种目无法纪的行为,军务处长官斯持林向哥珊幕僚长郑重地书面道歉,并保证将尽量约束军队,绝不会让同类事件再行发生。后者毫不客气地打断了他的话:“你现在要做的不是道歉。”哥珊面无表情地说:“局势的发展并非你我能够控制,下一个的目标很可能就是你了,你应该调一些可靠的部队到身边来。小心啊,斯特林,你是军队最后的一丝理智。如果你死,我们就再也无法遏制军队的盲动了。”斯特林愕然。※※※七八二年六月二十三日。天气非常的好,午后两点,气温高达三十三度,阳光热辣辣的,晒得马路成了一片白地。连那些歇斯底里狂叫口号的激进分子也忍受不了这样的酷暑,帝都街头出现了罕见的平静,人们懒洋洋的悠闲地在绿荫底下乘凉,摇着蒲扇。啤酒店门口五光十色的招牌在烈日下生辉,穿着清凉的美女姿态婀娜、目不斜视地从绿荫道上走过,引起乘凉的小伙子们的一片口哨声。倚靠在奔驰的马车窗口,斯特林望着街景出神,看着那打情骂俏的俊男俏女和灯红酒绿,这使他感到心情轻松。但在经过一个十字路口处,他的心情被小小地破坏了一下:迎来赶来了两辆马车,在前面的车子赶得飞快,车夫大声地吆暍着:“让路!让路!”马鞭“劈啪”地扬得天响,行人和路边的商贩们赶紧躲避,大街上平静的气氛给闹得鸡飞狗跳。斯特林皱皱眉,对随行的秦路说:“那是谁的车子?街上那么多人,怎么能这么快马,治部少怎么不管?你查一下。”秦路也探出头去窗外观察,转而对斯特林说:“大人,那是监察厅的人,我们管不了。”“喔?”斯特林微微惊讶,再认真看去,果然,那辆马车的车辕上面悬挂着蓝底金色的剑与盾牌的旗帜,表示车上有监察厅的高级军官在。他淡淡说:“知道了。”心头却老大的不是滋味。在二月十五日的紫川宁事件,帝林率领的监察厅立下大功,检查官们的气焰也随即张扬起来,言行嚣张。斯特林一向认为,因为军队身负保卫国家使命的特殊性,它本身是国家内最大也是最强的武力集团,如果失去约束,它成为凌驾于整个社会之上的暴力集团,那些高级军官会堕落成为超越法律和政府的“军队贵族”,所以,监察和军法系统的设置对于军队来说是十分必要的。但事情不能从一个极端走向另一个极端,负责监督的监察系统变得如此乖张,这绝对不是国家设置监察系统的本意。他决定改天找帝林好好谈一下,劝他约束一下部下。自己的大哥最近把罗明海打得大败,春风得意之下,他有点忘形了。那两辆马车在十字路口来了一个右转弯,上了宽阔的皇都大道,正好与斯特林的马车同向并行。斯特林正琢磨着,这车该不会也是去总长府的吧,正在这时候,惊变骤发。在人行道上闪避的人群堆里突然斜斜窜出一个壮汉来,手持一条长长的铁棍。斯特林还没来得及反应,这汉子猛虎般扑近了悬挂监察厅旗帜的前面那辆马车,狂吼一声,将铁棍猛然插进了飞速旋转的右边车轮里。“当啷”一声巨大的响声,接着就是像是刮玻璃一样刺耳的铁器摩擦声音、“格啦格啦”连续清脆的铁器粉碎声,右边车轮被铁棍死死地卡住,“砰”的一声巨响,漫天的碎片中,马车的右轮整个飞了出去,右边车厢外皮倾斜擦到了路面上,火花四溅,奔马却仍在死命地往前拉,整个车子没有停止前进,“吱——”车厢摩擦地面的石头路基发出了巨大而刺耳的声音,令人听得牙根发软。“砰!”的一声巨响,马厢碰上了路边花圃的台阶上,倾斜的车厢整个儿翻倒过来。“哎呀!”一声怪叫,马车夫已经从驾驶座给甩了出去,重重地摔到了车子前面的路面上,半天爬不起身来,不知死活。路边的人众中冲出了几个手持兵器的男女,朝着翻倒的马车扑将上去。冲在最前面的青年女子高举着单刀剑,披着一件浅黄色的大衣,嘴里尖声尖气地喊着:“呀——呀——呀!”的怪声,后面跟着四条拿单刀的汉子,沉默地扑杀上前。那个最先冲出来卡住车轮的壮汉也从衣服下面抽出了一把砍斧,一下就将那个挣扎着要爬起来的车夫砍翻在地。事情发生得太过突然,街道上的行人都睁大了眼睛,不敢相信地看着面前发生的一幕。一个女声尖叫刺破错愕:“杀人啦!”一瞬间,目瞪口呆的行人们发出了各种各样的惊呼声,慌忙四散。冲在前面的女子速度极快,一眨眼的功夫,她已经冲到了翻过来的马车前,但却无处可下手:车子已经整个翻过来了,车门被压在下面。她围着车厢团团转,暴躁地用剑乱砍车厢壁,将车厢外面的木板砍出了一道道裂痕,露出了里层黑黝黝的铁板。“让开,让我来!”那个使用板斧的壮汉扑近身来。他放下板斧,蹲下抓住车厢的一侧,全身用力,低喝一声:“呀!”车厢动弹了一下,缓慢地又翻转了过来,恢复了原来的位置,露出了车门的一侧。刺客们喜形于色,那个领头的女刺客娇叱一声:“帝林受死!”迫不及待地就要从开了一半的车门里爬进去。斯特林心下一震:这是帝林的车子?!他这才反应过来,马上出声:“停车!”车夫猛拉缰绳,马车缓缓地停下了,斯特林从马车里冲了出来,但距离太远,无论如何已来不及。“噌!”一声响亮的弓弦脆响传得远远的,一个使单刀的男刺客惨叫一声,反手捂住了自己后背。他的后背上中了一箭。斯特林看得清楚,事变突发,跟在翻倒车子后面的第二辆马车出于惯性的无法停住车子,冲出前面数十米才慌忙停住的。箭正是从那辆马车视窗处射出来。“砰”的一下车门洞开,几名宪兵从车上跳了下来,领头的军官暴喝一声:“大胆狂徒,造反了吗!”刺客们只一愣,有两人回转身来迎击宪兵们,剩下的仍旧围着那辆车子。那个使板斧的壮汉两下劈掉了残缺不全的车门:“帝林,这下看你往哪里跑!”语音未落,车门处寒光一闪,一柄长剑闪电般刺进了他的右眼。壮汉痛喝一声,向后翻倒。其余的刺客惊骇于这一剑的威势,不由自主地向后退开几步。没有任何预兆,帝林颀长的身影出现在车门口,风度翩翩,手中长剑闪烁,温柔的眼睛此刻杀气毕露。除了衣裳稍微凌乱以外,他毫发无伤。一瞬间,斯特林安下心来了。同时他也知道,那几个刺客的命运了。宪兵们七手八脚地将被打得半死的刺客们抓着脚拖上马车,经过的地方赫然留下一条让人心有余悸的鲜红血痕。看着马车运着俘虏往监察厅方向去,帝林转过头对斯特林说:“如果你去总长府的话,我们就同路了。载我一程吧!”斯特林点头:“没问题。”他转过头跟秦路商量了下,秦路让出了车厢里的位置,到外面和车夫同坐。上了车,帝林舒服地伸展了下身子,把脚摊得开开的:“你的车子很宽敞,坐起来很舒服。改天我也要去订做一辆同样的。要多少钱呢?”斯特林笑笑,没有出声。“今年的天气有点怪,六月热得要死人了,恐怕收成不好。对了,斯特林,秀佳很挂念着弟妹李清,说很长时间都没见过她了,挂念得很。”“啊,这么巧,清也说过该去拜访下你们了,她想跟嫂子学点厨艺。”“嘿嘿,秀佳也说清弟妹的针织手艺好,她也想学——瞎!娘们儿,就净关心这些东西!我都纳闷了:一天到晚就是房间里那点玩意,她们怎么就不烦?特别是弟妹,那么出众的一个人,怎么也跟一般婆娘一样,整天就热哀什么针织啊、厨艺啊什么的?多可惜啊!斯特林,你得给她说说!”帝林侃侃而谈,只字不提刚刚遭受的袭击,神色平静,好整以暇,除了衣服稍微有点凌乱,他根本不像一个刚刚遭受刺杀,死里逃生的人。“刚才那是些什么人?”斯特林忍不住了,突然问。帝林奇怪地扬扬眉毛,斯特林说明:“我是说刚才的那群刺客。”“谁知道呢?一小撮野心勃勃的叛乱分子?某个图谋不轨的权臣——比如罗明海——对我怀有敌意所派遣的雇佣杀手?杨明华一伙死心不息的残党?家族敌人的阴谋?谁知道?”帝林笑着说。斯特林微微摇头:“从行事的方式上看,他们不像是训练有素的职业杀手。职业杀手讲究冶静,以最小的代价谋取成功,要求迅疾和效率,一击不中立即撤退,而这伙人——在光天化日的大街上公然强行袭击,他们太过于张扬和狂热了。”帝林嘿嘿一笑:“也许吧。”他转了话题,谈论起当前帝都的流行服饰和歌曲——不像斯特林那种两耳不闻窗外事的工作狂,帝林是个时代潮流的追随者,尤其对流行歌曲和文学情有独钟。但斯特林一个字也听不下去,他脑子里却总是想着刚才发生、惊心动魄的一幕:一滩滩殷红的鲜血,纷杂的军靴声,人声鼎沸,那个受伤女刺客撕心裂肺地呐喊:“打倒帝林!”“混蛋,叫什么呢!”几个强壮的宪兵强将她按倒在地,一个宪兵小旗有力的大手抓住她的头发,把她的脑袋按进了路边污水沟里,使劲地往下压,她的脸被浸进了黑色、发臭、冒着白色泡沫的污水里,但她脑袋每次从水里挣扎出来,总要用尽全身气力、沙哑地、含糊不清地喊:“打倒帝林!——帝林不死,紫川家不宁!”围观的路人和斯特林都为之动容。这种不在乎成败和生死的气势,决非职业杀手所能办到,倒像是某种信念的狂热殉道者。望着帝林那快活的笑容,出于某种直觉或者灵犀一闪,一瞬间,斯特林看到了他眉飞色舞的表情下掩盖的真正感情:那种隐藏在眼眸深处的、一闪而逝的绝望和厌倦。心底的声音告诉斯特林:这就是权力之路的代价。在显赫一时的光耀背后,他恐怕没有一个可以安心睡眠的夜晚。在权力这条道路上,自己又付出了什么样的代价呢?他想起家中那束早已经枯萎,却一直被自己珍藏着的“勿忘我”花,心头一阵刺痛。车声嘎然而止,秦路从外面敲敲车门:“监察长大人、斯特林大人,总长府到了!”当斯特林和帝林踏入时候,会议室里早已经济济一堂,家族的重量级人物齐集。紫川参星坐在会议桌的顶端,望向斯特林的目光中带有几分疑惑:以严谨守时出了名的斯特林,怎么也会有迟到的事情呢?斯特林朝众人歉意地笑笑:“不好意思,路上发生点意外。”他坐下来环顾四周:以总长紫川参星为首,总统领罗明海、禁卫统领皮古、幕僚长哥珊,就连一直戍守西部边疆的明辉统领、瓦伦要塞的镇守司令林冰副统领等边区重将都在场。而且在这群人中,斯特林还看到了个新面孔(其实也不能算是新面孔,是个大家都很热的人!)紫川宁正端坐在总长紫川参星的旁边,正襟危坐。紫川参星谅解地点点头:“人都到齐了。现在可以开始了。紧急召集大家过来,有个事情想听听大家意见——明辉,你给大家说说。”西部边防军区司令明辉统领干咳一声:“总长殿下,诸位大人,近来我边防军部门得到一个很重要的情报:流风家的家主流风西山病情已经快不行了。”会议室中起了一阵轻微的骚动,幕僚副统领哥珊轻声地嘀咕了一句:“废话!”若不是发言的人是掌握重兵的家族重臣明辉的话,那大家真的要哗然了:这也算是情报?哪怕就是帝都街头的小混混都知道的,号称“流风狐狸”的流风家当代家主自从九年前给紫川秀一个少年杀得大败回去以后,郁愤交加之下他一病不起,一直缠mian病榻。“这真是了不起的情报啊!”远东副统领林冰赞叹地说,带着浅浅的笑容,谁也搞不清楚这位远东重臣的真正意思。明辉面红了一下,很快又恢复正常:“我知道诸位大人的意思。打从七七二年到现在,都快十年了,我们哪天得到都能得到消息说流风西山快死了,但这次不同了,消息的来源非常可靠:流风西山的贴身医师逃亡到我们这边来了。”幕僚长哥珊怀疑地问:“他为什么要这样做?”“流风西山是注定不治了,流风家内部的倾轧争斗非常激烈。流风波公开威胁:“如果父亲有什么不测,治疗组的全体人员都要为他殉葬!”而流风清、流风明两位——他们内心怎么想的,无人能知,但外表上,他们也会做出义愤非常的样子,很可能杀几个“无能”的医生来表现自己的孝心。医生很担心在流风西山死后,自己会成为政治斗争中的牺牲品。”哥珊微微点头,又问:“多长时间?”“‘即使采取最好的药物、技术和最恰当的医护手段,他的寿命也不可能超过五个月!’——这是他的原话。”明辉的语气相当肯定。“明统领的消息应该是真的。”在寂静中,帝林缓缓地开口了:“与他的消息渠道来源不同,我掌握遍布流风家族境内数以百计的间谍,他们时常有报告送来——根据流风霜的命令,习冰行省与远京之间缓冲地带——加顿军区已经开始布防,禁止任何武装部队通过,六十个联队从东部阵线抽调过去以战斗队伍驻守,对远京虎视眈眈;流风清在自己领地内动员了二十万士兵修筑工事;流风明不顾禁令,命令其两万近卫部队公然进驻其在远京的住所:远京总参谋部连续一个月发布宵禁令却不公布敌人是谁——如果流风西山还健在,这些事情是绝对不可能发生的。这证明,他的病情已经恶化到无法控制局势的地步了。”屋子中一时间安静得可以听见呼吸的声音,人们在沉默中消化这个事实:流风家的首脑流风西山即将死去。此人是紫川家不共戴天的仇敌,曾给家族造成了巨大的灾难,但是听闻他的死讯,斯特林不禁还是有了点莫名的黯然感慨:随着哥应星的逝去,曾经是上个时代中最灿烂的星辰中,又有一个重要人物即将消失。他有种眼看着历史发生的感觉。哥珊问:“可知道是谁将接任?”“目前还很难说。”帝林摇头:“目前流风家的局势太过混乱,三个皇子在军中有各自的支持者,势力难分高下——任何一个占了上风,另外两个立即联手把他压下去,然后胜利者又内讧,开始新一轮的争斗。而流风西山又没指定继承人。”“到这个地步,一个行将就木的垂死老人,他指定与否其实已经毫无意义了。”林冰一针见血地指出问题的关键:“决定流风家命运的只有一个人:流风霜!无论她支持哪一个继承人,他立即可以以绝对的强势压倒另外两人,成为流风家新的霸主!”帝林表示赞同,又说:“但流风霜尚未表明态度。”哥珊冷冷说:“如此非常时刻,流风霜态度暧mei,难道她有野心谋求至尊之位?”屋子中众人面面相觑,紫川参星缓缓说:“她掌握流风家将近四成的精锐军队——不是没有可能。但,无论如何,这次流风家的乱象已成,这次权力交替决不可能和平进行。”众人一起点头,表示赞成总长殿下的深知睿见。紫川参星继续说:“如果我们可以乐观地猜测,流风家即将出现大规模混乱或者内战局面的话——”帝林插嘴说:“流风家的内战势不可免!问题不是会不会打,而是什么时候开打!”“——那我们家族将如何应对呢?”在紫川参星望向众人的目光中带有几分殷切的期待:“我们是不是应该趁这个难得的机会,一举将流风家摧毁,完成我们一统天下的霸业呢?——斯特林,你怎么看?”斯特林勉强地笑笑,他选择了尽量委婉的措辞:“摧毁流风家,这是个非常庞大的战略目标,要有计划地分多步进行,需要做长期的计算、谋划和准备。军事层面的较量是最终的手段,但在我们的军队到达战场之前,家族在经济、组织、动员、后勤、财政方面的准备是非常必要的,就这些方面来说……”“这些方面你不用担心!”紫川参星豪气十足:“我只问你,作为我家族首屈一指的名将,你有没有信心打败流风霜?”明辉、林冰等统兵将领都皱起了眉头,帝林则对斯特林投来同情的目光:这就是那种外行领导内行的悲哀。斯特林沉吟一下,他很不愿意败紫川参星的兴,但作为统管全面的军方代表,把真实的情况告诉总长,是他的责任,尽管这实情有时候让人不快。“这个……要视乎当时的具体情况而定,殿下。要看流风家的军队在内战中遭受了多大的损伤、他们的士气和武器水平,还有我们家族军队恢复程度——”斯特林看到紫川参星的眉皱了起来,但他只当没看见继续说:“殿下,很抱歉,没有人能保证自己一定能打胜仗——除非他是骗子。战场上,将领的工作是搜集尽可能齐全和准确的情报,根据情报选择战术,指挥军队行进,给部队下达各种作战命令——仅此而已。优秀的将领能把这些工作完成得较好,但不可能百分百保证胜利。战场形势变化莫测,不可能有人能完全把握。假如在骑兵冲锋时候突然来了一场突如其来的暴雨,或者山洪爆发冲垮了一座重要的桥梁使得增援军队不能及时赶到、或者一根流矢击中了敌方或者我方的重要人物——那会完全改变整个战场的形势。”“这就是所谓三分努力七分天意了,殿下。”帝林适时地插嘴,他笑着说:“但幸好,我们的斯特林统领运势一直很强——我跟他赌钱就没赢过,除非作弊。”几个人轻声地笑出来了,把紧张的气氛化解不少。罗明海总统领冷冷说:“斯特林统领可能没有理解清楚。—场战斗结果有可能出乎意料,但就一场长期战争来说,胜负一般是取决于双方的军事力量对比的。总长想询问斯特林阁下,如果开战,我们的军队能不能取胜?”“再加上了新征集的预备部队和民兵武装后,在数量上,我军对比流风军并没有处于太大的劣势,但我们存在着不少问题:军队的训练程度较差;熟练兵员的比例,比起七八一年以前,下降的程度非常明显;在年龄结构相身体方面,士兵的总体素质不能令人乐观;武器装备的生产和补充尚需要时间;战略补充能力比较薄弱,地方预备武装机构尚没做好新一轮大规模征召的准备——”“斯特林统领你能不能简单地回答我:究竟能不能?”斯特林不动声色地扫了他一眼,罗明海咄咄逼人的态度令他很反感。他苦涩地吞了口水:“如果要摧毁流风家,那需要举国动员——目前军队还没做好承担这个任务的准备。”罗明海心满意足地“嗯”了一声,面上得意的表情分明在说:我早知道这样。“需要多少时间呢?”“军务部会尽自己的最大努力,但这取决于很多外来因素:经济上,家族对军队的财政投入已经很大了,但要达到让军队在短时间内恢复甚至超过远东战前实力的这个要求来说,还是略有不足;元老会宣布国家是处于战备状态,但却没有授权我们发布全民动员令;我们曾提出建议把兵役时间适当延长,另外,扩大征兵范围——但都没能得到批准。”“延长兵役时间是我反对的。”哥珊副统领推推黑框的宽边眼镜,淡淡说:“在家族尚未受到外来攻击的情况下,我们不能任意延长兵役时间,这是对士兵们失信,会导致家族的威望败坏。另外,斯特林统领所提到的扩大征兵范围——你实质上指的是在农村中实行七男一征,城市中实行十男一征吧——我可以明确表态:我坚决反对!”没有人出声,哥珊副统领喝了口茶水,又说了下去:“斯特林统领,从七七八年起的这五年,家族军队的损失总数,你们军务处应该有个数字吧?”斯特林略显尴尬:“没有正式的统计,但哥珊阁下您如果想要的话,我可以立即让人计算……”“没这个必要。”哥珊干脆地说:“我这就可以给你个大概的数字。七七八年是我紫川家运气较好的一年,虽然在西部吃了流风霜败仗,在远东却打了胜仗,一年下来,我们士兵的损伤人数约为三万——可以称得上正常消耗。”她在纸上迅速地写了个“3”字。“七七九年开初,帝林大人在远东非常活跃,连战连捷——但我估计,五、六万的伤亡肯定是有的吧?”面对哥珊的问话,帝林面无表情,默不作声,于是哥珊又在纸上写了个“6”字。“接下来就是在平定杨明华的叛乱中,帝都军民的损伤程度——起码又是4万人,帝林大人,您没意见吧?”哥珊的语气中充满了愤怒和嘲讽的味道,谁都知道,在帝都流血夜中,正因为企图阻止帝林的暴行,哥珊被总长紫川参星处分过。“在远东的叛乱中,雷洪二十五个师团的兵力叛变,我们立即就损失了二十万的军队却增加了二十万的敌人、远东叛乱初期,抛开平民的损伤不计,各行省的守备军队的损伤起码在十五万左右;接着就是可耻的赤水滩,非常惨重:二十三万军队伤亡!“从七七九年八月到七八零年年初将近丰年的时间里,那是家族王军和远东叛军之间的拉锯战了,虽然我军取得了相当的战果,但伤亡估计不会低于七、八万。”“再往下就是魔族的突然袭击了。这段时期的伤亡资料非常混乱,很多部队名义上还存在,但事实上只剩下一面旗帜加一个司令;有些部队在最初的报告中是落入了魔族的包围圈全军覆没了,但结果我们却在瓦伦要塞看到他们在安然无恙地吃烤红薯,一个人没少,连厨房的炉子都带出来了。——但总体来说,伤亡之惨重是空前的。民众的损失那是没办法计算了,军队的损失——有没有达到四十万?”斯特林枯涩地吞了下口水:“三十八万七千。”“好!最后就是斯特林大人您在帕伊抗击魔族的壮举了,这个就比较好计算了:中央军在开战前有将近十一万的兵力,最后能回瓦伦的不到五万。”“现在,资料基本上已经齐全了——声明一下,这是按照最保守资料统计的,还有很多我没注意到的可能遗漏了。”哥珊将手上白纸高高举起,上面一个大大的红色数字连瞎子都看得清楚:一○六○○○○○○“一百零六万!各位大人,一百零六万!”一片寂静中,只有哥珊略显沙哑的嗓音在仿佛空无人迹的会议室中回荡:“对于各位大人来说,士兵、部队可能都只是一个数字,但军队和士兵不可能凭空生成!每一个士兵都是爹妈生父母养的,把他从嚎啕的婴儿养成一个成年男子起码需要二十年的光阴,耗费的社会劳动力和物资资料难以计数!“本应该是生产主力的壮年男子被大量地抽调到军队中,毫无裨益地被消耗在战场上,本来就衰弱的工业生产力,绝大部分还要倾注在军工产业上,而极大地压缩了其他部门的生产能力,导致生活物资匮乏、物价飞涨、黑市交易泛滥,我们的整个社会经济都正在萎缩之中!“如果是为了应付迫在眉睫的危机,短时间地节衣缩食,我相信民众可以忍耐。但仅仅是为了一个争霸天下的虚名,我们毫无目的的穷兵黩武,军队还要扩大征召的范围和延长兵役时间、我们还要把日益庞大的军费赋税加诸于不堪负荷的民众——”帝林插嘴说:“增加军费的问题,绝大部分民众是赞成的。”“——那是因为你们欺骗民众,说一切灾难都是因为魔族的入侵造成的!别以为我不清楚你们监察厅私下干的肮脏勾当,无耻之极!我们面临的本来就是一个经济困难,经济的问题的解决完全可以依靠经济手段:调整产业结构、减免赋税、减少对工商业的控制和审批,采用积极的财政政策,用各种渠道增加就业——只要持之以恒,形势肯定会逐步好转。但你们却利用了民众的无知,借助对外战争来转移内部视线,把民众的绝望心理煽动成好战!“一旦开战,兵火连接,伤亡惨重,我们都将成为罪人!我们将如何向历史交代?家族还有多少个一百零六万青壮年?一旦民众醒悟过来,他们还能忍耐多久?”没有一个人出声。斯特林眼盯着自己面前光滑的桌面,脊背上汗水直流。而且,他相信这绝不是他一个人的感受,会议室中人人面色铁青,像是带了个金属的面具。紫川参星冰冷的目光注视着哥珊,后者毫无惧意地抬头与之对视。僵持了一阵,他移开了眼睛,毫无表情地宣布:“散会,大家休息十分钟。”斯特林从总长府七楼休息室的窗户向外望去,夜色苍茫。帝都的万家灯火呈现在眼前,远远近近,密集的灯火如同海洋一样蔓延开去,一直到目光不能及的天际。星星在大地上空悲哀地眨着眼睛,夜雾似烟,朦胧,飘忽。习习的夜风透过敞开的窗户吹进来,把充满了夏天和泥士气息的空气带进房间里。身后传来熟悉的脚步声,沉稳,坚定。来人一直走到了自己的身边才停下脚步。帝林由衷地赞叹:“好美的夜景。”斯特林笑了一下,回答道:“是啊,只是你我平时都没留意。会议什么时候开始?”帝林耸耸肩膀:“罗明海正在总长办公室里。”斯特林笑笑,这十分钟的休息时间还真是漫长啊,从下午四点一直到晚上七点,三个小时过去了,还没有要重新开始的通知。“哥珊已经被逮捕了。”帝林平淡地说,仿佛在说着与自己根本无关的事情。斯特林点头。一个小时前,他从休息室的窗户里看到哥珊在一队宪兵的簇拥下经过总长府门口的小广场,上了一架挂有监察厅标志的马车。“帝林,我知道哥珊一直对你抱有偏见,但……”“我知道你要说什么。放心,她不会受到任何虐待和暴力。”望着窗外的灯火,帝林说:“我不是那种公报私仇的人。不过,在会上她让你那么难堪,你还要保护她?”“无论立场怎样,我很佩服她的勇气。何况,她的话不无道理。”“就算有一万个道理也不能在那个场合说!哥珊很会做事,却不会做人,总是不懂判断形势和气氛。总长很固执又好强,自从远东失利后,如果没什么意外的话,在后世的历史上他会被冠以称号:‘丢了远东二十三行省的八代总长紫川参星’,他如何甘心?好不容易流风家有了内乱的迹象,他当然希望把自己称号变成:‘灭亡了流风家族的八代总长紫川参星’。“八代总长紫川参星殿下在远东遭受小挫,失败之后忍辱负重,卧薪尝胆,在六十多岁的高龄最终一举灭亡我紫川家百世的仇敌流风一族!烈士暮年,壮心不已,这是堪与云殿下开创紫川一姓的丰功匹敌的壮举!紫川一族香火延绵,后继有人了!家族列祖列宗部应该在天国为此喜笑颜开,赞叹不已!后世的子子孙孙更是对其崇拜得五体投地,无限向往!紫川家族罕见的英主,中兴的伟大君主,紫川帝国的开创者,紫川参星陛下万岁!”帝林说得很小声,只能让斯特林听见,后者一边听一边“哧哧”地偷笑。“——斯特林,你想想,如果能在家族的史书来上这么一段,那多带劲啊!这次会议,他把明辉和林冰都召了回来,表示他是下了很大的决心了。偏偏哥珊不识趣,这个时候来谈什么‘穷兵黩武’,甚至敢骂我们是采取‘愚民政策’——她骂我无所谓,但宣传的口号和政策那可是总长自己亲自制定的啊——那不是自己找死吗?你也不用为她担心,被革职和拘禁在她也不是第一次了,罗明海会保她的,她很快就会出来了。”“我不是担心她……”斯特林摇摇头:“我担心的是总长。”帝林眯起了眼睛:“我看得出,刚才你有所保留:能不能跟我说实话,如果开战的话,军方——军务处和总参谋部——认为有多少胜算?”斯特林斟字酌句地回答:“我们目前所有的部署都是着眼于防守反击,要突然转变成为主动进攻,需要时间调整军队的布置。”“流风家不会明天就内乱,调整有的是时间。”“流风霜很可怕,她从没打过败仗。”“人总会犯错误,何况一个女人,那她就更有理由犯错误。”“流风家的军队庞大而强悍。”“而这庞大的军队眼看着就要在三个皇子的带领下来一场自相残杀了——斯特林,你该不会给那个该死的哥珊传染了吧?难道你也反对开战?”“你呢?”斯特林反问。帝林轻轻一笑:“哥珊是从民生的角度考虑,我考虑的却是紫川家的长期战略。斯特林,跟你说实话:从现在开始的五年之内,如果我们打不垮流风霜的话,那我们就只有注定被流风家消灭的命运。”“什么?!”“奇怪吗?你想想,在远东战争之前,我们与流风家一直保持着相对的均衡状态,不分上下。但失去了远东二十三省后,均衡的状态已被打破,随着时间的推栘,实力的对比会更加地不利于我们。流风的内战是上天赐予我们的最后机会,一旦流风家从内战中恢复过来,不用五年的,他们的国力就会将我们远远抛在脑后!那时候的流风家,会强大到连碰一碰都是危险的事情。”斯特林眼角微微抽搐,帝林考虑问题的方式令他震惊,但听起来不无道理。“但我们刚刚战败,也是很衰弱。”“还有时间,军队——要尽量为此做好准备,恢复实力。现在,我们还有一拚的机会,但错过这个机会,我们就连拚的机会都没有了!”帝林忽然笑了:“听过一个笑话吗?乌龟打劫蜗牛,蜗牛跑去报案说:‘当时一切发生得实在太快了……’”斯特林一笑。“现在,我们是乌龟,就是要趁内乱时候打劫流风家那只蜗牛!虽然我们也是伤痕累累,但只要趁流风家混乱,在最脆弱的时候给他们致命的一击,这就足够了!”“如果这一击没能奏效呢?”“那战争就要持年况久了。我们已经没有退路了,只有拚命打下去,耗尽最后一分潜力:把从十六岁到六十岁的最后一个男人都送上了战场,把最后一把勺子铸成钢刀,烧光最后一亩稻田,拆掉最后一间房子做掩体——我相信流风家也不会比我们好过多少的。”斯特林不寒而栗,帝林描述的前景令他心寒。他沉重地说:“紫川家拚光了,流风家也奄奄一息。这样,在我们——紫川与流风——两家的废墟上,最后还会剩下什么呢?人类如此自相残杀,最后只便宜了魔族。”“这样不是很好吗?分裂已经两百年了,打打歇歇了两百年,该有一个结局了。”帝林开玩笑地说:“说不定,一个统一的新帝国即将在废墟上诞生呢!”“但我们真的有必要打到如此程度吗?”“不是我们希望如此,而是事实和形势逼迫我们必须如此——我们也不得不战!国民的热情和好战精神必须寻找一个宣泄点,否则的话,他们对于外部侵略和经济灾难的不满就会演变成为对于家族当局——也就是我们——无能和无所作为的不满,进而威胁政权。何况,如此狂热的好战精神和激情,那种万众一心的国民意志,身为家族的领导人如果任由其毫无目标的发泄,让他们把这种热量倾泻在毫无意义的游行和示威上,那将是极其愚蠢的浪费。民众这种狂热的好战情绪,将会导致元老会进入一种状态——”“在这种状态下,元老会会同意我们提出的任何疯狂的提议,哪怕是同时对流风和魔族开战,哪怕是今年的赋税加三倍!”“已经提出了,斯特林,已经提出了,甚至不用我们开口。”望着惊呆了的斯特林,帝林笑笑:“元老会今天上午已经自发地通过提议,今年的赋税加两倍,用于新增加的军费。他们现在正在讨论通过给予总长宣战权的问题——斯特林,你的消息落伍了!——正是因为这样,总长这才紧急召集我们开这个会议。反战的最后一个障碍是哥珊,嗯,她的下场你也看见了。”斯特林无力地呻吟一声:“天,这该死的鬼天气把大家都烧昏头了吗?”“呵呵,不客气地说,如今国民陷入的这种自发的狂热状态,正是多少统治者曾梦寐以求的,多好的国民啊,一个劲地嚷嚷着:‘战斗!战斗!我们要战斗!’我们的任务是,用一场战争来引导这股好战的能量——”他笑容一敛转为严肃:“斯特林,上个月,你不是提出扩大徽召范围没得到元老会同意吗?明天你把提案再交上去,准行!”“就算批准也需要程序,起码需要一个星期的时间。”“在得到批准之前,你可以干点别的事啊!我有个办法可以避开元老会。不过当你扩军时候,你也得分我一杯羹:隶属监察厅的宪兵纪律部队也要扩充二十万人。”斯特林惊讶:“哦,说来听听。”“附耳上来!”帝林小声在斯特林的耳朵边嘀咕了一阵,斯特林一拍手:“哎呀,我怎么就没想到?”“不过,”他凝视着帝林:“这么好的法子,你怎么不在会议上提出呢?”“呵呵,斯特林,军务是属于你的管辖范围,我怎么好插手?我提的话,罗明海准会出来反对,由你来提这个建议,那是顺理成章的事,谁都没话说。”有人轻轻敲一下候见室的门,两人都住了口。一个身材高大、服饰漂亮的禁卫军官出现在门口处:“监察长大人、统领大人,会议即将开始了,请下来吧。”家族的重员们再次聚集在会议室时候,时间已经将近晚上八点了。大多数人的眼中已经露出疲态,与会成员中年纪最大的紫川参星反倒是精神矍铄,他扬起嗓门招呼大家:“快进来,坐好了!”哥珊的位置空了出来,望着那空荡荡的椅子,没有人表示惊讶和询问,冷漠得就像那位置本来就是空的。毕竟能在这个房间里有一席之位的人,像哥珊那么不懂进退的毕竟是很少的。“会议继续进行——刚才忘记介绍了,这位大家应该都很熟悉,我侄女紫川宁。”紫川宁婷婷起身,朝各位重臣们欠身示意,脸上带着浅浅的微笑。大家都对自己未来的君主报以亲切的微笑。“阿宁还是第一次参与家族的决策会议。”紫川参星的脸上有几分感慨:“呵呵,小女孩终于长大了,知道为家族分忧了。阿宁是很能干的,但经验有所欠缺,需要锻链。我考虑,她暂时不挂实职,任总长助理,在各部、处实习——大家看怎么样?”若是哥珊在的话说不定会寻根刨底:总长助理?这到底是什么官职?级别是红衣旗本还是副统领?许可权有多大?但她不在,谁会干这种杀风景的事情。“宁小姐出来为家族分忧,那是再好不过的事情了!”边防军统领明辉笑得亲切无比:“我家族又一栋梁之才即将成长起来了!欢迎小姐来边防军视察和指导!”大家暗暗骂明辉:滑头!这家伙心里有数,以紫川宁家族继承人的身份何等尊贵,紫川参星绝不可能放她到随时有可能爆发战争的西方边境第一线的,于是他就放心地大说漂亮话,惠而不费。远东副统领林冰也笑说:“两年前我见过宁小姐,那时候她还是个小姑娘。一眨眼,呵呵,变得这么漂亮了!家族后继有人啊!我代表全体远东将士欢迎宁小姐前来瓦伦视察!”她的情况与明辉相同,并不太担心紫川宁会真的前往瓦伦。其他人也七嘴八舌地说了些赞美的话:“宁小姐天生聪慧,前途定然无量!”“小姐只要稍微锻链个两年,呵呵,我紫川家也有个‘流风霜’啦!”“有着远星大人血统,在参星大人的栽培下长大,准是好样的!”帝林结结巴巴也说了两句:“欢迎宁小姐到监察厅视察。”只是比起林冰和明辉来,他语气勉强了很多。斯特林微笑,他是明白怎么回事的,他更明白帝林在担心什么,换成自己也不会希望这么一个有着未来总长身份的特殊人物到自己的部下工作,每天都得小心翼翼地侍候她,一下小心就得罪了未来的总长,那还有什么前途?更何况,统领处和监察厅,哪个部门没有见不得人的手段和花样?如果这些都让紫川宁看到了,不说将来,只要她跑回去跟她叔叔打个小报告:“参星叔叔啊,监察厅私设小金库,他们很有钱喔!”“参星叔叔喔,帝林的办公室装饰非常豪华,严重超标喔!他的钱哪里来的呢?”“参星叔叔喔,今天维加副统领来见帝林,他们两个鬼鬼祟祟单独关上门说了足足有半个钟头,也没留下谈话记录,不知搞什么花样?——不是说监察系统官员不得私下结交行政官员的吗?”光是这些就足够让帝林头疼的了。幸好,紫川参星立即就解除了他的担心:“我先前已经和阿宁商量过了,女孩子不适宜到弄刀弄枪的军队中去,打算还是让她先到文职的后勤部和行政处去学点东西——呃,罗明海,以后阿宁可就是你的手下了,她有什么做得不对的,你只管批评她!”紫川事盈盈起身向罗明海行一礼:“总统领大人,以后请多指教了!”罗明海起身回礼,强笑道:“请多指教。宁小姐冰雪聪明,我们统领处又多一名栋梁之才啊!”看到罗明海的困窘,帝林恨不得放声大笑:有这个未来的总长做部下,今后罗明海的日子就难熬了。只是……帝林皱起了眉头:后勤部统筹家族军队的财政和物资补给,行政处不但是家族文职官员的管理中枢,还管辖着帝都治部少这个强力部门。两部门都是家族的要害部门,历来是归幕僚长官亲自掌握的。只是现任幕僚长哥珊正在监察厅的大牢里面,在两部门权力出现真空时候,紫川宁这一强势人物进去,势必统揽全局。她虽然没有正式任职,但位置绝对举足轻重。哥珊刚刚被逮捕失势,紫川宁立即取代了她的位置——是无意中的巧合,还是这个女孩子刻意的安排?日后即使哥珊从狱中出来,但紫川宁已经先入为主了,你哥珊唯一的出路就是辅佐紫川宁大人吧!望着微微颤抖的长睫毛低掩下那双漂亮的眼眸,帝林发觉,比起往日的天真烂漫带一点少女的调皮,今日的紫川宁,表现出了与其年龄不相符的沉稳。她一直保持着低调,话语不多,但每一句都很有分寸,得体大方,眼神游离不定,从这个看到那个,脸上始终带着笑,让人琢磨不透。——再不能以那个爱哭爱闹的小女孩来看待她了!今后的紫川宁,将正式成为那些手掌天下命运的重量级政治人物之一。等紫川宁的介绍告一段落,接下来是听取东面、西面两条战线的负责防务长官的汇报。瓦伦要塞镇守司令林冰向总长和统领处报告:在瓦伦正面,魔族状态十分平静。魔族的西南大营已经放弃了贴近瓦伦要塞的第一线阵地,战斗部队从设置了壕沟和堡垒的前线后退,也停止了那种挑衅性的十分靠近瓦伦要塞周边的日常巡逻。魔族在第一线的部队人数大大地减少了,人类的侦察部队甚至可以越境深入近十公里还没有碰到一个魔族士兵,即使碰到了,魔族士兵的态度比先前也要温和了许多,他们往往采用语言警告的方式而不是战斗来驱赶人类出境,仿佛他们的指挥官也在有意识地避免发生与人类军队的摩擦和战斗。有传言——注意,仅仅是未经核实的传言——在魔族王国的远东境内发生了大规模的反叛事件,魔族第一线的作战部队都被抽调回去镇压了,也有传言说是在魔族王国的本上发生了魔族皇族之间的内讧,魔神皇已经被迫下台了。估计在近期,今后的半年之内,魔族是不会对人类世界发动大规模的攻势。边防军统领明辉笑笑:“我的情况与林冰阁下惊人地相似。”他报告说,在西部边境上,十字军的部分精锐部队已经向西开拔,流风家族的战斗部队已经停止了经常性的挑衅活动,一片风平浪静,边境发生大规模战事的可能不大。“这是个好消息。家族一天天地强大起来,我们的敌人已经在害怕了!好,就是要让他们更害怕!大家要注意到,战略性转折的时机已经到来了!家族已经摆脱了受威胁的被动状态了,但我们绝不能掉以轻心——”紫川参星总结说:“——无论什么时候,军队的加强始终是我们当前迫在眉睫的问题,斯特林,你身为统领处内军务的主管,对此要切实地负起责任来。”“总长殿下,各位大人,军务处有两个提议。”斯特林平静地举起手来。“哦?你说说。”“元老会一直担心过度的扩军会影响第一线生产,迟迟不肯批准实施国民征召令——为此,我提议,军队把下一次征兵重点放在远东的流亡难民中。”此言一出,举座震惊。林冰睁大了眼睛望着斯特林,喃喃道:“绝妙!”明辉拍拍自己的脑门:“怎么我就想不到?”远东战争中,数以百万计的远东人类居民失去家园,流亡在瓦伦要塞以西的家族行省,他们失去了生存的工作和上地,流离失所,到处流浪。这大股大股的难民潮所到之处给当地的社会治安造成了极大的隐患,各行省政府都为此极其头痛。为了安置这批难民,紫川家族的民政部门每个月都要耗费上亿的金钱给他们发放补助和食品。“将流亡难民中的壮年男子征收入伍有以下几点好处:一、是避开元老会的控制。难民在当地政府中都没有户籍和土地,属于无业人员——既然没有户籍,从纸上作业来说,他们是不存在的。征收他们,不算是从生产第一线抽调劳动力,不会引起元老会的反对。“二、减轻家族民政系统的负担和开支。从理论上来说,一个从军的战士,他所得薪水可以养活一个三口之家。如果我们假设在五百万难民中哪怕就有四十万人参军,那就解决了一百二十万人的温饱问题。“三、对于增强军队的战斗力也有好处。难民们在远东战争中失去了土地、家园和亲人的,再没有什么牵挂和留恋,对魔族怀有最深刻的仇恨——在我的经验里,由这种人组成的军队,只要稍加训练和数导,他们会很容易就成为那种无所畏惧的敢死之师!——不知总长殿下意下如何?”“好!好!”紫川参星听得眼睛发亮,连声地说好:“这是个好主意!统观全局,面面俱到。斯特林,你是用心的!”斯特林低下头表示谦虚,抬起头时候,他微微向帝林使了个眼色表示感谢,后者则若无其事地在一边低头看报告。罗明海在一旁泼冷水:“斯特林统领的主意虽好,但将大批的难民征召,组编成军,训练——没有个一年半载的时间恐怕还看不出效果吧?但流风家的内乱却就在眼前,恐怕远水救不了近火啊!”斯特林一笑:“是。总长殿下,总统领大人,下官还有第二个提议:我紫川家族并不是没有军队,只是军队并不在我们手里。”“在谁手里?”“在元老们的手里!就在军务处为兵力的缺乏而大伤脑筋的时候,贵族们却掌握着大量私人军队,拥兵自重。例如——”斯特林摊开了手上的一张纸,那是刚才帝林交给他秘密报告:“洛克辛威行省的元老会代表杜丘伯爵在其封地内养了三万多私人军队,达玛行省元老会代表的费沙男爵蓄兵一万六千多人,辛加行省的元老会代表余兰女伯爵拥兵两万七干人;瓦林行省的马维伯爵(这个名字让他觉得有点耳熟)拥有四个雇佣师团,总共两万三千名雇佣兵:利加行省的元老会代表,大富商祖巴的护卫团有一万一千人……”帝林的报告来得又长又详细,一共有四十三个元老贵族藉以护卫队、自卫团、乡镇治安联防队、城市保安团等名义私下组建军队,总兵力多达近六十万。没有一个人出声,大家看着斯特林慢吞吞地将那张纸折了起来装进口袋里,有种坐在火山口的感觉。当代总长紫川参星与元老会的关系一向是敏感中之最敏感,现在,斯特林摸到了这条最高压的线上了。总长看着斯特林,问:“情报确切吗?”斯特林谁也不看:“基本上可以肯定了。军务处的提议是,将这批私人军队收编列入正规军编制,由家族军务处统一指挥。”这是一次对紫川参星的反将军。如果他对此报告装聋作哑,那就不要再跟大家提什么‘争霸天下,击灭流风’,元老会始终是一道必须面对的考验,现在就看总长有没有勇气了。“据我所知,”帝林慢条斯理地说:“在二代总长紫川星殿下与贵族们达成的协议中明确规定,贵族的私兵不能超过三千,这是写进了元老会法案里面的铁律。以上的诸位贵族元老,毫无疑问地,他们触犯了法律。”谁也没有出声,所有人都在看着总长。感觉到无数的目光聚在自己面上,紫川参星的表情渐渐变得僵硬,脸上肌肉绷紧,手上的拳头捏紧:“监察总长帝林,我命令你,以谋逆罪——”“等一下!”令所有人吃惊,出声的人竟然是刚刚任命的“总长助理”紫川宁。她匆匆地说:“叔叔——哦,不,总长殿下,各位大人,很抱歉,但在您做决策之前,能不能先让我说两句呢?”“啊,阿宁啊。”看到出声的人是自己的亲侄女,紫川参星的表情缓和了下来:“你有什么要说的呢?”“是。总长殿下,各位大人,诚如监察长大人所言,刚才提到名字的贵族们违反了法令。但贵族蓄兵不得超过三千的这条法令颁布是在二代总长时代,距离如今有近两百年了,很多人都忘记了。平日里,大家都对此习以为常了。——就连我,如果监察长大人不提起的话,我也记不起有这么规定的了。他们未必就有谋逆的心。所以,恳请总长殿下给以上犯错的贵族们一次机会,只要他们交出兵权,配合军务处做好改编工作的话,对此就不加追究了,显示家族的宽容的胸怀。”她一边说一边对紫川参星使眼色,后者立即领悟了她的意思,口中“嗯、嗯”有声,好像正在思考该不该给那群犯错的贵族显示下“家族的宽容的胸怀”。帝林眼中流露赞叹之色,故意问:“如果他们不肯交出兵权呢?”“他们应该会肯的。否则,我们就将此事提交元老会,由元老会议来裁决。”“但这些贵族本身就是元老会成员……”“四十三名贵族在近五千的元老会议中只是很小的一部分,我相信这不会妨碍元老会作出正确裁决的。毕竟,这件事的事实和法律都非常的清楚。而且当前的形势下,元老会更不可能包庇他们。如果拒绝交出兵权,那些贵族立即就会成为众矢之的。“建议军务部给予那些贵族必要的补偿,或者将‘征用军队’的说法改成‘购调军队’,让人更容易接受。“而监察厅注意搜集相关的证据和材料,以便我们能在元老会议上能明确地指证。“命令各行省正规驻军进入戒备状态,对私人军队进行严密监视,造成声势和压力,也防止有人铤而走险,行大逆不道之事。“建议军务部为此事做好必要的准备工作,在整编的谈判中坚持重点突破。人人都有从众心理,只要有一个同意了,剩下的人会想:‘连某某大贵族都同意,我还撑什么呢?’那剩下的谈判就比较好解决了。”紫川宁侃侃而谈,大家像不认识似的睁大了眼睛望着她。就在这一眨眼的时间,她已经提出了和平地夺取贵族兵权的一系列步骤,而且分轻重缓急,有威胁(各行省驻军整军监视,摆明一旦不服从改编就要动手),也给出路(服从改编的,给予适当的经济补偿),恩威并施。帝林微笑着轻轻一欠身:“宁小姐思虑周到,下官十分佩服。”帝林说的是真心话。他是最清楚这件事的厉害关系的:如果按照刚才紫川参星恼怒之下的决定,真的逮捕了那些元老贵族的话,将会彻底激怒元老会,搞不好在流风家全面内战之前,紫川的内战就先爆发了。而紫川宁则提议把事情先交元老会审判,算是给了元老会的面子,还藉元老会的力量来压制那些坐拥私兵的贵族——即使他们不服元老会的裁决,那家族要对付的敌人也只是四十三名贵族而非整个元老会,阻力少了很多。整个步骤环环相扣,妥当又切实可行,即使那些最有经验的老手也不过如此。谁也没想到,这个家族未来的继承人,会是这般能干和睿智的一员政治家。帝林轻轻捅捅斯特林的胳膊:“怎么样?”斯特林小声:“非常了不起!见事极快,应变敏捷,稍加锻链的话,很有可能是不输于远星和参星两位殿下的一代明君!”“是啊。”帝林轻声感叹着。有一句话他忍住了没说出来:“正是这样我才担心啊!”第134章不义之降七八二年六月一六日。大魔神堡,卡丹公主府。凌晨,贴身佣人战战兢兢地唤醒了熟睡中的卡丹公主和驸马亲王云浅雪:“公主殿下、亲王殿下,陛下有紧急旨意到。钦差就在前厅等候,请两位大人速去迎接。”两人手忙脚乱地披上睡衣,赶到前厅。那里,明晃晃的一片火光通明,影影绰绰的到处是武装的士兵。云浅雪心头一突,不知发生了什么事情。一个高大魁梧的近卫旅军官快步迎了上来:“是羽林亲王殿下吗?”“正是我。”“十分抱歉,亲王殿下,陛下紧急召见,请立即随我前去。”手持火把的军官说得太快又含糊,睡眼惺忪的云浅雪几乎一个字都听不清楚,问:“你说什么?”军官再重复了一次。云浅雪轻轻地“哦”了一声,过了一阵,他反应过来,“啊”的一声惊叫:“请稍等,让我换件衣服。”手忙脚乱地找正式觐见的服装,卡丹早已将服饰准备好了。她一边帮助云浅雪穿上,一边问传令的近卫旅军官:“父皇有没有叫我一同过去?”“回禀公主殿下,陛下只让我们通知亲王阁下立即到,并没有提到公主殿下您。”“是吗?”卡丹看看一片漆黑的夜色,几颗星星在黑暗的夜幕中闪烁着光芒,正是凌晨三点左右时分。她心头不安,如此紧急的深夜召见,绝非好事。云浅雪匆匆换好衣服,卡丹迎上来,小声说:“一切小心。”云浅雪点头:“知道了。”他跟着举着火把的近卫旅士兵一同出了门。走过漆黑的长街,迎面就是巍峨的皇宫。整个皇宫沉睡在一片黑暗中,仿佛一头沉睡的巨兽。火把的光亮映照在米亚大理石圆柱上,给整个柱子染上了一片猩红。走近这雄伟的建筑,在那华丽堂皇的圆柱装饰之间,宽阔的走廊中回响着近卫旅工兵空洞的脚步声,云浅雪仿佛嗅到了一种杀戮和血腥的味道。八十年前,就在这洁白的大理石台阶上,加林族的士兵将叶塞族的皇族全数屠杀,连婴儿都一一被撞死在石头上;接着,又在同样的地方,踌躇满志的加林族皇帝被囚禁在地窖里活生生地饿死,他的整个家庭被通通投入了火堆中;占据皇宫的雷族皇疯狂一时,残酷好杀,终于连他的族人也无法忍受他的残酷,受雷族长老会的指示,一个雷族近卫军官一刀砍下了他的脑袋,他的斑斑血迹洒在皇宫门口的接见走廊里。接下来爆发长达三年的雷族内战,雷族的皇族们率领各自的军队互相攻击,直到更强大的冬日族出来取代了他们……云浅雪长长地呼吸一声,不知怎么回事,每次到皇宫来他总感觉到很不舒服,今晚这种感觉尤其明显。或许真如传言中所说的,这座皇宫已经给诅咒了,每一面墙壁都曾回响过那些临终的人的呻吟和断气时候发出的呼噜声,每一块华丽的石头后面都隐藏着一个屈死的冤魂。笔宫门口处,两排近卫旅士兵乎持火把肃立,近卫旅统帅雷欧公爵正守候在门边,看到云浅雪的到来,公爵毫无表情地说:“你来迟了,陛下在里面等候。”别把摇动的光亮照在公爵如同花岗石似的呆板面上,照着他毫无表情的脸。旁边的两行近卫旅士兵一手持矛,一手举着火把,脸色冷峻。云浅雪瞧瞧他,也没跟他寒暄。雷欧神经兮兮的,让他产生了不祥的预感。联想到最近两位皇子之间的明争暗斗,云浅雪心头一紧:莫非冲突已经爆发了吗?是谁先发难的?不可能是卡兰,否则自己不会一无所知,但陛下还健在的时候,卡顿也不应该这么蠢吧……一边胡思乱想着,云浅雪沿着华丽的红地毯走向宫殿的议事大厅,他注意到,今天皇宫的守卫比平日森严了很多,在宫殿门口到议事大厅之间的长长的走道上,肃立着手持锋利武器的近卫旅士兵在守卫,冷峻、阴森、肃静,只有自己沉重的脚步声在回荡,火光摇曳,阴影幢幢,这种感觉叫人不寒而栗。一个佣仆为他推开了议事大厅的门,近三百根大蜡烛将整个大厅照得一片通明。在靠近陛下座位的地方,几个人聚在一起。云浅雪快步走近,他已经清楚了,叶尔马公爵、米罗总督、达科总督、加山侯爵等王国重臣已经先到了。“可知道是什么事情呢?”顾不得寒暄了,云浅雪问几位重臣。大家都是茫然地摇头,目光中流露出惶恐。看到他们那彷徨的样子,知道自己并不是被孤立的,云浅雪稍微感到轻松一点了:“大家都一样被蒙在鼓里呢!”等了不到两分钟,接着,卡顿亲王和卡兰两人先后急匆匆地过来了,衣服有点凌乱,都问:“发生了什么事?”但是没有人可以回答。空气中荡漾着不安。“陛下到!”站在门边的宫廷侍卫扬开了嗓子清朗地喊了一声,所有人立即匍匐在地。边门打开了,魔神皇出现在门口,披一身黑色的绒披风,身影萧瑟、孤独。不知为什么,往常总是和他形影不离的黑沙军师没有出现。雷欧从外面进来,顺手把议事大厅的门口给关上了。“都起来吧!”魔神皇清朗的声音中带着一丝疲倦,随即严厉起来了:“根据报告,出现了叛逆,朕和朕的国家被叛徒出卖了!”