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    Translated by boilpoil
    Edited by boilpoil


     

    After the silence, Teen asks, “so, how will we get a True End?”

    Mystic says with an unusually calm tone, “I already know,” she looks at the other Missiontakers, then at the burning city outside, and at the survivors gathered on the 16th floor, she again says, “I really know…”

    She crouches down to the little girl’s level, and caresses her on the head. Then, she touches the little girl’s bracelet, and tries to smile as gently as she could, saying, “my good girl, mommy is here to pick you up.”

    The little girl merely stares blankly, like she hasn’t yet registered this properly, before shortly emitting a happy yelp and going, “mommy! Mommy, you’re finally here!” She hugs her mother tightly, and says with this tearjerking tone, “you were so late…”

    Mystic caresses her hair some more, and promises, “mommy will never leave you again.”

    The little girl nods happily.

    That is when the Server’s announcement comes.

    “Congratulations on achieving the Nightmare’s True End. Please choose whether to ascend to a higher floor: Yes/No”

    The Missiontakers have their eyes widened in shock.

    So, from the very beginning, to the bitter end, all the little girl wanted, was for her mother to come back for her; and if possible, to never leave her behind again.

    Fei and Wu Jian are standing around the spawning point on Respawn Avenue. They look around themselves.

    Suits and Teen are gone, probably having chosen to go back up the floors, as expected. Whether they would come back in the future is unknowable.

    Lin Qin, well, he’s been on the bottom floor for as long as anyone knew.

    The rest of the Missiontakers present are surprises, though.

    Missiontakers of the bottom floor like Jiang Shuangmei and Shen Yünjü who choose to remain behind even if they can go up are rare enough; the most shocking one is that Mystic is also here!

    She chose to stay?!

    Didn’t she also say out loud she was going up if she got a True End when the Nightmare began? What happened?

    Mystic has noticed Fei and Wu Jian’s surprise, so she makes a forced smile and explains, looking away, “I promised her… I would never leave; she is my daughter.”

    Fei knits her brows immediately.

    Wu Jian, insensitive after the high intensity mental workout, simply goes, “that’s just for the Ending in the Nightmare…”

    “No…” Mystic shakes her head and interrupts Wu Jian.

    The paranoia and cryptic aspects of her seem to be fading. In fact, the calm and much more reliable aura around her… Is making her resemble the woman in the photograph in the Nightmare more and more.

    She explains, “it’s different. If I really went up to a higher floor, I would have abandoned her again… Perhaps, I already did so in the past, but it was in the Tower…”

    Wu Jian is speechless, and can only conclude, yup, Mystic is still that mystic.

    Fei falls into thought, though, and looking at her, she can’t help but speak up, “what if…”

    But then, she cuts herself off.

    Mystic is tilting her head at her, but also doesn’t ask further questions. She parts with them to look for her daughter, and leaves the respawn point.

    Wu Jian’s gaze darts between Mystic’s silhouette and Fei; he’s confused.

    Fei asks ,”what if she was really the mother of that little girl?”

    Wu Jian reflexively denies the possibility, saying, “that’s impossible! She’s… she’s, a Tower resident…”

    Fei then smiles bitterly, and says, “what if…”

    Once again, she cuts herself short.

    What if the Tower residents are all simply Acting? If Mystic was the little girl’s mother, then… what about in the Tower? Could the little girl, who is the female Tower resident, actually be Mystic’s daughter?

    Is she acting as her daughter? Or maybe, and thought herself… Or, could she really have been Mystic’s actual daughter?

    Is Mystic, the little girl’s actual, biological mother?

    Fei shakes her head at her mind full of the questions.

    There are no answers. They want an answer, and maybe their lost memories contain an answer, but if their memories are lost, then could they still find the answer?

    … Could Missiontakers and Tower residents really be related? Is that an actual possibility?

    Wu Jian looks rather frightened and nervous, saying, “but, if… If that really is true, what your conclusion was, then…” He murmurs, “drastic changes will be coming.”

