Descent of the Demon Master - Chapter 43
Chapter 43. Becoming Rich (5)
Kang Jin-Ho stared at his test papers in a daze.
It was raining. The test papers were covered in red “rains.” It wasn’t a simple rain, either. Something this severe would be categorized as a deluge. A passerby would have commented that it must be a monsoon or something.
‘What… went wrong here?’
Kang Jin-Ho’s face was stiff. Red slashes indicating wrong answers clearly outnumbered the circles indicating correct ones.
“But, but I studied so hard…!”
Jeong In-Gyu trotted over to Kang Jin-Ho’s desk. He sneakily peeked above his friend’s shoulder and checked the test papers only for his eyes to nearly bulge out of their sockets.
He cried out in shock. “What the heck? What’s gotten into you, dude?! Did you really get all these wrong?!”
“Holy cow. Jin-Ho, you are a certifiable moron now. And you used to be in the school’s top ten, too! I’m telling you, you must’ve hurt your head in that car accident!”
Kang Jin-Ho would have preferred if his so-called friend was kind enough to clarify his position. Was Jeong In-Gyu worried about Kang Jin-Ho’s future or was he making fun of him? If it was the former, Kang Jin-Ho should thank him, but if it was the latter, he would feed the boy a knuckle sandwich. But now… with how unclear Jeong In-Gyu’s intentions were, all Kang Jin-Ho could do was sit there in silence while his lips and fists quivered in anguish.
“Sheesh, Jin-Ho. Dude, I think my test score is better than yours.”
“Urgh…” Kang Jin-Ho gripped his papers hard as the look of sorrowful defeat dominated his face. “Just what went wrong here?!”
Jeong In-Gyu tutted loudly. “Shouldn’t you be asking what you got right in this test instead?”
Kang Jin-Ho’s expression crumpled, then he took another look at the test papers. No matter how much he glared, though, all those wrong answers wouldn’t suddenly become correct.
As he sat there in despair, Han Se-Yeon’s head suddenly peeked out from behind his shoulder. Her eyes opened wide. “Whoa?”
Kang Jin-Ho turned his head and stared at her with a cocked brow. The one person he didn’t want to see right now happened to be Han Se-Yeon, but she had somehow sniffed out the scent of a kill and had shown up at the worst time imaginable.
She snarkily grinned. “Heh~. You thought you could beat me with this pathetic level of ability?”
“It was a mistake.”
“Really? Don’t you think there are way too many ‘mistakes’ here, though? This is more like your capability at this point, right?”
“It. Was. A. Mistake.” Kang Jin-Ho had nothing else to say other than forcefully repeating himself.
Han Se-Yeon burst into a fit of happy giggles, then lightly patted him on the shoulder. “Yes, yes. You made some mistakes. This big sis fully understands, so don’t sweat it. However, a promise is still a promise! A wager is a wager regardless of what!”
This agony, this pain!
Getting poor grades certainly hurt his pride, but tasting defeat in the wager with Han Se-Yeon hurt him even more.
‘Why does it feel like I’ve been on a losing streak in every challenge ever since I returned to the modern era?’
What was his win and loss ratio so far? He lost both times when he went to the PC Room. Then, he also lost in the wager of getting better grades. Three challenges in total, and he lost them all.
Even though he was Kang Jin-Ho! The one and only Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor! Since that was the case, how come did he lose in all challenges he had encountered so far?!
Kang Jin-Ho’s shoulders slumped in dejection.
Han Se-Yeon cheerfully teased him. “You ain’t gonna weasel out of our agreement now, are you? A man never goes back on his word, right?”
“Then, you’ll listen to a wish of mine soon. Right?”
Kang Jin-Ho looked back at her with slight apprehension. “You aren’t going to tell me now?”
“Now? Why should I? A wish can only be called a wish when used during an emergency, you know!”
Kang Jin-Ho nodded disinterestedly. “Suit yourself.”
“You better prepare yourself, Jin-Ho. I’m gonna make you sweat.”