他冷冰冰地说,然后缓慢又毫不留情地从这张脸看到那张脸。空气一瞬间凝结成了固体。过了好久,没有人敢稍动一下,每个人感到了深切的恐惧,魔神皇那可怕的威严几乎将整个议事大厅压成了齑粉。卡兰起身向魔神皇深深地一鞠躬:“父皇陛下,不知您所称的叛逆是指何事?”“鲁帝!远东的鲁帝,他背叛了国家,背叛了朕!”魔神皇一掌拍在几子上:“出此逆贼,那是国家的耻辱!这厮欺骗了朕整整一年!”坚固的檀木几子瞬刻间无声无息的粉碎,细小的木碎片化成了一片粉末。众人暗暗心惊,神皇武功已经至化境,他的涵养也深藏不露,近年来鲜少出手,没想到今晚竟然有这么失态的表现。鲁帝的小命完蛋了!这是所有人的感想。“雷欧,你把事情给大伙说说!”站在众人身后,一直没有出声的近卫统帅雷欧公爵应声:“是!”转而面对大家:“今天晚上我们收到西南大营凌步虚的报告,简直是骇人听闻!我王国军队一败再败,伤亡惨重,远东国土几乎已不属王国所有了!可恨鲁帝,辱国丧师不说,还一直封锁消息,隐瞒败绩,甚至派出人手截杀求援信使,欺君瞒上。这厮罪无可赦!”众人震惊。叶尔马公爵出声问:“究竟是怎么一回事?鲁帝败给了谁?紫川家卷土重来了吗?”“不是紫川家——比败给人类更可耻!鲁帝居然被一群远东的造反刁民打垮,在科雨尼、在亚速达、在云省、在枫林丹叶,我们的军队一败再败,近十万王国士兵被杀害,丢弃行省十几个,甚至让人一直打到了我们的王国本土!惫记得年初边境上的那次盗灾吗?那根本不是什么盗贼,那是造反的半兽人杀了进来!”雷欧花岗石似的淳朴面容涨得通红。“够了。”魔神皇不耐烦地打断了雷欧的陈述,这个力大无穷的战士在战场上杀来杀去纵横无敌,但要他有条有理地叙述事情根本是奢望。他激动地说了半天,根本还没说到要点,让人一头雾水。“把凌步虚的信拿出来让大伙看看。”雷欧听命地取出信件,让众人传阅。云浅雪最后一个拿到信件,看到淡黄色羊皮纸上凌步虚那已经凝固成了黑色的血书,云浅雪心头一震:局势竟到了要用血书来传信的地步了?他低下头来匆匆一阅:“七八一年的科尔尼会战王国军伤亡六万多、亚速达会战、得亚会战、云省事件、枫林丹叶会战、明斯克行省沦陷、塔杰行省沦陷、杜莎行省沦陷、西南大营面临被叛军包围的威胁、派出的信使不见回头……”凌步虚的笔调就如他的人一样低调,他并没有在信中对鲁帝加以评论,只是把发生了的事情一桩桩平静地罗列出来,那份冷静简直叫人毛骨悚然。云浅雪额头上冷汗渗出。雷欧说得一点没错,鲁帝所作所为,死一千次不足赎其罪。他抬起头来,看着众人惨白的脸色,于是也做出一副沉痛而愤慨的表情:与众不同是要冒风险的。“消息可靠吗?可否把凌步虚的信使召上来,让我们当面问话?”叶尔马公爵问,他个性素来沉稳,这件事情实在太骇人听闻,就在大家都还蒙在鼓里时,远东国土已经有大半不属于王国领土了,让人难以接受。“应该是真的。”卡兰皇子也看完了信件:“凌步虚不是那种信口雌黄的人,结合远东去年和今年的贡粮拖欠的事实,可以确认远东地区真的发生了大规模的民乱。我只是奇怪,去年发生的大叛乱,他怎么如今才报告?”“信使已经殉职。”魔神皇冷冷说,众人悚然。雷欧给大家讲述了事情的经过:就在今天晚上的深夜十二点,一个风尘仆仆负伤在身的塞内亚族人自称是西南大营派回的信使,紧急求见魔神皇,却在门口被值勤的近卫旅士兵拦住:“陛下已经休息,任何人不得惊扰!”信使几番劝说:“军情紧急,麻烦各位通融通报!”但近卫旅士兵顽固得犹如花岗石一样蛮冥不化(用雷欧公爵的话说是纪律严明),坚决不肯通融:“此是皇宫禁地,深夜禁止生人靠近。任何事情都可以等天亮再禀告。”他们将那个年轻人赶出了宫殿门口,但那人并没有离开,徘徊在门口梭巡,嚎啕大哭。这激怒了卫兵们,他们将他痛揍一顿然后丢到了大街上,警告他:“再敢靠近我们就放箭!耙出声惊扰了陛下休息,我等将你格杀当场!”但仅仅过了十几分钟,值勤的士兵听见外面传来杂乱、大声的喧哗和搏斗声音,他们赶到时候,凶手已经逃离,那个使者要害处身中五刀,奄奄一息了。他只来得及说了最后一句话:“鲁帝谋反!”在他的尸身上,他们发现了王国远东地区西南军团总司令凌步虚的亲笔信和身份证明,确认此人是西南军团凌步虚麾下第三十一团队的标骑军官。士兵们再不敢怠慢。他们立即通报了当晚的值勤军官,值勤军官眼看事情重大,又通知了近卫旅统帅雷欧公爵。雷欧公爵到来后,只把信看了一遍,立即意识到事关重大。他低沉地向宫廷的侍从吩咐说:“相烦唤醒陛下,微臣雷欧有急事禀告。”“不能责怪凌步虚。他在信中报告说,他已经是第九次派出信使,都没有得到回音。可以想像,前八次的信使都给鲁帝一手遮天的暗杀掉了!这个运气好一点,虽然身死,却终于完成了任务。”“鲁帝好大胆子!”听了陈述,几个重臣同时被如此肆无忌惮的狂妄震惊了:“就在陛下身边、皇宫的咫尺之遥,他竟不畏陛下的神圣天威,派遣杀手行凶!就算没有其他事,光这一条已经足够让他碎尸万段了!”“凶手抓到了吗?”“还没有。”雷欧回答:“我们已经封锁了城门,严密盘查出入,一定要把他拿住!”他说得豪气,但大家都知道,这不过是说说而已。魔神堡一日进出人流数以十万计,凶手面上又没刻字,混迹人群中被发现的可能几乎被零。“这件事情的发生,近卫旅防御不严,是有责任的。”卡顿亲王很严肃地说。雷欧默默地屈膝,向魔神皇请罪。卡顿亲王继续发言:“父皇陛下,我建议,立即派执法使者前往远东,诛杀鲁帝!”卡兰冷冷一笑,和云浅雪对视一眼,又无声地移开了视线。米罗总督与达科侯爵连忙出声附和,异口同声地宣称:早二十年自己就看出鲁帝这家伙的脑后长有反骨,但幸好现在也还不晚,陛下的如电神目看穿了他的伪装。坚决支持陛下诛杀鲁帝!魔神皇望向卡兰和云浅雪:“你们是怎么看的?”卡兰恭敬地回答:“皇兄所言甚是。只是到目前为止,我们所有的证据都只是凌步虚的一面之辞,鲁帝和西南大将都是手掌兵权的王国重臣,对他们的争议,我们必须要慎重。我相信西南大将绝非那种信口雌黄之人,但为了稳妥起见,在做出下一步决定之前,无论在程序上还是实质上,我们需要立即派遣钦差前往远东调查!”神皇眼中流露赞赏之色,又问:“若调查确为事实,那又将如何呢?”“父皇,我等必须赋予钦差以全权,责令其判断事实,伺机而行!若西南大将所禀报确为事实,则钦差不必回禀,当机立断,果断将鲁帝拿下以待陛下处置,并安抚其军队——赋予钦差的权力极大,所以,对于钦差的人选必须慎重!我们派遣的钦差既要绝对忠实于陛下,精明干练,又要与鲁帝和凌步虚两人都没有过节恩怨,这样才能做到对鲁帝和凌步虚都不偏不倚,公正明断。”卡顿亲王出声说:“皇弟所说很有道理。只是鲁帝竟敢在皇畿行凶,公然藐视吾皇神威,此人实在胆大狂妄!他反迹已露,证据确凿,我看此事不宜拖延,必须尽早解决!我建议不必再浪费时间了,立即派执法队前去取鲁帝人头就是了!”“光凭一个统兵大将的证词就杀掉了另一个高级的贵族将领,这样行事恐怕难以让天下人心服。”“此等狼子野心之徒,杀了就杀了,还有什么不妥?”在魔神皇面前,两位皇子你一言我一语地辩论起来,卡顿亲王力主立即下旨诛杀鲁帝,卡兰却主张必须先经过调查程序。放在不明就里的人眼里,还真的以为鲁帝是卡兰皇子的嫡系亲信。云浅雪微微一笑,其实恰恰相反,鲁帝是卡顿亲王派系中的得力人物,他能当上远东大总督,卡顿亲王的推荐在其中作用不小。现在眼看他闯下了弥天大祸,卡顿忙不迭地与他划清界线,他现在恨不得一刀杀了鲁帝,好早日去掉这个让自己丢脸的祸害。二皇子卡兰却有意把这件事情扩大,加以调查——不是调查鲁帝是否该死,那么严重的罪行,鲁帝便是有一千个脑袋也不够砍——鲁帝担任远东大总督搜刮民脂民膏无数,这么大的财产他一个人独吞不下,那上亿的财产究竟是私下进贡给了魔神堡的哪位大老?有哪些大人物从中得了好处?不需要天才的脑筋,只需要想想鲁帝的远东大总督是谁推荐的,自然可以明了了。但这样顺藤摸瓜,卡顿亲王殿下马上就坐不住了。鲁帝您还是赶紧一死百了的好!“够了!”魔神皇声音不高,却自有一番威严。两位皇子都住了嘴。“关于鲁帝种种,只是小事而已;远东的叛乱如何处置应对,这才是要点!”云浅雪平静地出声说:“如果陛下允许的话,微臣愿率本部兵马前往远东为陛下扫平叛乱。至于取鲁帝人头,只要陛下一声令下,那不过举手之劳。”他表现得尽量镇定,让卡顿亲王的失态显得格外可笑。叶尔马公爵沉声说:“陛下,羽林阁下刚刚大婚,此时让他出征,岂不让人笑话我王国无人?还是让老臣前去吧!”“陛下,近卫旅愿为陛下斩杀叛逆,扫除祸害!”卡顿亲王、达科侯爵等重臣也纷纷表示自己愿率军前往远东,指日内将荡平远东的叛乱,气势豪迈。但魔神皇都不置可否,最后还是卡兰皇子出声说:“陛下,远东之乱,不过一群暴民闹事而已,何必惊动我王国重臣甚至于太子?”卡顿亲王斜睥着弟弟:“难道王弟可也有意亲临敌?”“不是。我只是想向父皇推荐一员良将,保管可以杀敌破阵!”“是谁?”“加纳总督罗斯。罗斯大人乃我王国名将,久经沙场,经验丰富,麾下兵将众多而精锐——由他前去,保管可以一举扑灭叛乱!”云浅雪诧异地望着卡兰:自从上次的紫川秀脱逃事件以来,罗斯总督就与自己结下了仇怨,这点卡兰明明是知道的。现在他为什么又要保举罗斯呢?何况,罗斯部下的军队除了少数以外,大部分都是募集而来,并非常备军,现在要重新筹集的话需要大量的时间,而且战斗力比起自己的麾下的羽林军来差了一大截。包令他意外的是,魔神皇听了卡兰的推举,竟然立即同意了:“好!笔儿所荐之人甚合朕意!雷欧,快马传令,通知加纳大人着手准备出征!”“给西南大将发去命令,责令他配合加纳大人的行动,立即出兵,剿灭叛乱的各路暴民!”魔神皇站起了身子,往常这往往意味着会议已经结束了。但这次,他的身形顿了一下:“卡兰,你跟朕进来!”“是!”卡兰喜孜孜地应了一声,故意不看卡顿亲王。后者整张脸都已经涨得通红了:卡兰那小子竟然得到父皇赏识,这比远东打了一百场败仗还要让他痛心疾首啊!走出皇宫的大门,微红的霞光照在洁白的台阶上,—队威武的宫廷近卫旅士兵正在换岗。天色才刚刚蒙蒙亮。尽避一夜没睡,云浅雪却毫无睡意。刚才发生的一幕让他不解,他心存疑惑:陛下的意图到底是什么?卡兰二皇子莫名其妙的提议为什么能打动陛下?他感觉一头雾水,而被蒙在鼓里什么都不知道的滋味是怪难受的。云浅雪傻傻地站在宫殿门口好一阵子,那些换岗的近卫旅士兵都用奇怪的眼神看着他,若不是看出他是皇族,他们早举起长矛驱赶他了。必到家中,卡丹迎上来:“没发生什么事吧?”“呃……发生了了不得的大事。”犹豫了一下,云浅雪把刚才的枢密会议经过给妻子讲了。虽然枢秘会议规定是绝不能向外泄露的,但如果自己的妻子是王国公主的话,那当然又另当别论了。“我不明白,为什么陛下要调罗斯军团去远东平叛?羽林军难道不是王国最精锐的部队之一吗?难道在陛下心中,我还不如罗斯?我实在无法理解。”——这正是云浅雪最大的担心:难道,在陛下心目中,我已经失宠了吗?卡丹一手托着下巴,静静地听着云浅雪忿忿不平的抱怨。等云浅雪说完,卡丹微微一笑,她已经知道云浅雪担心却又不便说出口的话了。“云君,你过虑了。请不必担心,父皇对你的信任和倚重一如从前。”“啊,但是为什么……”“呵呵,云君,我相信以您的智慧,一定能看出来的。”卡丹微笑说:“您想想,罗斯阁下与您最大的不同是在哪里呢?”“他又蠢又丑,而我既聪明又帅!”云浅雪一本正经地说。卡丹给逗得笑出声来了:“真是不要脸的家伙!”夫妻相视而笑。“云君,您出身我塞内亚的皇族,部下的羽林军团士兵大多来自我塞内亚族的战士,而罗斯阁下则是鞑塔族的首领,他统帅的军队绝大部分都是来自鞑塔和叶塞两族——这其间的差别,您可想明白了吗?”云浅雪很认真地想了一下,最后浮出一丝浅笑:“我明白了。”卡丹赞许地微笑:云浅雪是个很聪明的人,他不但在军事方面才华出众,对政治领域的种种人心鬼蜮,他的领会力奇高,只要稍加点拨,他马上就能明白过来。不知怎么的,她又一次想起了那个人,暗地里将他与云浅雪比较:远方的他与自己的丈夫一样,都是驰骋沙场的武将,但两个人却是截然不同的两个人。云浅雪出身名门,精明能干,才华出众而且深通生活情趣,品味高雅,诗人接物,可谓无懈可击。遵照父皇之命,也为了云浅雪对自己的痴情有所感动和愧疚,自己在半年前与云浅雪成亲。应该说,自己对这件事情并没有后悔。与自己成亲后,他对自己一直体贴关怀,而且尊重自己,凡事与自己商量,并没有一般魔族男子那种视妇女如无物的大男人主义。无论从哪个角度来说,女孩子能嫁给像云浅雪这样的男人,可以说是再无遗憾了。但不知为何,自己却一直不能忘记远方的那个人类:那个人,应该算是自己国家的敌人。他粗犷,耿直,固执,就拿他自己的话说:“我是个除了把剑以外一无所有的穷大兵。”相比之下,他更有那种真正男人特有的刚强血性,不屈不挠,面对困难绝不妥协,他是那种天生的顶天立地的英雄。就是这个穷大兵,那刚毅中带出的一分笨拙的柔情牢牢地系住了自己,让自己一生不能忘怀……“……你说什么?”云浅雪正在说什么,卡丹走神了没听清楚。云浅雪好脾气地笑笑,把话再重复了一遍:“你真的有把握,事情是……我意思是说……”他有点难以启齿,最好还是吞吞吐吐地说了:“陛下为了保证我塞内亚族的地位而……”卡丹还以一个同样意味深长的微笑:“你没注意到吗?刚才参加会议的人,叶尔马公爵、米罗总督、达科总督、加山侯爵、雷欧公爵——再加上大哥、二哥和你,全部是出身塞内亚族的皇族。从地位上来说,罗斯公爵的地位在你之上,他也在神堡,却没通知他参加。从这个就可以看出父皇的用意了:会议的重点并非远东,更非鲁帝,这是关于一次如何维持我族统治地位的枢密会议!只有二哥领会到了父皇的意思。”“难道陛下认为罗斯阁下有谋反之心?”“鞑塔部族近年迅速地扩充实力,还吞并了没落了的叶塞部族,他们一跃成为了仅次于我族的王国第二大族。至于罗斯本人是否有反意、他如何想的,这并不要紧,关键的是鞑塔族破坏了神族部族之间历来的实力均衡,拥有了可以威胁我们的实力!”“如果光是鞑塔一族的谋反,我们可以轻易将其镇压,但是事情一旦开始,就会产生连锁反应,看到我族与鞑塔族战斗后出现衰弱,新的挑战者会接踵而至,最终我们将陷入没顶之灾,就如八十七年前的叶塞族一样!”云浅雪凝视着妻子美丽的容颜,陷入了深沉的思索。在魔族国内,王者的地位是至高无上的,可以号令百族。但是王权的传承并非像人类一样从世袭而来,而是依靠实力。魔族各部族一直信奉实力至上的真理,王者一直由最实力强大的部族产生。按照这个原则,如果该部族实力衰退了,或者是出现了新的强大部族前来挑战他的霸权,那新旧两个部族之间就会出现一场不可避免的战争来决定究竟新的王者。按照历来的传统,无论对原来的王多么忠心耿耿,其他的部族是不能插手进这场战争里来的。他们唯一能做的事情就是在那静静的看着,等待这场战争的胜利者产生,那就是他们新的王了,他们好赶紧上前祝贺欢呼吾皇万岁,然后合力发兵将在这场战争中落败的部族来个斩草除根,好向新主子表示自己的效忠之意。所以,赢则号令天下,败则全族灭亡,魔族王国的权力交替比起人类,来得更加的直接,也更加的血腥。无论是原来的王也好,新的挑战者也好,这都是一场绝对输不起的赌博,这场袄赌被魔族敬畏地称为:“王权战争”。魔族的老人们还能回忆起最近一次的王权战争,是在八十年前的事情了。当时掌权的叶塞族王突然暴亡,实力大损的叶塞族想维持他们的统治,受到了来自四面八方的挑战。——当然,他们不失尊严地战斗了,但最后还是作为一个勇敢的民族被整个消灭了,叶塞皇族从此成为了历史名词。前后共有近十个部族参加了这次的角逐,那次战争前后持续近七年,被称为恐怖的灭绝战争。最后,当今魔神皇祖父卡雷(人称恐怖的红胡子),依靠了塞内亚战士的骁勇与忠诚,连连战胜了冬日族、傲族、雷族等当时远比塞内亚族强大的几个部族,并将他们从原来的土地上驱赶、放逐到了僻远的不毛之地去。就在这个恐怖的红胡子将半个国家杀得血流成河、其霸主地位得到所有部族都承认了的第二周,一场莫名其妙的暴病又夺走了他生命。就在王国将要又一次陷入可怕的内战、流血冲突将继续重演的危急时刻,当今魔神皇的父亲卡林即位。他对外隐瞒了他父亲的死讯,在族中元老的帮助下,以太子身份掌握朝政。几年后,当塞内亚族的统治已经巩固以后,他才正式对外公布自己父亲的死讯。虽然引起了一阵骚动,但是经过卡林几年的精心经营,此时的塞内亚族已经是无庸置疑的魔族第一强族了,再加上塞内亚战士强悍的名声,并没有什么部族敢冒着灭族的巨大风险出来挑战,这次危机于是平安无事的度过了。但是由此以后的八十多年来,对自身部族实力会被其他部族赶超的恐惧,就像幽灵那样的阴魂不散,始终萦绕在塞内亚皇族高层的心头,而这个幽灵从没有追逐得像现在这般的接近,几乎就要化为实体从想像中走了出来。经过近百年的休养生息,在上次战争中战败、几乎要灭族的几个部族已经恢复了生气,重新强大了起来,其中并不乏对王座有觊觎之心的野心狂徒。正是基于这个考虑,当今魔神皇才发动了对人类的大征讨。这是一举两得之举:为整个魔神王国开疆拓土,求得生存空间。同时通过对外的战争,使得整个国家、所有部族同仇敌忾,团结起来,减少内斗;也通过对外战争,用人类之手消耗那些对王权构成威胁的部族实力——这当然是只能意会不能言传的了。“难道,陛下已经感觉到我塞内亚族的地位已经不巩固了吗?”“目前来说,还没到那种地步。”卡丹安静地说:“在神族的所有部族之中,我族的强大依旧是不可怀疑的,无论鞑塔族也好、哥昂族也好、亚昆族也好、叶塞族也好,都不能与我族相提并论。但是,发生在远东的这场叛乱可能会改变形势。光在科尔尼城下,就有六万多的精良骑、步兵,一整路大军被毁灭性全歼:这样的惨败,在我塞内亚族的历史上,还是第一次。比起军事上的直接损失——丧失了大概二十来个团队的精锐部队,我更担心的是这件事在政治上带来的影响……”她注视着云浅雪,后者立即领会了她的意思,不寒而栗:被清灭的五万多人,并不是魔族王国普通部族的杂牌军队,也不是车草成军的远东叛军,而是整个魔族王国的骄傲,纯粹的塞内亚血液,与当今神皇陛下同族的嫡系子弟兵!塞内亚族的本身实力遭受了沉重的打击,更可怕的是,塞内亚军队天下无敌的神话,被彻底地打破了。军团长鲁帝逃跑,大批精锐士卒丧生——对于王国的最高层来说,这次的惨败,甚至比上次卡顿亲王在帕伊城下败给斯特林更令人难以接受。斯特林是人类世界最出色的将领之—,中央军也是名声卓著的功勋部队,大家还勉强能够承受这个事实。但是败给一群披着兽皮、扛着土制标枪的半兽人,这件事情会让塞内亚部族成为整个魔族王国的笑柄。统治的力量来自尊严和畏惧,而一旦落于被嘲笑的地位,尊严将荡然无存。“你认为,陛下和二皇子派遣罗斯出征的目的,就是为了消耗鞑塔族的实力,以维护目前实力平衡的吗?”“很有可能——虽然目前我们还没看出鞑塔族有不稳,但作为王者,应该有比常人看得更远的眼光。陛下是想把威胁消灭在萌芽状态。”“但是这样会不会造成相反的后果?如果罗斯将叛乱给平定下来了,他将顺理成章地成为新任的远东总督,实力和威望都会大增,这样不是更不利吗?”“目前所得资料太少,我们还无从得知远东的具体情形,但有一点是无庸置疑的:鲁帝定然败得极惨,很可能已经无力再战了。不然,他不会干出这种刺杀信使的蠢事来。而且这场叛乱的规模肯定超乎我们的想像地巨大,不然凌步虚早就独力把它平息下来了,他不可能对远东总督的位置一点野心没有吧?“云君,鲁帝为人虽然粗俗无礼,但是他出身低层,却能依靠战功一步步爬到如今的地位,身经百战,作战经验异常丰富,绝非你想像中的那样无能。他败得如此凄惨,可见此次远东叛乱来得不寻常,像罗斯总督——请原谅,云君,不过我认为,鲁帝起码还有经验和强悍,罗斯却只有一肚子的傲慢自大!”云浅雪微笑着接下去说:“所以,罗斯必然也遭惨败?嗯,罗斯败后,两虎相争必有一伤,叛军实力肯定也会受到重创,这时候……”“陛下必然会派遣我族的主力军团出战,云君你,或者是叶尔马爵爷,或者是我的大哥——都有可能。云君,你要为此做好准备!”“为什么不能是卡兰殿下呢?”卡丹笑笑:“你知道的,二哥不是打仗的料子。他耍点小报样还可以,到沙场上,他不行的。”对于这点,云浅雪的看法不同。但他只是笑笑,说:“如果陛下差我出战,我定然恳请陛下任命你为我的随军参谋。”“呵呵,云君,你太看重我了。妇人之见只擅长纸上谈兵,真正的沙场厮杀真刀真枪,来不得半点虚假,我的那点小见识未必派得上用场。”“公主,我们夫妻之间,你又何必过谦呢?”云浅雪笑咪咪地说,心情大好。经过卡丹这么一剖析,他对前程顿时明了,那种如在雾中的彷徨感觉消失了。他暗暗庆幸:对女人来说,美貌与智慧往往难以并全。美女因为外表上的优势而懒于运用自己的脑子,她们一生最大的成就就是找到一个有钱的老公;而不得不依靠自己脑子的女人往往在外表上又难以恭维,所以人们常常看到那种空有着一张漂亮脸蛋却蠢得像白痴的女人,要不就是另外一种女人,那种为不伤自尊心,人们通常委婉地以“心灵很美”来称赞的女人。自己是幸运的,上天竟然赐给自己一个如此完美的妻子,不但美丽、聪慧过人,而且对自己的前程大有裨益。得妻如此,夫复何求?※※※帝国历七八二年六月二十三日,天气炎热,气候潮湿。在魔族王国前往远东行省的路上,旌旗飘舞,尘土飞扬。长长的队伍正在由东向西徐徐前进,这是魔族讨伐军的罗斯军团。应魔族皇帝的钦令,鞑塔和叶塞两族的农民晕头转向地从忙碌的田地里,丢下了锄地的犁耙集结起来,征兵官发给了他们武器,告知:“远东地区发生了反对我们神族的大叛乱!勇敢的神族勇士们,去吧,讨伐他们,消灭他们,显示我们神族的光荣!”“噢!”士兵群中响起了稀稀落落的回应声,更多的士兵拿着武器茫然不知所措,他们那贫乏的头脑还搞不清楚远东发生叛乱,与自己突然被从家里叫出来有什么必然的关系。叶塞族并不是像塞内亚族、傲族、雷族一样以战斗力出名的种族,有人想起了刚刚结束的远东战争,想到了丧命在帕伊城下、瓦伦城下的叔叔和舅舅,想到可能要从此见不到自己那丑陋的婆娘、白痴般的儿子,还有快塌掉的老房子,于是神情黯然。与士兵们心情截然不同,军团长罗斯公爵心情舒畅,他策马扬鞭走在部队的旁边,不时回头张望着浩浩荡荡的军队,踌躇满志。这是他第二次前往远东作战了,他还记得在七八零年的那场战争中,他的军队连续血洗了得亚和伊里亚两行省的十一座人类城市,成千上万的人类被砍掉了脑袋,那种鲜血喷涌的壮观场面让他激动得不能自已,体内仿佛有一股热流在滚动,浑身颤抖。在接下来的掠夺城市时候,那如山般堆积的战利品更让罗斯大开眼界,发出由衷的感叹:“人类可真会囤积财富啊!”远东战争结束后,陛下与人类议和了,罗斯以为再也没有机会重温一遍过去的好时光,重温那种杀戮和掠夺的快感了,谁知道,机会来得这么快,远东发生了叛乱,而陛下则把平乱的任务交给了自己,而不是王国出名的战将云浅雪,或者干练的卡顿亲王。罗斯公爵不由得衷地感谢上苍…真是待我不薄啊!促使他欣然接受任务的,还有另外一个重要原因:陛下指明要他作为钦使取鲁帝的人头,其中含义不言而明:等镇压下了叛乱,罗斯阁下您就是新的远东总督了!想到占据了远东这二十三个富裕的行省可以给自己带来的巨大好处,罗斯抑制不住地微笑。鲁帝,你这个狂妄自大的家伙,你也有今天!仿佛生怕陛下改变主意似的,罗斯急不可耐地派出前军,手持魔神皇手令去逮捕鲁帝。想到鲁帝的脑袋被挂在旗杆上那龇牙咧嘴的狼狈样子,罗斯兴奋不已。远东的贱民们,你们的末日到了!“爵爷!”一员传令兵急匆匆地从前面策马迎来,马匹都已经跑到口吐白沫的地步了,队伍前面的步兵自觉地让开一条路,让这通信兵不受阻拦地冲到罗斯跟前。“什么事情?”“报告爵爷,加朗大人派我前来报告……”罗斯满意地点头:“可把鲁帝给逮住了?”“十分抱歉,大人!在加朗大人到达之前,鲁帝已经率军逃跑了,目前行踪不明。现在,特兰要塞十分混乱,守军已经溃散,加朗大人恳请大人迅速赶到主持大局!”“什么!鲁帝逃了?!”罗斯震惊莫各。※※※七八二年,六月二十三日。远东杜莎行省沙丘高地,远东起义军光明王军团宿营地。烽火漫天。朦胧的月亮已经升上了半空,荒郊的野地上,竖立起了无数顶帐篷和树枝搭建的小棚子,像是在平地上忽然出现了一片林子,光明王进攻特兰要塞的主力大军正在此地安静的睡眠。泛黄的沙地像是镀上了一层金。在一座又一座营帐之间的空地上,棉絮似的薄雾被风吹着,一切都变得蒙蒙胧胧。经过一天辛苦的行军跋涉,士兵们在打来水喂完战马后早已经睡下,各个营帐中响起了忽高忽低的呼噜声。安排值夜的哨兵们也无精打采地围坐在火堆前打着瞌睡,空旷的原野静得吓人。中军大帐篷内依旧灯火通明,在接到西南军团长官明羽的失利报告后,紫川秀翻来覆去难以入眠。他干脆起来继续完成那份写了一半的作战训令:“……经过六个月来同敌人强大兵力顽强而残酷的搏斗,我军在各条战线上都取得了相当的成就。各军团累计歼灭了装备优良的魔族地方守备部队与野战部队的大部分。鲁帝军团实质上已经丧失了大部分的突击力量,而且也逐渐丧失了以其兵力对我军进行反击的能力,远东军已经收复了国土的百分之七十以上。我军已经摆脱了被动的游击逃亡局面,转而控制了战场的主动权,我各军团指挥官应该适时主动地将战争形式转向顽强的防御和积极的进攻!”煤油灯小小的火种轻轻地跳跃了一下,紫川秀停住了笔斟酌一下,又继续写下去:“形势是乐观的,但我们决不能就此掉以轻心。要清楚地认识到,远东的解放是一条很遥远的道路,我们还要经历无数的苦战和艰争。一、在西南前线,魔族的凌步虚军团对我占领区侧后构成了很大的威胁。魔族军曾两次对古迪撒行省发动进攻,遭到了我西南军团的坚决抵抗。凌步虚是一员十分灵活的指挥官,他的作战具有高度的弹性。凡是他的骑、步兵遭到我正规军和地方游击队有组织的坚决抵抗的地方,他就抛开这个地段,转向其他方向,寻找我防御中的薄弱环节进行突击,然后穿插渗透,在部分地段上制造局部兵力优势,实施包围歼灭。再者,用小辨模的全骑兵机动部队进行长距离的突击,袭击我们的粮仓和辎重车队,屠杀我们的平民和衬庄,然后在我军保卫武装进行有组织的抵抗之前,敌人机动部队已经转移。初次面对这种灵活而残酷的战术,我军付出了不应有的损失。”紫川秀考虑了一下,把“不应有的损失”划去,代之以“很大的代价”。这样是为了照顾明羽的自尊心。在马兰湖一战中,凌步虚利用小鄙部队引诱马兰城的半兽人守备队离开城池,然后在马兰湖一带全歼了该守备部队,五千多半兽人战士战死,四个团队失去了战斗力,番号从此消失在战斗队伍中。但损失并不仅于此。趁着马兰城守军被歼灭防线上出现的缺口,凌步虚趁机攻进城里,一把火烧掉了半个马兰城,城中储备的粮草全部被缴获了。想到自己辛辛苦苦积攒了半年的黄金,好不容易从家族内地购买来的粮食,最终却喂了凌步虚和他部下的绿毛鬼,紫川秀差点想把明羽活生生地掐死。抑制了下愤怒的心情,紫川秀尽量用冷静的语句继续写作战训令:“……鉴于此情况,大本营坚决要求西南军团所属各部队以及地方民兵、游击武装均应在防御前沿展开最积极的行动。为此,应该不停地进行侦察,广泛地设立观察哨卡并辅以灵敏的交通线。前沿部队指挥官切不可满足于被动防御,要与敌人展开以牙还牙的坚决反击,昼夜派出小分队和小集群袭击敌人的营地、指挥中心、粮仓、辎重、仓库等重要战术目标,对敌人的哨卡、巡逻队以及机动营地实施出其不意的打击,破坏其后方,使敌人不得安宁;消灭敌人的侦察哨卡与突击骑兵部队,尤其注意消灭敌人的骑兵部队,以便限制敌人大规模突进我军内部的机动力量。另,大本营建议西南军团指挥官注意兵力的有效配置。就以往三个星期的战斗来看,处于防守姿态的西南军团将兵力分配得过于平均和分散了,难以形成对敌人有效打击力量,在战斗中处于被动状态。建议西南军团指挥部考虑将分散于沿战线一带的三十六个城市和六百一十三个村庄中的驻守部队进行集中,组建两个到三个规模较大且具相当战斗力的野战集群(十到十五个团队为一集群,驻地可由军团根据实际情况自行决定);另外筹建若干全骑兵机动纵队(两列三团队),该机动部队将用于侦察、大规模骚扰敌人后方以及拦截、消灭敌人的骚扰部队。各部队原驻守地区,除有粮仓、指挥中心、重要矿产中心等需要重点保护的战略目标外,正规部队撤离后,防务原则上移交给地方政府组织的民兵、游击队、自卫队来接管。”紫川秀非常烦恼,明羽在凌步虚手上已经吃了几次亏了。今天被吃掉一个团,明天又拿下一座城,这样零碎的打下去,虽没有决定性的大会战,但损失加起来也相当可观。紫川秀曾考虑过换一员将领,但白川和罗杰都各自统帅大军在执行任务,此时不宜抽调他们。半兽人将军布兰倒是智勇双全,只是对上凌步虚这样的经验丰富的老手,他还太嫩。换他去,未必能比明羽更好——明羽怎么就不想想,把他分散在那十几个城市、几百个乡镇里的守备队集结起来的话,足可以组织十万人、三个整编军团,可以使他在总兵力凌驾于凌步虚之上,足可以威慑敌寇保卫整个西南战线了。想了下,紫川秀又加上一句:“在尚未建立地方政府和地方武装的地区,正规部队应组织地方居民进行民主选举,选出地方政府,待地方政府控制住局势并组建起足以维护本地区安全的武装力量后再行撤离。“鉴于西南战线的重要性,大本营拟从东南军团(罗杰军团)和大本营预备队军团(紫川秀直属军团)中抽调力量增强西南军团的力量。增援总计有:佐伊一六团、佐伊一九图、佐伊八九团、哈特三三团、龙人四团,及秀字营之九、十、一一、一二等四大队。以上部队将在五月底之前全部划归西南军团指挥。”写完这一段作战训令,紫川秀放下笔来,长长地舒了口气。“凌步虚,王国一流的名将。”紫川秀轻声地喃喃自语。他打开帐篷的帘子到外面伸伸懒腰舒展身子。远远近近的一切都沉浸在静谧的梦乡中,仿佛连大地都沉睡,习习夜风扑面。天上的星星显得更高了,黑暗更加浓重。他又回到帐篷中来,夜已经很深了,他却也没有睡意,心头像梗着点什么事似的觉得不自在。当年在魔族军中的时候,凌步虚那双精光四射的眸子给他留下了深刻的印象。第一眼紫川秀就看出来了:那是个极其聪明干练的人。凌步虚的战斗经验十分丰富,明羽虽然也是自己麾下屈指可数的防守型好手,但凌步虚经验的老辣不是他所能比拟的。他计算了下,加上了增援部队,明羽手上的力量应该可以和凌步虚持平,紫川秀并没有奢望明羽能战胜对方,他只是希望明羽就算赢不了,也不该输得很惨,只要可以维持住战线,拖住凌步虚就可以了。在他的计画中,现阶段的目标分三步。第一步是先全力铲除掉鲁帝的残兵败将,夺下魔族在东部最后的据点——特兰要塞,起义军在东部就有了一个坚实的防守堡垒。接着留下一员可靠的将领,比如说白川,镇守特兰要塞,建立远东的东部防线。第二步,将远东军的主力掉头西向,与凌步虚决战,力争尽快将其部队击溃。第三步,击败凌步虚后,远东境内基本已经肃清了魔族的大部队,除了由少量部队进行境内的治安和剿匪工作外,接下来可以将防卫的重心放在东部。紫川秀打算以特兰、沙加等几个大的要塞为要点,重建远东的东部防线。当然,紫川秀想,等到可以御敌人于国境之外,自己就可以将精力放在国内的建设上面,战争时期抛荒的耕田要重新耕种、要进行土地的平均分配、要建设工矿业、要从家族内地引进远东自己的工厂和技术——用不了五年,自己曾向布丹长老许诺过的新远东就将要出现了!当然,这一切得有个前提,前提是魔族不再向远东派遣新的镇压部队,起码在自己击败凌步虚之前不要派遣,否则,自己将重又陷入东西两线双面作战的困境。紫川秀也知道,要魔族王国眼睁睁地看着它手边的肥肉被人夺走而不做声,这是根本不可能的。但既然魔族王国的高层在一年多的时间里都没有对远东的反叛做出反应,也没有发现新出现的镇压部队,这令紫川秀产生了一丝希望:也许奇迹会出现呢?等到新远东建立……紫川秀心头泛起一阵悲哀:此生已经注定孤独了,再多的丰功伟业,又有什么意义?他记得,在那些最绝望的日子里,最为了排斥心头那荒漠似的空白,自己亡命地战斗,在每次战斗中都身先士卒,策马冲锋在全军阵头的最前面,近乎疯狂地冒险,无数箭矢“飕飕”地从耳边擦过的风声连续不断,体验那生死边缘的极度刺激来使自己忘却孤寂,并且以此为乐。他意识到,在战争初期自己种种显得幼稚的心情,已经变得一去不复返了。他变得冷酷无情,怀着冷漠、蔑视的心情拿自己和别人的生命当儿戏,这赢得了部下们的尊重:“光明王好样的!”只有自己知道,这不过是一种自暴自弃,是一种失去挚爱之人后,绝望地自寻死路。隐隐地,他泛起了一丝恐惧:当有那么一天,真的驱逐了魔族恢复了远东的自由,自己将何去何从?到哪里再去寻找这种出生入死的刺激来使自己排遣寂寞?哪里还有新的战场可以让自己忘却悲痛?或者,难道,曾经叱吒风云的伟大光明王,他的下半辈子就要在酒精的浸泡中度过了吗?自己会变成一个浑身酒气、口齿含糊不清的乖张老头,每天最大的事业就是调戏稍有姿色的女招待?紫川秀嘴角露出一丝冷笑:与其这样慢慢地糜烂沉醉,倒不如在与魔族的战争中壮烈地战死——当真相大白,消息传回帝都的时候,她还会不会为自己痛心?想哭吗?夜已经很深了,外面传来了孤独的荒外野狼鸣叫声,声音凄凉又悠长。今天大军一气走了四十多里路,想到明天还要继续赶路,紫川秀收回思索,打了个呵欠打开了行军毯子。忽然,他住了手:帐篷门外传来窸窸嗦嗦的布帘响声和轻微的脚步声。紫川秀反手按上了腰间的洗月刀,出声问:“谁?”“光明济世。”一个清朗的男声隔着门帘回答,正是今晚的安全口令:“殿下,我是布兰大人派来的传令兵,有紧急军情求见!”“永照大地,请进。”紫川秀回答了口令的下半截,白光一闪,洗月刀无声地出鞘,紧紧握在手中。他目光炯炯地盯住了帐篷门帘的方向,眼睛一眨不眨。“滋!”突然响起一阵撕裂耳膜的尖锐剌响,厚帆布制造的帐篷门帘无声无息地被击个粉碎,碎片迎风卷进了帐篷中,片片锐利如刀。犹如平地里忽然出现了可怕的风暴,无数的光点像雨点般倾泻灌涌进了帐篷中,无坚不摧的剑气如同风暴般席卷一切,一阵密集的“哧哧哧”轻响,紫川秀原来站立位置后面的帐篷壁上已经出现了无数的洞眼,蜡烛的光亮从洞眼里斑斑点点地射进营帐外的黑暗中。紫川秀来不及反击,就地一个翻身滚出好远,一脚踢飞了摆蜡烛的案台,营帐顿时陷入了一片伸手不见五指的黑暗中。只听到“哧哧哧”几声尖锐的剑气破风声和剑刺入钝物的声音,自己原来的座位已经中了无数剑。听风辨声判断敌人的位置,紫川秀在黑暗中像豹子般无声摸近,挥刀还击,耀眼的刀光在黑暗中一闪而逝,洗月刀在黑暗中划了个弧线,却少有地落空了:对方早已经转移了。几乎就在同一时刻,他与其说看到,不如说是感到一股冰寒刺骨的剑气正在向他的胸口袭来,紫川秀机敏地一个闪身,躲过了这一剑,心里明白:是刚才落空的那一刀暴露了自己的位置。通过那剑的剑路,紫川秀再次捕捉到对方的位置,挥刀还击。“叮!”的一声剌耳的金属交击声,刀剑在空中激烈地斩击,蹦出了几点火花,俩人同时闷哼一声,接着是沉寂。紫川秀屈膝半蹲在地上,用衣袖盖住了刀刃的锋锐闪光,一动不动。他屏住棒吸,压抑了全身的生机,闭上了眼睛,聚精会神,两只耳朵几乎像兔子一样竖了起来。营帐内笼罩在可怕的沉寂和黑暗中。可以听到,在营帐帆布的缝隙中,风在轻轻的呜鸣着,静得让人心寒,黑得简直像掉进了一个大墨缸里,伸手不见五指。刺客还停留在帐篷中。现在双方的眼睛都没办法适应这突来的黑暗,只能依靠耳朵来捕捉对方的位置。对方从破门到偷袭杀人,自己则立即躺倒并且踢灭蜡烛,这一连串的动作全部发生在电闪雷鸣间,双方全都是以快打快,他连看清楚对方面目的机会都没有。紫川秀知道,自己碰上了平生罕见的高手。对方的剑法太可怕了,剑光简直如雨点般倾泻,刚才一瞬间就同时剌出十几剑,放眼望去,剑光形成了一个耀眼的光团,如云雾般向自己罩来,不要说见招拆招,他根本连哪一剑在先哪一剑在后都无法分辨。幸好自己反应迅速踢灭了蜡烛使得营帐中一片黑暗,否则不到几个回合,自己早就被刺得千疮百孔了。恍惚中,紫川秀有种感觉,这人的剑路和好友帝林有几分相似,但更快、更狠、更可怕!沉闷的黑暗中充满了杀机,恐怖,压抑,像是绷得快要断掉的弦。面前的漆黑中隐藏着自己的大敌,军队就在咫尺左右,紫川秀却不敢发声求救:谁先发出声音暴露自己,势必会引来对方如同*般的攻击。而对于这种层次的高手,一击就足以致命了,自己绝对撑不到军队赶来解救自己。他思维里一片空白,紧张得脑筋都快断掉了——这是种难以忍受的考验和折磨。紫川秀的背后,汗水已经湿透了衣裳。尽避他一再强迫自己要集中精神,但大脑已经在不由自主地胡思乱想了:这是哪里来的可怕高手?这么可怕的快剑,防守是守不住的,如果真的面对面比试的话,自己唯一的机会就是只攻不守,拚命跟他来个同归于尽了……“嗒嗒”的脚步声传来,主帅营帐里的响声惊动了几个过路的值勤警卫。有人在外面很近的地方喊话:“我们是今晚的警卫,大人,您没事吧?”紫川秀暗自欢喜:自己的人终于来了!他没有出声。摆暗中的刺客也没有做声。帐篷门帘处出现了火把的一丝光亮,一个半兽人卫兵举着火把走进了漆黑一片的帐篷中,大声地喊道:“殿下,我听到声音。你……”紫川秀突然觉察不妙,他冒着暴露的危险猛然喊出声来:“不要,快出去……”“哧”的一声轻响,半兽人卫兵整个人僵住了,脸上表情古怪,火把昏黄的火光照耀下,他嘴咧开,似笑非笑地像是看到什么非常荒谬的事情似的。手渐渐地松开了,燃烧着的火把掉到了地上。半兽人喉咙中发出“咯咯”的怪声,却是说不出来话来:一把锋利的锐剑从脖后剌入,已经穿透了他粗壮的脖子,血淋淋的剑锋从喉咙部位伸了出来。“嗖”的一声,剑被抽了回去。半兽人士兵踉踉跄跄地向前走了两步,一头撞到了紫川秀身上。紫川秀急忙扶住他,手上触摸到了一种滚烫而黏稠的液体。半兽人徒劳地大口喘着气,捂住喉咙的伤口,殷红的鲜血大股大股地从手指里渗透出来,喉咙处发出了“咕咕”的怪声。他含糊不清地喊道:“殿下,小心……”向后一挣扎脱离了紫川秀的扶持,整个人仰倒摔在了地上,身体恰懊压灭了火把。营帐中又回复了一片漆黑。“砰、砰”两声响门帘被撞开,又有两个卫兵觉得不妙,拿着刀冲进了黑暗的营帐中,紫川秀再次发出警告:“小心!”卫士一愣:“殿下您说什么?”他们从月光下忽然进入黑暗的营帐中,眼睛还无法适应这变化,一个幽灵般的影子已经无声无息地贴在了他们身后,黑暗中一道剑光如闪电般掠过,只听见“嗤嗤!”两声轻响,接着就是两个士兵的惨叫:“啊——”惨叫声在寂静的夜晚里远远地传了出去,整个大营都听得清清楚楚。沉睡的起义军士兵纷纷给惊醒了:“那是怎么回事?”“哪里来的叫声?”忠实的士兵惨死在自己面前,自己只能眼睁睁地看着,束手无策!那种无力的挫折感使得紫川秀愤怒,他血脉贲张,热血上冲,视野里充满了一片红色,意识变得模糊,脑子混沌,只有一个声音在脑海中不断地回响:杀死他!杀死那个畜生!他能够感觉到,自己的身体正在发生一种奇妙的变化,整个身体变得滚烫,像是在火炉里闷烧似的,感觉器官数以倍增地灵敏,尤其是视觉:刚才还是伸手不见五指的漆黑已变成一片深红色……看到了,看到了:朦朦胧胧,一米外的帐篷边上,一个深红色的人影正一点点地逼近自己。刺客无声地冷笑:如果这个光明王像刚才那样继续躲藏在黑暗中,自己不敢点火把在黑暗中找他,他的大批卫士正在赶来,拖延下去对他是有利的。但没想到他那么愚蠢,看到几个士兵被杀就失去了理智,竟然主动出声暴露了身形。他悄无声息地接近了紫川秀的位置,一剑剌过去,又慢又稳,不带起一点风声。“叮”的一声清脆的金属碰撞响,紫川秀身形一转,洗月刀在黑暗中分毫不差地架住了敌剑,钢刀顺势灵活地一绞,刺客手腕顿时一阵酥麻,险些拿不住剑。紫川秀旋风般转身,“唰唰唰”就是三刀,刀光如雷霆闪动,刀刀不离刺客的要害。刺客狼狈地一个草驴打滚险险地躲过,这个变化实在出乎他的意料了,要刺杀的对象突然变得如此强悍,他的速度和凶猛比起刚才简直有天渊之别!包可怕的是,黑暗中他是如何能如此准确地格挡自己招数的?“去死!”紫川秀猛喝一声,直冲过来。刺客立即放弃了偷袭的想法,正面挥剑迎击,一时间,两人刀来剑往,杀成一团。漆黑之中,刺客目不能见物,只能依靠那刀刃的闪光和风声来判断对方兵器的来路,这就格外的惊险,稍有不慎就是白刃加身。他唯一可倚靠的是那丰富的临阵经验和超乎常人的快剑,努力封挡紫川秀的层出不穷的杀招,顷刻之间,他已经落在下风。他的反应亦是一等一的快捷,立即就明白过来:“你能看见了?”紫川秀不答,报以更加疯狂的攻击,刀刀迅如风,猛如雷,刀子快得已经看不出本来形状了,仿佛无数银白色的闪电罩住了两人,双方全是以快打快,刀剑以快得超乎常人听觉的速度,连续不断地碰撞:“叮叮叮叮叮——”听起来就像一声拖长的撞击似的。“喝!”紫川秀一声暴喝,刀光陡然暴涨,雪白的刀光中已经带了一抹殷红。“嘿!”刺客低沉地怪叫一声,左边肩头已经挂了彩。但拚着受这一轻伤,他已经脱离了紫川秀的刀气笼罩,只是人影一晃,他已经退到了帐篷边,身法之快,形如鬼魅。“想跑!?”紫川秀低喝一声追了过去。但刺客并非想逃,只听见“哧”“哧”两声裂响,刺客反手一剑,身后的帐篷帆布一划之下已经多了两条半尺长的交叉剑痕,从那个三角星的裂口处,清亮的月光洒了进来。——虽然不是很清晰,但帐篷里人和物的轮廓都可以看得清楚了。这下,双方都可以看见了!紫川秀明白了对方的用意,也不作声,挺刀上前再战,刀上已经运上了内力。刺客看得清楚,长剑如同毒蛇般吐出,后发先至地击上刀脊。火星四溅,刀剑再次交击,发出震耳低沉“嗡”的一声,双方都是手臂酥麻。刺客只觉得一股麻痹感从手腕向上延伸,一直到了肩膀,大惊之下他向后一跳,喝问:“住手!这波纹功,你哪里学来的?”紫川秀闷声不吭,把刀换到左手。刚才那一下碰击,他也同样的手臂酥麻不能动弹,但幸好他的左右手都是同样灵活,上前又要拚杀,刺客又再次向后一跳,喊道:“住手!扁明王,你到底是谁?与“河丘林家”有何渊源?”紫川秀不答,刀光一闪,刀子斜斜翻上去,刀锋闪电般从下向上削往对方脖子。这正是他绝技“逆雪”中的一招。该套武功的招式全部是逆反常理习惯而行的,在这种以快打快的战斗中,双方都没有时间来思考,只能凭着平时的习惯来应战,紫川秀相信,任他武功再高,碰上了这种反常的刀法也要吃上大亏。不料紫川秀刀才只砍了一半,对方就已经闪电般一剑回刺紫川秀的面目,逼得他不得不后跳躲避。紫川秀跳起,举刀欲劈砍对方脑袋,但刀才举到一半,对方又一剑刺往他空门大开的胸口部位,逼得紫川秀再次仓皇后退。紫川秀使尽彪身招式,奇招妙式层出不穷,但这些全归无用,无论他如何腾挪变化,对方都始终比他快一点,自己的招式变化全部落入对方掌握之中,往往一刀没出对方的剑已经料敌机先地先行破解了,还屡次遭遇危机几次险些中招——奇怪的是,对方仿佛也有留情之意,有些时候明明紫川秀都已经躲避不及了,对方却故意把剑一缓,放了紫川秀一条生路。紫川秀气急败坏,要能这么料敌机先地准确破解自己的招数,除非这人对自己的武功和招式了若指掌,但自己的武功来历除了一个人以外,世界上无人知道——但这不可能的事情却偏偏发生在了自己身上!紫川秀怒吼一声:“去死!”手腕一翻,一片雪花般密集的刀光护住了全身上下,整个人旋风般扑近前。刺客的瞳孔猛然收缩:“漫天雪花!”他知道这招的可怕,这本来是防守的招式,一把刀极尽变幻之能事,幻化出无数的刀花,刀花就像那纷纷扬扬的雪花一样,环绕飘落地保护住全身上下——这本是无懈可击的防守招式,但紫川秀凭着悍不畏死的气势和胆色,竟然把这招演化成了可怕的进攻招数,只要给他扑近身来,自己会在一瞬间给那无数看似美丽的“雪花”绞成碎片的!危急之刻,刺客“哈”的一声大喝,挥剑直刺:对这种繁杂的招式以变化来破解是不可能的,唯一的破解就是以攻对攻,以强劲的内力正面克制对方!那耀眼的雪花虽然有无数,但真正的刀却只有一把,只要制住了那把真正的刀,这招将不破自解!“叮!”一声响,刀剑再次格挡,两人都是全身一震,各自退后一步。“我知道你是谁了,紫川秀!”刺客开口说,尽量忍住手臂上对方真气入侵的痛楚,那种如同蚂蚁在血管里爬行般的痛苦,正是“波纹功”特有的杀伤力。紫川秀连话都说不出声了,大口大口地喘着粗气。五脏六腑如被火烧似的炽热感觉,痛得像是有人用沙子在磨自己的内脏。对方的真气十分犀利,稍一接触就直接杀伤自己的内脏和丹田,这种古怪的真气自己还是第一次接触。现在自己正在运气企图化去那股古怪的杀伤真气,一时再无法上前厮杀。紫川秀本来期望自己能比对方更快地将攻入体内的真气化去,但突然被对方叫破身份,他心神一震,真气震荡不安。“没有用的。”黑暗中传来刺客冷冷的声音:“你我真气同源同种,造成的杀伤力是双倍的。紫川秀,没有一个时辰,你休想动弹。”紫川秀反口讥讽道:“你不也一样?外面是我的人,挨下去你只有等死了!只要我大叫一声……”仿佛为他的话做注释似的,远处,半兽人士兵粗鲁的叫喊声此起彼伏:“有刺客!”、“快去保护光明王殿下!”人声沸腾,喧嚣声杂乱无章。这深夜的格斗和惨叫声已经惊动了大营,尽避双方都是动弹不得,但紫川秀的部下正在赶来,刺客的处境十分不妙。紫川秀突然停顿住了:对方冰冷的剑锋正压在自己的喉咙处,寒气逼人。接着身上的几处要穴同时一麻,对方已经点了自己的穴位。“嚓”一声轻响,刺客收剑入鞘,左手单手打着了火折子,把翻落地上的油灯重又点燃,动作十分灵巧,营帐中重又恢复了光明。于是紫川秀得以看到了今晚的大敌,平生罕见的绝顶高手。被打翻的几子前,一个穿着秀字营黑色制服的蒙面人一手拿着油灯,若有所思地望着紫川秀,目光中充满了好奇。他的身材硕长削瘦,只有一双眼睛露出面具外,眼神亮得惊人。两人目光对视,谁都没有说话。紫川秀震惊:对方竟然这么快就恢复了!他更不服的是,刺客仿佛对自己的一身武功了若指掌,尽避自己已经在最好状态下出了全力,却还是不得不以落败收场。有生以来第一次,他对自己的武功失去了信心。在营帐的外面,纷乱的脚步声越来越近,还伴随着武器金属的铿锵响声,大批人马从四面八方围近了指挥帐。起义军的将领们已经发现了主帅出问题了,纷纷率领自己的部下前来营救。他们团团围住了帐篷,金属冰冷的反光透过营帐的破洞照了进来,树林一般密集的刀枪剑戟的在帐篷上投下了清晰的影子,火把的光亮摇缀不定。这种场面让紫川秀有种熟悉的感觉:他记起来了,当年自己也是这样劫持卡丹公主逃跑的。刺客突然出声道:“外面的人听着,光明王在我手里。想他死的话,你们尽避进来吧!”话声带着浑厚的内力传出好远,惊得旁边林子中沉睡中的斑鸠噗嗤噗嗤飞起。赶来的士兵们一阵慌乱,纷纷停住了脚步。军官们不明白营帐中的实际情况如何,连忙约束部下们。外面有个半兽人在喊:“你是什么人?休想骗我们,光明王大人神勇无比,你根本不是他老人家对手!不马上出来的话,我们进去将你千刀万剐!”紫川秀听出这是布森的声音。刺客用剑鞘点点紫川秀的喉咙,紫川秀知道他的意思,无奈地开口了:“布森,是你吗?你们先不要进来。”“殿下,你还好吗?”