Liu Chi couldn't do anything about his clattering teeth and shaking jaw.
His instinct issued a stark warning as soon as he clapped his eyes on this... monster before him.
No human could deal with that thing.
He had to close his eyes, cover his ears, and run as fast as his legs could carry him without looking back.
Unfortunately, it didn't matter what his mind said.
His body was refusing to heed the warning bells issued by his instinct.
His legs remained listless—weak.
They wouldn’t budge.
Liu Chi slowly raised his pistol.
The sound of the gunfire was instantly accompanied by a sharp metallic clang.
Liu Chi stared at the monster in sheer stupefaction.
A black-colored item resembling a stick gripped in the monster's hand showed up seemingly out of nowhere to guard its face.
'Wait, what Did it deflect the bullet!'
The bullet was deflected Seriously But, something that insane could only happen in movies, no!
Liu Chi's hand holding the gun trembled uncontrollably.
Even if this thing was an inhuman monster, deflecting a bullet this close was simply inconceivable, wasn't it!
Blam! Blam! Blam!
Liu Chi madly squeezed the trigger as if he wanted to empty his magazine in one go.
However, the monster leisurely swung around that stick to deflect all the bullets and approached Liu Chi.
'This, this has to be a dream!'
Yes, it had to be! Something like this couldn't happen in reality.
No, it couldn’t happen!
Liu Chi's jaw fell as the monster leisurely closed in.
“D-don't come near me!”
The monster tilted his head, then leaned closer to whisper into Liu Chi's ear, “Isn't this what you wanted”
“It can't be helped, then.”
Liu Chi's expression brightened a bit.
Was this monster letting him go Unfortunately, his unrealistic hope was dashed soon after.
“I guess I'll just do things my way.
And it won't be so enjoyable for you.”
The monster's hand enveloped in the darkness slowly extended toward Liu Chi.
Kang Jin-Ho dragged the collapsed and unmoving gangsters to a single spot.
They were unconscious.
Leaving this lot here unattended could mean they might die as the night dew descended on the mountainside.
However, his kindness didn't extend that far.
I've changed a lot, haven't I'
If this was Zhongyuan, Kang Jin-Ho would have killed them all for simply daring to bare their fangs at him.
He would have chopped off their heads on the spot.
However, he decided to spare them this time.
Was that because Kang Jin-Ho had grown softer He slowly shook his head.
Humans were flexible animals that adapted to their environment.
Even if his body wanted to act the same as the past Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor, he couldn't continue that lifestyle of killing people like annoying ants.
The worth of modern-day humans was 'different' from their ancient counterparts.
Kang Jin-Ho genuinely believed that to be true, even if someone could hurl stones and insults in his way for thinking so.
From his experience, the humans of the ancient past were treated like replaceable commodities, with statuses no better than some livestock.
However, doing the same to the current-era humans would raise one hell of a stink.
Rather than something inside Kang Jin-Ho had changed, it would be more correct to say the era had changed him.
'Finished, more or less...'
Kang Jin-Ho scanned the unconscious gangsters one more time.
Whatever happened to them from now on was no longer his business.
They could freeze to death from the cold mountain air.
Maybe, some hungry wild beasts would start snacking on them.
If lady luck was on their side, they should regain consciousness by tomorrow morning and safely make their way down the mountain.
Of course, waking up alive didn't guarantee that they could make it out of this treacherous mountain in one piece considering their injuries.
That part was for the gangsters to worry about, though.
Kang Jin-Ho had no obligation to care.
Kang Jin-Ho leisurely made his way back to Chang Min's hut and found Jo Gyu-Min welcoming him back with a visibly happy face.
“Please stop leaving me alone here!” Jo Gyu-Min cried out.
It seemed staying behind with the weirdly-dressed Chang Min was stressing him out a lot.
Especially so when they couldn't even communicate properly!
Kang Jin-Ho chuckled a little, thinking this would be the last time, anyway.
“Understood, Mister Gyu-Min.”
“By the way, have you finished everything you came here to do” Jo Gyu-Min cautiously asked.
“In that case, what are your plans now, Mister Jin-Ho Are we leaving right away Or do we wait until sunrise”
Kang Jin-Ho tilted his head.
“I'm fine either way, but...
Wouldn't a nighttime hike be difficult for you”
“N-no!” Jo Gyu-Min abruptly stood tall.
“I'm fine! We can set off immediately if you want!”
Jo Gyu-Min's ardent desire to escape from this place was painfully visible from the aura he emitted.
“Then, let's do that.” Kang Jin-Ho nodded, then began packing up his stuff to humor Jo Gyu-Min's wish.
