Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 358
Sun Woo Bang Na glanced at her disciple, who was curled up in a corner of the room, and kept talking.
“According to this girl’s research, there are 80,478 temples registered with Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs, making it a total of 140,000 if the branches are included. There are temples in every neighborhood. There are many similarities between shaman gods and Shinto gods. There are nature deities (animism and totemism) and human gods (heroes).”
She continued, “The only difference is that if shamans serve the kings and heroes of our nation, Shinto serves the Amaterasu Omikami and war criminals. While some shamans serve Chinese gods like Guan Yu and Xue Rengui, they are all cult remnants. Shaman gods have a clear rank, from heavenly gods to ghosts. They’re of a higher grade than Shinto gods and are a combination of animism and totemism.”
“So, which rank do I belong to?”
When Sun Woo Bang Na started bragging, Mu Ssang threw her a difficult question. Like the Celtic gods and Greek gods, Korea’s traditional shamanism had several gods.
“Shamans are those who know their place. A mere human can’t measure the size of a great soul. While the shaman gods differ depending on the region and temple, there is the Sky God, Big Dipper God, and Mountain God in the highest rank and the Sea Dragon God, Three Jeseok Gods, and General Gods in the middle rank. There is the Seongju God, State Official God, Earth God, and Jowangsin in the lower rank and the Beggar God and ghosts in the lowest rank.”
She added, “A shaman’s abilities differ depending on the rank of god that enters their bodies. A shaman who receives a high-ranking god can also display the abilities of a lower-ranking god. On the other hand, if the shaman receives a low-ranking god, they will only waste their life away. The Great God refers to those who’ve met conditions that fulfill godly powers beyond these ranks. You’re basically above the Jade Emperor.”
“Whether it’s the Jade Emperor or the Big Dipper God, I’m nothing but an ordinary human right now. I’m merely dust in the providence of the vast universe. You’re doing such a bothersome task because you feel threatened, yes?”
“Yes. No Japanese calls Shinto a superstition. Despite their defeat in the Pacific War, the Japanese protected Shinto until they were partly forced to abandon their national religion. Our reality is harsher. Since Park Jung Hui came to power, the government has been bent on suppressing and exterminating shamanism. They call the gods and the incarnations we connect with superstition and turn this world into a place where people react negatively to a woman for giving birth to the savior without proper fertilization. This girl’s chest grows stuffy whenever I see the red crosses covering the city. The reality of our traditional belief wasting away like a boy after he gains independence saddens me.”
She continued, “To be frank, all religions are superstitions. No country denounces folk tradition as mere superstition just to wipe it out. Why did we, Koreans, abandon our traditional beliefs and accepted a foreign religion that originated from a corner of Western Asia without much protest? It is a religion that even the Jews rejected. It’s because we lost our national pride after being suppressed by those Japs. It’s because some useless people ended up as politicians.”
Sun Woo Bang Na spoke enthusiastically as though she had forgotten about her current situation. Her eyes, which were trembling with fear, flashed with enthusiasm, and her small mouth moved quickly as though it operated on motors.
Huh, what the h*ll? Is she possessed by a minister who died in Yeouido?
Mu Ssang stared at the old shaman who made him feel uncomfortable and had forgotten her situation. She wasn’t wrong. Both Korea’s shamanism and Japan’s Shinto were pantheons.
While it was difficult to find gutdangs in Korea, there were Shinto shrines everywhere in Japan. To real shamans, Buddhism and Christianity must look like nothing but followers hanging onto the concepts of gods. They must be dissatisfied with the reality that religions prevailed despite hanging onto insubstantial gods. Mu Ssang’s vicious instinct slowly reared its head. He wanted to test Sun Woo Bang Na’s foresight.
“Sun Woo Bang Na, can you look into my past?”
“That’s… that’s dangerous, sir. If a Bodhisattva tries to look into the past of a high-ranking god, they can’t avoid death. At best, it will drive us mad.” Sun Woo Bang Na leaped in her place.
Compared to the human world, the spiritual world had a clearer hierarchy of power based on abilities. More than one already died in Korea after their brain exploded from trying to act like they were better.
“Ho, what rank does your master Jeon Woo Chi belong to? I heard he’s skilled. Is it still impossible?”
“There are countless spirits in the universe, but there are barely 10 great gods. My great master Jeon Woo Chi is a Taoist, and therefore, he serves the Mountain God. While he is the incarnation of a high-ranking god, he’s incomparable to the Great Gods. This girl’s ability, no, the incarnate I serve won’t be able to handle your power.”
