Descent of the Demon Master – Chapter 44.
Time Moves On (1)
Wolbaek15-18 minutes 20.07.2022
Time went by in the proverbial blink of an eye.
Winter came and went to welcome the new year.
And with that, Kang Jin-Ho was now a high school senior.
“Hey, Kang Jin-Ho!”
Kang Jin-Ho heard a girl's voice calling out to him.
He looked behind and saw Han Se-Yeon walking up to him.
He lightly nodded at her.
She grinned back at him.
“Let's go to karaoke!”
“Hmm. Are you finally using up your wish?”
“No, I'm not.”
Kang Jin-Ho flatly replied, “Then, no thanks.”
Han Se-Yeon grabbed onto his arm.
“Come on, don't be like that.
“I said, let's go!”
Kang Jin-Ho continued to decline her offer, but Han Se-Yeon's stubbornness won in the end.
He now found himself about to get dragged away without being able to offer much resistance.
He couldn’t help but grumble.
“Why karaoke, all of a sudden?”
“The mock tests are over, right? It's time to unwind!”
“Urgh…” Kang Jin-Ho groaned, then turned his head to look at Park Yu-Min behind him.
“Yu-Min, you wanna go, too?”
Park Yu-Min smiled awkwardly.
I have a tournament today.”
“Is that so?”
After the orphanage was relocated, Park Yu-Min began attending various gaming tournaments.
In other words, he was now earnestly walking down the path of a pro gamer after the captain of the pro gaming team's persistent headhunting effort had finally won him over.
Kang Jin-Ho nodded and asked, “You want me to give you a ride there?”
“Nah, it's okay.
The team captain said he'll come to pick me up.”
“Oh? You seemed to be valued pretty highly, then.”
Han Se-Yeon lightly chided Kang Jin-Ho.
“Don't you know that Yu-Min reached the top 16? He's really good, you know.
Your skills can't even compare to him.”
Kang Jin-Ho cocked an eyebrow at her.
“Wait, since when did you become so invested in video games?”
“I'm not good at it, but I still enjoy watching the matches.
Besides, Yu-Min's the talk of the town, you know? Do you have any idea how hard it is to start at the preliminaries and break through all the way to the top 16?”
Kang Jin-Ho chuckled.
Even after the relocation, the Jaegyeong Group continued to provide financial support to the Seongsim Orphanage, which eliminated the need for a government grant.
The plentiful financial support from a large corporation meant Park Yu-Min finally had enough time to pursue the goal he could only dream about in the past.
Kang Jin-Ho snarkily replied, “If he can get into the top 16, I guess that tournament wasn't all that's cracked up to be.”
“Hey, you! Don't you know how prestigious the KGL is?! And Yu-Min really is a great player! He can beat you with just a mouse and nothing else!” Han Se-Yeon oddly got fired up for some reason.
Park Yu-Min hurriedly waved his hands to calm her down.
“N-no, hang on.
Jin-Ho is also really good at the game, Se-Yeon.
I mean, like, really good.”
“See this, Jin-Ho? See how humble Yu-Min is, too?”
I'm not exaggerating, Jin-Ho is really good at the game!”
“The more I see you, the more you come across as a nice guy, Yu-Min.”
Kang Jin-Ho observed this comedy routine between Han Se-Yeon and Park Yu-Min, then nodded sagely.
“You two should start dating.”
“You dummy!” Han Se-Yeon suddenly grabbed Kang Jin-Ho's head and began dragging him away.
While in his current being-dragged position, Kang Jin-Ho addressed Park Yu-Min.
“I'll kill you if you lose.
“Don't worry, I'll do my best.”
Kang Jin-Ho grinned at that reply, then yelled at Han Se-Yeon.
“Hey, let go of me! I need to get my bicycle first!”
Kang Jin-Ho continued to grumble while heading to the karaoke lounge.
Jeong In-Gyu walking alongside him sighed and asked, “Dude, why are you making that face? We're here to have fun, right?”
Kang Jin-Ho shot an angry glare at him.
Jeong In-Gyu nearly tripped on his feet.
“I-I was just saying, you know…”
“School's over, so I should go home as soon as possible to recharge my batteries.
I don't understand why I'm even doing this…” Kang Jin-Ho started grumbling again.
Unable to hold it back anymore, Han Se-Yeon yelled at him “Hey, you! Are you gonna keep being the wet blanket here?!”
Lee Tae-Ho cackled by himself while trying to stop her.
“Leave him be.
He's just grumpy 'cuz he can't watch the TV right now.”
“He makes sure to catch the broadcast of all the tournaments Yu-Min's in, you see? He might not say it out loud, but he does care. A lot.”
“Really?” Han Se-Yeon was taken aback by this unexpected revelation and looked back at Kang Jin-Ho.
“You told me to date him, but I guess it‘s you who should be dating him instead?”
“…I'll take that as you picking a fight.”
Han Se-Yeon ignored that and shook her head.
“Aigoo~, what a touching but scandalous story this is.
