“Wait for a little while longer.
We ’ll take you to a quiet place with no witnesses.”

“Good to hear that,” Lee Seong-Hwi replied nonchalantly.
At least on the surface, he looked unconcerned, but Lee Hyeon-Ju ’s eyes still spotted her grandfather ’s second disciple trembling imperceptibly.

’He ’s nervous. ’

Lee Seong-Hwi might be using an excuse like letting his guard down to keep his pride intact, but he was no dummy.
He already knew his latest opponent was an incredibly difficult hurdle to overcome.
If he was too stupid not to understand that, Lee Hyeon-Ju ’s grandfather would have never accepted him as a disciple in the first place.

While this was happening, Jo Gyu-Min in the driver ’s seat was getting crushed by the silent pressure.

’Why oh why did I choose to tag along? ’

Kang Jin-Ho told him to go on ahead first, and it was Jo Gyu-Min who decided to be stubborn and tag along.
It felt like he was deliberately throwing himself into life-threatening hardships, but what could he do about it? He was a man, after all! And he certainly couldn ’t afford to miss a major event like this.

More importantly, though—Jo Gyu-Min had a duty to witness an event that involved Kang Jin-Ho.
No one had forced him to do this, of course.
However, he still believed this mindset was utterly necessary if he were to continue assisting Kang Jin-Ho from the side.


Kang Jin-Ho rolled the window down before lighting a cigarette.

Lee Seong-Hwi sneered derisively.
“A Martial who smokes? Looks like your attitude and fundamentals both suck.”

Kang Jin-Ho didn ’t bother to respond.
Maybe the big guy was right.
However, the so-called fundamentals themselves were wrong, to begin with.
And Lee Seong-Hwi would soon get to find that out for himself.

The car traveled on the national highway before going up a deserted, twisty mountain road.
After parking his car in a hidden spot, Jo Gyu-Mni addressed his passengers.
“We ’re here.”

Kang Jin-Ho nodded, then exited the car first.
Lee Seong-Hwi also jumped out as if he had been dying of impatience.
“Okay, so! We can start now, right? Right here?”

Jo Gyu-Min replied to him instead of Kang Jin-Ho, “If you head in a little deeper from here, you ’ll find a spot where the passing cars can’t see what ’s going on.”

Lee Seong-Hwi didn ’t argue and walked over in the direction Jo Gyu-Min had pointed out.
After going past a few thickets, the group arrived at a fairly wide clearing.
How did Jo Gyu-Min even find such a place?

“Hey, uncle.
You ’ve got some skill, haven ’t you?” Lee Seong-Hwi muttered at Jo Gyu-Min.

“But, you look older than me?” Jo Gyu-Min retorted, evidently unhappy about being called an uncle.

Lee Seong-Hwi frowned.
“I ’m only thirty this year, though?”

“It ’s the similar story for me.”

So you only look older on the outside.”


This novel is available on bit.ly/3iBfjkV.

Jo Gyu-Min gritted his teeth and turned his head to shoot a fierce glare at Kang Jin-Ho.
He was silently requesting the complete destruction of this rude punk.

Kang Jin-Ho glanced back at Jo Gyu-Min.
“Please stay back.”

“Understood.” Jo Gyu-Min nodded and did as told by retreating to quite some distance away.
He had already witnessed Kang Jin-Ho ’s fights before, so he couldn ’t even guess what might happen to an unlucky ’civilian ’ caught in the middle of the upcoming battle.

’And the same thing will happen to that rude punk, too… ’

From Jo Gyu-Min ’s perspective, Kang Jin-Ho was like a key.
Before meeting that young man, Jo Gyu-Min had no idea that a separate ’world ’ existed alongside the one he already knew.
However, that quickly changed after Kang Jin-Ho finished his mandatory military service.

And Jo Gyu-Min was learning more and more about the world hidden from the public ’s eye.

how strong is Mister Jin-Ho? ’

To Jo Gyu-Min, Kang Jin-Ho seemed like Superman.
However, that evaluation could have been influenced by Jo Gyu-Min being a ’regular ’ person.
He had to work extra hard to calm his pounding heart after an opportunity to figure out just how high Kang Jin-Ho ’s position was in this hidden world suddenly presented itself.

“Earlier in the day, I let my guard down.
If you think that ’s all I amount to, you ’re gonna sh*t blood for a few days, punk.” Lee Seong-Hwi spat out a crude provocation.

Kang Jin-Ho narrowed his eyes and stared at Lee Seong-Hwi.
“Looks like you can still talk.”

“I have a functioning mouth, so of course, I can talk.”

