The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage chapter 1

The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage

– Prologue –

In times when martial prowess and chivalry still dictated the ways of the world,

There lived a man known as the Heavenly Demon upon that land.

It was said that his power was such that he could take on a thousand foes alone,

And it was said that his fists could pierce the very skies.

His might could shatter boulders with mere presence,

And with a single step of his footwork, he could cover hundreds of miles with ease.

Stepping away from the rules of the martial realm, standing proudly alone at the pinnacle, people spoke his name with both fear and reverence:

The Heavenly Demon.

However, that man of great fame — the Heavenly Demon — one day disappeared without a trace, never to be seen again.

As more than a thousand years passed,

In an age where the concepts of martial prowess and chivalry were worn down to nothing but folly in dreams,

“Ah, Instructor, please wait, just a moment!”

“Humph. I told you to stay still.”

“Kuh, kyeaaah!”

The Heavenly Demon, Kang Tae-han, who was once the object of fear and awe,

Suddenly fell back into the martial world and then returned to the modern world, where he began making a name for himself as the greatest masseur in South Korea.

* * *

“…Uh?”

Kang Tae-han opened his eyes on top of his bed.

He saw the familiar, yet once thought to be out of reach, ceiling above him.

‘What’s going on now?’

The sky-blue ceiling dotted with various stains caught his eye.

Gazing at the largest and most distinct stain, Kang Tae-han slowly got up from his bed.

“Could it be… I’ve returned? Again?”

Kang Tae-han racked his memory.

Just moments before, it seemed he was seated in a lotus position atop the cliffs of Mount Baekun.

However, this place was… the very room he had lived in before.

Not the room of Kang Tae-han, the Heavenly Demon of the martial realm, but the room of Kang Tae-han, a senior in the Department of Sports Medicine at PyeongO University.

Looking around, the familiar sights greeted him.

A cheap table, a dusty monitor, a second-hand gaming console he had purchased, a pile of unwashed clothes in the corner, and the cheese pizza he’d saved for dinner…

It was a place that had grown so faint in his memories, it might as well have been a dream, yet everything was untouched, as if not a second had passed since his disappearance.

‘This isn’t an illusion.’

His mind was clear, with no hint of fogginess.

He wasn’t dreaming or hallucinating, which meant he really had come back.

Kang Tae-han slowly rose from his spot.

Suddenly feeling an unfamiliar sensation, he looked down at his own body.

It was the same as before.

The body of the ordinary Kang Tae-han, not the Heavenly Demon he had trained to its limits.

All traces of his hardened body had vanished, and the core energy that seemed endless was now hollow.

“Sigh… I thought this was a dream, yet it’s not.”

There was no evidence left of his time as the Heavenly Demon.

With this.

It’s as though the events that transpired were the real dream.

After abruptly falling into the martial realm, he survived sixty years using the one skill he’d gained by chance, surpassing life and death hundreds of times, and all those scars were etched into his body.

Yet now, not a single trace of his struggles remained.

The puncture wound in the middle of his right hand, the sword scars carved upon his chest by the Sword Saint, and even the grotesque scar on his core energy point…

All the scars that bore witness to his battles had disappeared without a trace.

“Ha-ha, ha-ha-ha…”

Instead of joy at his return, emptiness took the lead.

He felt as if all his arduous efforts had vanished in an instant.

Without realizing it, Kang Tae-han found himself bursting into laughter.

“Ha-ha. What now. My leaving was abrupt, so it’s only fitting my return would be the same. That’s all it is.”

Yet, this was the body that had broken free from many possessions of bewitchment.

With one burst of laughter, Kang Tae-han blew away the clutter in his mind.

After all, this was something he had long yearned for.

To return to his original time.

Kang Tae-han was a modern man.

Even though he had adapted to the martial world and had risen to a position of reverence as the Heavenly Demon, to him, that place was another world, and he was a foreigner there.

It had once been his nightly prayer to wake up in his bed, and after rising to the ranks of masters, he had desperately chased the legend of transcendental metamorphosis.

Of course, he hadn’t wished for such a sudden return to this world.

But what did it matter? After all, this was the world he originally belonged to.

‘Power can be retrained.’

In a sense, this could even be seen as a good opportunity.

A miraculous transformation, reversing the flow of life, rejuvenation.

He was not the only master who had wasted time on such empty legends. Now, he had literally achieved rejuvenation.

Kang Tae-han chuckled softly as he crossed his legs in a seated position.

‘Hmm…’

His eyelids twitched slightly.

‘It’s rare, but not nonexistent.’

The Qi that floated in nature.

By absorbing this into the body and storing it as Inner Power through breathing techniques, one could cultivate inner strength.

Though it was nothing compared to the energy felt in the martial world, it was too early to be disappointed since it wasn’t completely absent, especially since he was just in a small room within the city.

“Tch. This is indeed inconvenient.”

He unfolded his seated posture and sat down on the bed.

Just a brief focus had already chipped away at his stamina.

In such a state, wielding inner power properly was nothing but a dream.

Was the road ahead long?

A snicker escaped Kang Tae-han’s lips.

– Wheeeing…

Just then, his desk vibrated.

The vibration of a smartphone ringing.

…It had been quite a while since he heard that sound.

Lost in a sudden wave of nostalgia, Kang Tae-han picked up the smartphone.

[Kang Tae-han. Your transportation payments are delayed, which could result in travel restrictions.]

“Good grief.”

It suddenly dawned on him; his financial situation hadn’t been favorable.

The text implied his check card balance was too low to even pay for public transport.

And there was more.

A message from his landlord.

It said last month’s rent hadn’t been paid and asked for confirmation.

“Hm. Is this another form of amusement?”

He brushed off his initial shock with a laugh, fitting for a once great martial artist, but that didn’t fill up the insufficient balance.

What to do now?

He had no immediate plan, and whatever he might have thought of more than sixty years ago was not coming back to him.

“Hm?”

KaTalk!

A clear chime resounded from his smartphone.

A notification from KakaoTalk signaling a new message.

[Are you coming today or not? Let me know quickly.]

The name saved was Seong Hyun.

He immediately recalled who it was.

Choi Seong-hyun.

A friend of many years, with whom he had spent three years of high school and even gone on to the same university course.

He scrolled through the KakaoTalk messages to check the previous conversations.

[Hey, are you interested in a part-time job as a masseur?]

[The manager said they’re short-staffed and asked me to find someone lol]

[No worries, we’re professionals. We’ve studied in this field and have the certificates, unlike some who hardly know how to give a shoulder massage.]

…It all came back to him.

His friend had mentioned a sauna with a massage shop, asking if he’d be interested in working there part-time because it paid quite well, including the base rate and bonuses.

‘Massage, huh…’

It must have been right around the time he first entered university.

Originally reserved for the visually impaired, massage therapist licenses were then made available to the general public, and Kang Tae-han had acquired one after three years of preparation.

So, as Choi Seong-hyun had said, working there wouldn’t be an issue for him.

However.

Kang Tae-han briefly looked down at his hands.

Hands that had been stained with much blood over the years.

For a Heavenly Demon, massage seemed an oddly plain and foreign word.

Kang Tae-han lifted his head again.

His contemplation was brief.

“Well, it’s not the time to be choosy about work.”



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