Descent of the Demon Master
“I didn't come here because I don't have anywhere else to go…” Kang Jin-Ho muttered somewhat hesitantly.
Park Yu-Min narrowed his eyes.
“It looks that way to me, though?”
“I'm being serious.”
This hyung will choose to believe you.”
Kang Jin-Ho was almost triggered by that response for some reason, but he chose not to say anything about it.
Park Yu-Min got up and gestured at his friend.
“Come on, follow me.”
Their destination was the living area next to Park Yu-Min's room.
“Everyone, Jin-Ho's here.
Come and say hello.” Park Yu-Min called out to the kids.
“Uh? Oh, hyung!”
“Welcome back, oppa~!”
The older kids quickly rushed up to Kang Jin-Ho and greeted him enthusiastically.
'Right, it's Saturday today.'
Kang Jin-Ho nodded slightly, remembering that he usually showed up here during the weekdays, and he never really had the opportunity to see the older kids of the orphanage.
It seemed all the older kids were staying home today as it was Saturday.
“Whoa! Hyung, you look so weird with your short hair.”
“Get lost! Don't listen to him, oppa.
You look so much cooler with short hair!”
Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly observed a clear divide developing between the girls and the boys regarding his hairstyle.
He couldn't help but feel content inside.
The little kids might have treated him like an NPC earlier, but some people were still willing to welcome him with bright smiles on their faces.
Even those older kids with slight speech impediments still greeted him with warm smiles, too.
Once everyone was done with their hellos, Park Yu-Min dragged Kang Jin-Ho to the kitchen.
“Great timing, Jin-Ho.
I was thinking of cooking food for the kids.
So, help me out, will ya?”
“Food? Why so late?”
“It's Saturday, you know.
I wanted to give the kids a chance to wake up later than usual, you see? Their breakfast was late today, and it'll be lunch pretty soon.”
What are you thinking of making?”
“Curry, I guess?”
When Park Yu-Min said that, every kid nearby began to frown and groan.
Kang Jin-Ho wasn't surprised in the slightest by that reaction.
No matter how diligent Park Yu-Min was, he was just one person cooking food for a lot of mouths.
Even worse, he had never learned how to cook either.
As such, his food wouldn't have tasted good.
Kang Jin-Ho sighed.
“Is there anything else you can cook, Yu-Min?”
“I guess ramen? Maybe stir-fried kimchi rice?”
Kang Jin-Ho tutted softly at that, thinking that his friend might get arrested for child abuse at this point.
After shaking his head for a bit, he muttered in a sagely voice, “I thought you were the one having a hard time, but now, I see that it's actually the kids having a worse time than you.”
The older kids quickly piped up.
“Hyung, it's not that bad for us, you know? I mean, we get our lunch at school, after all.
But our younger siblings have to suffer so much…”
“Yeah! It's gotten so bad that they don't wanna eat anymore.”
Park Yu-Min started to shudder from barely-restrained anger, but even he couldn't deny the reality.
Kang Jin-Ho cocked an eyebrow and stared at his friend.
“How could you feed that to still-growing children, Yu-Min?”
“…My apologies, sir.
I'm reflecting on my actions.”
“Hmm…” Kang Jin-Ho rubbed his chin.
Eventually, he decided to go with a special solution for this problem.
“Call everyone here, and…”
“Ask them what they want to eat.”
Kang Jin-Ho harrumphed triumphantly.
“We will be having various takeaways for today's lunch.”
“Ohhhh!” The eyes of the boy named Jong-Ho began to sparkle.
“Hyung! Can I have jokbal?”
“I want jjajangmyeon!”
“Fried chicken! Yay!”
“Mm? You want a pizza?”
The kids excitedly raised their hands and spoke what was on their minds.
However, Park Yu-Min was the exact opposite.
He urgently grabbed Kang Jin-Ho's shoulders and whispered in a frightened tone, “Wait, what about the orphanage's operating expenses?!”
He was about to explain the orphanage's financial situation, only for his lips to clamp shut when Kang Jin-Ho slowly raised a certain small, flat object above his shoulder and into Park Yu-Min's view.
It was none other than a debit card brilliantly gleaming under the light.
Park Yu-Min was mesmerized at the sight of that beautiful card as he noisily gulped his saliva before slowly shifting his gaze back to his friend.
“H-hey, you think we can have sashimi delivered here, too?”
What happened next was a bit too bizarre to be called a party.