Kang Jin-Ho watched her leave, then looked back at his test papers as sorrow returned to his face. Just how did this happen? It wasn’t as if he gave up studying or anything like that. He really believed that he had been diligent with his studies until now, so to get this kind of wretched result…
‘…I need to do something about this.’
He finally realized that trying to solve this problem by himself was impossible. He might have been a good student way back in the past, but in all honesty… How many decades ago was that now? Struggling by himself would probably not change his current situation.
Kang Jin-Ho thought about someone trustworthy to get him out of this hole. Someone with prior experience in graduating from Korea’s number one university with top grades. Someone who had experienced a meteoric rise inside one of Korea’s largest corporations. Someone who had gone through all that and had become the right-hand man of Korea’s greatest businessman as the country’s top elite!
The office door was violently kicked open, forcing Jo Gyu-Min inside to spew out the coffee in his mouth.
“M-Mr. Jin-Ho?!” He hurriedly wiped the coffee away from his mouth and spoke as calmly as he could under the circumstance. “A door was invented to be opened and not kicked open, you know.”
“I need your help, Mr. Gyu-Min.”
Jo Gyu-Min’s eyes instantly sharpened as he observed Kang Jin-Ho’s face.
Help? The one word Jo Gyu-Min had been waiting for finally came out of the young man’s mouth. The chance to display his prowess had finally arrived!
‘I didn’t come here to play around as a proxy chief director, after all!’
Opportunities would naturally come by assisting Kang Jin-Ho. The important part here was to engrave the idea of Jo Gyu-Min being indispensable in Kang Jin-Ho’s mind when the time came. This young man was destined for something greater in the future, after all. This was why it didn’t matter what the required help would be!
Jo Gyu-Min nodded as his expression became grave. “I’m prepared to help you however I can, Mr. Jin-Ho.”
“Thank you!” Kang Jin-Ho pulled out his test papers and pushed them forward.
Jo Gyu-Min tilted his head. “What are these?”
“My test papers for today’s mock exams.”
“Mmm…?” Jo Gyu-Min perused the papers, then grinned brightly. “Are you worried about not being able to go to a university? Is that it?”
Kang Jin-Ho froze stiff on the spot like a stone statue.
Jo Gyu-Min chuckled. “Mr. Jin-Ho. Our society has gotten more accommodating lately, so being only a high school graduate isn’t as bad as…”
“I need to improve my grades.”
“Well, sure. You should improve if that’s what you want.”
“However, how do I go about doing that?”
“…!” For some reason, Jo Gyu-Min suddenly sensed gloomy clouds rolling over the once bright outlook of his future.
“Okay, so…” Jo Gyu-Min nodded after listening to Kang Jin-Ho’s explanation. “After the car accident, you’re having a tough time remembering things from the past. Am I correct so far?”
“That means you have forgotten almost everything you’ve learned in school up to that point.”
Jo Gyu-Min scanned Kang Jin-Ho’s test papers and nodded in understanding. “For sure… Your answers are totally random, and regardless of the questions’ difficulty, you get some right and some completely wrong.”
“Should I take that as a compliment?” Kang Jin-Ho retorted sourly.
Jo Gyu-Min could only chuckle hollowly. “I wasn’t disparaging you, at least. Well, your situation is a simple problem to resolve. Allow me to do just that. Please hold on for a second… Yes, hello? Please bring ‘that’ in. Yes, thank you.”
Jo Gyu-Min pulled out his phone and called someone. A short while later, the office door opened, and a man walked in with a stack of books.
“Please put those books down on the table here,” said Jo Gyu-Min.
The man nodded and wordlessly placed the books on the indicated spot, then left the office after giving a slight bow.
Kang Jin-Ho scanned the books on the table. “What are those?”
“Those are books, Mister Jin-Ho.”
“…Yes, I can see that.” Kang Jin-Ho took a closer look at the books. “Wait, aren’t these…?”
“Indeed. These are textbooks for elementary school learners.”
