Mercenary Black Mamba - Chapter 518 - Episode 4 The Yamanashi Collection
If there’s a result, then there must be a cause. The export of popular culture, nicknamed the Korean Wave in the future, started with the Sun Woo Bang Na mother-and-daughter duo’s Gutgeori jangdan (shamaness song and rhythmic dance), Gangsinmu (the possession dance) and Jakdu-tagi (jakdu: straw cutter; straw cutter riding). The believers in the Voodoo cult and the local shamanism went especially crazy over it.
The jaws of people from all races and backgrounds would drop at the sight of splendid Seongjut-gut (exorcism-like ritual to appease and welcome Seongju, the guardian deity of housekeeping) ceremonial dance. And their eyes would pop out from the sight of the Jakdu-tagi.
The Gutpan (the performance of Gut) would transform into a public festival, while the Gutgeori jangdan would morph into a people’s song.
The seeds of the Korean Wave were not planted by the export of K-dramas in the late 90s, but the export of Gutpan in the 80s.
Mu Ssang pulled out fangs of the Sarcosuchus from his backpack. His original intention was to gift one of these to his master, but the old monk proved to be rather lukewarm to the idea. Monk Dae-woo lashed out all sorts of insults on his disciple, saying that Mu Ssang was a pathetic fool who relied on foreign objects, and that he was too hung up on looking good on the outside.
“Woah?! Aren’t those teeth of a dragon from ancient times, sir!?”
“Ooh! How can such rare items be…?!”
The mudang mother-and-daughter duo freaked out, their eyes opening super-wide. As expected, the real deal sure was something else. They even instantly recognized the true identity of the Sarcosuchus fang with just one look.
‘That’s right, this is how a normal reaction should be like!’ The corners of Mu Ssang’s lips sneakily curled up.
The Dimensional Sight and the resonance wave were activated by Mu Ssang.
White bone powder whipped up in the air as bright sparks exploded forth. In the blink of an eye, the huge fang took on the shape of a slick dagger. With the psychokinesis added to the mix, Mu Ssang had basically transformed into a living 3D printer.
The Sun Woo Bang Na mother-and-daughter duo dazedly stared at the extraordinary display of a blade forging technique.
A stream of gentle breeze swept away the falling bone powder. The milky-white Nova in Mu Ssang’s hand gleamed in this mysterious light. That performance would have made any onlookers fall head over heels.
“Sun Woo Bang Na. Are you prepared to serve everyone under the heavens from the lowest position imaginable?”
His weighty baritone voice rumbled on. He was following up the flashy performance with the interference wave next. No wonder Monk Dae-woo accused Mu Ssang of being a dumbass too hung up on superficial appearances.
“This Sun Woo Bang Na is prepared to accept the will of the great god, sir.” Sun Woo Bang Na replied loudly enough for her vocal chord to tear apart.
“The name of this blade is Nova, and its real identity is a fang of a powerful dragon from ancient times. A Nova is a divine artifact meant to serve as proof that you’re now part of my, the invincible Eastern Swordsman’s, family.”
Mu Ssang let go of Nova. The dagger leisurely crossed the empty air and gently landed on Sun Woo Bang Na’s open hand.
“What an incredible divine tool!”
As Sun Woo Bang Na brought her hands together with Nova in her grip, an auspicious aura began gushing out of her.
Nova would be nothing more than a rare collectible to regular people, but to psychics like Sun Woo Bang Na, it was a heavenly treasure they could only drool over in their dreams.
A divine tool amplified the psychomancy powers of a psychic. This effect was more pronounced the older the tool was, since it would have accumulated more of nature’s ki. However, two similar tools would still demonstrate a stark difference in their effectiveness depending on the attributed deities’ ranks. For instance, a tool attributed to the highest-rank god, the Jade Emperor, would grant a far stronger spiritual power compared to a tool of a lower god like Janggun.
But Asura was an unmatched great god. Meanwhile, a Sarcosuchus was a ‘dragon’ from over one hundred million years ago. As such, the Nova was a powerful divine artifact with no equal in the current era.
“Oh, oh! I can see. I can see!”
Sun Woo Bang Na suddenly began jumping up and down in excitement. It was unknown what exactly she was seeing, but her excitement easily surpassed a warrior’s happiness after acquiring a divine sword.
“Sun Woo Ma Go. Are you willing to become stone support below the toenmaru and stepping stones in a stream of water?”
