Chapter 5.
The Demon Emperor Has Returned (4)

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No matter the era, the crime of murder always existed.

However, a killing spree like the one on TV wouldn't even make the topic of conversation back in Zhongyuan.
You would have to kill over a hundred people to earn the nickname of a bloodthirsty berserker—that was how indifferent the public was to the losses of lives back then.
Humans reacting more sensitively to the deaths of their fellow humans was a relatively new thing.

Not even five hundred years ago, a mass murderer who started a war to slaughter thousands, no, tens of thousands of people was hailed as a hero.
And only a century ago, killing a whole bunch of people for nothing more than some personal gains was not considered scandalous or shocking either.
Honestly, Kang Jin-Ho found the modern world to be the weird one here for treating the murder of only a dozen-plus people like a hot news topic.

'Even though they are all humans…'

Were modern humans and ancient humans different breeds? Kang Jin-Ho didn't believe that to be the case.
However, there was no escaping that ancient humans were more 'barbaric' than their modern counterparts.
They also didn't respect the sanctity of life, either.

Just where did this difference stem from, though? Education? Or better enforcement of laws? Kang Jin-Ho didn't know the answer to this riddle.
But he was certain of one thing, and that would be…

Human nature hadn’t changed much since ancient times.

'Even if we're living in the modern era.'

Kang Jin-Ho wasn't the type of person to view the world in a positive light.
He had experienced and witnessed far too many bad things to place his trust in people and the rest of the world.

'It doesn't matter, though.'

He didn't really care how the world operated as long as he could live an ordinary life in it.

He changed the channel and eventually found an entertainment show.
Kang Jin-Ho silently observed the comedians laughing and chatting away.
If his most-watched program was the news bulletin, the program he derived the most enjoyment from would be these shows.

However, it wasn't like he found their comedy routines easy to digest.
In all honesty, 90% of that stuff flew right over his head.
He didn't even know what they talked about and couldn't even tell when to start laughing at their jokes.
But he still persisted with watching these shows because they gave him reassurance, a sense of comfort.
Just watching them joke and banter without a care in the world helped him feel that he was at home.

Kang Jin-Ho stared at the show in a daze for quite some time.
There were still some lingering feelings of disharmony watching the participants busily moving about while the buildings in the background flitted by.
But something strange happened as he watched the TV.


Kang Jin-Ho's brows quivered ever so slightly.
His hearing had picked up a shrill scream just then. 

'…A scream?'

He briefly scanned his surroundings, but no one else aside from him seemed to have heard it.
Kang Jin-Ho might be doing his best to unwind his tense psyche lately, but the decades-old habit meant his instincts could still pick up a potential threat before it happened.

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'What should I do?'

He had no reason to rush to where that scream came from and get involved in that incident, whatever it was.
He learned that in gangho, sticking your nose in a matter that didn't concern you was a good way to throw your life away.
Even so, he just couldn't keep ignoring it for some reason.

“Mm…” Kang Jin-Ho grunted and got up.

This wasn't Zhongyuan where you could easily lose your life for witnessing something you shouldn't have. This was the modern world, a civilized society ruled by laws.
That was why he thought that it should be fine to go and check it out.

Kang Jin-Ho leisurely headed to the location where that scream came from—the ground floor of the hospital.


Kang Jin-Ho spotted a crowd by the corner of the ground floor.
He also discovered something off about the crowd's atmosphere.
They were obviously looking in a certain direction but they were seemingly unable to approach that area and could only maintain a fixed distance from it.
Loud, angry yells were coming from the direction they were all looking at.

“Please calm down, sir! Why are you doing this!”

“Please, put that thing down, sir!”

Kang Jin-Ho slowly walked up to the crowd and tried to peek his head in.


In the past, he would've been able to see past the crowd by doing this, but now, Kang Jin-Ho's view was obscured by the shoulders of the onlookers, and he couldn't see a thing.

'Am I too short?' 

The past him was a big guy over six feet tall.
His well-built physique was a result of the environment he found himself in back then.
Since he was so tall, Kang Jin-Ho never experienced his view being blocked by a crowd before.
But other people were obviously taller than him now.

