Chapter 24: I Take Refuge (Namu) (7)
The being exposed itself for a brief moment and went into a craze. Every time it struggled wildly, the talisman burned more quickly.
“Woah.” Chi-Woo clicked his tongue when he saw the talisman getting charred black. It had been a long time since he saw a talisman burn so fast.
When the talisman finally turned to dust and scattered away, the being howled in rage. Ru Hiana shielded her ears from its ear-splitting shriek.
‘No. Its all wrong…! Ru Hiana thought everything was over when she saw the stunned look on Chi-Woos face. The ghost shook violently and rushed towards them. With a surprised look on his face, Chi-Woo moved his hands quickly. He took out a new piece of talisman and stamped it on the rushing ghost.
From the talisman came a pouring path of flames, burning vibrantly in the air.
A painful scream incomparable to the one before rang inside the pit.
“Wow, amazing,” Chi-Woo exclaimed in admiration at the talisman as it swallowed the ghost.
“W-What?” Ru Hiana asked in shock. Likewise, Chi-Woo looked surprised by what he had done.
“Ah, this is called a Jakyulbu. Its a talisman that inflict burning pain on ghosts if they trespass…” Although Chi-Woo had seen plenty of ghosts suffer from Jakyulbu, it was his first time seeing a talisman actually emit fire. Ru Hiana gulped and looked forward. It took her a while to understand the situation since everything had happened so suddenly.
“Huh…?” Her eyes widened. On top of these pained beings who were suffering from the fire, black energy bloomed upwards like a haze. Like paint dampened by water, it scattered across the air and wrapped around Chi-Woo.
“Be careful!” Ru Hiana shouted. Meanwhile, Chi-Woo felt an unfamiliar sensation seep into him from all parts of his body. It was an unpleasant sensation. It felt like the thing was trying to penetrate him. His head was about to jerk suddenly, but Chi-Woo resisted with all his might and stopped his movements. Still, his whole body, including his two hands, trembled furiously. His body no longer seemed to be listening to his will. Chi-Woo felt his control stolen away. ‘This is…!
How could he forget about this when it had happened so often in his childhood?
“This bastard…!” Chi-Woo pressed his lips together. He moved the leg that he still had control over and staggered to sit down. Then he forcefully clasped his trembling hands and murmured. “Nama…Saddarunma…puntarika…sutura…” He chanted the same seemingly meaningless words twice and closed his eyes. “Nama…Saddarunma…puntarika…sutura…”
Ru Hiana watched from behind, obviously confused why Chi-Woo was suddenly praying on the floor after being enveloped by a dark aura that caused his whole body to tremble. As someone who swung spears against monsters, she couldnt comprehend Chi-Woos actions at all. Not knowing what to do, Ru Hiana fumbled and noticed a change happening. ‘Its getting pushed back?
The dark aura that was trying to enter Chi-Woos body was pulling back like it was running away. The aura broke in parts and twisted, and Chi-Woos noticeable tremor died down to some extent. In the meantime, Chi-Woo was so concentrated on his prayer that sweat was collecting on his forehead. “Nama…Saddarunma…puntarika…sutura…”
After seeing things he shouldnt see—more specifically after ghosts found out that a small child could see them, Chi-Woo went through an intense level of torment. The ghosts all begged him to free them of their resentment or lend them his body. There were even some who attempted to forcefully steal his body. When things were at their worst, Chi-Woo had wandered around places at dawn like a sleepwalker. There was even a time when he woke up inside a mountain. It still sent shivers down his spine when he recalled opening his eyes to find himself standing at the edge of a veranda.
Yet, among the many masters he served to escape from this torment, there was one famous monk. Chi-Woo stayed in the temple with the monk and wrote sutras and prayed every day according to their wishes; among the sutras were the Diamond Sutra, The Thousand Hands Sutra, The Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, Vimalakirti Sutra, Flower Garland Sutra, and many more. Unfortunately, none of them could free Chi-Woo from the clutches of his unidentifiable destiny. There was a silver lining, though. Something hed tried proved to have an effect: chanting the prayer of the Lotus Sutra— one of the three Mahayana Scriptures written in the early days of Buddhism. This scripture was spoken right after Buddha finished his pursuit in Bhod Gaya and came out to the world; thus, it was considered one of the most important scriptures in Buddhism. It was also the scripture that vengeful spirits feared the most.
The prayer expressed resolute faith for Buddha, and the belief that as long as they had a strong will to memorize the Buddhas name, there was nothing they couldnt defeat. It didnt matter whether Chi-Woo was a Buddhist or a shaman when he was suffering so much. After he witnessed the power of the prayer, he prayed whenever he had the time and was never possessed again.
“Nama…Saddarunma…puntarika…sutura…” Having repeated the same chants for the third time, Chi-Woo slowly raised his head and opened his eyes. His dizzy head felt clearer now. The uncomfortable sensation that squeezed at his body was also gone. He turned slightly and made a fist two times before he got to his feet and walked to the path of fire. The fire was still burning, but it was much weaker than before.
