Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 533
Edel had a complicated expression on her face as she watched Yijihana hurriedly rushing away. Dino died trying to protect her, yet she couldn’t do a single thing to help. What did she do back then when the bloodthirsty mob set her father on fire? The eighteen-year-old Edel hiding in a furrow in the cotton field trembling away overlapped with the current twenty-eight-year-old Edel.
While she was sobbing away, Jin Soon acted. That drive and that strength that could not have possibly come from a fellow woman… Edel could never possess such talents. Her body was so frail that one night with Dubai nearly killed her. That little girl who used to hide in the attic while waiting for her father’s macarons remained as weak as ever even after all these years.
“Lady Jin Soon, here it is.” Yijihana came back with a large steaming bucket in tow. Due to the urgency of the matter, he decided to grind all of the ribs currently being boiled in the kitchen. What a relief that there was a disposer available here.
“Pour it over Dino!”
At Jin Soon’s unhesitant command, Yijihana dumped the watery meat soup on Dino’s body.
Water and nutrients were sucked right into Dino’s figure, causing all the withered and cracking residues to break off and fall away. Dino’s torso, looking like a sagging airless balloon only a second ago, rapidly began recovering.
This was a shocking scene to behold, but it should not have really come as a surprise. Biologically speaking, all animals on the planet existed with green-colored plants as their foundation.
Plants processed the sun’s energy to store complicated carbon molecule-type energy. Herbivores absorbed the calories synthesized by the plants while carnivores survived by taking away the energy processed by the herbivores.
The reason why animals evolved to possess a particular type of digestive system was that they had to move. Even vehicles required a greater quantity of fuel to travel at high speed than while idling in a traffic jam.
Animals required a great quantity of energy to make drastic, urgent movements, causing them to develop a particular digestive system to have an efficient energy supply. If animals absorbed energy through their skin like how plants did with their leaves, then there would be no reason for digestive organs to exist. Kamdoong was a good example of this.
While going through the Bone-Crushing Rebirth process, atoms constituting Dino’s cells were changed to a zeolite structure. Sometimes referred to as god’s catalyst, a zeolite was a microporous crystal with many pores in it. Spreading wide only one gram of it would result in a surface area wider than a soccer field.
A matter with a larger internal volume than external surface area possessed adsorptive characteristics. The industrial world exploited this characteristic and used zeolite in applications such as catalysts to extract various chemicals from crude oil, or as base material for detergents that separated and adsorbed waste material. Cells found on a gecko’s feet were capable of freely traversing vertical walls and ceilings because they boasted the zeolite structure.
Kamdoong deployed its somatic cell atoms in a tandem configuration to absorb the necessary atoms from the atmosphere, then directly processed them into energy. Dino’s somatic cells were zeolite-types in a parallel layout. Although Dino could not directly process energy, it could still absorb the already processed nutrients.
A grandmaster-level expert who had already experienced the Bone-Crushing Rebirth was able to survive for a fixed amount of time without eating, and this was the reason.
Monk Dae-woo had not experienced the Bone-Crushing Rebirth, but he still reached the realm of absorbing external ki to supplement his diet. In terms of the energy processing evolution, then the order would be: Kamdoong > plants > Monk Dae-woo > a grandmaster-level expert > Dino.
Dino’s figure suddenly exploded in pure white light. The crimson-brown fur all fell off while the size of its body began shrinking. Edel became tearful again at this unexpected transformation. “Dubai, is Dino dying?”
“No need to worry. Its body is reforming to the most optimal version of itself.” Mu Ssang replied while patting Edel’s shoulder.
There was a well-known phrase for an occasion like this one — a blessing in disguise. Dino, after it was pummeled to within an inch of its life by Kamdoong, experienced an effect similar to receiving all three stages of Soul-Returning Pain Administration ten times in a row. As its body was being reconstituted, Dino even fully awakened the Epidium’s blood, too.