“我很好,再好没有了——”刺客不耐烦地用剑鞘乱戳紫川秀胸口,紫川秀心头大骂却不得不出声:“你们退后一点,退出十步。我和这位朋友有点事情要谈。”布森犹豫了一下,开口道:“遵命,殿下!”随即大声发令:“所有人,离开帐篷十步,不得靠近。”军队开始像潮水一般后退,一片混乱的脚步声中,紫川秀听到有个不知名的半兽人军官在小声地发令:“弓箭队哪里去了?快把弓箭队调来!——给我瞄准了门口,只管射!”他说得小声,却不料帐篷中两人都是高手,同时听得清清楚楚。紫川秀尴尬地干笑一声:“嘿嘿。”蒙面人安静地凝视着他,眼睛一眨不眨,查看着紫川秀的面貌和轮廓。紫川秀对他怒目以视,却发现对方的眼神非常温和。不知是否错觉,在对视的一瞬间,紫川秀感觉到对方流露复杂的感情:关切、惋惜、感慨、慈祥……并没有杀意。饼了好久,刺客才开口说:“真是没想到,光明王就是你。”他的声音清朗而悦耳,语气中带有种秋风萧瑟的感慨。紫川秀皱皱眉头:“你认识我?你是谁?”对方的眼神令他有种熟悉的感觉,却偏偏想不出是在哪里见过。按道理来说这是不可能的,对方武功之高自己生平罕见,如果自己曾经碰到过这样的人,绝对没有理由记不得的。蒙面人笑笑——他蒙着脸,紫川秀也不能肯定他是否真的在笑,只是看到他眼角的鱼尾纹突然地堆积了一下。——看来他年纪不轻了,紫川秀暗想。“你不必知道我的真名,但魔族都叫我黑沙,”顿了一下,他慢慢地补充说:“黑沙军师。”紫川秀的眼睛眯成了一条细缝,眸子突然紧紧地收缩。对这个名字,他早有所闻。在投靠魔族的时候,他多次听过他的名声:魔族王国权势熏天的第一权臣,神皇最信任的大臣,来历诡秘的神秘人物,当年在魔族军中没有机会见到的人物,如今却活生生地站在自己面前。谁也想不到,他竟然敢于孤身潜入起义军大营刺杀自己,而且武功那么好,能在一对一交手时候将紫川秀击败。“紫川秀,我的口令应该是正确的,你看起来却像早有准备——你是怎么样发现我的?”黑沙问,口气和蔼又亲热。他不像是问被一个被自己击败的敌人,倒像是在问候一个多年不见的老朋友。紫川秀“哼”了一声,本来不想答的,但想想对方已经回答了自己一个问题,自己不答倒显得有点小家子气了。“你刚才的口令是军队的一般口令,进我的营帐则需要另一套级别更高的口令。而且就算有紧急军情,通报的也应该是我的亲卫们,不应该是个陌生的通讯兵。——我身边的卫兵们怎么样了?”摆沙歉意地点了下头:“非常抱歉……”紫川秀秀眉一轩:“都死了吗?”“我不第135章历史借镜“请进。”斯特林从档案堆里抬起头来。“大人,”秦路从门外探头出来:“紫川宁小姐求见。”斯特林一阵慌乱。尽管他已经结婚成家了,但他还是承认自己不懂女人。在他看来,女人是很麻烦的动物。他知道紫川宁来找自己是为了什么——他宁愿面对着二十个魔族团队也不愿应付一个哭哭啼啼的哀怨少女。他托着下巴,好声气地和秦路商量:“能不能跟宁小姐说,我不在?”“晚了。”秦路面无表情地说:“我已经跟她说你在,而且很有空。”“你!”斯特林一时气结,他苦笑。七十三个师团的预备役士兵要转入现役,家族要增添近五十万的军队编制,要给这批部队安置集结点和部署在各个战略要地上;流风霜在西部蠢蠢欲动,流风家的十字军已经开到了多伦湖前线,大兵压境,西部军十个师团的部队面临被包围的危险,明辉统领的告急文书如同雪花般飞来。在瓦伦前线的军事演习中,演习部队又和魔族发生流血冲突,二十一个士兵和三个军官在冲突中阵亡,凌步虚向紫川家正式递交了警告,火yao味非常浓烈,第二次远东战争已经近在眼前。同时,各行省驻军发来的报告堆得有小山那么高。行省总督们深通为官之道,为了让自己的档案得到重视,每份信封上都用红字标明了:“紧急!”、“十万紧急!”、“火急!”、“极端重要!”、“危急!”自己哪一份都不敢遗漏,一一批覆,结果大多的报告都只是:“对某某军官的调令的请示”、“缺少一百套夏季服装申请补给”、“驻地营地水涝,请示是否转移驻地?”昨晚自己工作到凌晨三点,早上七点又起床继续干,八点进总长府做简单汇报,九点到元老会答覆关于帝都驻军扰民事件的处理结果,十点视察新组建的部队,听取师团长官们的汇报,中午也不能休息,自己和部下们忙得象狗一样把舌头都吐出来了,而现在……“给我准备一杯茶,要浓的。”斯特林吩咐进来的秘书,同时站起身跟秦路说:“走吧,一起出门去迎接宁小姐。”“宁小姐大驾光临视察,军务处全体同仁同感荣幸!”领着部属们站在门口,斯特林微笑地欢迎紫川宁,深深地鞠了一躬。尽管已是初春时节了,天气还是很冷。紫川宁静静地站在门口,披着一件洁白的绍皮大衣,缠着红色的围巾,美丽得令人目眩神驰。那些第一次见到她的年轻军官们被这位家族继承人的美丽所慑,不敢抬头正视。她身边没有一个随从。看着斯特林摆出了这般隆重而正式的仪仗,她秀眉一蹙,随即开颜:“斯特林大人大客气了,我只是随便来看看。叨搅各位了?”她望向一边的秦路等人。“哪里,哪里。宁小姐大驾光临,这是我们的荣幸,请都请不来呢!”秦路笑着说。斯特林微笑着不作声,在紫川宁的目光中,他看到了焦急。他和她都明白,这次拜访绝非一次“随便看看”。虽然紫川宁并没有担任任何实职,但她是家族的第一顺位继承人,这个身份相当于家族首脑,凌驾于任何家族官员之上。斯特林将紫川宁请入了办公室,按照正式的程序,他和一众军官开始给这位前来视察的家族继承人进行汇报。“不知小姐有意了解军务处哪一方面的工作呢?”斯特林问。紫川宁不动声色地望了他一眼,目光中大有深意,微笑说:“随便谈谈吧。”斯特林非常了解这个眼神的意思:“斯特林,你这个家伙竟敢和我装傻!”于是他就憨憨地傻笑起来,吩咐秦路说:“老路,给宁小姐汇报一下西部边境的局势吧,那边情况比较重要。”“明白!宁小姐、斯特林大人,众所周知,在西部对我家族构成最大威胁的是流风家族。它是我们家族的死敌!流风家族的军队分为三个系统,国防军系统,十字军系统、还有就是远京卫戍军区。”“一说到流风家就不能不说到流风霜。在流风家族内部,流风霜无疑是首屈一指的重将和权臣。但人们往往不知道,虽被流风西山册封为‘终身护国统领’的荣誉称号,但是就实际宫职来说,她不过是习冰军区的司令,辖地不到三千平方里,论职位,她不过和我紫川家的一个行省总督差不多。但实际上,习冰军区位于流风家与我紫川家和林家接壤的三角地区,是兵家必争之地,流风家族在此地部署了重兵死守。就在习冰军区以及周边邻近地区的防守地域,部署了十字军的主力和国防军系统的一百三十个联队,而且自从流风霜在远京失势来到习冰地区后,得到了流风路的大力支持,她一直致力于流风家军力的加强,自行在三大系统外一手创建新军——风霜团。她所指挥的部队包括了流风家族最强的实战部队,是流风家实质上的“兵马大元帅”。就目前来说,她和她的军队对我紫川家的安全造成了最大的威胁,而且近来的诸多迹象表明,她对我紫川家怀有强烈的野、心……”秦路抓住了机会,从当前形势一直说到展望未来,“我神勇的家族军队必将战胜无耻的冠以流风姓氏的无耻人类败类”云云,说得滔滔不绝。斯特林默不作声地观察着:表面上,紫川宁听得非常认真,身子微微前倾,不时轻轻点头:“哦,是这样的吗……”、“嗯,对……”但她那双游离不定的眸子已经暴露了她内心的焦急和心不在焉,白皙的手指抓住了衣角,紧紧捏住。斯特林暗叹一声:“何必呢。”汇报进行得又长又臭,接下来军务处所属的几个高级军官分别进行了关于各地区战备工作的汇报,一共进行了两个多小时。眼看时间已经是中午了,斯特林微笑着终止了汇报会:“好了,大家说得都很好,宁小姐,您还需要了解些什么情况吗?”“啊,”心不在焉的紫川宁回过神来,有种如梦初醒的感觉,犹豫一下,她笑笑说:“斯特林大人,有个情况我想向你了解一下。”斯特林平静地说:“好的。”旁边的军官们识趣地起身,离开了办公室,最后一个人出了门,脚步声渐渐远去。他看着她,她却局促不安,眼神游离不定。斯特林轻声咳嗽—声。“斯特林大哥,”紫川宁终于下定了决心,开口就直奔主题:“阿秀哥哥,他……他在哪里?”斯特林犹豫一下,还是回答了:“远东。这几年,他一直在远东。”紫川宁猛然后退一步:“啊!难道,他真的……”“情况不是你想的这样。”斯特林站了起身,走到窗前,窗外的园子里,树木已经长出了娇嫩的绿叶。他回过头来,直视着紫川宁,缓慢地说:“阿秀对家族的忠诚,没有谁能比得上。他是个真正的忠贞之士。”紫川宁呆呆地看着他。“事情要从七八九年的帕伊围城说起。”斯特林开始讲述紫川秀两年多的经历:他忍辱负重,伪装向魔族投诚,讲述他英勇过人,于魔族聚会之时将雷洪当场格杀,杀伤魔族将领无数,国家得以惩罚奸逆,洗刷耻辱,魔族嚣张的气焰遭到沉重打击。他凭着大智大勇,经历九死一生的磨难,终于逃脱了魔族的魔掌。但狠毒的敌人不甘心失败,捏造出可耻的谎言来中伤他,让他有家归不得,被迫流亡远东。但就在这种艰难的情形下,紫川秀仍旧没有放弃他对家族的忠诚与坚贞,在远东卧薪尝胆,秘密练兵,苦心积攒力量,终于等到时机成熟,他一手发动了远东大起义,给予魔族沉重打击,在不为人知的情形下默默地捍卫了紫川家的东方防线。当他从远东归来时候,又恰好遭遇神秘的刺客对紫川宁的行刺,他单枪匹马狙击对方全部高手,力保紫川宁得以幸免于难,自己却被敌人所重创……紫川宁安静地听着,腰挺得笔直,身形一动不动。尽管知道紫川秀后来一定没事,但听得斯特林叙述紫川秀经历之险,她脸上情不自禁地流露出紧张的神情。当得知那晚紫川秀为拯救自己受了重伤,她低下了头侧过睑去,以免让斯特林看见她眼中的波光闪动。斯特林理解她此刻的心情:自己心上人非但不是叛逆,而且还是个了不起的大英雄,这更让她自己的作为显得难以容忍。“一个人,在远离亲人与朋友的地方,断绝了消息,蒙受耻辱和骂名,默默地战斗。没有得到家族一兵一卒的援助,凭个人的努力,他已经收复了远东国土的大半,这在历史上是从没有过的!此功此业,足可光耀日月,彪炳千秋!可以说,阿秀他完全无愧于当年远星大人对他的栽培,无愧于哥应星大人对他的厚望,也无愧于——”斯特林若有所思地看了紫川宁一下:“——宁小姐您曾经对他寄予的期望。”紫川宁一直在压抑着自己,告诫自己要冷静。但听着斯特林平和有力的陈述,不知不觉的,泪水已经夺眶而出。她再也忍受不住了,起身在房间里急切地走来走去。仿佛发着高烧,她苍白的脸上现出了斑斑红晕,心胸在起伏,呼吸急速,仿佛她正在承受着巨大的苦痛。不敢面对斯特林严肃的脸,也因为双脚已经不能支持自己了,她双手扶着墙,对着墙壁长久地站立。斯特林暗叹一口气,他打开窗户,大量涌进来的新鲜空气中饱含着春天的气息。黎明前下过一阵短时间的绵绵细雨,花园中的泥土被雨水冲过,到处留下了水流的痕迹,园子里,大量的新芽正在干枯的枝头上争先恐后地绽放,雨水洗过的新芽像是泡沫似的在阳光下闪着光芒,充满了勃勃生机。他听到了身后隐隐传来的啜泣声音,但却故意忽略了。过了几分钟,哭声低了下来,斯特林转过身去,走到紫川宁身边,善解人意地递上手帕。紫川宁没有回过头,低声说:“谢谢。”接过了手帕。当她回转头时候,她已经能控制自己了,除了眼睛有点潮湿相通红外,她看上去一切正常。对着斯特林,她苦涩地一笑:“斯特林大哥,谢谢你告诉我这些。”“不客气,这是你应该知道的。宁小姐,你——”仿佛害怕什么,紫川宁匆匆地说:“我知道,斯特林大哥你是很忙的,我已经耽误你很多时间了,实在不好意思。这就告辞了,代我向清姐问好。”斯特林默默地点头,看着紫川宁向门口走去,他突然出声:“宁小姐,请留步一下。”紫川宁的身影僵住了,诧异地回头望来。斯特林有点懊悔地挥一下手,却不知该说什么。为了紫川秀——也为了紫川宁,他只是知道,绝不能让紫川宁就这么走掉。他总想为自己最疼爱的小弟做点事情,好挽回这段感情。“宁小姐,以我的身份,也许我不该说,但是……有些事情……有些事情……你也许真应该好好的考虑一下呢?”他皱着眉头在苦苦思索,想找一个恰当又不伤害紫川宁自尊心的方式把自己的真正意思表白出来。这时候,紫川宁反倒是善解人意,她笑了:“斯特林大哥,你是想不是想说,我和阿秀还有在一起的希望?”紫川宁挑破了这层纸,斯特林大感轻松。他道:“正是。”“阿宁,你是家族未来总长,是我的主君,以我紫川家家臣的身份,有些话我是不该说的。但我又是看着你和阿秀长大的,承蒙你不弃,一直称我为大哥,那今天,就允许我逾越一下臣子的本分。”紫川宁柔声说:“斯特林大哥,从小我是一直真的把你当大哥。你想说什么,我大概也猜到了一点。你是想劝说我回头,和阿秀哥哥重归于好吧?”“正是。”“前天早上,我已经和元老会的马维阁下谈过了。”紫川宁欲言又止。斯特林急切地追问:“怎么样?”她嫣然一笑,美丽得犹如海棠带雨:“今后,大家都还是好朋友。”花了足足半分钟斯特林统领才明白这句话的意思。他不禁感慨:青春年华的女孩子都能无师自通地拥有和外交官相媲美的言辞,明明是无情的分手绝交,她们却有办法说得那么动听:“我们做一生一世的好朋友吧!”让男人吃了哑巴亏还得扮出一副很有风度的样子表示:我不要紧,我真的一点都不要紧,最后还得深情脉脉地祝她永远幸福。一瞬间,他感觉自己的同情是站在那个花花公子的元老议员一边的。他欣喜说:“那就好!宁小姐,只要您……”“斯特林大哥,你不明白的。”紫川宁柔声却坚决地打断了他的话:“问题的关键不在这里。我配不上阿秀。”斯特林诧异地望着她,她笑了,笑得凄婉又坚决:“真的,我配不上他。他是那么高尚,那么勇敢。为了国家,为了人类,他浴血奋战,捍卫国土。面对祖国,面对上天,他问心无愧。而我呢?就在他冒着生命危险,为我紫川家斩奸除逆;就在他九死一生,被魔族追捕的那些最危险的日日夜夜里;在他冲锋陷阵,冒着魔族的刀剑弓箭奋勇杀敌的时候,我没能为他祈祷一声,甚至我还怀疑,他是不是真的投降魔族了!”斯特林安慰说:“这并不是小姐您的错,当时几乎所有人都是这么认为的。”“但我不是‘一般人’,我是他的……我应该是最了解他的人!就算天底下所有人都怀疑他,我也应该相信他,坚定不移。何况,斯特林大哥你,还有监察总长帝林阁下——你们始终都相信阿秀,不是吗?而我更应该相信他,相信他不会死,相信他的忠诚,相信他对我的承诺!”紫川宁的声音渐渐低落下去了:“但我没能做到。爱情是对双方的考验,而这个考验,我没能经得住。诚然,我紫川家对阿秀是有所亏欠,但我对他的负义更是超过任何人。从孩提时代起,我欠他的,实在太多。多少次,他为我出生入死,但我能回报他的,只有伤心和痛苦。我不是个值得他爱的人,如果没有我,他会更幸福的。“人们常说破镜重圆——但破了的镜子,裂痕还在,始终不可能恢复成原来的样子。”斯特林望着她,他想到了阿秀告别时候那悲哀的背影,他理解紫川宁此刻的心情,深深的罪恶感使得她无法坦然地面对他,而紫川秀傲气和自尊更是使得他是不可能回头的——误会已冰消瓦解了,但隔阂依旧存在。彼此思念的两个人依旧不能在一起,感情的事情真是复杂。两人心头有很多话想说,却不知该怎么说起。最后,她盈盈地站起来:“斯特林大哥,谢谢你了,我想,我已经耽误你太多时间了,该走了。”“阿宁!”斯特林第二次叫住了她:“你再坐一下,我有些话要说。”斯特林站起来,倾身直视着紫川宁:“宁小姐,以我二十多年的人生经历来看,我不相信世界上没有不可挽回的事情。即使有,纵使凶难临头,纵使形势险恶,作为人类,我们只要一息尚存,就要尽最俊一分努力。我明白你此刻的心情,你与阿秀的感情遇到了挫折,相互之间存在着误会,但无论什么时候,绝不可放弃希望,绝不可自暴自弃,就权当一切回到了空白,一切重头再来,那又怎样?只要我们努力争取,付出真心,事情并非不可挽回!”斯特林语调铿锵有力,其中流露坚定的信心。紫川宁听得霍然动容。她明白了,为什么斯特林能成为首屈一指的名将。他平时行事并不高调,也不引人瞩目,但无论在如何艰难困苦的环境中,他都能显示出真止男子汉的气度,他坚定的信心就像阳光一样洒遍左右,给周围的人们依靠,成为人们精神上的支柱。“阿宁,现在他遇到了麻烦,需要你的帮助。你愿意吗?”“我愿意,哪怕赴汤蹈火!”紫川宁立即回答,随即又有点犹豫:“将来有那么一天,当我——到那时候,我自然会为阿秀平反,恢复名声。但现在,我无职无权,如何能对阿秀有所帮助呢?”“首先,关于阿秀的一切情况,你还不能向外公布。阿秀的名誉还没能恢复,如果泄露了,监察长大人、阿秀本人还有我都会很麻烦的。”“我发誓,在没得到斯特林阁下同意以前,我绝不将今天在这里的谈话内容向外泄露。若违此誓,让我千刀——”“行,行了。宁小姐,没必要发毒誓那么严重,只要你答应就可以了。”斯特林打断,笑说:“要未来的总长向我发誓保证,我还没那么大胆子啊!”“斯特林大哥!”紫川宁娇嗔道,不依地跺着脚,那女儿家的娇态让斯特林看得呆了。他简单地跟紫川宁形容了一下紫川秀的处境:尽管他在远东屡战屡胜,但后勤供给能力的薄弱却限制了他进一步扩展战果。自己与帝林已经想尽办法为他在不为人知的情况下筹集补给,但总还有存在着一些障碍和阻拦。“军务处这里的事务我可以处理,监察厅的监督帝林阁下也可以解决。在家族的高级官员中,我们唯一顾忌的就是幕僚长哥珊阁卜。她负责后勤部和行政处,全面统筹家族军队的补给和财政开支,是家族的文宫之首。她精干明练,眼光老辣,上次就是她从各行省物资价格的变动中发现蹊跷,最后导致了“战略物资禁止流通法案”的颁布,让阿秀十分为难。我们要长期这样瞒天过海,大规模供应阿秀各种物资和补给,恐怕难以瞒过她。“现在的问题是,哥珊阁下是总统领罗明海阁下的人,在她的后勤部系统内,我们缺少一个够分量的人来配合我们牵制和监视她……”说到这里,斯特林眯起了眼睛,故意停住了话头。紫川宁想了一阵才明白他的用意:“斯特林大哥,你的意思是……”“我什么意思也没有。”斯特林笑眯咪的,慈祥得一面和气。他仿佛是不经意地提起:“据我所知,根据传统,总长继承人在正式接位之前都要到统领处的具体部门工作一段时间,锻链才干,熟悉业务和环境,为将来的正式接位做好准备。宁小姐,您今年已经二十了吧?该做准备了。”他起身和紫川宁握手,送她出门。马车定了好久,紫川宁才理解斯特林的用意。尽管心情郁闷,她还是哑然失笑。紫川家的三杰,果然名不虚传,没有一个是好相与的。就连最以耿直方正闻名的斯特林,在情况需要,只要他愿意的话,也是能要点诡计的。“也好吧。”想到能对紫川秀的事业有所帮助,紫川宁的心里稍微有了点慰依。她细细品味斯特林的话:“就权当一切回到了空白,一切重头再来又如何呢?世界上没有不可挽回的事情!”世界上有种人不会轻许诺言,但一旦答应,他做的会比预期的多很多。斯特林无疑就是这种人了。紫川宁心头重又燃起了希望,她默默地想:“阿秀在远东做出了那么大的成就,我也不能光等着。就让我来见识一下,号称“统领处千年坚冰”的哥珊阁下,您到底是如何的三头六臂了不起吧!”站在门口,看着马车渐渐远去,斯特林嘴角浮出了会心的笑容。回到办公室,他开始写信,把今天发生的事情原原本本地记述下来,这封信将通过秘密渠道寄给远东的紫川秀。信中他详细地把今天紫川宁的言行给记录下来。阿秀是个聪明人,他会领会自己用意的。斯特林边写边想:媒人是最吃力不讨好的角色了。自己是不是有点傻里傻气的呢?但他还是做了。经历过那场无望的苦恋,他深深懂得失去所爱的痛苦,多少次梦中徘徊缠mian,醒来却只剩眼角泪水的痛心,梦中人远在天涯。愿世间有情人终成眷属。如果有可能,他希望紫川秀和紫川宁能有个比他们好的结局。“就当是我为他们做点事吧。愿他们知道,生命中最值得他们珍惜的,并非百万财产,更非权势荣华。”放下笔,打开窗户,湛蓝的天空一望无际。仰望东方的天际,斯特林长久站立,眼角早已经湿润。祝你幸福啊,卡丹。※※※帝国历七八二年的六月,一阵罕见的酷暑袭击了整个西川大陆。在往常四季如春的帝都城内,最高温度突破了摄氏三十六度。但比起恶劣的天气,更恶劣的却是人间的形势。伴随着远东的沦陷,数以百万计的难民涌入了家族本土。这批失去了土地和生产原料的人群一贫如洗,他们露宿街头,在每个城市的周边构成了庞大的难民营和贫民窟,乞丐群到处都是,衣裳褴褛的男子游荡在街头,饥肠辘辘,对城市和乡镇的安全构成了极大的威胁,刑事案件发案奉直线上升,警察机构疲于奔命。家族的军事力量在远东和西线都遭到挫败,但家族的经济力量——规模庞大的农业、工业产业没有受到损害,他们的生产力量是保持着完好的。在七八二年这罕见的丰收年,农民却因为农业产品价格暴跌处于饥饿边缘——这真是极大的讽刺:一边是成熟的粮食大片大片地烂在地里,一边却是失业居民们被饿得饥肠碌碌。因为失去了庞大的远东市场和原料基地,数以千计的工厂和工作坊因无法忍受高昂的原料产品和维持销路而倒闭,成千上万的工人失去工作,不得不露宿街头,物价却直线上升,低层的政府官员无法忍受低廉的薪水而公然索要贿赂的丑闻不断。就连一向是社会支柱的军队机构也未能幸免。由于军队的大量扩展和经济不景气,很多年轻人,尤其是出身小地主和小商人家庭的年轻人,选择了以军官为职业。他们从士兵口中更深地了解到社会的状况已经到了灾难边缘,这些士兵每当收到家信都会失声痛哭:由于儿子远离,全家人都处于饥饿边缘。而同时,军官们却亲眼目睹了他们的上级:那些出身良好、拥有巨大财富的贵族们生活的糜烂和奢华。面对现状,军队浮躁不安,忠诚度下降。人们迷失了生活的信仰、希望和方向,低迷、糜烂的挫折感弥漫在心头。人们不知道该信仰什么、奉行什么,甚至不知道该仇恨什么。面对着无能和腐败的指责,元老会逢周二、周四的弹劾威胁,统领处虽无能力找到解决问题的办法,却善于寻找替罪羔羊。家族统领处宣称:一切都是魔族的错!是魔族强占了我们的远东二十三行省,让农民的产品无法销售!是魔族,强占了我们远东的铁、煤、矿石,让我们的工厂无法开工!更是魔族的侵略,导致了数以百万的难民流入内地,导致我们社会不安定,就业率直线下降!魔族对远东的侵略是我们一切不幸的根本原因!就如猛烈的狂风突然吹散迷雾,在七八二年的年中,炽热的烈风突然袭来,低迷的浓雾一吹而散,人们找到了宣泄仇恨的对象,整个民族异口同声地欢呼:“战争!战争!”——监察总长帝林曾预计紫川家需要十年的时间恢复,他估计得太保守了。耻辱是一个民族成长的加速器,仅仅两年不到的时间,创伤表面上才刚刚愈合,善忘的民众立即好了疤痕忘了痛,好战的浪潮又一次狂热地席卷家族领土。从上到下都是一片喧嚣:“开战!开战!夺回远东!用魔族的鲜血洗刷我们的耻辱!”仿佛在一夜之间达成了共识,从上到下——从家族元老到一贫如洗的乞丐——普遍都认为,只有通过一场战争夺回远东——或者管他什么地方,反正打仗就行——才能对现状有所改善。帝都街头每天都有宣战游行,人数从千人到十万人不等。游行人群举着各种各样的旗帜招摇地从总长府、元老会和统领处面前经过,口号声排山倒海:“打倒魔族!”、“为远东事变中死难的同胞复仇!”、“为九月事件复仇!”、“直捣黄龙,踏平魔神堡,活抓魔神皇!”游行人群一望无际,他们堵塞了帝都大大小小的道路,治部少的员警们在烈日下徒劳无功地呼喊和指挥,却成效不大。反倒是帝都的市民们对游行的激进分子们抱有极大的宽容心,容忍了他们在街头的墙壁上乱写乱涂,和砸烂“禁止通行”的交通栏杆。由于军事上的连续失利,军务部成为众矢之的。那些热血沸腾的军校学生和精力过剩的小伙子们为发泄胸中燃烧的激情,把军务部当成了魔神堡,斯特林当成了大魔神皇,三天两头地围攻,高呼着“军队无能,辱权丧国”的口号,他们不断地向守卫们投掷石子、瓦片、垃圾、污水袋,用颜料将军务处的大门涂抹得一塌糊涂。斯特林不得不向帝林借调了一个中队的宪兵来守卫门口,当他们回去时,身上伤痕累累,全是斑斑点点的污迹。在六月十一日的一次游行中,游行的队伍和维持秩序的员警们发生了激烈的冲突,十四人死亡,一百多人受伤。同日,四个后备役军官口袋里藏着折叠的刺刀冲入后勤部,他们要杀死家族幕僚长官哥珊——她反对扩大军队的征召范围,和再增加军队已经极庞大的军费开支——结果由于过于慌乱,其中一人的刀子从口袋里露了出来,引起了值班守卫的留意。他喝住了他们。四人以为事件败露了,立即抽出刀子袭击了警卫,将其活生生地捅死,旋被赶来的其他警卫制服。四人立即被捕。这极其残酷而无视法纪的袭警和谋杀案件,引起了公众极大的关注。在公开审判时候,凶手表达了对那位失去丈夫的员警遗孀的歉意后,公开宣称:“国家状况令人担忧,民众困苦不堪,国防软弱无力,官吏腐败成风”。他和他的同伙对哥珊统领和遇害的员警并没有私仇,他们的目的为“唤醒沉睡的祖国而敲醒警钟”,要除掉“阻碍祖国强大的一切障碍”!哥珊从嘴边轻轻吐出两个字:“蠢货!”旁听的公众全体起立鼓掌,掌声经久不息。在民众的心目中,他们是烈士,是代表民众利益的斗士。对凶手的同情竟然高达这般地步,以致有几万人自发地签名为其求宽恕,甚至有人寄来用血写的请愿书。在元老会最后出面干涉下,本该以谋逆罪处死的四名军官全部判了无期徒刑,预计用不了几年,他们将很快就从监狱里出来。还是老规炬:任何采取暴力行为者,如果是为了国家荣誉,都应该特赦。军队竟然发生此种目无法纪的行为,军务处长官斯持林向哥珊幕僚长郑重地书面道歉,并保证将尽量约束军队,绝不会让同类事件再行发生。后者毫不客气地打断了他的话:“你现在要做的不是道歉。”哥珊面无表情地说:“局势的发展并非你我能够控制,下一个的目标很可能就是你了,你应该调一些可靠的部队到身边来。小心啊,斯特林,你是军队最后的一丝理智。如果你死,我们就再也无法遏制军队的盲动了。”斯特林愕然。※※※七八二年六月二十三日。天气非常的好,午后两点,气温高达三十三度,阳光热辣辣的,晒得马路成了一片白地。连那些歇斯底里狂叫口号的激进分子也忍受不了这样的酷暑,帝都街头出现了罕见的平静,人们懒洋洋的悠闲地在绿荫底下乘凉,摇着蒲扇。啤酒店门口五光十色的招牌在烈日下生辉,穿着清凉的美女姿态婀娜、目不斜视地从绿荫道上走过,引起乘凉的小伙子们的一片口哨声。倚靠在奔驰的马车窗口,斯特林望着街景出神,看着那打情骂俏的俊男俏女和灯红酒绿,这使他感到心情轻松。但在经过一个十字路口处,他的心情被小小地破坏了一下:迎来赶来了两辆马车,在前面的车子赶得飞快,车夫大声地吆暍着:“让路!让路!”马鞭“劈啪”地扬得天响,行人和路边的商贩们赶紧躲避,大街上平静的气氛给闹得鸡飞狗跳。斯特林皱皱眉,对随行的秦路说:“那是谁的车子?街上那么多人,怎么能这么快马,治部少怎么不管?你查一下。”秦路也探出头去窗外观察,转而对斯特林说:“大人,那是监察厅的人,我们管不了。”“喔?”斯特林微微惊讶,再认真看去,果然,那辆马车的车辕上面悬挂着蓝底金色的剑与盾牌的旗帜,表示车上有监察厅的高级军官在。他淡淡说:“知道了。”心头却老大的不是滋味。在二月十五日的紫川宁事件,帝林率领的监察厅立下大功,检查官们的气焰也随即张扬起来,言行嚣张。斯特林一向认为,因为军队身负保卫国家使命的特殊性,它本身是国家内最大也是最强的武力集团,如果失去约束,它成为凌驾于整个社会之上的暴力集团,那些高级军官会堕落成为超越法律和政府的“军队贵族”,所以,监察和军法系统的设置对于军队来说是十分必要的。但事情不能从一个极端走向另一个极端,负责监督的监察系统变得如此乖张,这绝对不是国家设置监察系统的本意。他决定改天找帝林好好谈一下,劝他约束一下部下。自己的大哥最近把罗明海打得大败,春风得意之下,他有点忘形了。那两辆马车在十字路口来了一个右转弯,上了宽阔的皇都大道,正好与斯特林的马车同向并行。斯特林正琢磨着,这车该不会也是去总长府的吧,正在这时候,惊变骤发。在人行道上闪避的人群堆里突然斜斜窜出一个壮汉来,手持一条长长的铁棍。斯特林还没来得及反应,这汉子猛虎般扑近了悬挂监察厅旗帜的前面那辆马车,狂吼一声,将铁棍猛然插进了飞速旋转的右边车轮里。“当啷”一声巨大的响声,接着就是像是刮玻璃一样刺耳的铁器摩擦声音、“格啦格啦”连续清脆的铁器粉碎声,右边车轮被铁棍死死地卡住,“砰”的一声巨响,漫天的碎片中,马车的右轮整个飞了出去,右边车厢外皮倾斜擦到了路面上,火花四溅,奔马却仍在死命地往前拉,整个车子没有停止前进,“吱——”车厢摩擦地面的石头路基发出了巨大而刺耳的声音,令人听得牙根发软。“砰!”的一声巨响,马厢碰上了路边花圃的台阶上,倾斜的车厢整个儿翻倒过来。“哎呀!”一声怪叫,马车夫已经从驾驶座给甩了出去,重重地摔到了车子前面的路面上,半天爬不起身来,不知死活。路边的人众中冲出了几个手持兵器的男女,朝着翻倒的马车扑将上去。冲在最前面的青年女子高举着单刀剑,披着一件浅黄色的大衣,嘴里尖声尖气地喊着:“呀——呀——呀!”的怪声,后面跟着四条拿单刀的汉子,沉默地扑杀上前。那个最先冲出来卡住车轮的壮汉也从衣服下面抽出了一把砍斧,一下就将那个挣扎着要爬起来的车夫砍翻在地。事情发生得太过突然,街道上的行人都睁大了眼睛,不敢相信地看着面前发生的一幕。一个女声尖叫刺破错愕:“杀人啦!”一瞬间,目瞪口呆的行人们发出了各种各样的惊呼声,慌忙四散。冲在前面的女子速度极快,一眨眼的功夫,她已经冲到了翻过来的马车前,但却无处可下手:车子已经整个翻过来了,车门被压在下面。她围着车厢团团转,暴躁地用剑乱砍车厢壁,将车厢外面的木板砍出了一道道裂痕,露出了里层黑黝黝的铁板。“让开,让我来!”那个使用板斧的壮汉扑近身来。他放下板斧,蹲下抓住车厢的一侧,全身用力,低喝一声:“呀!”车厢动弹了一下,缓慢地又翻转了过来,恢复了原来的位置,露出了车门的一侧。刺客们喜形于色,那个领头的女刺客娇叱一声:“帝林受死!”迫不及待地就要从开了一半的车门里爬进去。斯特林心下一震:这是帝林的车子?!他这才反应过来,马上出声:“停车!”车夫猛拉缰绳,马车缓缓地停下了,斯特林从马车里冲了出来,但距离太远,无论如何已来不及。“噌!”一声响亮的弓弦脆响传得远远的,一个使单刀的男刺客惨叫一声,反手捂住了自己后背。他的后背上中了一箭。斯特林看得清楚,事变突发,跟在翻倒车子后面的第二辆马车出于惯性的无法停住车子,冲出前面数十米才慌忙停住的。箭正是从那辆马车视窗处射出来。“砰”的一下车门洞开,几名宪兵从车上跳了下来,领头的军官暴喝一声:“大胆狂徒,造反了吗!”刺客们只一愣,有两人回转身来迎击宪兵们,剩下的仍旧围着那辆车子。那个使板斧的壮汉两下劈掉了残缺不全的车门:“帝林,这下看你往哪里跑!”语音未落,车门处寒光一闪,一柄长剑闪电般刺进了他的右眼。壮汉痛喝一声,向后翻倒。其余的刺客惊骇于这一剑的威势,不由自主地向后退开几步。没有任何预兆,帝林颀长的身影出现在车门口,风度翩翩,手中长剑闪烁,温柔的眼睛此刻杀气毕露。除了衣裳稍微凌乱以外,他毫发无伤。一瞬间,斯特林安下心来了。同时他也知道,那几个刺客的命运了。宪兵们七手八脚地将被打得半死的刺客们抓着脚拖上马车,经过的地方赫然留下一条让人心有余悸的鲜红血痕。看着马车运着俘虏往监察厅方向去,帝林转过头对斯特林说:“如果你去总长府的话,我们就同路了。载我一程吧!”斯特林点头:“没问题。”他转过头跟秦路商量了下,秦路让出了车厢里的位置,到外面和车夫同坐。上了车,帝林舒服地伸展了下身子,把脚摊得开开的:“你的车子很宽敞,坐起来很舒服。改天我也要去订做一辆同样的。要多少钱呢?”斯特林笑笑,没有出声。“今年的天气有点怪,六月热得要死人了,恐怕收成不好。对了,斯特林,秀佳很挂念着弟妹李清,说很长时间都没见过她了,挂念得很。”“啊,这么巧,清也说过该去拜访下你们了,她想跟嫂子学点厨艺。”“嘿嘿,秀佳也说清弟妹的针织手艺好,她也想学——瞎!娘们儿,就净关心这些东西!我都纳闷了:一天到晚就是房间里那点玩意,她们怎么就不烦?特别是弟妹,那么出众的一个人,怎么也跟一般婆娘一样,整天就热哀什么针织啊、厨艺啊什么的?多可惜啊!斯特林,你得给她说说!”帝林侃侃而谈,只字不提刚刚遭受的袭击,神色平静,好整以暇,除了衣服稍微有点凌乱,他根本不像一个刚刚遭受刺杀,死里逃生的人。“刚才那是些什么人?”斯特林忍不住了,突然问。帝林奇怪地扬扬眉毛,斯特林说明:“我是说刚才的那群刺客。”“谁知道呢?一小撮野心勃勃的叛乱分子?某个图谋不轨的权臣——比如罗明海——对我怀有敌意所派遣的雇佣杀手?杨明华一伙死心不息的残党?家族敌人的阴谋?谁知道?”帝林笑着说。斯特林微微摇头:“从行事的方式上看,他们不像是训练有素的职业杀手。职业杀手讲究冶静,以最小的代价谋取成功,要求迅疾和效率,一击不中立即撤退,而这伙人——在光天化日的大街上公然强行袭击,他们太过于张扬和狂热了。”帝林嘿嘿一笑:“也许吧。”他转了话题,谈论起当前帝都的流行服饰和歌曲——不像斯特林那种两耳不闻窗外事的工作狂,帝林是个时代潮流的追随者,尤其对流行歌曲和文学情有独钟。但斯特林一个字也听不下去,他脑子里却总是想着刚才发生、惊心动魄的一幕:一滩滩殷红的鲜血,纷杂的军靴声,人声鼎沸,那个受伤女刺客撕心裂肺地呐喊:“打倒帝林!”“混蛋,叫什么呢!”几个强壮的宪兵强将她按倒在地,一个宪兵小旗有力的大手抓住她的头发,把她的脑袋按进了路边污水沟里,使劲地往下压,她的脸被浸进了黑色、发臭、冒着白色泡沫的污水里,但她脑袋每次从水里挣扎出来,总要用尽全身气力、沙哑地、含糊不清地喊:“打倒帝林!——帝林不死,紫川家不宁!”围观的路人和斯特林都为之动容。这种不在乎成败和生死的气势,决非职业杀手所能办到,倒像是某种信念的狂热殉道者。望着帝林那快活的笑容,出于某种直觉或者灵犀一闪,一瞬间,斯特林看到了他眉飞色舞的表情下掩盖的真正感情:那种隐藏在眼眸深处的、一闪而逝的绝望和厌倦。心底的声音告诉斯特林:这就是权力之路的代价。在显赫一时的光耀背后,他恐怕没有一个可以安心睡眠的夜晚。在权力这条道路上,自己又付出了什么样的代价呢?他想起家中那束早已经枯萎,却一直被自己珍藏着的“勿忘我”花,心头一阵刺痛。车声嘎然而止,秦路从外面敲敲车门:“监察长大人、斯特林大人,总长府到了!”当斯特林和帝林踏入时候,会议室里早已经济济一堂,家族的重量级人物齐集。紫川参星坐在会议桌的顶端,望向斯特林的目光中带有几分疑惑:以严谨守时出了名的斯特林,怎么也会有迟到的事情呢?斯特林朝众人歉意地笑笑:“不好意思,路上发生点意外。”他坐下来环顾四周:以总长紫川参星为首,总统领罗明海、禁卫统领皮古、幕僚长哥珊,就连一直戍守西部边疆的明辉统领、瓦伦要塞的镇守司令林冰副统领等边区重将都在场。而且在这群人中,斯特林还看到了个新面孔(其实也不能算是新面孔,是个大家都很热的人!)紫川宁正端坐在总长紫川参星的旁边,正襟危坐。紫川参星谅解地点点头:“人都到齐了。现在可以开始了。紧急召集大家过来,有个事情想听听大家意见——明辉,你给大家说说。”西部边防军区司令明辉统领干咳一声:“总长殿下,诸位大人,近来我边防军部门得到一个很重要的情报:流风家的家主流风西山病情已经快不行了。”会议室中起了一阵轻微的骚动,幕僚副统领哥珊轻声地嘀咕了一句:“废话!”若不是发言的人是掌握重兵的家族重臣明辉的话,那大家真的要哗然了:这也算是情报?哪怕就是帝都街头的小混混都知道的,号称“流风狐狸”的流风家当代家主自从九年前给紫川秀一个少年杀得大败回去以后,郁愤交加之下他一病不起,一直缠mian病榻。“这真是了不起的情报啊!”远东副统领林冰赞叹地说,带着浅浅的笑容,谁也搞不清楚这位远东重臣的真正意思。明辉面红了一下,很快又恢复正常:“我知道诸位大人的意思。打从七七二年到现在,都快十年了,我们哪天得到都能得到消息说流风西山快死了,但这次不同了,消息的来源非常可靠:流风西山的贴身医师逃亡到我们这边来了。”幕僚长哥珊怀疑地问:“他为什么要这样做?”“流风西山是注定不治了,流风家内部的倾轧争斗非常激烈。流风波公开威胁:“如果父亲有什么不测,治疗组的全体人员都要为他殉葬!”而流风清、流风明两位——他们内心怎么想的,无人能知,但外表上,他们也会做出义愤非常的样子,很可能杀几个“无能”的医生来表现自己的孝心。医生很担心在流风西山死后,自己会成为政治斗争中的牺牲品。”哥珊微微点头,又问:“多长时间?”“‘即使采取最好的药物、技术和最恰当的医护手段,他的寿命也不可能超过五个月!’——这是他的原话。”明辉的语气相当肯定。“明统领的消息应该是真的。”在寂静中,帝林缓缓地开口了:“与他的消息渠道来源不同,我掌握遍布流风家族境内数以百计的间谍,他们时常有报告送来——根据流风霜的命令,习冰行省与远京之间缓冲地带——加顿军区已经开始布防,禁止任何武装部队通过,六十个联队从东部阵线抽调过去以战斗队伍驻守,对远京虎视眈眈;流风清在自己领地内动员了二十万士兵修筑工事;流风明不顾禁令,命令其两万近卫部队公然进驻其在远京的住所:远京总参谋部连续一个月发布宵禁令却不公布敌人是谁——如果流风西山还健在,这些事情是绝对不可能发生的。这证明,他的病情已经恶化到无法控制局势的地步了。”屋子中一时间安静得可以听见呼吸的声音,人们在沉默中消化这个事实:流风家的首脑流风西山即将死去。此人是紫川家不共戴天的仇敌,曾给家族造成了巨大的灾难,但是听闻他的死讯,斯特林不禁还是有了点莫名的黯然感慨:随着哥应星的逝去,曾经是上个时代中最灿烂的星辰中,又有一个重要人物即将消失。他有种眼看着历史发生的感觉。哥珊问:“可知道是谁将接任?”“目前还很难说。”帝林摇头:“目前流风家的局势太过混乱,三个皇子在军中有各自的支持者,势力难分高下——任何一个占了上风,另外两个立即联手把他压下去,然后胜利者又内讧,开始新一轮的争斗。而流风西山又没指定继承人。”“到这个地步,一个行将就木的垂死老人,他指定与否其实已经毫无意义了。”林冰一针见血地指出问题的关键:“决定流风家命运的只有一个人:流风霜!无论她支持哪一个继承人,他立即可以以绝对的强势压倒另外两人,成为流风家新的霸主!”帝林表示赞同,又说:“但流风霜尚未表明态度。”哥珊冷冷说:“如此非常时刻,流风霜态度暧mei,难道她有野心谋求至尊之位?”屋子中众人面面相觑,紫川参星缓缓说:“她掌握流风家将近四成的精锐军队——不是没有可能。但,无论如何,这次流风家的乱象已成,这次权力交替决不可能和平进行。”众人一起点头,表示赞成总长殿下的深知睿见。紫川参星继续说:“如果我们可以乐观地猜测,流风家即将出现大规模混乱或者内战局面的话——”帝林插嘴说:“流风家的内战势不可免!问题不是会不会打,而是什么时候开打!”“——那我们家族将如何应对呢?”在紫川参星望向众人的目光中带有几分殷切的期待:“我们是不是应该趁这个难得的机会,一举将流风家摧毁,完成我们一统天下的霸业呢?——斯特林,你怎么看?”斯特林勉强地笑笑,他选择了尽量委婉的措辞:“摧毁流风家,这是个非常庞大的战略目标,要有计划地分多步进行,需要做长期的计算、谋划和准备。军事层面的较量是最终的手段,但在我们的军队到达战场之前,家族在经济、组织、动员、后勤、财政方面的准备是非常必要的,就这些方面来说……”“这些方面你不用担心!”紫川参星豪气十足:“我只问你,作为我家族首屈一指的名将,你有没有信心打败流风霜?”明辉、林冰等统兵将领都皱起了眉头,帝林则对斯特林投来同情的目光:这就是那种外行领导内行的悲哀。斯特林沉吟一下,他很不愿意败紫川参星的兴,但作为统管全面的军方代表,把真实的情况告诉总长,是他的责任,尽管这实情有时候让人不快。“这个……要视乎当时的具体情况而定,殿下。要看流风家的军队在内战中遭受了多大的损伤、他们的士气和武器水平,还有我们家族军队恢复程度——”斯特林看到紫川参星的眉皱了起来,但他只当没看见继续说:“殿下,很抱歉,没有人能保证自己一定能打胜仗——除非他是骗子。战场上,将领的工作是搜集尽可能齐全和准确的情报,根据情报选择战术,指挥军队行进,给部队下达各种作战命令——仅此而已。优秀的将领能把这些工作完成得较好,但不可能百分百保证胜利。战场形势变化莫测,不可能有人能完全把握。假如在骑兵冲锋时候突然来了一场突如其来的暴雨,或者山洪爆发冲垮了一座重要的桥梁使得增援军队不能及时赶到、或者一根流矢击中了敌方或者我方的重要人物——那会完全改变整个战场的形势。”“这就是所谓三分努力七分天意了,殿下。”帝林适时地插嘴,他笑着说:“但幸好,我们的斯特林统领运势一直很强——我跟他赌钱就没赢过,除非作弊。”几个人轻声地笑出来了,把紧张的气氛化解不少。罗明海总统领冷冷说:“斯特林统领可能没有理解清楚。—场战斗结果有可能出乎意料,但就一场长期战争来说,胜负一般是取决于双方的军事力量对比的。总长想询问斯特林阁下,如果开战,我们的军队能不能取胜?”“再加上了新征集的预备部队和民兵武装后,在数量上,我军对比流风军并没有处于太大的劣势,但我们存在着不少问题:军队的训练程度较差;熟练兵员的比例,比起七八一年以前,下降的程度非常明显;在年龄结构相身体方面,士兵的总体素质不能令人乐观;武器装备的生产和补充尚需要时间;战略补充能力比较薄弱,地方预备武装机构尚没做好新一轮大规模征召的准备——”“斯特林统领你能不能简单地回答我:究竟能不能?”斯特林不动声色地扫了他一眼,罗明海咄咄逼人的态度令他很反感。他苦涩地吞了口水:“如果要摧毁流风家,那需要举国动员——目前军队还没做好承担这个任务的准备。”罗明海心满意足地“嗯”了一声,面上得意的表情分明在说:我早知道这样。“需要多少时间呢?”“军务部会尽自己的最大努力,但这取决于很多外来因素:经济上,家族对军队的财政投入已经很大了,但要达到让军队在短时间内恢复甚至超过远东战前实力的这个要求来说,还是略有不足;元老会宣布国家是处于战备状态,但却没有授权我们发布全民动员令;我们曾提出建议把兵役时间适当延长,另外,扩大征兵范围——但都没能得到批准。”“延长兵役时间是我反对的。”哥珊副统领推推黑框的宽边眼镜,淡淡说:“在家族尚未受到外来攻击的情况下,我们不能任意延长兵役时间,这是对士兵们失信,会导致家族的威望败坏。另外,斯特林统领所提到的扩大征兵范围——你实质上指的是在农村中实行七男一征,城市中实行十男一征吧——我可以明确表态:我坚决反对!”没有人出声,哥珊副统领喝了口茶水,又说了下去:“斯特林统领,从七七八年起的这五年,家族军队的损失总数,你们军务处应该有个数字吧?”斯特林略显尴尬:“没有正式的统计,但哥珊阁下您如果想要的话,我可以立即让人计算……”“没这个必要。”哥珊干脆地说:“我这就可以给你个大概的数字。七七八年是我紫川家运气较好的一年,虽然在西部吃了流风霜败仗,在远东却打了胜仗,一年下来,我们士兵的损伤人数约为三万——可以称得上正常消耗。”她在纸上迅速地写了个“3”字。“七七九年开初,帝林大人在远东非常活跃,连战连捷——但我估计,五、六万的伤亡肯定是有的吧?”面对哥珊的问话,帝林面无表情,默不作声,于是哥珊又在纸上写了个“6”字。“接下来就是在平定杨明华的叛乱中,帝都军民的损伤程度——起码又是4万人,帝林大人,您没意见吧?”哥珊的语气中充满了愤怒和嘲讽的味道,谁都知道,在帝都流血夜中,正因为企图阻止帝林的暴行,哥珊被总长紫川参星处分过。“在远东的叛乱中,雷洪二十五个师团的兵力叛变,我们立即就损失了二十万的军队却增加了二十万的敌人、远东叛乱初期,抛开平民的损伤不计,各行省的守备军队的损伤起码在十五万左右;接着就是可耻的赤水滩,非常惨重:二十三万军队伤亡!“从七七九年八月到七八零年年初将近丰年的时间里,那是家族王军和远东叛军之间的拉锯战了,虽然我军取得了相当的战果,但伤亡估计不会低于七、八万。”“再往下就是魔族的突然袭击了。这段时期的伤亡资料非常混乱,很多部队名义上还存在,但事实上只剩下一面旗帜加一个司令;有些部队在最初的报告中是落入了魔族的包围圈全军覆没了,但结果我们却在瓦伦要塞看到他们在安然无恙地吃烤红薯,一个人没少,连厨房的炉子都带出来了。——但总体来说,伤亡之惨重是空前的。民众的损失那是没办法计算了,军队的损失——有没有达到四十万?”斯特林枯涩地吞了下口水:“三十八万七千。”“好!最后就是斯特林大人您在帕伊抗击魔族的壮举了,这个就比较好计算了:中央军在开战前有将近十一万的兵力,最后能回瓦伦的不到五万。”“现在,资料基本上已经齐全了——声明一下,这是按照最保守资料统计的,还有很多我没注意到的可能遗漏了。”哥珊将手上白纸高高举起,上面一个大大的红色数字连瞎子都看得清楚:一○六○○○○○○“一百零六万!各位大人,一百零六万!”一片寂静中,只有哥珊略显沙哑的嗓音在仿佛空无人迹的会议室中回荡:“对于各位大人来说,士兵、部队可能都只是一个数字,但军队和士兵不可能凭空生成!每一个士兵都是爹妈生父母养的,把他从嚎啕的婴儿养成一个成年男子起码需要二十年的光阴,耗费的社会劳动力和物资资料难以计数!“本应该是生产主力的壮年男子被大量地抽调到军队中,毫无裨益地被消耗在战场上,本来就衰弱的工业生产力,绝大部分还要倾注在军工产业上,而极大地压缩了其他部门的生产能力,导致生活物资匮乏、物价飞涨、黑市交易泛滥,我们的整个社会经济都正在萎缩之中!“如果是为了应付迫在眉睫的危机,短时间地节衣缩食,我相信民众可以忍耐。但仅仅是为了一个争霸天下的虚名,我们毫无目的的穷兵黩武,军队还要扩大征召的范围和延长兵役时间、我们还要把日益庞大的军费赋税加诸于不堪负荷的民众——”帝林插嘴说:“增加军费的问题,绝大部分民众是赞成的。”“——那是因为你们欺骗民众,说一切灾难都是因为魔族的入侵造成的!别以为我不清楚你们监察厅私下干的肮脏勾当,无耻之极!我们面临的本来就是一个经济困难,经济的问题的解决完全可以依靠经济手段:调整产业结构、减免赋税、减少对工商业的控制和审批,采用积极的财政政策,用各种渠道增加就业——只要持之以恒,形势肯定会逐步好转。但你们却利用了民众的无知,借助对外战争来转移内部视线,把民众的绝望心理煽动成好战!“一旦开战,兵火连接,伤亡惨重,我们都将成为罪人!我们将如何向历史交代?家族还有多少个一百零六万青壮年?一旦民众醒悟过来,他们还能忍耐多久?”没有一个人出声。斯特林眼盯着自己面前光滑的桌面,脊背上汗水直流。而且,他相信这绝不是他一个人的感受,会议室中人人面色铁青,像是带了个金属的面具。紫川参星冰冷的目光注视着哥珊,后者毫无惧意地抬头与之对视。僵持了一阵,他移开了眼睛,毫无表情地宣布:“散会,大家休息十分钟。”斯特林从总长府七楼休息室的窗户向外望去,夜色苍茫。帝都的万家灯火呈现在眼前,远远近近,密集的灯火如同海洋一样蔓延开去,一直到目光不能及的天际。星星在大地上空悲哀地眨着眼睛,夜雾似烟,朦胧,飘忽。习习的夜风透过敞开的窗户吹进来,把充满了夏天和泥士气息的空气带进房间里。