Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 108

March 20, 2024 • 10 min read • 129 views

When the Thread of Fate is Reconnected… (2)

Novel-Martial Artist Lee Gwak

‘So Cheon!’

The moment he saw the person wearing the wide-brimmed hat, Lee Gwak thought of Han So cheon.

Because of the large hat, he couldn’t discern her face, eyes, or aura, but Gwak instinctively felt it must be Han So cheon.

Sometimes, human intuition is frighteningly sharp, deriving almost correct answers in situations without any concrete evidence.

That was the case for Lee Gwak now.

Without any objective evidence, Lee Gwak thought the martial artist wearing the hat must be
Han So cheon and was convinced of it. However, he didn’t call out her name aloud.

Lee Gwak simply stared at the martial artist without speaking.

Suddenly, as if sensing his gaze, the cloaked man lifted his head and looked at Lee Gwak.
Their eyes met briefly in the air.

The robed man flinched for a moment when he saw Lee Gwak. His reaction confirmed that it was Han So cheon.

“What are you waiting for? Let’s go.”

Urged by a colleague behind her, she moved forward without saying a word, yet her gaze lingered on Lee Gwak.

The figures of Han So cheon and her colleagues soon disappeared among the people.

Lee Gwak stood still, like a statue, only looking in the direction where she had vanished.

“Brother, what’s wrong?”

Cheon-wol looked at Lee Gwak with a puzzled expression.

“It’s nothing. Let’s go.”

Lee Gwak shook his head and started walking.

Cheon-wol hurriedly followed him. He sensed something odd but couldn’t easily speak to Lee Gwak.

The atmosphere remained the same until they arrived at the Western Wind Inn.

“Welcome, Mister! Cheon-wol is here too.”

The one greeting them was Bang Ye-in.

She had become quite close to Cheon-wol during the trip to Siege Fortress. Since their ages were not too different, they could talk comfortably.

“Sister!”

Cheon-wol also bowed to Bang Ye-in in greeting.

Lee Gwak looked around the guesthouse and said,

“It seems quiet today.”

“It was bustling all at once, and then everyone left at once. It was so busy I thought I’d die, but now it’s quiet again. Are you here for a meal?”

“Yes! Today Cheon-wol is treating.”

“Really?”

Bang Ye-in looked surprised, and Cheonwol scratched his head.

“I bought a new sword, and brother helped me.”

“You bought a new sword?”

“Yes!”

“Congratulations!.”

“Ah! What’s there to congratulate?”

“Of course, it’s something to celebrate. Using a weapon given by someone else and choosing one yourself are worlds apart. It can change your mindset and how you approach the sword. Maybe becoming a true martial artist starts the moment you choose the weapon that suits you.”

“Ah! Still…”

Overwhelmed by Bang Ye-in’s grand words, Cheon-wol blushed.

“I’ll have to ask Big Bear to bring out some delicious food.Ah, no. Maybe I should do it myself.”

“Sister, you don’t have to.”

“Why? Is my cooking not good?”

“That’s not it.”

“Then wait. I’m going to use my skills after a long time.”

Bang Ye-in rolled up her sleeves and stood up. She walked into the kitchen without Cheon-wol having time to stop her.

Sizzle!

A moment later, the sound of stir-frying food echoed from the kitchen, filling the room with a delicious smell that made Cheon-wol’s mouth water as he had never smelled anything like it before.

While Cheon-wol was excited, Lee Gwak’s expression didn’t change.

Lee Gwak’s mind was filled with thoughts of Han So cheon.

‘Did she return from a dangerous mission?’

One of their teammates came back almost dead. It was proof that they had been sent on such a dangerous mission.

Lee Gwak then realized that Han So Cheon was undertaking life-threatening missions daily His mind became cluttered.

“Are you worried about something?”

At that moment, Bang Ye-in’s voice reached him.

Lifting his head, he saw Bang Ye-in walking towards him with trays in her hands, followed by Cheol Dae-San shaking a bottle of liquor.

“Heh! It’s not often the lady cooks, so we can’t skip the alcohol.”

“Are you not doing business?”

“Do you think the chance to eat food made by the lady comes often? Business is over for today.”

Cheoldaesan locked the door of the guesthouse and sat down next to Bang Ye-in.

Bang Ye-in asked again,

“What’s bothering you that you look so serious?”

“It’s nothing.”

“Hmm! It doesn’t seem like it’s nothing.”

“…”

“Well, I understand. Let’s not talk about it anymore and just eat. I put some effort into this, so it should be good.”

Bang Ye-in shrugged her shoulders.

One dish was a stir-fried meat dish, and the other was a spicy steamed freshwater fish from nearby. Both smelled so good they could bewilder anyone’s senses.

“Let’s have a drink first.”

Cheol Dae-San poured drinks for Lee Gwak and the others.

The clear liquor, with a hint of amber, filled their cups.

Cheon-wol let out an exclamation as he smelled the fragrance of the liquor.

“Wow, this scent is no joke.”

“It’s homemade Shaolin wine. It might not be as good as the lady’s cooking, but it’s still worth a try.”

Pride was evident on Cheol Dae-San’s face.

Even when he was working at the Bang Clan’s Inn, his skill in brewing alcohol was acknowledged as the best. Opening Western Wind Inn here, the first thing he did was to start brewing his own alcohol.

The thrill of brewing his own alcohol to serve at his guesthouse was incomparable to anything.

He had sold lower quality brews to customers, but this was the first time he was serving his top-quality alcohol.

Cheol Dae-San looked at Bang Ye-in with anticipation.

