Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 591
Chapter 591 Chapter 54 Episode 2 Cause and Effect
“Can I enter now?”
A dry voice brought back Jung Ah-young’s wits swimming in the fourth dimension back to reality.
Jung Ah-young sucked in a deep breath. Was his refreshing smile reminiscent of a lotus flower under the morning sun just a mirage? His calm still eyes gleaming in bluish light seemed to be scanning every single cell on her body, sending chills down her spine. His dry, unfeeling expression was so cold that she might even catch flu at this rate.
“If it’s possible at all, please don’t smile. You might end up ruining many women that way.” Then, jung Ah-young threw out a joke that wasn’t a joke.
“Don’t worry, and I’m not irresponsible enough to smile like an idiot in front of any random woman. And you can also stop worrying about the president. I’m too old now to start whining, after all.” Jung Ah-young stared at Mu Ssang with her unconvinced eyes. The company president once said that his nephew was a martial art expert capable of destroying a crew of gangsters in the blink of an eye. If someone like that started acting violently out of anger, then… the already-frail president would cross the River Styx today. The president might be a strict, meticulous person, but alcohol could turn him into a blabbermouth in no time at all. Most of the regrets he talked about concerned his nephew, Bak Mu-ssang. Listening to those stories sent shivers down Jung Ah-young’s spine. What a fantastic thing it was for a child not even ten years old to endure unmentionable abuse and starvation for five years. After listening to the fragments of the past, all she could say was that it was a minor miracle for the boy to survive through that harsh environment.
She was just a stranger, so there wasn’t a whole lot she could say here. Even so, she felt all sorts of emotions bubble up inside her, and sometimes, her president didn’t even seem like a human being anymore. If she were in Bak Mu-ssang’s shoes, she probably wouldn’t have held back as he did.
“Many people might curse him, but he’s an irreplaceable benefactor to me, you see.” Jung Ah-young muttered while turning the door handle. The present was the moment of the worlds of Bak In-bo and Bak Mu-ssang connecting again after thirteen years of severanHowever, unlike the composed-looking Mu Ssang, Jung Ah-young was visibly getting nervous, even though she was just a bystander in this situation.
Mu Ssang smiled faintly and smoothly stepped into the office. He fully understood what Jung Ah-young was saying. Even the Angel of Death was an irreplaceable benefactor, a missionary, to some people.
Bak In-bo unsteadily rose to his feet. An uncle and his nephew faced each other and started glaring as if they were in cockfighting. The deep eyes sunk deeper while the undulating eyes undulated even further. The aging Baek-bu and the young nephew began guessing the history and circumstances. The weight of all the time that had passed by crushed down on the space occupied by both men.
‘How can this be! He’s already deceased!’ The uncle who lorded over Mu Ssang’s childhood days filled with nothing but fear and hatred has vanished, replaced by a sick and shabby little older man. Of course, mu Ssang wasn’t expecting to see a victorious figure, but still, he never imagined that the uncle waiting for him was an old, diseased lion breathing his last in the corner of some shallow pit.
He didn’t even need to use Dimensional Sight to confirm this empirically. The uncle’s ruddy complexion that dripped with fat once upon a time was so gaunt now that it resembled a skull with some skin applied to it. His arms and legs were puffy and crumbly like withered stumps rolling around in the Wolsong Mountain’s seventh ridge. His eyes were also yellowing from the traces of jaundice. The tear sacs below his eyes had swollen up, almost ready to burst. The uncle’s first energy reserves had run out, his blood circulation was congested, and his bodily fluids were all dried up. That was his current state. His upper eyelids drooped to cover almost half of his eyes. His eyelashes trembled every time he gasped for breaths… So much so that Mu Ssang even felt pity for the older man. The aging process, and the eventual death, of a human being, was directly tied to the telomeres at the ends of chromosomes. But unfortunately, a telomere gets shorter every time a cell divide itself. So when not enough telomere remains, the division of cells comes to a stop, signaling the impending death. ao practitioners referred to this as ‘exhaustion of the primal energy.
Baek-bu – father’s older brother – was sixty years old this year. hat indeed couldn’t be called a youngster, but even so… Even though he should still be enthusiastic enough to focus his attention on running his business, he somehow ran out of his primal energy. At this rate, he might not even last a year.
‘You… shouldn’t be like this!’
