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    Translated by boilpoil
    Edited by boilpoil


     

    The engine of the bus continues buzzing along while it takes Ding Yi and Mu Jiashi to the parking lot at the end of the road.

    After disembarking, Mu Jiashi doesn’t immediately head for the Museum, though. Instead, he stands there, and asks Ding Yi, “does this parking lot remind you of something?”

    Ding Yi falls into thought on the spot.

    “A parking lot…” She murmurs, taking in her surroundings, then says, “you’re saying… That… that Nightmare? That one?! With the little boy in the wardrobe?!”

    She has never been in any other Nightmare together with Mu Jiashi besides this one, and… the Nightmare with the little boy.

    There was a parking lot in that Nightmare.

    Mu Jiashi says, “this parking lot is at the southern end of the road, and beyond here is the countryside… accessible via the highway there.”

    Ding Yi seems stunned.

    Mu Jiashi continues, “in this Nightmare, though, the little boy isn’t here. His insane father isn’t here. It’s just a scene. This parking lot isn’t even an exact match; the lengths of the roads are different.
    You know, after I left that Nightmare, I was wallowing in my memories. I was kept awake by my thoughts. I was in pain because of my defeat.
    That is when I remembered this area in this Nightmare. More accurately, a companion explored and told me about it as an aside… There was a parking lot at the end of the southern road, leading onto the highway. There is a service area not too far away by car.”

    Ding Yi opens her mouth, but she does not know what to say.

    “I didn’t think much of the information at the time, because it was simply a data point in their exploration. The kind we gather a lot before Golddiggers enter a Nightmare with a True End in mind.
    I thought this piece of information had no value even after resolving the Nightmare on the higher floors, because this Nightmare had no use of the parking lot, the highway or the service area beyond. There isn’t a single Tower resident in any of them to provide information either.
    They’re just, scenes.”

    Ding Yi comments, “but these scenes actually hint at other Nightmares.”

    Mu Jiashi has a bitter smile, and he says, “do you know just how many scenes of different Nightmares this one Nightmare contains?”

    Ding Yi shakes his head.

    “Look over there,” Mu Jiashi points somewhere not too far away from the parking lot, “see that tallest building that might tumble over there?”

    Ding Yi looks in the direction.

    Then, she says, “as far as I can see, it doesn’t look at all structurally unsound. It’s just a normal office building.”

    Just a normal building…” Mu Jiashi murmurs, “some time over an hour later, when the Raining Hellfire comes, this city would burn. The building would have its glass shattered, and the survivors beneath the 9th floor would host a real-life game of escape…”

    Ding Yi looks more and more concerned, then asks, “so that’s another Nightmare? You’ve been there?”

    , a long time ago,” Mu Jiashi is now chuckling bitterly, “so did Fei and Wu Jian pretty recently. They haven’t come close to the building enough to recognise, so they wouldn’t know yet.
    But they’ve headed off to the east… the east side… you wouldn’t want to know what they would come across to the east.”

    Ding Yi is confused looking at him. The logic in Mu Jiashi’s speech is jumping all over the place.

    Mu Jiashi then drops the bomb, “I’ve heard about what happened to an old companion of yours. Those who indulged themselves spread the rumour of that Nightmare basically everywhere… They coveted what she left behind a lot.”

    Ding Yi connects the dots, and she looks utterly horrified, “she’s there?!”

    “Just the scene itself,” Mu Jiashi reassures her, “it is merely a husk of what that Nightmare featured.”

    “Merely a husk…” Ding Yi quietly repeats the phrase to herself, before smiling bitterly.

    The two of them stand there in silence.

    Finally, Ding Yi asks, “so this is what you realised in this Nightmare? Are you seriously saying this completely devastated you? A Nightmare, that featured other Nightmares?”

    While Ding Yi is quite shocked indeed, it comes nowhere near any breaking points for her.

    So what if this Nightmare had scenes of other Nightmares? Maybe this is just the ‘Ultimate Nightmare,’ that would explain how special it is, right?

    After all, this Nightmare focused on the Apocalypse. While scenes of other Tower residents’ misfortunes are featured in this gigantic, Apocalyptic set piece, could it not be…

    Wait!

    Ding Yi freezes in place.

    This Nightmare’s scene encompasses the happenstances of many other Tower residents?

    A gigantic… scene, of the Apocalypse.

    Ding Yi’s face slowly loses colour.

    Mu Jiashi says, “looks like you’ve noticed as well,” he takes a deep breath, and says, “the key question lies, in the Apocalypse.”

    Ding Yi is still listening, if only because she cannot react any other way.

    Mu Jiashi, staring at the tall building in the distance, feels his mood sink just like how the building will eventually collapse into the abyss.

    He says, “first things first. Everyone knows the Tower residents are insane. They are full of misfortune and gloom.
    They have had traumatic experiences, and have things they fear, which forms their Nightmares, which we, the Missiontakers, go through one by one.
    The problem here is whether their past are connected. Some Missiontakers think so, some don’t, but nobody has concrete proof. There are more that buy into the former than the latter.
    The reason those Missiontakers believe in the Apocalypse is because, it has to be to form an explanation. The Tower residents should be survivors of some major Apocalypse, but then again, what is that Apocalypse?
    What kind of Apocalypse could cause such dizzying amount of tragedy to occur in the past? Nobody had a plausible explanation anymore, not even the conspiracists.
    This Nightmare, though, is that very answer. It shows that those Nightmares were connected. The fact that all the scenes can coexist in one grand scene is itself the proof.
    Next, it shows evidence that the Apocalypse was in two phases. Phase one, was the spread of the Nightmare, that lasted a year or more.
    This is the source of the many kinds of horrible atrocities always depicted happening in the Tower residents’ Nightmares.
    The second phase is the Raining Hellfire. This explains why many Nightmares alluded to themes of ruins, burning cities, and post-apocalyptic survivors. Civilisation only completely crumbled after that disaster.
    Which leads us… to another question. Who are we? We are players in a game. We are outsiders in the Tower.
    Outsiders… Ha, it’s obvious in hindsight, but this moniker is a blatant us-versus-them mentality dividing barrier, separating us from the Tower residents’ circumstances.
    We do not belong to the Tower because we are outsiders in them. The Tower residents dislike us, and all in all, we are only erstwhile witnesses to what this game has to tell…
    Everything is trying to tell us we are different from the Tower residents. It reinforces that fact.
    They are mad, we are not; they are survivors in an Apocalypse, we are not;
    They suffer endlessly in the Tower, we still have hope of escaping.
    How much of that is really true, though?”


    Read only at Travis Translations


     


    boilpoil's notes:

    It wasn’t too easy to translate this part of the chapter as it referenced quite a lot of already established canon and also contained tidbits that were quite nuanced in meaning that I hope is conveyed as well here as in the raws. Anyway, the basic idea is that Mu Jiashi is now explaining why he feels defeated to Ding Yi, although I’m not sure it’s going to work if Ding Yi hasn’t the faintest idea that Tower residents could be human just like them, but we’ll see, as that last bit of the rant is a pretty heavy-handed and unsubtle suggestion to that effect.

    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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