Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 37

November 17, 2023 • 13 min read • 433 views

Episode 37(The Strings of Fate Lead to Unpredictable Places (3)

Novel- Martial Artist Lee Gwak

That day, the executive’ meeting decided to launch an all-out war against the Celestial Demon Troupe.

Up until now, only a fraction of their forces had been deployed to assess each other’s strength. But from now on, they planned to use all their resources to punish the Celestial Demon Troupe.

Immediately, the atmosphere within the Jade Heaven Alliance shifted.

Before, it had been somewhat lax, but now the tension was overflowing, like a powder keg about to explode.

As if to prove this change, the number of merchant groups entering the Jade Heaven Alliance had significantly increased. Most of them dealt with supplies needed to wage war.

War brought misery to many, but for merchants, it was a rare opportunity not to be missed.

Thus, they took advantage of the turbulent times.
***
There was a big change in Lee Gwak’s daily life.

The lax lifestyle of the past was no longer tolerated. Even with a small number, they had to guard the outer hall gates and patrol the area.

While the other squads could afford to relax a bit, the Thirteenth squad was too small to have that luxury.

Lee Gwak requested reinforcements from Maeng Hee Cheon, but his request was denied. There were other areas within the alliance that needed manpower more urgently.

The talented were primarily assigned to the Mystic Martial Squad, which had lost twenty-seven of its members, and the newly recruited were placed in organisations with substantial martial capabilities like the Inner Court or the Main Court.

Organisations that were of no practical use in combat, such as the Thirteenth Squad of the Outer Hall, were thoroughly overlooked in the manpower allocation.

After a long wait, only two people were assigned to the Thirteenth Squad.

Go Cheon Gwang and Woo Il Yeong were the new members.

Go Cheon Gwang was a young martial artist in his early twenties, and Woo Il Yeong was a late teenager, still shedding his youthful naivety.

Both, like Ki Jin Hwi, were from minor martial arts sects and did not possess extraordinary talents. However, they were quick-witted and adapted rapidly to the lifestyle of the Thirteenth Squad.

This allowed Lee Gwak and the existing members some much-needed breathing room.

In the early evening, Lee Gwak led his group to an inn outside of the city.

The faces of the men following him were filled with excitement. It was the first time since Lee Gwak became the leader of the Thirteenth Squad that he treated them.

“Can we really drink as much as we want?”

“Yes!”

“And eat as much as we want?”

“Yes!”

“Then I guess we should loosen our belts and drink up.”

Ki Jin Hwi joked around.

Lee Gwak and his men chose a secluded spot in the inn and ordered food and drinks.

“How long has it been since we’ve had a drink? Today, we drink until our noses go crooked.”

“Hehe, if your nose actually gets crooked, that’ll be a sight, especially since you’re not that handsome to begin with.”

“You too, don’t even think about going back to the quarters tonight.”

“Ooh, scary!”

“Hehe!”

Seok Yi Cheon and Ki Jin Hwi laughed together, and Go Cheon Gwang and Woo Il Yeong smiled at their camaraderie.

Seok Yi Cheon and Ki Jin Hwi got along very well, and their presence always made the atmosphere of the Thirteenth squad warm and cheerful. Thanks to them, Go Cheon Gwang and Woo Il Yeong quickly became part of the group.

Woo Il Yeong called out to Lee Gwak cautiously.

“Leader!”

“What is it?”

“Is it okay for us to be drinking like this? We’re in a state of emergency, right?”

“We haven’t had a proper rest in the past three days. A little break like this is fine. If anyone says anything, I’ll take responsibility, so don’t worry and just drink.”

“Really?”

“Yes!”

Relief washed over Woo Il Yeong’s face.

Young and cautious, Woo Il Yeong was always wary. Seeing him, Lee Gwak was reminded of his own youth.

When he first joined the Outer Hall, he had been just as cautious as Woo Il Yeong. It was Seok Yi Cheon and Gok Chaeong who had taken care of him then.

Having been nurtured and adapted to life in the Jade Heaven Alliance thanks to them, Lee Gwak now extended the same consideration to Woo Il Yeong.

While they laughed and talked, the waiter brought out the drinks and snacks.

Once the meal was served, the atmosphere became even more heated . Lee Gwak and the group laughed, talked, and drank.

After a few more drinks, the atmosphere became more cheerful.

Seok Yi Cheon and Ki Jin Hwi led the atmosphere, and Go Cheon Gwang also did not fall behind, boasting his bold talk. Woo Il Yeong laughed as he sipped his drink.

