Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 203
Sweat dripped from Mu Ssang’s face. Deok Sun held her breath while Jin Soon made a fist and did not once look away.
That was the first time she saw her oppa struggling. She didn’t know what it was, but she felt like something incredible was about to happen.
She was a third-year nursing student. Intervertebral disc prolapse was hard to treat. She could not guarantee that one would completely heal even with surgery. It usually caused paralysis to the lower half of the body and was difficult to recover from. It meant that uncle would most likely have to live the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
The resonance echoed once again.
“Huh, incredible! How could they be so cruel?”
Mu Ssang clicked his tongue. The ligaments that connected the tissues in the knee were completely shattered. The broken bone had healed in a malaligned position, and so, he had to align it using a prosthesis.
It would be hard to try to fix it in this state. The people that did this to him were horrible, but the doctors who treated him were just as bad, if not worse. Either that or they were frauds.
Lastly, Mu Ssang used his resonance to shake up the stiffened muscles before ending his treatment.
“Oh, that took a lot out of me!”
When Mu Ssang let out a sigh, Jin Soon quickly wiped away the sweat from his forehead. With bated breath and eyes that sparkled with anticipation was Deok Sun, who had been waiting patiently.
“Uncle, try standing up.”
Mu Ssang helped his uncle to sit up while supporting his back.
“Oh, this will not work. I’ve spent three years lying like this.”
“It’ll work. Trust me and try standing up.”
His uncle grunted as he applied strength. Mu Ssang supported his uncle’s weight with his own strength.
“Huh, it doesn’t hurt! How is this possible?”
His uncle, who had staggered to stay upright, wrinkled his face as if half-smiling and half-crying.
“Oh, husband. Does it really not hurt?” Deok Sun exclaimed out loud.
“Wife, my ears will go deaf. I am alright now.”
“Slowly, very slowly, try moving your feet.”
With support, his uncle moved his feet. One-step—two-step—three-step.
“Oh, that, that!”
Deok Sun was so surprised that she couldn’t speak. Jin Soon was surprised too. A patient who had been paralyzed from the waist down was walking. She stared at him as if she was going to swallow him whole.
“That’s enough for today!”
After encouraging his uncle to take five steps, Mu Ssang sat him back down. Jin Soon immediately placed blankets behind his back.
“I’m sitting. Sitting. No, walking. I walked,” uncle mumbled to himself.
“Oh, yes, yes.”
“Uncle’s back will get better from now on. The bones in his knee did not heal in the correct position, so I won’t be able to fix that.”
“Oh, how can we thank you! How can this be possible? Your father and mother were such good people that they must have sent you to save us. Sob! How can I ever repay you?”
Deok Sun made a fuss, not knowing what to do.
“There’s no reason to repay me. Listen to me carefully. I did heal him, but his joints and muscles are weak, so it will take two to three months before his spine is fully recovered. Buy a bed. Before he goes to sleep, tie weights to his ankles. He should go for a little walk every day. After about two months, he should be able to walk on his own with crutches.”
“Oh my goodness, that’s more than enough. Heavenly Father, Buddha, thank you. Thank you!”
Deok Sun put her hands together and prayed in every direction.
“Wife, you should be thanking Ssang. Why are you looking for Buddha and God instead? There is no Buddha or God in this world. Ssang is Buddha and God.”
His uncle joked with a smile. Tears fell from his wrinkled eyes.
“Oh uncle, don’t say such blasphemous things. If my teacher finds out, I would be beaten to death. I’ll come back again next month. You must not tell anyone that I healed you,” Mu Ssang warned firmly.
“Of course, I understand what you are saying.”
He nodded his head like a swaying grasshopper. Mu Ssang refused their persistent offer to stay for dinner and left the Straw Bridge. He didn’t want to end up running into family members that he did not want to see while he was still within the area.
“Oppa, don’t go doing something stupid.”
Jin Soon’s eyes were fired up as she lifted her fists. He had felt a vast amount of hopelessness here for the longest time. Usually, reserved people who suddenly act rashly surprised others the most.
“Alright. I want to live quietly too.”
Mu Ssang smiled bitterly. He knew of the heartache that Jin Soon had suffered.
“Oppa, how did you heal uncle? Is it a power that is taught in books?”
“I’m not sure if you could call it a power, but it’s called hyungtae gongmyung jang. Teacher calls it resonance.”
“Hyungtae gongmyung jang? What’s that?”
