Bang Jin-Hun continued.
”Forgive me if I ’m late.
You said two days, but that was slightly too vague for me to be sure, you see. ”

Kang Jin-Ho remained still as he replied, “Let ’s say you ’re not late.”

”I ’m relieved to hear that.
May I make a suggestion? This place isn ’t suitable for a conversation, so how about I treat you to a cup of coffee? ” Bang Jin-Hun spoke with an impressive easy-going demeanor.
Kang Jin-Ho quietly studied Bang Jin-Hun before nodding away.
An even deeper grin formed on Bang Jin-Hun ’s lips.
”My car is over on that side.
Allow me to guide you to a cozy little cafe I know. ”

Kang Jin-Ho unhesitantly accepted Bang Jin-Hun ’s offer.
As the duo headed toward the waiting car, Kang Jin-Ho sensed a strong fighting spirit emanating from Bang Jin-Hun walking ahead.
In addition, there was also confidence tinged with a hint of arrogance.

A faint grin unknowingly formed on Kang Jin-Ho ’s lips.

This man was indeed a martial artist—a cultivator.
The first proper cultivator Kang Jin-Ho met after returning to the modern era.

Martial artists like Bang Jin-Hun were dime-a-dozen back in Zhongyuan but in the modern era? All Kang Jin-Ho saw were folks who claimed to be martial artists.
None of them possessed the right demeanor.

’If I ’m being technical, he ’s like a lay disciple, isn ’t he? ’

Rather than the air of someone from the strict Nine Sects, Bang Jin-Hun came across as more like a man from one of the Five Clans with less uptight rules. All those acknowledged by such Clans carried themselves proudly, with enough hints of arrogance added to their steps.

The ’old ’ Kang Jin-Ho wouldn ’t let anyone dare to carry themselves like that in front of him.
Now, though? He had no problem accepting it without getting too displeased about it.
Actually, he was even willing to award Bang Jin-Hun with a gold star for making him ever-so-slightly reminisce about the past.

“The ride quality might not be up to your liking, sir.
I ’m aware that bringing a luxury car to an occasion like this is the norm.
Unfortunately, my status isn ’t good enough to ride around in a chauffeur-driven sedan,” said Bang Jin-Hun while lightly smacking his palm on the hood of his large offroad vehicle.
With that beaming grin of his, something about this scene suited him to a T.

Kang Jin-Ho shrugged his shoulders.
“It doesn ’t matter to me.”

”That ’s great! You seem to understand the appeal of an SUV! That ’s giving me hope that tonight ’s meeting will be an enjoyable one for us! Hahahaha!” Bang Jin-Hun guffawed loudly while opening the driver ’s side door.
Kang Jin-Ho followed suit by climbing into the passenger side.

”You smoke, yes? ” Bang Jin-Hun opened one of the panels in the dashboard to extract an ashtray.
Kang Jin-Ho didn ’t say anything and mouthed a cigarette.
Bang Jin-Hun nodded contemplatively.
”As I thought, you are a smoker.
For some reason, most martial artists are smokers even though smoking is bad for your health, and it is recommended that you quit before the habit affects your breathing. ”

Kang Jin-Ho narrowed his eyes slightly.
“Isn ’t it because smoking doesn ’t really affect us?”

I don ’t think that ’s quite right.
How should I say it…
They can ’t seem to win against minor urges and desires since they have to sacrifice a lot in other areas? In Korea, those urges are mostly limited to smoking, but well…
I hear that in other countries, there are quite a few martial artists obsessively enjoying cannabis or other types of recreational drugs.”

”Mm… ” Kang Jin-Ho nodded slowly, suddenly remembering that there had been a surprisingly large number of demonic arts cultivators back in the demon cult who liked to confine themselves in a room and indulge in their opium habits.
Kang Jin-Ho let them be since they were already demonic cultivators, and being a junkie on top of that wouldn ’t really change things all that much anyway.

’Cultivators are weak against their urges, you say? ’

If the monks of Shaolin or Wudan heard that, they would have laughed hard until their heads fell off.
However, Kang Jin-Ho couldn ’t help but think that there was some truth to that assertion.

Back in Zhongyuan, the collective obsession among the cultivators toward being the number one under the heavens—as well as their sect becoming unmatched under the sun—easily exceeded the imaginations of the modern-era folks.
The obsession was so outrageous and over the top that the bitter fights between modern-era politicians or businesspeople would be like child ’s play in comparison.

If Kang Jin-Ho thought of that as people losing themselves to their urges and desires, even if the goal of their obsession was different…
Then, cultivators—the martial artists—could really be weak against their urges.
Even those religious sects that pursued the path of righteous Dao couldn ’t remain detached from the concept of peerless under the heavens, after all!

Bang Jin-Hun cautiously asked, “Do you mind if I smoke one myself?”

“No, suit yourself.”

”Sorry about that.
I might not look it, but I ’m a little nervous, you see. ” Bang Jin-Ho carefully mouthed a cigarette, then glanced to his side.

