Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 342
Confetti exploded everywhere the moment Mu Ssang entered the side-building’s large room. All kinds of glitter and colored paper dropped from the ceiling.
“Oppa, Happy Birthday.”
The youngest, Ou Soon, placed a cone hat on Mu Ssang’s head. It was a funny hat made of structured strawboard and colored cellophane paper, with the 10 Symbols of Longevity plastered on with tape.
“Our lovely oppa, Happy Birthday!” Ha Dong’s five daughters and Deok San’s daughters shouted in unison.
Deok San and Ha Dong’s girls clapped their hands enthusiastically to the point of ringing.
Mu Ssang, who was staring at them blankly for a moment, finally broke the silence. Today was Christmas Eve and his birthday.
“Happy Birthday to you ♬… Happy Birthday dear oppa, Happy Birthday to you.”
As soon as the song ended, they started singing carols.
“Joy to the world, our oppa has come. Let women receive their king ♬… let praise and praise be upon him.”
The pitch and beat were in perfect harmony as though they had practiced. It wasn’t wrong to sing carols since his birthday fell on Christmas. Mu Ssang’s eyes moved from the ceiling to the banner hung low across the wall.
[Oppa is our hope, we are oppa’s hope.]
Mu Ssang’s chest grew stuffy. A person who could give others hope was those who fulfilled the conditions of being human. Hope was the only thing that remained in Pandora’s box, wasn’t it? It was true. Hope was one of the requirements of being human.
That brat planned this!
He turned to look at Jin Soon. His expression was somewhere in between melancholy and joy. Jin Soon was the only one who remembered his birthday in this vast world filled with millions of people. Jin Soon had celebrated his birthday five times, from the third grade of middle school to the time when he was a waiter at BOSS nightclub.
He had never thought about his birthday before and had come to forget about it as time passed. His teacher wasn’t someone who cared about the passing of time—Buddha’s arrival included—and since he became a mercenary, all his personal records were wiped out.
Jin Soon wrapped a hand-knitted scarf around his neck. She pecked his cheek and whispered sensually with her mouth against his ears.
“One day, I’m going to land it on your mouth.”
Mu Ssang swallowed back a scream. His mind turned blank just like the time when he was poked with Chui Do Shik’s long acupuncture needle. He grew confused. Perhaps, it was because of a woman’s breath or the meaning of those words. Yeon Soon gave him mittens, Kyung Soon gave him a sweater, Gye Soon gave him a cardigan, and Mal Soon gave him a jacket… All of them were knitted gifts—precious things that couldn’t be acquired with money.
She told them.
Jin Soon was someone who had been taking care of him like a shadow since they were young. Mu Ssang glanced back at Jin Soon. Jin Soon grinned.
“Oppa, I only found out today. I’m sorry. I only wrote a letter.”
Jum Soon handed him a flower letter, looking like she was about to cry. Mu Ssang swayed upon receiving the envelope.
“Ugh, it’s heavy. I can tell you’ve put a lot of thought into it, Jum Soon. Thank you.”
Jum Soon’s face brightened up at Mu Ssang’s joke.
“Jum Soon, you worked hard. Let go of all the difficult and bad memories.”
Mu Ssang hugged Jum Soon tightly. Jum Soon’s pounding heart calmed down. That was the most reliable chest in the world. She felt as though nothing could harm her as long as she was in his embrace.
“Agh! That brat got it first!”
“Ugh, I should have written a letter too!”
Everyone complained. Jin Soon was all smiles. Learning about Mu Ssang’s dark past overwhelmed her. Her oppa had managed to escape the shackles of pain and sorrow with his effort and will. He even became someone who protected others, giving them joy and hope. Oppa was a real man.
Oppa, you need to live for yourself now. Jin Soon prayed in her heart.
“Oppa, are you planning to burn that money for Buddha? You always said you wanted a blue-tiled house and rice! Let’s build the house first. You build the house, oppa, and I’ll make the rice. Hehehe!”
Jin Soon sneakily expressed her intentions.
“Ok, ok, a house and rice, that sounds good. Ajussi, come here, quick. We need to cut the cake.”
Mu Ssang called Sam Chul ajussi over before slicing the cake.
Yeon Soon opened up the champagne. He was overwhelmed with gifts and love. Mu Ssang was happy. He was happy and comfortable. Perhaps, his father’s death and mother’s disappearance was intentional by Buddha so that he could form a bigger family.
Once the party died down, Jin Soon slowly brought up the matter.
“Oppa, let’s wrap up and head over to the bridge. Mom’s prepared dinner.”
“Huh? Wasn’t this dinner?”
“Tsk, oppa, you pig, don’t pretend like you don’t know. You’re really satisfied with some cookies and jeon?” Ou Soon interrupted like an intuitive bird.
