Crying Boy (8)
It was raining heavily again and wet the surface of the red umbrella.
The man holding the umbrella disappeared into the gray rain curtain.
No 9 looked in the direction where the red umbrella had left. There was a glimmer of light in his dark eyes and some strange emotions spread in his chest.
Perhaps the other person’s red umbrella was too dazzling. After he left, the deserted city soaked in the rain became gloomy and monotonous. All the colors were washed away by the rain and the rest of the time became boring.
It was only when the world darkened completely that No 9 realized that night had finally come.
Chi Nan. He would never forget this name.
He suddenly had a thought. ‘The next time we meet, I want to call him Brother Nan.’
You Yu woke up in the heavy rain and his blood cooled when he didn’t get a response from Chi Nan. “Brother Nan, are you still here?”
The 229 days after Chi Nan disappeared caused him to suffer both gains and losses.
You Yu wiped the wet rain on his face and opened his eyes. He found himself in a neon shadow and there was a pool of water on the ground. His tense nerves slightly relaxed when he confirmed from the reflection that his right eye was still Chi Nan’s green color.
Just then, Chi Nan woke up in his consciousness, his voice a bit sleepy and hoarse. “I just… I was in tune with the consciousness of the god of dreams.”
You Yu frowned with a bit of surprise, but he soon cleared his mind in the chaotic situation. “Was it a memory you lost?”
Chi Nan hesitated. “Yes.”
You Yu told him, “It should be the reward clue we got for clearing the second layer of the dream.”
He thought about it from the perspective of a dream maker and neatly put all the absurdities of the moment into the box of rules, so that everything looked orderly.
Chi Nan said, “I also saw the grown up No 9 from this memory.”
“Did you also see the process of the birth of the Crying Boy?”
“Yes.” He continued after a pause, “I also… saw you.”
“Huh?” You Yu’s heartbeat paused.
“No 9 is you.”
The rainy world stopped in front of You Yu and his brain went blank for a moment.
“You Yu, No 9 is you.”
Chi Nan repeated it in a clear and affirmative voice.
Through the sensory sharing system, Chi Nan empathized with You Yu’s current state of tense muscles while his blood and heart still functioned.
In the puddle illuminated by the neon lights, he could see that You Yu’s face was cold and white.
This state didn’t last long, and You Yu soon withdrew from the overwhelming shock.
He gave a low laugh. “So it is like this… I was careless. I should’ve thought about it earlier.”
You Yu looked back and thought about it. In fact, there had been clues and hints buried everywhere after they met.
The first time they met in the carriage, his usual sharpness and vigilance didn’t notice No 9’s existence. It was presumably because they were originally the same person and their breath and presence were highly similar or even identical. Mixed together in a narrow space, it was difficult to distinguish from each other. This wasn’t a ‘person’ he needed to be vigilant of.
In the short dozens of hours where they got along, he felt familiarity from the other person countless times. There seemed to be an innate sense of intimacy and even tacit understanding…as well as indifference in the face of death and fear.
Even the tragic childhood experiences of the two being sold to be sacrifices by their biological mothers were highly similar… You Yu secretly sighed. He suddenly didn’t know whether to feel pity or to think it was ridiculous.
It turned out that he was the painter of the Crying Boy. In this way, many previous doubts were answered. He didn’t become the most senior dream maker out of luck and there was a reasonable explanation for his death token becoming the key to open the permission.
Everything had long been buried in cause and effect.
“I’m really… I was jealous of myself before,” You Yu said with a smile.
“Yes, you were quite boring.”
You Yu clicked his tongue. “However, even if I know that No 9 is ‘me’ from another time period, it doesn’t prevent me from being jealous of him.”
Chi Nan: “……”
Even if he knew that You Yu was the painter who created the Crying Boy back then, it also didn’t prevent Chi Nan from feeling that You Yu was a complete pervert.
Chi Nan quickly told You Yu everything he had seen in the god of dream’s consciousness.