Mu Ssang felt his tension seep out of him. His elder was supposed to be at the height of his success, ready to show off his victorious visage to his nephew.
There was an old saying about an ascending dragon learning about repentance. Nothing was as wretched as a dragon that reached the end of the heavens unceremoniously crashing back down to the ground. So, what was the point of kicking around an old, sickly lion about to die?
Mu Ssang suppressed the pang of sympathy, trying to raise its head in his heart.
Bak In-bo broke the ice first. You’ve become a fine young man, nephew.” His phlegmy voice rasped out with immense effort, sounded like it was composed of all sorts of emotions. “Yeah. Thirteen years is long enough for me to become an adult and for you to become an old man, uncle.”
Bak In-bo flinched as if he got pricked by an ice pick. He would’ve calmly accepted a string of curse words, but not this. Instead, mu Ssang’s ordinary-sounding reply burned in a blurred mix of pain and resentment. The day he ran from home, big snowflakes the sizes of cotton balls fell from the heavens. Mu Ssang said, ‘One day, you’ll regret this,’ before vanishing along the road covered in knee-deep snow. That final parting image of the boy’s back still wavered faintly in front of Bak In-bo’s eyes. Back then, all he could think about was the audacity of the boy.
“Very good!” A faint grin crept up on Bak In-bo’s face.
A cat was a cat, but a tiger would always be a tiger. Tiger cub would never become a kitten. So he thought, his nephew was incomparable to the imbeciles of the Jang family. “You liked having money back then, uncle. And I can see that you made a success of yourself. Guess the world outside your window must look puny to you now. It seems that I failed to recognize your talents as a businessman, uncle. But then again, I couldn’t notice anything with all the crap you put me through back then. Keke!” “Success is it…” Bak In-bo’s grin deepened.
Whether his nephew was sarcastic or genuinely impressed, it didn’t matter to him. he said that a good tree was different from the others when it started to bud. So how happy was Bak In-bo to learn that his nephew had belatedly enrolled in a university? His kid was the sole male who’d carry on with the legacy of the Bak family.
Bak In-so sighed in relief as if he had finally found a savior in the hostile land that he’d been wandering alone all this time.
“Take a seat, nephew.” Bak In-so plopped down on the couch.
His nephew seemed to possess an aura comparable to a vast mountain. Merely facing him like this depleted Bak In-bo’s energy ultimately.
“A businessman feeds many people extending beyond himself, while a merchant takes advantage of other people. I’m a heartless man who only chases after profit without caring about anything else. began as a merchant initially, and through luck, I became a success story hat’s about it.”
“To my ears, it sounds like you mercilessly ripped many people off for what they are worth and even went on to rip them off their hides, too.” A cold smirk formed on Mu Ssang’s face.
Just how many factories had to be shut down, and how many more other businesspeople like Mister Kim had to shed tears at Good Heart Textiles’ insidious tricks?
“Yes, I admit I’m nothing more than a sly merchant. I grew my company through improving relations rather than improving the quality of our products. Investigated and manipulated the tendencies, connections, and familial ties of anyone who might help me in my business or even buy my products.
“I didn’t care about methods buyers, civil servants, influential locals, the media, conmen and even organized criminals, and you name it, I did it all once you dig out all the pertinent information on someone, no one is immune to a perfectly-timed bribe hat’s how I grew my company.” Bak In-bo confessed right away. “Uncle, that still takes talent to pull off. That’s your ability t’s not like you’re running a charity, after all… The ones who lost in the competition and got left behind are the idiots.”
“Haha, sounds like you’ve gone through massive pain, nephew.”
“Indeed, I have after getting wrongly accused of being a thief and leaving Jip-eun Dari, specifically.” Mu Ssang disinterestedly replied as if they were talking about some strangers.
“I’m sorry.” Bak In-bo apologized with a long sigh. His head faltered like a drugged heron.
That was the one thing he shouldn’t have done. The truly shameful part of his life that had been eating away at his heart like a tumor until now.
Mu Ssang’s eyes grew wide as his uncle just said he’s sorry? that word shouldn’t even be in that older man’s vocabulary be must be at the death’s doorstep, then.
A depressing silence filled the space between an uncle and his nephew.