Enjoy your tender love, mkay?”
A taunt like that would have earned her a splendid retort from Kang Jin-Ho, but he simply turned his head without saying anything this time.
“Ng?” Han Se-Yeon tilted her head.
She realized that Kang Jin-Ho was staring in a direction.
He then began walking over there.
“Where are you going?”
“Just a minute,” said Kang Jin-Ho as he stepped inside a secluded alleyway between some buildings.
His friends belatedly followed him.
“Huh?” Jeong In-Gyu gasped aloud after discovering a strange sight unfolding in this alleyway.
A man had collapsed on the ground, while a frightened-looking woman was surrounded by three dangerous-looking men.
The woman desperately cried out.
“P-please help me!”
Jeong In-Gyu nervously swallowed his saliva, thinking that that woman needed help right now.
However, the faces of the three men surrounding her were too thuggish, and he couldn't make a move.
The trio's hulking physiques were one thing, but the real issue was with the intimidating aura they emitted.
Something about those trio made passersby avoid them at all costs.
The thugs menacingly growled at Kang Jin-Ho and the others.
“What the hell are you looking at, you little sh*ts?!”
“Get the f*ck outta here!”
Kang Jin-Ho ignored them and scanned the collapsed man on the ground.
He didn't seem badly injured.
“Please help me!” The woman cried out again, but that only made the thug in front of her grab her hair.
She screamed in pain.
The thug growled, “You b*tch! You started this sh*t, so why do you act like you're the victim here?!”
Kang Jin-Ho observed this spectacle for a bit, then turned around to leave.
“Eh?” Han Se-Yeon urgently grabbed his arm.
“H-hey! Why are you just walking away?”
“Is there a problem?”
She asked in a half-disbelieving tone.
“Are you really the 'Kang Jin-Ho' that I know?”
Kang Jin-Ho shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly.
“It's nothing for us to worry about.”
Han Se-Yeon's voice grew louder.
“What do you mean, it's nothing?! Can't you see that woman is in danger?”
“She most likely brought it upon herself.”
Kang Jin-Ho disinterestedly explained the situation to her.
“A couple wouldn't enter a secluded alleyway like this for no reason.
These people probably got into a fight, or something else happened between them.
It looks to me that the man right there must be trying to show off, then he got himself beaten up.”
“Even if that's true, how can you just walk away? What if something bad happens to that woman?”
“As I said, she brought it on herself.”
Han Se-Yeon yelled at him.
“Are you insane, Jin-Ho?!”
Kang Jin-Ho frowned deeply.
He was not a fan of this mindset where a woman must be assisted no matter what, even though it was unclear who was at fault in this situation.
What if the positions were reversed? Would Han Se-Yeon say the same thing if a man was surrounded by three menacing women?
Kang Jin-Ho dismissively brushed her off.
“I'm sure she'll take care of it herself.
Like reporting to the cops or something.”
“Kang Jin-Ho, I didn't know you were so heartless.”
“I'm not generous enough to get my hands dirty for the sake of some strangers.”
He had been like this since Zhongyuan.
You would have to take on a considerable risk by getting involved in other people's business in that place.
Kang Jin-Ho certainly didn't feel like doing that for total strangers, even if there was no risk of injury to him in this particular case.
“Fine! I'll do this myself.” Han Se-Yeon bravely stepped forward.
“Excuse me! Can you let that lady go?”
“What is this now?” One of the thuggish men surrounding the scared woman scanned Han Se-Yeon from top to bottom.
“Oi, little lady.
Stop bothering us and go home, okay? Leave.”
“Just let her go, will you?”
“Man, these kids are beginning to get on my nerves.” The man began taking large steps toward Han Se-Yeon.
Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly stood in front of her to shield her from danger.
Han Se-Yeon asked him.
“I thought you were leaving?”
“The story will be different when my friends are in danger.”
Kang Jin-Ho ignored her for now and addressed the man.
“Or it’ll end up badly for you.”
The man let out a hollow chuckle.
“The f*ck? This kid must be insane.”
Right after muttering that out, the man threw a vicious punch at Kang Jin-Ho.
“Ah!” Han Se-Yeon screamed in panic.
Kang Jin-Ho frowned deeply at her ear-piercing shriek.
He found that way scarier than some random punches.
He dodged the attack and lightly smacked the back of the attacking thug's neck.
The man crumpled to the floor along with a weak, deflating noise.
“Hah?” Another thug, this time with long hair, witnessed that sight, and his jaw slightly dropped.
He then ordered the other thug.
“Hey, go and deal with that one.”
“Got it.” The third thug wearing a pair of jeans rushed straight at Kang Jin-Ho.
But he also crumpled to the ground in the middle of his dash.
That was because Kang Jin-Ho's hand had struck the back of his head, too.
After taking these two men out of commission, Kang Jin-Ho furrowed his brows.
He was not enjoying this 'fight' against ordinary people with no martial art training whatsoever.
This situation was similar to each side bringing different weapons to a fight—one side brought along a loaded gun and started shooting from afar while the other side came bare-handed.
