Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 59

December 27, 2023 • 11 min read • 277 views

The Cycle of Gratitude and Resentment (Part 3)

“Brother!”

Dan Li Yeon looked calmly at the man in front of her.

The man was dressed in a red robe, and he looked unrealistically handsome, with a chiselled face, pure white skin, and deep black eyes.

His name was Woon Dae Yeon, Dan Li Yeon’s older sworn brother and the second disciple of Ja Hong Cheon.

Woon Dae Yeon’s deep, sombre eyes were fixed on a painting spread out on the table in front of him.

The ink on the painting, freshly laid by Woon Dae Yeon himself, had yet to dry.

On a white washi paper, a bamboo tree had been painted that seemed to pierce the sky, and a large bird was perched on top of it, gazing down upon the world.

The painting was so vivid that it seemed to tear through the paper. But Woon Dae Yeon was frowning, wondering what was wrong with it.

Dan Li Yeon called out to him again.

“Brother!”

“Ah, yes, Liyeon! What is it?”

Only then did Woon Dae Yeon raise his head to look at her.

“I told you earlier.”

“What?”

“That Master has ordered that you should preside over the meeting of the talents.”

“Must I really do it? Can’t it be Yong, our older brother?”

“Brother Yong is attending the Jianghu Tournament as the stand-in for Master, so he cannot.”

“Hmm! Then, can’t you preside in my place?”

“Brother!”

The impatient Dan Li Yeon raised her voice, causing Woon Dae Yeon to frown. His expression was truly frightening.

It was well-known that Ja Hong Cheon had three disciples.

The eldest was Indestructible Steel Blood Yong Cheon Myeong, the second was Sword Dragon Woon Dae Yeon, and the youngest was the Dark Martial Empress Dan Li Yeon – all renowned figures in the Jianghu.

Among them, it was the first disciple, Yong Cheon Myeong, who was the most likely to become the next leader. His position within the Jade Heaven Alliance was unassailable, and his martial prowess unparalleled, having reached the realm of constant victory.

His influence in the alliance was immense, with the largest following. Thus, many saw him as the most probable next leader.

The third disciple, Dark Martial Empress Dan Li Yeon, was a typical martial fanatic, consumed by a burning desire to reach the pinnacle of martial arts, dedicating every day to rigorous training.

Her exact level of skill was unknown, but given her talent and diligence, it was commonly believed she was nearly equal to Yong Cheon Myeong.

Unlike Yong Cheon Myeong or Dan Li Yeon, the second disciple, Sword Dragon Woon Dae Yeon, was almost unknown to the world.

Rarely seen in public unless necessary, most were unaware of his existence.

The world first heard of Woon Dae Yeon ten years ago when he single-handedly destroyed a group of demons known as the Crazy Winds Bandit Group that roamed the northern part of Jianghu.

The Crazy Wind Bandits were not like the Green Forest Bandits or any other bandits.
Skilled in horseback martial arts, they wielded swords, spears, and bows with ease and could form cavalry formations.

Like a swarm of locusts, they devastated everything in their path, taking not just wealth but lives, becoming a symbol of fear in the north.

When the damage caused by the Crazy Winds Bandit Group escalated exponentially, one martial sect, unable to stand by any longer, intervened.

Iron Command Sect, then a leading northern martial sect, was powerful and well-respected.
People naturally assumed that the Iron Command Sect would destroy the Crazy Winds Bandit group. They believed that no matter how infamous the group was, it was unlikely that they could defeat a martial sect of the calibre of the Iron Command Sect.

Moreover, Iron Command Sect’s leader, Jo Hanyul, was a renowned expert. His individual prowess had long since passed its peak, and now that he was taking matters into his own hands, the annihilation of the Crazy Winds Bandit group was a foregone conclusion.

Additionally, the area chosen by the Iron Command sect was mountainous. The terrain was extremely unfavourable for the cavalry-focused forces of the Crazy Winds Bandit Group.

It seemed only natural for the Iron Command sect to prevail. Everyone waited with bated breath for the inevitable outcome.

But when the results came in, shock was the only reaction – the defeated party was not the Crazy Winds Bandit group, but the Iron Command sect.

Jo Hanyul, the leader of Iron Command sect, was found torn apart, reduced to animal feed, and of the seven hundred disciples, barely twenty survived.

It was then that people realised that the Crazy Wind Bandit Group was no ordinary band of bandits.

The Crazy Winds Bandit Group was not just a gang of bandits but a new kind of martial sect formed by veterans from military backgrounds. Their prowess was formidable individually, but together, they were a force to be reckoned with.

After the annihilation of the Iron Command sect, there was no faction left that could stop the Crazy Winds Bandit Group’s rampage in the north. They were, in essence, kings of the region.

The devastation they caused grew like a snowball, and people wept in agony.

It was then that Woon Dae Yeon, an unknown martial artist at the time, stepped forward.

He alone faced the Crazy Winds Bandit Group head on.

People thought Woon Dae Yeon was crazy. For one man to take on the entire Crazy Winds Bandit Group was like a praying mantis trying to stop a wagon wheel with its arms.

They expected a brutal end for him, but once again, their expectations were proven wrong.

This time, it was the Crazy Winds Bandit Group that was annihilated.

It was said that with each flash of his sword, dozens of Crazy Wind’s members were torn to shreds.

Neither their famed joint attack formations nor their horseback martial arts were of any use against him.

Woon Dae Yeon, like a dragon, ravaged through the Crazy Winds Bandit Group, ensuring their total destruction. Hence, he earned the nickname ’Sword Dragon’

After that day, it became known that Woon Dae Yeon was actually the second disciple of Ja Hong Cheon. And this revelation sent ripples of excitement.

