Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 26

November 8, 2023 • 12 min read • 407 views

Episode 26(Those Who Leave, Those Who Stay……(1))

Novel- Martial Artist Lee Gwak

A man walked through the cave, the night pearls emitting a faint glow from the ceiling.

He stood a head taller than the average man, and his brisk gait was as impressive as his height.

A flat forehead and dark eyebrows rested beneath his brown, cloth-bound hair. His eyes were clear and deep, and his jawline was sharp beneath his tightly set lips.

It was Lee Gwak.

Three years had hardened his somewhat frail appearance.

With clear eyes, Lee Gwak surveyed the interior of the cave.

The ground was littered with dozens of broken spears, scattered in disarray.

Lee Gwak picked up one of the broken spears and looked at the cross section. The section shone like polished glass.

“Hmm!”

After a moment’s inspection, he proceeded further inside.

A more expansive area opened up as he ventured deeper.

Deep footprints were etched into the floor of the vast space.

Kneeling on one knee, Lee Gwak examined the chaotic tracks left behind. A faint smile appeared on his lips as he felt the depth of the footprints with his hand.

“Excellent!”

Rising to his full height, Lee Gwak understood this was where the absolute formation had been laid out.

The Pinnacle Ocular Maze Formation was a formation that confounded the senses, rendering one incapable of sound judgement.

Traversing the Pinnacle Ocular Maze formation required not only a deep understanding of the formations, but also excellent intuition and quick decision-making skills. These were essential to identify the constantly shifting ‘life gates.’

The footprints indicated someone had successfully navigated the formation.

More encouraging was the fact that none of the objects composing the formation were damaged. The owner of the footprints had clearly understood and passed through the Pinnacle Ocular Maze Formation correctly.

Lee Gwak looked at the traces and muttered.

“It seems they have perfected the 9 movement Flash Step.”

This technique, which involved attacking the enemy in nine different ways in the blink of an eye, was a supreme skill that only a few exceptional talents who entered Mount Sohua could master.

The creator of the footprints possessed a truly fearsome talent.

Lee Gwak could not help but admire as he continued on his way.

Deeper inside, he came upon the gruesomely destroyed bronze puppets. Smashed and broken, the puppets were so damaged that their original forms were unrecognizable, a sight chilling to the bone.

A low sigh escaped through Lee Gwak’s lips.

“They’ve been completely destroyed. Sigh.”

Repairing the broken puppets was his responsibility. Yet, contrary to his sigh, a light smile lingered on his lips.

The puppets were remnants of the Asura Blood Chaos Trial.

Asura Blood Chaos Trial was the gateway of death where precision, mechanism, and the art of sophisticated statues became one lethal trinity.

It was known as the most dangerous and terrifying gateway, even among the many within the Steel Hell Blood Training Hall.

Hundreds of geniuses had challenged the Asura Blood Chaos Trial, yet less than ten had ever successfully passed through. The rest failed to even qualify to attempt it.

Lee Gwak walked past the remnants of the statues.

It was as if a forceful blast had erupted within the cave.

Everything that came into Lee Gwak’s view was devastatingly destroyed, the marks of devastation stretching to the very end of the blood cave.

Today, another genius passed through the Asura Blood Chaos Trial. And Lee Gwak had come here under the pretext of assessing the damage for repairs.

Lee Gwak estimated that perfect restoration of Asura Blood Chaos Trial would take at least five days. However, the length of the repair schedule was of little importance to him.

Entering to assess the damage was merely an excuse. His real reason for being here was something else.

At the very end of Asura Blood Chaos Trial, Lee Gwak finally stopped in his tracks.

A black figure was gasping for air.

The person, clearly a woman, was using her broken sword as a crutch, panting heavily.

Her dishevelled hair covered her face, and the torn fabric of her clothing revealed numerous wounds. The blood flowing from her wounds had stained her black martial uniform red.

Among her wounds, the most deadly was the gash across her back. So deep that it exposed pale bone, it ran diagonally across her back.

The hint of a smile that had been on Lee Gwak’s lips vanished.