“Chief Jung, should I bring in their tea now?” “Don’t mind it, since I’ll take care of it. But, you lot, focus on your work instead.” Jung Ah-young curtly cut off her underling’s offer. The underling’s expression crumpled, thinking that her attempt to see the kingly character’s face once more ended up with the spinster witch marking her for life instead.
The Good Heart Textiles’ actual owner was Bak Mu-ssang. Unfortunately, only Jung Ah-young and the lawyer, Mister Yi, were privy to this knowledge.
President Bak In-bo had already finished the title transfer by now. His share in the company, along with his will, was sleeping quietly in the underground vault of the Daegu Bank’s head office. If he were to die tomorrow suddenly, his choice would immediately come into effect, turning Bak Mu-ssang into the de-facto owner of the Good Heart Textiles.
Even if it was a simple task of bringing tea to the office, this task couldn’t be left up to someone who had no idea what was going on.
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‘Wow, what a damp atmosphere!’
Jung Ah-young walked as silently as possible. The young Mister Bak’s gaze was fixed to the old Mister Bak’s forehead, while the old Mister Bak’s gaze was wandering up at the ceiling of the office he feared that carelessly disrupting the choking silence that permeated the office would be akin to throwing a lit match into a gas canister he volatile atmosphere would explode in an instant.
Feeling intensely nervous, Jung Ah-young cautiously placed the teacups on the coffee table and quietly stepped back.
However, the president’s office atmosphere wasn’t as volatile as she feared. U Ssang was a seasoned warrior who survived countless killing field attacks for Bak In-bo. He was a go-getter who started his business with just five second-hand buses and eventually turned it into a leading textiles manufacturer in a relatively short period.
The nephew was Asura, who didn’t even bat an eyelid while killing thousands of people. His uncle was a ruthless tyrant who ruthlessly wrecked his in-laws to interfere with his business. Both men were amateurs who’d vent their emotions like a fool. However, they had walked on enough challenging roads to know how to control themselves regardless of the situation.
“That dang girl, still shoving this bitter green tea stuff in my face and all, why don’t we share a booze instead?” Bak In-bo sneakily pulled out a bottle of Kumbokju from under the coffee table. (Kumbokju: a Korean soju company)
Mu Ssang glanced at the bottle, eliciting a soft chuckle from his uncle. His sight belonged to a hen-pecked husband that stashed a bottle of spirits away, hoping to escape the wife’s unrelenting nagging.
“Uncle, you shouldn’t be drinking alcohol with your condition at hand.” “Don’t be so stiff, nephew. He can’t even live past a century, so what’s the point of stopping this and not doing that ‘ve been running hard all my life, so it’s about time I come to a stop, too ven the television, says the one who worked hard all his life should be on his way now.”
Bak In-bo picked up the teacup filled with green tea and got up from the couch. He dumped the tea on the nearby flower pot, then refilled the cup up, pouring soju with the teacup meant for green tea was at least three times larger than a soju cup measuring two teacups almost emptied the soju bottle. “That spinster girl nags me so much that I can’t even drink a sip of soju whenever I want, you see.”
“You never had luck with your wife, and it’s been the same story for your kids, but at least you got lucky with your employees. So maybe you’ve done some good things in your past life, uncle.”
“Hehehe. I’ve got nothing to say to that anyway. Let’s drink.” Bak In-bo dumped the whole cup of soju down his throat, then began shuddering gleefully u Ssang got swept up at the moment and ended up emptying the cup in one go, too.
His palate, spoiled by various expensive wine’s smooth taste, couldn’t efficiently deal with the unrefined taste of cheap diluted soju, He wouldn’t get drunk even if he knocked back a hundred Kumbokju bottles, but that didn’t mean his sensitive tongue wouldn’t sense the unpleasant sting of the alcoholic burn.
Still, stinging soju was preferable to some sweet-tasting wine when wanting to knock back simple intoxicant. “You’ve experienced the kind of a world where one wrong step would’ve sent you plummeting down the thousand feet-tall cliff, right?”
Mu Ssang silently nodded at the uncle’s question to point in verbally explaining himself, he thought.
“To you, it must sound somewhat funny, but believe you me, and I also lived a life like that for over ten years, I had to endure the humiliation of not being allowed to enter the main halls of the in-laws whenever I went to visit them even though I was married to their eldest daughter!
