Descent of the Demon Master
Noh Su-Bong slowly turned his head.
His body wasn’t 'paralyzed' like the previous nights, and he could still move.
He looked behind him to discover the shadow devil sitting on a chair.
It was as if the unwelcome visitor had become the master of this room.
However, this sight didn't seem weird or wrong to Noh Su-Bong.
Actually, he found the shadow sitting and relaxedly leaning against that large chair with his legs crossed far more natural and befitting than his previous appearances.
All humans were 'rulers' in some way.
Some ruled over objects they owned, while some others ruled over the lifeforms they owned.
And the shadow devil was Noh Su-Bong's master at this very moment.
Noh Su-Bong now had two options.
Die after resisting…
or die after submitting.
Two different processes, yes, but they also led to the same inevitable conclusion.
Noh Su-Bong slowly opened his mouth.
“…Today is the last day.”
The shadow wordlessly nodded.
“Then, is it fine to ask you something?” Noh Su-Bong gulped back and asked nervously.
“Of course,” the shadow replied in a low, sinister tone.
“Just who are you?”
A low chuckle leaked out of the shadow.
That chuckle, a mixture of ridicule and sneer, dug into Noh Su-Bong's brain and sent a creepy chill down his spine.
“You already know, don't you?”
Noh Su-Bong stared at the shadow devil in a daze before muttering a name, “…Kang Jin-Ho.”
The shadow didn't say anything.
However, that didn't mean he was thinking of skipping the answer.
The darkness enveloping his body slowly began receding away.
Eventually, a person's figure revealed itself from beyond the 'fog' of darkness.
Noh Su-Bong confirmed the smiling face looking back at him and slowly muttered the name again, “Kang Jin-Ho.”
Kang Jin-Ho slowly nodded.
“Good to see you again, Sergeant Noh.”
A powerful sense of disharmony flooded Noh Su-Bong's mind just then.
That was really Kang Jin-Ho? But…
But hadn't Noh Su-Bong been near Kang Jin-Ho for the past year or so?
That seemingly expressionless face was exactly the same, but this 'Kang Jin-Ho' gave off a completely different vibe from the one Noh Su-Bong knew.
It felt like some other existence had donned the facade of Kang Jin-Ho to sit on that chair.
As if he could sense the turmoil in his victim's mind, Kang Jin-Ho smirked just a little.
However, that smirk was too monstrous to be called that.
If a smile or a grin spooked other people, could it even be called a smile anymore?
“Are you done with what you want to say?” Kang Jin-Ho asked leisurely.
Noh Su-Bong shook his head.
His expression was surprisingly composed.
So composed was his atmosphere that his crippling fear up until this moment seemed like a lie.
“…Just where did it all go wrong?” Noh Su-Bong began to mutter as if he was about to lodge a formal complaint.
“When I started tormenting Yeong-Gi? Or when I enlisted? If not, when I was still a little brat? Was my personality the problem? Maybe, I was taught bad things? When do I need to go back in time to turn things around? To not reach this point?”
Focus began to return to Noh Su-Bong's eyes as he spoke, “Me running into you? Yeah, I agree that was a big mistake.
But, even if it's not you…
Would I be able to live on just fine even if I hadn't met you?” A low, primal cackle escaped from Noh Su-Bong next.
“Listen here, Kang Jin-Ho.”
“Everyone thinks about living like the main character at least once in their life.
Isn't that right?”
Kang Jin-Ho remained silent as usual.
“Commit a crime, and you get punished.
Torment a person, and you pay the price.
I grew up listening to all those dumb sermons, but well.
You know as well as I do that's not how the world works, don't you? Bastards as guilty as f*ck live their lives like they own the world, don't they? So, I began doing bad things, too.
And I never felt guilty about it.
Does that mean I'm bad? Does that mean there are many bad people in this world?” Noh Su-Bong's voice began to fill with resentment and anger.
Answer me, you motherf*cker! I can't figure it out no matter how much I think about it! My only mistake was running into you! Without meeting you, I probably would have been living my life just fine! Yet, you're telling me I should accept running into you as my fault? Why?!”
