The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage chapter 27

The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage

Skilled Hands

“Oh, that feels quite refreshing. You’ve got some skills.”

Manager Hwang expressed admiration for Choi Seonghyun’s acupressure technique.

Even compared to the previous attempt, the feel of his hands had changed markedly.

“Was it good?”

“Now, this is quite impressive. You could actually do this on customers.”

With a nod of approval, Kang Taehan affirmed his skill.

Seonghyun had always shown talent, though it was evident only now.

Of course, his skills were unrelated to internal energy or acupuncture points, but the speed at which he picked up on the techniques was impressive.

“Sigh. Practicing for so long was worth it.”

“Of course, there’s still a difference compared to you, Taehan.”

“Eh, how can one become an expert immediately?”

Despite grumbling, Seonghyun’s mood didn’t seem too bad.

After all, being told by Taehan that he could service customers was a significant acknowledgment, not an easy compliment to earn.

“Well then, I’ll go prepare to receive customers.”

“Sure, Taehan. You’ve worked hard.”

“Eh, Manager Hwang, you had the toughest job in the middle.”

Kang Taehan chuckled and shook his head.

After he left, Manager Hwang turned to Seonghyun.

“But Seonghyun, why the sudden burst of enthusiasm?”

“Huh? I’ve always been diligent.”

“No, I mean, you’ve become more proactive. Asking Taehan for lessons in massage.”

Seonghyun was always diligent with good work acumen, but not this proactive.

He hesitated before scratching his head, a bit embarrassed to discuss the matter directly.

“Well… The atmosphere around here has changed a lot since Taehan arrived, hasn’t it? Noticeably so.”

“That’s true.”

The sauna and steam room had their regular clientele due to its size and cleanliness, but the massage services were just an additional option, not the main attraction.

Yet recently, things had taken a different turn.

While the steam rooms were quiet, the massage parlor was bustling—an unusual sight, with some customers coming primarily for the massages.

With the increase in clients, revenue rose, and with that, the masseuses’ incomes grew.

And the catalyst for this virtuous circle was none other than Kang Taehan.

“So, why is that?”

“It just… seemed pretty impressive to me.”

Seonghyun said with an awkward smile.

He was the one who introduced this place to Taehan, but he hadn’t taken the job too seriously at first.

He thought it was just a side job for pocket money and nothing more.

After all, it was just a massage parlor attached to a sauna. How much could one person really affect change?

But Taehan was different.

He managed to change the atmosphere of the place on his own, and now far more clients visited than Seonghyun had ever imagined.

Seeing the influence one person could have, especially a friend like Taehan, was a powerful motivation.

“So, I figured since I’m working anyway… I might as well give it a proper shot. Yeah, that’s it.”

Seonghyun rubbed the tip of his nose with his finger.

The question had been asked, and although the answer was given, it felt awkward to discuss such things.

“…Son, you’re quite impressive.”

On the other hand, Manager Hwang readjusted his posture and affectionately placed his arm around Seonghyun’s shoulder.

It’s easy to become jealous or envious when someone else is excelling.

It’s not too hard to give praise or congratulations.

But to be inspired and to follow in someone’s footsteps is less common than one might think.

To think like Seonghyun is rather rare.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that following someone will make you just like them.

You might even stumble and fall in the process.

But what does it matter?

Even if you trip and halt, you’ve at least moved forward a few steps.

The very act of attempting marks a degree of growth.

“Didn’t you know? I am pretty amazing.”

“Tsk. With that comment, you’ve just turned into a lucky jerk.”

Manager Hwang frowned and clicked his tongue.

The two looked at each other, then without a word, both burst into laughter.

“But Manager, can I ask you something?”

“Sure, what is it?”

“How come you always use informal language with me but call Taehan ‘Taehan-ssi’?”

He speaks informally but always adds ‘ssi’ to Taehan’s name.

At first, Seonghyun thought it was just odd but now it didn’t seem to make much sense.

It wasn’t like Seonghyun to fuss over such things, but it still bothered him.

“It’s… hard to put into words, but calling Taehan by just his name feels difficult.”

Manager Hwang had developed an eye for people from working in the steam room for a long time.

He could often guess a person’s age or what sort of life they’ve led just by talking or looking at them.

In that sense, there was something indescribable about Kang Taehan.

Something about him seemed much older…

Of course, he knew Taehan’s age and that he was a student who had just finished college, but the impression and aura he gave off were entirely different.

‘The guests don’t call him ‘teacher’ for nothing.’

Manager Hwang nodded to himself a few times.

* * *

“Now, let’s see…”

After returning home from exercising post-work, Kang Taehan had a new routine added to his schedule.

He had acquired a large cabinet a while ago that he walked towards – his personal storage for spiritual medicines.

He had brought back a full backpack of medicinal herbs and plants from the mountain,

which he had processed and stored in this cabinet according to their respective treatments.

Those that could be eaten raw were simply prepared, while the others, too potent on their own, were neutralized by being steeped in honey or soaked in alcohol.

In the lower drawer, he had homemade medicine wrapped in foil—

There were herbs present.

Thanks to them, a distinctively pungent and slightly bitter aroma of medicinal herbs permeated one corner of the room, but for Kang Tae-han, it was somewhat fragrant.

“Shall we begin today as well?”

