Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 119

March 28, 2024 • 12 min read • 134 views

The Struck Remember, But the Striker Forgets Easily (1)

Novel- Martial Artist Lee Gwak

Lee Gwak’s eyes widened.

Neither the splinters nor the flames from the exploding boat were a problem. His eyes were fixed on the spot where Han So cheon had been standing.

The explosion of the wall-breaking bomb completely obliterated the back of the boat, along with the vagrants standing there.

“What’s happening?”

“It’s an attack.”

The martial artists who had been resting rushed to the rear with their weapons drawn. But the rear, where many vagrants had been, was completely gone, it no longer existed.

“This can’t be!”

Not many of the vagrants had survived.

Even those who survived were moaning, wounded by the shrapnel from the wall-breaking bomb.

“Argh!”

“Save me!”

The rushing martial artists hastily carried the wounded to the center of the deck. Even then, Lee Gwak stood like a statue, unmoving.

“Squad leader!”

“Are you okay?”

It wasn’t until his teammates rushed to him that he reacted.

They checked Lee Gwak’s body for injuries, but he was unscathed.

“What happened?”

“This can’t be!”

Yong Cheon Myeong and the female guide belatedly rushed to the site of the explosion.

Upon understanding the situation, Yong Cheon Myeong glared at the female guide.

“To attack the delegation… I never thought the Celestial Demon Troupe could be so shameless.”

“This is definitely not the Celestial Demon Troupe’s doing. There must be some misunderstanding.”

“A misunderstanding? Can you still say that after seeing this scene?”

“But…”

The female guide was unable to continue, her expression confused.

The boat flew a flag that symbolizes the Celestial Demon Troupe. No matter how rough the martial artists of the Celestial Demon Troupe were, they wouldn’t deny their authority and attack. She was somewhat reassured by this fact.

Yong Cheon Myeong growled like a beast, his breath harsh.

“This responsibility will definitely be taken up with the Celestial Demon Troupe. You all better be prepared.”

“If it was indeed our side who attacked, we will definitely take responsibility. But that’s absolutely impossible. Why would we do something to be doubted in our own territory?”

“We’ll see about that. Is it possible that there are those within the Celestial Demon Troupe who oppose the negotiations? If so, that’s disappointing. Not being able to control your own men and causing harm to the delegation.”

“That’s…”

The female guide shook her head.

Within the Celestial Demon Troupe, it was true that many viewed the negotiations unfavorably. However, the idea of them launching such a bold attack was unthinkable, at least to her understanding.

She quickly regained her composure and said,

“I will take responsibility and uncover the mastermind behind this incident. So, I hope Master Yong will come back to his sentences. Surely, you do not wish for the negotiations to fall through?”

“Can you stand by that statement?”

“Of course.”

“We shall see.”

At Yong Cheon Myeong’s response,she sighed in relief. For now, the negotiations had been saved from falling apart.

Fortunately, most of those who died in the explosion were vagrants. The martial artists of the Jade Heaven Alliance were miraculously unharmed.

After all, the lives of vagrants were bought and sold for money.

If they were paid a reasonable price for their lives, the situation could be resolved.

While the female guide was absorbed in handling the aftermath, Lee Gwak stood motionless.

The river was littered with the bodies of the vagrants who had been killed by the explosion. The bodies of those swept away by the blast had been torn to shreds, their original forms unrecognizable. The blood that flowed from their bodies dyed the river red.

Yong Cheon Myeong gave orders to Seo Jong Myeong,

“Brother, lead the Shadowless Squad and capture the enemy who launched the wall-breaking bomb.”

“I will.”

Without delay, Seo Jong Myeong led the Shadowless Squad in the direction from which the projectile had come. In a flash, they disappeared across the river.

Lee Gwak observed the entire process without missing a detail. His expression was as hard as if it had been encased in iron.

‘ Han So cheon!’

The instant the wall-breaking bomb exploded, Han So cheon had jumped into the river. Unlike others, she was not caught in the explosion.

She wasn’t the only one. Go Jeon-ok and the entire Hidden Blood Squad had also thrown themselves to escape the blast. As if they’d been waiting for it.

‘The ambush using the wall-breaking bomb was planned. The Hidden Blood Squad and Go Jeon-ok already knew about it and were prepared.’

