The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage chapter 12

The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage

“Ahh… I’m so tired,” Choi Seong-hyun muttered, thumping his shoulder. Slumped over like he had melted into the chair, Gang Tae-han let out a chuckle.

“Hey, how can someone whose job it is to relieve others of their fatigue be sprawled out, exhausted, themselves?”

“What? You’re the weird one. Just because you’re all energetic, doesn’t mean everyone else is!”

Choi Seong-hyun laughed in disbelief. Naturally, the job of massage required physical stamina. Kneading dough could leave you drenched in sweat after an hour, let alone focusing on massaging every inch of a person’s body. Not just him, even the veteran masseurs would be completely spent after seeing a few clients – it was routine for them. But Gang Tae-han was oddly energetic, handling twice as many customers as anyone else without so much as a break.

“It’s all about the technique,” Tae-han boasted.

“Technique? Have you been doing this for what, ten years?”

“Um… this sort of thing is less about experience.”

Unable to claim his nearly sixty years of martial arts training, Gang Tae-han dodged the question. Seong-hyun nodded as if he understood.

“Well, considering the number of clients asking for you, your skills must be quite good. Even the best masseur we had before you weren’t as popular.”

“Why don’t you try receiving one, then?”

Gang Tae-han stood up.

“Try what? Oh, a shoulder massage?”

“Yes. Just turn your back this way.”

“If you’re offering, I’m not going to refuse.”

Choi Seong-hyun turned around to face Gang Tae-han. His shoulders and back were clearly tense from fatigue, but it was merely temporary stiffness from overusing his muscles. Releasing such tension was simple.

“It’s nothing much.”

“You say that because it’s not your body— Uh?”

Before Seong-hyun could finish, Gang Tae-han’s thumb plunged into the space between his shoulder muscles. Seong-hyun’s face instantly relaxed. The method was simple: find the lines where muscles met and the points where those lines intersected. Then, apply sufficient pressure to stimulate but not injure, and the tight muscles would loosen from the sudden impulse.

‘And then, you just need to knead it loose.’

His once stiff shoulders now felt like soft dough under Gang Tae-han’s deft hands.

“Ah … “

Overwhelmed by the soothing pleasure radiating from his shoulder, Seong-hyun’s eyes glazed over. He looked quite pitiful, slumped over so languidly, but he didn’t seem to care.

“Next is…”

It was time to address the cramped muscles in his back, much like the shoulders, simplicity was key. There was nothing wrong per se, just tension. Focusing on the Datui point, where the neck met the back, Tae-han opened the blockage at the point and stroked upwards from the waist along the spine, realigning muscles and drawing up stagnant energy.

“Oooh.”

The flow moved from his waist up through the Datui point. Just that movement straightened his back, and the tight muscles relaxed, finding their proper place again.

“All done.”

That was the finish. Thwack! Gang Tae-han hit Seong-hyun’s back lightly with his palm to signal the end. It had only been a minute, if that.

“What, done already?”

“What else did you expect here?”

“Well, it felt a bit short…”

Seong-hyun expressed his disappointment not just for the physical relief, but the sensation of being so completely relaxed.

“Hmm?”

After standing up and rotating his shoulders a few times, Seong-hyun’s expression quickly changed from disappointment to amazement. It felt entirely different from just moments before.

“How’s that?”

“Yeah, there’s definitely a difference.”

“Can you feel the technique?”

“No, it feels like it’s more than just technique?”

Seong-hyun tilted his head in confusion.

“This feels more like natural talent to me.”

“Talent,” mused Gang Tae-han, a strange feeling washing over him. In his martial arts days, he’d been known for having no talent at all. The times he’d endured life-threatening situations due to the side effects of the Absorbing Essence Technique were uncountable. Without it, he would have long been dead – his life had been a matter of sheer stubborn perseverance.

‘If anyone has talent, it’s this guy.’

Though his own martial power had vanished, his eye for determining potential was as sharp as ever. He couldn’t know everything like a shaman, but could surely assess a person’s potential as a warrior. By that measure, Choi Seong-hyun had decent talent. Well-postured with a notably clear vitality in his energies, had Seong-hyun found himself in the martial world, he’d likely be able to join a decent sect, if not the Nine Great Schools.

“By the way… it still feels like my shoulders aren’t completely loosened?”

Seong-hyun casually shrugged his shoulders, trying to coax another massage. Obviously, he was bluffing. Gang Tae-han glanced over, but all the tension was gone.

“What, you want more?”

“Well, if you’re offering…”

“If you want more, you’ll have to pay.”

No need to work muscles that were already relaxed.

* * *

‘This should be a decent sum.’

Gang Tae-han nodded to himself with satisfaction. In front of him lay his smartphone, displaying his bank balance.

