Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 143

April 24, 2024 • 10 min read • 193 views

The Disciple Resembles the Master (2)

During the day, Lee Gwak fought with Gwang Noh ya.

In reality, it was more like Lee Gwak getting beaten up one-sidedly, but not once did he think it was tough.

With his body battered, he practiced the Eight Snakes Art in the evening.

Lee Gwak’s Eight Snakes Art had significantly changed from its original form. It wasn’t just because Gwang Noh ya had taught him. It was because Lee Gwak had verified himself that what Gwang Noh ya taught was much more precise and profound than the original Eight Snakes Art.

Fights with Gwang Noh Ya during the day and training at night became his daily routine.

Lee Gwak lost track of time.

He didn’t know how many days, months, or years had passed.

Lee Gwak thought it didn’t matter.

He immersed himself in life with Gwang Noh Ya and forgot everything else. But there was one thing he never forgot.

‘Han So Cheon!’

He hoped she had safely escaped.

He prayed that she would be free from the Hidden Blood Squad and never have to work as an assassin again.

‘May you be happy…’

While wishing for Han So Cheon’s safety, Lee Gwak began practicing his Eight Snakes Art.

Once he started practicing, Lee Gwak forgot everything else, focusing solely on the Eight Snakes Art.

He wasn’t sure when it started, but whenever he practiced the Eight Snakes Art, he would feel a tickling sensation in his mind.

It felt as though ants were crawling inside his head.

Sometimes, the itch was so intense he wanted to crack open his head and scratch the itchy part.

His body twitched involuntarily.

It was a phenomenon that occurred without his awareness.

At that moment, Gwang Noh ya’s voice reached him.

“Concentrate. The unbearable itching is a sign that your consciousness is approaching the Seventh Gate.

He spoke as if he could see right into Lee Gwak’s mind.

Lee Gwak endured the itch and focused on his practice.

That day, the great serpent inside him writhed violently, and the sixth serpent awakened and resonated with it.

Lee Gwak clenched his teeth.

Instinctively, he sensed that something was changing.

Boom! Boom! Boom!

As if to prove his intuition, the great serpent burrowed into the gate where the sixth serpent was coiled. The sixth serpent joined in the movement of the great serpent.

Sweat poured from Lee Gwak’s body like rain.

His sweat was murky and foul-smelling as if expelling all the filth from his body. However, Lee Gwak was completely unaware of this.

His consciousness was wholly focused on the movement of the serpents in his mind.

The two snakes intertwined and spiraled deep into Lee Gwak’s mind. They were no longer two entities. They became one large serpent.

The great serpent surged towards the Baihui acupoint, where the seventh gate was located.

A hum!

A resonance came from the seventh gate.

Something beyond was awakening.

It was the seventh serpent. The small serpent, which had long been dormant, woke up in response to the great serpent’s call.

Like lovers separated by a massive door, the large and small serpents called desperately to each other. Unable to bear the separation any longer, they collided violently with the gate that blocked their way.

Thud!

A muffled sound erupted.

Only Lee Gwak could hear this sound. Naturally, he alone had to bear the impact.

Blood trickled from Lee Gwak’s nose.

The gate that separated the great serpent from the small serpent still stood firm.

The two serpents charged at the gate again.

Thump!

The muffled sound grew louder.

Lee Gwak’s tremors intensified.

Now, not only his nose but also his ears began to bleed. Nevertheless, Lee Gwak did not stop his cultivation.

Gwang Noh ya watched Lee Gwak with an indifferent expression.

This was a critical moment.

Whether Lee Gwak could overcome this obstacle would determine his future achievements.

The gate Lee Gwak faced now had to be opened solely by his own strength, without anyone else’s help.

His convulsions grew more violent. Then, abruptly, all movement ceased as if by magic.

A faint smile appeared on Gwang Noh ya’s lips.

Lee Gwak was awake.

His eyes shone with a depth and clarity never before seen.

It was the gaze of someone who had opened the gate by their own strength.
***

The seventh gate had opened.

The seventh serpent had fully awakened.

His head spun.

Lee Gwak felt dizzy.

He saw hallucinations and heard ringing in his ears.

The awakened serpent was stimulating Lee Gwak’s mind, causing these symptoms. Still unfamiliar with the change, Lee Gwak stood dazed, furrowing his brow.

Gwang Noh ya approached him.

“Congratulations. You’ve opened the gate.”

“Thank you. But…”

Lee Gwak hesitated, unable to continue. Gwang Noh ya, as if reading his mind, said, “You’re unsure of what has changed.”

“Yes.”

“The true value of enlightenment reveals itself in battle.”

Encouraged by Gwang Noh ya’s words, Lee Gwak firmly grasped the wooden sword.

His body was still drenched in sweat, emitting a foul smell, but neither Lee Gwak nor Gwang Noh ya minded.

“Huff!”

Lee Gwak took a deep breath, clearing his mind.

Pop!

He pushed off the ground.

Like a swallow gliding over water, his body lowered. He executed the Revolving Steps.

Whoosh!

Air flowed around Lee Gwak’s body.

The resistance and invisible barriers he felt while performing the Revolving Steps were gone.

It was as if the air was supporting him and giving him strength. He had never felt anything like this before.

His eyes caught a strange current, and he realized he was in it.

Swish!

His sword joined the flow.

Slicing through the grain of air, Lee Gwak’s sword became faster and more deadly.

Clang!

A metallic sound erupted.

