Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 391
Ituri Jungle’s canopy wasn’t going to let sunlight through just because there were rivers and swamps. A river had to be at least over 30 meters wide to receive sunlight.
A dark forest whose day and night were indistinguishable, a ground full of wet tenacious plants, poisonous insects and predators attacking at every moment, swamplands indistinguishable from dry land, endless cliffs and drops without end, Ituri was all of those which determined life and death with one step. He could be served before Hades trying to catch those kidnappers’ tails.
That wasn’t the only threatening factor. According to the DGSE’s intelligence department, Over 20,000 soldiers were working for each of the warlords in Congo’s north-eastern region. Meeting them in Ituri Jungle could only cause a large-scale battle.
Moreover, he couldn’t tell how many kilometers Kidamba meant by seven days. Well, it was fortunate he didn’t say ten days, at least. If it had been more than ten, the boy would have said “a lot.”
“Ulumbo, how many kilometers a day can the Pygmies move?”
“I’ll check, sir.”
Ulumbo’s voice didn’t hold much confidence even as he answered. The Pygmies weren’t familiar with numbers. They only knew “a lot” and “a little.” It wasn’t much different from holding a conversation with chimpanzees. Ulumbo tried his best to accomplish the great master’s order. He made all kinds of gestures and even drew shapes of animals in the air to talk to Kidamba. Ulumbo’s expression grew darker the more time passed.
“Sir, I’m not talented enough to understand what the Pygmies are describing. I’m sorry.”
“What do you mean?”
“They said they’re faster than a black mamba who swallowed a blue monkey and slower than a parrot which flies with an injured wing. They said they can go and return from the swamp of the devil by the time two women’s fruit baskets are half-filled.”
“Ugh, my head!”
Black Mamba grabbed the back of his neck. How was he supposed to know where this devil’s swamp was, how fast a black mamba who swallowed a blue monkey was, how slow a parrot with a broken wing was, and how many kinds of fruits in the region filled the women’s basket?
He realized how great a human’s brain was through the Pygmy tribe’s explanations. Brains go through an incalculable amount of math in a single, subconscious moment for each situation. Samedi, who had been listening to their conversation, glared.
“You idiot, are you joking right now? What kind of idiot answers like that? You’re trying to get back at me for moving you around too violently, aren’t you? Do you want to experience how a black mamba chokes in my grasp, no, how a parrot with broken wings feels like? Hm?!” Samedi glanced at Black Mamba before talking, softening his words slightly.
Ulumbo shook his hands rapidly, his limbs quaking in fear. “No, I wouldn’t dare! The Pygmy tribe has no numerical system. I tried everything to figure out the distance but it was no use. Look, great master’s nodding in agreement sir.”
Ulumbo defended himself to the best of his abilities, his face white. The Bodun was so scary; just looking at him made Ulumbo tremble in fear. He had to use the Mahaduraka’s name to avoid trouble.
“They’re forest people at least in name, so shouldn’t they be able to move 20km a day?”
“I, I don’t know. I can’t move 500 meters an hour. Will that be possible?” Ulumbo stuttered at Black Mamba’s question.
A healthy man could move around 30km a day by walking on flat land or road. But Ituri Jungle was on an entirely different dimension. He wasn’t confident whether he could march 20km an hour for a whole day.
Black Mamba calculated the distance to the best of his ability. They said their attackers’ headquarters were seven days away from Kidamba’s village. If they moved 20km a day, they could cover 140km. This meant the location was closer than what the GPS indicated. Black Mamba’s expression grew brighter. The mission’s true enemy, this time, was distance and time.
Unfortunately, Black Mamba had forgotten the reason why the Pygmies were called forest people. The Pygmies’ bodies had adapted to the forest. They could move 40km within a day. Black Mamba didn’t know his target was way further than he realized.
“Alright, let’s head out at once. Olonge and Kidamba can lead the way.”
Black Mamba rushed. Longer nights meant longer dreams. There wasn’t a reason for him to hesitate now that he had their tail.
“Great master, Kidamba said he can’t guide you,” Ulumbo said after some hesitation.
Black Mamba’s face creased. This was like taking off underwear only to have a period pad on. He’d wasted four days waiting for Kidamba and the others. It was like Chaboom swiping past the midfielder, sweeper, and goalkeeper only to shoot a s*** shot at the goal.