“Yes. I swear in the name of the deity spirit occupying this girl’s body, sir. Ma Go pledges to become the great god’s stepping stone, blade and even hammer, sir.”
“In that case, receive the undefeated Eastern Swordsman’s divine artifact. My divine tool.”
“Oh, oh! Oh, great god! I’m eternally grateful.”
The moment Sun Woo Ma Go received her own Nova, sparks began exploding from her hand. Her spiritual powers began reacting to Mu Ssang’s own spiritual power and the weight of one hundred million years worth of time. Not wanting to drop the Nova, Ma Go gripped the dagger even tighter.
Her eyes rolled back and her whole body shuddered like a malaria patient. In less than a blink, she had entered the state of trance.
Sounds of beans popping came from Ma Go’s body next. Her bent-forward back began straightening up. The back of her hand, once a spiderweb of bulging veins, became smooth and supple. Her white hair turned brown before becoming completely black.
Her yellowing teeth regained their pristine whiteness while her dark lips became redder. Deep wrinkles vanished, her facial skin becoming firm and taut. In the blink of an eye, Ma Go went back twenty years in time and reverted to an auntie in her 40s.
“Huh. It seems that her spiritual power has been stuck at the precipice of awakening!” Mu Ssang exclaimed.
It only took one drop of water for a cup filled to the brim to spill its contents. And the dagger, Nova, acted as the trigger that let power overflow in Ma Go.
The ageing process occurred when the generational change in cells got progressively slower and slower. A human being was an organic matter consisting of 270 different cell types that numbered over 60 trillion in total. Among them were the stem cells, and they were responsible for maintaining a person’s appearance.
The continuous splitting of these stem cells led to the creation of new cells, which in turn caused the old cells to fall away. This process was what allowed individual organs to maintain their shapes and carry out their intended purposes. As long as the cell’s reproduction rate remained at a steady pace, a human would be freed from the ageing process altogether.
Some species of salamanders could regenerate their severed limbs. Lizards could do the same with their severed tails. Slice a Planarian in half, and its torso would regrow a head, while the head would generate a new torso. Such regenerative abilities were only possible due to the continuous operation of the pluripotent stem cells.
Even in humans, one could reverse the ageing process by somehow returning the pluripotent stem cells to the state similar to the embryonic stage. This causes explosive cellular division and reproduction.
When martial art experts reach the pinnacle of their art, their physical bodies would become younger. A Taoist practitioner going through an epiphany and an awakening would regain their youth. A powerful mudang, with their spiritual powers overcoming the breakthrough point, would become younger. In all of these events, ki and spiritual energy formed an important foundation.
Just like the above examples, revitalizing the exhausted stem cells would reverse the ageing process’ internal clock. This was pretty much the principle of Man-Ryu-Gwi-Jong. (A Buddhist term; every flow in existence will unite as one. In this case, it means all ‘fields of studies’ will still give the same end result)
What could be a better gift to a woman than her youth? Sun Woo Ma Go confirmed her youthful appearance and immediately fell into a state of pure ecstasy. While still holding her Nova, she began dancing around madly like a lunatic.
She’d been riding jakdu and performing gut almost every single day, so it should not come as a surprise to see her jump around so proficiently like this!
Tears welled up in the eyes of Sun Woo Bang Na. Due to her daughter’s insufficient spiritual powers, she had been worried about sending her child to the netherworld first. But now that lingering regret had been answered, the world seemed to have become so much brighter in her eyes.
“Oh, great god. I simply don’t know how to repay this incredible favor you’ve shown us, sir.”
Once the commotion died down, the mother-and-daughter duo demurely prostrated on the ground.
“Don’t worry too much about it. Are you two not mudangs charged with resolving the grudges and circumstances of the mundane world? As such, do not hold back and be generous with your own benevolence. Eung-Mu-So-Ju Yi-Saeng-Gi-Sim! (do not be attached to any thoughts arising in one’s mind, or one’s mind must be independent of thoughts arising within).” Mu Ssang grinned brightly back at them.
‘Oh! Not wanting any compensation whatsoever! I see, a great god is great for a reason!’
Sun Woo Bang Na’s eyes began sparkling dangerously. The relationship between a psychic like mudang and the gods of shamanism was strictly based on the principle of give-and-take. One could not borrow spiritual abilities without repaying the corresponding price. This was the reason why Musok (Korean shamanism) could not become a widespread religion, limited to individual circumstances at play.
