Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 146

April 24, 2024 • 10 min read • 440 views

The Young Grow, and the Old Wane (2)

Everything vanished.

The dense rainforest, the vivid blue sky, and the unbroken canopy of trees were erased from Lee Gwak’s sight.

Only one thing remained visible: Gwang Noh ya.

A Mountain that he had never been able to surpass stood firmly before his eyes.

Lee Gwak charged towards him.

He forgot everything.

The fear, the limits he had set for himself.

Lee Gwak cast aside everything and rushed at Gwang Noh ya.

Screech!

His sword sliced through the air.

It was just a simple thrust, but the air screamed in response.

The only thing that had changed was his heart, yet Lee Gwak’s vision transformed.

He saw wider. His gaze reached deeper.

There was no weakness in his senses anymore.

In real time, information was coming in and being organized to guide him.

The path he needed to take, the strategy he needed to adopt.

Lee Gwak followed that path and swung his sword.

Swoosh!

Gwang Noh ya and he merged in combat.

It was no longer a one-sided fight.

It was a battle of advance and retreat.

Clang! Clang!

A series of clangs erupted.

With each clash, shockwaves occurred, turning the area upside down.

On his revolving steps, Lee Gwak added the six basic forms: slash, chop, grab, push, stab, press.

The simple six forms diversified into dozens, hundreds of techniques.

The use of the sword was limitless.

Everything Lee Gwak imagined became a technique.

Lee Gwak forgot everything.

That he was facing Gwang Noh ya.

Even the fact that he was wielding his sword.

He didn’t know how long he had been wielding the sword. He was completely immersed in the fight.

Thud!

Suddenly, an alien sound rang out.

Lee Gwak blinked his eyes at the strange sensation in his hand.

It took a moment for his mind to snap back to reality.

When he regained his senses, an unreal scene unfolded before his eyes.

His sword had pierced through Gwang Noh ya’s abdomen and protruded out his back.

Blood slid down the blade, dripping onto the ground.

“Ah!”

Lee Gwak’s pupils shook.

Only then did his mind fully return to reality.

“Mas…ter!”

“Well done.”

Gwang Noh ya smiled.

His face looking at Lee Gwak was filled with a pleased light.

Moments ago, his student had transcended his limits in a state of nothingness.

He had faced his disciple as an opponent to the death.

He had given his all.

Gwang Noh ya too was fully immersed in the fight, giving his best.

Lee Gwak’s fighting spirit had stimulated Gwang Noh Ya, and Gwang Noh Ya’s overwhelming martial prowess had elevated Lee Gwak to a higher level.

Honestly, Gwang Noh ya couldn’t remember the latter part of the fight, as he was so deeply immersed.

It was right after Lee Gwak’s sword pierced his abdomen that Gwang Noh ya came to his senses. Despite the intense pain of his flesh and organs being torn apart, Gwang Noh ya smiled. It was the outcome he had so desperately wished for.

The disciple had surpassed the master, and the master had become the foundation for the disciple.

“Master!”

Lee Gwak released the handle of the sword, attempting to support Gwang Noh ya, but Gwang Noh ya refused his help.

“It’s okay.”

“But…”

Lee Gwak’s voice trembled.

He had fought with the intention of defeating Gwang Noh ya, but he hadn’t expected to mortally wound him.

Gwang Noh ya spoke to Lee Gwak.

“This was what I wanted. So, you don’t need to blame yourself.”

“Master!”

“Even without this wound, I wouldn’t have lasted more than three days. If I hadn’t fought with you, I might have lived another three days, but I would have died a miserable old man.

“…”

“Meeting my end as a proud martial artist. I have fulfilled my last wish.”
Gwang Noh ya’s voice was calm.

His expression was so serene that it hardly seemed like he was facing death. Lee Gwak’s face, on the other hand, was distorted as if he was about to cry.

“Phew! I’m tired. Let’s sit for a bit.”

Gwang Noh Ya sighed and sat down on a small rock nearby. Lee Gwak’s sword was still piercing through his stomach.

Gwang Noh Ya sat on the rock and took a deep breath. Black, dead blood oozed from his lips.
Lee Gwak’s eyes darkened as he watched.

Despite knowing Gwang Noh ya had only a few days left, the fact that he had hastened his master’s demise tormented him.

Lee Gwak’s shoulders trembled, but he forcefully suppressed the shaking.

Gwang Noh ya wished to die as a warrior to the very end. Feeling more guilt would only insult him.

He was his only disciple.

He must always carry on Gwang Noh ya’s will and remain dignified.

Lee Gwak straightened his back and squared his shoulders.

Seeing this, Gwang Noh ya laughed.

“Hahaha! Exactly. As my disciple, you must always be dignified. You must never forget this.”

“I will remember.”

Lee Gwak responded firmly.

Gwang Noh ya gently touched the blade that had pierced his abdomen. He felt a chilling coldness at his fingertips.

Thinking back, it had been a hundred years since he last suffered such a grievous wound.

A limping warrior who overcame with just his fists.

He woke from a coma after being injured in a fight.

Had it not been for that battle, he would have continued to live as a lost soul. In a way, he owed his awakening to that opponent.

But that fight left Gwang Noh ya with severe aftereffects, including bouts of madness.

“Looking back, I was too arrogant.”

Gwang Noh ya’s voice was tinged with self-mockery.

