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    Translated by boilpoil
    Edited by boilpoil


    The winds of change likely stemmed from one Missiontaker, who overheard some Tower residents. Soon enough, this spread through word of mouth, until it blew up, spiced up with speculation and imagination.

    The fundamental idea that gave credibility to the rumour, or the evidence that backed up all that, is that, if the Tower is a typical building, then why would its door not be on the bottom, or ground floor, but on the very top?

    Maybe the scenery will be excellent up there, maybe there is even the truth to be found there, but… An exit can only be built on the ground, right?

    So, that so-called ‘Ultimate Nightmare,’ can only possibly exist on the bottom floor.

    That previous rumour of there being an ‘Ultimate Nightmare on the bottom floor’ is correct. They just had the wrong Nightmare.

    Many Missiontakers that have descended from the higher floors are firm supporters of this rumour, because, when they ascended the floors more and more, mired in the endless Nightmares and countless transfers up and down the floors, when they see how many Nightmares they’ve been through, but are still unable to see the end of everything, to see hope…

    Perhaps, deep down, they’ve also questioned, if the Tower’s exit is really above them, and not below them instead?

    In the very beginning, when all the Missiontakers spawned on the bottom floor, they all assumed that the correct way forward is up. That is where the truth of everything lies.

    They are now willing to believe in this possibility because when that rumour earlier about how someone has left the Tower successfully, nobody knew who that person actually is.

    In fact, even information from Missiontakers on the floors that are practically the limit of current Tower exploration efforts similarly reports ‘we don’t know who that could be,’ and even, ‘is there really such a person?’

    As the very forefront of Missiontakers, they know basically everyone who are also at the very top. They had a census, and realise that everyone is still there.

    What is the scariest is that, while the rumours flared up immensely downstream, nobody knew where it actually came from. They don’t even know from which floor the rumours first originated.

    The Missiontakers on the lower floors say it comes from the higher floors, but those Missiontakers in question only first came to hear about those rumours with shocked faces when the former ascended the floors.

    That rumour practically appeared out of nowhere, making people suspect whether there are ghosts in the Tower, that ended up spreading the news somehow.

    After all searches turned out fruitless, when the new rumour came about that ‘the Ultimate Nightmare has appeared on the bottom floor,’ the Missiontakers of the higher floors quickly come to a realisation.

    Could that rumoured Missiontaker, have actually left via the very bottom floor?

    … It’s possible, isn’t it? Maybe the rumoured Missiontaker M and the other Missiontakers like themselves represented the two possible paths; one down, one up. M succeeded, and they failed.

    The Missiontakers of the higher floor knew about Missiontakers on their floor and even further up, true, but they would never spend the time to investigate population dynamics of the bottom floor.

    And if someone, or, some kind of entity, organisation, perhaps, that paid attention to M’s progress, and one day, realise that they can’t find M anymore, and that M has gone missing on the bottom floor…

    Then naturally, they should suspect that M has found the exit to the Tower.

    Perhaps these hidden powers-that-be do not even know whether M actually succeeded, and decided to spread the rumours in the first place, hoping that someone can give an answer, or even better, for M to pop out to explain that they haven’t actually succeeded.

    So when the rumours did not flush M out, they are forced to conclude that M is really out of the Tower; even if they do not know how M left, and only know for sure that M was last seen on the bottom floor.

    All they can do is spread a new rumour that the Ultimate Nightmare is on the bottom floor.

    Simply put, they suspect M has left the Tower via the ‘Ultimate Nightmare’ of the bottom floor, but they do not know which Nightmare that is, and so, they wish to take advantage of numbers and suss the Nightmare out.

    These Missiontakers from the higher floors, who descended in a mad search for the ‘Ultimate Nightmare,’ might have merely been unwitting pawns in some grand scheme.

    Not that they’re unwilling, though. The Missiontakers who abandoned everything to come down here is, of course, because they’re going after the Ultimate Nightmare… Going after freedom from the Tower!

    They can even scarcely imagine how many of the Missiontakers that have yet remained on the bottom floor since the whole debacle began, were all going after the ‘Ultimate Nightmare’ since the very beginning.

    Which has caused the dead, dampened air of the bottom floor to change once again.

    All thanks to the one piece of information allegedly coming from overheard Tower residents.

    And that information, is actually as follows. A Tower resident that seemed rather dazed was overheard murmuring the word ‘apocalypse’ again and again. A curious Missiontaker came up to him to ask for more details, and after some fiery back and forth, the Tower resident brought the Missiontaker to another Tower resident.

