Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 43

December 4, 2023 • 10 min read • 316 views

Episode 43(When Fate Branches Out (3))

Ki Jin Hwi opened his mouth with a serious expression.

“If we don’t set his twisted ankle right now, he could end up with a permanent limp.”

“Can you set it right?”

“This is beyond what I can do. An improper bone-setting could cause even greater damage to the muscles and nerves.”

At Ki Jin Hwi’s reply, Lee Gwak looked down at the boy with a sad look.

Despite the severe pain, the boy gritted his teeth and endured. His resilience, not uttering a single cry, spoke volumes about his toughness.

Lee Gwak addressed the boy,

“What’s your name?”

“Ch, Cheonwol!”

“Your surname?”

“I don’t have one.”

“Alright, Cheonwol. I am going to set your ankle now. It’s going to be very painful.”

“I can… bear it.”

Cheonwol looked up at Lee Gwak, determination and defiance filling his eyes.

Lee Gwak nodded and grabbed Cheonwol’s twisted ankle, and Seok Yi Cheon looked at him with concern.

“Gwak, are you sure you can set it properly? A mistake could lead to lifelong regret.”

“Don’t worry. I can handle it.”

In order to master the medical arts, one must have a deep knowledge of human anatomy.

After learning the Eight Snakes Art, Lee Gwak had continued to study the human body. He was confident in his bone-setting skills, even surpassing some doctors, but his members, unaware of this, could only watch in fear.

The sound of bones colliding rang out as Lee Gwak twisted Cheonwol’s ankle.

The pain was so intense that Cheonwol couldn’t even scream; his mouth just hung open in shock.

Lee Gwak skillfully but forcefully aligned Cheonwol’s bones and infused internal energy into his muscles, checking for any nerve compression. Fortunately, the energy flowed freely, a sign that the bones were properly aligned.

Lee Gwak then tore a piece of cloth and tightly wrapped Cheonwol’s ankle.

By the time everything was done, Cheonwol fainted. No matter how tough one is, enduring such pain without losing consciousness is nearly impossible.

Lee Gwak, looking at the unconscious Cheonwol, then spoke to Seok Yi Cheon,

“He shouldn’t move for a while. Please take good care of him.”

“Of course. But are you sure this will work?”

“What do you mean?”

“Bringing a stranger into our quarters, won’t that backfire? The outer hall leader might not like it.”

“I’ll handle that matter.”

“Well, if you say so.”

Finally, Seok Yi Cheon nodded in agreement.

Ki Jin Hwi, looking down at the unconscious Cheonwol murmured,

“The child is not ordinary. He didn’t scream even when he lost consciousness from the pain.”

“That’s true.”

Go Cheon Gwang also looked shocked.

He couldn’t imagine what kind of life he must have lived to have such a venomous spirit at his age.

It was half an hour later when the unconscious Cheonwol opened his eyes. The first thing he heard was Lee Gwak’s voice.

“Are you awake?”

“Yes! Yes!”

When Cheonwol turned his head, he saw Lee Gwak and the thirteen squad members sitting around him.

“Your bones are badly injured. Don’t move until they heal properly.”

“Thank you. I will never forget this kindness.”

“Rest here until your bones are somewhat healed.”

“I’ve heard that you’re the squad leader of the Jade Heaven Alliance’s Outer Hall, is that correct?”

“That’s right, but…”

Before Lee Gwak could finish, Cheonwol suddenly rose to his knees, surprising him.

“You shouldn’t be moving yet.”

“Please take me in.”

“What do you mean?”

“I clung to the Myriad Merchant Troupe just to get into the Jade Heaven Alliance.”

“…”

“Please, take me in.”

Cheonwol bowed his head to the ground.

Lee Gwak looked at his squad members with a perplexed expression. Ki Jin Hwi then spoke up.

“Let’s at least hear his story, Leader.”

“Yes, let’s hear him out. It seems like there’s more to it.”

Seok Yi Cheon also agreed.

Lee Gwak asked Cheonwol,

“Why do you want to join the Jade Heaven Alliance?”

“I have nowhere else to go. I have nothing – no family, no hometown… They were all lost in the war. Please, take me in.”

Tears streamed down Cheonwol’s cheeks.

Lee Gwak frowned, perhaps because he found some similarities in their stories.

Looking at Seok Yi Cheon, who seemed to share his thoughts. Lee Gwak remembered his own past – coming to the Jade Heaven Alliance after losing his parents. At least here, he thought, he wouldn’t starve to death.

The difference between him and Cheonwol was that Cheonwol’s eyes burned with a desire for revenge.

Unlike Lee Gwak, who lost his parents to a plague, Cheonwol lost his family and hometown to the Celestial Demon Troupe. The weight of the hatred Cheonwol felt was understandably different.

After a long moment, Lee Gwak made his decision.

“Alright. I’ll take you in temporarily.”

“Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me yet. You can’t become an official member until your identity is fully verified. Write down your hometown and last name”.

“Yes!”

Cheonwol responded with a bright face.

Lee Gwak, carrying Cheonwol’s personal details, headed to the Outer Hall office.

In cases like this, a squad leader could directly recruit members. However, strict identity verification was required.

Like Lee Gwak, Cheonwol would undergo a rigorous identity check in the Outer Hall. Until then, he would be a temporary member, confined to staying in the quarters.

Lee Gwak reported to Maeng Hee Cheon, the Outer Hall head, about Cheonwol.

“So you’re bringing in a new member?”

“That’s correct.”