The sight of people delivering food, and the kids voraciously devouring said food, combined into an explosive spectacle that could only be described as pure pandemonium.
“Jokbal's here! Jokbal and bossam are at the front entrance!”
“Bring them over!”
A few kids rushed over to the front entrance of the orphanage and brought in the nicely-wrapped jokbal.
However, a new problem arose just then.
A kid bringing the food cried out in desperation.
“T-there isn't any space left on the dining table!”
Kang Jin-Ho tutted and roared out a new order.
“What are you waiting for? Finish all the food on it!”
The appetite of over thirty kids even sent a chill down Kang Jin-Ho's spine.
However, he still kept his mouth shut and continued to swipe his card whenever it was time to pay up.
After the delivery man left, Kang Jin-Ho headed to the dining room in the hopes of at least getting a slice of bossam for himself.
However, the scene that greeted him in the dining room was…
“Hey! Hand that over!”
“No! Can't you see that I don't have enough for myself?!”
“H-hold on, guys! We all need to share!” Park Yu-Min was trying to keep the rowdy kids in line, but his expression indicated that he had already half-given up by now as he was utterly dejected at the sight unfolding before his eyes.
Look at all these ungrateful little punks! Even though he had worked so hard to cook for them until now!
Unfortunately, the younger kids remained oblivious and continued to chat among themselves.
“Seriously now! Proper food at last! I can feel my life coming back to me.”
“I had no idea Sister Yi was such a great cook.”
“Maybe Yu-Min hyung just sucks at cooking?”
Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly patted Park Yu-Min on the shoulder.
That wasn't much of a consolation, though, and Park Yu-Min could only cover his face in embarrassment.
“Fried chicken's here! I've brought your order of fried chicken!” Another delivery man cried out from the entrance of the building.
“Bring them in!” Kang Jin-Ho issued a new order while heading to the entrance; his expression was both determined and stoic at the prospect of swiping his card once more.
Starting from pizzas to fried chicken, jokbals and bossams, and even various stews and the sashimi Park Yu-Min wanted…
Kang Jin-Ho couldn't help but wonder if they had ordered far too much food, even if this was what the kids wanted.
Having witnessed all that food disappearing into the gullets of the insatiable kids, however, he began to seriously ponder if he should order tangsuyuk and jjajangmyeon as extra dishes, too.
Kang Jin-Ho paid up, then glanced at Park Yu-Min.
“Were you starving these kids or what?”
“Stop it, Jin-Ho…” Park Yu-Min muttered, feeling quite betrayed at the moment.
However, he couldn't deny that he also felt happy to see his younger siblings having fun and enjoying their meal.
“What about the bill, though? It must be pretty huge.”
Kang Jin-Ho tutted.
“Don't worry about it.”
“It must be over a million won, though?”[refJust under $763 US as of translating this chapter.[/ref]
“It's not that bad.
Besides, it doesn't matter to me either way.” Kang Jin-Ho dismissively shrugged his shoulders.
He was swimming in money, after all.
Even as he stood here chatting to his friend, the payment from Hwang Jeong-Hu was steadily accumulating in his bank account.
Park Yu-Min didn't give up.
“B-but! If the kids get used to eating takeaways like this, they won't eat the normal food, you know! And these kinds of junk food aren't very nutritious as well.”
His statement triggered his younger siblings, and they immediately counterattacked.
“If you're worried about nutrition, give us vitamin pills; why don't ya!”
“Yeah, he's right; you know!”
When even the high-schoolers raised their voices of opposition, Park Yu-Min's blood boiled.
He unhappily cried out.
“You damned brats! Don't you know how much thought I've given to your menus?!”
“Your menu's not the problem, hyung! It's the taste of your cooking!”
“Yeah! He's right!”
Park Yu-Min was ruthlessly sunk by the combined attacks of his siblings, and he crumbled soullessly in his chair.
Kang Jin-Ho observing the 'final' moments of his friend couldn't bear to watch any longer, so he pulled out his phone.
Jo Gyu-Min's voice soon came on the other side of the line.
– Hello, Mister Jin-Ho.
That thing about the nursing teachers we talked about earlier…”
– Ah, yes.
I'm almost finished finding suitable people, Mister Jin-Ho.
“Can you prioritize finding an auntie who's a good cook first?”
– I'm sorry?
“As soon as possible, too.”
– Well, I understand.
