Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 189
You put every good ingredient in there.
Monk Dae Woo smiled as he tasted a spoonful of black sesame porridge. He had crushed dried abalones and ground beef, with a touch of pepper to mask the smell. Monk Dae Woo had lived 90 years without any family. His heart felt warm from his apprentice’s devotion.
It had been two months since he’d eaten a cooked meal. Not only was it not raw, but there were seasonings in it that his digestive system rejected. It was a meal that his apprentice had prepared with care. Monk Dae Woo summoned his resonance to break apart the food in his stomach.
Humans gained energy by eating food and breathing. Through digestion, the ingested food would break down with the help of digestive enzymes and produce blood sugar for energy. The mitochondria would convert the chemical energy into ATP and other molecules that could ultimately lead to apoptosis. What this meant was that if humans were able to directly absorb the needed molecules, then eating nutrients would not be necessary. This was called gongryung jikyung.
To reiterate, when it became ambiguous to differentiate, gongryung was the line that separated animals and plants. Monk Dae Woo had reached the state of gongryung jikyung by training himself to absorb the natural energy, which had helped produce the nutrients that he needed. He did not need to cook a meal, and instead, only had to drink a cup of water to replenish himself. Still, Monk Dae Woo did not put down his spoon for a moment. He wanted to revel in his apprentice’s warm heart with each spoonful of porridge.
I can’t keep him by my side just because I treasure him. How great that he was able to rid himself of the contaminated menace! He had pushed his apprentice to open the floodgates for murder so he would not be able to reach Buddhahood. If born as livestock, then one must live as livestock, and if born human, then one must strive to become human. Hahaha!
Monk Dae Woo stared at his apprentice, who was shoving rice into his mouth until it was filled to the brim. Mu(無我) was a son and a grandson before he was an apprentice. He had seen him his entire lifetime. A proud smile rose on his face.
Mu had become who he was now, as a result of his surroundings. He had lost his parents when he was young and had grown in an abusive household full of rage and resentment. His body had changed to almost that of a mutant, and he had been bullied by Baek Baek to a point where he was reborn with murder engraved in his brain.
At the time when he had desperately needed an outlet for his murderous rage, Hamilton had come to find him. The best kind of fate happened naturally. He had not been in a position to reject him, and so he had pushed his apprentice to leave to become a mercenary.
A mercenary was a position in which one could legally kill without repercussions. His apprentice had returned after dissipating his murderous rage. What happened when murder filled the mind? A man enraptured by murder would bleed bad luck. Just thinking about it turned his heart cold.
His apprentice had returned healthily, so there was nothing more he could have wanted. He had no intention of arguing against someone whose eyes were of a pale red shade. The color represented the remains of the violence that had embedded deep in his brain. The only way to get rid of the violence was to use his assault skill.
Would my assault skill work on that body?
He highly doubted it.
“Teacher, have you never seen your apprentice eat this much before?”
“Oh! You surprised me. The sesame porridge is tasty.”
Monk Dae Woo, who had been lost in thought, jumped in surprise and stuck his finger into the bowl of porridge.
“I put in the best meat cuts and crushed some abalone to make it. Aren’t you glad your apprentice has returned?”
“Would you look at that? Now, you are blatantly bragging that you made me eat meat.”
“Hahaha, you pretended not to know when you already did long ago. I decided to do whatever I want. You have to stay healthy for a long time.”
“Child, I am 88 years old. In a few years, I’ll be 90. I’ve lived as much as I’ve needed to.”
“You have to live until this childish apprentice finally matures. I even earned a lot of money in Africa. I will prepare a lot of good food for you, so eat to your heart’s content and die happily.”
“Alright, I will stay alive until I wipe my dung on the walls. When you have to clean up that mess a couple of times, you will pray that I die quickly. Hahaha!”
“Huh, what’s so bad about dung? Anyway, what did you do with your cook to end up in this state?”
“I can survive a week with a handful of rice. If I crave grains and vegetables, I can go down the mountain to collect it. There is no need for a cook. The cook also asked for a salary. What money do I have to pay him a salary?”
“I send you money every month.”
“Child, that money is yours, not mine.”
“Oh, yes, yes. Is that why you starve yourself and sleep in the cold?”
