The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage chapter 54

The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage

“Hmm.”

Standing atop a small peak, Kang Tae-Han surveyed the surroundings.

He had sensed it from the map, but in person, he could tell the mountain was larger than he expected.

“Next time, I might climb up that hill over there.”

Apart from when he was searching for ginseng, Tae-Han had stuck to foraging for herbs within similar sections of the forest.

The area he had worked on today was nearly done, and it was about time to look for new places.

At least, he wouldn’t have to worry about ‘where to pick herbs.’

From the pinnacle, the sector where Tae-Han had harvested herbs was just a fraction of the available land.

Due to both the high density of herbs and the vastness of the mountain, there was an abundance.

‘As long as I don’t rush and seed properly, there should be plenty.’

He alone could monopolize the herbs in this vast space, which was possible because it was private property, and thanks to his connection with Shin Jun-Ho.

With a slight smile, Tae-Han shouldered his backpack, now full for the fourth time, and began descending the mountain.

* * *

‘It was around here…’

Tae-Han drove into the alley.

A quiet lane flanked by houses with spacious yards or gardens, exuding a peaceful and leisurely atmosphere.

“It feels like a wealthy neighborhood, though it can’t compare to the real affluent areas near Seoul. Still, it feels rather affluent.”

Indeed, the person he was visiting, Shin Jun-Ho, was wealthy enough to own several mountains.

“Student Tae-Han! It’s been a while!”

“Welcome, Tae-Han.”

As he parked nearby and walked towards the gate, Jun-Ho and his wife Chae Seo-Yoon greeted him.

Tae-Han smiled and bowed slightly in greeting.

“Thank you for inviting me. Your yard is quite beautiful.”

“Ha, you’ve seen it before.”

“It’s worth complimenting more than once.”

Tae-Han glanced to the side as he spoke.

The spacious front yard resembled a garden, boasting meticulously maintained and beautiful landscaping.

“Thank you, Tae-Han.”

“Is this your handiwork, ma’am?”

“Hehe. Just a little hobby of mine at home.”

Seo-Yoon chuckled, hiding her smile with her hand, her pride evident despite calling it a hobby.

“And this is for you, a small gift.”

“A gift? Oh… You shouldn’t have.”

Refusing a gift from a guest would be impolite.

Jun-Ho waved his hands yet carefully accepted the paper bag that Tae-Han offered.

“It might be an odd thing to call a gift… I brought some pear juice that I made and a few roots of deodeok that I’ve picked today.”

Tae-Han said with a light laugh.

It wasn’t false modesty; the balloon flower roots and deodeok were indeed from Jun-Ho’s mountain.

“Heh, always grateful.”

Receiving the gift, Jun-Ho could only be thankful.

It had been quite a while since they finished the last pear juice, and they were keen to have more.

To get such care without even mentioning it felt purely grateful.

“Is that the balloon flower root juice you brought last time?”

“Tae-Han is really thoughtful. Just when we were wondering what to do since we ran out.”

While peering inside the paper bag, the couple seemed quite pleased, so Tae-Han simply wore a contented smile.

“Ah, but I was in the middle of cooking, so please excuse me for a moment.”

Seo-Yoon suddenly remembered, her cheeks flushing as she brought her fingertips together, nodded to Tae-Han, and slipped into the house.

“Your wife is quite gracious.”

“That’s true, isn’t it? I consider myself lucky.”

Jun-Ho smiled warmly and nodded.

“Let’s not stand out here. Come in, you’ll see my wife’s cooking skills are quite good.”

“That does seem to be the case.”

Tae-Han nodded towards the house.

He hadn’t gone in yet, but the delicious scent was already teasing his appetite.

* * *

There’s a cliché description for sumptuously set dining tables, one where the table’s legs almost bend under the weight.

Literally meaning the food is so abundant that the legs of the table could hardly hold it.

‘That saying fits perfectly here.’

As Tae-Han sat down in front of the feast Seo-Yoon had prepared, that cliché expression came to mind immediately.

Even though the legs of the table weren’t bending, it felt as if the large dining table was too small for the spread laid upon it.

There were four kinds of kimchi and three types of fermented seafood.

The freshly prepared vegetables looked vibrant, and the steaming bulgogi was so succulent it could wipe out a bowl of rice in no time.

But at the center of the table, a pot stand lay empty, waiting.

“Let’s finish it off with this.”

A large bubbling pot of stew was placed down on the stand.

A clear broth of chicken, brought to life with leeks and aromatic shiitake mushrooms.

But the most eye-catching were the neatly arranged abalones, octopuses, shrimps, and scallops, a lavish selection of seafood.

“Seafood stew? You went all out, didn’t you?”

“Of course, when we have a precious guest, I have to prepare properly.”

Seo-Yoon shrugged playfully in response to Jun-Ho’s comment.

Meanwhile, Tae-Han nodded slowly as he looked at the bubbling pot.

Seafood stew indeed—it warranted such a grand name.

“Let’s start here… Tae-Han, please.”

Seo-Yoon scooped from the pot, and the generous portion of seafood from the thick stew landed in Tae-Han’s bowl.

Large abalones and octopuses turned pinkish, both appearing delectable and whetting the appetite.

“Let’s all eat together.”

After Seo-Yoon sat down and finished the meal preparation, the real dinner began.

Tae-Han tasted the stew first.

‘The flavors blend more exquisitely than I expected.’

The clear broth was refreshing yet rich, tantalizing his taste buds.

The broth was rich with a deep, spicy flavor.

