Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 29

November 10, 2023 • 12 min read • 523 views

Episode 29(Returning Home to No One’s Greeting (1))

Novel- Martial Artist Lee Gwak

“Keugh!”

Lee Gwak bit down on his lip. His lip burst open, bleeding, but he couldn’t even feel the pain. This was because an even greater pressure and pain was crushing his body.

It was just a trace of someone else.

It was one thing to leave one’s image on a wall, but for such a shadow to exert this much presence was utterly mysterious.

Lee Gwak couldn’t continue his train of thought.

His entire body felt like it was being squeezed by the shadow’s pressure. His insides felt like they were going to burst from the pressure, and his eyeballs were about to pop out of his head.

He frantically activated the Eight Snakes Art. The five snakes frantically wrapped around his entire body, but the pressure he felt only increased.

‘Crazy!’

Lee Gwak screamed internally.

After mastering the Eight Snakes Art and the Eight Sects Sword Art, Lee Gwak’s confidence was soaring.

Though he didn’t show it, he was confident that his current skills would place him among the elite experts in the Jianghu.

His confidence was at its peak when he secretly passed through the Steel Hell Blood Training Hall. But now, the identity of someone who had left his shadow on the wall was ruthlessly shattered Lee Gwak’s confidence.

Lee Gwak realised he was nothing.

His accomplishments were trivial, and he was helpless in the face of overwhelming power.

Feeling his soul being torn to shreds and his body disintegrating, Lee Gwak shuddered in horror.

‘At this rate, I’ll die.’

He felt the threat of death from the pressure of a mere shadow, not even a real person.

Lee Gwak’s eyes opened.

Moments before, the shadow seemed to be meditating, but now it seemed to be throwing a punch in his direction.

Lee Gwak couldn’t tell if what he saw was really the movement of the shadow or a hallucination caused by the crushing pressure.

The truth didn’t matter. What mattered was surviving this moment.

Lee Gwak forced his paralyzed hands to move and grabbed the hilt of his sword. He tried to draw it, but that was as far as he got.

Tremble! Tremble!

His arm, with tendons bulging out of it, stopped moving and just trembled.

“Keugh!”

A muffled cry escaped his lips.

He wanted to turn his head away. The temptation to escape this agony if only he didn’t look at the black shadow etched on the wall crept up on him.

Just turn your head and it’ll be easier. You won’t have to die, you won’t have to feel this pain.
Slowly, Lee Gwak’s head began to turn.

It was at that moment.

―Once a dog’s habits set in, one is doomed to live as a dog forever.

At that moment, the words of the Lunatic Pugilist suddenly appeared in his mind.

And he realised.

If he looked away now, he would have to spend the rest of his life running away.

With gritted teeth, Lee Gwak forced himself to maintain eye contact.

Blood burst forth, snapping him back to reality.

That was the moment.

The five snakes, which had been wildly coiling around Lee Gwak’s body, converged at his perineum. The space was so narrow that accommodating just one of the snakes was a struggle. As the five squeezed into this tight space, Lee Gwak was overwhelmed with immense pain.

It was as if his entire lower abdomen was being ripped apart, his consciousness slipping into the abyss.

It was then. The second snake squeezed through the first door, biting the tail of the first snake and squeezing into the narrow space. The third and fourth snakes squeezed in as well.

Together, the four snakes intertwined and spun, expanding the space around Lee Gwak’s perineum.

If the martial arts of the Central Plains were based on the dantian, then the Yoga Secret Manual’s techniques were founded upon the perineum. The expansion of the perineum meant a significant increase in the internal energy Lee Gwak could harness in his body.

Swoosh!

The fifth snake entered the space created by the four snakes. When it entered, Lee Gwak’s perineum felt like it was going to burst.

The five snakes became one. Tail biting tail, and merged into one. Thus united, the snake ascended along Lee Gwak’s spine.

It bypassed the second and third gates in an instant and quickly reached the fifth gate. As it did so, all five gates expanded and his meridians became stronger.

For a while, the snake continuously circled the fifth gate, then, as if making up its mind, it surged towards a previously uncharted space within the brain, aligned with the eyes and the horizon.