Noh Su-Bong roared as veins bulged in his throat.
His current appearance only exacerbated the scariness of his madness as his hair was disheveled and falling in various places while his cheeks were deeply sunken and sickly pale.
“What's so wrong about humans doing what they want?! It's simply that you lack the power to fulfill your wishes, isn't it?! You're simply holding yourself back because you can't do whatever you please! And me, I've been merely honest with my desires! Yet, I'm at fault for failing to hold back?! Is that something bloody hypocrites like you should say to me?!”
Noh Su-Bong got snarky as he smirked.
It's the same with you, right? You're just afraid of the consequences, right? Right? You see a pretty girl on the street and feel the desire to push her down, don't you?! But you're afraid of what would happen afterward! Am I wrong, you goddamn coward?!”
Noh Su-Bong's eyes burned in anger and madness.
His lips had been chewed on, and blood was now flowing freely.
His appearance was steadily losing its last semblance of humanity.
“Now, answer me.
What did I do wrong? Is it because I didn't hold back like everybody else? But that's just envy, isn't it? Humans are meant to devour each other, right?! Am I wrong?!”
Kang Jin-Ho silently listened to Noh Su-Bong's rant before slowly standing up.
Noh Su-Bong's body suddenly broke into convulsions.
What a strange thing this was, though.
Judging solely on appearance alone, Kang Jin-Ho enveloped in the unknown darkness should have been several times more terrifying.
Well, the current Kang Jin-Ho at least looked like a human being, after all!
However, the terror tightening around Noh Su-Bong's heart felt far worse than before.
This normal-looking Kang Jin-Ho's appearance seemed so much more terrifying.
Why was that?
Kang Jin-Ho and his expressionless face leisurely approached Noh Su-Bong.
He then stared deep into the trembling man's eyes.
They were alike, Kang Jin-Ho's eyes and the devil's—eerily so.
The eyes of the devil dyed in the crimson hue used to evoke an indescribable sense of terror in Noh Su-Bong in the last six days.
What about Kang Jin-Ho's eyes right now, then?
Those deep black eyes stared at Noh Su-Bong with no discernible emotion as if Kang Jin-Ho was studying a dead object.
Just what was this soul-ripping terror Noh Su-Bong was experiencing right now?!
Kang Jin-Ho slowly opened his mouth.
“I don't understand.”
“Whether it's Kim Hak-Cheol or you…
I don't understand why you mouth off some stuff that no one has brought up before…” Kang Jin-Ho muttered, his voice completely different from the usual.
The icy coldness belonging to the coldest part of hell was contained in his voice.
brought it up? What?” Noh Su-Bong gasped in surprise.
An unreadable grin formed on Kang Jin-Ho's lips.
“When did I ever say you're guilty of something?”
“…?” This was when Noh Su-Bong's thoughts went off track as confusion and chaos made an utter mess of his head.
He tried to look back, and sure enough, Kang Jin-Ho had never said anything about guilt or anything like that.
“You were right with what you said…” Kang Jin-Ho muttered in a snarky voice.
“Indeed, the strong prey on the weak in this world.
No matter how much laws and moral compasses try to become the safeguard, they are helpless to stop the ones with power from devouring, trampling on, and humiliating those without power.”
Noh Su-Bong stared at Kang Jin-Ho in stupefaction.
“Did you say you did it because you can? That you had the power to do so?” Kang Jin-Ho slowly extended his hand and grabbed Noh Su-Bong's throat.
Unable to resist, Noh Su-Bong just sat there and watched everything unfold.
His body wasn’t paralyzed like before, yet he didn't even dare to stop Kang Jin-Ho's hand.
This man before his eyes was a devil capable of ripping him apart at any time.
How was he supposed to resist a creature like that, then?
“What a strange thing that is.” Kang Jin-Ho bared his fangs in a toothy grin.
In the past, his grins had always contained some hints of mockery—ridicule.
But this grin emphatically did not.
It was like a massive wolf baring its fangs right in front of Noh Su-Bong's face and growling menacingly.