Kang Jin-Ho ended the call there, then nodded reassuringly at the orphanage's children staring at him.
“It has been taken care of.”
“Whoa! Hell yeeeeeah!”
“Oppa, you're the best!”
Park Yu-Min, now suffering from irreversible damage to his psyche, could only stand in the corner and scratch aimlessly at the wall.
“I, I can't eat…
“Urgh. I won't have to eat for the next three days now…”
Kang Jin-Ho glanced at the kids and slowly nodded.
It seemed that he had succeeded in sating the voracious appetites of these gluttons.
It had surely been a difficult mission, but nothing was out of reach with the power of money.
Park Yu-Min glared at the kids.
“You lot, you're all thinking of skipping dinner, aren't you?!”
“Nope, definitely not.”
“I can still eat more, you know?”
“…Huh.” Park Yu-Min groaned at length.
He spotted the youngest child unable to sit properly due to their bulging tummy and picked the child up into an embrace.
Everyone, don't forget to say thanks to Jin-Ho hyung.”
“Thank you, Jin-Ho hyung!”
“Hyung, we really had a feast today! Thanks!”
“Oppa, you're the best!”
Kang Jin-Ho raised his hand, his expression stiff and stoic.
A raucous round of applause exploded from his audience right away.
His stiff expression gave way and transformed into a faint little smirk.
Park Yu-Min’s eyes were narrowed in dissatisfaction as he finally unleashed his cantankerous streak.
“Hey, you lot! Hurry and tidy up the table already!”
“Stop nagging us, hyung!”
Park Yu-Min and Kang Jin-Ho stepped outside the building after leaving the clean-up to the kids.
Kang Jin-Ho glanced back.
“Is it fine to let them be?”
“Well, I have 'nannies' today, so it should be okay.
They usually hang out with their friends during weekends, but…
They decided to stay home to give me a break today.”
“Hmm. I see…” Kang Jin-Ho nodded contemplatively.
He had been wondering why the middle and high-schoolers were staying at home on Saturday.
As it turned out, it was for a good reason.
“How kind of them.”
They are angels, alright,” replied Park Yu-Min with a warm smile.
“Do you guys always eat later than usual during weekends?”
“It's not actually allowed, but I sometimes let them have a late breakfast.
I mean, I'm sure the older kids want to sleep in for a bit on their off day and all.”
“Does that mean you guys usually wake up early in the morning?”
Since they need to go to school, everyone's up before seven and finishes their breakfast soon afterward.
Then, those who have to go to school will leave first, and the remaining kids will play with the nursery teachers, but…
After the director was admitted to the hospital, all the teachers quit, and…”
“Mm…” Kang Jin-Ho slowly nodded.
In the current situation, Park Yu-Min was taking on two difficult tasks at the same time.
“What about cleaning? The orphanage's premises, I mean.
Isn't it challenging?”
“The kids deal with that, actually.
However, those attending high school are excused sometimes.
They are busy with studying, after all.”
“Wait, you let the little kids do chores like that?”
You gotta instill the habit of taking care of one's duties from early on their lives, you know? No one will look after them once they become members of society, after all.
Kids around elementary school-ages are taught to take care of washing up themselves and keeping their things neat and clean.
We encourage them to do their chores even if they have mobility issues.”
“Mm? When they are old enough for elementary school, is it?”
Funny enough, the younger kids are more obedient than their older siblings, you know? The older kids escape when it's cleaning time and play hooky somewhere.
It's a big problem, I tell you.”
That revelation left a sense of powerful disharmony in Kang Jin-Ho's mind just then.
The more he listened, the more this arrangement sounded like the one in the military.
Since the army and this orphanage were technically groups of people coming together to live under one roof, some things were bound to be similar, but this kind of feeling was…
Kang Jin-Ho coughed to clear his throat, then asked once more, “Have you talked to your team about your return?”
“Yeah, although I didn't tell them the exact date because I also don't know that.
It was more like me giving them a heads-up.”
“What did they say?”
“The director wanted me back as soon as possible before my game sense gets worse.
He said that the sooner I'm back, the sooner I'll regain my game sense and catch up to the current trends.”
“Mmhm…” Kang Jin-Ho nodded in agreement.
A pro gamer's career was pretty short.
Unlike most jobs where getting hired meant you would now have a way to survive for a long while, a pro gamer's peak period wouldn’t even last two years.
