Descent of the Demon Master - Chapter 21
Chapter 21. Looking Around (2)
It was now almost past the school’s lunch hour. Having finished the school-provided meal, Kang Jin-Ho returned to the classroom to get some Zs. However, his rest was interrupted by a somewhat strange commotion.
“Hey, you b*tch. You blind?!”
“Then, why did you bump into my shoulder?”
“No, I was just…”
“Why the hell did you push me when I’m minding my business? F*cking hell, you looking down on me or what?”
“I heard you lied to the chief director about how Choi Yeong-Su never bullied you. Is that right?”
“Which means this isn’t bullying either, no? Am I right?!”
Park Yu-Min’s head faltered at that sharp yell.
“Answer me, you sh*thead. Am I bullying you? Eh? It’s not, is it? We’re just messing around, right? You and Choi Yeong-Su were just having fun, so why don’t I join you, too? You little sh*t!”
Kang Jin-Ho cocked an eyebrow.
‘Is that Jeong In-Gyu?’
Indeed, Jeong In-Gyu was the one yelling at Park Yu-Min. He was even threateningly raising his hands around to express his rage. He eventually lost his cool and began kicking Park Yu-Min on the leg next. Kang Jin-Ho frowned at this sight before getting up and walking up to them.
“That’s enough, In-Gyu,” said Kang Jin-Ho while stopping Jeong In-Gyu.
“Dude! Aren’t you angry at this punk? Didn’t he side with Choi Yeong-Su to put you in trouble?” Jeong In-Gyu replied in frustration.
“I said, that’s enough.”
“Aaargh, seriously…” Jeong In-Gyu alternated his glare at Park Yu-Min and Kang Jin-Ho, before retorting with a face full of irritation, “Geez, Jin-Ho. You’re such a nice guy, ain’tcha? You still want to help this punk? If I was you, I would’ve…!”
Kang Jin-Ho silently stared at Jeong In-Gyu before finally saying something, “Do you also want to act like a bigshot, then?”
“I…” Jeong In-Gyu tried to open his mouth a couple of times but eventually realized he shouldn’t say anything. He remained silent for a long while before groaning loudly and returning to his seat when Kang Jin-Ho briefly nodded at him. Although, he still didn’t forget to shoot one last glare in Park Yu-Min’s way.
Jeong In-Gyu plopped down on his seat and scratched the back of his head. “Uh-whew…”
He was well aware of what Kang Jin-Ho was trying to say. Choi Yeong-Su’s defeat caused the ‘axis’ of the class to shift over to Kang Jin-Ho. That naturally gave Jeong In-Gyu, a dear friend of the new classroom ruler, the chance to stand tall and proud too.
It was pretty easy to notice that Jeong In-Gyu’s classmates felt a bit uncomfortable around him, most likely due to his close friendship with Kang Jin-Ho. And the truth was… Jeong In-Gyu had been subconsciously enjoying such attention.
But then, Kang Jin-Ho accurately called Jeong In-Gyu out on it, making the latter feel a pang of shame for an emotion, a sentiment, that he was still too immature to fully understand. That shame was why he decided to step back without raising a fuss.
Of course, Kang Jin-Ho had no thoughts of criticizing Jeong In-Gyu. People fundamentally acted similarly to one another, after all—you would have behaved pretty much the same as Jeong In-Gyu in a similar situation. Kang Jin-Ho merely stopped his friend because he found this situation unsightly, that was all.
Park Yu-Min sneaked a glance at Kang Jin-Ho, but the latter simply returned to his seat without saying a word. All Park Yu-Min could do was sigh weakly and leave the classroom.
“Hmm…” Kang Jin-Ho also felt a little stuffy and restless, so he stepped outside the class to get some fresh air. But as he walked on the corridor, he belatedly sensed that something was off. His fellow students were stealing glances in his direction while quietly whispering to each other. Kang Jin-Ho frowned.
‘Am I being singled out, I wonder?’
Considering that he resorted to violence, that didn’t seem surprising. The modern era was different from Zhongyuan. Kang Jin-Ho might have come to accept that ‘power’ also reigned supreme in this world, but that power wasn’t violence. No, the power ruling the modern era was ‘authority’ and ‘wealth.’ And he had resorted to violence in such a world, so it was only obvious that he would have to deal with those probing, cold gazes from now on.
However, something about their gazes was rather odd—Kang Jin-Ho was a bona fide expert when it came to sensing any hostility or evil intentions directed at him, but his sensors failed to pick up any sort of hostility from their gazes. Why was that?
“Hey, you! Kang Jin-Ho!” Someone suddenly called out his name, prompting Kang Jin-Ho to stop and turn his head. He spotted Han Se-Yeon walking up to him. She cheerily addressed him, “I see that you came to school today.”
