World“s First Demon Lord Chapter 10: Game, Start Part 1
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February 28, 10:00 pm, London, England
This was it. Today was the day.
For once, I was already in my office, sitting at my desk, when Ms. Kang came in. If she was surprised, she didn't let it show. Maybe she expected it, considering what we were here for today.
"How did it go with the thriller?" I asked, fiddling with my tablet.
"The introduction went quite well," said Ms. Kang. "The body was found a week ago at a certain cemetery in Tokyo, and the protagonist reacted just as planned."
"No further developments yet, but it's been a week," Ms. Kang continued. "If she doesn't do something this week, then I'll consider the thriller storyline a failure."
"Let's hope for both our sakes that the protagonist is as interesting as you thought she would be," I said, standing up. Ms. Kang nodded curtly.
I walked over to the center of the room, and took off my shirt, revealing a body marked with tattoos. The black markings stood out against my white skin. I noted Ms. Kang's eyes going wide, and couldn't help but grin.
I closed my eyes, summoning my magic. I could feel it pulsing as I directed my magic outwards, forcing it into the shapes I had imprinted onto my body. It flowed smoothly into the ink, making it glow red. I let the magic settle, running through the shapes, learning its purpose.
I opened my eyes, and looked over to Ms. Kang. She seemed entranced by the entire thing, allowing her cool facade to slip a little. I grinned.
March 1, 6:04 am, Beijing, China.
'Oh, level up,' thought Irade absentmindedly as she stirred from her sleep. Then she realized that made no sense.
She blinked in confusion and rubbed her eyes. Maybe it was a holdover from her dream. She remembered vaguely that it had something to do with gaming, but that might have just been the afterglow from yesterday's finals. It had been a hard won battle...
Nope. It was still there.
On the top corner of her vision, a small bar with the English letters HP written underneath it. Inside the bar were Arabic numerals reading 10/10, and above it was an Arabic script she could not read, with the Lv. 1 written in English next to it. Then, in the lower right corner of her vision was a flashing red exclamation point. No matter which way she looked, or how much she rubbed her eyes, they would not disappear.
'Maybe I should lay off the videogames for a while,' she thought, getting out of bed.
Irade's room was small, but neat. Then again, it was only neat because she didn't really have anything to display. A small bed, with a bedside table and clock on it, and a wardrobe and mirror on the other side of the room. She had a little window above the bedside table that looked over the city below, but it was too high for her to see out of without something to stand on.
At the very least, it providede some good light in the morning.
She got dressed in her uniform, – a traditional blazer and tartan skirt – brushed her teeth and face, and walked through the apartment into the kitchen.
"Ah, Zhang Wei, come quickly while it's- oh."
A middle aged woman stood behind a table, clicking her tongue at Irade. She was dressed to the nines; in a flamboyant red dress with matching heels, with enough make up caked on her face to make mime look subtle.
Irade stared at the woman for a moment, wondering if she should rub her eyes again. Then before she could get scolded, she bowed to the woman respectfully, who in turn clicked her tongue.
"Your tie isn't straight, do it again," she said. Irade immediately undid her tie.
"Not here!" she said. "Take your food and go!"
Irade's eyes immediately went to the table; it was loaded with all sorts of food. She looked around until she found it, on the counter near the fridge. A small plastic bag, which she knew was full of leftovers. The lady had taken it out in advance. That was nicer than usual of her.
"Hurry up and go, you'll be late for your bus!" the woman hissed.
"Bus?" said a young, male voice.
The woman's demeanor instantly changed as she saw a boy, no older than ten, walk into the kitchen, still in his pyjamas.
"Zhang Wei!" she cried, as if she hadn't seen the boy in years. Irade couldn't help but roll her eyes as she rushed out of the room with her food. Cold dumplings, bought from the stall outside the internet cafe on her way back from home yesterday.
Irade made sure to have her jacket on tight while she took the elevator down, then opened the bag of food once she got out. The smog wasn't too bad today, so she forwent the mask.
Beijing wasn't too cool this time of year, but neither was it warm. Irade felt her fingers slowly freezing as she ate her dumplings on her way to the bus stop. She expertly dodged the people around her, used to the morning business.
Soon, she reached her stop, and sat down at the waiting area next to the old lady that smelled of tobacco, and the young office-worker that pretended to look at his phone while ogling her. In the past, he had tried to make conversation with her when they were alone.
"Your Chinese is really good!" he said once.
"I'm Uyghur," she had replied.
Ever since, he hadn't attempted to talk to her, which suited Irade fine. She didn't mind the sneaky looks, as long as he didn't try to touch or talk her.
It's not like she could actually do anything about it.
She ate in silence, finishing before the bus came and doing her tie up once she got onto her seat.
On the trip to school, she looked around the bus. Old lady sat at the back, office-worker at the front on his phone, and there was the pregnant lady who had started taking this bus to the hospital a few months ago. She was coming along quite well it seemed, as she looked tired, but happy.
