“Mom, where ’s Oppa?” Kang Eun-Yeong asked while tilting her head.

“Mm? Not sure.” Baek Hyeon-Jeong replied.
She also had no idea of her son ’s whereabouts.
“He said he ’d be back soon.
Why hasn ’t he come home yet?”

“Should I ring him up, Mom?”

“No, don ’t.
Calling a grown-up son for going out in the middle of the night won ’t end well.
What if he ’s with someone? They might start calling your brother a mama ’s boy!”

Kang Eun-Yeong suddenly got triggered by something and yelled at her mother, “But, Mom! Don ’t you always throw a huge fuss whenever I don ’t come home on time?!”

”How could you compare yourself to your brother? Jin-Ho might break the promised time and come home late maybe once or twice a year! But you? You come home on time maybe once or twice a year! I wouldn ’t be worried about you if only you behaved like your oppa! ”

”I ’m terribly sorry. ” Kang Eun-Yeong pouted dejectedly and plopped down on the couch when opening her mouth carelessly got her unceremoniously shot down.
”I ’m just saying, orabi frequently wanders off from home lately, that ’s why. ”

“How old do you think he is now? And you want him to keep staying at home? His old self was the weird one, Eun-Yeong.”

“Oppa ’s always been like that, though…” Kang Eun-Yeong muttered while her pouting grew deeper.

Unlike his peers, Kang Jin-Ho never was interested in drinking, partying, or hanging out with his friends.
Moreover, he preferred coming home on time, so he would always be at home whenever Kang Eun-Yeong came home from a long day at work.

But now, it felt like he was coming home late pretty often lately.
Kang Eun-Yeong still hadn ’t completely gotten over the after-effects of the kidnapping incident, so she would grow nervous whenever Kang Jin-Ho wasn ’t nearby as the twilight closed in.

”He can ’t keep being like that, Eun-Yeong.
Besides, I heard it was you who threw a tantrum in front of Jin-Ho and forced him into that TV show.
If you were happy with your orabi playing a housekeeper, why did you even make him do that show in the first place? ”

”I didn ’t know things would work out this way, you know. ”

Kang Eun-Yeong knew her older brother was a top-tier clothes rack on top of being handsome as heck.
Even so, she had underestimated how crazily other people would react.

Apparently, there was some kind of ’filter ’ active between siblings, which halved the numerical value of either handsomeness or beauty that they could see.
Kang Eun-Yeong didn ’t think that applied to her, but it seemed she had been subconsciously nerfing Kang Jin-Ho ’s looks in her mind.

“Mom, if orabi keeps wandering in the streets late at night, he might just decide to stop coming home one day!”

Baek Hyeon-Jeong cocked an eyebrow.
“Oh, really? Actually, I ’d dearly love that to happen.
A man should be more outgoing, you know!”

”Huh? Are you implying that oppa is an introvert, Mom? ”

“Take a look at your orabi, Eun-Yeong.
Does he meet up with his friends to drink? Or does he go to parties here and there? A man should sometimes do things like that, not stay at home all day long to play games on his computer.
That ’s not what a real man should do.”

’Uhm, Mom? You ’re so wrong… ’

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Kang Eun-Yeong could only stare weirdly at her mother.
It seemed that Baek Hyeon-Jeong had no idea how authoritative Kang Jin-Ho was.
Kang Eun-Yeong had seen her oppa utterly crushing her bashers before, so she just couldn ’t comprehend what her mother was even on about.

Then again…
Mom has never seen oppa genuinely get angry before, so this makes sense. ’

Kang Jin-Ho had a tendency to act like a mama ’s boy and avoid doing anything that could displease Baek Hyeon-Jeong.
Even if his mother demanded something a bit unreasonable from him, he often just smiled and suffered through them all.
So from Baek Hyeon-Jeong ’s perspective, her son could have come across as a bit spineless.

“Mom, you should know how strong and obstinate orabi can be…”

Baek Hyeon-Jeong looked genuinely taken aback.
“Say what? Your oppa is what now? In which aspect?”

”Hah-ah… ” Kang Eun-Yeong shook her head helplessly.
”Mom, you should consider yourself lucky.
Maybe you should have been born as oppa ’s little sister or something to learn the truth.
Geez, I wish you can experience the oppression I am under, too. ”

”That ’s because you keep doing dumb things, Eun-Yeong. ”

“Whatever, Mom!” Kang Eun-Yeong stuck her tongue out.
“Anyway! Still, at least I ’m his family, and that ’s why he doesn ’t go crazy with me.
If a complete stranger gets on his bad books, that day will be their funeral, Mom! How could you not understand your own child?”

Baek Hyeon-Jeong dismissively waved her hand.
“Stop spewing nonsense, girl, and go to bed already.”