    The Missiontaker hears that Tower resident murmuring stuff like ‘it’s burning,’ ‘they’ve gone mad,’ ‘it’s the end of us,’ ‘don’t leave me,’ ‘it’s dark,’ etc. Thrilled hearing all that, the Missiontaker then told everyone else about it.

    Then the rumour spread, until it clashed and fused with the ongoing rumour about the Ultimate Nightmare, until──Someone has finally decided, to enter the Nightmare, and see for themselves.

    That night, sitting beside his bookstore counter, blanking out, Xü Beijin suddenly feels his mind shutting down. His consciousness is gradually sinking into an expanse of darkness.

    It’s a workday tonight.

    Before actually entering the Nightmare, a curious thought flashes across his mind. He wonders which Nightmare he’ll enter this time. Could it be… that Nightmare?

    Previously, he requested for Dai Wu to spread information relating to this Nightmare in secret.

    Dai Wu didn’t personally visit him afterwards, however, and instead sent another Actor on the bottom floor to ask for the details, including who the Nightmare owner is, and where it is.

    So Xü Beijin suspects that Dai Wu has either went up floors, or merely doesn’t want to see him despite being on the bottom floor. Xü Beijin doesn’t really mind, though.

    Earlier today, that Actor visited the bookstore once again to tell him that all is going well. Some Missiontakers are poised to take the bait and investigate soon enough.

    The Missiontakers are clearly desperate for an answer.

    A few days back, Xü Beijin looked for that Nightmare’s owner, a female Actor on the bottom floor. Many years ago, he once Acted in her Nightmare, and so came to be acquaintances with her. She even asked Xü Beijin back then, imploring him to tell reliable Missiontakers about her Nightmare.

    Xü Beijin did so, passing the information about this Nightmare onto Mu Jiashi, who actually achieved a True End. Though Xü Beijin learned later that she did not ascend to a higher floor.

    It was all in the long past, and Xü Beijin was pretty bogged down by the sudden attention on his Nightmare and being cornered by the Missiontakers back then, so he didn’t, and couldn’t spare his mind for much else.

    Later, when everything settled down, Xü Beijin did run into that Actor once more during a casual stroll on the bottom floor; however, she has already… gone insane.

    Or rather, she has, finally, completely forgotten about her role as an Actor. She truly became… the victim in that Nightmare.

    She may be yet to be dragged into a Collapsed Nightmare, but that isn’t a meaningful consolation to her or to him anymore.

    This time, Xü Beijin merely checked from afar to ensure that she is still there, and did not try to talk to her. She probably cannot recall him anymore either, considering how she was simply crouching down, burying her head in her thighs, shaking the entire time, in a dark corner of the Tower.

    Only when it is night out, does she return to her home, dragging her own body forward like a living corpse, and then fall asleep, to wait for possible Missiontakers to enter her Nightmare.

    It is a lie to say Xü Beijin isn’t shaken at all seeing what has happened to her, but there is nothing he can do. Those Actors who have lost themselves entirely to the role they Act as in their assigned Nightmare isn’t even that rare in the Tower.

    Xü Beijin has seen a lot of them over the years, both in the Tower and Nightmares too.

    Though his memories for the Nightmare of this female Actor is especially vivid, because of…
    The Apocalypse.

    The female Missiontaker’s Nightmare, shows the Apocalypse.

    … Xü Beijin does not at all regret having surreptitiously pushed Missiontakers towards this Nightmare, though he is still dragged into serious thoughts because of this Nightmare itself, and what it implied.

    After Dai Wu’s subordinate Actor has left, Xü Beijin sat there behind his counter, thinking the entire time, and appearing to be daydreaming.

    Until the Server summoned him into a Nightmare.

    From the darkness, his consciousness returns, and Xü Beijin opens his eyes.

    He is inside of a dim indoor space. There is a choking, worrying and irritating scent in the air. A window further out reveals flickering flames. Outside, the cityscape is burning.

    Xü Beijin, surprised, widens his eyes.

    … He really ended up in this Nightmare.

    The Apocalyptic scene of the ‘Raining Hellfire.’

    Read only at Travis Translations


    boilpoil's notes:

    This part of the chapter is an exposition dump for what happened to cause all these changes in the Tower, and revealed how Xü Beijin’s request played into the ongoing rumours and achieved the desired effect. Also, the identity of the Apocalypse revealed - ‘Raining Hellfire.’


    This should go without saying, but considering the nature of this novel, please think twice before posting a comment on any chapter in order to avoid spoiling any possible future plot points or twists from later chapters.

    Travis Translation

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