Descent of the Demon Master
“Did your hiking not go well?” Nam Sang-Hyeok cautiously asked.
However, neither Kang Jin-Ho nor Jo Gyu-Min replied.
Rather, they chose to stare outside the moving off-road vehicle's windows.
Kang Jin-Ho was currently using up a ton of his mental strength to hold together his weakened ego, which had been mercilessly wounded by the realization that the three-day-long trek across the mountains could have been reduced to less than six hours.
Nam Sang-Hyeok, none the wiser to Kang Jin-Ho's inner turmoil, continued to yap away.
“By the way, I had no idea you could have started your hiking from this side.
Who knew that the road network here is even better than on the other side? If you were planning to head up that mountain, you could've told me to drive you to this area instead, you know?”
“P-please stop.” Jo Gyu-Min hurriedly stepped up to stop Nam Sang-Hyeok's mercilessly fact assault.
The car traveled in silence for a long while.
But then, Kang Jin-Ho finally broke this weighty silence with a faltering voice.
“Is there a cram school that teaches how to use a smartphone?”
Jo Gyu-Min could only make a cramped smile.
A depressed expression filled Kang Jin-Ho's face again as he resumed staring at the passing scenery outside.
Nam Sang-Hyeok could only tilt his head in confusion.
“Huh… You two look like you’ve run into a bear or something up there.”
If it had been a bear, Kang Jin-Ho's mind would have been more…
But no bear could live up to one hundred and eighty years.
And it certainly wouldn't know how to use a smartphone, either.
The car remained shrouded in a depressing mood as it drove to Guangzhou.
After reaching the city of Guangzhou…
Jo Gyu-Min's eyes shot wide open.
“…You want to go back to Korea right now?!”
I am done with what I wanted to do here, after all.” Kang Jin-Ho coolly nodded.
“No, wait! That won't do! Mister Jin-Ho, listen!” Jo Gyu-Min shuddered grandly as he stared at Kang Jin-Ho.
“Tell me, where do you think we are?”
“…In China, of course.”
“No! We are in Guangzhou!” Jo Gyu-Min animatedly pointed to the south.
“And what do you think lies over there?!”
Kang Jin-Ho nearly faltered at Jo Gyu-Min's forceful aura.
“…T-the South China Sea?”
“Nonononono!” Jo Gyu-Min waved his finger reprovingly before yelling out.
“Hong Kong is south of here, Mister Jin-Ho! And Macau is southeast of us, too! Only a few hundred kilometers separate us from Hong Kong and Macau, yet the only thing you want to do in China is to go hiking in some mountains?! I cannot accept that! Do you know how many years has it been since my last goofing off at the company's expenses?!”
Kang Jin-Ho suddenly felt the urge to record this conversation and show it to either Hwang Jeong-Hu or Baek Yeong-Gi.
He sighed before asking, “Well, what do you want to do, then?”
Let's just mess around for two days before going home!”
Jo Gyu-Min pleaded with a desperate face.
“We should at least try Macau's specialty, the egg tart, no?! And what about its famous beef jerky? And the grand castella cake, too! We have to try those out, Mister Jin-Ho!”
“…Huh? What are those?”
Jo Gyu-Min visibly got upset as he shoved his phone in Kang Jin-Ho's face.
“Please try to use your phone more, Mister Jin-Ho! Did you buy your phone to use it as a paperweight or as a phone?!”
“E-enough…” Kang Jin-Ho staggered as this unexpected assault caused him mental damage.
He desperately wanted to believe in his heart that he was still in his twenties, but…
'…Have I been alive for too long?'
Of course, Kang Jin-Ho knew he had no excuses.
Even a grandpa nearly 180 years old knew how to use his smartphone, so what excuse could he offer at this stage?
“I want to go to Hong Kong, eat some delicious dim sum, and do some shopping, too! That's why we should spend one day in Macau, then another in Hong Kong! Let's be tourists for once before heading back home! Please?”
“…Can't you also do those things in Korea?”
“No, you can't, and that's why I'm being like this, you know!” Jo Gyu-Min was this close to blowing his top.
Kang Jin-Ho cowered once more at that forceful aura and could only nod without realizing it.
Then again, even he had to agree it was far too unfair for Jo Gyu-Min to return to Korea without acting like a tourist for just one measly day.
Let's do that, then.
One day in one city.”
“You made a wise choice, Mister Jin-Ho.” Jo Gyu-Min grinned cheerfully at this favorable turn of events before suddenly realizing that Nam Sang-Hyeok was still here.
He sobered up instantly and sheepishly looked at the Guangzhou branch's manager.
Nam Sang-Hyeok grinned magnanimously.
“…I'll pretend I didn't hear a thing.”
“Thank you very much!”