Mu Ssang pulled at his hair. When his teacher started talking nonsense, there was no stopping him.
“Child, do you expect me to climb up and down the mountain at this age?”
“What did you do with all the firewood that I had left for you?”
“What are you complaining about? You may very well hit your teacher at this point. I gave the firewood to old man Kim and Park. Those two have bad backs.”
Mu Ssang’s face slightly hardened. It was typical of his teacher, but still, it was not right. Even if his teacher had given his permission, he felt that these people were wicked for taking all that firewood to themselves. Old man Kim and Park were in their 60s while his teacher was almost 90. What was the older teacher to do! Those men would rob from the poorest of the poor.
“Oh, you sure are a saint. What did you do with all the money that I had sent you each month?”
“I saved it up so I could send you to college once you returned.”
Monk Dae Woo searched through his pockets and pulled out his bank account booklet. Mu Ssang received it from him. It was a periodic installment savings account. All the money he had sent was recorded in it. There was a total of over 2,000,000 won. Mu Ssang jumped in surprise.
“Teacher, you didn’t spend a dime at all. What is this?”
“Child, my ears are going to fall off. What do you mean, what is it? It’s money. You can’t live as a high school drop out in this time and age. I was contemplating whether I should sell the temple to send you to college, but you ended up going off to war. At least, I don’t have to sell the temple now. I’ll get to keep my possession. Hahaha!”
Monk Dae Woo licked his tongue over his lips and chuckled.
Mu Ssang was so choked up that he could not say anything. His teacher was not one to save money. The food he had received, he had donated to the poor, and any money he had, he had given to those who needed it. He even gave food from the friarhood to wild animals. Even if he had nothing to eat, his teacher would not worry about it.
This sort of teacher had saved up money so that he could send his apprentice to college. He was moving the heavens and earth for him. Was he something that the teacher obsessed over? The teacher who had no greed for anything!
His heart ached. Suddenly, the memory of the greedy Baek and wicked Jang crossed his mind—the men who had forcefully dragged their nephew into becoming a servant. If they had not met at Wol Song San mountain, he would have beaten them to death.
His father couldn’t close his eyes peacefully as he had worried about his son and wife during his last breath. His father’s dark face coincided with his teacher’s thin face.
“Mu, your fate depends on how much effort you put into your life. See and learn as much as you can. You can only see as much as you know and do as much as you see. Always continue to study.”
“I’ll do as you say, teacher.”
When he had spent time with Chartres, he had realized how short his education was. What his teacher wanted for him was what he wanted for himself.
“Teacher, this is the ability to control nature, isn’t it?”
“Child, why is that important? It’s the same as soy milk gained while making tofu.”
His teacher was comparing his skills to soy milk. Mu Ssang had expected his teacher to say such things. Nature control was the state in which one communicated with nature. In Jwadobang, a similar skill could be learned to emulate such communication, but it was weak compared to the actual gongryung jikyung skill. Gongryung jikyung could only be gained through mental training and self-reflection.
The myth that one must cut all social and economic ties to gain such powers was nothing but a sham. What purpose would it serve for a man to become a tree trunk or a boulder?
Gongryung jikyung was said to be a skill that emerged when a human became fully human. If you reach gongryung jikyung, you would automatically reach enlightenment, but even that could have served little purpose.
“This old teacher is one thing, but you have changed a lot too. Let’s hear your story.”
“Teacher, I can no longer see the spirit of the heavens and earth as I had periodically seen before.”
Monk Dae Woo slapped his knee.
“Oh, that’s great. Visiting heaven and earth is different from the courage it takes to form it. Your mind has become a subordinate for your strong body and it has come to gain this skill. If your mind is unable to control this, you will experience a mental breakdown and become an infamous serial killer.”
“Yes. Your apprentice has already experienced this several times. If I get angry, I would hear drums in my head, and everything in front of my eyes would turn red. For a moment, I forget who I am.”
“Had you thought of that when you tried to kill the child called Hwa Ja? What was the purpose of the menace and viciousness seen in Godae kings? It is the result of a weak mind being overtaken by skills gained through bloodshed.”
Mu Ssang put down his spoon and listened to his teacher’s schooling. His teacher had been referring to his special genetics.
“Is this apprentice the same?”
