Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 122

March 28, 2024 • 12 min read • 135 views

The Dead Rise to Kill the Living (1)

Novel- Martial Artist Lee Gwak

Yong Cheon Myeong looked out the window with an expressionless face.

Above the tall walls surrounding the guesthouse, the roofs of numerous buildings were visible.
Behind him sat Jwa Ryoon and Seo Jong Myeong, their faces stern. They stared at his back without speaking.

Gwan Il Hyeon and Gu Munhye.

Yong Cheon Myeong had met with these two in succession.

Gwan Il Hyeon demanded humiliating conditions from Yong Cheon Myeong, and despite that, Gu Munhye argued that peace negotiations should proceed.

The talks left Yong Cheon Myeong extremely tired and humiliated.

Gu Munhye truly tried her best to persuade Yong Cheon Myeong.

She sincerely wished for peace in the Jianghu and desperately tried to prevent the war between the Celestial Demon Troupe and the Jade Heaven Alliance. However, despite her efforts, the negotiations failed.

The negotiations with Gu Munhye were somewhat acceptable. At least she respected Yong Cheon Myeong. But Gwan Il Hyeon was different.

He scraped Yong Cheon Myeong’s pride from the bottom, leaving him with deep wounds.
Gwan Il Hyeon was arrogant and unprepared to negotiate in the first place.

Gu Munhye, who joined later, tried to correct Gwan Il Hyeon’s unilateral attitude, but it was in vain.

In the end, the negotiations broke down, and a huge lump formed in Yong Cheon Myeong’s throat.

What angered him more than anything was the behavior of Jin Gwang Hon, the Supreme leader of the Celestial Demon Troupe, who only showed his face briefly on the first day, but hadn’t shown any sign since.

His attitude was clearly disrespectful of Yong Cheon Myeong.

Yong Cheon Myeong’s expressionless face was proof that his anger was at its peak. His silence continued for a while.

He spoke after a long pause.

“As expected, they have no intention of negotiating. I was foolish to have even a shred of hope.”

“Cheon Myeong!”

“Grandmaster!”

Seo Jong Myeong and Jwa Ryoon’s expressions stiffened.

They had already anticipated what Yong Cheon Myeong would say.

“We will proceed with the original plan.”

“Uhm!”

A cold sigh involuntarily escaped both of them.

They had somewhat prepared for this moment since they came here, but hearing it directly from Yong Cheon Myeong’s mouth naturally made them tense.

Seo Jong Myeong asked, “When do you plan to execute it?”

“In two days.”

“Understood.”

Seo Jong Myeong nodded his head.

In two days, the delegation was scheduled to withdraw from the Celestial Demon Troupe.

If the negotiations had proceeded properly, they would have had to stay longer, but currently, the chances of a favorable outcome seemed bleak.

The Celestial Demon Troupe had almost imprisoned the delegation within the empty guesthouse, preventing any outside activity due to concerns of exposing their military strength.

They made it impossible for them to engage in any external activities. Even though the war between the Celestial Demon Troupe and the Celestial Demon Troupe was at its peak, such measures were arguably excessive. As a result, Yong Cheon Myeong’s patience was severely tested.

“How little they must have thought of us…”

Yong Cheon Myeong gritted his teeth.

He had never suffered such humiliation since mastering martial arts.

Ja Hong Cheon, the supreme leader and master of the Jade Heaven Alliance, always showed him the minimum courtesy. Yong Cheon Myeong expected at least that much respect from the Celestial Demon Troupe. However, instead of courtesy, the Celestial Demon Troupe offered insults.

Anger crawled up from deep within Yong Cheon Myeong’s heart. He suppressed his anger with superhuman patience, but it only grew deeper and deeper.

Jwa Ryoon, as if reading his mind, said,

“That’s why we never trusted the Celestial Demon Troupe from the start. They lack faith and courtesy. So we don’t have to be polite to them either.”.”

“You’re right.”

Yong Cheon Myeong nodded.

Suddenly, Seo Jong Myeong sighed.

Yong Cheon Myeong’s decision was what he had hoped for, but there was one thing that bothered him.

‘Gwak!’

He didn’t care about anyone else, but he had to take care of Lee Gwak. However, he wasn’t sure if he would be able to take care of him through the rapidly changing situation.

****

The next day, the delegation was invited to a banquet.

Regardless of the outcome of the negotiations, it would be a disgrace to the Celestial Demon Troupe if they did not treat the delegation well.

