Descent of the Demon Master

Chapter 713. Squashing (3)



Chapter 713. Squashing (3)

'Gee whiz, all this waiting is bad for my heart!'

Zhu Gang stared at the doorway in front of his nose as cold sweat caked his body.

Obviously, he had already finished giving his witness testimony to his fellow demonic cultivators before coming here. Although, no one seemed to believe him despite him providing only the truth and nothing more.

However, when the returning demonic cultivators provided similar testimonies themselves, the ones waiting behind had no choice but to accept that version of the event as the Real Deal.

The result was their heightened anticipation!

It wasn't as if someone started raising a fuss or someone said something to incite the crowd, either. Even so, the underground space was filled with this stifling, burning heatwave. A passionate fire had been lit within the hearts of these people who couldn't boast about being a demonic cultivator until now. These people who were labeled with a title that shouldn't be an insult but somehow became one!

Zhu Gang's heart was also set on fire. The fuel was the anticipation of his life finally changing for the better. The anticipation of maybe... Maybe their reality would finally change!

Everything was all good up to that point, but then...

“Our demon emperor is looking for you, Zhu Gang. Go upstairs immediately.”

If only he hadn't heard that order...! Zhu Gang would've been reveling in this wonderful feeling of being on the proverbial cloud nine.

'Why is he looking for me, though?'

Forget floating on cloud nine, it felt more like he was being squashed by the weighty burden right now!

Sure, Zhu Gang could be seen as an 'acquaintance' of the demon emperor since he drove his VIP passenger all the way to this place. Even if that were true, shouldn't he still be a small fry from the demon emperor's perspective? A random nobody?

Even if the positions of the demon emperor and the demon cult believer were taken out of the equation, Zhu Gang couldn't have been any more insignificant than a buzzing fly to a super-expert like Kang Jin-Ho.

So, why did the demon emperor call for him specifically?

'Maybe he wants me to become his confidante?'

When that thought popped up in his head, Zhu Gang chuckled in dismay. Of course that couldn't be it.

Zhu Gang knew that his fantasy had gone a bit too far. Even if the demon emperor held some level of goodwill toward Zhu Gang, why would he entrust a weak little small fry with an important task? After all, Zhu Gang was basically useless, wasn't he?

One must be useful at something first before they could be included in the loop or tasked with a job. In Zhu Gang's own self-evaluation, he couldn't see anything particularly outstanding about himself. And he certainly wasn't more exceptional than his peers, either.

All in all... He was a perfectly average demon cult believer. Not lacking in anything but not excelling either—a middle-of-the-road demonic cultivator, that was who Zhu Gang was. Other than his personality, which could be a little sharper than other people, he was a perfect example of being average.

So... What would someone like that be useful for?

An average demonic cultivator was no better than trash among the ranks of martial artists. Sure, Zhu Gang was a bit tougher and stronger than regular civilians. However, what about in the demon emperor's opinion? Zhu Gang should be indistinguishable from regular, powerless civilians.

'In that case, why me?'

Zhu Gang couldn't think of an answer. Then again, how could he guess what was in the mind of someone as awe-inspiring as the demon emperor? Besides, would anything change even if he could guess the correct answer ahead of time?

Zhu Gang sucked in a deep breath. He tried so hard to calm down, but his mind refused to heed his orders. Alll 𝒍𝒂test nov𝒆l𝒔 on novelb𝒊n/(.)c𝒐m

'Dang it. Seeing him for the first time was way better...'

Obviously, the demon emperor hadn't changed one bit. What did change was Zhu Gang's perception of the demon emperor's mightiness and status. A day-old puppy wouldn't fear a tiger because it didn't know how scary an angry apex predator could get!

“Come inside.”

“Yes, sir!” Zhu Gang replied, then gulped nervously while pushing the door open. When he entered the slightly haphazardly furnished administrative office, he quickly spotted two people waiting for him. One was Elder Chang Min, and the other was the demon emperor.

The scene of the demon emperor sitting on a couch with a cigarette dangling from his lips while Chang Min stood respectfully next to him was straight out of a noir thriller. That was how 'right' this scene felt, at least to Zhu Gang. Of course, he didn't have the leeway to savor this moment.

“I humbly greet the demon emperor,” said Zhu Gang while quickly bowing his head. This gesture contained his utmost respect and reverence.

“Over here,” Kang Jin-Ho gestured at Zhu Gang to come closer.

Zhu Gang didn't even give himself the time to think about the demon emperor's intentions and quickly did as told.

Kang Jin-Ho picked up the packet of cigarettes and offered it to Zhu Gang. “You smoke?”

“N-no, my liege. I wouldn't dare...”

“Take one if you smoke. I'm planning to smoke myself.”