“What is his reason?”
“He said the black men with guns killed all the women and children. They also boiled two children in a pot and ate them. He said he saw the remains of those children in the pot.”
“So, he’s too scared of the blacks, so he won’t guide?”
“Yes, he said that’s the only thing he’ll never do.”
Black Mamba’s frown grew deeper. He felt anger surge within him, but he couldn’t force the boy either. Scared, Ulumbo glared at Kidamba. The boy was the one who refused, but he was the one facing Black Mamba’s wrath.
“Why did they kill just the women and children?”
“The men were conducting a baketi (a ceremony which chases away evil spirits to increase hunting success) ceremony in the forest and were away.”
Baketi, as some sort of hunting ceremony, was only attended by men. It was called a ceremony, but it mostly consisted of eating and playing. The Pygmy tribe had clear definitions of the roles of men and women. Men only hunted and gathered honey.
Women not only gathered fruits and plants, but prepared firewood, food, and made houses. Child raising was naturally the women’s job too. At the base of the Pygmy tribe’s free lifestyle was the women’s hard labor. Even the clearest lake was sometimes s*** when looked into.
“Did you tell him I’ll be taking revenge for him?
“Yes. Kidamba is an Aka Pygmy. They have a lot of fear. They don’t interact with the blacks and live deep inside Ituri Forest.”
“What? So, he’s not even going to dream of revenge when the women and children were murdered? He refused to guide us because he’s scared, even when we’ll be the ones taking revenge? Such human trash only deserves to die.” Samedi raised his stove-lid-like hand.
“Ua!” Surprised, Kidamba crouched down and began to cry.
“Samedi, hold on a moment.”
This wasn’t something that could be solved by just scolding the poor Pygmy. Black Mamba remembered how he said the bastards boiled two children to eat. The act of humans eating another human was an uncultured violence that shouldn’t be dreamt of.
The act of steaming/boiling people in a pot came from Daji of the Shang dynasty. It was said that she steamed good-looking men in a pot to eat whenever she didn’t have an appetite. The swear phrase ‘bastard to gut’ existed in ancient records. The swear phrase ‘gut’ also meant steaming in a pot. Most sinners who were punished by steaming or boiling in a pot in Joseon were officials who took bribes.
Joseon (T/N: Korean dynastic kingdom) didn’t really cook humans like China. They just boiled the water until it grew slightly warm after putting the sinner in a pot. Most sinners lost their minds from the sensation only. Most sinners who experienced being boiled in a pot had severe traumas and most committed suicide. The act of boiling humans was just that shocking.
While it was unfortunate, there was a high chance that the people who attacked Kidamba’s village were the same people who kidnapped Areva’s workers. The foundation of Ntaganta’s military was Voodoo. There had been an increase of missing Albinos, whites, and Pygmies in the recent five years. The DGSE suspected that most of the missing people were used as cannibalistic ingredients by Ntaganta’s military. Only those who’ve tasted meat before eat meat well.
“Ulumbo, is there a reason why they had a Pygmy cannibalism?”
“That’s because Pygmies don’t resist and are weak. Even leopards eat their children easily. The Marabu (spell casters of shamanism or animism) taught people that having an Albino’s body part brings luck, and eating a Pygmy increases strength and fertility. Recently, the voodoo’s Houngan has been working with the region’s warlords to commit a white and Pygmy holocaust.”
“And the locals believe him?”
“They do, sir. The spell casters and priests have definite proof of everything they say. There are many Congo and Pang tribes who don’t mind cannibalism.”
“What a foul taste. Those weasel bastards have added Mondo Gane to holocausts.”
Child-eaters, they had gone around the bend and some. Weasels were the only animals that hunted for fun amongst predators. Foxes and raccoons that invade chicken coops take only one chicken with them. Weasels, however, would kill all the chickens inside the coop. Those bastards were no different from weasels.
The reason why they attacked Kidamba’s village was that there were only women and children. Even the FROLINATs didn’t do something as foul as to eat humans. Now, there was another reason to get rid of them.
“Wakil, we need to kill them all.”
“Of course we need to get those cannibal bastards. You can kill those bastards.”