Kang Jin-Ho began pondering what to do next.
Should he just forge ahead, or…

He came to a decision and turned around to leave.
He had no idea what was going down right now, but he didn't feel the need to waste his energy and take a gander.
Going past that crowd didn't seem like an easy thing to do, either.
To stop caring about this matter might be in his best interest.

Kang Jin-Ho headed outside the hospital, thinking that it might be nice to check out the garden or something.
But a sharp scream pierced his ears before he could truly walk away. “Kkyaaack!”

Kang Jin-Ho slightly furrowed his brow. But it wasn’t because of the scream.
After all, he had heard enough screaming to last several lifetimes by now. Moreover, he certainly had no reason to care even if someone died over there as it was none of his business.

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But he did frown, and there was a good reason for that.
That scream just now sounded oddly familiar to him for some reason.
It definitely felt like he had heard that particular voice before somewhere.

“Mmmm…” Kang Jin-Ho turned around and headed back to the agitated crowd.
It was not wise to leave the lingering bitter taste in his mouth alone.
He had to see for himself first and then decide what to do about it.

He began pushing his way into the crowd.
People of gangho would get out of his way of their own volition after receiving his cold glare, but that no longer applied to the current situation.

“Argh, stop pushing, will ya!”

“What are you doing, man!”

Kang Jin-Ho inadvertently groaned at all the pressure coming from his sides but still pushed his way to the front.
Once he managed to force his way through, his eyes finally took in the unfolding situation.
A man in ragged clothes was holding a hostage with a knife, while several men with trembling hands were trying to calm the knife-wielder.
The latter group looked like cops to Kang Jin-Ho.

“Isn't he…?” Kang Jin-Ho studied the knife-wielding man's face with some interest.
The man that was busy threatening the cops was the serial killer that Kang Jin-Ho saw in the news broadcast earlier.

An urgent-sounding voice suddenly came from next to Kang Jin-Ho.
“What's going on here?!”


“Can anyone explain to me what's going on here?! What is the meaning of this?!”

A nurse with a frightened expression hurriedly addressed the hospital’s director. “That man showed up in our ER, saying that he has been stabbed, sir.
We first did CPR on him and took him to get his X-Ray to see the extent of his injuries, but we found a foreign object that resembled a bullet in the wound and called the police right away.
Even so, we still had our duty to uphold, so we started treating him, but these officers arrived without knowing the situation.
They started shouting, and now…”

It sounded like the serial killer took a hostage after realizing that the cops had arrived.
Kang Jin-Ho found something about that story that was difficult to understand.
There were actually people willing to treat a serial killer showing up in front of their door? Now, that was a funny joke.

Life might be sacrosanct, but nothing was more important than your own life.
Yet, risking one's life to save a total stranger? Kang Jin-Ho wasn't sure if such an act was worthy of praise, but as far as his personal viewpoint was concerned, that was one of the stupidest things he could think of.

If an acquaintance was injured gravely, then it was understandable why anyone would risk their life trying to save the other party.
Yet, trying to save a complete, utter stranger who also happened to be a dangerous serial killer? Did these people hold too much pride in medicine, and that made them reckless? Or did they simply lose the instinctive wariness to danger thanks to how peaceful the world had become? Kang Jin-Ho couldn't tell.

The serial killer waved around his knife to threaten the cops blocking his escape route.
“Get out of my way! You motherf*ckers, get lost, now!”

If the cops moved aside and got out of the way, the serial killer would have a clear path to the hospital's lobby filled with innocent people.
If something bad happened to them, then… the responsibility would fall on the shoulders of these police officers.

“Put that knife down, now!” A detective kitted out in a leather jacket sharply yelled at the serial killer.

“Get lost, you f*cker!”

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“Hey! Do you really think that you can get out of here? We already got you cornered, you son of a bi*tch! Stop making things worse for yourself and let the hostage go.
Then I might tell the prosecutors about extenuating circumstances on your behalf, okay?”

The serial killer spat out another curse word.
“F*ck you!”