“It’s hard to explain. I learned by watching teacher do it, and I figured out how to use it.”
Mu Ssang breezed through the subject. Should he have said that he had gained the skill by killing a lot of people, or should he have said that he had figured it out from swimming through the bloodbaths?
“Either way, oppa, you are mysterious. I feel like you will later disappear into the sky, riding away on a crane.”
Jin Soon wanted to ask him many things, but she kept her mouth shut. If that’s what oppa insisted, then that was it.
“Soon-ah, let’s go out for a bit.”
“To do what?”
“I want to check out the registration right away.”
He felt rushed. His house in Jonggok village symbolized the happiness that he had with his father and mother. He could not let that fall into the hands of someone else. He had the intention to purchase the house, but it turned out that the house had already belonged to him. It was as ridiculous as a dog eating grass. Baek Bu and Jang were incredibly strange and did the most illogical things, but he couldn’t help but suspect that they were up to no good.
After seeing the deed to the house, it made even less sense to him. The owner had changed from Park Jin Bo to Park In Bo, then six years ago, it had switched to Park Mu Ssang.
Mu Ssang searched his memory and recalled his father’s fields. He had checked the number and received the registration papers. Within a similar time frame, his name had been posted on the registration form. He felt like he’d been possessed by a ghost.
“Oppa, what happened?”
“Well, I wouldn’t know.”
“Isn’t it Wu Tak’s father making amends for his wrongdoings?”
“Oh please, don’t talk nonsense. If it’s not actual kindness but one that was just for show, that might make sense.”
Jin Soon said with a bitter smile. That’s right. Thinking about those types of people in power was frightening.
Mu Ssang checked the deed again. 10 acres of Yeongok village’s fields and the five acres of fields in the Straw Bridge were listed under his name.
The deed had changed around the time that he was in high school. Did the world go crazy during that time? Did it explode at the time and emitted radiation or something?
Why would Baek Bu and Baek Mo change the possessor of the house and land to their nephew?
He shook his head. That was impossible. It would make more sense to believe in fairy tales where a fox turned into a woman or a tiger becoming friends with a deer.
Reality was reality and not a fairy tale. A fox was and would always be a fox, and a tiger would always eat the deer. Turning a new leaf was not an option when it came down to his relationship with Baek Bu. The only thing to do was to meet Baek Bu, face to face.
“Oppa, if you aren’t planning to kick your way in through their door, then get that thought out of your head. You know how lame Rodin’s The Thinker looks like in front of a beautiful woman?”
Jin Soon tried to calm Mu Ssang’s repressed energy all day.
Gyeongbu Expressway was a wall that separated the neighborhood and the fields. To get to the river, one had to walk through the dark path and pass the box.
“What is this?”
Mu Ssang was taken aback by the transformed surroundings. The wide flowing river had become dry. The river’s width shrank to half its size, and the water had become muddy. The earth and sand got washed into it, reducing the width to about 10 meters. It was now more of a small lake.
“According to the adults, when the Andong Dam was finished, the water depth decreased, and the increase in construction caused the build-up of sand and debris. Some people blamed the freeway.””Damn! They turned the river into a wreck.”
“Pollution from the construction site flowed into the river and killed all the fish. In turn, that stopped the bird migration here, causing a mess. Now, no one comes here to fish.”
Now that he was paying attention, he could see the fishes floating in the water with its bellies up. The vast water weeds were no longer there.
“Damn it! Carps, guppies, eels, freshwater sprats, leopard fish, and snakeheads—they are all gone. Oh, we can’t eat clams or seaweed.”
Mu Ssang was disappointed. His heartfelt memories of the place have been destroyed.
“You’ll be in trouble if you end up eating the fish from the polluted lake. The people in Japan had eaten fish from water contaminated by metal and ended up getting Minamata disease. It was a nightmare.”
Mu Ssang glared at the construction site in disgust. This country had no underground resources or tourist locations. It could only survive by building factories and exporting goods. Unlike Chad, Korea progressed in a virtuous cycle.
Once the factories came in, numerous people were able to get jobs and could send their children to school. The children who gained high school education were able to contribute to the country’s progress. If the factories had not been built, Sang Chul would have ended up as a peasant because he had nothing to inherit.
However, he was still disappointed. They said that within 10 years, mountains could change. Now, he could see that it was true even if it had changed for the worse. He became sad, thinking of his childhood memories that were linked to the place.