“Oh, uh...” Zhu Gang could only hesitate here.

Obviously, he must politely decline, but not accepting a cigarette offered by the demon emperor was going against the etiquette, too. Zhu Gang sneakily turned his head and glanced at Chang Min. He was silently asking for guidance here.

Chang Min briefly nodded to indicate it was fine. So, Zhu Gang cautiously accepted Kang Jin-Ho's cigarette.

Kang Jin-Ho glanced at an empty spot by the couch. “Why don't you take a seat?”

“O-oh! Thank you!”

Kang Jin-Ho waited until Zhu Gang was settled down before lighting the nervy demonic cultivator's cigarette.

'Wow. I never imagined I'd smoke politely like this...'

In China, smoking in the presence of a senior member of society was not seen as rude. Even so, Zhu Gang was doing his utmost best to be polite and respectful. Was it an attempt to leave a good impression, though? No, not really.

Zhu Gang knew better than anyone that the demon emperor wouldn't pay him any more attention than necessary regardless of how polite or respectful he was. This show of respect was coming from his heart.

Kang Jin-Ho got the conversation going. “I had a few things to confirm, so I asked you to come.”

“Please ask me, my liege. I shall answer to the best of my abilities.” Zhu Gang politely replied but couldn't stop himself from thinking how laughable he was.

It hadn't been that long ago when he was complaining about being forced to go and fetch the demon emperor. But that version of him was long gone by now, replaced by a cult believer ready to offer his undying loyalty to the demon emperor.

Such a change of heart would be worthy of mockery, but this transformation didn't seem so outlandish to Zhu Gang. Back then, he still had no idea the demon emperor was this incredible, after all! Who could've guessed that the legend wasn't merely a legend?

Kang Jin-Ho asked, “What do you think is the problem?”

“...I'm sorry?” Zhu Gang slightly raised his head in confusion.

“Mm? Was the question too vague and wide-ranging? Then, let me rephrase the question. What do you think we should do first for the demon cult to regain its former prestige?”

“O-oh! Uh... Hmm.” Zhu Gang gasped before clamping his mouth shut.

First thing they should do? If this occasion hadn't been so... 'extraordinary', Zhu Gang would have answered that in a heartbeat without thinking too deeply about it. That was how simple that question should've been, but when it came from the demon emperor? He couldn't help but mull over it some more.

When Zhu Gang wordlessly pondered for a while, Kang Jin-Ho slightly nodded and asked again. “I see. As expected, is it a better cultivation method?”

“N-no, my liege,” Zhu Gang hurriedly rejected Kang Jin-Ho's thoughts.

“It's not?”

“Yes, my liege. It's not better martial techniques, but... But, what we need much more urgently is a place to rest our weary feet. A sanctuary.”

“A... sanctuary, is it?” Kang Jin-Ho furrowed his brow. He couldn't quite understand the intent behind that declaration.

“Yes, my liege. Even if you provide us with a powerful cultivation technique, we won't be able to master it properly.”

“I see. Go on.”

“Thank you,” Zhu Gang gulped his saliva again. “Cultivating in demonic arts will inevitably result in the emission of demonic qi. If the cult believers walk around in public while emitting demonic qi... It won't be long before the orthodox faction people discover that we've been cultivating powerful demonic arts.”

“Yes, that sounds logical.”

“If luck is on our side and our enemies figure out what happened after we've grown sufficiently stronger, it might be possible to put up solid resistance. However, if they find out before that... It'll only invite the complete destruction of the cult, my liege. Those bastards don't want us to become stronger. If the cult displays even a hint of gaining power, they will try whatever means possible to destroy us.”

Kang Jin-Ho slowly nodded away. He agreed that Zhu Gang had a point.

“Also, even if that part of the problem is resolved, our situation will still be bad, my liege. We're dirt poor, sire. To put food on the table, we must work. We can't focus on cultivation only.”

“Hmm...” Kang Jin-Ho scratched his cheek.

Everything in the world ultimately revolved around the idea of making enough money to survive. Obviously, even demonic cultivators needed money to live. Actually, being a martial artist meant they would need even more money.

Unfortunately, the Chinese demonic cultivators were the poorest of the poor. These people didn't even have the minimum-necessary environment to focus on cultivating as things stood.

“So, ultimately it's all about the basic necessities of life, huh,” Kang Jin-Ho grunted. “We're back to dealing with fundamental issues, then.”

Zhu Gang deeply bowed. “My apologies, my liege. Please forgive me.”

“You shouldn't be apologizing for this,” Kang Jin-Ho shook his head, then glanced at Chang Min.

Chang Min also bowed his head. “...Forgive me, my liege. I didn't think that far ahead.”