The seafood soup was a masterpiece, complete with the unique, spicy umami taste characteristic of seafood stews, enriched by the profound flavor of shiitake mushrooms, and complimented by the clean yet savory taste of chicken broth.

“It seems that you’ve used chicken legs and thighs,” noted Kang Tae-han.

“How did you know?” Chae Seo-yun asked, astonished. She had been observing him since he had only tasted the broth.

His correct guess was impressive.

Seo-yun’s eyes widened in admiration, while Tae-han simply smiled, sharing his honest thoughts.

“It’s not easy to strike a balance of flavors with such diverse ingredients… Mrs. Shin’s cooking skills are truly no joke, just as the president said.”

“Oh my! Since we were in the yard, you’ve been saying exactly what I’ve wanted to hear,” Chae Seo-yun replied, surprised by his insightful compliments.

“Ha ha. I don’t say I’m blessed for nothing.”

A warm atmosphere ensued as the meal began in earnest.

As time passed and the Haeshintang (seafood soup) bowl emptied, numerous dishes accumulated on the table.

“I’ve enjoyed the meal very much,” said Kang Tae-han, putting down his chopsticks with a satisfied smile.

It was, personally, the most remarkable meal he’d had since coming to the modern era, after first tasting his father’s jjajangmyeon (black bean noodles).

“Did the meal suit your taste?” asked Chae Seo-yun.

“Oh, I can’t say it didn’t suit my taste after enjoying it so much,” Tae-han replied with a grin.

Although it seemed he ate leisurely, in reality, he had consumed the most among them.

“I’m relieved you enjoyed it,” Seo-yun said.

“How about… let’s see, should we try brewing some bellflower tea with the blue fruit Tae-han student brought today?” Shin Jun-ho suggested, helping to clear the empty dishes.

“I’m fine with that. What would you like to drink, Tae-han?” Seo-yun asked.

“I’ll have the same,” he replied.

“Then three bellflower teas… ah!”

Seo-yun, carrying empty dishes to the sink, suddenly winced and dropped the plates she was holding.

The ceramic bowls fell onto the stone floor, which should’ve resulted in them breaking.

And yet…

“…Huh?”

The floor was only slightly dirtied, and the bowls, surprisingly, remained unscathed.

It seemed even the sound they made was subdued.

“These plates must be pretty sturdy. It’s the sort of cup you’d expect to break if you dropped it,” she muttered.

“That’s strange… I’m glad,” Seo-yun remarked, still in shock.

“Maybe Tae-han student brought good luck with him.”

“No, that can’t be.”

Shin Jun-ho’s comment drew a smile from Tae-han as he pulled back his hand as if nothing had happened.

Heukgongseopmul (虛空攝物); altering the trajectory of a baseball from across the stadium was one thing, but slowing down a falling plate right in front of him was trivial in comparison.

“…Anyway.”

Yet something else concerned him more.

Tae-han’s gaze fell on Seo-yun.

“Madam, are you experiencing any discomfort?” he asked.

“Oh… yes. I sometimes get this joint pain,” Seo-yun confessed, her face strained.

Tae-han nodded slowly and then spoke again.

“Actually, I work in massage therapy.”

“Yes. I heard it from my husband.”

“With that in mind, if you’re alright with it, may I take a look and possibly help you out? I think I could be of some assistance.”

He had sensed there was something off about her physical condition all along. But to offer a massage outright might seem odd or intrusive, which is why he’d remained silent.

However, about such a level of disruption to daily life, the story was different. He wanted to help her more proactively.

‘I do have a connection with Mr. Shin Jun-ho, but that’s not all.’

Above all, he had just been treated to a marvelous meal, and he felt obliged to repay at least this much.

“You mean to give me a massage right now?” Seo-yun asked, taken aback.

The offer came out of the blue.

It was clear he offered out of genuine concern, but still, it wasn’t something one would normally hear in everyday life.

“Yes, but if it’s too much trouble, feel free to decline.”

Tae-han spoke this with understanding, waving his hand lightly.

Jun-ho, however, felt differently.

“Dear, please take this chance to receive a massage from Tae-han. It might be good for you. Who knows?” He spoke with serious concern.

His gaze settled on his wife momentarily before turning back to Tae-han.

“I feel like I owe Tae-han student a lot, and I haven’t fully repaid him… but actually, there was something related to my wife that I needed to ask him.”

Chronic joint pain and a twisted pelvis.

Before her marriage, Seo-yun had been a healthy individual without regular illnesses, but she began to suffer from these chronic conditions after childbirth.

More precisely, the symptoms developed after her stay in a postnatal care center. Following her discharge from the center, she complained of pelvic pain and joint issues, and soon the name of the center was in the news for substandard care.

She had hoped her body would recover after giving birth, but instead, she inherited lasting ailments due to inadequate management and incompetent therapeutic methods.

Though they won the lawsuit with decisive evidence against the care center, it did not heal his wife’s conditions.

Jun-ho had always been grateful to his hardworking wife, feeling a great debt towards her.

“That’s why I wanted to talk to you today; I was hoping to ask for this favor. Sorry for my lack of consideration,” Jun-ho confessed with an apologetic smile.

“There is no need for consideration,” Tae-han chided lightly, shrugging his shoulders.

“I am just repaying what I have received.”

A delicious meal with kind-hearted people.

Even setting aside everything that Jun-ho had done for him, giving back in this way seemed only natural after today’s delightful meal.

At least, that was Tae-han’s sincere belief.



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