“…I wasn’t asking because I couldn’t tell, Mr. Gyu-Min.”
Jo Gyu-Min grinned deeply. “If you lack the foundation, then we’ll just have to rebuild it from the ground up. That means you will start over from the first year of elementary school.”
“One week to get through a year’s worth of curriculum sounds fair, yes? Your new assignment is this—please finish these textbooks in a week. Next week, we’ll start with the second year.”
“Mr. Gyu-Min, I’m a second year… high school.”
“Yes, I know. And?” Jo Gyu-Min replied in an unwavering voice.
Kang Jin-Ho squeezed his eyes shut. Jo Gyu-Min was right; getting the basics right was crucial. Wasn’t that something Kang Jin-Ho had always reminded himself of? One of the most important truths that should never be forgotten while mastering martial arts?
‘Right. The basics are crucial.’
Kang Jin-Ho already knew this, yet… He couldn’t help but become even sadder with every passing second.
Park Yu-Min tilted his head. “Where have you been?”
“To the chief director’s office.”
“Yeah…” Kang Jin-Ho replied lifelessly and waited for Park Yu-Min to climb up on the bicycle. He then began to weakly pedal away.
Park Yu-Min noticed something almost immediately and asked, “Your bag kinda feels heavy today.”
Kang Jin-Ho suddenly began pedaling with a lot more zeal.
The current set of pedals had been specially commissioned for his use. They were the result of Jo Gyu-Min pouring an inordinate amount of money to research and develop unbreakable pedals after Kang Jin-Ho broke so many of them. The initial dilemma was choosing between ‘performance’ and ‘sturdiness’ and in the end, Jo Gyu-Min gave up on the notion of saving weight to go with fully metallic pedals to ensure their toughness.
As a reward for all that hard work, these pedals managed to endure Kang Jin-Ho’s physical strength for a long time and were still usable even now. Which meant Kang Jin-Ho could ride his bicycle around without too many worries these days.
The bicycle scythed through the air to enter the hill, without slowing down in the slightest.
Park Yu-Min muttered, “You know, I’ve been getting rides from you for a while now, but even then, this sight never fails to surprise me.”
“Mmhm. By the way…” Kang Jin-Ho glanced at him.
“Wouldn’t you be able to ride a motorbike?”
“Eh?” Park Yu-Min tilted his head in confusion.
“A bicycle won’t do since you need your legs to make it move, but you don’t need to worry about that with a motorbike, right?”
“Well, yeah, that’s true. But…”
“You want me to ride a motorbike up this hill?!” Park Yu-Min shuddered grandly. His friend had this evil tendency of obliviously telling others to follow his example. “I’ll die if I lose control on this road, you know!”
“Oh, I see.” Kang Jin-Ho nodded in agreement. He was confident of never losing control of his bicycle. In addition, he also knew that even if he did lose control and crashed, he wouldn’t be injured in any way. But it was a different case for Park Yu-Min.
If the boy slipped while trying to go up this hill on a motorbike, then well… At best, he would be dusting himself off at the foot of the hill. It seemed that the decision on getting a motorbike or not should be postponed until the orphanage had been relocated.
Kang Jin-Ho reached the top of the hill and stopped his bicycle in front of the Seongsim Orphanage.
Park Yu-Min climbed down and began thanking him. “Thanks for everything.”
“Mm? For what?”
“The proxy chief director came to visit us several times.”
“He said that he would help us with relocating the orphanage. Apparently, a new building is being constructed right now.”
“Is that so? That’s good to hear.”
“You were behind it, right?”
Kang Jin-Ho shook his head. “No, it wasn’t me.”
Park Yu-Min sighed. “Fuu… I don’t know how I’ll ever repay all the things you’ve done for us.”
“Nonsense. Don’t bother.” Kang Jin-Ho nonchalantly waved it off.
“No, hang on! I’m being serious, you know.”
“Friends don’t need to repay anything. Anyway, I’m going now.” Kang Jin-Ho lightly waved his hand and turned his bicycle around.
