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    Translated by boilpoil
    Edited by boilpoil


     

    Meanwhile, Xü Beijin and Dai Wu have arrived at the amusement park. Neither spoke a word along the way.

    Finally, Dai Wu breaks the ice, jokingly asking, “why are you so quiet?”

    Xü Beijin gives him a glance and answers, “I’m thinking.”

    Dai Wu raises his brow in response, wondering, “curious about the Nightmare again?”

    Hesitant, Xü Beijin still nods.

    Dai Wu looks a little complicated, and tells him, “this Nightmare… To be honest, I haven’t seen the owner ever either, so I have no idea what’s going on. It’s just… this really looks like ruins after an apocalypse, even… even the Actors…”

    He is looking around the ruins as he speaks. His face looks grimmer.

    Xü Beijin is also standing there, listening to the howling winds, perhaps coming from afar, from beyond the fog, but they, the humans, the humans in the fog, do not know what the outside world is like. They do not know what it has become.

    He shuts his parched eyelids, while sighing inside.

    They did not stand for long before entering the amusement park.

    Apparently, Dai Wu was there for his own shift… That’s what they say.

    According to him, the survivors of the amusement park have all joined together into some sort of cult, led by the middle-aged man in the black robe Xü Beijin saw in the stream earlier.

    These survivors believe that humans are the impurities of Earth. This so-called ‘Apocalypse’ is divine retribution from the Gods for punishing their indulgence and hubris.

    Therefore, these survivors observe self-restraint, moderation and abstinence. They live like ascetic monks atop the ruins of civilisations past, wishing to absolve of their sins thusly, to ascend.

    … A doomsday religion, or rather, a cult, that truly lives up to its name, so comments Xü Beijin.

    The survivors are largely based in the amusement park, but they have also radiated their influence outside. Here in the Nightmare, they have virtual control over the entire ruins.

    The building itself is the furthest ‘outpost’ of these people. The bookstore still exists as a sort of listening post, a forward base.

    Additionally, the building also served as a site of execution——The man that was pushed from the building, for example, as seen by the Missiontakers.

    Information from the Server indicates that these ‘faithfuls’ of the amusement park hosts one sermon every week, which was what Xü Beijin saw on the stream earlier.

    During that sermon is a trial for heretics. If a unanimous sentence is passed, then the ‘traitor’ who has been excommunicated will be executed via falling, being pushed off the rooftop of the building.

    It’s just a glorified murder, but the survivors do not seem to find anything wrong with it.

    Every week, after the execution, the shift of the person stationed at the bookstore ends.

    Xü Beijin thinks that this may be to prevent the person stationed at the bookstore from developing a rebellious attitude, so they switch the person out regularly.

    So that’s the background setting of this Nightmare, it seems.

    An extremist cult developed after some apocalypse, featuring judgement, execution by falling, and shifting of personnel… What do any of these mean in the context of the Nightmare, though?

    Xü Beijin has a wooden expression while being led deep into the amusement park following after Dai Wu. Then, as per the Server’s script, he monotonously reads out what is assigned to him, which largely amounts to information on the bookstore and the building.

    … Who knows if reading the words out loud is even meaningful here. Did the Server write these itself?

    The viewers seem amused at the scene, though, at least.

    Xü Beijin can feel, in any case, that there is a certain lifeless, creepy and disquieting atmosphere enveloping the amusement park. He finally gets why he is feeling like this when he stares into the dark pupils of the middle-aged man in the black robe.

    This is also why Dai Wu said this really did resemble ruins after an apocalypse, and so did the Actors——Because it is notable how absorbed they seem to be into their roles. They are indistinguishable from actual survivors of an apocalypse, ones fanatically heeding Black Robe’s words.

    The eyes of the survivors give him the creeps.

    Compared to them, though, Black Robe, who he dryly reported his past week of activities to, and who then calmly allowed him to excuse himself, does not actually seem to have lost himself in his role as far as Xü Beijin can see.

    Has he managed to stave off becoming the ‘Humans are the impurities of the Earth!’ madman?

    Observing more clearly, Xü Beijin feels like his eyes are clean, lucid, and even seems to contain some hint of sadness.

    There is a grim aura he is giving out, sure, but there is a moment – when he told Xü Beijin and Dai Wu to leave, he seemed to have relaxed a little more, ‘becoming himself again,’ for lack of a better phrase.

    Right now, there are only the three of them in this tiny room, which looked to have once been the ticket booth for the haunted house, which the middle-aged man has made his residence.

