Novel Name : Mercenary Black Mamba

Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 520

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Being relaxed was the privilege of the strong. After having their fill, lions would leave the rest of the hunted prey to wild dogs and hyenas, then leisurely stroll away.
On the other hand, wild dogs, hyenas and leopards would never hand over any part of their hunted prey to other predators. Even after gorging themselves silly, they would either hide the remainder of the prey or drag it back to their nests. That was because they had no guarantee of successfully subduing another prey next time.
The damaged Yin-Yang formation began resisting like a living lifeform.
With a buzzing sound, the metallic pole began discharging electricity. An opaque barrier enveloped the pole and the stone tower.
“Kiii-yo-oht!” Ma Go cried out while swinging her Nova. A crescent streak of light flashed during flight, easily slicing apart the opaque barrier.
“Be gone!”
Sun Woo Bang Na did not miss the opening and struck the metal pole by guiding the Five Flags Killing Formation’s pillar of light.
The metal pole cracked and disintegrated. Out of nowhere, an Oni jumped out and tried to pounce on Mu Ssang. But Ma Go swung her Nova once more. The Oni, split apart in half by the spirit sword, was extinguished without even putting up a decent fight.
The Yin-Yang formation was a collection of forms that connected the metal poles with mercury, allowing it to serve as the energy medium to create various formations. The formation that could easily withstand the power of breakers or 27 tons of excavators crumbled to nothing under the Sun Woo mother-and-daughter duo’s spiritual powers.
But Nova was the real reason why Yin-Yang formation could not even resist and was destroyed to bits. Just like how you would defend against invading viruses with vaccines, the greatly-amplified foreign spiritual power severed the connecting spiritual chains of the formations. That prevented the formations from exhibiting their original power. The Onmyoji responsible for setting up this formation must be rolling in his grave right about now.
The air-raid shelter was filled with flashing lights, roars, and the death throes of Onis in their final moments of extinguishment. By then, Mu Ssang had already settled down comfortably to enjoy the spectacle of Korean mudangs performing exorcism.
Less than one hour later, all twenty metal poles acting as the axis for the Yin-Yang formation crumbled to nothing.
The space twisted and writhed; the stone tower began vanishing as if it was getting sucked into the empty space. It was the final struggle of the Yin-Yang formation set up to protect the separate space.
With a rumbling sound, the building began shaking around and pieces of cement started falling from the ceiling. Mu Ssang snatched up Rakshasa’s handle.
Rakshasa spun around in the air, gaining momentum in the process.
Sun Woo Bang Na urgently shouted while pointing at the stone tower disappearing into the empty space. “Oh, great spirit! Please evacuate! It’s too dangerou… Ack?!”
Even before she could finish, the ceiling several dozen square meters wide began falling on top of her. Her shout ended in a scream instead.
“Ack! Save us, great spirit!”
Ma Go’s eyes were glazed in terror. Even the most fearless Amazoness could not help but reveal her timid nature when a danger she could not deal with manifested itself.
The area around 20 meters wide went under Rakshasa’s control. The supersonic storm quickly swallowed the falling ceiling. The huge slab of concrete shattered and turned into powder.
Rakshasa began lumping all the chalky dust like a dough being rolled around inside a wooden bowl.
With a loud boom, the huge cement ‘rice ball cake’ crashed into a corner of the basement. This jaw-dropping performance left both Sun Woo mother-and-daughter duo utterly speechless. Without a doubt, the avatar of the great spirit was on a different level compared to them.
“Those sons of a b*tch. Underhanded right until the end, huh.” Mu Ssang gritted his teeth while looking up at the 7 to 8 meter wide hole in the ceiling.
The bastards had placed the trap on the ceiling, designed to crash down if the seal had been forcibly broken. This was why he simply could not view the Japanese favorably.
In the meantime, the final stone tower disappeared into the empty space. Even the basement stopped shaking around.
Light bright enough to be blinding suddenly exploded.
Mu Ssang rubbed his eyes. A new space, a pitch-black hole, revealed itself in front of the three explorers. It was a staircase going further down.
A staircase appearing out of nowhere didn’t stun Mu Ssang, but the fact that he failed to notice it in the first place, did. He was shocked by the realization that a formation good enough to fool his senses existed out there.
As expected, one should not get too cocky about worldly matters. Without the Sun Woo mother-and-daughter duo, Mu Ssang would not have had a way to deal with any of these issues unless he begged his master to come along. Obviously, Master would not have been interested in a treasure hunt as he had detached himself from the mundane world.