Park Yu-Min watched him go down the hill and muttered to himself, “Friends…”
Happiness welled up in him, knowing that he now had a real friend.
Kang Jin-Ho reached home, but when he opened the front door…
“I’m telling you, dear! An apartment is for the best!”
“You’re only saying that because you’ve never lived in a house with a beautiful lawn! Do you know how cool and refreshing it is during the summer months and how warm it is during winter?”
Baek Hyeon-Jeong sharply retorted, “But there will be plenty of insects!”
“Yes, plenty of inse… N-no, wait! There aren’t that many insects to worry about. I assure you.” Kang Yu-Hwan hurriedly corrected himself.
“Dear husband… Listen well, I can never, ever, live in a place like that.”
“But you will change your mind once we start living in one.”
“In that case, why don’t you live in a house with a lawn… With another woman?! I’m not going!”
“How on earth did you even get to that conclusion?” Kang Yu-Hwan muttered in exasperation.
Kang Jin-Ho spat out a lengthy groan. Hwang Jeong-Hu had alluded earlier that people suddenly coming into money would behave strangely. However, the Kang family seemed to be behaving strangely in a totally different sense from what the old man originally meant.
“I’m home, Mother, Father.”
Baek Hyeon-Jeong hurriedly asked her son, “Jin-Ho! You prefer apartments, don’t you?”
Not wanting to lose, Kang Yu-Hwan followed right after her. “Listen, Jin-Ho. No matter what, a detached house with a garden is…”
Kang Jin-Ho groaned once again. “How about we just keep living here?”
“Son, that’s a bit…”
“I really don’t mind where we go so, please… Please choose, you two. If you keep arguing like this, we’ll never get to move out.”
Baek Hyeon-Jeong sighed and nodded. “You are right, son…”
Meanwhile, Kang Yu-Hwan cleared his throat, trying to hide his embarrassment. “Ahem, ahem!”
Kang Jin-Ho faintly chuckled at the sheepish expressions on his parents’ faces before he headed to the bathroom. By the time he finished his business and exited the bathroom, his sister finally arrived back home.
Kang Jin-Ho frowned a little as he stared at Kang Eun-Yeong. “Aren’t you a little too late today?”
“My bad, My training ended later than usual today.”
“Even then. Next time, tell me if you’re going to be late because of training. I’ll go and fetch you.”
Kang Eun-Yeong poked her tongue out. “No, thank you! I don’t want to be cursed to death for ordering a high school senior around.”
Kang Jin-Ho tilted his head. “Wait, I’m not a senior yet…?”
“You’ll soon be one, right? Besides, it’ll be a problem if you stopped showing up one day, you know.”
“I’ll show up even after becoming a high school senior.”
“Nope. Mom will kill me if you do.”
Kang Jin-Ho nodded involuntarily, thinking that it was a distinct possibility.
Kang Eun-Yeong stared at her older brother for a second or two before bursting into a peal of laughter. “Hah. I guess you’ve finally become more like a normal person.”
“What do you mean?”
“You know. After the accident, you were like… dazed and confused for a while, you know what I mean? But you look more normal lately, back to how you were before the accident. Kinda…”
“Really?” Kang Jin-Ho’s expression brightened a little at that unexpected revelation.
She was saying this to him in passing, but her words were very important to him.
“Although you were also kinda cool being a quiet, brooding type, you know? You reverting back to your old self is also a problem, I guess?” Kang Eun-Yeong giggled and muttered that while heading to her room.
Kang Jin-Ho also headed to his room as he mulled over what his sister had said.
‘Have I really changed?’
That could be true. After all, changes like what she had described would be more noticeable to other people.
He lay down on the bed and stared at the ceiling.
“My ordinary life, is it…”
Maybe… attaining that life wasn’t going to be as difficult as he feared. All he had to do was live each day as it came, like what he had been doing so far.
A smile formed on his lips as he closed his eyes.