Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 27

November 9, 2023 • 12 min read • 421 views

Episode 27(Those Who Leave, Those Who Stay……(2))

Novel- Martial Artist Lee Gwak

The wind blew, gently caressing Lee Gwak’s body.

His hair and robe fluttered in the breeze and disturbed his view. But Lee Gwak didn’t blink even once, his gaze fixed on the increasingly distant carriage.

“So cheon!”

Only after the carriage finally disappeared from view did Lee Gwak close his eyes.

Like a fleeting lantern show, the past three years flashed through his mind.

There were hardly any good memories.

Life here was a constant struggle, more like a desperate fight for survival.

The instructors and the Steel Hell Blood Training Hall pushed the practitioners to their limits, and they had to fight desperately to survive in the hell they had created.

Those who had learned martial arts from an early age fared better, but those like Han So Cheon who hadn’t trained systematically, had to endure days akin to hell itself.

It was not just Han So cheon’s exceptional talent that allowed her to pass the Steel Hell Blood Training Hall with outstanding results; it was her will to survive that played an even greater role.

“Please, don’t die. So cheon!”

Lee Gwak sincerely hoped for her safe return, opening his eyes that now shone brighter than ever before.

When he descended from the peak and returned to his quarters, it was late at night. The day’s work had ended, and everyone, practitioners and instructors alike, had returned to
their quarters to rest.

Lee Gwak thought for a moment before redirecting his steps. He was heading towards the Steel Hell Blood Training Hall.

“Where are you going, Lee Gwak?”

He smiled at the question from the guards on duty.

“I’m going to check if there’s anything that needs fixing.”

“Always so diligent. Alright. Just make sure not to stay out too late.”

“Yes!”

The guards cleared the way, and Lee Gwak passed through.

It was a routine that had been unbroken for the past three years.

During this time, Lee Gwak followed the martial artists of the Creation Pavilion and studied their mechanisms. By now, he had reached a level where he could inspect and repair them by himself, so even the scholars of the Creation Pavilion left most of the tedious tasks to him.

Thanks to this, Lee Gwak was free to enter the Steel Hell Blood Training Hall unhindered.

The place he aimed for within the Steel Hell Blood Training Hall was the Infinite Hell Route, known for producing the most dropouts.

This path, with its myriad of intricately intertwined mechanisms and extreme challenges, lived up to its name – a seemingly endless hellish path. While the Asura Blood Chaos Trial that Han So cheon had passed was known to be the most dangerous, the Infinite Hell Route was equally dangerous in its own right.

The true challenge of the Infinite Hell Route was that it required endurance and patience beyond human limits.

Despite the fact that most of the practitioners here had strengthened their bodies through systematic training from an early age, only a few had managed to see it through to the end, a testament to the brutal nature of the path.

Lee Gwak paused at the entrance to the Infinite Hell Route.

“Huuh!”

Taking a deep breath, he finally stepped into the Infinite Hell Route.

Inside, there was not a single ray of light. It was pitch black, without even a phosphorescent stone or a torch to lighten the darkness.

It was not possible to see more than a few feet ahead even by concentrating one’s inner energy on the eyes. This forced one to rely on senses other than sight.

Lee Gwak closed his eyes and walked into the infinite hell route.

Pshew, pshew, pshew!

Suddenly, faint sounds burst through the darkness.

They were so subtle that one couldn’t hear them without full concentration. But Lee Gwak didn’t miss them.

Something long and black slid out of his sleeve, whirling at a terrifying speed. The object, swift as a poisonous snake, was his Meteor Hammer.

Ting-ting!

A faint metallic sound resonated relentlessly within the cavern. Objects that collided with the meteor hammer scattered and fell to the floor.

The fine objects crushed under Lee Gwak’s step were silver needles. They were so small that they could hardly be seen by the naked eye, fired by hidden mechanisms.

But the silver needles were just the beginning.

From the shadows poured a barrage of hidden weapons.