“Oh, great spirit. We do not sense any spiritual power. All seals have been undone, sir.”
“Wasn’t much, then. In that case, shall we take a gander at how amazing the Yamanashi Collection really is?”
Mu Ssang leisurely walked down the staircase, his hands resting behind his back. When the trio walked down the steps of uneven heights, they were greeted by a pitch-black steel door stubbornly denying all visitors.
He lightly knocked on it with his fist and got hollow echoing noises in return. It seemed like it was a normal fire door.
Vajra was not needed to break down most steel doors. The Billion Water Armor began tearing into the steel like it was ripping into pieces of paper. Mu Ssang’s perfectly-shaped muscles, reminiscent of Manila hemps tautly twisted together, rippled and writhed.
The steel door was cleanly ripped off the hinges.
“Oh, my!”
“Goodness me!”
The eyes of the Sun Woo mother-and-daughter duo became dreamy. A young, virile and strong male was all females’ ideal partner. Wven if one deployed all sorts of sophisticated vocabulary to dress it up, a female’s degree of interest always placed a certain degree of emphasis on the sexual charm of their potential partner.
Even if the woman in question was old, she was still a woman, and an attractive man was still a man. Anyone who looked down on the Sun Woo mother-and-daughter duo just because they felt ecstasy from a male’s scent probably had no clue about real life.
A massive whip dissolving a slab of concrete several tons in weight actually did not leave much of a lasting impression. Any miracle surpassing the range of humans’ cognitive ability would no longer seem like an act of man but that of a god, that’s why.
Mu Ssang felt this chilly feeling pricking his back. Although the two women looked thirty-something, they were still grandmas, one in her eighties while the other in her sixties. Was it really okay for grandmas to spit out such coquettish voices as if they were young girls? Unfortunately, Mu Ssang did not have enough years under his belt to understand women and life itself.
Once they kicked the steel door down and stepped inside, a space at least ten times bigger than the basement above greeted the visitors. But there did not seem to be any notable facilities down here.
On one corner was a mountain-like pile of field beds and blankets, along with neatly-organized stacks of outdoor lamps (oil lamps with glass to keep winds out) and jerry cans. Was it because time had stopped flowing here? All items were spotless as if they were brand-new.
“An air-raid shelter, is it?”
There was no doubt that this was a raid shelter built during the war in the Pacific. The Japanese Imperial General Headquarters, sensing their imminent defeat near the end of the war, began constructing shelters even on Joseon’s territory.
Ma Go lit up the wick of one of the outdoor lamps. The unpleasant smell of kerosene spread around, chasing the darkness away in a sphere. Never mind the Yamanashi Collection, they could not even spot a single piece of broken porcelain.
But the combination of Mu Ssang’s Dimensional Sight and the resonance wave was one of the best skills out there to search for hidden items.
The resonance wave began tickling past all the walls, the pillars and the floor like some kind of a mine detector.
“How can the actions of all of these sneaky bastards be this similar, I wonder!” Mu Ssang muttered as the corners of his lips curled up slightly.
The brick wall behind Sun Woo Ma Go was hiding ‘something’ that boasted a different density from the rest.
“Ma Go, step aside!”
A transparent layer overlaid on Mu Ssang’s hand. The blade of his hand pierced through the bricks as if it were soft tofu.
Mu Ssang felt a strong resistance from the tip of his hand. As expected, the other side of the brick wall was steel. While keeping his hand buried in the wall, he powerfully yanked it down. The brick wall noisily cracked and crumbled down. A steel door gleaming in inky darkness revealed itself.
“Oh, my goodness!”
Ma Go’s eyes opened wide. She had already scanned every inch of this wall with her spiritual eye. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that someone would hide a steel door by bricking up an entire wall.
“Narrow-minded bastards. Acting as exactly as they look, huh!”
This sort of concealment matched the typical personalities of the Japanese. After building an air-raid shelter below a basement, they disguised a secret area with a brick wall and even went as far as hiding the entire space with the Space Transfer Technique.
Mu Ssang yanked the rest of the brick wall with his Billion Water Armor. The broken bricks tumbled down to reveal the entirety of the steel door. Three padlocks even bigger than a person’s head now stood in his way. Obviously, he did not have the keys.
He tried to check the thickness of the door by banging on it.