“That bastard.” He looked down at the vengeful spirit that made him recall a bad memory and took out a new talisman. He usually comforted spirits and prayed for them so that they could pass onto the afterlife, but for vengeful spirits with deep resentment, he prayed for support and annihilated them.
“Go away. Youre not even worth talking to,” Chi-Woo said coldly and scattered his talisman. It had a clear effect. The being with a strong evil aura began to grow fainter. Then they stopped moving altogether helplessly. Once the vengeful spirit began turning to dust, Chi-Woo let out the breath that he had been holding. His mind was still in disarray like the aftermath of a typhoon.
“How…” Ru Hiana muttered. “Could you… so easily…defeat a jukgwi?”
“Huh?” Chi-Woo tilted his head. “Ah. That one wasnt a jukgwi.”
“No, it was just a vengeful spirit. It was stronger than the one possessing Hawa, but nowhere near an evil spirit.” An evil spirit was beyond awful. One of his masters took a year and six months vanquishing an evil spirit possessing a woman, and in the end, they lost their lives from the tremendous task. Chi-Woo made a bitter smile in remembrance of his master. If even an evil spirit was capable of wreaking such havoc, it was obvious how powerful a jukgwi must be.
‘Still, if I had known it was just a vengeful spirit, I wouldve handled it as soon as I was transmitted here. But with this, he had finished the task that needed to be done and made an important discovery: his techniques worked on these beings, which was significant progress in itself.
“Still…” Ru Hiana looked at Chi-Woo with admiring eyes. “Thats amazing.” She looked more in awe than in disbelief. In her point of view, Chi-Woo had vanquished a vengeful spirit by pulling out a couple of sheets of paper and praying. And his opponent was something Ru Hiana couldnt do anything against. She wondered how strong this hero was; and what kind of arduous life and hardships he had overcome that he was able to see spirits in a world like this one. Seeing how he was able to respond to a dangerous situation calmly, she assumed he was a seasoned hero with much more experience than her.
“No. Im not…such an amazing person.”
Ru Hiana also added humility to her mental list of Chi-Woos character. Now, her impression of Chi-Woo was one of a veteran hero who made ice-cold, logical judgments of situations and solved them.
“Its my teachers who were great.”
Ru Hiana thought people who respected their teachers tended to have good personalities, and her expression became even softer. Chi-Woo scratched his head. It felt nice to receive a gaze full of admiration, but he didnt feel very comfortable because of Ru Hianas status. Even though he was a non-hero, Ru Hiana probably admired him as one. The very sound of that statement was a bit strange.
Moreover, he hadnt made the talismans himself; they were given to him. Chi-Woo didnt know how to make a talisman, in fact. He had merely seen people produce a couple at a time after praying intensely all day long for several days.
‘I need to save them.
It hadnt even been a day, and Chi-Woo had already used five talismans. If he kept this up, he would run out of his supply in a month.
‘Anyways, theyre amazing though.
Even though Chi-Woo had followed many masters and his church mentor, it was the first time he saw a talisman burn so quickly or let out such a huge fire. On the other hand, the effects of the talisman were astounding. He was able to neutralize the spirit way more easily than he thought he would. Chi-Woo could only think of one reason for this.
[It reminds me of the time when we had a revolution. Are you going on some kind of war…ah well, you are.] Raphael had said this before.
[Where did you get such precious items?] Laguel had also been amazed by his items.
Chi-Woo didnt know exactly what happened, but it seems like his items might have received an enormous buff while coming over to Liber, or they were finally showing their full potential. Using a crapload of money was definitely worth it.
‘Then perhaps, itll be the same for this? Chi-Woo took a new talisman from his bag.
Called the Vanquishing White Horse General Talisman, it was a talisman known to summon a general with supernatural power and his army to sweep away evil spirits.
It was one of the talismans his mentor had told him to use sparingly since it was extremely precious.
“Did you defeat them?” Ru Hiana asked.
Chi-Woo was shocked by her words since she was suddenly speaking in honorifics. “W-why?”
“No, I mean—” Ru Hiana muttered and followed Chi-Woos gaze, shifting her eyes to a particular spot on the ground. Her eyes narrowed. The dust that they thought had scattered and disappeared was beginning to form a shape. It was reminiscent of a vampire turning into smoke before returning to its original form. Gradually, the distorted dark shape morphed into a humanoid figure. It looked human at first glance, but there was no hair on its body at all. It was also covered in patches of decayed flesh, and its whole body had a bluish tint. Like a corpse, to put it simply. The unexpected nature of its emergence was the most alarming thing of it all.
The body suddenly flailed like a fish. Startled, Chi-Woo moved away. The figure slowly lifted its head. Its eyes fluttered open; they were pure white, and they shone.
“Keugh….” The monster had a hole for a mouth, from which came the sound of whistling air. The monster stared quietly at them for a bit, and then its white eyes flashed suddenly. Chi-Woos face turned serious. An unexpected event had occurred. It was a variable that he hadnt considered.