    Xü Beijin is hesitant, but still decides to speak up, “about this Nightmare…”

    As soon as right now spoke up, the middle-aged man put up his Acting once again, but then stops when the word ‘Nightmare’ comes out of Xü Beijin’s mouth.

    The man remains silent for a while before saying, “just stay out of this; all the Actors have gone mad,” his voice is gravelly and hoarse, chuckling a little before saying, “that motto of ours, ‘humans are Impurities of the Earth,’ might actually hold some truth after all.”

    Xü Beijin looks at him closely. It would appear the man has still completely given up on himself already even if he’s still lucid, and left, feeling slightly helpless.

    He and Dai Wu walk across the amusement park to the other side, where there’s almost nobody. Some form of collapsed styrofoam and ‘mountains’ litter the place. This may have been where the rollercoaster of the amusement park passed through in the past.

    It is all ruined beyond recognition, though.

    Dai Wu says, “you see? So many Actors are already beyond salvation.”

    Xü Beijin bitterly smiles.

    “And me,” Dai Wu’s tone is somewhat inquisitive, “I actually do wish genuinely to defeat NE, and leave this Tower behind for good. But, some people, regardless of whether they are Missiontakers or Actors, even if they could leave – they’ve been useless, and they will continue to be useless.”

    Xü Beijin asks out of the blue, “can you really leave the Tower after defeating NE?”

    Dai Wu looks surprised, as expected.

    “… A lot of people are saying that NE is merely the AI assigned to monitor us by whoever is behind all this.”

    Dai Wu chuckles, saying, “so you also listen to the conspiracies, huh,” then he stretches and says, “well, who cares? It’s really just a beautiful goal to hang in the sky, like a carrot on a stick in front of a donkey.
    Defeat NE… A Second Life… Anything. I just don’t want to become like those Actors.”

    He raises his chin to point out that he’s referring exactly to these Actors in the amusement park, who have already lost themselves in the roles they are Acting as.

    Dai Wu says, “if you look at them like this, doesn’t this Nightmare look just like a Collapsed Nightmare?”

    Xü Beijin is silent for a moment before replying, “if the Actors really cannot distinguish reality from Acting anymore, then a Collapsed Nightmare wouldn’t be any different to them,” his tone turns rather conflicted, “to be honest, the situation the Actors face is much more of a conundrum than that of the Missiontakers.”

    Dai Wu gives him a slightly odd look, before smiling to say, “that’s true.”

    Xü Beijin’s thoughts are digressing as he starts thinking about… Collapsed Nightmares.

    Missiontakers could succumb to Collapsed Nightmare, but so can Actors.

    As Nightmares are opened over and over again, the Nightmare starts crumbling independent of the crumbling when the number of runs grows high; and when that reaches a critical threshold, then it will Collapse entirely and irrevocably.

    How many times it takes for it to happen, and what the situation is like after actually Collapsing, or even whether they will definitely succumb alongside the Nightmare, are all unknowns. But these occurrences are all real, or at least, the Missiontakers and Actors all believe them to be real.

    Xü Beijin also knows, though, that in general, whether Missiontakers and Actors would actually succumb to Collapsed Nightmares, also depended on their own, conscious will.

    If they are able to maintain clarity of mind and rationale, calm thinking and hold a will to escape, then they are guaranteed not to succumb.

    If, instead, the Missiontakers have all mentally collapsed already, beyond the capability of dealing with what happened in the Nightmare, or the Actors have become one completely with their characters, and are no longer able to distinguish reality from fantasy, the Tower and Nightmares from reality and Acting, then, it is highly possible for them to stay in the Nightmare forever.

    The eternal, irrevocable Collapse of a Nightmare must necessarily mean the Collapse of the Missiontakers and Actors as well.

    If any of them, from either the Missiontakers or the Actors, could still remain calm, then not all hope is lost; the rapid transmission and infectiousness of negative emotions notwithstanding, which means, in the end, Nightmares Collapse, and drags everyone inside with it.

    Xü Beijin himself hasn’t been in a Nightmare as hellish as that, ever, at least, not that he could tell when he never proactively intervened in the progress of Nightmares in the past. He can imagine, however, how terrifying it could be.


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    boilpoil's notes:

    This part revealed that the Actors of the death cult are almost truly insane save for that cult leader himself. Meanwhile, Xü Beijin exposits the mechanics for Nightmares Collapsing.

    boilpoil

    Travis Translation

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