Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 112

March 28, 2024 • 12 min read • 141 views

Fate Flows to Unpredictable Places (3)

Novel- Martial Artist Lee Gwak

He stored a small ax and dagger in a leather belt and tied it around his waist. Even though it contained quite a few bulky items, the leather belt did not give any burden.

Next, he wrapped the Silkworm Thread around his right forearm. Even after wrapping it dozens of times, he felt no sense of compression.

On his left forearm, he wore the meteor awl. The meteor awl, much thicker than the silk thread, settled on his left arm like a snake coiling itself.

Lee Gwak rotated his hands a few times. There was no hindrance, and it felt good. He then strapped a sword to his waist, adjusting its position for immediate draw, before finally putting on his Pi feng coat.

Inside the bulky Pi Feng were dozens of small steel needles and various items, but its appearance was so ordinary that no one could imagine it contained so many items.

Only after completing all his preparations did Lee Gwak stand up.

His room was empty. Han So Cheon, with whom he had shared love the night before, had left without a word before he had even opened his eyes.

She was gone, and the heat of the previous night had vanished without a trace. However, the warmth of her presence still lingered in Lee Gwak’s heart.

Opening the door wide, Lee Gwak was greeted by a cold breeze that swept away the remaining warmth.

As he stepped outside, he saw his waiting members: Seok Yi Cheon, Ki Jin-hwi, Go Cheon Gwang, Woo Il Yeong and Cheon Wol, all fully prepared and waiting for Lee Gwak.

“Let’s go.”

At Lee Gwak’s command, they nodded and followed him.

The 13th squad headed towards the main gate of the city.

It was still before dawn, and the city was submerged in deep darkness, the streets quiet.
Upon reaching the main gate, Lee Gwak and his members saw dozens of martial artists lined up. Among them were Jang Gwang and the elites of the city.

Lee Gwak slightly bowed his head towards Jang Gwang and spoke.

“All members of the 13th squad are ready to depart.”

“Stand at the back.”

“Yes!”

“Under no circumstances should you move to the front. The rear suits you best.”

“Understood.”

Lee Gwak responded and moved back with his members, aligning themselves at the very rear.
After a while, a group approached from the front, led by a martial artist exuding an imposing aura.

It was Yong Cheon-myeong.

To his left and right were Jwa Ryoon and Seo Jong-myeong, followed by the members of the Mystic Martial Squad and the Shadowless Squad.

Both the Mystic Martial Squad and the Shadowless Squad consisted of seasoned martial artists from the battlefield, subtly emanating a faint killing intent.

Their presence overwhelmingly dominated the assembly, but Lee Gwak’s gaze was fixed elsewhere.

Behind the Shadowless Squad and the Mystic Martial Squad, another group of martial artists followed. These were mercenaries specially hired from the Vagrant Market. Considering the dangerous destination, even the Vagrant Market had hired top fighters to fill the ranks.

Not the likes of the worthless Mad Blood Trio he had fought before, but those recognized in the Vagrant Market.

Among these Vagrants, some possessed remarkable martial prowess.

Cha Moo-gyeong, known as the Bloodhound Leopard.

Gong Hwak, the Ghost Wanderer.

Even among vagrants, they were top-tier, having earned proper nicknames due to their prominence in the Vagrant Market.

Their skills were said to be on par with, if not better than, the renowned masters of the Jianghu. In the chaos of battle, they were even considered superior to the masters of some prestigious sects.

Scanning the Vagrants, Lee Gwak’s eyes lit up upon recognizing a familiar face.

‘So Cheon!’

Han So Cheon was disguised as an ordinary Vagrant, hiding her presence. She wasn’t alone; Cheol Gwan Ho, Lim Moon hye, and other members of the Hidden Blood Squad were also disguised as Vagrants.

Lee Gwak remembered them clearly from a previous encounter, while they did not recognize him at all.

‘Hidden Blood Squad’

Hiding one’s presence was a critical skill required for assassins. And the Hidden Blood Squad was true to this basic principle. Like becoming entirely different people, they completely changed their demeanor to blend in with the crowd, making them indistinguishable from the Vagrants.

Suddenly, Lee Gwak and Han So Cheon’s eyes met. However, she indifferently shifted her gaze elsewhere, completely ignoring Lee Gwak as if nothing had happened the night before.

Lee Gwak’s gaze deepened.

Then, Yong Cheon-myeong’s command was issued.

“Depart!”

