The Demon Emperor Has Returned (3)
The kid asked, “Why are you still standing there?”
“Take a seat.”
“Alright.” Kang Jin-Ho settled down next to the kid, then stared at the can of cola in his hand.
His focused, determined eyes took in the sight of the fizzy drink for some time, and then he reached for the tab.
The tab was pushed open, allowing the refreshing sizzle to escape. Kang Jin-Ho let out a moan.
The kid burst into laughter at how serious Kang Jin-Ho stared at the cola in his hands.
“Ahahaha! Is this your first time drinking cola? What were you doing?”
Kang Jin-Ho shook his head.
“It's been a while.”
“You really must've come from outer space, Oppa.”
‘Outer space, is it…?’
Kang Jin-Ho thought that maybe the kid was right.
It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that Zhongyuan was in a completely different universe to this one.
“All the gas will escape like that, you know.
You should drink it quickly.”
Kang Jin-Ho nodded at the kid's recommendation and slowly brought the can to his lips.
He took a sip and let the drink fizzle in his mouth before swallowing it down. “…Keuk!”
He was sure that he drank cola all the time in the past, yet this sensation trickling down his esophagus felt completely alien to him, something he had never experienced before in his life. His throat stung like crazy while the carbon dioxide from the drink rose back up from his insides and tried to burst out of his mouth and nose.
“Hah-ah!” Kang Jin-Ho spat out a heavy pant, then stared at the can in slight disbelief.
'Did I really enjoy this stuff back then?'
The kid burst into yet another raucous laughter after noticing Kang Jin-Ho's crumpled expression.
He also chuckled bitterly before taking another sip of the carbonated drink.
The second sip felt markedly better now that his senses had gotten used to it, allowing him to properly savor the taste.
How long had it been since he last tasted something this sweet? Kang Jin-Ho stared at the can with a weird look on his face.
“Why are you making that face, Oppa?”
“I was wondering if someone else thought about the same thing as me.”
“How did they manage to dissolve the carbon dioxide in the water? Who even thought of doing that?” Kang Jin-Ho muttered.
The kid quietly replied, “…Oppa, you're really strange.”
Kang Jin-Ho didn't retort and simply stared at his cola.
The kid probably couldn't understand why he said that.
But he had been living for decades in an era without science.
He couldn't help but think about just how much had to go into making this single can of cola.
‘By the way… This kid called me Oppa until now, right?’
Kang Jin-Ho took another glance at the kid.
Now that he took a closer look, this kid's appearance definitely leaned closer to the feminine side.
As for her age, she must have reached ten not too long ago, maybe?
Kang Jin-Ho abruptly asked, “What about your school?”
The kid retorted right back. “Look who's talking.”
“You got a point there.”
“How did you end up here, Oppa?”
“You don't look all that hurt, though? Wait, are you pretending to be sick so you don't have to go back to school?” The kid began teasing him.
Kang Jin-Ho replied disinterestedly, “The hospital doesn't want to discharge me yet.”
This hospital is famous for releasing patients quickly, you know?”
“Is that so? What about you?”
“My heart is bad, they say.”
The kid nodded.
“They said it's some kinda disease, but I don't know what exactly.”
Kang Jin-Ho shifted his gaze to the kid's chest.
After staring intently like this for a bit, he thought that he could sense something off about her condition.
The kid suddenly yelled at him.
“Hey, where are you staring at!”
Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly looked up at the heavens above and sipped away at his cola. He was labeled a pervert just because he was staring at a ten-year-old's chest…
‘Hang on, I was staring at a ten-year-old's chest, so…
Does that make me a pervert, then?’
Kang Jin-Ho thought that he could hear the metallic clinks of handcuffs in his head and hurriedly changed the topic. “Does it hurt a lot?”
The kid replied with a shake of her head, “It's fine right now.
But when it starts hurting, it really freaking hurts.
It's fine if the pain comes when I'm at home or some other place, but when it happens while I'm in class…”
Kang Jin-Ho nodded contemplatively.
Indeed, that could pose a problem. “You must miss school, then.”
The kid poked her tongue out.