“I will, when oppa ’s back home!” Kang Eun-Yeong yelled back, only for a couch cushion to fly in at her face.

“How dare you raise your voice at me?!” Baek Hyeon-Jeong yelled at her daughter.

Kang Eun-Yeong could only stomp on the floor at the unfairness of getting hit with a cushion.

‘He ’s weak? Mom, if his personality were half as ferocious as you, Oppa would be like a walking time bomb! A nuclear time bomb!’


“I, uh, I…” Cheon Tae-Hun ungainly stammered.

For the first time in his life, he realized what an idiot he was.
Where did the man who took pride in never losing his calm no matter the situation disappear to? Right now, he could barely get his mind to function properly.

Suddenly, a realization dawned on him.
People did stupid things not because they were innately stupid.
No, it was more like the pressure had paralyzed their brains!

He had always been wondering why politicians or businesspeople known for being cunning would stumble and become the dumbest folks under the sun when reporters shoved cameras in their faces.
But now, he knew for sure.

When extreme pressure bored down on people, they would be unable to think, reason, or step back and breathe like usual.
No wonder Cheon Tae-Hun failed to answer the extremely simple question of ’what can you do for me? ’ and stumbled around like a fool.

This situation was the result of Kang Jin-Ho emitting stupendous pressure beyond what Cheon Tae-Hun could endure.
Indeed, it wasn ’t because Cheon Tae-Hun was an idiot!

Kang Jin-Ho casually asked again.
“So? What ’s your answer?”

Cheon Tae-Hun gasped and sobered up before urgently staring at Kang Jin-Ho.
His thoughts were still disorganized in his head.
Unfortunately, the murderer was cruel and uncaring enough to chop someone ’s head off just for raising their voice at him.
There was no way he would be considerate toward Cheon Tae-Hun ’s circumstances and wait for the latter to regain his calm with a gentle grin on his face.

Cheon Tae-Hun was urged on by a singular thought that he had to say something or else…

I ’m not high enough in the hierarchy to decide on such things.”

Too bad, what his mouth uttered turned out to be the absolute worst thing to say.
The dazed Cheon Tae-Hun took a second or two to process what he had just said, and his complexion quickly grew ashen-white upon realizing it.

”N-no, actually, I… ”

Kang Jin-Ho ’s cold glare was locked on Cheon Tae-Hun.
However, the latter was too dazed by what his own mouth had just said that it revealed how useless he was in this situation.

Still, he regained some of his wits quickly enough to provide a desperate comeback.
”H-however, I can communicate with the one holding the necessary authority to decide, sir.
And that person definitely can grant you anything you want. ”

That wasn ’t enough, as Kang Jin-Ho ’s withdrawn eyes didn ’t want to brighten at all.

The cogs in Cheon Tae-Hun ’s started to churn even faster.
His survival instincts were being pricked awake by this desperate situation teetering on the edge.
He racked his brain and racked it some more until he stumbled upon the most suitable response in this situation, and then he yelled it out, ”K-killing me will be only a loss for you, sir! ”

And that was when Cheon Tae-Hun saw it.
Kang Jin-Ho ’s hand had momentarily flinched.
Was it because he was surprised? Of course not!

If those words hadn ’t been said out loud, Kang Jin-Ho ’s hand would have already yanked the sword off the floor and sliced Cheon Tae-Hun ’s head clean off! That was a prediction verging on certainty!

After realizing how the words he desperately squeezed out had saved his life, Cheon Tae-Hun sensed all strength seep out of his body.
He had no energy left from the relief of knowing he was still alive, and his fear of Kang Jin-Ho for unhesitantly trying to eliminate someone just because of their perceived lack of usefulness left him hollow and weak.

“Is it? Explain yourself,” said Kang Jin-Ho, issuing an ultimatum.

Cheon Tae-Hun knew his survival depended on what he said from this moment on.
Standing in a courtroom as a murder accused and trying to cook up non-existing evidence to save himself wouldn ’t be this stressful for his heart! A guilty verdict in the court of law wouldn ’t result in his head immediately flying off of his body after all!

“F-first of all…” Cheon Tae-Hun barely managed to crack open his lips.
“I, I can connect you to the person who instigated this incident, sir.”

Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly stared, waiting.

“That person has already taken over half of the Martial Assembly.
E-even if you rescue the Assembly Master now, the fight over the leadership will still take place, sir.
However, if you make a deal with that person, such a situation can be avoided entirely.”

Kang Jin-Ho slowly nodded.
“Carry on.”