Nam Sang-Hyeok's previous expression suddenly turned fierce as he cried out, “You were not thinking of leaving me out now, were you?! I might not look much to you, but I've worked as a guide for a long time, I'll have you know! I know Macau and Hong Kong like the back of my hand!”
Kang Jin-Ho could only sigh at the sight of Nam Sang-Hyeok and Jo Gyu-Min coming to a mutual understanding and mapping out their future activities together.
'Is it that much fun?'
It seemed Kang Jin-Ho was still unaware of how fun an overseas trip could be when it was paid for by the company.
“You were defeated?” Cai Kechang stared at the man prostrating on the floor as rage filled him up.
“Are you telling me that a mere brat humiliated you?”
“My apologies, sir.”
Wu Yuan flinched when his name was called out, and he lowered his head even more.
Cai Kechang growled angrily.
“I didn't know dealing with a random brat was such a difficult job for you.”
“…Sir, my abilities were not enough.”
“Not enough, you say…?” Cai Kechang cocked his eyebrow as he scanned Wu Yuan's figure.
The impression he got was the prostrating man's body was injured everywhere.
“Hmm. You didn't even stand a chance, then.”
“Yes, sir.” Wu Yuan replied, not a trace of humiliation was visible on his face.
That could only mean he believed he was defeated by a worthy opponent.
It also meant the so-called random brat boasted a martial prowess far exceeding Wu Yuan's attainment.
“A brat from Korea was boasting such a level of cultivation? So much so that the one and only Old Wu couldn't even offer any decent resistance?” Cai Kechang asked suspiciously.
Wu Yuan hesitated slightly before opening his mouth.
“If that man willed it, I wouldn't be here to make my report, sir.”
“That strong, huh?”
Cai Kechang's expression stiffened.
If this report was true, that brat should boast as much strength as a mid-to-upper-level elite of the Martial Union.
Something like that seemed inconceivable considering that brat's age or nationality.
'An irregular, then?'
In that case, that brat's existence should be reported to the higher-ups.
Especially more so when he boasted unbelievable strength for his young age.
The presence of such individuals had to be reported to the Martial Union's higher-ups without fail.
Of course, 'responsibilities' were overlooked when making such reports.
Cai Kechang slowly nodded.
“Mm. I now see that it wasn't your fault, Old Wu.
In that case, go home and recuperate.
We'll foot the bill for your recuperation after you lodge a formal request to our side.
So, take your time and focus on recovering your strength.”
“Thank you, Master Cai.” Wu Yuan bowed several times to express his gratitude but didn't immediately leave.
He stood there hesitating some more.
“By the way, sir…”
“I'm not sure if I need to report this to you as well.
But it might be for the best to inform you regardless…”
Cai Kechang harrumphed.
“What is it? Don't beat around the bush and out with it.”
“Sir, I believe that brat was a demonic arts practitioner.”
“…Demonic arts?” Cai Kechang's expression crumpled.
“Are you sure about that?”
“Yes, I'm certain that brat cultivates demonic arts.
But his attainment seemed shockingly deep, sir.”
“Hmm, is that right?” Cai Kechang rubbed his chin while erasing his previous plan to make a report about this to the higher-ups.
Attaining such a high realm at that young age couldn't easily be explained, but with the demonic arts in the picture, it was a whole lot easier to explain.
When it came to rate of growth, other cultivation techniques couldn't even come close to demonic arts, after all.
“Mm, I see.
In that case, it might not be worth the bother to make a report about him.
You say he's from Korea, didn't you?”
“Hah, those bangzi  bastards will have a tough time soon.” Cai Kechang cackled insidiously.
Wu Yuan silently watched the laughing Cai Kechang and wondered if he should also mention how perfectly sane the brat from Korea was.
However, he thought he shouldn't say anything else.
Saying he got defeated by an insane demonic arts practitioner was more helpful to his current position, after all!
'Monstrous brat, your life's spared for now.'
If the Martial Union rolled up its sleeves and got serious, that brat would never survive the onslaught, no matter how monstrous he was.
However, it seemed that the all-powerful Martial Union's current stance had switched to a wait-and-see, meaning that brat would get to keep his life for the time being.
From his perspective, this result was a little…
The thing was, though…
The future Wu Yuan would reminisce about this moment in time and wonder aloud what could have happened if he had been more forthcoming.
And he would eventually make a guess.
Wu Yuan sighed softly at the feeling of a slight disappointment, not knowing he had barely escaped the jaws of death just now.
Inside a cafe in Hong Kong…
“Kuh~euhh!” Jo Gyu-Min glanced at the shopping bags behind him and squealed in delight.
“Now that I've enjoyed my first shopping in a long while, I feel so much more refreshed!”
Kang Jin-Ho sighed.
“…You look delighted, Mister Gyu-Min.
I'm happy for you.”
Up until a few moments ago, Jo Gyu-Min had been running wild like a child in a toy shop that doubled as a candy shop, too!