Lee Gwak quietly emptied his drink and looked around the inn.

Most of the people in the inn were ordinary people. Just because they lived near the Jade Heaven Alliance didn’t mean they were all martial artists. Rather, there were more ordinary people like these.

They would finish their day’s work and gather with colleagues or friends to share a drink and relieve their fatigue. The people, having endured a hard day, chatted and enjoyed their time over drinks.

That’s when something caught Lee Gwak’s eye.

It was because of the woman who occupied the table across from him.

She was dressed in a plain outfit that was easy to move around in. But her beauty was anything but plain.

Her elegant features, eyes as cool as the moon in the autumn sky, and stoic posture were like a plum blossom blooming alone in the midst of winter.

Many people only glanced at her, but did not dare to speak to her.

‘A master!’

The moment Lee Gwak saw the woman, he felt a chill down his spine, as if hundreds of needles were pricking his body.

It was the feeling he got when encountering a master, and not just an ordinary one.

The woman was drinking alone, with simple snacks in front of her. However, her solitude seemed not pitiful but rather beautiful.

‘Who is she?’

The question crossed his mind, but he didn’t dwell on it.

As the front lines expanded, so did the number of masters joining the Jade Heaven Alliance. Evidence that the war was intensifying.

He suspected the woman was one of them.

But he didn’t pay much attention to her, as she had no connection to his world.

The liquor here wasn’t as good as the one he had at the Crimson Flower Brothel, but it was still top notch. It was indeed a fortune to be able to drink such liquor.

Just as Lee Gwak was deeply engrossed in his drinking.

Bang!

The door to the inn burst open and three men and women in their twenties entered, a handsome but somewhat grim-looking man in the lead, followed by a giant who looked at least two heads taller than an ordinary person. The last to enter was a woman who was quite beautiful. However, her raised eyebrows indicated that she was not to be trifled with.

The handsome man turned around and grumbled.

“Damn it! What is this mess? We’re too late to enter the city.”

“I told you we should have hurried.”

The woman, who already had a fierce glare, narrowed her eyes even more menacingly at the burly man. In response, the burly man scratched his head and made an excuse.

“Who would have known this would happen? You all agreed to take a break, too.”

They were noisy from the moment they arrived.

Inside the inn, they spoke loudly among themselves, without regard for the others. This caused a few of the people to frown in annoyance. But their imposing aura was so ferocious that no one dared to speak to them

They took their seats and called out to the waiter in a loud voice.

“Hey, waiter!”

“Yes!”

The waiter hurried over and bowed.

“Do you have any rooms available?”

“Well, the thing is…”

“Don’t tell me you don’t have any rooms?”

“I’m sorry, sir. Recently, there’s been a rush of people trying to get into the Jade Heaven Alliance.”

The handsome man’s face crumpled at the waiter’s answer.

“So, you’re saying there are no rooms?”

“I’m sorry. You might find it difficult to get a room in other inns as well… Argh!”

Bang!

In an instant, the waiter was sent sprawling to the floor with a brutal kick from the burly man.

“If you’re sorry, you should offer a room. What’s with the long-winded excuse?”

“That’s… I can’t… Gah!”

The waiter struggled to breathe, gasping and choking. The burly man looked down at him with contempt.

For a moment, the inn was silent.

The people held their breath as they watched the burly man and his group. The burly man then looked around with narrowed eyes.

“What are you looking at?”

The people quickly averted their eyes. The man smiled in satisfaction and looked down at the waiter lying on the floor.

“Do you have a room or not?”

“Ah… Well…”

“This guy really has a long tongue. Just answer ‘yes’ or ‘no.'”

The burly man slapped the waiter’s cheek, demanding an answer.

Thick tears rolled down his cheeks.

The owner of the inn was nowhere to be seen, leaving the poor waiter as a scapegoat, fleeing to save himself.

The waiter felt a sense of despair, as if he had been thrown into hell alone. He was just a mere waiter, with no authority whatsoever. It seemed so unfair that he, who was not even the owner, had to suffer like this.

“Do you know who we are? We are the Berserk Three Warriors, who have come from afar to help the Jade Heaven Alliance. Do we deserve such treatment? What will the Jade Heaven Alliance say when they hear how their ally has been treated in this shabby inn?”

At the mention of the Berserk Three Warriors, the atmosphere in the inn became tense.

As far as they knew, there were no Berserk Three Warriors in the Jianghu. Instead, there existed the Berserk Three Demons.