Lee Gwak’s gaze sunk even further.

He was certain. Among the fragmented corpses floating on the river, none belonged to the Hidden Blood Squad.

By now, they would have reached the riverbank and escaped the area.

It wasn’t their safety he wondered about; it was their mission.

It was a mission carried out by secretly extracting the Hidden Blood Squad. Naturally, it was not going to be ordinary.

Lee Gwak’s eyes remained fixed on Yong Cheon Myeong.

Yong Cheon Myeong clearly appeared enraged, but Lee Gwak knew. In truth, Yong Cheon Myeong was not angry at all.

‘Yong Cheon Myeong!’

He wanted to ask Yong Cheon Myeong where the Hidden Blood Squad had been taken. But he had to restrain himself.

Anger rose in his chest, but his head was colder than ever.

Now was the time to be quiet.

Lee Gwak turned around.

“Squad leader!”

His squad followed him.

***

Seo Jong Myeong and the Shadowless Squad returned to the boat without any results. They hadn’t caught the enemy who fired the wall-breaking bomb, nor had they found any trace of it.

Yong Cheon Myeong was furious again, but that didn’t mean the delegation could withdraw.

After receiving a promise from the female guide to prevent such an incident, Yong Cheon Myeong set off again.

The atmosphere was heavy as the journey continued.

The mood of the men, especially those who had lost their comrades, was indescribably sombre. Though their sense of comradeship was weak, it wasn’t possible to remain unaffected after losing dozens of comrades at once.

‘The Celestial Demon Troupe, those bastards! I knew it.’

‘As expected, the Celestial Demon Troupe can’t be trusted.’

They silently harbored their hatred for the Celestial Demon Troupe.

Because of this, the atmosphere of the delegation was heavy. The journey to the Celestial Demon Troupe was filled with silence.

The delegation regained some vitality only when they were almost at the Celestial Demon Troupe.

“Ah!”

“Uh!”

People were awestruck by the landscape unfolding before them.

A great river flowed across the vast expanse of land, with sharp mountain peaks on either side. Between the river and the mountains were countless rice paddies and fields.

Unknown birds foraged in the river and farmers sweated as they worked the land. The picturesque scenery, combined with the red sunset sky, naturally elicited exclamations of admiration.

But what most caught their attention was the massive fortress in the distance. Standing like a monster in the middle of the plain, the fortress was an overwhelming presence even from a distance.

“Is that the Celestial Demon Troupe?”

Around the massive fortress, were numerous houses and large halls, forming a city around the Celestial Demon Troupe.

Overall, the size of the Celestial Demon Troupe was similar to Jade Heaven Alliance. However, it somehow seemed heavier and grander.

In front of the gates of Celestial Demon Troupe were countless martial artists. Each martial artist exuded an unusual aura, they stood side by side on either side of the gates, waiting for the delegation.

Standing alone in the middle of the martial artists was an elderly martial artist. The female guide spoke upon recognizing his face.

“Uh! I didn’t expect Elder Ohn to personally come to meet us.”

“Elder Ohn?”

“He’s one of the Ten Blood Demons, the top experts of the Troupe. Usually, he resides in the Origin Demon Palace, but it seems he has come out considering the importance of this matter.”
The female guide’s eyes wavered.

The Origin Demon Palace was where the previous generation of experts from the Celestial Demon Troupe resided.

The troupe revered them as the Ten Blood Demons.

However, typically, they seldom made public appearances. Being experts from a previous generation, they had retired from the front lines to live a secluded life. As such, even the female guide had only seen them a few times.

The person who came to meet the delegation was one of the Ten Blood Demons, Black Phantom Dragon Ohn Ja Wol.

Ohn Ja Wol was not only powerful in martial arts but also renowned for his deep strategic insight. As a result, even Jin Gwang Hon, the leader of the Celestial Demon Troupe, would consult him on major matters.

The Female Guide had always found Ohn Ja Wol particularly difficult to deal with. Not just with him, but with all of the Ten Blood Demons, as the Priestess’ Palace that she was a part of often came into conflict with them.

‘Elder Ohn is personally intervening? What happened while I was away?’

Though her mind was filled with questions, it was time to show respect.

