Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 34

November 16, 2023 • 11 min read • 410 views

Episode 34(Each Carries Their Own Tale (3)

Novel- Martial Artist Lee Gwak

Thump!

Yeo Joong Wol quietly closed the door and stepped outside.

His expression was not very bright as he walked out of the inner court.

“Master!”

At that moment, someone ran up to Yeo Joong Wol.

It was a young girl who seemed to be about thirteen or fourteen years old.

Her skin was pure white, her features chiselled, and her eyes sparkled like morning stars.

A smile played on Yeo Joong Wol’s lips.

“You’re going to fall, Sobo.”

“Master!”

The girl threw herself into Yeo Joong Wol’s embrace.

Yeo Joong Wol hugged her for a moment, then set her down.

“Such clinginess for a grown girl.”

“Hehe!”

The girl looking up at Yeo Joong Wol and smiling brightly was Lim So Bo.

“Were you waiting for me?”

“Of course. How did it go with the matter you went to handle?”

“He’s stubborn as a mule.”

“Sounds like it didn’t go well.”

“Yes!”

Yeo Joong Wol sighed softly.

Joo Shin Yoon had flatly refused to accept his suggestions. To a certain extent, he had anticipated his reaction, but he was more stubborn than he expected.

“Don’t be too disheartened. You’ve already thought of countermeasures.”

“Countermeasures are secondary. The best outcome is not having to use them at all.”

“Master!”

“Anyway, I’ve gotten a good idea of what the inner court thinks, so it’s not a total loss.”
Yeo Joong Wol’s smile was serene.

His eyes were shining more profoundly than ever.

“Sobol!”

“Yes, Master.”

“Is he still the same?”

“He’s completely stubborn, a brick wall, I tell you. It’s like talking to a wall.”

Lim So Bo shook her head in frustration. Then Yeo Joong Wol stroked her little head and spoke.

“People of the Hao Clan tend to be like that. Especially him, as a leader of the Hao Clan, he’s even more cautious and measured. To persuade him, it takes time and trust.”

“But it’s been over three years since I met him. Isn’t that enough time to change his mind? If not by now, it feels like there’s no chance in the future.”

“It’s not easy for someone who has lived in the shadows to step into the sunlight.”

“But is there really a need to involve the Hao Clan? No matter how formidable they are, in the end, they’re just a coalition of the lower classes. Our Jade Heaven Alliance’s intelligence is already strong; I really don’t see why we need to bring in the Hao Clan.”

Lim So Bo looked at Yeo Joong Wol with a puzzled expression. Yeo Joong Wol did not reprimand her, for her question was certainly valid.

“A hundred years ago, that was indeed the case. Back then, the Hao Clan was only known for their vast intelligence network, lacking any real martial strength. But the Great Heavenly Blood War brought significant changes, prompting them to cultivate their own force. Though it went largely unnoticed in the Jianghu, they made considerable contributions during the war.”

“Ah!”

“The Hao Clan didn’t disband their military organisation after the war; instead, they continued to nurture it with steady support. A century has passed, so you can imagine the level of their current strength.”

“I see.”

“And there’s something incorrect in what you said.”

“What is it?”

“The intelligence capabilities of the Jade Heaven Alliance are in no way a match for the Hao Clan. Especially when it comes to scouring the underbelly of society, our alliance can’t come close to their reach.”

“Is it that substantial?”

“Yes! The Jade Heaven Alliance has several intelligence organisations, and we, the Secret Court, have our own, but even with all of them combined, they can’t match the Hao Clan. No other sect can keep up with the Hao Clan in terms of intelligence. That’s why we must win him over, by any means necessary.”

“Phew! Then I guess I’ll have to frequent the slums even more.”

“It’s better if you draw him to our side. Too many eyes would be on me if I were to meet him.”

“I’ll make sure to win him over.”

“Good!”

Yeo Joong Wol looked at his disciple, Lim So Bo, with pride. His disciple was exceptionally sharp. Though still inexperienced and lacking in many areas, time would resolve everything.
Until then, he wanted to keep her by his side for as long as possible, to pass on as much knowledge as he could.

“Sobol!”

“Yes, Master.”

“Always pay attention to the lowest places. Never forget that significant changes in the world always start from the bottom up.”

“Yes! I’ll keep that in mind.”

Lim So Bo clenched her cute little fist.

Yeo Joong Wol looked at Lim So Bo with a wry smile before casting his gaze to the sky.

Even though it was broad daylight, he could feel the cloudy sky.
***
“Aren’t you bored, squad leader? Spending every day holed up in here.”

Feeling much more comfortable now, Ki Jin Hwi laid down and spoke to Lee Gwak.

Lee Gwak paused from sharpening his blade to look at Ki Jin Hwi, who continued with a frustrated expression.

“Why don’t you go out and meet a woman or something? Wasting your handsome looks in such a confined place frustrates even me. If I had your looks, I would have all the women in the city at my call.”

“I don’t feel like meeting women at the moment.”

“Really?”

“Yes!”

“What a waste!”

Ki Jin Hwi clicked his tongue as if it were a pity.

Lee Gwak resumed his blade polishing.

While the ties to his former lover, Geum Yul Seon, no longer held him, the wounds she left had not yet fully healed.

He was not yet ready to meet another woman.

He had taken care of Han So Cheon at Mount Sohua to repay the favour, not because he had any special feelings for her. He assumed Han So Cheon felt the same way.

Lee Gwak simply wished for her safety. He hoped that she would survive to the end and someday escape the Jade Heaven Alliance to live a happy life.