“I got so mad at them, and couldn’t see anything else other than making money no matter what, ut once all that money started rolling in, I got terrified that I was as terrifying as… riding upon the back of a rampaging tiger, I just ran forward blindly when I came to my senses one day, I had nothing with me. I didn’t have a wife anymore, and I didn’t have any kids; not even my soul ll of them have left me.”
Bak In-bo stopped talking there, then poured what little remained of the alcoholic liquid in the soju bottle on the empty cup u Ssang silently listened as if he was listening to someone’s confession.
“Just who am I? Why have I been living like this? Just where am I headed off to gather my energy just left me at this emptiness and loneliness? Even began thinking in vain that if I start helping out people who don’t know where to go and wander around aimlessly only to get sick or injured, then… Then maybe, I’d get to see my path forward again, hat’s why I donated to here and there whenever I could ough, cough Damn it, this damn cough!”
Bak In-bo dumped all the spirits down his throat.
“Cough, cough, wheeze… Kuk, cough, kuk!” He began coughing severely enough to throw out his intestines. The office door was flung open, and the figure of Jung Ah-young rushed inside. He hurriedly fed Bak In-bo with some medicine, then briefly shot a glare at Mu Ssang’s eyes, criticizing him for breaking the promise. ‘I haven’t done anything, though?’ Mu Ssang sheepishly turned away in embarrassment after becoming the villain of the situation. For some vague reason, the woman didn’t seem to notice the empty bottle at all, and he couldn’t even say that he was not responsible since it was the older man’s fault for drinking spirits all on his own.
“Cough, cough, wheeze!”
Jung Ah-young placed a respirator on Bak In-bo’s face and patted him on the back, but his coughing fit didn’t want to stop at In-bo’s complexion grew bluish hat was the sure sign of cyanosis, which was caused by the lack of oxygen in his system.
“Oh, no! his is bad!” Jung Ah-young hurriedly picked up the phone’s receiver. Mu Ssang, silently watching, raised his hand. The receiver slipped out of Jung Ah-young’s grasp and landed back on the phone’s cradle.
“Oh my gosh?!”
“He’ll turn into a corpse by the time the ambulance gets here.”
Mu Ssang pressed his palm on Bak In-bo’s chest and pumped in some of his resonance waves.
A powerful wave of energy shook the paralyzed diaphragm and expanded the lungs’ olive oil that the waste material lodged between cells tumbled out.
Mu Ssang’s palm slapped all over Bak In-bo’s figure like a streak of electricity, which led to internal organs that shifted out of their spaces, quickly returning to their original order.
He ended the emergency treatment and removed the respirator off Bak In-bo’s face. I get it, and you’re hurting, so you can stop now.”
To finish it off, he slapped the older man’s back so forcefully that In-bo let out a loud cough and spat out a phlegmy lump covered in blood. A foul stench immediately spread out everywhere so that the node was the combination of all the foreign matter lodged in his lungs and blood clots from the internal bleeding.
Bak In-bo’s complexion became that much more comfortable even his rough, shallow breathing reverted to normal almost instantly.
“Heuph!” Jung Ah-young hurriedly covered her mouth with a simple, typical office worker. What happened just now was hard to take in without bewildered eyes widening in wonder so much, unable to comprehend. “Miss Jung, you should take care of this mess by yourself without calling on anyone.”
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Still feeling bewildered and shocked, Jung Ah-young hurriedly mopped away the bloody lump, then reorganized the coffee table. Only then did she discover the bottle of Kumbokju. He shot a resentful glare in Bak In-bo’s direction, Sir!” “W-what is it?” Bak In-bo faltered and began breaking out in a sweat.
Mu Ssang chuckled softly at that he thought that everyone would’ve lived happily ever after if only his uncle had taken Jung Ah-young as his wife, the matter of marriage didn’t concern just the couple. A failing marriage could easily make everyone else in the family just as miserable.
“If you’re done, you can leave us now. Don’t worry about my uncle.”
When the phone’s receiver flew out of her hand and returned to its cradle, Jung Ah-young briefly wondered if she was still asleep, but just then, she witnessed the nephew slap his uncle around a few times to bring the dying man back to life. With that, Bak Mu-ssang no longer seemed like anything ‘human’ in her eyes. Then, having lost the courage to even form a reply to him, Jung Ah-young cautiously escaped from the office premises.