The female guide quickly made a formal gesture to Ohn Ja Wol.

“I, Oh Cho Hye from the Priestess Place, greet Elder Ohn.”

“You’ve had a hard time bringing the delegation. From here on, I will take over.”

“But the delegation is under Priestess Place’s…”

“It’s the troupe leader’s order.”

Ohn Ja Wol’s statement silenced the female guide.

In the Celestial Demon Troupe, the troupe leader’s authority was paramount. Even if the saintess had given orders, they couldn’t oppose the troupe leader’s authority.

Ohn Ja Wol indifferently passed by the female guide and approached Yong Cheon Myeong.

“Are you the Young Master of the Jade Heaven Alliance?”

“Yes! I am Yong Cheon Myeong.”

“My name is Ohn Ja Wol. From now on, I will guide you.”

“Understood.”

Yong Cheon Myeong responded calmly.

Ohn Ja Wol moved forward, continuing the conversation.

“You are the first foreigners to formally enter the Celestial Demon Troupe. You should take pride in this. It’s the first time the Celestial Demon Troupe has welcomed outsiders with such honors.”
“It’s an honor.”

At that moment, the martial artists lined up on either side of the gate drew their weapons, pointed at the sky, and shouted.

“We sincerely welcome the delegation to the Celestial Demon Troupe.”

The piercing voice rang out in the sky, causing a cloud of dust to rise in the air.

Yong Cheon Myeong and the delegation’s expressions changed slightly.

They noticed that the voices of the martial artists contained a hint of grandeur.

It was a kind of intimidation and a warning.

A warning not to act rashly, even though they were accepting the delegation.

‘Presumptuous!’

A chill of killing intent flashed in Yong Cheon Myeong’s eyes, but he soon controlled his killing intent and regained his composure.

Negotiations had not yet begun. He couldn’t afford to be disturbed by such trivial matters if he wanted to achieve a good outcome.

Yong Cheon Myeong thought of himself as a lion.

Destined to stand at the top of the world and rule over all, he couldn’t afford to be shaken by such trivialities.

He straightened his back, squared his shoulders, and entered the Celestial Demon Troupe with pride.

Following Yong Cheon Myeong, the delegation entered the Celestial Demon Troupe in turn.

“Uh!”

“Hu!”

Exclamations involuntarily escaped the delegation’s lips. The interior was even more magnificent than it appeared from the outside.

Countless halls and buildings, giant partition walls separating different districts, and well-maintained streets filled with people going about their business.

It was a scene surprisingly similar to the Jade Heaven Alliance.

Until now, when they thought of the Celestial Demon Troupe, they imagined a group of demonic cultivators, practicing dark arts and exuding malicious aura – the scum of humanity.

This was the prejudice held by most of the Jianghu. However, the scene before them shattered those prejudices completely.

People on the streets looked at the delegation with wary eyes or with curiosity filled gazes.

Like the Jade Heaven Alliance, the Celestial Demon Troupe also had its own inner court. Ohn Ja Wol led the delegation toward the inner court.

Upon reaching the entrance of the inner court, Ohn Ja Wol turned to the envoy and said,

“Only Young Master Yong can meet the troupe leader. The rest of you will wait in the guest hall.”

“Are you saying I should enter alone?”

“Are you afraid?”

“Hmph! There is no one who can instill fear in me. I will meet your leader alone.”

Challenged by Ohn Ja Wol, Yong Cheon Myeong boldly responded and started walking towards the inner court. Ohn Ja Wol watched Yong Cheon Myeong go with a sardonic smile.

‘Still just a young pup.’

He quietly observed the delegation.

Seo Jong Myeong and the Shadowless Squad appeared regretful as they watched Yong Cheon Myeong enter the inner court alone, while the others could not relax their tense expressions.

Their expressions did not deviate from Ohn Ja Wol’s expectations. Internally, he looked down on them.

That’s when it happened.

Suddenly he felt an eerie stare, like an awl piercing his heart. It was fleeting, but enough to send a shiver down his spine.

‘Who is it?’

Caught off guard by the intense glare, he quickly scanned the delegation. However, he could not find the source of the eerie gaze.

‘Was it my imagination?’

A look of suspicion crossed his face.