身后传来熟悉的脚步声,沉稳,坚定。来人一直走到了自己的身边才停下脚步。帝林由衷地赞叹:“好美的夜景。”斯特林笑了一下,回答道:“是啊,只是你我平时都没留意。会议什么时候开始?”帝林耸耸肩膀:“罗明海正在总长办公室里。”斯特林笑笑,这十分钟的休息时间还真是漫长啊,从下午四点一直到晚上七点,三个小时过去了,还没有要重新开始的通知。“哥珊已经被逮捕了。”帝林平淡地说,仿佛在说着与自己根本无关的事情。斯特林点头。一个小时前,他从休息室的窗户里看到哥珊在一队宪兵的簇拥下经过总长府门口的小广场,上了一架挂有监察厅标志的马车。“帝林,我知道哥珊一直对你抱有偏见,但……”“我知道你要说什么。放心,她不会受到任何虐待和暴力。”望着窗外的灯火,帝林说:“我不是那种公报私仇的人。不过,在会上她让你那么难堪,你还要保护她?”“无论立场怎样,我很佩服她的勇气。何况,她的话不无道理。”“就算有一万个道理也不能在那个场合说!哥珊很会做事,却不会做人,总是不懂判断形势和气氛。总长很固执又好强,自从远东失利后,如果没什么意外的话,在后世的历史上他会被冠以称号:‘丢了远东二十三行省的八代总长紫川参星’,他如何甘心?好不容易流风家有了内乱的迹象,他当然希望把自己称号变成:‘灭亡了流风家族的八代总长紫川参星’。“八代总长紫川参星殿下在远东遭受小挫,失败之后忍辱负重,卧薪尝胆,在六十多岁的高龄最终一举灭亡我紫川家百世的仇敌流风一族!烈士暮年,壮心不已,这是堪与云殿下开创紫川一姓的丰功匹敌的壮举!紫川一族香火延绵,后继有人了!家族列祖列宗部应该在天国为此喜笑颜开,赞叹不已!后世的子子孙孙更是对其崇拜得五体投地,无限向往!紫川家族罕见的英主,中兴的伟大君主,紫川帝国的开创者,紫川参星陛下万岁!”帝林说得很小声,只能让斯特林听见,后者一边听一边“哧哧”地偷笑。“——斯特林,你想想,如果能在家族的史书来上这么一段,那多带劲啊!这次会议,他把明辉和林冰都召了回来,表示他是下了很大的决心了。偏偏哥珊不识趣,这个时候来谈什么‘穷兵黩武’,甚至敢骂我们是采取‘愚民政策’——她骂我无所谓,但宣传的口号和政策那可是总长自己亲自制定的啊——那不是自己找死吗?你也不用为她担心,被革职和拘禁在她也不是第一次了,罗明海会保她的,她很快就会出来了。”“我不是担心她……”斯特林摇摇头:“我担心的是总长。”帝林眯起了眼睛:“我看得出,刚才你有所保留:能不能跟我说实话,如果开战的话,军方——军务处和总参谋部——认为有多少胜算?”斯特林斟字酌句地回答:“我们目前所有的部署都是着眼于防守反击,要突然转变成为主动进攻,需要时间调整军队的布置。”“流风家不会明天就内乱,调整有的是时间。”“流风霜很可怕,她从没打过败仗。”“人总会犯错误,何况一个女人,那她就更有理由犯错误。”“流风家的军队庞大而强悍。”“而这庞大的军队眼看着就要在三个皇子的带领下来一场自相残杀了——斯特林,你该不会给那个该死的哥珊传染了吧?难道你也反对开战?”“你呢?”斯特林反问。帝林轻轻一笑:“哥珊是从民生的角度考虑,我考虑的却是紫川家的长期战略。斯特林,跟你说实话:从现在开始的五年之内,如果我们打不垮流风霜的话,那我们就只有注定被流风家消灭的命运。”“什么?!”“奇怪吗?你想想,在远东战争之前,我们与流风家一直保持着相对的均衡状态,不分上下。但失去了远东二十三省后,均衡的状态已被打破,随着时间的推栘,实力的对比会更加地不利于我们。流风的内战是上天赐予我们的最后机会,一旦流风家从内战中恢复过来,不用五年的,他们的国力就会将我们远远抛在脑后!那时候的流风家,会强大到连碰一碰都是危险的事情。”斯特林眼角微微抽搐,帝林考虑问题的方式令他震惊,但听起来不无道理。“但我们刚刚战败,也是很衰弱。”“还有时间,军队——要尽量为此做好准备,恢复实力。现在,我们还有一拚的机会,但错过这个机会,我们就连拚的机会都没有了!”帝林忽然笑了:“听过一个笑话吗?乌龟打劫蜗牛,蜗牛跑去报案说:‘当时一切发生得实在太快了……’”斯特林一笑。“现在,我们是乌龟,就是要趁内乱时候打劫流风家那只蜗牛!虽然我们也是伤痕累累,但只要趁流风家混乱,在最脆弱的时候给他们致命的一击,这就足够了!”“如果这一击没能奏效呢?”“那战争就要持年况久了。我们已经没有退路了,只有拚命打下去,耗尽最后一分潜力:把从十六岁到六十岁的最后一个男人都送上了战场,把最后一把勺子铸成钢刀,烧光最后一亩稻田,拆掉最后一间房子做掩体——我相信流风家也不会比我们好过多少的。”斯特林不寒而栗,帝林描述的前景令他心寒。他沉重地说:“紫川家拚光了,流风家也奄奄一息。这样,在我们——紫川与流风——两家的废墟上,最后还会剩下什么呢?人类如此自相残杀,最后只便宜了魔族。”“这样不是很好吗?分裂已经两百年了,打打歇歇了两百年,该有一个结局了。”帝林开玩笑地说:“说不定,一个统一的新帝国即将在废墟上诞生呢!”“但我们真的有必要打到如此程度吗?”“不是我们希望如此,而是事实和形势逼迫我们必须如此——我们也不得不战!国民的热情和好战精神必须寻找一个宣泄点,否则的话,他们对于外部侵略和经济灾难的不满就会演变成为对于家族当局——也就是我们——无能和无所作为的不满,进而威胁政权。何况,如此狂热的好战精神和激情,那种万众一心的国民意志,身为家族的领导人如果任由其毫无目标的发泄,让他们把这种热量倾泻在毫无意义的游行和示威上,那将是极其愚蠢的浪费。民众这种狂热的好战情绪,将会导致元老会进入一种状态——”“在这种状态下,元老会会同意我们提出的任何疯狂的提议,哪怕是同时对流风和魔族开战,哪怕是今年的赋税加三倍!”“已经提出了,斯特林,已经提出了,甚至不用我们开口。”望着惊呆了的斯特林,帝林笑笑:“元老会今天上午已经自发地通过提议,今年的赋税加两倍,用于新增加的军费。他们现在正在讨论通过给予总长宣战权的问题——斯特林,你的消息落伍了!——正是因为这样,总长这才紧急召集我们开这个会议。反战的最后一个障碍是哥珊,嗯,她的下场你也看见了。”斯特林无力地呻吟一声:“天,这该死的鬼天气把大家都烧昏头了吗?”“呵呵,不客气地说,如今国民陷入的这种自发的狂热状态,正是多少统治者曾梦寐以求的,多好的国民啊,一个劲地嚷嚷着:‘战斗!战斗!我们要战斗!’我们的任务是,用一场战争来引导这股好战的能量——”他笑容一敛转为严肃:“斯特林,上个月,你不是提出扩大徽召范围没得到元老会同意吗?明天你把提案再交上去,准行!”“就算批准也需要程序,起码需要一个星期的时间。”“在得到批准之前,你可以干点别的事啊!我有个办法可以避开元老会。不过当你扩军时候,你也得分我一杯羹:隶属监察厅的宪兵纪律部队也要扩充二十万人。”斯特林惊讶:“哦,说来听听。”“附耳上来!”帝林小声在斯特林的耳朵边嘀咕了一阵,斯特林一拍手:“哎呀,我怎么就没想到?”“不过,”他凝视着帝林:“这么好的法子,你怎么不在会议上提出呢?”“呵呵,斯特林,军务是属于你的管辖范围,我怎么好插手?我提的话,罗明海准会出来反对,由你来提这个建议,那是顺理成章的事,谁都没话说。”有人轻轻敲一下候见室的门,两人都住了口。一个身材高大、服饰漂亮的禁卫军官出现在门口处:“监察长大人、统领大人,会议即将开始了,请下来吧。”家族的重员们再次聚集在会议室时候,时间已经将近晚上八点了。大多数人的眼中已经露出疲态,与会成员中年纪最大的紫川参星反倒是精神矍铄,他扬起嗓门招呼大家:“快进来,坐好了!”哥珊的位置空了出来,望着那空荡荡的椅子,没有人表示惊讶和询问,冷漠得就像那位置本来就是空的。毕竟能在这个房间里有一席之位的人,像哥珊那么不懂进退的毕竟是很少的。“会议继续进行——刚才忘记介绍了,这位大家应该都很熟悉,我侄女紫川宁。”紫川宁婷婷起身,朝各位重臣们欠身示意,脸上带着浅浅的微笑。大家都对自己未来的君主报以亲切的微笑。“阿宁还是第一次参与家族的决策会议。”紫川参星的脸上有几分感慨:“呵呵,小女孩终于长大了,知道为家族分忧了。阿宁是很能干的,但经验有所欠缺,需要锻链。我考虑,她暂时不挂实职,任总长助理,在各部、处实习——大家看怎么样?”若是哥珊在的话说不定会寻根刨底:总长助理?这到底是什么官职?级别是红衣旗本还是副统领?许可权有多大?但她不在,谁会干这种杀风景的事情。“宁小姐出来为家族分忧,那是再好不过的事情了!”边防军统领明辉笑得亲切无比:“我家族又一栋梁之才即将成长起来了!欢迎小姐来边防军视察和指导!”大家暗暗骂明辉:滑头!这家伙心里有数,以紫川宁家族继承人的身份何等尊贵,紫川参星绝不可能放她到随时有可能爆发战争的西方边境第一线的,于是他就放心地大说漂亮话,惠而不费。远东副统领林冰也笑说:“两年前我见过宁小姐,那时候她还是个小姑娘。一眨眼,呵呵,变得这么漂亮了!家族后继有人啊!我代表全体远东将士欢迎宁小姐前来瓦伦视察!”她的情况与明辉相同,并不太担心紫川宁会真的前往瓦伦。其他人也七嘴八舌地说了些赞美的话:“宁小姐天生聪慧,前途定然无量!”“小姐只要稍微锻链个两年,呵呵,我紫川家也有个‘流风霜’啦!”“有着远星大人血统,在参星大人的栽培下长大,准是好样的!”帝林结结巴巴也说了两句:“欢迎宁小姐到监察厅视察。”只是比起林冰和明辉来,他语气勉强了很多。斯特林微笑,他是明白怎么回事的,他更明白帝林在担心什么,换成自己也不会希望这么一个有着未来总长身份的特殊人物到自己的部下工作,每天都得小心翼翼地侍候她,一下小心就得罪了未来的总长,那还有什么前途?更何况,统领处和监察厅,哪个部门没有见不得人的手段和花样?如果这些都让紫川宁看到了,不说将来,只要她跑回去跟她叔叔打个小报告:“参星叔叔啊,监察厅私设小金库,他们很有钱喔!”“参星叔叔喔,帝林的办公室装饰非常豪华,严重超标喔!他的钱哪里来的呢?”“参星叔叔喔,今天维加副统领来见帝林,他们两个鬼鬼祟祟单独关上门说了足足有半个钟头,也没留下谈话记录,不知搞什么花样?——不是说监察系统官员不得私下结交行政官员的吗?”光是这些就足够让帝林头疼的了。幸好,紫川参星立即就解除了他的担心:“我先前已经和阿宁商量过了,女孩子不适宜到弄刀弄枪的军队中去,打算还是让她先到文职的后勤部和行政处去学点东西——呃,罗明海,以后阿宁可就是你的手下了,她有什么做得不对的,你只管批评她!”紫川事盈盈起身向罗明海行一礼:“总统领大人,以后请多指教了!”罗明海起身回礼,强笑道:“请多指教。宁小姐冰雪聪明,我们统领处又多一名栋梁之才啊!”看到罗明海的困窘,帝林恨不得放声大笑:有这个未来的总长做部下,今后罗明海的日子就难熬了。只是……帝林皱起了眉头:后勤部统筹家族军队的财政和物资补给,行政处不但是家族文职官员的管理中枢,还管辖着帝都治部少这个强力部门。两部门都是家族的要害部门,历来是归幕僚长官亲自掌握的。只是现任幕僚长哥珊正在监察厅的大牢里面,在两部门权力出现真空时候,紫川宁这一强势人物进去,势必统揽全局。她虽然没有正式任职,但位置绝对举足轻重。哥珊刚刚被逮捕失势,紫川宁立即取代了她的位置——是无意中的巧合,还是这个女孩子刻意的安排?日后即使哥珊从狱中出来,但紫川宁已经先入为主了,你哥珊唯一的出路就是辅佐紫川宁大人吧!望着微微颤抖的长睫毛低掩下那双漂亮的眼眸,帝林发觉,比起往日的天真烂漫带一点少女的调皮,今日的紫川宁,表现出了与其年龄不相符的沉稳。她一直保持着低调,话语不多,但每一句都很有分寸,得体大方,眼神游离不定,从这个看到那个,脸上始终带着笑,让人琢磨不透。——再不能以那个爱哭爱闹的小女孩来看待她了!今后的紫川宁,将正式成为那些手掌天下命运的重量级政治人物之一。等紫川宁的介绍告一段落,接下来是听取东面、西面两条战线的负责防务长官的汇报。瓦伦要塞镇守司令林冰向总长和统领处报告:在瓦伦正面,魔族状态十分平静。魔族的西南大营已经放弃了贴近瓦伦要塞的第一线阵地,战斗部队从设置了壕沟和堡垒的前线后退,也停止了那种挑衅性的十分靠近瓦伦要塞周边的日常巡逻。魔族在第一线的部队人数大大地减少了,人类的侦察部队甚至可以越境深入近十公里还没有碰到一个魔族士兵,即使碰到了,魔族士兵的态度比先前也要温和了许多,他们往往采用语言警告的方式而不是战斗来驱赶人类出境,仿佛他们的指挥官也在有意识地避免发生与人类军队的摩擦和战斗。有传言——注意,仅仅是未经核实的传言——在魔族王国的远东境内发生了大规模的反叛事件,魔族第一线的作战部队都被抽调回去镇压了,也有传言说是在魔族王国的本上发生了魔族皇族之间的内讧,魔神皇已经被迫下台了。估计在近期,今后的半年之内,魔族是不会对人类世界发动大规模的攻势。边防军统领明辉笑笑:“我的情况与林冰阁下惊人地相似。”他报告说,在西部边境上,十字军的部分精锐部队已经向西开拔,流风家族的战斗部队已经停止了经常性的挑衅活动,一片风平浪静,边境发生大规模战事的可能不大。“这是个好消息。家族一天天地强大起来,我们的敌人已经在害怕了!好,就是要让他们更害怕!大家要注意到,战略性转折的时机已经到来了!家族已经摆脱了受威胁的被动状态了,但我们绝不能掉以轻心——”紫川参星总结说:“——无论什么时候,军队的加强始终是我们当前迫在眉睫的问题,斯特林,你身为统领处内军务的主管,对此要切实地负起责任来。”“总长殿下,各位大人,军务处有两个提议。”斯特林平静地举起手来。“哦?你说说。”“元老会一直担心过度的扩军会影响第一线生产,迟迟不肯批准实施国民征召令——为此,我提议,军队把下一次征兵重点放在远东的流亡难民中。”此言一出,举座震惊。林冰睁大了眼睛望着斯特林,喃喃道:“绝妙!”明辉拍拍自己的脑门:“怎么我就想不到?”远东战争中,数以百万计的远东人类居民失去家园,流亡在瓦伦要塞以西的家族行省,他们失去了生存的工作和上地,流离失所,到处流浪。这大股大股的难民潮所到之处给当地的社会治安造成了极大的隐患,各行省政府都为此极其头痛。为了安置这批难民,紫川家族的民政部门每个月都要耗费上亿的金钱给他们发放补助和食品。“将流亡难民中的壮年男子征收入伍有以下几点好处:一、是避开元老会的控制。难民在当地政府中都没有户籍和土地,属于无业人员——既然没有户籍,从纸上作业来说,他们是不存在的。征收他们,不算是从生产第一线抽调劳动力,不会引起元老会的反对。“二、减轻家族民政系统的负担和开支。从理论上来说,一个从军的战士,他所得薪水可以养活一个三口之家。如果我们假设在五百万难民中哪怕就有四十万人参军,那就解决了一百二十万人的温饱问题。“三、对于增强军队的战斗力也有好处。难民们在远东战争中失去了土地、家园和亲人的,再没有什么牵挂和留恋,对魔族怀有最深刻的仇恨——在我的经验里,由这种人组成的军队,只要稍加训练和数导,他们会很容易就成为那种无所畏惧的敢死之师!——不知总长殿下意下如何?”“好!好!”紫川参星听得眼睛发亮,连声地说好:“这是个好主意!统观全局,面面俱到。斯特林,你是用心的!”斯特林低下头表示谦虚,抬起头时候,他微微向帝林使了个眼色表示感谢,后者则若无其事地在一边低头看报告。罗明海在一旁泼冷水:“斯特林统领的主意虽好,但将大批的难民征召,组编成军,训练——没有个一年半载的时间恐怕还看不出效果吧?但流风家的内乱却就在眼前,恐怕远水救不了近火啊!”斯特林一笑:“是。总长殿下,总统领大人,下官还有第二个提议:我紫川家族并不是没有军队,只是军队并不在我们手里。”“在谁手里?”“在元老们的手里!就在军务处为兵力的缺乏而大伤脑筋的时候,贵族们却掌握着大量私人军队,拥兵自重。例如——”斯特林摊开了手上的一张纸,那是刚才帝林交给他秘密报告:“洛克辛威行省的元老会代表杜丘伯爵在其封地内养了三万多私人军队,达玛行省元老会代表的费沙男爵蓄兵一万六千多人,辛加行省的元老会代表余兰女伯爵拥兵两万七干人;瓦林行省的马维伯爵(这个名字让他觉得有点耳熟)拥有四个雇佣师团,总共两万三千名雇佣兵:利加行省的元老会代表,大富商祖巴的护卫团有一万一千人……”帝林的报告来得又长又详细,一共有四十三个元老贵族藉以护卫队、自卫团、乡镇治安联防队、城市保安团等名义私下组建军队,总兵力多达近六十万。没有一个人出声,大家看着斯特林慢吞吞地将那张纸折了起来装进口袋里,有种坐在火山口的感觉。当代总长紫川参星与元老会的关系一向是敏感中之最敏感,现在,斯特林摸到了这条最高压的线上了。总长看着斯特林,问:“情报确切吗?”斯特林谁也不看:“基本上可以肯定了。军务处的提议是,将这批私人军队收编列入正规军编制,由家族军务处统一指挥。”这是一次对紫川参星的反将军。如果他对此报告装聋作哑,那就不要再跟大家提什么‘争霸天下,击灭流风’,元老会始终是一道必须面对的考验,现在就看总长有没有勇气了。“据我所知,”帝林慢条斯理地说:“在二代总长紫川星殿下与贵族们达成的协议中明确规定,贵族的私兵不能超过三千,这是写进了元老会法案里面的铁律。以上的诸位贵族元老,毫无疑问地,他们触犯了法律。”谁也没有出声,所有人都在看着总长。感觉到无数的目光聚在自己面上,紫川参星的表情渐渐变得僵硬,脸上肌肉绷紧,手上的拳头捏紧:“监察总长帝林,我命令你,以谋逆罪——”“等一下!”令所有人吃惊,出声的人竟然是刚刚任命的“总长助理”紫川宁。她匆匆地说:“叔叔——哦,不,总长殿下,各位大人,很抱歉,但在您做决策之前,能不能先让我说两句呢?”“啊,阿宁啊。”看到出声的人是自己的亲侄女,紫川参星的表情缓和了下来:“你有什么要说的呢?”“是。总长殿下,各位大人,诚如监察长大人所言,刚才提到名字的贵族们违反了法令。但贵族蓄兵不得超过三千的这条法令颁布是在二代总长时代,距离如今有近两百年了,很多人都忘记了。平日里,大家都对此习以为常了。——就连我,如果监察长大人不提起的话,我也记不起有这么规定的了。他们未必就有谋逆的心。所以,恳请总长殿下给以上犯错的贵族们一次机会,只要他们交出兵权,配合军务处做好改编工作的话,对此就不加追究了,显示家族的宽容的胸怀。”她一边说一边对紫川参星使眼色,后者立即领悟了她的意思,口中“嗯、嗯”有声,好像正在思考该不该给那群犯错的贵族显示下“家族的宽容的胸怀”。帝林眼中流露赞叹之色,故意问:“如果他们不肯交出兵权呢?”“他们应该会肯的。否则,我们就将此事提交元老会,由元老会议来裁决。”“但这些贵族本身就是元老会成员……”“四十三名贵族在近五千的元老会议中只是很小的一部分,我相信这不会妨碍元老会作出正确裁决的。毕竟,这件事的事实和法律都非常的清楚。而且当前的形势下,元老会更不可能包庇他们。如果拒绝交出兵权,那些贵族立即就会成为众矢之的。“建议军务部给予那些贵族必要的补偿,或者将‘征用军队’的说法改成‘购调军队’,让人更容易接受。“而监察厅注意搜集相关的证据和材料,以便我们能在元老会议上能明确地指证。“命令各行省正规驻军进入戒备状态,对私人军队进行严密监视,造成声势和压力,也防止有人铤而走险,行大逆不道之事。“建议军务部为此事做好必要的准备工作,在整编的谈判中坚持重点突破。人人都有从众心理,只要有一个同意了,剩下的人会想:‘连某某大贵族都同意,我还撑什么呢?’那剩下的谈判就比较好解决了。”紫川宁侃侃而谈,大家像不认识似的睁大了眼睛望着她。就在这一眨眼的时间,她已经提出了和平地夺取贵族兵权的一系列步骤,而且分轻重缓急,有威胁(各行省驻军整军监视,摆明一旦不服从改编就要动手),也给出路(服从改编的,给予适当的经济补偿),恩威并施。帝林微笑着轻轻一欠身:“宁小姐思虑周到,下官十分佩服。”帝林说的是真心话。他是最清楚这件事的厉害关系的:如果按照刚才紫川参星恼怒之下的决定,真的逮捕了那些元老贵族的话,将会彻底激怒元老会,搞不好在流风家全面内战之前,紫川的内战就先爆发了。而紫川宁则提议把事情先交元老会审判,算是给了元老会的面子,还藉元老会的力量来压制那些坐拥私兵的贵族——即使他们不服元老会的裁决,那家族要对付的敌人也只是四十三名贵族而非整个元老会,阻力少了很多。整个步骤环环相扣,妥当又切实可行,即使那些最有经验的老手也不过如此。谁也没想到,这个家族未来的继承人,会是这般能干和睿智的一员政治家。帝林轻轻捅捅斯特林的胳膊:“怎么样?”斯特林小声:“非常了不起!见事极快,应变敏捷,稍加锻链的话,很有可能是不输于远星和参星两位殿下的一代明君!”“是啊。”帝林轻声感叹着。有一句话他忍住了没说出来:“正是这样我才担心啊!”第134章不义之降七八二年六月一六日。大魔神堡,卡丹公主府。凌晨,贴身佣人战战兢兢地唤醒了熟睡中的卡丹公主和驸马亲王云浅雪:“公主殿下、亲王殿下,陛下有紧急旨意到。钦差就在前厅等候,请两位大人速去迎接。”两人手忙脚乱地披上睡衣,赶到前厅。那里,明晃晃的一片火光通明,影影绰绰的到处是武装的士兵。云浅雪心头一突,不知发生了什么事情。一个高大魁梧的近卫旅军官快步迎了上来:“是羽林亲王殿下吗?”“正是我。”“十分抱歉,亲王殿下,陛下紧急召见,请立即随我前去。”手持火把的军官说得太快又含糊,睡眼惺忪的云浅雪几乎一个字都听不清楚,问:“你说什么?”军官再重复了一次。云浅雪轻轻地“哦”了一声,过了一阵,他反应过来,“啊”的一声惊叫:“请稍等,让我换件衣服。”手忙脚乱地找正式觐见的服装,卡丹早已将服饰准备好了。她一边帮助云浅雪穿上,一边问传令的近卫旅军官:“父皇有没有叫我一同过去?”“回禀公主殿下,陛下只让我们通知亲王阁下立即到,并没有提到公主殿下您。”“是吗?”卡丹看看一片漆黑的夜色,几颗星星在黑暗的夜幕中闪烁着光芒,正是凌晨三点左右时分。她心头不安,如此紧急的深夜召见,绝非好事。云浅雪匆匆换好衣服,卡丹迎上来,小声说:“一切小心。”云浅雪点头:“知道了。”他跟着举着火把的近卫旅士兵一同出了门。走过漆黑的长街,迎面就是巍峨的皇宫。整个皇宫沉睡在一片黑暗中,仿佛一头沉睡的巨兽。火把的光亮映照在米亚大理石圆柱上,给整个柱子染上了一片猩红。走近这雄伟的建筑,在那华丽堂皇的圆柱装饰之间,宽阔的走廊中回响着近卫旅工兵空洞的脚步声,云浅雪仿佛嗅到了一种杀戮和血腥的味道。八十年前,就在这洁白的大理石台阶上,加林族的士兵将叶塞族的皇族全数屠杀,连婴儿都一一被撞死在石头上;接着,又在同样的地方,踌躇满志的加林族皇帝被囚禁在地窖里活生生地饿死,他的整个家庭被通通投入了火堆中;占据皇宫的雷族皇疯狂一时,残酷好杀,终于连他的族人也无法忍受他的残酷,受雷族长老会的指示,一个雷族近卫军官一刀砍下了他的脑袋,他的斑斑血迹洒在皇宫门口的接见走廊里。接下来爆发长达三年的雷族内战,雷族的皇族们率领各自的军队互相攻击,直到更强大的冬日族出来取代了他们……云浅雪长长地呼吸一声,不知怎么回事,每次到皇宫来他总感觉到很不舒服,今晚这种感觉尤其明显。或许真如传言中所说的,这座皇宫已经给诅咒了,每一面墙壁都曾回响过那些临终的人的呻吟和断气时候发出的呼噜声,每一块华丽的石头后面都隐藏着一个屈死的冤魂。笔宫门口处,两排近卫旅士兵乎持火把肃立,近卫旅统帅雷欧公爵正守候在门边,看到云浅雪的到来,公爵毫无表情地说:“你来迟了,陛下在里面等候。”别把摇动的光亮照在公爵如同花岗石似的呆板面上,照着他毫无表情的脸。旁边的两行近卫旅士兵一手持矛,一手举着火把,脸色冷峻。云浅雪瞧瞧他,也没跟他寒暄。雷欧神经兮兮的,让他产生了不祥的预感。联想到最近两位皇子之间的明争暗斗,云浅雪心头一紧:莫非冲突已经爆发了吗?是谁先发难的?不可能是卡兰,否则自己不会一无所知,但陛下还健在的时候,卡顿也不应该这么蠢吧……一边胡思乱想着,云浅雪沿着华丽的红地毯走向宫殿的议事大厅,他注意到,今天皇宫的守卫比平日森严了很多,在宫殿门口到议事大厅之间的长长的走道上,肃立着手持锋利武器的近卫旅士兵在守卫,冷峻、阴森、肃静,只有自己沉重的脚步声在回荡,火光摇曳,阴影幢幢,这种感觉叫人不寒而栗。一个佣仆为他推开了议事大厅的门,近三百根大蜡烛将整个大厅照得一片通明。在靠近陛下座位的地方,几个人聚在一起。云浅雪快步走近,他已经清楚了,叶尔马公爵、米罗总督、达科总督、加山侯爵等王国重臣已经先到了。“可知道是什么事情呢?”顾不得寒暄了,云浅雪问几位重臣。大家都是茫然地摇头,目光中流露出惶恐。看到他们那彷徨的样子,知道自己并不是被孤立的,云浅雪稍微感到轻松一点了:“大家都一样被蒙在鼓里呢!”等了不到两分钟,接着,卡顿亲王和卡兰两人先后急匆匆地过来了,衣服有点凌乱,都问:“发生了什么事?”但是没有人可以回答。空气中荡漾着不安。“陛下到!”站在门边的宫廷侍卫扬开了嗓子清朗地喊了一声,所有人立即匍匐在地。边门打开了,魔神皇出现在门口,披一身黑色的绒披风,身影萧瑟、孤独。不知为什么,往常总是和他形影不离的黑沙军师没有出现。雷欧从外面进来,顺手把议事大厅的门口给关上了。“都起来吧!”魔神皇清朗的声音中带着一丝疲倦,随即严厉起来了:“根据报告,出现了叛逆,朕和朕的国家被叛徒出卖了!”他冷冰冰地说,然后缓慢又毫不留情地从这张脸看到那张脸。空气一瞬间凝结成了固体。过了好久,没有人敢稍动一下,每个人感到了深切的恐惧,魔神皇那可怕的威严几乎将整个议事大厅压成了齑粉。卡兰起身向魔神皇深深地一鞠躬:“父皇陛下,不知您所称的叛逆是指何事?”“鲁帝!远东的鲁帝,他背叛了国家,背叛了朕!”魔神皇一掌拍在几子上:“出此逆贼,那是国家的耻辱!这厮欺骗了朕整整一年!”坚固的檀木几子瞬刻间无声无息的粉碎,细小的木碎片化成了一片粉末。众人暗暗心惊,神皇武功已经至化境,他的涵养也深藏不露,近年来鲜少出手,没想到今晚竟然有这么失态的表现。鲁帝的小命完蛋了!这是所有人的感想。“雷欧,你把事情给大伙说说!”站在众人身后,一直没有出声的近卫统帅雷欧公爵应声:“是!”转而面对大家:“今天晚上我们收到西南大营凌步虚的报告,简直是骇人听闻!我王国军队一败再败,伤亡惨重,远东国土几乎已不属王国所有了!可恨鲁帝,辱国丧师不说,还一直封锁消息,隐瞒败绩,甚至派出人手截杀求援信使,欺君瞒上。这厮罪无可赦!”众人震惊。叶尔马公爵出声问:“究竟是怎么一回事?鲁帝败给了谁?紫川家卷土重来了吗?”“不是紫川家——比败给人类更可耻!鲁帝居然被一群远东的造反刁民打垮,在科雨尼、在亚速达、在云省、在枫林丹叶,我们的军队一败再败,近十万王国士兵被杀害,丢弃行省十几个,甚至让人一直打到了我们的王国本土!惫记得年初边境上的那次盗灾吗?那根本不是什么盗贼,那是造反的半兽人杀了进来!”雷欧花岗石似的淳朴面容涨得通红。“够了。”魔神皇不耐烦地打断了雷欧的陈述,这个力大无穷的战士在战场上杀来杀去纵横无敌,但要他有条有理地叙述事情根本是奢望。他激动地说了半天,根本还没说到要点,让人一头雾水。“把凌步虚的信拿出来让大伙看看。”雷欧听命地取出信件,让众人传阅。云浅雪最后一个拿到信件,看到淡黄色羊皮纸上凌步虚那已经凝固成了黑色的血书,云浅雪心头一震:局势竟到了要用血书来传信的地步了?他低下头来匆匆一阅:“七八一年的科尔尼会战王国军伤亡六万多、亚速达会战、得亚会战、云省事件、枫林丹叶会战、明斯克行省沦陷、塔杰行省沦陷、杜莎行省沦陷、西南大营面临被叛军包围的威胁、派出的信使不见回头……”凌步虚的笔调就如他的人一样低调,他并没有在信中对鲁帝加以评论,只是把发生了的事情一桩桩平静地罗列出来,那份冷静简直叫人毛骨悚然。云浅雪额头上冷汗渗出。雷欧说得一点没错,鲁帝所作所为,死一千次不足赎其罪。他抬起头来,看着众人惨白的脸色,于是也做出一副沉痛而愤慨的表情:与众不同是要冒风险的。“消息可靠吗?可否把凌步虚的信使召上来,让我们当面问话?”叶尔马公爵问,他个性素来沉稳,这件事情实在太骇人听闻,就在大家都还蒙在鼓里时,远东国土已经有大半不属于王国领土了,让人难以接受。“应该是真的。”卡兰皇子也看完了信件:“凌步虚不是那种信口雌黄的人,结合远东去年和今年的贡粮拖欠的事实,可以确认远东地区真的发生了大规模的民乱。我只是奇怪,去年发生的大叛乱,他怎么如今才报告?”“信使已经殉职。”魔神皇冷冷说,众人悚然。雷欧给大家讲述了事情的经过:就在今天晚上的深夜十二点,一个风尘仆仆负伤在身的塞内亚族人自称是西南大营派回的信使,紧急求见魔神皇,却在门口被值勤的近卫旅士兵拦住:“陛下已经休息,任何人不得惊扰!”信使几番劝说:“军情紧急,麻烦各位通融通报!”但近卫旅士兵顽固得犹如花岗石一样蛮冥不化(用雷欧公爵的话说是纪律严明),坚决不肯通融:“此是皇宫禁地,深夜禁止生人靠近。任何事情都可以等天亮再禀告。”他们将那个年轻人赶出了宫殿门口,但那人并没有离开,徘徊在门口梭巡,嚎啕大哭。这激怒了卫兵们,他们将他痛揍一顿然后丢到了大街上,警告他:“再敢靠近我们就放箭!耙出声惊扰了陛下休息,我等将你格杀当场!”但仅仅过了十几分钟,值勤的士兵听见外面传来杂乱、大声的喧哗和搏斗声音,他们赶到时候,凶手已经逃离,那个使者要害处身中五刀,奄奄一息了。他只来得及说了最后一句话:“鲁帝谋反!”在他的尸身上,他们发现了王国远东地区西南军团总司令凌步虚的亲笔信和身份证明,确认此人是西南军团凌步虚麾下第三十一团队的标骑军官。士兵们再不敢怠慢。他们立即通报了当晚的值勤军官,值勤军官眼看事情重大,又通知了近卫旅统帅雷欧公爵。雷欧公爵到来后,只把信看了一遍,立即意识到事关重大。他低沉地向宫廷的侍从吩咐说:“相烦唤醒陛下,微臣雷欧有急事禀告。”“不能责怪凌步虚。他在信中报告说,他已经是第九次派出信使,都没有得到回音。可以想像,前八次的信使都给鲁帝一手遮天的暗杀掉了!这个运气好一点,虽然身死,却终于完成了任务。”“鲁帝好大胆子!”听了陈述,几个重臣同时被如此肆无忌惮的狂妄震惊了:“就在陛下身边、皇宫的咫尺之遥,他竟不畏陛下的神圣天威,派遣杀手行凶!就算没有其他事,光这一条已经足够让他碎尸万段了!”“凶手抓到了吗?”“还没有。”雷欧回答:“我们已经封锁了城门,严密盘查出入,一定要把他拿住!”他说得豪气,但大家都知道,这不过是说说而已。魔神堡一日进出人流数以十万计,凶手面上又没刻字,混迹人群中被发现的可能几乎被零。“这件事情的发生,近卫旅防御不严,是有责任的。”卡顿亲王很严肃地说。雷欧默默地屈膝,向魔神皇请罪。卡顿亲王继续发言:“父皇陛下,我建议,立即派执法使者前往远东,诛杀鲁帝!”卡兰冷冷一笑,和云浅雪对视一眼,又无声地移开了视线。米罗总督与达科侯爵连忙出声附和,异口同声地宣称:早二十年自己就看出鲁帝这家伙的脑后长有反骨,但幸好现在也还不晚,陛下的如电神目看穿了他的伪装。坚决支持陛下诛杀鲁帝!魔神皇望向卡兰和云浅雪:“你们是怎么看的?”卡兰恭敬地回答:“皇兄所言甚是。只是到目前为止,我们所有的证据都只是凌步虚的一面之辞,鲁帝和西南大将都是手掌兵权的王国重臣,对他们的争议,我们必须要慎重。我相信西南大将绝非那种信口雌黄之人,但为了稳妥起见,在做出下一步决定之前,无论在程序上还是实质上,我们需要立即派遣钦差前往远东调查!”神皇眼中流露赞赏之色,又问:“若调查确为事实,那又将如何呢?”“父皇,我等必须赋予钦差以全权,责令其判断事实,伺机而行!若西南大将所禀报确为事实,则钦差不必回禀,当机立断,果断将鲁帝拿下以待陛下处置,并安抚其军队——赋予钦差的权力极大,所以,对于钦差的人选必须慎重!我们派遣的钦差既要绝对忠实于陛下,精明干练,又要与鲁帝和凌步虚两人都没有过节恩怨,这样才能做到对鲁帝和凌步虚都不偏不倚,公正明断。”卡顿亲王出声说:“皇弟所说很有道理。只是鲁帝竟敢在皇畿行凶,公然藐视吾皇神威,此人实在胆大狂妄!他反迹已露,证据确凿,我看此事不宜拖延,必须尽早解决!我建议不必再浪费时间了,立即派执法队前去取鲁帝人头就是了!”“光凭一个统兵大将的证词就杀掉了另一个高级的贵族将领,这样行事恐怕难以让天下人心服。”“此等狼子野心之徒,杀了就杀了,还有什么不妥?”在魔神皇面前,两位皇子你一言我一语地辩论起来,卡顿亲王力主立即下旨诛杀鲁帝,卡兰却主张必须先经过调查程序。放在不明就里的人眼里,还真的以为鲁帝是卡兰皇子的嫡系亲信。云浅雪微微一笑,其实恰恰相反,鲁帝是卡顿亲王派系中的得力人物,他能当上远东大总督,卡顿亲王的推荐在其中作用不小。现在眼看他闯下了弥天大祸,卡顿忙不迭地与他划清界线,他现在恨不得一刀杀了鲁帝,好早日去掉这个让自己丢脸的祸害。二皇子卡兰却有意把这件事情扩大,加以调查——不是调查鲁帝是否该死,那么严重的罪行,鲁帝便是有一千个脑袋也不够砍——鲁帝担任远东大总督搜刮民脂民膏无数,这么大的财产他一个人独吞不下,那上亿的财产究竟是私下进贡给了魔神堡的哪位大老?有哪些大人物从中得了好处?不需要天才的脑筋,只需要想想鲁帝的远东大总督是谁推荐的,自然可以明了了。但这样顺藤摸瓜,卡顿亲王殿下马上就坐不住了。鲁帝您还是赶紧一死百了的好!“够了!”魔神皇声音不高,却自有一番威严。两位皇子都住了嘴。“关于鲁帝种种,只是小事而已;远东的叛乱如何处置应对,这才是要点!”云浅雪平静地出声说:“如果陛下允许的话,微臣愿率本部兵马前往远东为陛下扫平叛乱。至于取鲁帝人头,只要陛下一声令下,那不过举手之劳。”他表现得尽量镇定,让卡顿亲王的失态显得格外可笑。叶尔马公爵沉声说:“陛下,羽林阁下刚刚大婚,此时让他出征,岂不让人笑话我王国无人?还是让老臣前去吧!”“陛下,近卫旅愿为陛下斩杀叛逆,扫除祸害!”卡顿亲王、达科侯爵等重臣也纷纷表示自己愿率军前往远东,指日内将荡平远东的叛乱,气势豪迈。但魔神皇都不置可否,最后还是卡兰皇子出声说:“陛下,远东之乱,不过一群暴民闹事而已,何必惊动我王国重臣甚至于太子?”卡顿亲王斜睥着弟弟:“难道王弟可也有意亲临敌?”“不是。我只是想向父皇推荐一员良将,保管可以杀敌破阵!”“是谁?”“加纳总督罗斯。罗斯大人乃我王国名将,久经沙场,经验丰富,麾下兵将众多而精锐——由他前去,保管可以一举扑灭叛乱!”云浅雪诧异地望着卡兰:自从上次的紫川秀脱逃事件以来,罗斯总督就与自己结下了仇怨,这点卡兰明明是知道的。现在他为什么又要保举罗斯呢?何况,罗斯部下的军队除了少数以外,大部分都是募集而来,并非常备军,现在要重新筹集的话需要大量的时间,而且战斗力比起自己的麾下的羽林军来差了一大截。包令他意外的是,魔神皇听了卡兰的推举,竟然立即同意了:“好!笔儿所荐之人甚合朕意!雷欧,快马传令,通知加纳大人着手准备出征!”“给西南大将发去命令,责令他配合加纳大人的行动,立即出兵,剿灭叛乱的各路暴民!”魔神皇站起了身子,往常这往往意味着会议已经结束了。但这次,他的身形顿了一下:“卡兰,你跟朕进来!”“是!”卡兰喜孜孜地应了一声,故意不看卡顿亲王。后者整张脸都已经涨得通红了:卡兰那小子竟然得到父皇赏识,这比远东打了一百场败仗还要让他痛心疾首啊!走出皇宫的大门,微红的霞光照在洁白的台阶上,—队威武的宫廷近卫旅士兵正在换岗。天色才刚刚蒙蒙亮。尽避一夜没睡,云浅雪却毫无睡意。刚才发生的一幕让他不解,他心存疑惑:陛下的意图到底是什么?卡兰二皇子莫名其妙的提议为什么能打动陛下?他感觉一头雾水,而被蒙在鼓里什么都不知道的滋味是怪难受的。云浅雪傻傻地站在宫殿门口好一阵子,那些换岗的近卫旅士兵都用奇怪的眼神看着他,若不是看出他是皇族,他们早举起长矛驱赶他了。必到家中,卡丹迎上来:“没发生什么事吧?”“呃……发生了了不得的大事。”犹豫了一下,云浅雪把刚才的枢密会议经过给妻子讲了。虽然枢秘会议规定是绝不能向外泄露的,但如果自己的妻子是王国公主的话,那当然又另当别论了。“我不明白,为什么陛下要调罗斯军团去远东平叛?羽林军难道不是王国最精锐的部队之一吗?难道在陛下心中,我还不如罗斯?我实在无法理解。”——这正是云浅雪最大的担心:难道,在陛下心目中,我已经失宠了吗?卡丹一手托着下巴,静静地听着云浅雪忿忿不平的抱怨。等云浅雪说完,卡丹微微一笑,她已经知道云浅雪担心却又不便说出口的话了。“云君,你过虑了。请不必担心,父皇对你的信任和倚重一如从前。”“啊,但是为什么……”“呵呵,云君,我相信以您的智慧,一定能看出来的。”卡丹微笑说:“您想想,罗斯阁下与您最大的不同是在哪里呢?”“他又蠢又丑,而我既聪明又帅!”云浅雪一本正经地说。卡丹给逗得笑出声来了:“真是不要脸的家伙!”夫妻相视而笑。“云君,您出身我塞内亚的皇族,部下的羽林军团士兵大多来自我塞内亚族的战士,而罗斯阁下则是鞑塔族的首领,他统帅的军队绝大部分都是来自鞑塔和叶塞两族——这其间的差别,您可想明白了吗?”云浅雪很认真地想了一下,最后浮出一丝浅笑:“我明白了。”卡丹赞许地微笑:云浅雪是个很聪明的人,他不但在军事方面才华出众,对政治领域的种种人心鬼蜮,他的领会力奇高,只要稍加点拨,他马上就能明白过来。不知怎么的,她又一次想起了那个人,暗地里将他与云浅雪比较:远方的他与自己的丈夫一样,都是驰骋沙场的武将,但两个人却是截然不同的两个人。云浅雪出身名门,精明能干,才华出众而且深通生活情趣,品味高雅,诗人接物,可谓无懈可击。遵照父皇之命,也为了云浅雪对自己的痴情有所感动和愧疚,自己在半年前与云浅雪成亲。应该说,自己对这件事情并没有后悔。与自己成亲后,他对自己一直体贴关怀,而且尊重自己,凡事与自己商量,并没有一般魔族男子那种视妇女如无物的大男人主义。无论从哪个角度来说,女孩子能嫁给像云浅雪这样的男人,可以说是再无遗憾了。但不知为何,自己却一直不能忘记远方的那个人类:那个人,应该算是自己国家的敌人。他粗犷,耿直,固执,就拿他自己的话说:“我是个除了把剑以外一无所有的穷大兵。”相比之下,他更有那种真正男人特有的刚强血性,不屈不挠,面对困难绝不妥协,他是那种天生的顶天立地的英雄。就是这个穷大兵,那刚毅中带出的一分笨拙的柔情牢牢地系住了自己,让自己一生不能忘怀……“……你说什么?”云浅雪正在说什么,卡丹走神了没听清楚。云浅雪好脾气地笑笑,把话再重复了一遍:“你真的有把握,事情是……我意思是说……”他有点难以启齿,最好还是吞吞吐吐地说了:“陛下为了保证我塞内亚族的地位而……”卡丹还以一个同样意味深长的微笑:“你没注意到吗?刚才参加会议的人,叶尔马公爵、米罗总督、达科总督、加山侯爵、雷欧公爵——再加上大哥、二哥和你,全部是出身塞内亚族的皇族。从地位上来说,罗斯公爵的地位在你之上,他也在神堡,却没通知他参加。从这个就可以看出父皇的用意了:会议的重点并非远东,更非鲁帝,这是关于一次如何维持我族统治地位的枢密会议!只有二哥领会到了父皇的意思。”“难道陛下认为罗斯阁下有谋反之心?”“鞑塔部族近年迅速地扩充实力,还吞并了没落了的叶塞部族,他们一跃成为了仅次于我族的王国第二大族。至于罗斯本人是否有反意、他如何想的,这并不要紧,关键的是鞑塔族破坏了神族部族之间历来的实力均衡,拥有了可以威胁我们的实力!”“如果光是鞑塔一族的谋反,我们可以轻易将其镇压,但是事情一旦开始,就会产生连锁反应,看到我族与鞑塔族战斗后出现衰弱,新的挑战者会接踵而至,最终我们将陷入没顶之灾,就如八十七年前的叶塞族一样!”云浅雪凝视着妻子美丽的容颜,陷入了深沉的思索。在魔族国内,王者的地位是至高无上的,可以号令百族。但是王权的传承并非像人类一样从世袭而来,而是依靠实力。魔族各部族一直信奉实力至上的真理,王者一直由最实力强大的部族产生。按照这个原则,如果该部族实力衰退了,或者是出现了新的强大部族前来挑战他的霸权,那新旧两个部族之间就会出现一场不可避免的战争来决定究竟新的王者。按照历来的传统,无论对原来的王多么忠心耿耿,其他的部族是不能插手进这场战争里来的。他们唯一能做的事情就是在那静静的看着,等待这场战争的胜利者产生,那就是他们新的王了,他们好赶紧上前祝贺欢呼吾皇万岁,然后合力发兵将在这场战争中落败的部族来个斩草除根,好向新主子表示自己的效忠之意。所以,赢则号令天下,败则全族灭亡,魔族王国的权力交替比起人类,来得更加的直接,也更加的血腥。无论是原来的王也好,新的挑战者也好,这都是一场绝对输不起的赌博,这场袄赌被魔族敬畏地称为:“王权战争”。魔族的老人们还能回忆起最近一次的王权战争,是在八十年前的事情了。当时掌权的叶塞族王突然暴亡,实力大损的叶塞族想维持他们的统治,受到了来自四面八方的挑战。——当然,他们不失尊严地战斗了,但最后还是作为一个勇敢的民族被整个消灭了,叶塞皇族从此成为了历史名词。前后共有近十个部族参加了这次的角逐,那次战争前后持续近七年,被称为恐怖的灭绝战争。最后,当今魔神皇祖父卡雷(人称恐怖的红胡子),依靠了塞内亚战士的骁勇与忠诚,连连战胜了冬日族、傲族、雷族等当时远比塞内亚族强大的几个部族,并将他们从原来的土地上驱赶、放逐到了僻远的不毛之地去。就在这个恐怖的红胡子将半个国家杀得血流成河、其霸主地位得到所有部族都承认了的第二周,一场莫名其妙的暴病又夺走了他生命。就在王国将要又一次陷入可怕的内战、流血冲突将继续重演的危急时刻,当今魔神皇的父亲卡林即位。他对外隐瞒了他父亲的死讯,在族中元老的帮助下,以太子身份掌握朝政。几年后,当塞内亚族的统治已经巩固以后,他才正式对外公布自己父亲的死讯。虽然引起了一阵骚动,但是经过卡林几年的精心经营,此时的塞内亚族已经是无庸置疑的魔族第一强族了,再加上塞内亚战士强悍的名声,并没有什么部族敢冒着灭族的巨大风险出来挑战,这次危机于是平安无事的度过了。但是由此以后的八十多年来,对自身部族实力会被其他部族赶超的恐惧,就像幽灵那样的阴魂不散,始终萦绕在塞内亚皇族高层的心头,而这个幽灵从没有追逐得像现在这般的接近,几乎就要化为实体从想像中走了出来。经过近百年的休养生息,在上次战争中战败、几乎要灭族的几个部族已经恢复了生气,重新强大了起来,其中并不乏对王座有觊觎之心的野心狂徒。正是基于这个考虑,当今魔神皇才发动了对人类的大征讨。这是一举两得之举:为整个魔神王国开疆拓土,求得生存空间。同时通过对外的战争,使得整个国家、所有部族同仇敌忾,团结起来,减少内斗;也通过对外战争,用人类之手消耗那些对王权构成威胁的部族实力——这当然是只能意会不能言传的了。“难道,陛下已经感觉到我塞内亚族的地位已经不巩固了吗?”“目前来说,还没到那种地步。”卡丹安静地说:“在神族的所有部族之中,我族的强大依旧是不可怀疑的,无论鞑塔族也好、哥昂族也好、亚昆族也好、叶塞族也好,都不能与我族相提并论。但是,发生在远东的这场叛乱可能会改变形势。光在科尔尼城下,就有六万多的精良骑、步兵,一整路大军被毁灭性全歼:这样的惨败,在我塞内亚族的历史上,还是第一次。比起军事上的直接损失——丧失了大概二十来个团队的精锐部队,我更担心的是这件事在政治上带来的影响……”她注视着云浅雪,后者立即领会了她的意思,不寒而栗:被清灭的五万多人,并不是魔族王国普通部族的杂牌军队,也不是车草成军的远东叛军,而是整个魔族王国的骄傲,纯粹的塞内亚血液,与当今神皇陛下同族的嫡系子弟兵!塞内亚族的本身实力遭受了沉重的打击,更可怕的是,塞内亚军队天下无敌的神话,被彻底地打破了。军团长鲁帝逃跑,大批精锐士卒丧生——对于王国的最高层来说,这次的惨败,甚至比上次卡顿亲王在帕伊城下败给斯特林更令人难以接受。斯特林是人类世界最出色的将领之—,中央军也是名声卓著的功勋部队,大家还勉强能够承受这个事实。但是败给一群披着兽皮、扛着土制标枪的半兽人,这件事情会让塞内亚部族成为整个魔族王国的笑柄。统治的力量来自尊严和畏惧,而一旦落于被嘲笑的地位,尊严将荡然无存。“你认为,陛下和二皇子派遣罗斯出征的目的,就是为了消耗鞑塔族的实力,以维护目前实力平衡的吗?”“很有可能——虽然目前我们还没看出鞑塔族有不稳,但作为王者,应该有比常人看得更远的眼光。陛下是想把威胁消灭在萌芽状态。”“但是这样会不会造成相反的后果?如果罗斯将叛乱给平定下来了,他将顺理成章地成为新任的远东总督,实力和威望都会大增,这样不是更不利吗?”“目前所得资料太少,我们还无从得知远东的具体情形,但有一点是无庸置疑的:鲁帝定然败得极惨,很可能已经无力再战了。不然,他不会干出这种刺杀信使的蠢事来。而且这场叛乱的规模肯定超乎我们的想像地巨大,不然凌步虚早就独力把它平息下来了,他不可能对远东总督的位置一点野心没有吧?“云君,鲁帝为人虽然粗俗无礼,但是他出身低层,却能依靠战功一步步爬到如今的地位,身经百战,作战经验异常丰富,绝非你想像中的那样无能。他败得如此凄惨,可见此次远东叛乱来得不寻常,像罗斯总督——请原谅,云君,不过我认为,鲁帝起码还有经验和强悍,罗斯却只有一肚子的傲慢自大!”云浅雪微笑着接下去说:“所以,罗斯必然也遭惨败?嗯,罗斯败后,两虎相争必有一伤,叛军实力肯定也会受到重创,这时候……”“陛下必然会派遣我族的主力军团出战,云君你,或者是叶尔马爵爷,或者是我的大哥——都有可能。云君,你要为此做好准备!”“为什么不能是卡兰殿下呢?”卡丹笑笑:“你知道的,二哥不是打仗的料子。他耍点小报样还可以,到沙场上,他不行的。”对于这点,云浅雪的看法不同。但他只是笑笑,说:“如果陛下差我出战,我定然恳请陛下任命你为我的随军参谋。”“呵呵,云君,你太看重我了。妇人之见只擅长纸上谈兵,真正的沙场厮杀真刀真枪,来不得半点虚假,我的那点小见识未必派得上用场。”“公主,我们夫妻之间,你又何必过谦呢?”云浅雪笑咪咪地说,心情大好。经过卡丹这么一剖析,他对前程顿时明了,那种如在雾中的彷徨感觉消失了。他暗暗庆幸:对女人来说,美貌与智慧往往难以并全。美女因为外表上的优势而懒于运用自己的脑子,她们一生最大的成就就是找到一个有钱的老公;而不得不依靠自己脑子的女人往往在外表上又难以恭维,所以人们常常看到那种空有着一张漂亮脸蛋却蠢得像白痴的女人,要不就是另外一种女人,那种为不伤自尊心,人们通常委婉地以“心灵很美”来称赞的女人。自己是幸运的,上天竟然赐给自己一个如此完美的妻子,不但美丽、聪慧过人,而且对自己的前程大有裨益。得妻如此,夫复何求?※※※帝国历七八二年六月二十三日,天气炎热,气候潮湿。在魔族王国前往远东行省的路上,旌旗飘舞,尘土飞扬。长长的队伍正在由东向西徐徐前进,这是魔族讨伐军的罗斯军团。应魔族皇帝的钦令,鞑塔和叶塞两族的农民晕头转向地从忙碌的田地里,丢下了锄地的犁耙集结起来,征兵官发给了他们武器,告知:“远东地区发生了反对我们神族的大叛乱!勇敢的神族勇士们,去吧,讨伐他们,消灭他们,显示我们神族的光荣!”“噢!”士兵群中响起了稀稀落落的回应声,更多的士兵拿着武器茫然不知所措,他们那贫乏的头脑还搞不清楚远东发生叛乱,与自己突然被从家里叫出来有什么必然的关系。