A screen flashed before his eyes.

“Indeed, that might be understandable…”

He had been working non-stop and thanks to Director Hwang’s offer, his salary conditions had improved.

On top of that, the number of customers leaving generous tips had increased recently—no small sums either, but rather in tens of thousands of Won.

‘Please come back again, don’t you go somewhere far away.’

‘If you do leave, let us know…’ With such words, they handed him the money, using both hands with respect.

Over the past few weeks, a sizeable amount had accumulated in Kang Taehan’s bank account, far more than one could save from a part-time job.

His card balance had been so low he received warning messages, but now he no longer had to worry about transportation costs, and if he desired, he could even afford a used car—albeit a cheap one.

“Money is indeed good.”

And so, Kang Taehan allowed himself a small luxury.

He booked a KTX ticket to Daejeon.

Not long ago, he hesitated even to take an express bus, opting instead for a regular bus that followed. Now, this was quite the promotion.

This was truly a simple happiness!

Having been in the martial world for so long, he felt an odd excitement over something as simple as riding a train—as if he were a child boarding one for the first time.

After a short while—

Not even an hour had passed, and an announcement for Daejeon station’s arrival chimed through.

‘We’re arriving already?’

In the martial world, such speed was unthinkable.

Could light movement techniques match this steady pace?

If so, how could one make them efficient?

Pondering sincerely, Kang Taehan moved on.

It was a bit of a walk, but still a reasonable distance on foot to his home.

“Father, I’m here.”

The first place Kang Taehan visited was his father’s shop.

He had planned to go straight home, but stopped by just in case, and sure enough, the lights were on so he entered. Inside, his father, Kang Hoyeon, organizing the shop, looked up with surprise.

“Oh, you came without a call. What’s the occasion?”

“What, will you kick me out if I come unannounced?”

“Now, why would I do that?”

Kang Hoyeon gestured towards a chair, inviting him to sit and chat without saying it outright.

“What is it… the atmosphere of the shop seems different?”

Kang Taehan surveyed the surroundings as he sat.

It was quite late in the evening.

Though the business had ended and cleanup was underway, one could sense the atmosphere.

“Notice? Changed some furniture and the wallpaper.”

“No, it’s not that…”

Kang Taehan shook his head at his father’s reply.

He wasn’t talking about the physical or visual changes.

It felt like the touch of customers was more frequent.

When he had last visited, it had the atmosphere of a Chinese restaurant that wasn’t doing well, but now it seemed to buzz with activity.

‘The spirit of the shop has shifted.’

A desolate place carried a chilling Yin, while a frequented one flowed with vibrant Yang energy.

This so-called vitality was palpably filling the shop, a stark contrast from before.

The shop wasn’t the only change.

Vitality seemed to flow through Kang Hoyeon’s previously worried face, too.

“It seems customers have increased recently.”

“They have. The hand-pulled noodles might be the reason. Old regulars are returning… Instagram, was it? They saw us there; anyhow, we’re getting more younger customers too.”

Kang Hoyeon mentioned casually, but his expression betrayed his pride.

Kang Taehan’s face naturally blossomed into a smile at his father’s contentment.

“That’s good, father.”

“…All thanks to you.”

With an awkward scratch of his head and a soft voice, Kang Hoyeon responded to Kang Taehan’s remark which was no hollow compliment.

Though unbelievable and perhaps coincidental, the fact was that his post-operative aftereffects had vanished like magic after Taehan had massaged his shoulders.

“Ahem, by the way, are you going back up again soon today?”

The conversation might have been a bit too much for Kang Hoyeon; he coughed and changed the topic.

“I’m off on Wednesdays and Thursdays now.”

It was a decision made with Director Hwang recently.

Instead of working on the weekends, he would take breaks in the middle of the week, in consideration of busier weekends, and also to account for his school schedule once classes resumed.

Kang Taehan was a senior with few credits left, but he still needed to attend classes and complete his certification.

“Oh? Then you’ll be staying longer?”

“Yes. I have some things to do.”

“What things?”

Was it to help with the shop?

While Kang Hoyeon wouldn’t ask, nor was it really needed, just the idea was pleasing. However, Kang Taehan had different plans.

“I’m going to visit the mountain.”

“…Mountain?”

“Yes. Why, is that strange?”

“…It is a bit. Except for when you went on a field trip in school, I can’t recall you ever saying you’re climbing up a mountain.”

Kang Hoyeon expressed surprise.

Indeed, the thought of his son volunteering to hike was quite an odd notion, especially given his prior grumbles about mountains.

“Just… sometimes I get the urge, you know?”

Kang Taehan responded with a light chuckle.

Others might feel the same, but for those from the martial world, the call of the mountains came more frequently.



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