Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 139

April 12, 2024 • 12 min read • 378 views

He Who Stands Up Once, Can Stand Up Twice(1)

It was many years ago that Gwang Noh ya discovered this poison pond.

At that time, he was a young martial artist full of courage, and his curiosity was great. So he wandered the world, seeing and hearing many things.

This place was among those he discovered during his travels.

As a final resting place for venomous creatures, the toxicity of the poison pond was extremely potent. As such, without profound internal energy to resist the poison or the knowledge to utilize poisons, it was impossible for anyone to approach this place.

Gwang Noh ya belonged to the latter category.

No matter how fierce the toxicity of the poison pond, it could not penetrate his profound internal energy. However, Lee Gwak’s case was different.

His internal energy was not only less profound but also in a severely weakened state. Unable to utilize his internal energy, he was teetering on the brink of life and death. Placing Lee Gwak into the poison pond was akin to a death sentence.

However, Gwang Noh ya did not place Lee Gwak into the poison pond without a plan.

The medicine he administered to Lee Gwak was the Thousand Spirit Reviving Poison Pill, which he had obtained from the Sichuan Tang Clan a long time ago.

Although the Sichuan Tang Clan no longer exists, it was the place in the world that best understood and applied the principle of fighting poison with poison.

The Thousand Spirit Reviving Poison Pill administered to Lee Gwak was a poison and spiritual medicine created by the Sichuan Tang Clan. Unlike other spiritual medicines made from beneficial herbs, this one was made from a mixture of poisonous herbs.

However, the Thousand Spirit Reviving Poison Pill alone could not save Lee Gwak’s life. His condition was that dire.

To save Lee Gwak, a more dramatic measure was necessary – to stimulate his vitality with poison.

The human body is mysterious, harboring a latent desire to survive external stimuli or threats.

Gwang Noh ya thought the poison from the poison pond would stimulate Lee Gwak’s vitality. But there was a risk that the fierce toxicity would dissolve his body first. Hence, he administered the Thousand Spirit Reviving Poison Pill, pitting different poisons against each other.

Whether Lee Gwak would overcome the toxicity and survive, or be eroded by the poison and dissolve into a handful of poison water, was beyond Gwang Noh ya’s knowledge. It was out of his hands now.

He had done what he could. All that was left was to wait.

Gwang Noh ya closed his eyes, seeking rest.

“Phew!”

A harsh breath resonated across the poison pond.

Gwang Noh ya dreamed.

He dreamed of the most radiant moments of his life.

The days when he and his companions roamed the world, displaying their valor.

The young live looking forward to the future, while the old live reminiscing about the past.

Gwang Noh ya was no exception.

When his madness subsided even slightly, he would sink into his past.

Faces he hated yet longed for.

“Why did you do it?”

Gwang Noh ya asked. But the him in his dream did not answer.

For over a hundred years, he asked, yet he never received an answer. Knowing this, Gwang Noh ya still asked in his dream.

“Did it have to be this way?”

***

The change in the poison pond occurred on the third day after Lee Gwak was submerged.

Bubble! Bubble!

Bubbles started to rise from the poison pond as if water was boiling.

That’s when Gwang Noh ya opened his eyes.

“Is it starting?”

Any sort of change was a good sign.

No change would mean Lee Gwak had dissolved into the poisonous water.

Gwang Noh ya watched the poison pond closely.

As time passed, the bubbles became more frequent.

After confirming the steady rise of bubbles, Gwang Noh ya suddenly left the poison pond.

He returned to the poison pond half a day later.

On his shoulder was a sizable wild boar.

Slick! Slick!

Gwang Noh ya started to butcher the wild boar without hesitation.

After skinning it and removing the entrails, he prepared the meat.

He lit a fire and began to roast the boar meat while looking at the poison pond. By then, the bubbles from the poison pond had increased.

The entire pond was filled with bubbles.

Whoosh!

Suddenly, something broke through the surface of the poison pond.

“Gurgle!”

The man spitting out the reed tube and vomiting was Lee Gwak. Unable to open his eyes, he kept retching.

At that moment, Gwang Noh ya extended his hand towards Lee Gwak. Then, Lee Gwak’s body gently lifted. It was the technique of telekinesis.

