Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 118

March 28, 2024 • 11 min read • 120 views

Endless Entanglement of Grudges (3)

Novel- Martial Artist Lee Gwak

Seo Jong Myeong carefully picked up Bisa and spoke,

“A hundred years ago, the Diancang Sect was destroyed by a sudden attack from the Celestial Demon Troupe. Realizing that the situation was irreversible, the leader at that time hid the divine weapon, fearing that it might fall into the hands of the Celestial Demon Troupe and be misused”.

Swoosh!

Seo Jong Myeong unsheathed Bisa.

Though it had been buried in the underground for a hundred years, the sword was shining eerily without a speck of rust.

The leader at that time could have never imagined that Bisa, the sword he had hidden, would see the light of day again after a hundred years.

Seo Jong Myeong had learned of Bisa’s whereabouts from his master. His master had earnestly instructed him to find it and rebuild the Diancang Sect.

Seo Jong Myeong gently caressed the blade of the sword.

Zing!

As if lamenting the years it had been buried underground, Bisa let out a sword cry. It was truly a legendary sword worthy of its reputation.

After silently observing Bisa for a while, Seo Jong Myeong sheathed it again. He discarded the sword he had been carrying and, strapping Bisa to his waist, and opened his mouth.

“It was my master’s wish. To find Bisa and rebuild the Diancang Sect.”

“Squad Leader… no, Grand Master.”

“My master believed that I would bring the Diancang Sect back to its former glory. But I am not a person of such caliber.”

A bitter smile played on Seo Jong Myeong’s lips.

To rebuild and revitalize a sect required not only martial skills but also political acumen, interpersonal relationships, numerous patrons, and a cold rationality that would not be swayed by the tides of time.

However, Seo Jong Myeong lacked everything except martial arts. He might become an exceptional martial artist, but he was not cut out to rebuild a sect.

So, even with the sword around his waist, he was unable to put on a good face.

The purpose of finding Bisa was not to rebuild the Diancang Sect, but to obtain a weapon that could aid his journey.

“Bisa will eventually be passed on to someone who can rebuild the Diancang Sect. That is, if I am still alive.

“You will live a long life, Grand Master.”

“Thank you. Even if it’s just words, I appreciate it.”

Seo Jong Myeong smiled at the consolation.

“But why have you brought me here?”

“You have ties to the Diancang Sect as well.”

“Are you referring to me?”

“Yes! You’ve learned the Moonset Blade Technique, so you’re hardly an outsider.”

“…”

“It’s a joke. I just didn’t have the courage to come here alone. To face the past, I needed a companion, and that happened to be you, the most convenient one.”

“I’m grateful for that.”

“Let’s go! They’ll be suspicious if we get back late.”

“Yes!”

Seo Jongmyeong walked lonely steps.

While following, Lee Gwak suddenly turned around.

The morning sun was turning the ruins red.

The remnants of a fallen era made Lee Gwak’s heart feel lonely as well.

They managed to return to the inn just before the sun was fully up. Avoiding the watchful eyes, they secretly entered the inn and had to prepare for departure without rest.

The delegation finished their breakfast quickly and departed.

The guide approached Seo Jong Myeong, who was leading the horse.

“Did you go somewhere last night?”

“What are you talking about?”

“You just look tired.”

“It must be a misunderstanding. I’m full of energy right now.”

“Hmm! Is that so?”

The guide tilted her head in doubt.

She quickly scanned Seo Jong Myeong from head to toe before returning to her spot.

Seo Jong Myeong thought that the guide’s instincts were very good and carefully stroked the sword around his waist.

His sword had changed, but no one noticed, not even his subordinates from the Shadowless Squad. But Seo Jong Myeong didn’t mind. It would have been more troublesome if someone had recognized it.

Seo Jong Myeong suddenly turned his head to look back.

He saw Lee Gwak following at the end.

A smile suddenly formed on his lips. For some reason, he felt reassured with Lee Gwak.

