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    Being an Extra Actor in an Escape Game

    Vol. 7 Chapter 111.1


    Just A Thought

    Translated by boilpoil
    Edited by boilpoil


     

    When Fei and Wu Jian sees Mu Jiashi back at the Tower, he immediately tells them, “Su Enya and Xie Ji are the same person.”

    Fei and Wu Jian have a bomb dropped on them before they could even greet him.

    Wu Jian immediately asks, “are you sure?”

    “Su Enya spoke what only Xie Ji would say,” Mu Jiashi’s tone is pretty down, but he sounds certain, “Xie Ji did something only Su Enya would do… In their respective Nightmares.”

    Fei quietly mumbles, “so it means, they, the Tower residents… They actually are…”

    Mu Jiashi says, “and they can change identity as well,” he furrows his brows and says, “the reason is unclear… but, well, I have a guess.”

    Fei and Wu Jian have inquisitive looks.

    They might know a lot and have vivid imagination, but when it comes to observation of details and analysis of idiosyncrasies, they fail to measure up to Mu Jiashi’s mind.

    Mu Jiashi mutters, “equivalent exchange… the bookstore owner provides clues for the Nightmares… In essence, he’s providing spoilers.”

    Fei gets it immediately, and asks, “Xü Beijin? Did you realise something from how he has conducted himself thus far?”

    “Here’s an interesting question to consider. Why is he providing the opportunity for us to exchange things with him?”

    Mu Jiashi’s eyes start to sparkle as he says, “it must be for some purpose… He is trying to point a path forward for the Missiontakers, even if it wouldn’t become clear in the near future.
    But he said it’s an ‘equivalent’ exchange. What things of equivalent value could the Missiontakers have provided? He already knows all there is to know…
    Yes, if he could tell the Missiontakers such intricate details about the workings in any Nightmare, he must already know whatever it was that us Missiontakers could gather to tell him… He’s omniscient.
    What could the Missiontakers give him, then? I once provided him drinks for which he told me one piece of clue.
    It… it doesn’t add up. Would the drinks have meant anything to him? No. Of course not. He could have procured them himself if he needed to.
    What the Missiontakers provide him, must be the opportunity to conduct equivalent exchanges itself.”

    Wu Jian, looking at Fei, and back at Mu Jiashi, is confused, asking, “uh… what does that mean? I don’t think I understood.”

    Fei thinks she has an idea, and is working through her thoughts, “you mean, what we see as an exchange, an exchange of information of equivalent value, is not. The information we provide, is in fact, worthless in his eyes. He already knows all there is to know about the Nightmares.
    He still conducts the exchanges regardless, because there is something to be gained on his side as well. He gives us the information on the Nightmare, and in exchange, we…”

    Fei seems to have lost her train of logic.

    Mu Jiashi helps her out, firmly asserting, “we have an easier time reaching the Ending of the Nightmare; he’s pushing us along, like he’s the puppet master, controlling us, the puppets in his hands.
    He points us to the correct direction, so that we proceed according to his plans…”

    Fei mutters, “that’s, the equivalent exchange.”

    She and Mu Jiashi are looking at each other.

    Wu Jian is scratching his head. He doesn’t understand the motivation. Whether or not the bookstore owner really knows all there is to know already doesn’t seem to follow how he even needs the Missiontakers to solve the Nightmares as his puppets…

    It makes it sound like he can’t solve them himself…

    Oh right! He can’t solve them himself!

    Wu Jian finally understands, now.

    They are now aware that Tower residents must be under far stricter restrictions from the Server compared to the Missiontakers.

    With that being the case, all Xü Beijin can do is establish some ‘equivalent exchange’ so that he can indirectly influence how the Missiontakers solve the Nightmare and what they do next.

    That was how it was in the Nightmare with the ruins.

    And in the Nightmare they just left, it was the same – Xü Beijin already gave them a hint in the very beginning.

    He told them, that if there were any books they want to look up, they can search on the computer on the far west side of the library.

    It’s just that, after finding Lu Chengzhe and receiving directions from him, they forgot about it entirely.

    Wu Jian relayed this piece of information offhandedly when they met back up the first time back then, but the Missiontakers didn’t realise its significance.

    They forgot, and it meant that, in the third run, if Ding Yi and Mu Jiashi simply checked the computer for relevant information, they would probably have had an easier time collecting the crucial clues.

    Wu Jian has understood what Mu Jiashi is getting at.

    Then Mu Jiashi continues, “I have also realised that Xü Beijin is not the only Tower resident doing so. I tried to recall as many Nightmares I’ve been through as possible, and there were always times when I felt like the Nightmare’s owner, or the Tower residents present, would do the same.
    More specifically, when we ask the Tower residents for the clues on the Nightmares, they would always tell us directly what they know;
    We’ve always thought it was a game mechanic that ensured a good player experience, and the NPCs do not lie, but, what if it is something that is in their interests as well? What if, through telling us the clues, they are hoping we can push through and resolve the Nightmares?
    I’ve never thought of it like that, until… the bookstore owner told me, that he operates by ‘equivalent exchange.’
    An equivalent exchange? When what we get in return and what he gets in return is laughably unequal?”

    A few years ago, when Mu Jiashi acquired a piece of information to a Nightmare using drinks, he thought it was dumb luck or he triggered some game event.

    Since Su Enya did tell him that this neighbour of hers liked drinks.

    But if you think about it, and Mu Jiashi certainly didn’t – a requirement that Su Enya knows Xü Beijin likes drinks, must be that she saw him drinking them. And if he’s drinking them, that means he must already possess drinks. So there was no point to accepting the drinks he gave him and then also giving him a clue in return.

    So was it dumb luck that Mu Jiashi got clues in exchange for some cheap drinks?

    No.

    What Xü Beijin needed, was exactly an opportunity to ‘give clues on Nightmares’!

    He needs the Missiontakers to do something for him, using the clues he has provided! That is his real objective.

    That’s also the objective of the Tower residents. That is why, there is a system of ‘equivalent exchange.’

    Mu Jiashi feels really complicated when he next utters the phrase, “so, equivalent exchanges…”

    The phrase has finally dragged them out of the haze, that they finally have a glimpse, of what is happening the Tower underneath the surface.

    They’ve realised the possibility of the identities of the Tower residents already, but they still had no idea what the Tower residents were doing in spite of that.

    They always look like they’re just trudging along in the Tower within the endless fog, and falling asleep to let Missiontakers into their Nightmares.

    The Missiontakers resolve the residents’ Nightmares; then what would the residents be doing?

    ──Letting the Missiontakers solve their Nightmare! Helping to push this circumstance along!

    Mu Jiashi really feels utterly and wholly upended right now.

    It’s like, you fall in love with someone, and tries to court them, only to realise, the other person has already schemed all they could, so that you would see them, fall in love with them, and court them.

    This upside-down mess of identities, objectives and positions, means the initiative was never in their hands.

    The Missiontakers thought they were doing all the heavy lifting, but it is only now, that they realise, they’re only the marionettes. They knew, and still knows, nothing, about the Tower.

    The three Missiontakers feel completely overwhelmed and emotional.


    Read only at Travis Translations


     


    boilpoil's notes:

    The power of imagination strikes again! Even Mu Jiashi has fallen to the depths of conspiracies, hehe. Anyway, stick around to see some wry comments on this tomorrow.

    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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