A disciple of the sect leader had hidden his identity to uphold justice. From then on, people closely watched Woon Dae Yeon’s actions. However, after his battle with the Crazy Winds Bandit Group, he once again faded from the public eye, gradually being forgotten.

Woon Dae Yeon’s intervention was not driven by a quest for glory but was a reluctant response to the desperate plea of an acquaintance in the north. He was a man who had built walls around himself, focusing solely on martial arts.

Dan Li Yeon’s frustration at looking at Woon Dae Yeon was, therefore, not unjustified.

To preside over a gathering of the most exceptional martial artists was no ordinary honour. Yet, Woon Dae Yeon seemed intent on avoiding this responsibility at all costs.

“I have relayed Master’s words. Whether you choose to preside or not is your decision, brother.”

“Huh! Hopefully, none of the Ten Lesser Skies are involved?”

“Hardly. So far, only Seon Wol has confirmed attendance.”

The Ten Lesser Skies were the undisputed top talents of the Jianghu. Even setting aside their special status as successors to the top Ten Sects, their martial prowess was sky-high, matched only by their pride.

While the leaders of the top Ten Sects, having received personal invitations from Ja Hong Cheon, had no choice but to attend, participation was not mandatory for the Ten Lesser Skies. Hence, Dan Li Yeon considered their involvement highly unlikely.

“That’s a relief.”

“You’re the only one who finds such an opportunity distasteful.”

“Enough nagging. I’ve heard you. Now go.”

“Alright. See you later.”

After bidding farewell, Dan Li Yeon left the room.

Woon Dae Yeon, left alone, gazed at the painting with a slightly distorted expression, still seemingly dissatisfied.

The strong smell of ink drifted from the not-yet-dry painting. Woon Dae Yeon waved his hand towards it.

Whooosh!

In an instant, the paper turned to dust and disappeared.

“How shall I deal with this inner demon?”

His voice echoed quietly in the empty room.

Lee Gwak was on his way to the Creation Pavilion, summoned unexpectedly by Maa Doo Won.

“Come in.”

As soon as Lee Gwak entered the Creation Pavilion, Maa Doo Won greeted him warmly.

“Did you call for me?”

“Yes! I need your help.”

Lee Gwak looked puzzled.

“Help with what?”

“First, come with me somewhere.”

Instead of explaining, Maa Doo Won started walking. Lee Gwak silently followed.

Maa Doo Won took him to a rather large pavilion near the southern gate of the inner Court.

“What is this place?”

“It’s a separate estate, a neutral territory, not connected to any organisation within the Inner Court. It’s like a guesthouse, used as needed, but practically abandoned for years.

“But why here?”

“Someone suddenly decided to use this place and asked for a thorough inspection.”

“And who might that be?”

“Someone very high up!”

Lee Gwak did not bother to ask further. If Maa Doo Won intended to reveal the identity, he wouldn’t have been so cryptic.

“So, we need to inspect this place now. We also have to check the mechanisms installed long ago.”

“Is there no support from the Creation Pavilion?”

“Almost all hands are on deck for the Jianghu Tournament, leaving no spare manpower. That’s why I’m asking for your help. Can you assist?”

“Of course.”

“Great!”

Maa Doo Won beamed at Lee Gwak’s response.

There were plenty who could tidy up ruins or handle menial tasks, but inspecting the mechanisms required a skilled hand, something not everyone could be entrusted with.
Lee Gwak was one of the few Maa Doo Won trusted implicitly.

“Let’s get started.”

“Right now?”

“Is there a problem?”

“No, not at all.”

“We don’t have much time. In a few days, an important event is scheduled to take place here. We need to hurry and check the mechanisms. A single malfunction could lead to a major disaster.”

“Understood.”

Maa Doo Won then explained the mechanisms to Lee Gwak. Most of them were familiar to Lee Gwak, so there was no problem.

The two of them spread out to check the mechanisms throughout the estate. As Maa Doo Won feared, the mechanisms had deteriorated considerably due to prolonged neglect.

While inspecting the interior, Lee Gwak discovered a hidden room behind a large pillar.

When he tapped it with his hand, it made a dull sound and was obviously empty.

‘A secret passage, it seems.’

He had checked before, but the Jade Heaven Alliance compound was a labyrinth of secret passageways, mostly built in the early days of the Alliance and now forgotten by many.

“This must be the closest to the underground filth drain to the south of the outer hall”.

Out of habit, Lee Gwak roughly estimated the location of the secret passage.

Then Maa Doo Won’s voice called out.

“Hurry up, Gwak. We need to finish our work so others can decorate this place.”

“Understood.”

Responding, Lee Gwak continued his inspection.

The work did not take long as it wasn’t a major repair but a simple check-up.

They found some minor issues, but nothing major.

Lee Gwak reported these findings to Maa Doo Won.

“Fortunately, it seems the vital parts are undamaged.”

“Yes, a bit of tweaking should suffice.”

“Good work.”

A look of relief washed over Maa Doo Won’s face.

The damage to the mechanisms was less severe than feared. It seemed they could be repaired in half a day.

They quickly started repairing the mechanisms, finishing their task in just half a day.

By the end of it, they were drenched in sweat.

“Whew! Good job.”

“You too, Scholar Ma.”

“No, no! This was practically a walk in the park. Thanks to you, we can breathe a sigh of relief.”

A satisfied smile spread across Maa Doo Won’s face.

With the inspection of the estate complete, he had no more tasks at hand. The thought of a sweet rest brought a grin to his face.

That was when it happened.

“Is the inspection all done, Scholar Ma?”

A familiar woman entered through the doors of the estate.