Episode 2 (The Outer hall warrior, Lee Gwak(2)

October 20, 2023 • 11 min read • 451 views

Martial Artist Lee Gwak

He slept as if he had passed out.

By the time Lee Gwak opened his eyes, the sun was slipping into the west from the middle sky. It seemed he had slept for well over half a day.

Lee Gwak laid on his cot, gazing blankly at the ceiling. It was a sight that he had come to loathe over the years. The cracks here and there, the cobwebs hanging, everything was the same.

It was as if time had stopped here.

“Damn it all!”

Lee Gwak shook his head, forcing himself to rise from the cot.

He felt shameful that he had worked so hard to save money for years and still couldn’t get out of his dormitory.

“Just hang in there a bit longer, Lee Gwak!”

He encouraged himself.

His reality might have been shitty, but there was still hope. Just a little more saving, and he could afford a small house on the outskirts of Jade Heaven Alliance.

Lee Gwak simply washed his face at the well on one side of his dormitory.

“Cha-ha!”

“Ha!”

A dozen or so men from the outer hall were practising in the training ground attached to the front of the dormitory. It was a basic drill that everyone had to learn when entering the outer hall.

Seeing the unfamiliar faces practising while sweating profusely, they looked like newcomers. Lee Gwak remembered that he was once like that.

Lee Gwak watched the newcomers for a while, then walked outside.

“Up already? On your way to the evening shift?”

“Are you off to see her again? Hehe!”

A few familiar faces greeted him. Lee Gwak gave them a curt reply and continued walking.

After living in the dormitory for five years, they knew too much about each other.

Privacy was out of the question here.

Lee Gwak left the dormitory and walked down the street.

The scenery changed dramatically as soon as he stepped out of the lodge. Countless shops lined the street, with people bustling between them. It looked like any ordinary street.

The Jade Heaven Alliance had long surpassed the boundaries of Jianghu. The fact that they had opened their exterior to the public was a testament to their immense power and confidence. Even though the world was divided into ten sects, none of them could compare to the Jade Heaven Alliance. It wasn’t called the Great Sect for nothing.

Lee Gwak walked in silence through the now familiar streets. After five years in Jade Heaven Alliance, he knew quite a few familiar faces on the streets. There were families of martial artists who served the sect, and there were those who had set up shops solely for profit. All of them were fully engaged in their livelihoods

Suddenly, a look of envy crossed Lee Gwak’s face.

They had families, and they had someone to eat with in the evening. He envied them for their normal lives.

Just as Lee Gwak let out a soft sigh,

“Don’t cry! Fool. If you’re upset because you got beaten up, you should grit your teeth and fight back. Why did you run away and cry here?”

Suddenly, a sharp voice of a young girl drilled into Lee Gwak’s ears. Unconsciously, Lee Gwak turned his head to see a boy, barely in his teens, sobbing, and a girl of the same age reprimanding him with her hands on her hips.

The boy’s face was swollen and bruised as if he had been hit by someone. The girl was raising her voice, examining the boy’s face.

The girl had exceptionally white skin and dense features that made her look like a doll, the most prominent of which were her jet-black eyes that looked like shooting stars. Her sparkling eyes were not simply a sign of intelligence.

Suddenly, the girl grabbed the boy’s hand.

“Let’s go.”

“But…”

“Stop whining and follow me.”

The girl took the lead, dragging the hesitant boy by the hand.

Coincidentally, the girl was heading in the same direction as Lee Gwak. Lee Gwak unintentionally ended up following the girl, which allowed him to hear more of their conversation.

“Do you always plan on taking a beating like this? How can a man live with such weak pride?”

“I did my best. But what can I do when they all come at me at once?”

“How many of them were there?”

“What?”

“How many of them attacked you?”

“Four, there were four!”

“Four, huh? How dare they mess with Lim So Bo’s younger brother? They’re all dead today.”

Lim So Bo rolled up her sleeves and her eyes sparkled. She left the boy behind and strode forward. The boy, left behind, seemed lost as he watched Lim So Bo’s retreating figure.