Above them all were their names, with Lv. 0 next to them.
'Feng Guo,' she noted the name of the pervert, before looking out the window. Usually, she liked watching the peope go about their lives as she made her way to school, the roar of the bus' engine somewhat comforting. Today, however...
That blinking exclamation point at the corner of her vision was getting annoying. It didn't seem to be a hunger meter or anything, as it was still there after eating breakfast. She wondered how she could open it.
As soon as the thought of opening it crossed her mind, a message appeared.
[Congratulations, you have Leveled Up!]
[Daily Tasks unlocked!]
[Stat Points rewarded!]
Irade blinked as the lines of dialogue popped up. Miraculously, they were all in Chinese, instead of English like she was expecting. She read it all carefully, brow creasing with each line.
Stat Points? Daily Tasks?
What did that all mean?
Well, the HUD was probably just this whole...vision thing that was happening. But level up? Everyone else was at level 0, but it did show that she was level 1. How did that happen? What did she do to level up?
That probably wasn't the best question to ask right now. A better question would be to find out what her stats and Daily Tasks were.
Irade frowned, fighting the urge to swipe the image in front of her. That would definitely be a weird thing to do in public.
How had she opened the message before? She had thought about 'opening' it...so maybe, to open her stats screen she should-
And there it is. Stats screen.
MP? She had Mana Point, aka Mana, aka Magic? Did that mean she could use magic? For the first time since that morning, Irade felt a twinge of excitement about this strange impediment to her vision, but she quickly quashed them. No, she shouldn't get too excited.
First of all, what the hell was this? Level up? Stats? What was all these game-like terms invading the real world like this? Sure, there were stories about ordinary people getting game-like cheats in real life, but they were all stories. Fiction. In the real world, if something like this happened, it would be more likely to be some sort of mental illness manifesting.
That's right. Irade calmed herself down. There was no way this was real. It was probably just her mind's way to cope with stress. School was getting rather tough lately. This was just a way to deal with stress, nothing at all. It would be better if she did not interact with the delusion any more; better to let the delusion go.
As such, she ignored it as she got off the bus and started her school day.
Her school was a decently-sized building, though it only had six storeys. That said, the ceiling was quite high for each floor. In turn, that gave it large windows, making practically everything inside visible. Irade thought it looked like one of those modern dollhouses, where you could see the insides without opening it up.
She went by her day as usual, keeping her head down and focusing on anything but studying. She managed to get until lunch before thinking about the HUD again.
As usual, she sat in the cafeteria alone, eating her lunch, when a boy suddenly sat next to her. Irade narrowed her eyes. What the hell was going on? There were literally dozens of other empty tables he could have sat down at. Why this one?
"Irade, right?" he asked.
Irade nodded, mouth full of noodles. She noticed his name on the HUD: Fan Mo.
"I've noticed you around for a while now," he started, which made Irade narrow her eyes. How? When? She was never in school if she could help it. Where would he have noticed her?
The only place Irade hung out was the internet cafe near the food district. But she never noticed him there, ever. And according to her stats – not that they were real – her perception was her best trait.
"Do you want to go out with me?" he blurted out, causing Irade to choke on her noodles. Instead of helping her however, he simply burst out into laughter.
It was only after she coughed up her noodles did she notice the other students recording the whole reaction on their phones. Her ears burned with embarrassment as she stood up.
"No thank you!" she yelled, causing everyone to laugh harder. She rushed to the bathroom before she could make an even bigger fool of herself.
Stupid. Why had she even said anything? He was obviously asking her out as a joke in front of his friends.
Part of her, however, was simply bewildered that this was even happening. Sure, she had heard from other people that this sort of bullying happened, and it was always shown in dramas and novels, but Irade never actually expected it to happen in real life.
Then again, she never expected to suddenly gain a game-like cheat ability in real life either. Not that it was much of a cheat. It was just a HUD, with her lack of stats on display for everyone. She didn't even have any skills.
At the thought of 'skills,' another, glass-like square popped up.
[Skills: Flight: Lv. 0]
She stared at it for a second. Seriously? A Skill? Flight?
From the Skill name, it sounded a little too good to be true. If only there was something like a description she could read...
[Flight: Float and move around in the air at will. Duration lasts 1 MP per second]
Well. That seems to check out. Not that she could do anything with...
Wait a second.
A plan crystallized in her mind, but still she hesitated. Could she really trust the HUD? What if it really was all a delusion? Would there be any way for her to check-
Wait. Of course there was.
The HUD said his name was Fan Mo, right? She had never met him, never seen him before. So if she could just get a hold of she school yearbook, look up Fan Mo…
That would mean her HUD is real, and that it isn't something her mind is making up to deal with her stress.
All she needed was a yearbook.
If only she had a yearbook.
Or a friend who would lend her a yearbook.
She glanced at her phone for the time, and washed her face. Still some time before class. Maybe if she asked one of the teachers they could lend her one?
'It couldn't hurt to try,' she thought, leaving the bathroom.
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