“Even if I go, other kids will just make fun of me, you know? If I don't have to go, I never want to go back there.”
Despite the reply, Kang Jin-Ho still caught the hints of gloominess in the kid's expression.
This kid was rather precocious.
However, sick children were usually mature beyond their years. It made sense since they got to experience untold hardships and pain far too early in their lives, making them ponder things other kids their age wouldn't even dream about.
Of course, this mature-beyond-one's-age wasn't always a good thing. After all, a child should act like a child.
Kang Jin-Ho asked her again, “Didn't you get an operation?”
“The doctors said it's difficult to operate on me.
It's like… the operation itself is tough, I'm still too young, and my heart is too small, so…
I'm not really sure.”
Just then, they heard a woman's voice searching for the kid coming from afar.
“Ji-Eun~! Where are you, Ji-Eun!”
“That's my mom!” The kid jumped up to her feet.
“I gotta go!”
Kang Jin-Ho nodded slightly.
“Take care, Oppa from outer space!”
Kang Jin-Ho spoke to the kid's departing back, “I'll pay you back for this cola later on.”
“It's fine! It's only, like, a thousand won, anyway.
Think of it as my gift to you for coming to Earth!” The kid quickly replied before jumping into the embrace of an older woman running up to her.
The woman began scolding the kid.
“I told you not to come outside like this, Ji-Eun!”
“It got too stuffy in my room, and I wanted fresh air, Mom.”
“Why don't you ever listen to me, Ji-Eun!”
The kid and her mother began arguing as they headed back to the hospital's entrance.
Kang Jin-Ho watched that little spectacle, then leaned his back on the bench.
‘Only one thousand won, is it?’
That kid was mistaken about something.
Kang Jin-Ho always repaid his grudges.
No matter how trivial a grudge was, he would never forget it and would never hesitate to repay it dozens of times worse than what he had suffered.
Kang Jin-Ho took another gulp of the cola.
The stinging sensation traveled down his throat, sending this clear and refreshingly cool feeling to the rest of his body.
“I also never forget kindness, either,” Kang Jin-Ho muttered while tossing the empty can into a nearby rubbish bin.
Afterward, he got up from the bench.
“This is so strange…” The doctor tilted his head while closely studying Kang Jin-Ho's wound.
“Is there something wrong, Doc?” Kang Jin-Ho's mother asked while looking surprised.
“Ah, no, ma'am.
It's not that.
I should clarify and say that it's looking good, actually.
The patient's sutured area is almost fully healed now, ma'am.
However, wounds like this don't normally heal this fast.
this wound opened up again not too long ago, so…” The doctor shot a reproving glance at Kang Jin-Ho, but the latter avoided his gaze.
“Does that mean my son can leave soon?”
“While his prognosis is encouraging, there's no need to rush the patient's discharge, ma'am.
The important thing we must consider isn't the sutured area, but his internal organs, after all.”
“Yes, of course.” Kang Jin-Ho's mother nodded.
“Even so, if the patient improves at the current rate, I'm sure we can discharge him sooner than scheduled, ma'am.”
“Thank you so much, Doc.”
The doctor turned. “By the way, Mr.
“No matter how good your prognosis is, you still should not make any sudden or extreme movements.
It might cause another internal bleeding, you know!”
“Understood.” Kang Jin-Ho let the doctor's advice slip out his other ear.
His mother sighed.
“Whew… Even though I told him over and over again…”
“Whatever the case may be, Mr.
Kang, please refrain from moving too much or too suddenly, at least while you're still under our care,” said the doctor.
Kang Jin-Ho's reply was as concise as usual, “I will.”
The doctor finished the consultation and then left the room.
His mother stood up next. “Jin-Ho, can you look after yourself for a little while?”
“I need to pop back in at the house since it's a total mess over there. You know, your father can't be trusted to do these things properly.”
“Don't worry about me and just go, Mother.”
“Okay, Jin-Ho. Do as the doctor said and don't move too much, okay? I've put some extra money in the drawer over there, so if you want to eat something, don't hold back. Oh, and the weather is getting cold lately, so you also shouldn’t go outside.
