Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 45

December 5, 2023 • 10 min read • 309 views

Episode 45(Walking Slowly but Never Stopping 2))

Lee Gwak’s eyes narrowed.

He recognized the face, but for a moment he couldn’t think of the boy’s name. Then the boy smiled and said,

“I’m Lim Ji Moon.”

“Oh, right!”

The boy, beaming with a bright smile, was Lim Ji Moon, the younger brother of Lim So Bo. He still had his cheerful demeanour.

Lee Gwak was very puzzled, as he hadn’t expected to see him here. Lim Ji Moon looked at Lee Gwak’s face with a hint of amusement

“What brings you here, Hyung?”

“Oh, Master Ma asked for my help.”

“Really?”

Lim Ji Moon’s eyes widened, and Maa Doo Won smiled.

“I learned a lot while helping him at Mount Sohua. I might not know how to make something from scratch, but I can handle repairs.”

“That’s impressive.”

“So I called him. As you can see, my arm is like this.”

Maa Doo Won shook his arm, which was supported by a splint, and Lim Ji Moon frowned slightly.

“You should have been more careful. It sucks when you get hurt.”

“Haha, that’s true. Thank you for your concern.”

Maa Doo Won’s attitude towards Lim Ji Moon was extremely courteous.

‘That must mean Lim Ji Moon’s status is high,’

But Lee Gwak wasn’t surprised. He had already learned about Lim So Bo’s status from Nam Woo Gyeong. It seemed logical that Ji Moon, being her brother, would also hold an extraordinary position.

Lee Gwak’s gaze shifted to the woman standing behind Ji Moon.

She radiated an aura as sharp as a sharpened blade. Her appearance was ordinary, but the chilling aura she radiated made one instinctively feel intimidated.

She stood in a protective stance behind Ji Moon, ready to act against even the slightest threat.

Ji Moon introduced her with a smile,

“This is Han Seol Noona, my bodyguard.”

“Pleased to meet you. I am Lee Gwak, the thirteenth squad leader of the outer hall.”

“……”

When Lee Gwak greeted her, Han Seol just stared at him and didn’t answer. There was a glint of disdain in her eyes. Ji Moon sighed softly.

“Sorry, Hyung. She is a woman of few words. But she’s not a bad person.”

“I’m fine, don’t mind me.”

“Hehe!”

Ji Moon chuckled awkwardly.

After a moment, Lee Gwak turned to Maa Doo Won,

“Then I’ll take my leave and let you two talk.”

“Alright!”

“See you tomorrow, brother!”

As Maa Doo Won and Ji Moon bid farewell to Lee Gwak, he nodded to them and stepped outside, followed by Han Seol.

Thud!

As the door slammed shut, Han Seol’s red lips opened.

“Thirteenth Squad leader Lee Gwak Lee!”

Startled by her sudden call, Lee Gwak frowned slightly.

“Please speak.”

“I don’t know how you’re acquainted with Young Master Lim, but he’s not so insignificant that you, a mere outer hall squad leader, can treat him so casually. From now on, don’t speak to him, and only do as you’re told.”

“Did you follow me out here to say that?”

“Yes. I felt the need to warn you.”

“Is Ji Moon that important?”

“He possesses a genius intellect, unparalleled in the art of Trap Formations. He is under special management by the alliance. Your birth and status are worlds apart from his. So, I would appreciate it if you would be more cautious in your interactions with him.”

“Are you telling me not to cross a line?”

“Exactly. Lines exist for a reason.”

Han Seol was adamant.

There wasn’t a single gap in her demeanour that could be exploited.

Her family had held key positions in the Jade Heaven Alliance for three generations. Her grandfather had been the first leader of the Righteous Heaven Group in the Inner Court, and her father had assisted the Heavenly Intelligence Hall. She herself had been recognized for her martial prowess since childhood and had risen rapidly in the secret Division.

Although she hadn’t trained in the Steel Hell Blood Training Hall of Mount Sohua due to unforeseen circumstances, she never felt inferior, and rightfully so.

Ji Moon was her mission.

A precious being she was sworn to protect, so any lapse in vigilance was unacceptable.
In her eyes, Lee Gwak was far beneath her.

Whatever his reasons for conversing so casually with Ji Moon, a mere leader of the outer hall like him couldn’t continue to address Ji Moon so informally.

After meeting her gaze for a moment, he nodded.

“I understand.”

“Is that a promise?”

“I promise. I won’t initiate any familiarity. But…”

As Lee Gwak added a condition, Han Seol Gung’s eyebrows twitched, but he continued regardless.

“If Ji Moon approaches me first, I won’t stop him.”

“Are you ignoring me?”

A sharp momentum poured out from Han Seol Gung’s entire body, crushing Lee Gwak’s entire body. It wasn’t the kind of momentum that a mere outer hall warrior would dare to withstand, but Lee Gwak spoke without a care in the world.

“I’m not disregarding them. That’s just how relationships work.”

“You…”

“See you tomorrow.”

Ignoring her, Lee Gwak turned and walked away.

A spasm of anger crossed Han Seol Gung’s shoulders as she watched his retreating figure.

“How dare a mere outer hall martial artist”

The next day, Lee Gwak led the thirteenth squad into the Creation Pavilion. They were there to help transport materials needed for repairs. It was more secure to have them than regular labourers.

“Wow!”

“Amazing!”

The members of the thirteenth squad, entering the inner court for the first time, couldn’t help but express their awe. The atmosphere was distinctly different from the outer hall.