“Brat, consider my age! You’re still going to call me a pig?”
“Hehe but it’s true that you eat a lot?” Ou Soon wrapped her arms around Mu Ssang’s waist and acted cute like the youngest should.
“Tsk, I do eat more than a pig. Jin Soon, call a taxi over.”
“I have a license. I listened to you last time and got a Level Two General. I’ve also finished my driving test.”
“No! You idiot, we need to travel 10 li through the frozen mountain road at night. Stop acting like you can when you’re a beginner and call a taxi,” Mu Ssang dismissed her immediately.
“But, I can,” Jin Soon muttered.
She really wanted to drive the flashing Citroën, which was stationed in a corner of the temple.
Is Samedi already back?
He could sense Samedi by the time they were almost done with their half-hearted preparations to leave. Although the villagers had seen black men before because of Camp Carroll in the next village, black men were still considered foreigners in the region. Was Samedi any ordinary black man? A pregnant woman or old man would instantly suffer a heart attack at the sight of him. Mu Ssang had purposely gotten rid of him by asking him to catch a boar.
He cleared his thoughts and activated his inner eye. Samedi was running over as though he was flying down the mountainside. There was a large boar slung over his shoulders, which seemed to weigh about 50 Gwan.
“Woah, that’s… this brat, he really is a professional.”
There weren’t any boars around Chun Saeng Mountain. Yu Hak Mountain, where boars lived, was more than 10 kilometers away in a straight line from Chun Saeng Mountain. Unlike sliced pork belly strips, boars weren’t something that could easily be bought at the butcher shop.
It hadn’t been two hours since Samedi left. It was an impossible mission unless he had a similar ability to his dimensional sight. Although he was weaker than Ocelot, his supernatural ability was on another level than Sun Woo-Hyun and Ahmad’s. He initially thought that Samedi was iron, but he turned out to be gold.
Bang bang bang—
The ground shook. The sight of a black man, who was seven feet tall, rushing with a boar slung over his shoulders looked nothing more than the devil. It was a sight that would have freaked the girls out to the point of fainting.
Samedi dropped the boar down on the temple’s entrance.
The sound of a boar in pain echoed. The boar, which had regained its consciousness, shook its legs. It was strong to the point that the iron barb wrapped around its leg snapped.
Ha Dong and Deok San Daek, who were cleaning the kitchen, came rushing out.
“Ssang, what is this?”
“Ingredients for the stew and soondae.”
The implausible explanation left the ajumma, who was in her 40s, speechless.
“Wakil, I did well, didn’t I?”
Samedi raised his chin and puffed out his chest. It was a pose that only appeared when he was confident.
“Brat, why did you bring it back alive? Ajumma’s surprised.”
“I was scolded for eating a raccoon. I don’t want to get in more trouble,” Samedi made up a plausible excuse.
“You can kill that thing.”
“Samedi’s confused. Smart wakil has to tell me what can be killed and what cannot be killed.”
“Brat, you decide!” Mu Ssang shouted, a little embarrassed.
Now, he couldn’t tell whether Samedi was joking or telling the truth.
“It’s difficult. Difficult. If I kill it, he’ll get mad at me for killing it too,” Samedi muttered.
He slammed down on the boar’s head with his palm. Samedi, who was smarter now, knocked out the boar once more. It was a surprising development.
The children of darkness, who had served in the military, took away something common from their military life. It was that they protested the idea of liking the military, even of peeing in its direction. However, they would sing military songs when they became drunk. Sang Chul was a helpless 30-year-old Korean man who had no choice but to live with the trauma of military life.
The song changed from “A Word Left by a Comrade” and “A True Man” to “The Torch of the Annihilation of Communism.” To head up to the central village, one had to pass the bridge village from Yeongok village. Ha Dong Daek’s house was brightly lit on the side of Shin-jak road. Ha Dong Daek was known for her frugality. She wasn’t the kind of person to leave the light on at night.
Is Mu Ssang back?
Sang Chul tilted his head. He turned toward Ha Dong’s house just to pop by and see.
A dog barked. When one started barking, all of the village dogs started barking too.
“You damn b*stards, don’t you know sergeant Kim from the military? Why’re you guys complaining when I’m going back to my house! Ah, wait, not my house, Mu Ssang’s house. No, is it Ha Dong Daek’s? Wait, Mu Ssang?”
Due to the drowsiness, his memories flickered back and forth until he was able to retrieve the relevant memory.
“Those b*stards, that road they took led to Jin Bo ajussi’s grave!”
No wonder he had felt so uncomfortable as though he didn’t take care of his s***ty mess! Maintaining Jin Bo ajussi’s grave was his responsibility. Some bad people would secretly dig up graves and throw away the remains. It was to relieve the burden of grave owners when one decided to sell a mountain.
“F***, I’m so f***ed!”
