World“s First Demon Lord Chapter 19: IRL
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March 15, 7:00pm, Beijing, China
"Wow, she speaks English very well!"
Irade smiled as her 'mother' thanked her boss profusely. She was in her best clothes today, which was just her uniform, but cleaned, and on her best manners, which just meant that didn't speak when spoken to, and only ate small bites so that she could swallow quickly in the event that she was asked something.
Irade, her 'parents,' and a Chinese/American couple were sitting around a circlular table in a very fancy Italian restaurant, in their own little private booth. The Chinese woman was Irade's 'mother's' boss.
The only reason her 'brother' wasn't here was because he was too young, and her parents were worried he might leave a bad impression. Impressions were very important today; Irade knew that the only reason they were eating Western food was because her 'mother's' boss' husband was American, and Irade's 'mother' wanted to impress him.
"Your accent is very good," the husband added on, in Chinese. "Is it because Uyghur is similar to English?"
Irade almost choked on her tiny bite, but managed to recover quickly. She glanced over at her 'parents' briefly, who looked equally shocked. Well, that was only to be expected. No one was supposed to talk about how she was Uyghur, only about how her valiant parents had rescued her.
This was the first time a Westerner had known that Irade was Uyghur. Most of the time they assumed her 'parents' had adopted an Arab girl.
"My English is not very good, but thank you," Irade continued in English. "I just studied very hard. My parents helped me a lot."
Irade's 'father' gave his standard smile. Irade had used this particular phrase countless times, at countless similar dinners; he knew this was the time to smile.
"Oh? Then what does Uyghur sound like?" said the husband. "I'm curious now."
This time, Irade couldn't help but look at her parents, who were also frozen stiff. She recalled with some bitterness that they had told her to forget Uyghur, over and over again as a child. She had spent most of her first year with her new 'family' absolutely miserable, unable to articulate herself properly. Not that it helped in later years.
Without any practice, Irade's grasp of the language has slowly disappeared. Irade wondered for a moment if they would have let her practice Uyghur if they knew it would help them impress their boss, or if they would still suppress it.
Luckily, her 'mother's' boss stepped in.
"Come now, I know you're interested in Xinjiang culture, but let's not harass the girl now," she said playfully. Irade almost raised an eyebrow at how sickeningly sweet she was acting. The mood had gone from one type of awkward to another in a blink of an eye.
"It's not trouble," Irade replied, switching back to Chinese. "Thank you for your hospitality, but I do have school tomorrow."
She stood up rather abruptly, swinging her bag over her shoulder, causing the husband to blink in confusion.
"Of course, make sure you finish your homework," said her 'father,' the first to recover. "You have an exam tomorrow after all."
Damage control. Irade couldn't help but be impressed.
"And sleep early!" added her 'mother.'
"Love you!" said Irade, as cheerily as she could while leaving.
As soon as she was out of the restaurant, her face warped into a grimace, matching her actual mood. She blended into the crowds easily, deciding to take a walk home. It wasn't that far.
The night was warm, and the moon was clear in the night sky. Irade watched it rise up from behind the multicolored skyscrapers around her. The lights were bright tonight, the crowds heavy with people laughing and and joking around. Among them, Irade felt even more isolated, detached from the rest of the world. She was in her own world as she walked slowly among the masses of people.
Her 'mother' was going to have words with her when this dinner was over. She loved scolding her; once she had even woken Irade up at 4am to complain to her about her grades. But at point, Irade couldn't bring herself to care.
Irade hated these dinners. They maybe once every other month, but they were still the most annoying thing ever. Her parents would make her dress well, have her show off her English and Chinese (she had a good accent in English, but actually speaking in a conversation would have her tripping over every word, trying to remember what was the correct way to say something) and then she would just sit and look pretty for another four hours.
Was this it? Was this really a better life than life with her parents?
Irade sighed, and looked up at the sky. It was a little windy today, but otherwise it was fine. With the street lights on and everything, the city looked alive and bright and somewhat futuristic. This was how Irade always imagined the future to be like.
And yet. All she could think about was what if it was better with her birth parents.
It was always like this on these nights. Being paraded around like some pretty doll, being seen as a trophy, or maybe some lost, sick puppy that her 'parents' had rescued and for others to fawn over. She wondered if this was really all she was meant to be; just an ornament in someone else's life.
And that would make her think 'what if'. What if she grew up with her birth parents instead?
Her 'parents' always told her that they lived in the countryside. That her birth parents lived in a house made of mud, with no electricity, using coal and wood to light a stove, and with no running water. Apparently, they lived on the outskirts of one of the largest Uyghur cities, but even there the people lived in comparative poverty. From the way they told it, they had rescued her from a life of begging for scraps.
Irade felt like some of it might be true: she remembered playing on unpaved streets, where old men in donkey-drawn carriages passed by and tossed her apples as she yelled her thanks at them.
But she also remembered sneaking into the kitchen of her house to steal some ice cream before dinner. She remembered racing back to bed from the side of the room after turning off the light switch. She remembered wondering what the funny looking symbols at the bottom of the screen of the TV was when the cartoons were speaking.
These memories were her only mementos of her past. She treasured them for reasons she couldn't compltely explain. She was sure they were real.
Those were the memories that made her feel like maybe living with her parents wouldn't have actually been that bad. Irade probably wouldn't mind that kind of life.
"We rescued you," her 'mother' said scathingly. "Didn't you know? You so-called 'real' parents-"
No. No, she was not going to do this.
Irade grit her teeth as tears sprang in her eyes as she pulled her jacket tighter around her.
There was no need to bring up old memories. No need at all.
She needed to move on. Live in the future.
Focus on something else. Anything else.
She pulled up her stats screen.
[*Arabic Writing*: Level 5]
[Intelligence: 37 (+1)]
[Requirements: (Intelligence 37) met!]
[Unlock: Monster Map!]
[Requirements: (Unlock Monster Map) met!]
Irade blinked. That was a whole lot of new information here. She had just completed her homework before her parents had dragged her to the restaurant, and so she hadn't had time to go through her stats at the time.
Irade looked around her status screen to find any sort of map, but there didn't look like they was anything. She tried thinking 'Map' and 'Monster Map,' but that didn't seem to do anything either.
She sighed and shook her head, a feeling of frustration welling up inside, up to her throat. She wanted to scream, but there were too many people around. Despite all the space, she felt trapped, unable to move forward or do anything.
She hated this.
She hated everyone.
She hated everything.
She just wanted everything to stop.
Irade stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, and squeezed her eyes shut.
Then immediately opened them again.
She blinked a couple times, then closed her eyes once more.
Instead of darkness, the world was lit up in front of her. A mass of blue and green, moving and undulating, changing to the same rythm of the sea of people in front of her.
Irade opened her eyes, and everything was normal again. She leaned against a wall, taking in deep breaths. Seeing all that with her eyes closed made her feel dizzy.
Okay. Time to experiment.
Irade soon found that the mass of colors she saw with her eyes closed was the 'Monster Map.' Luckily, she could turn it on and off, otherwise sleeping would have become impossible.
She was soon able to distinguish the colors; blue was the humans, and green for the buildings, while the floor was white. Along with that were certain faint, red silhouettes, pulsing in the distance.
Well, this was called a Monster Map. Irade had a pretty good idea as to what those might be. But just in case...maybe she should take a look.
Besides, it would be the perfect opportunity to test out her new Secret Skill, [Monster Hunter].
[Requirements: Unlock Story Mode: Achieved!]
[Story Mission: Monster Nest - Acquired! Would you like to accept? Y/N]
Story Mission? There was a story?
It's not like she had anything better to do.
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