“W-what is that?” Ru Hiana exclaimed in surprise.
‘She can see it too? This meant that the being in front of them was not a vengeful spirit at least. While Chi-Woos eyes briefly strayed towards Ru Hiana, the unknown monster jumped and rushed towards them with a raspy howl.
“Heuuuugh!” It was a sudden attack; the monster stretched out its hands frantically towards Chi-Woo.
“What the hell! Is this like the second phase—!?” Chi-Woo, who had been standing on guard, swore and quickly withdrew. At the same time, he took out another Buriptwegwi Talisman and threw it at the monster.
“Guwaaaa!” The monster continued to rush towards Chi-Woo, completely unfazed.
‘Uh? In a matter of seconds, the monster had closed in on him, and Chi-Woo fell into utter despair.My talisman— It had no effect on the monster at all. When the monster was about to grab and crush Chi-Woo—
Chi-Woo felt a strong hand grabbing him by his nape. Then Ru Hiana dashed out from his side. Chi-Woo watched her following actions with bated breath. Moving like flowing water, Ru Hiana ran towards the monster and firmly grabbed onto its arms before twisting around to hurl it away with all her strength.
The monster flew far away and plummeted to the ground after hitting a wall. An ordinary person would have never been able to copy Ru Hianas movements.
“Youre good at fighting!?”
Ru Hiana didnt know what was happening, either. However, she had been able to gather a little bit of information from the earlier experience. When she met the vengeful spirit, Ru Hiana couldnt do anything. It was the first time she felt such a sinister presence. However, the monster that suddenly appeared after Chi-Woo defeated the vengeful spirit didnt give off the mysterious sinister feeling that the vengeful spirit gave off. Most of all, she could see the monster with her own eyes, which told her that it was just a common monster. Ru Hiana made a split-second decision and she rushed forward to attack the monster in Chi-Woos stead; her judgment turned out to be correct.
The being in front of her was as strong as a monster—but that was all. Even though Ru Hiana had lost her unique strength as a hero and couldnt receive the Worlds Blessing, she was still a hero at her core. She retained the techniques she trained for and the experience of fighting hundreds and thousands of battles to save the world. Fighting with a monster was a specialty for heroes like her. Unless her opponents were beings like the vengeful spirits she had never encountered before, there was no way Ru Hiana would be hit by a monster recklessly swinging their fists. The battle soon ended.
Ru Hiana successfully grabbed the monsters back and tightly wrapped her arms around its head. Then with a push—
The sound of bones crushing could be heard. The monsters head twisted at a grotesque angle. However, Ru Hiana didnt lower her guard, and she stayed fixed in her position. She only released her grip when the monsters body began to collapse. It slipped and lay sprawling on the ground, no longer moving. Even though the situation was now over, Chi-Woo was unable to tear his gaze away. He had only seen fights like this in movies. If someone told him to move like Ru Hiana just now, he would never be able to do so.
“What happened?” Ru Hiana softly asked.
Only then did Chi-Woo regain his senses. “I dont know, either.” Chi-Woo controlled his breathing and swiped his chest. ‘Thank goodness we came together. If not…
Because of his past experiences, Chi-Woo was used to dealing with vengeful spirits, but he had never faced a monster. Thinking of the monsters reaction to his talisman sent a chill down his spine. While his body shivered, Chi-Woo found and picked up the talisman he cast before.
“Thank you for saving me.” Chi-Woo didnt forget to thank the person who saved his life. “I almost crossed the river of Styx. Ms. Ru Hiana, youre a great fighter. I was really surprised!”
Chi-Woo gave her a thumbs up and praised her, and Ru Hiana looked at him with puzzlement.
‘Is he angry that I intervened without asking? Ru Hiana wasnt sure if Chi-Woo was making fun of her or being courteous. All heroes would have been able to fight that monster if they didnt win their title through dumb luck. However, the person who enabled her to fight that monster was none other than Chi-Woo.
“I apologize…I stepped forward because I thought it might be dangerous…I also didnt feel comfortable watching from the sidelines, so…” It seemed that Ru Hiana had decided to just keep speaking politely to him from now on.
“Ms. Ru Hiana, what are you sorry about? Youre amazing. I feel very reassured with you. I always have great trust in you.”
“Ah, yes. Well…” In Ru Hianas eyes, Chi-Woo was a hero with extensive knowledge, experience, and skills. It would thus serve her well to stay on his good side. “Thank you for your thoughtful words.” Ru Hiana politely gave him a bow. “But may I ask what that is?” Ru Hiana became curious after seeing Chi-Woo shake his crumpled talisman.
“Hmm. I can explain it to you, but…” As Chi-Woo put the neatly straightened out talisman into his backpack, he said, “Isnt there something more important right now?”
Ru Hiana realized her mistake.
“Please wait! Hes not there, but over here!”
Chi-Woo and Ru Hiana ran, following the long marks on the caves floor.
1. Bu-rip-twe-gwi literally translates to ”deny entry and ward off ghosts ”. ?
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