Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 516
“Would you listen to this numbskull? Feng shui (Pung-Su in Hangul) is an abbreviation of ‘Jang-Pung-Deuk-Su’ (roughly means ‘Hiding Winds and Acquiring Water’). As long as there are mountains, waterways and people around, there will be feng shui (winds and water).”
“Ah, so it’s not a belief, but ‘existence’, master?”
“Right. Feng shui means you put the winds in order and acquire water. There are two major ‘streams’ in feng shui. Things like ‘Yang-Pung-Taek-Su’ (roughly means ‘A place of yang energy’) and ‘Yeum-Pung-Taek-Su’ (roughly means ‘A place of yin energy’) are just means to choose a nice location to make life more comfortable for the living and give the dead a better rest. Rather than a field of study, it’ll be more correct to call them wisdom of life.
“The true essence of feng shui is ‘Yeong-Gi-Pung-Su’, which is about reading the flow of the earth’s ki, the ‘gyeol’ of the winds, and the directions of the waters then physically utilizing them.”
“I’ve heard about things like ‘Bae-San-Im-Su’ (a landscape with mountains at the back and facing water in front) and ‘Geum-Gye-Po-Ran’ (a golden hen warmly nesting her eggs), but it’s my first time learning about Jang-Poong-Deuk-Su or Yeong-Gi-Pung-Su, master.”
“You think your knowledge, that is smaller than a mustard seed, can win against me? Even if a genius studies for his entire life, they will not be able to grasp even a silver of the universe’s truth. That’s why you often see bald monks and Dao practitioners put on all sorts of shows for the sake of that single epiphany.”
Mu Ssang thought he could more or less understand this concept. Earth was just a small planet in the far-flung corner of the vast universe. Yet the humans living on this small rock had managed to accumulate a near-endless amount of knowledge already. And here he was, still having a hard time trying to understand just a single verse of the Vajra Sutra (the Diamond Sutra).
Things were so hard that many monks, sick and tired of poring through the endless Buddhist scriptures, would lock themselves up in closed-door seclusions to potentially experience an epiphany through their gong’an.
“Master, what if you get that epiphany, the awakening?”
“You come in contact with the truth of the universe, obviously. Ideas like the Akashic Records or whatever didn’t just fall from the sky, you know.”
“The Akashic Records? What’s that?”
“Even if I tell you, you won’t get it. In any case, let’s wrap up our chat on feng shui first. This thing called Bae-San-Im-Su is nothing much, I tell ya. A land with mountains in the rear to block out strong winds and waterways in the front for farming is a good land to live in. During the time this old monk was going around everywhere asking for alms, it was near impossible to find a village that didn’t meet the criteria for Bae-San-Im-Su.
“And that’s Yang-Pung-Taek-Su for you. But then, the so-called aristocrats that love a free ride more than anything else caused such places to morph into Yeum-Pung-Taek-Su.
“That’s when fakes calling themselves feng shui experts began showing up with their cheap magnets to bedazzle the descendants of the dead by using some fancy-sounding words like the earth energy, earth veins, Yong-Jin-Hyeol-Jeok (revealing the vein where the king/dragon has passed on) and Geum-Gye-Po-Ran.
“Both the swindlers and the victims have become blinded by their own greed, so how would they even properly see the spirits and ki of the land?”
“I see. Does that mean every self-proclaimed feng shui expert is a fraud, master?”
“No. Some are indeed experts who have achieved success through their own right with constant research and study. However, I haven’t come across anyone who has reached the realm of hearing the sounds of the land itself yet.”
“You can hear the sounds of the land?” Mu Ssang’s head tilted to his left.
He could use his Dimensional Sight and the resonance wave to analyze the situation underground like a blind elephant feeling around with its trunk, but hearing the sound of the land? This was his first time hearing about it.
“I’m talking about Yeong-Gi-Pung-Su from earlier, boy. See for yourself, then. Gonggong, capture a stray mutt or a cat and bring it to us.”
Kamdoong vanished from the spot. Less than a minute later, it reappeared while literally dragging along a fairly large mixed mutt.
The clearly-terrified mutt couldn’t even bark and was helplessly drooling away. Whimpering sounds were clearly heard.
“Hahaha! With Gongong around, things are never boring, isn’t it!”
“Master, an animal is abusing another animal, it seems.” Mu Ssang grinned wryly.
A cat’s paw could not grip things due to its structure. A farcical sight of a large black cat dragging along a mutt twice its size by the poor creature’s tail was something only Kamdoong could create in this world.