A rather weighty noise came back to him. The door must have been over 200mm thick.
Mu Ssang initially wanted to send his resonance wave to the Billion Water Armor and tear the door down, but quickly revised his plan. According to adventure or fantasy novels, the main characters entering secret bases or dungeons inexplicably let down their guards or made mistakes at the last hurdle. As a result, traps would activate and those poor characters had to go through hell and back – something they could have avoided in the first place.
Mu Ssang hated anything that was annoying. He inserted his Vajra through the door’s gap, then simply chopped downward.
The bolts were cut down without any resistance. Mu Ssang looked behind and smirked. The Sun Woo mother-and-daughter duo raised their arms up high and made heart signs above their heads. Showing off one’s strength seemed a bit childish, but it was in a man’s instincts to do so regardless.
The weighty steel door two handspans thick was forcibly opened wide. The air from the space locked up for the past forty years rushed out. However, rather than an unpleasant moldy odor, they were greeted by a pleasant scent caressing their noses.
“Huh! Now that’s amazing!”
Their jaws dropped. The interior space seemed to be around 330-meter squares. Rows of 5-tier shelves made out of juniper trees stood tall, each shelf filled with wooden boxes of varying sizes.
Even in a cursory glance, there had to be over two thousand boxes stored on the shelves. Boxes on the floor were probably in their hundreds too. You did not have to be a genius to figure out what happened here: the Japanese had packed these treasures to ship them off to Japan, only to fail at the last stage.
“Oh my goodness!”
“Goodness me!”
The Sun Woo mother-and-daughter gasped out in pure shock. They had no idea that the separated space was hiding such an incredible secret. Now they understood why the great spirit chose to interject personally in this matter.
“Oh, lord great spirit, you have struck gold, sir. Congratulations.”
“No, these are not my things. They are the blood, sweat and tears of this land.”
“This girl was thoughtless. Please forgive us.” Sun Woo Bang Na lowered her head.
But Ma Go hurriedly raised an objection. “But great spirit! If you have not recovered them like this, these treasures would’ve been lost to time forever or claimed by the Japanese, sir. As such, they should obviously be your property now!”
“There is a verse in the Analects of Confucius: Gyeon-Ri-Sa-Ui (The man who, in view of gain, thinks of righteousness).”
“Just because you have a lot of wealth, it does not mean you should have feasts ten times a day or live for hundreds of years. Having too much property is actually a lot of work and can even be agonizing. True wealth wealth doesn’t belong to one, but already have their uses set in stone.”
“Even so, you worked so hard to earn these, oh great spirit…”
Ma Go could not let go of her lingering afterthoughts.
“Hahaha. If it’s the issue of money, I already have a ton of it rotting away in my bank account. It’s fine. Shall we confirm whether they are real treasures or not first?”
Mu Ssang opened the very first box he could grab. He got rid of the wax seal and opened the lid to reveal a celadon incense burner about 20cm tall, surrounded by wood chips as fillers. The porcelain boasted the pristine jade hue, with the upper part shaped like a lotus bud supported by four turtles.
Even to the eyes of an amateur like him, this incense burner emitting a pristine, perfect jade hue was clearly something else.
“Sun Woo Bang Na, can you take a gander at this item?”
“I shall obey, sir.” Sun Woo Bang Na replied, then held the incense burner with both hands while closing her eyes.
A psychic was someone that connected the past, present and future. As far as the ability to determine an object’s history was concerned, no other spiritualist types came close to them.
“Uh-huh… Geopsal, Jaesal, Cheonsal, Jisal, Nyeonsal, Wolsal, Mangsinsal, Jangseongsal, Banansal, Yeokmasal, Yukhaesal, Hwagaesal, all of you mischievous demons and phantoms, be gone! Uh-huh-ee! Even you, Seo Dap-chan and the little punk that’s not even old enough yet, disappear, now!
“Let us ask the gods of travellers and housekeeping. Uh-huh! It sure is an aged item, isn’t it! The soil from the south and lumber from the north came together 675 years ago. You are being taken to the ruler of the land. Then, a strong man bearing a sword has acquired you.
“And now, you enter beyond the walls of Hanyang. Gat-wearing (a bamboo hat worn by men in the Joseon era) punks are busy exchanging you. Huh, now you’re in Andong Hahoe Village. Two ‘policemen’ with daggers stuck to the ends of their guns are entering the living room. Aigoo, how pitiful! A nobleman wearing a gat kisses the ground after a butt plate hits him.
