Descent of the Demon Master
Kang Jin-Ho let go, and Lee Hyeon-Ju plopped down on the spot again.
She wasn ’t quite sure what happened, but the relief of knowing that she had survived this ordeal still washed over her like a tsunami wave.
She curled up into a ball and burst into loud wailing.
Jo Gyu-Min used his lighter to light up Kang Jin-Ho ’s cigarette.
“Fuu-woo…” Kang Jin-Ho took a deep puff before leisurely releasing the gray smoke back into the air.
Jo Gyu-Min grinned.
“You know, that was properly scary.”
That wasn ’t my original intention, but I ended up getting a bit too excited,” said Kang Jin-Ho with a rueful shake of his head.
Jo Gyu-Min maintained his smile while listening to Kang Jin-Ho
The truth was, though…
Even though he didn ’t look like it on the outside, Jo Gyu-Min was doing his utmost best to look composed right now.
His legs were shaking so much he was having a hard time standing still.
However, he believed letting things continue at this rate would lead to an even worse problem later on, so he forced his unwilling legs to step forward.
Jo Gyu-Min had no idea how this Kang Jin-Ho, who was not acting like his usual self, would respond to his interruption.
The worst situation would be…
for him to also get utterly crushed by Kang Jin-Ho.
However, Jo Gyu-Min had to step up in moments like these.
Otherwise, he would have no right to call himself Kang Jin-Ho ’s close aide.
Thankfully, his choice worked out, and Kang Jin-Ho didn ’t become hostile.
’Man, it ’s not like I ’m dealing with a bomb or something, so why… ’
Actually, it would be more correct to say that he had become a beast tamer, or at least that was what it felt like, anyway.
That beast was intellectually a step above Jo Gyu-Min, but still…
Kang Jin-Ho puffed away a few more times on the cigarette, then glanced at Lee Hyeon-Ju sobbing away on the ground.
He was about to say something, but Jo Gyu-Min was faster.
“Mister Jin-Ho, will that guy be alright?” Jo Gyu-Min asked while frowning.
His eyes were locked on Lee Seong-Hwi sprawled on the dirt.
Kang Jin-Ho shrugged his shoulders.
“He ’s a cultivator, so yes, he should recover faster than you think.”
“…You know, a regular person would have died long ago.”
“But, he ’s not a regular person.”
“If one, uh, cultivates, does that improve their recovery rate?”
“Yes, it does.”
Is it okay for me to learn that, too?”
“Hmm…” Kang Jin-Ho scratched his cheek.
He was unwilling to impart cultivation techniques to the people around him, thinking that getting involved in this world was nothing but trouble.
Now that things had come this far, it seemed he should give this matter another consideration.
For instance, Jo Gyu-Min was already deeply entangled in this world, wasn ’t he?
Since he had some years behind him, it would be nearly impossible for him to reach a higher level, but as a means to protect himself? It might not be such a bad idea.
I think I can teach you something later,” Kang Jin-Ho replied with a contemplative nod.
“…Maybe I should think about this again.” Jo Gyu-Min urgently shook his head while making a solemn face.
Kang Jin-Ho chuckled quietly at that.
It wasn ’t the twisted smile from a couple of minutes ago, but one that came from a purer place.
He was genuinely seeing the funny side of Jo Gyu-Min’s words.
Unfortunately, that sight was even more terrifying in Lee Hyeon-Ju
The heavily-injured Lee Seong-Hwi was writhing like a dying insect in front of his eyes, yet Kang Jin-Ho was chuckling and conversing with someone else as if he had forgotten about what he had done.
Someone like that couldn ’t be normal in the head.
Kang Jin-Ho turned his head and stared at Lee Hyeon-Ju.
“Is there anything else you want to try?”
“If you want to summon more people, go ahead.
I ’m not a fan of taking care of things in small increments.
If not, well, we can always go to the Assembly ’s head office together.
That sounds like the simplest, quickest way to me.”
Lee Hyeon-Ju hurriedly and powerfully shook her head.
Logic dictated that—no matter how strong Kang Jin-Ho was—he surely wouldn ’t be able to win against all those people inside the head office.
However, her instincts screamed at her, telling her that this crazy bastard must not set foot inside the Assembly ’s corridors.
“N-no, there ’s no need.”
Kang Jin-Ho nodded coolly in acceptance.
“In that case, it ’s time to pay your tab.”
“…P-pay my tab?” Lee Hyeon-Ju gasped.
“How are you planning to compensate me for rudely intruding on my life?”
Lee Hyeon-Ju became utterly dumbfounded by that question.
