9;t know?” Kang Jin-Ho cocked an eyebrow.

“Oh, Lord Demon Emperor…
It has been too long, my liege.
My family line simply continued to guard the Cave as our life's mission until the inevitable advent of the new Demon Emperor.”

“Hmm…” Kang Jin-Ho sucked in a deep breath.

'The inevitable advent of Demon Emperor?'

Just who could have left behind that prophecy? It could very well be nothing more than a myth cooked up to give hope to the descendants of the crumbling demon cult.
Just like the belief in the advent of Maitreya, a prophecy of a future savior always seemed to accompany the death of a once-powerful dynasty or a group, did it not? So, this could be one of those cases.

However, the presence of Azuremourne and Crimson Destiny made that line of logic difficult to swallow.
These swords were undoubtedly Kang Jin-Ho's treasured weapons, but that wasn't the case with the previous demon cult leaders as they didn't use them.
That was why Kang Jin-Ho couldn't help but wonder—were these two swords stored in the Cave of the Heavenly Demon in anticipation of Kang Jin-Ho's eventual return? Or, could the reason be as simple as no other items worthy of representing the demon cult leader's position had been left behind after the fall of the cult?

Kang Jin-Ho shook his head as confusion ruled his mind.

'I can't figure it out…'

The purpose of this trip was to undo the knot in his heart and finally put it to rest, but it felt like more questions had sprung up in his head instead.

Kang Jin-Ho stared at Chang Min again.
“You said your ancestors also protected this place?”

“Yes, my liege.” Chang Min nodded before prostrating on the floor after realizing that Kang Jin-Ho had begun mulling over something.
“We are fully aware how Azure Demon and the Azure Faction had committed an unspeakable, unforgivable crime against the Ming Cult, my liege.
I humbly request your punishment to wash away our sins!”

“…Arise, Chang Min.”

“But, this sin is an everlasting—”

“I said, arise, Chang Min.”

Chang Min shuddered before urgently standing back up.
He could not defy the authority and dignity contained in Kang Jin-Ho's voice.

“You are a fool.
If the crimes of fathers must be paid for by their sons, then no one in this world will be free from sins,” said Kang Jin-Ho in a rebuking tone.
“Regardless of how deep your guilty conscience is, your crime has already been forgiven.
In other words, you are now free.”

“M-my liege! O-oh…!” Warm tears began trickling down Chang Min's eyes.

This conversation is going rather smoothly, isn't it?' 

Kang Jin-Ho quietly scratched his cheek.

Now that he thought about it, Kang Jin-Ho realized it was easier to talk to this old man than to other Chinese he had run into during this trip.
To be more specific, it wasn't about getting the meaning across, but more like…
The actual spoken language was familiar to Kang Jin-Ho.

Chang Min's reactions were a bit odd, as well.
Even if the sins of his ancient predecessor were forgiven, was it necessary for him to become so…
emotional? That was when a certain foreboding flitted in and out of his mind.

Kang Jin-Ho cautiously asked, “By the way, how long have you been guarding this area?”

“For the eventual arrival of the Demon Emperor's descendant, I've been waiting for one hundred and fifty years, my liege.”

“…Mm?” Kang Jin-Ho blinked his eyes.
many years did you say?”

“My liege? It's one hundred and fifty.”

“Mm???” Kang Jin-Ho's head slowly tilted to the side.

‘Okay, so, if he's been waiting for 150 years, then, uh…’

“…What is your age?”

“I'll soon be one hundred and eighty, my liege.”

Kang Jin-Ho politely brought his hands together.
“R-really? I had no idea, sir.”

It was now Chang Min's turn to tilt his head at Kang Jin-Ho's weird reaction.
“Is there something wrong, my liege?”

“N-no, sir…” Kang Jin-Ho muttered as cold sweat trickled down his forehead.

'If only Chang Min were around the same age as Hwang Jeong-Hu, I wouldn't have minded acting rudely, but…'

If all the years Kang Jin-Ho had lived during his three lives were tallied, the total would easily shoot past a century, so he could have acted a bit more arrogantly, but…
One hundred and eighty years old? Now that was a number he couldn't look down on.

“A-are you really 180 years old, sir?”

“My liege, the name of this nation was still Qing when I was born.”

ha…” Kang Jin-Ho chuckled awkwardly, having failed to regain his former dignity.

“All those years waiting for the arrival of the Demon Emperor's descendant have been painful and arduous, my liege.
But I am grateful for this opportunity to fulfill our family's wish before old age claims my life.” Chang Min's wrinkled face grew increasingly wetter from his thick teardrops.
The outpouring of such intense emotions made Kang Jin-Ho feel guilty inside for some reason.

As Azure Demon's descendant, Chang Min's station was far, far lower.
The problem Kang Jin-Ho had with this situation was Chang Min's age.
Since the descendant was so much older than Azure Demon, Kang Jin-Ho found himself unable to overcome the disharmony making a mockery of his common sense.

Kang Jin-Ho quickly gathered himself.
“I understand.
In any case, you're free now, sir.”

“…Am I really free, my liege?”


“But Lord Demon Emperor, I…! If my duty is no more, I no longer have a reason to continue living, my liege.
However, I'm still a descendant of the demon cult.
Please grant me the honor of following and serving the inheritor of Demon Emperor's will!” Chang Min earnestly cried out.

Kang Jin-Ho groaned under his breath.
Obviously, he was happy about encountering a surviving descendant from his old demon cult.
However, staying with an old man like Chang Min might…
Rather than Chang Min serving Kang Jin-Ho, it might end up the other way around, with Kang Jin-Ho taking care of a very, very old man!

“For now, let's discuss that at another time…” Kang Jin-Ho muttered.

“Forgive me, but I don't follow, my liege.”

Kang Jin-Ho didn't explain himself, instead choosing to raise the hilts of Azuremourne and Crimson Destiny into the air.


The two swords suddenly started to vibrate.
Chang Min's reverential expression suddenly changed at this sight, and he deeply scowled.
“…Who dares?!”

It seemed that he had finally sensed the presence of intruders.

Kang Jin-Ho fixed the swords to his hips.
“They must be searching for me, so I should go and say hello.
Please wait here.”

“But, my liege! Allow me to deal with them!”

“…Didn't I tell you to wait here?”

Chang Min sensed the subtle shift in Kang Jin-Ho's tone and hurriedly prostrated on the floor again.
“Your will is my command, my liege!”

Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly stared at Chang Min before leisurely stepping outside the hut.

The sun was setting to welcome the incoming night.
Kang Jin-Ho closed his eyes.

'I am still not a fan of the nights, huh…'

The night sky here was the same as in Zhongyuan.
The ocean of stars sparkling in the dark only served as a reminder of all those painful moments.

However, a grin still crept up on Kang Jin-Ho's lips after sensing his hidden dark side slowly rousing up from its forced slumber.

“You picked the wrong timing.”

At the very least, his opponents should have known this.
They should have known that trying to fight him in the darkness was akin to fighting off a shark underwater while completely exposed and unarmed.

Kang Jin-Ho leisurely strolled into the forest now blanketed by the darkness of the night.


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