Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 529
There is no such thing as a free lunch in this world. Receiving money from someone’s pocket is the second hardest thing after enduring hunger. Jin Soon only took two Sundays off and worked every day for 12 hours to get a monthly wage of 160,000 won. Unless one was born to rich parents, one needed to pay a great price to touch fortune.
Six years had passed since Mu Ssang became a mercenary. This vast traditional Korean house was a payment for all of his torn flesh, broken bones, and heartache. His time as a mercenary could not always be better than when he was slaving away at Wu Tak’s. What is visible isn’t the whole thing. It seemed to rain in Jin Soon’s heart.
“How much was your salary?”
“Are you curious? In Korean won, it should be about 20,000,000.”
“You are joking!”
“I am not.”
“That is absurd!”
“Mu Ssang is a liar!”
Mal Soon and Ou Soon jested.
“Look at these ladies. They take me for a liar!”
Mu Ssang feigned offense and jumped. Yeon Soon and Gye Soon were in college. Mal Soon was in high school. Ou Soon was in middle school. Mu Ssang played along with the playful liveliness of teenage girls.
“You should say something believable if you want to be taken seriously. How does it make sense that one person’s monthly salary would be worth 10 apartments?”
“Haha, yeah. I don’t believe it myself either.”
“Right? It’s absurd!”
Ou Soon’s eyes twinkled as she babbled on. Mu Ssang’s face bloomed in a grin. It was a soft smile encompassing the tails of his mouth and eyes, like a stroke of ink spreading on a scroll. Meaningless talks would warm one’s heart when it is said by family. That is why family is good.
“Wakil is talking with his great teacher. I will guide you.”
Ali led the Hadong family to the main house. There were six rooms in the main house. Each room has a separate entrance space and is equipped with a dressing room and an ensuite bathroom. The entrance space was a rare design in Korea. It was French style. In the design phase, Mu Ssang had quite a difficulty explaining it to the architects.
The rooms were attached to the 99-square-meter open space with a raised wooden floor that was separated by a double glass door that led to the aforementioned space. Each room was a separate space yet connected to the open space. Ali opened the floor-to-ceiling windows at the front and back of the open space. The wind blew through.
The five ladies were open-eyed in amazement. It was a traditional Korean house but not so traditional either. The open space, antique decor, and modern convenience surprised them. Each room was on a par with a hotel suite. The five sisters surveyed the entire house.
“I will only need one wooden pillow for a good night’s sleep. Where did you go, friend? Your son has made it and built a palace. Where even are you?”
Ha Dong Daek dabbed her teary eyes with her sleeve.
“Jin Soon, this door leads to the back garden. Wakil said you are to tend to the back garden.”
‘Me? Tend to the back garden? Is it some sort of secret garden?’
Jin Soon pondered as she was handed the key to the small door. This must mean that it is a special place for Mu Ssang. As she pushed open the door, Jin Soon firmly pressed her chest. It was a field of peace trees.
Mu Ssang must have been missing his mother so much that he covered this vast area with peach trees. Each branch was budding. In a fortnight, pale pink petals would be dancing in the air. Jin Soon could feel how much Mu Ssang missed his mother. Her eyes welled up.
Screams erupted near the outhouses. Mu Ssang looked at Monk Dae Woo with an uneasy face. Kamdoong must have been napping there in his original form.
“Tsk, tsk. He must have been careful. What shall we do?”
Ha Dong Daek and Jin Soon’s sisters did not know his true identity. They surely would not understand Kamdoong’s existence.
“Maybe it would prove quite auspicious. He is too handsome. Maybe he will be less conspicuous as a cat. I never used my spells on a human being. This can’t be avoided.”
Monk Dae Woo clucked his tongue.
“Maybe we can hinder the retrieval of a certain memory? Would that be a problem?”
“It used to be a problem. One’s memory is one’s sense of self. It is not moral to interfere with it. But to prevent the confusion due to Kamdoong, this time shall be an exception.”
“Ocelot is causing problems even after his death!” Mu Ssang complained.
Ocelot’s superior good looks caused quite an odd problem. Jin Soon’s sisters are made up of two mature women and a girl in her puberty. Sunday Leopard’s mug that was a mixture of Alain Delon and Omar Sharif’s good features could cause quite a stir.
