Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 35

November 16, 2023 • 11 min read • 475 views

Episode 35(The Strings of Fate Lead to Unpredictable Places (1)

Novel- Martial Artist Lee Gwak

Lee Gwak looked at the two people sitting in front of him with a frown.

Nam Woo Gyeong was emptying his glass, while Lim So bo was diligently eating with her chopsticks. The place where they were sitting was Lee Gwak’s house.

Looking around the house, Nam Woo Gyeong remarked,

“Nice! If I had known it would be this good, I would have bought it for myself”.

“Have you seen this house before?”

“I passed by a few times. Back then, it was so rundown I didn’t think much of it. But now, fixed up like this, it’s quite something.”

“If you had bought it, it probably wouldn’t have been repaired to this extent. It’s only because Gwak Oraboni took care of it that it’s been fixed up like this.”

“You seem to underestimate me too much. If I set my mind to it, this is no issue.”

“Then why not try?”

“No need. I have no reason to set up a house in the front yard of Jade Heaven Alliance.”

“After living here for several years, haven’t you grown attached?”

“That’s enough.”

Since entering the house, the two had been bickering non-stop. Caught between them, Lee Gwak sighed.

He hadn’t expected to open his home to the public like this.

The two had settled and chatted casually, as if they had been coming here for a long time.

“Phew!”

Lee Gwak shook his head and took a sip of his drink.

It seemed like he had to give up his comfortable evening time alone.

“Lee Gwak!”

Suddenly, Nam Woo Gyeong called out to him.

“Yes?”

“I like you. From now on, call me brother.”

“What do you mean?”

“I like you. From now on, I will think of you as my younger brother. So, you too, treat me like an older brother.”

“…”

Taken aback by Nam Woo Gyeong’s sudden declaration, Lee Gwak blinked. He couldn’t understand how the conversation had turned this way.

At that moment, Lim So bo’s eyes lit up, because the Nam Woo Gyeong she knew was not the kind of person who would open up to just anyone. In fact, for the past several years, despite her persistent pursuit, he had never opened up to her.

‘Does Gwak oraboni have something special?’

The Lee Gwak she knew was definitely an ordinary martial artist from the outer hall. Although his demeanour had recently become a bit more intense, there was no obvious reason for Nam Woo Gyeong to pay attention to him.

Nam Woo Gyeong extended a cup of liquor to Lee Gwak.

“If you think of me as a sworn brother, pour me a drink.”

“…”

Lee Gwak alternated his gaze between the cup and Nam Woo Gyeong’s face. Nam Woo Gyeong shy away from his look.

At that moment, Lee Gwak saw it.

A strong will hiding in Nam Woo Gyeong’s cynical eyes.

He didn’t know what the will was, but it was so strong that it didn’t seem like it would ever crumble. That’s why it was burdensome.

Lee Gwak spoke up.

“I don’t know if the word ‘brother’ is something as simple as a cup of liquor to you, but it’s not for me.”

“…”

“For me, a brother is someone with whom you’ve grown close over a long time, someone you can open up to completely, who will never betray you under any circumstances, someone you can shed blood with despite not being related by blood, and ultimately, someone for whom you are willing to lay down your life. That is what a brother is to me. Is that what you consider yourself to be?”

Lee Gwak’s voice was very soft. However, it resonated clearly and distinctly to the ear.

‘Gasp!’

Lim So Bo couldn’t help but draw a sharp breath. Such was the resonance carried by Lee Gwak’s voice.

She had never imagined that the man she had thought of as so ordinary could show such a side at this moment. That made the impression all the more intense.

Lee Gwak hadn’t intended to speak so strongly either. He could have played along with the mood, casually calling each other brothers, as Ki Jin Hwi had done since joining the Thirteenth squad a few days ago. However, Nam Woo Gyeong clearly wanted a relationship that went beyond that. Therefore, Lee Gwak had to draw a clear line.

Lim Sobo looked at Nam Woo Gyeong with a tense expression, because the Nam Woo Gyeong she knew wasn’t someone who would tolerate such words from a mere outer hall martial artist.

‘Gulp!’

Lim So Bo swallowed dryly.

She was worried about how to calm Nam Woo Gyeong down if he got angry.

Though he might appear unrefined, Nam Woo Gyeong was the young master of the Hao Clan. If he harboured ill will, there would be no place in this world where Lee Gwak could stretch his legs and rest easy. From then on, all hell would break loose.

Nam Woo Gyeong, too, seemed stunned by Lee Gwak’s response, merely staring blankly. But soon, he burst into laughter.

“Hahaha! You’re right. True brothers indeed ought to be like that. It seems I thought too lightly of it.”

‘Phew!’

Seeing that Nam Woo Gyeong’s reaction was not as bad as expected, Lim So Bo let out a sigh of relief.

“I will not insist on being sworn brothers any longer. Instead, I would like to offer you a cup of apology. Will you accept it?”

“Gladly.”

Only then did Lee Gwak accept the cup from Nam Woo Gyeong.

Nam Woo Gyeong smiled broadly as he filled the cup to the brim. Lee Gwak downed the drink without hesitation.

‘He is indeed connected to the Crimson Flower Brothel.’

It was the same taste of liquor he had at the Crimson Flower Brothel a few days ago.
Lee Gwak wiped his mouth with his sleeve and handed the cup back to Nam Woo Gyeong.

“I’ll pour you one as well.”

“Yes!”

Nam Woo Gyeong drank heartily once the cup was filled. Lim So Bo muttered as she watched him.

“Tch! How boring.”

Despite her words, a look of relief flashed across her face. She was truly glad that Lee Gwak had come to no harm.