Simultaneously, Gwang Noh ya’s body slightly wavered.

This was the first change since Lee Gwak had fought him.

Seizing the momentum, he thrust the sword with all his might.

Zi!

Wooosh!

Riding the flow of air, the sword shot forward explosively.

The air caressing his body made his hair wildly flutter. Though the fluttering hair obscured his vision, it didn’t matter.

He didn’t need to see with his eyes.

Riding the air’s flow, all the surroundings entered his mind. Tiny stones peeking out from the ground, the rustling of grass, the movements of the surrounding bushes and insects—all were vividly felt.

Above all, the most distinct was the wildly changing flow of air. The movement of air disturbed by Gwang Noh ya’s movements.

Lee Gwak’s eyes followed this flow of air.

At its end was Gwang Noh ya.

Gwang Noh ya too was moving with the flow of air.

Only then did Lee Gwak realize why he had been unable to catch Gwang Noh ya.

He had long since felt everything Lee Gwak was feeling now, moving with the air itself. Naturally, it was impossible to catch him using normal methods.

But now, things would change.

Lee Gwak had also learned to ride the air’s flow. He executed the Revolving Steps, riding the air’s flow, which increased his speed even further.

A faint smile appeared on Gwang Noh ya’s lips, pleased by Lee Gwak’s enlightenment.

Learning from a good master was essential to mastering the martial arts. A good teacher would guide a student along the right path, one that had been learned through countless trials and errors. But even more important is the student’s own effort to find the right path.

Lee Gwak had done just that.

He had learned martial arts on his own. While his foundation was weak, his constant striving for correctness was strong.

Lee Gwak charged with even greater speed.

Even amidst the whirlwind he created, Gwang Noh ya did not lose his smile.

Clang!

Metallic sounds continuously erupted, evidence that Lee Gwak was catching up to Gwang Noh ya.

Facing Lee Gwak’s stormy charge, Gwang Noh ya waved his hand, his fist heavy with the weight of a thousand muscles.

Instead of dodging, Lee Gwak swung his sword.

Boom!

With a loud bang, Lee Gwak’s body took a step backwards.

His left leg was deeply embedded in the ground. Had it been before, his face would have turned pale from internal injuries, but this time was different.

He had dispersed Gwang Noh ya’s impact across the ground. It was a subtle use of the Revolving Steps that Lee Gwak had realized on his own.

But there was more.

Whoosh!

Lee Gwak’s body spun rapidly. He used the remaining force to gain propulsion.

Lee Gwak’s sword became lightning.

Klang!

A clear metallic sound rang out, sparks flying.

Lee Gwak’s body trembled. Despite mitigating the impact with the Revolving Steps, his insides still quivered.

Lee Gwak’s gaze deepened.

Even at the moment of impact, his eyes were locked on Gwang Noh ya’s fist.

Not for a single moment.

Even as the impact made his head ring, Lee Gwak’s eyes did not leave Gwang Noh ya’s fist.

At that moment, a peculiar sight caught Lee Gwak’s eye.

A subtle change he could see only after opening the seventh gate, not visible before.

At the moment of the collision with the sword, Gwang Noh ya seemed to clasp the air as if grabbing something.

Boom!

Then, an explosion followed.

Lee Gwak was thrown back but soon mitigated the impact with the Revolving Steps.

“Surely…”

A glint appeared in Lee Gwak’s eyes.

He had sensed something. But he could not yet be certain.

Lee Gwak gripped the handle of his sword tighter.

The best way to test his hypothesis was to clash with his body.

As before, Lee Gwak charged at Gwang Noh ya again.

Clang!

A metallic sound erupted, and Lee Gwak was pushed back.

At that moment, a smile appeared on Lee Gwak’s lips.

His smile strikingly resembled Gwang Noh ya’s.

Lee Gwak charged at Gwang Noh ya once more, sword in hand.

He executed the Revolving Steps and thrust with the stabbing technique.

It was the same stance, the same attack as before.

Boom!

But the outcome was different from any before.

Lee Gwak was no longer pushed back, and a slight fracture appeared on Gwang Noh ya’s face.

His fist bore a tiny scratch.

Though blood did not flow freely, droplets formed.

Gwang Noh Ya looked at his fist before turning his gaze to Lee Gwak.

“It seems you’ve found the answer. Did you see it?”

“Because you showed me.”

Gwang Noh ya’s smile deepened.

Some people might look at the same thing all their lives without discovering the answer, while others grasp and internalize the answer after just a few observations.

Lee Gwak belonged to the latter group.

Certainly, Gwang Noh ya intended and showed him, but realizing the answer in such a fleeting moment was truly remarkable.

“Let’s see it then.”

This time, Gwang Noh ya charged.

His fist cut through the air towards Lee Gwak.

The landscape seemed to distort as his fist flew through the air, the power it carried causing the air to churn and interfere with the view.

But Lee Gwak, without a hint of fear, charged head-on and swung his sword.

Boom!

Once more, an explosion rang out.

The cheap wooden sword shattered upon impact, scattering in all directions.

Lee Gwak looked at the sword handle left in his hand.

Whoom!

Unable to withstand the accumulated force, the handle vibrated intensely.

Lee Gwak turned his gaze towards Gwang Noh ya.

The answer he had found was the condensation of Qi.

Gathering energy as naturally as breathing, and concentrating it into a single point.

Lee Gwak had taken another step closer to Gwang Noh ya’s strength.