“A land is alive. It’s just that you are unaware of it since it’s not visible.” Monk Dae-woo used his staff to draw a circle on the ground where a bundle of sasamorpha was growing.
Kamdoong tossed the mutt inside that circle. As expected of a creature with supernaturally quick wits.
Judging from how the mutt began jumping around desperately, it seemed to have finally regained its wits. Unfortunately for the creature, though, it still could not escape from the circle.
“Now, take a good look!” Monk Dae-Woo scanned the color of the heavens above, before waving his staff around.
The mutt’s figure ‘jumped’ up in the empty air. Its four limbs began pedalling like crazy while its head bobbed up and down. It was like watching a dog swim.
“Uh-uh?! H-how?!” Mu Ssang cried out in shock.
The mutt’s fur was visibly getting soaked as if it was raining right now. The creature’s maw opened and closed but no sounds came out from it. Although it did not make one iota of sense, that phenomenon was eerily similar to the dog sinking underwater.
The mutt struggling like crazy eventually went limp.
“How is that possible, master? Did you use your Five-Phasic Illusion Strike?”
“No. That’s Jang-Su-Hyeol (hidden water vein) where the water ki is concentrated. This old monk simply listened to the sound of the flowing water ki and altered its direction to the surface, that’s all. As for the mutt inside the seal, it’s currently drowning.”
“Wait, is water actually filling up its lungs?!”
“You fool, can’t you see the completely soaked mutt before your eyes?”
“Wow!” Mu Ssang’s jaw dropped.
Depending on usage, this could be a very scary weapon, indeed. If you trapped someone you did not like inside Jang-Su-Hyeol, then that person would go utterly nuts trying to escape and eventually drown. If the technique’s area of effect were to be widened, then every single resident within a city could drown in less than five minutes.
This Taoist technique was even more terrifying than a neutron bomb.
Monk Dae-woo lightly waved his staff. “I can’t kill an innocent creature, now can I?”
Mu Ssang heard the loud noise of water splashing. It reminded him of the thunderous noise he heard back when all the waters of Lake Caparuza flooded down the chasm that opened up in the crust below.
The dying mutt jumped back up to its feet. It stood around in a daze, perhaps failing to figure out its situation. But then, it crazily high-tailed out of there while leaving behind echoes of distinctive whimpering. Meanwhile, the ground inside the circle had not changed at all.
“That’s amazing. Master, is this also the profound law of Saek-Jeuk-Si-Gong Gong-Jeuk-Si-Saek (matter itself is voidness; voidness itself is matter, or form is emptiness; emptiness is form)?”
“That is indeed so. Once you see through an object and its essence, you can physically utilize that very essence. For instance, find Yeom-Hwa-Hyeol (the hellfire vein) and you can burn the world down. Find Cheol-Dun-Hyeol (the earth metal vein), and you can crush the world flat like a pancake. This is Yeong-Gi-Pung-Su (literally: divine ki/spirit feng shui).”
Monk Dae-woo’s reply was as unhesitant as a bachelor saying yes to a tryst. It was as if he was explaining that tables had four legs and the Korean A-frame had two supporting legs.
Mu Ssang thought he could understand it. Listening to the ‘sound of the land’, determining the flow of elements, and altering said flow could allow an individual to physically utilize nature’s essence. Compared to this, how futile and laughably immature humanity’s scientific knowledge was!
“Have you memorized it well, boy? Just like how ki flows within a human body through the conception vessel and governing vessels, the ki of the land flows from one earth vein to another. This here has the water ki in spades. For someone like you full of fire ki, this place is perfect.”
“Master, I’m deeply awed.” Mu Ssang bowed 90º before his master.
Compared to his master’s Heaven-Seeing Power, his own unorthodox techniques like becoming one with nature, Dimensional Sight and the resonance wave were a mere child’s play.
“Hmm, hm. Of course you should be. I’m the old monk responsible for raising the one and only Dubaiburupa, so this much should be natural, no?” Monk Dae-woo grinned slyly while glancing sideways at his disciple.
This disciple of his was supposed to inherit all of his teachings yet the boy had entered the wrong path of unorthodox martial Dao instead. This caused the old monk’s feathers to ruffle up whenever he saw Mu Ssang.
‘Samdi, that idiot!’
Meanwhile, Mu Ssang’s expression crumpled unsightly. Samdi must’ve ran his mouth off and informed the master of all the happenings in Novatopia.
“As you just witnessed, feng shui is within the realm of Heaven-Seeing Power. Once you reach the level of seeing its veins through your Heaven Seeing Eyes and listen to the flow of ki through your clairaudience, then you can call yourself a feng shui expert.”