The Berserk Three Demons, known for their unorthodox and unpredictable behaviour, were martial artists who operated between the realms of good and evil. They remained unscathed through numerous troubles, thanks to their formidable martial arts skills.

The handsome man was the first villain, the laughing woman beside him was the second, and the giant man was the third.

The first and second villains only laughed and did not intervene as the third villain bullied the waiter. Such scenes were commonplace for them.

Their visit to the Jade Heaven Alliance was not driven by a sense of justice to protect the Jianghu but by the opportunity to gain importance in these turbulent times.

“Phew!”

Lee Gwak, who had been watching them, sighed. They had gone too far.

Despite his shift being over, he was the squad leader of the outer hall of the Jade Heaven Alliance, responsible for maintaining discipline outside the alliance.

He detested getting involved in such matters, but he couldn’t just turn a blind eye either.

At that moment, Seok Yi Cheon grabbed Lee Gwak’s hand. When Lee Gwak looked at him, Seok Yi Cheon shook his head with a desperate expression.

‘They’re not people we can handle. Let’s just pretend we didn’t see anything’

His eyes conveyed this message.

Go Cheon Gwang and Woo Il Yeong shared Seok Yi Cheon’s sentiment.

They were merely members and did not want to be swept up in such a big incident.
Only Ki Jin Hwi looked at Lee Gwak with an ambiguous smile.

Lee Gwak understood Seok Yi Cheon’s concerns and the fears of the newcomers Go Cheon Gwang and Woo Il Yeong. But unlike them, he was the leader of the thirteenth squad of the outer hall.

He, too, disliked getting entangled in complex issues and attracting attention. However, ignoring his duties went against his principles.

He did not want to cower in the face of the strong.

Breaking free from Seok Yi Cheon’s grasp, Lee Gwak stepped forward.

“Enough of this.”

“What? And who might you be?”

The third villain looked at Lee Gwak with half-closed eyes, a hint of killing intent in his gaze.

“I am Lee Gwak, leader of the thirteenth squad of the Jade Heaven Alliance’s outer hall”

“Oh, a squad leader?”

“Yes. This area is under the jurisdiction of Jade Heaven Alliance. Harassing the people here is strictly forbidden.”

“So, what then?”

“Release the waiter.”

At Lee Gwak’s words, the third villain’s eyebrows twitched.

At this moment, the first and second villains stepped forward.

“Quite impressive. To you, our Berserk Three Warriors must seem insignificant.”

“Hmm! Perhaps. After all, we are nothing compared to the great Jade Heaven Alliance.”

They approached Lee Gwak and looked him up and down, a subtle threat showing in their eyes.

The third villain left the waiter alone and joined the others, surrounding Lee Gwak.

Suddenly, the first villain poked Lee Gwak’s chest with his finger.

“But what can you do? The one who invited us here is none other than your revered superior, the great Geum Gu Ho of the outer court. What will he say when he learns you’ve treated us so rudely?”

Lee Gwak’s expression hardened.

Thinking Lee Gwak was scared, the first villain laughed mockingly.

“Hehe! How dare a mere squad leader meddle in this? After all, you’re just a lowly figure in the Jade Heaven Alliance.”

Poke! Poke!

Chuckling, the first villain repeatedly jabbed Lee Gwak’s chest. It was a clear display of disrespect. Yet, despite the continuous prodding, Lee Gwak remained unshaken, only causing the finger poking him to hurt.

The killing intent in the first villain’s eyes deepened, echoed by the second and third villains.

“I wonder what the Outer Court head would think. Is the life of an outer hall unit leader more important, or are we?”

Swoosh!

The third villain drew the sword from his waist.

‘Is there no other way?’

Lee Gwak sighed inwardly.

He couldn’t just stand there while being threatened with a weapon. He was mentally preparing for a confrontation when an unexpected voice intervened.

“It would be wise for you to stop now.”

The voice, clear yet cold, belonged to a woman who had been quietly sitting alone in the inn.

The second villain frowned upon seeing her. She was much more beautiful than herself.

“What did you just say? I must be hearing things. Or not?”

“I said, it would be wise for you to stop.”

“Ha! Really…”

A chilling killing intent flickered in the second villain’s eyes.

It irked her to see someone more beautiful, and even more so when the woman talked back without yielding.

“How dare you!”

Just as the second villain was about to explode in anger…

Flash!

Suddenly, a flash of light, and the jade earrings dangling from the second villain’s ears shattered into pieces.

Silence fell over the room.