穿越褐色狮鹫旅店（Tan Griffin Inn ），绕过驿站（它是没法通过的，因为商人重建了巨大的谷仓），我望见北门就在前头。我在大街上狂奔，没头没脑地穿过盖-查-卡拉斯的人群。我平时总是用对待无踪之城实体市民的礼仪对待他们，但如今我笔直地穿过阻拦我道路的每个人跑了过去。
劇透 - :
I can hear the comforting drone of hushed conversation long before the words become clear. It's Gilthanas
and Falaius. They're not in this room, but they are nearby.
"I must say, I still don't understand the nature of this place," I hear Gilthanas say. He still isn't certain that
the spectral people he sees aren't undead spirits; you can hear it in his voice. He expects for Mala and her
family to suddenly give up their charade and reveal themselves to be life-draining fiends.
"I'm not sure anyone does" Falaius answers.
"My host seems to think he has an insight others cannot perceive."
"You must forgive, Aman" the Legionnaire says. "His sense of perspective is, shall we say, impaired when
it comes to the woman he calls Mala." Yes. He would say that. Falaius has spent many years living here, but
he has never truly accepted Gal Tra'kalas for what it is.
"Though you were half-blind with dehydration, your reaction to the Missing City was quite normal. Most
people see the towers and walls waving in the desert heat and assume they are seeing a mirage. However,
when they get here and see the amazing detail in the buildings and even the ghostly inhabitants, people
change their minds, believing instead that the city is all one tremendous illusion cast by a long dead sorcerer,
or perhaps even by the gods themselves."
"Yes," Gilthanas adds with authority. "I came to that conclusion myself, though I know no sorcerer of any
robes who could create such an effect."
"But the truth is even more fantastic. The mirage really is Gal Tra'kalas." Falaius has a sense of wonder in
his voice that I've never heard before. Perhaps he does understand the grandeur around him. "As near as I can
tell, the city belongs to a world where the first Cataclysm didn't happen. I don't pretend to understand how it is
possible, but the people we see are real. They are far too complex to be simple illusions. They are born, grow,
fall in love, and die just like anyone you know. The city is alive too ... well, as alive as any city is. Buildings are
built, others are razed. Businesses open and prosper. Anials run the back alleys looking for scraps of food. If
you make it your business to pay attention to a particular building or person or family, you'll see the
unmistakable rhythm of life unfold before you. Make no mistake about it, Gal Tra'kalas is real."
"If that is true," Gilthanas wonders aloud, "then how can anyone bear to live here?" The elf has faced many
strange things in his life, but I dare say that other than the return of the gods, this must be the most bizarre.
"Well, we didn't know. When the Legion first came here, there was only the mirage and a city's worth of
ruins—crumbled walls, and mountains of brick and mortar debris half-hidden by the mirage, which we too
mistook for a magical reconstruction of Gal Tra'kalas. My tribe has always called this spot the Missing City, and
it seemed like an ideal place to build an outpost. If we built exactly behind the illusion, doing our best to
recreate the facades of the buildings, only the closest inspection would reveal our presence. We'd have a town
that no one could find—truly a Missing City."
Even though I know the story backward and forward, I lie here listening to Falaius. The cot is comfortable,
and I feel a little light-headed. Odd. I don't remember going to bed.
"It was only after we'd been here several months that anyone began to suspect the truth. And by the time
we were certain, our outpost had grown into a town. Most people stopped building in the 'occupied' sections of
town. When you feel well enough to come down to the pier, you'll see that the newest buildings all stand just
past the end of Gal Tra'kalas's city limits."
Gilthanas considers what he's heard. "And the people who already built their homes in the shadow city?"
"Each made a choice" the Legionnaire says noncommittally. "Many of them relocated, but the Legion
maintained their original building. After all, the 'phantom folk,' as some of my men call them, can't see, hear, or
touch anything of ours.
"Of course, most of the civilians chose to move. The wealthy merchants in particular were uncomfortable
with the notion of sharing their homes with others, even if those others are not of this Krynn."
"But there are others who chose to stay?"
"Obviously. Most of them simply refuse to accept the people of Gal Tra'kalas as anything other than
illusions. They take pride in the fact that they maintained their homes while their neighbors were run off by
mere tricks of the light. But others, like your benefactor, Aman, consider them wholly real. They build their lives
around people from both worlds, neither more or less important than the other. My men call these folks
'shadow walkers,' because they tread the edge of two worlds. Most others just call them crazy."
