Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 395
The Pygmy hunters who had been taking apart the Sarcosuchus instantly released their weapons at once and stood to bow. The Pygmies’ bows of respect were done by showing both of their hands outstretched forward, palms up.
“Samedi Kinn ito Uduma! (All praise sir Samedi!)” A shout of 50 voices rang throughout Ituri.
“Umar wedel armandra! (Show respect to the protector!)” Olonge shouted, his voice raised.
Tatata! An old Pygmy warrior drummed on the floor with his banja (a 30cm white stick used in spell casting rituals). The hunters all came forward and kissed Samedi’s feet in turns, then shouted:
“Samedi kinn ito Uduma!” The hunters echoed back.
Tatata! One person began the ritual and the rest ended it every time the banja was struck onto the ground.
“We’ve places to go. Why are we wasting time? That brat’s liking this, isn’t he?” Black Mamba’s face crumpled at the boring ritual, while Samedi smiled widely to the point it looked painful.
Why were the Pygmies calling Samedi their guardian instead of Black Mamba? This was because they practiced animism, a primitive belief. Great spirits were those who ruled over the four elements of water, fire, land, and air. The Mahaduraka was a fearsome great spirit who ruled over fire and burned the world if humans fell to sinners.
Boduns were familiar existences that lent their strength to humans’ requests as a spirit in every creation of the world. The Pygmies found it easier to worship Samedi, the king of Boduns, instead of the Mahaduraka.
Like so, Samedi left his mark as a guardian of the Pygmies. In the future, outsiders wanting to enter the Pygmy band had to kiss the feet of a wooden statue before their entrance. It was Samedi’s statue, smiling widely from ear to ear.
While 50 Pygmy hunters tried their best, more than half of the Sarcosuchus meat was left. The rest would be taken care of by the cleaners of Ituri Jungle. Samedi was carrying a hide weighing over one ton. The Pygmies’ guardian was Black Mamba’s porter.
“Wakil, we need to get rid of that thing called the Devil.”
“Devil? Samedi, Uduma sir, you’re worried about your followers as the guardian of the Pygmies, aren’t you?”
“Tsk! I’m not interested in those weaklings.”
His black face turned red.
“Oh, really? You looked like you enjoyed it though?” Black Mamba smiled teasingly.
Samedi was too innocent after all. The way Samedi acted was just like the English version of Lackey. He had a surprising desire for attention and wanted to be acknowledged by others. On the other hand, he was kind and had a strong sense of justice. While he was strong in appearance, he was soft inwardly.
“Wakil said if I’m going to help, I should help with everything I have.”
“Hmm, you remembered that too. Don’t worry. The Devil is already following us.”
Surprised, Samedi stopped walking. This was surprising, as he could hear ants walk by, but hadn’t heard anything. The smell of urine wafted in the air. His sensitive senses picked up a slightly shifting predator in the three-o’-clock direction.
“It’s 40 meters left. Samedi will take care of it.”
“Wrong. That isn’t the devil but a normal leopard that approached out of curiosity. Curiosity kills the cat.”
Black Mamba flicked his wrist lightly. Whoosh! The dart which was in his hidden pocket dug into the left side of the forest. Kaaa! A sharp scream rang out. The sound of something heavy landing on the ground came after. Samedi ran towards the place where the sound came from. Grrr! A 60kg adult leopard of Ituri bared its teeth. It was a pet, compared to the Sarcosuchus they defeated moments ago. It was so small that its four trembling limbs looked pitiful. A gold dot flickered in the center of its forehead.
“As expected of Wakil!” Samedi exclaimed his compliments.
The thin dart had gone in so deep that its end couldn’t be seen. His master had managed to defeat a target the size of a coin in this obstacle-filled dark jungle in a second. Chills ran up and down his body at his master’s ability.
Samedi grabbed the leopard’s neck and swaggered out. He looked like a kindergartener going to school with a bag slung over their shoulder.
“It’s the devil!”
“Umar Samedi has caught the devil for us!”
“Praise Umar Samedi!” The Pygmy hunters chattered and hollered.
“Why are they cheering?”
Samedi was confused, but he felt good too.
“Wakil, should I peel the hide off this one too?”
Samedi was getting used to peeling off hides now.
“Throw it away; its hide won’t be worth a dog’s since it’s so messy.”
“You’re right. If it had been a bear or beaver, we would have gotten something out of them. But this looks bad to eat too.”
