Episode 5 (( A small leaf is easily shaken by even the slightest breeze (2)

October 20, 2023 • 13 min read • 418 views

After Gwan Il Hyeon withdrew, only Ja Hong Cheon and Joo Shin Yoon remained in the main hall.

Ja Hong Cheon’s gaze remained fixed on the spot where Gwan Il Hyeon had been moments ago.

In a nonchalant tone, Ja Hong Cheon mumbled,

“The young tiger is acting like it’s all grown up.”

“Isn’t that how they all act at that age? Overconfident, believing they have the whole world beneath them.”

“Indeed!”

At Joo Shin Yoon’s words, Ja Hong Cheon nodded his head.

While resting his chin on one hand, Ja Hong Cheon rhythmically tapped the handle of his sword with his other hand. Knowing that this was a habit of Ja Hong Cheon when he was deep in thought, Joo Shin Yoon waited in silence.

The entity truly leading the Jade Heaven Alliance was the Council of Four Halls.

The coalition of the Inner, Outer, Main, and Intelligence Halls guided the massive power of Jade Heaven Alliance. Important decisions within the Alliance were made through consultation within the Council of Four Halls.

The council was formed under the belief of the first Alliance leader that the concentration of power leads to corruption. However, this did not mean the Alliance leader was a figurehead.

The Alliance leader, merely by existing, could be considered the focus of the sect and was publicly acknowledged as the greatest among all. No matter how strong the Council of Four Halls was, they couldn’t deny the authority and presence of the Alliance leader.

The current Alliance leader, Ja Hong Cheon, had no significant background. He climbed to the top of the Jade Heaven Alliance purely because of his exceptional martial arts skills. But Ja Hong Cheon’s strength wasn’t limited to just martial arts; he was also adept at managing affairs, and his political acumen was unparalleled.

This political sense was the aspect of Ja Hong Cheon that Joo Shin Yoon found most troublesome. It was obvious that he was born with a political sense that always found an excellent answer, relying on his instincts rather than his head.

“Lord Joo.”

At that moment, Ja Hong Cheon’s voice broke Joo Shin Yoon’s train of thought.

“Yes, Alliance leader.”

“Is it confirmed that the Lunatic Pugilist has resurfaced?”

“The Blue Dragon Squad has confirmed it.”

“Hmm! This is going to be a headache.”

“Yes. Now that the Lunatic Pugilist has become active again, the Jianghu will likely be in chaos for at least half a year.”

Ja Hong Cheon furrowed his brows.

Gwang Noh Ya

He first appeared in the jianghu fifty years ago.

Just like his name, he was a crazy old man. He wasn’t merely a lunatic, but rather a formidable figure. He was immensely powerful, far beyond any ordinary person’s comprehension.

In the Jianghu, the first person he met was a martial artist named Lee Seong Chan, also known as the Shadow Sword Warrior. Renowned for his swordsmanship, Lee Seong Chan had earned his menacing nickname because of his fierce hand techniques. His meeting with the Lunatic Pugilist happened purely by coincidence.

Displeased by the Lunatic Pugilist’s behaviour, Lee Seong Chan made the first move. Until then, everyone had believed that Lee Seong Chan would certainly beat the Lunatic Pugilist into submission. However, to everyone’s surprise, it was Lee Seong Chan who was beaten and lost his life.

His legs broken, both his arms torn off, Lee Seong Chan’s gruesome death struck terror and anger in the hearts of all. Consequently, several martial artists stepped forward to avenge his death.

However, those martial artists, too, met a grim end at the hands of the Lunatic Pugilist.

The situation continued to deteriorate, the acquaintances of those who had been killed by the Lunatic Pugilist sought revenge, only to be brutally killed themselves. The Lunatic Pugilist became a public enemy in the Jianghu.

An extermination squad was formed, and numerous martial artists hunted for the Lunatic Pugilist. Hundreds of martial artists set out to kill just one man, among whom were several at the pinnacle of their martial arts skills.

Everyone believed that the Lunatic Pugilist would meet a terrible end. But what transpired was shocking enough to stun the entire world.

Hundreds of elite warriors were all killed by one man, the Lunatic Pugilist. The terrifying event, unimaginable to anyone, sent shivers down the spines of the people.

Ultimately, as the situation reached this extreme, the Jade Heaven Alliance intervened.

The Jade Heaven Alliance implemented a grand trap to corner the Lunatic Pugilist. However, he escaped the alliance’s trap, leading to a significant blow to their prestige.

After that, the Lunatic Pugilist vanished from the Jianghu.

He re-emerged years later in the territory of the Celestial Demon Troupe. There, too, the Lunatic Pugilist stirred up significant trouble, once again becoming the target of vengeance. Yet, once again, he effortlessly escaped from the Celestial Demon Troupe’s domain.

