Bang Jin-Hun quietly closed his eyes.
The expensive audio equipment installed in his office was playing bassy and dramatic classical music.
While sensing the vibration in the air digging into his ears, Bang Jin-Hun waded deeper into his thoughts.

’Am I doing the right thing? ’

It was said that a person would be granted three opportunities in their life.
Bang Jin-Hun was certain this was one of those three opportunities.
If there was one issue, then well…
the one granting this particular opportunity happened to be a devil.

Bang Jin-Hun shuddered after recalling Kang Jin-Ho ’s eyes staring right back at him.

’…He can ’t be human. ’

Indeed, Kang Jin-Ho couldn ’t be human.
And no, Bang Jin-Hun didn ’t mean that Kang Jin-Ho was a biologically different species altogether.
Kang Jin-Ho wore the facade of a human being and acted like one, but he was something else, not human underneath.

For one thing, his mindset was on a different trajectory than other ’normal ’ human beings.

It was far too obvious what the end looked like for a man foolish enough to cut a deal with a devil.
Hadn ’t Bang Jin-Hun seen so many folks making deals with not-really-devil, but still-devil-like bastards only to end up in tragic states? So many times, in fact, that he was almost sick of it.
But now, how come he didn ’t hesitate to make a deal with a devil himself?


A low groan slowly leaked out of his mouth.

He was already riding on the proverbial tiger ’s back, and it was too late to turn back the clock now.
Indeed, the time to calculate potential losses and benefits, then make his mind up whether to do it or not was long over.
He had no choice but to move according to the devil tightly gripping the scruff of his neck.

Bang Jin-Hun shuddered after recalling Kang Jin-Ho ’s face once more.

’Just where did a man like that appear from? ’

He was well aware that people called ’returners ’ would just randomly appear one day and without any warning whatsoever.
One day out of the blue, a person would change.
And then, as if they had regained memories of their previous lives, those people would start demonstrating unprecedented abilities and techniques.
Those people were the so-called returners.

Rather unsurprisingly, they struggled to acclimatize to the ’world of regular humans.’ It was so unsurprising that it might as well be ’blindingly obvious ’ and ’expected ’ at this point.

While under the Martial Assembly ’s orders, Bang Jin-Hun even had to eliminate a few returners who stirred up trouble in society.

However, most returners chose to stay within the shadows over flipping the world-at-large on its head.
At least, that was the stereotypical image of returners Bang Jin-Hun had in mind.

Kang Jin-Ho was different.
He wasn’t like any other returners.

’…Just what kind of a life did he live in the past? ’

Bang Jin-Hun couldn ’t be sure, but he guessed that Kang Jin-Ho used to be a ruler of a nation, at the very least.
That seemed the likeliest explanation for the authoritative aura naturally oozing out of the latter.

Simply having high attainment in martial arts wasn ’t enough to pressure other people.
If such pressure were born out of Kang Jin-Ho ’s physical strength, Bang Jin-Hun wouldn ’t have been suppressed and crushed so ruthlessly like that.

The viciousness accompanying the authoritative aura…
What did the world call an individual possessing both of those qualities, again?

’…A tyrant, then? ’

Bang Jin-Hun finally managed to find the term most fitting to describe Kang Jin-Ho.
A wry smile formed on his face.
If Kang Jin-Ho was a tyrant, a despot…
then what was Bang Jin-Hun? A vassal loitering behind said tyrant, worrying about when his head would go flying off?

How pathetic…”

‘So what? I don ’t give a damn.
Who cares that the one I need to serve is a bloody tyrant?’

Most of the rulers evaluated to be wise and ’good ’ throughout history were, in reality, tyrants.
However, they possessed abilities and achieved historic feats, hence everyone’s favorable impression of them.
On the other hand, those lacking in capabilities remained as tyrants in the records for future generations to mock.

Bang Jin-Hun ’s job seemed to be to do his best to turn a tyrant into a capable and wise ruler.

’Time to get over my indecisiveness! ’

The folks stuck in this tiny little piece of land were at odds with each other for far too long.

China was the ’home ’ of martial arts, so comparing themselves to that place was too optimistic for the Korean peninsula ’s martial artists.
However, they were still evaluated poorly, even against the Japanese anyway.
That was the reality facing the Koreans.

Even then, the Koreans spent the last half century dividing their power bases and getting into conflicts with each other instead of uniting under one banner and improving their skills.

Search for the original.

That was why Bang Jin-Hun believed the time had come to unite all the martial artists on this land.
And he would stand as the spearhead of this movement.

“I ’ll resort to borrowing the devil ’s hand if necessary…!”

Even if that hand was gripping Bang Jin-Hun ’s throat, ready to choke the life out of him at any moment!

Bang Jin-Hun closed his eyes as the imposing, booming classical music reached its crescendo.
However, his ears caught a sound that didn ’t belong there.