“So cheon!”

“Or… boni?”

Only then did the woman lift her head.

She was an impressive woman with dark eyebrows that looked like they were painted with ink. Even though she was covered in blood, it couldn’t hide her icy beauty.

The woman was Han So Cheon.

Three years had transformed her from a girl into a woman.

Despite the pain, she didn’t grimace. Instead, she looked straight at Lee Gwak as he rushed over.

“So cheon!”

“Why did you come?”

“Your wounds are severe.”

“It’s… okay!”

“It’s not okay.”

Lee Gwak moved behind Han So Cheon.

Her torn clothing revealed numerous wounds, the most serious being the diagonal cut on her back.

The nerves in her back were barely touching, and if they weren’t treated in time, there could be serious after-effects.

“Just endure a little longer!”

Lee Gwak tore open the back of her clothing.

Surprisingly, Han So Cheon didn’t change her expression and continued to look ahead.

Lee Gwak pressed a spot on her back with his right index finger to stop the bleeding, and the flow of blood slowly stopped.

As the bleeding stopped, Lee Gwak took out a small jade box from his possessions. Opening the box revealed a black ointment, a healing ointment known for its effectiveness on external wounds.

With care, Lee Gwak applied the healing ointment to Han So cheon’s wounds. As his fingers touched her skin, her eyelids fluttered.

Though she was in pain, she didn’t make a sound, just kept looking forward.

Lee Gwak applied the ointment meticulously and gently, trying not to cause more pain, yet he couldn’t completely prevent her from feeling it.

Han So cheon’s injuries were severe.

Had her internal strength been even slightly weaker, or had her body been less rigorously trained, it would not have been surprising if her breathing had stopped long ago.

A look of pity crossed Lee Gwak’s face.

If one were to name the individual who had made the most progress over the past three years, it would undoubtedly be Han So cheon. When she first arrived, her achievements were not particularly remarkable. However, her will was stronger than most, and her persistence was unyielding.

Amongst a myriad of competitors, she stood out. She had challenged the Steel Hell Blood Training Hall time and again, falling injured, yet she rose each time to face it anew.

The Ten Instructors took notice of Han Co cheon.

Various elixirs and secret manuals were passed on to her, and she was able to achieve rapid progress. But as a consequence, she bore many scars. And each time, Lee Gwak would apply the healing ointment.

With a sigh, Lee Gwak withdrew his hand.

After placing the healing ointment back into his pouch, he removed his outer robe and draped it over her back.

Only then did Han So cheon speak, her lips parting slightly.

“Thank you, oraboni.”

“This is just first aid. Make sure to see a physician for proper treatment,”

“No need! This is enough for me.”

“Han So cheon!”

“I have finally passed the Asura Blood Chaos Trial.”

“…”

“It’s over now. These dreadful days are behind us.”

Han So cheon bit her lip, drawing blood. Lee Gwak silently watched her.

Han So Cheon turned around and clutched the robe Lee Gwak had laid on her. Her figure was as beautiful as it was tragic.

“You’ve been through a lot. Soon you will descend the mountain.”

“Oraboni!”

“Yes?”

“You knew, didn’t you?”

“Knew what?”

“That I killed someone before I came here.”

“That… is so!”

Lee Gwak answered honestly. Han So Cheon smiled sorrowfully.

“I thought so. But why didn’t you ask?”

“Because I believed there must be a reason for it.”

Han So cheon’s eyes wavered at Lee Gwak’s calm response.

It had been over three years since she entered Mt. Sohua. During that time, Lee Gwak had been her spiritual pillar. Without him, she wouldn’t have been able to stay in Sohua for so long.

For her, Lee Gwak was the only person in the world she could trust.

After a moment of silence, Han So cheon struggled to speak.

“They… they ordered it. They wanted to see my resolve.”

“Resolve?”

“The resolve to become a sword for them.”

At that moment, Lee Gwak’s expression turned stern. Han So cheon continued, holding his gaze.

