Chapter 2. Calling forth Chun Ma
“Huhu, is everything ready now? We are about to perform a unprecedented feat in all of Murim’s history! How many years have we spent in order to perfect this skill? I was afraid it would never see the light of day but it seems my efforts will finally pay off. Huhu.”
“Don’t be relieved just yet. Remember that this will be the first time we’re using this technique. Although it’s perfect theoretically, there’s no guarantee it’ll work.”
“Stop trying to rain on my parade. Start the operation. If he really gets reincarnated as Chun Ma, an operation or anything of the sort won’t be possible anymore.”
“Haa… I still don’t know if this is a good idea.”
“You’re still having doubts? Hurry up before he wakes up from the anesthesia.”
“Mm… fine. I will leave everything up to the Heavens.”
“You and your Heavens…”
We-Noh approached Yunmun covered by a white cloth. Taking off the cloth, he could see the gentle face washed clean with antiseptics. It recalled to him that he would never see this face again.
There were two things that had to be done. First, Yunmun’s face had to be torn off and sculpted. Second, his body must be made capable of withstanding Hwan-Noh’s techniques. Neither was easy. He first readied various medicines. The Clear Void Stone Milk, Amitabha’s Holy Water, ten thousand year old Fleece Flower, ten thousand year old Snow Ginseng, ten thousand year old Rock Fungus, etc… the place was filled with medicine hard to acquire even by the royalties. They had spent all these years trying to collect these medicines, while perfecting their technique and secretly raising a force per the first Emperor’s orders. They had completed these tasks magnificently.
‘First, I have to peel off the epidermis from his face and begin sculpting the bones. Then, I need to insert a piece of ivory in his nose and re-transplant the epidermis. Only, peeling off the epidermis without a single scratch would be extremely difficult.”
He took out a small jade bottle. The transparent bottle was completely filled with a blue-colored solution. This was an acid harmful to the human epidermis, but its toxicity had been removed by mixtures of several kinds of medicine. Additionally, its beneficial effects had been amplified. If inserted under the skin, the epidermis will start to peel off in less than an hour.
He grabbed hold of Yunmun’s facial lines, all the way from the bottom of his chin around to his ear and up to his forehead. He started to inject the unnamed blue solution in four different places. Then, he took out an acupuncture case of 240 golden needles and 120 silver needles, and started to pierce Yunmun’s blood veins at different depths. All the meanwhile, he used his skills with the needle to awaken Yunmun’s in-borne Qi. A full hour passed. White, black, and red colored mist that surged out from the needles were flowing around the bed.
“Amazing! Your medical skills are truly unrivaled. It’s thanks to you that the Soul Binding Technique could be completed.”
As time passed, the surge of mist stopped and the needles slowly started to get pushed out. At the same time, Yunmun’s face began to swell up. Countless amounts of unsightly bubbles started to form on his face. We-Noh was wearing a pair of gloves made out of internal organs of a goat. This was in order to minimize any bacteria from getting inside. His hand held a small knife with a sharp blade made from the Golden Cold Iron, a material swordsmen cannot even hope to obtain even in their dreams. A rock that contains the Cold Iron will slowly turn golden over time, eventually becoming the Golden Cold Iron. Swords and weapons made from this material is said to have unsurmountable advantages in its efficacy. This priceless treasure is said to be able to cut Cold Iron easily. While the Golden Cold Iron is rare, smelting and forging it into a blade is said to be a 100 times harder than smelting and forging a Cold Iron.[TN: All uses of Cold Iron and Golden Cold Iron technically should have “ten thousand year old” modifier but it’s too clunky and unnecessary that I took it off. Just a minor detail.]
Using the small knife, We-Noh started to cut off the facial line he had already marked out. Performed without a single mistake, the thin layer of epidermis seemed to almost be transparent. Carefully, he bathed the peeled epidermis in the antiseptic he prepared.
“The first stage is done. It’s time to mold his bones. Go fetch the sketches I made earlier.”
“Damn you! Are you trying to boss me around?”