“Oh, Lord Demon Emperor...” However, it seemed Chang Min wasn't happy about the prospect of Kang Jin-Ho leaving so soon.
“My liege, there are still things meant to be handed to the descendant of the Demon Emperor.
However, if you leave like this—”
Kang Jin-Ho shook his head.
“I don't need them.”
Items meant for the descendants were unnecessary for Kang Jin-Ho.
Although he hadn't recovered his former cultivation realm, he was still Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor, wasn't he
Kang Jin-Ho addressed Chang Min in a serious voice, “Your role is over now, Chang Min.
It's time for you to live your life.”
Chang Min deeply bowed his head.
“My liege, the remainder of my life is meant to serve you.”
Kang Jin-Ho groaned softly at that reply.
'Well, that makes sense...'
Telling a person who had been living like this for the past one and a half centuries to go and find a new purpose in life was practically the same thing as telling him to die.
Chang Min had no family or relationships outside of these mountains, so how could he find anything
Kang Jin-Ho rubbed his chin.
“Do you not have any acquaintances in the outside world”
“No, my liege, I do have.”
“My duty is to stay and guard this place, but I'm not the only descendant of the Ming Cult, my liege.
Although they can't reveal themselves to the rest of the world, the surviving descendants still maintain some form of connection.
We call each other once in a while to ask about our health.
If I inform them of your emergence, they should drop everything and come here as soon as possible.”
“I see...” Kang Jin-Ho slowly nodded, then addressed Jo Gyu-Min, “Do you have any pen and paper on you”
“Sorry Y-yes, I do.” Jo Gyu-Min pulled out some paper and a pen from his backpack and handed them over to Kang Jin-Ho.
Kang Jin-Ho jotted down his cellphone number on the paper and gave it to Chang Min.
“This is my number.
Ask someone from a younger generation for help when you wish to contact me.”
“Thank you, my liege!” Chang Min smiled brightly and nodded animatedly.
Kang Jin-Ho wondered if this nearly two-centuries-old primitive man had really understood him.
But then, Chang Min walked over to the corner of his hut and took something out.
That was when Kang Jin-Ho's eyes opened wide.
Wasn't that the latest iPhone Chang Min switched on the latest state-of-the-art smartphone, then expertly saved Kang Jin-Ho's contact number.
Kang Jin-Ho suddenly realized Chang Min's model was newer than his.
“...Huh. That's the glossy black model…” Jo Gyu-Min muttered, sounding like he was also flabbergasted.
Wasn't Chang Min supposed to be a primitive man lost to time
‘N-no, hang on a minute.
There's a lamp with its light turned on in this hut! In that case, why didn't he just live inside a shipping container or something!’
‘Really The latest smartphone, while looking like a hobo! What nonsense is this’
Chang Min seemed to have noticed the stupefaction in his two guests.
However, he brushed that aside with a smooth smirk.
“My liege, I've finished saving your number on my contacts.
Would you like my number as well”
“M-mm, yes...” Kang Jin-Ho presented his phone while still looking a bit dazed.
Chang Min didn't mind that and expertly saved his number on his liege’s phone.
“Hmmmm…” Kang Jin-Ho slowly nodded, feeling somewhat weirded out.
Why did it...
feel like he got scammed
“I'll bring everyone together as quickly as possible and contact you, my liege.”
“M-mm.” Kang Jin-Ho slowly nodded.
He was beating around the bush, hoping to find some kind of a task that might take a long time to complete.
However, he was now getting a feeling that things might progress far too smoothly for his liking!
Chang Min respectfully asked, “My liege, what should I do in the meantime”
Kang Jin-Ho mulled his answer for a moment.
“Do you know about the Martial Union”
“Yes, my liege.
It's the organization ruling over the world.”
It sounded like Chang Min was more knowledgeable about the world than Kang Jin-Ho.
And when Kang Jin-Ho cocked an eyebrow and silently stared, Chang Min smiled sheepishly and scratched the back of his head.
“My liege, staying alone in the wilderness means there aren't many things I can do to pass the time other than...
“Mm...” Kang Jin-Ho nodded again.
Even those eccentric experts of Zhongyuan who locked themselves up in some uninhabited mountains for a spot of secluded cultivation sometimes sneaked to nearby villages to buy things like news gazettes to keep themselves entertained.
In that case, what Chang Min said shouldn't come as a surprise, but...
'Mm Can he even connect to the Internet from here When he's so far from civilization'
Kang Jin-Ho's puzzled gaze drifted toward the corner of the hut.
He finally noticed a white electrical wire seemingly shooting out from the floor and flinched nastily.
