His Descent (4)
Kang Jin-Ho turned his head to get a better look at the detective calling out his name and realized that it was someone he knew.
You do remember me, right?”
“Yes, I do.” Kang Jin-Ho nodded.
This man was none other than Detective Yi Jong-In of the violent crimes unit that scolded Kang Jin-Ho for butting in during the hostage situation.
“What's going on here, Detective Park? Tell me the gist of it.” Detective Yi shifted his attention over to the cop interrogating Kang Jin-Ho.
After listening to the situation, he nodded and wrapped his arm around Kang Jin-Ho's shoulders.
“Listen, Detective Park.
This kid and I will pop outside for a quick chat, okay?”
“But sir, we're in the middle of investigation…”
“Don't sweat it.
I'll handle it.”
Yi Jong-In ignored Detective Park's call and waltzed outside the office with Kang Jin-Ho in tow.
After reaching a quiet spot out of people's earshot, he turned to Kang Jin-Ho and asked, “Do you smoke?”
“No, I don't.”
“I ain't gonna bite your head off, so just be honest.
You smoke, right?”
“Just one at a time.”
“Here.” Detective Yi handed a cigarette over.
Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly mouthed it.
The detective lit it up, then stuck another cigarette between his lips.
“What's been said inside.
It's all rubbish, right?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Yeah, knew it.
After all, you wouldn't have risked your neck during the hostage drama if you were that type of person.
Let's not forget, you should be getting your brave citizen award pretty soon.”
“I think I know what's going on here.
That punk's grandpa is the chief director of the Dongmyeong Foundation, right? The thing is, that foundation is as suspicious as it can get.
That grandpa alone has a ton of crappy rumors about him.”
“That's why you should just think of this experience as getting bitten by a rabid stray or something.
I'll try to take care of this thing, so don't worry about it.
“Thank you.” Kang Jin-Ho deeply sucked in the cigarette smoke.
Today's event reminded him of why he used to smoke in the past.
The cigarette still tasted bitter back then or even now.
Detective Yi went back inside and grabbed Detective Park's shoulder.
Since the investigation is basically over, why don't you let the boy go home? It'll get dark soon.”
The victim has to lie down in a hospital for six weeks.
I've got a ton of paperwork to do since this case will go to court.”
Yi Jong-In was taken aback.
“What? To court?”
“And what's the charge?”
“Assault and battery, of course.”
“What the f*ck? A couple of kids were fighting, yet you wanna stick a charge of assault and battery? You dumba*s, that's not how we do things.” Yi Jong-In chided the junior detective unhappily.
Detective Park sounded troubled as he replied, “But, uh, that's exactly how we do things?”
“Oh, is that right? And which hospital issued the victim's medical certificate?”
“W-well, the certificate isn't…”
“Isn't? Isn't what, you dumba*s?! You don't even have the medical report, so how the f*ck do you know it's six weeks or whatever?”
Yi Jong-In quietly growled, “Let the boy go home while I'm still being civil, okay?”
Chief will eviscerate me if I do that…”
“Tell him I sent the boy home, then!”
Yi Jong-In ignored Detective Park's whimpering and addressed Kang Jin-Ho, “You can go now, kid.”
“I'm telling you, stop worrying about this and go home.”
While the two of them had engaged in a bit of an 'argument,’ Kang Yu-Hwan stepped back inside the office and asked Yi Jong-In.
“Is everything over now, officer?”
“Ah, yes, sir.
Please take the boy home, sir.
And you don't have to come back here, as well.
This whole thing will blow over with a warning or, at worst, a suspended sentence.”
“But what about the six weeks of treatment?”
“If lady luck isn't on your side, you might get slapped with a summary fine of around five hundred thousand won, but I will not stand by and watch crap like that go down, sir.
I'll make sure it ends at a suspended sentence even if it means I must hop over to the police headquarters and flip some tables.”
Kang Yu-Hwan nodded in silence.
“By the way, sir, I'm guessing you're this boy's father?” Yi Jong-In asked.
“Yes, I am.”
“I had an opportunity to chat with his mother some time ago, you see.
This will be our first meeting, then.
Thanks to your brave son, we were able to apprehend a serial killer without any further losses of lives.
Without Jin-Ho's help, the child who had been taken as a hostage back then could have died.
I still don't know the full details of this case, but I know for a fact that your son isn't a person who would do what others are accusing him of.
Please don't bite his head off too much, sir.”
“That's my plan, as well.”
Yi Jong-In grinned.
“Your son is one heck of a man, sir.
I mean it.”
Kang Yu-Hwan closed his eyes and nodded slightly.
Jin-Ho, let's go home.”