It was in fact Mu Ssang’s fault, who provided Kamdoong with a too-handsome body donor and gave him Omar Sharif as an inspiration. Only Ocelot was the losing party here, whose body was donated and soul was exterminated.
At Monk Dae Woo’s call, a black line streaked from the outhouse.
“You called, Teacher?”
A black leopard appeared out of thin air and bowed.
“You came because I called. You should stay as a leopard.”
“I was originally a leopard.”
Kamdoong stared at Monk Dae Woo as if wondering what is the problem was.
“You are a cat now. Reduce your body tenfold, no, 40 times.”
A common cat weighs between two kilograms and five kilograms. A big species never exceeds 8 kilograms. For Kamdoong to appear as a cat, his body must be reduced 40-fold.
“Should I change my form to an animal named cat too?”
“No need. A cat enlarged dozens of times is a leopard.”
Kamdoong’s large body, like a punctured balloon, was reduced to a five-kilogram size in an instant.
“Is this sufficiently small?”
“Don’t talk. Cats don’t talk.”
Monk Dae Woo glared.
[Huh, I see.]
Kamdoong, startled, ceased speaking.
‘I am sorry, Kamdoong.’
Mu Ssang felt sorry. Because of the playful women, innocent Kamdoong had to live as a cat. But Kamdoong did not feel any qualms at all. He didn’t mind if he had to be a human, a leopard, a cat, or a tree. He simply felt most at ease as a leopard.
Ha Dong Daek, Mal Soon, and Ou Soon ran up to them, panting.
“Mu Ssang, there is a black monster in the outhouse.”
“It is bigger than an ox. I’m just so scared.”
“A monster? A black cat maybe?”
Mu Ssang pointed at Kamdoong.
Ou Soon, simple-minded, abruptly embraced Kamdoong. Kamdoong still retained the leopard form but he was cat-sized, so he was a cat.
“No, that wasn’t it. It was a black monster bigger than a lion!” Mal Soon blabbered.
“I saw it too. It was a cat spirit a hundred times bigger than a cat,” Ha Dong Daek added. The entire Hadong family clamored on. Jin Soon was about to say something when Monk Dae Woo waved his sleeve.
Ha Dong Daek, Mal Soon, and Ou Soon’s eyes clouded over for a moment then regained clarity. The Kamdoong they discovered was replaced with the smaller Kamdoong.
“Hmm. Mal Soon, look closely. Isn’t this the monster you saw?”
The three clapped at once.
“It is! I was surprised at this cat.”
“Sorry for bothering you, monk grandpa.”
Mal Soon and Ou Soon bowed.
“He is a Bombay cat named Kamdoong. He is a spiritual animal who has been under my tutelage for a long time. Get along. If he doesn’t behave, tell me. I shall fix him.”
Kamdoong flinched at the last words Teacher said.
“Is he really smart?”
“Of course. I will show you. Kamdoong, from now on, if what I say is right, raise your right paw. If wrong, raise your left paw.”
“Jin Soon is beautiful.”
Kamdoong raised his right paw.
“Jin Soon is a woman.”
Kamdoong raised his right paw.
The girls exclaimed.
“Kamdoong, the sun rises from the west!” Ou Soon shouted.
Kamdoong tapped his head with his left paw and made a circle.
There were exclamations and laughter. The five sisters were enthusiastic about Kamdoong who was as cute as he was smart. Kamdoong underestimated the young girls’ obsession with cute animals. Suddenly aware of it, he attempted to escape.
‘I am speechless!’
Jin Soon shook her head. She already knew Kamdoong’s true identity. A very intelligent cat would still not be able to compare things. Her sisters who believed that Kamdoong is just a smart animal were in fact, dumber than Kamdoong.
Samdi, who Jin Soon had met before, was not human either. How many extraordinary beings were around Mu Ssang? She thought she knew him well but she encountered more and more unknown parts.
“Mr. Butler, how many guests do we have tomorrow?”
“Lady Jin Soon, the chef of Lady Edel will take care of the ingredients. Do not let yourself worry.”
“Edel? Who is that?”
Jin Soon’s eyes glinted.
‘Oh, I’m an idiot!’
Old Man Ali wanted to punch his own mouth but it was too late. Ali spent 20 years as a butler to aristocrats. He was well aware of how intuitive women were when it came to competition for love.