A figure covered in crimson fur similar in appearance to a Caucasian Ovcharka stood on the spot when the white light faded away. This was Dino’s, the combat organism, rebirth after evolving to its final stage.
Dino’s eyes shot open. Its bright, intelligent eyes shifted over to Edel.
Dino extended its lengthy tongue and licked the cheek of Edel crouching near it.
“Dino, you’re alive! Dino’s alive… Sniff, sniffle!” Edel wrapped her arms around Dino’s neck and broke down into a flood of tears. Although its appearance had changed, Dino was still Dino in her eyes.
[Hey, is that woman stupid or something? That thing wasn’t dead to begin with, so what’s with the ‘it’s alive!’ shtick?]
“Please be quiet. You were in the wrong.” Jin Soon replied while her expression turned into a scowl.
Kamdoong’s round eyes opened wider.
[Are you implying that I’m at fault here? I don’t understand this. It’s not logical.]
Kamdoong shook its head. He was being considerate for her while beating the holy crap out of that insolent animal, but now she was criticizing him for the act? During Dino’s beatdown, Jin Soon’s brain was pumping out large quantities of adrenaline, endorphin and dopamine. Yet it was cortisol being secreted now. If she enjoyed that ruckus, that was fine. If she did not, also fine — but her emotions seemed to be a tangled mess.
Even Lord Buddha said that it was difficult to fathom the heart of a woman that changed twelve times in a single moment. As such, it was foolish to expect Kamdoong to understand Jin Soon’s ever-changing whims.
Dino shot back up to its feet.
And after discovering Kamdoong, its fur stood on end while its fangs began noisily grinding.
[Huh! Did this punk forget all about fear after getting a bit stronger now?]
Kamdoong glared at Dino’s palpable hostility. It began wondering whether to punch a hole in that insolent creature’s gut or simply disintegrate that dang thing on a cellular level.
“Dino, that’s enough! I don’t want to see you get hurt anymore!” Edel stroked the nape of Dino’s neck.
Dino inwardly sighed in relief. Its will to fight had not been broken yet, but all of its nerves and muscles froze up instantly when that pitch-black little creature began glaring back. Although this whole thing was unfair, Dino understood that it could never win against that little black thing after going through 100 near-death experiences.
“Dino, come over here,” said Mu Ssang.
Dino went down to the ground in front of Mu Ssang.
The Billion Water Armor materialized and enveloped his hand. “Try to withstand this.”
The Billion Water Armor mercilessly slammed into Dino’s side.
Dino screamed while getting flung far away. But, even after being thrown around like that, Dino got up and returned to its master before prostrating again. It totally resembled a new recruit in the army being disciplined by their superiors.
“Wow! You actually withstood that!”
Mu Ssang was genuinely impressed after checking out the impact area on Dino’s torso. Although the beast’s hide had been ripped up two inches or so, the inner skin was still intact. Its flesh managed to withstand the force equaling a 7.62mm round, in other words.
This alone already exceeded the level of those Chimeras developed in Area 51.
“Oppa! Why are you hitting the poor Dino right after it came back to life? Don’t you feel sorry for Edel?” Jin Soon began growling like a tigress.
Mu Ssang flinched grandly. Judging from the flow of events, these two ladies were about to form a united front against him.
“Hey, you. I was simply testing Dino out, that’s all. Let me tell ya, Dino’s now twice as strong as before. Looks like Samdi will be smacked around by Dino now.”
Dino snickered and glanced at Samdi. The latter’s expression cramped up rather unhappily, but at the same time, Sun WooHyun’s eyes were beginning to sparkle noticeably.
Sun WooHyun was pathologically obsessed with the idea of getting stronger. And that’s why his stares at Kamdoong had gotten rather heated right now.
“Twice as strong, eh? I might as well get a beating from that perverted cat, too.”
But a pair of feline eyes boasting clear black irises like a human was also glaring at Sun WooHyun.
[What a strange human you are. In that case, this perverted cat will beat the living daylights out of you later.]
Sun WooHyun had no idea that his monologue was heard in its entirety by that perverted cat, Kamdoong.