Kang Jin-Ho narrowed his eyes at all the shopping bags.
'Won't those things get slapped with import tariff later?'
Jo Gyu-Min must have gone on a shopping spree knowing that it was cheaper to buy here than in Korea, even with the tariffs added on top later.
Kang Jin-Ho pointed to the bags.
“Just what's in those bags?”
“All designer-label goods, of course.”
Jo Gyu-Min proudly pulled out some articles contained within the bags.
This one here is the summertime business suit.
This business suit is for spring and autumn, and this one is for winter time. Oh, and this one is a specially-made coat, and this pair of dress shoes is…”
Kang Jin-Ho quietly inspected all the clothing items on display and soon discovered a strange commonality in all of them.
“By the way, Mister Gyu-Min…?”
“Aren't all these…
clothes you wear at work?”
“…!” An awkward smile slowly formed on Jo Gyu-Min's face.
Kang Jin-Ho slowly nodded in understanding.
'Wait, now that I think about it…'
Jo Gyu-Min was always at work whenever Kang Jin-Ho called him on the phone, wasn't he? And Kang Jin-Ho couldn't remember seeing Jo Gyu-Min wear anything else besides his business suits.
Even if Jo Gyu-Min was a certifiable workaholic, to think that he would be so elated about buying new clothes to wear for his work…! The corner of Kang Jin-Ho's heart ached a little at this sight.
Jo Gyu-Min panicked a little.
“P-please don't look at me like that, Mister Jin-Ho! What's so bad about a man dedicated to his work, anyway?!”
“Yes, yes…” Kang Jin-Ho tried to be more reassuring with a kind-sounding answer, but he still failed to remove the traces of pity from his expression.
“I mean, well…
You should be going on dates soon, so maybe it's a good idea to buy clothes for non-work-related purposes…?”
“…” Suddenly, Jo Gyu-Min went deathly quiet.
Kang Jin-Ho narrowed his eyes.
“…Oh.” Kang Jin-Ho couldn't bring himself to say anything else and sheepishly turned his attention to the cafe's menu in his hand.
However, it was Jo Gyu-Min who couldn't win against this weighty silence.
“…I'm fine, Mister Jin-Ho.
This shopping spree has managed to heal me.
So, let's hop over to Macau tomorrow and get something delicious.”
“…It's fine to stay for a few more days, Mister Gyu-Min.”
I don't have any urgent matters to attend to, anyway.”
Jo Gyu-Min let out several impressed sighs, his happiness reaching its zenith.
Just when did he ever feel this relaxed after joining Jaegyeong? It felt like the fatigue from hiking through some of the most rugged mountains imaginable for three days straight was quickly being washed away.
“Besides, being in a city is a lot more convenient than I thought, Mister Gyu-Min.
I'm getting a good wifi signal here as well…” Kang Jin-Ho muttered while taking out his phone to check up on the online news.
The mental shock left behind by Chang Min was so strong that it forced Kang Jin-Ho to be more proactive in getting better at using this device called the 'smartphone'.
Jo Gyu-Min chuckled joyously.
Nowadays, the whole world is staying connected through the internet, and…”
That was when the chopsticks in Kang Jin-Ho's hand suddenly snapped in half.
Jo Gyu-Min flinched nastily at this surprisingly over-the-top response and cautiously stared at Kang Jin-Ho.
“M-Mister Jin-Ho? What's the matter?”
Kang Jin-Ho's reaction was quite strange.
His eyes were glued to the phone's screen, his complexion somewhat red.
And his body seemed to be trembling for some reason.
'Wait, what? He's shaking?'
But, that couldn't be right, right? Jo Gyu-Min tilted his head.
The 'Kang Jin-Ho' he knew would never show such an agitated state, no matter the situation.
It was more like him to express his rage in a calm, subtle manner.
'What did he see?'
Jo Gyu-Min got up and walked over to Kang Jin-Ho's side of the table, then looked at the phone's screen.
It was then that Jo Gyu-Min's expression instantly hardened.
On the phone's screen was an internet article.
It wasn't anything special, just a common gossip piece about celebrities' romantic lives.
But the headline was…
[Kang Se-Ah, caught in the middle of a romantic date with the Voice's Jun Yeong!]
Kang Jin-Ho slowly raised his head and glared at Jo Gyu-Min.
His glare was so intimidating that Jo Gyu-Min felt his body automatically shrivel up.
“I, I'm sorry?”
“To the airport! Now!”
Jo Gyu-Min's moments of happiness instantly popped and evaporated like bubbles.
He grabbed his shopping bags as disappointment filled him up.
However, he was also thinking about how to utterly crush this Jun Yeong bastard…
Even though he had no idea about the identity of this Jun Yeong from the group Voice!
Bangzi is a deprecatory Chinese slang term that is being used to refer to Koreans. ☜
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