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    Translated by boilpoil
    Edited by boilpoil


     

    While the bus didn’t stop at Museum, but compared to the route they would have taken if they walked from the Cangcheng Library to the Museum, this is still much closer.

    He Shujün says, “I feel like this Nightmare… there are lots of mad people for sure, but there still seems to be some kind of order. Is this long after the Apocalypse? Some kind of post-everything civilisation?”

    “Do you think this is the Apocalypse-proper?” Ding Yi says, analysing rationally, “merely having those mad people around doesn’t seem to be enough to have caused things to deteriorate as much as the Ruins the people talk about.”

    “What if some of those mad people had access to switch to some weaponry? They launched something they shouldn’t have?” He Shujün suggests, with a kind of lax, jokey tone, “you know that’s how humans…”

    She cuts herself short, and falls silent.

    … Humans are always like that.

    But then, could it follow that this Apocalypse really could have just happened to human society? To their Earth?

    He Shujün came from the higher floors very recently, and from her own circle of contacts, she heard rumours about this Apocalypse not merely being a setting in a game, but possibly, something that happened to Earth, to them.

    It is because of this Apocalypse that humanity had to enter the Tower.

    He Shujün felt like the explanation was forced and illogical. An Apocalypse, sure, something like that could have happened, but how does it lead to them having to enter this Tower and get stranded here?

    The logic doesn’t follow.

    He Shujün is highly sceptical, and she knows many Missiontakers would share her opinion.

    It is only when she is actually in a Nightmare related to the supposed Apocalypse, that she realises, her subconsciousness has probably bought into this hypothesis already.

    Why, though?

    She asks herself.

    And the only reason she can come up with, is that she cannot come up with anything else anymore.

    All this time they’ve spent trapped in the Tower, a long enough time that, people have to wonder——Why? Why is no one coming to save them? They can’t get out, but what about outside? Does no one know about their situation? Is no one interested in saving them?

    Just like how Fei, in the last Nightmare, watched the burning cityscape in the burning building, and wondered – the building still appears to be a safe shelter with food, then why would people in it only think of escaping, and no one outside would try to enter?

    Then, He Shujün draws the same conclusion.

    Because, there is no longer anybody outside.

    … The Apocalypse.

    He Shujün mutters it quietly in her mind.

    She thinks, maybe the Apocalypse has destroyed everything, and so, they, the humans in the Tower, are already the last of their species.

    How terrible, she laments, with no other emotional strings attached. She simply ponders on the Apocalypse.

    In any case, this is how she is willing to believe in the forced, nonsensical explanation. She would believe in the Apocalypse that killed off most of humanity, and only left them behind.

    Whether the Tower itself is safe or dangerous, whether it is a haven or a birdcage, those are all questions best left to the future.

    She merely needed an explanation. She needed to know why she was fighting at her wit’s end so many times. She needed to know why there were so many years of desperate struggles. She needed to know, why she was never contacted ever, all these years.

    … Really, if anyone is still outside, then why, aren’t they saving them?

    He Shujün has no answers. She doesn’t even want to mentally process the possibilities that could lead to an answer.

    So, she forces herself to think about other things.

    Like this Nightmare at hand.

    As they silently walk ahead, He Shujün and Ding Yi reach the tall, majestic structure of the Museum soon enough.

    The Museum, or the ‘Historic and Cultural Museum of Cangcheng,’ has a grand footprint. There are structures, plus a whole surrounding area of greenery and even recreational facilities. It resembles more a city’s tourist area than a simple Museum.

    He Shujün says with a slightly mocking tone, “I guess I understand why the madmen in the Museum need the tourist figures.”

    They walk into the Museum.

    As soon as they do, the scorching heat outside leaves them behind.

    He Shujün sighs in relief at the air-conditioning indoors. In the Tower, the weather is fixed to some nondescript, cloud-covered sunless day, and she hasn’t been exposed to the spirit of summer for a very long time.

    In this Nightmare, she swears she could feel herself drying up; grilled in the terribly passionate rays of the summer sun.

    This friendly Museum is air-conditioned, thank goodness.

    That said, this sure is odd. He Shujün can’t help but wonder why the air-conditioning is still on.

    Madmen are all that can be seen outside. Societal order is basically nonexistent. Litter and rotten leaves fill the streets but there are no janitors in sight. And yet, this Museum of Cangcheng, is clean as new inside, and looks ready to receive tourists at a moment’s notice.

    “Greetings.”

    Suddenly, someone speaks up besides them.

    Spooked, the two Missiontakers look to the side, to see an elderly figure with white hair who came from nowhere. He looks both surprised and highly relieved.

    He says, “welcome to the Historic and Cultural Museum of Cangcheng. Can I ask the fair ladies what they would be interested in hearing about?”

    He Shujün and Ding Yi look at each other for a moment.

    They suspect this elderly man must be the lunatic in the Museum, but he still looks communicable, so He Shujün answers, “it’s our first time here, so could we ask you to show us around as you please?”

    “Show you around…” Repeats the elderly man, who then says, “then let us make our way to the Cityscape Hall first. It features the history and the past of this city. Recently, however, the Museum is transferring some of its collection, so regrettably, there would not be too much to see.
    Can I ask if the two ladies are here at Cangcheng for the first time?”

    “We are.”

    He Shujün and Ding Yi follow behind the elderly man as they head for the large hall on the west side.

    Along the way, like real tourists, with the man being their guide, they are introduced to this Museum and the city in general.

    Everything seems so normal, yet by the time He Shujün arrives at the Cityscape Hall, the atmosphere already has her back filled with cold sweat.

    She did not see a single other person the entire way here. There would seem to be nobody but the three of them in this vast, empty Museum. The elderly man walks with a silent, completely inaudible pace – he almost feels more ghost than man.

    He is almost like the Museum itself – historic, serene, gentle, but feels aged and decayed, as if he would disappear the next second.

    If this was more crowded, with people walking around, watching, shoulder-to-shoulder, then He Shujün would surely feel that the place was more alive and welcoming, and perhaps that the city was lively all the same, but, not like this.

    Walking on the Museum’s grounds, is like walking on some kind of long rotten corpse. It is soft. It is cold.

    The air-conditioning might be a bit too strong in here. The cold air that helps alleviate the heat off thousands, maybe even ten thousand tourists at once, is directed at solely the three of them. He Shujün’s back is chilled to the bone. It only adds to a cold eeriness surrounding the whole place.

    With all that said, though, He Shujün does not actually find the elderly man to be exhibiting any sort of insanity at all.

    Well, if you really push it, he might seem to have a bit of an obsession with the Museum itself…?

    But given his age, he might have worked his entire life in this Museum. This is his second home, and, after whatever happened, people have all gone mad.

    Museums are not usually the top of the list of places people feel like hanging out in normally, and after that, it is more likely shunted out of the list altogether.

    The elderly man must feel a sadness in his chest from all this. It isn’t impossible to imagine him being saddened by all of this…

    While watching the elderly man leading them ahead, He Shujün’s eyes are starting to lose their focus.


    Read only at Travis Translations


     


    boilpoil's notes:

    In this part of the chapter, we're making excursions into the Museum. Everything seems normal so far save for the fact that no other visitor is here... is it really, though? There is already a flag planted here, but don't worry, it's somewhat subtle until it is pointed out in the next part, so do look forward to it, hehe.

    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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