“Hurry up, we don’t have much time.”
While murmuring inaudible words, Hwan-Noh retrieved a large sketchbook. Opening it, he saw a big and well-defined face. With clearly outlined lips, broad forehead, straight black hair, pointy nose, and masculine jaw line, the man in the sketchbook was undoubtedly handsome. Next to the sketch were operation procedures for the peeled off epidermis. Following the notes, We-Noh began his work.
“This is the Bone Transforming Medicine. Applying it will cause a person’s bones to become malleable. In less than 15 minutes, the medicine will penetrate the skin and travel to the bones.”
His hand held a light-pink liquid. Just like all the others, this strange medicine was something he had created after decades of research. We-Noh applied the light-pink Bone Transforming Medicine on Yunmun’s face, focusing on the cheekbone and the jawbone.
“Whew. Alright, in 15 minutes, I’ll begin molding his bones.”
“You’re really amazing, We-Noh. I’ve been with you for decades, but your medical skills have always been beyond my scope of understanding. If you chose to make money with it, wouldn’t you have made enough to afford a castle by now?
“Cut the chitchat. Now’s not the time. Hwan-Noh, start brewing the infusion. The directions are here, so all you have to do is follow it.”
“What did you say? …Ugh, since I’m the older one here, I’ll let you off this one time.”
촥[TN: this was in the RAWs]
He snatched the note with a force and started to read it carefully.
“Ho, so this is the Attribute Altering Pill?”
“Those fake monks from the Shaolin Temple would faint if they found out about this. I can’t imagine the face they’d make if they ever found out someone could easily make a pill they would only be able to make once or twice in centuries. Huhu.”
“I have to concentrate now, so keep it down, Hwan-Noh.”
“Here you go again! You’re too sensitive! But since this is related to his majesty’s safety, I’ll keep quiet.”
Hwan-Noh walked towards the infusion. He put in the different medicines as instructed in the note and started to build a fire. While watching this scene, We-Noh stared at Yunmun.
“Here I go. Huu. Gotta focus. Not a single mistake is allowed. Just a single mistake can cause an irreparable damage.”
He started to prepare several finger-sized tools. Screw shaped, broad ended, pincer shaped, etc. All sorts of tools were being prepared. With the gloved hand, he carefully touched Yunmun’s chin. Every time his hand moved, Yunmun’s jawlines reacted, giving it a rubber-like feeling. He used a thin, needle-like knife to drill a few holes. Using these holes, he let something flow inside. After another 15 minutes, he started to make incisions using a flat blade. His nimble hand motion that avoided all nerves and blood vessels could only be described as godly.
After inserting a piece of ivory into the nose, he was finishing up the procedure.
“The hard part is over. At first, I was troubled over how to reattach the epidermis. No matter how well-done, stitching up the epidermis would have left a mark. The solution I thought of was to use naturally seal the skin with this wonder drug. Huhu, this is truly the ultimate solution.”
He immediately mixed the sap of ten thousand year old Fleece Flower and Snow Ginseng into the Amitabha’s Holy Water. Next, he thoroughly rubbed the mixture on the submerged epidermis and Yunmun’s endodermis.
“Huhu. The Amitabha’s Holy Water is a wonder drug of extreme yin element. Ten thousand year old Fleece Flower and Snow Ginseng are wonder drugs of extreme yang element. Mixing these two properties together creates a wonder drug of an entirely new power, producing an extreme heat. The resulting drug is capable of cleanly merging the epidermis and endodermis!”
He placed the epidermis on top of the endodermis with precision. However, because shape of the bone had changed, it seemed somewhat unnatural. After a while, he began to mix the Clear Void Stone Milk with the ten thousand year old Stone Fungus.
“Applying this on the face will create a brand new skin. The old skin will be absorbed through the pores until everything fits the bones.”