“We swear to give our all to serve and carry out your will, oh the great god.”
“You two should not serve my will, but answer the call of the regular people in need.”
Mu Ssang was sweating buckets at the moment, trying to maintain the dignity of the great god. This was almost like riding on a tiger’s back.
Sun Woo Bang Na flinched. “The regular people of the mundane world are like tigers and raccoons, sir. They never think about the lack of hard work on their part and their own karma. Instead, they choose to deny and criticize the miraculous nature of the gods and spirits.
“Despite their own negativity causing them to miss out on the spirit’s graces, they blame their failings on mudangs and resent the gods.”
“Sun Woo Bang Na. It seems that you’re still not ready to serve from the lowest position. Imagine how frustrated they must be to seek out a mudang in the first place. A person in urgent need, a person searching for something to rely on… Such people do not have any hope remaining in their hearts. It’s only natural such people will complain and whine.
“Do you wish for logs and boulders, not people, to come to you for gut? You should put yourself in their shoes. Remember that gods will abandon the holy men and women who are too full of pride and arrogance.”
“…Ah!” Sun Woo Bang Na let out a soft little cry before falling deep into her thoughts. Her heart fell to the pit of her stomach at the question of if she wanted logs and boulders as her clients for gut. She then bowed her head deeply. “This girl wishes to become your hands and feet, great god. Please, give us your guidance!”
“I can’t even properly control myself, so with what ability will I even guide you? It seems like you’ve encountered speedbumps in the business side of Musok, then?
“I can only apologize, sir. Even after receiving your generous backing, the progress is at a snail’s pace.” Sun Woo Bang Na’s face reddened as she replied.
The great god had donated the massive amount of one hundred thousand Francs, yet there was not much progress to speak of.
“Huh. I guess starting something anew isn’t that easy, eh?” Mu Ssang grinned brightly. Sure, he had supported them with quite a handsome sum, but that would not have made things easy for this duo. The nature of shamans like mudangs was strictly individualistic, after all.
“It’s all the fault of this girl, not knowing the worldly matters and being thoughtlessly arrogant, sir. I fear that it’s already too late to raise the true path of Musok in this land. Mediums have fallen to become slaves of wealth, while the regular people of the mundane world have become biased and see Musok as nothing but superstition, sir.”
Mu Ssang replied, “Most Musok shamans are caught in the trap of selfishness and individualism. That’s why they find it hard to accept a worldview where everyone’s united. They ignore the prospect of everyone taking one step together and doggedly focus on their own individual ten steps, so how can they be trusted to lead the regular people!”
“You’re indeed correct, sir. It’s truly lamentable that they carry on treating others like tossing a rotting rope to a drowning person.”
Sun Woo Ma Go, feeling a pang of guilt, sneakily hid behind her mother’s back.
“How pitiful. A Gutgeori (shamaness’s song) could easily become a furnace that burns away all jealousy bubbling within a community, bringing out empathy and sympathy in people… The greed of Musok shamans prevents them from seeing the moon. Instead, they simply stare at their own fingers, it seems.”
“I apologize, sir. It is all because this girl is not good enough, sir. That’s why this girl wishes to spread the path of Musok in a new world, exactly as Great Ancestor Jeon Woo-chi has told me to.”
Mu Ssang’s cool eyes directly stabbed into the Sun Woo Bang Na mother-and-daughter duo. Novatopia’s combat prowess, with the seven generals and Dino standing firm, was strong and stable. However, the problem lay with bastards like Kamuge that could be sharpening their blades in unknown places.
The sorcery of the Voodoo houngans was no joke. It was the real deal. If it was the Sun Woo mother-and-daughter duo, they could definitely shore up Novatopia’s void.
“Hmm. If things always worked out like how you intended, would this world be a hellscape full of demons? It’d have become a world of love and kindness by now. Novatopia is a pantheon where Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox Christianity, Islam, Voodoo and the local shamanisms mingle together. As long as religion stays in the realm of religion, I shall not interfere.
“Musok’s advantage is that it knows how to play nice with others, as well as its high degree of empathy towards others. In my opinion, it has enough motivational force and charm to unite the pantheon. However, are your hearts ready to work together with foreigners in a primal and unforgiving land?”
“We shall gladly serve.”
“Hmm. Give me a call when you’re ready to depart. Well, then. Now that that’s been taken care of, what brought you here? Did Jeon Woo-chi inform you that I’d be here?”
