Descent of the Demon Master - C.708. Ruling Over (3)

Descent of the Demon Master

C.708. Ruling Over (3)

Lee Hyeon-Ju started with her briefing. “We've recovered most of the slush funds. Of course, not everything aligns perfectly with what's recorded in the books, but it's around three percent of the total. I can't determine whether this discrepancy is due to miscalculations somewhere or from incurred losses.”

Lee Hyeon-Su rubbed his chin. “Can't you just write them off as losses?”

“But it doesn't match up with the books.”

“People wouldn't have filed reports while doing whatever shady things they were doing. It wouldn't surprise me if those folks skimmed a little bit off the top. Besides, I'm guessing that the missing amount is being recovered as we speak, only under a different guise. I mean, we are hoovering up every single penny those elders had stashed, aren't we? If we find funds with unexplainable origin, we should expect them to have come from this discrepancy.”

“If that's true, it should be fine, but...” Lee Hyeon-Ju frowned slightly in dissatisfaction.

Despite understanding it in principle, she didn't seem happy about all the numbers failing to neatly line up in the ledgers.

Wasn't her desire to complete her tasks bordering on obsession at this stage? Her types usually did her jobs perfectly, but their obsession would often prove to be their downfall, too.

...In other words, a somewhat-similar situation to Lee Hyeon-Su, then.

He shook his head. “Don't get too hung up over every little number, Miss Lee. The really-important thing here is achieving good efficiency, after all.”

“Understood,” Lee Hyeon-Ju nodded to indicate she would follow his decision despite her dissatisfaction.

Lee Hyeon-Su could only chuckle wryly at her attitude.

'Kinda ironic, isn't it?'

Lee Hyeon-Ju's current assignment was recovering all the hidden assets of her grandfather, Lee Jung-Geol. All the publicly-known and sloppily-hidden funds had been recovered by now, but Lee Hyeon-Su wasn't privy to the inner workings of the former Assembly Master. It'd be nearly impossible for him to recover Lee Jung-Geol's every little hidden stash.

'In that sense, she's the perfect person to do it.'

Regardless of what people said, no one knew Lee Jung-Geol better than his own granddaughter. And it wasn't because of their blood ties, either. After reaching adulthood, Lee Hyeon-Ju worked very closely with her grandfather for the longest time, as if she were his hands and feet.

As a way to test her, Lee Hyeon-Su tasked Lee Hyeon-Ju with this assignment. And she must've cottoned on to his intentions judging from how she had found and swept up every asset that even Lee Hyeon-Su hadn't thought of.

He couldn't help but chuckle wryly again while perusing the report.

'...Gee whiz. You sure have been fattening yourself, eh? You unscrupulous old bastard...'

Not even Kim Seok-Il was this greedy. Obviously, someone that crafty would have stashed hidden assets. The thing was, though... Kim Seok-Il ruled the Yeongnam Group as a dictator. Unlike in the surface world where even dictators had to go through a minimum level of financial scrutiny, the people of the martial world were shockingly detached about all things money-related. No, scratch that—detachment toward all earthly things was demanded of them.

As such, Kim Seok-Il didn't go out of his way to create lots of slush funds for potential rainy days. Why would he take annoying steps to do that when practically all of the Yeongnam Group's officially-available finances were his, to begin with?

However, Lee Jung-Geol operated the Martial Assembly as a democratic entity, at least on the surface. That meant he was subjected to audits, leading to the current situation.

'Holy cow. Just how much is this?'

Lee Hyeon-Su's eyes were threatening to pop out of their sockets. If Lee Jung-Geol hadn't stashed this amount away and instead invested it all in the Martial Assembly, then the Yeongnam Group probably wouldn't have pushed it on the back foot. No, wait—Lee Hyeon-Su couldn't help but think that such a scenario would not have happened in the first place.

“Gee whiz. Isn't this way too much?” Lee Hyeon-Su tutted quietly.

“I believe my grandfather had a reason for it,” said Lee Hyeon-Ju.


Lee Hyeon-Ju shrugged her shoulders. “Where all the official funds will go is pretty obvious, isn't it? However, you know as well as I do that things aren't always 'official' in our line of work.”

“Hmm...” Lee Hyeon-Su slowly nodded.

“I wouldn't have excused my grandfather if he had been swimming in luxury, but he never did. And that money was never meant to be my inheritance, either. If my grandfather had willingly transferred his authority to whoever he had chosen as his successor... Don't you think all that money would've become the new Assembly Master's?”

“So, all these are supposed to be unofficially-official slush funds?”

“Well, at least that title is more palatable, don't you agree?”

Lee Hyeon-Su chose not to pick Lee Hyeon-Ju's reasoning apart. There was no such thing as slush funds with good intentions. Any funds not spent on things they were originally allocated for should always be labeled under the category of 'Dirty Money' regardless of how innocent the intentions were.