“So we have gone back hundreds of years in the instance and came to the time period when you were the god of dreams and successfully rescued No 9… in other words, the ‘me’ of this time period, from the sacrificial ceremony organized by the magician organization. Through the so-called deal I proposed, No 9 settled in the City of Dreams and became a street painter.”
“On an ordinary afternoon, No 9 finally encountered the god of dreams, who turned into an ordinary teenager and went out for a walk. This allowed the Crying Boy to be born.”
“However, it is really bad. No 9 actually speculated that the other person was an ugly old man in front of the god of dreams.” You Yu sighed in a dissatisfied manner. “Such a bad impression was left in the first meeting. It is no wonder that we can only meet again hundreds of years later, right Brother Nan?”
Chi Nan only said coldly, “Your painting skills in the past are a bit better than they are now.”
You Yu was choked up. “……”
Chi Nan got back to the point. “So in this nightmare instance, our time flows in a circle.”
The future self returned to the past and became an important part of driving the events.
“Maybe it isn’t just this instance… The entire Nightmare World is a time loop,” Chi Nan lowered his voice and added.
You Yu took a deep breath. “In this circular structure, there is still a crucial event point.”
“How did the god of dreams get sealed into the Crying Boy?”
The two of them spoke almost in unison and fell silent very tacitly.
“However, I’m more concerned about the final result of this instance.” You Yu’s eyes darkened. “Brother Nan, this place is different from the previous instances. If the god of dreams dies in this world, you will also disappear in reality, right?”
Chi Nan didn’t answer. The answer to this question was clearly in front of him.
In this circular time structure, the stability of the entire structure would be broken if there was an error with one ring. The current Chi Nan would disappear due to his death in the past.
Afterwards… perhaps just like the 229 days when Chi Nan disappeared, everyone would lose their memories of Chi Nan and even the entire Nightmare World would disappear…
Perhaps the rain was too cold, but Chi Nan felt that You Yu’s body was trembling.
Chi Nan suddenly had an impulse that he never felt before. He wanted to hug the secretly trembling You Yu in the rain, taking his wet shoulders in his arms and saying ‘it doesn’t matter’ in his ears, until the other person stopped trembling and let go… or he wouldn’t let go and would hold him all the time. It didn’t matter if his tears didn’t stop due to the touch…
Unfortunately, now he could do nothing but inhabit You Yu’s senses, trying to appease the other person in the way he was least good at.
“You Yu, I won’t disappear.” Chi Nan’s voice was as calm as always. “Since I can appear here, it indicates that hundreds of years ago, there was another ‘me’ that completed this cycle.”
You Yu wiped the rain from his face. He barely controlled his mouth and spoke in a tone that was almost acting spoiled, “Brother Nan, a god must keep any promise he makes.”
Chi Nan spoke affirmatively, “Yes, I will do it.”
“If this is a circular time structure, then there must be a connection from the past to the future,” You Yu calmly analyzed, “For example, the ghost tunnel that allowed us to complete several time movements.”
Chi Nan said, “From the previous few times, it seems that the ghost tunnel appears through some type of object as a medium. For example, the radio of Highway 404, the window of 206 in Zi City, and the painting in the office of the Dawn Base. It was the painting that brought us to this point in time, so…”
“The entrance to the ghost tunnel is the Crying Boy.”
The two of them spoke in unison again.
“Brother Nan, it looks like we’re going back to your old house.” You Yu looked at the Dawn Tower in the rain.
“It looks like we have nowhere else to go,” Chi Nan added.
From the memory of the god of dreams, he knew that the Crying Boy that likely contained the entrance of the ghost tunnel had been brought back to the Dawn Tower by the god of dreams.
“Lord God, is this the first time you have brought a boy home?” Less than two seconds after being serious, You Yu returned to his casual appearance and teased.
Chi Nan: “……”
“There is just one thing I don’t understand. Did the god of dreams give the pocket watch to No 9 for any special purpose?” Chi Nan murmured.
“Is it possible that he just wants to provide the identity information of No 9?”