Once the blood vessels are pierced with a needle, the operation will be over. We-Noh completed the procedure without a hint of hesitation. His superhuman determination and concentration allowed him to carry out his plans without a single error. Finally, he let go of the needle. He proceeded to melt the Attribute Altering Pill in the liquid Hwan-Noh brew, and made Yunmun drink the liquid. With this, the procedure was over. All that was left to do was leave Yunmun’s body in mineral water for day. Once this was over, Yunmun’s body would be akin to a body having finished the Bone Cleansing procedure and his old bones would be exchanged for new. The two servants immediately placed Yunmun’s body in a stone tub of black mineral water. The water had collected vital energies of the earth and soil for thousands of years. We-Noh had placed over 3500 kinds of medicines inside, and heated the entire stone tub whenever possible. As if this was not enough, Hwan-Noh and We-Noh started to heat it once again. Using only their inner Qi, they took turns heating the stone tub for 24 full hours.
“Alright, Hwan-Noh, it’s your turn! You can call forth Chun Ma or the devil for all I care.”
“Don’t be so petty now… good work, We-Noh. The deceased emperor would have been happy as well.”
Their two faces looked incomparably aged than the day before. If someone said 10 years had gone by, no one would dare question it.
Even so, look at the face of Yunmun lying on that bed! How could it belong to a person? Its sheer perfection gave off a sinister aura. His body overflowed with milky vapor. With 360 lit candles, Hwan-Noh sat next to the bed, holding a strange bell engraved with figures of demons on all four sides. Wearing a black robe and holding colorful prayer beads, he began to chant a sutra. Its sinister sound could easily confuse the place for hell.
Hwan-Noh came from a school of apostates. Although he was the next in line to be the head, he broke the school’s laws and ran away. At the same time, he stole centuries’ worth of research from the school, and that was the Soul Binding Technique. Unlike the common soul summoning techniques, this technique could tie the summoned soul to a host. The soul would then dominate the memory, personality, habits, and abilities of the host, turning him into someone else entirely. For this technique to succeed, a special magic pill made by the school of apostates was needed. There were only two such pills in existence. Fortunately, they were both in the hands of Hwan-Noh. Consequently, in order to capture Hwan-Noh, the enraged school of apostates came into the Mid Lands. This was when Ju Wonjang found Hwan-Noh and saved his life. Following this chance meeting, Hwan-Noh became a secret guard along with We-Noh who had been serving the emperor already. Together, they completed the Soul Binding Technique. We-Noh’s contribution was significant to say the least, as his medical skills, potentially never able to appear again under the heavens, allowed the unstable technique to be perfected.
Hwan-Noh continued to chant unrecognizable words while a black mist started to form around him. Although they were deep inside the cave, sounds of wind and thunder began to ring. Despite the disturbance, the candle lights did not seem to waver at all.
“Huhuhuhuhahahaha. Who dares to call upon me?”
“Are you Chun Ma?”
“Me? I am the King of Four Souls.”
“Tsk. Wrong one. Get lost!”
“What, you dare?”
“Hama Hamarai Hasdo Remista.”
It became quiet. He had been sent back. But he said he was the King of Four Souls?
“That was a big fish. He was a man of incredible strength as well.”
It was We-Noh who had commented. The King of Four Souls was an infamous king 500 years ago, a demon said to have killed 740 people in a single day! Even so, Hwan-Noh remained indifferent. No one knew why he was so dissatisfied… but still, Hwan-Noh had never before looked so serious!
“Hohoho. You called me?”
“An evil spirit? Hwan-Noh, what are you doing?”
There were more than just a few failures. Instead of Chun Ma, many unwanted souls had come and gone. Even so, they were all great figures of Murim who left a mark in its history…. Four hours after the initiation of the Soul Binding Technique, Hwan-Noh’s face was covered in sweats. His stamina was also nearing its limits as he had already spent quite a bit of Qi.
“Mm… Huhuhu…. Mm”
Another strange laughter sounded. It didn’t sound particularly sinister, nor did it sound loud and excited.
“Who is it now?”
It was at that moment that a clear voice never heard before resounded!