However, was there a need to point that out and unnecessarily agitate Lee Hyeon-Ju? She was already doing a good job, anyway. Lee Hyeon-Su wouldn't have dug deep into the murky waters and recovered as much hidden funds as she had.

Everyone had their uses. And Lee Hyeon-Ju had exceeded Lee Hyeon-Su's expectations by a huge margin.

'And she's super-efficient and neat with her tasks, too...'

If Lee Hyeon-Ju was evaluated objectively as her own independent person and not as Lee Jung-Geol's granddaughter... She should be acknowledged as a capable person. However, there was a problem, and that would be...

“So? What should I do now?”

It was her attitude which made her seem ready to devour Lee Hyeon-Su at a moment's notice!

'She kinda resembles a hissing, angry cat, no?'

As far as her performance was concerned, Lee Hyeon-Su had no complaints. Sure, there were minor issues here and there, but that story would've been the same regardless of who was working for him. After all, that 'problem' was with the work method, not capabilities. No one would be able to fully satisfy Lee Hyeon-Su, anyway!

He was aware of this almost better than anyone. So, he wanted to brush aside such minor issues without raising a fuss.

Besides, neither Lee Hyeon-Su nor Lee Hyeon-Ju had a reason to be all chummy and nice to each other, anyway. Their relationship was entirely official in nature. Being nice and friendly would only create problems down the line.

Lee Hyeon-Su leaned back in his chair. “Since you asked me what you should do... That sounds like you've wrapped up the assignment I gave you.”

“It is finished, after all,” said Lee Hyeon-Ju.

“Is it?” Lee Hyeon-Su's gaze grew a little colder, less forgiving. “What will you do if I discover funds you've either overlooked or failed to notice?"

“...!” Lee Hyeon-Ju couldn't say anything. She initially wanted to say such a thing would never happen, but with this man? It might actually be possible.

Lee Hyeon-Su continued to speak. “Anything I can do, so can you. Don't tell me, were you planning to always trudge behind me, forever stuck in my shadows?”

“No. Of course not.”

“Then... Find them,” said Lee Hyeon-Su in a flat voice. “Stop trying to handle your tasks like how other people might handle theirs, okay? And don't be satisfied with doing a slightly better job than everyone else. That's nothing more than an excuse. An excuse that says I've done my share by doing this much. You know best whether or not you've been doing the best work you could have.”

“...Of course.” Lee Hyeon-Ju narrowed her eyes and slowly nodded.

It seemed she understood what he was saying, so Lee Hyeon-Su nodded along with her. “Utilize every means at your disposal, okay? If something bugs you, even by a little, investigate. Leave no dust unturned inside a closet. Finding hidden funds isn't the point here. No, it's about letting everyone know that stashing the Assembly's funds for personal gains is impossible under our watch.”

“Understood,” Lee Hyeon-Ju slightly bowed her head. Although, her thoughts were a little different from her current attitude. 'Didn't you tell me to write the discrepancy off as losses earlier?'

Of course, she did understand what Lee Hyeon-Su was telling her. He didn't mind writing off the funds that couldn't be recovered despite the in-depth investigation. What he wanted from her was for her to keep digging for truth on investigations that hadn't been completed yet.

Despite understanding Lee Hyeon-Su's intentions, though... There wasn't much she could do about her irritation. On the other hand, Lee Hyeon-Ju had to acknowledge it.

'Here's why this man could become the top dog in the Yeongnam Group...'

Before Kang Jin-Ho's appearance, the Yeongnam Group definitely held the upper hand over the Martial Assembly. From the scale of their operation to the number of experts and financial support from China, too... It was no exaggeration to say the Martial Assembly lagged behind in every criterion.

People often called Lee Jung-Geol a crafty, wily fox. No one could deny his capabilities when he crawled from the mud to eventually create the Martial Assembly. Yet, the Yeongnam Group still managed to leapfrog the Assembly and Lee Jung-Geol.

Kim Seok-Il no doubt played a big role in that. However, one should never overlook Lee Hyeon-Su's role. If the benchmark had been 'Working Behind the Desk', Lee Hyeon-Su's contribution toward the Yeongnam Group's success should be at least over fifty percent of the total.

When Lee Hyeon-Ju removed her emotions from the equation and objectively analyzed Lee Hyeon-Su... She had to admit that this man was someone remarkable.

'Even though he's a weakling...'

Lee Hyeon-Su was a martial artist who wasn't really one. If Lee Hyeon-Ju wanted to, she could have beaten this man up into a bloody pulp. As Lee Jung-Geol's granddaughter, she had received intense, focused training from a young age. As a result, her martial arts were stronger than most of her peers.

It'd be an insult to compare her to Lee Hyeon-Su, who would never be acknowledged as a full-fledged martial artist. Even so...

