Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 514
Kamdoong was confused. Humans inherited the throne of apex predators from the Concretus. He was surprised to learn that human history only dated back a million years and was shocked at their incredibly rapid proliferation. There were few at the top of the food chain pyramid. At the age of dawn, the population of the Concretus was a mere 10,000.
Humans were prolific. Facilities called airports, corridors called roads, and any places on the surface of the planet were swarming with ant-like humans.
Other than their short history and proliferation, the individual variance in physical strength within the human species was also surprising. Humans were physically vulnerable, comfortable in their tamed environment. Their combat strength measured by Kamdoong’s scouter was close to zero.
At the age of dawn, the Concretus were weaker than even humans but they altered their bodies into Adras and covered their bodies with enhancements. The device Mu Ssang calls Billion’s Water Armor was also one of the devices. Kamdoong found it interesting that humans are living with such vulnerable bodies without any enhancements.
The aged man before his eyes had combat strength that was unmeasurable with his scouter. He even greatly surpassed the ancient Concretus with Adras’ bodies and enhancements.
Why such variance between individuals? What was even more frightening was that at a first glance, this man looked weaker than the real body of a Concretus. The numbers on his scouter were shabby as well. He was obliterated by a skinny old man who looked like he would topple at the slightest gush of wind. He did not even have time to show his power. It meant that if Kamdoong provoke a wrong human, he would have his ass handed to him.
In this world above the ground, a frail-looking human exercised unlimited power. The uncertainty of the above-ground world scared Kamdoong. When did these chaotic beings inherit the Earth? Humans scared him. With their hidden powers, he did not even dare to bump into them in the streets. Kamdoong’s misunderstanding deepened.
Kamdoong glanced at Priest Dae Woo with his scouter. He seemed stern and strict. The underground world was a dog-eat-dog battlefield. The weak were preyed on. The above-ground world was not any different. When he was weakened, all kinds of creatures fed on him.
The Adras met death in two different ways: an acute, atomic-level disintegration and a slow disintegration due to a viral infection. No matter which one the aged human chose to inflict, his life was over. When he pondered the concept of termination, a sudden fear engulfed him and he felt resentful.
What did he do wrong for the old man to hurt him this much? He flared his nostrils and urinated on a pillar. Does that warrant the punishment of death? He just encountered a beautiful world and before he could breathe a few times, he had to die just because he encountered a cruel human. Kamdoong resented all this. He was feeling so resentful.
Kamdoong’s heart-wrenching howl echoed in the mountain.
[Hey, you! Be quiet. A creature is not supposed to howl in broad daylight!]
A voice resounded in his head. Kamdoong, surprised, retracted his neck and closed his mouth.
Kamdoong got the hiccups. A bull-sized leopard getting the hiccups, shaking its upper body, was a bizarre sight.
‘You stupid fellow. You should have been careful with your tongue. You should have known your place.’
Mu Ssang looked at Kamdoong with pity. His petty teacher did not like to hear someone demeaning the size of his temple. Moreover, the leopard arrogantly boasted that no one is stronger than him. It was sufficient to invite Teacher’s wrath.
There is a saying that a man should not misuse his three tips. Kamdoong urinated on a pillar, misusing the tip of his penis. He boasted his strength, misusing the tip of his tongue. He fought Teacher, misusing the tip of his fingers. He fulfilled all three conditions to warrant some beating.
Kamdoong found a way to preserve his life. Only pampered humans said nonsensical platitudes like “It is better to shatter as a jade than to survive as a roofing tile.” As long as there was a mountain, there was not going to be a lack of log.
A carnivore exposes its belly when they submit. Kamdoong decided to shed his pride but could not bring himself to do that. He was the ruler of the underground world. He could never expose his belly. Fortunately, he could transform.
His front and hind limbs were elongated and his snout was shortened. His back straightened and his head rose upright. His soft fur like black silk turned into an antique tunic.
How did his fur turn into fabric? If you knew how it work, it was not that surprising. Kamdoong’s fur does not contain pigments but were made of light crystals reflecting certain frequencies of light. It is similar to jewel beetles, peacocks, and morpho butterflies.