Compensate? What? Lee Seong-Hwi was precariously hanging on the edge of life or death, but that wasn’t enough of a compensation?! Just how cruel and merciless was Kang Jin-Ho ’s idea of calculating debts and favors?!
Still, Lee Hyeon-Ju had to ask.
“W-what do you want from us?”
For now…” Kang Jin-Ho pondered something before nodding slightly.
“Bring me all the information on the ’Fallen ’ you have.
Until the cafe ’s closing time tomorrow evening.”
“I, I understand.”
“As for the rest, I ’ll think about it when the time comes.” Kang Jin-Ho finished talking there, then turned around to leave.
Jo Gyu-Min also turned around and headed to the car.
The two men soon climbed inside the vehicle and drove off.
Lee Hyeon-Ju could only stare at the distant car in stupefaction.
Kang Jin-Ho didn ’t even bother to threaten her with reprisal if she chose to run away.
It was as if he knew she couldn ’t do that.
“…Just how did things end up this way?”
She couldn ’t figure it out, no matter how hard she thought about it.
Kang Jin-Ho mouthed a fresh cigarette and lit it up, then stared outside the car
’s window in a daze.
A sense of despondency rushed in just as shame tried to torment him.
’t lying to Jo Gyu-Min back then.
He really had no plans to go that far.
However, something went wrong, and his rage boiled quickly out of his control.
He couldn ’t do anything about it at all.
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’Demonic arts, is it… ’
The foundation ruling over Kang Jin-Ho
’s body was the Records of Asura.
It was a demonic art cultivation method, and the most ’domineering ’ out of all the demonic arts, too.
Up until recently, Kang Jin-Ho hadn
’t really thought about the harmful effects of demonic arts cultivation.
After learning about the Fallen, and experiencing his own extreme emotional state; however, he had to acknowledge that this problem shouldn ’t be left alone unchecked.
’If I had only the Records of Asura, would I have turned into a bloodthirsty killer, too? ’
Kang Jin-Ho didn
’t start off cultivating the demonic arts back in Zhongyuan.
Which was obvious, really.
After all, Kang Jin-Ho joined the demon cult only after building a reputation on his own first.
He was already gangho ’s public enemy number one even before becoming a member of the demon cult.
He was reviled as a ruthless killer during those days.
The demon cult head-hunted him, which led to him acquiring the Crimson Flame Art.
Later on, he became the cult leader and acquired the Records of Asura.
And this chain of events seemed to have birthed an unexpected problem.
The Records of Asura was powerful.
It was purer and stronger than any other known demonic art cultivation technique, reserved only for cult leaders.
And Kang Jin-Ho had mastered it after reaching the peak.
Meanwhile, he started off his path of cultivation with the Records of Asura in this life.
Of course, he did use the cultivation technique he had mastered before joining the cult as the foundation.
Even so, this would be his first time cultivating from the ground up with the Records of Asura.
Were his extreme shifts in emotions caused by his body being attuned to the Records of Asura, then? Or…
’I need to observe for a little longer. ’
Something like this didn
’t happen when he mastered the Crimson Flame Art first as the foundation of his cultivation.
He couldn ’t be a hundred percent certain about that, either.
Whether it was before or after he threw his lot with the demon cult, Kang Jin-Ho never really had a reason to suppress his emotions.
If he had to kill someone, he did exactly that.
If he had to fight, he had never held himself back.
That earned him plenty of enemies, but he still found himself on the demon cult leader
’s throne after sending all of his enemies to hell.
In that case…
Maybe he was just as impulsive in his previous life? He couldn ’t be sure.
All this was so bloody confusing.
Jo Gyu-Min glanced at Kang Jin-Ho and quietly asked, “What are you thinking about, Mister Jin-Ho?”
“…Nothing in particular.” Kang Jin-Ho slowly shook his head.
At least, not right now.
If this compulsion plagued him more often, then he might have been more worried about it.
However, if it only happened very rarely like this? Then, it could be his body ’s way of acclimatizing to the demonic cultivation, which was something he didn ’t call upon all the time.
At least, not for now—for now.
The next day…
’s trembling eyes were staring at the entrance of the cafe.
Her hand was carrying a thick pile of documents.
That was all the information on the Fallen, something Kang Jin-Ho had ordered her to bring.
will I be okay? ’
The prospect of meeting Kang Jin-Ho by herself scared her.
Not fulfilling Kang Jin-Ho ’s order was even more frightening.
’t inform the Assembly of what happened.
What if she brought it up and caused the Martial Assembly to wage an all-out war against Kang Jin-Ho? It would only be helping the Yeongnam Group in the end, no? Those bastards were figuratively chomping at the bits to devour the Assembly at every opportunity, so they would obviously jump at the chance.