The criminal was no dummy.
He obviously wouldn't fall for something that stupid.
How much reduction in sentencing would a serial killer get just because he turned himself in?

“You wanna see this kid's throat sliced open?!” The killer brought the knife in his hand closer to the hostage's neck.
The child hostage’s face turned deeply pale, and she trembled fearfully.

“Wait! I got it! I get it, so I'm gonna back off now! Take that knife away from the kid, will ya!” The panicking detective cried out. “Where's my negotiator?! He's still not here yet?”

One of the officers replied helplessly, “…I did contact him, but…”

“You dipsh*t! Don't tell me, you don't even know what his ETA is! Is that something you should say, you dumb sh*t!” the leather jacket detective roared at the top of his lungs.
The junior officer jumped up in fright and hurriedly dashed off somewhere.
The detective shifted his attention back to the serial killer as cold sweat caked his face. “Argh, f*ck! Gimme a break!”

He could have approached this hostage situation properly if only that bastard hadn't been a monster in human disguise responsible for chopping up over ten people to death.
That killer didn't hesitate for a second to kill his fellow humans.
A bastard like that could really kill the hostage in full view of the crowd if things went sideways for him.

The detective had to prevent that outcome no matter what.
However, things were not looking good since the killer still managed to escape from the police despite getting shot.
If that child hostage was injured in any way, without a doubt, all sorts of criticism would mercilessly rain down on the police.
Even worse, the detective would have to take full responsibility for letting the criminal go, and he might have to turn his badge in, too.

'What the hell am I even thinking about!' 

The detective sobered up and realized that thinking about these wasn’t important right now.
He should worry about resigning or getting thrown in jail later.
His number one priority was saving that hostage.

“Get out of my way.” The serial killer pressed the knife against the hostage's throat and growled menacingly.

The detective was now in a serious dilemma.
He obviously couldn't humor the criminal's demand.
What would he do if the criminal got away? But of course, this didn't mean that he could let the situation continue to boil over like this.
That killer was already half out of his mind.
There was no turning back if that bastard stabbed the hostage right now.

The detective groaned.
“Gimme a f*cking break!”

Just as he said that, the serial killer ever so slightly pushed the knife against the hostage's neck.


A streak of crimson liquid seeped out of the hostage's skin.

The detective cried out. “H-hey, you crazy motherf*cker! Okay, I got it! We'll move out of the way! F*ck! Don't do it, man! You hurt that little girl, and it's the death penalty for you, you f*cker! If they don't execute you first, I'm gonna kill you myself!”

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“Shut up and get out of the way!”

The detective wordlessly signaled with his hand.

One of the officers urgently called out to him.
“But, Detective Yi Jong-In, sir!”

“What now!”

“Are you planning to let that bastard go?”

“You have a better idea?”

“But, what if we let him go, only for him to do something more…!”

“What, then? You want to take responsibility if that f*cker kills that kid here?”

“N-no, but…”

Detective Yi Jong-In yelled back at his junior officer. “In that case, what the hell do you want me to do, you dipsh*t! We can't do this, but we can't do that, either?! In that case, we should at least prevent another sh*tshow from happening right now!”

“But, if we lose him now…”

“That f*cker's been shot, so he can't go far.
For now, we gotta get out of this situation first.”

“Understood, sir.”

The group of detectives began parting in the middle, creating a slender path toward the exit.

Unfortunately, the serial killer still looked dissatisfied with what had transpired. “Are you kidding me? You lot, stand on one side! Were you thinking of making me walk right through y’all just now?!”

“Dammit!” Detective Yi gritted his teeth after realizing that his improvised plan of jumping on the criminal had gone down the drain.
He unhappily ushered the rest of the officers to the side. However, a young man suddenly stepped out of the crowd with leisurely steps.

“Who's that?”

The young man's appearance belonged to that of a patient.
As for his age, he must be a high schooler or somewhere thereabout. With an expressionless face, he leisurely walked up and stopped in front of the serial killer.

Detective Yi cried out. “W-what the hell is that crazy boy doing?!”

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