He went upstream without even having to cross the bridge. He carried Jin Soon on his back and passed through the willow tree forest, wading in thigh-deep water. Fortunately, the willow tree forest had not changed much from before.
He removed his outer coat and laid it on the ground for Jin Soon, before stretching out under a willow tree’s shade. The pile of willow leaves softened the ground for his back to rest against comfortably.
The dark green leaves of the willow tree would grow as big as his hands by the end of April. In between the small leaves, he could see the white clouds floating in the blue sky. The leaves would become so thick after a month that it would be impossible to see the sky through it.
The whisper of the wind flowing through the willow tree, the sound of the rustling leaves, the sound of swaying reeds and flowers, the chirping of different types of water birds, the sound of jumping fish, and the softness of Jin Soon’s thigh—it was home.
The sun did not burn the skin, and the lack of dust storm made it possible to open one’s eyes. There were no swarms of flies and mosquitoes. There was no gunfire or explosions. It was heaven.
“Would aunt be at the house?”
“It’s Saturday, so all the girls will probably be there too.”
“I couldn’t buy any presents, what should I do?”
“Your healthy return is already a great present. You’re like a father to them. We should stop by the grave too.”
“Of course. For the time being, I’ll have to be stuck at the temple for the next 10 days, praying five hours a day.”
“Five hours a day? Grandfather monk is asking for too much.”
Jin Soon pouted.
“Teacher may look rash, but he has hye an. He has his reasons for everything.”
“What is hye an?”
“The body is the physical state. Cheon an is the eyes’ ability to see beyond this realm. It is like foresight. Hye an is the ability to see one’s true self. For example, you can act innocent all you want, but your fiery nature will undoubtedly show. He’s probably secretly clicking his tongue at you.”
“Whatever. You know how much grandfather monk likes me. Is there something else other than hye an?”
“There is also bup an and bul an, but I don’t know it well.”
“Does it have anything to do with the healing powers you used on your uncle?”
“What powers? I have only learned a similar skill to that of the cheon an, by coincidence. I was reprimanded for not properly learning the skill.”
Mu Ssang jumped. Compared to his teacher’s powers, his skills were amateurish, at best.
“You know what, he’s so strict to his apprentice, but why is he so gentle with me? Why is teacher so gentle?”
“Should I tell you the truth?”
“Like you can lie to me? Spill it before I appoint a jury.”
“Grandfather monk told me not to tell.”
“Don’t mess with me.”
Mu Ssang lifted his fist and shook it.
“What in the world! How dare you wave fists that can break boulders in front of a beautiful woman? How pitiful for the ambitious Cho Jin Soon.”
“Hurry up and spill it. A woman’s lips should be as light as a dry reed.”
They weren’t particularly talking about anything, but conversations between men and women were usually like that. They spent their time talking about frivolous things like that.
“According to grandfather monk, he said that your menace is too strong. He said that your dark aura is growing.”
“That only happens in fantasy novels. Teacher was lying to you.”
“I don’t know whether he’s lying to me or not. He said that I was born with the energy of water. He said that I should stay by your side to balance your aura.”
“Ha, how silly! Teacher must be getting old. You really believe that?”
“Of course, I really believe it. If I don’t trust the person who has the hye an sight, then who should I trust?”
“Oh, my head!”
Jin Soon was already a handful as it is, but his teacher had given her even more hope. The girl would end up as a virgin ghost because of him. Jin Soon poked at Mu Ssang’s frowning forehead with her finger.
“Don’t worry about it too much. Grandfather monk said that your dark energy will fade when you reach 100 years old. I’ll stay by your side for the next 80 years. Hehehe.”
Jin Soon stuck out her tongue.
“Hahaha! I give up. I give up. They say that a beautiful woman will be forgiven no matter how much nonsense they spew. Do whatever you want.”
The mention of 80 years got him laughing.
“A beautiful woman is saying that she will stay by your side, but you treat her like some leftover chewed up gum. Oh, how you hurt my pride. Oh, father in heaven, take back your son.”
Jin Soon pretended to lament as she dabbed her eyes with spit to mimic tears.
“Oh, silly girl, my teacher may be soft in your hands, but why are you bringing my father into this?”
His large hands ruffled Jin Soon’s hair.
“Hehe, do you know how much I dreamt about coming to this forest with you? I’m so glad you came back safe and sound.”
Jin Soon swallowed the words, “I love you, oppa.” It might be words that she had to keep to herself forever.