叶塞族并不是像塞内亚族、傲族、雷族一样以战斗力出名的种族,有人想起了刚刚结束的远东战争,想到了丧命在帕伊城下、瓦伦城下的叔叔和舅舅,想到可能要从此见不到自己那丑陋的婆娘、白痴般的儿子,还有快塌掉的老房子,于是神情黯然。与士兵们心情截然不同,军团长罗斯公爵心情舒畅,他策马扬鞭走在部队的旁边,不时回头张望着浩浩荡荡的军队,踌躇满志。这是他第二次前往远东作战了,他还记得在七八零年的那场战争中,他的军队连续血洗了得亚和伊里亚两行省的十一座人类城市,成千上万的人类被砍掉了脑袋,那种鲜血喷涌的壮观场面让他激动得不能自已,体内仿佛有一股热流在滚动,浑身颤抖。在接下来的掠夺城市时候,那如山般堆积的战利品更让罗斯大开眼界,发出由衷的感叹:“人类可真会囤积财富啊!”远东战争结束后,陛下与人类议和了,罗斯以为再也没有机会重温一遍过去的好时光,重温那种杀戮和掠夺的快感了,谁知道,机会来得这么快,远东发生了叛乱,而陛下则把平乱的任务交给了自己,而不是王国出名的战将云浅雪,或者干练的卡顿亲王。罗斯公爵不由得衷地感谢上苍…真是待我不薄啊!促使他欣然接受任务的,还有另外一个重要原因:陛下指明要他作为钦使取鲁帝的人头,其中含义不言而明:等镇压下了叛乱,罗斯阁下您就是新的远东总督了!想到占据了远东这二十三个富裕的行省可以给自己带来的巨大好处,罗斯抑制不住地微笑。鲁帝,你这个狂妄自大的家伙,你也有今天!仿佛生怕陛下改变主意似的,罗斯急不可耐地派出前军,手持魔神皇手令去逮捕鲁帝。想到鲁帝的脑袋被挂在旗杆上那龇牙咧嘴的狼狈样子,罗斯兴奋不已。远东的贱民们,你们的末日到了!“爵爷!”一员传令兵急匆匆地从前面策马迎来,马匹都已经跑到口吐白沫的地步了,队伍前面的步兵自觉地让开一条路,让这通信兵不受阻拦地冲到罗斯跟前。“什么事情?”“报告爵爷,加朗大人派我前来报告……”罗斯满意地点头:“可把鲁帝给逮住了?”“十分抱歉,大人!在加朗大人到达之前,鲁帝已经率军逃跑了,目前行踪不明。现在,特兰要塞十分混乱,守军已经溃散,加朗大人恳请大人迅速赶到主持大局!”“什么!鲁帝逃了?!”罗斯震惊莫各。※※※七八二年,六月二十三日。远东杜莎行省沙丘高地,远东起义军光明王军团宿营地。烽火漫天。朦胧的月亮已经升上了半空,荒郊的野地上,竖立起了无数顶帐篷和树枝搭建的小棚子,像是在平地上忽然出现了一片林子,光明王进攻特兰要塞的主力大军正在此地安静的睡眠。泛黄的沙地像是镀上了一层金。在一座又一座营帐之间的空地上,棉絮似的薄雾被风吹着,一切都变得蒙蒙胧胧。经过一天辛苦的行军跋涉,士兵们在打来水喂完战马后早已经睡下,各个营帐中响起了忽高忽低的呼噜声。安排值夜的哨兵们也无精打采地围坐在火堆前打着瞌睡,空旷的原野静得吓人。中军大帐篷内依旧灯火通明,在接到西南军团长官明羽的失利报告后,紫川秀翻来覆去难以入眠。他干脆起来继续完成那份写了一半的作战训令:“……经过六个月来同敌人强大兵力顽强而残酷的搏斗,我军在各条战线上都取得了相当的成就。各军团累计歼灭了装备优良的魔族地方守备部队与野战部队的大部分。鲁帝军团实质上已经丧失了大部分的突击力量,而且也逐渐丧失了以其兵力对我军进行反击的能力,远东军已经收复了国土的百分之七十以上。我军已经摆脱了被动的游击逃亡局面,转而控制了战场的主动权,我各军团指挥官应该适时主动地将战争形式转向顽强的防御和积极的进攻!”煤油灯小小的火种轻轻地跳跃了一下,紫川秀停住了笔斟酌一下,又继续写下去:“形势是乐观的,但我们决不能就此掉以轻心。要清楚地认识到,远东的解放是一条很遥远的道路,我们还要经历无数的苦战和艰争。一、在西南前线,魔族的凌步虚军团对我占领区侧后构成了很大的威胁。魔族军曾两次对古迪撒行省发动进攻,遭到了我西南军团的坚决抵抗。凌步虚是一员十分灵活的指挥官,他的作战具有高度的弹性。凡是他的骑、步兵遭到我正规军和地方游击队有组织的坚决抵抗的地方,他就抛开这个地段,转向其他方向,寻找我防御中的薄弱环节进行突击,然后穿插渗透,在部分地段上制造局部兵力优势,实施包围歼灭。再者,用小辨模的全骑兵机动部队进行长距离的突击,袭击我们的粮仓和辎重车队,屠杀我们的平民和衬庄,然后在我军保卫武装进行有组织的抵抗之前,敌人机动部队已经转移。初次面对这种灵活而残酷的战术,我军付出了不应有的损失。”紫川秀考虑了一下,把“不应有的损失”划去,代之以“很大的代价”。这样是为了照顾明羽的自尊心。在马兰湖一战中,凌步虚利用小鄙部队引诱马兰城的半兽人守备队离开城池,然后在马兰湖一带全歼了该守备部队,五千多半兽人战士战死,四个团队失去了战斗力,番号从此消失在战斗队伍中。但损失并不仅于此。趁着马兰城守军被歼灭防线上出现的缺口,凌步虚趁机攻进城里,一把火烧掉了半个马兰城,城中储备的粮草全部被缴获了。想到自己辛辛苦苦积攒了半年的黄金,好不容易从家族内地购买来的粮食,最终却喂了凌步虚和他部下的绿毛鬼,紫川秀差点想把明羽活生生地掐死。抑制了下愤怒的心情,紫川秀尽量用冷静的语句继续写作战训令:“……鉴于此情况,大本营坚决要求西南军团所属各部队以及地方民兵、游击武装均应在防御前沿展开最积极的行动。为此,应该不停地进行侦察,广泛地设立观察哨卡并辅以灵敏的交通线。前沿部队指挥官切不可满足于被动防御,要与敌人展开以牙还牙的坚决反击,昼夜派出小分队和小集群袭击敌人的营地、指挥中心、粮仓、辎重、仓库等重要战术目标,对敌人的哨卡、巡逻队以及机动营地实施出其不意的打击,破坏其后方,使敌人不得安宁;消灭敌人的侦察哨卡与突击骑兵部队,尤其注意消灭敌人的骑兵部队,以便限制敌人大规模突进我军内部的机动力量。另,大本营建议西南军团指挥官注意兵力的有效配置。就以往三个星期的战斗来看,处于防守姿态的西南军团将兵力分配得过于平均和分散了,难以形成对敌人有效打击力量,在战斗中处于被动状态。建议西南军团指挥部考虑将分散于沿战线一带的三十六个城市和六百一十三个村庄中的驻守部队进行集中,组建两个到三个规模较大且具相当战斗力的野战集群(十到十五个团队为一集群,驻地可由军团根据实际情况自行决定);另外筹建若干全骑兵机动纵队(两列三团队),该机动部队将用于侦察、大规模骚扰敌人后方以及拦截、消灭敌人的骚扰部队。各部队原驻守地区,除有粮仓、指挥中心、重要矿产中心等需要重点保护的战略目标外,正规部队撤离后,防务原则上移交给地方政府组织的民兵、游击队、自卫队来接管。”紫川秀非常烦恼,明羽在凌步虚手上已经吃了几次亏了。今天被吃掉一个团,明天又拿下一座城,这样零碎的打下去,虽没有决定性的大会战,但损失加起来也相当可观。紫川秀曾考虑过换一员将领,但白川和罗杰都各自统帅大军在执行任务,此时不宜抽调他们。半兽人将军布兰倒是智勇双全,只是对上凌步虚这样的经验丰富的老手,他还太嫩。换他去,未必能比明羽更好——明羽怎么就不想想,把他分散在那十几个城市、几百个乡镇里的守备队集结起来的话,足可以组织十万人、三个整编军团,可以使他在总兵力凌驾于凌步虚之上,足可以威慑敌寇保卫整个西南战线了。想了下,紫川秀又加上一句:“在尚未建立地方政府和地方武装的地区,正规部队应组织地方居民进行民主选举,选出地方政府,待地方政府控制住局势并组建起足以维护本地区安全的武装力量后再行撤离。“鉴于西南战线的重要性,大本营拟从东南军团(罗杰军团)和大本营预备队军团(紫川秀直属军团)中抽调力量增强西南军团的力量。增援总计有:佐伊一六团、佐伊一九图、佐伊八九团、哈特三三团、龙人四团,及秀字营之九、十、一一、一二等四大队。以上部队将在五月底之前全部划归西南军团指挥。”写完这一段作战训令,紫川秀放下笔来,长长地舒了口气。“凌步虚,王国一流的名将。”紫川秀轻声地喃喃自语。他打开帐篷的帘子到外面伸伸懒腰舒展身子。远远近近的一切都沉浸在静谧的梦乡中,仿佛连大地都沉睡,习习夜风扑面。天上的星星显得更高了,黑暗更加浓重。他又回到帐篷中来,夜已经很深了,他却也没有睡意,心头像梗着点什么事似的觉得不自在。当年在魔族军中的时候,凌步虚那双精光四射的眸子给他留下了深刻的印象。第一眼紫川秀就看出来了:那是个极其聪明干练的人。凌步虚的战斗经验十分丰富,明羽虽然也是自己麾下屈指可数的防守型好手,但凌步虚经验的老辣不是他所能比拟的。他计算了下,加上了增援部队,明羽手上的力量应该可以和凌步虚持平,紫川秀并没有奢望明羽能战胜对方,他只是希望明羽就算赢不了,也不该输得很惨,只要可以维持住战线,拖住凌步虚就可以了。在他的计画中,现阶段的目标分三步。第一步是先全力铲除掉鲁帝的残兵败将,夺下魔族在东部最后的据点——特兰要塞,起义军在东部就有了一个坚实的防守堡垒。接着留下一员可靠的将领,比如说白川,镇守特兰要塞,建立远东的东部防线。第二步,将远东军的主力掉头西向,与凌步虚决战,力争尽快将其部队击溃。第三步,击败凌步虚后,远东境内基本已经肃清了魔族的大部队,除了由少量部队进行境内的治安和剿匪工作外,接下来可以将防卫的重心放在东部。紫川秀打算以特兰、沙加等几个大的要塞为要点,重建远东的东部防线。当然,紫川秀想,等到可以御敌人于国境之外,自己就可以将精力放在国内的建设上面,战争时期抛荒的耕田要重新耕种、要进行土地的平均分配、要建设工矿业、要从家族内地引进远东自己的工厂和技术——用不了五年,自己曾向布丹长老许诺过的新远东就将要出现了!当然,这一切得有个前提,前提是魔族不再向远东派遣新的镇压部队,起码在自己击败凌步虚之前不要派遣,否则,自己将重又陷入东西两线双面作战的困境。紫川秀也知道,要魔族王国眼睁睁地看着它手边的肥肉被人夺走而不做声,这是根本不可能的。但既然魔族王国的高层在一年多的时间里都没有对远东的反叛做出反应,也没有发现新出现的镇压部队,这令紫川秀产生了一丝希望:也许奇迹会出现呢?等到新远东建立……紫川秀心头泛起一阵悲哀:此生已经注定孤独了,再多的丰功伟业,又有什么意义?他记得,在那些最绝望的日子里,最为了排斥心头那荒漠似的空白,自己亡命地战斗,在每次战斗中都身先士卒,策马冲锋在全军阵头的最前面,近乎疯狂地冒险,无数箭矢“飕飕”地从耳边擦过的风声连续不断,体验那生死边缘的极度刺激来使自己忘却孤寂,并且以此为乐。他意识到,在战争初期自己种种显得幼稚的心情,已经变得一去不复返了。他变得冷酷无情,怀着冷漠、蔑视的心情拿自己和别人的生命当儿戏,这赢得了部下们的尊重:“光明王好样的!”只有自己知道,这不过是一种自暴自弃,是一种失去挚爱之人后,绝望地自寻死路。隐隐地,他泛起了一丝恐惧:当有那么一天,真的驱逐了魔族恢复了远东的自由,自己将何去何从?到哪里再去寻找这种出生入死的刺激来使自己排遣寂寞?哪里还有新的战场可以让自己忘却悲痛?或者,难道,曾经叱吒风云的伟大光明王,他的下半辈子就要在酒精的浸泡中度过了吗?自己会变成一个浑身酒气、口齿含糊不清的乖张老头,每天最大的事业就是调戏稍有姿色的女招待?紫川秀嘴角露出一丝冷笑:与其这样慢慢地糜烂沉醉,倒不如在与魔族的战争中壮烈地战死——当真相大白,消息传回帝都的时候,她还会不会为自己痛心?想哭吗?夜已经很深了,外面传来了孤独的荒外野狼鸣叫声,声音凄凉又悠长。今天大军一气走了四十多里路,想到明天还要继续赶路,紫川秀收回思索,打了个呵欠打开了行军毯子。忽然,他住了手:帐篷门外传来窸窸嗦嗦的布帘响声和轻微的脚步声。紫川秀反手按上了腰间的洗月刀,出声问:“谁?”“光明济世。”一个清朗的男声隔着门帘回答,正是今晚的安全口令:“殿下,我是布兰大人派来的传令兵,有紧急军情求见!”“永照大地,请进。”紫川秀回答了口令的下半截,白光一闪,洗月刀无声地出鞘,紧紧握在手中。他目光炯炯地盯住了帐篷门帘的方向,眼睛一眨不眨。“滋!”突然响起一阵撕裂耳膜的尖锐剌响,厚帆布制造的帐篷门帘无声无息地被击个粉碎,碎片迎风卷进了帐篷中,片片锐利如刀。犹如平地里忽然出现了可怕的风暴,无数的光点像雨点般倾泻灌涌进了帐篷中,无坚不摧的剑气如同风暴般席卷一切,一阵密集的“哧哧哧”轻响,紫川秀原来站立位置后面的帐篷壁上已经出现了无数的洞眼,蜡烛的光亮从洞眼里斑斑点点地射进营帐外的黑暗中。紫川秀来不及反击,就地一个翻身滚出好远,一脚踢飞了摆蜡烛的案台,营帐顿时陷入了一片伸手不见五指的黑暗中。只听到“哧哧哧”几声尖锐的剑气破风声和剑刺入钝物的声音,自己原来的座位已经中了无数剑。听风辨声判断敌人的位置,紫川秀在黑暗中像豹子般无声摸近,挥刀还击,耀眼的刀光在黑暗中一闪而逝,洗月刀在黑暗中划了个弧线,却少有地落空了:对方早已经转移了。几乎就在同一时刻,他与其说看到,不如说是感到一股冰寒刺骨的剑气正在向他的胸口袭来,紫川秀机敏地一个闪身,躲过了这一剑,心里明白:是刚才落空的那一刀暴露了自己的位置。通过那剑的剑路,紫川秀再次捕捉到对方的位置,挥刀还击。“叮!”的一声剌耳的金属交击声,刀剑在空中激烈地斩击,蹦出了几点火花,俩人同时闷哼一声,接着是沉寂。紫川秀屈膝半蹲在地上,用衣袖盖住了刀刃的锋锐闪光,一动不动。他屏住棒吸,压抑了全身的生机,闭上了眼睛,聚精会神,两只耳朵几乎像兔子一样竖了起来。营帐内笼罩在可怕的沉寂和黑暗中。可以听到,在营帐帆布的缝隙中,风在轻轻的呜鸣着,静得让人心寒,黑得简直像掉进了一个大墨缸里,伸手不见五指。刺客还停留在帐篷中。现在双方的眼睛都没办法适应这突来的黑暗,只能依靠耳朵来捕捉对方的位置。对方从破门到偷袭杀人,自己则立即躺倒并且踢灭蜡烛,这一连串的动作全部发生在电闪雷鸣间,双方全都是以快打快,他连看清楚对方面目的机会都没有。紫川秀知道,自己碰上了平生罕见的高手。对方的剑法太可怕了,剑光简直如雨点般倾泻,刚才一瞬间就同时剌出十几剑,放眼望去,剑光形成了一个耀眼的光团,如云雾般向自己罩来,不要说见招拆招,他根本连哪一剑在先哪一剑在后都无法分辨。幸好自己反应迅速踢灭了蜡烛使得营帐中一片黑暗,否则不到几个回合,自己早就被刺得千疮百孔了。恍惚中,紫川秀有种感觉,这人的剑路和好友帝林有几分相似,但更快、更狠、更可怕!沉闷的黑暗中充满了杀机,恐怖,压抑,像是绷得快要断掉的弦。面前的漆黑中隐藏着自己的大敌,军队就在咫尺左右,紫川秀却不敢发声求救:谁先发出声音暴露自己,势必会引来对方如同*般的攻击。而对于这种层次的高手,一击就足以致命了,自己绝对撑不到军队赶来解救自己。他思维里一片空白,紧张得脑筋都快断掉了——这是种难以忍受的考验和折磨。紫川秀的背后,汗水已经湿透了衣裳。尽避他一再强迫自己要集中精神,但大脑已经在不由自主地胡思乱想了:这是哪里来的可怕高手?这么可怕的快剑,防守是守不住的,如果真的面对面比试的话,自己唯一的机会就是只攻不守,拚命跟他来个同归于尽了……“嗒嗒”的脚步声传来,主帅营帐里的响声惊动了几个过路的值勤警卫。有人在外面很近的地方喊话:“我们是今晚的警卫,大人,您没事吧?”紫川秀暗自欢喜:自己的人终于来了!他没有出声。摆暗中的刺客也没有做声。帐篷门帘处出现了火把的一丝光亮,一个半兽人卫兵举着火把走进了漆黑一片的帐篷中,大声地喊道:“殿下,我听到声音。你……”紫川秀突然觉察不妙,他冒着暴露的危险猛然喊出声来:“不要,快出去……”“哧”的一声轻响,半兽人卫兵整个人僵住了,脸上表情古怪,火把昏黄的火光照耀下,他嘴咧开,似笑非笑地像是看到什么非常荒谬的事情似的。手渐渐地松开了,燃烧着的火把掉到了地上。半兽人喉咙中发出“咯咯”的怪声,却是说不出来话来:一把锋利的锐剑从脖后剌入,已经穿透了他粗壮的脖子,血淋淋的剑锋从喉咙部位伸了出来。“嗖”的一声,剑被抽了回去。半兽人士兵踉踉跄跄地向前走了两步,一头撞到了紫川秀身上。紫川秀急忙扶住他,手上触摸到了一种滚烫而黏稠的液体。半兽人徒劳地大口喘着气,捂住喉咙的伤口,殷红的鲜血大股大股地从手指里渗透出来,喉咙处发出了“咕咕”的怪声。他含糊不清地喊道:“殿下,小心……”向后一挣扎脱离了紫川秀的扶持,整个人仰倒摔在了地上,身体恰懊压灭了火把。营帐中又回复了一片漆黑。“砰、砰”两声响门帘被撞开,又有两个卫兵觉得不妙,拿着刀冲进了黑暗的营帐中,紫川秀再次发出警告:“小心!”卫士一愣:“殿下您说什么?”他们从月光下忽然进入黑暗的营帐中,眼睛还无法适应这变化,一个幽灵般的影子已经无声无息地贴在了他们身后,黑暗中一道剑光如闪电般掠过,只听见“嗤嗤!”两声轻响,接着就是两个士兵的惨叫:“啊——”惨叫声在寂静的夜晚里远远地传了出去,整个大营都听得清清楚楚。沉睡的起义军士兵纷纷给惊醒了:“那是怎么回事?”“哪里来的叫声?”忠实的士兵惨死在自己面前,自己只能眼睁睁地看着,束手无策!那种无力的挫折感使得紫川秀愤怒,他血脉贲张,热血上冲,视野里充满了一片红色,意识变得模糊,脑子混沌,只有一个声音在脑海中不断地回响:杀死他!杀死那个畜生!他能够感觉到,自己的身体正在发生一种奇妙的变化,整个身体变得滚烫,像是在火炉里闷烧似的,感觉器官数以倍增地灵敏,尤其是视觉:刚才还是伸手不见五指的漆黑已变成一片深红色……看到了,看到了:朦朦胧胧,一米外的帐篷边上,一个深红色的人影正一点点地逼近自己。刺客无声地冷笑:如果这个光明王像刚才那样继续躲藏在黑暗中,自己不敢点火把在黑暗中找他,他的大批卫士正在赶来,拖延下去对他是有利的。但没想到他那么愚蠢,看到几个士兵被杀就失去了理智,竟然主动出声暴露了身形。他悄无声息地接近了紫川秀的位置,一剑剌过去,又慢又稳,不带起一点风声。“叮”的一声清脆的金属碰撞响,紫川秀身形一转,洗月刀在黑暗中分毫不差地架住了敌剑,钢刀顺势灵活地一绞,刺客手腕顿时一阵酥麻,险些拿不住剑。紫川秀旋风般转身,“唰唰唰”就是三刀,刀光如雷霆闪动,刀刀不离刺客的要害。刺客狼狈地一个草驴打滚险险地躲过,这个变化实在出乎他的意料了,要刺杀的对象突然变得如此强悍,他的速度和凶猛比起刚才简直有天渊之别!包可怕的是,黑暗中他是如何能如此准确地格挡自己招数的?“去死!”紫川秀猛喝一声,直冲过来。刺客立即放弃了偷袭的想法,正面挥剑迎击,一时间,两人刀来剑往,杀成一团。漆黑之中,刺客目不能见物,只能依靠那刀刃的闪光和风声来判断对方兵器的来路,这就格外的惊险,稍有不慎就是白刃加身。他唯一可倚靠的是那丰富的临阵经验和超乎常人的快剑,努力封挡紫川秀的层出不穷的杀招,顷刻之间,他已经落在下风。他的反应亦是一等一的快捷,立即就明白过来:“你能看见了?”紫川秀不答,报以更加疯狂的攻击,刀刀迅如风,猛如雷,刀子快得已经看不出本来形状了,仿佛无数银白色的闪电罩住了两人,双方全是以快打快,刀剑以快得超乎常人听觉的速度,连续不断地碰撞:“叮叮叮叮叮——”听起来就像一声拖长的撞击似的。“喝!”紫川秀一声暴喝,刀光陡然暴涨,雪白的刀光中已经带了一抹殷红。“嘿!”刺客低沉地怪叫一声,左边肩头已经挂了彩。但拚着受这一轻伤,他已经脱离了紫川秀的刀气笼罩,只是人影一晃,他已经退到了帐篷边,身法之快,形如鬼魅。“想跑!?”紫川秀低喝一声追了过去。但刺客并非想逃,只听见“哧”“哧”两声裂响,刺客反手一剑,身后的帐篷帆布一划之下已经多了两条半尺长的交叉剑痕,从那个三角星的裂口处,清亮的月光洒了进来。——虽然不是很清晰,但帐篷里人和物的轮廓都可以看得清楚了。这下,双方都可以看见了!紫川秀明白了对方的用意,也不作声,挺刀上前再战,刀上已经运上了内力。刺客看得清楚,长剑如同毒蛇般吐出,后发先至地击上刀脊。火星四溅,刀剑再次交击,发出震耳低沉“嗡”的一声,双方都是手臂酥麻。刺客只觉得一股麻痹感从手腕向上延伸,一直到了肩膀,大惊之下他向后一跳,喝问:“住手!这波纹功,你哪里学来的?”紫川秀闷声不吭,把刀换到左手。刚才那一下碰击,他也同样的手臂酥麻不能动弹,但幸好他的左右手都是同样灵活,上前又要拚杀,刺客又再次向后一跳,喊道:“住手!扁明王,你到底是谁?与“河丘林家”有何渊源?”紫川秀不答,刀光一闪,刀子斜斜翻上去,刀锋闪电般从下向上削往对方脖子。这正是他绝技“逆雪”中的一招。该套武功的招式全部是逆反常理习惯而行的,在这种以快打快的战斗中,双方都没有时间来思考,只能凭着平时的习惯来应战,紫川秀相信,任他武功再高,碰上了这种反常的刀法也要吃上大亏。不料紫川秀刀才只砍了一半,对方就已经闪电般一剑回刺紫川秀的面目,逼得他不得不后跳躲避。紫川秀跳起,举刀欲劈砍对方脑袋,但刀才举到一半,对方又一剑刺往他空门大开的胸口部位,逼得紫川秀再次仓皇后退。紫川秀使尽彪身招式,奇招妙式层出不穷,但这些全归无用,无论他如何腾挪变化,对方都始终比他快一点,自己的招式变化全部落入对方掌握之中,往往一刀没出对方的剑已经料敌机先地先行破解了,还屡次遭遇危机几次险些中招——奇怪的是,对方仿佛也有留情之意,有些时候明明紫川秀都已经躲避不及了,对方却故意把剑一缓,放了紫川秀一条生路。紫川秀气急败坏,要能这么料敌机先地准确破解自己的招数,除非这人对自己的武功和招式了若指掌,但自己的武功来历除了一个人以外,世界上无人知道——但这不可能的事情却偏偏发生在了自己身上!紫川秀怒吼一声:“去死!”手腕一翻,一片雪花般密集的刀光护住了全身上下,整个人旋风般扑近前。刺客的瞳孔猛然收缩:“漫天雪花!”他知道这招的可怕,这本来是防守的招式,一把刀极尽变幻之能事,幻化出无数的刀花,刀花就像那纷纷扬扬的雪花一样,环绕飘落地保护住全身上下——这本是无懈可击的防守招式,但紫川秀凭着悍不畏死的气势和胆色,竟然把这招演化成了可怕的进攻招数,只要给他扑近身来,自己会在一瞬间给那无数看似美丽的“雪花”绞成碎片的!危急之刻,刺客“哈”的一声大喝,挥剑直刺:对这种繁杂的招式以变化来破解是不可能的,唯一的破解就是以攻对攻,以强劲的内力正面克制对方!那耀眼的雪花虽然有无数,但真正的刀却只有一把,只要制住了那把真正的刀,这招将不破自解!“叮!”一声响,刀剑再次格挡,两人都是全身一震,各自退后一步。“我知道你是谁了,紫川秀!”刺客开口说,尽量忍住手臂上对方真气入侵的痛楚,那种如同蚂蚁在血管里爬行般的痛苦,正是“波纹功”特有的杀伤力。紫川秀连话都说不出声了,大口大口地喘着粗气。五脏六腑如被火烧似的炽热感觉,痛得像是有人用沙子在磨自己的内脏。对方的真气十分犀利,稍一接触就直接杀伤自己的内脏和丹田,这种古怪的真气自己还是第一次接触。现在自己正在运气企图化去那股古怪的杀伤真气,一时再无法上前厮杀。紫川秀本来期望自己能比对方更快地将攻入体内的真气化去,但突然被对方叫破身份,他心神一震,真气震荡不安。“没有用的。”黑暗中传来刺客冷冷的声音:“你我真气同源同种,造成的杀伤力是双倍的。紫川秀,没有一个时辰,你休想动弹。”紫川秀反口讥讽道:“你不也一样?外面是我的人,挨下去你只有等死了!只要我大叫一声……”仿佛为他的话做注释似的,远处,半兽人士兵粗鲁的叫喊声此起彼伏:“有刺客!”、“快去保护光明王殿下!”人声沸腾,喧嚣声杂乱无章。这深夜的格斗和惨叫声已经惊动了大营,尽避双方都是动弹不得,但紫川秀的部下正在赶来,刺客的处境十分不妙。紫川秀突然停顿住了:对方冰冷的剑锋正压在自己的喉咙处,寒气逼人。接着身上的几处要穴同时一麻,对方已经点了自己的穴位。“嚓”一声轻响,刺客收剑入鞘,左手单手打着了火折子,把翻落地上的油灯重又点燃,动作十分灵巧,营帐中重又恢复了光明。于是紫川秀得以看到了今晚的大敌,平生罕见的绝顶高手。被打翻的几子前,一个穿着秀字营黑色制服的蒙面人一手拿着油灯,若有所思地望着紫川秀,目光中充满了好奇。他的身材硕长削瘦,只有一双眼睛露出面具外,眼神亮得惊人。两人目光对视,谁都没有说话。紫川秀震惊:对方竟然这么快就恢复了!他更不服的是,刺客仿佛对自己的一身武功了若指掌,尽避自己已经在最好状态下出了全力,却还是不得不以落败收场。有生以来第一次,他对自己的武功失去了信心。在营帐的外面,纷乱的脚步声越来越近,还伴随着武器金属的铿锵响声,大批人马从四面八方围近了指挥帐。起义军的将领们已经发现了主帅出问题了,纷纷率领自己的部下前来营救。他们团团围住了帐篷,金属冰冷的反光透过营帐的破洞照了进来,树林一般密集的刀枪剑戟的在帐篷上投下了清晰的影子,火把的光亮摇缀不定。这种场面让紫川秀有种熟悉的感觉:他记起来了,当年自己也是这样劫持卡丹公主逃跑的。刺客突然出声道:“外面的人听着,光明王在我手里。想他死的话,你们尽避进来吧!”话声带着浑厚的内力传出好远,惊得旁边林子中沉睡中的斑鸠噗嗤噗嗤飞起。赶来的士兵们一阵慌乱,纷纷停住了脚步。军官们不明白营帐中的实际情况如何,连忙约束部下们。外面有个半兽人在喊:“你是什么人?休想骗我们,光明王大人神勇无比,你根本不是他老人家对手!不马上出来的话,我们进去将你千刀万剐!”紫川秀听出这是布森的声音。刺客用剑鞘点点紫川秀的喉咙,紫川秀知道他的意思,无奈地开口了:“布森,是你吗?你们先不要进来。”“殿下,你还好吗?”“我很好,再好没有了——”刺客不耐烦地用剑鞘乱戳紫川秀胸口,紫川秀心头大骂却不得不出声:“你们退后一点,退出十步。我和这位朋友有点事情要谈。”布森犹豫了一下,开口道:“遵命,殿下!”随即大声发令:“所有人,离开帐篷十步,不得靠近。”军队开始像潮水一般后退,一片混乱的脚步声中,紫川秀听到有个不知名的半兽人军官在小声地发令:“弓箭队哪里去了?快把弓箭队调来!——给我瞄准了门口,只管射!”他说得小声,却不料帐篷中两人都是高手,同时听得清清楚楚。紫川秀尴尬地干笑一声:“嘿嘿。”蒙面人安静地凝视着他,眼睛一眨不眨,查看着紫川秀的面貌和轮廓。紫川秀对他怒目以视,却发现对方的眼神非常温和。不知是否错觉,在对视的一瞬间,紫川秀感觉到对方流露复杂的感情:关切、惋惜、感慨、慈祥……并没有杀意。饼了好久,刺客才开口说:“真是没想到,光明王就是你。”他的声音清朗而悦耳,语气中带有种秋风萧瑟的感慨。紫川秀皱皱眉头:“你认识我?你是谁?”对方的眼神令他有种熟悉的感觉,却偏偏想不出是在哪里见过。按道理来说这是不可能的,对方武功之高自己生平罕见,如果自己曾经碰到过这样的人,绝对没有理由记不得的。蒙面人笑笑——他蒙着脸,紫川秀也不能肯定他是否真的在笑,只是看到他眼角的鱼尾纹突然地堆积了一下。——看来他年纪不轻了,紫川秀暗想。“你不必知道我的真名,但魔族都叫我黑沙,”顿了一下,他慢慢地补充说:“黑沙军师。”紫川秀的眼睛眯成了一条细缝,眸子突然紧紧地收缩。对这个名字,他早有所闻。在投靠魔族的时候,他多次听过他的名声:魔族王国权势熏天的第一权臣,神皇最信任的大臣,来历诡秘的神秘人物,当年在魔族军中没有机会见到的人物,如今却活生生地站在自己面前。谁也想不到,他竟然敢于孤身潜入起义军大营刺杀自己,而且武功那么好,能在一对一交手时候将紫川秀击败。“紫川秀,我的口令应该是正确的,你看起来却像早有准备——你是怎么样发现我的?”黑沙问,口气和蔼又亲热。他不像是问被一个被自己击败的敌人,倒像是在问候一个多年不见的老朋友。紫川秀“哼”了一声,本来不想答的,但想想对方已经回答了自己一个问题,自己不答倒显得有点小家子气了。“你刚才的口令是军队的一般口令,进我的营帐则需要另一套级别更高的口令。而且就算有紧急军情,通报的也应该是我的亲卫们,不应该是个陌生的通讯兵。——我身边的卫兵们怎么样了?”摆沙歉意地点了下头:“非常抱歉……”紫川秀秀眉一轩:“都死了吗?”“我不第135章历史借镜七八二年六月一六日。大魔神堡,卡丹公主府。凌晨,贴身佣人战战兢兢地唤醒了熟睡中的卡丹公主和驸马亲王云浅雪:“公主殿下、亲王殿下,陛下有紧急旨意到。钦差就在前厅等候,请两位大人速去迎接。”两人手忙脚乱地披上睡衣,赶到前厅。那里,明晃晃的一片火光通明,影影绰绰的到处是武装的士兵。云浅雪心头一突,不知发生了什么事情。一个高大魁梧的近卫旅军官快步迎了上来:“是羽林亲王殿下吗?”“正是我。”“十分抱歉,亲王殿下,陛下紧急召见,请立即随我前去。”手持火把的军官说得太快又含糊,睡眼惺忪的云浅雪几乎一个字都听不清楚,问:“你说什么?”军官再重复了一次。云浅雪轻轻地“哦”了一声,过了一阵,他反应过来,“啊”的一声惊叫:“请稍等,让我换件衣服。”手忙脚乱地找正式觐见的服装,卡丹早已将服饰准备好了。她一边帮助云浅雪穿上,一边问传令的近卫旅军官:“父皇有没有叫我一同过去?”“回禀公主殿下,陛下只让我们通知亲王阁下立即到,并没有提到公主殿下您。”“是吗?”卡丹看看一片漆黑的夜色,几颗星星在黑暗的夜幕中闪烁着光芒,正是凌晨三点左右时分。她心头不安,如此紧急的深夜召见,绝非好事。云浅雪匆匆换好衣服,卡丹迎上来,小声说:“一切小心。”云浅雪点头:“知道了。”他跟着举着火把的近卫旅士兵一同出了门。走过漆黑的长街,迎面就是巍峨的皇宫。整个皇宫沉睡在一片黑暗中,仿佛一头沉睡的巨兽。火把的光亮映照在米亚大理石圆柱上,给整个柱子染上了一片猩红。走近这雄伟的建筑,在那华丽堂皇的圆柱装饰之间,宽阔的走廊中回响着近卫旅工兵空洞的脚步声,云浅雪仿佛嗅到了一种杀戮和血腥的味道。八十年前,就在这洁白的大理石台阶上,加林族的士兵将叶塞族的皇族全数屠杀,连婴儿都一一被撞死在石头上;接着,又在同样的地方,踌躇满志的加林族皇帝被囚禁在地窖里活生生地饿死,他的整个家庭被通通投入了火堆中;占据皇宫的雷族皇疯狂一时,残酷好杀,终于连他的族人也无法忍受他的残酷,受雷族长老会的指示,一个雷族近卫军官一刀砍下了他的脑袋,他的斑斑血迹洒在皇宫门口的接见走廊里。接下来爆发长达三年的雷族内战,雷族的皇族们率领各自的军队互相攻击,直到更强大的冬日族出来取代了他们……云浅雪长长地呼吸一声,不知怎么回事,每次到皇宫来他总感觉到很不舒服,今晚这种感觉尤其明显。或许真如传言中所说的,这座皇宫已经给诅咒了,每一面墙壁都曾回响过那些临终的人的呻吟和断气时候发出的呼噜声,每一块华丽的石头后面都隐藏着一个屈死的冤魂。笔宫门口处,两排近卫旅士兵乎持火把肃立,近卫旅统帅雷欧公爵正守候在门边,看到云浅雪的到来,公爵毫无表情地说:“你来迟了,陛下在里面等候。”别把摇动的光亮照在公爵如同花岗石似的呆板面上,照着他毫无表情的脸。旁边的两行近卫旅士兵一手持矛,一手举着火把,脸色冷峻。云浅雪瞧瞧他,也没跟他寒暄。雷欧神经兮兮的,让他产生了不祥的预感。联想到最近两位皇子之间的明争暗斗,云浅雪心头一紧:莫非冲突已经爆发了吗?是谁先发难的?不可能是卡兰,否则自己不会一无所知,但陛下还健在的时候,卡顿也不应该这么蠢吧……一边胡思乱想着,云浅雪沿着华丽的红地毯走向宫殿的议事大厅,他注意到,今天皇宫的守卫比平日森严了很多,在宫殿门口到议事大厅之间的长长的走道上,肃立着手持锋利武器的近卫旅士兵在守卫,冷峻、阴森、肃静,只有自己沉重的脚步声在回荡,火光摇曳,阴影幢幢,这种感觉叫人不寒而栗。一个佣仆为他推开了议事大厅的门,近三百根大蜡烛将整个大厅照得一片通明。在靠近陛下座位的地方,几个人聚在一起。云浅雪快步走近,他已经清楚了,叶尔马公爵、米罗总督、达科总督、加山侯爵等王国重臣已经先到了。“可知道是什么事情呢?”顾不得寒暄了,云浅雪问几位重臣。大家都是茫然地摇头,目光中流露出惶恐。看到他们那彷徨的样子,知道自己并不是被孤立的,云浅雪稍微感到轻松一点了:“大家都一样被蒙在鼓里呢!”等了不到两分钟,接着,卡顿亲王和卡兰两人先后急匆匆地过来了,衣服有点凌乱,都问:“发生了什么事?”但是没有人可以回答。空气中荡漾着不安。“陛下到!”站在门边的宫廷侍卫扬开了嗓子清朗地喊了一声,所有人立即匍匐在地。边门打开了,魔神皇出现在门口,披一身黑色的绒披风,身影萧瑟、孤独。不知为什么,往常总是和他形影不离的黑沙军师没有出现。雷欧从外面进来,顺手把议事大厅的门口给关上了。“都起来吧!”魔神皇清朗的声音中带着一丝疲倦,随即严厉起来了:“根据报告,出现了叛逆,朕和朕的国家被叛徒出卖了!”他冷冰冰地说,然后缓慢又毫不留情地从这张脸看到那张脸。空气一瞬间凝结成了固体。过了好久,没有人敢稍动一下,每个人感到了深切的恐惧,魔神皇那可怕的威严几乎将整个议事大厅压成了齑粉。卡兰起身向魔神皇深深地一鞠躬:“父皇陛下,不知您所称的叛逆是指何事?”“鲁帝!远东的鲁帝,他背叛了国家,背叛了朕!”魔神皇一掌拍在几子上:“出此逆贼,那是国家的耻辱!这厮欺骗了朕整整一年!”坚固的檀木几子瞬刻间无声无息的粉碎,细小的木碎片化成了一片粉末。众人暗暗心惊,神皇武功已经至化境,他的涵养也深藏不露,近年来鲜少出手,没想到今晚竟然有这么失态的表现。鲁帝的小命完蛋了!这是所有人的感想。“雷欧,你把事情给大伙说说!”站在众人身后,一直没有出声的近卫统帅雷欧公爵应声:“是!”转而面对大家:“今天晚上我们收到西南大营凌步虚的报告,简直是骇人听闻!我王国军队一败再败,伤亡惨重,远东国土几乎已不属王国所有了!可恨鲁帝,辱国丧师不说,还一直封锁消息,隐瞒败绩,甚至派出人手截杀求援信使,欺君瞒上。这厮罪无可赦!”众人震惊。叶尔马公爵出声问:“究竟是怎么一回事?鲁帝败给了谁?紫川家卷土重来了吗?”“不是紫川家——比败给人类更可耻!鲁帝居然被一群远东的造反刁民打垮,在科雨尼、在亚速达、在云省、在枫林丹叶,我们的军队一败再败,近十万王国士兵被杀害,丢弃行省十几个,甚至让人一直打到了我们的王国本土!惫记得年初边境上的那次盗灾吗?那根本不是什么盗贼,那是造反的半兽人杀了进来!”雷欧花岗石似的淳朴面容涨得通红。“够了。”魔神皇不耐烦地打断了雷欧的陈述,这个力大无穷的战士在战场上杀来杀去纵横无敌,但要他有条有理地叙述事情根本是奢望。他激动地说了半天,根本还没说到要点,让人一头雾水。“把凌步虚的信拿出来让大伙看看。”雷欧听命地取出信件,让众人传阅。云浅雪最后一个拿到信件,看到淡黄色羊皮纸上凌步虚那已经凝固成了黑色的血书,云浅雪心头一震:局势竟到了要用血书来传信的地步了?他低下头来匆匆一阅:“七八一年的科尔尼会战王国军伤亡六万多、亚速达会战、得亚会战、云省事件、枫林丹叶会战、明斯克行省沦陷、塔杰行省沦陷、杜莎行省沦陷、西南大营面临被叛军包围的威胁、派出的信使不见回头……”凌步虚的笔调就如他的人一样低调,他并没有在信中对鲁帝加以评论,只是把发生了的事情一桩桩平静地罗列出来,那份冷静简直叫人毛骨悚然。云浅雪额头上冷汗渗出。雷欧说得一点没错,鲁帝所作所为,死一千次不足赎其罪。他抬起头来,看着众人惨白的脸色,于是也做出一副沉痛而愤慨的表情:与众不同是要冒风险的。“消息可靠吗?可否把凌步虚的信使召上来,让我们当面问话?”叶尔马公爵问,他个性素来沉稳,这件事情实在太骇人听闻,就在大家都还蒙在鼓里时,远东国土已经有大半不属于王国领土了,让人难以接受。“应该是真的。”卡兰皇子也看完了信件:“凌步虚不是那种信口雌黄的人,结合远东去年和今年的贡粮拖欠的事实,可以确认远东地区真的发生了大规模的民乱。我只是奇怪,去年发生的大叛乱,他怎么如今才报告?”“信使已经殉职。”魔神皇冷冷说,众人悚然。雷欧给大家讲述了事情的经过:就在今天晚上的深夜十二点,一个风尘仆仆负伤在身的塞内亚族人自称是西南大营派回的信使,紧急求见魔神皇,却在门口被值勤的近卫旅士兵拦住:“陛下已经休息,任何人不得惊扰!”信使几番劝说:“军情紧急,麻烦各位通融通报!”但近卫旅士兵顽固得犹如花岗石一样蛮冥不化(用雷欧公爵的话说是纪律严明),坚决不肯通融:“此是皇宫禁地,深夜禁止生人靠近。任何事情都可以等天亮再禀告。”他们将那个年轻人赶出了宫殿门口,但那人并没有离开,徘徊在门口梭巡,嚎啕大哭。这激怒了卫兵们,他们将他痛揍一顿然后丢到了大街上,警告他:“再敢靠近我们就放箭!耙出声惊扰了陛下休息,我等将你格杀当场!”但仅仅过了十几分钟,值勤的士兵听见外面传来杂乱、大声的喧哗和搏斗声音,他们赶到时候,凶手已经逃离,那个使者要害处身中五刀,奄奄一息了。他只来得及说了最后一句话:“鲁帝谋反!”在他的尸身上,他们发现了王国远东地区西南军团总司令凌步虚的亲笔信和身份证明,确认此人是西南军团凌步虚麾下第三十一团队的标骑军官。士兵们再不敢怠慢。他们立即通报了当晚的值勤军官,值勤军官眼看事情重大,又通知了近卫旅统帅雷欧公爵。雷欧公爵到来后,只把信看了一遍,立即意识到事关重大。他低沉地向宫廷的侍从吩咐说:“相烦唤醒陛下,微臣雷欧有急事禀告。”“不能责怪凌步虚。他在信中报告说,他已经是第九次派出信使,都没有得到回音。可以想像,前八次的信使都给鲁帝一手遮天的暗杀掉了!这个运气好一点,虽然身死,却终于完成了任务。”“鲁帝好大胆子!”听了陈述,几个重臣同时被如此肆无忌惮的狂妄震惊了:“就在陛下身边、皇宫的咫尺之遥,他竟不畏陛下的神圣天威,派遣杀手行凶!就算没有其他事,光这一条已经足够让他碎尸万段了!”“凶手抓到了吗?”“还没有。”雷欧回答:“我们已经封锁了城门,严密盘查出入,一定要把他拿住!”他说得豪气,但大家都知道,这不过是说说而已。魔神堡一日进出人流数以十万计,凶手面上又没刻字,混迹人群中被发现的可能几乎被零。“这件事情的发生,近卫旅防御不严,是有责任的。”卡顿亲王很严肃地说。雷欧默默地屈膝,向魔神皇请罪。卡顿亲王继续发言:“父皇陛下,我建议,立即派执法使者前往远东,诛杀鲁帝!”卡兰冷冷一笑,和云浅雪对视一眼,又无声地移开了视线。米罗总督与达科侯爵连忙出声附和,异口同声地宣称:早二十年自己就看出鲁帝这家伙的脑后长有反骨,但幸好现在也还不晚,陛下的如电神目看穿了他的伪装。坚决支持陛下诛杀鲁帝!魔神皇望向卡兰和云浅雪:“你们是怎么看的?”卡兰恭敬地回答:“皇兄所言甚是。只是到目前为止,我们所有的证据都只是凌步虚的一面之辞,鲁帝和西南大将都是手掌兵权的王国重臣,对他们的争议,我们必须要慎重。我相信西南大将绝非那种信口雌黄之人,但为了稳妥起见,在做出下一步决定之前,无论在程序上还是实质上,我们需要立即派遣钦差前往远东调查!”神皇眼中流露赞赏之色,又问:“若调查确为事实,那又将如何呢?”“父皇,我等必须赋予钦差以全权,责令其判断事实,伺机而行!若西南大将所禀报确为事实,则钦差不必回禀,当机立断,果断将鲁帝拿下以待陛下处置,并安抚其军队——赋予钦差的权力极大,所以,对于钦差的人选必须慎重!我们派遣的钦差既要绝对忠实于陛下,精明干练,又要与鲁帝和凌步虚两人都没有过节恩怨,这样才能做到对鲁帝和凌步虚都不偏不倚,公正明断。”卡顿亲王出声说:“皇弟所说很有道理。只是鲁帝竟敢在皇畿行凶,公然藐视吾皇神威,此人实在胆大狂妄!他反迹已露,证据确凿,我看此事不宜拖延,必须尽早解决!我建议不必再浪费时间了,立即派执法队前去取鲁帝人头就是了!”“光凭一个统兵大将的证词就杀掉了另一个高级的贵族将领,这样行事恐怕难以让天下人心服。”“此等狼子野心之徒,杀了就杀了,还有什么不妥?”在魔神皇面前,两位皇子你一言我一语地辩论起来,卡顿亲王力主立即下旨诛杀鲁帝,卡兰却主张必须先经过调查程序。放在不明就里的人眼里,还真的以为鲁帝是卡兰皇子的嫡系亲信。云浅雪微微一笑,其实恰恰相反,鲁帝是卡顿亲王派系中的得力人物,他能当上远东大总督,卡顿亲王的推荐在其中作用不小。现在眼看他闯下了弥天大祸,卡顿忙不迭地与他划清界线,他现在恨不得一刀杀了鲁帝,好早日去掉这个让自己丢脸的祸害。二皇子卡兰却有意把这件事情扩大,加以调查——不是调查鲁帝是否该死,那么严重的罪行,鲁帝便是有一千个脑袋也不够砍——鲁帝担任远东大总督搜刮民脂民膏无数,这么大的财产他一个人独吞不下,那上亿的财产究竟是私下进贡给了魔神堡的哪位大老?有哪些大人物从中得了好处?不需要天才的脑筋,只需要想想鲁帝的远东大总督是谁推荐的,自然可以明了了。但这样顺藤摸瓜,卡顿亲王殿下马上就坐不住了。鲁帝您还是赶紧一死百了的好!“够了!”魔神皇声音不高,却自有一番威严。两位皇子都住了嘴。“关于鲁帝种种,只是小事而已;远东的叛乱如何处置应对,这才是要点!”云浅雪平静地出声说:“如果陛下允许的话,微臣愿率本部兵马前往远东为陛下扫平叛乱。至于取鲁帝人头,只要陛下一声令下,那不过举手之劳。”他表现得尽量镇定,让卡顿亲王的失态显得格外可笑。叶尔马公爵沉声说:“陛下,羽林阁下刚刚大婚,此时让他出征,岂不让人笑话我王国无人?还是让老臣前去吧!”“陛下,近卫旅愿为陛下斩杀叛逆,扫除祸害!”卡顿亲王、达科侯爵等重臣也纷纷表示自己愿率军前往远东,指日内将荡平远东的叛乱,气势豪迈。但魔神皇都不置可否,最后还是卡兰皇子出声说:“陛下,远东之乱,不过一群暴民闹事而已,何必惊动我王国重臣甚至于太子?”卡顿亲王斜睥着弟弟:“难道王弟可也有意亲临敌?”“不是。我只是想向父皇推荐一员良将,保管可以杀敌破阵!”“是谁?”“加纳总督罗斯。罗斯大人乃我王国名将,久经沙场,经验丰富,麾下兵将众多而精锐——由他前去,保管可以一举扑灭叛乱!”云浅雪诧异地望着卡兰:自从上次的紫川秀脱逃事件以来,罗斯总督就与自己结下了仇怨,这点卡兰明明是知道的。现在他为什么又要保举罗斯呢?何况,罗斯部下的军队除了少数以外,大部分都是募集而来,并非常备军,现在要重新筹集的话需要大量的时间,而且战斗力比起自己的麾下的羽林军来差了一大截。包令他意外的是,魔神皇听了卡兰的推举,竟然立即同意了:“好!笔儿所荐之人甚合朕意!雷欧,快马传令,通知加纳大人着手准备出征!”“给西南大将发去命令,责令他配合加纳大人的行动,立即出兵,剿灭叛乱的各路暴民!”魔神皇站起了身子,往常这往往意味着会议已经结束了。但这次,他的身形顿了一下:“卡兰,你跟朕进来!”“是!”卡兰喜孜孜地应了一声,故意不看卡顿亲王。后者整张脸都已经涨得通红了:卡兰那小子竟然得到父皇赏识,这比远东打了一百场败仗还要让他痛心疾首啊!走出皇宫的大门,微红的霞光照在洁白的台阶上,—队威武的宫廷近卫旅士兵正在换岗。天色才刚刚蒙蒙亮。尽避一夜没睡,云浅雪却毫无睡意。刚才发生的一幕让他不解,他心存疑惑:陛下的意图到底是什么?卡兰二皇子莫名其妙的提议为什么能打动陛下?他感觉一头雾水,而被蒙在鼓里什么都不知道的滋味是怪难受的。云浅雪傻傻地站在宫殿门口好一阵子,那些换岗的近卫旅士兵都用奇怪的眼神看着他,若不是看出他是皇族,他们早举起长矛驱赶他了。必到家中,卡丹迎上来:“没发生什么事吧?”“呃……发生了了不得的大事。”犹豫了一下,云浅雪把刚才的枢密会议经过给妻子讲了。虽然枢秘会议规定是绝不能向外泄露的,但如果自己的妻子是王国公主的话,那当然又另当别论了。“我不明白,为什么陛下要调罗斯军团去远东平叛?羽林军难道不是王国最精锐的部队之一吗?难道在陛下心中,我还不如罗斯?我实在无法理解。”——这正是云浅雪最大的担心:难道,在陛下心目中,我已经失宠了吗?卡丹一手托着下巴,静静地听着云浅雪忿忿不平的抱怨。等云浅雪说完,卡丹微微一笑,她已经知道云浅雪担心却又不便说出口的话了。“云君,你过虑了。请不必担心,父皇对你的信任和倚重一如从前。”“啊,但是为什么……”“呵呵,云君,我相信以您的智慧,一定能看出来的。”卡丹微笑说:“您想想,罗斯阁下与您最大的不同是在哪里呢?”“他又蠢又丑,而我既聪明又帅!”云浅雪一本正经地说。卡丹给逗得笑出声来了:“真是不要脸的家伙!”夫妻相视而笑。“云君,您出身我塞内亚的皇族,部下的羽林军团士兵大多来自我塞内亚族的战士,而罗斯阁下则是鞑塔族的首领,他统帅的军队绝大部分都是来自鞑塔和叶塞两族——这其间的差别,您可想明白了吗?”云浅雪很认真地想了一下,最后浮出一丝浅笑:“我明白了。”卡丹赞许地微笑:云浅雪是个很聪明的人,他不但在军事方面才华出众,对政治领域的种种人心鬼蜮,他的领会力奇高,只要稍加点拨,他马上就能明白过来。不知怎么的,她又一次想起了那个人,暗地里将他与云浅雪比较:远方的他与自己的丈夫一样,都是驰骋沙场的武将,但两个人却是截然不同的两个人。云浅雪出身名门,精明能干,才华出众而且深通生活情趣,品味高雅,诗人接物,可谓无懈可击。遵照父皇之命,也为了云浅雪对自己的痴情有所感动和愧疚,自己在半年前与云浅雪成亲。应该说,自己对这件事情并没有后悔。与自己成亲后,他对自己一直体贴关怀,而且尊重自己,凡事与自己商量,并没有一般魔族男子那种视妇女如无物的大男人主义。无论从哪个角度来说,女孩子能嫁给像云浅雪这样的男人,可以说是再无遗憾了。但不知为何,自己却一直不能忘记远方的那个人类:那个人,应该算是自己国家的敌人。他粗犷,耿直,固执,就拿他自己的话说:“我是个除了把剑以外一无所有的穷大兵。”相比之下,他更有那种真正男人特有的刚强血性,不屈不挠,面对困难绝不妥协,他是那种天生的顶天立地的英雄。就是这个穷大兵,那刚毅中带出的一分笨拙的柔情牢牢地系住了自己,让自己一生不能忘怀……“……你说什么?”云浅雪正在说什么,卡丹走神了没听清楚。云浅雪好脾气地笑笑,把话再重复了一遍:“你真的有把握,事情是……我意思是说……”他有点难以启齿,最好还是吞吞吐吐地说了:“陛下为了保证我塞内亚族的地位而……”卡丹还以一个同样意味深长的微笑:“你没注意到吗?刚才参加会议的人,叶尔马公爵、米罗总督、达科总督、加山侯爵、雷欧公爵——再加上大哥、二哥和你,全部是出身塞内亚族的皇族。从地位上来说,罗斯公爵的地位在你之上,他也在神堡,却没通知他参加。从这个就可以看出父皇的用意了:会议的重点并非远东,更非鲁帝,这是关于一次如何维持我族统治地位的枢密会议!只有二哥领会到了父皇的意思。”“难道陛下认为罗斯阁下有谋反之心?”“鞑塔部族近年迅速地扩充实力,还吞并了没落了的叶塞部族,他们一跃成为了仅次于我族的王国第二大族。至于罗斯本人是否有反意、他如何想的,这并不要紧,关键的是鞑塔族破坏了神族部族之间历来的实力均衡,拥有了可以威胁我们的实力!”“如果光是鞑塔一族的谋反,我们可以轻易将其镇压,但是事情一旦开始,就会产生连锁反应,看到我族与鞑塔族战斗后出现衰弱,新的挑战者会接踵而至,最终我们将陷入没顶之灾,就如八十七年前的叶塞族一样!”云浅雪凝视着妻子美丽的容颜,陷入了深沉的思索。在魔族国内,王者的地位是至高无上的,可以号令百族。但是王权的传承并非像人类一样从世袭而来,而是依靠实力。魔族各部族一直信奉实力至上的真理,王者一直由最实力强大的部族产生。按照这个原则,如果该部族实力衰退了,或者是出现了新的强大部族前来挑战他的霸权,那新旧两个部族之间就会出现一场不可避免的战争来决定究竟新的王者。按照历来的传统,无论对原来的王多么忠心耿耿,其他的部族是不能插手进这场战争里来的。