World“s First Demon Lord Chapter 51: Checkpoin
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April 19, 12:10 pm, London, England
I looked at the cityscape below me. All I could see were buildings, tall and grey, encroaching on the blue of the water. I frowned.
Was it human nature to impose our will on the world around us? Or were we destroying our own world for the sake of convenience?
It would be no lie to say that the quality of life for most humans have improved in the last century or so. But it also wouldn't be a lie to say that for some people, the world has gotten worse. Poverty, famine, wars…
While humans have improved quality of life, we've also improved on quality of human cruelty as well.
Could I just accept this as duality as simply the darkness we had to live with? Could we somehow create a world with all the benefits of modern technology, but with none of the drawbacks? Of course, people would still have to work. But did they have to work as hard as they do now to create liveable circumstances?
I sighed as I looked down at my tablet. None of this really mattered. I was just hesitating.
In my hands was the proposed plan for a certain storyline.
This past week had been...interesting for this particular storyline. Just not in a way that was particularly interesting to watch. Definitely not as action packed as it had been before.
If I could have my way, I would leave the storyline as is, and let it grow naturally. It wouldn't be entertaining, but it would definitely stabilize the character. In turn, that would help them grow into a more whole human being.
But I couldn't. Time was running out. Our Demon Lord needed a Hero to stop him.
And unfortunately, of all the heroes we had cultivated so far, it seemed like this particular hero was the one best suited to take that job.
I looked back out at the city once more. If I looked carefully, I could make out cars and such moving through the streets. Despite how monolithic and static it looked from up here, the city below was actually alive. There were people down there, living their lives, unaware of the great battles that were taking place all over the world.
"Sacrifices, huh?" I muttered.
Just then, the Demon Lord called me.
"Ms. Kang? You wished to speak with me?" he said. He sounded a little bored.
I steeled my resolve. For my plans to bear fruit, I needed to make sacrifices.
Even if that sacrifice was the childhood of a teenage girl.
"Yes sir," I said, doing my best impression of an expressionless secretary.
"I would like to discuss how to move ahead with the gamer storyline."
April 20, 1:22 pm, Beijing, China
"Order up! One Dropka Katsa!"
Irade smiled as she served the bowl to the old man. He nodded gratefully, his eyes only on the dish in front of him. As soon as the bowl hit the table, he put his hands together, and gave a little prayer. She watched him as he did so, amused. No matter how many times she saw him pray like this, she always found it a little funny.
Once he picked up his chopsticks and started eating, Irade started to head back.
She was in a rather classy looking restaurant, the walls painted red to match the tablecloths. On the far wall above the window between the kitchen and the servers was a large Chinese flag, accompanied by a smaller Tibetan flag beside it.
The restaurant itself quite busy; almost all of its tables were filled with hungry customers. Irade navigated her way around the tables and other servers, all the way back to the kitchen. She took a moment to check her make up and hair in the mirror. Once she straightened up her black dress shirt and red apron, she picked up the next order and headed to the its respective table.
The lunch rush was going strong, with Irade having to wait to quite a few tables. She never knew that restaurants had a lunch rush, but it seems this one did. When she started this about a week ago, it had all been quite difficult to keep up with. But now, even the other waitresses were taking her example. She was just that good.
A few minutes later, the owner of the restaurant walked in.
He was an older, Tibetan gentleman, with a white, but full beard and stormy blue eyes. His gaze was strong, his back straight, and – from Irade's interactions with him – his words few.
"New girl. Break time," he said, nodding at Irade when he passed her. She bowed respectfully.
Once she was done with the table, she walked back to the kitchen, took off her apron, and headed to the small break room upstairs. Up here was a small coffee table, filled with fruits and sweets. Beside them, against the wall were a couple of plush sofas, where the owner sat, eating an apple.
Upon seeing him up here, Irade quickly bowed again. The owner waved her closer.
"Eat. Rest," he said. "I need to talk with you."
He watched as she sat down a little away from him. He only started to speak once she had finished eating a banana.
"You've become comfortable here," he said.
Irade nodded, then bowed in her seat to him.
"It's all thanks to your kindness," she said, truly grateful.
A week ago, she had been practically homeless. After escaping the hotel, she had decided that she needed to work harder to earn her keep. No one was going to help her but herself.
She had spent her time walking from place to place, looking for some sort of job. She briefly considered selling her body for money, as that was sure to be the quickest way to get some sort of income. However, just as her hunger was getting the best of her, and she started to head towards those dangerous streets, she had met the owner of this restaurant.
"Those are some dangerous eyes," he had said in his strange, foreign accent. "I don't like those eyes."
Before Irade could give a snappy retort, he was dragging her back to his restaurant. He sat her down at one of the tables, then had one of his cooks make something for her.
The mere memory of that meal was enough to bring tears to Irade's eyes. It was, without a doubt, the best meal of her life.
She had spent the past week working for this man in his restaurant to pay him back for that kindness.
"Your eyes are much better now," said the owner, picking up an apple. "So what do you plan to do about it now?"
"I...I was thinking I could...continue working here," she said.
He looked her in the eye for the first time this conversation, his eyes stern and hard. Irade flinched.
"I need...I need a place to stay, and money," she answered. It was the truth, after all.
He stared at her for a while. Irade felt as if he was examining her soul; trying to see if she was lying.