“I heard that you beat up Choi Yeong-Su?”
Kang Jin-Ho nodded, thinking that there was no need to hide the truth. Why deny something that everyone knew already? “Yes, somehow that happened.”
“I also heard that he’s hospitalized now? How badly did you hit him, Jin-Ho? You brute!”
“He’s faking it,” Kang Jin-Ho replied disinterestedly.
Han Se-Yeon scanned him from top to bottom as if this was her first time meeting him. “You don’t look like you’ll be good at fighting, though?”
“Choi Yeong-Su must be a weakling, then.”
“Hmm. I thought you were a sheep, but there’s a bit of wolf in you, isn’t there? But I’m not that much of a fan of a man who uses violence. Minus several points for you.”
“…And that’s supposed to mean something?”
Han Se-Yeon narrowed her eyes and studied Kang Jin-Ho before tilting her head a little. She was happy to see him and just wanted to say hi, but now that she had taken a closer look at him… Something about him felt different. She continued to study him closely, then her eyes grew wide. “H-hey, did you actually grow taller?”
“And your shoulders look broader than before, too?”
“…You are imagining things.”
“Is that so? You know… Your facial features seem to have changed a bit, too?” Han Se-Yeon muttered, demonstrating her unexpectedly sharp observation skills.
The day Kang Jin-Ho decided to reform his dantian, he also wondered whether or not to perform the total transformation of his physical body, too. In the end, though, he chose not to, since the process would change his appearance far too much, and that would cause serious problems in the modern era. As such, he decided to transform his body little by little.
This drawn-out process presented far more challenges than the total transformation, but Kang Jin-Ho was someone who had climbed to the peak of gangho as Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor. To him, it was only a matter of doing it or not. And so, he started to minutely alter everything about his physique, from his internal organs to even his appearance. But now, Han Se-Yeon somehow managed to latch onto those small changes that not even his family noticed.
‘Or, maybe it was easier to notice all the changes that had taken place over the course of the last four days in one go?’
Whatever the case might be, Han Se-Yeon possessing an above-average discernment was now indisputable.
Han Se-Yeon rubbed her chin. “I don’t know if it’s my imagination or not, but you do look beefier than before, you know? And your face looks more attractive somehow, too.”
“No, you’re definitely imagining it.”
“But that’s a bigger problem, you know?”
“If you think someone is attractive, doesn’t that imply you have feelings for that person?”
Kang Jin-Ho tilted his head.
‘Is that how it works?’
He nodded and offered up a solution. “In that case, let’s just say I am good-looking.”
“You’re surprisingly funny, you know that?” Han Se-Yeon giggled while covering her mouth, then suddenly began scanning their surroundings with a slightly flustered face. She sneaked closer to Kang Jin-Ho and quietly whispered to him, “Urgh, I think I’ve gone a bit overboard here. Let’s talk later, okay?”
“Some people aren’t looking too kindly at me for staying too close to you, you see. Make that lots of people, too.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“What do you mean, what? It means Mister Kang Jin-Ho, who used to be uninteresting, has now become someone who can inspire jealousy in others, that’s what.”
“…?” Kang Jin-Ho furrowed his brows. He hadn’t done anything to deserve that, so what was she talking about?
“I know, I know. It sounds weird, but that’s what girls are like. We like guys who are the talk of the town, you see. Besides…” Han Se-Yeon grinned brightly. “I think the current you are pretty cool.”
Kang Jin-Ho sighed softly but didn’t say anything.
“Urgh, I can sense killing intent now. I shall retreat before I lose my life, sir!” Han Se-Yeon giggled playfully before whispering into his ear once again, “Don’t forget your promise of going to karaoke with me, okay?”
She waved her hand at him and went back to her class in cheery steps. Kang Jin-Ho stayed still and watched her before shaking his head. “That has to be nonsense…”
Although he couldn’t understand what Han Se-Yeon had been trying to say, a smirk formed on his face. He didn’t do something noteworthy enough for the others to view him in a different light, or at least, that was what he thought.
He shifted his gaze and glanced at a classroom through the window and saw some girls chatting away.
“Did you hear? They say Kang Jin-Ho’s back in school!”
“His suspension is over?”
“Yeah. I mean, a week-long suspension is just too unfair, right?” A girl with braided hair cried out in agitation. “Let’s be honest here, Choi Yeong-Su was bullying that kid Park Yu-Min for real, right? And Kang Jin-Ho saw that and decided to stop him.”
“You’re so right…”
“But then, what’s up with that suspension? And for a whole week, too! Didn’t Choi Yeong-Su send that poor kid to a hospital not too long ago? The school didn’t even punish him back then!”