Jang Gwang, the lord of the Siege fortress, led the elites out of the city first.

He and his subordinates were the most knowledgeable about the journey from this place to the borderlands of the Celestial Demon Troupe.

Flutter!

Above their heads, the flag symbolizing the Jade Heaven Alliance unfurled.

Jang Gwang issued an order to his men.

“Once we reach the border region, there will be people from the Celestial Demon Troupe to meet us. Our mission is to escort the young master and his party safely to that point. Stay alert and keep a close watch on our surroundings.”

“Yes!”

“Cut down anyone who approaches without permission, regardless of their identity. I will take full responsibility.”
“Understood!”

The men responded in unison.

It was true that Yong Cheon-myeong was heading to Celestial Demon Troupe for peace negotiations, but the negotiations had not yet been finalized. This meant that the war was still ongoing.

Battles were still raging across various frontlines between the Celestial Demon Troupe, Jade Heaven Alliance, and other martial artists from the jianghu. They had no intention of backing down until the peace negotiations were concluded.

A misstep could easily drag them into an unintended conflict, which is why Jang Gwang ordered them to be vigilant.

At that moment, Seok Yi-cheon approached Lee Gwak and whispered.

“Isn’t that guy lingering around the young master Jeon Ok?”

Lee Gwak looked where Seok Yi-cheon was pointing.

A man was busily explaining something next to Yong Cheon-myeong. When Lee Gwak focused his vision, the man’s face became clear.

Just as Seok Yi-cheon said, it was indeed Jeon Ok.

“He’s truly remarkable. How did he manage to be so close to the young master already?”

Seok Yi-cheon clicked his tongue in amazement.

The proximity to a power holder often indicated a person’s status. Being close meant they were undoubtedly important.

The fact that Jeon Ok was directly reporting to Yong Cheon-myeong proved his extraordinary position.

After finishing his report, Jeon Ok stepped back and quickly blended into the crowd.

“That guy will go far. With such methods, no doubt.”

Seok Yi-cheon sneered, and Lee Gwak silently nodded in agreement.

Meanwhile, the envoy procession had entered deep into the frontlines.

The wind carried a mix of the sharp scent of blood and the smell of decay. Lee Gwak recognized it as the stench of corpses, indicating that somewhere nearby, bodies were decomposing.

The area was a frequent site of fierce battles, resulting in numerous deaths. Neither the Jade Heaven Alliance nor Celestial Demon Troupe had the resources to collect the bodies.

Unrecovered corpses littered across the battlefield became fodder for beasts or rotted away in a gruesome state.

Indeed, Lee Gwak and the delegation saw arms and legs protruding from the bushes. The flesh had rotted away, leaving darkened bones teeming with maggots.

“Shit!”

Several vagrants couldn’t stand the stench of decay and covered their noses.

Even those accustomed to battlefields found the foul smell of decomposing bodies unbearable.

Then, a report came in.

“There are people approaching from the front.”

The scouts who had been sent out returned with their report.

“Everyone, be on guard.”

As Lee Gwak and his companions stood at the rear, the tension in the air thickened with Jang Gwang’s command to stay alert.

Following Jang Gwang’s order, the martial artists who had joined the procession drew their weapons in unison and watched the front attentively.

Koo-goo-goo!

The enemies’ figures were not yet visible, but a powerful energy could be felt. It was not the aura emitted by just one or two individuals.

The faces of the Jade Heaven Alliance’s martial artists tensed up, preparing for what was to come.

Finally, the approaching figures revealed themselves, flags bearing the name “Celestial Demon Troupe” fluttering in the wind.

“It’s the Celestial Demon Troupe.”

“Everyone, prepare for battle!”

The martial artists of the Jade Heaven Alliance became unsettled.
Then, Yong Cheon-myeong raised his hand and spoke, “Everyone, be quiet.”

His voice, low and deep, spread among the Jade Heaven Alliance’s martial artists, instilling a strange sense of calm amidst the tension.

With just a few words, Yong Cheon-myeong managed to command the situation, demonstrating his influence and the power of his presence.

Everyone held their breath, watching the front.

The martial artists of the Celestial Demon Troupe had already reached close to the Jade Heaven Alliance Martial Artists.

Easily numbering over three hundred, the Celestial Demon Troupe Martial Artists exuded an Aura no less fierce than their Jade Heaven Alliance counterparts, glaring with hostility.

