Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 573
Chapter 573 Chapter 52 Episode 9 Choi Do-shik
A bamboo pole-like figure resembling a skeleton covered in human skin, the haggard-looking inverted triangular face, emotionless reptilian eyes, a chin sharp enough to use as an ice pick, protruding cheekbones…
There was no need to check the old man’s physical traits. The assimilation technique to skirt past the Dimensional Sight or the shadowy foot technique he displayed just now…
He was, without a doubt, the leader of the Pure White Cult, Choi Do-Shik. The man with the identification code is double-zero.
The scar near the hollow of his neck was relatively a new addition. His right arm, which should’ve been severed back then, was intact, too. But those things didn’t really matter when trying to gauge that man’s essence.
Just like how Kamdoong acquired the concept of a panther and became the current Kamdoong, the name Choi Do-Shik contained everything there was to know about Choi Do-Shik. Even if he transformed himself into a transgender man or gained weight to become a fatso, Mu Ssang was dead sure of recognizing him. They said that good characters die young while evil characters live on. As if to prove that, that villain was as tenacious as one could get.
Mu Ssang’s eyes became still, focused. From the depth of his mental storage holding miscellaneous items, a projector emerged to rewind a reel of old film.
It started when he fought a monstrous big snake in Bangtae Mountain’s black pond. He got kidnapped by Choi Do-Shik, then barely managed to keep himself alive inside the stalactite grotto by eating centipedes and millipedes. He killed five Red-Faces, then the fatally-wounded Choi Do-Shik escaped from there.
The side effects of the Soul-Renewing Practice caused Mu Ssang to lose his memories. He wandered the snow-covered Bangtae Mountain, then as he was about to die, big bro Mu-ho discovered him in the nick of time. And then, the time he spent with Mina in Achimgarigol…
All those memories rushed past his mind in the blink of an eye. Mu Ssang witnessed countless instances of vile sorcery, magic, and biological experiments on humans taking place within the shadows of the sun-lit world. However, none of them were as cruel and inhuman as the Soul-Renewing Practice. Drugs, acupuncture needles, and beatings were the main tools of the Soul-Renewing Practice. Drugs were used to weaken the victim’s willpower while the acupuncture needles were used to mess with the memory center. And by repeatedly inflicting extreme pain through All-Torture, the victim’s memories would be replaced and their personality forever altered. And so, the perpetrator would become the god while the victim would become their slave.
The operation’s success rate was only around 0.5%, but those who manage to survive would acquire strength and perception a dozen times greater than a regular human being. That was the reward for sacrificing one’s lifeforce. The survivors of the operation were the so-called Red-Faces.
The long silver needle poked and prodded the victim’s brain. Meanwhile, the All-Torture tore the muscles and broke the bones of its victim. All that, without the benefit of anesthesia. Those things used to be symbols of pure terror back then.
Choi Do-Shik was god and master. When he appeared, the Red-Faces automatically bowed their heads submissively. And even if that blotch on the floor was phlegm that bastard had spat out, Red-Faces would’ve gladly licked it clean as long as they were ordered to do so.
Depending on the order, they would kill or spare their targets without a second thought. If it hadn’t been for the Epidium biuret and the powerful memories of his parents rejecting the inseminated fake memories, Mu Ssang would’ve definitely ended up as Red-Face No.6. “Hmm…” Mu Ssang unconsciously sighed in relief.
When he laid his eyes on Choi Do-Shik, animosity boiled up in an instant. That could only mean that he had completely overcome the trauma of the Soul-Renewing Practice.
Even the smallest trace of that curse remaining would’ve caused Mu Ssang to feel endless love and respect the moment Choi Do-Shik made his appearance. He’d have reflexively bowed down ninety degrees and call that old bastard ‘My lord’ or some such. That’s how terrifying the curse of the Soul-Renewing Practice was.
Thanks to Monk Dae-woo’s Mind-Renewing Purification technique, the curse of the Soul-Renewing Practice had drastically weakened. However, Mu Ssang still hadn’t fully escaped from the trance of bloodlust and rage.
His teacher once said that Asura was born in the ocean of blood, and he was right about that. If it weren’t for the holocaust releasing his bloodlust, and if he hadn’t experienced awakening before coming here, then he might not have escaped from the curse of the Soul-Renewing Practice for the rest of his life. He owed a great deal of gratitude to his parents and Teacher.