Gwang Noh ya levitated Lee Gwak’s body to the front of the fire.

Lee Gwak, unable to regain consciousness, curled up like a shrimp, trembling.

“Huh!”

A strange breath escaped through Lee Gwak’s lips.

After a while, as Lee Gwak seemed to regain some consciousness and tried to open his eyes, Gwang Noh ya’s indifferent voice was heard.

“Do not open your eyes yet. You haven’t seen the light for a long time, so your eyes are probably weak, so keep them closed for a while and rest”.

“Who… are you?”

Lee Gwak asked, with his eyes still closed.

“Who I am is not important. What matters is the state of your body now. How does it feel?”

Following Gwang Noh ya’s words, Lee Gwak touched his chest and abdomen. A burning pain greeted his fingertips upon touching the wounds. However, the gaping wounds had somewhat healed.

‘How did this happen?’

The injuries had been severe, almost exposing his innards. They were the kind of wounds not even a divine healer could promise to cure. Yet, these wounds had healed, leaving only scars behind.

It was something utterly incomprehensible to Lee Gwak.

Although his internal injuries had not fully healed, the physical damage that had torn his body like a rag had somewhat recovered. To Lee Gwak, it was nothing short of a miracle.

Then, Gwang Noh ya’s voice came again.

“The external wounds might have healed to some extent, but the internal injuries are still there. Start with cultivating your energy.”

Lee Gwak tried to cultivate his energy as Gwang Noh ya suggested, but it was difficult due to major meridians being damaged.

His internal energy felt as if it had completely extinguished.

He needed to reignite the spark to cultivate energy, but with his current physical condition, it was too challenging. Lee Gwak attempted to cultivate his energy several times but failed each time.

Then, Gwang Noh ya’s thick palm touched Lee Gwak’s waist.

“Let me help. Try again.”

Along with Gwang Noh ya’s voice, a torrential surge of energy flowed into Lee Gwak through the Mingmen point.

Gwang Noh ya’s energy was rough and vast. The immense flow was almost too much for Lee Gwak to bear, but he gritted his teeth and endured.

As the foreign energy entered, the snake that had lost its vigor inside Lee Gwak began to regain some strength.

Lee Gwak desperately tried to move the big snake. After some time, the snake began to stir slightly.

“Follow my lead.”

Gwang Noh ya’s voice came again.

His rough energy forcibly moved the big snake.

Having one’s energy moved by another’s will was supposed to be impossible. At least, that’s what Lee Gwak’s common sense told him, but nothing seemed impossible to Gwang Noh Ya.

He confidently manipulated Lee Gwak’s energy as he wished.

Even then, Gwang Noh ya’s voice continued.

“A unique cultivation from the Western Regions. Although your achievement is modest and flawed, preventing it from exerting its full power, it is an excellent cultivation.”

Gwang Noh ya had immediately seen that the fundamental principle Lee Gwak had learned, the Eight Sects Sword Art, originated from the Yoga Secret Manual of the Western Regions.

He effortlessly intervened in Lee Gwak’s Eight Sects Sword Art.

His formidable energy forced the great serpent to move, leaving it no chance to resist.

‘Argh!’

Lee Gwak’s expression twisted slightly due to the slightly different cultivation path, and he felt as if his flesh was being torn off by the pain.

Cultivation is a delicate practice, and arbitrarily changing its path is dangerous. The slightest deviation from the established path could have disastrous consequences, a risk no expert would take.

That was common knowledge in Jianghu, and Lee Gwak had thought so too.

However, Gwang Noh ya shattered that common understanding of Jianghu by operating Lee Gwak’s cultivation off its established path.

Crack! Crack! Crack!

A tumultuous flow was felt inside Lee Gwak’s body.

His body shook violently, as if his blood vessels would burst out at any moment.

Even then, Gwang Noh ya’s voice reached him.

