Lee Jung-Geol clenched his teeth.
He might have guffawed loudly if someone else had declared such a thing.
A grandiose bluff could induce laughter in people, after all.
However, he couldn ’t laugh at all right now.

He could do a few other things right now, though.
Things such as clenching his teeth until they were at the breaking point, gripping his thigh hard until his flesh started bleeding, feeling all the cold sweat breaking on his back, and trying not to blink as more sweat invaded his eyes.

Lee Jung-Geol knew Kang Jin-Ho wasn ’t bluffing.
The fact that Kang Jin-Ho was a returner, and the martial prowess he had displayed just now, was all the proof he needed to be sure about this.

’He ’s…
the Demon Lord? ’

Lee Jung-Geol knew of the ’demonic arts practitioner ’ as a broad term that included all those cultivating in various demonic cultivation methods.
In that case, what did the term ’Demon Lord ’ even refer to? An especially strong individual among the demonic arts practitioners? If not, what then?

Many questions burned inside Lee Jung-Geol ’s mind, but he wasn ’t participating in a tea party.
His conversation partner wasn ’t the type to resolve his questions.

“…The Demon Lord, you say?”

”Hmm… ” Kang Jin-Ho leaned against the chair while crossing his legs.
”It seems I should refer to myself as the Demon Emperor, then.
You might find it hard to understand, but back in those days, I was referred to as the Demon Emperor. ”

’The Demon Emperor, is it…? ’

Certainly, the term ’Demon Emperor ’ sounded a little more…
’refined ’ than, say, the Demon Lord or the Heavenly Demon.
However, the knowledge of that didn’t mean the pressure Kang Jin-Ho was emitting had lessened.

“A returner.
And the Demon Emperor, to boot…” Lee Jung-Geol ’s eyes became withdrawn.
“In that case, why haven ’t you joined the returners ’ faction?”

“Why should I?” Kang Jin-Ho asked while tilting his head slightly.
That left Lee Jung-Geol momentarily speechless.

What was he supposed to say when his question was met with that sort of response? Still, Kang Jin-Ho of now was no doubt a lot friendlier than when he first showed up before Lee Jung-Geol.
He went out of his way to explain to those who failed to understand him, after all!

“I ’m not the type to go under someone ’s wings.
If they want to join me, then they shall bow their heads before me first.”


How insanely arrogant! He was arrogant to the extent that Lee Jung-Geol even thought that a con man was making a bold claim.
However, what was this unrealistic feeling?

The boldly-arrogant aura oozing out from the returner before Lee Jung-Geol ’s eyes, plus the stench of blood, were undoubtedly real.
Even then, he couldn ’t shake off this strange, unrealistic sensation.
It was as if he were swimming in a dream.

Was it because this event was something he never knew he would get to experience in his life?

“So…” Kang Jin-Ho asked once again as if he had noticed the confusion and indecision in Lee Jung-Geol ’s mind, “What will you do with this information?”

Indeed, what would Lee Jung-Geol do with this knowledge? He squeezed his eyes and clenched his teeth.

He had prepared himself for this moment, but now that the time to make his choice had come, he couldn ’t help but hesitate.
By saying he would never aid a demonic arts practitioner, he would jeopardize his life and that of his granddaughter.

However, that didn ’t mean Lee Jung-Geol should cooperate with this demonic cultivator either.
Hadn’t he already confirmed with his own two eyes that this returner was a remorseless butcher? An uncaring murderer?

Lee Jung-Geol prided himself on upholding the code of chivalry all his life.
to save his life, he actually had to start supporting a demonic cultivator?

’…Unthinkable! ’

Lee Jung-Geol clamped his mouth shut and glared at Kang Jin-Ho before firmly revealing his stance.
“I cannot cooperate with a demonic cultivator.”

“G-grandpa?!” Lee Hyeon-Ju freaked out and worriedly looked at Kang Jin-Ho.
Rather unexpectedly, though, Kang Jin-Ho remained composed.
Unruffled, even.

”I see… ” Kang Jin-Ho nodded before getting up.
”In that case, I ’ll be on my way. ”

“I ’m sorry?” Lee Hyeon-Ju inadvertently blurted that out.
Even Lee Jung-Geol looked at Kang Jin-Ho with a puzzled expression.

However, Kang Jin-Ho ignored the two and left the room without saying anything.
Lee Hyeon-Ju stared in a daze at the doorway Kang Jin-Ho used to leave, but then, goosebumps broke out on her arms.
She finally realized why Kang Jin-Ho didn ’t make any further demands from them!

“N-no, this is bad, grandpa! We need to stop him!”