“Who the hell are you two? How dare you wake me up from my sleep! Your consistent call is just too damn annoying!”
“A-Are you Chun Ma?”
“Chun Ma?… Haha, yeah, I was once called by that name.”
“I can give you a new life.”
“A new life? Hahahaha, funny. So what?”
“In front of you lies a host ready to receive you. All you have to do is enter him.”
“Ha. I refuse.”
“Why would you!”
“Why? Is that even a question? Why would I want to be a human? Are you telling me to endure those days of boredom and loneliness again? Hell is much more exciting in comparison! If you dare call me again for such things, I won’t hesitate to kill you.”
“Ho… Hold on.”
“What? Got anything else to say?”
Damn it. I never thought something like this could happen. What do I do?
“Look closely at this host. He is the most perfect host in the entire world.”
“The most perfect? There is no such thing. He is only superior relative to others. Besides, I’m not interested. I’m leaving now.”
“What?… What did you just say?”
“If you really are Chun Ma, I just said you are a fool.”
“Do you have a death wish?”
“Huhu. You might have been the strongest in your era, but do you still believe that is the case?”
“What do you mean?”
His tone contained a tremor different than before.
Huhu. To fall for such tricks. What a simpleton.
There is an ascetic by the name Jang Sam-Bong in this era. It is said that his strength is far above Dharma himself!”
“I do not know who this Dharma is.”
“Hmm… and they say that no matter how strong Chun Ma is, he wouldn’t last a second against Jang Sam-Poom….”
“W-What? Not even a second? Who dares to utter such blasphemy?”
He’s falling for it. Huhu. A typical case of all brawn and no brain. Wait! Doesn’t this mean his majesty would become just like him? That’s a bit problematic…
“There has been much advancement in martial arts since your time. This era is filled with countless number of experts. What was your inner Qi level when you were alive?”
“Me? Mm, 12-cycles when I was active… and 36-cycles before I died.”[TN: 1-cycle is usually equivalent to 60 years of training.]
W-What? Is this bastard lying? Such a thing can’t be possible!
Hwan-Noh’s heart still pounded from hearing this.
“Ha. In this period, you would still only be considered an expert. I can think of at least a thousand people who are stronger than you.”
“What?… I don’t believe you… I can’t… There is a limit to how strong a human can be…”
“Haha. Afraid already? I’d be scared too! I thought you were the strongest in all of Murim’s history, but I’m disappointed.”
“Shut it! I am Chun Ma, the unrivaled expert in all of history and the master of all arts. No one is able to surpass me.”
“I see. Well, you can continue living in your delusions. Can you leave now?”
Please fall for it. Fall for it, you idiot.
“Let me ask you something. How old is he?”
“He’s now twenty.”
“Then I should be able to live at least a 100 years. Fine. I will take over his body. If everyone is as strong as you make them out to be, I will continue to train and prove that I am the strongest even in this era.”
“No, it’s fine.”
You gotta reject him at least once.
“Mm… there’s no choice then, I guess. I, Chun Ma, can’t possibly beg someone.”
Eh? What! Doesn’t he understand what I’m trying to do? He has no hopes in romance… shit, he’s really trying to leave.
“However… your will is admirable. With your determination, you might indeed become the strongest expert even in this era. Of course, you would have to sweat for it…”
“Thanks. I’ll buy you a dinner sometime.”
Yes! It worked! Even though he might be an idiot…he doesn’t seem like a bad person. Well, that’s something he can work on.
“Alright, let us begin right away. Go lie down into the host.”
Jet black smoke rushed in and covered the Gunmun Emperor, Yunmun. Standing up, Hwan-Noh placed a magic pill in Yunmun’s mouth. Using his Qi, he led it into his stomach and waited for it to dissolve. He then sent We-Noh a signal with his eyes. We-Noh approached Yunmun’s face and took out his acupuncture case. All that was left to do was to adorn the finale with needles.
The strongest expert in all of Murim’s history was about to be reborn as the unfortunate Gunmun Emperor, Yunmun, turned into a martial artist!