”A-and the Assembly Master has already lost the trust in his people.
Even if you forcibly reverse the flow of this situation, the push-back from the Assembly members will not die down.
Sir, the Assembly Master is not a king.
Even if he walks out of here alive, there will be a clear limit to what he can actually do for you.
Something like the unlimited support from the Assembly as mentioned before will be impossible for the Assembly Master. ”

Kang Jin-Ho cocked an eyebrow and stared at Lee Jung-Geol.

Lee Jung-Geol ’s face reddened in shame, but he didn ’t try to rebut Cheon Tae-Hun.
That was enough to confirm that Cheon Tae-Hun was telling the truth.

Kang Jin-Ho nodded again.
What else?”

Cheon Tae-Hun grew dazed once more.
What else was he supposed to say here? “…I-if you decide to rescue the Assembly Master now, you ’ll become the Yeongnam Group ’s enemy, sir.”

Kang Jin-Ho chuckled softly.
It was a sneer containing the emotion of dismay.
“I ’ve already killed over twenty of your people tonight.
But now, are you suggesting that there ’s a way for us not to become enemies?”

“Of course, sir,” Cheon Tae-Hun replied with unshakable confidence.

Kang Jin-Ho ’s interest was piqued, so he narrowed his eyes and stared deeply at Cheon Tae-Hun.
”How? ”

”It can ’t even be called a method, sir.
All you need is to let them know our negotiation was fruitful, that is all.
The leader of the Yeongnam Group is not the type of person to dwell on minor details like this.
No, he might even be glad to build a friendly relationship with you if all it would cost him were twenty non-essential martial artists. ”

So he ’s scum, then? ”

“Y-yes, he is…”

“I see.
So, is that all you have to say?”

“W-well, there ’s more…” Cheon Tae-Hun racked his brain again to find more things to talk about, but he couldn ’t think of any.
It seemed his brain had finally run out of steam.
As he struggled to think of something, a hushed voice stabbed into his ears.

”Those are useless nonsense to me… ”

Cheon Tae-Hun ’s face turned pale.

Kang Jin-Ho tutted, clearly unimpressed.
”The internal matters of the Martial Assembly don’t interest me.
Once someone promises me something, I always make them uphold it.
If that old man fails to do so, I will simply kill him.
That will be all. ”

Cheon Tae-Hun stuttered.
“B-but, sir.
Bang Jin-Hun can—”

”It doesn ’t have to be you.
If that Assembly Master behind you knows the instigator of this incident, having a face-to-face meeting with him wouldn ’t be difficult for me.
Having said all that… ” Kang Jin-Ho suddenly cackled in amusement.
”…Why should I even talk to that person? ”


“Didn ’t I say this before? I don ’t want anything from you lot.”

“T-the Yeongnam Group will—”

”You don ’t have to worry about that… ” Kang Jin-Ho muttered as a grin spread on his face.
And that grin was chilling—monstrous even.
The mere sight of it would send chills down one ’s spine.
It was that kind of grin.
”I ’ll personally pay a visit to the Yeongnam Group pretty soon, anyway.
So, it doesn ’t matter whether or not they view me as an enemy. ”

Indeed, why should he be worried about the group being hostile to him at this stage? He wasn ’t planning to forgive them for what they had done to him anyway.

Besides, it didn’t matter even if they weren’t hostile to him.
Kang Jin-Ho would make them hostile to him soon enough.

“So, tell me.”

Cheon Tae-Hun shuddered.
“…Tell you what, sir?”

“The reason to keep you alive, obviously.”

Cheon Tae-Hun ’s shivering intensified.
Failing to find the right answer would lead to his certain death.
Unfortunately, he couldn ’t think of the answer Kang Jin-Ho could be happy with no matter how hard he tried.

No matter how hard he racked his terrified brain, no answers jumped out to him.
But then…

Kang Jin-Ho muttered, “You can go…”

Cheon Tae-Hun thought he misheard it.
An auditory hallucination—something his desperate mind had created.

“Go and tell this instigator.
I ’ll give him two days, so he better come and see me personally.”

Cheon Tae-Hun desperately tried to nod, but his body didn ’t want to listen to him.
His body could only move up and down, frustratingly slow.

”However, if he doesn ’t show up in two days, I ’ll come and find you instead.
Try to escape if you can. ”

“…T-that won ’t happen, sir.”

“Okay, then.
Scram.” Kang Jin-Ho dismissively waved his hand.

Cheon Tae-Hun had to do a double—no, triple-take at Kang Jin-Ho.
He wanted to know if he really was free to leave.
What if he moved only for Kang Jin-Ho to change his mind? The thought terrified him to no end.

However, Kang Jin-Ho didn ’t display any other movements or reactions.
So Cheon Tae-Hun cautiously stepped forward toward the doorway.

I ’m alive.
Yes, I ’m alive!


But then, an announcement reminiscent of a devil ’s forked tongue licking his ear echoed in the room.

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