The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage chapter 33

The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage

The following day, Thursday.

Although I enjoyed a pleasant evening with my father the previous day, that doesn’t mean today’s tasks disappear.

I left home early in the dawn and set off towards my destination.

‘Today’s harvest looks rich indeed.’

Naturally, the place I headed to was none other than Shin Junho’s mountain.

Having climbed for about two hours, my backpack was almost completely filled, making it difficult to find any empty space.

But I didn’t just randomly gather herbs.

For every patch of the same herb, I would leave one root for the future – an unspoken rule and common knowledge among herb gatherers during my martial arts world days.

Remembering this, I tried to leave some as I gathered, and although I didn’t collect herbs like arrowroot and Evening Primrose that still had plenty left, the harvest was still substantial.

Indeed, this place was like a treasure trove for Kang Taehan.

However, with such an abundant harvest, I started feeling a regret in another aspect.

‘I wish I had a car.’

While the transport from Daejeon was inconvenient, the bigger issue was the limiting amount of herbs I could carry at once.

I hadn’t brought it today, but if I were to spend the night, I’d have to think about camping equipment as well.

But, with a car, the amount I could transport in one trip would increase significantly.

Of course, it would mean the effort of driving between Seoul and Daejeon.

“Come to think of it, it’s been sixty years since I got my license.”

When the college entrance exams were over, swept up in the moment, Kang Taehan and others went to obtain their driver’s licenses.

But after that, I never once took the wheel.

After a journey to the martial arts world and back, my license is literally a sixty-year-old ‘drawer license’.

‘I wonder how much used cars cost these days…’

It’s been roughly two months since I returned from the martial arts world.

Though not an extensive period of time, I had managed to save a considerable amount of money and had developed a bit of leeway.

Perhaps it was worth slowly giving it some thought.

With such contemplations, I descended the mountain.

“Taehan student! Long time, no see!”

Waiting at the entrance of the mountain, someone greeted me, waving their hand.

It was none other than the owner of this mountain, Shin Junho.

Though he looked a bit weak, his demeanor was clearly better compared to when he had been lying in a hospital bed.

Smiling, Kang Taehan greeted him with a nod.

“Well, I did say I’d come to visit you today.”

“Ah, but when a lifesaver has business to attend to, I have to be there. Besides, I should have visited you after being discharged to express my gratitude, but I just haven’t had the chance.”

Shin Junho waved his hands as he spoke.

Kang Taehan scratched the side of his head with an awkward expression, smiling.

“I intended my visit as a form of repayment for using your mountain… It’s odd for you to come and receive it in person.”

From a plastic bag he prepared in advance, Kang Taehan took out a glass bottle.

It was the same balloonflower root syrup (도라지청) he had brought from Seoul and given to Jo Wonho the day before.

“Is this… honey infused with herbs?”

“Yes, it’s balloonflower root syrup. And…”

If the gift was just this, it wouldn’t be fitting to call it a grand repayment.

Kang Taehan rummaged inside his backpack and then pulled out a certain herb.

“This is… ginseng?”

It was the king of herbs grown in the mountains, a ginseng with plenty of fine roots and five leaves.

Recognizing it, Shin Junho’s eyes went wide.

Kang Taehan held the ginseng out towards Shin Junho, urging him to take it.

“Su-, surely you don’t mean to give this to me?”

“Do you think I’m showing off for pride’s sake?”

Responding to Shin Junho’s reaction, Kang Taehan simply smiled and wrapped the ginseng in a handkerchief he had prepared.

Even through the handkerchief, the distinct outline was visible, a thick and hearty ginseng it was.

While Shin Junho gazed at its clear outline, Kang Taehan gently placed the ginseng in Shin Junho’s hand.

“You’re still regaining your strength, so please use it for your health.”

During last week’s mountain trip, Kang Taehan had found as many as three ginseng roots at the same spot.

Not only were they sizeable, but each one was also at least ten to fifteen years old.

Thanks to that, Kang Taehan was beaming with joy… but then, a thought occurred to me that maybe taking all of them wasn’t right.

Even though I had permission, the mountain had its true owner, and he had been unconscious for more than a week, still in the process of recovering his vitality.

Amidst such circumstances, was it really a coincidence that I found these ginseng roots…?

Upon that sudden thought, I had set aside the oldest one last week and contacted Shin Junho, leading to today’s harvest.

‘I’ve already dealt with the spiritual energy as well.’

Of course, herbs as potent as ginseng can be poisonous, and those picked from a spiritual mountain (靈山) contain dense spiritual energy, making the danger even greater.

But Kang Taehan wouldn’t forget that.

Using the Absorbing Stars Technique (吸星大法), I’ve removed some of the spiritual energy and through internal energy manipulation, softened the ginseng’s vigorous and strong nature.

In the process, the extracted spiritual energy was absorbed and stored meticulously in my lower elixir field, a minor detail to the overall endeavor.

Although consuming the ginseng directly would have a stronger effect, this was still a win-win where Kang Taehan could also benefit.

But Shin Junho had no knowledge of this arrangement.

With a bewildered expression, Shin Junho looked at Kang Taehan.

