Chapter 13. Part 1.
“Little human girl, just give up, you’re never going to win at this rate no matter how much you try. You’re not cut out for poker and you’re far too easy to read.”
The curiosity got the best of me when I heard, little human girl and I looked over in their direction. I turned and examined the girl at the table, the one the crowd’s jeers and laughs were directed towards.
The moment my eyes landed on her figure from behind, I felt like there was a lump in my throat. She reminded me of someone I knew quite well. Her aquamarine hair matched up perfectly with that of my memories, although this person was much older than the little girl who used to call me Uncle in the past.
Fate was cruel though, that little girl already died quite some time ago. A plane crash back in 2009 claimed her life. After I escaped in 2016 from the experimental facility that captured me, I’d of course thought to reunite with her in America. However, when I dug up information related to her flight to verify whether she was onboard the one I’d arranged for her, I discovered a major incident occurred on it. The flight I’d arranged for her, she was listed among casualties from that flight. The plane had been hijacked by a radical terrorist group and it crashed when it was struck by lightning after it flew into a storm. There were only two survivors from the crash who recounted the events that lead up to the tragedy.
Since I felt there was a bit of karma between the girl suffering major losses and I, I figured I’d take a look at her situation. While I watched her play a round of poker, I sensed fluctuations of magic originating from her. I took a glance at her hand before I looked over to the other player's hand and discovered she would definitely lose if she didn’t fold. She was against a male demon, his hand, a four of a kind, four kings. She, on the other hand, had a full house; she was destined to lose. The man sported an expressionless face, but the girl looked extremely confident in her victory. For some reason she chose to raise to the limit under the impression her win was locked in.
When both of their hands were revealed, her face paled and her head sunk low in depression. She complained in a low voice, “How? Every single time, why does it always turn out like this?”
Since I was curious I snuck up behind her and whispered in her ear and asked, “what hand did you think he had?”
For some reason, startled, she completely froze up, but she didn’t turn around to face me.
“I thought it was two pairs.”
“Why did you think that?”
“None of your business, mister.”
I wasn’t entirely sure if it was from her continual defeats, but she was trembling slightly and it seemed she wanted to cry.
“Was it because of the magic you were using just now? Were you trying to cheat?”
“So what if I was?”
“Did you ever consider the possibility that the cards had a mechanism to prevent cheating? Such as when using magic to observe them they appear to be a weaker hand than yours?”
Her back straightened up a bit like she was hit by sudden realization. She hesitantly turned around, peeked at me with her head hung low and her hair slightly obstructing her vision.
I was startled by the first term she addressed me as and didn’t really know how to respond.
“Your voice, I’d never mistake it. I was skeptical when I first heard it, but you’re definitely Uncle, right?”
“Is this a new sort of the ‘it’s me, it’s me’ scam?”
“Uncle it really is me. We were together until 2009 on Earth… you don’t believe me?”
She trailed off in uncertainty towards the end of her sentence while her eyes failed to hide the continuous stream of chaotic emotions running rampant inside her.
“A-Akua…? You’re... Akua? But... Akua died in a plane crash back in 2009.”
On the verge of tears she shook her head left and right. “I also thought I died on that plane crash after I lost consciousness, but when I opened my eyes the scenery was completely different. I discovered that I was in another world summoned as some sort of hero. Uncle, it was really hard, but I did my best you know. I thought I’d never get to see the only family member I’ve ever had again.”
She rubbed her eyes and turned her face away from me trying to hide the tears welling up in her eyes.
“Uwa, you’re really the worst kind of living blood bag. Making a random girl you met on the street cry out of nowhere like that.”
Since Kana didn’t hear everything concerning our touching reunion and only observed from a distance, I was suddenly made out to be some sort of bully who made random girls I met on the street cry.
“She’s not a random girl, she’s my deceased niece, well... not so deceased now.”
“Eh? Niece? What? This beauty is your niece?! Are you sure? I mean... you’re actually blood related?”
“How rude, is it that unbelievable she’s my niece?”
Kana looked back and forth between my niece, fighting back her tears, and I, before she showed a puzzled confused expression filled with blatant disbelief. “A pretty girl like this being your blood related niece, I can’t believe it at all. I mean appearance wise, it’s like you telling me a frog was the blood relative of a swan. Would you believe me if I told you such a lie?”
“We’re not actually blood related though.”
The moment the words left my mouth, Kana, with an expression of disgust complained, “what is with this stereotypical harem in the making scenario?”