Poison darts, flying blades, throwing coins, hand darts – the variety was immense.

It wasn’t just hidden weapons being fired. A whole array of mechanical traps had been activated simultaneously.

Moments ago, the seemingly solid floor collapsed and a thick mist filled the cave. Then came a strange resonance that numbed the sense of hearing.

Humans rely on sight and hearing to receive information. The loss of these senses meant the absence of information.

This trial aimed to forcibly shut down human senses, to cultivate other perceptions.

The primary objective was to maximize the sense of smell and touch, and to develop the sixth sense.

With the sixth sense developed, one could feel the premonition of danger and react a step ahead. However, very few actually managed to cultivate this sense.

Most martial artists would attempt the challenge repeatedly, memorizing the order and pattern of the hidden weapons to counter them. Only a few relied on their sixth sense to pass this test.

Lee Gwak had cultivated his sixth sense. But his case was different from the others.

The fifth snake coiled at his neck stirred. As the fifth snake moved, his intuition surged, sharpening all his senses to a terrifying edge, including his sixth sense.

Even with his eyes closed and his hearing numbed, he could still picture his surroundings.

Boom!

With a great roar, the wall opened and a bronze statue appeared. The mechanical figure charged with a terrifying speed.

The bronze statue executed a technique known as the Absolute Metal Tiger Hand. Though it carried no internal energy, the precision and destructive power of its movements were no less than that of a human’s.

Using internal energy, it would not have been difficult to counter. However, the use of internal energy was strictly forbidden here. The task was to overcome the bronze statue with the intricacy of the moves alone.

Lee Gwak drew his sword to meet the statue’s assault.

Clang clang!

Sparks flew as Lee Gwak’s sword clashed with the arms of the bronze statue in the darkness.

Pushed by the force, Lee Gwak’s body slid backward, then stopped. His feet had caught on a slight imperfection in the ground.

Invisible in the darkness, the ground was marked with numerous footprints. These were the traces left by the martial artists who had faced this challenge before.

With one foot planted, Lee Gwak swept his other foot across the floor. His sharpened senses detected the minute differences in elevation.

Click!

Lee Gwak’s foot locked into a footprint as if stamped by a mould.

With his hands executing the Eight Sect Sword Art and his legs following the tracks of the martial artists, Lee Gwak’s form was incomparably fast and precise.

With thousands of footprints on the floor, it seemed almost impossible to track the exact footprints left by one person. But Lee Gwak was accomplishing this feat.

The fifth serpent that coiled around his body was nimble yet sharp, heightening his senses beyond their limits to accomplish what would normally be impossible.

There had been hundreds of martial artists who had performed their martial arts techniques here, each with their own level of internal energy and habits. The Fifth Serpent could tell the subtle differences between them in an instant.

Out of the myriad of martial techniques, it allowed him to focus on and execute just one.

The 9 movement Flash Step

It was the same martial technique that Han So cheon had used to pass through the Asura Blood Chaos Trial.

It was one of the peak techniques of the Jade Heaven Alliance. It was so difficult that only a handful of the most talented martial artists who had ever entered Mount Sohua managed to master it.

It was this supreme technique that Lee Gwak had secretly learned.

What he had stolen was not only the 9 Movement Flash Step. Through the marks left on the walls, the scars branded on the bodies of the martial artists, Lee Lwak observed numerous martial arts and absorbed their strengths.

Although he couldn’t unleash the full power of the original techniques because he didn’t know the exact internal energy methods, he applied the advantages of each martial art to his Eight Sects Sword Art.

The Eight Sects Sword Art he was now displaying had greatly diverged from its original form. While the moves still retained the concise nature characteristic of the military, the power had greatly increased and now contained the essence of Ascension.

However, because he had stolen so many martial arts, it was not unified, and there was a sense of disjointedness, but it was still a great achievement to reach that level.

Dadadadang!

Sparks flew incessantly in the darkness.