他们唯一能做的事情就是在那静静的看着,等待这场战争的胜利者产生,那就是他们新的王了,他们好赶紧上前祝贺欢呼吾皇万岁,然后合力发兵将在这场战争中落败的部族来个斩草除根,好向新主子表示自己的效忠之意。所以,赢则号令天下,败则全族灭亡,魔族王国的权力交替比起人类,来得更加的直接,也更加的血腥。无论是原来的王也好,新的挑战者也好,这都是一场绝对输不起的赌博,这场袄赌被魔族敬畏地称为:“王权战争”。魔族的老人们还能回忆起最近一次的王权战争,是在八十年前的事情了。当时掌权的叶塞族王突然暴亡,实力大损的叶塞族想维持他们的统治,受到了来自四面八方的挑战。——当然,他们不失尊严地战斗了,但最后还是作为一个勇敢的民族被整个消灭了,叶塞皇族从此成为了历史名词。前后共有近十个部族参加了这次的角逐,那次战争前后持续近七年,被称为恐怖的灭绝战争。最后,当今魔神皇祖父卡雷(人称恐怖的红胡子),依靠了塞内亚战士的骁勇与忠诚,连连战胜了冬日族、傲族、雷族等当时远比塞内亚族强大的几个部族,并将他们从原来的土地上驱赶、放逐到了僻远的不毛之地去。就在这个恐怖的红胡子将半个国家杀得血流成河、其霸主地位得到所有部族都承认了的第二周,一场莫名其妙的暴病又夺走了他生命。就在王国将要又一次陷入可怕的内战、流血冲突将继续重演的危急时刻,当今魔神皇的父亲卡林即位。他对外隐瞒了他父亲的死讯,在族中元老的帮助下,以太子身份掌握朝政。几年后,当塞内亚族的统治已经巩固以后,他才正式对外公布自己父亲的死讯。虽然引起了一阵骚动,但是经过卡林几年的精心经营,此时的塞内亚族已经是无庸置疑的魔族第一强族了,再加上塞内亚战士强悍的名声,并没有什么部族敢冒着灭族的巨大风险出来挑战,这次危机于是平安无事的度过了。但是由此以后的八十多年来,对自身部族实力会被其他部族赶超的恐惧,就像幽灵那样的阴魂不散,始终萦绕在塞内亚皇族高层的心头,而这个幽灵从没有追逐得像现在这般的接近,几乎就要化为实体从想像中走了出来。经过近百年的休养生息,在上次战争中战败、几乎要灭族的几个部族已经恢复了生气,重新强大了起来,其中并不乏对王座有觊觎之心的野心狂徒。正是基于这个考虑,当今魔神皇才发动了对人类的大征讨。这是一举两得之举:为整个魔神王国开疆拓土,求得生存空间。同时通过对外的战争,使得整个国家、所有部族同仇敌忾,团结起来,减少内斗;也通过对外战争,用人类之手消耗那些对王权构成威胁的部族实力——这当然是只能意会不能言传的了。“难道,陛下已经感觉到我塞内亚族的地位已经不巩固了吗?”“目前来说,还没到那种地步。”卡丹安静地说:“在神族的所有部族之中,我族的强大依旧是不可怀疑的,无论鞑塔族也好、哥昂族也好、亚昆族也好、叶塞族也好,都不能与我族相提并论。但是,发生在远东的这场叛乱可能会改变形势。光在科尔尼城下,就有六万多的精良骑、步兵,一整路大军被毁灭性全歼:这样的惨败,在我塞内亚族的历史上,还是第一次。比起军事上的直接损失——丧失了大概二十来个团队的精锐部队,我更担心的是这件事在政治上带来的影响……”她注视着云浅雪,后者立即领会了她的意思,不寒而栗:被清灭的五万多人,并不是魔族王国普通部族的杂牌军队,也不是车草成军的远东叛军,而是整个魔族王国的骄傲,纯粹的塞内亚血液,与当今神皇陛下同族的嫡系子弟兵!塞内亚族的本身实力遭受了沉重的打击,更可怕的是,塞内亚军队天下无敌的神话,被彻底地打破了。军团长鲁帝逃跑,大批精锐士卒丧生——对于王国的最高层来说,这次的惨败,甚至比上次卡顿亲王在帕伊城下败给斯特林更令人难以接受。斯特林是人类世界最出色的将领之—,中央军也是名声卓著的功勋部队,大家还勉强能够承受这个事实。但是败给一群披着兽皮、扛着土制标枪的半兽人,这件事情会让塞内亚部族成为整个魔族王国的笑柄。统治的力量来自尊严和畏惧,而一旦落于被嘲笑的地位,尊严将荡然无存。“你认为,陛下和二皇子派遣罗斯出征的目的,就是为了消耗鞑塔族的实力,以维护目前实力平衡的吗?”“很有可能——虽然目前我们还没看出鞑塔族有不稳,但作为王者,应该有比常人看得更远的眼光。陛下是想把威胁消灭在萌芽状态。”“但是这样会不会造成相反的后果?如果罗斯将叛乱给平定下来了,他将顺理成章地成为新任的远东总督,实力和威望都会大增,这样不是更不利吗?”“目前所得资料太少,我们还无从得知远东的具体情形,但有一点是无庸置疑的:鲁帝定然败得极惨,很可能已经无力再战了。不然,他不会干出这种刺杀信使的蠢事来。而且这场叛乱的规模肯定超乎我们的想像地巨大,不然凌步虚早就独力把它平息下来了,他不可能对远东总督的位置一点野心没有吧?“云君,鲁帝为人虽然粗俗无礼,但是他出身低层,却能依靠战功一步步爬到如今的地位,身经百战,作战经验异常丰富,绝非你想像中的那样无能。他败得如此凄惨,可见此次远东叛乱来得不寻常,像罗斯总督——请原谅,云君,不过我认为,鲁帝起码还有经验和强悍,罗斯却只有一肚子的傲慢自大!”云浅雪微笑着接下去说:“所以,罗斯必然也遭惨败?嗯,罗斯败后,两虎相争必有一伤,叛军实力肯定也会受到重创,这时候……”“陛下必然会派遣我族的主力军团出战,云君你,或者是叶尔马爵爷,或者是我的大哥——都有可能。云君,你要为此做好准备!”“为什么不能是卡兰殿下呢?”卡丹笑笑:“你知道的,二哥不是打仗的料子。他耍点小报样还可以,到沙场上,他不行的。”对于这点,云浅雪的看法不同。但他只是笑笑,说:“如果陛下差我出战,我定然恳请陛下任命你为我的随军参谋。”“呵呵,云君,你太看重我了。妇人之见只擅长纸上谈兵,真正的沙场厮杀真刀真枪,来不得半点虚假,我的那点小见识未必派得上用场。”“公主,我们夫妻之间,你又何必过谦呢?”云浅雪笑咪咪地说,心情大好。经过卡丹这么一剖析,他对前程顿时明了,那种如在雾中的彷徨感觉消失了。他暗暗庆幸:对女人来说,美貌与智慧往往难以并全。美女因为外表上的优势而懒于运用自己的脑子,她们一生最大的成就就是找到一个有钱的老公;而不得不依靠自己脑子的女人往往在外表上又难以恭维,所以人们常常看到那种空有着一张漂亮脸蛋却蠢得像白痴的女人,要不就是另外一种女人,那种为不伤自尊心,人们通常委婉地以“心灵很美”来称赞的女人。自己是幸运的,上天竟然赐给自己一个如此完美的妻子,不但美丽、聪慧过人,而且对自己的前程大有裨益。得妻如此,夫复何求?※※※帝国历七八二年六月二十三日,天气炎热,气候潮湿。在魔族王国前往远东行省的路上,旌旗飘舞,尘土飞扬。长长的队伍正在由东向西徐徐前进,这是魔族讨伐军的罗斯军团。应魔族皇帝的钦令,鞑塔和叶塞两族的农民晕头转向地从忙碌的田地里,丢下了锄地的犁耙集结起来,征兵官发给了他们武器,告知:“远东地区发生了反对我们神族的大叛乱!勇敢的神族勇士们,去吧,讨伐他们,消灭他们,显示我们神族的光荣!”“噢!”士兵群中响起了稀稀落落的回应声,更多的士兵拿着武器茫然不知所措,他们那贫乏的头脑还搞不清楚远东发生叛乱,与自己突然被从家里叫出来有什么必然的关系。叶塞族并不是像塞内亚族、傲族、雷族一样以战斗力出名的种族,有人想起了刚刚结束的远东战争,想到了丧命在帕伊城下、瓦伦城下的叔叔和舅舅,想到可能要从此见不到自己那丑陋的婆娘、白痴般的儿子,还有快塌掉的老房子,于是神情黯然。与士兵们心情截然不同,军团长罗斯公爵心情舒畅,他策马扬鞭走在部队的旁边,不时回头张望着浩浩荡荡的军队,踌躇满志。这是他第二次前往远东作战了,他还记得在七八零年的那场战争中,他的军队连续血洗了得亚和伊里亚两行省的十一座人类城市,成千上万的人类被砍掉了脑袋,那种鲜血喷涌的壮观场面让他激动得不能自已,体内仿佛有一股热流在滚动,浑身颤抖。在接下来的掠夺城市时候,那如山般堆积的战利品更让罗斯大开眼界,发出由衷的感叹:“人类可真会囤积财富啊!”远东战争结束后,陛下与人类议和了,罗斯以为再也没有机会重温一遍过去的好时光,重温那种杀戮和掠夺的快感了,谁知道,机会来得这么快,远东发生了叛乱,而陛下则把平乱的任务交给了自己,而不是王国出名的战将云浅雪,或者干练的卡顿亲王。罗斯公爵不由得衷地感谢上苍…真是待我不薄啊!促使他欣然接受任务的,还有另外一个重要原因:陛下指明要他作为钦使取鲁帝的人头,其中含义不言而明:等镇压下了叛乱,罗斯阁下您就是新的远东总督了!想到占据了远东这二十三个富裕的行省可以给自己带来的巨大好处,罗斯抑制不住地微笑。鲁帝,你这个狂妄自大的家伙,你也有今天!仿佛生怕陛下改变主意似的,罗斯急不可耐地派出前军,手持魔神皇手令去逮捕鲁帝。想到鲁帝的脑袋被挂在旗杆上那龇牙咧嘴的狼狈样子,罗斯兴奋不已。远东的贱民们,你们的末日到了!“爵爷!”一员传令兵急匆匆地从前面策马迎来,马匹都已经跑到口吐白沫的地步了,队伍前面的步兵自觉地让开一条路,让这通信兵不受阻拦地冲到罗斯跟前。“什么事情?”“报告爵爷,加朗大人派我前来报告……”罗斯满意地点头:“可把鲁帝给逮住了?”“十分抱歉,大人!在加朗大人到达之前,鲁帝已经率军逃跑了,目前行踪不明。现在,特兰要塞十分混乱,守军已经溃散,加朗大人恳请大人迅速赶到主持大局!”“什么!鲁帝逃了?!”罗斯震惊莫各。※※※七八二年,六月二十三日。远东杜莎行省沙丘高地,远东起义军光明王军团宿营地。烽火漫天。朦胧的月亮已经升上了半空,荒郊的野地上,竖立起了无数顶帐篷和树枝搭建的小棚子,像是在平地上忽然出现了一片林子,光明王进攻特兰要塞的主力大军正在此地安静的睡眠。泛黄的沙地像是镀上了一层金。在一座又一座营帐之间的空地上,棉絮似的薄雾被风吹着,一切都变得蒙蒙胧胧。经过一天辛苦的行军跋涉,士兵们在打来水喂完战马后早已经睡下,各个营帐中响起了忽高忽低的呼噜声。安排值夜的哨兵们也无精打采地围坐在火堆前打着瞌睡,空旷的原野静得吓人。中军大帐篷内依旧灯火通明,在接到西南军团长官明羽的失利报告后,紫川秀翻来覆去难以入眠。他干脆起来继续完成那份写了一半的作战训令:“……经过六个月来同敌人强大兵力顽强而残酷的搏斗,我军在各条战线上都取得了相当的成就。各军团累计歼灭了装备优良的魔族地方守备部队与野战部队的大部分。鲁帝军团实质上已经丧失了大部分的突击力量,而且也逐渐丧失了以其兵力对我军进行反击的能力,远东军已经收复了国土的百分之七十以上。我军已经摆脱了被动的游击逃亡局面,转而控制了战场的主动权,我各军团指挥官应该适时主动地将战争形式转向顽强的防御和积极的进攻!”煤油灯小小的火种轻轻地跳跃了一下,紫川秀停住了笔斟酌一下,又继续写下去:“形势是乐观的,但我们决不能就此掉以轻心。要清楚地认识到,远东的解放是一条很遥远的道路,我们还要经历无数的苦战和艰争。一、在西南前线,魔族的凌步虚军团对我占领区侧后构成了很大的威胁。魔族军曾两次对古迪撒行省发动进攻,遭到了我西南军团的坚决抵抗。凌步虚是一员十分灵活的指挥官,他的作战具有高度的弹性。凡是他的骑、步兵遭到我正规军和地方游击队有组织的坚决抵抗的地方,他就抛开这个地段,转向其他方向,寻找我防御中的薄弱环节进行突击,然后穿插渗透,在部分地段上制造局部兵力优势,实施包围歼灭。再者,用小辨模的全骑兵机动部队进行长距离的突击,袭击我们的粮仓和辎重车队,屠杀我们的平民和衬庄,然后在我军保卫武装进行有组织的抵抗之前,敌人机动部队已经转移。初次面对这种灵活而残酷的战术,我军付出了不应有的损失。”紫川秀考虑了一下,把“不应有的损失”划去,代之以“很大的代价”。这样是为了照顾明羽的自尊心。在马兰湖一战中,凌步虚利用小鄙部队引诱马兰城的半兽人守备队离开城池,然后在马兰湖一带全歼了该守备部队,五千多半兽人战士战死,四个团队失去了战斗力,番号从此消失在战斗队伍中。但损失并不仅于此。趁着马兰城守军被歼灭防线上出现的缺口,凌步虚趁机攻进城里,一把火烧掉了半个马兰城,城中储备的粮草全部被缴获了。想到自己辛辛苦苦积攒了半年的黄金,好不容易从家族内地购买来的粮食,最终却喂了凌步虚和他部下的绿毛鬼,紫川秀差点想把明羽活生生地掐死。抑制了下愤怒的心情,紫川秀尽量用冷静的语句继续写作战训令:“……鉴于此情况,大本营坚决要求西南军团所属各部队以及地方民兵、游击武装均应在防御前沿展开最积极的行动。为此,应该不停地进行侦察,广泛地设立观察哨卡并辅以灵敏的交通线。前沿部队指挥官切不可满足于被动防御,要与敌人展开以牙还牙的坚决反击,昼夜派出小分队和小集群袭击敌人的营地、指挥中心、粮仓、辎重、仓库等重要战术目标,对敌人的哨卡、巡逻队以及机动营地实施出其不意的打击,破坏其后方,使敌人不得安宁;消灭敌人的侦察哨卡与突击骑兵部队,尤其注意消灭敌人的骑兵部队,以便限制敌人大规模突进我军内部的机动力量。另,大本营建议西南军团指挥官注意兵力的有效配置。就以往三个星期的战斗来看,处于防守姿态的西南军团将兵力分配得过于平均和分散了,难以形成对敌人有效打击力量,在战斗中处于被动状态。建议西南军团指挥部考虑将分散于沿战线一带的三十六个城市和六百一十三个村庄中的驻守部队进行集中,组建两个到三个规模较大且具相当战斗力的野战集群(十到十五个团队为一集群,驻地可由军团根据实际情况自行决定);另外筹建若干全骑兵机动纵队(两列三团队),该机动部队将用于侦察、大规模骚扰敌人后方以及拦截、消灭敌人的骚扰部队。各部队原驻守地区,除有粮仓、指挥中心、重要矿产中心等需要重点保护的战略目标外,正规部队撤离后,防务原则上移交给地方政府组织的民兵、游击队、自卫队来接管。”紫川秀非常烦恼,明羽在凌步虚手上已经吃了几次亏了。今天被吃掉一个团,明天又拿下一座城,这样零碎的打下去,虽没有决定性的大会战,但损失加起来也相当可观。紫川秀曾考虑过换一员将领,但白川和罗杰都各自统帅大军在执行任务,此时不宜抽调他们。半兽人将军布兰倒是智勇双全,只是对上凌步虚这样的经验丰富的老手,他还太嫩。换他去,未必能比明羽更好——明羽怎么就不想想,把他分散在那十几个城市、几百个乡镇里的守备队集结起来的话,足可以组织十万人、三个整编军团,可以使他在总兵力凌驾于凌步虚之上,足可以威慑敌寇保卫整个西南战线了。想了下,紫川秀又加上一句:“在尚未建立地方政府和地方武装的地区,正规部队应组织地方居民进行民主选举,选出地方政府,待地方政府控制住局势并组建起足以维护本地区安全的武装力量后再行撤离。“鉴于西南战线的重要性,大本营拟从东南军团(罗杰军团)和大本营预备队军团(紫川秀直属军团)中抽调力量增强西南军团的力量。增援总计有:佐伊一六团、佐伊一九图、佐伊八九团、哈特三三团、龙人四团,及秀字营之九、十、一一、一二等四大队。以上部队将在五月底之前全部划归西南军团指挥。”写完这一段作战训令,紫川秀放下笔来,长长地舒了口气。“凌步虚,王国一流的名将。”紫川秀轻声地喃喃自语。他打开帐篷的帘子到外面伸伸懒腰舒展身子。远远近近的一切都沉浸在静谧的梦乡中,仿佛连大地都沉睡,习习夜风扑面。天上的星星显得更高了,黑暗更加浓重。他又回到帐篷中来,夜已经很深了,他却也没有睡意,心头像梗着点什么事似的觉得不自在。当年在魔族军中的时候,凌步虚那双精光四射的眸子给他留下了深刻的印象。第一眼紫川秀就看出来了:那是个极其聪明干练的人。凌步虚的战斗经验十分丰富,明羽虽然也是自己麾下屈指可数的防守型好手,但凌步虚经验的老辣不是他所能比拟的。他计算了下,加上了增援部队,明羽手上的力量应该可以和凌步虚持平,紫川秀并没有奢望明羽能战胜对方,他只是希望明羽就算赢不了,也不该输得很惨,只要可以维持住战线,拖住凌步虚就可以了。在他的计画中,现阶段的目标分三步。第一步是先全力铲除掉鲁帝的残兵败将,夺下魔族在东部最后的据点——特兰要塞,起义军在东部就有了一个坚实的防守堡垒。接着留下一员可靠的将领,比如说白川,镇守特兰要塞,建立远东的东部防线。第二步,将远东军的主力掉头西向,与凌步虚决战,力争尽快将其部队击溃。第三步,击败凌步虚后,远东境内基本已经肃清了魔族的大部队,除了由少量部队进行境内的治安和剿匪工作外,接下来可以将防卫的重心放在东部。紫川秀打算以特兰、沙加等几个大的要塞为要点,重建远东的东部防线。当然,紫川秀想,等到可以御敌人于国境之外,自己就可以将精力放在国内的建设上面,战争时期抛荒的耕田要重新耕种、要进行土地的平均分配、要建设工矿业、要从家族内地引进远东自己的工厂和技术——用不了五年,自己曾向布丹长老许诺过的新远东就将要出现了!当然,这一切得有个前提,前提是魔族不再向远东派遣新的镇压部队,起码在自己击败凌步虚之前不要派遣,否则,自己将重又陷入东西两线双面作战的困境。紫川秀也知道,要魔族王国眼睁睁地看着它手边的肥肉被人夺走而不做声,这是根本不可能的。但既然魔族王国的高层在一年多的时间里都没有对远东的反叛做出反应,也没有发现新出现的镇压部队,这令紫川秀产生了一丝希望:也许奇迹会出现呢?等到新远东建立……紫川秀心头泛起一阵悲哀:此生已经注定孤独了,再多的丰功伟业,又有什么意义?他记得,在那些最绝望的日子里,最为了排斥心头那荒漠似的空白,自己亡命地战斗,在每次战斗中都身先士卒,策马冲锋在全军阵头的最前面,近乎疯狂地冒险,无数箭矢“飕飕”地从耳边擦过的风声连续不断,体验那生死边缘的极度刺激来使自己忘却孤寂,并且以此为乐。他意识到,在战争初期自己种种显得幼稚的心情,已经变得一去不复返了。他变得冷酷无情,怀着冷漠、蔑视的心情拿自己和别人的生命当儿戏,这赢得了部下们的尊重:“光明王好样的!”只有自己知道,这不过是一种自暴自弃,是一种失去挚爱之人后,绝望地自寻死路。隐隐地,他泛起了一丝恐惧:当有那么一天,真的驱逐了魔族恢复了远东的自由,自己将何去何从?到哪里再去寻找这种出生入死的刺激来使自己排遣寂寞?哪里还有新的战场可以让自己忘却悲痛?或者,难道,曾经叱吒风云的伟大光明王,他的下半辈子就要在酒精的浸泡中度过了吗?自己会变成一个浑身酒气、口齿含糊不清的乖张老头,每天最大的事业就是调戏稍有姿色的女招待?紫川秀嘴角露出一丝冷笑:与其这样慢慢地糜烂沉醉,倒不如在与魔族的战争中壮烈地战死——当真相大白,消息传回帝都的时候,她还会不会为自己痛心?想哭吗?夜已经很深了,外面传来了孤独的荒外野狼鸣叫声,声音凄凉又悠长。今天大军一气走了四十多里路,想到明天还要继续赶路,紫川秀收回思索,打了个呵欠打开了行军毯子。忽然,他住了手:帐篷门外传来窸窸嗦嗦的布帘响声和轻微的脚步声。紫川秀反手按上了腰间的洗月刀,出声问:“谁?”“光明济世。”一个清朗的男声隔着门帘回答,正是今晚的安全口令:“殿下,我是布兰大人派来的传令兵,有紧急军情求见!”“永照大地,请进。”紫川秀回答了口令的下半截,白光一闪,洗月刀无声地出鞘,紧紧握在手中。他目光炯炯地盯住了帐篷门帘的方向,眼睛一眨不眨。“滋!”突然响起一阵撕裂耳膜的尖锐剌响,厚帆布制造的帐篷门帘无声无息地被击个粉碎,碎片迎风卷进了帐篷中,片片锐利如刀。犹如平地里忽然出现了可怕的风暴,无数的光点像雨点般倾泻灌涌进了帐篷中,无坚不摧的剑气如同风暴般席卷一切,一阵密集的“哧哧哧”轻响,紫川秀原来站立位置后面的帐篷壁上已经出现了无数的洞眼,蜡烛的光亮从洞眼里斑斑点点地射进营帐外的黑暗中。紫川秀来不及反击,就地一个翻身滚出好远,一脚踢飞了摆蜡烛的案台,营帐顿时陷入了一片伸手不见五指的黑暗中。只听到“哧哧哧”几声尖锐的剑气破风声和剑刺入钝物的声音,自己原来的座位已经中了无数剑。听风辨声判断敌人的位置,紫川秀在黑暗中像豹子般无声摸近,挥刀还击,耀眼的刀光在黑暗中一闪而逝,洗月刀在黑暗中划了个弧线,却少有地落空了:对方早已经转移了。几乎就在同一时刻,他与其说看到,不如说是感到一股冰寒刺骨的剑气正在向他的胸口袭来,紫川秀机敏地一个闪身,躲过了这一剑,心里明白:是刚才落空的那一刀暴露了自己的位置。通过那剑的剑路,紫川秀再次捕捉到对方的位置,挥刀还击。“叮!”的一声剌耳的金属交击声,刀剑在空中激烈地斩击,蹦出了几点火花,俩人同时闷哼一声,接着是沉寂。紫川秀屈膝半蹲在地上,用衣袖盖住了刀刃的锋锐闪光,一动不动。他屏住棒吸,压抑了全身的生机,闭上了眼睛,聚精会神,两只耳朵几乎像兔子一样竖了起来。营帐内笼罩在可怕的沉寂和黑暗中。可以听到,在营帐帆布的缝隙中,风在轻轻的呜鸣着,静得让人心寒,黑得简直像掉进了一个大墨缸里,伸手不见五指。刺客还停留在帐篷中。现在双方的眼睛都没办法适应这突来的黑暗,只能依靠耳朵来捕捉对方的位置。对方从破门到偷袭杀人,自己则立即躺倒并且踢灭蜡烛,这一连串的动作全部发生在电闪雷鸣间,双方全都是以快打快,他连看清楚对方面目的机会都没有。紫川秀知道,自己碰上了平生罕见的高手。对方的剑法太可怕了,剑光简直如雨点般倾泻,刚才一瞬间就同时剌出十几剑,放眼望去,剑光形成了一个耀眼的光团,如云雾般向自己罩来,不要说见招拆招,他根本连哪一剑在先哪一剑在后都无法分辨。幸好自己反应迅速踢灭了蜡烛使得营帐中一片黑暗,否则不到几个回合,自己早就被刺得千疮百孔了。恍惚中,紫川秀有种感觉,这人的剑路和好友帝林有几分相似,但更快、更狠、更可怕!沉闷的黑暗中充满了杀机,恐怖,压抑,像是绷得快要断掉的弦。面前的漆黑中隐藏着自己的大敌,军队就在咫尺左右,紫川秀却不敢发声求救:谁先发出声音暴露自己,势必会引来对方如同*般的攻击。而对于这种层次的高手,一击就足以致命了,自己绝对撑不到军队赶来解救自己。他思维里一片空白,紧张得脑筋都快断掉了——这是种难以忍受的考验和折磨。紫川秀的背后,汗水已经湿透了衣裳。尽避他一再强迫自己要集中精神,但大脑已经在不由自主地胡思乱想了:这是哪里来的可怕高手?这么可怕的快剑,防守是守不住的,如果真的面对面比试的话,自己唯一的机会就是只攻不守,拚命跟他来个同归于尽了……“嗒嗒”的脚步声传来,主帅营帐里的响声惊动了几个过路的值勤警卫。有人在外面很近的地方喊话:“我们是今晚的警卫,大人,您没事吧?”紫川秀暗自欢喜:自己的人终于来了!他没有出声。摆暗中的刺客也没有做声。帐篷门帘处出现了火把的一丝光亮,一个半兽人卫兵举着火把走进了漆黑一片的帐篷中,大声地喊道:“殿下,我听到声音。你……”紫川秀突然觉察不妙,他冒着暴露的危险猛然喊出声来:“不要,快出去……”“哧”的一声轻响,半兽人卫兵整个人僵住了,脸上表情古怪,火把昏黄的火光照耀下,他嘴咧开,似笑非笑地像是看到什么非常荒谬的事情似的。手渐渐地松开了,燃烧着的火把掉到了地上。半兽人喉咙中发出“咯咯”的怪声,却是说不出来话来:一把锋利的锐剑从脖后剌入,已经穿透了他粗壮的脖子,血淋淋的剑锋从喉咙部位伸了出来。“嗖”的一声,剑被抽了回去。半兽人士兵踉踉跄跄地向前走了两步,一头撞到了紫川秀身上。紫川秀急忙扶住他,手上触摸到了一种滚烫而黏稠的液体。半兽人徒劳地大口喘着气,捂住喉咙的伤口,殷红的鲜血大股大股地从手指里渗透出来,喉咙处发出了“咕咕”的怪声。他含糊不清地喊道:“殿下,小心……”向后一挣扎脱离了紫川秀的扶持,整个人仰倒摔在了地上,身体恰懊压灭了火把。营帐中又回复了一片漆黑。“砰、砰”两声响门帘被撞开,又有两个卫兵觉得不妙,拿着刀冲进了黑暗的营帐中,紫川秀再次发出警告:“小心!”卫士一愣:“殿下您说什么?”他们从月光下忽然进入黑暗的营帐中,眼睛还无法适应这变化,一个幽灵般的影子已经无声无息地贴在了他们身后,黑暗中一道剑光如闪电般掠过,只听见“嗤嗤!”两声轻响,接着就是两个士兵的惨叫:“啊——”惨叫声在寂静的夜晚里远远地传了出去,整个大营都听得清清楚楚。沉睡的起义军士兵纷纷给惊醒了:“那是怎么回事?”“哪里来的叫声?”忠实的士兵惨死在自己面前,自己只能眼睁睁地看着,束手无策!那种无力的挫折感使得紫川秀愤怒,他血脉贲张,热血上冲,视野里充满了一片红色,意识变得模糊,脑子混沌,只有一个声音在脑海中不断地回响:杀死他!杀死那个畜生!他能够感觉到,自己的身体正在发生一种奇妙的变化,整个身体变得滚烫,像是在火炉里闷烧似的,感觉器官数以倍增地灵敏,尤其是视觉:刚才还是伸手不见五指的漆黑已变成一片深红色……看到了,看到了:朦朦胧胧,一米外的帐篷边上,一个深红色的人影正一点点地逼近自己。刺客无声地冷笑:如果这个光明王像刚才那样继续躲藏在黑暗中,自己不敢点火把在黑暗中找他,他的大批卫士正在赶来,拖延下去对他是有利的。但没想到他那么愚蠢,看到几个士兵被杀就失去了理智,竟然主动出声暴露了身形。他悄无声息地接近了紫川秀的位置,一剑剌过去,又慢又稳,不带起一点风声。“叮”的一声清脆的金属碰撞响,紫川秀身形一转,洗月刀在黑暗中分毫不差地架住了敌剑,钢刀顺势灵活地一绞,刺客手腕顿时一阵酥麻,险些拿不住剑。紫川秀旋风般转身,“唰唰唰”就是三刀,刀光如雷霆闪动,刀刀不离刺客的要害。刺客狼狈地一个草驴打滚险险地躲过,这个变化实在出乎他的意料了,要刺杀的对象突然变得如此强悍,他的速度和凶猛比起刚才简直有天渊之别!包可怕的是,黑暗中他是如何能如此准确地格挡自己招数的?“去死!”紫川秀猛喝一声,直冲过来。刺客立即放弃了偷袭的想法,正面挥剑迎击,一时间,两人刀来剑往,杀成一团。漆黑之中,刺客目不能见物,只能依靠那刀刃的闪光和风声来判断对方兵器的来路,这就格外的惊险,稍有不慎就是白刃加身。他唯一可倚靠的是那丰富的临阵经验和超乎常人的快剑,努力封挡紫川秀的层出不穷的杀招,顷刻之间,他已经落在下风。他的反应亦是一等一的快捷,立即就明白过来:“你能看见了?”紫川秀不答,报以更加疯狂的攻击,刀刀迅如风,猛如雷,刀子快得已经看不出本来形状了,仿佛无数银白色的闪电罩住了两人,双方全是以快打快,刀剑以快得超乎常人听觉的速度,连续不断地碰撞:“叮叮叮叮叮——”听起来就像一声拖长的撞击似的。“喝!”紫川秀一声暴喝,刀光陡然暴涨,雪白的刀光中已经带了一抹殷红。“嘿!”刺客低沉地怪叫一声,左边肩头已经挂了彩。但拚着受这一轻伤,他已经脱离了紫川秀的刀气笼罩,只是人影一晃,他已经退到了帐篷边,身法之快,形如鬼魅。“想跑!?”紫川秀低喝一声追了过去。但刺客并非想逃,只听见“哧”“哧”两声裂响,刺客反手一剑,身后的帐篷帆布一划之下已经多了两条半尺长的交叉剑痕,从那个三角星的裂口处,清亮的月光洒了进来。——虽然不是很清晰,但帐篷里人和物的轮廓都可以看得清楚了。这下,双方都可以看见了!紫川秀明白了对方的用意,也不作声,挺刀上前再战,刀上已经运上了内力。刺客看得清楚,长剑如同毒蛇般吐出,后发先至地击上刀脊。火星四溅,刀剑再次交击,发出震耳低沉“嗡”的一声,双方都是手臂酥麻。刺客只觉得一股麻痹感从手腕向上延伸,一直到了肩膀,大惊之下他向后一跳,喝问:“住手!这波纹功,你哪里学来的?”紫川秀闷声不吭,把刀换到左手。刚才那一下碰击,他也同样的手臂酥麻不能动弹,但幸好他的左右手都是同样灵活,上前又要拚杀,刺客又再次向后一跳,喊道:“住手!扁明王,你到底是谁?与“河丘林家”有何渊源?”紫川秀不答,刀光一闪,刀子斜斜翻上去,刀锋闪电般从下向上削往对方脖子。这正是他绝技“逆雪”中的一招。该套武功的招式全部是逆反常理习惯而行的,在这种以快打快的战斗中,双方都没有时间来思考,只能凭着平时的习惯来应战,紫川秀相信,任他武功再高,碰上了这种反常的刀法也要吃上大亏。不料紫川秀刀才只砍了一半,对方就已经闪电般一剑回刺紫川秀的面目,逼得他不得不后跳躲避。紫川秀跳起,举刀欲劈砍对方脑袋,但刀才举到一半,对方又一剑刺往他空门大开的胸口部位,逼得紫川秀再次仓皇后退。紫川秀使尽彪身招式,奇招妙式层出不穷,但这些全归无用,无论他如何腾挪变化,对方都始终比他快一点,自己的招式变化全部落入对方掌握之中,往往一刀没出对方的剑已经料敌机先地先行破解了,还屡次遭遇危机几次险些中招——奇怪的是,对方仿佛也有留情之意,有些时候明明紫川秀都已经躲避不及了,对方却故意把剑一缓,放了紫川秀一条生路。紫川秀气急败坏,要能这么料敌机先地准确破解自己的招数,除非这人对自己的武功和招式了若指掌,但自己的武功来历除了一个人以外,世界上无人知道——但这不可能的事情却偏偏发生在了自己身上!紫川秀怒吼一声:“去死!”手腕一翻,一片雪花般密集的刀光护住了全身上下,整个人旋风般扑近前。刺客的瞳孔猛然收缩:“漫天雪花!”他知道这招的可怕,这本来是防守的招式,一把刀极尽变幻之能事,幻化出无数的刀花,刀花就像那纷纷扬扬的雪花一样,环绕飘落地保护住全身上下——这本是无懈可击的防守招式,但紫川秀凭着悍不畏死的气势和胆色,竟然把这招演化成了可怕的进攻招数,只要给他扑近身来,自己会在一瞬间给那无数看似美丽的“雪花”绞成碎片的!危急之刻,刺客“哈”的一声大喝,挥剑直刺:对这种繁杂的招式以变化来破解是不可能的,唯一的破解就是以攻对攻,以强劲的内力正面克制对方!那耀眼的雪花虽然有无数,但真正的刀却只有一把,只要制住了那把真正的刀,这招将不破自解!“叮!”一声响,刀剑再次格挡,两人都是全身一震,各自退后一步。“我知道你是谁了,紫川秀!”刺客开口说,尽量忍住手臂上对方真气入侵的痛楚,那种如同蚂蚁在血管里爬行般的痛苦,正是“波纹功”特有的杀伤力。紫川秀连话都说不出声了,大口大口地喘着粗气。五脏六腑如被火烧似的炽热感觉,痛得像是有人用沙子在磨自己的内脏。对方的真气十分犀利,稍一接触就直接杀伤自己的内脏和丹田,这种古怪的真气自己还是第一次接触。现在自己正在运气企图化去那股古怪的杀伤真气,一时再无法上前厮杀。紫川秀本来期望自己能比对方更快地将攻入体内的真气化去,但突然被对方叫破身份,他心神一震,真气震荡不安。“没有用的。”黑暗中传来刺客冷冷的声音:“你我真气同源同种,造成的杀伤力是双倍的。紫川秀,没有一个时辰,你休想动弹。”紫川秀反口讥讽道:“你不也一样?外面是我的人,挨下去你只有等死了!只要我大叫一声……”仿佛为他的话做注释似的,远处,半兽人士兵粗鲁的叫喊声此起彼伏:“有刺客!”、“快去保护光明王殿下!”人声沸腾,喧嚣声杂乱无章。这深夜的格斗和惨叫声已经惊动了大营,尽避双方都是动弹不得,但紫川秀的部下正在赶来,刺客的处境十分不妙。紫川秀突然停顿住了:对方冰冷的剑锋正压在自己的喉咙处,寒气逼人。接着身上的几处要穴同时一麻,对方已经点了自己的穴位。“嚓”一声轻响,刺客收剑入鞘,左手单手打着了火折子,把翻落地上的油灯重又点燃,动作十分灵巧,营帐中重又恢复了光明。于是紫川秀得以看到了今晚的大敌,平生罕见的绝顶高手。被打翻的几子前,一个穿着秀字营黑色制服的蒙面人一手拿着油灯,若有所思地望着紫川秀,目光中充满了好奇。他的身材硕长削瘦,只有一双眼睛露出面具外,眼神亮得惊人。两人目光对视,谁都没有说话。紫川秀震惊:对方竟然这么快就恢复了!他更不服的是,刺客仿佛对自己的一身武功了若指掌,尽避自己已经在最好状态下出了全力,却还是不得不以落败收场。有生以来第一次,他对自己的武功失去了信心。在营帐的外面,纷乱的脚步声越来越近,还伴随着武器金属的铿锵响声,大批人马从四面八方围近了指挥帐。起义军的将领们已经发现了主帅出问题了,纷纷率领自己的部下前来营救。他们团团围住了帐篷,金属冰冷的反光透过营帐的破洞照了进来,树林一般密集的刀枪剑戟的在帐篷上投下了清晰的影子,火把的光亮摇缀不定。这种场面让紫川秀有种熟悉的感觉:他记起来了,当年自己也是这样劫持卡丹公主逃跑的。刺客突然出声道:“外面的人听着,光明王在我手里。想他死的话,你们尽避进来吧!”话声带着浑厚的内力传出好远,惊得旁边林子中沉睡中的斑鸠噗嗤噗嗤飞起。赶来的士兵们一阵慌乱,纷纷停住了脚步。军官们不明白营帐中的实际情况如何,连忙约束部下们。外面有个半兽人在喊:“你是什么人?休想骗我们,光明王大人神勇无比,你根本不是他老人家对手!不马上出来的话,我们进去将你千刀万剐!”紫川秀听出这是布森的声音。刺客用剑鞘点点紫川秀的喉咙,紫川秀知道他的意思,无奈地开口了:“布森,是你吗?你们先不要进来。”“殿下,你还好吗?”“我很好,再好没有了——”刺客不耐烦地用剑鞘乱戳紫川秀胸口,紫川秀心头大骂却不得不出声:“你们退后一点,退出十步。我和这位朋友有点事情要谈。”布森犹豫了一下,开口道:“遵命,殿下!”随即大声发令:“所有人,离开帐篷十步,不得靠近。”军队开始像潮水一般后退,一片混乱的脚步声中,紫川秀听到有个不知名的半兽人军官在小声地发令:“弓箭队哪里去了?快把弓箭队调来!——给我瞄准了门口,只管射!”他说得小声,却不料帐篷中两人都是高手,同时听得清清楚楚。紫川秀尴尬地干笑一声:“嘿嘿。”蒙面人安静地凝视着他,眼睛一眨不眨,查看着紫川秀的面貌和轮廓。紫川秀对他怒目以视,却发现对方的眼神非常温和。不知是否错觉,在对视的一瞬间,紫川秀感觉到对方流露复杂的感情:关切、惋惜、感慨、慈祥……并没有杀意。饼了好久,刺客才开口说:“真是没想到,光明王就是你。”他的声音清朗而悦耳,语气中带有种秋风萧瑟的感慨。紫川秀皱皱眉头:“你认识我?你是谁?”对方的眼神令他有种熟悉的感觉,却偏偏想不出是在哪里见过。按道理来说这是不可能的,对方武功之高自己生平罕见,如果自己曾经碰到过这样的人,绝对没有理由记不得的。蒙面人笑笑——他蒙着脸,紫川秀也不能肯定他是否真的在笑,只是看到他眼角的鱼尾纹突然地堆积了一下。——看来他年纪不轻了,紫川秀暗想。“你不必知道我的真名,但魔族都叫我黑沙,”顿了一下,他慢慢地补充说:“黑沙军师。”紫川秀的眼睛眯成了一条细缝,眸子突然紧紧地收缩。对这个名字,他早有所闻。在投靠魔族的时候,他多次听过他的名声:魔族王国权势熏天的第一权臣,神皇最信任的大臣,来历诡秘的神秘人物,当年在魔族军中没有机会见到的人物,如今却活生生地站在自己面前。谁也想不到,他竟然敢于孤身潜入起义军大营刺杀自己,而且武功那么好,能在一对一交手时候将紫川秀击败。“紫川秀,我的口令应该是正确的,你看起来却像早有准备——你是怎么样发现我的?”黑沙问,口气和蔼又亲热。他不像是问被一个被自己击败的敌人,倒像是在问候一个多年不见的老朋友。紫川秀“哼”了一声,本来不想答的,但想想对方已经回答了自己一个问题,自己不答倒显得有点小家子气了。“你刚才的口令是军队的一般口令,进我的营帐则需要另一套级别更高的口令。而且就算有紧急军情,通报的也应该是我的亲卫们,不应该是个陌生的通讯兵。——我身边的卫兵们怎么样了?”摆沙歉意地点了下头:“非常抱歉……”紫川秀秀眉一轩:“都死了吗?”“我不第135章历史借镜。

“请进。”斯特林从档案堆里抬起头来。“大人,”秦路从门外探头出来:“紫川宁小姐求见。”斯特林一阵慌乱。尽管他已经结婚成家了,但他还是承认自己不懂女人。在他看来,女人是很麻烦的动物。他知道紫川宁来找自己是为了什么——他宁愿面对着二十个魔族团队也不愿应付一个哭哭啼啼的哀怨少女。他托着下巴,好声气地和秦路商量:“能不能跟宁小姐说,我不在?”“晚了。”秦路面无表情地说:“我已经跟她说你在,而且很有空。”“你!”斯特林一时气结,他苦笑。七十三个师团的预备役士兵要转入现役,家族要增添近五十万的军队编制,要给这批部队安置集结点和部署在各个战略要地上;流风霜在西部蠢蠢欲动,流风家的十字军已经开到了多伦湖前线,大兵压境,西部军十个师团的部队面临被包围的危险,明辉统领的告急文书如同雪花般飞来。在瓦伦前线的军事演习中,演习部队又和魔族发生流血冲突,二十一个士兵和三个军官在冲突中阵亡,凌步虚向紫川家正式递交了警告,火yao味非常浓烈,第二次远东战争已经近在眼前。同时,各行省驻军发来的报告堆得有小山那么高。行省总督们深通为官之道,为了让自己的档案得到重视,每份信封上都用红字标明了:“紧急!”、“十万紧急!”、“火急!”、“极端重要!”、“危急!”自己哪一份都不敢遗漏,一一批覆,结果大多的报告都只是:“对某某军官的调令的请示”、“缺少一百套夏季服装申请补给”、“驻地营地水涝,请示是否转移驻地?”昨晚自己工作到凌晨三点,早上七点又起床继续干,八点进总长府做简单汇报,九点到元老会答覆关于帝都驻军扰民事件的处理结果,十点视察新组建的部队,听取师团长官们的汇报,中午也不能休息,自己和部下们忙得象狗一样把舌头都吐出来了,而现在……“给我准备一杯茶,要浓的。”斯特林吩咐进来的秘书,同时站起身跟秦路说:“走吧,一起出门去迎接宁小姐。”“宁小姐大驾光临视察,军务处全体同仁同感荣幸!”领着部属们站在门口,斯特林微笑地欢迎紫川宁,深深地鞠了一躬。尽管已是初春时节了,天气还是很冷。紫川宁静静地站在门口,披着一件洁白的绍皮大衣,缠着红色的围巾,美丽得令人目眩神驰。那些第一次见到她的年轻军官们被这位家族继承人的美丽所慑,不敢抬头正视。她身边没有一个随从。看着斯特林摆出了这般隆重而正式的仪仗,她秀眉一蹙,随即开颜:“斯特林大人大客气了,我只是随便来看看。叨搅各位了?”她望向一边的秦路等人。“哪里,哪里。宁小姐大驾光临,这是我们的荣幸,请都请不来呢!”秦路笑着说。斯特林微笑着不作声,在紫川宁的目光中,他看到了焦急。他和她都明白,这次拜访绝非一次“随便看看”。虽然紫川宁并没有担任任何实职,但她是家族的第一顺位继承人,这个身份相当于家族首脑,凌驾于任何家族官员之上。斯特林将紫川宁请入了办公室,按照正式的程序,他和一众军官开始给这位前来视察的家族继承人进行汇报。“不知小姐有意了解军务处哪一方面的工作呢?”斯特林问。紫川宁不动声色地望了他一眼,目光中大有深意,微笑说:“随便谈谈吧。”斯特林非常了解这个眼神的意思:“斯特林,你这个家伙竟敢和我装傻!”于是他就憨憨地傻笑起来,吩咐秦路说:“老路,给宁小姐汇报一下西部边境的局势吧,那边情况比较重要。”“明白!宁小姐、斯特林大人,众所周知,在西部对我家族构成最大威胁的是流风家族。它是我们家族的死敌!流风家族的军队分为三个系统,国防军系统,十字军系统、还有就是远京卫戍军区。”“一说到流风家就不能不说到流风霜。在流风家族内部,流风霜无疑是首屈一指的重将和权臣。但人们往往不知道,虽被流风西山册封为‘终身护国统领’的荣誉称号,但是就实际宫职来说,她不过是习冰军区的司令,辖地不到三千平方里,论职位,她不过和我紫川家的一个行省总督差不多。但实际上,习冰军区位于流风家与我紫川家和林家接壤的三角地区,是兵家必争之地,流风家族在此地部署了重兵死守。就在习冰军区以及周边邻近地区的防守地域,部署了十字军的主力和国防军系统的一百三十个联队,而且自从流风霜在远京失势来到习冰地区后,得到了流风路的大力支持,她一直致力于流风家军力的加强,自行在三大系统外一手创建新军——风霜团。她所指挥的部队包括了流风家族最强的实战部队,是流风家实质上的“兵马大元帅”。就目前来说,她和她的军队对我紫川家的安全造成了最大的威胁,而且近来的诸多迹象表明,她对我紫川家怀有强烈的野、心……”秦路抓住了机会,从当前形势一直说到展望未来,“我神勇的家族军队必将战胜无耻的冠以流风姓氏的无耻人类败类”云云,说得滔滔不绝。斯特林默不作声地观察着:表面上,紫川宁听得非常认真,身子微微前倾,不时轻轻点头:“哦,是这样的吗……”、“嗯,对……”但她那双游离不定的眸子已经暴露了她内心的焦急和心不在焉,白皙的手指抓住了衣角,紧紧捏住。斯特林暗叹一声:“何必呢。”汇报进行得又长又臭,接下来军务处所属的几个高级军官分别进行了关于各地区战备工作的汇报,一共进行了两个多小时。眼看时间已经是中午了,斯特林微笑着终止了汇报会:“好了,大家说得都很好,宁小姐,您还需要了解些什么情况吗?”“啊,”心不在焉的紫川宁回过神来,有种如梦初醒的感觉,犹豫一下,她笑笑说:“斯特林大人,有个情况我想向你了解一下。”斯特林平静地说:“好的。”旁边的军官们识趣地起身,离开了办公室,最后一个人出了门,脚步声渐渐远去。他看着她,她却局促不安,眼神游离不定。斯特林轻声咳嗽—声。“斯特林大哥,”紫川宁终于下定了决心,开口就直奔主题:“阿秀哥哥,他……他在哪里?”斯特林犹豫一下,还是回答了:“远东。这几年,他一直在远东。”紫川宁猛然后退一步:“啊!难道,他真的……”“情况不是你想的这样。”斯特林站了起身,走到窗前,窗外的园子里,树木已经长出了娇嫩的绿叶。他回过头来,直视着紫川宁,缓慢地说:“阿秀对家族的忠诚,没有谁能比得上。他是个真正的忠贞之士。”紫川宁呆呆地看着他。“事情要从七八九年的帕伊围城说起。”斯特林开始讲述紫川秀两年多的经历:他忍辱负重,伪装向魔族投诚,讲述他英勇过人,于魔族聚会之时将雷洪当场格杀,杀伤魔族将领无数,国家得以惩罚奸逆,洗刷耻辱,魔族嚣张的气焰遭到沉重打击。他凭着大智大勇,经历九死一生的磨难,终于逃脱了魔族的魔掌。但狠毒的敌人不甘心失败,捏造出可耻的谎言来中伤他,让他有家归不得,被迫流亡远东。但就在这种艰难的情形下,紫川秀仍旧没有放弃他对家族的忠诚与坚贞,在远东卧薪尝胆,秘密练兵,苦心积攒力量,终于等到时机成熟,他一手发动了远东大起义,给予魔族沉重打击,在不为人知的情形下默默地捍卫了紫川家的东方防线。当他从远东归来时候,又恰好遭遇神秘的刺客对紫川宁的行刺,他单枪匹马狙击对方全部高手,力保紫川宁得以幸免于难,自己却被敌人所重创……紫川宁安静地听着,腰挺得笔直,身形一动不动。尽管知道紫川秀后来一定没事,但听得斯特林叙述紫川秀经历之险,她脸上情不自禁地流露出紧张的神情。当得知那晚紫川秀为拯救自己受了重伤,她低下了头侧过睑去,以免让斯特林看见她眼中的波光闪动。斯特林理解她此刻的心情:自己心上人非但不是叛逆,而且还是个了不起的大英雄,这更让她自己的作为显得难以容忍。“一个人,在远离亲人与朋友的地方,断绝了消息,蒙受耻辱和骂名,默默地战斗。没有得到家族一兵一卒的援助,凭个人的努力,他已经收复了远东国土的大半,这在历史上是从没有过的!此功此业,足可光耀日月,彪炳千秋!可以说,阿秀他完全无愧于当年远星大人对他的栽培,无愧于哥应星大人对他的厚望,也无愧于——”斯特林若有所思地看了紫川宁一下:“——宁小姐您曾经对他寄予的期望。”紫川宁一直在压抑着自己,告诫自己要冷静。但听着斯特林平和有力的陈述,不知不觉的,泪水已经夺眶而出。她再也忍受不住了,起身在房间里急切地走来走去。仿佛发着高烧,她苍白的脸上现出了斑斑红晕,心胸在起伏,呼吸急速,仿佛她正在承受着巨大的苦痛。不敢面对斯特林严肃的脸,也因为双脚已经不能支持自己了,她双手扶着墙,对着墙壁长久地站立。斯特林暗叹一口气,他打开窗户,大量涌进来的新鲜空气中饱含着春天的气息。黎明前下过一阵短时间的绵绵细雨,花园中的泥土被雨水冲过,到处留下了水流的痕迹,园子里,大量的新芽正在干枯的枝头上争先恐后地绽放,雨水洗过的新芽像是泡沫似的在阳光下闪着光芒,充满了勃勃生机。他听到了身后隐隐传来的啜泣声音,但却故意忽略了。过了几分钟,哭声低了下来,斯特林转过身去,走到紫川宁身边,善解人意地递上手帕。紫川宁没有回过头,低声说:“谢谢。”接过了手帕。当她回转头时候,她已经能控制自己了,除了眼睛有点潮湿相通红外,她看上去一切正常。对着斯特林,她苦涩地一笑:“斯特林大哥,谢谢你告诉我这些。”“不客气,这是你应该知道的。宁小姐,你——”仿佛害怕什么,紫川宁匆匆地说:“我知道,斯特林大哥你是很忙的,我已经耽误你很多时间了,实在不好意思。这就告辞了,代我向清姐问好。”斯特林默默地点头,看着紫川宁向门口走去,他突然出声:“宁小姐,请留步一下。”紫川宁的身影僵住了,诧异地回头望来。斯特林有点懊悔地挥一下手,却不知该说什么。为了紫川秀——也为了紫川宁,他只是知道,绝不能让紫川宁就这么走掉。他总想为自己最疼爱的小弟做点事情,好挽回这段感情。“宁小姐,以我的身份,也许我不该说,但是……有些事情……有些事情……你也许真应该好好的考虑一下呢?”他皱着眉头在苦苦思索,想找一个恰当又不伤害紫川宁自尊心的方式把自己的真正意思表白出来。这时候,紫川宁反倒是善解人意,她笑了:“斯特林大哥,你是想不是想说,我和阿秀还有在一起的希望?”紫川宁挑破了这层纸,斯特林大感轻松。他道:“正是。”“阿宁,你是家族未来总长,是我的主君,以我紫川家家臣的身份,有些话我是不该说的。但我又是看着你和阿秀长大的,承蒙你不弃,一直称我为大哥,那今天,就允许我逾越一下臣子的本分。”紫川宁柔声说:“斯特林大哥,从小我是一直真的把你当大哥。你想说什么,我大概也猜到了一点。你是想劝说我回头,和阿秀哥哥重归于好吧?”“正是。”“前天早上,我已经和元老会的马维阁下谈过了。”紫川宁欲言又止。斯特林急切地追问:“怎么样?”她嫣然一笑,美丽得犹如海棠带雨:“今后,大家都还是好朋友。”花了足足半分钟斯特林统领才明白这句话的意思。他不禁感慨:青春年华的女孩子都能无师自通地拥有和外交官相媲美的言辞,明明是无情的分手绝交,她们却有办法说得那么动听:“我们做一生一世的好朋友吧!”让男人吃了哑巴亏还得扮出一副很有风度的样子表示:我不要紧,我真的一点都不要紧,最后还得深情脉脉地祝她永远幸福。一瞬间,他感觉自己的同情是站在那个花花公子的元老议员一边的。他欣喜说:“那就好!宁小姐,只要您……”“斯特林大哥,你不明白的。”紫川宁柔声却坚决地打断了他的话:“问题的关键不在这里。我配不上阿秀。”斯特林诧异地望着她,她笑了,笑得凄婉又坚决:“真的,我配不上他。他是那么高尚,那么勇敢。为了国家,为了人类,他浴血奋战,捍卫国土。面对祖国,面对上天,他问心无愧。而我呢?就在他冒着生命危险,为我紫川家斩奸除逆;就在他九死一生,被魔族追捕的那些最危险的日日夜夜里;在他冲锋陷阵,冒着魔族的刀剑弓箭奋勇杀敌的时候,我没能为他祈祷一声,甚至我还怀疑,他是不是真的投降魔族了!”斯特林安慰说:“这并不是小姐您的错,当时几乎所有人都是这么认为的。”“但我不是‘一般人’,我是他的……我应该是最了解他的人!就算天底下所有人都怀疑他,我也应该相信他,坚定不移。何况,斯特林大哥你,还有监察总长帝林阁下——你们始终都相信阿秀,不是吗?而我更应该相信他,相信他不会死,相信他的忠诚,相信他对我的承诺!”紫川宁的声音渐渐低落下去了:“但我没能做到。爱情是对双方的考验,而这个考验,我没能经得住。诚然,我紫川家对阿秀是有所亏欠,但我对他的负义更是超过任何人。从孩提时代起,我欠他的,实在太多。多少次,他为我出生入死,但我能回报他的,只有伤心和痛苦。我不是个值得他爱的人,如果没有我,他会更幸福的。“人们常说破镜重圆——但破了的镜子,裂痕还在,始终不可能恢复成原来的样子。”斯特林望着她,他想到了阿秀告别时候那悲哀的背影,他理解紫川宁此刻的心情,深深的罪恶感使得她无法坦然地面对他,而紫川秀傲气和自尊更是使得他是不可能回头的——误会已冰消瓦解了,但隔阂依旧存在。