Bang Jin-Hun picked up his phone.
After confirming the caller ID, his expression stiffened.

“Fuu-woo…!” Bang Jin-Hun sucked in a deep breath, then answered the call.
“Yes, this is Bang Jin-Hun.”


“What the hell…?” Bang Jin-Hun making a stupefied face looked up at the tall skyscraper before his eyes.

While staring at this imposing building that seemed to be piercing the heavens, he started wondering about just what exactly he was even doing here.

Sure, wanting to meet face-to-face was good.
Great, even.
What could he say against the request to meet up and discuss things? Nothing.
However, why did the meeting location have to be the Office of the Secretaries belonging to the one and only Jaegyeong Corporation?

”…Just what is he, exactly? ” Bang Jin-Hun could only groan.

He thought he had done enough investigation on Kang Jin-Ho ’s background.
Bang Jin-Hun wasn ’t a moron who would meet someone dangerous enough to wreck Cheon Tae-Hun to that degree without a plan, after all!

But then, Jaegyeong? Why? How was Kang Jin-Ho connected to Jaegyeong? Bang Jin-Hun couldn ’t figure it out.

Sure, he knew Kang Jin-Ho was wealthy.
Someone who used to drive a foreign supercar until recently couldn ’t be poor, after all.
However, no one among the martial artists was what Bang Jin-Hun would call strapped for cash, so he didn ’t pay much attention to that aspect.
No wonder he was taken by surprise at the sudden introduction of Jaegyeong!

“No, he can ’t be, right…?”

Bang Jin-Hun suddenly started to wonder if Kang Jin-Ho was related to one of Jaegyeong ’s bigshots by blood.
Eventually, though, he shook his head.
Hadn’t he already done a thorough check on Kang Jin-Ho ’s family? Nothing suggested Kang Jin-Ho had blood ties to Jaegyeong ’s leaders.

Bang Jin-Hun stared at Jaegyeong ’s HQ with a dazed—no, hypnotized look before shaking his head.
Then, he walked inside the building ’s lobby.
The security guards noticed him, and they started closing the distance cautiously.


Bang Jin-Hun was displeased, but he could only accept this reality.
Appearance-wise, he looked like a muscle employed by a crime syndicate, after all!

’Even though celebrities with my kind of looks are seen as adorable and popular these days! ’

Still, it wasn ’t as if he couldn ’t understand such a drastic difference in treatment.
The difference in pressure emitted by someone inside a TV screen and by the real article was on another scale, after all! Besides, the current time was approaching midnight, so a visitor at this hour would end up being suspicious anyway.

“What can we help you with, sir?” asked one of the security guards while approaching Bang Jin-Hun as if they were interrogating a potential drug courier.

Bang Jin-Hun smiled wryly.
“I have an appointment in the secretary ’s office upstairs.”

The security guards’ eyes gleamed.
“Oh. Are you Mister Bang Jin-Hun?”


“Please excuse us.
This way, please.”

The guards instantly lowered their wariness and started escorting Bang Jin-Hun.
This turn of events taught him several important things.

First of all, the person Bang Jin-Hun would meet in this place was more influential than he initially thought.
Secondly, this person was building a cooperative relationship with Kang Jin-Ho in some way.

Judging from Kang Jin-Ho ’s personality, he wouldn ’t acknowledge anyone of equal standing, so…

’Which means an underling, huh? ’

A silly grin floated up on Bang Jin-Hun ’s face.
He suddenly felt at ease after thinking that someone in similar shoes as him could be found in this place.


“Nice to meet you.
My name is Jo Gyu-Min.”

’What ’s this? ’

Bang Jin-Hun frowned slightly while studying the man that showed up to welcome him.

This Jo Gyu-Min had neat, well-groomed facial features and wore a snug-fit business suit.
Even at a casual glance, he had nothing to do with the world of martial artists.

Martial artists needed a dynamic range of movements available at all times, so they tended to avoid business suits that fit too snugly.
If they had to wear suits, then they would choose the loose-fitting types.
As for those claiming to be fashion-conscious? They would outright forego wearing business suits altogether.

’Besides, he isn ’t displaying any signs of having mastered any martial arts. ’

Bang Jin-Hun finished studying Jo Gyu-Min and was about to say something, only for the latter to seize the initiative first.
“Mister Kang Jin-Ho is waiting for us.
Shall we head inside, then?”

“Of course…”

Bang Jin-Hun instantly tensed up when Kang Jin-Ho ’s name was brought up.

’Damn it…! ’

To think he would become this nervous from a mere name!

Bang Jin-Hun squeezed his trembling hand to calm himself down.
This would be his first time seeing Kang Jin-Ho after that day.

This thing called fear had a strange aspect to it.
It wouldn ’t leave a big impression when the victim was in the thick of it.
However, its scale—its depth—would grow gradually larger as time went on.
That was the situation Bang Jin-Hun had found himself in.