From the Celestial Demon Troupe’s side, a middle-aged martial artist stepped forward and shouted, “I am Joo Cheongwang of the Crimson Blood Fortress. I have come to greet the Jade Heaven Alliance’s diplomatic delegation under the orders of our leader. Who is in charge of your side?”

Stepping forward, Jang Gwang responded loudly, “I am Jang Gwang, the lord of Siege Fortress. I have come to escort the young master Yong Cheon-myeong of the Jade Heaven Alliance.”

“Ah, so you are Jang Gwang. I am aware that hundreds of my men have lost their lives to your spear.”

Joo Cheongwang’s eyes sharpened, emitting a dangerous aura. However, Jang Gwang remained undaunted.

“Demonic Supreme Sword Joo Cheongwang. Your hands have also claimed the lives of our martial artists. I have sworn to avenge them.”

Though they had never seen each other’s faces before, they were well aware of each other’s notorious reputations. They were the top experts dispatched to the frontlines by the Jade Heaven Alliance and the Celestial Demon Troupe.

The atmosphere was charged with tension, as if even a cough could provoke them to swing their weapons at each other.

Then, Yong Cheon-myeong stepped forward, “It was your side that proposed negotiations first. Surely you’re not suggesting we fight here?”

“So, you are the Jade Heaven Alliance’s Young Prince. Of course, we have no desire to fight. Not at this moment, at least.”

Finally, Joo Cheongwang eased his aggressive stance, followed by Jang Gwang.

Joo Cheongwang then approached Yong Cheon-myeong.

“Last night, a VIP arrived at the Crimson Blood Fortress from our headquarters. They mentioned that the Jade Heaven Alliance’s diplomatic delegation would be arriving, and instructed us to welcome you warmly. However, I did not expect the great master of the Jade Heaven Alliance himself to come as the envoy.”

“Who is the VIP?”

“You will find out once you arrive at Crimson Blood Fortress.”

Joo Cheongwang responded with a displeased expression.

He was in charge of the frontlines of the Celestial Demon Troupe. Even so, he hadn’t realized that there had been negotiations going on beneath the surface until the day before, when a guest of honor from the Celestial Demon Troupe had come and told him about the Delegation.

“Damn! What exactly are the higher-ups thinking?”

He gritted his teeth in frustration.

He didn’t know how many of the Celestial Demon Troupe’s martial artists had died here. The blood spilled on the ground hadn’t even dried yet, he couldn’t understand the leadership’s decision to negotiate.

However, he had no choice but to welcome the delegation, as the order came directly from the Solitary Celestial Demon, the leader he respected the most.

Although his body was following orders, his mind was still cutting the martial artists of the Jade Heaven Alliance’s into thousands and tens of thousands of pieces at this very moment.

Joo Cheongwang scanned the envoy with a sharp gaze.

As expected, the one who stood out the most was Yong Cheon Myeong.

True to his nickname, “Indestructible Steel Blood,” Yong Cheon-myeong’s presence was as imposing as a mountain, fitting for the leader of the delegation.

Next, he noticed Jwa Ryoon and Seo Jong-myeong.

‘So, they have come as well’

Both were seasoned veterans of the battlefield, and Joo Cheongwang had observed their martial prowess from a distance.

Their gaze held strong hostility, but given the circumstances, they restrained their emotions.
Pointing towards Jang Gwang and the elites of Siege Fortress, Joo Cheongwang said to Yong Cheon-myeong, “Are they also part of the delegation?”

“Not exactly.”

“Then they cannot enter the Crimson Blood Fortress. We have orders to only allow the delegation inside.”

Jang Gwang immediately protested, “That’s unacceptable. How can we trust you to only allow the delegation into the Crimson Blood Fortress?”

“Scoff! How can you talk about trust while intending to negotiate?”

Joo Cheongwang, and though Jang Gwang was about to react angrily, he managed to suppress his anger.

As Joo Cheongwang stated, only the delegation had the right to enter the Celestial Demon Troupe. However, his pride was at stake.

“Fine! But we will escort the delegation to the front of Crimson Blood Fortress.”

“Do as you wish! Since you won’t be entering the castle, enjoy the view of the walls to your heart’s content before heading back.”

Joo Cheongwang mocked them and mounted his horse, ready to lead the way to Crimson Blood Fortress.

Just before departure, his gaze swept over the delegation once more.

‘Has he come as well?’

He was on the lookout for the one who had slaughtered his hunting dogs, the Hellhound Squad.