Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 110

March 25, 2024 • 11 min read • 141 views

Fate Flows to Unpredictable Places (1)

Within Seige Fortress, there existed a considerably large Manor.

The Bok family manor..

It was presumed that someone with the surname Bok once lived in this grand manor, but now it was occupied by unwelcome guests.

Dressed uniformly in black martial uniforms, a group of about a dozen men and women had taken over. Black pifeng and wide-brimmed hats, presumably belonging to them, hung on the walls.

Tl/n- Pifeng is some type of coat

They were seated around various parts of the manor. Some were tending to their weapons, while others lay under a large tree, taking a nap.

Among them, a man sharpening his sword caught the most attention.

With a rugged appearance and a physique twice the size of an average person, his muscles resembled rocks, and his hair grew wildly like a lion’s mane. Nothing about him looked ordinary.

He meticulously wiped his giant iron sword with a white cloth. His concentrated demeanor while cleaning the sword almost seemed devout.

After a while, he stopped wiping the sword. A satisfied smile appeared on his lips as he looked at the blade, now spotless and shining.

Swoosh!

He sheathed the sword and looked around.

Suddenly, a deep furrow formed between his brows.

“Where’s So cheon?”

“She hasn’t returned yet.”

His gaze sank even deeper at the nearby woman’s reply.

“She stayed out?”

“As long as she doesn’t leave the Seige Fortress, she’s free to sleep wherever she wants.”

“…”

His lips tightened, as if he didn’t like what he heard. The woman who answered knew that this was the look he gave when he was upset.

At that moment, the manor’s gate opened, and a woman in black martial attire walked in. The woman who noticed her brightened.

“There she is, So cheon.”

The woman entering the manor in black was none other than Han So cheon.

Upon her arrival, the giant man spoke.

“Where have you been? So cheon.”

“Do I have to report my personal life as well?”

“Personal life, you say?”

The man’s gaze sank deeper.

His name was Cheol Gwan Ho.

He was the leader of the first squad of the Hidden Blood Squad and Han So Cheon’s superior. However, Han So Cheon’s attitude towards him was distinctly cold.

“Yes! Personal life.”

“Hmm!”

“Whether I sleep somewhere or not, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the mission, it should be fine, right?”

Cheol Gwan Ho bit his lip.

Han So cheon’s words were true.Given the dangerous nature of their missions, they were free to spend their free-time as they wished.

Then, the woman by Cheol Gwan Ho’s side tilted her head.

“Your complexion looks better. You must have gotten some sleep.”

“Yes!”

“Huh!”

At Han So cheon’s response, the woman, Lim Moon hye, let out a peculiar hum.

Through her intuition, she sensed that Han So cheon’s expression and aura had changed.

‘What’s going on?’

She knew So Cheon suffered from insomnia, barely sleeping an hour a day, and even then, only lightly, always appearing tired.

However, So Cheon’s face now showed no signs of fatigue, clearly having had a good night’s sleep somewhere.

Like Cheol Gwan Ho, Lim Moon hye was curious about where Han So cheon had slept but didn’t ask. She knew Han So cheon wouldn’t answer.

Han So cheon leaned against a large rock in the manor, blatantly ignoring Cheol Gwan Ho. Though he was furious, he didn’t speak further to So cheon, understanding why she was so cold towards him.

‘It must be because of Jang Oh.’

Jang Oh was one of their comrades who had been critically injured on a reckless mission. They had desperately rescued him and brought him to Seige Fortress for medical treatment.

Unfortunately, despite their efforts, Jang Oh could not overcome his injuries and had passed away the previous evening.

The person who had assigned Jang Oh the reckless mission was Cheol Gwan Ho himself. Han So cheon had opposed it, but Cheol Gwan Ho dismissed her objections and proceeded with the plan, leading to Jang Oh’s death.

Since then, a chill had developed between Cheol Gwan Ho and Han So Cheon.