He paused before adding thoughtfully, “There might be other intentions, but we don’t know right now.”
“Yes. Let’s go to the Dawn Tower first.”
The City of Dreams they were in now was much more dilapidated than what Chi Nan had seen in the consciousness of the god.
Rain shrouded the city’s brightly lit night, but the streets full of neon lights were empty. If he looked closely, all the buildings were covered with moss and mold. The city soaked in the rain was completely abandoned.
Chi Nan deduced that the current time point should be a few years after the birth of the Crying Boy. The negative emotions of humans had deepened the pollution of the god of dreams and the entire City of Dreams had been reduced to a ruin of negative energy.
Even the lunatics and criminals had chosen to leave here or… those people were already buried here.
The Dawn Tower was the tallest building here. Just like the office building at the Dawn Base, it stood on the horizon in a grand and desolate state.
An invisible force swept over them before they got close to the tower.
“Those people in the magician organization have placed spells around the tower. These energies can cause damage to the god of dreams.”
You Yu had studied some knowledge of magic in preparation for the dreams, so he could immediately distinguish the energy field under the Dawn Tower.
He also found it fortunate that Chi Nan was now hiding in his sensory system in the form of ‘parasitism.’ Chi Nan could only feel what he felt and perfectly avoided the harm and pain of these energies to him.
Was this just a coincidence?
You Yu never believed in coincidences. He preferred to believe that this was the design of the system to protect Chi Nan.
He quickly bypassed the reverse pentagram and the blue flaming snake pattern printed on the ground at the entrance of the tower. However, he couldn’t open the closed door of the Dawn Tower under any circumstances, even if he used Chi Nan’s right eye.
“It seems that the entire tower has activated the emergency closure system out of self-protection and we can’t enter now.” You Yu tried everything in vain and there was a rare impatience in his tone.
The rain was becoming heavier and the totem on the ground glowed with a faint luster in the puddle. You Yu knew that the energy field of the spell was strengthened.
At this moment, the cold voice of the system was heard.
[Congratulations to the two of you for entering the third layer of the dream. Please make the right choice according to the clues you have mastered. I wish you good luck.]
Chi Nan wanted to ask if there were any hints, but the system seemed to be smart enough to grasp his habit. It took the initiative to speak.
[Reminder: At this stage, the magic formation under the Dawn Tower is a foregone conclusion. The dream participants don’t need to waste their energy trying to destroy it. Please spend your time and abilities where you can make changes.]
[Reminder: There are two hours left before the spell completely destroys the Dawn Tower. Please hurry!]
The cold explanation was completed and the system once again hid its voice.
You Yu: “……” His lips were pursed in a straight line and he had the urge to smash the system into scrap copper and iron to sell.
“The clue we have already grasped is the relationship between No 9 and me, the relationship between the god of dreams and you, and that this nightmare and even the Nightmare World are operating in a circular time structure.”
You Yu frowned as he summarized it, but this information didn’t help them enter the self-enclosed Dawn Tower, let alone save the god of dreams.
Chi Nan quickly went through the details since entering this instance. Then he suddenly got enlightenment. “You Yu, we need your pocket watch.”
Chi Nan continued, “The entrance from the first layer of the dream to the second layer was the Crying Boy. The hint the system gave at the time was that time and light would guide us to the dream. Correspondingly, time and light can guide us out of the dream.”
The pocket watch that symbolized time was lost in the second layer of the dream and reappeared next to the god of dreams in the third layer of the dream. Then it was handed over to the painter No 9 by the god of dreams.
There were no coincidences!
“We can only get the ‘key’ to open the Dawn Tower if we find the current No 9.” Chi Nan’s voice lowered.
However, there had been several jumps in the timeline. It had been several years since No 9 created the Crying Boy and it was uncertain if No 9 had left the City of Dreams or not. They only had two hours and it was impossible to find No 9.
“I might know where No 9 is.” You Yu raised his eyes and looked at the vast expanse of desolate land and the dark rain curtain behind the Dawn Tower. “If he is still alive.”
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