“Would a famous feng shui expert on the level of, say, Great Monk Muhak hear the sound of land?”
“No. Studying without the necessary awakening or an epiphany can only help you guess the flow of water ki and fire ki. A real feng shui expert would not show up in the mundane world, after all. If Great Monk Muhak was a great monk who had an awakening, do you think he’d be stupid enough to waste his time finding locations for Yi Seonggye’s palace or graves for the aristocrats? Wait, now that I’ve said it, I’m that stupid monk who went around looking for a spot for his disciple’s home, aren’t I!” Monk Dae-woo broke out in cynical laughter.
“Master! How can you say something so presumptuous!” Mu Ssang hurriedly waved his hands in alarm.
“Hahaha. Losing yourself in something isn’t necessarily all bad. Aren’t you also madly lost in your quest to live? It’s about time that you find a place to rest a little. And this very spot will be your home, your resting place.
“From the perspective of Yang-Pung-Taek-Su, this land is very good. Behind the residence, you can find a dense forest of broad-leaf trees that pump out fresh oxygen and phytoncide. And the Bullocheon flowing before the village replenishes the water ki, too. All those hills found here and there are suitable for a stroll. And with your Gamulchi, you can reach the Palgong Mountain and your school in fifteen minutes…
“Good for your health and pretty convenient for modern living, too. Let me ask you, isn’t this an ideal spot?”
“If it really is an ideal spot, what’s up with the state of this farmhouse, master?”
“It all depends on the willingness of men, obviously. A favorable shift in luck doesn’t just waltz in, does it? Never mind an ideal spot, even the heavenly Dao palace will be of no use for those who don’t work hard for it.”
“Wise words, master.” Mu Ssang nodded away.
The master was right. It did not matter whether a location was filled with yang or yin energy, it should be considered an ideal spot as long as it was nice and comfortable to live in. Mu Ssang walked around the vicinity of the residence once and at the end of the walk, the corners of his lips quietly rose up.
He did not know anything about this Geum-Hwan-Nak-Ji or whatever it was called, but the surrounding scenery was fairly similar to his old home back in Jip-eun Dari. Instead of the Nakdong River, it was now replaced with Bullocheon (the name of the stream flowing before the village). The Wolsong Mountain was now hills with old tombs scattered about. The field of peach trees was now palm-like trees spreading their leaves wide.
Mu Ssang’s emotions swelled from his master’s thoughtfulness.
“Master, you knew of your disciple’s dilemma, didn’t you?”
“I’m supposed to be your teacher, after all. I can certainly guess the thoughts of a disciple who’s been doing his best all this time. Something you can’t pick up or let go is something you might as well embrace.”
“Master!” Mu Ssang stopped talking and bowed deeply while bringing his hands together.
His old home in Jip-eun Dari held too much history, and he could not easily bring himself to move back in. The memories and happiness when he was still a young child, the despair and all the pain, his father’s sudden passing, a rather suspicious case of his mother’s disappearance…
Mu Ssang was locked in a dilemma for a long while, wondering whether to move back in there or not.
But his master was a master, indeed. Despite Mu Ssang not saying anything, the old monk still guessed his disciple’s dilemma correctly and took care of the cause of all that anxiety.
Mu Ssang’s heart felt warmer. A dilapidated farmhouse in the outskirts of Daegu felt a hundred times more precious than the entirety of the vast Novatopia.
“Anyways. Whether you choose to throw money at this place or paint it with gold, it’s your business now. As for me, I’m going back to shoot the breeze with Lord Buddha. Come, Gonggong. Let’s go.”
Monk Dae-woo urged on, but Kamdoong began hesitating.
“B-but, teacher. This place is nice and…”
“Gonggong, that mutt you brought to us earlier…”
“Our teacher’s glory be eternal! Yes, of course! We must go back! Gonggong must study hard, must memorize everything and get beaten up.”
Even before Monk Dae-woo finished his sentence, Kamdoong shot forward like a streak of lightning and opened the Panda’s door, then stood stiffly at attention. That conditioned response was totally reminiscent of Pavlov’s dog.
‘Oh, Kamdoong! You poor thing!’
Mu Ssang almost teared up just then. Just how much grilling and grinding one must go through to end up like that?
“Just how long do I need to hear that fool’s nonsense about his teacher being eternal? Tsk, tsk, tsk.” Monk Dae-woo tutted while giving Mu Ssang a sideways glance.
Mu Ssang’s face reddened instantly. To think that that fool Kamdoong would memorize ‘Dubaiburupa’s glory be eternal’! Even Mu Ssang himself would get embarrassed every time he had to hear that chant.
