Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 54

December 26, 2023 • 11 min read • 277 views

(The Return of the Warriors (1))

A great number of martial artists entered the Jade Heaven Alliance.

The leadership of the Ten Sects were present, as well as the heads of influential martial clans. They led their martial artists in a majestic manner.

The already excited atmosphere heated up even more with their appearance. The streets were overflowing with martial artists, and even people who had nothing to do with the Jianghu came in to see them.

The guesthouses and inns screamed with joy due to the unexpected boom, and people were in an uproar because they couldn’t find lodging. It even led to some people having to sleep outside

The streets were overflowing with excitement, but for the martial artists of the Outer Hall, who were responsible for maintaining the public order for the Jade Heaven Alliance, it was truly a nightmare.

During the day, they guarded the main or back gates, and at night, they patrolled the streets. This routine continued for several days. Although Lee Gwak, with his strong internal energy, could bear it, ordinary martial artists like Seok Yi Cheon and Woo Il Yeong from the Outer Hall of the Jade Heaven Alliance were experiencing extreme fatigue.”

Eventually, the Outer Court Head, Geum Gu Ho, deployed the Heavenly Intelligence Hall to relieve the burden on the outer hall martial artists. The introduction of Heavenly Intelligence Hall’s martial artists gave some respite to the outer hall martial artists.

Among those dispatched from Heavenly Intelligence Hall to Lee Gwak’s thirteenth Squad was a familiar face.

“Aren’t you grateful? We came just in time to save you.”

“Thank you!”

“Heh-heh!”

The one boasting beside Lee Gwak was Go Jeon-ok. He had led a few martial artists from Heavenly Intelligence Hall to join Lee Gwak’s unit.

Those who followed Go Jeon-ok were strangers to Lee Gwak. True to their role in intelligence gathering, their eyes were sharp and observant.

Lee Gwak asked Go Jeon-ok.

“But what about your previous mission? Why were you dispatched here?”

“The previous one? Ah! The Berserk Three Demons?”

“Yes!”

“Damn it! We couldn’t find them. You don’t know how much shame I endured because of that.”

Go Jeon-ok’s face twisted in frustration. He had sought to prove his abilities by finding the Berserk Three Demons, but despite all efforts and connections, he failed. He had faced considerable scolding from the Outer Hall Chief, Geum Gu Ho.

“Well, they must still see value in me, giving me another mission.”

“Another mission?”

“Yes!”

Go Jeon-ok smirked.

He restrained from saying more, and Lee Gwak didn’t press further. Delving deep into the Heavenly Intelligence Hall’s affairs was never fruitful.

But Lee Gwak had his suspicions.

‘They must be here to gather information about those who’ve infiltrated the Jade Heaven Alliance.’

The Outer Hall was merely a shield to hide the identity of the Heavenly Intelligence Hall, but its true purpose was to monitor the activities of those who had entered.

Lee Gwak guessed this but didn’t vocalise it. Regardless of the Heavenly Intelligence Hall’s motives, their presence was beneficial to the Outer Hall.

“Take good care of us while we’re here.”

“Heh-heh! Don’t worry. I’ll help as much as I can.”

“That’s reassuring.”

“Friends should help each other, right?”

Go Jeon-ok slung his arm over Lee Gwak’s shoulder.

Lee Gwak quietly observed Go Jeon-ok. The ambition in his eyes and his confident expression were more pronounced than ever since joining the Heavenly Intelligence Hall.

“Lee Gwak!”

“Speak!”

“If you ever face any difficulty, tell me. I have the power to watch your back.”

“…”

“Let’s go! We have to patrol.”

Go Jeon-ok released Lee Gwak’s shoulder.

He walked ahead as if it were the most natural thing, followed by the martial artists of the Heavenly Intelligence Hall. The outer hall martial artists seemed merely secondary in this arrangement.

Ki Jin Hwi quietly approached Lee Gwak and whispered.

“Leader!”

“Yes!”

“It seems we are being completely disregarded.”

“It does appear so.”