“Hmm! Our numbers have been low lately. But are you sure about this?”

“About what?”

“Taking in a kid with no martial arts training. It’ll take quite some time for him to pull his weight.”

“We have to try.”

Maeng Hee Cheon looked at Lee Gwak with an unconvinced expression, his eyes as fierce as a wolf’s.

“You may not realise it, being in a safe place, but we’re in a time of war. We can’t afford to leisurely train new members while supporting the frontlines. This means you’ll have to train him without the Jade Heaven Alliance’s support. Can you handle it?”

“I’ll try.”

“Are you sure? Teaching him the basics and discipline, it’s all up to you.”

“I’m… sure.”

At Lee Gwak’s answer, Maeng Hee Cheon suddenly broke into a sly smile.

“Alright then! Since you insist, but only after he passes the verification.”

“Understood.”

“You can go now!”

“Yes!”

Lee Gwak bowed to Maeng Hee Cheon and left. Left alone, Maeng Hee Cheon’s smile deepened.

For him, it was a no-lose situation. They needed all the help they could get, even if it was just a cat’s paw. Lee Gwak volunteering to strengthen and expand the Outer Hall’s power was something Maeng Hee Cheon wouldn’t oppose. An increase in the Outer Hall’s strength meant a rise in his own influence.
***
Cheonwol’s identity verification passed without issues.

Seok Yi Cheon took on the task of teaching him the basic martial arts of the Jade Heaven Alliance. Having been in the Outer Hall for a long time, Seok Yi Cheon had mastered the basics and was experienced in teaching others.

He had already taught the basic martial arts to numerous warriors and did the same with Cheonwol.

Cheonwol proved to be exceptionally intelligent. He memorised the basic principles and techniques after only a couple of explanations. However, since his ankle was not fully healed, he couldn’t practise the martial arts himself and instead helped with various chores in the thirteenth squad.

Cheonwol especially followed Lee Gwak around. He was, after all, the one who had saved him and accepted him into the Outer Hall.

In public he called him “Leader,” but in private he called him “Brother” and followed him around like a puppy following its mother.

After joining the Outer Hall, Cheonwol’s most significant change was in his appearance. Originally smaller than his peers with rough skin, he quickly gained weight and his skin became radiant with proper meals.

In a couple of months, his appearance transformed remarkably, turning into a handsome young man that anyone would admire.

After his leg fully healed, Cheonwol began learning the basic martial arts, astonishing Seok Yi Cheon with his rapid progress.

Cheonwol had exceptional physical prowess and balance. Although he lacked internal energy, his skill in techniques was on par with other Outer Hall warriors.

Seok Yi Cheon marvelled at Cheonwol’s genius, and even Lee Gwak acknowledged it.

Cheonwol possessed an extraordinary martial talent, comparable to the prodigies Lee Gwak had met at the Steel Hell Blood Training Hall on Mount Sohua. In addition, he had incredible tenacity.

Once fully healed, he spent all day at the training ground, practising martial arts. Despite blisters forming and bursting on his hands and feet, not once did he take a break.

One day, Lee Gwak called out to him.

“Cheonwol, come with me somewhere today.”

“Yes, okay.”

Cheonwol didn’t ask where they were going.

Before Lee Gwak could finish speaking, he stopped his training and followed him.

The two walked shoulder to shoulder out of their quarters and down the street. Lee Gwa took Cheonwol to one of the warehouses managed by the outer hall.

“Mr. Lee, what brings you here today?”

The warehouse keeper, an elderly Outer Hall warrior, greeted Lee Gwak.

“I’ve come to issue a weapon for the new recruit. Here’s the order.”

Lee Gwak handed the order to the keeper, who read it thoroughly and then smiled at Cheonwol.

“Congratulations! You’ve finally been recognized as an official member.”

“Really?”

“Being issued a weapon means you are now an official warrior of the Outer Hall.”

“Ah!”

Cheonwol gasped, unaware that receiving a weapon held such significance.

“Which would you prefer, a sword or a Blade?”

“I’d like a sword, please.”

“A sword? A blade would be easier to handle.”

“I still prefer a sword. If possible, something light.”

Cheonwol confidently stated his preference, which seemed bold but pleasing to the keeper.

“Hmm! Let me see.”

The Keeper chose the lightest yet most functional sword from the collection reserved for the martial artists of the Outer Hall.

Even among swords crafted in the same forge, the level of craftsmanship varied. The sword he gave Cheonwol was one of the best.

“This is now your sword.”

“Thank you…”

Cheonwol’s expression briefly turned emotional.

Having lost his family and hometown, he never imagined he would become a true member of the Jade Heaven Alliance.

He hugged the sword tightly and bowed deeply to Lee Gwak.

“Brother, thank you. I won’t forget this kindness.”

“It’s all thanks to your effort.”

“If you hadn’t saved and healed me, I might have died wandering the murim. Thank you.”

“That’s enough!”

Lee Gwak, feeling slightly embarrassed, was met with Cheonwol’s admiring gaze.

“I will remain loyal from now on.”

“Let’s go!”

Lee Gwak shook his head and walked on, with Cheonwol smiling and following behind.
Cheonwol cherished the sword he was given.

It was his very first personal weapon.

The cold sensation in his hand felt indescribably good.

Ahead of him, Lee Gwak’s back looked ordinary, but it was incredibly sturdy. It seemed like a strong tower that would never collapse.

Cheonwol resolved never to lose sight of that man and follow him to the end.

“Let’s go together, Leader.”

He quickened his pace to keep up.