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    Translated by boilpoil
    Edited by boilpoil


     

    Fei’s guess has proven correct. Ding Yi and Mu Jiashi are in no danger, though, it isn’t exactly safe either.

    Because they are currently in the presence of the old Director of the Museum.

    When they left the irritable man behind and entered the building through the side door, the Director is already standing there like a ghost. The unpredictability of his appearance sure gave them creepy vibes.

    But as Ding Yi did not have the full picture of what the Director has done, she’s not too worried.

    When the Director greets them, she is able to return a smile.

    They head for the Gallery Hall closest to where they are, and Ding Yi can see why the irritable man told them that nobody in their right mind would come tour the Museum anymore. In fact, most of the relics here have been moved.

    Even so, the Director, with a perpetual smile, facing an empty wall, is still able to fluently and eloquently detail exposition, as if the object of his description is still hanging there, the image vivid in the listener’s mind.

    Ding Yi almost finds her breath taken away.

    There is no better demonstration of how desperate this civilisation has already devolved into, before the Raining Hellfire even struck.

    Though… that is when, she realises something else.

    If the madness is also something they, the Missiontakers, have once experienced, then are they, in fact, insane right now? Or are they still sane?

    It’s the first time Ding Yi has ever questioned her own psyche like that, and her introspection can yield no possible results anyway.

    She cannot ascertain her own mental condition – she thinks she’s fine, but then, no insane person would go around telling people they’re insane.

    Speaking of which, the Tower residents, they do seem to act the part of the humanity who has gone insane, inside the Tower…

    Some dots are rapidly linking up in her mind. Her face goes pale all of a sudden.

    Mu Jiashi has tuned the Director’s speech out, and is idling when he immediately spots Ding Yi’s change in expression. He asks, “what’s wrong?”

    Ding Yi remains silent for a bit, before muttering, “the Tower residents.”

    Mu Jiashi is confused.

    The two are chatting quietly, and so the Director’s passionate, fiery speech, will have to fall on deaf ears.

    Ding Yi says, “after I returned to the bottom floor of the Tower, I learnt about the many new developments. Including the deeper question, and the ‘Ultimate Nightmare,’ and how the Apocalypse may have happened to Earth.
    Now, I’m wondering, if the Tower residents… Could they, have been survivors as well? Just like us? Are they the victims who fell to the madness?”

    Her tone is pretty eerie by this point.

    Insanity in the mentality and catastrophe in the physicality. Two states. Two factions. Two factions in the Tower. Could it be possible they have once been members of the same planet?

    Mu Jiashi is not at all surprised to see Ding Yi now questioning the existence of the Tower residents. He simply replies, “perhaps…”

    From his own judgment of what Fei and Wu Jian discovered, it’s definitely not just ‘perhaps,’ but a ‘definitely.’ Mu Jiashi doesn’t want to affirm that, however.

    If they have to question the Tower residents, more unfortunate questions arise like, why have the Tower residents never implied or even explicitly indicated their identity to them?

    Sure, the Missiontakers are dense as all hell, but the Tower residents gave up too easily themselves, didn’t they?

    Unless, like what Fei and Wu Jian have heard in the crumbling building with the malfunctioning elevators──

    After Acting as a character for a very long time, it is difficult to cling onto one’s own sense of self.

    That is definitely a disaster in the making.

    If they truly, ‘succumb’ to their roles, it means their own will is now meaningless in this game named ‘Escape.’ This would be the nail in the coffin, that firmly settles the matter of whether NE is their enemy – it must be.

    That’s why Mu Jiashi did not answer concretely; he wants to avoid attention from NE.

    Ding Yi, though, must also know that, since he did not explicitly deny her hypothesis, it must mean…

    Ding Yi, standing in silence, is gripping her fist so tightly her fingernails are biting into her flesh.

    They continue following the old Director of the Museum along.

    Certainly, the Museum does not host anything spectacular or awe-inspiring anymore. It is all the more desolate wandering through the empty Halls and galleries.

    When they leave the Gallery Hall behind, and are heading to the next one, the Director suddenly stops, and morosely says, “my guests, I do apologise, but I’m afraid there is nothing worth visiting here for anymore.”

    Both Mu Jiashi and Ding Yi are surprised. Is the Director… ‘waking up’ at this final moment?

    “We. The humans. When we lose our memories, when we lose our past and our histories, when we care not, fear not the past, the civilisation is doomed to fail.”

    Ding Yi and Mu Jiashi both listen quietly.

    The Director continues, “if we cannot pick up our scattered pieces, nothing we do in our struggle will matter.”

    The two Missiontakers give each other a glance. The Director sounds like he’s trying to get at something here.

    Though then, the Director’s topic switches, “today is the last day of the relics being transferred out of the Museum to a secure location. Therefore, even if I want to show you around, there is nothing else to see.”

    Ding Yi almost sighs in relief.

    Then the Director asks, “would the two of you like to know about anything else?”

    Mu Jiashi remains quiet, leaving the matter to Ding Yi.

    After thinking a bit, Ding Yi asks the Director, “you refer to the memories, to the past… Can I ask if that past is related to Cangcheng?”

    The Director smiles at the question, and explains, “of course. I suppose not even many locals in Cangcheng remember, but once, our nation’s foray into space, began at Cangcheng.
    The Space Agency at the north of the city is the first officially built and sanctioned building of its kind. It sent our proud astronauts into outer space.
    That was the first step in our exploration of the universe. We finally announced our arrival to the universe, loud and clear.
    The mysteries of the Universe began to unravel themselves, right at that moment.”

    Ding Yi’s eyes widen.

    She’s wondered if the Space Agency had anything to do with anything else like the Museum when Fei described it.

    Since these buildings, the Museum, the Space Agency, and Cangcheng Library, are quite exceptionally eye-catching.

    She questioned their relationship, and now, when the Director is talking about the city’s history of space exploration, her mind goes ‘a-ha.’

    It seems it is possible to gather clues about the other locations from a particular location.

    The past, Ding Yi thinks. They are learning about history, they are learning about the past.

    Taken in the context of this Nightmare, Ding Yi realises, that this Nightmare, is also trying to tell them something about the past. About the past of humanity.

    Ding Yi is looking at the Director intently. ‘Even if he is not the Nightmare’s owner,’ she thinks, ‘he must still certainly be an important person within.’

    He knows Cangcheng like the back of his hand.


    Read only at Travis Translations


     


    boilpoil's notes:

    This part of the chapter reveals how the Museum and Space Agency are linked together. This link will be further explored in the last part, so do keep reading to see how it develops.

    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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