Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 22

November 3, 2023 • 11 min read • 451 views

Episode 22(Shadows Fade in the Sunlight (1))

Novel- Martial Artist Lee Gwak

As dawn broke, Dan Mok Wol, the leader of Creation Pavilion, gathered everyone and issued a command.

“From now on, the Creation Pavilion will inspect the mechanisms and structures, and the Outer Hall will repair the collapsed buildings. Time is of the essence, so work quickly.”

Only then did Lee Gwak realise why he had been sent here: the outer hall had once again been sent to handle the menial tasks.

The opening of the Steel Hell Blood Training Hall was a deeply guarded secret. If the Celestial Demon Troupe found out, they might take action sooner than anticipated.

One day, the Celestial Demon Troupe would eventually find out, but the longer they could delay it, the better. Therefore, the number of people involved had to be kept to a minimum, especially the ordinary people.

‘So, I’ve been chosen as a mere labourer after all.’

Lee Gwak managed a bitter smile.

To the outside world, Lee Gwak was a low-ranking martial artist who had not long been free from illness. That’s why they brought him in as a worker without worrying.

“Damn it!”

“So, we’re stuck with the grunt work again, aren’t we?”

Seok Yi Cheon and Gok Chaebong couldn’t contain their displeasure. But they didn’t dare to raise their voices too loudly as overseers watched with stern eyes.

“What are you waiting for? Get to work!”

The overseers barked out orders.

In the end, the Outer Hall martial artists had no choice but to get moving.

On the first day, they cleared the debris of the collapsed buildings.

Although they were low-ranking martial artists from the Outer Hall, they too were trained in martial arts. Naturally, they were much stronger and didn’t tire as easily compared to regular labourers.

Despite their grievances, they worked diligently. In three days, the vast grounds were cleared.

Now it was time to rebuild.

Under the supervision of a craftsman specially sent by the Jade Heaven Alliance, the martial artists of the Outer Hall worked tirelessly like ants.

“Bring that timber here.”

“You bastard! Is your head just for decoration? Align it to this line.”

“You may be strong, but what good is it if you don’t think?”

The gruff-bearded craftsman constantly scolded the martial artists. Though they resisted at first, they soon adapted and followed the artisan’s instructions.

Soon enough, a building worthy of accommodation took shape, and some of the martial artists found themselves enjoying the work, excited to build such a large house with their own hands.

Lee Gwak was one of them.

At first, he simply followed orders, but as time passed, he found the work increasingly enjoyable.

“You have a decent knack for this. Stay by my side and help.”

Eventually, the craftsman recognized Lee Gwak’s potential and kept him close.

Working alongside the craftsmen, Lee Gwak learned every step of the construction process.

To build a strong house, a solid foundation was essential. Strong pillars had to be erected, and the weight had to be evenly distributed to keep the structure balanced.

This process resonated with Lee Gwak, reminding him of mastering martial arts. Perhaps that’s why it was even more enjoyable.

For a while, Lee Gwak put aside his challenging martial arts training and devoted himself to building.

In the end, he managed to be involved in most of the process of constructing accommodations large enough to house hundreds.

When the massive quarters were finally completed, Lee Gwak felt an indescribable sense of joy.

“You’re quite skilled, aren’t you?”

At that moment, someone from the Creation Pavilion came to see him. He took Lee Gwak with him, saying that they needed a capable worker.

“Ugh!”

Lee Gwak had no choice in the matter.

“You’ll stay here for now. From tomorrow, you’ll accompany me.”

The man who had brought Lee Gwak was Maa Doo Won. He was an expert in mechanical engineering.

Over the course of a century, many of the mechanisms at Mount Sohua had deteriorated. Restoring them required experts, but there was a shortage of such skilled people.

Even with all the labourers from the Creation Pavilion brought here, the work was slow.

Eventually, the Creation Pavilion resorted to outsourcing, bringing in people from the outer hall for menial tasks. Lee Gwak was thus temporarily assigned there.

Squad leader Seo Jong Myeong didn’t concern himself with the matter, so Lee Gwak had no choice but to follow Maa Doo Won’s orders.

“From now on, follow closely. Only step where I step. If not, I can’t guarantee your safety.”

“Yes, sir!”

Maa Doo Won, with Lee Gwak in tow, ventured into what looked like an ordinary cave. But once inside, the meticulous craftsmanship was obvious. The floor was lined with smooth, blue-coloured stones that seemed strangely out of place.

Maa Doo Won marvelled at the cave’s interior.

“Remarkable! I can’t believe these centuries-old mechanisms are still functional.”

“Are the mechanisms still operational?”

“Want to see?”

Suddenly, Maa Doo Won threw a stone onto the blue floor.

Whoosh!

In an instant, spears shot out of the walls on both sides. Had anyone been standing on the blue stones, they would have been instantly impaled.

“Hmm!”

“See? Although some are damaged, many still function perfectly. So always be on your guard. No one will compensate you if anything happens here.”

“Understood.”

Lee Gwak swallowed hard.

It was his first time witnessing a mechanism in action.

He had heard of various mechanical traps within the Jade Heaven Alliance, but since he always stayed in the Outer Hall, he had never had the chance to experience them firsthand.

“How does it operate in such a manner?”

“When a certain weight is placed on the blue stones, the springs underneath them trigger the spears. Sounds simple, but in reality, it’s a highly intricate process.”

“Hmm!”

“Explaining it doesn’t do it justice. Less talking, more following. Make sure you only step where I step.”

“Yes, sir!”

