Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 36

November 17, 2023 • 11 min read • 376 views

Episode 36(The Strings of Fate Lead to Unpredictable Places (2)

Novel- Martial Artist Lee Gwak

Lee Gwak walked along the Outer Hall with Seok Yi Cheon and Ki Jin Hwi, One of the duties of the Outer Squad was to patrol the Outer Hall.

It was extremely rare for trouble to occur within the outer hall. Only those who passed a thorough identification check at the main gate were allowed to enter.

While problems caused by those with verified identities were extremely rare, that did not mean they were nonexistent. Unforeseen incidents occasionally occurred, prompting the Outer Squad to regularly patrol and inspect for potential problems.

Lee Gwak’s squad was significantly understaffed compared to others, so instead of guarding the main gate, they were primarily assigned patrol duties.

“Look at that, brother. There’s a strange wagon roaming around the city.”

“Okay, that’s enough.”

“There’s even a market inside the city.”

“I said enough.”

“And every woman passing by is beautiful.”

“Really!”

Ki Jin Hwi, unfamiliar with the sights of the outer hall, kept expressing his amazement, while Seok Yi Cheon, embarrassed by Ki Jin Hwi’s behaviour, turned away. Nevertheless, Ki Jin Hwi persistently followed Seok Yi Cheon, chattering away.

Over the past few days, Ki Jin Hwi had become close to Seok Yi Cheon, casually calling him “brother” and following him around. Seok Yi Cheon didn’t mind Ki Jin Hwi’s company, but he couldn’t help feeling embarrassed when Ki Jin Hwi displayed such naivety from the countryside.

The region where Ki Jin Hwi’s Jade Light Martial Hall was located was harsh and sparsely populated, with small villages. Therefore, the bustling life of the Jade Heaven Alliance seemed shockingly new to him.

“You’d better shut your mouth.”

“Brother!”

“What now?”

“I think joining the Jade Heaven Alliance was the best decision.”

“Alright, alright, just please be quiet.”

Now Seok Yi Cheon was pleading with Ki Jin Hwi.

His face was turning beet red due to the embarrassment.”

Lee Gwak ignored the sound behind him and looked around.

The view was just like any other day.

In the distance, there was a fierce battle with the Celestial Demon Troupe, but he couldn’t sense any of that here.

People were going about their daily lives in peace, and there was no sign of unrest on their faces.

Lee Gwak felt a sense of alienation as he watched them.

If he hadn’t experienced the Steel Hell Blood Training Hall at Mount Sohua, he too would have found it hard to believe that a war with the Celestial Demon Troupe was ongoing.

It was then.

Ding Ding Ding!

Suddenly, an urgent bell rang from the main gate. It was a signal to summon the martial artists of the outer hall.

Seok Yi-cheon’s expression changed instantly and he turned to Lee Gwak.

“Gwak!”

“Let’s go!”

Lee Gwak took the lead and started running, followed by Seok Yi Cheon and Ki Jin-hwi.

They arrived at the main gate in a flash.

In front of the main gate, many outer hall martial artists had already gathered.

“What’s the situation?”

Lee Gwak asked Cho Mu-tak, the leader of the Twelfth Squad.

Cho Mu-tak pointed towards the road opposite the main gate.

“Look over there.”

Following his direction, Lee Gwak’s eyes lit up. A cloud of dust was rising from beyond the road, a sign of a large number of people on the move.

That’s when it happened.

“Why this commotion? Can’t anyone keep their head straight here?”

Outer Hall leader Maeng Hee-cheon bellowed, suddenly appearing at the main gate. In his hand was a message sent by a messenger pigeon.

The content of the message was so shocking that Maeng Hee-cheon personally rang the emergency bell to summon the members of the outer hall.

With the arrival of Maeng Hee-cheon, the martial artists realised the seriousness of the situation. They quickly became tense.

Maeng Hee-cheon issued rapid orders.