“Thank you, big sister.” Edel smiled bashfully.
‘Eh? Big sister??’
Jin Soon flinched at the unexpected big sister treatment. They had not even confirmed who was older here, yet she was already being treated as the older of the two?
Edel seemed to have read what was on Jin Soon’s mind, so she continued on from where she left off. “Age doesn’t really matter, you know? My heart tells me to call you my big sister. And I’m not Cinderella. I hate the idea of being Cinderella, too.”
Jin Soon’s emotions welled up instantly.
She felt the same way. She too, hated Cinderella. Without the need for a deeper explanation, she fully understood Edel’s intentions; Edel was saying that she was not planning to hitch a free ride here.
In the past, Mu Ssang also expressed his dislike of Cinderella’s story. But why did he and Jin Soon not like Cinderella? There were a thousand different versions of this age-old fairy tale but all of them had one thing in common — the theme of the protagonist’s rise in status.
Cinderella was unable to change her fate through her own powers. If it were not for the fairy godmother suddenly appearing to cast some fairy magic, that girl was destined to live the rest of her life covered in ash and soot.
The lowly things like a rat, mice, a pumpkin and vines transformed into a carriage driver, horses, a carriage and a glamorous dress through the power of magic. But truth be told, none of them was earned through Cinderella’s own efforts.
When the stepmother dolled up her two daughters and took them to the party venue, all Cinderella could do was run to the forest in tears.
She even said, ‘I can’t go to the party anymore!’
Put simply, she did not have a single shred of will or volition anywhere in her body.
There was another point to consider here: the emphasis on the main character’s sexual attractiveness. The glass slipper, a metaphor for Cinderella’s attractiveness, was enough to seduce the prince’s heart. Without relying on that attractiveness, she would not have escaped the fate of dirt and soot.
In Jin Soon’s view, Cinderella was a harmful character that used her charms to get herself a free ride.
“I’m neither smart nor great enough to be your big sister, Edel. I’m just a little weed living under Mu Ssang’s shadow.” Jin Soon shook her head.
Without Mu Ssang, she would probably be selling some cheap ties in a department store or wrestling with disgusting wastewater in the Daegu Dyeing Industrial Complex Corporation.
“Big sister, a truly great person is not the ‘great’ that you imagine to be. Great people like that will only cast great shadows over the world around them. I’ve lived inside hell for a long time. A hell where there was no one to love or trust. That’s why I’m so happy to meet you, big sister.”
Edel’s blue eyes were sparkling brightly. The strong desire to be together with Jin Soon and her trustworthy, gracious heart caused Edel’s own heart to race.
“I now see that you’re someone our dear needs in his life, after all. After spending two decades with him, my soul has become more abundant, I think. So, yes. You can bring your soul here, too. Two of us are pretty fulfilling already, so adding another person will surely make our lives even more fulfilling.”
Jin Soon’s eyes silently observing Edel eventually filled to the brim with gentleness. As it turned out, this woman was not a competitor but a companion.
“Sniffle! Thank you, big sister. It took me ten years to get here, but I finally have a family.”
Edel hugged Jin Soon tightly. How could there be someone as warm-hearted and gracious as her in this world?
Edel lost her father at the tender age of eighteen, and for the next ten years, she basically cut off all contact with her own mother. All those days spent in difficult loneliness sped past her mind like a revolving lantern. Without even realizing it, tears began streaming down her face.
Jin Soon wordlessly patted Edel’s back. A wounded soul had come to her asking for help. Was there a soul that hadn’t been damaged or withered in some way in this world?
Jin Soon began singing gently.
[Wolsong Mountain, covered in pitch-black darkness
When I was going around the mountain’s bend
A callous hand I held with all my heart
Was the signpost for my soul.
When I was crossing a strong brook
A wide smelly sweaty back I rode on
Was the land I’d build my home
All the things in this world
Will it be as good as a fragment of your love?
