Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 50

December 12, 2023 • 10 min read • 358 views

Episode 50 ( True Value Shines in the Face of Crisis(3))

Lee Gwak left his home after fifteen days of seclusion.

Stepping outside the confines of the wall, the air felt different. The scenery he had seen countless times appeared changed.

Lee Gwak understood.

It wasn’t the world that had changed, but himself.

After standing still for a while, Lee Gwak headed towards the Jade Heaven Alliance.
Being the leader of the Thirteenth Squad, he felt remorseful for neglecting his duties for so long.

When Lee Gwak arrived at their quarters, the members of the Thirteenth Squad were sprawled around like soaked cotton.

“Leader!”

They greeted him with joy.

During Lee Gwak’s seclusion, they too had almost shut down. Lee Gwak’s return was a welcome sight.

Seok Yi Cheon playfully rebuked Lee Gwak.

“What were you doing? Locked up at home. Did you bring a woman over?”

“No.”

“Then what?”

“Ah, brother! Why pry so much? Isn’t it enough that he’s back? Let’s respect each other’s privacy.”

Ki Jin Hwi intervened, scolding Seok Yi Cheon, who looked slightly embarrassed.

“Did anything happen?”

“Haha! Nothing much. But well, we got to rest, so that’s good.”

“That’s fine then.”

Lee Gwak nodded at Ki Jin Hwi’s response.

His gaze fell on Cheol Won, who stood off to one side, his face flushed red from practising martial arts before Lee Gwak arrived.

Lee Gwak wordlessly patted Cheon Wol on the shoulder, bringing a bright smile to his face.

Lee Gwak addressed his squad members.

“Rest a bit more. I will report our return to the Outer Hall Leader and come back.”

The Thirteenth Unit Squad was still officially stationed at the Creation Pavilion. A formal report to Outer Hall Leader Mang Hee Cheon was necessary to resume their original duties.

Leaving the quarters, Lee Gwak headed to the outer hall.

The streets to the outer hall were bustling. It was clear, even at a glance, that there were more people than usual.

‘Is it because of the Jianghu Tournament?’

To Lee Gwak, the only plausible reason for the sudden influx of people was the Jianghu Tournament.

The Jade Heaven Alliance would try to keep it a secret until the tournament, but in the world, secrets were hard to keep.

Especially for an event like the Jianghu Tournament where many were invited, keeping secrets was nearly impossible.

Wherever a large number of people gathered, there were bound to be incidents, and it was up to the outer hall to clean up the mess.

Lee Gwak had a feeling he was going to be quite busy.

He went to see Mang Hee Cheon to report that the dispatch for the Creation Pavilion was over. Mang Hee Cheon looked at him with an expressionless face.

“You finished later than expected.”

“My apologies.”

“It’s okay. Until further orders, you will return to your nightly patrols outside the outer hall.”

“At night?”

“Recently, many outsiders have been causing various problems. It’s too chaotic even before the Jianghu Tournament.”

Worry was evident on Mang Hee Cheon’s face.

Despite the twelve units of the outer hall working tirelessly, problems kept arising.

If it was just a few martial artists causing trouble, it could be handled easily, but the martial artists from the powerful sects were also causing a ruckus, causing the entire outer hall to suffer.

Lee Gwak responded calmly.

“Understood.”

“You may leave.”

“Yes!”

After bidding farewell, Lee Gwak stepped outside.

The sun was still high in the sky. There was plenty of time before he needed to patrol.

Returning to the quarters, Lee Gwak informed his squad members about the night duty.

“This is good. I’ll step out for a bit.”

“I have some errands too.”

Ki Jin Hwi and Seok Yi Cheon went out for their own business, and Go Cheon Gwang and Woo Il Yeong left separately for a meal.

Only Lee Gwak and Cheon Wol remained in the quarters.

“Cha-ah!”

Without being asked, Cheon Wol was diligently practising his martial arts.

He was practising the basics against a wooden puppet.

Lee Gwak knew, as he had once learned them too, that the basic forms of the Jade Heaven Alliance were not extraordinary. They brought swift progress to a certain level, but their limits were clear.

They were good for laying a foundation, but the path to higher realms was blocked.

Lee Gwak himself had once diligently practised these basic forms, but feeling their limitations, he eventually drifted away from martial arts.

Watching Cheon Wol brought back memories of his past self, making him feel somewhat embarrassed. Had he not met Gwang Noh ya, he might still be living listlessly.

Even though they were all new recruits, Go Cheon Gwang and Woo Il Young were not as enthusiastic about martial arts as Cheon Wol. They trained moderately and played moderately. It didn’t mean they were bad or lazy; most outer hall warriors lived like them.

In fact, Cheon Wol’s fervor for martial arts was an anomaly in the outer hall.
Seeing Cheon Wol continue to train despite being out of breath stirred something in Lee Gwak.

“Shift your weight to your left foot there.”

Cheon Wol was momentarily startled by Lee Gwak’s sudden advice, but soon nodded and followed his words.

“Channel the energy from your toes up to your waist. Yes, like that!”

Wham!

Cheon Wol’s waist spun like a top, intensifying his momentum.

“Concentrate all the energy transferred to your waist into your fingertips.”

Pop!

The wooden dummy’s waist exploded.

Cheon Wol’s eyes widened in surprise.

He hadn’t expected his single punch to shatter the dummy. It wasn’t a special technique; he had just followed Lee Gwak’s advice to gather and channel more power. The result was astounding.