“Squads one to five, secure the area around the main gate. Units six to ten, control the path to the inner court. No one must know what’s about to happen. Squad leaders, move out.”

“Yes!”

“Understood.”

The leaders of the designated squads replied and began to move in unison, leading their men to take control of the area.

Maeng Hee-cheon then turned his attention to the remaining squads.

“Squads eleven, twelve, and thirteen, escort those entering through the main gate to the inner court. Erect a human barrier and maintain strict vigilance.”

“Understood.”

“Yes!”

Lee Gwak also replied with a stern expression. Behind him, Seok Yi Cheon and Ki Jin-hwi stood with tense faces and tight lips.

Even as they prepared, the dust cloud drew closer, and finally it was almost at the gate.

The source of the dust cloud was a convoy of about ten cargo wagons, escorted by dozens of martial artists.

Their faces were smeared with sweat and dust, and they were breathing heavily. It was clear at a glance that they were exhausted. But it wasn’t the horsemen who surprised everyone, but the cargo wagons behind them.

Instead of a roof, the wagons were covered with tarps, from which blackened blood dripped steadily. The sight of blood flowing from the numerous wagons and staining the ground was not just shocking, but also horrifying.

Thud!

Suddenly, an arm protruded through the tarp. It was then that the outer hall martial artists realised that the wagons were carrying corpses.

“My God! Are you saying each of these ten wagons is filled with bodies?”

Considering the size of the wagons, it meant they were carrying over two hundred corpses. It was as if a medium-sized martial arts sect had been annihilated.

The outer hall martial artists froze in the face of this massive incident.

Maeng Hee Cheon approached the warriors who had brought the wagons.

“Are you the only survivors?”

“Sob! I am sorry. We were ambushed by the enemy and…”

The bloodied warrior could not even finish his sentence. Overwhelmed by grief and guilt for
the loss of his comrades, he could not even lift his head.

“Let’s go inside. The main court leader is waiting.”

“Yes!”

Maeng Hee Cheon looked at the outer hall martial artists.

“What are you waiting for? Move!”

“Yes!”

Jolted back to reality, the outer hall martial artists finally started moving.

Lee Gwak led his squad members, escorting the wagons and the warriors.

As they entered the outer hall, they saw other squads. They were controlling the streets. People watched curiously from a distance, but the formidable aura of the guarding martial artists kept them from approaching.

The wagon procession swiftly crossed the Outer Hall and arrived at the main gate of the inner court. The guards there quickly opened the gates.

Thud!

As soon as they entered, the massive gates shut firmly behind them.

Without a moment’s pause, the procession headed straight for the main court Upon arrival, they were greeted by an elderly warrior dressed in a blood-red robe.

A horrific scar crossed the right side of his face. The one-eyed warrior, Nam Il Geuk, was the leader of the main sect.

Known as the ‘Ink Blood Guest’ for his ruthless nature, anger was evident on his face.

“Jwa-Ryeon!”

As soon as Nam Il Geuk called out, a bloodied warrior jumped out from the wagon procession.

“Master!”

“What happened?”

“I’m sorry.”

The warrior Jwa-Ryeon knelt before Nam Il Geuk.

Lee Gwak’s eyes sparkled with recognition.

‘Jwa-Ryeon? Then, are the annihilated ones from the Mystic Martial Squad?’

The Mystic Martial Squad was one of the elite units of the main court.

Along with the Blue Dragon Squad, the White Tiger Squad, and the Phoenix Squad, they mostly operated outside of the Jade Heaven Alliance. This was the first time Lee Gwak had seen Jwa-Ryeon’s face.

Nam Il Geuk spoke in a chilling voice.

“I don’t want your apologies. Tell me what happened.”

“It seems our meeting place was leaked. We were ambushed and had no time to respond.”

“The casualties?”

“Twenty-seven of the Mystic Martial Squad died, and one hundred and seventy warriors attending the meeting were killed.”