’Really? Is that true? ’
However, Lee Hyeon-Ju couldn
’t help but ask herself that.
Was that really her reason? Was she really scared of the Yeongnam Group seizing the so-called chance, and that was why she didn ’t report what happened to the Assembly?
A helpless smirk formed on her face.
Because she knew deep down that it wasn ’t true…
There were plenty of ways to go about things.
She didn ’t inform the Assembly not out of fear of the Yeongnam Group but because of her grandfather, the Assembly Master.
What if he learned about this situation, got angry, and charged straight at Kang Jin-Ho?
Lee Hyeon-Ju trusted her grandfather.
She was confident that no martial artist in Korea could surpass him.
Even so, she couldn ’t overcome that one strand of doubt stinging her from the deepest part of her mind.
Could her grandfather win? Could he really triumph against Kang Jin-Ho? And even if he could win, would he be able to do that without any losses? If not, then never mind the Yeongnam Group, her grandfather would be torn to shreds until nothing was left of him by all those bloody hyenas drooling over his position in the Assembly.
That scenario had to be stopped from becoming reality no matter what.
Even if that meant she had to deal with Kang Jin-Ho by herself.
That was why even Lee Seong-Hwi, currently admitted to a hospital, also hadn’t contacted the Assembly Master.
I have to do this…” Lee Hyeon-Ju muttered to herself to confirm her resolve.
Just as she tightly clenched her fist, Kang Jin-Ho suddenly exited the cafe even though its lights were still on.
Just seeing him made her heart freeze from fear, and Lee Hyeon-Ju had to clutch at her chest.
It felt like a flood of cold sweat was traveling down her spine.
When she thought about how it was time to have a one-to-one talk with that psycho, an impulse to turn around and run away from here suddenly reared its head.
However, she tightly bit her lower lip.
Sure, running away now wouldn
’t be hard.
But the aftermath would be far, far nightmarish than anything else she had experienced in her life.
Knowing this, she forced her trembling hand to rise up.
Kang Jin-Ho discovered her and began walking to her location.
Watching his expressionless face closing the distance was another form of torture for Lee Hyeon-Ju.
Even then, she forced herself to smile and wait for him.
Giving up soothing her wildly-racing heart somehow made her feel a little better about this situation.
Acknowledging her fear of Kang Jin-Ho helped her think a little clearer.
Kang Jin-Ho maintained his expressionless face as he reached her position, then leisurely greeted her.
Were you waiting for me?”
’s go that way.
There ’s a twenty-four-hour cafe in that direction, so I think we can talk freely over there.”
“Eh? Oh, uh…
O-okay!” Lee Hyeon-Ju failed to hide her fluster at Kang Jin-Ho ’s sudden polite attitude.
’W-what is up with this guy? ’
Where did that guy from yesterday who glared at her like an axe murderer go? Who was this Kang Jin-Ho, and why was he speaking so smoothly to her as if they were meeting for the first time on a blind date or something?! Lee Hyeon-Ju couldn ’t help but briefly wonder if yesterday ’s Kang Jin-Ho was just a product of her overactive imagination.
“Shall we get going?” Kang Jin-Ho asked.
“Ah, yes.” Lee Hyeon-Ju watched Kang Jin-Ho start walking ahead, her expression was a jumbled mess of many different thoughts.
’…A split personality disorder? ’
If she needed an explanation, that would be a somewhat apt description for Kang Jin-Ho.
This was how he behaved before he dragged her to that basement parking lot, after all.
However, how could he pretend as if nothing had happened after last night ’s event?
Only then did Lee Hyeon-Ju realize something.
She finally understood that bizarre outburst of anger Kang Jin-Ho had displayed yesterday.
It was easy to guess how exhausting it would be to hide a personality like his and try to live an ordinary life.
In that case, imagine what it would be like if strangers requiring his repressed personality to be freed for them to be dealt with suddenly intruded into his life.
It had to have been incredibly stressful.
’…Wait, what am I even thinking about here?! ’
To think that she would sympathize with Kang Jin-Ho after last night ’s events! She had to have had several of her screws loose.
’Fine, let ’s do this! ’
Lee Hyeon-Ju hardened her expression with steely resolve and energetically followed Kang Jin-Ho from behind.
He didn ’t seem to know her psychological changes as he continued to leisurely lead the way.
Soon, they found the cafe in question, stepped inside, and settled around a table located near the corner.
Kang Jin-Ho remained expressionless, while Lee Hyeon-Ju stared at him with a cold, hard face.
After staring at each other for a while, Kang Jin-Ho broke the ice first.
“Would you like something to drink?”
Lee Hyeon-Ju ’s icy expression crumpled in an instant.
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