“What a joke. Even though the outer hall might not have much presence, to be disregarded to this extent…”

“Does it upset you?”

“Well, not exactly upset. Just a bit annoyed. It’s aggravating to be ignored like this.”

“Think positively. They will be the ones vigilantly watching over everything, right? We can just follow them without much thought.”

“Heh-heh! That’s true. Let them deal with all the headaches and worries.”

“Tell the squad members to take it easy for now.”

“Got it, Chief!”

Ki Jin Hwi nodded and returned to the squad.

Lee Gwak silently watched the backs of the Heavenly Intelligence Hall martial artists as they led the way.

Ultimately, that day’s patrol was dominated by Go Jeon-ok and the martial artists of the Heavenly Intelligence Hall, with Lee Gwak and his thirteenth squad merely following them until the end of their shift.

“Phew!”

Lee Gwak sighed, stretching his stiff body.

Just because the patrol was over didn’t mean his duties were finished. There were many things to check and squad members to care for.

Finally, after completing all his tasks, Lee Gwak left the Jade Heaven Alliance late into the night.

The road back home was still full of people. Even though it was late at night, many people were still roaming the streets.

Lee Gwak walked along the now familiar streets.

At that moment, he felt a strange sensation.

A tingling at the temples, the feeling of being watched secretly.

As Lee Gwak slightly furrowed his brows, someone appeared from one side of the alley, accompanied by the sound of rustling clothes. The owner of the stealthy gaze revealed themselves voluntarily.

His eyes widened in recognition upon seeing who it was.

In the darkness, the figure was someone he knew.

“So… Cheon?”

“It’s been a while, Oraboni.”

The woman greeting him softly was Han So Cheon.

With a face that had noticeably matured since their parting at Mount Sohua, she was looking at Lee Gwak.

“Have you been well?”

“You?”

“You look good.”

A faint smile graced Han So Cheon’s lips.

Lee Gwak approached her to see her face more clearly.

“It really is So Cheon. What happened? When did you return?”

“I’m hungry!”

“What?”

“Give me something to eat. I feel like I’m going to die of hunger.”

“…”

Lee Gwak looked incredulous at Han So Cheon’s words.

She was even thinner than before. Her eyes, already cold and cynical, seemed even more distant.

Looking into her eyes, Lee Gwak found himself unable to ask anything more.

Finally, Lee Gwak nodded.

“Alright, let’s go.”

“Okay!”

A faint smile appeared on Han So Cheon’s face.

Lee Gwak led Han So Cheon to his home.

As soon as he opened the tightly closed door, Han So Cheon looked around.

“You live in a nice place.”

“I found this place because of you. It had to be nice.”

“Because of me?”

“You asked me to stay in the Jade Heaven Alliance, remember? That’s why I got this house. Couldn’t stand living in the dormitory.”

“I see.”

“Sit there. I’ll prepare some food quickly.”

“Okay!”

Han So Cheon nodded and sat down on the wooden floor.

Lee Gwak watched her for a moment before heading to the kitchen. Alone, Han So Cheon looked up at the sky.

The unusually red moon caught her eye, and a reddish tinge reflected in her own eyes.
She sat on the floor, gazing at the night sky for a long time, motionless as if she were a statue.

Suddenly, her eyes lit up. She sensed Lee Gwak coming out of the kitchen.

Lee Gwak brought a small table filled with rice, fruits, and side dishes. Placing the table on the floor, he spoke,

“I prepared it in a hurry, so the side dishes aren’t much.”

“No, Oraboni. This is incredibly good.”

Han So Cheon quietly shook her head and picked up her chopsticks. She cautiously began to taste the food Lee Gwak had prepared.

After chewing with her eyes closed for a moment, she burst out in admiration.

“This is delicious!”

“That’s good!”

“Really delicious!”

Han So Cheon ate continuously, while Lee Gwak silently observed her.

After the incident at the stall, he had stocked up on rice and cold food. It was a good thing, he thought, that he could treat Han So Cheon to a homemade meal.