Kang Jin-Ho and his father left the police station and wordlessly walked over to the parked car.
“Jin-Ho?” Kim Seong-Ju waiting by the car called out to Kang Jin-Ho.
“Don't worry too much about this.
I'll try my best to reverse your suspension.”
“No, it won't be fine if the suspension is recorded in your student record.
Going to school will become troublesome for you in the future in that case.
Besides, how can I sit by and let this rubbish stand?! I will…!”
Kang Jin-Ho shook his head.
“Please don't do that.
You might get caught up in it if you do.
Just let it be, sir.”
“…Ugh.” Kim Seong-Ju could only groan.
One of his students was being unfairly crushed by the weight of wealth and authority, but there was nothing he could do for the boy.
“I'm sorry, Jin-Ho.”
Actually, I'm grateful.” Kang Jin-Ho bowed his head at his homeroom teacher.
Kang Yu-Hwan also bowed deeply at Kim Seong-Ju.
“Thank you for caring so much about my son, Teacher Kim.”
I haven't done anything at all.
I…” Kim Seong-Ju replied in a self-mocking tone.
If he could, he wanted to yell and vent some steam.
“See you, then.”
After leaving behind that brief goodbye, Kang Yu-Hwan and Kang Jin-Ho climbed into the car and drove home.
Once they got home, Kang Jin-Ho's mother and Kang Eun-Yeong rushed over and immediately began their barrage of questioning.
“Are you alright, son?!”
“What did the cops say, Oppa?!”
Kang Yu-Hwan stepped in to stop the duo.
“Let the kid get some rest first, you two.”
“Dad! Can't you that see we're dying of curiosity here!”
“I said, let him be!” Kang Yu-Hwan raised his voice, prompting Kang Jin-Ho's mother and sister to flinch and clamp their mouths shut.
Kang Jin-Ho looked at his father.
“Father, I'd like to return to my room and get some rest.”
Kang Jin-Ho entered his room, then lay down on the bed.
He hadn't bothered to turn the lights on, leaving the room bathed in darkness.
He slowly closed his eyes.
Right now, he was using all of his mental strength trying to suppress the urge.
He simply had to endure it because failing to do so might lead him to murder the chief director and Choi Yeong-Su in cold blood.
'Don't forget that this is a different world…'
Kang Jin-Ho clenched his teeth.
One couldn't kill their way out of trouble in this era.
More importantly, didn't he wish to return to the modern era to escape those things in the first place?
Kang Jin-Ho tapped on his pressure point.
The longer he stayed awake, the greater his urge would become.
If his urge managed to awaken the Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor slumbering within his heart, then… Some things that could never be undone might occur.
So, for now…
he should just go to sleep.
The next morning…
“Excuse me? I'm fired?” Kang Yu-Hwan was getting ready for work when he suddenly yelled while holding his phone.
“Everything was fine until yesterday, so why am I suddenly being let go?!”
A calm voice came from the phone's speaker.
– You jumped the light again yesterday.
“It couldn't be helped as my son was in trouble at school! Of course, I was in a hurry! Besides, what do you mean, again? I've never violated traffic laws before!”
– We've received complaints regarding how you drive your taxi, Mister Kang.
And we're not talking about one or two calls, either.
“But there has never been a single word to me about this until now!”
– What's the point of telling you ahead of time? We wait and see if things improve, and when that's not working, we'll just cut our losses.
In any case, you're fired.
Don't come to work.
“Director! That's nonsense! This is unfair dismissal! I won't take this lying down!”
– If you want to sue us, go ahead.
And this is not easy for me, either.
Do try to understand that I had no choice, Mister Kang.
With that, the call came to an end.
Kang Yu-Hwan glared at the phone with a hardened look before shoving the device into his pocket.
“…Dear, what was that all about?” Kang Jin-Ho's mother cautiously asked.
Kang Yu-Hwan barely contained his anger before he squeezed out a reply, “I'll go find out myself, so wait for my call, dear.”
Kang Jin-Ho gnashed his teeth after eavesdropping on the call from his room.
He instinctively figured out what was going on. He was sure that chief director old man had done something—that was the only plausible explanation for this sudden development.
This method of leisurely and slowly tightening the hold and enjoying your opponent's pain was familiar to Kang Jin-Ho.
In fact, he had witnessed it far too many times in the past.
The bastards at the so-called righteous orthodox sects and the Imperial Family's eunuchs enjoyed deploying this type of torture method.
They would let a single ray of hope shine and gleefully watch as their victims desperately cling to it, only to mercilessly cut it off at the last second for maximum despair.
Of course, things might not play out the same this time.
This era was not gangho, after all.