He had devoured the most valuable ginseng the same day he acquired it, but there were still plenty of other nourishing elixirs left to consume.

Of course, it would be foolish to guzzle down all the elixirs at once.

Especially since the energy within those medicines could react unfavorably with the inner power within his body, leading to a total mess if combined with other elixirs.

Aside from the risk of internal injuries, the absorption rate of the elixirs could decrease, and the precious energy absorbed could become tainted and cloud the meridians—quite the counterproductive effect.

It would be worse than not consuming the precious elixir at all.

Hence, every night after finishing work, Kang Tae-han would consume a set amount of elixirs, much like one would with health food, on a daily basis.

Consequently, Kang Tae-han, who usually only enjoyed simple snacks, now often delayed his dinner considerably.

Like some traditional medicines, elixirs were best taken on an empty stomach.

“…Looks like I’ve already finished the balloon flower and the deodeok.”

Kang Tae-han showed a hint of regret as he rifled through his drawers.

Balloon flower and deodeok, being similar in nature to ginseng, were not only effective but also had a texture and flavor he quite enjoyed.

They could be eaten raw, mixed with spicy chili paste, or just dipped in honey…

Care was needed in the cooking process to avoid dissipating the vital energies, but they were also a delicacy when roasted.

Inevitably, he reached first for ingredients that were also tasty.

But as a result, the balloon flower and deodeok were now depleted, while he still had ample reserves of other medicinal ingredients.

‘It’s my fault for being picky, I suppose.’

There was no helping it; he had to eat what was left.

The items steeped in honey or alcohol still needed time.

That left him with few alternatives.

Kang Tae-han picked up a pill of herbs and brought it to his mouth.

These were concoctions made from herbs with either mild energies or those that synergized well with others, specially formulated together.

However, these pills were nothing as sophisticated as Shaolin’s grand elixirs.

They were simply dried herbs ground into powder, mixed thoroughly with sticky honey to form basic herbal pills.

“…It’s incredibly bitter.”

Kang Tae-han’s eyebrows twitched momentarily.

If this were a grand elixir from Shaolin, it would have melted like liquid and flowed down the throat without a moment to perceive the flavor.

But this was Kang Tae-han’s own concoction.

Naturally, it lacked any miraculous effects, and as he chewed and swallowed, a punishingly bitter flavor filled his mouth.

But as the saying goes: bitter medicine is good for the body.

Regardless of the taste, the effects were substantial.

A clear energy of vitality spread from the stomach into the meridians.

Kang Tae-han promptly assumed the correct posture and took a long breath.

“Huuuuh…”

Qi tends to gravitate towards areas of higher density.

The qi that entered his meridians was naturally drawn towards the dense inner power accumulating in his lower dantian.

However, it would be dangerous to immediately send it there.

A clash with the inner power residing in the dantian could occur, possibly leading to a detrimental transformation into impure qi.

‘I have to put to good use what I’ve created.’

First, he gathered the newly introduced vital energy in his middle dantian and then had to match and adapt its properties to his body’s internal energy.

The most basic and safe approach was to wait for the vital energy to be naturally absorbed.

But for a quicker assimilation, Kang Tae-han would elevate the energy from both the lower and middle dantian separately, deliberately making them interact only to the extent that no backlash occurred.

It was a dangerous method that could potentially deplete his inner strength before the process was completed, causing the bound vital energy in the middle dantian to inadvertently flow into the lower dantian—

“Hooohhh…”

Yet Kang Tae-han appeared utterly serene.

Inhales and exhales, the only sound in the quiet room. About ten minutes later, Kang Tae-han took a final deep breath and opened his eyes that had been closed.

From the inner depths of the lower dantian, he felt a gentle warmth.

That was the proof of successful absorption.

A subtle smile formed on Kang Tae-han’s lips at the tender warmth.

“Now then…”

He dusted off his hands and stood up.

Perhaps it was the exercise of circulating his internal power and sweating that made him feel more refreshed than before.

“Maybe I’ll order some chicken.”

Regardless of internal power, the body still needed calories.

Elixirs were good, but after all, meat was needed to properly close off the day.

‘Meat makes the body heavy’ was a line typically said by Taoists and Shaolin monks, something Kang Tae-han had long disregarded.

* * *

“What? You’re going to quit your job?” Lee Dong-chan’s eyes widened in shock.

He was stunned by the unexpected revelation from his friend, whom he thought was doing well.

“That’s what’s happened.”

“Why? You were excited about the upcoming product launch.”

Lee Dong-chan’s words were laden with confusion, and the disheartened Kim Min-yeol laughed weakly in response.

His complexion suggested that his words were not just for show.

“I don’t know… Lately, just the thought of going to the company has been too difficult. With the higher-ups involved in endless politicking and my subordinates depending on me while I feel powerless… I thought I’d become accustomed to all of this, but I guess not.”

After finishing his words, Kim Min-yeol burst into laughter, though it was far from joyful.

The troubles of being stuck in middle management.

Lee Dong-chan looked at him with a mixture of pity and concern.

He had always been the most successful among their peers.

He had been hired by a well-known corporation in the industry, and he had been promoted the fastest, making him the envy of many.

But now, his friend seemed so downcast.

Silently, Lee Dong-chan refilled Kim Min-yeol’s empty soju glass.

His heart went out to his friend, but all he could offer was a listening ear and to share a drink.



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