The banquet was set up within the inner court.

All members of the delegation went to the banquet hall without exception.

To get to the banquet hall, they had to pass through the main road of the outer court. Many people stood by the road, watching the delegation.

It had been almost a hundred years since outsiders had entered, and they were martial artists from the Jade Heaven Alliance, who were at war with the Celestial Demon Troupe. Naturally, their curiosity was piqued.

Lee Gwak and the 13th squad also headed to the banquet hall.

Although they were of the lowest rank, they were part of the delegation and therefore invited.

All the way to the inner court, Lee Gwak cautiously observed his surroundings.

‘This place is similar to the Jade Heaven Alliance. There are mechanisms spread throughout the area.’

The arrangement of buildings and houses around the main road was not natural. They were placed according to the principles of the Five Elements, and with a few adjustments they could quickly turn into a deadly trap.

With the secretly installed mechanisms, it was literally a gateway to death.

‘There must be someone here proficient in mechanisms as well.’

Lee Gwak felt curious about the person who had designed this place.

After formally learning about mechanisms from Maa Doo Won, his thirst for knowledge only grew. He wanted to meet the person who designed and managed this place to learn about mechanisms. But given the circumstances, he had to figure out how to get out efficiently in case it was triggered.

While Lee Gwak was lost in his thoughts, the delegation arrived at the banquet hall.

The banquet hall was the epitome of splendor.

The walls and ceiling of the banquet hall were adorned with extravagant decorations, and tables covered with red cloth filled the room. The tables were laden with all kinds of delicacies, and the fragrant aroma wafted to the entrance, tantalizing the senses of the delegation.

At the head of the banquet hall, Gwan Il Hyeon and the martial artists of the Celestial Demon Troupe were already seated.

Yong Cheon Myeong’s complexion hardened upon seeing them.

The fact that Gwan Il Hyeon, not Jin Gwang Hon, the lord of Celestial Demon Troupe, was hosting the banquet was proof that they were being disrespected.

‘Is this how it’s going to be?’

Yong Cheon Myeong forced a smile, though he was grinding his teeth internally.

He greeted Gwan Il Hyeon with a fist salute.

“Thank you for inviting us.”

“When I visited the Jade Heaven Alliance before, I too was treated well, so it’s only right to return the favor. Please, take a seat, brother Yong.”

Gwan Il Hyeon offered Yong Cheon Myeong a seat opposite him.

Yong Cheon Myeong nodded and sat down, prompting Gwan Il Hyeon to order his subordinate.

“Then, let the banquet begin.”

“Yes!”

Music filled the banquet hall, and dancers entered. The nearly half-naked dancers were so enchanting it was dizzying.

Their dance, synchronized with the music, was designed to captivate the hearts of men with every move.

“Uhm!”

In fact, some of the martial artists were so mesmerized by the dancers that they couldn’t keep their wits about them.

“Truly… amazing.”

Among them was Seok Yi Cheon.

Seok Yi Cheon watched a dancer performing up close with his mouth agape. Ki Jin Hwi chided him.

“If you keep this up, you might as well settle down here.”

“I wish I could.”

“Tsk, wake up from your dream. Even if you settle down here, do you think those women would give you a second glance?”

“What’s wrong with me?”

“Are you really asking that?”

“You seem to become more emotionally dry as the days go by. Must you touch a flower to appreciate it? Simply watching it is also a way to love the flower.”

“Enough with the sophistry, let’s eat. It seems they’ve put some effort into the preparation; it’s quite delicious.”

Ki Jin Hwi took a plate from the table and started eating. Seok Yi Cheon looked at him and muttered, “His sensitivity is like a paddy field cracked by drought.’

Lee Gwak and the 13th squad took their seats at the very end of the banquet hall. Although they were often scolded as the lowest ranks in the Jade Heaven Alliance, in the Celestial Demon Troupe, they were given proper seats as part of the delegation..

Thanks to this, Lee Gwak and the 13th squad could eat comfortably without worrying about others.

At the head table, Gwan Il Hyeon and Yong Cheon Myeong were having a serious conversation with grim expressions, but for the 13th squad members, it felt like a story from another country, too distant to relate to.

Lee Gwak looked indifferently at Gwan Il Hyeon while holding his plate.

Gwan Il Hyeon’s arrogant gaze and gestures were clear at a glance. His mentality of considering everyone else beneath him was ingrained in his movements.