All the praises in this world
Will it be as good as your furtive whispers?
Foxglove tree in the backyard, with essence in its roots
Blooms flowers in times of Spring
Woman with love growing ever so in her heart
Consoles your lonely soul
I’ll plant my roots here and go my own way
I’m not scared of blizzards or thunderstorms
But I fear never reaching you even at the end of my breath.]
A clear, gentle singing spread out to the surroundings. Mu Ssang felt a pang in his heart. In Yuan Haowen’s poem, Song of the Wild Geese Mound, the poet cried out, ‘What is love and why does love move some creatures to live or die!’
But Jin Soon went one step further. He even felt a chill when she said she was afraid of not being enough even after dedicating her whole life.
However, Sun WooHyun listening on felt like his head was about to crack into pieces. He lived almost all of his life in the dog-eat-dog world, so stuff like this sounded like cringe nonsense only good for ironical laughs. These people… They were living in a totally different world from him. Rather unsurprisingly, he was having a torrid time trying to translate what Jin Soon was singing about.
Ombuti furrowed his brows, causing Sun WooHyun to flinch. The words ‘This punk can’t do anything right,’ seemed to be written all over the old man’s face.
“Why don’t we go and cook together, Edel? We need to prepare the banquet to welcome the guest.” Jin Soon grabbed Edel’s hand.
“C-cook?! Me?” Edel flinched grandly.
Thanks to the… ‘Saffron affair’, she finally realized that cooking was simply not in her blood. Didn’t she nearly poison Dubai and the rest of the Black Culture that night? Just hearing the term ‘cooking’ caused her heart to crash to the pit of her stomach.
“Big sister, I’m not good at cooking at all,” Edel replied with zero energy in her voice.
What an amazing person Dubai was for enjoying all the food Edel had cooked until now! To think that she could not even cook delicious food for someone she loved… Edel’s heart filled up with cold wintry rain.
“Cooking is all about love and not about showing off your skills, you know.”
“Y-yes, you’re right. Cooking is about love.”
Edel’s courage perked up. It felt like cooking or whatever would never be a problem as long as she worked together with Jin Soon. The Korean tigress and the Western Nine-Tailed Fox headed inside the main building while holding hands.
Jin Soon and Edel’s encounter ended in a feel-good manner thanks to Dino’s violent beatdown. On that day, Jin Soon inadvertently ended up with a younger sister three years older than her, while Edel found a sister she could lean her lonely shoulders on.
Mu Ssang did not even have to lift a single finger to clean this mess. Dino was beaten up to the point of death and that helped the creature to be reborn as a combat organism. As for the instigator of that ruthless beatdown, Kamdoong was able to vent his accumulated stress too.
There was a phrase in I Ching: clouds form according to the dragon, and winds arise according to the tiger. Changes began from winds and clouds. The term ‘Pungwun-ah’ (a lucky hero in troubled times) was derived from this phrase, as the first two letters came from wind and cloud.
Just where would this meeting of wind and cloud — Jin-soon and Edel — guide Mu Ssang’s fate? Only time will tell.
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“Sang-han, I heard Ssang got a job overseas, and looking at things in here, he must be making lots of money, son.”
“Looks like it, ma. That guy, he’s been through all sorts of hell, so he deserves all the good things coming his way.”
Sang-han scanned the study. Every bachelor’s home without a female’s touch more or less resembled one another. Thick layers of dust and fallen hair tumbled around whenever you opened or closed the door. You would see a pile of toilet paper stacked by the upper part of the room, while lewd magazines with their particularly salacious pages folded in for future revisits would be strewn everywhere in the room.
A corner of this messy pile would inevitably pay homage to Pent*ouse or Play*oy magazines smuggled out of the American military base. That was the typical description of a space occupied by a bachelor living alone, but now…
…Just what was this place? Not a single hair strand or a layer of dust could be spotted in this room over twenty pyeong (approximately 66 square meters) wide. Even after assuming that Mu Ssang was a clean freak, this sight still did not make much sense..