“And an old baldy monk wearing a Buddhist monk robe grins like a fool after getting his hands on the incense burner. Uh-huh! You sure do have many stories to tell, don’t you.”
Sun Woo Bang Na continued to recite the history of the incense burner.
“Ooh! A jackpot, it is!” Mu Ssang loudly clapped his hands.
A single Goryeo celadon would easily exchange hands for tens of millions of dollars in auctions held by the Sotheby’s or Christie’s. And thanks to Abe Nobuyuki sealing the storage with the Space Transfer Technique, the state of the stored articles was top-notch.
You could ask for any price you want on a perfectly-preserved antique with history behind it. As the corner of his lips curled up ever so slightly, Mu Ssang sneakily stole a glance at the Sun Woo mother-and-daughter duo. Their abilities were absolutely necessary for this matter.
Woken up from her immersion because of Mu Ssang’s clapping, Sun Woo Bang Na deeply bowed her head. “This greenware has been created 675 years ago in a kiln overlooking the ocean, sir. The Japanese policemen robbed it at gunpoint while muttering something about debt. As for the precise location of its creation, it should be easy enough to locate by comparing the result from the thoughtography to a map, sir.”
“Oh? I guess it’ll fetch a pretty handsome sum, then!” Mu Ssang’s lips widened in a huge grin.
“Of course, sir. Just putting a handful of these items in an auction would…”
Mu Ssang glanced at Ma Go, his lips still smirking away. “It’s not fulfilling enough to just bring home all the cultural works of art stolen from us, so we certainly cannot let these leave the country, now can we?”
“In that case, what do you mean by fetching a handsome sum, sir?”
“I’ll get a local expert to appraise some of these and hand them over to the government at a reasonable price.”
“Aigoo! Lord great spirit, you’re being too naïve in this matter, sir! It’ll already be a huge relief if they don’t accuse you of being a graverobber and throw you in prison.” Sun Woo Bang Na jumped up in alarm.
Even if things worked out in their favor, they would only receive a pittance as the so-called reward while the treasure would end up in the storage of the Cultural Heritage Administration.
Sun Woo Bang Na thought that the young master was too pure and naïve, but she was dead wrong. Mu Ssang was a sly merchant who had experienced all sorts of ups and downs by now.
“Hehehe~, well, we shall see. For now, why don’t we take a look at a few more?”
Mu Ssang knew better than anyone that the boundary between fair and unfair laws wholly depended on the power of the individual said laws were applied to. He was someone who could change the rules if he did not like where things were going, after all.
More celadons, white porcelain, bronzewares, weapons and household items, along with scrolls of paintings and valuable books flooded out from a few other boxes the trio chose to check out.
According to the appraisal by the Sun Woo mother-and-daughter duo, countless many of the treasures hailed from the Goryeo and the Three Kingdoms eras. There was no point in investigating any further – this place was definitely the storage containing Yamanashi Hanzo’s treasure collection.
During the Japanese Occupation of the Korean peninsula, the Japanese collected Korean cultural works of art through any means possible – such as graverobbing, illegal seizure, or simply buying them off. Unaware Koreans that had no clue about the true worth of these works of art were easy targets for the collectors and dealers.
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But then again, plenty of turncoat bureaucrats willingly assisted the collection efforts of the Japanese in charge too. And many small-time criminals robbed graves and temples of their valuable antiques to sell to the Japanese as well. It was only natural for the true colors of people to be revealed when their country was facing adversity.
The top of the Japanese collector/dealer foodchain was occupied by Ogura Takenoske and Yamanashi Hanzo. The defeat of the Japanese in the WW2’s Pacific theater led to a period of confusion by the American forces. Ogura, boasting super-quick wits, seized this confusion to smuggle his collected treasure to Japan.
The Ogura Collection reputedly boasted over 1,000 items but the Korean government could not even confirm the current status.
As for Yamanashi… He was embroiled in a corruption scandal and lost his chance to smuggle his collection out of Korea. Over the ensuing decades, many discussed whether the collection was real or not, some even raising a bit of grief over it.
And somehow, through a series of circumstances and a twist of fate, the secretive Yamanashi Collection ended up in Mu Ssang’s hands. Whether the world was at peace or going through turmoil, the lucky bastard would still strike it rich while the unlucky would always be a loser..
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