When he first accepted Lee Gwak as a member, he didn’t expect to feel this way. To him, the outer hall was just a place he was passing through, and Lee Gwak was a member he had reluctantly taken on.

He had resolved not to get attached, but now he trusted Lee Gwak more than anyone, even more than his Shadowless Squad, which could be considered his arms and legs.

“A curious fellow.”

Seo Jong Myeong muttered to himself and turned his attention back to the front.

Meanwhile, Lee Gwak was looking elsewhere.

He was looking at the vagrants in the middle of the procession, precisely at Han So cheon, who was disguised among them.

Like the other vagrants, Han So cheon was laughing and blending in, so no one realized she was a woman.

The same was true for the other members of the Hidden Blood Squad. They were naturally mingling and acting among the other vagrants.

If Lee Gwak hadn’t known their faces, he might have mistaken them for ordinary vagrants.

“Where is their leader?”

Lee Gwak’s eyes sharply scanned the vagrants.

Surely, among them, someone had to be the leader of the Hidden Blood Squad.

However, Lee Gwak could not identify the Hidden Blood Squad’s leader at all.

The Hidden Blood Squad was someone with such a strong presence and distinctive features that once seen, he could never be forgotten. That’s why Lee Gwak, having seen him just once at Mount Sohua, still remembered him vividly.

No matter how skilled he was at disguising himself, it was impossible to perfectly hide those distinctive features.

Especially deceiving the eyes of a martial artist like him, who had opened his heart’s eye, was almost impossible.

‘Could it be that he didn’t join the delegation from the start?’

Lee Gwak thought it was unlikely.

It made no sense that the subordinates of the Hidden Blood Squad had secretly joined the delegation, but the leader himself had not.

‘What exactly is he plotting?’

His gaze then shifted towards Yong Cheon Myeong, who was at the front.

***

The delegation heading to the Celestial Demon Troupe was blocked by a large river, but fortunately, a large boat was waiting on the river to help them cross.

Yong Cheon Myeong told the delegation:

“The boat will take us up the river for about a day, so you should rest until then.”

“Yes!”

The delegation could finally relax for a while.

Since leaving the Dongseong Inn, they had barely rested due to their tight schedule, only taking minimal breaks.

Lee Gwak and the 13th squad settled on one side of the deck. They filled their hunger by chewing on the dry rations they had prepared in advance.

Even while eating, Lee Gwak did not take his eyes off the surrounding scenery.

From leaving the Crimson Blood Fortress to their arrival here, Lee Gwak had always been vigilant, carefully observing the surroundings, and sometimes quietly going somewhere. Fortunately, with the 13th Squad following at the back of the delegation, no one paid attention to them. This allowed Lee Gwak to move around relatively freely.

Then, suddenly, Lee Gwak spoke up.

“If we had to cross this river without a boat, what would be the best way to do it?”

“Assuming we’re being pursued by enemies?”

Lee Gwak nodded at Ki Jin-hwi’s question.

“Yes, assuming that.”

“Obviously we can’t stick our heads above the surface. So maybe the best thing is to use reeds to breathe underwater? That’s the only way to breathe underwater.

The method Ki Jin-hwi proposed was something anyone could anticipate. The squad members seemed to agree with his idea, nodding their heads.

Then, Cheon Wol spoke up.

“In that case, wouldn’t it be better to weave reeds to create a small island?”

“An island?”

“You know how after it rains you can see a lot of reeds coming downstream from the upper reaches, clumped together, looking almost like islands? Similarly, if we can make it look like an island on the outside, but hollow it out on the inside, we could hide inside and naturally float downstream”.

“Wow!”

Everyone exclaimed in admiration at Cheon Wol’s suggestion. It was quite plausible.

“Certainly, that would help conserve energy.”

“And it could deceive the pursuers’ eyes. This youngest member of ours has some clever tricks up his sleeve.”

Lee Gwak looked at the squad members as they naturally continued their conversation.

Ever since they left the Crimson Blood Fortress, they had always discussed escape routes. It started with Lee Gwak initiating the topic, followed by squad members adding their thoughts.