Could it be... Could an internet line be installed here as well Just which installation company would be insane enough to do that!
Chang Min chuckled and explained the situation, “I've installed it myself, my liege.”
“A-ah, I see.” Kang Jin-Ho replied, choosing to give up on understanding this absurdity.
He felt quite stumped by the fact that the demon cult's oldest living descendant was an early adopter when it came to modern technology.
However, he should just chalk this situation up to the case of different strokes for different folks and move on.
'...Why didn't you put on more sensible clothes, then'
Kang Jin-Ho groaned softly before addressing Chang Min, “Please investigate the Martial Union for me.
Especially its upper echelons.
Find out who they are.”
“Understood, oh my liege.
Your will is my command.” Chang Min politely bowed.
However, his graceful manner of conduct felt rather odd now.
Kang Jin-Ho sighed again, then exited the hut.
Just as Kang Jin-Ho and Jo Gyu-Min started their descent, Chang Min hurriedly stopped them.
“Oh, Lord Demon Emperor!”
As Kang Jin-Ho wasn't a fan of drawn-out farewells, he ended up frowning quite deeply as he looked back.
“W-where are you going, my liege”
Kang Jin-Ho replied in a flat voice.
“Back to Korea.”
“N-no, my liege.
That's not what I'm asking...”
“Weren't you planning to descend this mountain, my liege”
Kang Jin-Ho narrowed his eyes.
“That's right, I was.”
“Then, uh, why are you going that way, my liege” Chang Min stared in confusion.
“Hmmmm” Kang Jin-Ho stared back in even deeper confusion.
Chang Min pulled out his phone again and began tapping on its screen before presenting what he had found to Kang Jin-Ho.
“My liege, heading this way will get you to a public road much faster.”
“Hmmmmmm” Kang Jin-Ho's eyes widened.
Chang Min's phone was showing a map with a red dot in the middle.
That seemed like their current position.
The original route Kang Jin-Ho wanted to take showed several lengthy contour lines extending far and wide, while the direction Chang Min pointed out showed much-shorter lines, even though the terrain seemed steeper.
“...Oh.” Kang Jin-Ho muttered in a daze.
“There's a road going through there now I was only thinking about the past and...
I seem to have overlooked the possibility of roads being built in that area.”
Jo Gyu-Min's cheeks began to twitch uncontrollably.
Three days! They had to traverse this harsh wilderness for three days straight! Yet, what the hell was up with that shorter route!
With an awkward expression, Chang Min cautiously addressed Kang Jin-Ho, “Oh, Lord Demon Emperor...
The era has changed, my liege.
Perhaps it's a good idea to utilize the modern amenities a bit more...”
Getting earnest advice regarding modern technology from a man born in the Qing era left Kang Jin-Ho feeling sorrowful.
If only Chang Min was wearing modern clothes or something! To think that an old man wearing torn rags would advise Kang Jin-Ho to use modern amenities!
Without even realizing it, Kang Jin-Ho quietly held his head.
“My liege What's the matter”
“N-no, it's nothing, sir...” Kang Jin-Ho faltered, realizing that the 21st demon cult was not the same as the one in the ancient past.
Kang Jin-Ho bade Chang Min goodbye in a daze, then started walking in the opposite direction.
Chang Min loudly cried out, “We shall see each other again, my liege! All hail the Demon Emperor! Millennium's glory be yours! We, the ten thousand demons, exalt your majesty!”
Kang Jin-Ho lightly waved his hand as his reply, then began his rapid descent of the mountain.
Chang Min watched them leave before slowly shaking his head.
“My liege's martial prowess is unparalleled, but... Mm, he seems to be a bit lacking in the resourcefulness department, doesn't he How worrisome...”
Chang Min decided that he would swiftly find a capable individual to shore up the young Kang Jin-Ho's lacking intelligence.
His drive was set ablaze once more at this new task.
If Kang Jin-Ho heard that, he would have discarded the concept of respecting the elders and gone straight into elder abuse instead.
However, even with his powerful abilities, his hearing couldn't overcome the distance and listen to Chang Min's quiet little mumbling.
While walking away, Kang Jin-Ho took one last look behind him.
He could see Chang Min and the demon cult's former land in the distance.
Even as his steps continued to take him down the steep mountainside, he still engraved the scene into his mind, knowing he wouldn't have a reason to return to this land of reminiscence again.
“Can't you even read a map, Mister Jin-Ho! It's only a map, you know!” Unfortunately, his steps were also accompanied by Jo Gyu-Min's nagging.
For the first time since his return to the modern era, Kang Jin-Ho had to clamp his mouth shut not of his own volition, but because of someone else's scolding.