Kang Jin-Ho suddenly grinned.
He ever-so-slightly bared his white teeth between his lips.
It was as simple as that, yet Lee Seong-Hwi still flinched inadvertently.

For sure, Kang Jin-Ho ’s atmosphere…
was changing.
Slowly, oh-so-agonizingly slowly…

was that? ’

The two of them had already exchanged ’greetings ’ by now, even if their fight had ended in the blink of an eye.
However, the current ’Kang Jin-Ho ’ felt like a completely different person from the ’Kang Jin-Ho ’ back then.

“Yap all you want while you can,” said Kang Jin-Ho with that grin on his lips.
He then began walking closer to Lee Seong-Hwi.
“Because you won ’t get to talk pretty soon.”

In a way, what he said could be interpreted as an empty threat.
Many would throw around threats and insults before the start of the fight, after all.
Lee Seong-Hwi had to have seen well over a hundred such people already.
However, something was different this time.

Lee Seong-Hwi could tell by instinct.
That was not a threat, not some kind of a ’demonstration ’ to cower the opponent.
Kang Jin-Ho ’s attitude was similar to a news anchor reporting on the day ’s news.
Although it hadn ’t happened yet, he still spoke in a calm, assured tone as if he was making a weather prediction.

’…He ’s no ordinary opponent, then! ’

Lee Seong-Hwi had stopped underestimating his opponent a long time ago.
He was simply maintaining his impudent attitude as a way to stop himself from getting too nervous.
His intentions were not really about disparaging or belittling Kang Jin-Ho.

Even if he let his guard down, Lee Seong-Hwi ’s punch shouldn ’t be compared to a regular person ’s punch.
His teacher was the ’Tiger Fist.’ As such, Lee Seong-Hwi was taught the way of the fist as well.
Even if he reached out casually, the teachings of martial arts were still deeply ingrained in his movements.

Yet, Kang Jin-Ho managed to evade such a movement with utmost ease and subdued Lee Seong-Hwi.
That demonstrated Kang Jin-Ho ’s strength, even if Lee Seong-Hwi had been caught unaware.
In that case, what about now?

Just how different would this ’Kang Jin-Ho ’ be from the one at the cafe, now that he was unleashing a flood of frigid aura like he was a completely different person?

“Fuu-woo…” Lee Seong-Hwi sucked in a deep breath.

’Don ’t think about that, Lee Seong-Hwi! ’

Worrying about how an opponent would approach a fight was the same as getting sucked into said opponent ’s pace.
He shouldn ’t mind that, as now was the time to display all the abilities he possessed.

“Hey, are you a returner?” Lee Seong-Hwi threw out a sudden question.
Kang Jin-Ho didn ’t say anything and just stared back at him.

“Heh, looks like I hit the bullseye.” Lee Seong-Hwi smirked deeply.
“That explains your strength which doesn ’t match your age.
It ’s too bad, though.
I really don ’t like the bastards that call themselves returners, you see? Because they are all gloomy loners who don ’t play well with other people.”

While muttering that, Lee Seong-Hwi proceeded to loosen his hands.
The sounds of his joints popping eerily echoed within the mountainside.

“Here ’s the thing.
Humans are meant to evolve—to better themselves.
I don ’t know what you returner bastards have been doing in the past, but let me tell you something.
Idiots stuck in the ways of the past can never win against the modern era.
Allow me to teach you how much modern martial arts have evolved.”

Kang Jin-Ho finally broke his silence.
“If you ’re done yapping, hurry up and come at me.”


“It doesn ’t matter who you are or who I am.
So, stop blabbering and let ’s get this started.”

“You rude little punk!” Lee Seong-Hwi clenched his fists before pouncing on Kang Jin-Ho.
Was it because he fell for the provocation? Of course not.

For a while now, it felt like Kang Jin-Ho ’s presence was crushing down on Lee Seong-Hwi.
And that feeling only got stronger with every passing second.
So, he attacked, thinking that he might not even be able to lift a finger if this pressure continued to build up.

Lee Seong-Hwi ’s right fist scythed through the air like an arrow.
This attack was not a feint, just a straightforward punch.
However, it was still undeniably fast and powerful.

He saw no need to use some fancy technique here.
His punch was so fast that naked eyes couldn ’t follow it, anyway.

As he punched, Lee Seong-Hwi ’s eyes gleamed brightly.
He knew that Kang Jin-Ho would dodge this attack.
He was dead sure about that.

Lee Seong-Hwi wasn ’t being arrogant, though.
He simply made an educated guess from what Kang Jin-Ho had shown back in the cafe.
Kang Jin-Ho would definitely do something, but that would not matter.
Even if this punch was avoided, Lee Seong-Hwi had dozens of ways to respond.