Every warrior they passed radiated an air of superiority, their eyes shining with determination, their movements filled with discipline. They carried a pride unique to the inner court’s warriors, unattainable for those of the outer hall.

“Sigh!”

Seok Yi Cheon seemed overwhelmed by the atmosphere, and the expressions of Go Cheon Gwang and Woo Il Yeong were no different.

However, Ki Jin Hwi and Cheon Wol didn’t seem fazed.

“Phew! They are impressive. Just their gaze could slice a man in two,”

Ki Jin Hwi whistled and smirked, while Cheonwol nodded wordlessly.

“But thanks to the leader, we’re seeing the inner court, something not in our fate. We’ve truly risen in the world, hehe!”

“We’re here now. Please be quiet,”

“Understood, leader!”

When they reached the Creation Pavilion, Maa Doo Won, Lim Ji Moon, and Han Seol Gung were already waiting.

Lee Gwak approached them,

“Sorry for being late.”

“Not at all! You’ve arrived just in time. Are these your squad members?”

“Yes.”

“Perfect. I needed people to carry some things. You guys, take those packages over there and follow me.”

Maa Doo Won pointed to a pile of packages in the corner. Lee Gwak recognized them as materials for repairing mechanisms.

The squad members carried the packages without any sign of discontent despite their porter-like roles.

“Let’s get moving.”

Maa Doo Won led the way to the eastern wall of the inner court. Upon arrival, he instructed Lee Gwak.

“Put the materials here and have your men wait.”

“So they can’t enter?”

“What we’re about to enter is a crucial area responsible for the fortress’s defence. You have to help me, but it’s not a place to be revealed to your men. It’s not that I don’t trust them; it’s just that important.”

“Understood.”

Lee Gwak relayed the instructions to his squad.

“So we just wait here?”

“Yes! Please wait until I return.”

“Got it.”

“And don’t let anyone in.”

“Don’t worry and go inside.”

Seok Yi Cheon said with a smile, gently pushing Lee Gwak forward.

Lee Gwak looked at each of his squad members’ faces before joining Maa Doo Won and Ji Moon.

Since he couldn’t take them inside, Lee Gwak would carry their luggage for the day.

“Let’s go.”

“Follow me closely. From now on, only step where I step. A wrong move could cost you your life, so be extremely careful.”

Lim Ji Moon led the way toward the eastern wall. Han Seol Gung, Maa Doo Won, and Lee Gwak carefully followed in his exact footsteps.

Suddenly, they vanished from the view of the thirteenth squad.

“Gasp!”

“Hmm!”

Startled, Go Cheon Gwang and others let out low exclamations. Ki Jin Hwi commented,

“There must be a formation laid out there.”

“A formation?”

“Yes! Like an illusion or maze formation. Definitely something of that sort.”

“Hmm!”

“Anyway, our leader is truly remarkable. Mechanism studies are extremely complex and difficult. When did he even learn all that?”

A glint of admiration appeared in Ki Jin Hwi’s eyes.

He stared intently at the spot where Lee Gwak and others had disappeared. His gaze sharper than ever.

Suddenly, the scenery around them changed rapidly.

The walls of the fortress disappeared from view, replaced by a forest, which then gave way to a desolate desert.

At that moment, Lim Ji Moon’s voice rang out,

“This is the Thousand Illusions Phantom Trap. If you’re deceived by the scenery and step in the wrong place, what seems like a mere illusion becomes a deadly trap. Even a master can’t guarantee their life in such a case. So be extremely cautious.”

Lee Gwak nodded and carefully stepped only where Lim Ji Moon had.

The barren desert soon transformed into a sea of thick fog, giving an eerie feeling of isolation amidst a vast cloud ocean.

Even though Lee Gwak knew it was all an illusion, the chilling sensation was inevitable.

He had encountered similar experiences in Mount Sohua, but the formations here were on another level. They were designed for the defence of Jade Heaven Alliance, thus far more intricate and menacing.

Then, Lee Gwak sensed a subtle presence.

It was so subtle that he would never have detected it if his senses weren’t at their peak.

“Masters!

He realised that Masters were lurking at various points within the Thousand Illusions Phantom Trap.

It was perhaps to be expected.

This place held the core of Jade Heaven Alliance’s defence mechanism studies. No amount of guards would be too many.

Anyone entering without prior notification would be instantly killed, regardless of their status within the Jade Heaven Alliance.

Then Ji Moon’s voice broke the silence.

“Phew! We’ve arrived.”

Coming to his senses, Lee Gwak saw that the illusions had disappeared, revealing a small iron door.

Now it was Maa Doo Won’s turn to lead. The door before them operated solely on mechanisms.

The door was embedded with about twenty beads. It would only open if the beads were
pressed in a specific combination.

Maa Doo Won quickly pressed the beads, shielding the door with his body. Lee Gwak and Ji Moon deliberately turned away, avoiding any action that might cause misunderstanding.

Creak!

With a heavy metallic sound, the door opened, revealing the inside.

The sight of countless gears meshing seamlessly left Han Seol Gung utterly overwhelmed.

“Ah!”

To her, unfamiliar with mechanism studies, the giant mechanism appeared as intimidating as the belly of a huge beast.

Maa Doo Won, Ji Moon, and Lee Gwak stepped inside without hesitation. However, Han Seol Gung hesitated to move.

Then Lee Gwak turned his head and looked at her.

“Aren’t you coming in?”