Cheol Gwan Ho clenched his lips tightly.

Although he bore some responsibility for Jang Oh’s death, he believed sacrifices were necessary to complete missions and did not regret his decision.

Han So cheon paid no attention to Cheol Gwan Ho, lost in her own thoughts.

‘Oraboni.’

She had fallen asleep in Lee Gwak’s arms the previous night.

For once, she didn’t wake up in the middle of the night nor did she dream. It was a deep sleep, the likes of which she hadn’t experienced in a long time.

She didn’t know why she could only find such restful sleep in Lee Gwak’s arms. But being held by him, all her worries and the haunting scent of blood seemed to dissipate.

Thanks to that, her mind felt clearer and more refreshed than ever before.

Then, the moment came.

Creak!

The rusty hinges screamed as the gate opened, and a middle-aged martial artist as thin as a bamboo entered the manor. It was Cheol Geuk jin, the leader of the Hidden Blood Squad.

Upon his arrival, all members of Hidden Blood Squad stood up.

“Leader!”

Cheol Geuk jin scanned the Hidden Blood Squad with his sharp gaze.

His snake-like eyes made the martial artists of Hidden Blood Squad shudder. Despite years under his command, they were still not accustomed to his piercing look.

Cheol Geuk jin spoke.

“We have been assigned a new mission.”

“……”

Everyone kept silent, watching him intently.

Receiving new missions was routine for them. However, for Cheol Geuk jin to discuss it in a full assembly of Hidden Blood Squad was exceedingly rare. Typically, he would inform the squad leaders individually.

They intuitively understood that this mission was more important and dangerous than their usual tasks.

“In three days, we will accompany the Young Master into the heart of the Celestial Demon Troupe.”

“……”

At that moment, the pupils of the Hidden Blood Squad martial artists trembled.

Years had passed since the war with the Celestial Demon Troupe Began, yet no one from their side had infiltrated Celestial Demon Troupe’s headquarters. In fact, no outsider had ever entered and returned from Celestial Demon Troupe’s base.

Celestial Demon Troupe’s headquarters were shrouded in secrecy. People naturally fear the unknown, and even martial artists were no exception.

Hidden Blood Squad had undertaken countless life-threatening missions and assassinated many of Celestial Demon Troupe’s martial artists. However, they had never approached the Celestial Demon Troupe’s headquarters.

Speaking for everyone, Cheol Gwan Ho asked,

“An… assassination mission?”

“We will accompany the Young Master.”

“So, it’s not an assassination?”

“Didn’t I say? We are to accompany the Grand Prince.”

“But…”

“The Young Master is entering the Celestial Demon Troupe for peace negotiations. And we are responsible for his safety.”

“Peace negotiations? What does that mean…?”

Confusion was evident on everyone’s faces.

The war with the Celestial Demon Troupe had been ongoing for years, deepening the rift between the two sides to seemingly irreparable depths. The sudden mention of peace negotiations was understandably perplexing.

“I’ve been informed by the Young Master that the Celestial Demon Troupe initiated the negotiations. After much deliberation, the Celestial Demon Troupe decided to send the Young Master as the chief negotiator. There’s no need to overthink this. Our mission is to protect the Young Master. Focus solely on that.”

“Yes!”

“As I said, our departure is in three days. Until then, rest and be ready. Do you understand?”

“Yes! Understood.”

Regardless of their complex feelings, the Hidden Blood Squad responded in unison.

“Everyone, you may leave now.”

“Yes!”

With a robust response, Hidden Blood Squad martial artists left the room in unison. Han So cheon was about to follow when,

“So cheon, stay behind. You have a separate mission.”

Cheol Geuk jin’s cold gaze fixed on Han So cheon.

Han So cheon’s eyes deepened.

“Yes!”

***

Seo Jong Myeong unexpectedly visited Lee Gwak.

“What are you doing?”

“Huh?”