彼此思念的两个人依旧不能在一起,感情的事情真是复杂。两人心头有很多话想说,却不知该怎么说起。最后,她盈盈地站起来:“斯特林大哥,谢谢你了,我想,我已经耽误你太多时间了,该走了。”“阿宁!”斯特林第二次叫住了她:“你再坐一下,我有些话要说。”斯特林站起来,倾身直视着紫川宁:“宁小姐,以我二十多年的人生经历来看,我不相信世界上没有不可挽回的事情。即使有,纵使凶难临头,纵使形势险恶,作为人类,我们只要一息尚存,就要尽最俊一分努力。我明白你此刻的心情,你与阿秀的感情遇到了挫折,相互之间存在着误会,但无论什么时候,绝不可放弃希望,绝不可自暴自弃,就权当一切回到了空白,一切重头再来,那又怎样?只要我们努力争取,付出真心,事情并非不可挽回!”斯特林语调铿锵有力,其中流露坚定的信心。紫川宁听得霍然动容。她明白了,为什么斯特林能成为首屈一指的名将。他平时行事并不高调,也不引人瞩目,但无论在如何艰难困苦的环境中,他都能显示出真止男子汉的气度,他坚定的信心就像阳光一样洒遍左右,给周围的人们依靠,成为人们精神上的支柱。“阿宁,现在他遇到了麻烦,需要你的帮助。你愿意吗?”“我愿意,哪怕赴汤蹈火!”紫川宁立即回答,随即又有点犹豫:“将来有那么一天,当我——到那时候,我自然会为阿秀平反,恢复名声。但现在,我无职无权,如何能对阿秀有所帮助呢?”“首先,关于阿秀的一切情况,你还不能向外公布。阿秀的名誉还没能恢复,如果泄露了,监察长大人、阿秀本人还有我都会很麻烦的。”“我发誓,在没得到斯特林阁下同意以前,我绝不将今天在这里的谈话内容向外泄露。若违此誓,让我千刀——”“行,行了。宁小姐,没必要发毒誓那么严重,只要你答应就可以了。”斯特林打断,笑说:“要未来的总长向我发誓保证,我还没那么大胆子啊!”“斯特林大哥!”紫川宁娇嗔道,不依地跺着脚,那女儿家的娇态让斯特林看得呆了。他简单地跟紫川宁形容了一下紫川秀的处境:尽管他在远东屡战屡胜,但后勤供给能力的薄弱却限制了他进一步扩展战果。自己与帝林已经想尽办法为他在不为人知的情况下筹集补给,但总还有存在着一些障碍和阻拦。“军务处这里的事务我可以处理,监察厅的监督帝林阁下也可以解决。在家族的高级官员中,我们唯一顾忌的就是幕僚长哥珊阁卜。她负责后勤部和行政处,全面统筹家族军队的补给和财政开支,是家族的文宫之首。她精干明练,眼光老辣,上次就是她从各行省物资价格的变动中发现蹊跷,最后导致了“战略物资禁止流通法案”的颁布,让阿秀十分为难。我们要长期这样瞒天过海,大规模供应阿秀各种物资和补给,恐怕难以瞒过她。“现在的问题是,哥珊阁下是总统领罗明海阁下的人,在她的后勤部系统内,我们缺少一个够分量的人来配合我们牵制和监视她……”说到这里,斯特林眯起了眼睛,故意停住了话头。紫川宁想了一阵才明白他的用意:“斯特林大哥,你的意思是……”“我什么意思也没有。”斯特林笑眯咪的,慈祥得一面和气。他仿佛是不经意地提起:“据我所知,根据传统,总长继承人在正式接位之前都要到统领处的具体部门工作一段时间,锻链才干,熟悉业务和环境,为将来的正式接位做好准备。宁小姐,您今年已经二十了吧?该做准备了。”他起身和紫川宁握手,送她出门。马车定了好久,紫川宁才理解斯特林的用意。尽管心情郁闷,她还是哑然失笑。紫川家的三杰,果然名不虚传,没有一个是好相与的。就连最以耿直方正闻名的斯特林,在情况需要,只要他愿意的话,也是能要点诡计的。“也好吧。”想到能对紫川秀的事业有所帮助,紫川宁的心里稍微有了点慰依。她细细品味斯特林的话:“就权当一切回到了空白,一切重头再来又如何呢?世界上没有不可挽回的事情!”世界上有种人不会轻许诺言,但一旦答应,他做的会比预期的多很多。斯特林无疑就是这种人了。紫川宁心头重又燃起了希望,她默默地想:“阿秀在远东做出了那么大的成就,我也不能光等着。就让我来见识一下,号称“统领处千年坚冰”的哥珊阁下,您到底是如何的三头六臂了不起吧!”站在门口,看着马车渐渐远去,斯特林嘴角浮出了会心的笑容。回到办公室,他开始写信,把今天发生的事情原原本本地记述下来,这封信将通过秘密渠道寄给远东的紫川秀。信中他详细地把今天紫川宁的言行给记录下来。阿秀是个聪明人,他会领会自己用意的。斯特林边写边想:媒人是最吃力不讨好的角色了。自己是不是有点傻里傻气的呢?但他还是做了。经历过那场无望的苦恋,他深深懂得失去所爱的痛苦,多少次梦中徘徊缠mian,醒来却只剩眼角泪水的痛心,梦中人远在天涯。愿世间有情人终成眷属。如果有可能,他希望紫川秀和紫川宁能有个比他们好的结局。“就当是我为他们做点事吧。愿他们知道,生命中最值得他们珍惜的,并非百万财产,更非权势荣华。”放下笔,打开窗户,湛蓝的天空一望无际。仰望东方的天际,斯特林长久站立,眼角早已经湿润。祝你幸福啊,卡丹。※※※帝国历七八二年的六月,一阵罕见的酷暑袭击了整个西川大陆。在往常四季如春的帝都城内,最高温度突破了摄氏三十六度。但比起恶劣的天气,更恶劣的却是人间的形势。伴随着远东的沦陷,数以百万计的难民涌入了家族本土。这批失去了土地和生产原料的人群一贫如洗,他们露宿街头,在每个城市的周边构成了庞大的难民营和贫民窟,乞丐群到处都是,衣裳褴褛的男子游荡在街头,饥肠辘辘,对城市和乡镇的安全构成了极大的威胁,刑事案件发案奉直线上升,警察机构疲于奔命。家族的军事力量在远东和西线都遭到挫败,但家族的经济力量——规模庞大的农业、工业产业没有受到损害,他们的生产力量是保持着完好的。在七八二年这罕见的丰收年,农民却因为农业产品价格暴跌处于饥饿边缘——这真是极大的讽刺:一边是成熟的粮食大片大片地烂在地里,一边却是失业居民们被饿得饥肠碌碌。因为失去了庞大的远东市场和原料基地,数以千计的工厂和工作坊因无法忍受高昂的原料产品和维持销路而倒闭,成千上万的工人失去工作,不得不露宿街头,物价却直线上升,低层的政府官员无法忍受低廉的薪水而公然索要贿赂的丑闻不断。就连一向是社会支柱的军队机构也未能幸免。由于军队的大量扩展和经济不景气,很多年轻人,尤其是出身小地主和小商人家庭的年轻人,选择了以军官为职业。他们从士兵口中更深地了解到社会的状况已经到了灾难边缘,这些士兵每当收到家信都会失声痛哭:由于儿子远离,全家人都处于饥饿边缘。而同时,军官们却亲眼目睹了他们的上级:那些出身良好、拥有巨大财富的贵族们生活的糜烂和奢华。面对现状,军队浮躁不安,忠诚度下降。人们迷失了生活的信仰、希望和方向,低迷、糜烂的挫折感弥漫在心头。人们不知道该信仰什么、奉行什么,甚至不知道该仇恨什么。面对着无能和腐败的指责,元老会逢周二、周四的弹劾威胁,统领处虽无能力找到解决问题的办法,却善于寻找替罪羔羊。家族统领处宣称:一切都是魔族的错!是魔族强占了我们的远东二十三行省,让农民的产品无法销售!是魔族,强占了我们远东的铁、煤、矿石,让我们的工厂无法开工!更是魔族的侵略,导致了数以百万的难民流入内地,导致我们社会不安定,就业率直线下降!魔族对远东的侵略是我们一切不幸的根本原因!就如猛烈的狂风突然吹散迷雾,在七八二年的年中,炽热的烈风突然袭来,低迷的浓雾一吹而散,人们找到了宣泄仇恨的对象,整个民族异口同声地欢呼:“战争!战争!”——监察总长帝林曾预计紫川家需要十年的时间恢复,他估计得太保守了。耻辱是一个民族成长的加速器,仅仅两年不到的时间,创伤表面上才刚刚愈合,善忘的民众立即好了疤痕忘了痛,好战的浪潮又一次狂热地席卷家族领土。从上到下都是一片喧嚣:“开战!开战!夺回远东!用魔族的鲜血洗刷我们的耻辱!”仿佛在一夜之间达成了共识,从上到下——从家族元老到一贫如洗的乞丐——普遍都认为,只有通过一场战争夺回远东——或者管他什么地方,反正打仗就行——才能对现状有所改善。帝都街头每天都有宣战游行,人数从千人到十万人不等。游行人群举着各种各样的旗帜招摇地从总长府、元老会和统领处面前经过,口号声排山倒海:“打倒魔族!”、“为远东事变中死难的同胞复仇!”、“为九月事件复仇!”、“直捣黄龙,踏平魔神堡,活抓魔神皇!”游行人群一望无际,他们堵塞了帝都大大小小的道路,治部少的员警们在烈日下徒劳无功地呼喊和指挥,却成效不大。反倒是帝都的市民们对游行的激进分子们抱有极大的宽容心,容忍了他们在街头的墙壁上乱写乱涂,和砸烂“禁止通行”的交通栏杆。由于军事上的连续失利,军务部成为众矢之的。那些热血沸腾的军校学生和精力过剩的小伙子们为发泄胸中燃烧的激情,把军务部当成了魔神堡,斯特林当成了大魔神皇,三天两头地围攻,高呼着“军队无能,辱权丧国”的口号,他们不断地向守卫们投掷石子、瓦片、垃圾、污水袋,用颜料将军务处的大门涂抹得一塌糊涂。斯特林不得不向帝林借调了一个中队的宪兵来守卫门口,当他们回去时,身上伤痕累累,全是斑斑点点的污迹。在六月十一日的一次游行中,游行的队伍和维持秩序的员警们发生了激烈的冲突,十四人死亡,一百多人受伤。同日,四个后备役军官口袋里藏着折叠的刺刀冲入后勤部,他们要杀死家族幕僚长官哥珊——她反对扩大军队的征召范围,和再增加军队已经极庞大的军费开支——结果由于过于慌乱,其中一人的刀子从口袋里露了出来,引起了值班守卫的留意。他喝住了他们。四人以为事件败露了,立即抽出刀子袭击了警卫,将其活生生地捅死,旋被赶来的其他警卫制服。四人立即被捕。这极其残酷而无视法纪的袭警和谋杀案件,引起了公众极大的关注。在公开审判时候,凶手表达了对那位失去丈夫的员警遗孀的歉意后,公开宣称:“国家状况令人担忧,民众困苦不堪,国防软弱无力,官吏腐败成风”。他和他的同伙对哥珊统领和遇害的员警并没有私仇,他们的目的为“唤醒沉睡的祖国而敲醒警钟”,要除掉“阻碍祖国强大的一切障碍”!哥珊从嘴边轻轻吐出两个字:“蠢货!”旁听的公众全体起立鼓掌,掌声经久不息。在民众的心目中,他们是烈士,是代表民众利益的斗士。对凶手的同情竟然高达这般地步,以致有几万人自发地签名为其求宽恕,甚至有人寄来用血写的请愿书。在元老会最后出面干涉下,本该以谋逆罪处死的四名军官全部判了无期徒刑,预计用不了几年,他们将很快就从监狱里出来。还是老规炬:任何采取暴力行为者,如果是为了国家荣誉,都应该特赦。军队竟然发生此种目无法纪的行为,军务处长官斯持林向哥珊幕僚长郑重地书面道歉,并保证将尽量约束军队,绝不会让同类事件再行发生。后者毫不客气地打断了他的话:“你现在要做的不是道歉。”哥珊面无表情地说:“局势的发展并非你我能够控制,下一个的目标很可能就是你了,你应该调一些可靠的部队到身边来。小心啊,斯特林,你是军队最后的一丝理智。如果你死,我们就再也无法遏制军队的盲动了。”斯特林愕然。※※※七八二年六月二十三日。天气非常的好,午后两点,气温高达三十三度,阳光热辣辣的,晒得马路成了一片白地。连那些歇斯底里狂叫口号的激进分子也忍受不了这样的酷暑,帝都街头出现了罕见的平静,人们懒洋洋的悠闲地在绿荫底下乘凉,摇着蒲扇。啤酒店门口五光十色的招牌在烈日下生辉,穿着清凉的美女姿态婀娜、目不斜视地从绿荫道上走过,引起乘凉的小伙子们的一片口哨声。倚靠在奔驰的马车窗口,斯特林望着街景出神,看着那打情骂俏的俊男俏女和灯红酒绿,这使他感到心情轻松。但在经过一个十字路口处,他的心情被小小地破坏了一下:迎来赶来了两辆马车,在前面的车子赶得飞快,车夫大声地吆暍着:“让路!让路!”马鞭“劈啪”地扬得天响,行人和路边的商贩们赶紧躲避,大街上平静的气氛给闹得鸡飞狗跳。斯特林皱皱眉,对随行的秦路说:“那是谁的车子?街上那么多人,怎么能这么快马,治部少怎么不管?你查一下。”秦路也探出头去窗外观察,转而对斯特林说:“大人,那是监察厅的人,我们管不了。”“喔?”斯特林微微惊讶,再认真看去,果然,那辆马车的车辕上面悬挂着蓝底金色的剑与盾牌的旗帜,表示车上有监察厅的高级军官在。他淡淡说:“知道了。”心头却老大的不是滋味。在二月十五日的紫川宁事件,帝林率领的监察厅立下大功,检查官们的气焰也随即张扬起来,言行嚣张。斯特林一向认为,因为军队身负保卫国家使命的特殊性,它本身是国家内最大也是最强的武力集团,如果失去约束,它成为凌驾于整个社会之上的暴力集团,那些高级军官会堕落成为超越法律和政府的“军队贵族”,所以,监察和军法系统的设置对于军队来说是十分必要的。但事情不能从一个极端走向另一个极端,负责监督的监察系统变得如此乖张,这绝对不是国家设置监察系统的本意。他决定改天找帝林好好谈一下,劝他约束一下部下。自己的大哥最近把罗明海打得大败,春风得意之下,他有点忘形了。那两辆马车在十字路口来了一个右转弯,上了宽阔的皇都大道,正好与斯特林的马车同向并行。斯特林正琢磨着,这车该不会也是去总长府的吧,正在这时候,惊变骤发。在人行道上闪避的人群堆里突然斜斜窜出一个壮汉来,手持一条长长的铁棍。斯特林还没来得及反应,这汉子猛虎般扑近了悬挂监察厅旗帜的前面那辆马车,狂吼一声,将铁棍猛然插进了飞速旋转的右边车轮里。“当啷”一声巨大的响声,接着就是像是刮玻璃一样刺耳的铁器摩擦声音、“格啦格啦”连续清脆的铁器粉碎声,右边车轮被铁棍死死地卡住,“砰”的一声巨响,漫天的碎片中,马车的右轮整个飞了出去,右边车厢外皮倾斜擦到了路面上,火花四溅,奔马却仍在死命地往前拉,整个车子没有停止前进,“吱——”车厢摩擦地面的石头路基发出了巨大而刺耳的声音,令人听得牙根发软。“砰!”的一声巨响,马厢碰上了路边花圃的台阶上,倾斜的车厢整个儿翻倒过来。“哎呀!”一声怪叫,马车夫已经从驾驶座给甩了出去,重重地摔到了车子前面的路面上,半天爬不起身来,不知死活。路边的人众中冲出了几个手持兵器的男女,朝着翻倒的马车扑将上去。冲在最前面的青年女子高举着单刀剑,披着一件浅黄色的大衣,嘴里尖声尖气地喊着:“呀——呀——呀!”的怪声,后面跟着四条拿单刀的汉子,沉默地扑杀上前。那个最先冲出来卡住车轮的壮汉也从衣服下面抽出了一把砍斧,一下就将那个挣扎着要爬起来的车夫砍翻在地。事情发生得太过突然,街道上的行人都睁大了眼睛,不敢相信地看着面前发生的一幕。一个女声尖叫刺破错愕:“杀人啦!”一瞬间,目瞪口呆的行人们发出了各种各样的惊呼声,慌忙四散。冲在前面的女子速度极快,一眨眼的功夫,她已经冲到了翻过来的马车前,但却无处可下手:车子已经整个翻过来了,车门被压在下面。她围着车厢团团转,暴躁地用剑乱砍车厢壁,将车厢外面的木板砍出了一道道裂痕,露出了里层黑黝黝的铁板。“让开,让我来!”那个使用板斧的壮汉扑近身来。他放下板斧,蹲下抓住车厢的一侧,全身用力,低喝一声:“呀!”车厢动弹了一下,缓慢地又翻转了过来,恢复了原来的位置,露出了车门的一侧。刺客们喜形于色,那个领头的女刺客娇叱一声:“帝林受死!”迫不及待地就要从开了一半的车门里爬进去。斯特林心下一震:这是帝林的车子?!他这才反应过来,马上出声:“停车!”车夫猛拉缰绳,马车缓缓地停下了,斯特林从马车里冲了出来,但距离太远,无论如何已来不及。“噌!”一声响亮的弓弦脆响传得远远的,一个使单刀的男刺客惨叫一声,反手捂住了自己后背。他的后背上中了一箭。斯特林看得清楚,事变突发,跟在翻倒车子后面的第二辆马车出于惯性的无法停住车子,冲出前面数十米才慌忙停住的。箭正是从那辆马车视窗处射出来。“砰”的一下车门洞开,几名宪兵从车上跳了下来,领头的军官暴喝一声:“大胆狂徒,造反了吗!”刺客们只一愣,有两人回转身来迎击宪兵们,剩下的仍旧围着那辆车子。那个使板斧的壮汉两下劈掉了残缺不全的车门:“帝林,这下看你往哪里跑!”语音未落,车门处寒光一闪,一柄长剑闪电般刺进了他的右眼。壮汉痛喝一声,向后翻倒。其余的刺客惊骇于这一剑的威势,不由自主地向后退开几步。没有任何预兆,帝林颀长的身影出现在车门口,风度翩翩,手中长剑闪烁,温柔的眼睛此刻杀气毕露。除了衣裳稍微凌乱以外,他毫发无伤。一瞬间,斯特林安下心来了。同时他也知道,那几个刺客的命运了。宪兵们七手八脚地将被打得半死的刺客们抓着脚拖上马车,经过的地方赫然留下一条让人心有余悸的鲜红血痕。看着马车运着俘虏往监察厅方向去,帝林转过头对斯特林说:“如果你去总长府的话,我们就同路了。载我一程吧!”斯特林点头:“没问题。”他转过头跟秦路商量了下,秦路让出了车厢里的位置,到外面和车夫同坐。上了车,帝林舒服地伸展了下身子,把脚摊得开开的:“你的车子很宽敞,坐起来很舒服。改天我也要去订做一辆同样的。要多少钱呢?”斯特林笑笑,没有出声。“今年的天气有点怪,六月热得要死人了,恐怕收成不好。对了,斯特林,秀佳很挂念着弟妹李清,说很长时间都没见过她了,挂念得很。”“啊,这么巧,清也说过该去拜访下你们了,她想跟嫂子学点厨艺。”“嘿嘿,秀佳也说清弟妹的针织手艺好,她也想学——瞎!娘们儿,就净关心这些东西!我都纳闷了:一天到晚就是房间里那点玩意,她们怎么就不烦?特别是弟妹,那么出众的一个人,怎么也跟一般婆娘一样,整天就热哀什么针织啊、厨艺啊什么的?多可惜啊!斯特林,你得给她说说!”帝林侃侃而谈,只字不提刚刚遭受的袭击,神色平静,好整以暇,除了衣服稍微有点凌乱,他根本不像一个刚刚遭受刺杀,死里逃生的人。“刚才那是些什么人?”斯特林忍不住了,突然问。帝林奇怪地扬扬眉毛,斯特林说明:“我是说刚才的那群刺客。”“谁知道呢?一小撮野心勃勃的叛乱分子?某个图谋不轨的权臣——比如罗明海——对我怀有敌意所派遣的雇佣杀手?杨明华一伙死心不息的残党?家族敌人的阴谋?谁知道?”帝林笑着说。斯特林微微摇头:“从行事的方式上看,他们不像是训练有素的职业杀手。职业杀手讲究冶静,以最小的代价谋取成功,要求迅疾和效率,一击不中立即撤退,而这伙人——在光天化日的大街上公然强行袭击,他们太过于张扬和狂热了。”帝林嘿嘿一笑:“也许吧。”他转了话题,谈论起当前帝都的流行服饰和歌曲——不像斯特林那种两耳不闻窗外事的工作狂,帝林是个时代潮流的追随者,尤其对流行歌曲和文学情有独钟。但斯特林一个字也听不下去,他脑子里却总是想着刚才发生、惊心动魄的一幕:一滩滩殷红的鲜血,纷杂的军靴声,人声鼎沸,那个受伤女刺客撕心裂肺地呐喊:“打倒帝林!”“混蛋,叫什么呢!”几个强壮的宪兵强将她按倒在地,一个宪兵小旗有力的大手抓住她的头发,把她的脑袋按进了路边污水沟里,使劲地往下压,她的脸被浸进了黑色、发臭、冒着白色泡沫的污水里,但她脑袋每次从水里挣扎出来,总要用尽全身气力、沙哑地、含糊不清地喊:“打倒帝林!——帝林不死,紫川家不宁!”围观的路人和斯特林都为之动容。这种不在乎成败和生死的气势,决非职业杀手所能办到,倒像是某种信念的狂热殉道者。望着帝林那快活的笑容,出于某种直觉或者灵犀一闪,一瞬间,斯特林看到了他眉飞色舞的表情下掩盖的真正感情:那种隐藏在眼眸深处的、一闪而逝的绝望和厌倦。心底的声音告诉斯特林:这就是权力之路的代价。在显赫一时的光耀背后,他恐怕没有一个可以安心睡眠的夜晚。在权力这条道路上,自己又付出了什么样的代价呢?他想起家中那束早已经枯萎,却一直被自己珍藏着的“勿忘我”花,心头一阵刺痛。车声嘎然而止,秦路从外面敲敲车门:“监察长大人、斯特林大人,总长府到了!”当斯特林和帝林踏入时候,会议室里早已经济济一堂,家族的重量级人物齐集。紫川参星坐在会议桌的顶端,望向斯特林的目光中带有几分疑惑:以严谨守时出了名的斯特林,怎么也会有迟到的事情呢?斯特林朝众人歉意地笑笑:“不好意思,路上发生点意外。”他坐下来环顾四周:以总长紫川参星为首,总统领罗明海、禁卫统领皮古、幕僚长哥珊,就连一直戍守西部边疆的明辉统领、瓦伦要塞的镇守司令林冰副统领等边区重将都在场。而且在这群人中,斯特林还看到了个新面孔(其实也不能算是新面孔,是个大家都很热的人!)紫川宁正端坐在总长紫川参星的旁边,正襟危坐。紫川参星谅解地点点头:“人都到齐了。现在可以开始了。紧急召集大家过来,有个事情想听听大家意见——明辉,你给大家说说。”西部边防军区司令明辉统领干咳一声:“总长殿下,诸位大人,近来我边防军部门得到一个很重要的情报:流风家的家主流风西山病情已经快不行了。”会议室中起了一阵轻微的骚动,幕僚副统领哥珊轻声地嘀咕了一句:“废话!”若不是发言的人是掌握重兵的家族重臣明辉的话,那大家真的要哗然了:这也算是情报?哪怕就是帝都街头的小混混都知道的,号称“流风狐狸”的流风家当代家主自从九年前给紫川秀一个少年杀得大败回去以后,郁愤交加之下他一病不起,一直缠mian病榻。“这真是了不起的情报啊!”远东副统领林冰赞叹地说,带着浅浅的笑容,谁也搞不清楚这位远东重臣的真正意思。明辉面红了一下,很快又恢复正常:“我知道诸位大人的意思。打从七七二年到现在,都快十年了,我们哪天得到都能得到消息说流风西山快死了,但这次不同了,消息的来源非常可靠:流风西山的贴身医师逃亡到我们这边来了。”幕僚长哥珊怀疑地问:“他为什么要这样做?”“流风西山是注定不治了,流风家内部的倾轧争斗非常激烈。流风波公开威胁:“如果父亲有什么不测,治疗组的全体人员都要为他殉葬!”而流风清、流风明两位——他们内心怎么想的,无人能知,但外表上,他们也会做出义愤非常的样子,很可能杀几个“无能”的医生来表现自己的孝心。医生很担心在流风西山死后,自己会成为政治斗争中的牺牲品。”哥珊微微点头,又问:“多长时间?”“‘即使采取最好的药物、技术和最恰当的医护手段,他的寿命也不可能超过五个月!’——这是他的原话。”明辉的语气相当肯定。“明统领的消息应该是真的。”在寂静中,帝林缓缓地开口了:“与他的消息渠道来源不同,我掌握遍布流风家族境内数以百计的间谍,他们时常有报告送来——根据流风霜的命令,习冰行省与远京之间缓冲地带——加顿军区已经开始布防,禁止任何武装部队通过,六十个联队从东部阵线抽调过去以战斗队伍驻守,对远京虎视眈眈;流风清在自己领地内动员了二十万士兵修筑工事;流风明不顾禁令,命令其两万近卫部队公然进驻其在远京的住所:远京总参谋部连续一个月发布宵禁令却不公布敌人是谁——如果流风西山还健在,这些事情是绝对不可能发生的。这证明,他的病情已经恶化到无法控制局势的地步了。”屋子中一时间安静得可以听见呼吸的声音,人们在沉默中消化这个事实:流风家的首脑流风西山即将死去。此人是紫川家不共戴天的仇敌,曾给家族造成了巨大的灾难,但是听闻他的死讯,斯特林不禁还是有了点莫名的黯然感慨:随着哥应星的逝去,曾经是上个时代中最灿烂的星辰中,又有一个重要人物即将消失。他有种眼看着历史发生的感觉。哥珊问:“可知道是谁将接任?”“目前还很难说。”帝林摇头:“目前流风家的局势太过混乱,三个皇子在军中有各自的支持者,势力难分高下——任何一个占了上风,另外两个立即联手把他压下去,然后胜利者又内讧,开始新一轮的争斗。而流风西山又没指定继承人。”“到这个地步,一个行将就木的垂死老人,他指定与否其实已经毫无意义了。”林冰一针见血地指出问题的关键:“决定流风家命运的只有一个人:流风霜!无论她支持哪一个继承人,他立即可以以绝对的强势压倒另外两人,成为流风家新的霸主!”帝林表示赞同,又说:“但流风霜尚未表明态度。”哥珊冷冷说:“如此非常时刻,流风霜态度暧mei,难道她有野心谋求至尊之位?”屋子中众人面面相觑,紫川参星缓缓说:“她掌握流风家将近四成的精锐军队——不是没有可能。但,无论如何,这次流风家的乱象已成,这次权力交替决不可能和平进行。”众人一起点头,表示赞成总长殿下的深知睿见。紫川参星继续说:“如果我们可以乐观地猜测,流风家即将出现大规模混乱或者内战局面的话——”帝林插嘴说:“流风家的内战势不可免!问题不是会不会打,而是什么时候开打!”“——那我们家族将如何应对呢?”在紫川参星望向众人的目光中带有几分殷切的期待:“我们是不是应该趁这个难得的机会,一举将流风家摧毁,完成我们一统天下的霸业呢?——斯特林,你怎么看?”斯特林勉强地笑笑,他选择了尽量委婉的措辞:“摧毁流风家,这是个非常庞大的战略目标,要有计划地分多步进行,需要做长期的计算、谋划和准备。军事层面的较量是最终的手段,但在我们的军队到达战场之前,家族在经济、组织、动员、后勤、财政方面的准备是非常必要的,就这些方面来说……”“这些方面你不用担心!”紫川参星豪气十足:“我只问你,作为我家族首屈一指的名将,你有没有信心打败流风霜?”明辉、林冰等统兵将领都皱起了眉头,帝林则对斯特林投来同情的目光:这就是那种外行领导内行的悲哀。斯特林沉吟一下,他很不愿意败紫川参星的兴,但作为统管全面的军方代表,把真实的情况告诉总长,是他的责任,尽管这实情有时候让人不快。“这个……要视乎当时的具体情况而定,殿下。要看流风家的军队在内战中遭受了多大的损伤、他们的士气和武器水平,还有我们家族军队恢复程度——”斯特林看到紫川参星的眉皱了起来,但他只当没看见继续说:“殿下,很抱歉,没有人能保证自己一定能打胜仗——除非他是骗子。战场上,将领的工作是搜集尽可能齐全和准确的情报,根据情报选择战术,指挥军队行进,给部队下达各种作战命令——仅此而已。优秀的将领能把这些工作完成得较好,但不可能百分百保证胜利。战场形势变化莫测,不可能有人能完全把握。假如在骑兵冲锋时候突然来了一场突如其来的暴雨,或者山洪爆发冲垮了一座重要的桥梁使得增援军队不能及时赶到、或者一根流矢击中了敌方或者我方的重要人物——那会完全改变整个战场的形势。”“这就是所谓三分努力七分天意了,殿下。”帝林适时地插嘴,他笑着说:“但幸好,我们的斯特林统领运势一直很强——我跟他赌钱就没赢过,除非作弊。”几个人轻声地笑出来了,把紧张的气氛化解不少。罗明海总统领冷冷说:“斯特林统领可能没有理解清楚。—场战斗结果有可能出乎意料,但就一场长期战争来说,胜负一般是取决于双方的军事力量对比的。总长想询问斯特林阁下,如果开战,我们的军队能不能取胜?”“再加上了新征集的预备部队和民兵武装后,在数量上,我军对比流风军并没有处于太大的劣势,但我们存在着不少问题:军队的训练程度较差;熟练兵员的比例,比起七八一年以前,下降的程度非常明显;在年龄结构相身体方面,士兵的总体素质不能令人乐观;武器装备的生产和补充尚需要时间;战略补充能力比较薄弱,地方预备武装机构尚没做好新一轮大规模征召的准备——”“斯特林统领你能不能简单地回答我:究竟能不能?”斯特林不动声色地扫了他一眼,罗明海咄咄逼人的态度令他很反感。他苦涩地吞了口水:“如果要摧毁流风家,那需要举国动员——目前军队还没做好承担这个任务的准备。”罗明海心满意足地“嗯”了一声,面上得意的表情分明在说:我早知道这样。“需要多少时间呢?”“军务部会尽自己的最大努力,但这取决于很多外来因素:经济上,家族对军队的财政投入已经很大了,但要达到让军队在短时间内恢复甚至超过远东战前实力的这个要求来说,还是略有不足;元老会宣布国家是处于战备状态,但却没有授权我们发布全民动员令;我们曾提出建议把兵役时间适当延长,另外,扩大征兵范围——但都没能得到批准。”“延长兵役时间是我反对的。”哥珊副统领推推黑框的宽边眼镜,淡淡说:“在家族尚未受到外来攻击的情况下,我们不能任意延长兵役时间,这是对士兵们失信,会导致家族的威望败坏。另外,斯特林统领所提到的扩大征兵范围——你实质上指的是在农村中实行七男一征,城市中实行十男一征吧——我可以明确表态:我坚决反对!”没有人出声,哥珊副统领喝了口茶水,又说了下去:“斯特林统领,从七七八年起的这五年,家族军队的损失总数,你们军务处应该有个数字吧?”斯特林略显尴尬:“没有正式的统计,但哥珊阁下您如果想要的话,我可以立即让人计算……”“没这个必要。”哥珊干脆地说:“我这就可以给你个大概的数字。七七八年是我紫川家运气较好的一年,虽然在西部吃了流风霜败仗,在远东却打了胜仗,一年下来,我们士兵的损伤人数约为三万——可以称得上正常消耗。”她在纸上迅速地写了个“3”字。“七七九年开初,帝林大人在远东非常活跃,连战连捷——但我估计,五、六万的伤亡肯定是有的吧?”面对哥珊的问话,帝林面无表情,默不作声,于是哥珊又在纸上写了个“6”字。“接下来就是在平定杨明华的叛乱中,帝都军民的损伤程度——起码又是4万人,帝林大人,您没意见吧?”哥珊的语气中充满了愤怒和嘲讽的味道,谁都知道,在帝都流血夜中,正因为企图阻止帝林的暴行,哥珊被总长紫川参星处分过。“在远东的叛乱中,雷洪二十五个师团的兵力叛变,我们立即就损失了二十万的军队却增加了二十万的敌人、远东叛乱初期,抛开平民的损伤不计,各行省的守备军队的损伤起码在十五万左右;接着就是可耻的赤水滩,非常惨重:二十三万军队伤亡!“从七七九年八月到七八零年年初将近丰年的时间里,那是家族王军和远东叛军之间的拉锯战了,虽然我军取得了相当的战果,但伤亡估计不会低于七、八万。”“再往下就是魔族的突然袭击了。这段时期的伤亡资料非常混乱,很多部队名义上还存在,但事实上只剩下一面旗帜加一个司令;有些部队在最初的报告中是落入了魔族的包围圈全军覆没了,但结果我们却在瓦伦要塞看到他们在安然无恙地吃烤红薯,一个人没少,连厨房的炉子都带出来了。——但总体来说,伤亡之惨重是空前的。民众的损失那是没办法计算了,军队的损失——有没有达到四十万?”斯特林枯涩地吞了下口水:“三十八万七千。”“好!最后就是斯特林大人您在帕伊抗击魔族的壮举了,这个就比较好计算了:中央军在开战前有将近十一万的兵力,最后能回瓦伦的不到五万。”“现在,资料基本上已经齐全了——声明一下,这是按照最保守资料统计的,还有很多我没注意到的可能遗漏了。”哥珊将手上白纸高高举起,上面一个大大的红色数字连瞎子都看得清楚:一○六○○○○○○“一百零六万!各位大人,一百零六万!”一片寂静中,只有哥珊略显沙哑的嗓音在仿佛空无人迹的会议室中回荡:“对于各位大人来说,士兵、部队可能都只是一个数字,但军队和士兵不可能凭空生成!每一个士兵都是爹妈生父母养的,把他从嚎啕的婴儿养成一个成年男子起码需要二十年的光阴,耗费的社会劳动力和物资资料难以计数!“本应该是生产主力的壮年男子被大量地抽调到军队中,毫无裨益地被消耗在战场上,本来就衰弱的工业生产力,绝大部分还要倾注在军工产业上,而极大地压缩了其他部门的生产能力,导致生活物资匮乏、物价飞涨、黑市交易泛滥,我们的整个社会经济都正在萎缩之中!“如果是为了应付迫在眉睫的危机,短时间地节衣缩食,我相信民众可以忍耐。但仅仅是为了一个争霸天下的虚名,我们毫无目的的穷兵黩武,军队还要扩大征召的范围和延长兵役时间、我们还要把日益庞大的军费赋税加诸于不堪负荷的民众——”帝林插嘴说:“增加军费的问题,绝大部分民众是赞成的。”“——那是因为你们欺骗民众,说一切灾难都是因为魔族的入侵造成的!别以为我不清楚你们监察厅私下干的肮脏勾当,无耻之极!我们面临的本来就是一个经济困难,经济的问题的解决完全可以依靠经济手段:调整产业结构、减免赋税、减少对工商业的控制和审批,采用积极的财政政策,用各种渠道增加就业——只要持之以恒,形势肯定会逐步好转。但你们却利用了民众的无知,借助对外战争来转移内部视线,把民众的绝望心理煽动成好战!“一旦开战,兵火连接,伤亡惨重,我们都将成为罪人!我们将如何向历史交代?家族还有多少个一百零六万青壮年?一旦民众醒悟过来,他们还能忍耐多久?”没有一个人出声。斯特林眼盯着自己面前光滑的桌面,脊背上汗水直流。而且,他相信这绝不是他一个人的感受,会议室中人人面色铁青,像是带了个金属的面具。紫川参星冰冷的目光注视着哥珊,后者毫无惧意地抬头与之对视。僵持了一阵,他移开了眼睛,毫无表情地宣布:“散会,大家休息十分钟。”斯特林从总长府七楼休息室的窗户向外望去,夜色苍茫。帝都的万家灯火呈现在眼前,远远近近,密集的灯火如同海洋一样蔓延开去,一直到目光不能及的天际。星星在大地上空悲哀地眨着眼睛,夜雾似烟,朦胧,飘忽。习习的夜风透过敞开的窗户吹进来,把充满了夏天和泥士气息的空气带进房间里。身后传来熟悉的脚步声,沉稳,坚定。来人一直走到了自己的身边才停下脚步。帝林由衷地赞叹:“好美的夜景。”斯特林笑了一下,回答道:“是啊,只是你我平时都没留意。会议什么时候开始?”帝林耸耸肩膀:“罗明海正在总长办公室里。”斯特林笑笑,这十分钟的休息时间还真是漫长啊,从下午四点一直到晚上七点,三个小时过去了,还没有要重新开始的通知。“哥珊已经被逮捕了。”帝林平淡地说,仿佛在说着与自己根本无关的事情。斯特林点头。一个小时前,他从休息室的窗户里看到哥珊在一队宪兵的簇拥下经过总长府门口的小广场,上了一架挂有监察厅标志的马车。“帝林,我知道哥珊一直对你抱有偏见,但……”“我知道你要说什么。放心,她不会受到任何虐待和暴力。”望着窗外的灯火,帝林说:“我不是那种公报私仇的人。不过,在会上她让你那么难堪,你还要保护她?”“无论立场怎样,我很佩服她的勇气。何况,她的话不无道理。”“就算有一万个道理也不能在那个场合说!哥珊很会做事,却不会做人,总是不懂判断形势和气氛。总长很固执又好强,自从远东失利后,如果没什么意外的话,在后世的历史上他会被冠以称号:‘丢了远东二十三行省的八代总长紫川参星’,他如何甘心?好不容易流风家有了内乱的迹象,他当然希望把自己称号变成:‘灭亡了流风家族的八代总长紫川参星’。“八代总长紫川参星殿下在远东遭受小挫,失败之后忍辱负重,卧薪尝胆,在六十多岁的高龄最终一举灭亡我紫川家百世的仇敌流风一族!烈士暮年,壮心不已,这是堪与云殿下开创紫川一姓的丰功匹敌的壮举!紫川一族香火延绵,后继有人了!家族列祖列宗部应该在天国为此喜笑颜开,赞叹不已!后世的子子孙孙更是对其崇拜得五体投地,无限向往!紫川家族罕见的英主,中兴的伟大君主,紫川帝国的开创者,紫川参星陛下万岁!”帝林说得很小声,只能让斯特林听见,后者一边听一边“哧哧”地偷笑。“——斯特林,你想想,如果能在家族的史书来上这么一段,那多带劲啊!这次会议,他把明辉和林冰都召了回来,表示他是下了很大的决心了。偏偏哥珊不识趣,这个时候来谈什么‘穷兵黩武’,甚至敢骂我们是采取‘愚民政策’——她骂我无所谓,但宣传的口号和政策那可是总长自己亲自制定的啊——那不是自己找死吗?你也不用为她担心,被革职和拘禁在她也不是第一次了,罗明海会保她的,她很快就会出来了。”“我不是担心她……”斯特林摇摇头:“我担心的是总长。”帝林眯起了眼睛:“我看得出,刚才你有所保留:能不能跟我说实话,如果开战的话,军方——军务处和总参谋部——认为有多少胜算?”斯特林斟字酌句地回答:“我们目前所有的部署都是着眼于防守反击,要突然转变成为主动进攻,需要时间调整军队的布置。”“流风家不会明天就内乱,调整有的是时间。”“流风霜很可怕,她从没打过败仗。”“人总会犯错误,何况一个女人,那她就更有理由犯错误。”“流风家的军队庞大而强悍。”“而这庞大的军队眼看着就要在三个皇子的带领下来一场自相残杀了——斯特林,你该不会给那个该死的哥珊传染了吧?难道你也反对开战?”“你呢?”斯特林反问。帝林轻轻一笑:“哥珊是从民生的角度考虑,我考虑的却是紫川家的长期战略。斯特林,跟你说实话:从现在开始的五年之内,如果我们打不垮流风霜的话,那我们就只有注定被流风家消灭的命运。”“什么?!”“奇怪吗?你想想,在远东战争之前,我们与流风家一直保持着相对的均衡状态,不分上下。但失去了远东二十三省后,均衡的状态已被打破,随着时间的推栘,实力的对比会更加地不利于我们。流风的内战是上天赐予我们的最后机会,一旦流风家从内战中恢复过来,不用五年的,他们的国力就会将我们远远抛在脑后!那时候的流风家,会强大到连碰一碰都是危险的事情。”斯特林眼角微微抽搐,帝林考虑问题的方式令他震惊,但听起来不无道理。“但我们刚刚战败,也是很衰弱。”“还有时间,军队——要尽量为此做好准备,恢复实力。现在,我们还有一拚的机会,但错过这个机会,我们就连拚的机会都没有了!”帝林忽然笑了:“听过一个笑话吗?乌龟打劫蜗牛,蜗牛跑去报案说:‘当时一切发生得实在太快了……’”斯特林一笑。“现在,我们是乌龟,就是要趁内乱时候打劫流风家那只蜗牛!虽然我们也是伤痕累累,但只要趁流风家混乱,在最脆弱的时候给他们致命的一击,这就足够了!”“如果这一击没能奏效呢?”“那战争就要持年况久了。我们已经没有退路了,只有拚命打下去,耗尽最后一分潜力:把从十六岁到六十岁的最后一个男人都送上了战场,把最后一把勺子铸成钢刀,烧光最后一亩稻田,拆掉最后一间房子做掩体——我相信流风家也不会比我们好过多少的。”斯特林不寒而栗,帝林描述的前景令他心寒。他沉重地说:“紫川家拚光了,流风家也奄奄一息。这样,在我们——紫川与流风——两家的废墟上,最后还会剩下什么呢?人类如此自相残杀,最后只便宜了魔族。”“这样不是很好吗?分裂已经两百年了,打打歇歇了两百年,该有一个结局了。”帝林开玩笑地说:“说不定,一个统一的新帝国即将在废墟上诞生呢!”“但我们真的有必要打到如此程度吗?”“不是我们希望如此,而是事实和形势逼迫我们必须如此——我们也不得不战!国民的热情和好战精神必须寻找一个宣泄点,否则的话,他们对于外部侵略和经济灾难的不满就会演变成为对于家族当局——也就是我们——无能和无所作为的不满,进而威胁政权。何况,如此狂热的好战精神和激情,那种万众一心的国民意志,身为家族的领导人如果任由其毫无目标的发泄,让他们把这种热量倾泻在毫无意义的游行和示威上,那将是极其愚蠢的浪费。民众这种狂热的好战情绪,将会导致元老会进入一种状态——”“在这种状态下,元老会会同意我们提出的任何疯狂的提议,哪怕是同时对流风和魔族开战,哪怕是今年的赋税加三倍!”“已经提出了,斯特林,已经提出了,甚至不用我们开口。”望着惊呆了的斯特林,帝林笑笑:“元老会今天上午已经自发地通过提议,今年的赋税加两倍,用于新增加的军费。他们现在正在讨论通过给予总长宣战权的问题——斯特林,你的消息落伍了!——正是因为这样,总长这才紧急召集我们开这个会议。反战的最后一个障碍是哥珊,嗯,她的下场你也看见了。”斯特林无力地呻吟一声:“天,这该死的鬼天气把大家都烧昏头了吗?”“呵呵,不客气地说,如今国民陷入的这种自发的狂热状态,正是多少统治者曾梦寐以求的,多好的国民啊,一个劲地嚷嚷着:‘战斗!战斗!我们要战斗!’我们的任务是,用一场战争来引导这股好战的能量——”他笑容一敛转为严肃:“斯特林,上个月,你不是提出扩大徽召范围没得到元老会同意吗?明天你把提案再交上去,准行!”“就算批准也需要程序,起码需要一个星期的时间。”“在得到批准之前,你可以干点别的事啊!我有个办法可以避开元老会。不过当你扩军时候,你也得分我一杯羹:隶属监察厅的宪兵纪律部队也要扩充二十万人。”斯特林惊讶:“哦,说来听听。”“附耳上来!”帝林小声在斯特林的耳朵边嘀咕了一阵,斯特林一拍手:“哎呀,我怎么就没想到?”“不过,”他凝视着帝林:“这么好的法子,你怎么不在会议上提出呢?”“呵呵,斯特林,军务是属于你的管辖范围,我怎么好插手?我提的话,罗明海准会出来反对,由你来提这个建议,那是顺理成章的事,谁都没话说。”有人轻轻敲一下候见室的门,两人都住了口。一个身材高大、服饰漂亮的禁卫军官出现在门口处:“监察长大人、统领大人,会议即将开始了,请下来吧。”家族的重员们再次聚集在会议室时候,时间已经将近晚上八点了。大多数人的眼中已经露出疲态,与会成员中年纪最大的紫川参星反倒是精神矍铄,他扬起嗓门招呼大家:“快进来,坐好了!”哥珊的位置空了出来,望着那空荡荡的椅子,没有人表示惊讶和询问,冷漠得就像那位置本来就是空的。毕竟能在这个房间里有一席之位的人,像哥珊那么不懂进退的毕竟是很少的。“会议继续进行——刚才忘记介绍了,这位大家应该都很熟悉,我侄女紫川宁。”紫川宁婷婷起身,朝各位重臣们欠身示意,脸上带着浅浅的微笑。大家都对自己未来的君主报以亲切的微笑。“阿宁还是第一次参与家族的决策会议。”紫川参星的脸上有几分感慨:“呵呵,小女孩终于长大了,知道为家族分忧了。阿宁是很能干的,但经验有所欠缺,需要锻链。我考虑,她暂时不挂实职,任总长助理,在各部、处实习——大家看怎么样?”若是哥珊在的话说不定会寻根刨底:总长助理?这到底是什么官职?级别是红衣旗本还是副统领?许可权有多大?但她不在,谁会干这种杀风景的事情。“宁小姐出来为家族分忧,那是再好不过的事情了!”边防军统领明辉笑得亲切无比:“我家族又一栋梁之才即将成长起来了!欢迎小姐来边防军视察和指导!”大家暗暗骂明辉:滑头!这家伙心里有数,以紫川宁家族继承人的身份何等尊贵,紫川参星绝不可能放她到随时有可能爆发战争的西方边境第一线的,于是他就放心地大说漂亮话,惠而不费。远东副统领林冰也笑说:“两年前我见过宁小姐,那时候她还是个小姑娘。一眨眼,呵呵,变得这么漂亮了!家族后继有人啊!我代表全体远东将士欢迎宁小姐前来瓦伦视察!”她的情况与明辉相同,并不太担心紫川宁会真的前往瓦伦。其他人也七嘴八舌地说了些赞美的话:“宁小姐天生聪慧,前途定然无量!”“小姐只要稍微锻链个两年,呵呵,我紫川家也有个‘流风霜’啦!”“有着远星大人血统,在参星大人的栽培下长大,准是好样的!”帝林结结巴巴也说了两句:“欢迎宁小姐到监察厅视察。”只是比起林冰和明辉来,他语气勉强了很多。斯特林微笑,他是明白怎么回事的,他更明白帝林在担心什么,换成自己也不会希望这么一个有着未来总长身份的特殊人物到自己的部下工作,每天都得小心翼翼地侍候她,一下小心就得罪了未来的总长,那还有什么前途?更何况,统领处和监察厅,哪个部门没有见不得人的手段和花样?如果这些都让紫川宁看到了,不说将来,只要她跑回去跟她叔叔打个小报告:“参星叔叔啊,监察厅私设小金库,他们很有钱喔!”“参星叔叔喔,帝林的办公室装饰非常豪华,严重超标喔!他的钱哪里来的呢?”“参星叔叔喔,今天维加副统领来见帝林,他们两个鬼鬼祟祟单独关上门说了足足有半个钟头,也没留下谈话记录,不知搞什么花样?——不是说监察系统官员不得私下结交行政官员的吗?”光是这些就足够让帝林头疼的了。幸好,紫川参星立即就解除了他的担心:“我先前已经和阿宁商量过了,女孩子不适宜到弄刀弄枪的军队中去,打算还是让她先到文职的后勤部和行政处去学点东西——呃,罗明海,以后阿宁可就是你的手下了,她有什么做得不对的,你只管批评她!”紫川事盈盈起身向罗明海行一礼:“总统领大人,以后请多指教了!”罗明海起身回礼,强笑道:“请多指教。宁小姐冰雪聪明,我们统领处又多一名栋梁之才啊!”看到罗明海的困窘,帝林恨不得放声大笑:有这个未来的总长做部下,今后罗明海的日子就难熬了。只是……帝林皱起了眉头:后勤部统筹家族军队的财政和物资补给,行政处不但是家族文职官员的管理中枢,还管辖着帝都治部少这个强力部门。两部门都是家族的要害部门,历来是归幕僚长官亲自掌握的。只是现任幕僚长哥珊正在监察厅的大牢里面,在两部门权力出现真空时候,紫川宁这一强势人物进去,势必统揽全局。她虽然没有正式任职,但位置绝对举足轻重。哥珊刚刚被逮捕失势,紫川宁立即取代了她的位置——是无意中的巧合,还是这个女孩子刻意的安排?日后即使哥珊从狱中出来,但紫川宁已经先入为主了,你哥珊唯一的出路就是辅佐紫川宁大人吧!望着微微颤抖的长睫毛低掩下那双漂亮的眼眸,帝林发觉,比起往日的天真烂漫带一点少女的调皮,今日的紫川宁,表现出了与其年龄不相符的沉稳。她一直保持着低调,话语不多,但每一句都很有分寸,得体大方,眼神游离不定,从这个看到那个,脸上始终带着笑,让人琢磨不透。——再不能以那个爱哭爱闹的小女孩来看待她了!今后的紫川宁,将正式成为那些手掌天下命运的重量级政治人物之一。等紫川宁的介绍告一段落,接下来是听取东面、西面两条战线的负责防务长官的汇报。瓦伦要塞镇守司令林冰向总长和统领处报告:在瓦伦正面,魔族状态十分平静。魔族的西南大营已经放弃了贴近瓦伦要塞的第一线阵地,战斗部队从设置了壕沟和堡垒的前线后退,也停止了那种挑衅性的十分靠近瓦伦要塞周边的日常巡逻。魔族在第一线的部队人数大大地减少了,人类的侦察部队甚至可以越境深入近十公里还没有碰到一个魔族士兵,即使碰到了,魔族士兵的态度比先前也要温和了许多,他们往往采用语言警告的方式而不是战斗来驱赶人类出境,仿佛他们的指挥官也在有意识地避免发生与人类军队的摩擦和战斗。有传言——注意,仅仅是未经核实的传言——在魔族王国的远东境内发生了大规模的反叛事件,魔族第一线的作战部队都被抽调回去镇压了,也有传言说是在魔族王国的本上发生了魔族皇族之间的内讧,魔神皇已经被迫下台了。估计在近期,今后的半年之内,魔族是不会对人类世界发动大规模的攻势。边防军统领明辉笑笑:“我的情况与林冰阁下惊人地相似。”他报告说,在西部边境上,十字军的部分精锐部队已经向西开拔,流风家族的战斗部队已经停止了经常性的挑衅活动,一片风平浪静,边境发生大规模战事的可能不大。“这是个好消息。家族一天天地强大起来,我们的敌人已经在害怕了!好,就是要让他们更害怕!大家要注意到,战略性转折的时机已经到来了!家族已经摆脱了受威胁的被动状态了,但我们绝不能掉以轻心——”紫川参星总结说:“——无论什么时候,军队的加强始终是我们当前迫在眉睫的问题,斯特林,你身为统领处内军务的主管,对此要切实地负起责任来。”“总长殿下,各位大人,军务处有两个提议。”斯特林平静地举起手来。“哦?你说说。”“元老会一直担心过度的扩军会影响第一线生产,迟迟不肯批准实施国民征召令——为此,我提议,军队把下一次征兵重点放在远东的流亡难民中。”此言一出,举座震惊。林冰睁大了眼睛望着斯特林,喃喃道:“绝妙!”明辉拍拍自己的脑门:“怎么我就想不到?”远东战争中,数以百万计的远东人类居民失去家园,流亡在瓦伦要塞以西的家族行省,他们失去了生存的工作和上地,流离失所,到处流浪。这大股大股的难民潮所到之处给当地的社会治安造成了极大的隐患,各行省政府都为此极其头痛。为了安置这批难民,紫川家族的民政部门每个月都要耗费上亿的金钱给他们发放补助和食品。“将流亡难民中的壮年男子征收入伍有以下几点好处:一、是避开元老会的控制。难民在当地政府中都没有户籍和土地,属于无业人员——既然没有户籍,从纸上作业来说,他们是不存在的。征收他们,不算是从生产第一线抽调劳动力,不会引起元老会的反对。“二、减轻家族民政系统的负担和开支。从理论上来说,一个从军的战士,他所得薪水可以养活一个三口之家。如果我们假设在五百万难民中哪怕就有四十万人参军,那就解决了一百二十万人的温饱问题。“三、对于增强军队的战斗力也有好处。