Part of her wondered what Nam Woo Gyeong had seen in Lee Gwak to make him want to be a brother.

“What did he see in Gwak Oraboni? Did he see something that I didn’t?

Questions grew in Lim So Bo’s mind.

She decided to find out more about Lee Gwak.
***
The housewarming party ended late into the night.

Lim So Bo returned to her inner court without any gain, and Nam Woo Gyeong came out drunk.

He staggered back to the slum, looking as if he might fall at any moment. Yet, the moment he arrived at the slums, he walked straight as if nothing had happened. No trace of drunkenness was on his face.

At that moment, an old man with platinum hair and grey eyes appeared silently behind him.

“Master!”

“Why did you do that?”

“What do you mean?”

“I want to know why you made such an offer to a mere outer hall martial artist.”

“Because it was interesting.”

Nam Woo Gyeong answered without a moment’s hesitation. But then a questioning look appeared on the old man’s face.

“What do you mean?”

“Lee Gwak had been to Mount Sohua.”

“All that, just for that reason?”

“Before he went to Mt. Sohua, he had been bedridden with paralysis for a whole year. It was
all because of a grudge held by Gwan Il Hyeon, who came as a messenger from the Celestial Demon Troupe”

“Hmm!”

“A human being laid immobilised for a year after a senseless assault. And the Jade Heaven Alliance looked the other way. What must have been going through his mind?”

The old man clamped his mouth shut and listened intently to Nam Woo Gyeong’s words.
Nam Woo Gyeong looked behind him. Lee Gwak’s house was not visible, hidden behind other buildings, but he was looking in that direction.

“When everyone thought it was over, he got up from his bed. And then he went to Mount Sohua.”

“Mount Sohua?”

“Yes! The place where the Steel Hell Blood Training Hall was held. He spent another three years there. I found out that he was quite trusted there too.”

“There’s no way you’d pay attention to this Lee Gwak boy other than just that.”

“A few days ago, I entertained the outer hall leaders at the Crimson Flower Brothel. Lee Gwak was among them.”

“Hmm!”

“Choha was his partner. As you know, she’s a girl with a lot of experience with men, skilled and not easily swayed or deceitful. But she lied.”

“About what?”

“She claimed she had slept with Lee Gwak. But it was a lie.”

Choha had tried her best to lie. However, watching her reaction, Nam Woo Gyeong realised that she was lying.

“I was curious. A man who could make a battle-hardened Choha fall head over heels and lie about it. What secrets he held, what intentions he had.”

“So, did you find out?”

“He has mastered martial arts.”

“Well, as an outer hall martial artist, that’s to be expected…”

“The level was considerable. The azure stone on the ground had sunk or shattered from his strong qi. As you know, azure stones are very durable and don’t budge without significant internal energy.”

“Hmm!”

“There were also traces of martial arts all around the courtyard. Yet, I couldn’t determine the depth of his martial arts skill.”

“You mean…”

“Yes. It’s clear he’s trained in martial arts, but to what extent, I couldn’t ascertain.”

“Hmm!”

The old man looked incredulous.

Nam Woo Gyeong, his disciple and a master of insight, could usually discern the level of a martial artist’s skills with ease. Even those with high levels of martial arts couldn’t hide their true capabilities from him. It was hard to believe that he couldn’t gauge the depths of this Martial Artist’s skills

“Could he be a spy from the Celestial Demon Troupe? Or perhaps he has mastered some unique martial art?”

“Ha! That’s why I suggested we become brothers. By staying close, I’ll inevitably learn more. But as you see, I was blatantly rejected. This Nam Woo Gyeong, of all people.”

“What’s your plan now?”

“To befriend him.”

The old man tilted his head in confusion.

“If he’s a potential threat, wouldn’t it be better to eliminate him early on?”

“Isn’t that funny, too? Who knows? He might become a strong ally for us.”

“What a dull joke. How much could a mere outer hall martial artist have learned, especially after being bedridden for a year?”

“Yes! That’s why I’m so puzzled and curious. Is it just my misconception, or is he really hiding his true strength?”

Nam Woo Gyeong chuckled.
***
Lee Gwak looked around his house.

Nam Woo Gyeong and Lim So Bo had left, but traces of their visit remained.

Lee Gwak silently cleaned and did the dishes. By the time he finished everything, it was late at night.

“Phew!”

It had been a hectic day.

Lee Gwak sat on a wooden platform for a while, staring blankly at the sky.

The countless stars twinkling in the night sky filled his retinas.

He just sat there for a long time, unable to think of anything to do.

It was almost half an hour later when Lee Gwak got up from the platform. He drew his sword and walked to the centre of the courtyard.

The courtyard, paved with azure blue stones, was as magnificent as any martial arts training ground. Lee Gwak had put a lot of effort into repairing this part of the house.

Swoosh!

Lee Gwak’s sword cut through the air.

Mountain Splitting Slash.

Raging Tidal Force.

Shadowless Strike.

Blood Dragon’s Roar.

Lone Scorch Demon.

Shadowy Assassinate.

Heavens Shattering Iron Blood.

Eight Gateways of Destruction.,

The Heaven and Sword Art

The eight techniques of the Eight Sects Sword Art flowed out like unravelling threads.

When it needed to be strong, it was as intense as lightning; when it needed to be gentle, it was as soft as a spring breeze.

The sword technique unfolded as he willed.

Previously, he struggled with the seventh technique, Heavens Shattering Iron Blood., and the eighth technique, Eight Gateways of Destruction, but strangely, they now came to him effortlessly.

Swoosh! Swoosh!

The once silent courtyard echoed with the fierce wind of the sword.

Lee Gwak forgot everything else, focusing solely on the sword. He was becoming one with the it.