“Hyeon-Ju, listen to me, child.
That man is…”

“That ’s not the issue here, grandpa!” Her voice rose up loud enough to become almost a scream.
“That man doesn ’t need us or our help! There’s Bang Jin-Hun on the other side, after all!”

A gasp-like sound escaped from Lee Jung-Geol ’s throat.
Come to think of it…
Didn ’t Cheon Tae-Hun say he could connect Bang Jin-Hun to Kang Jin-Ho? And Kang Jin-Ho also ordered Cheon Tae-Hun to bring Bang Jin-Hun before him in two days, didn ’t he?

If the two met, and Bang Jin-Hun swore to support Kang Jin-Ho, the Martial Assembly ’s resources would be as good as ’available at any time ’ for the latter.
Even now, Lee Jung-Geol was having a torrid time dealing with Bang Jin-Hun ’s growing influence in the Martial Assembly, so what would happen if Bang Jin-Hun acquired a powerful weapon called Kang Jin-Ho? Obviously, things would become even more difficult for Lee Jung-Geol.

Having realized why Kang Jin-Ho didn ’t continue to bargain with them, Lee Jung-Geol forced his creaking body to stand up.
“Indeed, we have to stop him.”

Even if Lee Jung-Geol was unwilling, the Martial Assembly was bound to ’support ’ Kang Jin-Ho.
Bang Jin-Hun was there to do it, after all.
Which meant letting Kang Jin-Ho leave like this would not benefit Lee Jung-Geol in any shape or form!

Lee Hyeon-Ju hurriedly rushed outside, but other than the wide-open empty entrance, Kang Jin-Ho wasn ’t there anymore.
He was long gone.

“…N-no, this can ’t be.” Lee Hyeon-Ju plopped down on the ground as despair filled her expression.
The night winds felt especially chilly tonight.


”I ’m home, ” said Kang Jin-Ho as he stepped into his home in the early dawn.

“Orabiii!” Kang Eun-Yeong rushed up to him while making a scary face.

”Why aren ’t you in bed? ” Kang Jin-Ho was slightly taken aback and stared at her weirdly.

“How can I sleep when you ’re not home yet?!”

“Look at the time, Eun-Yeong.”

“That ’s not something you should be saying, Oppa! You were with a girl until now, weren ’t you!”


“Heol?! It ’s true?”

“No, I wasn ’t…” Kang Jin-Ho dismissively waved his hand.

Kang Eun-Yeong narrowed her eyes.
“Really? You swear?”

“…Do I need to hide something like dating a woman from you?”

”Hmm…? ” Kang Eun-Yeong revealed an indescribable look and tilted her head before sneakily approaching him.

Kang Jin-Ho cocked an eyebrow, wondering what this kid was now up to.
Kang Eun-Yeong went on her tiptoes and began sniffing his hair next.

“What on Earth are you doing, Eun-Yeong?”

”…Hmm, that ’s way too subtle.
It doesn ’t smell like shampoo, more like soap…
If you were in a love motel, you ’d have used shampoo, so—but there ’s the smell of cigarettes mixed in, so I can ’t tell for sure… ”

“Want me to beat you up?” Kang Jin-Ho shot a fierce glare at his sister.

However, Kang Eun-Yeong poked her tongue out at him and quickly escaped toward her room.
“Come home on time, you unfilial son~!”

Kang Jin-Ho chuckled while watching his little yelling sister shut the door close behind her.
Seeing Kang Eun-Yeong like that helped dissipate some of the bloodthirst in his heart.

Kang Jin-Ho went to his own room, took his clothes off, and tossed himself onto the bed.
Fatigue rapidly rushed in.

went overboard.
Again. ’

Was it because he got to wield the Crimson Destiny once more? He nonchalantly acted the same way as his old self back in Zhongyuan.

Kang Jin-Ho slowly rubbed his face.

’I can ’t even deny being demonic at this point, huh. ’

The ’demonic cultivator ’ Kang Jin-Ho knew, and the ’demonic cultivator ’ everyone else in the modern era talked about were different.
However, Kang Jin-Ho couldn ’t help but agree that his current self met the criteria of a modern demonic cultivator.

He lost his rational mind and went wild tonight.
Was it because he had been consciously suppressing himself until now or did the blame rest on the order of learning the demonic arts differing from the past, leading to the situation of demonic qi influencing his mind…?

”No, that’s not true. ” Kang Jin-Ho smirked weakly.
He shouldn ’t be trying to lie to himself like this.
”That ’s right.
I ’ve always been like this. ”

Without that kind of nature, Kang Jin-Ho wouldn ’t have acquired the title of Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor.
Even before joining the demon cult, Kang Jin-Ho was already labeled the public enemy number one in Gangho.
People called him a demon, a fiend, for being cruel, merciless, and heartless.
Even within the demon cult filled with the vilest demonic cultivators under the sun, Kang Jin-Ho still became the symbol of fear that proudly boasted the title of Crimson Demon.