Samedi’s expression, after getting permission, grew eerie. Big master had said killing without Wakil’s permission would make his head explode.
“Kidamba!” Black Mamba called in a soft voice.
He had to find those bastards to kill them. If Kidamba didn’t guide them, he won’t be able to save the hostages.
“Hic!” Kidamba flinched in fear as though he was a child facing fierce dogs.
“Did you see those bastards’ faces?”
Ulumbo translated, but Kidamba didn’t reply. His eyes flickered left and right, unable to look at Black Mamba in the eyes. His legs visibly shook.
In the end, he started frothing at the mouth. It was a symptom of forcibly repressed memories reviving again, the stereotypical aftereffects of PTSD. This wasn’t a problem of his cowardice; it was a problem of his mind.
“Ha, we’re done for!” Black Mamba exclaimed.
The boy was no use in this state. Kidamba was a teenager just before his 20’s. His weak injured mind was trying its best to seal what devil’s memory there was. Stress disabilities after injuries was a mental problem. It couldn’t be solved with scolding. To take Kidamba along with him, he had to release him from the fear binding his consciousness.
“Ulumbo, check if there are any other animals harming villages aside from that mad elephant we killed last time.”
“That’s what the Pygmies always talk about, sir. Ghosts and evil spirits ate a lot of the villagers. They said they weren’t able to go hunting in fear of those ghosts and spirits.”
“What are these ghosts and spirits they speak of?”
“The evil spirit is a crocodile which lives in a swamp one hour away, and it’s as long as five Pygmies. Many adults who went hunting and gathering went missing a long time ago. The leopard they call the devil appeared recently. It crawls near a village and takes their children. Olonge also lost two of his sons to it. The spirit eats adults and the devil eats children.”
“They couldn’t hunt them down even when they went against them in groups?”
“All pygmies who fought the spirit died. Their spears and bows weren’t able to pierce its hide and it wasn’t affected by any poison. They said they don’t dare catch it as it’s too large. The devil moves without a trace, so they only ever saw its shadow.”
“There were a lot of sacrifices. Won’t it be better to move?”
“That’s because this is the best hunting place and has the most fruits. Besides, they say the devil follows them around different village locations.”
“Huh, it deserves to be called a devil, then. Fine, call for a village meeting. Let’s get rid of those bastards.”
Professor Giz, a neurologist professor, said PTSD could be treated by making the person go through a greater fear. Black Mamba decided to return Kidamba’s senses in a rather violent manner while resolving Olonge’s village’s enemies at the same time.
“Umpere? Kupa imoya embiye imoya embibi? (Really? Catch spirit catch devil?)”
Olonge’s expression brightened at Ulumbo’s explanation. Life in Ituri was always accompanied by death. The Pygmy tribe’s greatest blessing was multiple childbirth. Healthy Pygmy women birthed at least 15 children on average.
Ituri’s environment was harsh. There were endless diseases, accidents, and attacks from predators. Only two or three children out of the fifteen survived to adulthood. Since there were many cases of adult men and women getting sacrificed, despite a high childbirth rate, their population didn’t increase. A tribe’s future grows dark with a decrease in population. Too many of their people had been done in by the ghost and the devil. God’s warrior had finally stepped up to the task. Olonge was naturally happy.
Olonge took out a luma (a bamboo whistle the Pygmy tribe used to communicate; it had three holes) from his waistband and blew it three times.
Beee- Beeeeep- Beeeeeep- The villagers who heard its sharp whistle poured out into the main square. Olonge’s village had 130 houses; classified as large. The sight of hundreds of naked people with shaking breasts and penises as they ran out of their homes was beyond comedic and almost grotesque. Samedi’s eyes grew wide like saucers, and his nostrils grew wider.
Samedi was a smart person, he just lost his memories. Understanding Black Mamba’s intention, he sliced off a 50cm wide limbali log with his squeaker and sharpened it. He had to give a good show before his master spoke so that his words had a greater effect.
Samedi, who shot into the sky with the log, gave a short shout as he embedded it into the floor. Bang! The large log dug deep into the ground. Half of the five-meter-long log disappeared into the ground.
Black Mamba flew like an eagle and landed on the log. The sun hung right behind the warrior’s head as he stood tall on the three meters tall log like some aura. It was the best stage for a performance.