Sang Chul rushed to trace back his steps. The mountain behind Yeongok village was an area where he used to play around in his youth. It was like a front yard. Even without a lantern, he could still find his way around with the moonlight.
On the mountain behind Yeongok village, four healthy men were concentrated on a grave, swinging their shovels and pickaxes. They took apart the tomb instantly and began digging down. Lantern lights flickered in the snow-covered mountain, and there was the loud sound of shoveling.
“Geez, it’s too loud to work. Bro, you go for a smoke.”
When their area of work narrowed, Bullhead pushed driver Kim to the side.
“Yeah, finish it quickly and soju’s on me.”
Driver Kim spat and sat against a young pine tree. He pulled out a cigarette and flicked the lighter on.
The wind blowing down from the mountaintop carried snow along with it. He was covered in snow, but the turbo lighter did its job.
He inhaled the smoke until his cheeks were sunken in. A faint blue smoke drifted up into the air. All kinds of banging could be heard from behind him.
“F***ing hell, I guess I’ve seen the worst of human Yoo Young Chul.”
He missed the time when everything went his way. Still, he had to pick up the gun because of a bribe that had gone wrong. He pitied himself for ending up as an old woman’s driver and having to dig up a decayed corpse. Although his salary wasn’t that great, he missed the time when he used to earn 10 or 100 times more.
“I wonder if that b*stard’s still alive?”
He recalled hitting a farmer’s spine and accidentally turning him into a cripple. In the end, it was that man’s fault. The farmer had insistently refused his offer no matter how trivial the task was. He’d caused the accident after kicking the man out of anger.
“F***, whether he’s dead or alive, it doesn’t matter. He’s not the first person who turned into a cripple because of me. I’m about to freeze to death.”
It wasn’t his concern if others lived or died. The bone-chilling air was more annoying right now.
The sound of the digging stopped. Bones and Chicken feet climbed out of the grave.
“Bro, the coffin’s out, but the bones are all disintegrated.”
Driver Kim tilted his head at Bullhead’s words.
“It’s all disintegrated? Ah, s**t. This is why shamans shouldn’t be trusted. How are there no bones left?”
“The skull and thigh bones seem to be intact but brittle. What should we do?”
Driver Kim fell into a dilemma. He had a large talisman and 10 small talismans in his bag. The small talismans were supposed to be attached to the skull, leg bones, arm bones, and ribs before they were put away in the bag. The large charm was supposed to be attached to the bag before it was thrown into the Nakdong River. Where was he supposed to place them if the bones had all disintegrated?
“Damn, I don’t know either. Gather the bones into the bag, then. We should finish our job since we received the money anyway.”
“Okay. Oi, just crush the bones and put them in the bag.”
Bones and Chicken feet climbed back down into the grave.
The sound of bones breaking could be heard.
“Those f**king b*stards!”
Sang Chul turned sober from the shock. It was definitely those b*stards who were climbing the mountain earlier. Those b*stards were taking apart Jin Bo ajussi’s grave. They were the worst b*stards on Earth.
“Hey, you goddamn b*stards!”
Sang Chul jumped at them without a second thought.
“What dog’s skeleton is that?” Bullhead stared at Sang Chul in disbelief.
“Hide your faces, you idiots!” driver Kim shouted.
The group quickly adjusted their hats back on their heads and masks on their faces.
“Quick-Fist, you silence that brat. Don’t kill him, though.”
“You f**king b*stards, you’re all dead!” Sang Chul shouted as he rushed toward them.
That kind of bravery wouldn’t have appeared if he wasn’t drunk.
“That idiot’s earning the beating himself.”
Quick-Fist, who had been lighting the grave with a lantern, stood facing Sang Chul. Just like his nickname, Quick-Fist, he landed a punch on Sang Chul’s nose.
Quick-Fist didn’t have a family, but he was someone who spent his entire life throwing punches whenever his stomach was full. Even Sang Chul, who was known to be relentless during a real fight, couldn’t fight back. In an instant, his nose broke and his lips tore, covering him in blood.
At Ha Dong’s house on the bridge, Mu Ssang took out the boar from the car’s trunk.
“Oh? It’s alive!”
Mu Ssang stared at Samedi.
Samedi smiled widely.
“You sly fox! Good job.”
Mu Ssang, who figured Samedi’s intentions, smiled. Now, he was humanized enough to mix with other people. No, he seemed more human than humans. He had received teacher’s teachings, after all.
“Wakil! I smell human blood,” Samedi said in a low voice and pointed at Wol Song San.
As expected of zombies. Mu Ssang thought to himself as he released his dimensional sight.
“There’s five. Don’t kill them, just tie them up.”
Samedi sent his body flying toward Wol Song San.
“Hehehe, it really is easier for me with a useful guy around. I should make soondae in the meantime.”