Even though he felt this way, Kang Jin-Ho still entered the alleyway because there was something he wanted to confirm.
“You aren’t some ordinary kid, eh?” The long-haired man slowly walked up closer to Kang Jin-Ho.
“An attack that light isn't enough to knock people out.
That is, if you purely relied on physical strength alone.”
His words subtly hinted at so many things at once.
“You are a martial artist,” Kang Jin-Ho muttered, his eyes sharply gleamed.
There was one—there were martial artists in the modern era!
After he returned to the modern era, something began to breed doubt in Kang Jin-Ho’s mind.
The study of martial arts had been widespread in the past, yet why couldn't he find a trace of it in the modern era?
There were probably many reasons for that, the most obvious one being the rate of progress in martial arts couldn't keep up with the advancement in modern weaponry.
You would need decades of training to become a martial arts expert, but becoming a firearms expert was different.
Even an ordinary person with little to no training could pick up a gun and turn it into a weapon of wanton slaughter.
The power of modern firearms was nearly unstoppable unless you were a high-level expert.
Knowing this, who would go out of their way to train in martial arts?
This could have been the reason why cultivation techniques had gotten lost in the flow of time.
But that still left one lingering unanswered question in his mind—the methods of combat might have shifted its focus onto firearms rather than hand-to-hand fighting, but would that really be enough of a reason for clans and individuals mastering various cultivation techniques to completely disappear from Earth?
Shaolin Temple had become a tourist attraction, while Wudang became the headquarters of Taoism in the modern era.
Why were the protectors of those institutions not cultivating the ways of martial arts? Kang Jin-Ho couldn't understand it.
His question was finally answered.
He could sense internal energy, qi, within this long-haired man.
His cultivation was obviously raised systematically, too.
Kang Jin-Ho was certain that this long-haired man didn't randomly pick up some secret cultivation manual off the ground and taught himself using it.
Kang Jin-Ho muttered, “I see, so there’s another one.”
“What do you mean by that, kid? What, you thought you were the only one?”
“No, that's not it.
I'm just glad.” A grin crept up on Kang Jin-Ho's lips.
One of the things he couldn't satisfy in the modern era so far was his thirst for martial arts.
He had been deliberately avoiding training and cultivating in the modern era.
He couldn't see the need for it since he had no place to use his improved power, nor did he have a rival to compare himself to after reaching a new realm of strength.
What was the point of mastering martial arts in such an era, then?
But now, he discovered that people capable of recognizing the progress in his martial arts still existed in the modern era.
Kang Jin-Ho asked a question, “Who is your master?”
“What's it to you, kid?” The long-haired man sneered.
Kang Jin-Ho couldn't bother anymore and dismissively waved his hand.
“You better go and bring your master here.
You are no match for me.”
“What was that, you little sh*t?”
Instead of a verbal reply, Kang Jin-Ho quietly glared at the long-haired man.
The latter involuntarily flinched.
Humans could only see and decipher according to what they knew.
As such, those without knowledge of martial arts could not sense the 'aura' Kang Jin-Ho was emitting.
Maybe they could pick up on an unexplainable sense of dread or an ominous sense of foreboding, but that would be their limits.
However, those familiar with cultivation had also received training to sharpen their senses.
They trained themselves to pick up on even the faintest traces of bloodlust.
They could also detect movements through aura alone—that was how sharp their senses were.
And that was why the long-haired man could tell; he could tell how dangerous Kang Jin-Ho was.
More accurately, he could tell how terrifying the slumbering beast within Kang Jin-Ho was!
“Y-you…!” The long-haired man stumbled backward.
Kang Jin-Ho narrowed his eyes.
“You can leave.
I won't do anything to you.”
“Euh…!” The long-haired man felt humiliated but he couldn't do anything about it.
Just being in front of Kang Jin-Ho made it difficult for him to breathe.
'Just where did this kid?!'
The long-haired man thought to himself.
Not even his master could emit this type of dangerous aura.
In fact, he had come across many martial artists so far, but not a single one gave off a similar vibe as this teenage boy.
‘This sinister vibe!’
Other cultivators gave off clear and pristine auras, yet what Kang Jin-Ho's figure emitted evoked a sense of pure terror instead.
It became painfully obvious that the latter was definitely not someone to be trifled with.
Kang Jin-Ho heard a pained gasp coming from behind and glanced back.
His friends were shuddering in fear from the aura he had released.
His aura was so concentrated and dense that even the ordinary people with duller senses were being affected by it.
Noticing this, he immediately withdrew his aura.
The inexplicable sense of liberation prompted several gasps for air to come from his friends.
Kang Jin-Ho shifted his gaze back to the long-haired man.
“Take your goons with you, too.”
“Understood.” The long-haired man bit his lower lip, then lifted up his two companions off the ground.
Before leaving, though, he turned his head toward Kang Jin-Ho.
“We'll see you again.”
Kang Jin-Ho smiled brightly.
“I'll be waiting.”
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