Kang Jin-Ho had always been like that.
If he faced an enemy, he would cut them down.
If they annoyed him, he would cut them down.
To him, things like whether they were right or he was right didn ’t matter.
All that mattered was whether they got in his way or not.

What he did tonight was merely a repeat of his past actions.
Even so, Kang Jin-Ho felt a little repulsed at himself, probably a sign that he had changed somewhat.

He shouldn ’t continue to seek out excuses.
Tonight, Kang Jin-Ho faced his past self.
If he was uncomfortable with what he had seen, then he just had to focus on changing it, starting today.
Indeed, he definitely shouldn’t find excuses to look away from his own actions.

Kang Jin-Ho quietly closed his eyes.
Hwang Jeong-Hu’s warning on how Kang Jin-Ho ’s life would be impacted if he decided to get involved in the world of martial artists.
Those words felt all too real to him right now.
Kang Jin-Ho responded with a calm, composed expression on his face back then, but even he had to admit that Hwang Jeong-Hu ’s insight was second to none.

’Maintaining the balance, is it… ’

Kang Jin-Ho gained a renewed appreciation for the advice of maintaining the balance between his ordinary life and the one on the other side of the world.
That advice also included a warning on how difficult that task might be.

Kang Jin-Ho kept his eyes closed while organizing all the thoughts in his head.
Where was he supposed to start unraveling all these messily tangled threads?

One thought led to another, leading to a chain of dilemmas and musings.
However, the conclusion he had been looking for arrived rather quickly in his head.

’The Yeongnam Group… ’

From what he could see, the Martial Assembly wouldn ’t try to antagonize him.
From the Assembly Master to the one trying to usurp him, they were less than keen to turn Kang Jin-Ho into an enemy.
People like that most likely wouldn ’t try to hinder Kang Jin-Ho ’s life.

So, that left the Yeongnam Group.
They knew who—or what—Kang Jin-Ho was, yet they still butted into his life.
And with clear hostility, to boot.

Kang Jin-Ho wasn ’t thinking this way because they had kidnapped Kang Eun-Yeong.
That reason alone was insufficient for him to target the Yeongnam Group for complete and utter destruction.
No, it was a lot more than that.
In addition to interfering with Kang Jin-Ho ’s life, they were also actively trying to wreck it.

’If there ’s a hindrance, I should remove it. ’

Kang Jin-Ho lying on his bed in pitch-black darkness smiled brightly.
Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor living within him was whispering enticingly to him.

— Since when did you start caring about this and that while causing a scene?

If something annoyed him back then, Kang Jin-Ho simply removed it out of his way.
That was Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor ’s way.

It was extreme, but the method proved to be the most effective, and Kang Jin-Ho had already proven it.

Destroying the Yeongnam Group should bring some peace back to Kang Jin-Ho ’s world, and if something else happened because of the Yeongnam Group ’s destruction, all Kang Jin-Ho had to do was destroy that, too.

Kang Jin-Ho ’s eyes shot open in the darkness.
His irises were seemingly glowing in a ghostly pale hue.

No matter how hard he tried to deny it, Kang Jin-Ho was still a martial artist in the end.
A demonic arts practitioner—the Demon Emperor—His nature that plunged Zhongyuan into a period of terror had been slumbering inside him all along.

Kang Jin-Ho chuckled quietly.
He felt pleasure washing over him.
A part of him wanted to deny that, but this burning sensation bubbling up from somewhere deep within was sending waves of happiness and pleasure throughout his body.

’Aaah, I see.
I ’ve been holding back for far too long. ’

Even when some small fries and nobodies provoked him and poked him with a stick, Kang Jin-Ho held back.
When the people he cared about were threatened, when his family members were put in harm ’s way, he tried to be patient.

He believed that was the only way to maintain this life.
However, he realized something new today.
As it turned out, Kang Jin-Ho had no need to hold himself back.
Others should be doing that for him instead.

If his existence became akin to a calamity, they should avoid him altogether.
Kang Jin-Ho should ensure that they wouldn ’t dare to even look into his eyes.
And if they were unwilling to hold themselves back? He should just make them.

The dead didn ’t need to hold anything back anyway.

It sounded like a cackling laughter was coming from someplace nearby.
It was a twisted laughter.
It was a deeply sickening, twisted laughter of a devil that couldn ’t hold itself back from how it was enjoying all these.
And Kang Jin-Ho knew that laughter belonged to him…

He listened to that laughter coming from his own mouth and closed his eyes once more.
For some reason, he got a feeling that tonight ’s sleep would be soothing.
Very soothing, indeed.

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

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