During the process, there were countless casualties.

Among those who attacked the Lunatic Pugilist, there wasn’t a single one who wasn’t a martial arts master. Normally, any master forced into such a situation would either die or sustain severe injuries. Instead, it was the Celestial Demon Troupe that suffered heavy losses.

Among those killed by Gwang Noh ya was the second son of the former leader of Celestial Demon Troupe. Enraged by his son’s death, the former leader set out to kill Gwang Noh ya himself, but afterward, Gwang Noh ya disappeared and was never found.

Since then, Gwang Noh ya appeared in the Jianghu only once every few years, or even once a decade, and would go on a rampage for six months each time. Each of his appearances caused a great upheaval in the murim. Hence his nickname, the Lunatic Pugilist.

No one knew the true identity of Gwang Noh ya. His name, age, sect… But one thing was certain: the mad old man who couldn’t even remember his own name was terrifyingly strong.
He was so powerful that even the Ten Great Overlords, the masters of the Ten Sects, or the Eight Great Martial Artists, revered as the ultimate martial artists of the world, would have a hard time facing him.

In fact, among the martial artists who suffered defeat at the hands of the Lunatic Pugilist, was the Ghost Demon Lady, one of the Eight Great Martial Artists’. Due to this incident, the Ghost Demon Lady had to hide for several years to heal her injuries.

Afterwards, the Lunatic Pugilist was classified not as a person, but a disaster, and recognized as an entity that should not be provoked.

Over the past decade, there had been peace, so everyone had forgotten about the Lunatic Pugilist. But now that he had reappeared in the world, the Jade Heaven Alliance had to take action.

“We have no choice but to accept the demands of the Celestial Demon Troupe.”

“If the Jade Heaven Alliance doesn’t contribute to the elimination of the Lunatic Pugilist, fearing damage, it will face severe criticism.”

“It’s quite a clever move, involving the Lunatic Pugilist.”

“It’s clear they’ve been preparing for a long time. The fact that they’ve figured out the Lunatic
Pugilist’s movements, which weren’t known until now.”

“Do you think we can suppress the Lunatic Pugilist without any damage?”

“It’s impossible. Only the Alliance Leader or the Ten Great Overlords could barely manage to suppress him. Others would only increase the damage.”

“But we can’t just let him go, can we?”

“We can’t avoid it. We have to accept some sacrifices.”

“I don’t like it. We’ve built up our strength and now we have to suffer losses.”

“A time of peace can’t last forever, can it? They made the first move, so we have to use this to our advantage.”

Ja Hong Cheon’s eyes became cold.

Silence continued. Joo Shin Yoon bowed his head, waiting for his orders. A moment later, he heard the voice he had been waiting for.

“Joo Shin Yoon, you handle this issue. Make sure there is no unnecessary noise.”

“Understood.”

Joo Shin Yoon deeply bowed his head.

When he raised his head again, Ja Hong Cheon had disappeared without a trace.

Left alone, Joo Shin Yoon muttered to himself.

“To ensure the Jade Heaven Alliance doesn’t bear the brunt of the damage, I should forge alliances with Dragon Sky Valley and the Zealous Justice Clan.”
***
“Brother, what will happen to us?”

“I’m not sure…”

Lee Gwak couldn’t easily answer Han So Cheon’s question.

Although Han So Cheon and the children had been staying at the White Sage Pavilion for over five days, no decisions had been made regarding them.

Although they were confined to the White Sage Pavilion, their treatment was not bad, so their sense of caution had diminished somewhat.

In the meantime, Lee Gwak took special care of Han So Cheon. In the entire world, the only person she could trust was Lee Gwak, so she relied and trusted him almost blindly.

If Lee Gwak was out of sight even for a moment, Han So Cheon noticeably became anxious. Thus, Lee Gwak had no choice but to be more attentive to her. But there was a problem.

Having been on guard at the White Sage Pavilion for the past few days, he had no chance to meet Geum Yul Seon. He was desperate to see her, but he couldn’t, so he just rode along.

It was then that he heard the awaited sound.

“From now on, another team will be guarding here. You all can go to your dormitories and rest.”

Team Leader Oh Gu Hong had come with the good news.

A smile spread across Lee Gwak’s face, returning home after five days. But being able to see Geum Yul Seon’s face was even more welcoming than the prospect of returning home.

Hearing that Lee Gwak would be leaving, Han So Cheon looked anxious. Lee Gwak comforted her.

“I’ll visit whenever I have time, so don’t worry and just rest.”

“Really?”

“Of course!”

Lee Gwak gave Han So Cheon a reassuring smile. Only then did a smile also appear on her face.