Maybe, Park Yu-Min's prime had already passed while he had to deal with the orphanage's issues.
Kang Jin-Ho said in a low voice, “You need to think about your future, too.”
“If it's only that easy…” Park Yu-Min grumbled helplessly.
Kang Jin-Ho shook his head and handed over his card.
“Eh?” Park Yu-Min's eyes opened wide before he hurriedly backed away.
“Jin-Ho?! Are you trying to imply that I have financial issues and that I can't even feed the kids?! I do have enough money, you know!”
“That's not what I'm saying at all.
I just want you to buy dinner for the kids today.”
“Don't worry; I'll take it back later.”
Kang Jin-Ho smirked faintly at that.
Yes, Park Yu-Min might have started earning some money, but it hadn't been all that long since his debut as a pro gamer.
He did renegotiate his wages at the beginning of the year, but with him being inactive for quite some time now, he most likely hadn't received a paycheck due to his inactivity.
As for the money he had gotten last year? There was no need to mention it today.
Even the prize money from his previous victories had probably already run out while Park Yu-Min was trying to put out the fires.
Kang Jin-Ho had to remind himself once more that a pro gamer's career was really short.
A pro gamer had to earn as much money as possible in the brief window of time they were active to prepare for the inevitable fall in their skill level.
If they didn't do that, they would end up penniless upon their retirement.
Judging from Park Yu-Min's personality and lack of oratory skills, Kang Jin-Ho didn't think his friend would qualify as either a commentator or a team coach.
Kang Jin-Ho stretched his limbs.
I guess I should get going now.”
“Where are you going?”
“To meet up with Se-Yeon.”
Park Yu-Min's expression stiffened a little while staring at his friend.
Kang Jin-Ho stared at him and cocked an eyebrow.
“What? You want to come along?”
I shouldn't butt in.
Did you actually speak to her?”
Kang Jin-Ho replied nonchalantly, “This morning, on the phone.”
Park Yu-Min immediately spat out a lengthy groan.
“Treat her well when you meet her, okay?”
“What are you even on about?” Kang Jin-Ho chuckled while bringing out his trusty Golden Elephant from its parking spot.
He climbed up on the saddle.
“Mister Gyu-Min said they’ll find nursing teachers soon, so hold on for just a bit longer.
Things will normalize soon enough.”
“I'm telling you, it's not that easy, Jin-Ho.”
“I also have something else to talk to you about that, but it'll have to wait until next time.”
“Mmhm…” Park Yu-Min nodded slowly without saying anything else.
He felt a little lost as everything seemed to progress at a breakneck pace.
However, the 'Kang Jin-Ho' he knew had always managed to pull through in the end.
Park Yu-Min's trust in his friend was absolute.
Since Kang Jin-Ho had decided to step up, he would surely deal with the matter regardless of what it was.
“By the way, Jin-Ho? I don't think ordering more takeaways for dinner is a good idea.
It won't be good for the kids' health, you know.
They will get fat if they eat too much junk food.”
Kang Jin-Ho shrugged his shoulders.
“Buy meat, then.”
“Go to a butcher and buy a ton of meat.
Even if your cooking skill is terrible, you should still be able to salt some meat and roast them, right?”
“Y-you really are painting me as useless trash, aren't you?!”
“The curry you made was an insult to other curries in the world, Yu-Min.
How did you actually manage to cook something even worse than military food? Anyway, see ya later.” Kang Jin-Ho briefly waved his hand before riding away on his bicycle.
Park Yu-Min could only smack his lips ruefully.
“I'm sure he'll do fine…”
The matter between Han Se-Yeon and Kang Jin-Ho was for them to resolve.
Park Yu-Min had no place to intervene.
Still, he couldn't help but hold onto the hope that the two friends with whom he had spent so much time side by side could end up as a couple and stay together for a bit longer.
“I don't know anymore…” Park Yu-Min slowly shook his head before returning inside the orphanage.
“Anyway, I'm gonna show you what a real curry dish is like!”
His terrifying yet naive belief that top-quality ingredients would improve his cooking resulted in his younger siblings experiencing yet another painful dinner that evening.
'Jokbal' is Korean-style braised pig's trotters. ☜
“Bossam” is a Korean dish consisting of thinly-sliced pork shoulder meat boiled in spices, served with various side dishes and condiments. ☜
“Tangsuyuk” is a Korean Chinese dish made with a sweet and sour sauce featuring either pork or beef. ☜
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