“They said they were prisoners of the Celestial Demon Troupe. Killing them was the test. We killed them, and we came here.”

“…”

The silence spoke volumes, as a heavy weight of unspoken understanding hung between them.
“……”

“Now that I’ve passed all the gates, they will come to take me back. Today might be the last day I see you here, Oraboni.”

“That… is so!”

“Thank you, Oraboni. Having you here made me strong.”

Despite her stern expression, Han So cheon’s voice was calm.

She was always like that.

Since entering this place, she never once smiled, nor did she show her emotions outwardly. The only time she somewhat revealed her inner thoughts was during times like this when she met Lee Gwak.

Among her peers, Han So cheon was nicknamed the ‘Ice Witch’.

Cold as ice, merciless as a witch. No wonder even her fellow trainees feared and respected her.

Even Geum Si Woo, who had picked a fight with her on her first day, now steered clear of her.

“Do you know where you are being sent?”

“I know. But I cannot tell you. I’ve sworn an oath.”

“I see.”

Not all trainees who passed through the Steel Hell Blood Training Hall, were assigned to the same place. Their deployment varied depending on their performance, temperament, and the martial arts they mastered.

“Oraboni!”

“Speak.”

“When I complete my mission and return, I hope to find you in the Jade Heaven Alliance.”

“So cheon!”

“If there’s no one I know, it would be too lonely.”

“……”

“I’m sorry for the unreasonable request.”

“No, it’s not.”

“You’ll do it, right?”

“Yes!”

“Thank you!”

Han So cheon bit her lip gently in response to Lee Gwak’s answer, her eyes filled with regret.

This time, Lee Gwak spoke first.

“So cheon!”

“Yes?”

“Don’t die.”

“I’ll try.”

“I would have preferred if you said you would do your utmost.”

“I will do my utmost!”

“That’s all I need.”

Lee Gwak nodded his head.

A faint smile appeared on Han So cheon’s face.

“Let’s go.”

“Yes!”

Lee Gwak supported Han Socheon as they left the Asura Blood Chaos Trial.

The news of Han So Cheon passing the Asura Blood Chaos Trial was immediately reported to the higher echelons. She had become the ninth trainee to graduate from the Steel Hell Blood Training Hall.

***
A few days later, a stranger came to the red pavilion where the instructors gathered.

He was a gaunt, middle-aged warrior, with viper-like eyes devoid of emotion and pale skin as if never touched by the sun.

The sharp, spike-like sword he carried drew even more attention.

The chief instructor recognized the martial artist at a glance and spoke,

“I hadn’t expected the person to take Han So cheon would be you, Geukjin.”

“That girl had been assigned to our Hidden Blood Squad from the beginning.”

“I only hope you’ll make good use of her.”

The man gave a faint smile.

The chief instructor frowned at this man.

His name was Cheol Geuk jin, and he was known to be the most dangerous man among all the people the chief instructor knew. Of course, the missions he handled were extremely dangerous.

‘To send the best of our trainees to such a killer.’

Though the chief instructor clicked his tongue internally, he did not show it outwardly.

It was the fate of those who ascended to Sohua to be placed according to their purpose.

With a gesture from the chief instructor, one of the instructors brought Han So cheon into the room.

Cheol Geuk jin’s gaze turned towards Han Socheon.

“It’s been a while.”

“Yes!”

“You look well. That’s good. There’s a lot you need to do. Let’s go!”

“Yes, Leader.”

Han So Cheon replied briefly.

Pleased with her concise response, Cheol Geuk Jin smiled coldly.

He led Han So Cheon out.

Outside, a carriage waited to take her away.

“Get on!”

“Yes!”

Cheol Geuk Jin climbed onto the carriage first, followed by Han So cheon.

Just before closing the door of the carriage, Han So cheon turned her head to look at the mountain peaks.

Then, Cheol Geuk jin’s cold voice reached her.

“What is it?”

“Nothing.”

“Let’s go!”

“Yes!”

With Han So Cheon’s short reply, the carriage door closed. The carriage carrying her quickly descended Mount Sohua.

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