Lee Gwak looked at her face for a moment before stepping out of the White Sage Pavilion. His steps were light as he left the place for the first time in a long while.

Han So Cheon watched Lee Gwak’s receding figure, clutching her robe. Even after he had disappeared beyond the Pavillion, she found it difficult to withdraw her gaze.

Leaving the White Sage Pavilion, the first place Lee Gwak headed to was the Musical Performance Hall. He went there with high expectations, but unfortunately, he did not meet Geum Yul Seon.

As luck would have it, all the musicians in the Hall that day had been mobilised for a performance. In the end, Lee Gwak had no choice but to return, disappointed.

The next day, Lee Gwak visited the White Sage Pavilion again to take care of Han So Cheon. However, Han So Cheon and the children were nowhere to be found, with only the servants cleaning up.

When he asked the servants about Han So Cheon’s whereabouts, they responded that high-ranking executives had come the previous night and taken all the children away.

The servants had no idea who these high-ranking executives were.

“Phew…”

Lee Gwak let out a soft sigh. For some reason, his chest felt heavy. But there was nothing he could do here.

He didn’t know why the high-ranking executives had taken the children, but he thought it wouldn’t be a bad thing. After all, this was the Jade Heaven Alliance, a place established to uphold the justice of the Jianghu.

Lee Gwak returned to the outer hall.

“Hurry up!”

“Quickly gather your belongings.”

What welcomed Lee Gwak was the outer hall martial artists bustling about. The sight of martial artists packing and checking their weapons was quite different from the usual.

“What’s going on?”

“Ah, Gwak, you’re here. Don’t just stand there, get ready for deployment.”

Gok Chae Bong, who had been checking his weapon, responded.

“De…ployment?”

“Yes! The order came from headquarters just a while ago. All squads from the eighth to the thirteenth are to be deployed for this mission.”

Lee Gwak’s face hardened.

From the eighth to the thirteenth, that was half of the entire outer hall’s force.

Since joining the Jade Heaven Alliance, there had never been an instance where half of the outer hall’s force was deployed all at once.

“What happened?”

“I don’t know either. Since when have the higher-ups ever given us reasons for their orders? Hurry and get ready.”

“Yes!”

With that, Lee Gwak hurriedly began to pack. Preparation meant nothing more than a single sheathed sword at his waist, a change of clothes, and a small amount of dry rations.

“If you’ve packed everything, gather at the great hall.”

The shouts of the team leaders echoed from outside.

Lee Gwak hastily hoisted his belongings onto his back and rushed to the great hall.

The great hall was already teeming with the outer hall martial artists. The outer hall martial artists, gathered by squads, looked quite tense. Lee Gwak stood at the front of the thirteenth squad. Right next to him was the twelfth squad, and he could also see Go Jeon-ok, his only friend in the hall.

“Did you just arrive?”

“What is happening?”

“I don’t know. It’s an abrupt order that came down.”

“Hmm!”

“Either way, the atmosphere doesn’t seem normal so it’d be good to be cautious. Take care.”

“You too, be careful.”

At Go Jeon-ok’s words, Lee Gwak nodded.

“Everyone, be quiet.”

Suddenly, a booming voice echoed across the great hall.

Everyone’s gaze turned towards the stage at the front of the hall. On the stage, a middle-aged martial artist, whose physique reminded one of a cart horse, was standing.

With his piercing gaze and unyielding momentum, the middle-aged martial artist instantly dominated the atmosphere of the Great Hall.

Everyone held their breath as they looked at the middle-aged martial artist.

The middle-aged martial artist was Maeng Hee Cheon, the head of the outer hall.He held the power over the life and death of the thirteen squads of the outer hall.

Maeng Hee Cheon swept his gaze over the outer hall martial artists and raised his voice.

“As you may have guessed, we are mobilising today to carry out an important mission. We have a long journey ahead, so be extra careful not to fall behind. Each squad leader will explain the details, so stand by for a moment.”

As soon as Maeng Hee Cheon’s words ended, the squad leaders gathered their members.

The thirteenth squad also gathered around Oh Gu Hong.

The most senior, Gok Chae Bong, was the first to ask.

“Squad leader, what on earth is happening?”

“Not only the outer hall, but the elites of the main hall have also been mobilised.”

“So, it must be dangerous.”

“Yes! Fortunately, outer hall will not be directly involved in the fighting but will support the martial artists of the main hall from the outskirts. Even so, it will be very dangerous, so everyone, look out for your own lives. Got it?”

“Yes!”

The thirteenth squad answered in unison.

They were tense, but it was a relief that they were not directly involved in the mission.
Lee Gwak thought of Geum Yul Seon.

‘If I had known this would happen, I would have found a way to see her face.’

He felt bitter.