His gaze quietly studied Kang Jin-Ho’s side profile as he relaxedly puffed away at his smoke.

’He looks so ordinary on the outside… ’

Upon closer look, Kang Jin-Ho was devastatingly handsome.
He was extremely handsome, in fact, that even Bang Jin-Hun couldn ’t help but be jealous.
However, that was about it.
Kang Jin-Ho just didn ’t emit any intimidating pressure from his expressions or the overall air around him.
Most importantly, though, was…

’…Is he really a martial artist? ’

If Cheon Tae-Hun ’s testimony was true, then this man sitting in Bang Jin-Hun ’s SUV was a martial artist who had turned twenty Yeongnam Group assassins into chunks of bloody meat in an instant a few nights ago.

With that much bloodletting, Kang Jin-Ho should be called a butcher rather than a murderer! It would be a more fitting word to describe him.

’Cheon Tae-Hun wouldn ’t lie to me, too. ’

If Cheon Tae-Hun had been lying, then Bang Jin-Hun shouldn ’t punish him.
Instead, he should let the former leave the world of martial arts to pursue a career in acting! Cheon Tae-Hun might sweep all the acting awards under the sun with a performance like that.

Bang Jin-Hun briefly recalled Cheon Tae-Hun’s figure.
Despite being half-delirious, he desperately insisted on delivering the message and kept repeating himself over and over again to Bang Jin-Hun.

’…That ’s not something you can fake. ’

Which meant this young-looking man was responsible for last night ’s massacre, but…

Outwardly at least, Kang Jin-Ho looked like any other ordinary young man.
No signs of mastering martial arts whatsoever.
The thing was—no matter how badly a martial artist wanted to hide their strength—other martial artists would always notice them in the end.

When martial artists learned about qi and started circulating it within their bodies, they would inevitably emit external qi.
Despite their best attempts to suppress it, qi would naturally flow outside of their body.

Just like how a boulder dropped into a gently-flowing stream would create rapid turbulence around it, a cultivating martial artist possessed a far greater amount of energy than a regular person, causing them to disturb the atmosphere far more than other people whenever they were moving.

However, the atmosphere surrounding Kang Jin-Ho didn ’t have any of that.
If Bang Jin-Hun were to make educated guesses…

’Either his cultivation method is unique, or his realm is so high that he no longer disturbs the surrounding qi. ’

Both options sounded plausible.
Judging from Kang Jin-Ho ’s outer appearance and age, the former option should be the correct one.
However, he was no ’normal ’ martial artist.
In all likelihood, he was a returner.
Despite his young countenance, the real Kang Jin-Ho underneath should be an old and sly fox or… a monster.

Bang Jin-Hun ’s car eventually arrived at the cafe.
“We ’ve arrived.”

Kang Jin-Ho exited the car only to furrow his brow a little.
The cafe ’s doors were firmly shut, and all of its lights were turned off to imply that it had closed for the day quite some time ago.

However, Kang Jin-Ho ’s suspicion didn ’t last long.
Someone inside seemed to have heard the incoming SUV ’s engine sound because the light came back on inside the cafe.
The door opened, and a man emerged from inside to welcome Bang Jin-Hun.
”Welcome, sir. ”

“Mm, good to see you.
Thanks for humoring my request.”

“Don ’t say that, sir.
Please come in, Director.” The man warmly greeted Bang Jin-Hun before glancing at Kang Jin-Ho.
“Sir, this gentleman is…?”

“Mm? What gentleman?” Bang Jin-Hun tilted his head innocently.

“…I beg your pardon?”

“I ’m here alone, though? Who else is here?”

The man finally understood Bang Jin-Hun ’s intention and nodded in acceptance.
”It seems I ’m seeing things lately.
Please, come inside. ”

This way, please.” Bang Jin-Hun took the lead, and Kang Jin-Ho naturally followed behind.

The man confirmed the duo entering the cafe, locked the door and turned the lights off in the customer area.
Then, he guided the two men into a small conference room built deeper inside the cafe.

“Director, would you like something to drink?” asked the man.

I guess I ’m getting on my age a bit.
I ’m beginning to prefer bitter stuff lately. ”

“I see, sir.
Should I prepare Espresso for you?”

Get me a strawberry milkshake.”

”Of course, sir. ” The man nodded, then glanced at Kang Jin-Ho while making a complicated expression.
He had to ask what Kang Jin-Ho would like to drink, but he couldn ’t go against Bang Jin-Hun ’s order to treat this young man as if he weren’t even here, so…

Thankfully, though, Bang Jin-Hun came to his rescue.
“Would you like to drink something?”

Kang Jin-Ho shrugged and replied, “I ’ll have orange juice.”

Bring us a cup of orange juice as well.”

The man nodded.
“I ’ll bring them right away.”