The old idiom said that good fate would not come but bad fate would never end in a single encounter. Mu Ssang coincidentally ran into Kim Gi-Taek which led to the appearance of the conman Yi Su-bok. That connected to the Pungguk Capital, then Higashi Honganji joined in on the fun. And finally… the last piece of this puzzle, Choi Do-Shik, also made his grand entrance.
The chili powder that interfered with Mu Ssang’s life, the bastard that poured sugar into a misfiring engine… The bastard is deserving of retribution a hundred times over was now standing before him, all alive and seemingly unscathed. ‘Choi Do-Shik, I sincerely thank you for surviving until now.’
Mu Ssang grinned faintly. His chest boiled like the molten metal inside a furnace while his head became icy cold.
Choi Do-Shik’s current mood was in the absolute pits.
He had two purposes for entering South Korea. One, to retrieve the Yamanashi Collection. Two, to acquire the Supreme Reverse-Blood Ki Restoration Technique. To complete both goals, he had no choice but to set foot in Korea once more. The treasure and the pureblood were in Korea, after all.
Choi Do-Shik was over the moon when he discovered the map of the hidden Yamanashi Collection in the clan’s archives. Although no detailed list of items in the Yamanashi Collection survived to this day, the rumors indicated that it contained over 500 national treasure-level items.
The Ogura Collection in comparison was a mere child’s play as it only featured 100 national-treasure level and 1,200 treasure-level items. Ogura was merely a businessman operating out of Daegu, while Yamanashi was the Governor-General of Joseon. Of course, they were operating on a different scale altogether. And as a condition for accepting Naicho’s request, Choi Do-Shik even acquired the Ying-Yang Formation’s blueprint from the Abe family. Who could possibly stop his march in South Korea now? As soon as he got his hands on the blueprints, Choi Do-Shik grabbed the Buddhist artifact capable of undoing the seal, the Kizuna (a rope weaved out of human hair, currently displayed in Higashi Hongangji temple’s Amita hall) and headed to the hidden storage facility.
But then, the treasure that was basically his already… was not there. The Ying-Yang Formation was already destroyed while the storage had been emptied out. And he was put through a wringer thanks to a strange formation installed there. Choi Do-Shik only managed to escape after working his butt off overturning the ground in the vicinity of the formation. The Yamanashi Collection was supposed to become the funds for the Pure White Cult’s revival. Rather than disappointment, Choi Do-Shik was overcome with rage first. The thieves responsible for stealing HIS treasure must be apprehended as soon as possible, even if that meant utilizing every resource available to his clan.
He was feeling pressed for time when some insect that drove up on a bus blocked his path and began asking all sorts of questions. His irritation level shot through the roof then. How the hell should he know when the Chinpira that called for the bus would get on the damn vehicle?! His irritation calmed down a little once he trampled the insect to death. But now, what was up with this bloody situation?!
Choi Do-Shik’s colorless Three White Eyes took in the situation of the office like a camera snapping a photo. The interior of the office was painted in blood while thirty-five insects were shivering away in the corner, their heads buried in pure terror. The one sitting on the couch staring back at Choi Do-Shik with a calm expression was a notable exception.
Four stationary objects filled up his view next. Four corpses kitted out in yukata and haori slammed into his eyes. The two disciples of the temple, supposed to be ‘preparing’ the donor, Elder Gato, and the top inheritor of the family Yoshihide…! Why were they in such a wretched state!
This situation would’ve freaked out most people, but Choi Do-shik remained composed. He didn’t win the position of Higashi Honganji temple’s Great Martial Teacher through a game of dominoes, after all.
Choi Do-Shik’s gaze swept past the two disfigured corpses before stopping at the old man with his head split open and the 30-something man pinned to the wall. Only then did his expressionless face shows a hint of disquiet. That was the very first human-like reaction Choi Do-Shik displayed in his adult life.