“Lady, please try it.”

“Let’s all drink together. Cheers!”

Bang Ye-in raised her cup, and everyone clinked their cups lightly before drinking.

“Wow!”

“It’s really delicious.”

Cheon-wol and Bang Ye-in each let out a cry of admiration.

The fragrant aroma of the alcohol lingered in their mouths, leaving a refreshing aftertaste without any discomfort.

“It’s the best! Big Bear.”

Bang Ye-in gave a big thumbs up, and Cheol Dae-Sansmiled brightly.

Being recognized by Bang Ye-in was a joyful moment for him.

After drinking, they each took a bite of the food Bang Ye-in had prepared.

“Wow!”

“Truly, it’s the lady’s work. Your culinary skills have deepened. Such flavor…”

Tears welled up in Cheol Dae-San’s eyes.

Cheon-wol was also overwhelmed by the taste of Bang Ye-in’s cooking, and Lee Gwak couldn’t help but admire it inwardly.

Bang Ye-in’s cooking was not just tasty. It strangely seemed to contain Qi, giving a feeling that one’s internal energy slightly increased just by eating.

‘What?’

As Lee Gwak looked up in surprise, Bang Ye-in gave an I-told-you-so expression,

“That’s why I said I put some effort into it.”

The food made by Bang Jinbo, the first head chef of the Bang Clan’s Inn, was said to enhance a martial artist’s internal energy and stabilize the body’s balance.

It was a legend that was hard to believe, but one that everyone who tasted his food agreed was true.

Bang Ye-in was known to be the closest in skill to Bang Jinbo. However, it was extremely rare for her to serve food she had put her best effort into. Only a select few had ever tasted her best cooking. Today, Lee Gwak and Cheon-wol were added to that select group.

“It’s absolutely fantastic.”

Cheon-wol eagerly ate the food prepared by Bang Ye-in.

Though he couldn’t sense the Qi in the food like Iee gwak, he instinctively felt it was good for his body.

The liquor flowed.

The food was consumed.

Happy smiles appeared on everyone’s faces. Seeing this, Bang Ye-in also smiled.

Among them, only Lee Gwak was lost in other thoughts.

****
Lee Gwak and Cheon-wol left the Western Wind Inn and headed for their lodging.

Cheon-wol, clutching his newly purchased sword, wore a happy smile.

Suddenly, Lee Gwak stopped walking, prompting Cheon-wol to look at him questioningly.

“Brother?”

“Go ahead to the lodging.”

“What about you?”

“I just want to walk a bit more.”

“Okay.”

Realizing Lee Gwak wanted to be alone, Cheon-wol nodded and quickened his pace. He disappeared into the darkness in no time.

Only then did Lee Gwak turn his head and look at the large tree by the side of the road. It was a tree that had lived for many years, thicker than a man’s torso, and dense with leaves.

It was a tree that the natives of the siege fortress had long regarded as a guardian spirit. Even though the siege fortress masters had changed to martial artists, they too often prayed to the big tree for a safe return.

Because they were often in life-and-death situations, they were more superstitious than the general population.

However, when Lee Gwak looked up to the guardian tree, it was not to make a wish. It was because he felt a familiar gaze under the tree.

A figure stepped out from the shade of the tree, indistinguishable from the darkness. It was a martial artist dressed in a windbreaker and wearing a wide-brimmed hat.

Lee Gwak silently observed him.

The figure slowly approached Lee Gwak.

And the familiar scent of his body carried on the wind.

The figure, having reached Lee Gwak, removed the hat, revealing cascading hair like a waterfall over her shoulders.

The first features to be revealed were her plum-red lips and delicate jawline, followed by a prominent nose, pale skin glowing even under the moonlight, and finally, her deep eyebrows and eyes.

Lee Gwak’s lips, which had been tightly sealed, parted.

“So…cheon.”

“It’s been a while, Oraboni.”

The woman smiling at Lee Gwak was Han So Cheon.

They looked at each other in silence for a while.

Han So cheon’s face looked more shadowed than before.

A look of sorrow flashed across Lee Gwak’s eyes.

“You’ve become thin.”

“I haven’t been able to sleep well lately.”

“I see.”

“What are you doing here?”

“I was accompanying the prince.”

“Did you come with him?”

“Yes!”

“Ah!”

Lee Gwak let out a deep, inscrutable sigh.

“I’m fine.”

“Brother?”

“I’m not in as much danger as you think, nor am I weak. So, you don’t need to worry about me.”

“But…”

“Have you eaten?”

When Han So cheon shook her head wordlessly, Lee Gwak smiled and said.

“Let’s go, I’ll make you something to eat.”

“That’s not necessary.”

“Aren’t you hungry?”

“I am hungry!”

“Then, let’s go.”

Lee Gwak led the way as if it was the most natural thing to do.

After watching his back for a moment, Han So cheon quickly followed him.

Side by side, they walked through the city’s night streets.

They didn’t ask each other the common pleasantries of how they had been.

There was no need to ask; they could guess how hard each other’s lives had been.

A faint smile appeared on Han So Cheon’s lips as she walked alongside Lee Gwak.

It was a smile she rarely showed even when she was with her colleagues.

Among her colleagues, she was known as the Ice Witch, rumored to have a heart made of ice.

For her to smile at someone was rare.

The wind was blowing.

She had always thought the wind from the front was unpleasant, as it always brought with it the scent of blood and sticky humidity. But today’s breeze was somehow refreshing.

As they walked shoulder to shoulder, the brilliant moonlight poured down on them.