“It's not your fault, either.” Kang Jin-Ho sighed while leaning against his couch.

He thought the problem would be taken care of once he handed over a few demonic cultivation manuals, but things weren't as simple as he initially bargained for.

The problem Vator mentioned earlier, the one about their pitiful martial prowess? That was something Kang Jin-Ho could resolve somehow. However, this 'new' set of challenges was well beyond Kang Jin-Ho's capabilities.

'This is tougher than I thought...'

Kang Jin-Ho grimaced. This was why he needed someone like Azure Demon. If that ever-reliable second-in-command was here, he would've said this:

-You racking your brain won't help us in this matter, my liege. I will take care of everything, so please do not worry and focus on cultivating.

Returning to the modern era and dealing with administrative work finally taught Kang Jin-Ho how incredible Azure Demon was as an individual. After all, the scope of Azure Demon's work encompassed what Chang Min did for the demon cult and what Lee Hyeon-Su did for the Martial Assembly.

No, it was actually more than that, wasn't it? Azure Demon's job entailed looking after the daily necessities of the cult believers, overseeing the handing over of inheritances, improving morale and loyalty levels, and purging any potential rebels and traitors. Basically, he was the general manager of the demon cult.

Pulling off this near-impossible role as well as he did was only because Azure Demon happened to be a top-tier expert. An average martial artist wouldn't even last a month before dying of overwork if they took on Azure Demon's job.

'If it had been Azure Demon coming to the modern era, not me... The demon cult would've prospered already.'

Kang Jin-Ho got another stark reminder of how lacking he was.

“So, a place to call home, basically...”

What Zhu Gang said sounded logical. There was a limit to how much one could cultivate while hiding underground. In the ancient past, experts often secluded themselves as a part of a hellish training regime to improve their cultivation realms, but such a thing wouldn't be viable in the modern era. Especially when the cultivators these days were too used to the conveniences offered by modern civilization.

Even Kang Jin-Ho would become frustrated if he went three days without his phone, so how much worse would it be for the modern-era martial artists? Besides, even if cultivating in seclusion was possible, it'd still pose another problem.

Where could a space large enough to accommodate all these people even be found? Not only did it have to be large enough, but it also needed to be somewhere uninhabited to avoid potential prying eyes. Obviously, such a thing was impossible when the Three Kings' stranglehold on this country was absolute.

'...Hold on.'

Kang Jin-Ho frowned slightly while mouthing a fresh cigarette.

'If it's impossible in a country with Three Kings...'

In that case, wouldn't this problem be solved if they simply went to a different country?

Kang Jin-Ho slowly nodded. “...Right. Let's go to Korea, then.”

Chang Min's eyes opened wider. “M-my liege? W-what do you mean?”

“That seems to be the best option. The Three Kings' influence doesn't extend to South Korea, after all.”

“B-but, uh... My liege, we've lived all our lives in China.”

Kang Jin-Ho tutted. “So what? We have always been outsiders. Since when did the demon cult become a religion exclusive to Chinese people?”

“W-well, that's true...” Chang Min faltered, but his expression indicated that he was somewhat unconvinced. Even so, he didn't voice his opposition. He couldn't think of a better solution, after all.

Kang Jin-Ho unhesitantly yanked his phone out as if there was no more need to chat here. Then, he quickly dialed a familiar someone's number.

-This is Lee Hyeon-Su speaking.

“It's me. I have a new job for you.”

-I'm always available for any tasks, sir. Please give me the word, and I will brilliantly and perfectly handle whatever it is.

“Good to hear. I'm planning to take a few people from here to Korea. Think of a way to do that.”

-It shouldn't be difficult, though? However, how many are we talking about, Assembly Master?

“Mm... Between five to ten thousand?”

-...I'm sorry?

“Between five to ten thousand.”

-...

A lengthy silence ensued. However, Kang Jin-Ho broke it first as if he didn't need to hear Lee Hyeon-Su's response. “Since we're talking about a lot of people, I'm sure it'll take some time to complete. Still, try to find the solution as soon as possible and let me know, okay?”

-H-hold on, Assembly Master! Assembly Master?! T-ten thousand?! Did you say ten thousand? Assembly Master! Wait!

Kang Jin-Ho sneakily distanced himself from the phone.

-Assembly Master! Siiiiiir! Ten thousand?! What on Earth are you even talking about here?! What did you even do on that side to...

Drop.

Kang Jin-Ho decisively ended the call right there, then stared straight at Chang Min. “It's done.”

“...!”

Chang Min felt a flood of cold sweat breaking out on his back. It felt like he could hear the torrent of expletives flying out of a certain poor subordinate's lips millions of figurative miles away.


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