Lee Gwak silently listened.

“From a young age, I never found a worthy opponent and was hailed as the supreme being early in life. My friends and I were called the Four Divine Emperors, and I also earned the title of the Iron-Blooded Martial God. I feared nothing because I believed only I could do it, filled with arrogance.”

“Master?”

“I hope you do not make the same mistake. No, you won’t. You are different, having risen from the bottom.”

Gwang Noh ya looked up at the sky.

Over the years, he and Lee Gwak had shared many conversations and teachings. Yet, one last lesson remained.

With a burst, Gwang Noh ya pulled out the sword from his abdomen, unleashing a torrent of blood.

Shreds of his entrails mixed in the flowing blood, but Gwang Noh ya did not flinch as he handed the sword to Lee Gwak.

Lee Gwak carefully accepted the sword, stained with his master’s blood. Gwang Noh ya then said,

“You have come this far with the pure intention of becoming stronger and reaching a formidable level. I respect you for growing so strong with a pure heart, without leaning to any side. But that’s as far as a pure heart can take you. If you wish to transcend, to overcome the solid walls that block your path, you too must make a choice.

“A choice?”

“Whether it’s the path of righteousness or evil, whether it’s to save others or take lives, you must walk straight towards one goal. There’s no middle ground.”

“…”

“I’m not saying you must decide right now. But the time will come. A moment when you must make a choice. You could become a righteous hero admired by the world or even tread the path of the demonic. Whichever choice you make, it’s yours to bear.”

“…”

Though Gwang Noh ya said “someday,” Lee Gwak felt the moment of choice was imminent.

There was no middle ground on this path.

It was a moment to determine his fate.

His choice would determine the path laid out before him.

Countless memories flashed through Lee Gwak’s mind like a spinning lantern.

Memories of leaving his hometown in childhood to wander the world.

The moment he joined the Jade Heaven Alliance after many hardships.

Painful memories of being paralyzed and unable to move, and the face of Han So cheon appeared.

The 13th squad, Mount Sohua… and now, his memories led to the present.

Layers of memories piled up, countless connections interwoven, culminating in his existence now.

All he had experienced influenced him.

“My path is…”

Lee Gwak looked at the sword in his hand.

It was an ordinary sword, obtainable anywhere. He had wanted to live an ordinary life like the sword he held.

But no matter how ordinary it appeared, a sword was a weapon of killing.

Holding the sword, he was a martial artist capable of harming others.

Could he, detached from the grace and conflict of the Jianghu, live an ordinary life?
Lee Gwak shook his head.

He was a martial artist.

No matter how much he denied it, that fact would not change.

Lee Gwak finally made his decision.

“I will fight.”

“Against what?”

“There is someone I must fight.”

Gwang Noh ya’s gaze flickered intensely, guessing who Lee Gwak wished to fight.

“Are you speaking of the child you fought in the gorge?”

“Yes.”

“He is strong.”

“He will be the next Sky of the Celestial Demon Troupe.”

“The path to reach such a person is as treacherous as a thorny road.”

“Yet, I must go.”

“Why?”

“It feels like my destiny.”

“You felt your destiny in that child?”

“It seems so.”

Gwang Noh ya smiled at Lee Gwak’s response.

His disciple, who still looked so young, was already sensing his destiny and willing to follow it.

He was both pleased and worried.

“It won’t be easy.”

“I know.”

“Heaven may not permit it.”

“Then I will kill the heavens.”

“Kill the heavens?”

“Yes!”

“Heaven Killing Sword… Heaven Killing Sword. Your sword technique…”

TL/N- It’s the same technique Pyo Wol faced with Lee Geomhan

“I will call it that.”

“Good!”

“Master!”

“…”

Gwang Noh ya fell silent.

He continued to smile at Lee Gwak, but there was no longer any vitality in his gaze.

With only the name Heaven Killing Sword remaining, he passed away.

“Master!”

***
Lee Gwak picked up branches.

He gathered the wood piece by piece, stacking it into a tall platform. On this platform, he laid the body of Gwang Noh ya.

From the corpse of Gwang Noh ya, who had breathed his last, a foul stench was already emanating. This was because the poison of God’s Blood Tear was rapidly decomposing his body.

Lee Gwak wanted to build a simple grave for him if possible. However, he felt that this was not what Gwang Noh ya would have wanted.

Gwang Noh ya wished for no trace of himself to be left in this world.

“Master!”

Lee Gwak called out to Gwang Noh ya quietly.

Although a foul smell was coming from his body, his expression looked so peaceful.

Lee Gwak hoped that Gwang Noh ya could rest in peace in the heavens.

“I will never forget you.”

A flame blossomed above Lee Gwak’s hand.

It was the flame of Samadhi Fire.

The flame he created flickered splendidly in the air.

This single flame was the comfort and the highest tribute Lee Gwak could offer to Gwang Noh ya.

Petals made of fire scattered into the air and disappeared one by one.

With the last remaining flame, Lee Gwak set the platform on fire. The flames climbed the dry branches with a terrifying vigor.

The flames quickly spread to Gwang Noh ya.

The fiercely burning fire left nothing of Gwang Noh ya, not even a bone to recover. Gwang Noh ya returned to perfect nothingness, leaving no trace behind.

Now, all that remained with Lee Gwak was an ordinary sword in his hand.