“I mean, this precious thing… You’re not taking it for yourself?”

“I’ve already had something else.”

Kang Taehan’s words were no exaggeration.

The ginseng I found…

Three roots.

He had already chewed up and absorbed everything from the nutrients to the spiritual energy of the other two mountain ginseng roots a long time ago, and had gained considerable inner strength from the process of organizing the energy of the remaining one.

However, for Shin Junho, in the context of the situation, it seemed nothing more than empty words offered by Kang Taehan to ease his burden.

A deep sense of gratitude flickered in his eyes.

“Really… I’ve only ever received help from student Taehan.”

To have been unconscious for over a week meant that he had been immobile, not eating, barely maintaining a grip on life.

Naturally, the impact of that would linger in his body for a long time.

Even dedicating himself to recovery upon awakening, weakened vigor takes time to return.

Already feeling his frail body not improving as he’d hoped… and in such a moment, he received this gift.

Saving a life, restoring one’s consciousness, and now looking after his vitality with the ginseng.

Such a person could only be described as a benefactor.

“I don’t even know how I can begin to repay for everything.”

“Don’t mention it. I have also gained a lot from President Shin.”

And it was true. The mountain ginseng had been harvested from Shin Junho’s mountain, just as the full backpack of herbs behind them was a part of it.

Yet to the already deeply touched person, it was merely seen as modesty.

Shin Junho couldn’t help but express his admiration once more.

* * *

After the emotionally charged gifting of the mountain ginseng.

‘…Hmm?’

Descending the mountain together, Shin Junho was struck by a sudden question.

There was only his car at the entrance.

“By the way, how did student Taehan get here?”

“I came by taxi.”

It sounded as if there was nothing unusual to Kang Taehan.

Shin Junho tilted his head slightly to the right in confusion.

“…Then, how will you return?”

This was a remote mountain village. Getting a taxi on the way here might have been possible, but finding one for the return journey would be incredibly difficult.

“I’ll take the bus.”

“The bus? But aren’t there very few buses available?”

“If you time it right, it’s not a problem.”

Yet Kang Taehan spoke as if it was of no consequence.

Truth be told, he didn’t mind even running back if needed, as he could walk all the way to Daejeon if he wished.

‘Heavens…’

For Shin Junho, this was an entirely different narrative.

The hardship of traveling back and forth, and the willingness to offer such a valuable ginseng effortlessly!

The weight of the already heavy gift felt even heavier at that moment.

At this point, he felt an overwhelming desire to repay the kindness.

“…I’ll give you a lift today. Get in.”

“Then I’ll owe you one.”

The two naturally took their places in the driver and passenger seats.

The car started, but Shin Junho was lost in thought for a while.

‘…It would obviously be inconvenient to give a lift every time.’

Kang Taehan had originally intended to come in person to provide the ginseng.

It wasn’t about whether it was possible or not; rejection from Kang Taehan’s end was a foregone conclusion.

What would be the best approach?

As his contemplation seemed to drag on,

“You seem to have bought the car recently.”

“Ah, yes. It’s been less than a month.”

Taking that as a cue to break the silence, Kang Taehan casually made a comment.

However, that remark sparked an idea in Shin Junho.

After a brief moment of thought, he slowly began to speak.

“But if you’ve just changed your car, I suppose the old one is just sitting around, right?”

“…Yes, that would be the case.”

It was a statement obvious to the point that Kang Taehan responded questioningly.

“So I was thinking of selling it… but those dealers, they all try to knock the price down. The ones I knew have all quit, and it’s really been a hassle.”

“That sounds quite troublesome.”

“So, if student Taehan doesn’t mind, I was thinking it might be a fine gesture to offer it at a not-so-bad price as a token of gratitude.”

“…Hmm.”

Kang Taehan paused, hand on his chin, as if contemplating.

‘Seems like fate is playing a part here.’

When he needed a medicinal herb, a mountain appeared, and now he happened to have a need for a car, and here was an offer.

It appears that this connection, born out of good deeds, has a peculiar way of intertwining.

“The car is a Santa Fe, about five years old. I used to drive a truck for work, so it doesn’t have many miles on it. The only accident was a scratch from parking a while back…”

Interpreting Kang Taehan’s silence as consideration, Shin Junho carried on with details about the car.

Having little knowledge about cars, Kang Taehan nodded at the appropriate times.

Once Shin Junho finished, Kang Taehan finally spoke softly.

“How much were you thinking of asking?”

“Initially… the price I had in mind was.”

It was a spur-of-the-moment offer, and he hadn’t actually thought of a price.

He would have liked to simply gift the car, but knowing that such a person of standing might not accept, he found himself needing to state some kind of nominal price.

Is this a reasonable figure?

As the traffic light stopped their progress, Shin Junho tentatively mentioned the price he had come up with.

“…President Shin, I hope this isn’t too forward of me.”

Though Kang Taehan didn’t know much about cars and even less about used car prices,

“You’re not selling a defective vehicle, are you?”

The price mentioned by Shin Junho appeared quite low, even suggesting a significant defect, at least to Kang Taehan’s eye.



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