The shopping trip that came at the expense of Jo Gyu-Min ’s night out at the movies came to a safe conclusion.
While the unrelated departments were allowed to go home for the day, the electronics and clothing departments were requested to extend their operating hours for a bit longer.

Of course, the employees were sufficiently compensated monetarily for their overtime, which meant they greeted the incoming children with wide-open grins.
After it was all said and done…
Kang Jin-Ho and his companions enjoyed a ’relaxing ’ and fulfilling shopping experience.

Kang Jin-Ho accompanied the kids back to the orphanage after the shopping trip ended.
While driving back home in his car, a satisfied grin floated upon his lips.

’What a good fortune it was for us to go there so late… ’

Quite a few orphanage kids had mobility issues, which would have made shopping in a store full of other customers a somewhat cumbersome affair.
They had arrived at the department store so late in the day since none of them knew the closing time, but regardless of what had happened, the children still had a great time.
And their smiling faces lightened Kang Jin-Ho ’s heart a little.

A quick look at will leave you more fulfilled.

’I should stop by more often. ’

He realized something during the day.
As it turned out, ’things ’ weren ’t as simple as Kang Jin-Ho helping these children out.
By spending time with them, they were comforting him in return.

’Maybe… ’

Kang Jin-Ho ’s eyes observing the road ahead became withdrawn.
The orphanage ’s director asked Kang Jin-Ho to become someone capable of reaching out to weaker people.
Until today, he had been interpreting that request as him needing to sacrifice himself by helping others out through his strength.
After thinking about it some more, though, he now saw things a little differently.

Sister Yi wasn ’t the type of person to urge him to sacrifice himself to aid others.
In that case, could it be that she was thinking about Kang Jin-Ho while making that request?

“…Yeah, I ’ve strayed a bit too far.”

Kang Jin-Ho couldn ’t help but chuckle.
Meditating or worrying themselves to death over a topic suited the likes of Shaolin ’s elder monks, not someone like Kang Jin-Ho.

“Yes, let ’s just let it be.”

With a clear goal without rushing and entrusting himself to the flow, Kang Jin-Ho would eventually reach the place he was meant to reach.

A rare relaxed expression formed on Kang Jin-Ho ’s face as he pressed the accelerator.


“Orabi~!” Kang Eun-Yeong trotted over to her older brother as soon as he stepped foot inside the residence.

Kang Jin-Ho cocked an eyebrow.
“I haven ’t seen you at home lately, so I thought you were busy.”

“It ’s not like I didn ’t wanna come home, you know? It ’s just that things are really hectic at work, so I have to crash at the company lodgings sometimes.”

“Is that right?” Kang Jin-Ho narrowed his eyes while carefully observing his little sister ’s expression.
He noticed subtle droplets of cold sweat on her forehead.

“…I ’ll make sure to come home as early as possible from now on, dear orabeoni.”

“Good.” Kang Jin-Ho lightly patted his sister on the head.

Kang Eun-Yeong deduced that her brother was in a good mood from this response and hurriedly clung to his arm.
“Orabi~, orabi!”

“What now?”

“I wanna talk to you about something!”


Kang Eun-Yeong looked at him with a grave expression.
“It ’s a serious topic, so sit down with me after you wash up first, okay?”

“…Got it.” Kang Jin-Ho chuckled a little while heading to the bathroom, wondering what his sister would even want to talk to him about.
He took a quick shower and came outside to find Kang Eun-Yeong waiting for him with a cup of coffee.
“I ’m here.
What ’s going on?”

Kang Eun-Yeong took her time first to observe Kang Jin-Ho ’s mood first.
He definitely looked to be in a better mood.
As a matter of fact, she couldn ’t remember him being this happy in quite a while.
It seemed that Kang Eun-Yeong had developed a skill to measure her dear orabi ’s moods through nothing but his expressions.

In times like this, I gotta go straight for the kill! ’ 

Kang Eun-Yeong decided not to beat around the bush.
“Oppa! Can you have a meeting with Miss Choi Yeon-Ha soon? ”

“…Huh?” Kang Jin-Ho ’s eyes widened slightly, as that unexpected request had taken him by surprise.
He figured his little sister would ask for an expensive gift, a vacation to somewhere exotic, or even a change to her curfew, but no! What on earth was this girl even talking about now?




A mobile phone shattered the window glass and flew outside.

“Aaaaahk! Aaaaaaaaahk!” Lee Seong-Hwi roared and screamed like a wounded predator.
“Kang Jin-Ho, you, you son of a biiiiiii*ch!”

His enraged demeanor was so scary and overwhelming that a nurse outside his hospital room couldn ’t even dare to step inside.
The only ’solace ’ in this situation was that he was assigned to a single-patient room, thus sparing the other patients from potential harm.

“You motherf*cker!!! I, I ’m gonna rip you apart! I ’ll kill you! You f*cking…! Uwaaaaaaah!”