Samedi raised the leopard before his eyes, scanned it here and there, and threw it far away. The Pygmies, who had been watching with red eyes, unable to ask for it, rushed at it like ants. The leopard soon became soup, torn apart by their knives and axes. The phrase “curiosity kills the cat” was applied to this leopard too. The leopard that was unfairly accused of being something else died pitifully.
Leopards and Pygmies were enemies that would never come to an understanding. The greatest threat towards Hominids since the early ages had been giant cats and animals that could climb trees. There were theories that Africa’s ancient humans moved down to Asia and Europe because of those large cats and animals.
The Pygmy tribe doesn’t eat hunted leopards. This was because there was a high chance it ate one of them. They believed the ghost of the leopard would appear in their village if it wasn’t torn apart to shreds, or burned. This showed how scared the Pygmies were of leopards.
“What a careful creature.”
Black Mamba shook his head. He had been wondering if it could be led to him by the scent of blood, but it wasn’t fooled. Samedi turned to look at him with a questioning face.
“It’s a sharp-witted creature. It has already moved 30 meters back. It’s on top of a tree 30 meters left to 7 o’clock and 120 meters away.”
Samedi realized his master was far better than him. He felt nothing. He only felt dizzy from the forest’s sounds and scents.
Even Black Mamba was having a hard time outlining its shape as it moved like the wind. It was more concealing than a snake when it had four legs. He thought it could be a leopard, considering its body movements, but it could be something else entirely. Leopards were careful and smart. They weren’t stupid enough to imagine stealing prey from a group of humans carrying metal weapons.
Gul Gak, Lee Ol, and Yuk Hon’s souls were those that turned into ghosts after getting eaten by a leopard, according to Park Ji Won’s “Book of Legends.” They provoked fights between leopards and humans. This was also the reason the spirits of leopards Gul Gak, Lee Ol, and Yuk Hon came to enjoy human meat. In the end, the leopard that ate the human wasn’t a leopard.
Humans had every aspect that carnivores love. Humans had thin meat, no fur, and no hide. Since humans had high natrium consumption rates, their meat was slightly salty, making it seasoned.
Their resistance wasn’t as weak as other predators either. Carnivores that happened to eat a human who was weakened from starvation or by pure coincidence continued to attack humans. The spirits of Gluttony, Greed, and Lust had attached to them.
The atmosphere changed when a predator ate several humans, and the stench of urine wafted in the air. The creature following them smelled like the Sarcosuchus. This was why Black Mamba thought it was the Devil.
“Should I kill it?”
“How? Will you be able to find it if it flees or hides?”
“Hmph!” Samedi groaned.
While the creature would have been defeated by a single punch from him in the plains or the desert, the jungle was the creature’s home. There wasn’t a way for him to catch it if it hid.
“Samedi, leave Ulumbo and Olonge behind and go ahead. The creature’s waiting for someone to fall behind. Someone should become bait. I’ll take care of it and follow you soon after.”
Samedi didn’t refuse and herded the Pygmies away. If his master said so, it was so. Black Mamba made Olonge lead the way and slowly grew further away from the main group. Only Black Mamba and the two guides were left in the large black forest.
There are three reasons Africa is called the Black Continent. One is because of its people, the second their lack of culture, and third, the black forest. The jungles around the Congo River took up 12% of Africa’s entire area. The central jungle northeast was Ituri Jungle.
No humans had walked into the Ituri Jungle for the past six years. It wouldn’t be surprising if another Sarcosuchus popped up. The Ituri Jungle was silent to the point of scary, like always. Countless animals lived in the jungle, but only two species kept chattering: the monkeys and birds.
Columbus monkeys were more distracting and louder. They screeched and threw fruits at them without a break. If one shouted amidst their group, dozens of others followed. The creatures, which sensed a scary predator amongst them, lowered their voices. Soon, the Columbus monkeys and birds stopped making a sound altogether.
The forest boiled like a hot bath, as it rained once earlier. Humid fog crawled along the floor due to the heavy air, and water dripped off of leaves. The dark forest was full of eerie and unnatural auras. Olonge continued, slicing off vines that hung like curtains. While it was a hunting path that the Pygmies took, it wouldn’t be noticeable from the other marks after three days.
“This bastard’s as tenacious as a whale’s tendon.”
Black Mamba was frustrated. Their tracker continued to follow them 90 meters behind. It didn’t go far even when it moved away. He wondered whether he should track it down to get rid of it, but decided to stay with Ulumbo and Olonge for their safety. If he lost his guides, he would be a sitting duck in Ituri Jungle like the one he saw at Nak Dong River.