“Hm. There’s one thing I really want. Can you figure it out?” Mu Ssang asked vaguely.
He really wanted to check. It was said that politicians frequently sought out shamans. Could shamans truly tell a person’s fortunes, misfortunes, past, and future?
“Even your incarnation has entered the rank of gods, Great God. This girl doesn’t dare test you. However, I may be able to get a glimpse through your parents. Do you perhaps have any belongings that your parents cherished or any part of their body?”
“Hoo, a belonging, hm?”
Mu Ssang looked up at the ceiling and sighed. Back then, he was too young to think about his parents’ belongings. All he had was his father’s nail-sized registration card photo and one of his mother’s brushes. Even then, Ha Dong Daek had obtained them for him. Mu Ssang took out a straight brush from his pocket.
“Ho, it’s a high-quality item made from a Ziziphus struck by lightning. There are traces of the owner’s personality. It’s something that a young woman used, I see.”
Sun Woo Bang Na didn’t bounce around wearing colorful robes or perform a ritual. She simply held the straight brush and started meditating. The connection began. Her eyes lost focus and widened. Her body started shaking. Her cheeks trembled, and soon, tears rolled down from her eyes. It was emotional resonance through a medium.
“How strange… strange. How did heaven’s daughter fall into the human world once more? Is the Queen Mother of the West still angry? The weaver girl who met the cowherd’s evil sister-in-law is suffering another fate. Separated from her husband in her past life and separated from her son in this life. Oho, how unfortunate. This noble soul is wandering the seas, unaware and unsettled,” Sun Woo Bang Na shivered while she relayed the story.
“W…where is that?” Mu Ssang shouted.
Piles of dust descended from the roof because of the vibration. Sun Woo Bang Na suddenly stopped shaking.
Mu Ssang beat himself up. Basically, he broke the connection between the Bodhisattva and the god. Sure enough, Sun Woo Bang Na’s eyes regained focus.
“F***, damn it!”
Mu Ssang’s face creased.
“Great God, please, don’t be too mad. Connections in this world are like worthless riches. Once you enter the wheel of reincarnation, these connections will be forgotten,” Sun Woo Bang Na spoke calmly, as though she was chiding him.
The idea of past lives in shamanism was the disconnection between the human world and the afterlife. After leaving the body, the soul would return to its pure foundations to be reincarnated. Even if a son crossed the boundaries between both worlds, his dead mother wouldn’t be able to recognize him.
Mu Ssang was speechless. He just missed the golden opportunity to locate his mother because of his emotions.
“Is she alive?”
“Where?” Mu Ssang asked, as though he was going to eat her up.
“From what I could see, there were many islands, which indicates the South Sea. There was a port with a lot of breakwaters.”
“The South Sea…”
Mu Ssang looked determined. Sun Woo Bang Na carefully opened her mouth.
“Although your ability covers the heavens, great God, you are still a person who hasn’t broken out of your human shell. If you force connections into place, the tangled threads of fate may work against your favor.”
“I know. Finish what you were going to say.”
Just knowing that his mother was still alive was a great gain. Mu Ssang returned to his usual demeanor. Sun Woo Bang Na’s Bodhisattva ability wasn’t to be underestimated. Someone at the peak of their profession deserved to be respected. Mu Ssang’s tone grew more polite.
“Thank you for your grace. Please, drop the honorifics. This girl isn’t someone who can bear the existence of the great God.”
Mu Ssang nodded. Shamans were not ranked by their innate personalities, but their right to shamanism. Treating the other like they were an adult would only make her more anxious.
“Buddhism and Christianity are both foreign religions. The government gave tax benefits to foreign religions and even made Jesus’ birthday a national holiday. However, the shamans are losing their tradition and each faction’s legacy is cut off one by one because of the suppression and extermination. As our main vein of tradition, Kang Shin Ryu, grew faint, all kinds of fake cults began to act up, and they are treated as representations of shamanism itself. Christianity is a religion of division and envy, while Buddhism is a religion of seclusion. Both have a fundamental limit when it comes to uniting the people. This girl is certain that Mu (shamanism) can unite our people.”
Mu Ssang stared at Sun Woo Bang Na, who was speaking enthusiastically. While there were some weak points in her argument, the reality was harsh for shamans to feel that way.
