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    Translated by boilpoil
    Edited by boilpoil


     

    About the same time that Xü Beijin had drawn his depressing conclusion, the door to the emergency stairs of the 16th floor was pushed wide open with a bang. Lin Qin is here with the little girl.

    In Lin Qin’s simplistic mind, he doesn’t care which of the women on the 9th and 16th floor is the real mother of the little girl. He just has to take the little girl to the both of them and force a conclusion that way.

    So he rushed down to the 31st floor, and happens to run right into the little girl who is sneaking out of the floor, and grabs her right to the 16th floor.

    The little girl has not put up much resistance, and was pretty quiet being carried the whole way down the flight of the stairs. Now, he puts the little girl down to take her into the 16th floor.

    Almost by reflex, he glances over at Xü Beijin before he looks around for the woman who claims to be her mother.

    Though the moment he glanced over at Xü Beijin, he stopped. His heels turn on the spot to barge right for Xü Beijin, and the little girl follows along, looking dumbfounded.

    Lin Qin asks Xü Beijin, “are you feeling ill?”

    Xü Beijin, confused, asks, “what?”

    Lin Qin examines Xü Beijin’s appearance, and says frankly, “you just look… pretty unwell,” then he changes his words after thinking for a moment, “or more, unhappy?”

    Xü Beijin blinks in response.

    Lin Qin explains, “I just feel like you’re not happy. My instincts say so,” then he tilts his baby-face to ask, “what happened? Can you tell me?”

    Xü Beijin remains quiet, not answering immediately.

    He wonders why Lin Qin is thinking so.

    So Lin Qin continues regardless, “I’m worried about you,” then, perhaps in a stroke of genius, he adds, “it’s probably because I like you, that I care about you so much?”

    Xü Beijin “…”

    He looks over at the little girl by Lin Qin’s side, who is staring at him with pure, innocent eyes. It makes Xü Beijin feel extremely awkward.

    Embarrassed, he says, “there’s a kid here!”

    That topic is a big no-no.

    Lin Qin narrows his eyes and turns to the little girl.

    She blinks, and makes a meek smile.

    Lin Qin stares at her for a bit before turning around to call the woman who claims to be her mother here, and tells her, “here, your daughter; keep an eye on her, and make sure she stays out of adult business.”

    The woman looks utterly baffled, “adult… business?”

    Xü Beijin “…”

    Oh, bollocks to this!

    Go like the little apple all you want! He doesn’t like him or care about him anymore, ok?!

    The little girl looks at Lin Qin, then at Xü Beijin, then at the woman… and seems completely lost, asking, “are you my mommy?”

    Lin Qin looks at Xü Beijin again to ascertain his condition, and thinks for some time, before telling him, “we’ll talk about this later, after the Nightmare is done. I’ll come by yours.”

    Xü Beijin calmly, and speechlessly, nods.

    Lin Qin then crouches down to be on eye level with the little girl to ask her, “do you not remember your mommy?”

    He hasn’t much common sense, but he isn’t dumb; the little girl’s behaviour here obviously implies that her relationship with her mother, and her mother’s identity, are no simple matter.

    The little girl shakes her head, and looks a bit more anxious now, saying, “I… I don’t know. Mommy told me to stay; she gave me this bracelet.”

    Lin Qin looks at the bracelet on her wrists. It’s still the one given by Mystic.

    Lin Qin is confused; does this mean Mystic is her mother?

    But then, why would Mystic not know about this before?

    Xü Beijin looks at the little girl in thought. Then he looks over at the woman, whose face is stiff and is merely standing to the side as ordered by Lin Qin, not at all joyous in response to her ‘daughter’ appearing, or at all saddened when the little girl didn’t know her.

    She merely stands there quietly. In fact, she even looks somewhat impatient.

    When faced with questions beyond him, Lin Qin subconsciously turns to Xü Beijin, and then, noticing where he is looking, turns to the woman, of the sane survivors.

    He tilts his head, examining the woman, and then, something seems to have joined the dots in his mind, and he asks, “is it also part of the ‘Rule,’ for you to admit being the little girl’s mother?”

    The woman is clearly astounded with how wide her eyes are. She looks at Lin Qin, almost like she is looking at some last straw to clutch onto for dear life.

    She asks, “do you know? You know what’s happening in this building?!”

    Lin Qin, as his honest self, replies, “not very clearly, no.”

    The woman’s spirits visibly dampens hearing so.

    She looks down at the little girl, at her innocent face, and suddenly, and wrathfully, scolds her, “shit, shit… why must we all stay here to play house with you?! Shit, why?!”

    The little girl is clearly terrified, and mutters, “what… play house…?”

    “Listen,” the woman glances all around with this nervous expression, as if some pair of invisible eyes is watching her, and she says, “I don’t know how much you know.
    Maybe you’re still new; I’ve never seen you before. You might be our only way out, so I’ll tell you what I know. Nobody will tell you like I did… unless… fuck, unless like me, you got forced into being this brat’s mom!”

    Lin Qin raises his brows at her, and asks with an inquisitive tone, “so, what happened?”

    “This building,” the woman explains, “on the 9th floor and below, is a game company. Actually, the entire building is theirs, but they leased the floors they didn’t use.
    After that… I-don’t-know-what happened, just something, maybe it’s the end of the world, I don’t know, but it wasn’t just physical, it was mental.
    And so those people downstairs went mad. They changed how the elevators moved, and blew the stairs up to lock us in.
    Then they turned the entire building into some kind of game… You know? That game they were developing, something that was similar to what is happening right now.
    An apocalypse that traps an entire building of people in, with many people having gone insane and dangers all around. The elevators’ circuits were fried, and so led people to random floors… It was some kind of roguelike game, with randomness being the whole point.
    Everything we experience in the building is from those insane people who modified it all to fit with their game.
    And the plot of the game, is a little girl trapped on some floor, and the protagonist… the protagonist of that game they made, the player character… must take the little girl, and find her mother… you know, the kind of generic action RPG plot.
    So… hell, the apocalypse really came, and those people… just went bananas! They treated their game as reality! They modified the entire building and forced us to play the roles of those madmen and characters in the game!
    Some people who were forced to pretend ended up so mentally disturbed they also went insane. The Cannibals, Renovators, Janitors, they’ve all nuts now; I suspect it is only us on the 16th floor, and those Mushrooms who are hiding, that still remembers who they are.
    We couldn’t… we couldn’t, there was no way to escape. They blocked the roads, they control the elevators. Climbing down outside… Even if we climbed, they would still grab us on the 1st floor and send us right back…
    I heard they were even adding multiplayer elements in the game; not teaming up, but what each player encounters in the building affects others’ progress. They can help or hinder each other’s progress…
    God knows if they can actually implement the thing in reality. Jesus, are we even going to have to act as players? I’m at my wit’s end here…
    They… We, we’re all going crazy…”

    The woman’s words turn into a murmur; her body is shaking. She is still fearful and hopeless, but she also seems to have lifted a heavy weight off her chest for revealing the truth.


    Read only at Travis Translations


     


    boilpoil's notes:

    Voilà! It’s finally the truth of this Nightmare! And, well, I’m sure you can see the parallels between this and also the Tower as a whole... But Fei and Wu Jian are not here. Oh no, are all these words muttered (and I painstakingly translated? loljk) wasted? Stick around to find out!

    boilpoil

    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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