Lee Seong-Hwi ’s mind had already half-abandoned him by now.
How could it not? After all, the arm Kang Jin-Ho had broken would be disabled for the rest of his life, according to the diagnosis!

After being told that news, Lee Seong-Hwi almost pounced on the doctor, ready to kill that fool…
However, what would have changed if he had done that?

At first, he tried to think positively and find another way.
Well, his body was different from the ’regular ’ people, after all.
A martial artist cultivating qi boasted incomparably better recuperative powers than normal people.
So, it could be possible to heal an injury that even modern medical science could not deal with.

Even after some time had passed, there was still no sensation in Lee Seong-Hwi ’s right arm.


A cultivator without the use of his right arm wouldn ’t be hindered all that much from his day-to-day life.
However, a right arm was an absolute must for a cultivator to grow stronger.
After all, no matter how hard a cultivator without an arm trained, they would still be at a distinct disadvantage against opponents with both arms functioning properly.

“Haaaah… Goddamn it!” Lee Seong-Hwi eventually tired himself out after roaring nonstop.
He leaned against the bed and rubbed his face.

Just how did he end up in this state? He had only responded to Lee Hyeon-Ju ’s request, hadn’t he?

“…That bloody bi*tch!”

His anger toward Kang Jin-Ho was one thing, but his resentment toward Lee Hyeon-Ju was something else.
She might have brought Lee Seong-Hwi to the hospital after the one-sided beatdown, but she never showed herself again afterward.

“Goddamn it, even though you were responsible for this crap…!”

He would kill them all.
Whether it was Kang Jin-Ho or Lee Hyeon-Ju, he would kill them all!


Lee Seong-Hwi suddenly shuddered.
Could he really do it? Even now, his mind was still being haunted by the expressionless face of Kang Jin-Ho as he proceeded to break Lee Seong-Hwi’s arm and stomp on his shoulder.


Even if Lee Seong-Hwi trained like crazy from now on, he would still have no confidence in winning against Kang Jin-Ho.
That bastard wouldn ’t be lazing around while Lee Seong-Hwi was trying to get stronger, after all! And then, there was also another question of whether Lee Seong-Hwi could even reach Kang Jin-Ho ’s current realm of strength through training.

That was a devil incarnate… ’

Usually, a person shouldn ’t be like that.
Lee Seong-Hwi had beaten countless people up before, but even he couldn ’t break another person ’s bones as easily and nonchalantly as Kang Jin-Ho.

’Just how many hellish events did that guy go through? ’

Lee Seong-Hwi knew that Kang Jin-Ho was a ’returner ’.
However, being a returner didn ’t equal unparalleled strength.
Indeed, living several lives did not guarantee one’s strength.
However, Kang Jin-Ho was a truly, unmistakably powerful individual, someone beyond the comparison of other, more mundane returners.

“…What am I supposed to do here, damn it!”

Lee Seong-Hwi wanted vengeance.
However, there didn ’t seem to be a way.
He couldn ’t win against Kang Jin-Ho when he was still perfectly fine, so how was he supposed to defeat that bastard with only one arm?!


Unable to hold back his frustration, Lee Seong-Hwi screamed at the top of his lungs once more.
But then—

“How noisy!”

The door suddenly flew open, and an unexpected but familiar face waltzed inside the hospital room.

Lee Seong-Hwi ’s eyes widened, and he instinctively backed away.
Why was that man even here?

The uninvited guest chuckled.
“You can relax.
You already know there ’s nothing you can do to protect yourself if I wanted to hurt you, right?”

“…!” Lee Seong-Hwi relaxed his muscles, albeit unwillingly.

This uninvited guest was right.
If he wanted to harm the current Lee Seong-Hwi, the latter wouldn ’t be able to put up any resistance.

Lee Seong-Hwi slowly chewed his words out.
“What brings you here, ’sir ’?”

“If I said I ’m here to ridicule you for your wretched state?”

“…Then, ridicule me all you want and leave, sir.”

“Tsk, tsk…” The guest tutted away.
“To think that the disciple of the Assembly Master would be this weak! I told you, that man ’s method can ’t properly foster a talent like you.
Still remember my offer about joining me?”

Kekeke…” Lee Seong-Hwi cackled softly.
“Are you still telling me to give up on the position of being the disciple of the Korean Martial Assembly ’s Master and join you as some lowly lackey?”

“Of course not.
There ’s no need.
But now…
I ’m sure you ’re beginning to have second thoughts?”

“…!” Lee Seong-Hwi ’s expression crumpled.
“Are you making fun of me, sir?”

“Making fun of you? Don ’t get too full of yourself, Lee Seong-Hwi.
You might think of yourself as some kind of a genius, but that doesn ’t mean you ’re a big enough fish for me to personally shoot the breeze with.
Now, are you?”

Lee Seong-Hwi gritted his teeth, but he couldn ’t bring himself to retort.
The guest’s words made sense since he was indeed insignificant compared to the latter before his eyes.

