Chapter 28. The Contract (3)

While Choi Myeong-Gil was gritting his teeth, Kang Jin-Ho was in class listening to his teacher. But for some reason... His vision was getting blurrier with every passing minute.

His eyes were open, yet everything in front of him kept growing indistinct and fuzzy. The figure of his teacher diligently educating the class split into two, sometimes three, and into blurry shapes, too. Eventually, Kang Jin-Ho's head slowly faltered lower and rested on his desk.

His teacher, Kim Seong-Ju, stopped his hands from moving against the blackboard. He frowned deeply, his eyebrows creasing up. "You...!"

He fixed his sharp glare on Kang Jin-Ho dozing off oh-so peacefully, then picked up a piece of chalk. He took aim and threw it at the sleeping student's head. Despite the teacher not possessing any inner energy, the flying chalk still contained a lot of destructive power and killing intent.

PAHT!

But then...! Kang Jin-Ho's eyes suddenly flew open, then he caught the flying chalk with a lightning-fast reflex. He raised his head and alternated his dazed stare between the chalk in his hand and his teacher. “...Mmm?

Kim Seong-Ju's cheeks began twitching ominously. “You... dare catch that?!”

Kang Jin-Ho dazedly scanned his surroundings before bowing his head a little. “I'm sorry, sir. It seems that I dozed off briefly.”

“Go and stand in the corridor, now!”

“Yes, sir.” Kang Jin-Ho didn't talk back and went outside the classroom via the back door, then stood at attention in the corridor. “Hmm...

Now, this was rather strange. It wasn't as if he felt tired or anything like that. A high schooler's life was supposed to be plagued by the lack of sleep and deeply stained by exhaustion, but such a tale didn't apply to Kang Jin-Ho capable of ridding himself of any fatigue by performing the breathing technique and circulating his qi for around one hour or so.

Unlike other kids, he didn't go to cram school, either. Indeed, his entire schedule was taken up by just the school, so he shouldn't even be feeling a minimum level of fatigue. That was why Kang Jin-Ho dozing off during class was such a mystery to him. He wasn’t tired at all, yet why did he keep dozing off whenever it was time for class?

Kang Jin-Ho was confident of not losing to anyone in terms of mental strength, yet he just couldn't keep himself awake for some reason.

'Not even the Quanzhen School's sorcery that forcibly makes you fall asleep is as effective as this...'

Kang Jin-Ho had experienced all kinds of bizarre and powerful sorcery techniques over the years, but the teachers' musings seemed to contain a powerful spell that not even he could withstand.

'Let's be honest here, that's obviously not true…'

The physical body might be that of the teenage Kang Jin-Ho, but the mind contained within was that of Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor. The feared martial artist the world referred to as Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor couldn't stay awake during a high school class? The people of Zhongyuan would have burst their guts for laughing too hard at that.

Kang Jin-Ho touched his chest and felt his beating heart.

Events like these served as reminders that his current physical body hadn’t experienced Zhongyuan, even though his mind certainly had. As a result, the body and mind were in slight disharmony with each other. Such a thing would have been a fatal weakness if he was still stuck in Zhongyuan.

Unifying one's essence, qi, and physical body was the basic of basics in martial arts. Those who couldn't even do this would be unable to reach the realm of a first-rate martial artist. And if he was being honest, Kang Jin-Ho knew that his current martial art level was no better than second-rate.

'A second-rate warrior, huh...'

This would have been unimaginable in the past. Even the lowliest gophers in the Demon Cult had to be at least first-rate warriors to get recognized as a proper martial artist. In other words, the current Kang Jin-Ho was even worse than the lowest 'employee' of his former 'company.’

He was confident of reaching the peak level within one year if he unified his essence, qi, and physical body, then devoted all his time to cultivation and nothing else. However, was there a strict need for him to do that?

Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly shook his head. He certainly needed 'power' to live in the modern era, but he was also skeptical of whether martial art prowess exceeding a certain level was absolutely necessary.

He knew the truth quite well. A man with power would inevitably crave to use that power. And a man with power would always desire more power. As proof, wasn't Kang Jin-Ho thinking about acquiring peak-level cultivation even though no one in this world could match up to his current strength? And besides, would he be able to stop himself after acquiring peak-level cultivation? No. He would most likely wish to enter the next stage.

The craving would be endless. By continuously pursuing an ever-higher realm of cultivation, Kang Jin-Ho would one day become Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor once more—that was the absolute last thing he wanted.

To remain as himself, Kang Jin-Ho had to be cautious around cultivation and martial arts. After all, he was no longer the feared leader of the Demon Cult but a common high school student, as could be found pretty much everywhere.