难民们在远东战争中失去了土地、家园和亲人的,再没有什么牵挂和留恋,对魔族怀有最深刻的仇恨——在我的经验里,由这种人组成的军队,只要稍加训练和数导,他们会很容易就成为那种无所畏惧的敢死之师!——不知总长殿下意下如何?”“好!好!”紫川参星听得眼睛发亮,连声地说好:“这是个好主意!统观全局,面面俱到。斯特林,你是用心的!”斯特林低下头表示谦虚,抬起头时候,他微微向帝林使了个眼色表示感谢,后者则若无其事地在一边低头看报告。罗明海在一旁泼冷水:“斯特林统领的主意虽好,但将大批的难民征召,组编成军,训练——没有个一年半载的时间恐怕还看不出效果吧?但流风家的内乱却就在眼前,恐怕远水救不了近火啊!”斯特林一笑:“是。总长殿下,总统领大人,下官还有第二个提议:我紫川家族并不是没有军队,只是军队并不在我们手里。”“在谁手里?”“在元老们的手里!就在军务处为兵力的缺乏而大伤脑筋的时候,贵族们却掌握着大量私人军队,拥兵自重。例如——”斯特林摊开了手上的一张纸,那是刚才帝林交给他秘密报告:“洛克辛威行省的元老会代表杜丘伯爵在其封地内养了三万多私人军队,达玛行省元老会代表的费沙男爵蓄兵一万六千多人,辛加行省的元老会代表余兰女伯爵拥兵两万七干人;瓦林行省的马维伯爵(这个名字让他觉得有点耳熟)拥有四个雇佣师团,总共两万三千名雇佣兵:利加行省的元老会代表,大富商祖巴的护卫团有一万一千人……”帝林的报告来得又长又详细,一共有四十三个元老贵族藉以护卫队、自卫团、乡镇治安联防队、城市保安团等名义私下组建军队,总兵力多达近六十万。没有一个人出声,大家看着斯特林慢吞吞地将那张纸折了起来装进口袋里,有种坐在火山口的感觉。当代总长紫川参星与元老会的关系一向是敏感中之最敏感,现在,斯特林摸到了这条最高压的线上了。总长看着斯特林,问:“情报确切吗?”斯特林谁也不看:“基本上可以肯定了。军务处的提议是,将这批私人军队收编列入正规军编制,由家族军务处统一指挥。”这是一次对紫川参星的反将军。如果他对此报告装聋作哑,那就不要再跟大家提什么‘争霸天下,击灭流风’,元老会始终是一道必须面对的考验,现在就看总长有没有勇气了。“据我所知,”帝林慢条斯理地说:“在二代总长紫川星殿下与贵族们达成的协议中明确规定,贵族的私兵不能超过三千,这是写进了元老会法案里面的铁律。以上的诸位贵族元老,毫无疑问地,他们触犯了法律。”谁也没有出声,所有人都在看着总长。感觉到无数的目光聚在自己面上,紫川参星的表情渐渐变得僵硬,脸上肌肉绷紧,手上的拳头捏紧:“监察总长帝林,我命令你,以谋逆罪——”“等一下!”令所有人吃惊,出声的人竟然是刚刚任命的“总长助理”紫川宁。她匆匆地说:“叔叔——哦,不,总长殿下,各位大人,很抱歉,但在您做决策之前,能不能先让我说两句呢?”“啊,阿宁啊。”看到出声的人是自己的亲侄女,紫川参星的表情缓和了下来:“你有什么要说的呢?”“是。总长殿下,各位大人,诚如监察长大人所言,刚才提到名字的贵族们违反了法令。但贵族蓄兵不得超过三千的这条法令颁布是在二代总长时代,距离如今有近两百年了,很多人都忘记了。平日里,大家都对此习以为常了。——就连我,如果监察长大人不提起的话,我也记不起有这么规定的了。他们未必就有谋逆的心。所以,恳请总长殿下给以上犯错的贵族们一次机会,只要他们交出兵权,配合军务处做好改编工作的话,对此就不加追究了,显示家族的宽容的胸怀。”她一边说一边对紫川参星使眼色,后者立即领悟了她的意思,口中“嗯、嗯”有声,好像正在思考该不该给那群犯错的贵族显示下“家族的宽容的胸怀”。帝林眼中流露赞叹之色,故意问:“如果他们不肯交出兵权呢?”“他们应该会肯的。否则,我们就将此事提交元老会,由元老会议来裁决。”“但这些贵族本身就是元老会成员……”“四十三名贵族在近五千的元老会议中只是很小的一部分,我相信这不会妨碍元老会作出正确裁决的。毕竟,这件事的事实和法律都非常的清楚。而且当前的形势下,元老会更不可能包庇他们。如果拒绝交出兵权,那些贵族立即就会成为众矢之的。“建议军务部给予那些贵族必要的补偿,或者将‘征用军队’的说法改成‘购调军队’,让人更容易接受。“而监察厅注意搜集相关的证据和材料,以便我们能在元老会议上能明确地指证。“命令各行省正规驻军进入戒备状态,对私人军队进行严密监视,造成声势和压力,也防止有人铤而走险,行大逆不道之事。“建议军务部为此事做好必要的准备工作,在整编的谈判中坚持重点突破。人人都有从众心理,只要有一个同意了,剩下的人会想:‘连某某大贵族都同意,我还撑什么呢?’那剩下的谈判就比较好解决了。”紫川宁侃侃而谈,大家像不认识似的睁大了眼睛望着她。就在这一眨眼的时间,她已经提出了和平地夺取贵族兵权的一系列步骤,而且分轻重缓急,有威胁(各行省驻军整军监视,摆明一旦不服从改编就要动手),也给出路(服从改编的,给予适当的经济补偿),恩威并施。帝林微笑着轻轻一欠身:“宁小姐思虑周到,下官十分佩服。”帝林说的是真心话。他是最清楚这件事的厉害关系的:如果按照刚才紫川参星恼怒之下的决定,真的逮捕了那些元老贵族的话,将会彻底激怒元老会,搞不好在流风家全面内战之前,紫川的内战就先爆发了。而紫川宁则提议把事情先交元老会审判,算是给了元老会的面子,还藉元老会的力量来压制那些坐拥私兵的贵族——即使他们不服元老会的裁决,那家族要对付的敌人也只是四十三名贵族而非整个元老会,阻力少了很多。整个步骤环环相扣,妥当又切实可行,即使那些最有经验的老手也不过如此。谁也没想到,这个家族未来的继承人,会是这般能干和睿智的一员政治家。帝林轻轻捅捅斯特林的胳膊:“怎么样?”斯特林小声:“非常了不起!见事极快,应变敏捷,稍加锻链的话,很有可能是不输于远星和参星两位殿下的一代明君!”“是啊。”帝林轻声感叹着。有一句话他忍住了没说出来:“正是这样我才担心啊!”第134章不义之降“请进。”斯特林从档案堆里抬起头来。“大人,”秦路从门外探头出来:“紫川宁小姐求见。”斯特林一阵慌乱。尽管他已经结婚成家了,但他还是承认自己不懂女人。在他看来,女人是很麻烦的动物。他知道紫川宁来找自己是为了什么——他宁愿面对着二十个魔族团队也不愿应付一个哭哭啼啼的哀怨少女。他托着下巴,好声气地和秦路商量:“能不能跟宁小姐说,我不在?”“晚了。”秦路面无表情地说:“我已经跟她说你在,而且很有空。”“你!”斯特林一时气结,他苦笑。七十三个师团的预备役士兵要转入现役,家族要增添近五十万的军队编制,要给这批部队安置集结点和部署在各个战略要地上;流风霜在西部蠢蠢欲动,流风家的十字军已经开到了多伦湖前线,大兵压境,西部军十个师团的部队面临被包围的危险,明辉统领的告急文书如同雪花般飞来。在瓦伦前线的军事演习中,演习部队又和魔族发生流血冲突,二十一个士兵和三个军官在冲突中阵亡,凌步虚向紫川家正式递交了警告,火yao味非常浓烈,第二次远东战争已经近在眼前。同时,各行省驻军发来的报告堆得有小山那么高。行省总督们深通为官之道,为了让自己的档案得到重视,每份信封上都用红字标明了:“紧急!”、“十万紧急!”、“火急!”、“极端重要!”、“危急!”自己哪一份都不敢遗漏,一一批覆,结果大多的报告都只是:“对某某军官的调令的请示”、“缺少一百套夏季服装申请补给”、“驻地营地水涝,请示是否转移驻地?”昨晚自己工作到凌晨三点,早上七点又起床继续干,八点进总长府做简单汇报,九点到元老会答覆关于帝都驻军扰民事件的处理结果,十点视察新组建的部队,听取师团长官们的汇报,中午也不能休息,自己和部下们忙得象狗一样把舌头都吐出来了,而现在……“给我准备一杯茶,要浓的。”斯特林吩咐进来的秘书,同时站起身跟秦路说:“走吧,一起出门去迎接宁小姐。”“宁小姐大驾光临视察,军务处全体同仁同感荣幸!”领着部属们站在门口,斯特林微笑地欢迎紫川宁,深深地鞠了一躬。尽管已是初春时节了,天气还是很冷。紫川宁静静地站在门口,披着一件洁白的绍皮大衣,缠着红色的围巾,美丽得令人目眩神驰。那些第一次见到她的年轻军官们被这位家族继承人的美丽所慑,不敢抬头正视。她身边没有一个随从。看着斯特林摆出了这般隆重而正式的仪仗,她秀眉一蹙,随即开颜:“斯特林大人大客气了,我只是随便来看看。叨搅各位了?”她望向一边的秦路等人。“哪里,哪里。宁小姐大驾光临,这是我们的荣幸,请都请不来呢!”秦路笑着说。斯特林微笑着不作声,在紫川宁的目光中,他看到了焦急。他和她都明白,这次拜访绝非一次“随便看看”。虽然紫川宁并没有担任任何实职,但她是家族的第一顺位继承人,这个身份相当于家族首脑,凌驾于任何家族官员之上。斯特林将紫川宁请入了办公室,按照正式的程序,他和一众军官开始给这位前来视察的家族继承人进行汇报。“不知小姐有意了解军务处哪一方面的工作呢?”斯特林问。紫川宁不动声色地望了他一眼,目光中大有深意,微笑说:“随便谈谈吧。”斯特林非常了解这个眼神的意思:“斯特林,你这个家伙竟敢和我装傻!”于是他就憨憨地傻笑起来,吩咐秦路说:“老路,给宁小姐汇报一下西部边境的局势吧,那边情况比较重要。”“明白!宁小姐、斯特林大人,众所周知,在西部对我家族构成最大威胁的是流风家族。它是我们家族的死敌!流风家族的军队分为三个系统,国防军系统,十字军系统、还有就是远京卫戍军区。”“一说到流风家就不能不说到流风霜。在流风家族内部,流风霜无疑是首屈一指的重将和权臣。但人们往往不知道,虽被流风西山册封为‘终身护国统领’的荣誉称号,但是就实际宫职来说,她不过是习冰军区的司令,辖地不到三千平方里,论职位,她不过和我紫川家的一个行省总督差不多。但实际上,习冰军区位于流风家与我紫川家和林家接壤的三角地区,是兵家必争之地,流风家族在此地部署了重兵死守。就在习冰军区以及周边邻近地区的防守地域,部署了十字军的主力和国防军系统的一百三十个联队,而且自从流风霜在远京失势来到习冰地区后,得到了流风路的大力支持,她一直致力于流风家军力的加强,自行在三大系统外一手创建新军——风霜团。她所指挥的部队包括了流风家族最强的实战部队,是流风家实质上的“兵马大元帅”。就目前来说,她和她的军队对我紫川家的安全造成了最大的威胁,而且近来的诸多迹象表明,她对我紫川家怀有强烈的野、心……”秦路抓住了机会,从当前形势一直说到展望未来,“我神勇的家族军队必将战胜无耻的冠以流风姓氏的无耻人类败类”云云,说得滔滔不绝。斯特林默不作声地观察着:表面上,紫川宁听得非常认真,身子微微前倾,不时轻轻点头:“哦,是这样的吗……”、“嗯,对……”但她那双游离不定的眸子已经暴露了她内心的焦急和心不在焉,白皙的手指抓住了衣角,紧紧捏住。斯特林暗叹一声:“何必呢。”汇报进行得又长又臭,接下来军务处所属的几个高级军官分别进行了关于各地区战备工作的汇报,一共进行了两个多小时。眼看时间已经是中午了,斯特林微笑着终止了汇报会:“好了,大家说得都很好,宁小姐,您还需要了解些什么情况吗?”“啊,”心不在焉的紫川宁回过神来,有种如梦初醒的感觉,犹豫一下,她笑笑说:“斯特林大人,有个情况我想向你了解一下。”斯特林平静地说:“好的。”旁边的军官们识趣地起身,离开了办公室,最后一个人出了门,脚步声渐渐远去。他看着她,她却局促不安,眼神游离不定。斯特林轻声咳嗽—声。“斯特林大哥,”紫川宁终于下定了决心,开口就直奔主题:“阿秀哥哥,他……他在哪里?”斯特林犹豫一下,还是回答了:“远东。这几年,他一直在远东。”紫川宁猛然后退一步:“啊!难道,他真的……”“情况不是你想的这样。”斯特林站了起身,走到窗前,窗外的园子里,树木已经长出了娇嫩的绿叶。他回过头来,直视着紫川宁,缓慢地说:“阿秀对家族的忠诚,没有谁能比得上。他是个真正的忠贞之士。”紫川宁呆呆地看着他。“事情要从七八九年的帕伊围城说起。”斯特林开始讲述紫川秀两年多的经历:他忍辱负重,伪装向魔族投诚,讲述他英勇过人,于魔族聚会之时将雷洪当场格杀,杀伤魔族将领无数,国家得以惩罚奸逆,洗刷耻辱,魔族嚣张的气焰遭到沉重打击。他凭着大智大勇,经历九死一生的磨难,终于逃脱了魔族的魔掌。但狠毒的敌人不甘心失败,捏造出可耻的谎言来中伤他,让他有家归不得,被迫流亡远东。但就在这种艰难的情形下,紫川秀仍旧没有放弃他对家族的忠诚与坚贞,在远东卧薪尝胆,秘密练兵,苦心积攒力量,终于等到时机成熟,他一手发动了远东大起义,给予魔族沉重打击,在不为人知的情形下默默地捍卫了紫川家的东方防线。当他从远东归来时候,又恰好遭遇神秘的刺客对紫川宁的行刺,他单枪匹马狙击对方全部高手,力保紫川宁得以幸免于难,自己却被敌人所重创……紫川宁安静地听着,腰挺得笔直,身形一动不动。尽管知道紫川秀后来一定没事,但听得斯特林叙述紫川秀经历之险,她脸上情不自禁地流露出紧张的神情。当得知那晚紫川秀为拯救自己受了重伤,她低下了头侧过睑去,以免让斯特林看见她眼中的波光闪动。斯特林理解她此刻的心情:自己心上人非但不是叛逆,而且还是个了不起的大英雄,这更让她自己的作为显得难以容忍。“一个人,在远离亲人与朋友的地方,断绝了消息,蒙受耻辱和骂名,默默地战斗。没有得到家族一兵一卒的援助,凭个人的努力,他已经收复了远东国土的大半,这在历史上是从没有过的!此功此业,足可光耀日月,彪炳千秋!可以说,阿秀他完全无愧于当年远星大人对他的栽培,无愧于哥应星大人对他的厚望,也无愧于——”斯特林若有所思地看了紫川宁一下:“——宁小姐您曾经对他寄予的期望。”紫川宁一直在压抑着自己,告诫自己要冷静。但听着斯特林平和有力的陈述,不知不觉的,泪水已经夺眶而出。她再也忍受不住了,起身在房间里急切地走来走去。仿佛发着高烧,她苍白的脸上现出了斑斑红晕,心胸在起伏,呼吸急速,仿佛她正在承受着巨大的苦痛。不敢面对斯特林严肃的脸,也因为双脚已经不能支持自己了,她双手扶着墙,对着墙壁长久地站立。斯特林暗叹一口气,他打开窗户,大量涌进来的新鲜空气中饱含着春天的气息。黎明前下过一阵短时间的绵绵细雨,花园中的泥土被雨水冲过,到处留下了水流的痕迹,园子里,大量的新芽正在干枯的枝头上争先恐后地绽放,雨水洗过的新芽像是泡沫似的在阳光下闪着光芒,充满了勃勃生机。他听到了身后隐隐传来的啜泣声音,但却故意忽略了。过了几分钟,哭声低了下来,斯特林转过身去,走到紫川宁身边,善解人意地递上手帕。紫川宁没有回过头,低声说:“谢谢。”接过了手帕。当她回转头时候,她已经能控制自己了,除了眼睛有点潮湿相通红外,她看上去一切正常。对着斯特林,她苦涩地一笑:“斯特林大哥,谢谢你告诉我这些。”“不客气,这是你应该知道的。宁小姐,你——”仿佛害怕什么,紫川宁匆匆地说:“我知道,斯特林大哥你是很忙的,我已经耽误你很多时间了,实在不好意思。这就告辞了,代我向清姐问好。”斯特林默默地点头,看着紫川宁向门口走去,他突然出声:“宁小姐,请留步一下。”紫川宁的身影僵住了,诧异地回头望来。斯特林有点懊悔地挥一下手,却不知该说什么。为了紫川秀——也为了紫川宁,他只是知道,绝不能让紫川宁就这么走掉。他总想为自己最疼爱的小弟做点事情,好挽回这段感情。“宁小姐,以我的身份,也许我不该说,但是……有些事情……有些事情……你也许真应该好好的考虑一下呢?”他皱着眉头在苦苦思索,想找一个恰当又不伤害紫川宁自尊心的方式把自己的真正意思表白出来。这时候,紫川宁反倒是善解人意,她笑了:“斯特林大哥,你是想不是想说,我和阿秀还有在一起的希望?”紫川宁挑破了这层纸,斯特林大感轻松。他道:“正是。”“阿宁,你是家族未来总长,是我的主君,以我紫川家家臣的身份,有些话我是不该说的。但我又是看着你和阿秀长大的,承蒙你不弃,一直称我为大哥,那今天,就允许我逾越一下臣子的本分。”紫川宁柔声说:“斯特林大哥,从小我是一直真的把你当大哥。你想说什么,我大概也猜到了一点。你是想劝说我回头,和阿秀哥哥重归于好吧?”“正是。”“前天早上,我已经和元老会的马维阁下谈过了。”紫川宁欲言又止。斯特林急切地追问:“怎么样?”她嫣然一笑,美丽得犹如海棠带雨:“今后,大家都还是好朋友。”花了足足半分钟斯特林统领才明白这句话的意思。他不禁感慨:青春年华的女孩子都能无师自通地拥有和外交官相媲美的言辞,明明是无情的分手绝交,她们却有办法说得那么动听:“我们做一生一世的好朋友吧!”让男人吃了哑巴亏还得扮出一副很有风度的样子表示:我不要紧,我真的一点都不要紧,最后还得深情脉脉地祝她永远幸福。一瞬间,他感觉自己的同情是站在那个花花公子的元老议员一边的。他欣喜说:“那就好!宁小姐,只要您……”“斯特林大哥,你不明白的。”紫川宁柔声却坚决地打断了他的话:“问题的关键不在这里。我配不上阿秀。”斯特林诧异地望着她,她笑了,笑得凄婉又坚决:“真的,我配不上他。他是那么高尚,那么勇敢。为了国家,为了人类,他浴血奋战,捍卫国土。面对祖国,面对上天,他问心无愧。而我呢?就在他冒着生命危险,为我紫川家斩奸除逆;就在他九死一生,被魔族追捕的那些最危险的日日夜夜里;在他冲锋陷阵,冒着魔族的刀剑弓箭奋勇杀敌的时候,我没能为他祈祷一声,甚至我还怀疑,他是不是真的投降魔族了!”斯特林安慰说:“这并不是小姐您的错,当时几乎所有人都是这么认为的。”“但我不是‘一般人’,我是他的……我应该是最了解他的人!就算天底下所有人都怀疑他,我也应该相信他,坚定不移。何况,斯特林大哥你,还有监察总长帝林阁下——你们始终都相信阿秀,不是吗?而我更应该相信他,相信他不会死,相信他的忠诚,相信他对我的承诺!”紫川宁的声音渐渐低落下去了:“但我没能做到。爱情是对双方的考验,而这个考验,我没能经得住。诚然,我紫川家对阿秀是有所亏欠,但我对他的负义更是超过任何人。从孩提时代起,我欠他的,实在太多。多少次,他为我出生入死,但我能回报他的,只有伤心和痛苦。我不是个值得他爱的人,如果没有我,他会更幸福的。“人们常说破镜重圆——但破了的镜子,裂痕还在,始终不可能恢复成原来的样子。”斯特林望着她,他想到了阿秀告别时候那悲哀的背影,他理解紫川宁此刻的心情,深深的罪恶感使得她无法坦然地面对他,而紫川秀傲气和自尊更是使得他是不可能回头的——误会已冰消瓦解了,但隔阂依旧存在。彼此思念的两个人依旧不能在一起,感情的事情真是复杂。两人心头有很多话想说,却不知该怎么说起。最后,她盈盈地站起来:“斯特林大哥,谢谢你了,我想,我已经耽误你太多时间了,该走了。”“阿宁!”斯特林第二次叫住了她:“你再坐一下,我有些话要说。”斯特林站起来,倾身直视着紫川宁:“宁小姐,以我二十多年的人生经历来看,我不相信世界上没有不可挽回的事情。即使有,纵使凶难临头,纵使形势险恶,作为人类,我们只要一息尚存,就要尽最俊一分努力。我明白你此刻的心情,你与阿秀的感情遇到了挫折,相互之间存在着误会,但无论什么时候,绝不可放弃希望,绝不可自暴自弃,就权当一切回到了空白,一切重头再来,那又怎样?只要我们努力争取,付出真心,事情并非不可挽回!”斯特林语调铿锵有力,其中流露坚定的信心。紫川宁听得霍然动容。她明白了,为什么斯特林能成为首屈一指的名将。他平时行事并不高调,也不引人瞩目,但无论在如何艰难困苦的环境中,他都能显示出真止男子汉的气度,他坚定的信心就像阳光一样洒遍左右,给周围的人们依靠,成为人们精神上的支柱。“阿宁,现在他遇到了麻烦,需要你的帮助。你愿意吗?”“我愿意,哪怕赴汤蹈火!”紫川宁立即回答,随即又有点犹豫:“将来有那么一天,当我——到那时候,我自然会为阿秀平反,恢复名声。但现在,我无职无权,如何能对阿秀有所帮助呢?”“首先,关于阿秀的一切情况,你还不能向外公布。阿秀的名誉还没能恢复,如果泄露了,监察长大人、阿秀本人还有我都会很麻烦的。”“我发誓,在没得到斯特林阁下同意以前,我绝不将今天在这里的谈话内容向外泄露。若违此誓,让我千刀——”“行,行了。宁小姐,没必要发毒誓那么严重,只要你答应就可以了。”斯特林打断,笑说:“要未来的总长向我发誓保证,我还没那么大胆子啊!”“斯特林大哥!”紫川宁娇嗔道,不依地跺着脚,那女儿家的娇态让斯特林看得呆了。他简单地跟紫川宁形容了一下紫川秀的处境:尽管他在远东屡战屡胜,但后勤供给能力的薄弱却限制了他进一步扩展战果。自己与帝林已经想尽办法为他在不为人知的情况下筹集补给,但总还有存在着一些障碍和阻拦。“军务处这里的事务我可以处理,监察厅的监督帝林阁下也可以解决。在家族的高级官员中,我们唯一顾忌的就是幕僚长哥珊阁卜。她负责后勤部和行政处,全面统筹家族军队的补给和财政开支,是家族的文宫之首。她精干明练,眼光老辣,上次就是她从各行省物资价格的变动中发现蹊跷,最后导致了“战略物资禁止流通法案”的颁布,让阿秀十分为难。我们要长期这样瞒天过海,大规模供应阿秀各种物资和补给,恐怕难以瞒过她。“现在的问题是,哥珊阁下是总统领罗明海阁下的人,在她的后勤部系统内,我们缺少一个够分量的人来配合我们牵制和监视她……”说到这里,斯特林眯起了眼睛,故意停住了话头。紫川宁想了一阵才明白他的用意:“斯特林大哥,你的意思是……”“我什么意思也没有。”斯特林笑眯咪的,慈祥得一面和气。他仿佛是不经意地提起:“据我所知,根据传统,总长继承人在正式接位之前都要到统领处的具体部门工作一段时间,锻链才干,熟悉业务和环境,为将来的正式接位做好准备。宁小姐,您今年已经二十了吧?该做准备了。”他起身和紫川宁握手,送她出门。马车定了好久,紫川宁才理解斯特林的用意。尽管心情郁闷,她还是哑然失笑。紫川家的三杰,果然名不虚传,没有一个是好相与的。就连最以耿直方正闻名的斯特林,在情况需要,只要他愿意的话,也是能要点诡计的。“也好吧。”想到能对紫川秀的事业有所帮助,紫川宁的心里稍微有了点慰依。她细细品味斯特林的话:“就权当一切回到了空白,一切重头再来又如何呢?世界上没有不可挽回的事情!”世界上有种人不会轻许诺言,但一旦答应,他做的会比预期的多很多。斯特林无疑就是这种人了。紫川宁心头重又燃起了希望,她默默地想:“阿秀在远东做出了那么大的成就,我也不能光等着。就让我来见识一下,号称“统领处千年坚冰”的哥珊阁下,您到底是如何的三头六臂了不起吧!”站在门口,看着马车渐渐远去,斯特林嘴角浮出了会心的笑容。回到办公室,他开始写信,把今天发生的事情原原本本地记述下来,这封信将通过秘密渠道寄给远东的紫川秀。信中他详细地把今天紫川宁的言行给记录下来。阿秀是个聪明人,他会领会自己用意的。斯特林边写边想:媒人是最吃力不讨好的角色了。自己是不是有点傻里傻气的呢?但他还是做了。经历过那场无望的苦恋,他深深懂得失去所爱的痛苦,多少次梦中徘徊缠mian,醒来却只剩眼角泪水的痛心,梦中人远在天涯。愿世间有情人终成眷属。如果有可能,他希望紫川秀和紫川宁能有个比他们好的结局。“就当是我为他们做点事吧。愿他们知道,生命中最值得他们珍惜的,并非百万财产,更非权势荣华。”放下笔,打开窗户,湛蓝的天空一望无际。仰望东方的天际,斯特林长久站立,眼角早已经湿润。祝你幸福啊,卡丹。※※※帝国历七八二年的六月,一阵罕见的酷暑袭击了整个西川大陆。在往常四季如春的帝都城内,最高温度突破了摄氏三十六度。但比起恶劣的天气,更恶劣的却是人间的形势。伴随着远东的沦陷,数以百万计的难民涌入了家族本土。这批失去了土地和生产原料的人群一贫如洗,他们露宿街头,在每个城市的周边构成了庞大的难民营和贫民窟,乞丐群到处都是,衣裳褴褛的男子游荡在街头,饥肠辘辘,对城市和乡镇的安全构成了极大的威胁,刑事案件发案奉直线上升,警察机构疲于奔命。家族的军事力量在远东和西线都遭到挫败,但家族的经济力量——规模庞大的农业、工业产业没有受到损害,他们的生产力量是保持着完好的。在七八二年这罕见的丰收年,农民却因为农业产品价格暴跌处于饥饿边缘——这真是极大的讽刺:一边是成熟的粮食大片大片地烂在地里,一边却是失业居民们被饿得饥肠碌碌。因为失去了庞大的远东市场和原料基地,数以千计的工厂和工作坊因无法忍受高昂的原料产品和维持销路而倒闭,成千上万的工人失去工作,不得不露宿街头,物价却直线上升,低层的政府官员无法忍受低廉的薪水而公然索要贿赂的丑闻不断。就连一向是社会支柱的军队机构也未能幸免。由于军队的大量扩展和经济不景气,很多年轻人,尤其是出身小地主和小商人家庭的年轻人,选择了以军官为职业。他们从士兵口中更深地了解到社会的状况已经到了灾难边缘,这些士兵每当收到家信都会失声痛哭:由于儿子远离,全家人都处于饥饿边缘。而同时,军官们却亲眼目睹了他们的上级:那些出身良好、拥有巨大财富的贵族们生活的糜烂和奢华。面对现状,军队浮躁不安,忠诚度下降。人们迷失了生活的信仰、希望和方向,低迷、糜烂的挫折感弥漫在心头。人们不知道该信仰什么、奉行什么,甚至不知道该仇恨什么。面对着无能和腐败的指责,元老会逢周二、周四的弹劾威胁,统领处虽无能力找到解决问题的办法,却善于寻找替罪羔羊。家族统领处宣称:一切都是魔族的错!是魔族强占了我们的远东二十三行省,让农民的产品无法销售!是魔族,强占了我们远东的铁、煤、矿石,让我们的工厂无法开工!更是魔族的侵略,导致了数以百万的难民流入内地,导致我们社会不安定,就业率直线下降!魔族对远东的侵略是我们一切不幸的根本原因!就如猛烈的狂风突然吹散迷雾,在七八二年的年中,炽热的烈风突然袭来,低迷的浓雾一吹而散,人们找到了宣泄仇恨的对象,整个民族异口同声地欢呼:“战争!战争!”——监察总长帝林曾预计紫川家需要十年的时间恢复,他估计得太保守了。耻辱是一个民族成长的加速器,仅仅两年不到的时间,创伤表面上才刚刚愈合,善忘的民众立即好了疤痕忘了痛,好战的浪潮又一次狂热地席卷家族领土。从上到下都是一片喧嚣:“开战!开战!夺回远东!用魔族的鲜血洗刷我们的耻辱!”仿佛在一夜之间达成了共识,从上到下——从家族元老到一贫如洗的乞丐——普遍都认为,只有通过一场战争夺回远东——或者管他什么地方,反正打仗就行——才能对现状有所改善。帝都街头每天都有宣战游行,人数从千人到十万人不等。游行人群举着各种各样的旗帜招摇地从总长府、元老会和统领处面前经过,口号声排山倒海:“打倒魔族!”、“为远东事变中死难的同胞复仇!”、“为九月事件复仇!”、“直捣黄龙,踏平魔神堡,活抓魔神皇!”游行人群一望无际,他们堵塞了帝都大大小小的道路,治部少的员警们在烈日下徒劳无功地呼喊和指挥,却成效不大。反倒是帝都的市民们对游行的激进分子们抱有极大的宽容心,容忍了他们在街头的墙壁上乱写乱涂,和砸烂“禁止通行”的交通栏杆。由于军事上的连续失利,军务部成为众矢之的。那些热血沸腾的军校学生和精力过剩的小伙子们为发泄胸中燃烧的激情,把军务部当成了魔神堡,斯特林当成了大魔神皇,三天两头地围攻,高呼着“军队无能,辱权丧国”的口号,他们不断地向守卫们投掷石子、瓦片、垃圾、污水袋,用颜料将军务处的大门涂抹得一塌糊涂。斯特林不得不向帝林借调了一个中队的宪兵来守卫门口,当他们回去时,身上伤痕累累,全是斑斑点点的污迹。在六月十一日的一次游行中,游行的队伍和维持秩序的员警们发生了激烈的冲突,十四人死亡,一百多人受伤。同日,四个后备役军官口袋里藏着折叠的刺刀冲入后勤部,他们要杀死家族幕僚长官哥珊——她反对扩大军队的征召范围,和再增加军队已经极庞大的军费开支——结果由于过于慌乱,其中一人的刀子从口袋里露了出来,引起了值班守卫的留意。他喝住了他们。四人以为事件败露了,立即抽出刀子袭击了警卫,将其活生生地捅死,旋被赶来的其他警卫制服。四人立即被捕。这极其残酷而无视法纪的袭警和谋杀案件,引起了公众极大的关注。在公开审判时候,凶手表达了对那位失去丈夫的员警遗孀的歉意后,公开宣称:“国家状况令人担忧,民众困苦不堪,国防软弱无力,官吏腐败成风”。他和他的同伙对哥珊统领和遇害的员警并没有私仇,他们的目的为“唤醒沉睡的祖国而敲醒警钟”,要除掉“阻碍祖国强大的一切障碍”!哥珊从嘴边轻轻吐出两个字:“蠢货!”旁听的公众全体起立鼓掌,掌声经久不息。在民众的心目中,他们是烈士,是代表民众利益的斗士。对凶手的同情竟然高达这般地步,以致有几万人自发地签名为其求宽恕,甚至有人寄来用血写的请愿书。在元老会最后出面干涉下,本该以谋逆罪处死的四名军官全部判了无期徒刑,预计用不了几年,他们将很快就从监狱里出来。还是老规炬:任何采取暴力行为者,如果是为了国家荣誉,都应该特赦。军队竟然发生此种目无法纪的行为,军务处长官斯持林向哥珊幕僚长郑重地书面道歉,并保证将尽量约束军队,绝不会让同类事件再行发生。后者毫不客气地打断了他的话:“你现在要做的不是道歉。”哥珊面无表情地说:“局势的发展并非你我能够控制,下一个的目标很可能就是你了,你应该调一些可靠的部队到身边来。小心啊,斯特林,你是军队最后的一丝理智。如果你死,我们就再也无法遏制军队的盲动了。”斯特林愕然。※※※七八二年六月二十三日。天气非常的好,午后两点,气温高达三十三度,阳光热辣辣的,晒得马路成了一片白地。连那些歇斯底里狂叫口号的激进分子也忍受不了这样的酷暑,帝都街头出现了罕见的平静,人们懒洋洋的悠闲地在绿荫底下乘凉,摇着蒲扇。啤酒店门口五光十色的招牌在烈日下生辉,穿着清凉的美女姿态婀娜、目不斜视地从绿荫道上走过,引起乘凉的小伙子们的一片口哨声。倚靠在奔驰的马车窗口,斯特林望着街景出神,看着那打情骂俏的俊男俏女和灯红酒绿,这使他感到心情轻松。但在经过一个十字路口处,他的心情被小小地破坏了一下:迎来赶来了两辆马车,在前面的车子赶得飞快,车夫大声地吆暍着:“让路!让路!”马鞭“劈啪”地扬得天响,行人和路边的商贩们赶紧躲避,大街上平静的气氛给闹得鸡飞狗跳。斯特林皱皱眉,对随行的秦路说:“那是谁的车子?街上那么多人,怎么能这么快马,治部少怎么不管?你查一下。”秦路也探出头去窗外观察,转而对斯特林说:“大人,那是监察厅的人,我们管不了。”“喔?”斯特林微微惊讶,再认真看去,果然,那辆马车的车辕上面悬挂着蓝底金色的剑与盾牌的旗帜,表示车上有监察厅的高级军官在。他淡淡说:“知道了。”心头却老大的不是滋味。在二月十五日的紫川宁事件,帝林率领的监察厅立下大功,检查官们的气焰也随即张扬起来,言行嚣张。斯特林一向认为,因为军队身负保卫国家使命的特殊性,它本身是国家内最大也是最强的武力集团,如果失去约束,它成为凌驾于整个社会之上的暴力集团,那些高级军官会堕落成为超越法律和政府的“军队贵族”,所以,监察和军法系统的设置对于军队来说是十分必要的。但事情不能从一个极端走向另一个极端,负责监督的监察系统变得如此乖张,这绝对不是国家设置监察系统的本意。他决定改天找帝林好好谈一下,劝他约束一下部下。自己的大哥最近把罗明海打得大败,春风得意之下,他有点忘形了。那两辆马车在十字路口来了一个右转弯,上了宽阔的皇都大道,正好与斯特林的马车同向并行。斯特林正琢磨着,这车该不会也是去总长府的吧,正在这时候,惊变骤发。在人行道上闪避的人群堆里突然斜斜窜出一个壮汉来,手持一条长长的铁棍。斯特林还没来得及反应,这汉子猛虎般扑近了悬挂监察厅旗帜的前面那辆马车,狂吼一声,将铁棍猛然插进了飞速旋转的右边车轮里。“当啷”一声巨大的响声,接着就是像是刮玻璃一样刺耳的铁器摩擦声音、“格啦格啦”连续清脆的铁器粉碎声,右边车轮被铁棍死死地卡住,“砰”的一声巨响,漫天的碎片中,马车的右轮整个飞了出去,右边车厢外皮倾斜擦到了路面上,火花四溅,奔马却仍在死命地往前拉,整个车子没有停止前进,“吱——”车厢摩擦地面的石头路基发出了巨大而刺耳的声音,令人听得牙根发软。“砰!”的一声巨响,马厢碰上了路边花圃的台阶上,倾斜的车厢整个儿翻倒过来。“哎呀!”一声怪叫,马车夫已经从驾驶座给甩了出去,重重地摔到了车子前面的路面上,半天爬不起身来,不知死活。路边的人众中冲出了几个手持兵器的男女,朝着翻倒的马车扑将上去。冲在最前面的青年女子高举着单刀剑,披着一件浅黄色的大衣,嘴里尖声尖气地喊着:“呀——呀——呀!”的怪声,后面跟着四条拿单刀的汉子,沉默地扑杀上前。那个最先冲出来卡住车轮的壮汉也从衣服下面抽出了一把砍斧,一下就将那个挣扎着要爬起来的车夫砍翻在地。事情发生得太过突然,街道上的行人都睁大了眼睛,不敢相信地看着面前发生的一幕。一个女声尖叫刺破错愕:“杀人啦!”一瞬间,目瞪口呆的行人们发出了各种各样的惊呼声,慌忙四散。冲在前面的女子速度极快,一眨眼的功夫,她已经冲到了翻过来的马车前,但却无处可下手:车子已经整个翻过来了,车门被压在下面。她围着车厢团团转,暴躁地用剑乱砍车厢壁,将车厢外面的木板砍出了一道道裂痕,露出了里层黑黝黝的铁板。“让开,让我来!”那个使用板斧的壮汉扑近身来。他放下板斧,蹲下抓住车厢的一侧,全身用力,低喝一声:“呀!”车厢动弹了一下,缓慢地又翻转了过来,恢复了原来的位置,露出了车门的一侧。刺客们喜形于色,那个领头的女刺客娇叱一声:“帝林受死!”迫不及待地就要从开了一半的车门里爬进去。斯特林心下一震:这是帝林的车子?!他这才反应过来,马上出声:“停车!”车夫猛拉缰绳,马车缓缓地停下了,斯特林从马车里冲了出来,但距离太远,无论如何已来不及。“噌!”一声响亮的弓弦脆响传得远远的,一个使单刀的男刺客惨叫一声,反手捂住了自己后背。他的后背上中了一箭。斯特林看得清楚,事变突发,跟在翻倒车子后面的第二辆马车出于惯性的无法停住车子,冲出前面数十米才慌忙停住的。箭正是从那辆马车视窗处射出来。“砰”的一下车门洞开,几名宪兵从车上跳了下来,领头的军官暴喝一声:“大胆狂徒,造反了吗!”刺客们只一愣,有两人回转身来迎击宪兵们,剩下的仍旧围着那辆车子。那个使板斧的壮汉两下劈掉了残缺不全的车门:“帝林,这下看你往哪里跑!”语音未落,车门处寒光一闪,一柄长剑闪电般刺进了他的右眼。壮汉痛喝一声,向后翻倒。其余的刺客惊骇于这一剑的威势,不由自主地向后退开几步。没有任何预兆,帝林颀长的身影出现在车门口,风度翩翩,手中长剑闪烁,温柔的眼睛此刻杀气毕露。除了衣裳稍微凌乱以外,他毫发无伤。一瞬间,斯特林安下心来了。同时他也知道,那几个刺客的命运了。宪兵们七手八脚地将被打得半死的刺客们抓着脚拖上马车,经过的地方赫然留下一条让人心有余悸的鲜红血痕。看着马车运着俘虏往监察厅方向去,帝林转过头对斯特林说:“如果你去总长府的话,我们就同路了。载我一程吧!”斯特林点头:“没问题。”他转过头跟秦路商量了下,秦路让出了车厢里的位置,到外面和车夫同坐。上了车,帝林舒服地伸展了下身子,把脚摊得开开的:“你的车子很宽敞,坐起来很舒服。改天我也要去订做一辆同样的。要多少钱呢?”斯特林笑笑,没有出声。“今年的天气有点怪,六月热得要死人了,恐怕收成不好。对了,斯特林,秀佳很挂念着弟妹李清,说很长时间都没见过她了,挂念得很。”“啊,这么巧,清也说过该去拜访下你们了,她想跟嫂子学点厨艺。”“嘿嘿,秀佳也说清弟妹的针织手艺好,她也想学——瞎!娘们儿,就净关心这些东西!我都纳闷了:一天到晚就是房间里那点玩意,她们怎么就不烦?特别是弟妹,那么出众的一个人,怎么也跟一般婆娘一样,整天就热哀什么针织啊、厨艺啊什么的?多可惜啊!斯特林,你得给她说说!”帝林侃侃而谈,只字不提刚刚遭受的袭击,神色平静,好整以暇,除了衣服稍微有点凌乱,他根本不像一个刚刚遭受刺杀,死里逃生的人。“刚才那是些什么人?”斯特林忍不住了,突然问。帝林奇怪地扬扬眉毛,斯特林说明:“我是说刚才的那群刺客。”“谁知道呢?一小撮野心勃勃的叛乱分子?某个图谋不轨的权臣——比如罗明海——对我怀有敌意所派遣的雇佣杀手?杨明华一伙死心不息的残党?家族敌人的阴谋?谁知道?”帝林笑着说。斯特林微微摇头:“从行事的方式上看,他们不像是训练有素的职业杀手。职业杀手讲究冶静,以最小的代价谋取成功,要求迅疾和效率,一击不中立即撤退,而这伙人——在光天化日的大街上公然强行袭击,他们太过于张扬和狂热了。”帝林嘿嘿一笑:“也许吧。”他转了话题,谈论起当前帝都的流行服饰和歌曲——不像斯特林那种两耳不闻窗外事的工作狂,帝林是个时代潮流的追随者,尤其对流行歌曲和文学情有独钟。但斯特林一个字也听不下去,他脑子里却总是想着刚才发生、惊心动魄的一幕:一滩滩殷红的鲜血,纷杂的军靴声,人声鼎沸,那个受伤女刺客撕心裂肺地呐喊:“打倒帝林!”“混蛋,叫什么呢!”几个强壮的宪兵强将她按倒在地,一个宪兵小旗有力的大手抓住她的头发,把她的脑袋按进了路边污水沟里,使劲地往下压,她的脸被浸进了黑色、发臭、冒着白色泡沫的污水里,但她脑袋每次从水里挣扎出来,总要用尽全身气力、沙哑地、含糊不清地喊:“打倒帝林!——帝林不死,紫川家不宁!”围观的路人和斯特林都为之动容。这种不在乎成败和生死的气势,决非职业杀手所能办到,倒像是某种信念的狂热殉道者。望着帝林那快活的笑容,出于某种直觉或者灵犀一闪,一瞬间,斯特林看到了他眉飞色舞的表情下掩盖的真正感情:那种隐藏在眼眸深处的、一闪而逝的绝望和厌倦。心底的声音告诉斯特林:这就是权力之路的代价。在显赫一时的光耀背后,他恐怕没有一个可以安心睡眠的夜晚。在权力这条道路上,自己又付出了什么样的代价呢?他想起家中那束早已经枯萎,却一直被自己珍藏着的“勿忘我”花,心头一阵刺痛。车声嘎然而止,秦路从外面敲敲车门:“监察长大人、斯特林大人,总长府到了!”当斯特林和帝林踏入时候,会议室里早已经济济一堂,家族的重量级人物齐集。紫川参星坐在会议桌的顶端,望向斯特林的目光中带有几分疑惑:以严谨守时出了名的斯特林,怎么也会有迟到的事情呢?斯特林朝众人歉意地笑笑:“不好意思,路上发生点意外。”他坐下来环顾四周:以总长紫川参星为首,总统领罗明海、禁卫统领皮古、幕僚长哥珊,就连一直戍守西部边疆的明辉统领、瓦伦要塞的镇守司令林冰副统领等边区重将都在场。而且在这群人中,斯特林还看到了个新面孔(其实也不能算是新面孔,是个大家都很热的人!)紫川宁正端坐在总长紫川参星的旁边,正襟危坐。紫川参星谅解地点点头:“人都到齐了。现在可以开始了。紧急召集大家过来,有个事情想听听大家意见——明辉,你给大家说说。”西部边防军区司令明辉统领干咳一声:“总长殿下,诸位大人,近来我边防军部门得到一个很重要的情报:流风家的家主流风西山病情已经快不行了。”会议室中起了一阵轻微的骚动,幕僚副统领哥珊轻声地嘀咕了一句:“废话!”若不是发言的人是掌握重兵的家族重臣明辉的话,那大家真的要哗然了:这也算是情报?哪怕就是帝都街头的小混混都知道的,号称“流风狐狸”的流风家当代家主自从九年前给紫川秀一个少年杀得大败回去以后,郁愤交加之下他一病不起,一直缠mian病榻。“这真是了不起的情报啊!”远东副统领林冰赞叹地说,带着浅浅的笑容,谁也搞不清楚这位远东重臣的真正意思。明辉面红了一下,很快又恢复正常:“我知道诸位大人的意思。打从七七二年到现在,都快十年了,我们哪天得到都能得到消息说流风西山快死了,但这次不同了,消息的来源非常可靠:流风西山的贴身医师逃亡到我们这边来了。”幕僚长哥珊怀疑地问:“他为什么要这样做?”“流风西山是注定不治了,流风家内部的倾轧争斗非常激烈。流风波公开威胁:“如果父亲有什么不测,治疗组的全体人员都要为他殉葬!”而流风清、流风明两位——他们内心怎么想的,无人能知,但外表上,他们也会做出义愤非常的样子,很可能杀几个“无能”的医生来表现自己的孝心。医生很担心在流风西山死后,自己会成为政治斗争中的牺牲品。”哥珊微微点头,又问:“多长时间?”“‘即使采取最好的药物、技术和最恰当的医护手段,他的寿命也不可能超过五个月!’——这是他的原话。”明辉的语气相当肯定。“明统领的消息应该是真的。”在寂静中,帝林缓缓地开口了:“与他的消息渠道来源不同,我掌握遍布流风家族境内数以百计的间谍,他们时常有报告送来——根据流风霜的命令,习冰行省与远京之间缓冲地带——加顿军区已经开始布防,禁止任何武装部队通过,六十个联队从东部阵线抽调过去以战斗队伍驻守,对远京虎视眈眈;流风清在自己领地内动员了二十万士兵修筑工事;流风明不顾禁令,命令其两万近卫部队公然进驻其在远京的住所:远京总参谋部连续一个月发布宵禁令却不公布敌人是谁——如果流风西山还健在,这些事情是绝对不可能发生的。这证明,他的病情已经恶化到无法控制局势的地步了。”屋子中一时间安静得可以听见呼吸的声音,人们在沉默中消化这个事实:流风家的首脑流风西山即将死去。此人是紫川家不共戴天的仇敌,曾给家族造成了巨大的灾难,但是听闻他的死讯,斯特林不禁还是有了点莫名的黯然感慨:随着哥应星的逝去,曾经是上个时代中最灿烂的星辰中,又有一个重要人物即将消失。他有种眼看着历史发生的感觉。哥珊问:“可知道是谁将接任?”“目前还很难说。”帝林摇头:“目前流风家的局势太过混乱,三个皇子在军中有各自的支持者,势力难分高下——任何一个占了上风,另外两个立即联手把他压下去,然后胜利者又内讧,开始新一轮的争斗。而流风西山又没指定继承人。”“到这个地步,一个行将就木的垂死老人,他指定与否其实已经毫无意义了。”林冰一针见血地指出问题的关键:“决定流风家命运的只有一个人:流风霜!无论她支持哪一个继承人,他立即可以以绝对的强势压倒另外两人,成为流风家新的霸主!”帝林表示赞同,又说:“但流风霜尚未表明态度。”哥珊冷冷说:“如此非常时刻,流风霜态度暧mei,难道她有野心谋求至尊之位?”屋子中众人面面相觑,紫川参星缓缓说:“她掌握流风家将近四成的精锐军队——不是没有可能。但,无论如何,这次流风家的乱象已成,这次权力交替决不可能和平进行。”众人一起点头,表示赞成总长殿下的深知睿见。紫川参星继续说:“如果我们可以乐观地猜测,流风家即将出现大规模混乱或者内战局面的话——”帝林插嘴说:“流风家的内战势不可免!问题不是会不会打,而是什么时候开打!”“——那我们家族将如何应对呢?”在紫川参星望向众人的目光中带有几分殷切的期待:“我们是不是应该趁这个难得的机会,一举将流风家摧毁,完成我们一统天下的霸业呢?——斯特林,你怎么看?”斯特林勉强地笑笑,他选择了尽量委婉的措辞:“摧毁流风家,这是个非常庞大的战略目标,要有计划地分多步进行,需要做长期的计算、谋划和准备。军事层面的较量是最终的手段,但在我们的军队到达战场之前,家族在经济、组织、动员、后勤、财政方面的准备是非常必要的,就这些方面来说……”“这些方面你不用担心!”紫川参星豪气十足:“我只问你,作为我家族首屈一指的名将,你有没有信心打败流风霜?”明辉、林冰等统兵将领都皱起了眉头,帝林则对斯特林投来同情的目光:这就是那种外行领导内行的悲哀。斯特林沉吟一下,他很不愿意败紫川参星的兴,但作为统管全面的军方代表,把真实的情况告诉总长,是他的责任,尽管这实情有时候让人不快。“这个……要视乎当时的具体情况而定,殿下。要看流风家的军队在内战中遭受了多大的损伤、他们的士气和武器水平,还有我们家族军队恢复程度——”斯特林看到紫川参星的眉皱了起来,但他只当没看见继续说:“殿下,很抱歉,没有人能保证自己一定能打胜仗——除非他是骗子。战场上,将领的工作是搜集尽可能齐全和准确的情报,根据情报选择战术,指挥军队行进,给部队下达各种作战命令——仅此而已。优秀的将领能把这些工作完成得较好,但不可能百分百保证胜利。战场形势变化莫测,不可能有人能完全把握。假如在骑兵冲锋时候突然来了一场突如其来的暴雨,或者山洪爆发冲垮了一座重要的桥梁使得增援军队不能及时赶到、或者一根流矢击中了敌方或者我方的重要人物——那会完全改变整个战场的形势。”“这就是所谓三分努力七分天意了,殿下。”帝林适时地插嘴,他笑着说:“但幸好,我们的斯特林统领运势一直很强——我跟他赌钱就没赢过,除非作弊。”几个人轻声地笑出来了,把紧张的气氛化解不少。罗明海总统领冷冷说:“斯特林统领可能没有理解清楚。—场战斗结果有可能出乎意料,但就一场长期战争来说,胜负一般是取决于双方的军事力量对比的。总长想询问斯特林阁下,如果开战,我们的军队能不能取胜?”“再加上了新征集的预备部队和民兵武装后,在数量上,我军对比流风军并没有处于太大的劣势,但我们存在着不少问题:军队的训练程度较差;熟练兵员的比例,比起七八一年以前,下降的程度非常明显;在年龄结构相身体方面,士兵的总体素质不能令人乐观;武器装备的生产和补充尚需要时间;战略补充能力比较薄弱,地方预备武装机构尚没做好新一轮大规模征召的准备——”“斯特林统领你能不能简单地回答我:究竟能不能?”斯特林不动声色地扫了他一眼,罗明海咄咄逼人的态度令他很反感。他苦涩地吞了口水:“如果要摧毁流风家,那需要举国动员——目前军队还没做好承担这个任务的准备。”罗明海心满意足地“嗯”了一声,面上得意的表情分明在说:我早知道这样。“需要多少时间呢?”“军务部会尽自己的最大努力,但这取决于很多外来因素:经济上,家族对军队的财政投入已经很大了,但要达到让军队在短时间内恢复甚至超过远东战前实力的这个要求来说,还是略有不足;元老会宣布国家是处于战备状态,但却没有授权我们发布全民动员令;我们曾提出建议把兵役时间适当延长,另外,扩大征兵范围——但都没能得到批准。”“延长兵役时间是我反对的。”哥珊副统领推推黑框的宽边眼镜,淡淡说:“在家族尚未受到外来攻击的情况下,我们不能任意延长兵役时间,这是对士兵们失信,会导致家族的威望败坏。另外,斯特林统领所提到的扩大征兵范围——你实质上指的是在农村中实行七男一征,城市中实行十男一征吧——我可以明确表态:我坚决反对!”没有人出声,哥珊副统领喝了口茶水,又说了下去:“斯特林统领,从七七八年起的这五年,家族军队的损失总数,你们军务处应该有个数字吧?”斯特林略显尴尬:“没有正式的统计,但哥珊阁下您如果想要的话,我可以立即让人计算……”“没这个必要。”哥珊干脆地说:“我这就可以给你个大概的数字。七七八年是我紫川家运气较好的一年,虽然在西部吃了流风霜败仗,在远东却打了胜仗,一年下来,我们士兵的损伤人数约为三万——可以称得上正常消耗。”她在纸上迅速地写了个“3”字。“七七九年开初,帝林大人在远东非常活跃,连战连捷——但我估计,五、六万的伤亡肯定是有的吧?”面对哥珊的问话,帝林面无表情,默不作声,于是哥珊又在纸上写了个“6”字。“接下来就是在平定杨明华的叛乱中,帝都军民的损伤程度——起码又是4万人,帝林大人,您没意见吧?”哥珊的语气中充满了愤怒和嘲讽的味道,谁都知道,在帝都流血夜中,正因为企图阻止帝林的暴行,哥珊被总长紫川参星处分过。“在远东的叛乱中,雷洪二十五个师团的兵力叛变,我们立即就损失了二十万的军队却增加了二十万的敌人、远东叛乱初期,抛开平民的损伤不计,各行省的守备军队的损伤起码在十五万左右;接着就是可耻的赤水滩,非常惨重:二十三万军队伤亡!“从七七九年八