A dazed and soulless Lee Hyeon-Ju silently followed Kang Jin-Ho from behind.
She couldn ’t figure out why she was obediently following him like some kind of a zombie.

However, she couldn ’t resist him when he told her to come along.
It was as if his words were the absolute divine order that could not be rebelled against.

Kang Jin-Ho stepped inside the cafe along with Jo Gyu-Min and Lee Hyeon-Ju.

“You ’re finally back, son?” Kang Yu-Hwan stared back at his son while making a face that said, ’You said you ’d be gone for a little while, but you sure took your time.
I must ’ve lost ten groups of potential customers because you were not here. ’

Kang Jin-Ho could only respond with a cramped smile.
“Father, uh…
The staff room is not in use right now, yes?”

“Hmm…” Kang Yu-Hwan nodded in understanding.
Kang Jin-Ho half-expected his father to criticize him for goofing around during his part-time job.
But to his surprise, Kang Yu-Hwan simply pointed at the staff room without any complaints.
“Go on, son.
You want a cup of Americano, right?”

“…Ah, yes.”

“What about you, Chief Jo?”

Jo Gyu-Min nodded with a smile.
“I ’d also like Americano, Mister Kang.”

“And what about you, miss?” Kang Yu-Hwan shifted his gaze over to Lee Hyeon-Ju.
However, she suddenly started panicking and couldn ’t respond.
So, Kang Yu-Hwan helped her out.
“How about a cup of our famous latte? It ’s our cafe ’s specialty, you see?”

“A-ah, I see.
T-thank you…” Lee Hyeon-Ju nodded away even though she still hadn ’t sobered up yet.

Kang Jin-Ho took the lead and led the group into the cafe ’s staff room at the back.
It was normally used during mealtime or when the staff needed to change clothes, but its spaciousness meant a small conference could be held here without any issue.
There was also a table here, which was convenient.

“Take a seat, please.” Kang Jin-Ho pointed to a chair.

Jo Gyu-Min nodded and smartly took up a seat.
Lee Hyeon-Ju followed suit and sat down next to Jo Gyu-Min, although her expression was still filled with anxiety.
She wouldn ’t normally choose to sit next to a total stranger during their first meeting, but it seemed she wanted to be as far away from Kang Jin-Ho as possible.

Kang Jin-Ho sat on the opposite side and crossed his arms in front of his chest.
With that, a somewhat awkward silence ensued.

Jo Gyu-Min cleared his throat, then asked, “What ’s going on, Mister Jin-Ho?”

“…Let ’s talk once we have our coffee first.”


A short while later, Kang Yu-Hwan entered the cafe while carrying three cups of coffee on a tray.
He wordlessly placed the cups in front of the three people, then glanced at his son.
“We don ’t have customers, so take your time, son.”

“Thank you, Father.”

“Then, later.” Kang Yu-Hwan closed the door shut and left.

Kang Jin-Ho fixed his gaze on Lee Hyeon-Ju.
“Now, explain.
Tell us everything you know.”

Lee Hyeon-Ju didn ’t think she would be offering up her information so one-sidedly like this before coming here, but now? She realized there was no other option left.
“Before I do that, may I use your ladies ’ room first?”

“Ladies ’ room?”

“…Yes, I might leak at this rate.”

Kang Jin-Ho calmly nodded.
Once she got his permission, Lee Hyeon-Ju urgently got up and headed outside the staff room.

Jo Gyu-Min quietly stared at the open doorway before addressing Kang Jin-Ho, “Was that okay to let her go like that?”

“Do you think it ’ll be a problem?”

“I don ’t know the exact details of the current situation, but I could tell that that lady was feeling rather uncomfortable…
So, what if she decides to run away?”

“That won ’t happen, Mister Gyu-Min.”

Jo Gyu-Min tilted his head.
“How can you be so sure?”

Kang Jin-Ho smirked softly.
That smirk looked so cynical and disdainful to Jo Gyu-Min ’s eyes.
“I ’ve been noticing something for a while, Mister Gyu-Min.
And it ’s humanity ’s tendency to broadly overestimate their own capabilities.”

“Although it is a bit embarrassing to say this to you, but, uh… I ’m not as smart as you think I am, Mister Jin-Ho.
If you can explain it in simpler terms, I ’ll try my best to understand you.”

“It ’s simple.
What if you run into a problem that you cannot solve on your own?”

“I ’d either give up or…
If it ’s work-related, I ’d most likely seek the higher-up ’s assistance.”

Kang Jin-Ho coolly nodded.
“Humans have this tendency to mistakenly believe that the power of the organization they belong to is theirs.
That the power afforded by their backgrounds is all because of them.
So, if they can ’t solve a problem on their own, they will call on their group for help.
would be the usual response.”

Jo Gyu-Min narrowed his eyes.
“Then, what will happen now?”

Kang Jin-Ho replied nonchalantly.
“Since her own powers are inadequate, she will now try to call someone who she thinks is strong enough.”