“If you’re free, let’s go out. I have something to discuss.”

Seo Jong Myeong’s expression seemed serious, so Lee Gwak followed without protest.

He led Lee Gwak to the fortress walls surrounding the outskirts.

From atop the wall, they could see the entire region at a glance.

In the distance, they could see smoke rising. It was only a few dozen miles from Seige Fortress.

“That’s the boundary line. Beyond that lies the Celestial Demon Troupe’s territory.”

“……”

Lee Gwak silently looked at Seo Jong Myeong, unsure of what he intended to say.

Seo Jong Myeong continued without paying mind to Lee Gwak’s silence.

“Years have passed since the war began, but few have crossed that boundary. Only a handful of martial artists have gone beyond and returned safely; most have laid down their bones there. It’s a fearsome place. Crossing that place and traveling west for about ten days, there lies a land of secrets no one has ever visited.”

“Are you talking about the Celestial Demon Troupe?”

“Yes. The stronghold of evil and Jade Heaven Alliance’s eternal enemy, Celestial Demon Troupe, resides there. Yet, no outsider has ever entered the Celestial Demon Troupe’s main base. We can only speculate about its size and manpower based on rumors, knowing nothing for sure. That ignorance breeds fear.”

“Are we going there?”

“Yes! I will accompany the Young Master to the Celestial Demon Troupe.”

“May I ask why?”

“For peace negotiations. The Celestial Demon Troupe has recently proposed negotiations, and the Young Master has been chosen as our representative. And I’ve been assigned to accompany him.”

“Should I congratulate you?”

At Lee Gwak’s question, Seo Jong Myeong gave a bitter laugh.

“Hardly. Success would make history, but failure means death, with the latter far more likely.”

“Knowing that, you still choose to go?”

“Why do you think moths fly into flames? Knowing it will die, yet it flies into the fire. Perhaps my fate is similar.”

Celestial Demon Troupe’s rise led to the downfall of Diancang Sect, with many martial artists brutally killed and survivors living in misery.

For Seo Jong Myeong, the last disciple of the Diancang Sect, Celestial Demon Troupe was an unforgivable source of evil, a loathsome existence that could never coexist with the world. He formed the Shadowless Squad to fight them.

Despite having killed numerous Celestial Demon Troupe martial artists, his thirst for vengeance remained unquenched. If he had one last wish, it was to kill as many Celestial Demon Troupe martial artists as possible before his death and to see the old grounds of the Diancang Sect one last time.

“Accompanying the Young Master to the Celestial Demon Troupe means I’ll likely pass by the old grounds of the Diancang Sect. That would fulfill one of my two wishes.”

“All that just to accompany the Young Master?”

“It might seem trivial to you, but it’s the wish of a lifetime for me. It’s also the reason I’m still alive.”

“Hmm!”

“Lee Gwak!”

“Yes!”

“People often stake their lives on values others can’t understand. It’s not just me being strange.”

Seo Jong Myeong gave Lee Gwak a wry smile, but there was a touch of melancholy in it.

“I’m truly sorry.”

“For what?”

“You’ve been included in the delegation going to the Celestial Demon Troupe.”

“I have?”

“Yes! The Young Master insisted that the 13th squad be part of this procession. I don’t know why.”

“……”

“I did my best to exclude you, but it was to no avail. I’m sorry.”

Seo Jong Myeong looked at Lee Gwak with genuine regret.

“Why should you apologize? It’s the Young Master’s decision, isn’t it?”

“Still, you’re like my own, and it troubles me to bring you along to such a dangerous place.”

“It’s alright. Don’t worry about it. It’s not something you can control.”

“Take this.”

Suddenly, Seo Jong Myeong handed Lee Gwak a yellowed booklet.

“What is this?”

“It’s the Moonset Blade Technique, one of the few remaining blade techniques of the Diancang Sect.”

“Why give this to me?”

“That’s what my heart tells me to do.”