“We’re in big trouble.”

The boy muttered absentmindedly.

Lim So Bo’s figure quickly disappeared into an alley. Lee Gwak watched the alley where she disappeared with keen interest.

“Ah!”

“Pl-please spare us!”

“This witch!”

Suddenly, children’s screams of terror erupted from the alley. Fear was evident in their voices.

Out of curiosity, Lee Gwak glanced into the alley, only to see four boys running out in a flurry. Their faces were all stained with tears and snot, clearly terrified.

One of them bumped into Lee Gwak’s stomach and collapsed onto the ground.

“Are you alright?”

“Ugh, damn it!”

The boy did not respond to Lee Gwak’s question but glared at the alleyway before running away.

“Tsk! They’re just a bunch of nothing.”

At that moment, Lim So Bo stepped out of the alleyway, dusting her hands off. Lee Gwak looked at her with a sense of curiosity.

How did the young Lim So Bo manage to intimidate her male peers? There was no trace of martial arts being used against the boys. If she had used another method, Lee Gwak could not comprehend what it might have been.

Suddenly, Lim So Bo glared sharply at Lee Gwak.

“Ahjussi, who are you?”

s/n- the term Ahjussi is used to address middle aged man

“Just a passerby.”

“Then why are you here?”

At Lim So Bo’s provocative remark, Lee Gwak shrugged his shoulders.

Just curious, that’s all…”

“You Know, curiosity killed the cat, right?”

“Huh!”

“Just kidding. Hehe!”

Suddenly, Lim So Bo broke into a wide smile. Seeing her suddenly cheerful demeanour, Lee Gwak shook his head.

“You sure know how to surprise people.”

“I hear that often. Are you from the outer hall?”

“How did you know?”

“Are there any other places outside the outer hall where you wear that shabby robe?”

At Lim So Bo’s words, Lee Gwak gave a bitter smile.

As she said, the clothes were a symbol of the outer hall. Anyone affiliated with the outer hall would without exception wear these clothes.

“You seem to know quite a bit about the Jade Heaven Alliance.”

“I just know a little bit.”

“Is that so?”

“Oraboni, what’s your name?”

S/n-the term Oraboni is like “Oppa” in Korean.

“I’m not an old man.”

Lee Gwak was barely in his early twenties. Still in his prime, he wasn’t particularly pleased to be called ‘Oraboni’ by a young girl.

“Should I call you elder brother then?”

“That’s fine.”

“So, what’s your name, elder brother?”

“Lee Gwak.”

“A short name. Easy to remember.”

Lim So Bo smiled slyly.

The more he looked at her, the more peculiar he felt. He felt like he was looking at an old snake, not a ten-year-old girl.

Lee Gwak frowned at Lim So Bo. Then, Lim So Bo’s younger brother approached and bowed his head.

“I’m sorry, brother. My sister can be rather rude.”

“No, it’s fine.”

“My name is Lim Ji Moon. I’ll apologise on behalf of my sister.”

“Shut up! You silly little brother. You got beaten by those ruffians and now you dare to belittle your sister?”

“Why are you being like this, sister? I could have handled it, why did you have to escalate things?”

“It’s because you’re so indecisive that you got beaten by those fools.”

“Oh, seriously…”

“Stop yapping and follow me, dummy.”

“I’m not a dummy.”

“Then you’re an idiot.”

“Really!”

“Just follow me.”

“Tsk!”

In the end, Lim Ji Moon had to bow his head, unable to win over Lim So Bo’s strong will.

“Well, Brother Lee Gwak. See you next time.”

“…..”

Lim So Bo disappeared in an instant, dragging Lim Ji Moon along with her.

Lee Gwak shook his head helplessly.

It felt as if he had just witnessed a dream. The memory that Lim siblings left behind was intensely vivid.

“What a strange encounter.”

Lee Gwak muttered in a low voice and started walking again. He passed the alley where Lim So Bo had beaten up the boys who had beaten her brother, and his destination was right there.