Noh Su-Bong's current terror was born out of the unfiltered, raw savagery he could sense from that grin.
It was as if Kang Jin-Ho would open his maw and rip Noh Su-Bong's throat at any given moment.
“If that's what you think, why can't you understand it?” Kang Jin-Ho tilted his head ever so slightly.
Noh Su-Bong cautiously asked back, “…What do you mean?”
“Don't you get it?” Kang Jin-Ho cackled softly.
“There's only one reason why you're in this state.”
He suddenly stopped cackling and stared into Noh Su-Bong's eyes, his declaration languid but firm and resolute, with no room for any other interpretation.
“It's because you're the weak.”
Strength seeped out of Noh Su-Bong's shoulders just then.
“I don't need any other reason besides that.
And there are no other causes, either.
You want to repent? I don't care.”
“What were you thinking about while trampling on other people? Did you demand something from them? Of course not.”
Noh Su-Bong's body began to tremble once again.
That's exactly how it is.
I simply want to gnaw and chip away at your life.
While hurting you little by little, I want to destroy you bit by bit.
I have the power, and I do have the will.
And, just like you said, others can't stop me, either.
In that case, why should I—” Kang Jin-Ho smiled brightly as if he was having a whale of a time right now.
“—even bother to find a reason?”
Noh Su-Bong's eyes began losing focus.
He had given up.
There was no way to escape—no way to stop this madman.
Just like how humans couldn't stop the sun from setting, Noh Su-Bong couldn't escape from the darkness in his life.
Which implied that Kang Jin-Ho couldn't be stopped, either.
However, this creature before Noh Su-Bong wasn't 'Kang Jin-Ho.’ No, it was a twisted monster that had already gone off the deep end.
And there didn't seem any possible escape from such a monster.
No, there might be one.
“Listen well, Noh Su-Bong.” Kang Jin-Ho leaned in closer and whispered in Noh Su-Bong's ear, “I don't want anything from you.”
If only he said he wanted to kill Noh Su-Bong.
Or take everything away.
Those words would've been so much more bearable.
However, Kang Jin-Ho said he didn't want anything.
He wanted nothing at all.
That declaration robbed Noh Su-Bong of his final grip on his sanity.
“Heh, hehehe…” Noh Su-Bong's lips slowly parted.
Drool began to dribble down his mouth to wet the bed sheets below.
Kang Jin-Ho bared his fangs once more as he stared at his victim.
“No, not yet.
Now isn't the time.” He then placed his hand on Noh Su-Bong's head.
Origin qi circulated in Noh Su-Bong's head, dragging him out of the murky depths of his consciousness.
He sobered up almost instantly and stared at Kang Jin-Ho in a daze.
However, that lasted only for a moment.
“Euh…? Uwaaaah…?!” Noh Su-Bong's expression distorted and crumpled as if his face belonged to an extraterrestrial creature.
This devil didn't even permit his victim to go mad!
Kang Jin-Ho patted Noh Su-Bong's cheek as if he was pitying the latter.
“It's too early, Noh Su-Bong.
We still have one more night to go, don't we? Plenty of time, in other words.
Let's play some more, okay?”
Euh…” Noh Su-Bong's quiet sobbing echoed within his room.
Kang Jin-Ho stared at his victim for a while before roughly grabbing Noh Su-Bong's throat and pulling him real close.
Another bright smile formed on Kang Jin-Ho's face.
“Do you like the hand I have extended to you?”
Of course, Noh Su-Bong couldn't understand what Kang Jin-Ho was saying.
However, Kang Jin-Ho seemed as if he didn’t care as he continued, “Don't you worry, though.
There are plenty of people in this world, after all.
And I'll have to extend my hand to many of them in the future.
Like I have done with you.
I guess you won't be lonely, then.”
The laughter of the demonic entity began to pervade Noh Su-Bong's dark room.
“Well, then…” Kang Jin-Ho's cruel smile deepened.
“Let's get started.”
Noh Su-Bong's eyes widened as endless despair filled his heart.
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