Besides, the modern era required a different type of power, anyway.

'How much progress has the Chairman made, I wonder?'

Chairman Hwang Jeong-Hu should be doing his utmost right now to provide Kang Jin-Ho with the 'power' needed to live in the modern era.

Kang Jin-Ho looked up at the ceiling constructed out of modern building material. It still felt foreign and unfamiliar.

'For now, I should continue with taking baby steps forward.'

The matter with Choi Yeong-Su had indeed thrown a wrench into his plan, but the ordinary life Kang Jin-Ho had been dreaming about was still on course. That dream life should be in his grasp sooner rather than later if he diligently removed all obstacles and variables trying to hinder his progress.

“...Are you getting punished again?”

A voice suddenly came from the side to break Kang Jin-Ho out of his thoughts. He gazed at Han Se-Yeon and her grin-filled face, then nodded flatly. “Yes, I am.”

“What is it this time? Did you hit someone again?”

“No, I did not.”

“Okay? Then, what happened?”

Kang Jin-Ho furrowed his brow as if she was getting a little annoying now. Why was she interrogating him for something this minor? "...I dozed off in class."

“Really? You dozed off?”

“That's right.”

"Wow, you're a riot, Jin-Ho. Keep that up, and your grades will fall, you know? I heard that you got a better score than me on the last exam. But I guess I'll win the next one."

'How did this girl find out the test score?'

This weird feeling sneakily reared its head in Kang Jin-Ho's mind, but that still couldn't persuade him to continue with this conversation. So, he disinterestedly waved her off. “Probably...”

Huh? That's a weird response from you. Did you lose your interest in studying?”

Han Se-Yeon's surprised question made Kang Jin-Ho seriously ponder. Did he really lose his interest in studying? Looking back, he was reasonably certain that he used to be a hard-working student with good grades all those decades ago. He had even planned to enter a famous university after graduation. If the car accident that utterly obliterated his family didn't happen, Kang Jin-Ho would have become a university student and...

'Studying, huh...'

Honestly speaking, he didn't feel the need to study hard. In the distant past, that had been the only option on the table for his future, so he had poured in all of his being into getting good grades. But that was no longer true now. Even if he didn't study hard, he still had various options to live a socially and financially abundant life. Of course, this didn't mean he could entirely abandon studying, though.

It wouldn’t take a genius to realize that his falling grades would make his parents genuinely worried about him. It would also create problems in his school life. Kang Jin-Ho definitely didn't want that.

He emotionlessly replied to her, “No, I am still interested.”

“Even though you doze off in class and wasted time playing all the time?”

Hmm. It seems that the girl I saw in the karaoke lounge that day wasn't you.”

Han Se-Yeon poked her tongue out. “I'll have you know, that was the only time I didn't study.”

Kang Jin-Ho looked back to his current life. He realized that he hadn't exactly taken his time to study anything. Sure, he did try to read through some of the textbooks, but that always happened during class. Considering his current status, perhaps he should devote more of his time to studying…

“I'll be studying from now on.”

Han Se-Yeon tilted her head. “Wait, does that mean you haven't been studying at all until now?”

“That's correct...”

“But, you still got a better test score than me?”

“I guess so?”

Han Se-Yeon began pouting deeply. "You... I'm gonna keep my eyes on you. Let's see how well you’ll do during next week's mock exams!"

“Suit yourself.”

As they chatted, the classroom door suddenly flung open and the angry-looking homeroom teacher, Kim Seong-Ju, came outside. "You two!"

“Yes, sir?”

“I told you to stand in the corridor, not chat up a girl and have a date!”

“But sir. I didn't initiate this conversation.”

“You still answered her, didn't you?!”

“That's correct, sir.”

Kim Seong-Ju roared at him. "In that case, why are you even talking back to me as if you are in the right?!"

Kang Jin-Ho tilted his head in confusion. He was simply replying to someone trying to talk to him, but he wasn't supposed to do that?

Uh-whew, never mind! You, just come back inside!”

"Yes, sir." Kang Jin-Ho obediently went back inside the classroom.

Han Se-Yeon made an expression akin to a scalded cat, then hurriedly bowed to Kim Seong-Ju before trotting away to her original destination.

“Seriously now, kids these days...” Kim Seong-Ju muttered while feeling wronged for some reason.

***

Jeong In-Gyu walked up to Kang Jin-Ho when school ended and tapped the latter on the shoulder. "Hey, let's go to the PC Room!"