That was how deep his martial knowledge was after receiving the righteous cultiva—


“…What the hell?!” Lee Seong-Hwi was left bewildered by what happened.
He thought his attack would miss the target, but Kang Jin-Ho just stood there and let himself get hit in the face!

The punch in the middle of his face sent Kang Jin-Ho flying away like a kite with its string cut.
His figure eventually crashed and got buried in the dirt some distance away.

’D-did he die? ’

A bewildered Lee Seong-Hwi blinked his eyes and stared at Kang Jin-Ho.
However, his shock was understandable.
For one, he had never ’sparred ’ against regular people.
And such a straightforward punch had never been a popular attack during duels of highly-trained martial artists.

A boxer with no qi training could still split a person ’s skull in half if their punch landed just right, so how powerful would Lee Seong-Hwi ’s attack be when it was laden with so much qi?

No average martial artist could survive a direct hit to the face from such a powerful punch.
No, it would be instant death.
Knowing this, all sorts of confused thoughts began tumbling around in Lee Seong-Hwi ’s head.

Was Kang Jin-Ho simply bluffing? Maybe he wasn ’t strong enough to be a martial artist? But then…
What about that pressure? And what happened back in the cafe?

Lee Seong-Hwi ’s confusion was soon resolved by Kang Jin-Ho.

Initially looking as if he got knocked out, Kang Jin-Ho began to slowly raise his head.
Soon, he finished raising his upper torso to sit upright.
And this sight sent another shockwave through Lee Seong-Hwi ’s mind.

got up?! ’

His complexion went deathly pale as he watched Kang Jin-Ho slowly dust himself off the ground.
should have been impossible.
No matter how strong Kang Jin-Ho was, he shouldn ’t be able to nonchalantly brush aside Lee Seong-Hwi ’s full-power punch to the face.
Not even Lee Seong-Hwi ’s teacher would be able to do that! It would be like a trained sniper brushing aside a gunshot wound as if it was nothing.

“B-but, how?!”


Kang Jin-Ho spat on the ground.
Blood leaking from his burst lip left a metallic taste in his mouth.
Kang Jin-Ho lightly wiped his lips away, then began smiling hideously.
“No need to worry yourself about that.”

After finishing dusting himself off, Kang Jin-Ho leisurely made his way back toward Lee Seong-Hwi once more.

“I just needed to calm down, that ’s all.
It seems that I had a lot on my mind.
But thanks to you, I ’m back to my old self again.”

Lee Seong-Hwi had no idea what Kang Jin-Ho was talking about.
What was up with all this weird confession? He might not have any idea, but the two spectators still managed to figure out what Kang Jin-Ho meant.
Lee Hyeon-Ju ’s face went utterly pale from the realization, and she stared in pure terror at Kang Jin-Ho.

She had seen ’it ’.
And that would be Kang Jin-Ho ’s expression contorting ever so slightly just as Lee Seong-Hwi charged in.
Rage, hatred, or even hostility…
His expression was none of those.

The expression she saw on Kang Jin-Ho ’s face was ’patience ’.
The kind of patience of, say, a starving predator salivating over a juicy prey in front of its eyes but holding itself back for some reason.

And that was when Lee Hyeon-Ju instinctively realized it…

’He almost tried to kill Lee Seong-Hwi! ’

What if Kang Jin-Ho had failed to restrain his flinching, quivering hands just as the attack landed? What would have happened to Lee Seong-Hwi?

I need to stop this! ’

Lee Hyeon-Ju had also realized something else.
This was not a battle to find a winner.
At the very least, Kang Jin-Ho didn ’t see this situation as a fight or a duel.
In that case, what was this situation, then?

“Uwaaaaah!” Lee Seong-Hwi roared.
Half his reasoning was already paralyzed, and he pounced on Kang Jin-Ho again.

However, Kang Jin-Ho simply smiled faintly at the sight of the incoming Lee Seong-Hwi.
His eyes could see the fear-filled face of the big guy.

’No need to be that scared. ’

Kang Jin-Ho gently raised his right hand, then somehow snatched Lee Seong-Hwi ’s fist coming for his face from mid-air.
And then—


A bone-chilling noise capable of making every hair on a person ’s body stand rang out as Lee Seong-Hwi ’s arm was twisted toward his back at an awkward angle.

“Aaaaaaahk?!” Lee Seong-Hwi couldn ’t win against the pain and screamed at the top of his lungs; his arm was bent at a bizarre angle from Kang Jin-Ho ’s grip.

Kang Jin-Ho muttered, “…I ’m not going to kill you, after all.”

Lee Seong-Hwi ’s eyes met Kang Jin-Ho ’s, and this uncontrollable terror bloomed in his mind.

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