“Tch. If you’re not playing, don’t have your stupid little reunion here, we’re a business not a reality show.”
When I looked at the annoyed faces of the demons in the crowd with glares directed at us, I grabbed onto my adorable niece’s hand and dragged her away from the table. Someone eager to lose money took her spot as a replacement immediately upon our departure. With us now out of the hot spot the demons paid us no further attention.
After a minute walking down the street towards the inn, my niece finally worked up her courage and asked, “Uncle… why did you abandon me back then?”
It was a bit troubling for me to find the words for my cute little niece, but I still answered, “I didn’t abandon you. Due to certain circumstances I was detained in a facility and only escaped seven years later.”
“When I escaped in 2016 the first thing I did was search for information pertaining to your whereabouts, only to find out you were proclaimed dead after that plane crashed.”
“I stopped aging once I reached adulthood, so they wanted to study me in pursuit of the secrets to immortality.”
“You don’t age?”
“Uncle, you’re pulling my leg right now, right? Couldn’t you come up with a better excuse for abandoning me without saying a word?”
I knew it would be hard for her to believe, but I still insisted it was the real reason.
“It’s really the truth. Do you really think I’d ever leave behind the most adorable niece the world had ever seen?”
While I spouted such corny consolation words, I felt a nearly indiscernible tremble through our joint hands.
“Then... you didn’t get tired of taking care of me because I was too troublesome to deal with?”
“Of course not. I love my niece more than anyone in the world.”
“Mmm.” Her response sounded embarrassed and unsure of how to respond. She didn’t say anything else, she just meekly nodded her head and hugged my arm like she was afraid I’d disappear again. I brushed my hand through her hair to console her.
This situation vaguely reminded me of the time in the past when she was still just a lost vagrant child, abandoned by the world, starving out on the cold streets at night. When I looked into her history back then I discovered we had some similarities so I sympathized with her situation. She had no idea who she was when I met her.
This entire situation was completely unexpected, absolutely random; an unlikely reunion that had zero suspense with no build up towards it, but I still found that one of the biggest burdens that had long plagued my heart over the last few years was suddenly gone. When I thought I’d lost her after I finally escaped, the last tiny shred of humanity in me died back then.
I’d lost many people over the two thousand years I’d been alive, but when I realized I was completely powerless to even protect that little girl who I considered my first family member in my far too long life, I’d sunk into complete despair. Living too long was a curse and not a blessing.
Everyday I continued walking forward, but it always felt like I was standing still. I was still breathing, but it felt like I was suffocating. I was still alive, but I was dead on the inside. I wanted to end everything, but I couldn’t bring myself to die on the off chance that she was somehow still alive somewhere. At some point I wanted to escape that cruel world that always took away everything important to me.
While wallowing in depression after escaping, I attended a high school with guilty thoughts while mulling over how she would be in highschool if she was still alive. I figured, even though I’d been through schooling an unknown number of times, I’d attend it once again and live life in her place. It was a type of self deception to try and console myself, but there wasn’t much else I could do.
“Can you please knock it off and stop treating me like air? You’ve had a really idiotic blank look on your face for some time now while the two of you have been in your own little world flirting about. Tch. Incestuous lecher.”
“There is not a shred of impurity in our relationship as Uncle and niece.”
My niece, why are you blushing and saying nothing right now? You know, as a healthy young lady in your spring of youth, it’s natural to deny such false accusations.
“Kana, what part of, it’s not like that, do you not understand? We have a very pure relationship as family.”
“Uncle, what is your relationship to this woman?”
“My niece, can you please stay quiet and not make things more complicated than they already are? Can you also drop that glare that says you’ll fight her to the death if she says she’s my woman?”
“When I was a child, didn’t I say I’d marry Uncle when I got older?”
“You never once said such a freaking cute line since the day we met!”
“How cruel. Even though Uncle has already seen my everything.”
“I thought you were being too docile compared to the little troublemaker I remembered. So this was your aim?”
“Uncle’s a big bad bully.”
“Kana, don’t believe this child. She’s always loved to cause all sorts of problematic misunderstandings for me.”
“Uncle, I’m not a child any longer you know, I’m already over a hundred years old.”
“Huh? No no no, don’t try that with me, you are clearly eighteen right now, right? Are you trying to play games with your Uncle just because you haven’t seen him in the last ten years?”
With a lonely expression she responded, a slight quiver in her voice, “Uncle, it’s really been a hundred years for me, but I heard it’s still 2019 on Earth from the other summoned heroes.”
“Other summoned heroes? There are more people summoned here like you?”