It was an attempt to awaken the sixth snake.

Bang! Bang!

The snake hammered at the sixth gate.

Lee Gwak’s body trembled.

Blood streamed from his nose and ears.

The teachings of the Yoga Secret Manual said that awakening the sixth snake would bring spiritual enlightenment and open another eye. But the sixth snake lay dormant in the most important and dangerous part of the human body, the center of the brain.

The texts warned against recklessness, advising to wait for the gate to open naturally, for it was too dangerous to provoke.

Lee Gwak, who had now changed its name to Eight Snakes Art, had always been faithful to the principles of the teachings of the Yoga Secret Manual, never daring to force the process. But faced with this dire situation, Lee Gwak had to make a choice.

There was no turning back from the awakening of the sixth serpent, nor could he stop the flow of his internal energy.

There was only one path left, life or death.

‘Go’

The serpent relentlessly struck the sixth gate.

Drip, drip!

Blood dripped from his eyes, mouth, nose, and ears.Vomiting blood through the seven orifices.

It felt as though his brain was melting away. His consciousness dimmed. But Lee Gwak endured with all his might.

Then, there was a sound.

Ping!

A faint ringing erupted within his head.

It was the only sound he could hear.

Perhaps there was no sound at all, but that was of no importance.

The gate had not fully opened; only a fraction had.

The sixth serpent had not fully awakened. Yet, the world as Lee Gwak saw it had transformed.

He could see the flow.

The flow was visible to him.

Whether it was the flow of qi or something else, in Lee Gwak’s eyes, a huge current and grain swirled around a black shadow.

Swish!

In an instant, Lee Gwak’s sword was drawn like lightning.

It was as if what had been so unshakeable a moment ago was a lie.

His sword plunged into the flow’s grain without hesitation. Like cutting through a tangled thread, Lee Gwak’s blade sliced precisely through the grain.

“…….”

Lee Gwak blinked his eyes.

As if it were a lie, the pressure that had constricted his body vanished.

The blood that had been pouring out of his seven orifices slowly stopped, and his bloodshot eyes, which looked like they might burst at any moment, returned to normal.

“Ha!”

It was then that Lee Gwak finally released the breath he had been holding back.

The slightly opened sixth gate closed again, and the awakened serpent returned to the first gate.

A faint look of disappointment crossed Lee Gwak’s face.

Because he hadn’t been able to open the sixth gate completely. But he decided to be satisfied with that much. Since he had managed to open it a bit, he believed that he could open it completely if given the opportunity.

Most importantly, he had managed to unite the five scattered snakes into one, which in itself was a great achievement for Lee Gwak.

In the Yoga Secret Manual, the meridians of the human body are compared to a tree that grows in reverse. Starting from the perineal point and growing upward along the spine, when the Brain Gate opens, it is like the tree growing its stem and leaves in reverse.

In terms of the martial arts of the Central Plains, it’s like activating the main meridians before piercing through the scattered minor ones.

Uniting the five snakes was tantamount to almost fully activating the primary meridians.

Now there was no need to open the gates or move the snakes separately. Unified as one, his internal energy could move instantly at will, producing far greater destructive power.

Putting aside his regrets, Lee Gwak walked towards the shadow that had been pressing down on him.

There was no longer any presence or pressure from the shadow. The pressure and pain Lee Gwak had felt until a moment ago seemed as though they were all lies.

Lee Gwak reached out his hand.

Immediately, the surface of the wall where the shadow had been carved crumbled like a sandcastle, as if it had served its purpose.

“Phew!”

Lee Gwak exhaled deeply and withdrew his hand.

Everything felt like a dream. But what he had experienced was undoubtedly not a dream.

The unified serpent was the evidence.

“Who are you?”

Lee Gwak asked the wall where the shadow had been. Naturally, no answer came back.

Lee Gwak thought it unlikely that someone had left a shadow here to project their will for some purpose.

He had just faced the wall here, and because his attainment was so profound, a form imprinted with his will had naturally remained.

The strongest warrior Lee Gwak knew of was Gwang Noh ya.