“…Why aren ’t you answering your phone?!” Lee Hyeon-Ju, still making an anxious face, desperately tapped on her phone ’s screen while sitting on the toilet bowl.

The one person she could always rely on, her grandfather, was not answering her call for some time now.
He must have switched his phone off and entered the cultivation room.

“Argh…!” Lee Hyeon-Ju was about to yell in frustration but remembered where she was and hurriedly clamped her mouth shut.
If she made a ruckus and let Kang Jin-Ho figure out that something was up, she reckoned that her end would not be pretty to behold.

’I was an idiot! ’

She shouldn ’t have acted so confidently and come here alone to recruit Kang Jin-Ho to her side.
Indeed, she should have heeded her grandfather ’s advice, the one he had been constantly lecturing her about.
Didn ’t he say this world was teeming with scary monsters? And that she was nothing more than a little brat compared to them?

However, it was too late for regrets now.
She was already halfway inside the monster ’s maw, anyway!

’How can such a man even exist?! ’

Back when Kang Jin-Ho was glaring at her with eyes filled to the brim with rage and hatred, the only harvest Lee Hyeon-Ju had gotten from that situation was not wetting her pants.
She had encountered so many different and disparate martial artists until now, but not one of them was like Kang Jin-Ho.
For instance, how he had suddenly exploded in rage without any prompt, or how his personality had changed at the snap of a finger as if he was suffering from multiple personality disorder!

What confused her most was why Kang Jin-Ho seemed to resent her so much.
Lee Hyeon-Ju just couldn ’t understand it.
A madman didn ’t really need a reason to do anything, but Kang Jin-Ho was not an ordinary madman now, was he? He was only half-crazy and was pretty good at pretending to be a normal, well-adjusted person.
And that was what had been driving Lee Hyeon-Ju nuts.

“Please! Just answer the bloody phone, please!”

She had been calling for the tenth time already, but Lee Hyeon-Ju ’s grandfather still didn ’t answer.
It seemed he really had left his phone and had gone somewhere.
Her frustration got the best of her, and she raised her arm in preparation to throw her phone down.
But the heavens didn ’t seem to have forsaken her just yet as she felt her mobile device vibrate in her hand.

She quickly checked the phone ’s screen, then the light returned to her eyes.

– Ohh? This is a pleasant surprise, you answering my call right away like this!

Lee Hyeon-Ju sighed in relief.
Although not connecting to her grandfather was unfortunate, the man on the other side of the line should be strong enough to resolve this crisis.
No, wait—his power would probably be a bit too over-the-top to discipline one mad dog!

“Can you come over here as soon as possible?”

– Ohhhh? Is today a special day or something? You want to go out on a date with me? Have you finally seen the light and want to accept my feelings for you? Is that what it is?

“Stop spewing nonsense, will you?! There ’s something you need to do!”

– …Oh.
If it ’s work, I ’m not that interested.

“Even if I ’m gonna get beaten up to death?” Lee Hyeon-Ju ’s desperate voice brought about a sudden bout of silence on the line before the man asked quietly.

A quick look at bit.ly/3iBfjkV will leave you more fulfilled.

– Where are you now?”

“I ’ll send you the address through the chat app.
You need to hurry.
Things are really dangerous here, you know?”

– Let ’s stop wasting time talking on the phone, then.
I ’m on my way.

Please hurry!” Lee Hyeon-Ju ended the call and sent the map to the cafe through the chat app.
After confirming that her message had been sent, she sighed in relief.

She was summoning a madman to oppose a mad dog, but that madman ’s abilities had been acknowledged by the Martial Assembly.
Although his personality could be a bit wild and unpredictable at times, that much was acceptable.
Finding an expert who also happened to possess a ’normal ’ personality was quite a challenge, anyway.

’Yes, I just need to buy time, that ’s all. ’

Lee Hyeon-Ju got up from the toilet bowl as determination filled her expression.


“It ’s the Yeongnam Group,” said Lee Hyeon-Ju.

Jo Gyu-Min tilted his head.
“Excuse me? You mean, Yeongnam People ’s Facebook group?”[1]

“…No, it ’s just the Yeongnam Group.”

Jo Gyu-Min voiced his honest impression.
“I have to say, that is one evocative name, isn ’t it? One that really makes you remember your old hometown and stuff.
It ’s rather rustic yet also imparts the feeling of solidarity? Something like that?”

Lee Hyeon-Ju sighed.
“…Isn ’t that obvious considering Yeongnam Group was formed over five decades ago? What were you expecting from the people of the 60s? Something grandiose like the East Korea Organization?”

“Of course not,” said Jo Gyu-Min while inwardly thanking Hwang Jeong-Hu.
Even though Jaegyeong was also named in the 60s, it sounded so much more sensible and modern compared to the Yeongnam Group, didn ’t it?

“Korea ’s martial artists are divided into many different factions.
And I ’m affiliated with Korean Martial Assembly, arguably the most important faction in this country.
However, the Yeongnam Group currently boasts the greatest influence.”