While exiting the conference room, the man slowly shook his head.
The atmosphere inside that room was fraught with taut tension, yet the two men ordered a strawberry milkshake and a cup of orange juice…

’That ’s their preference, I guess.
Don ’t worry; I still respect your choices. ’


Kang Jin-Ho and Bang Jin-Hun didn ’t say anything while waiting for their drinks to arrive.
They simply wasted time looking around the room.
When the drinks arrived, the awkward atmosphere—actually, the strawberry milkshake and orange juice only bolstered the awkwardness in the room.

’Bloody hell, should ’ve ordered coffee instead…! ’

Bang Jin-Hun belatedly regretted his decision, but that ship had already sailed.
He tried to get rid of this awkwardness with several well-placed dry coughs, then raised his voice.
”I heard you wanted to see me. ”

“Yes, I did,” Kang Jin-Ho slowly nodded.

“May I ask why?”

“I didn ’t have a particular reason.”

“…?” Bang Jin-Hun suddenly had a feeling that tonight ’s conversation wouldn ’t be plain sailing.

’This guy…
doesn ’t have a gift of gab, then? ’

In that case, it was up to Bang Jin-Hun to lead the chat.
”I heard you rescued Lee Jung-Geol, the Assembly Master, last night. ”

Kang Jin-Ho briefly nodded, “Yes, I did.”

“May I ask why?”

Kang Jin-Ho didn ’t reply and just stared at Bang Jin-Hun.

”Sir, you are an outsider.
It ’s plausible that you ’d impulsively help after seeing a stranger in distress.
However, killing over twenty people to do that can no longer be chalked down to ’impulse.’ But then, you even expressed your intention to speak to me personally? I can ’t help but wonder what you ’re after. ” Bang Jin-Hun ’s expression hardened.
His next response would depend on how Kang Jin-Ho would reply.

“First of all…” Kang Jin-Ho languidly replied.

“…Yes, please go ahead.”

“I ’ve already said this before, but I don ’t have a particular reason.
Someone asked me for my help, so I helped.”

“Even at the cost of bad blood with the Yeongnam Group?”

Search for the original.

“Bad blood…” The corners of Kang Jin-Ho ’s lips curled up.
“We already have that.”

Bang Jin-Hun ’s expression stiffened and became withdrawn.

chilling. ’

Kang Jin-Ho simply smirked a little, but that was enough to shake Bang Jin-Hun ’s composure built over dozens of years of training in martial arts.

’He has a score to settle with the Yeongnam Group! ’

A man with a grudge against the Yeongnam Group just so happened to receive a plea for help from someone targeted by the same group.
Obviously, he wouldn ’t even need to think twice about it.
He would have to fight the Yeongnam Group sooner or later, so making things very difficult for them would only benefit him in the long run.

”I see…
Basically, I was the unlucky bystander caught in the battle of two titans, ” Bang Jin-Hun quietly mused.
However, the blow to his plans was too significant for him to graciously swallow his losses and move on.
The opportunity he had created through several years of diligent planning had gone out the window, after all.

The Assembly Master, Lee Jung-Geol, rarely acted by himself.
Perhaps a handful of times a year.
Bang Jin-Hun somehow managed to seize one of those rare chances and brought in the Yeongnam Group, but all his hard work was utterly crushed to oblivion by an unexpected variable.

His ultimate goal of taking over the Assembly hadn ’t been wrecked yet, but it probably had to be delayed by a good dozen years or so, thanks to Kang Jin-Ho ’s interference.
No one would be able to prove that Bang Jin-Hun was behind the attempted assassination, but that wouldn ’t stop more people wanting to unite the Martial Assembly from showing up and throwing their weight behind the Assembly Master.

In that sense, Kang Jin-Ho was definitely an enemy.
It wouldn’t be enough for Bang Jin-Hun to rip this bastard apart right here and right now, so how could he not get flustered when that enemy wanted to have a chat with him first?

The honest reason why Bang Jin-Hun decided to come here alone was curiosity.
A large part of him wanted to see what kind of a person would create such a huge mess.
And after checking out the person responsible, he realized that Kang Jin-Ho was…

’The absolute worst… ’

Bang Jin-Hun rubbed his eyes.
It even felt like he was getting light-headed, too.

This Kang Jin-Ho was a maverick of sorts.
A type to not bother with plans even if he was about to do something grand.
He simply moved based on his moods or impulses at that moment, and when people like that gained enormous power…
They would become natural disasters—calamities.

In other words, Bang Jin-Hun was an unlucky victim who could do nothing but watch his lovely house get blown away by a sudden tornado.
He coughed to clear his throat and asked something else, ”Haven ’t you already helped the Assembly Master? Why did you want to see me, then? ”

”Stop. ” However, Kang Jin-Ho cut Bang Jin-Hun off instead of responding to the latter’s question.
”Before we continue, tell me why you want to take over the Assembly. ”

Kang Jin-Ho ’s manner of speech had changed, and so did the air around him.

At the same time, goosebumps broke out all over Bang Jin-Hun.

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