A faint smile appeared on Lee Gwak’s lips.

A signboard with the name “Musical Performance Hall” hung on the gate of a fairly large mansion. True to its name, the place was an institute for cultivating and teaching musicians and performers.

With the Jade Heaven Alliance rising to supreme power, feasts and banquets were held everywhere, resulting in a need for performers and musicians. The Musical Performance Hall was created to meet this demand, specifically training musicians.

Lee Gwak stepped confidently into the Musical Performance Hall. His destination was a quiet dwelling deep inside the academy, where the musicians learning instruments usually resided.

Upon his arrival at the dwelling, a delightful voice greeted him.

“Lee Gwak Oraboni!”

A bewitching woman approached Lee Gwak with light steps.

Dressed in a red silk robe with colourful patterns, she was extremely beautiful. There was a sparkle in her large eyes, and her small lips located under her high nose were exceedingly red. In her hand was a pipa, and the sight of her gently approaching was celestial.

Lee Gwak watched her with a rapturous gaze.

“Yul Seon!”

The woman’s name was Geum Yul Seon, Lee Gwak’s beloved whom he had promised to spend the rest of his life with.

Lee Gwak had first met Yul Seon three years prior when he was deeply depressed. Like Lee Gwak, Yul Seon too was an orphan who had wandered the world, eventually ending up in the Jade Heaven Alliance, unable to settle down.

The pair were immediately smitten with each other and began to rely on each other. Despite their humble appearance, Yul Seon possessed an extraordinary talent for music.

Soon, her talent was recognized and she entered the Musical Performance Hall, while she continued to meet with Lee Gwak.

Yul Seon was Lee Gwak’s beacon of hope.

“Why do you look so glum?”

“I had some troubles and couldn’t sleep properly.”

“Oh?”

“How about you? Are you not tired?”

“Tired? I’m doing what I love.”

Yul Seon smiled gently and unconsciously smoothed out her red silk dress. The sleek sensation, akin to that of a snake, was intoxicating.

“Is that a new dress? I haven’t seen it before.”

“Yes! I got it recently.”

“Aren’t you trying too hard? It looks expensive.”

“I overdid it a bit. But it can’t be helped. If I look poor, no one will look my way.”

“Hmm!”

“Don’t worry too much. I’m saving a lot elsewhere.”

“Alright!”

Lee Gwak loosened his tense expression at Yul Seon’s smile.

She was the most beautiful person he knew. Lee Gwak had never seen a woman more beautiful than Yul Seon. It felt dream-like that such a beautiful woman loved him.

Lee Gwak spread his arms and embraced Yul Seon. She closed her eyes gently and leaned into his broad chest.

A pleasant fragrance wafted from Yul Seon’s body. Inhaling her scent seemed to erase all the worries of the world.

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

They whispered sweet nothings, soaking in each other’s scent.

“Just wait a little longer. I will arrange a small house soon, and then we can live together.”

“Don’t rush, Oraboni. I’m happy enough as it is.”

“I feel uneasy. You are too beautiful. I’m afraid someone else might snatch you away.”

“Do you not trust me, Oraboni?”

“I trust you!”

“Then that’s enough. Just trust me.”

“Alright!”

“Now go. You have to get ready for the evening shift.”

Yul Seon parted from Lee Gwak’s embrace with a smile. He watched her with a longing gaze, her face illuminated by the setting sun.

“I’m going!”

“Take care of yourself.”

Lee Gwak gripped her small, soft hand once more before releasing it and turned to leave.

Before leaving the Musical Performance Hall, Lee Gwak turned back one last time, but Yul Seon was nowhere to be seen. While he imagined that she must have left for an important matter, he couldn’t help but feel a pang of disappointment.

Lee Gwak shook his head, attempting to rid himself of such thoughts. Lately, he’d been plagued by these unnecessary worries.

The sun had already started to set behind the city walls. Just as Yul Seon had mentioned, it was time for his evening shift.

The place he was to guard today was none other than the main gate of the Jade Heaven Alliance.