Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 104

February 22, 2024 • 10 min read • 305 views

There Are Friendships Lighter Than a Feather (1)

Novel-Martial Artist Lee Gwak

Go Jeon-ok and Lee Gwak stood atop the tallest tree in the area. From their vantage point, they could see pursuers approaching them at a terrifying speed.

“Shit! Have we been exposed?”

Go Jeon-ok’s eyes twitched nervously.

He had anticipated some level of danger, but he hadn’t expected the messenger to be exposed so quickly.

They hurriedly jumped down from the tree and ran towards the fortress.

“Shit! Shit!”

Go Jeon-ok cursed under his breath, making sure Lee Gwak couldn’t hear.

Though the true identity of their pursuers was unknown, Go Jeon-ok easily guessed they were Celestial Demon Troupe’s hunting dogs.

Once these hounds were on their trail, returning safely to the fortress would be no easy task.

“We’ll definitely get caught if we keep going like this.”

If the information he carried fell into their hands, the intelligence network painstakingly built within the Celestial Demon Troupe would collapse.

Moreover, being captured by the pursuers meant certain death for him. He would undoubtedly be tortured before meeting a gruesome end.

A flicker of conflict passed through Go Jeon-ok’s eyes.

He didn’t want to die yet.

Suddenly, he glanced sideways at Lee Gwak.

Lee Gwak was running silently beside him. If it weren’t for Go Jeon-ok, Lee Gwak would probably be spending a comfortable time with his comrades right now.

Go Jeon-ok bit his lip hard enough to draw blood, but he felt no pain.

At a crossroads, Go Jeon-ok stopped and spoke up.

“Lee Gwak!”

Lee Gwak slowed down to look at him. Then Go Jeon-ok continued.

“If we keep going like this, we’ll be caught. Let’s split up.”

“Split up?”

“Yes! At least one of us should make it back safely. I’ll take the right path, and you go left.”

“Go Jeon-ok!”

“Let’s hope we both live to see each other again.”

Go Jeon-ok looked at Lee Gwak with a solemn face. Lee Gwak, after a moment of silence, nodded.

“Alright. I’ll go left.”

“Then go now.”

“What about you?”

“I’ll try to delay their pursuit as much as I can. I’ll set up a few traps and then head right. Move quickly before they get any closer.”

“Understood.”

Lee Gwak nodded and started down the left path. After a few steps, he looked back to see Go Jeon-ok signaling him to hurry with a grave expression.

Once Lee Gwak was out of sight, Go Jeon-ok muttered, “I’m sorry, Lee Gwak.”

He could have come alone. Yet, he deliberately brought Lee Gwak, anticipating such a situation.

He didn’t care if others called him cowardly. What mattered was surviving, even if it meant sacrificing a friend.

He left a trail of footprints on the left path that Lee Gwak had chosen, then ran down the right path.

He didn’t expect this to fool the pursuers for long, but it should buy them some time.

If he ran for about two hours down the right path, he would reach a river. Go Jeon-ok planned to use his underwater breathing technique to follow the river downstream.

It wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment idea. He had meticulously surveyed the surrounding terrain as he approached the contact, and had formulated this plan as a contingency.

He hadn’t expected to actually need to execute this plan, but now he had no choice but to take the risk.

With all his might, Go Jeon-ok executed his Qigong.
***
Unlike Go Jeon-ok, who was running for his life, Lee Gwak was walking slowly. His face was a complex mix of emotions.

‘Go Jeon-ok!’

He remembered Go Jeon-ok’s face, avoiding his gaze before they parted for the last time.

A wave of sorrow washed over him.

The word “friend” had never felt as empty as it did today.

Although they were not close enough to share their innermost feelings, they were supposed to be friends. Being abandoned so ruthlessly felt like being struck hard on the back of the head with a sledgehammer.

Go Jeon-ok might not have known, but Lee Gwak had heard everything said between him and the messenger.

When asked by the messenger if he could kill Lee Gwak to keep a secret, Go Jeon-ok had said he could.

Until then, Lee Gwak had hoped Go Jeon-ok’s answer was contrary to his true intentions. However, when the moment of choice came, Go Jeon-ok ruthlessly used Lee Gwak as bait.

If only Go Jeon-ok had confided in him and asked for help, he might have done everything in his power to protect him.

“Sigh! Such a friendship lighter than a feather.”

Lee Gwak’s sigh dispersed into the wind when suddenly,

Crack!

A group burst through the bushes. They were the Hellhound Squad, who had tracked him down.

“Stop right there!”

The Hellhound Squad surrounded Lee Gwak.

Standing still, Lee Gwak calmly observed the men encircling him.

The leader of the Hellhound Squad spoke.

“Unexpected. I thought you’d run for your life, yet here you are, walking so leisurely.”

His voice was laced with a chilling killing intent.

The leader slowly surveyed the surroundings.

“The other one is nowhere to be seen. Seems like you split up at the crossroads.”

“…”

“Heh! Your efforts are commendable but futile. I’ve sent men after the other one as well.”

“What happened to the messenger?”

“What do you think?”

“He’s dead, isn’t he?”

“Celestial Demon Troupe does not forgive traitors, especially spies who infiltrated by hiding their identities.”

The leader smirked, revealing his teeth, as a dense killing intent emanated from him.

The Celestial Demon Troupe had unleashed numerous hunting dogs onto the battlefield, and the Hellhound Squad was among the most ferocious.

“Hand over the letter you received from him. Then, I’ll grant you death with minimal pain.”

Lee Gwak saw the madness in the leader’s eyes.