As he passed the bronze statue executing the Absolute Metal Tiger Hand, three more appeared, using different techniques to block Lee Gwak’s path.

The martial artists formed a joint formation and attacked Lee Gwak. With the addition of traps and then illusions, it felt like an assault by hundreds of soldiers simultaneously.

The illusions shook Lee Gwak’s senses. It was no easy task to keep his composure in the midst of them.

Shigak!

The fourth move of the Eight Sects Sword Art, Blood Dragon Roar, unfolded.

Like a fire-breathing dragon, Lee Gwak’s blade devastated the bronze statues.

After surpassing the three bronze statues, another ten appeared, and a different formation was deployed.

“Eeyaa!”

Lee Gwak shouted, and the Lone Scorch Demon unfolded.

The dark cave was filled with silver blade auras.

Heok! Heok!

Breathing heavily, Lee Gwak looked back.

He could see the Infinite Hell Route, immersed in darkness.

Like the path’s name suggested, it appeared to be an endless journey through hell, and having traversed it, he felt an immense fatigue.

His legs felt like they weighed tons, and his body was as weak as soaked cotton. Yet, a faint smile appeared on his lips. He had crossed through the Infinite Hell Route using only his own strength.

This was his third passage, yet the pleasure he felt was in no way diminished. In fact, with each passage, he gained something significant.

He noticed things he hadn’t before and realised new techniques.

Over the past three years, Lee Gwak, like other talents, had challenged the Steel Hell Blood Training Hall. Like them, he had been shattered, broken, and left bloodied.

The difference between Lee Gwak and the other talents was that they had instructors to teach and guide them systematically through martial arts, whereas Lee Gwak did not.

So he learned by stealth.

Entering the gates under the pretence of repairing the mechanisms, he studied their martial traces and learned secretly while pretending to stand guard during instruction.

At first, even memorization was difficult, let alone understanding. But Lee Gwak was desperate.

He tried to interpret the martial principles taught by the instructors through his own Eight Snakes Art and Eight Sects Sword Art. Gradually, things began to make sense.

Thus, Lee Gwak tenaciously learned the instructors’ martial principles, driving his own growth.

His current achievements were the result of relentless effort and persistent research. However, they were not something he could boast about.

No one would believe that a mere outer sect martial artist could achieve so much through their own effort alone. They would more likely be accused of being a spy, sent intentionally by the Celestial Demon Troupe or another sect. Therefore, Lee Gwak had concealed his achievements thoroughly.

Phew!

Lee Gwak straightened his back, catching his breath after the strenuous ordeal.

He had passed through the Infinite Hell Route, but his task was far from over. He had to erase all evidence of his passage.

Lee Gwak returned to the Infinite Hell Route. He repaired the broken mechanisms and gathered the scattered secret weapons, placing them back in their rightful places.

Checking the traps and secret mechanisms was as mentally taxing as displaying his martial arts, if not more so.

The slightest deviation would render the complex traps ineffective. He had followed the martial artists of the Creation Pavilion to gain a good understanding of the traps, but he did not understand them deeply.

The knowledge of these traps involved a profound understanding of astronomy, geography, and military strategy, a scholarly height he was yet far from reaching. He had only skimmed the surface, grasping just the basic principles. But that had been enough.

By the time Lee Gwak finished his work, dawn was breaking.

The training instructors and novices were awakening, shattering the silence.

“Move it!”

“You maggots! Move quicker!”

The instructors barked orders that echoed into the morning sky, urging the novices into action.

Today, they too would make use of the training ground that Lee Gwak had maintained.

Among them, a few stood out.

“Everyone, to the Infinite Hell Route. Those who fall today, I shall kill with my own hands.”

The one who urged the novices with a murderous voice was none other than the chief instructor, still masked,

“Yes!”

Twenty martial artists shouted in response and ran toward the Infinite Hell Route, madness evident in their demeanour.

It wasn’t just them; most of the remaining novices radiated the same frenzied aura.

Here, they were being reborn as weapons of war.