"So the people in this house—Mala and her parents—are real to Aman?"
"They're more than real. They are his family. And Mala . . . well, let's just say that I don't think I've ever felt
as strongly about anyone as he does for that ghostly woman."
I'm shocked. Not only does Falaius understand the city, but he also understands me. I always thought he
snickered behind my back like the rest of them, mocking my feelings for Mala. I have to apologize to him.
I sit up on the bed, and the room spins. I have a lump on the back of my head the size of a dagger's pommel.
"Yes," Gilthanas sighs, "I understand. His life is very similar to the one I've led these past years. The only
things that matter to him are untouchable. For me, they were memories—shadows of the mind—but no less
real because I too could not touch them. At times, it was easier to believe they were reality and my cell was a
recurring nightmare. Silvanesti is full of those memories."
"But the people of Gal Tra'kalas are not memories," Falaius replies. "They are here, as much a part of the
Missing City as we are."
"And how much the worse for our friend if he cannot separate his dream from his waking world?" the elf
pauses. "We ought to awaken him for this."
Falaius clicks his tongue, as he always does whenwrestling with a difficult question. "I think it may be
kinder to let him sleep. There's nothing he can do. Watching this would be too painful."
What's wrong? Did Mala's father have another seizure? Did he die? We all knew it was coming, but no one
is ever prepared for such a thing.
"If Aman must lose the one he loves, it's best that we afford him the opportunity to bid her farewell. In the
years to come, he will draw solace from the closure. Otherwise, this will be a wound that never heals."
Mala? Has something happened to Mala? By all the departed gods, no!
I stand on uncertain legs.
If she's dying I must go to her. I have to be there for her, with her—even if she doesn't know it.
"What will happen when they leave the city?" Gilthanas asks.
Another tongue click announces that Falaius doesn't have a definite answer. "People leave Gal Tra'kalas
all the time. They just disappear as the pass through the gates. Who can say where they go after that? The
merchants come and go on a regular schedule, and they always return with carts full of goods from Silvanesti
or Nordmaar. Do they really go to those places? Who can say? Maybe there's a whole other Ansalon for our
ghostly neighbors to explore. For Mala's sake, I hope so, though that will be no real comfort to Aman."
Leave the city?
Now I remember!
The note that had Mala so excited was an invitation for the family to come live with her aunt in Shoole. They
are leaving the city. That realization must have been too much for me. I think I blacked out. That must be how
I got this lump on my skull. How long have I been unconscious? What does it matter? What matters is that Mala
I've got to stop her!
My legs already are moving. I stumble out the door of my house—our house. Gilthanas and Falaius stare
like I'm a wild beast. Perhaps I am. My heart beats with the same desperation as a rabbit's when the scent of
the fox is in the air. The wagon rounds the corner pulled, I'm sure, by the horse Mala's sisters have given
them—a cheap price to have their embarrassing relatives leave the city for good.
Gilthanas catches my gaze. I can see he knows the panic that sweeps through me. "Do what you can," his
eyes seem to say. "In the end, it will do no good."
Meanwhile, Falaius walks toward me with a sad expression on his face. He holds out his massive hand,
obviously meaning to lay it sympathetically on my shoulder. As heart-felt as that consolation might be, I know
his true thought is to keep me here until it is too late.
Before Falaius can clasp my shoulder, I dash down the street. If Mala's going to Shoole, she'll take the
wagon out the North Gate, and that's only a few blocks away. On the streets, I'll never catch the horses, but I
have an advantage: I don't live in Gal Tra'kalas—I'm in the Missing City!
In the middle of the block, I turn right and run straight through the front wall of the candle-maker's shop.
Leaping over the pile of rocky debris that used to be the kiln, I pass out the back and into the alley that cuts
across the Northern District. Gilthanas can't possibly keep up with me; he's still too weak from his ordeal. In
most instances, Falaius would have no trouble overtaking and subduing me, but he doesn't know this section
of the Missing City as well as I do. He doesn't know which spectral buildings can be passed easily through and
which hide dangerous piles of rubble, or even open pits. No, my well-meaning friends will have to take the
streets just like Mala.
Through the Tan Griffin Inn and around the livery stable (it's been impassable since that merchant rebuilt
the colossal barn), I see the North Gate ahead. I run heedlessly through the Gal Tra'kalans on the street.