He thought that Gwang Noh ya could indeed contend for the title of the strongest under heaven. But even Gwang Noh ya seemed inferior to the martial artist who had been present here.

The shadow that had pressured him was gone, but Lee Gwak couldn’t shake off its aftereffect for a long time.

The Steel Hell Blood Training Hall had been closed.

Those talents who had practised martial arts at Mount Sohua had descended the mountain under the guidance of their instructors. What organisation they would be assigned to or what mission they would undertake was beyond the scope of an outer hall martial artist like Lee Gwak.

Even after the talents had left, Lee Gwak couldn’t descend Mount Sohua. The responsibility of shutting down the Steel Hell Blood Training Hall had been tasked to the outer hall martial artists and those from the Creation Pavilion.

It took nearly a month just to seal the mechanism that had pushed the talents to their limits and to close off the entrance so that no one could access it.

A bright smile appeared on the faces of the martial artists from the Creation Pavilion and the outer hall.

It had been three years and seven months, and they could finally return to the embrace of their families. Even those without families had almost succumbed to homesickness, so the emotion they felt at that moment was more overwhelming than ever.

“We’ve worked hard. Now, we return to the Jade Heaven Alliance.”

“Hooray!”

“We’re going home.”

At the declaration of the Creation Pavilion ‘s leader, Dan Mok Wol, cheers erupted.
Under his command, the martial artists from the Creation Pavilion and the Outer Hall descended Mount Sohua. The line of carts and wagons loaded with luggage seemed endless.

Lee Gwak found his place on a cart loaded with luggage.

Leaning against the cargo, he naturally took in the panoramic view of Mount Sohua.

A tumult of emotions crossed Lee Gwak’s eyes.

To others, it might seem like wasted years, but here, he had gained much. It had been a rich and irreplaceable time.

That’s when it happened.

“What are you thinking about so seriously?”

With a familiar voice and someone sitting down next to him, Lee Gwak recognized who it was just by hearing the voice.

“Brother!”

“What, you’re sad to leave?”

The man who joked with a smile was Seok Yi Cheon.

Lee Gwak shook his head.

“Sad? What’s there to be sad about?”

“That’s right! I, too, am utterly relieved to leave this tiresome place.”

“You’ve worked hard.”

“You’ve had it tougher, attending the Creation Pavilion all this time.”

“Not at all. It was fun.”

“What’s fun about that? You don’t have to say that in front of me.”

Seok Yi Cheon patted Lee Gwak’s shoulder with a knowing look.

Unaware of Lee Gwak’s accomplishments, Seok Yi Cheon could only think this way. Lee Gwak didn’t feel the need to make excuses and just smiled lightly.

Seok Yi Cheon, on the other hand, had a look of boredom on his face.

All he had done in this place was take care of the whims of the talents. Perhaps because it was such a closed-off place, there wasn’t a single normal person among them.

Some showed signs of paranoia, while others despised the outer hall martial artists and assigned them menial tasks.

It was frustrating, but it was their job, so he kept his anger bottled up until now. It burned inside him.

“By the way, I heard you became a squad leader?”

“It just turned out that way.”

“Congratulations. You’ve outpaced your elder brother in rank.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No need. Everyone has their own capacity. I’m not cut out to be a squad leader.”

“Brother!”

“Think you could take me with you if there’s room?”

“Are you serious?”

“If I were under you, it would be easier, right? Take me with you. The current squad leader is too fussy; it’s exhausting. It’s killing me.”

Seok Yi Cheon’s expression was earnest.

Lee Gwak realised he was serious.

“Understood. I’ll speak on your behalf.”

“Ha! Thanks.”

“No need.”

Lee Gwak nodded in response to Seok Yi Cheon’s gratitude.

When Lee Gwak was paralyzed and unable to move, Seok Yi Cheon was the one who took care of him until the end. The gratitude Lee Gwak felt for Seok Yi Cheon was indescribable.

Side by side, the two men silently watched Mount Sohua grow distant.

It was ten days later that they arrived at the Jade Heaven Alliance.

It had been quiet when they left, and no one was there to greet them upon their return.