“Our Great Ancestor is a high-ranked god but even he dares not to sneak a peek at the itinerary of a great god, sir. This girl merely came here on a trip to verify an ominous phenomenon, sir.”
“Hoh-oh! Is that so?” Mu Ssang asked, his interest piqued. A shaman practising the darker side of sorcery would definitely be drawn to ominous signs from a village situated near ancient tombs.
“As a land under the Geum-Hwan-Nak-Ji, this village always has drawn interest from feng shui experts and mudangs since time immemorial, sir. A great person meant to lead a nation or a genius that will feed his fellow citizens should have been born, yet the reality proved to be anything but. Barbaric personages that go against the will of heavens and morals keep being born, and instead of the village becoming livelier, it has gradually fallen into dilapidation.”
“Oh-hoh! So, what happened?” Mu Ssang lightly slapped his knee. As he thought, a gifted mudang was certainly different from all the wannabes out there.
“Several people with noble hearts are traveling the width and breadth to search and eliminate the iron stakes driven deep into the ground in various locations, but the crux of the issue is not those stakes, sir.
“Those cunning Japanese Onmyojis committed an atrocity by installing various formations to steal lifeforce permeating this land’s pung-su veins. This girl has determined that the energy of Palgong Mountain, which should have been a site of Geum-Hwan-Nak-Ji, is being redirected elsewhere. That’s why I came to check the earth’s vein, sir.
“The land is the origin of all life, sir. When the land becomes barren, the people living on it will face hardships, and people facing hardships will lead the country into eventual ruin, sir.”
“Excellent. If only our moronic politicians have half as good a heart as you, this country would not have ended up in this state.” Mu Ssang replied earnestly, then smacked a shaft of tall bamboo with the blade of his hand. The shaft as thick as one’s arm was sliced off cleanly.
The severed bamboo scythed through the air and stabbed deep into the ground which used to be a front yard of a house. It was right in the middle of Jang-Su-Hyeol, the spot where Monk Dae-woo had drawn a circle earlier.
“No need to exhaust your energy searching for one. It’s right over there.”
“Oh, oh! We’re grateful for your guidance, oh great god. This girl will verify it and return soon.”
Despite the shocking performance, the Sun Woo mother-and-daughter duo was not surprised in the slightest. The miracles of the great god should be subjects of awe and respect, not the subject of shock and amazement. The two mudangs descended the hill right away.
“Guidance, my foot!” Mu Ssang tutted softly.
His speciality was beating people up and blowing things up. He was the merchant of destruction. Without his master’s input, how would he have known whether that spot was a Jang-Su-Hyeol or a rubbish hole?
Sun Woo Ma Go began circling around the Jang-Su-Hyeol. Her steps gradually gained pace until a thick dust cloud was kicked up, completely obscuring her figure.
Sun Woo Ma Go dizzily circling the spot suddenly let out a bizarre cry and collapsed on the ground. Her state had changed from ‘trance’ to ‘possession’ just now. Even Mu Ssang would have felt dizzy after spinning around that fast.
Sun Woo Bang Na quickly held her daughter’s hand.
Sun Woo Ma Go’s hanbok was soaked in water. A single streak of vapor rose up from her wet hanbok.
Mu Ssang had never witnessed the performance of a real mudang before. His genuinely curious eyes greedily observed the mother-and-daughter duo’s actions.
The vapor rose up high into the air. Steam was also rising from Sun Woo Bang Na’s head. About a dozen minutes later, the mother-and-daughter duo climbed up the hill again.
“Oh, great god. Judging from the terrain, we estimate that the redirected lifeforce is heading towards the mountain in front of Daemyeong-dong. However, we could not determine the exact location, sir. Our apologies.”
“…In Ae Won, eh? That sneaky old fart! I should’ve guessed it when he said something weird back then.” Mu Ssang facepalmed.
Only now did Mu Ssang understand what the old monk meant by ‘look after them well’. When the latter said not to worry about a fire breaking out, he was not talking about the house, but the Yamanashi Collection. Monk Dae-woo already knew what was going on and had sneakily dumped the annoying work on his disciple’s shoulders.
This place was going to become Mu Ssang’s home where he’d welcome his mother. He certainly could not let the lifeforce of the land be redirected to somewhere else.
“You two, you think you can destroy the Space Transfer Technique performed by Onmyojis?”
Sun Woo Bang Na visibly flinched.