"When I brought you in, I did not ask who you were, or why you were where you were," he said, suddenly turning away. He began playing with his apple, throwing it up and catching it.
"In truth, I have no interest in knowing who you are," he said. "But do you?"
"Um...what?" said Irade. That sentence was phrased weirdly.
"Are you sure you know who you are?" he asked.
Irade went silent. She looked at the table of fruits, but all she could see were the SWAT members coming after her in the hotel. Their faces. Their hatred. The way the woman screamed at her. They way the naga cursed her.
The way her 'parents' treated her, like a pretty flower to show off.
The way her classmates ignored her, right until they thought they could wring some entertainment out of her.
She gripped her fist.
"I'm just a girl," she said. "Just an ordinary girl who happened to end up in weird circumstances."
The owner looked curiously at her.
"What about you is ordinary?" he asked.
Irade looked back at him, confused. What was ordinary about her? What kind of nonsense question was that?
"There's nothing special about me," she replied. "Not really. I'm just...unlucky."
"Do you know where you came from?"
Irade looked at the owner as if he was crazy.
Of course she knew where she came from.
"And where is that?"
Irade opened her mouth to answer, then frowned.
Suddenly, she was aware that she had three answers: the one with the kind, caring parents in her memory, the story that her 'parents' told her about coming from poverty, and…
...the story she found out about her parents being separatists from the notes.
"Kashgar," she said finally. "I was born in Kashgar."
"And what is it like in Kashgar?"
Again, Irade fell silent. All she had were a few, scattered memories. Memories that her 'mother' told her weren't true.
"I...don't know," she said honestly.
The owner nodded.
"The reason I took you in was because you looked like you had lost your way," he said, taking a bite of his apple. Once he swallowed, he turned to face Irade once more.
"I don't know what your journey has been so far. I don't know where your journey will take you," he continued. "The only advice I can give you, is if you are lost, remember where you came from."
"From there, you can find a path to your future," he finished, taking another bite of his apple.
Irade stayed silent, frowning at the wall on the other side of the room. Her past?
What did that mean?
"How can I look at my past if I barely remember it?" she asked sullenly.
"You know the answer already," said the owner. "You are simply too afraid to look at it."
Irade tightened her fist. She could feel her nails digging into her palms.
Look into her past? Did that mean following the [Story Quest]?
Get captured by those people?
She remembered the look of the woman, screaming at her.
She did not want to give that woman any sense of satisfaction whatsoever. Even if it meant she would die unfulfilled, in a ditch, with no one remembering or caring about her.
That woman could choke on her spite.
"I refuse," said Irade. "I am not going down that way."
"Then you will be forever lost," said the owner simply. "Or you will become something you were never meant to be."
Irade said nothing. How would she become something she wasn't meant to be, if she didn't even know what she was supposed to be?
But before she could ask anything more, the owner stood up.
"Tonight will be your last night working here," he said. He took out his wallet, and handed her a couple of notes.
"This will be your pay. Now get back to work."
Before she could even bow in response, or decline the money, the owner got up and left. Irade looked at the money in her hand, and her eyes grew wide. She quickly counted the money.
2000 RMB? 2000? (about 300 USD)
Sure, that may not be a lot of money for most people, but to Irade, it was more than she had ever had in her entire life. She felt a rush of gratitude towards the owner. He had brought her in and helped her, and even paid her.
Irade would never forget this kindness.
She quickly stuffed her money in her pocket, then headed back down the stairs, into the busy restaurant. While she walked was deep in thought.
In order to show her sincerity towards the owner, she needed to consider his words carefully. The problem was...
Another way back? To her past?
How was she going to do that?
"Good evening, how may we help you today?"
For the rest of the night, Irade kept thinking about the owner's words, while working. However, the more she thought, the less she understood. How was remembering where she came from going to help her find her future?
As Irade headed back to the kitchen, hands full of empty plates, she decided to think about it from a different perspective. If Irade thought about it physically, she supposed it made sense. For example, if she was lost in the woods, she could simply retrace her steps back in order not to get lost. Once she was back to her starting point, she could make a new plan on where to go then.
Would that really work for this issue?
Irade made sure to keep her smile as she thought these things, bringing plates of food to and from tables. Occasionally, she would look up at the small Tibetan flag next to the large Chinese flag.
'Was that the owner's way of remembering where he came from?' she wondered, bringing empty plates back to the kitchen for washing.
Which got her thinking.
How much did she actually know about Uyghurs?
She knew she was one, but she didn't remember the language. She knew they came from Xinjiang province, and that the capital city was Urumqi.
The only Uyghurs she had seen portrayed in movies and the media in general were separatists, or thieves, or dancers and singers. They were always portrayed as poor, but happy, dancing and singing all the time, unaware of how terrible they had it. Just happy to be alive.
Irade never felt like that represented her. It was partly the reason why she felt like she wasn't really Uyghur. These were the only Uyghurs she saw, and none of them were as petty, spiteful, or constantly angry as her.
But was that really all there were to Uyghurs?
As she was mulling it over, she heard the bell tinkle, signaling a new customer entering the restaurant. Immediately, Irade looked up to see if someone was going to attend to them. Thankfully, it looked like there was someone already at the front, helping the customers.
Two people in full SWAT uniforms.
One of them sans helmet.
Irade's eyes grew wide as the woman raised her gun.
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