Light crystals only reflect certain frequencies and let others pass through them. Our eyes see certain frequencies of light reflected by the surface of an object. Kamdoong can rearrange the molecules in the light crystals to manifest all kinds of textures and colors. If he wanted, he could turn into a glamorous woman in a bikini on a beach.
The black leopard vanished and Sunday Leopard appeared in its place.
“A wicked thing!”
Priest Dae Woo’s mouth was agape in astonishment. Kamdoong’s transformation ability was ingenious enough to impress even an experienced high priest.
“Mu Ssang, what is the identity of that thing? Is it a nine-tailed fox from the West? Why is everything you bring here a wicked thing?”
“That, that is because…”
Mu Ssang stuttered. He had no way to describe Kamdoong’s identity in a few words. He needed at least three days to cover the history of the ancient tribe, the Concretus, and the underground world.
As Mu Ssang was dumbstruck, Sunday Leopard, or Kamdoong, knelt in front of Priest Dae Woo and bowed.
“What does he mean?”
“Master, spare my life! I will behave.”
Priest Dae Woo’s eyes widened. He was acting absurd. He came back to life after being crushed under a mountaintop. Now, he turned into a man and said he will behave. It was a mysterious act of a mysterious fellow.
“You will behave?”
“Yes, I will. Please don’t kick me out. I just need some meals.”
“Meals also cost money.”
Priest Dae Woo was his natural self. He drawled and looked down at Kamdoong with discontent.
“He is more talented than he looks.” Feeling pity for Kamdoong, Mu Ssang defended him.
“Is that so? Can you adjust the television antenna?”
Relieved, Mu Ssang slapped his forehead. Kamdoong was in a hurry. It seemed like Teacher would spare his life. Kamdoong’s eyes yellowed. If he accessed Teacher’s memory with thought waves, he could figure out what a television antenna was.
‘Why isn’t it working?’
The emitted thought wave could not access the sea of memories and only tethered around the edge. Kamdoong raised the output. His yellowed eyes turned bright yellow. The wild-spinach staff struck his head.
Startled, Kamdoong let out an animalistic howl, not a human scream.
“You bastard. You only learned tricks. Mu Ssang, what is his weakness?”
“He is vulnerable to viruses.”
Mu Ssang told him the truth. When dealing with Teacher, he had to stick to truths. Otherwise, he could be struck with Tight-Fillet. Kamdoong, startled, bowed lower.
“I wanted to know what a television antenna is.”
“Hmm. If you snoop on someone’s memories just because you can, you are worse than a thief. Do you want to spend the rest of your life in a rock?”
“Master, I didn’t know it was wrong. I will never snoop on a human’s memory ever again.”
Kamdoong jumped in fright.
“Mu Ssang, teach him how to adjust the television antenna. The wretched antenna must have been turned in the early typhoon. I only get a static screen. I can still imagine the slender legs of young women on TV! Oh, well.”
Mu Ssang looked at Kamdoong with pity. Whenever it is windy, snowy, or rainy, he would have to climb 300 meters along the ridge of the mountain to where the antenna was.
Mu Ssang could already picture Kamdoong adjusting the antenna at the top of an oak tree and shouting “Is it clear now?”
It was not just that. People assume that monks only meditate in a lotus position and sound their woodblocks but that is a total misunderstanding. Monks need to make a living too. At three a.m., they recite the morning prayer. They collect edible and medicinal plants, running across mountains and fields. They cook food for the rituals. They till the field. They chop wood. There was no end to physical labor in a temple.
Kamdoong could be the most powerful being in the world or even the universe, but to Teacher, he was but a mere creature. Teacher was kindest to the weak and sternest to the strong. After seeing Kamdoong’s “hardiness,” Teacher was sure to work him to exhaustion as he did to Samdi.
“So, with three square meals, are you willing to do anything?”
“Yes. In fact, I don’t even need food.”
Priest Dae Woo’s eyebrows rose at Kamdoong’s assertion.
“Mu Ssang, what absurdity is he talking about now?”