Maa Doo Won took the lead, stepping on the blue stones. Lee Gwak only stepped where Maa Doo Won did, ensuring the mechanism didn’t activate.

‘It seems that some parts of the floor have springs and others don’t. Where there are no springs, the mechanism doesn’t work.’

Lee Gwak memorised the safe steps.

After crossing the stone floor, Maa Doo Won touched a recess in the wall. With a deep sound, the wall opened.

“Ah!”

Lee Gwak gasped. He was confronted with a sight he had never imagined.

Within the wall were countless interlocking gears.

“This is the heart of the mechanism. These gears must rotate smoothly for the mechanism to work properly. If one of them, like this one, is damaged, it won’t work properly.

Maa Doo Won removed one of the worn-out gears.

“Find the same gear in the equipment.”

“Yes!”

Lee Gwak searched through his supplies and handed over a gear identical to the one Maa Doo Won was holding. With skillful hands, Maa Doo Won replaced the gear.

“It’s crucial to tighten it just right. Too tight, and it reacts slowly; too loose, and it’s likely to break.”

Lee Gwak observed Maa Doo Won’s technique. It seemed simple enough if one understood the basics.

Seeing his expression, Maa Doo Won chuckled,

“Looks easy, doesn’t it?”

“Well, it seems…”

“This is the most basic part. Other sections are not so simple. Keep following, and you’ll see.”

Maa Doo Won was right.

Other areas were neither as straightforward nor as simple as the first.

Within the cave, unimaginable mechanisms filled every corner.

Some devices were triggered unpredictably by human intent, while others were so flawless that one could not help but be surprised, even if one knew.

But what astounded Lee Gwak most were the bronze figures shaped like humans. Eighteen bronze figures stood, each in a unique pose.

“What’s this?”

“This is the ‘Eighteen Bronze Men Formation’ of Shaolin Temple, a quintessence of mechanical engineering.”

Maa Doo Won looked at the figures with awe.

Originally, the Eighteen Bronze Men Formation was exclusive to the Shaolin Temple. But the temple was devastated during the Great Heavenly Blood War, and the masters hoped to rebuild it here.

Seeking revenge, Shaolin masters created this formation here. Although they were made of bronze, their movements and techniques were almost indistinguishable from real human monks. Of course, the power of the formation was even greater.

Martial artists had to face this formation relying only on techniques, without using their internal energy.

Lee Gwak’s eyes deepened.

Although they were lifeless bronze figures, the oppressive aura of their poses was palpable.

Each figure assumed a stance that represented unique Shaolin techniques. When all eighteen techniques were connected, the Eighteen Bronze Men Formation was complete.

Lee Gwak asked Maa Doo Won,

“Is this formation also broken?”

“No, from what I’ve checked, it’s functioning well.”

“Can we see it in action?”

“What?”

“I’m just… curious. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“Heh! So you’re curious too? Well, I guess everyone would be curious to see this. All right! It’s not normally allowed, but I’ll make an exception for you. This might be a once-in-a-lifetime sight, so take a good look.”

“Thank you.”

With a shrug, Maa Doo Won activated the machinery.

Whirr!

The sound of gears turning echoed as the statues began to move. The rust that had settled in their joints flaked off, and their arms and legs sliced through the air in a flurry.

Shhh!

Their movements were so precise it felt as though real humans were performing.

“Uh-hmm!”

A natural groan slipped through Lee Gwak’s lips.

While Maa Doo Won simply marvelled at the intricate movements of the statues, Lee Gwak was in awe of the sheer power emanating from their martial formation.

‘What if I were in there?’

He imagined his bones breaking and muscles tearing under the might of their assault.

His palms became slick with sweat.

Lee Gwak was utterly entranced, lost in the performance.

Boom!

With a final synchronised move, the statues struck the ground, making the hall reverberate as if shaken by an earthquake. Only then did Lee Gwak snap back to reality.

“Impressive, isn’t it?”

“Yes!”

Even as he responded, Lee Gwak couldn’t take his eyes off the statues, fearing they might attack at any moment.

“That’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are countless such marvels here at Mount Sohua Mountain.”

“Hmm!”

“Those newcomers are truly fortunate. Just by experiencing the training here, their martial prowess will skyrocket.”

“…”

“I really envy them. If only I had known, I would’ve focused more on martial arts than machinery.”

Maa Doo Won genuinely seemed envious.

Every martial artist dreams of becoming the strongest. Those brought here had grabbed the opportunity to be far more powerful than others.

It was a chance any martial artist in the Jianghu would dream of. The newcomers were truly fortunate.

“If you’re done gawking, let’s get back to work.”

“Yes!”

Maa Doo Won deactivated the mechanism.

The eighteen statues were a testament to the peak of mechanical design, a harmony of complexity and precision beyond Lee Gwak’s comprehension.

Maa Doo Won didn’t expect Lee Gwak to fully grasp it. He just needed help with the repairs, and in the process, Lee Gwak started picking up the basics.

Time flew by.

During this period, Lee Gwak followed Maa Doo Won around Mount Sohua, maintaining various machinery.

Maa Doo Won grew fond of him, his sharp mind proving to be a valuable asset. He answered all of Lee Gwak’s queries.

Thanks to this, Lee Gwak gained a basic understanding of machinery, even able to dismantle simple ones without assistance.

Before they knew it, Mount Sohua, once desolate, was ready to welcome its new batch of trainees.

On a snowy winter day, fresh faces arrived.

Young boys and girls, barely past their childhood.

They were the chosen ones from the Jianghu, brought to Mount Sohua for training.

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