“I think differently. Mu is very selfish. Its nature, which changes frequently according to reality, is also strong. On the other hand, the backbone of Buddhism and Christianity are benevolence and love.”
“Those are just grand words. I can bring up more than 36,500 examples that both are actually fascinated by wealth and worldly power,” Sun Woo Bang Na spat.
Mu Ssang smiled.
“People are the problem, then. Your disciple accepted dirty money and cursed a specific innocent person. Do you think you can gain public support this way? Do you think you can gain support with selfish thoughts like ‘I just need to be happy’ and ‘As long as I’m not the only unhappy one?’ If you want Mu to become a religion, you need to establish the agenda that ‘everyone can be happy.’”
“You’re right, Great God. That is why this girl decided to act on it. I plan to rework the Mu religion’s frame entirely after investigating all the shamans in the country, taking what’s needed and abandoning what’s unnecessary. Every new year, 80 percent of the Japanese visit the temple to pray. This is also the reason why the Japanese are united. During the Japanese occupation period, they moved the national temple that was located in Namsan Octagonal Pavilion to In Wang San. There, they built a Joseon deity temple that represented the gods in Joseon and titled Amaterasu Omikami as the god. The evil Japanese feared that Mu would become a spiritual pillar, like Shinto.”
“Fine. I understand that you care for this country’s future and love this country in your own way. You’re better than those helpless politicians.” Mu Ssang sighed.
Even a yin-field’s Left Martial Hall shaman was concerned about the country, but those in power behaved like the country was someone else’s. They were either Japanese or American.
“What is your disciple’s name?”
“She’s Sun Woo Ma Go. She’s my daughter.”
Mu Ssang was surprised. Both mother and daughter seemed to have their ages reversed. Well, they could change their appearance at any time depending on the depth of their training. That explained why Sun Woo Bang Na covered for her disciple so desperately.
Mu Ssang stared at Sun Woo Ma Go, who was still trembling. His teacher said that they were useful people. It was true. His teacher’s wisdom was truly unmatched.
“Very well. Sun Woo Go Ma’s actions were prevented before there were any consequences. If not, both of you would have met your end today.”
Mu Ssang took out his father’s picture from his pocket.
“Sun Woo Bang Na, can you perform thoughtography?”
“Although it isn’t difficult, it takes a lot out of my concentration. This girl has lost her energy after receiving a god. My disciple’s ability isn’t bad. You damn thing, hurry up here!”
At Sun Woo Bang Na’s call, Sun Woo Ma Go quickly got up and received Park Jin Bo’s photo with both hands. He could tell what Sun Woo Bang Na was up to instantly. She was trying to reassure him, a dangerous guest.
Sun Woo Bang Na spread out a yellow paper and secured it with the Big Dipper’s sword on the floor. Sun Woo Ma Go raised the picture in her hands and closed her eyes. Energy swirled in her head.
Black dots appeared on the yellow paper. The dots turned into lines, and the lines formed a face. His features were outlined. It was as though the portrait came to life.
Mu Ssang silently exclaimed. The world was truly huge. Professor Giz did say that there would come a day when electrical appliances were powered by brainwaves. There were no limits to a human’s mental strength.
Park Jin Bo came to life on the yellow paper. His wide forehead, his high nose, his stubborn mouth, and his kind face—they were all as they were.
“F…father!” Mu Ssang mumbled under his breath.
“He’s your father, great God? I’m sorry for the sin that my daughter has committed. Please, at least let her live.”
Sun Woo Bang Na lowered her head. Sun Woo Ma Go, who just finished transferring the picture, also lowered herself to the ground.
“Sun Woo Ma Go, you must never perform another curse or charm that can harm others. Swear that to the god that you serve.”
Sun Woo Ma Go willingly swore. Contracts between Bodhisattvas and gods’ incarnate weren’t as simple as contracts between humans. Going against her word would break the connection between her and the god. The shock to her brain would cause her to lose the divinity she acquired until then, and she would not be able to live as a normal human.
Mu Ssang threw the knife that he was holding onto the floor.
The knife, which was two and a half inches, sliced through the floor and embedded itself deeply. Its blade completely disappeared, leaving only its handle poking out.
“It seems like I’ll lose all connection with the heavens and the divine if I punish you. Hear this, Sun Woo Ma Go. The person you tried to curse almost had his soul sealed. I want you to hang his picture in the temple and pray for his peace every day. Can you do that?”