Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 19

November 1, 2023 • 10 min read • 400 views

Episode 19(Another Thread of Fate Connects (1))

Novel- Martial Artist Lee Gwak

Lee Gwak fiddled with the awl.

It was the very awl he had bought from the Silver Family Iron House some time ago. He hadn’t been able to focus on anything else while practising the Eight Sects Sword Art.

Lee Gwak had wholly devoted himself to the Eight Sects Sword Art. However, his progress had recently stagnated. While he could perform perfectly up to the sixth form, he got stuck at the seventh and eighth forms.

At times like this, it would be nice to have a teacher to teach and guide him on the right path, but unfortunately, he was alone and couldn’t ask anyone else for help.

He needed a breakthrough.

That’s when he thought of the Invisible Puncture Art.

Its utility and style were poles apart from the sword.

While the sword technique was suited for close combat, the awl was ideal for ranged attacks. If only he could master the Invisible Puncture Art, it might compensate for his shortcomings in the sword technique.

After toying with the awl for a while, Lee Gwak stood up.

He had the awl and the manual, but a crucial component was missing: a cord to connect to the awl.

Hoping to find a suitable cord in the city’s shops, Lee Gwak left his quarters.

The city streets buzzed with energy.

People bustled about, engaging in various trades. Rather than resembling the outer hall of Jade Heaven Alliance, it looked more like a provincial capital

Lee Gwak walked quietly among the people, no one paying him any particular attention.

He inquired in several shops if they carried a cord suitable for the awl, but to no avail.

Eventually, giving up on sourcing it within the Jade Heaven Alliance, Lee Gwak ventured outwards. He headed to the northern streets, having heard of numerous workshops there.

He realized, it had been almost seven years since he joined the Jade Heaven Alliance, and he had never once ventured to the northern streets. His routine had revolved solely around his workplace and his dwelling.

In a way, it was understandable. The Jade Heaven Alliance provided everything one needed, so there was no need to go out. As a result, he had forgotten about the world outside the Alliance.

Chiding himself for his obliviousness, Lee Gwak walked on.

As rumored, the northern streets teemed with workshops. As he entered, the scent of molten metal and the sound of forceful hammering greeted him.

There were tons of weapons on the shelves in front of the workshops, and many martial artists were choosing their weapons. Lee Gwak was among them, looking at the weapons on the shelves. But nowhere did he see the string he wanted.

The string used for the awl had to be light, tough, and elastic, and finding one with those qualities was no easy task.

After searching in vain through multiple workshops, Lee Gwak’s patience was wearing thin. He was beginning to feel like giving up.

He decided to make one last stop before heading home. If he couldn’t find it here, he would give up cleanly.

Lee Gwak meticulously scanned the stall’s offerings.

‘Hm!’

Then, something peculiar caught his eye.

It was a black whip. But unlike ordinary whips, this one was incredibly slim and long. Its thickness was barely the size of a child’s little finger, yet it stretched to an astonishing three yards.

Lee Gwak reached out and touched the whip.

The texture felt unusually rough under his fingertips, and its elasticity was surprisingly good.

Pow!

He tugged on both sides and felt the strong elasticity.

Just then, an old man, seemingly the owner of the workshop, approached Lee Gwak.

“You seem to fancy that whip.”

“Yes, but it looks like someone else used it.”

He pointed to the tiny scratches on the surface of the whip.

“That’s because I picked it up on a battlefield far away in Naman.”

“What?”

“Sometimes, weapons that have lost their owners find their way here.”

“Can you tell who used it?”

“What does it matter? Weapons don’t inherit memories. What truly matters is how well the weapon fits in the hand.”

Lee Gwak nodded at the old man’s words.

“What do you think, do you like the whip?”

“Yes.”

“Hmm! Many have seen that whip, but no one said they liked it. Now that I see it, it seems it was destined to be with you.”

“How much for it?”

“Just twelve silver nyangs. I’d usually ask for double, but I’ll give you a special price, seeing as it seems destined for you.”

The old man chuckled slyly
.
Lee Gwak laughed in response.

“By that logic, five nyangs should suffice.”

“What nonsense is that?”

“Who else will buy it if not me? Especially since you practically got it for free from the Nanman battlefield?”

“You young ones always haggle hard.”

The old man glared fiercely at Lee Gwak, but Lee Gwak didn’t flinch.

It was typical of the Jade Heaven Alliance.

Even seemingly ordinary craftsmen tried to overcharge when they sensed an opportunity.

While Lee Gwak saw the value, there was no guarantee that others would. Who would want to pay full price when the wear and tear was so deep?

Moreover, this whip, being much finer than usual, was more challenging to handle. Unless one intended to use it as an awl like Lee Gwak, it seemed undesirable.

The item had been hard to sell, but with Lee Gwak showing interest, the old man was trying to charge a premium.

The old man rolled his eyes and said.

“Very well, I’ll give it to you for ten nyang, no more, no less.”

“Five nyang!”

“I won’t sell to you then. Just leave.”

“Understood.”

Lee Gwak set down the whip he’d been holding. He showed no hesitation. The old man’s face twisted with anger.

“Nine nyangs.”

“Five nyangs. That’s all I can offer.”

“You really are stubborn. Don’t you understand that a good weapon is like an extra life? And you call yourself a martial artist of the Jianghu?”