The braided-hair girl’s friend whispered to her, “Hey, how about we send in an anonymous tip-off?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean if we tip off one of those investigative news programs, wouldn’t reporters show up at our school? So, we do it to screw over the school’s management!”
“H-hey, what about our school’s image?”
“Who cares? Why should we care about this school’s image, anyway?”
“Well, that’s true. By the way, did you notice how surprisingly cool Kang Jin-Ho is? I didn’t think he was that manly, you know? When did he change?”
“I hear Choi Yeong-Su couldn’t do anything to him and got sent packing to a hospital too!”
“And I think he’s kinda cute looking, don’t you think?”
“Eii, that’s a bit too much, though. Kang Jin-Ho isn’t that good looking, you know.”
“No, I’m telling you… Ah, wait. There he is. Take a look for yourself.”
“See? He’s cute, right?”
“Wow, you’re right! He’s got this warmth about him.”
Kang Jin-Ho’s sharpened hearing picked up the entirety of the girls’ conversation, and he ended up facepalming. He found yet another modern-era quirk that he just couldn’t fathom.
“Let’s go to the PC Room!” Jeong In-Gyu cried out after having reverted to his old self in no time at all. He was feeling depressed earlier in the day, but, befitting his still-young age, his emotions swung back pretty quickly.
“No, not today.” Kang Jin-Ho shook his head.
“Hah. Just be honest and say you are too scared to come. Don’t worry, we ain’t gonna bet on stuff this time. This hyung of yours isn’t so heartless to use games as an excuse to rip money off a rank amateur, you know!”
Kang Jin-Ho snorted derisively. “We’ll see tomorrow.”
“Oh, oooh? Sounds like you practiced at home, eh?”
Kang Jin-Ho chuckled and climbed up on his bicycle. Before speeding out of the school’s gate, he looked back at his friends. “Well, I’m off.”
Something weird happened just then. A huge trail of dust was kicked up behind Kang Jin-Ho’s bicycle speeding across the school’s yard. Jeong In-Gyu dazedly stared at this spectacle before slowly muttering, “What kind of a bicycle is that fast…?”
Lee Tae-Ho next to him nodded in agreement. “That’s fast enough to qualify as a motorbike, dude.”
“That guy… He has been so weird lately.” Jeong In-Gyu slowly shook his head while staring at Kang Jin-Ho’s distant back.
Riding a bicycle really felt like going on a stroll for Kang Jin-Ho. Going home like this wouldn’t be a bad idea, but… Since he was on his bicycle, he figured that he might as well go around the block and check out his neighborhood.
Even though it might not look that way from the outside, Kang Jin-Ho was leisurely enjoying the passing scenery despite his high speed. A regular human being would not be able to deal with the bicycle’s speed, but such a thing didn’t apply to Kang Jin-Ho.
‘This is fun.’
He wouldn’t mind traveling somewhere far like this, but doing so might lead to a troublesome thing called ‘getting lost.’ So, he decided to go to places he was already familiar with.
But then, a small child suddenly jumped out in front of his speeding bicycle.
“Kkyaaahk!” the child’s mother screamed in shock.
“Eu-cha!” Kang Jin-Ho jumped into the air with the bicycle. It flew up about a meter above the child’s head before lightly landing back on the ground beyond the surprised child.
“Sorry about that…” Kang Jin-Ho apologized, even though the child had jumped in his way first. The child’s mother didn’t seem to have heard him, though, as she was too focused on checking up on the child. Once she confirmed that her child was unhurt, she turned toward Kang Jin-Ho and profusely apologized to him. Kang Jin-Ho shook his head. “It’s fine, ma’am. Well, I’m off.”
The crowd watched him ride away on his bicycle and began muttering to each other.
“Maybe he’s a bicycle stunt rider?”
“But, uh, don’t you need a ramp or something to jump that high?”
Kang Jin-Ho remained utterly oblivious to what he had done and continued to pedal blissfully away. “The breeze feels refreshing…”
Riding on a bicycle even made the passing air feel cool. One wouldn’t normally feel such a breeze in a place with tightly-packed buildings like this area, though.
As he rode along, Kang Jin-Ho suddenly narrowed his eyes after spotting a familiar limping figure in the distance—a boy in a school uniform. Kang Jin-Ho grunted. “Mmmm…”
It seemed that he had circled the block and returned to his school. Kang Jin-Ho slowed down and stopped next to the student in question.
“…Uh?” The boy noticed Kang Jin-Ho and gasped in surprise. “O-oh… Hi.”
Kang Jin-Ho stared at the limping boy before flatly asking a question, “Going home?”
The limping boy was Park Yu-Min.