    Fei says calmly, “very few people will buy it; we don’t even have proof. At least, those words alone won’t be enough proof in others’ eyes,” then she proposes the absurd that just popped into her mind, “if only a Tower resident would jump forward to prove who they are…”

    Wu Jian seems to find it morbidly amusing to imagine, saying, “that will never happen. If they really wanted to… Then why has none of the Tower residents ever come forward to say something? It’s been so many years…”

    Fei says, “it could be because of NE.”

    Wu Jian opens his mouth, but he finds himself unable to come up with a counter-argument.

    Finally, dejected, he says, “if it really were because of NE, then we couldn’t even know the truth anyway.”

    Fei bites her lips while falling into thought. Then, she says, “no… not necessarily. We’ll go to his place first.”

    “His place?” Wu Jian asks curiously, “… the bookstore?”

    Fei replies, “oh, no… I mean, Mu Jiashi,” she pauses as she walks away from the respawn point with Wu Jian, before continuing, “Mu Jiashi has also been to the Nightmare before and achieved a True End. I’m curious to hear his experience.”

    Wu Jian looks puzzled, “you think there might be a difference in what he went through?”

    Fei says, “who knows. Nightmares don’t necessarily have only one True End.”

    Wu Jian nods.

    It is true that True Ends, or rather, methods to achieve a True End is not necessarily limited to one; in fact, if the paths taken were sufficiently different, the effects they might achieve, and other details, might end up different.

    That is also why Planners are having it pretty hard recently.

    Nobody can ensure that the ones purchasing the walkthroughs would be able to replicate it without problems even if they think they are following the steps precisely; Nightmares are also notorious for unexpected surprises that interfere with replication.

    Recently, with how Missiontakers of the bottom floor have been rushing upwards so madly, even Golddiggers had quite a lot of business, but the Planners still had mediocre business all along.

    With the effects on achieving a Nightmare Ending so uncertain, not many would be willing to spend a great deal to buy a walkthrough for a Nightmare, even if it has been certifiably reproduced.

    By the way, another way the ‘effectiveness’ of the walkthrough can be seen is through the lottery draw at the end of the Nightmare.

    It can be said to be a hidden score of sorts, with people having used utility cards to ‘cheat’ in the Nightmare worsening the quality of the draws in the end.

    The way the Ending is achieved, especially the means employed by the Missiontakers during that, would also factor significantly into the lottery.

    Well, of course, these are all speculation; nobody knows exactly how NE evaluates them. If they tried to pry too much into it, the question then becomes, is NE actually keeping an eye on them at all times.

    The answer to which is quite possibly, ‘yes.’

    So Missiontakers are prone to burning out, like the topic of the ‘Apocalypse’ that was the only thing anyone talked about for some time that quietly ended up buried and made into a taboo. Discussions surrounding NE also died down similarly.

    Along the way to Mu Jiashi’s house, Fei and Wu Jian both quietly move away from topics relating to Tower residents and Acting; maybe it’s an instinctual feeling, but they feel like, compared to back in the Nightmare, here on the bottom floor of the Tower, they feel closer to NE, somehow.

    Fei once again wonders if NE could actually be on the bottom floor instead.

    Nobody knows.

    They’re finally at Mu Jiashi’s place. Before they entered the Nightmare, Fei and Wu Jian have already talked with him many times, and so obviously they’d know where he lived.

    What is unexpected, though, is that Mu Jiashi is not home.

    While Fei and Wu Jian is looking for him, Mu Jiashi is actually heading for Xü Beijin’s bookstore…’s opposite side, where Su Enya resides.

    He knocks on the door, which swings open. Then, he enters this Tower resident’s house. He stares closely at the woman with her back to the wall and crouching on the ground, hugging her thighs tightly.

    He tells her, “I’m here to talk… about, the Apocalypse.”


    Read only at Travis Translations


     


    boilpoil's notes:

    That was quite the unexpected and bittersweet ending to this nightmarish... well, Nightmare, with the elevators and stuff. We’re heading right for the truth now, and right on to Arc Six we go!

    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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