Nurses and doctors warned me strictly about that.
I'll be back by evening, but call me if something happens while I’m not here.
And I already told you this before, but…!”
His mother's nagging seemed unending.
Cold sweat began trickling down Kang Jin-Ho's back.
Who would have thought that being a captive audience to a one-sided nagging would be this torturous! Kang Jin-Ho would've much preferred to fight hundreds of the Ten Sect's elites instead.
Eventually, though, his mother reached the end of her nagging.
“Okay, I'm going now.”
Kang Jin-Ho sheepishly corrected himself.
His mother chuckled softly before exiting the hospital room.
Kang Jin-Ho smiled wryly.
Now that he was back in the modern era, he truly believed that life would be peaceful and ordinary, but an unexpected hurdle suddenly presented itself.
His mother's nagging turned out to be several times worse than his fuzzy memory had suggested! So much so that just listening to her made him dizzy.
Kang Jin-Ho felt the throbbing ache coming from his side and looked at the wound responsible for it.
This was so cumbersome.
He circulated his internal energy a little and sped up the healing process, but there was a limit to how much that method could achieve.
His old self in gangho would've overcome such an injury and gotten back up to his feet in two days.
'Should I just heal it?'
Healing this wound should be a simple-enough matter if he really wanted to do it.
His body would automatically take care of the healing process as long as he reformed his dantian, absorbed the qi in the atmosphere, and provided the wound with the necessary energy.
However, Kang Jin-Ho shook his head at this idea.
Indeed, healing himself would be a simple matter if he chose to go through with it.
But he should not do this. After all, he had decided to live an ordinary life after returning to the modern era. Creating a dantian could lead to a slightly more comfortable life, but living as an ordinary man would become that much harder in turn.
He certainly had thought about creating a dantian and hiding his powers afterward.
But a nail inside your pocket was bound to prick your hand sooner or later.
A man with power was bound to get swept up in the urge to use that power one day.
Kang Jin-Ho had chosen to cast all those things aside for the sake of living an ordinary life.
And that was why…
'I don't need them.'
Honestly, what good were martial arts in the modern world, anyway? It wasn’t like he would have to engage his enemies in mortal combat, and the world itself was not some barbaric place where people murdered each other for thrills, either.
Having some kind of cultivation in this world didn't hold much of an advantage other than perhaps getting to your destination a bit sooner.
Oh, and not getting sick… that much?
Kang Jin-Ho gently pressed his waist.
The throbbing ache reached his brain once more.
This pain was a reminder that he had begun a new life.
An ordinary life.
'I'll keep living an ordinary life.'
This was what he had been dreaming about.
And finally, the opportunity had landed on his lap.
That was why Kang Jin-Ho decided not to rush things. Now was the time to adjust to the modern world rather than trying to do something grand.
It might take a little time, but he should eventually acclimatize if he persisted with this ordinary life.
Humans would always adjust to their environments sooner or later, after all.
Kang Jin-Ho from the modern world had eventually adjusted to the ways of Zhongyuan, so there was no reason for him to fail now when he used to live in this era.
He laid down on the bed and shifted his attention to the TV.
One of the things he realized recently was how tremendously useful the TV could be.
Compared to the ancient past when the only form of entertainment was either watching costumed stage plays or riding around in boats on lakes, almost every channel on TV was overflowing with information and many other interesting things.
Among those channels, Kang Jin-Ho watched the news the most.
Nothing could beat the news for repairing the gaps in his hazy knowledge and improving his understanding of the modern world, both of which had gone out of whack after he lived in the past for so long.
Although the bits about politics were boring, other reports were more than interesting enough to balance it out.
Even the news channel currently on TV was reporting on an event that piqued Kang Jin-Ho's curiosity.
[Breaking news! The suspect in the recent serial killing case has escaped after injuring one of the police officers in a standoff.
We can confirm that the suspect was shot during his escape, but his whereabouts are currently unknown.
The police are urging the citizens in the affected areas to refrain from leaving their houses to prevent any additional losses of lives, and…]
'A serial killer, huh…?'
Kang Jin-Ho's eyes became slightly withdrawn.
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