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    Translated by boilpoil
    Edited by boilpoil


     

    Other than that, Fei also heard from Mu Jiashi that he once used some drinks to exchange for clues of one Nightmare – the Nightmare that she and Wu Jian visited the last time.

    Equivalent exchange…

    Fei is muttering this word in her mind.

    She thinks that Xü Beijin holds goodwill for them, even if she hasn’t had any in-depth conversation with him yet.

    The bottom floor of the Tower… The bottom floor…

    Fei once asked, why would it be the case that NE can only be on the highest floor of the Tower?

    She is now doubting another aspect of the tale. Is the Server, NE, definitely on the adversarial side to humanity?

    It would seem, thus far, that the invisible hand pushing them along to discover the truth, can only belong to one who can do as he pleases and arrange all the circumstances correspondingly…

    Which means, it can only be NE.

    NE is helping them. Xü Beijin is helping them.

    NE is not necessarily on the highest floor. Xü Beijin is on the bottom floor.

    NE must know every clue in the Nightmares. Xü Beijin has a bookstore.

    Xü Beijin has never let others into his own Nightmare.

    Most importantly, the name.

    Isn’t that actually obvious?

    NE, North-End, where it terminates to the north.

    Xü Beijin (tl: Here’s the grand reveal for non-Chinese readers – The name Beijin is written with the characters for ‘North’ and ‘End,’ so any Chinese reader with an adequate knowledge of English could have seen this coming a long time ago)…

    Fei takes a deep breath. Her face is pale, because her mind is in shambles from what she just guessed.

    She knows there are many illogical assumptions in her guess.

    For example, why would NE help them?

    For example, how could Xü Beijin, who is clearly human, be an artificial intelligence?

    For example, if Xü Beijin really is NE, and holds goodwill for humanity, then why has he done nothing all these years until this very moment?

    Fei doesn’t have an answer.

    She lowers her head, and makes a forced smile. She decides to write the idea off as delusional for now.

    NE couldn’t possibly be human anyway.

    Maybe it was simply coincidence.

    That’s what Fei chooses to believe, as she lets the guess go.

    Finally, they’ve reached the offices on the fifth floor.

    Xü Beijin takes a ring of keys from his pocket to open the door to the fifth floor. They all enter the corridor to the floor.

    Xü Beijin tells them, “I’d ask that you do not go through the private items of my colleagues,” though he then bitterly smiles and adds, “not that they’d ever come back for them, I guess.”

    “What’s wrong?” Fei asks in turn, “what happened to the other librarians besides you?”

    She realises that Wu Jian has not told her anything regarding the other employees of the library.

    She gives Wu Jian a glance, who return a somewhat embarrassed smile to her.

    It’s not too late to ask, at least, since they’re here.

    Xü Beijin remains quiet here, not answering it immediately, because…
    He doesn’t know the answer either.

    In fact, the Server, NE, is filling the information to him in real-time, and he’s busy going through them.

    His pause before answering ends up rather apt, allowing the Missiontakers to imagine some unfortunate fate for them.

    Xü Beijin then sombrely says, “they’ve all gone insane.”

    “Insane?” Fei asks, surprised, “but aren’t the insane people hanging out at their own workplaces?”

    “The library… was different,” Xü Beijin answers, “after the spread of the madness, people changed… like in the Museum. If it were not for the insistence and hard work of the grizzled Director there, perhaps no one would have continued to work there.”

    NE didn’t give him information regarding the Museum, but Xü Beijin already saw it on his stream, so he’s able to smoothly incorporate it.

    The Missiontakers then naturally assume he has some important role given he knows things happening around the Nightmare.

    Even though the fact is simply that he cheated with his streaming system.

    Fei then asks, “so you’re saying, the original staff of the library and the Museum… neither wanted to keep working?”

    “They probably didn’t see their work as all that essential,” Xü Beijin replies, “they thought it meaningless; not just them, but some of the staff left the library at the behest of their own family as well.”

    Meaningless, huh…

    Fei quietly recalls the empty, abandoned Space Agency.

    It’s quite easy to see that this human society here no longer has the luxury to continue valuing the stars, the past, and culture.

    They’re certainly face-to-face with a much more terrible reality. They have a lot to do, but, caring about the humanities and its past isn’t one of them.

    The world is in chaos.

    Outside of survival and struggling, nothing else holds much meaning.

    Why is it that the progress of civilisation always falls in the face of chaotic times?

    It seems to be some unspoken, mutually understood eventuality.

    The Missiontakers all decide to forgo this topic without saying a word. They then disperse throughout the fifth floor to look for possible clues.

    What is immediately clear is that there is no one else alive on the fifth floor.

    A short while later, Fei and Wu Jian joins up.

    Wu Jian sounds surprised, asking, “so this library only had two people alive inside?”

    Fei says, “it’s not necessarily only those alive that can carry clues.

    Wu Jian nods.

    Suddenly, Buzzcut turns around to call out to everyone, “come look at this office!”

    Everyone approaches.

    Most offices have their doors wide open, and this is one of them. It seems to be some sort of study for ancient documents, with a large amount of yellowed, historic books piled onto the desk. There are even bamboo slips.

    Wu Jian is shocked, asking, “why would these things be scattered around?!”

    “Because no one is working anymore.”

    They look around, to see it is the teenager dressed like a student.

    He continues, “no one is working here anymore except Xü-ge (tl: Older brother, not necessarily biological as it can be used as a simple friendly term of address, which is what is happening here),” pointing to Xü Beijin, he continues, “originally, management was arranging for valuable pieces of literature like these to be transferred away to safety after the madness began to spread, but before it could be halfway done, the employees have stopped showing up. They made the library a mess too before they left, saying that these are already useless anyway…
    I worked here as a part-timer last summer holiday. Then, my own family also… went insane. So I spent time here often, not that I have anything else to do with my time. Xü-ge and I tidy them up little by little when we have time.
    These books and artefacts here were summarily removed from storage very early on, so we don’t know where they should be put back in. We couldn’t arrange for anyone to pick these up either, so we’re just putting them here temporarily.”

    The Missiontakers understand now.

    They may feel sympathetic for what happened to the library, but compared to what’s going on here, they must prioritise the truth of the Nightmare instead of concerning themselves over some books.

    The teenager sees them seemingly unmoved, and looks over at Xü Beijin.

    Xü Beijin shakes his head a little at him.

    Fei, Wu Jian, and Mu Jiashi, watching their little interaction, can’t help but wonder, are these two really Acting according to some script?

    Since they realised something was wrong with the Tower residents, they’ve become unable to immerse themselves in what is happening in Nightmares; they end up looking at it simply as a massive drama starring both themselves and others.

    Who knows if it’s a good or a bad thing.

    They continue their exploration of the fifth floor, but then a few minutes pass, and Buzzcut suddenly puts his finger to his mouth and goes ‘shh’ to everything. Then he asks, “do you hear anything?”

    The Missiontakers look at each other with confusion, but then, when they focus on their hearing, they do hear some static noises coming from one of the offices.

    “Is that…” Wu Jian sounds hesitant, “a radio?”


    Read only at Travis Translations


     


    boilpoil's notes:

    This part of the chapter contains some massive guesses at Xü Beijin’s secrets - Would any of them turn out to be correct? At the same time, there’s a radio making static! Exciting! Anyway, that said, the next part is going to be somewhere else for a while.

    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.

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