Choi Do-Shik’s voice sounded coarse and gurgly. It was as grating as using a plastic bucket to scratch on a blackboard. At least he got to speak normally again, thanks to the vocal cords procured from a Korean ‘maruta’ (symbolizing ‘log’, denotes an imprisoned human test subject for cruel biological experiments performed by the Japanese army) transplanted to his throat. Choi Do-Shik felt an onset of migraine just then. They said that bad luck often came to you in a pair and sure enough, he was besieged by two unimaginable incidents in one day. Was there anyone in ‘Chosen’ (Korea) capable of turning two special-grade Ide ninja disciples, Elder Gato, and the top inheritor Yoshihide into bloody meat paste? That sounded even more inconceivable than flying pigs.
Choi Do-Shik briefly glared at Mu Ssang by the couch, then stood before Yoshihide impaled on the wall. The cause of death was the void in the victim’s chest area created by the shuriken that dug into the flesh until it came to a stop at the spinal column. The shuriken spinning at a high speed ripped human flesh apart like a buzzsaw. Not even a god could have survived after a big hole opened up in their chest, one big enough to shove a fist through.
What Choi Do-Shik couldn’t understand was the state of the surrounding flesh. They were burned to crisp like charcoal. He had lived through the violent, rough world, but never before in his life had he come across such a mangled corpse before.
If a shuriken was thrown across a considerable distance at the speed of sound, the air resistance should greatly increase the weapon’s temperature. However, the battlefield was only about twenty-five meters at the longest. That distance was simply not enough to super-heat the shuriken. Choi Do-Shik became even more alert. If there was a phenomenon he couldn’t understand, then a danger he couldn’t understand was surely hiding nearby, too.
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The wakizashi stabbed deep into the concrete wall was yanked out. Choi Do-Shik laid Yoshihide’s body on the floor, grabbed the hilt of the sword, then closed his eyes.
The wakizashi’s blade began vibrating. The vibration gradually got stronger.
The blade then shattered into pieces like some kind of reinforced glass.
WuuuungThe metal pieces flickering under the light landed gently on Choi Do-Shik’s palm as if they were gathered through a net. That was a display of Hidden Soul Resonance Barrier at work. Choi Do-Shik quietly scattered the blade pieces on Yoshihide’s corpse. What was done was already done. It was too late to turn back the clock.
“Sayonara, Yoshihide. Bushi no toributo o mote ikou teki wa kanarazu mukurite yaru!” (Farewell, Yoshihide. Accept this tribute of a warrior, for I shall definitely avenge you!) Choi Do-Shik performed a simple ceremony, then shifted his glare back to Mu Ssang. His glare seemed to be overlaid with an opaque barrier, giving off an unpleasant feeling. A strong individual could recognize a fellow strong individual. No matter how well Mu Ssang suppressed his killing intent and the fluctuations of his energy, it was not possible to completely mask his natural sharpness and aura.
Without asking a single question, Choi Do-Shik could easily deduce the culprit of this incident. In that case, it’d be fine to ask ‘why’ later on. Right now, finding an offering to appease the souls of Gato and Yoshihide took priority.
‘As I thought, cheap tricks don’t work on him!’
Mu Ssang was inwardly impressed. He deliberately killed Gato and Black Four in a gruesome manner because of his anger at their actions. But he also wanted to unsettle Choi Do-Shik in the process if possible. Important people of your clan were turned into mangled corpses. A normal person would’ve lost their mind from rage or started rampaging around by now. However, Choi Do-shik was vastly different. As expected, using tricks just didn’t suit Mu Ssang. “Kore wa nan desu ka?” (What is this?)
Choi Do-Shik tilted his head in confusion. Does the strong dragon cross the river? The one sitting on the couch was responsible for creating this eye-catching scene. He could understand this stranger’s laid-back attitude, but for some reason, he also got this powerful sense of disharmony. A familiar scent was coming from the bastard deserving of merciless death, yet the sharp aura he also emitted… It couldn’t be him.
No.37 was a beast even wilder than an actual wild beast. And the one before him was like a calm but bottomless lake found in the middle of a mountainside. As a matter of fact, it even felt like Choi Do-Shik had run into a Zen monk meditating quietly in a mountain temple. A person’s temperament was similar to their fingerprints. One’s temperament once formed would not change until their death. That’s why Choi Do-Shik was getting confused here.
“S-sir, Great Martial Teacher!”