“Hey. Don't get distracted,” said Lee Hyeon-Su.

“Sorry? Ah, of course!” Lee Hyeon-Ju was startled awake from her thoughts and hurriedly stood up straight.

“Working is all about maintaining focus. Working long hours doesn't mean you're a good worker, okay? Don't get distracted and focus on your work during work hours. And then get a good rest afterward. That's the ticket.”

“Really? Even though you don't get much rest?”

“I'm trying, okay? I'm doing my best to take a break on time. But things haven't been working out for me, that's all. Theory and reality are two very different things, after all.”


“I will stop working to the bones as soon as I find some leeway, okay? And it's your role to find me that leeway. So, you better not meander about sucking on your thumbs. Get your act together and follow me properly, got it?”

“Yes, sir!” Lee Hyeon-Ju hurriedly nodded away.

He might not even last one round of fisticuffs against her, but Lee Hyeon-Su still possessed this domineering aura which stopped Lee Hyeon-Ju from retorting back to him. Considering her not-so-favorable impressions of this man, her snarky, sometimes sarcastic responses should be seen as uncharacteristically mild for her.

Lee Hyeon-Ju subtly chewed on her lip. The truth be told, she... didn't have much talent in martial arts. Even though Lee Jung-Geol worked so hard to improve her strength, in the end, she was only slightly better than her peers. Eventually, Lee Jung-Geol stopped forcing her to cultivate.

Lee Hyeon-Ju had also sensed it herself. If she had bet everything of hers into cultivation, she could have reached the upper tiers of strength. However, what about reaching the very top? That would've been beyond her talents. Unique limitations imposed by a female physique and her own limited talents put brakes on that ambition pretty early on.

That didn't mean she should just give up and walk away, now did it?

If she couldn't stand on the peak as a martial artist, how about being acknowledged as an administrative official with authority and power within the organization?

That path should be the one Lee Hyeon-Ju must take. And the greatest, most capable administrative official she had ever come across was sitting right in front of her nose.

'...I need to learn from him.'

Indeed, she should learn from Lee Hyeon-Su as if she were copying everything he did.

Lee Hyeon-Ju must not question him. If he told her to crawl, she must do so. If he told her to kiss the floor, she should do it! By learning the ropes like that, she'd eventually absorb every bit of the know-how and talent of Lee Hyeon-Su and make them her own.

'That's including how he spends his day, too!'

Lee Hyeon-Ju's eyes gleamed dangerously.

What about her grudge, though? She couldn't say she didn't have any. People might have criticized and vilified her grandfather, but to Lee Hyeon-Ju, no one was as gentle and loving as he was. Obviously, she would never view people responsible for driving such a loving person to his grave in a favorable light.

That didn't mean she was planning to act on her grudge, though. To be more precise, she was trying hard to forget it. Lee Hyeon-Ju wasn't waiting for an opportune moment to use the knife hidden inside her heart. She needed to forget about everything and reinvent herself as Lee Hyeon-Ju the human being, not Lee Hyeon-Ju the granddaughter of Lee Jung-Geol. Her grandfather would have also wanted that from her.

She only recently understood her grandfather's decision to distance himself from her and isolate her from his business. As it turned out, Lee Jung-Geol was scared of the consequences in case of failure affecting his granddaughter, too.

'That is why I must succeed, no matter what! So I can show it to everyone!'

Lee Hyeon-Ju tightly clenched her teeth, then raised her head to stare at Lee Hyeon-Su. If she wanted to advance even further... Much further than ever before, what should she do now?

Wasn't the answer obvious at this point? Indeed, she needed to know more about Lee Hyeon-Su. She needed to learn how this man could remain so passionate about his work and how he could perfectly and expertly deal with his tasks, too!

It wasn't about copying his abilities... but his attitude!

“Excuse me, Branch Director?”

Lee Hyeon-Su looked away from the documents and stared at her. “Yeah?”

“What time do you think you'll get off work today?”

“Mm? I'll be getting off a bit earlier than usual. I've got something to do tomorrow morning.”


Lee Hyeon-Su's brows rose up ever so slightly. He told Lee Hyeon-Ju to focus on her work, so why was she asking him an unnecessary question? Should he bite her ear off one more time to...

“In that case, how about I treat you to dinner?” Lee Hyeon-Ju suddenly blurted that out.

“Didn't I tell you to... Say what?” Lee Hyeon-Su's eyes opened super-wide as he stared at her.

Lee Hyeon-Ju responded with a prim expression. “I said, " I'll buy you dinner, sir. Why? You don't want to?”


When his mind finally processed her offer, something he had never heard before in his entire life, Lee Hyeon-Su's extremely-precise circuit board-like brain reached the state of critical overload.

“...You're blushing, Branch Director.”

That day, Lee Hyeon-Su learned that a man could potentially die from sheer embarrassment alone.

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