“Yes, she is Dubaiburupa’s maid.”
‘Lady Edel, please forgive me for saying this.’
When Ali apologized in his head, but a counterargument arrived.
“In Novatopia, does a maid has a chef?”
‘This is why I should retire!’
At his repeated mistakes, Old Man Ali felt his vision darken. He didn’t dare to lie further. If Edel was angelic, Jin Soon was charismatic. His attempt at covering up led to a bigger problem.
“Mr. Butler, I am sorry for asking further. Please don’t mind it.”
Old Man Ali feared the “don’t mind it” further.
“Guests in Korea should be treated in a Korean way. The mistress of a Korean house treats guests with such an amount of food that they can feel their stomach touch their liver. Anatomically, there is quite a distance between the liver and the stomach. Do you understand what I mean?”
It was an assertion that she shall lead as the mistress. The metaphor of the liver and the stomach hit him as a quite meaningful phrase too.
“There are about 50 guests. Including the attendants, it could be 70.”
“In an hour, bring me the list of guests, how long they will stay, and the brief individual description of their tastes.”
Old Man Ali felt chills at her decisive order. Her charisma was on a par with Wakil’s.
‘Edel is falling behind.’
Old Man Ali’s face darkened. One’s heart tends to lean toward the people with whom one went through many things.
Ha Dong Daek and Yeon Soon got on a Citroën BX and went to a market. Jin Soon went on cleaning the house with her sisters. The five sisters all had a knack for cleaning. The entire house was tidied up in no time. For a house to be a home, a family’s gaze and touch were required.
Old Man Ali’s face darkened further. Edel was a doctor. It is a great profession but not suitable for a mistress’s role. The entire world could praise her but what use is it if her husband doesn’t? He was biased towards Edel yet still he had to acknowledge Jin Soon’s value.
Ha Dong Daek and Jin Soon filled the 16-people limestone table with various dishes in no time. Ha Dong Daek’s hands were quite deft but they did not compare to Jin Soon’s. Boiling, frying, stir-frying, roasting, blanching, her hands handling ingredients were as soft as water and as fast as the wind.
Butler Ali gazed at the table incredulously. Ever since he was born, he never saw a table laden with as many various dishes at once. An aristocrat’s table was a poor man’s table compared to what was before his eyes.
How could so many various dishes be made in such a short time? Ali stole glimpses at the lady tending to Wakil like a tongue in a mouth. Monk Dae Woo grinned widely. Ha Dong Daek feigned ignorance.
Ali shook his head with a troubled face. To be honest, Edel’s cooking was abysmal. As an Arabic proverb goes: “great cooking redeems the wife of any wrongdoings”. Both ladies were beautiful and elegant but the scale was losing balance rapidly.
“Mu Ssang, I have never seen such a big house. Why did you make it this big?”
Ha Dong Daek was greatly worried. The maintenance cost alone would cost a fortune for such a palatial house. Mu Ssang stopped eating galbi and scratched the back of his head.
“Right. It somehow ended up like this.”
He had nothing else to say. Ou Soon, gorging on bulgogi (marinated beef), stopped moving her chopsticks. She was young but still could worry.
“Mu Ssang, I counted it all. Five rooms in the main house. In the outhouses, 42 and 4 in the biggest one. In total, 52 rooms. Why did you build it this big? Aren’t you going bankrupt?”
“Bankrupt? Hahaha! Mine is nothing really. Overseas, there is a house with hundreds of rooms. The outhouses are for workers and guests. The main house is for Ha Dong Daek and you girls.”
Everyone stopped in mid-motion. Six pairs of eyes were trained upon Mu Ssang.
“I will use the study. You shall each pick a room.”
The ice didn’t thaw at the additional explanation.
“What do you mean?”
Ha Dong Daek asked incoherently.
“Since I have a large house, I thought why should the girls live in other people’s? Yeon Soon and Gye Soon should move in right away. Mal Soon is about to graduate so you will pick a room now and move in later. Ou Soon should commute from this house.”Mu Ssang concluded on his own.
Ha Dong Daek kept repeating “What,” overwhelmed by Mu Ssang’s decisiveness.
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“Mu Ssang, you are the greatest!”
The sisters stopped eating and ran to the rooms. There was abrupt chaos as they each picked a room.
“What just happened?”
Ha Dong Daek didn’t know what to do..