Yong Cheon Myeong seemed infuriated by Gwan Il Hyeon’s attitude.

Yong Cheon Myeong was no less arrogant, but being in the Celestial Demon Troupe, he was inevitably overshadowed by Gwan Il Hyeon.

It wasn’t just between Gwan Il Hyeon and Yong Cheon Myeong. The leaders of the Celestial Demon Troupe and the Jade Heaven Alliance, who sat at the same table, were also engaged in a battle of auras. Their faces were smiling, but their eyes were fierce.

It was a battlefield.

They were not wielding swords, but they were engaged in a battle of pride.

Lee Gwak silently observed their confrontation.

Time was passing by, dull and uneventful.

***
The city formed around the Celestial Demon Troupe was called the City of Gods, or Shinji.
For the people living in Shinji, the lord of the Celestial Demon Troupe was a deity, and the Celestial Demon Troupe was the center of their lives. Thus, the people of Shinji willingly became the eyes and ears of the Celestial Demon Troupe.

Whenever outsiders appeared in Shinji, the Celestial Demon Troupe was immediately informed, and any slight suspicious activity was quickly detected.

The Wu Family Manor was a fairly large estate located in the center of Shinji.

Since the early days of the Celestial Demon Troupe’s establishment, it had changed owners several times, but the name Wu Family Manor had been maintained, making it a place with a long history.

Late in the evening, the gates of Wu Family Manor were wide open, and a large carriage entered.

The people of Shinji saw this scene and thought nothing unusual of it. The Wu Family Manor had been operating a trading company for generations, and carriages coming and going were a common sight. It was a daily occurrence, at least here.

As the carriage entered, the gates of Wu Family Manor closed, completely cutting off any external view.

“Phew!”

The coachman stepped out of the carriage, wiping the sweat from his brow.

Then, a middle-aged man approached from inside Wu Family Manor. He was Gong Ha-Seong, the master of Wu Family Manor.

Gong Ha-Seong spoke to the coachman.

“You’ve had a long journey. How many barrels of wine have you brought?”

“Twenty in total.”

“Twenty barrels all by yourself, you must have had a hard time.”

“Hard Time? It’s just what I ought to do.”

The coachman looked around as he answered, and Gong Ha-Seong smiled warmly.

“No need to worry. I’ve sent everyone away under some pretext. Today, it’s just you and me here, and them.”

Relieved by Gong Ha-Seong’s words, the coachman let out a sigh and stroked his face, peeling off the thin human skin mask to reveal his true identity.

The man disguised with the human skin mask was Go Jeon-Ok.

He walked over to the carriage’s luggage compartment and knocked on it with his hand. The liquor barrels in the carriage rattled, and the lids were opened and people came out.
Instead of wine, the barrel contained people. There were twenty barrels in the carriage, and each contained a person.

Twenty people emerged, but not a sound was heard from any of them. Despite the likely discomfort from hiding in the barrels for a long time, there was no change in their expression, making one wonder if they were really human.

Gong Ha-Seong couldn’t help but inwardly admire them.

‘The alliance has sent its best warriors.’

Then, Go Jeon-Ok approached a particularly thin middle-aged man who emerged from one of the barrels. The man, thin as a bamboo, had eyes that shone menacingly even in the darkness.
Go Jeon-Ok carefully said to him,

“Leader, we have arrived at our destination.”

“This place is the safe house?”

“Yes. Gong Ha-Seong has gone through a lot of trouble to prepare this safe house for us.”
The leader’s gaze turned towards Gong Ha-Seong.

“Are you one of the Seven Stars?”

“Yes, I am, Leader Cheol.”

“You’ve done well.”

“It was my duty.”

Gong Ha-Seong bowed respectfully.

He was one of the Seven Stars that the Jade Heaven Alliance had managed to infiltrate into the Celestial Demon Troupe, and the Wu Family Manor was the safe house he had prepared.

The leader’s subordinates gathered behind him.

Cheol Gwan Ho, Lim Moon hye, and Han So Cheon…

They were the Hidden Blood Squad.

Beyond the walls of Wu Family Manor, the Celestial Demon Troupe was visible. They could hear the faint sounds of music carried by the wind.

A banquet was taking place inside the Celestial Demon Troupe.

A cold killing intent flickered in Cheol Geuk jin’s eyes.

“Good.”