Usually I treat them with the same courtesy I do the more solid citizens of the Missing City, but right now I'd run
straight through anyone who stood in my way.
At the gate, I stop and look back down the street. Nothing. No carriage. No Mala. Just the usual spectral
pedestrian traffic. Did I read the note wrong? Is she heaing for the West Gate instead? I can't possibly get
there in time.
Before my fear sharpens to panic, a flat wagon pulled by two horses rounds the corner. Driving the team at
a slow trot is my own Mala, a smile of breathless anticipation painted on her face.
"No!" I shout, waving my arms back and forth wildly. "Mala, stop! Don't go! Don't leave me!"
I know she can't hear me, but I have to take the chance. I yell like the madman everyone already thinks I
Now Falaius and Gilthanas round the corner. I can see them through the wagon, racing toward me, afraid
that I'll do myself some harm (though what I could do, I can't imagine).
Despite my shouting and arm-waving, Mala drives her horses straight through me. Of course she does.
What else could she do?
I sink to my knees in the dusty, haunted road.
As my companions reach me, I look over my shoulder to watch as Mala, my one true love, is about to
dissipate into nothingness.
She stops the wagon, lays down the reins, and turns around for one last look at her home. A smile full of
hope and the promise of a happier future plays across Mala's face, and she waves good-bye.
I wave back, too stunned to speak. I know she doesn't see me, but it doesn't matter.
Picking up the reins, she urges the horses on. One step, two, three ... she fades into the swirling sand. Mala
is gone. I throw back my head and howl to the cloudless sky.
There is no one left in this world. I'm all alone. If only the desert could swallow me up the way it has Mala. "I
have nothing," I whisper to the wind. But the only answer I get is a hand laid gently on my shoulder.
Gilthanas bends down on one knee behind me, a look of painful memory on his face. Falaius stands back,
giving us a sense of privacy while still being close enough to intervene should it become necessary.
"You have your memories, friend Aman. That is all any of us truly carry through this life."
"Memories? Memories of what? She was never real! I spent all these years chasing after a woman who is
nothing more than a wisp of smoke. Gilthanas, you may have walked in the company of the gods themselves,
but you have no idea how I feel."
"Don't I?" He takes his hand from my shoulder and stands, looking down at me the way a parent looks at a
petulant child. "You've just lost the one you love, a pain everyone sooner or later must face. It matters not one
whit whether you had a few months or a lifetime together, or whether you ever were ever actually together at all.
Do not confuse yourself by finding the faults in your past—they have no bearing on the emotional chasm
"A hole has been torn in your heart. It will heal, but the process takes time. Will you spend that time wisely?
Will you savor the sweet moments and release the rest? If you do, the scar your heart bears will be light."
I whirl on the elf. None of this is his fault, but he makes a convenient target for my rage.
"What if I don't want it to heal?" I growl.
Gilthanas looks at me ruefully.
"Then you have two choices. You can stay here and wallow in the memories, see all the things you used to
see, do all the things you used to do. This is a tried and true method to keep your heart from healing, though as
many before you have discovered, the pain will never cease. Or, you can devote yourself to finding the missing
piece of your heart and returning it to its rightful place."
I sneer derisively.
"That's impossible, and you know it."
"Perhaps," Gilthanas smiles. "But no more impossible than finding a silver dragon who wishes to remain
Laughing I say, "And you've told us how well that worked out. How many years were you in that Silvanesti
"Enough," the elf points out, "to reconcile my past and put it behind me. There were days when the only
thing that kept me alive were my memories. Now that I'm free, I live for the future. What will you live for, Aman,
the future or the past?"
"The future," I say uncertainly. He's right; whatever happened before doesn't matter. Mala is gone, and
nothing I do wil change that. But if I take the love we had and build upon it, then that is the best way to honor
the past. As long as I remain true to my inspiration, Mala will still be with me. "Do your memories no longer
Gilthanas pauses. I think he's unsure how to answer the question. "Perhaps they haunt me still, but they no
longer rule me. I have more pressing matters to attend. I am a prince of Qualinesti. I have a duty to my people."
"When your duty is done," I ask, "then what will you live for?"
Falaius, sensing our conversation is nearing its end, steps forward and helps me to my feet.
"My duty will never end." The elf stiffens. He looks into the dirt, unwilling to meet my gaze. "This is my life."
"Then you are an even sadder creature than I."