“Kamdoong absorbs the sunlight itself and converts the atoms in the atmosphere into an energy source. You can think of it as a chloroplast.”
“That is quite an odd thing! Kamdoong, are you a human or something else?”
“Master, my personality is based on my friend Mu Ssang’s. If he is a human, I am too.”
“That is quite a good thing! Kamdoong, if you are a human, what kind of human will you be?”
“Master, when Mu Ssang took me out of a whale’s stomach, he was about to tear open its side but then changed his mind. He didn’t kill the whale and inserted a rope in its mouth and took me out. The baby whale made him change his mind. The emotion I felt in his soul was love. I was connected to him through telepathy so I could feel the whole situation. And he gifted me a body of epidium. He said a human is no longer human when they step out of the boundary of the human condition. I don’t quite understand what he meant but it had something to with the concept of justice. He is my friend and master. I, Kamdoong the human, will live with love and for justice with Mu Ssang.”
‘Look at him talk! He should be the cult leader, not me.’
Mu Ssang’s eyes widened. He had not expected Kamdoong to be so eloquent. His learning ability correlated with his age that surpassed 100,000,000 years.
“Oh, love and justice! Those are quite good things. You are of the Buddha. I will give you a Buddhist name, Gonggong, which means emptiness.”
Priest Dae Woo slapped his knee and gave Kamdoong a Buddhist name. Thus, Kamdoong was recognized as a human.
“Your mercy is boundless. Gonggong seeks an audience with Master.”
Kamdoong, as Sunday Leopard, bowed his head. His life was spared at last. Also, he gained a name from the most powerful human. He was greatly moved.
“Aye. I shall amply water your dried-up soul.”
Priest Dae Woo stroked Kamdoong’s hair.
Mu Ssang was astonished at Teacher’s duplicity. He beat Kamdoong up, literally breaking apart the mountain in the process, mere moments ago. Now he was as mellow as a spring breeze. Kamdoong was as well. He was sidling up to Teacher like a cat when it was the first time they met. If the severe beating was mercy, any more mercy would break him apart atom by atom.
“Will you behave like an animal or act like a human?”
“Master, Gonggong’s nature stays leopard-like. To regenerate my damaged body and replenish the lost energy, I must assume the leopard form.”
“What shall I do? Tsk, tsk.”
Priest Dae Woo clucked his tongue. If an ox-sized black leopard prowled the temple grounds, a rumor was going to spread. It might make a fuss. The temple was located in a secluded area but it still had visitors and hikers.
Kamdoong, sensing Priest Dae Woo’s hesitation, changed his form. Sunday Leopard vanished and was replaced by a mountain-cat-sized big cat. Kamdoong did not rearrange his molecules. He created an optical illusion using light crystals and optical nanoparticles.
“It is a kind of an illusion!”
Priest Dae Woo nodded. In his clairvoyance, Kamdoong was still a black leopard.
Thus began Kamdoong’s life at the temple. His routine was no different from Samdi’s. Only one thing differed. Samdi ate a tremendous amount of food but Kamdoong did not eat.
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Kamdoong needed to pay for beatings, not food. With the excuse of turning Kamdoong human, Priest Dae Woo exercised Soul-Returning Pain Administration on him daily with Energetic Palms and Thunderclap. Kamdoong paid for the beatings by withstanding more discipline. It was an incredible fate.
Priest Dae Woo kept his promise of watering Kamdoong’s soul with two methods. The first was through intensive discipline and teaching of Buddhist precepts. The second was Soul-Returning Pain Administration. Kamdoong’s soul was watered by his own tears at the unbearable mental and physical pain.
Priest Dae Woo, who could not hand over the temple to Mu Ssang anymore, considered Samdi and Kamdoong as candidates. That was why Kamdoong was going through severe training at the temple.
It was a pity for him to have a non-human as a student. Time was going to tell if his wish to hand over the temple and retire would come true.
Kamdoong submitted to Priest Dae Woo because of his animalistic instinct but also due to his peculiar fear for viruses. Kamdoong mistook the energy that inhibited his teleportation abilities and transformation as a virus..