As they pooled their ideas together, sometimes they would come up with unexpectedly ingenious solutions.

They didn’t waste a single moment. In a way, they were desperate.

They knew they were the weakest link in the delegation.

This meant that in a sudden turn of events, they could be sacrificed at any moment. Therefore, they desperately prepared for any potential scenarios.

Lee Gwak quietly slipped away from the group, leaving them to their heated discussions. As he did so, Go Jeon-ok sneaked up beside him.

“What is your squad always discussing?”

“Just this and that…”

As Lee Gwak gave a vague answer, Go Jeon-ok slightly furrowed his brows. However, he didn’t press further.

He leaned against the railing next to Lee Gwak, silently watching the passing scenery. A strange silence settled between the two.

Go Jeon-ok was the first to break the silence.

“Gwak!”

“……”

Lee Gwak silently looked at him.

“I will definitely rise to power. I won’t be the sun in the sky like the Young Master, but I’ll still climb up and reach those heights. And I will take revenge on those who looked down on me.”

“Revenge?”

“Yes! Those who looked down on me because I’m from the outer hall.”

Go Jeon-ok’s eyes gleamed fiercely.

His desire for success was almost an obsession. He seemed to pursue success as if it was everything in life.

Suddenly, Go Jeon-ok grinned.

“That’s why I’ll do whatever it takes.”

“Aren’t you already doing that?”

“I’ve always maintained a minimum level of principle. But now, my thoughts have changed. That level is not enough. To truly obtain what I desire, I must give up being human.”

“So, you’re saying you’re willing to give up being human?”

At Lee Gwak’s question, Go Jeon-ok just grinned. Lee Gwak looked at him with a heavy gaze.

In Go Jeon-ok’s eyes, a firm resolution was evident. Lee Gwak realized that he had indeed decided to give up his humanity.

“Jeon-ok, you…”

“Thanks for everything, Lee Gwak! I mean it.”

Suddenly, Go Jeon-ok patted Lee Gwak’s shoulder and walked past him.

Lee Gwak watched Go Jeon-ok’s retreating figure intently.

He felt an odd sensation.

He couldn’t understand why Go Jeon-ok had sought him out to say these things. They weren’t that close.

‘Jeon-ok!’

Go Jeon-ok headed towards the very back of the boat.

There, a group of vagrants was sitting and resting. Go Jeon-ok squeezed through them and started talking to someone.

The person Go Jeon-ok was talking to was someone Lee Gwak was well aware of.

‘The Hidden Blood Squad.’

Specifically, it was Cheol Gwan Ho, one of the squad leaders. Go Jeon-ok and Cheol Gwan Ho exchanged whispers. Go Jeon-ok’s expression looked grave.

Then, Han So cheon, who was standing silently next to Cheol Gwan-ho, appeared. She was still disguised as a common vagrant.

By chance, at that moment, Han So cheon also turned her head to look at Lee Gwak.

Their gazes briefly met in mid-air.

‘So-cheon!’

There was a distance of almost ten meters between them, but for two people trained in martial arts, it wasn’t a problem.

Suddenly, Han So cheon smiled gently. She was aware of Lee Gwak as well.

Lee Gwak thought Han So cheon’s smile looked sad. Although she was clearly smiling, it felt like she was crying.

Unknowingly, Lee Gwak started walking towards her. Then, Han So cheon quietly shook her head.

It was a sign for him not to come closer. Yet, as Lee Gwak attempted to approach, she shook her head again.

Faced with her refusal, Lee Gwak could no longer continue walking towards her. He could only watch from a distance.

Even though they were in the same space, there seemed to be an invisible wall between them, making the situation even more sorrowful.

That’s when it happened.

Swoosh!

Suddenly, an arrow flew out of nowhere and struck the back of the boat.

‘A Wall-Breaking Bomb?’

Boom!

At that moment, the wall-breaking bomb exploded, engulfing the back of the boat in flames.