Han So Cheon, savouring the food with half-closed eyes, looked like an ascetic. Lee Gwak’s face fell into a shadow as he watched her.

She seemed much more mature than he had thought.

People don’t grow without suffering. Rapid growth in a short time means overcoming much pain. Her maturity was evidence of the hardships and trials she had faced and overcome.

At least, that’s what Lee Gwak believed.

He couldn’t begin to imagine the battles Han So Cheon had fought. But he knew the battlefields she had crossed were far from ordinary.

Lee Gwak didn’t interrupt her meal, allowing her to eat peacefully.

Han So Cheon focused solely on her meal.

The dinner took longer than usual due to her small bites, but Lee Gwak waited silently.

Finally, Han So Cheon finished her meal.

“Thank you, Oraboni! It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten so well.”

“I hope it was enough.”

“It was more than enough!”

Han So Cheon gently shook her head.

Lee Gwak asked,

“When did you return to the Jade Heaven Alliance?”

“This afternoon…”

“So you came here right after entering the Jade Heaven Alliance?”

“That’s right.”

“Guess it’s hard to talk about where you’ve been all this time?”

“I’m sorry, oraboni.”

“No need. I’m just glad you’re safe.”

“Thank you!”

Han So Cheon genuinely felt grateful for Lee Gwak’s consideration.

Everything about her was a closely guarded secret.

Her name, martial arts, even her existence.

Her entry into the Jade Heaven Alliance was secret, and her visit to Lee Gwak even more so. However, had Lee Gwak pressed her, she would have eventually had to tell him everything.

“Oraboni, can I stay here for a while?”

“Of course!”

Han So Cheon smiled at Lee Gwak’s enthusiastic permission.

She hadn’t come here because she had nowhere else to stay. The Jade Heaven Alliance had luxurious accommodations prepared for her and her comrades. But Han So Cheon didn’t want to stay there.

Being with her comrades was enough on the battlefield. She didn’t want to be with them here too. That’s why she came to Lee Gwak.

After watching Han So Cheon for a moment, Lee Gwak spoke.

“You look very tired.”

“It’s because I haven’t been sleeping well lately. I’ve been suffering from insomnia.”

“Insomnia?”

“Yes! I hardly sleep.”

Han So Cheon answered nonchalantly. Lee Gwak looked at her for a moment and then sighed.

“Sigh!”

“But it’s bearable.”

“Try saying that after looking in the mirror. Let’s go!”

Lee Gwak took Han So Cheon by the hand. She meekly followed him.

Lee Gwak led her to his room, where a soft bed was placed.

“Sleep here for the duration of your stay.”

“Oraboni?”

“Hurry up!”

“Okay!”

Han So Cheon nodded and lay down on the bed. Lee Gwak covered her with a blanket and said,

Han So Cheon nodded and lay down on the bed. Lee Gwak pulled the quilt over Han So Cheon and said,

“Try to sleep, even if sleep doesn’t come easily.”

“I will!”

“I’ll be in the room across. Call me if you need anything.”

“Okay!”

Lee Gwak looked at Han So Cheon’s face for a moment, then closed the door and walked out. He sighed softly so that Han So Cheon couldn’t hear him, and then walked into the small room across the hall.

Lee Gwak laid down on the floor.

A myriad of thoughts crossed his mind. Usually, he would fall asleep the moment his head hit the pillow, but tonight, sleep eluded him. It was all because of Han So Cheon’s unexpected visit.

It was then that his door quietly opened.

Swoosh!

Someone slipped into his room. It was Han So Cheon.

Han So Cheon lifted the blanket and climbed in.

“So Cheon!”

“I can’t sleep, brother.”

She snuggled into Lee Gwak’s embrace.

“Just stay like this for a while.”

Lee Gwak, who was about to push her away, paused his hand in mid-air.

Soon, Han So Cheon buried her face in his chest and started breathing evenly. She was asleep.

The woman who had struggled with insomnia was finally sleeping peacefully in Lee Gwak’s arms.

Her soft breathing echoed in Lee Gwak’s chest