The Yeongnam Group had surpassed the Korean Martial Assembly to become the number one faction in South Korea.
And the guest, the Yeongnam Group ’s leader, wouldn ’t have given a damn about some weak punk like Lee Seong-Hwi.

The guest, the Yeongnam Group ’s boss Kim Seok-Il, smiled odiously.
“Don ’t you want to avenge your loss?”


“You want vengeance but lack strength.
Don ’t you?”

Lee Seong-Hwi gritted his teeth again while listening.

Kim Seok-Il ’s grin deepened.
“It ’s the same story for us.
We ’ve lost a…
precious pawn, but there doesn ’t seem a good way to counterattack.
Seoul isn ’t our territory, which limits how much we can openly act.
So, let me make a suggestion.
Let us join forces.”

“…You’ve lost your mind! I ’m the Assembly Master ’s disciple!”

“Even now?” Kim Seok-Il tilted his head.
And Lee Seong-Hwi had to clamp his mouth shut.
“Now, now.
Think about this.
You lost your arm, so it ’s only a matter of time before the Assembly Master loses his interest in you.
You ’re not the only disciple, after all.
Besides, Lee Hyeon-Ju hates you, doesn ’t she? You were always going to be used and discarded.
That’s your fate.”


The noise of Lee Seong-Hwi gritting his teeth echoed chillingly inside the room.
He slowly chewed his next words out.
value do you see in me? So much so that you want to join forces?”

“You have plenty of value, Lee Seong-Hwi.
First of all, you can roam around this area without a problem.
On top of that, you ’re sufficiently strong, too.”

“…Even though I ’m a cripple now?”

“That won ’t matter once we fix you up.” Kim Seok-Il chuckled.

Lee Seong-Hwi narrowed his eyes.
Modern medical science couldn ’t heal him.
Even the cultivator ’s natural healing factor was useless.
So, how could Kim Seok-Il heal him?

Kim Seok-Il continued, “I give you power, and you do my bidding.
This sounds like a pretty good trade to me.”

Lee Seong-Hwi ’s eyes powerfully quaked.
Judging from what the Yeongnam Group ’s leader had said, he seemed to be in possession of a method to heal and strengthen Lee Seong-Hwi, but…

’…I don ’t have a reason to doubt him now, do I? ’

In all honesty, Lee Seong-Hwi believed that he was no longer useful.
So, someone as important as Kim Seok-Il wouldn ’t show up here to con him now, would he?

Lee Seong-Hwi cautiously asked, “How will you heal my injury?”

“It ’s fairly simple.”


A lone ’book ’ landed on Lee Seong-Hwi ’s bed.
The distinctive smell of an ancient tome wafted out from this coverless book.
And the faint stench of blood was mixed in that smell, too.
The smell could have only come from the old, dried-up blood.

Lee Seong-Hwi ’s eyes widened.
Could this be…?”

Kim Seok-Il smirked.
This is a good trade, no?”

“…What the f*ck? You want me to cultivate demonic arts?!”

“Do you know of any other way to heal your injury, then?”

Lee Seong-Hwi roared again.
“Who do you take me for?!”

Kim Seok-Il didn ’t reply, simply choosing to stare at Lee Seong-Hwi in amusement with his eyes sunken and unmoving.

The first one to buckle under the uncomfortable silence was Lee Seong-Hwi.
“I… I won ’t cultivate demonic arts!”

Kim Seok-Il muttered, “I won ’t force you to.
But the current you can never get the vengeance you desire against Kang Jin-Ho.
Winning against him is obviously out of question, too.”

Lee Seong-Hwi ’s fingertips began trembling.

“I won ’t mention this again.
However, we all know that you ’ll cultivate the demonic arts.
And you already know the reason why, don ’t you?”

Lee Seong-Hwi ’s face grew paler and paler as he stared at the Yeongnam Group ’s leader.
Just how much did Kim Seok-Il know? Just how far did he foresee?

“Well, then.
It ’s about time I excuse myself.
The second half of that cultivation manual is with me, so give me a call if you ’re interested.
Here ’s my business card.” Kim Seok-Il coolly tossed his business card in Lee Seong-Hwi ’s direction, then leisurely walked outside the hospital room.
Once he was outside the doorway, he muttered something else without even looking back.
“You didn ’t even need thirty minutes to arrive at the cafe after getting that phone call.
Isn ’t that strange? I wonder, why were you hanging around in that area? Mm? Fufufu…”

With that, the door closed shut.
Lee Seong-Hwi was pale as he continued staring at the doorway before a look of determination suddenly formed on his face.
He glared murderously at the cultivation technique manual.

I can ’t escape anymore! ’

Now that Kim Seok-Il had figured out everything, Lee Seong-Hwi wouldn ’t be able to escape from that devious man ’s clutches.
In that case, there was only one way.

Lee Seong-Hwi reached out and grabbed the old book.

“Kang Jin-Ho…!”

A barely-suppressed resentment leaked out from Lee Seong-Hwi ’s mouth.

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