“Leader?”

“Keep going. You still have a lot of time.”

“Yes!”

Cheon Wol nodded vigorously and resumed his training, with Lee Gwak’s advice following him.

“Bend your knees more. Precise posture is important.”

Time flowed like water for the two of them.

***
The Thirteenth Squad set out for their night patrol.

Led by Lee Gwak, Go Cheon Gwang, Woo Il Yeong, Cheon Wol, Ki Jin Hwi, and Seok Yi Cheon followed in that order.

Their patrol area for the night was the northern district, near the slums, a place where incidents never ceased.

Just the night before, someone had died, and the Twelfth Squad had struggled to handle it. The Twelfth Squad, with its larger numbers, managed the situation smoothly, but it would be a busy night for the smaller Thirteenth Squad if anything similar happened.

The streets, blanketed in darkness, were dazzlingly lively.

Beautiful lanterns lit the windows of the brothels, where attractive prostitutes tempted passersby.

“Over there, sir. You look so sturdy. Come here, and I’ll treat you well. Ho ho!”

“My name is Jin Hyang. Please come and see me.”

Intoxicated people couldn’t resist the prostitutes’ allure and drifted into the brothels in small groups.

Trailing behind, Seok Yi Cheon clicked his tongue at the sticky atmosphere of the street.

“Wow! What an atmosphere. The brothels are thriving tonight.”

“Right, brother? How about we go after our shift?”

“What do you mean?”

“The brothels, brother! You should understand me better, haha!”

Ki Jin Hwi’s words made Seok Yi Cheon frown.

“Forget it! By the time our shift ends, it’ll be morning. What brothel would be open then?”

“Haha! Would you go if there was one open?”

“Well, I…”

Seok Yi Cheon hesitated, then Ki Jin Hwi whispered something in his ear, eliciting a bright smile and a nod from Seok Yi Cheon.

No need to guess what conversation transpired between them.

“Eh!”

Woo Il Young shook his head at the two, but as they were much older, he couldn’t bring himself to say anything.

He hurriedly caught up to Lee Gwak, leaving the chattering duo behind.

Lee Gwak, indifferent to their chatter, kept walking forward. How long had they been walking?

“Aaaah!”

“Help me!”

Suddenly, screams erupted from a window of an inn ahead.

Lee Gwak sighed. He had a premonition that the situation he had dreaded was unfolding.

The expressions of the other squad members mirrored Lee Gwak’s.

“Let’s go inside.”

Leading the way, Lee Gwak entered the inn, followed by his unit.

As they expected, the inside was a mess. Dozens of martial artists were struggling on the floor. But their expressions were strange.

“Huurrgh!”

“I’m sorry, please forgive me.”

“Get away, aaah!”

They mumbled incoherently or drooled as if hallucinating, staring into empty space.

Their eyes lost focus, faces twisted in terror. The bizarre sight of these martial artists made the Thirteenth Squad members uneasy.

“What’s this?”

“Have they all gone mad?”

Martial artists trained in martial arts were usually strong in both body and mind. It was almost impossible for so many to lose their sanity simultaneously.

Lee Gwak’s gaze turned to an elderly man in his early sixties sitting alone at a table in the center of the inn. He was dressed in a Taoist robe with eight trigrams and had a small box with a flag attached to his back.

The old Taoist sat upright, drinking wine alone. His demeanour was out of sync with the surrounding chaos, adding to the surreal atmosphere.

Incongruous appearance and behaviour in the chaotic inn.

Lee Gwak surmised that the situation inside the inn was somehow connected to the elderly Taoist.

Ki Jin Hwi approached Lee Gwak and whispered.

“He’s a Taoist from the Mount Mo Sect, Leader.”

“Mount Mo Sect?”

“It’s a Taoist lineage known for using spells and charms.”

The Mount Mo Sect, an ancient Taoist lineage, originated from Mount Mo and was named after it. Uniquely, they focused on developing and passing down spells and Taoist magic rather than martial arts like sword or blade techniques.

In its heyday, the sect boasted thousands of Taoists. However, as martial sects like the Mount Hua Sect or the Mount Wudang Sect flourished, the Mo Sect gradually declined.
After centuries of decline, the sect barely maintained a semblance of its former glory. Encountering a Mount Mo Sect taoist in the Jianghu was exceedingly rare.

“Tch! Looks like these fools messed with a Mount Mo Sect’s taoist without knowing their place.”

Ki Jin Hwi clicked his tongue.

Mount Mo Sect’s taoist were known for their eccentricity, perhaps due to their focus on the spiritual rather than the physical realm.

Though few in number, their pride was said to reach the heavens, and they were notorious for not tolerating disrespect.

Judging by the scene, the martial artists must have insulted the Mount Mo Sect’s taoist, who then used his talismans to punish them.

Ki Jin Hwi whispered.

“It’s best to avoid meddling in Mount Mo Sect’s affairs, Leader!”

“But we can’t just ignore it and walk away, can we? We’re already here.”

“Dammit!”

Ki Jin Hwi grumbled at Lee Gwak’s response, though he knew Lee Gwak was right.

As members of the Jade Heaven Alliance’s outer hall, they couldn’t simply ignore the situation.

Lee Gwak approached the elderly Taoist.

Just then, the old Taoist lifted his head and looked at Lee Gwak. A fleeting, chilling glare shot from his eyes.

“What do you want?”