“Hm, what is this?”
It was different from the tracker behind them, but he felt a similar blood lust. It was the appearance of a third predator. Naturally, a fight occurred soon after. Keee! Keyaaaaa! The sound of a cat screaming and another voice, short and sharp, rang out.
Their tracker didn’t seem to be a leopard considering its low vocal cords. Is there a feline-species animal in northern Africa larger than a leopard? There was a jaguar in the western jungle and a puma in the northern, but there wasn’t a predator he could recall for Ituri Jungle. He suddenly grew curious. Ituri Jungle had ancient creatures, surprising ones like the Sarcosuchus. What other existences could there be?
“Ulumbo! Have you shot a gun before?”
Black Mamba threw him a Glock.
“Release the left lock button, hold the handle with two hands, raise it to shoulder height, and pull the trigger. Easy, right?”
Black Mamba did an impossible feat of summarizing gun shooting practice into a single sentence. Black Mamba immediately turned and headed towards the sounds after the careless education. Scared, Ulumbo and Olonge kept close to him. They could hear some strange predator’s cries right now. It was likely they could be s*** the next day if they fell away from God’s warrior.
The forest grew quiet again after two more explosive cries. Blood lust and competitive spirit overwhelmed the forest, where even the sound of birds had disappeared. Black Mamba’s woodland-patterned BDU disguise uniform of black and brown was just the right colors of the Ituri Jungle. Not even the boomslangs hanging on the branches overhead noticed Black Mamba.
Pygmy hunter Olonge was a master of disguise. The problem was Ulumbo. He walked around as though he was announcing his location. Black Mamba shook his hand. It was a sign to be quiet and hide.
“Uh!” Ulumbo, who had been coming after them, sucked in a loud breath. His eyes remained fixed on the scene before him. Olonge immediately covered his mouth. Ulumbo, who had this mouth twisted shut by a small but strong hand, could only roll his eyes here and there. A strange creature was fighting an opponent in a small clearing where plants were less.
“Terror Bird! Dinofelis!” Black Mamba silently groaned.
If a zoology journalist and paleontologist were here, they would have frothed at the mouth. The Terror Bird (or Horror Bird) and Dinofelis were animals that topped the food chain throughout the Eocene and Pleistocene ages of the Cenozoic era.
It wasn’t just the Jurassic and Cretaceous reptiles that were huge. Cenozoic mammals also grew in size like crazy. The largest mammal in the Cenozoic era, the Indracotia, reached a shoulder height of 5m, a length of 9m, and a weight of 20 tons.
Dinofelis was a powerhouse in the Cenozoic era and was called a sabretooth cat. With a shoulder height of 1m and a weight of 150kg, it was one circumference smaller than Smilodon, the representative figure of sabretooth leopards. Its appearance was a mix between a tiger and a leopard.
Dinofelis attracts attention not only from paleontologists but also anthropologists. This is because many traces of the Dinofelis’s teeth were found in the skull fossils of Australopithecus. As a result, Australopithecus fell from a predator who pursued animals with a stick to prey being hunted.
The Terror Bird is the collective name for large, flightless carnivorous birds of the Cenozoic era. The Terror Bird before him was a Kelenken guillermoi species estimated to be 3 meters tall and weighed 200 kg.
It would be a big mistake if one compared a Terror Bird of the Cenozoic era to an ostrich based on appearances. Although their sizes were similar, the Terror Bird was a beast. It was estimated that a Terror Bird’s legs were more than twice as thick as humans. When kicked by its muscular legs or pecked on with its ax-like beak, humans would be killed in a heartbeat.
Black Mamba felt a strange apprehension. Even though Ituri Jungle was said to have been preserved for 600,000 years, it was unnatural for ancient creatures from a different era to keep appearing. Animals need to be in certain numbers for their descendants to appear. The theory that they all climbed up from a hole that appeared in the underground world made more sense.
“The Terror Bird’s slightly better.”
That was Black Mamba’s judgment. The Terror Bird was an Outfighter, and the Dinofelis was an Infighter. The Terror Bird roamed the outskirts for an attack opportunity, and the Dinofelis took a crouched defensive stance. The Dinofelis’s side was torn as if there had already been a close battle. He was amazed at the majesty of the Terror Bird which seemed to suppress the wild beast with its majestic aura. When times were different and living conditions changed, the laws of nature’s food chain naturally changed too.