Just the mere thought of speaking to Kang Jin-Ho again was enough for various parts of Bang Jin-Hun ’s body to go haywire.
His arms and legs trembled while his dinner threatened to spill out of his throat.

Bang Jin-Hun quietly bit his lower lip as he tried to regain control of his body, and then he slowly nodded at Jo Gyu-Min.
“Please lead the way.”

“This way, please.” Jo Gyu-Min smiled faintly and led Bang Jin-Hun deeper into the corridor.

The first thing that greeted Bang Jin-Hun when the doors opened was a large couch.
Kang Jin-Ho sat in the corner of this couch, leisurely sipping his coffee.

Jo Gyu-Min politely addressed Kang Jin-Ho.
“I ’ve brought Mister Bang Jin-Hun, Mister Jin-Ho.”

“Thank you.” Kang Jin-Ho turned his head and glanced at Bang Jin-Hun.

When their eyes met, Bang Jin-Hun flinched again.
However, the shock…
wasn ’t as severe as he initially feared.

’What the…? ’

Bang Jin-Hun blinked his eyes suspiciously.
How could he not be suspicious upon seeing Kang Jin-Ho ’s gentle and relaxed expression? It was drastically different from the expression of the devil that was branded mercilessly in Bang Jin-Hun ’s brain.

’Hang on; this shouldn ’t be surprising to me… ’

When Bang Jin-Hun thought about it, didn ’t Kang Jin-Ho usually walk around with that expression plastered on his face? Kang Jin-Ho ’s figure back at the cafe happened to be so…
’memorable ’ that his previous attitude and appearance in Bang Jin-Hun ’s mind had gotten diluted and nearly forgotten.
Seeing this ’version ’ of Kang Jin-Ho did help Bang Jin-Hun recall what this devil in human disguise was like during normal hours.

Goosebumps erupted on Bang Jin-Hun ’s skin almost at the same time.
Countless people in this world weren’t what they seemed on the surface, but someone with such a distinctive dual personality? Bang Jin-Hun was pretty sure that only a handful of such individuals existed in the entire world.

“Take a seat, please,” said Kang Jin-Ho while pointing to a spot opposite from him.

course.” Bang Jin-Hun nodded and settled down.

”Hmm… ” Kang Jin-Ho shifted his attention to Jo Gyu-Min.
”Will it be possible for us to treat our guest to a cup of coffee? ”

“Of course.
I ’ll personally brew it for him.”

Kang Jin-Ho nodded, then addressed Bang Jin-Hun.
“Chief Jo ’s coffee is actually drinkable, so don ’t worry.”

Jo Gyu-Min heard that and nearly tripped on his feet in shock.
“I, I thought you liked my coffee, Mister Jin-Ho! And I always do my best when brewing it, too…! Y-you enjoyed drinking my coffee since your high school days, right? So why?!”

“Well, uh…
My father ’s coffee is…”

Jo Gyu-Min instantly grew dejected.
’You can ’t compare me to your dad! ’

Kang Jin-Ho ’s father was skilled enough to roast coffee beans on his own! How could an amateur like Jo Gyu-Min compare against a pro barista ’s coffee?

Jo Gyu-Min continued to pout while pouring coffee into a cup.
Afterward, he placed it in front of Bang Jin-Hun.
”Here ’s your drinkable coffee, Mister Bang. ”

“Uh…” Bang Jin-Hun nodded while looking at Jo Gyu-Min weirdly.
“T-thank you.”

He was having a tough time trying to get used to this atmosphere.
The ’Kang Jin-Ho ’ in his head and this ’Kang Jin-Ho ’ busy cracking jokes with Jo Gyu-Min was so shockingly different that Bang Jin-Hun was disoriented.

’No, wait.
I need to get used to this. ’

If this was what Kang Jin-Ho was like during the ’normal ’ times, Bang Jin-Hun had no choice but to get used to this sight.
That was his job if he wished to stick next to Kang Jin-Ho from now on.

”What would you like to talk about? ” Bang Jin-Hun asked directly without even looking at the coffee.
However, Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly pointed at the coffee cup instead.
”…Mm. ”

Bang Jin-Hun picked up the cup and took a small sip.
Only then did Kang Jin-Ho break his self-imposed silence.
”It ’s nothing major.
I merely wanted to ask if your side has finished preparing.
And to get acquainted, as well. ”

To get acquainted? Kang Jin-Ho had no reason to get acquainted again with Bang Jin-Hun.
They had already established a relationship, after all.
Which could only mean…

Bang Jin-Hun ’s expression stiffened as he stared at Jo Gyu-Min.
This tidy-looking man had to be someone more important than Bang Jin-Hun had bargained for.

Jo Gyu-Min grinned brightly at Bang Jin-Hun.
“I ’ll be in your care from now on.”


A simple exchange of greetings ensued, and Kang Jin-Ho then got to the main topic at hand.

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