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    Translated by boilpoil
    Edited by boilpoil


     

    Fei watches Mystic walk in front of the little girl, and kneels.

    Her usually unfocused, soulless eyes are staring intently at the little girl, who has her head raised, nonplussed, looking right back at her.

    Mystic then looks at the bracelet on the little girl’s arm, and suddenly asks after a bit, “do you remember me?”

    The little girl blinks her eyes, confused.

    Mystic says, “I gave you the bracelet,” she points to the little girl’s wrist, and says, with as gentle a tone as she can muster, “before, on a floor above.”

    The little girl stares at her for a bit, and replies, “… then you left me behind.”

    That is when some sort of indescribable pain seems to have overcome Mystic; she is screaming, but there is no voice. She is feeling so much guilt towards the little girl, but there is also an odd feeling like these emotions should not belong to her.

    Finally, she faces the little girl.

    “I’m sorry,” she says, “I’m sorry, I didn’t want to either.”

    The little girl stays silent. Her expression remains unmoved.

    She continues staring at Mystic without a word; it seems Mystic’s answer was not what she wanted.

    What should people do to get through to a little girl, one that was abandoned and left for dead by her mother who has gone off the deep end? More importantly, what must they do to count as having resolved the Nightmare? What counts as the True End?

    Mystic also stares at the little girl, until, a very, very long while later, she murmurs, “I think I understand… how to solve this Nightmare now,” she pauses, and adds, “a True End.”

    She stands back up with wobbly feet.

    Teen can’t help but ask, “how?”

    Mystic explains, “this building, is the physical manifestation of a game. To achieve an Ending in this Nightmare… We either get to an Ending for the Nightmare, or, get to an Ending for the game in the Nightmare.”

    The other Missiontakers are completely bewildered.

    Suits looks at the little girl, seemingly in thought, before pointing out, “this little girl must be the Nightmare’s owner.”

    By this point, this is a certainty; the Nightmare revolves around her. She is the co-protagonist of the game that is being developed, and also, the little girl that was abandoned by her mother in reality.

    “She has confused fiction for reality,” explains Suits, “or possibly, at her young age, she is unable to tell whether her mother abandoning her was because of the effects of the apocalypse, or her actual, genuine will. She ends up confusing what happens in the game for this because of that.
    Possibly, in that game’s development, the little girl heard about contents of the game while participating with her mother and working with the development; she might have come across the storyboard again when she grew up.
    So, in her Nightmare, she ends up infusing part of them into her consciousness… or, quite simply, she confused them entirely.
    Now the question remains. As the owner of the Nightmare here, what is it that she desires the most?”

    Mystic answers without a shred of doubt, “her mother.”

    Suits looks at her.

    Right now, Mystic looks like she had come to understand everything, and even looks, somewhat ashamed; she seems to be empathising with the mother figure, if not outright starting to identify as the little girl’s mother.

    Suits is furrowing his brows. Are Nightmares on the bottom floor already supposed to have this kind of effect?

    On the higher floors, sure they are used to them, and when they wake back up from the Nightmare, sometimes they even end up feeling like an age has passed, and they are no longer themselves.

    Why would this Nightmare on the bottom floor also feature this kind of effect?

    Thinking of the rumours he’s heard about this Nightmare on the bottom floor, Suits is having complicated thoughts.

    The Nightmare… The building, the Apocalypse, and those survivors and madmen. Could these really be related to the Tower itself?

    He might not be thinking about them as deeply as Fei has, but he is also getting worried deep down.

    Mystic keeps going regardless of other Missiontakers’ actions, saying, “she needs her mother… her mother’s promise, her mother’s presence. She wants her mother never to abandon her, never to leave her alone under that dark, cramped space of the office desk.
    In the Tower, even if the little girl has grown up into an adult herself, she is unable to let go of the trauma she felt being abandoned. She hides away in dark corners, crying, curling up, refusing others’ attempts to approach her…
    Because, she is still waiting for her mommy to come pick her up…”

    Mystic concludes, with her signature, slightly off-putting tone.

    Teen coldly sniggers, though, saying, “for all we know her mother is probably dead,” he then expands on his previous idea, and says, “in that case, if we can convince her that her mother is already dead…”

    Mystic says, “then that would be a Bad End, wouldn’t it?”

    Teen pauses, and knits his brows.

    He doesn’t seem offended being rebuked. Instead, it seems to have sparked some thoughts in him, as he widens his eyes to murmur, “so death… is a Bad End?”

    Jiang Shuangmei, looking at him, and looking back at Mystic, asks, “so this is what you refer to, by the Ending of the game in this Nightmare?”

    Mystic nods.

    Then Jiang Shuangmei starts explaining with some confidence, “if that game’s main questline involves taking the little girl and looking for her mother, then there must be some sort of gameplay challenge, either in the form of a time constraint, or in other material conditions…
    For example, the little girl’s mother will face danger and die in a certain length of time; the main quest will fail if she is not found in this timeframe.
    And, if I were this Nightmare’s owner…”

    Jiang Shuangmei is looking rather meaningfully at the little girl, and says, “I will definitely not wish, that my most important family would pass away.”

    Her tone is filled with complex emotions. After saying that, she finds it too difficult to continue speaking, and lowers her head and eyes.

    It’s easy to empathise with the little girl for her. Of course it is. Objectively, her mother abandoned her by her own volition then, but the little girl probably didn’t have the mental capacity to comprehend what her mother was doing.

    So it could really be as simple as the little girl still waiting in vain for her mother to pick her up; it might not be until she has matured and grown into an adult that she finally figured out, oh, she was actually abandoned.

    Out of the Nightmare, she is a grown-up, mature form; in the Nightmare, she is still the young, naïve little girl.

    A childhood trauma she has yet to treat.

    A gradual, numb sort of pain that throbs only in time. In her Nightmares.

    But, it is most probable still that the little girl would not wish for the person she is still waiting for to be dead. She is waiting for an ultimately futile hope, but, it is still a hope.

    The Missiontakers fall silent for a while.


    Read only at Travis Translations


     


    boilpoil's notes:

    This part of the chapter, Mystic is surprisingly lucid as she nails the clues of the Endings in the coffin; telling the little girl, clutching at the last straw of a hope, that the hope is really dead, is likely a Bad End, it seems.

    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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