Even if he had the letter, handing it over wouldn’t lead to a swift death at the hands of the leader.

As Lee Gwak remained silent, the corners of the leader’s mouth twisted into a cruel smile.

“It seems you’re not inclined to cooperate willingly. Subdue him.”

At his command, the Hellhound Squad charged at Lee Gwak.

Whoosh!

They were like hounds from hell itself, their ferocious momentum terrifying to behold.

However, Lee Gwak’s eyes showed no sign of fear or hesitation. His cultivation was not so shallow as to be disturbed by this level of threat.

“Kneel!”

Swords and blades flew at him from all directions.

Whoosh!

At that moment, Lee Gwak’s blade was drawn.

It was an ordinary blade that could be seen anywhere in the Jianghu. Most likely, any martial artist who practiced blade techniques would use a blade of this form.

But the moment it was held in Lee Gwak’s hand, the blade was no longer ordinary.

Swoosh!

“Ugh!”

The vanguard martial artist charging at him fell with a long gash across his chest.

The others, still charging from Lee Gwak’s left, right, and behind, hadn’t yet realized their comrade had been killed.

They only sensed something was wrong after Lee Gwak’s form executed a graceful spin.

Shiak!

A sharp gust of wind swept past them.

Just as they felt a chill over their bodies and their grip loosening, they staggered, dropping their weapons.

Clang!

The sound of weapons hitting the ground echoed repeatedly.

“……”

The weaponless martial artists blinked in confusion.

Their faces were filled with bewilderment, not yet understanding what had happened to them.

At that moment, long gashes opened across their chests and shoulders, and blood spurted into the air. Lee Gwak’s blade had already sliced through them.

“Ugh!”

“Cough!”

Their bodies collapsed belatedly.

In an instant, four members of the Hellhound Squad had fallen to hell.

“What? You!”

The leader’s eyes widened in disbelief, filled with distrust.

He had never imagined Lee Gwak could single-handedly slaughter four of his men.

He drew a large executioner’s sword and shouted.

“Were you hiding your true capabilities all along?”

The leader glared at Lee Gwak as if ready to kill.

He was a veteran of many battles.

He had encountered and faced many experts, but none had used blade techniques as swiftly and powerfully as Lee Gwak.

For the leader, who had thought of Lee Gwak as an ordinary martial artist, it was a staggering blow.

Grinding his teeth, he rallied his spirit.

Despite being taken aback by Lee Gwak’s martial prowess, he was a recognized expert in the Celestial Demon Troupe. His pride would not allow him to flee in fear of Lee Gwak’s abilities.

“Attack together.”

He charged with his men.

This was a battlefield.

There was no one to accuse them of cowardice for attacking together, nor was it a time to worry about appearances or formalities.

The only thing that mattered was defeating the opponent by any means necessary.

That’s why they were called the Hellhound Squad. Their essence was to attack together like dogs, tearing and killing.

Pop!

At that moment, Lee Gwak also moved.

His steps flowed like drifting clouds, executing the Cloud Stride Art.

While not fully mastered, he faithfully reproduced the essence of the Cloud Stride Art.

Among the Eight Sects Sword Art, he chose the sixth technique, Shadowy Assassinate.

A technique that thrives in secrecy, akin to hunting ghosts in the dark.

Previously, his mastery was not sufficient for practical use, but his experience fighting the Black Ghost Mist Squad allowed him to fully unleash it now.

Whoosh!

His blade sliced through the air.

Pfft!

Blood spurted from the neck of the nearest Hellhound Squad martial artist.

Swoosh!

Lee Gwak spun like a top, his Blood Wind Robe spreading wide like a fan.

“What?”

A look of confusion flashed across the leader’s face as the Blood Wind Robe momentarily obscured his vision.

Above the robe, where Lee Gwak’s head should have been, was missing. It was as if he had shed the robe like a cicada shedding its skin.

“Damn it!”

The leader frantically grabbed the Blood Wind Robe, but as expected, he felt nothing in his hand. Lee Gwak had slipped out of it and escaped.

Irritated, the leader tossed the robe to the ground and searched for Lee Gwak. Then, an unbelievable scene caught his eye.

“Argh!”

“Leader!”

The martial artists of the Hellhound Squad who had joined the attack were stumbling, bleeding profusely. In the brief moment the leader was distracted by the Blood Wind Robe, Lee Gwak had taken them all down.

“How is this possible!”

Thump!

Just as the leader’s mouth hung open in shock, a blade blade burst through his chest. Lee Gwak had stabbed him from behind. The leader barely managed to turn his head to look back.

“You, what are you?”

His voice, filled with rage, echoed across the battlefield.

The leader had been distracted by the Blood Wind Robe for only a split second. Yet, in that brief moment, Lee Gwak had not only killed his men but had also silently approached him from behind.

It was a movement that completely shattered his understanding. No martial artist he had encountered before could match such movements and martial prowess.

“You… what are you?”

Without a word, Lee Gwak retrieved his blade from the leader’s back. The leader then collapsed to his knees, powerless.

Looking up at Lee Gwak, the leader mustered all his remaining strength to ask.

“Hidden… Blood… Squad, right?”

The recently famed assassins of the Jade Heaven Alliance.

The specters of the battlefield who assassinated key figures of the Celestial Demon Troupe without leaving a trace.

If Lee Gwak was indeed from the Hidden Blood Squad, everything made sense.

The leader’s head dropped. He had taken his last breath.

Lee Gwak looked at his body with a complex mix of emotions in his eyes. He hadn’t expected to hear the name of the Hidden Blood Squad here.

Among the Hidden Blood Squad was Han So cheon