Finally, the moment had come. Kang Jin-Ho's heart began boiling in anticipation. Yes! The day of redemption had finally arrived!

'I've waited long enough...'

Kang Jin-Ho couldn't pay much attention to his gaming while dealing with Choi Yeong-Su's matters. Now that chapter of his life was over, it was time to move on to the next task of repaying the humiliation he had suffered on that day. Just how much effort did he pour in for this moment? Whenever he found free time, Kang Jin-Ho would pounce on his computer and game as much as possible. So much so that the images of the game screens would appear even in his dreams.

“Alright, let's go,” Kang Jin-Ho replied with a snarky grin on his face.

Jeong In-Gyu cocked an eyebrow. “Oh? You look pretty confident of yourself.”

“Obviously…”

“Don't be like the last time, though.”

"Discard all your worries," said Kang Jin-Ho as the spirit of competition began taking over his expression. It didn't matter whether he was playing computer games or something else, he had never been the type of person to accept defeat. If he hadn't bothered to start anything, he wouldn't have cared, but after he had gotten involved, he simply had to win no matter what.

Just how angry and frustrated was he while trying to endure the ensuing days after his resounding defeat? He finally had the chance to wash away that humiliation and end it all with a beautiful victory.

“What about the others?” Kang Jin-Ho asked.

“Tae-Ho and Min-Jae are tagging along, obviously! How can we game without them, anyway?”

Kang Jin-Ho nodded at that. “Then, let's get going.”

Jeong In-Gyu whistled while watching Jin-Ho standing up urgently. "Huh. I guess you're really confident, eh?”

“They’re small fries.”

Wowsers! Dude, that's some amazing confidence, right there.”

Kang Jin-Ho turned around to leave, but then, his eyes caught the sight of another student packing up his bag. It was Park Yu-Min. The boy with a limp was finally done putting his textbooks in the bag and he slung it over his shoulder.

“...Park Yu-Min.”

N-ng?” Park Yu-Min flinched a little and raised his head when his name was called.

Kang Jin-Ho silently stared at the boy before asking a question, “Do you know how to play Galaxy?”

“G-Galaxy? Oh... Y-yeah, a little.”

A little, was it? Kang Jin-Ho stared at Park Yu-Min for a little longer, then gestured with his chin. “Follow me.”

“Follow you? Where?”

“To the PC Room,” Kang Jin-Ho replied.

But that reply sent a shockwave through Jeong In-Gyu, prompting him to cry out in alarm. "You want him to come with us?!"

Kang Jin-Ho tilted his head. “What's wrong? It's not allowed?”

"No, it's not that, but... we don't have enough people to balance the teams, you know?"

“Then, call someone.”

“Who?”

Kang Jin-Ho shrugged his shoulders. “I don't know. Don't you have some other friend?”

Jeong In-Gyu groaned, then looked around the classroom. "If I must find someone at a short notice..."

Park Yu-Min hurriedly shook his head. "N-no, it's fine, Jin-Ho. You don't really need me, right?"

“What, you don't want to play?”

Uhm...

"If you don't want to, then don't come. I have no desire to force someone who's not willing."

Park Yu-Min was visibly conflicted but he couldn't bring himself to say no.

Kang Jin-Ho smirked. “Come. Let's get going.”

Park Yu-Min's indecision didn't last long as he began nodding quickly.

Jeong In-Gyu watching this scene could only make a tearful face. "Oh, come on! If we go there with this guy, we'll take too long to get there, and someone else will take our spots..."

Kang Jin-Ho dismissively replied, "It's fine. I'll give him a ride on my bicycle."

“No, hang on a minute...”

“Just get the extra player and meet us there.”

Jeong In-Gyu quietly tutted. 

'Urgh, just what has gotten into him?'

It hadn't been that long since Park Yu-Min had lied to screw Kang Jin-Ho over. Knowing that, why did Jin-Ho want to go to the PC Room with a liar? There had to be a limit to being a nice guy, no? Did Kang Jin-Ho lose his cojones or something?

Jeong In-Gyu wanted to say no, but he found it hard to say no to Kang Jin-Ho lately for some reason.

“Okay, fine. Fine!” Jeong In-Gyu pouted, then began asking every kid leaving the school before finally finding a boy that might be able to pull his weight. “I found someone.”

Jeong In-Gyu still sounded unhappy, but Kang Jin-Ho was too excited to notice that.

He had been waiting for this day for far too long, after all!

“Let's get going!” Kang Jin-Ho declared in a loud voice.

Today…

Today, he shall regain his once-trampled honor once and for all!

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