“No. In your case, your skills are tied to your body. I have released the murderer in your mind so that it would subconsciously disappear. You are much different than the martial arts masters who have gone before you. Haven’t your senses grown to be more special than before?”
He was definitely a teacher. He was able to point out his changes as if he had seen it with his own eyes. He was a teacher who could see life’s lessons in the normal routines of life.
“Yes, like a brush, if you learn to control a gun, the senses associated with pulling the trigger become that much stronger. I can easily see the opponent’s next moves too.”
“That is a consequence of repeated experience. This is because you only focused on strengthening your body and not your mind. If you weren’t lazy about training your mind, you would have gained more magic. Tsk tsk.”
Monk Dae Woo clicked his tongue as if in regret. The skills of the mind would be much more of an upgrade compared to physical gains.
“Oh, don’t reprimand me so harshly. How could a soldier comfortably take time to train his mind? All of his energy would be used up to build on his strength.”
“That is true too. At least, you won’t go around getting beaten. Haha, you are like a wire rod.”
“If the ancestors who trained us martial arts skills saw that we were getting beaten, they would jump out of their graves.”
“Hahaha, who would attack the invincible you? Don’t talk nonsense.”
Monk Dae Woo finished all of the black sesame porridge and poured water into the bowl.
Oh! Is that a washer?
Mu Ssang’s eyes grew wide. Water spun inside the bowl. Monk Dae Woo drank the water that he had poured into the bowl. The bowl became spotless as if it was licked clean.
He could also summon resonance, but he couldn’t control it the way that his teacher did. In the past, his teacher had never shown him his skills. Showing his powers to the apprentice now meant that he had come to accept his skill. A farmer, who could steer a tractor, could not fly a plane.
“It’s nothing. It is but a small skill learned from hitting the moktak. My stomach feels content receiving such a good meal from my apprentice after two years.”
“A meal with you, teacher, is always a feast. Even if there is only fermented bean soup, it is much tastier than that of an expensive banquet.”
“Oh, don’t talk nonsense. How tasty could it be to sit and eat with an old man like myself? All there is to eat is a piece of kimchi and a few other vegetables.”
“Haha, you told me that a meal is not eaten with the mouth but with the heart.”
Mu Ssang cleared the last piece of kimchi that was left in the bowl. He placed the kimchi in his mouth and strutted out. He finished the dishes quickly and stepped into the room to check the fire in the furnace.
Tang tang tang—
The sound of the generator running, the blinking lights, the sad hooting of the fern owl, the echoing sound of the wind rustling through the trees, and the warm floor surrounded the old teacher and his apprentice who were sitting over a blanket.
“Even if I am a soldier, I’ve killed too many people. In the abysmal place called the Sahel, I have…”
“And so, I hid in the sand with just my head sticking out, and flies would come flying into any hole it sees on my body…”
“Haha, how could this be! Namo Amitābhāya”
The light in the room, where the thin old man and the muscular young man had sat in, did not turn off all night. Soft sounds of laughter and gasps were filtered through the door.
In the wee hours of a foggy morning, Mu Ssang was warming up his body with each of the 36 Forbidden Practices before he jumped into the stream. Although his body didn’t react to the cold air like that of an average person, he was much more sensitive to it. It had been a long time since the winter months had passed, but the stream was so cold it felt his skin would fall off.
The water was cold and clear. He felt as if he’d returned from hell. He had missed this stream under the Sahel’s hot sun!
“The water and air are only as good as Shintoism. Shintoism, Shintoism.”
Mu Ssang enjoyed the cool water with his head stuck out.
Suddenly, Mu Ssang kicked off the bottom of the stream and moved his position like lightning. In the place where he had just been, a rock slammed and stuck. It was a rock the size of a large pot. It came with such power that you could see the bottom of the stream when it made contact.
“What is this catastrophe!”
Mu Ssang looked around in surprise as the sound became more intense. His eyes grew large. A pile of pebbles covered the sky like a hoard of grasshoppers in the Sahel.
“Eu kyah, kyah, kyah!”
Again, Mu Ssang kicked off the bottom of the stream and moved his position.
A majority of the pebbles fell into the stream, but a portion of it changed direction and started chasing after him.
“Ack, thrust attack!”