“Master, please drive carefully.”
Mu Ssang ended up saying something rather pointless. Even if an 18-wheeler pounced on his master, the old monk could easily blow away the offending vehicle as if it was made out of paper.
Monk Dae-woo rolled the driver’s side window down. “Boy, you don’t have to worry about any fire in the half majang (one majang is about 393m) radius of Jang-Su-Hyeol. So, look after them well, okay?”
Monk Dae-woo winked at his disciple, pressed the accelerator of his FIAT Panda and soon, disappeared from the view. Only the stinky exhaust fumes and Kamdoong’s hopeless-looking expression remained behind in its wake.
Mu Ssang tilted his head. “Look after what? What am I supposed to look after?”
The farmstead around 160 pyeong wide purchased by Monk Dae-woo started a chain of sorts; Mu Ssang bought three more residences and a part of the vast forests and grasslands behind the farmstead, too. He even paid extra for them. This was his greed acting up – he wanted to have hills and a flowing stream of water within the boundaries of his home.
Then, an old man living next door heard the news and came around to ask Mu Ssang to buy his house, too. Apparently, the old man’s grandson caused a bit of an accident and he needed money quite urgently. Mu Ssang did not even try to negotiate and dully bought it off the old man.
The news got around, causing many others with their own circumstances to show up, all of them hoping to sell their homes to Mu Ssang. He bought them all while even generously adding extra amounts on top.
In the end, he bought fifteen more farmsteads surrounding the original one his master had bought for him. Only then did he recall his master’s assurance regarding half-majang radius not catching fire; as usual, his master was an amazing individual.
The total area Mu Ssang bought was around 2,000 pyeong, which included the fifteen farmsteads and the woodlands about 300 pyeong wide. Such a land was pocket change compared to Novatopia and the farm in Doba, but this was Korea, a country where most of its citizens did not even own land large enough to stand on.
Mu Ssang did not stop there and even bought the additional 5,000 pyeong of land including a useless grassland and a hilly terrain behind the residence. In comparison, the wealthiest family in Indong, Missus Jang’s family, owned a plot of land around 500 pyeong wide. Missus Jang would often bring up how her family’s home was as large as a soccer field during her verbal assault of Mu Ssang’s mother.
Never mind enjoying a soccer field-sized home, Mu Ssang’s mother lost her parents early and had to grow up as an orphan. She could not even argue back and just silently wiped her tears. Judging from her personality, she was tearing up not because of the envy of the vast traditional house, but because she missed her grandparents.
A soccer field was around 2,614 pyeong. The reason why Mu Ssang purchased the useless grassland and the hills were due to his childish streak acting up – he just wanted to present his mother with a house even bigger than a soccer field.
Actually, what he truly wanted was to put his mother’s frustration to rest for good, which was caused by a measly little traditional home 500 pyeong large.
He wanted to see his mother proudly say ‘This is the real soccer field’ right to Missus Jang’s face. Mu Ssang might not have been a small-minded person, but that did not mean he was a generous man either.
Once he completed purchasing the land, Mu Ssang had all the farmhouses and boundary walls demolished. He then went through the proper procedure to combine all the lots to create a single 2,000 pyeong plot. The remaining 5,000 pyeong of grasslands and forests were left unchanged from their original designation.
The act of purchasing the land, converting the lands’ usage, the fee for demolition, and combining the lots cost him around two hundred million Won overall. Despite spending enough money to buy twenty apartment units in the city of Daegu with some change left over, Mu Ssang did not even bat an eyelid. If it was the issue of capital, then well, he had so much that he had no idea what to do with it.
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Even after excluding the commission from the French government, the profit from the oil extracted from the Doba mining region and the revenue from the Wakil merchant company, Mu Ssang’s official annual salary was a million Francs. That amount consisted of his commission as France’s Special Military Advisor as well as acting as the French Embassy’s advisor. The salary from Chairman Margerie was also included in that total.
There was also the small matter of various ‘special’ commissions and unofficial revenues to consider; all in all, a fixed salary of around 2.5 million Francs entered his pockets annually. Converting that to Won, it’d be around 700 million Won. Mu Ssang was basically making over 120 times the annual salary of a bank teller.
Of course, the salary of a mercenary was a lot more realistic than this. A regular mercenary’s annual salary was about 24,000 Francs, which was only a little bit higher than what a Korean bank teller of similar work experience would take home.
The French government’s treatment of its ‘National Treasure’ was definitely something else. Would Mu Ssang receive a similar level of treatment from the Korean government after making the exact same type of ‘contribution’?
He shook his head in resignation, knowing the answer was ‘no’..