“Hmm!”

Nam Il Geuk exhaled deeply, overwhelmed by the scale of the tragedy.

Jade Heaven Alliance had recently hosted a secret meeting. It was to gain cooperation from the leaders of the sects located in the border areas with the Celestial Demon Troupe.

Representing the Jade Heaven Alliance and meeting them was Jwa-Ryeon and the Mystic Martial Squad.

“The culprits?”

“Who else but the Celestial Demon Troupe would stage such an ambush?”

“Ugh!”

Nam Il Geuk ground his teeth. His eyes were bloodshot with rage.

He looked towards Maeng Hee Cheon.

“Outer Hall Leader.”

“Speak.”

“I will call an executive meeting as the Main Court’s Leader. Convey my message to the Alliance Leader.”

“Understood.”

“And take care of the aftermath.”

“I will handle it.”

Maeng Hee Cheon bowed slightly in response.

Though not his direct superior, the order came from someone much higher in rank. Refusal was not an option for him.

Maeng Hee Cheon turned to the accompanying squad leaders.

“I will go to the Alliance Leader. You deal with the bodies and disperse.”

“Yes!”

Without a backward glance, he strode towards the Alliance Leader’s quarters.

The rest of the Outer Hall squad leaders exchanged glances.

Even as an order from a superior, dealing with nearly two hundred corpses was a task anyone would dread.

Normally, it would be a task for the Main Court’s warriors, but it couldn’t be thrust upon those who had just lost their comrades. In the end, it was they who had to deal with the dead.
Cho Mu-tak, the oldest among the squad leaders, sighed and spoke,

“Phew! Let’s begin.”

“Yes!”

At his command, the Outer Hall warriors removed the tarps covering the carts, revealing layers of corpses.

“Ugh!”

“Yuck!”

Groans and near-screams escaped the warriors’ lips, so ghastly was the state of the bodies.
Some turned away, retching.

Lee Gwak spoke to Seok Yi Cheon and Ki Jin Hwi.

“Let’s carry them too.”

They nodded and followed Lee Gwak. The smiles had long since faded from their faces.
Carefully, they started moving the bodies to the warehouse.

Lee Gwak cradled one of the bodies in his arms and moved cautiously.

The body was particularly gruesomely mutilated. It was covered in blood, with ghastly wounds gaping open in several places.

Lee Gwak carefully brushed back the hair that covered the corpse’s face, a face frozen in terror was revealed.

The deceased was a martial artist of an age similar to Lee Gwak’s.

Likely a promising disciple of some martial sect, his dreams of glory had been cut short by death. What must he have felt, facing his end so prematurely?

The painful expression and terrified eyes seemed to speak of the emotions he had experienced.

“May you find peace in the next world…”

Lee Gwak sincerely prayed for the soul of the martial artist.

Regardless of the valor or status he held in life, in death, he was reduced to this pitiful state.

The Jade Heaven Alliance might rage and plan in response to his death now, but soon, his existence would be forgotten.

Such was the fickle and fleeting nature of people’s hearts in the Jianghu.

From his experiences over the past few years, Lee Gwak knew this all too well. Countless talents had died on Mount Sohua, but now, no one spoke of them. They were already forgotten by the world.

Lee Gwak carefully set the body down inside the warehouse.

The spacious room was filled with bodies brought in by the outer hall martial artists. In the process of moving the bloodied corpses, they themselves were in chaos. Yet, not a single one complained.

Even though they were now in the safety of the Jade Heaven Alliance, they didn’t know when they too would be thrown into the battlefield and end their lives in such a futile manner.

After carrying the last of the bodies, Lee Gwak quietly looked around the warehouse.

The overwhelming smell of blood filling the space made his head spin. But Lee Gwak knew this was just the beginning.

With their deaths, the local war would escalate into a Great War, and many more would die.

“Phew!”

Lee Gwak’s sigh dispersed into the wind.