“I’m just a wandering swordsman; I don’t need such a fine weapon.”

The old man glared at Lee Gwak. But Lee Gwak remained impassive, not even glancing at the whip. Finally, the old man sighed deeply.

“Tch! Thought I had a big catch. Where did such a slippery eel come from? Fine! Seven Nyangs.”

“Six nyangs!”

“Still haggling? Maybe you should’ve been a merchant instead of a swordsman.”

“Are you selling?”

“Yes! For six nyang. Hahaha!”

In the end, the old man wore a resigned smile. Lee Gwak had out-negotiated him.
Lee Gwak handed over the six Nyang.

“Use it well. It’s a real bargain, but it’s a fine piece.”

“I know.”

Lee Gwak nodded.

He wound the whip around his forearm. As he pulled his sleeve down, the whip was hidden seamlessly.

Lee Gwak moved his whipped arm around to test its feel. It moved freely without any discomfort.

A smile tugged at the corner of Lee Gwak’s lips.

He nodded to the old man and left the workshop. He could faintly hear the old man grumbling behind him, but he paid no attention.

Outside, Lee Gwak touched the whip on his arm as he walked. The cool touch of the whip was surprisingly comforting. It fit tightly but didn’t feel constricting.

Lee Gwak felt fortunate. To get such an item for six nyang was a stroke of luck.

He couldn’t wait to get back to his quarters and connect the whip to the awl, so he took a shortcut.

The shortcut Lee Gwak took took him through a slum behind the workshop street. He’d heard of this slum, but had never ventured into it.

Unlike the vibrant workshop street, the slum was filthy. Most of the houses were dilapidated wooden shacks, on the verge of collapsing. The streets were piled high with filth, emitting a foul odour, and there were rats and dogs everywhere.

It was astonishing that people could live in such conditions. Yet, Lee Gwak’s gaze remained undisturbed.

Before joining the Jade Heaven Alliance, he had wandered the world alone. He had seen places even more shocking and filthy than this.

He knew from experience that the world wasn’t as pristine and beautiful as it seemed.
Suspicious eyes from the slum’s inhabitants followed him, but these looks were familiar.

Lee Gwak made a point of not getting involved with them and concentrated straight ahead. How long had he been walking when suddenly,

“What is this? Is this really happening?”

A sharp, young woman’s voice echoed through the slum, capturing everyone’s attention.
Instinctively, Lee Gwak turned towards the source of the voice.

He saw a young girl arguing with a raggedly dressed man.

“You changed the deal. Why do you men keep changing your words? And you still call yourself a man?”

“Heh! Who are you, a mere girl, to challenge me? When did I ever promise?”

“What about the agreement you had with our master?”

“Who said that was a promise? I merely said I’d consider it. You should listen to the entire conversation before speaking, young lady.”

Anyone could see that the shabby man was making fun of the young girl.

He had disheveled hair, a grimy skin dripping with filth, and wore tattered clothes. In contrast, the girl, raising her voice in anger, was neatly dressed, looking entirely out of place in the slums.

Lee Gwak’s attention was caught by the young girl. Not because she was cute or pretty, but because they had exchanged greetings before.

‘Was her name Lim So Bo?’

“The brave girl who had fought back on her own when her younger sibling was beaten by her peers was the same girl who argued with the ugly man.”

“You jerk!”

Unable to control her anger, Lim So Bo clenched her fists and glared at the shabby man. But her menacing posture came off more cute than intimidating.

The shabby man, seemingly amused by Lim So Bo’s reaction, wore a faint smile.

“Oh my, so scary! I’m shaking in my boots.”

“Tsk! Fine. Just remember, I’ll tell my master everything.”

“Be my guest.”

The shabby man shrugged, and Lim So Bo pursed her lips.

“I won’t come back here again.”

“Little girl, stop your nonsense and look behind you. Seems like you’ve got a man chasing after you already. Are you roaming around with men at your age?”

“What bullshit are you spouting?”

Lim So Bo snapped and turned around, meeting the gaze of Lee Gwak.

“What?”

“Nothing.”

Seeing that Lim So Bo didn’t seem to remember him, Lee Gwak nodded slightly. However, after a brief stern look, her face relaxed.

“Oh! The man with a two-syllable name. Lee Gwak, right?”

She remembered him.

He nodded in admiration.

“Yes.”

It had been a year since their brief encounter. While he clearly remembered Lim So Bo due to her strong impression, he never expected she would recall him. Her memory was astonishing.

“Why are you here? This isn’t the outer hall.”

“Just passing by.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

“Hmm.”

Just as Lim So Bo tilted her head, the shabby man interrupted.

“Hey, young lady! I’m clearly older, so why are you calling him ‘big brother’?”

“He just looks way younger than you at first glance.”

“Hah!”

The shabby man grimaced, while Lim So Bo smiled triumphantly.

After being pushed around, finally landing a verbal punch seemed to relieve her somewhat.

The shabby man then turned his gaze to Lee Gwak.

“Lucky guy, getting called ‘big brother’ by her. She doesn’t just call anyone that. She’s quite selective.”

“…”

Lee Gwak remained silent, which brought a mischievous look to the shabby man’s face.

He then said to Lim Sobora,

“By any chance, do you like him?”

“Ugh! Seriously, stop talking nonsense!”

Lim So Bo’s sharp voice echoed throughout the slum.