A sudden yell cut short his train of thoughts. An opaque layer seemed to cover up the Three White Eyes. And now, Choi Do-Shik had the eyes of a serpent preying on a rat. Bak Gi-chung was crawling on his knees. Even the experts from the ‘head office’ treated this gaunt monk with the utmost respect. Bak Gi-chung feared that if nothing was done, he’d get trampled to death by the devil. The only way to survive this situation was to cling onto the leg of an expert from the head office.
Unfortunately, Bak Gi-chung the chameleon chose the wrong ship to jump aboard once more. Actually, it was more like, he made a fatal mistake this time. He foolishly thought that Choi Do-Shik was a human being like him.
“En Mushi yo?” (Another insect?)
Choi Do-Shik’s left foot kicked Bak Gi-Chung’s arse like a streak of lightning. The fatso became airborne and flew forward at an incredible speed. Whether it was intentional or just a coincidence, a supporting pillar for the building was standing tall in the flight path of Bak Gi-chung.
Bone splinters and crushed muscle splattered everywhere. One kick from Choi Do-Shik erased a human named Bak Gi-chung, replacing him with a bloody lump consisting of skin, flesh, bones, blood, hair, and various other bodily fluids. This was the true nature of Choi Do-Shik, the inhuman bastard that murdered people like stepping on ants if that’s what his mood dictated.
And this was how the new powerhouse in the shady world of loan sharks, Bak Gi-chung, had died. This end seemed too merciful considering all the murder, kidnapping, rape, organ and human trafficking, and other despicable crimes he had committed in the past decade or so.
The frightened Yangahchis caused a messy chaos trying to get themselves further away from the battlefield. However, Choi Do-Shik was not interested in those insects. His glare didn’t stray from Mu Ssang once.
“Damn. He was precious manpower, but now…” Mu Ssang tutted unhappily.
Managing the windbreak forest at Novatopia’s borders was easily the worst job available. Thanks to the extremely hostile environment, everyone tried to avoid working there. So, the master of tricks, Governor Ombuti chose to deploy the convicts serving life terms as well as third-time offenders instead. That’s why Novatopia had no fourth-time convicts.
But the problem now was that the strict penal code has led to a lack of convicts to send off to the borders. The death of Bak Gi-chung meant that Mu Ssang just lost a useful worker to maintain the windbreak forest.
“Was it you?” Choi Do-Shik abruptly asked while omitting the subject.
Mu Ssang got up right away. His deep eyes reminiscent of a still lake stared straight into the turbid, corrupted eyes. Choi Do-shik involuntarily flinched. It felt like he got pricked by a needle. “To think that an evil monster like you has managed to slip out of the retribution’s fetters. I guess the mesh of heaven’s net is indeed too porous.” Mu Ssang replied with a koan-like statement.
Choi Do-Shik flinched again before emphasizing every single word of his question. Thanks to getting the replacement of the vocal cords, he could enunciate Japanese quite well but speaking the Korean language remained as hard as ever. As he thought, he was a proud Japanese, not some lowly Korean. “Don’t you want to know the fate of five Red-Faces?”
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A weighty baritone voice struck Choi Do-Shik’s eardrums like thunder.
His emotionless reptilian eyes suddenly began burning brightly. Some people were aware of the existence of ‘Akai Kao (red face)’ but only one dared to call them Red-Faces. And that was Bangtae Mountain’s No.37.
The changed aura didn’t matter now, this punk was definitely No.37. Choi Do-Shik abruptly felt subtle pain coming from his severed arm. Through the assistance of the elders, the severed stump had been regenerated. And thanks to the cooperation of Naicho, Choi Do-Shik got himself an artificial arm as well. This artificial arm was operated via the brain’s electrical signals stimulating the electronic movement sensors embedded in the artificial muscles. The arm lacked pain receptors, yet he still felt it. That’s because No.37 was responsible for cutting off his arm in the first place. Mu Ssang smirked and started mocking again. “Looks like even hell didn’t want your ass, then. And it seems that you needed seven years to crawl out of the underworld, too.”
No.37 meant he was the 37th sacrifice. After hiding himself in Bangtae Mountain, Choi Do-Shik sent Red-Faces to kidnap healthy and promising teen boys, then used them as his marutas, guinea pigs for his insidious experiments. Men who lost their lives after failing to withstand the Soul-Renewing Practice numbered 36. And Mu Ssang was the 37th test subject.