Kang Jin-Ho silently listened to Lee Hyeon-Ju.
Since he wasn ’t responding at all, Lee Hyeon-Ju had little choice but to engage Jo Gyu-Min and talk to him instead.
Thankfully, Jo Gyu-Min turned out to be an excellent listener who knew when to voice his retort or put on a splendid reaction.
He was so good, in fact, that he would have been a megastar if he chose to participate in variety shows!

“So, what did this Yeongnam Group do?” Jo Gyu-Min asked curiously.

“They have sent one of their men,” said Lee Hyeon-Ju.

“…Are you talking about that serial killer?”


“Hmm…” Jo Gyu-Min rubbed his chin while glancing at Kang Jin-Ho.
“You know, there ’s something I can ’t quite understand…”

“What would that be?” Lee Hyeon-Ju asked back.

“For now, let ’s forget about why that killer is targeting Mister Jin-Ho.
Let ’s also put aside why this Yeongnam Group wishes to kill Mister Jin-Ho, who has been minding his own business.
The question I have is this: why hasn ’t that killer directly targeted Mister Jin-Ho and started killing innocent people instead?”

“That ’s what that man is like, you see.”

“Excuse me?” Jo Gyu-Min narrowed his eyes.

“Well…” Lee Hyeon-Ju sighed deeply.
“The Yeongnam Group refers to the killer as the Fallen.
And he ’s kind of like their hunting dog.”

Jo Gyu-Min ’s voice went up an octave.
“…If that ’s the case, why are your people keeping mum even as that killer is doing something so heinous?”

we don ’t have any solid evidence,” said Lee Hyeon-Ju while shrugging her shoulders.
“Everyone tacitly understands that the Yeongnam Group ’s chairman holds the leash of that killer.
However, the chairman has always denied all involvement, and there is no clear proof of him employing the Fallen in the first place.
If an influential man with great power rides on the back of a powerful organization to deny everything, do you honestly believe you can convict him of a crime?”

“Indeed, it ’d be exceedingly difficult,” Jo Gyu-Min nodded, knowing he had no choice but to agree with her.
It wasn ’t something to be surprised about; however, because such a thing happened pretty often in society, after all.

Even if everyone had a suspicion about an influential man doing wicked things behind the scenes, it would be impossible to punish that person without irrefutable proof.
’Suspicion ’ alone had its limit, after all.

“So…” Kang Jin-Ho finally broke his silence.
“Why are you so sure that the Fallen is the culprit?”

“…The murders were similar, you see,” said Lee Hyeon-Ju in an apprehensive voice.

“Similar? How?”

“Rather than a hunting dog, the label of the ’cleaning crew ’ would be a better job description for the Fallen.
In that case, we shouldn ’t know about his existence, but we all do.
The reason for that is…
Whenever the Fallen makes an appearance, there are always serious problems left behind in his wake.
We ’ve already cleaned up all the mess he had left behind several times.
And these murders bear the hallmark of that killer.”

“In other words, this isn ’t his first time…” Kang Jin-Ho slowly closed his eyes.
“In that case—”

Before he could finish, a commotion broke out first just outside the staff room ’s door.

“Hyeon-Ju! Where are you, Hyeon-Ju!”

The moment she heard that voice, Lee Hyeon-Ju shot up to her feet and rushed toward the doorway before escaping outside.
“I, I ’m here!”

Jo Gyu-Min could only groan loudly at this sudden turn of events.
“Seriously? Why can ’t one of Mister Jin-Ho ’s predictions go wrong just once?”

Jo Gyu-Min was suddenly tempted to plant bamboo flag poles of mudang behind Kang Jin-Ho.[2]

Kang Jin-Ho noticed Jo Gyu-Min ’s gaze, then smirked deeply while getting up.
He leisurely made his way to the exit of the staff room.

“Was it you?!” A man with closely-cropped sportsman ’s hair huffed angrily while glaring at Kang Jin-Ho.
He was well over 190cm tall, and his shoulders had to be twice the size of a regular person.
A man strong enough to beat up a bull with his bare fists suddenly began charging at Kang Jin-Ho.

“J-Jin-Ho!!!” Kang Yu-Hwan ’s panicked cry rang inside the cafe.

While making an apathetic face, Kang Jin-Ho took a step forward toward his opponent.
A large fist was coming his way, but he deftly side-stepped the attack, grabbed the tall man ’s head and slammed it straight on the floor.


An impact noise too loud to have come from a human head hitting the floor rang out.
Kang Jin-Ho glared at the man pressed down on the ground and opened his lips to speak, “Dear customer, such behavior inside the store will not be tolerated.”

Yeongnam is an actual region located in South Korea ’s southeast.
And yes, Yeongnam People ’s Group is a real Facebook group.
It ’s dedicated to sharing news, and connecting people from the Yeongnam region spread throughout the country.

“Mudang” is a Korean shaman who performs exorcisms and makes predictions.
Mudangs often have bamboo poles with various colored flags hanging on them in front of their ‘workplace/place of residence.’ ☜

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