“The essence of the cultivation you’ve learned is the ‘Inverse Growing Wood’. A tree that grows in reverse. It’s not just a metaphor. First, you grow the internal energy, symbolized by a snake, to create a pathway through the spine’s vital points to the brain. In the Jianghu, it’s akin to activating the ‘Life and Death Gate’. Those who open their brains attain unparalleled spiritual and innate abilities. However, that alone is insufficient. You must be able to activate the body’s minor meridians to unleash your full potential. The name ‘Inverse Growing Wood’ comes from the appearance of the activated body’s minor meridians resembling a tree growing upside down. You must enter this process as soon as possible.”

Gwang Noh Ya’s knowledge was profound, hardly what one would expect from someone who had been mad for a long time, especially about martial arts.

All martial arts converge to a single point at their peak, similar to seeing different paths from the top of a mountain.

Gwang Noh ya stood at the highest peak under the heavens. No mountain in the world could reach where he stood.

No martial arts in the world appeared mystical in Gwang Noh ya’s eyes. The same went for Lee Gwak’s Eight Sects Sword Art. With just one intervention, he had seen through the essence of the Eight Sects Sword Art, identifying its issues and imperfections instantly.

Pop! Pop! Pop!

Sounds of something bursting echoed within Lee Gwak’s body, each time bringing him excruciating pain. However, Gwang Noh ya showed no mercy, instead increasing the intensity of his assault.

Swept up in Gwang Noh ya’s energy, Lee Gwak operated the Eight Sects Sword Art. As Lee Gwak’s cultivation somewhat aligned, Gwang Noh ya removed his hand from the Mingmen point.

From this point forward, it was entirely up to Lee Gwak.

Following the path Gwang Noh ya had guided, Lee Gwak operated the Eight Sects Sword Art. It was a path he was traversing for the first time, but he felt no fear, such was his strong trust in Gwang Noh ya.

As Lee Gwak cultivated his energy alone, Gwang Noh ya began to roast the meat again.

The large wild boar meat sizzled as it cooked over the fire.

Gwang Noh ya made sure to turn the meat so it wouldn’t burn.

Given the size of the wild boar, it took a considerable amount of time to cook. Golden juices dripped from the well-cooked meat onto the fire.

Lee Gwak finished his cultivation at that moment.

“Sigh!”

With a soft sigh, Lee Gwak opened his eyes.

His complexion looked significantly better than before. Indeed, the turmoil inside him had calmed down, making breathing easier.

Having finished his cultivation, Lee Gwak looked towards Gwang Noh ya, who was turned away, busy cooking the meat.

There was something familiar about Gwang Noh ya’s back, but having just finished his cultivation, Lee Gwak’s mind was too muddled to remember him easily.

Lee Gwak decided to express his gratitude first.

“Thank you for saving my life.”

“It seems you’ve finally shed your dog-like habits.”

Lee Gwak trembled as if struck by lightning, recalling words that had once completely altered his destiny.

“Gwang…noh ya, is it you?”

“Long time no see, youngster!”

Gwang Noh ya turned to face Lee Gwak.

He was exactly as Lee Gwak remembered him from his memories. Although the madness in his fierce eyes was not visible, the imposing presence and aura were still the same.

Gwang Noh ya gestured.

“Come here.”

“Yes!”

Lee Gwak cautiously approached the fire where Gwang Noh ya was. With every step, he felt as if his body was being torn apart. Only the wounds had healed to some extent; he was far from fully recovered.

Enduring the pain, Lee Gwak moved forward. Gwang Noh ya, watching him, said,

“Sit down.”

“Yes!”

As Lee Gwak took his seat, Gwang Noh ya tossed him a chunk of the well-cooked wild boar meat, saying,

“You haven’t eaten anything for days, so you must be hungry. Fill your stomach first.”

After tossing the meat to Lee Gwak, Gwang Noh ya also took a piece for himself. The sound of chewing filled the forest.

Lee Gwak, holding the piece of meat, looked at Gwang Noh ya.

He had many questions.

There were mountains of things he wanted to ask. But it didn’t seem like Gwang Noh ya would answer them now.

Chomp!

Lee Gwak gave up on asking and began to chew the meat.

Feeling the intense hunger in his stomach the moment he bit into the well-cooked meat, Lee Gwak quickly finished off the piece. Then, Gwang Noh ya tossed him another.

In the darkness of the forest, the sound of the two eating meat echoed.