Swish!

Lee Gwak sheathed his freshly sharpened blade and rose from his seat.

“Where are you off to?”

“You should have joined the Heavenly Intelligence Hall, not the Outer Hall.”

“Eh! What do you mean?”

“If you’re so curious about everything, you would have been better off in the Heavenly Intelligence Hall. They specialise in digging up information and collecting intelligence.”

“Heh! There’s such a place? Still, I like it here. The Squad leader is nice, and so is Brother Si cheon. Let’s all stay together for a long time.”

At Ki Jin Hwi’s enthusiasm, Lee Gwak shook his head and walked out.

‘A mysterious person.’

That was Lee Gwak’s assessment of Ki Jin Hwi.

Recently, several others like Ki Jin Hwi had appeared. The most notable among them was Nam Woo Gyeong.

People with a purpose, entering the Jade Heaven Alliance or lurking around its periphery. Though their exact motives were difficult to discern, it was clear that they had ulterior motives.

After the merging of the Five Snakes, Lee Gwak’s intuition had developed remarkably. While he couldn’t pinpoint others’ hidden intentions precisely, he could sense when they were putting up walls around their hearts.

“Ah, Oraboni!”

Suddenly, a youthful voice pierced Lee Gwak’s ears.

Turning his head, he saw a young girl waving at him. It was a face he hadn’t seen in a long time, but it was strangely vivid in his memory.

“Sobol!”

“That’s right! I was a bit unsure from afar.”

Lim So Bo hurried toward Lee Gwak with a brisk pace.

“Sigh!”

Lee Gwak exhaled quietly.

Lim So Bo, who was smiling brightly at him, was also one of those mysterious people.

“What are you so distracted about?”

“When did I ever get distracted?”

“Hmm! You had that exact look on your face.”

She tilted her head curiously.

“Where are you heading?”

“I’m just going out. What about you, Oraboni?”

“Me too!”

“That’s great. Let’s go together. Hehe!”

Lim So Bo walked alongside Lee Gwak.

Even though they hadn’t seen each other in almost four years, Lim So Bo was as friendly as if they had met yesterday. Lee Gwak didn’t mind her friendliness.

Together, they left through the main gate of the outer hall.

“Where are you off to?”

“Do you remember that man we saw together before?”

“Who? Nam…Woo Gyeong?”

“You still remember?”

“I ran into him by chance not long ago.”

“Really?”

Lim So Bo’s eyes widened in surprise. She hadn’t imagined that Lee Gwak would have encountered Nam Woo Gyeong again.

“Well, it’s just that my house is nearby.”

“The connections in this world are truly unpredictable. Who would have thought you’d meet that man again?”

“Exactly. And what are the odds that I’d move right into the vicinity where he lives?”

“You live near the slums?”

“Well, it just turned out that way.”

Lee Gwak gave a nonchalant shrug.

Lim So Bo looked at him with a newfound curiosity.

Four years is no short period, enough time to forget someone, yet strangely, Lee Gwak remained vivid in her memory.

Certainly, her exceptional memory played a role, but more than that, it seemed there was something about Lee Gwak that drew her gaze.

‘Now that I think about it, his features seem more distinct than before.’

When she first saw Lee Gwak, his face was blurrier, less pronounced, giving him a weaker presence. Whatever had happened in the interim, his features and gaze seemed to have sharpened.

‘He said he belonged to the Outer Hall.’

Lim So Bo thought it might be worth looking into Lee Gwak at some point.

Whatever the reason, such a change in a person was not easy to come by.

After exchanging a few words, they found themselves near the slums. Lee Gwak was about to part ways with Lim So bo, but a voice stopped him in his tracks.

“Hey, why are you walking with this little girl?”

The owner of the wary voice was Nam Woo Gyeong.

Lee Gwak didn’t flinch and answered.

“We met by chance.”

“By chance?”

“Yes!”

“Hmm! It seems you’ve attracted a little fox spirit.”

Lim So Bo bristled at that comment.

“Who are you calling a little fox spirit?”

“You know what I mean, don’t you?”

“Hmph! You think I’d come all this way for fun?”

“Then don’t come. Why do you have to bother people like this?”

“If you just gave a clear answer, this wouldn’t be necessary.”

“I thought I had made myself clear.”

Nam Woo Gyeong’s face wore an expression of annoyance, but Lim So Bo paid him no heed and stared straight at him.

That’s when Lee Gwak spoke up.

“Then I’ll leave you two to talk. I’m heading home.”

“Home? You live around here?”

“I moved recently.”

“You’re not doing a housewarming party, then?”

“What?”

Lee Gwak looked at Nam Woo Gyeong incredulously.

Their relationship amounted to nothing more than a few chance encounters. Of course, they had shared a drink once, but that wasn’t enough to warrant a housewarming invitation. He was about to refuse outright when Lim So Bo interjected.

“Exactly! If you move, you should have a housewarming party. Let’s do it today.”

“What?”

Lee Gwak thought he might be hearing things and looked at Lim So Bo. But seeing her smiling face, his own expression crumpled.

Then Nam Woo Gyeong, with a smile, chimed in.

“Looks like we agree for once, little girl! I’ll buy the drinks.”

“Great. I’ll buy the food.”

“Do you even have the money for that?”

“Don’t underestimate me because I’m young. My purse is always full.”

Lim So Bo pulled out her purse and shook it, and it made a jingling sound.

“Hey, don’t decide everything on your own.”

Lee Gwak’s voice wedged desperately between the two, but they didn’t seem to care.