Even so, Kang Jin-Ho still heard a familiar voice calling out to him from deep within his soul.
Haven't you endured enough?
Kang Jin-Ho squeezed his eyes shut to block out the voice of Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor.
It seemed that the latter had awakened enough to address him.
Of course, that voice was Kang Jin-Ho's voice as well. After all, he was Heavenly Crimson Demon Emperor.
The urge to destroy everything was trying to overtake his mind right now.
‘Just where did things go wrong?’
Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly stared at his ceiling.
A day later, his mother also received a notice of dismissal from the cleaning company she was working at. The day after, Kang Eun-Yeong came home in tears and bitterly complained that her teacher suddenly began bullying her at school—which happened to be Dongmyeong Girls' Middle School. On the following day, the landowner of the place where Kang Jin-Ho's family lived suddenly notified them of a rent increase.
Since Kang Jin-Ho had to stay home during the duration of his suspension, he had no choice but to listen to all these development and stew in the dark atmosphere of his family.
The chief director's evil scheme was gradually tightening the noose around Kang Jin-Ho, one day at a time.
Later that day, the evening cast its darkness in the heavens, and… Kang Jin-Ho got up from the bed and stepped outside the room.
As he and his sister got older, the family had to extend beyond their means to rent a three-bedroom home just so that the kids could have their own private rooms.
He found his father sitting alone in the living room, sipping on a glass of booze.
Kang Yu-Hwan looked back at his son.
“Where are you going, Jin-Ho?”
“Just to get some fresh air, Father.”
Kang Jin-Ho put on his shoes and reached out to open the front door.
His hand stopped when Kang Yu-Hwan called out to him again.
“I'm sorry, son.”
“What for, Father?”
“You haven't done anything wrong.”
Kang Yu-Hwan's voice faltered.
“As your father, I should be praising you.
Indeed, you did the right thing, my boy.
Don't lose sleep over this.
But this father of yours is too powerless and has nothing going for him and…
And I can't even praise you for doing something right.
That's why I…
I'm sorry, son…”
Kang Jin-Ho's grip on the door handle grew tighter and tighter.
“…Please don't say that, Father.”
I'm really sorry…”
Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly closed the door behind him and stepped outside.
He turned his head and stared at the slums located on a steep hillside.
His next destination was there.
Once he reached the highest point on the hill, he thought that the moon was close enough for him to reach out and grab it off the heavens.
'Where did things go wrong?'
He only wanted to live an ordinary life.
A life where he could laugh and make merry like everyone else.
that life was getting further away from him.
So, just what went wrong?
Was he at fault for failing to hold himself back? If he didn't hurt Choi Yeong-Su, would he be living that elusive ordinary life by now?
Maybe… He made a mistake by believing in others.
However, did he really believe that his classmates would be honest with their testimonies after he took down Choi Yeong-Su?
Was he too lackadaisical with the handling of this matter? Perhaps, he should have been smarter in preparing for the incoming threat.
Kang Jin-Ho's fist slammed into the ground as a mocking grin crept up on his lips.
He already knew the answer in his heart.
None of the above was the cause.
As a matter of fact, there could be only one to blame here.
'In the end, it's not so different here.'
He made a mistake by believing that this era would be different from gangho because people here didn't cross swords and openly threatened to kill each other.
He forgot that no matter where people lived, certain things would remain the same.
If you wanted to live like a human being in a society, you needed one crucial thing—power.
Kang Jin-Ho finally accepted that one truth he had been trying so hard to ignore.
Whether it was gangho or the modern era, the law of the jungle still applied.
The strong enjoyed the best that life could offer while the weak ended up as prey or playthings.
Regardless of how righteous you had been throughout your life, everything would go out of whack in an instant if that was what the strong desired—that was the truth of this world.
Kang Jin-Ho finally realized it.
No, wait—the truth was, he knew the answer from the beginning.
He already knew the mistake he had made.
I wanted to live an ordinary life.”
If one wanted something, one shouldn't just wish for it.
No, one should actively do something, anything, to fulfill that wish—that was the universal truth of life.
He wanted to live an ordinary life? Since that was his wish, he needed to put in the necessary effort.
Kang Jin-Ho came to understand this one thing during the last few days, and that was…
“In order to enjoy an ordinary life, I need power.”
He broke out into a fierce grin.
His white teeth coldly gleamed under the faint light like the fangs of a predator drooling over its prey.
“I only wanted to live an ordinary life.
But now…” Kang Jin-Ho glared at the heavens while slowly chewing out his words.
“Remember that you provoked me first.”
He closed his eyes, sensing the creeping approach of an existence buried deep within his subconsciousness.
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