Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 61

December 27, 2023 • 10 min read • 286 views

The War of the Nonexistent (Part 2)

Lee Gwak rubbed his stiff neck and left the outer hall. For the past three days, he had stayed at the Jade Heaven Alliance and led the Thirteenth Squad.

During his stay with the Jade Heaven Alliance, Lee Gwak and his unit had been burdened with various menial tasks. His deep internal energy shielded him from physical exhaustion, but mentally he felt drained. He ventured outside to get some fresh air.

“Phew!”

Walking the streets at night, clarity began to return to his mind.

In the meantime, the situation at the Jade Heaven Alliance had become hectic. Countless martial artists were moving around like a storm to ensure the success of the Jianghu Tournament.

A hint of suspicion flickered across Lee Gwak’s face.

The Jianghu Tournament was set to commence the following day. Ordinarily, representatives and masters from various sects would have already made their presence known at the Alliance. Yet, Lee Gwak had encountered none.

‘Is the Jianghu Tournament actually going to take place?’

He was certain of the gathering of the Ten Lesser Skies, having personally inspected the mechanisms in the estate designated for the event. However, the location and details of the Jianghu Tournament itself remained elusive.

Engrossed in his thoughts, Lee Gwak suddenly realised he had meandered into a secluded alley within the Outer Hall. When he was about to return..

His senses picked up a strange sensation. So stealthy that even he might not have noticed it if the sixth snake hadn’t woken up.

As Lee Gwak frowned slightly, a black shadow appeared without a sound and blocked his path.

The figure, dressed in a black night-robe and face obscured by a dark mask, spoke.

“You are Lee Gwak of the Thirteenth Squad, correct?”

The voice grated his ears, reminiscent of scraping metal.

Lee Gwak’s gaze pierced the masked figure. The figure’s eyes were calm yet penetrating.

It was evident that the visitor’s intentions were far from benevolent.

“And you are?”

“I see.”

The man’s eyes glowed eerily through his hooded mask. He stepped closer, and continued.

“I need you to tell me about the mechanisms and secret passages of the Jade Heaven Alliance, Lee Gwak!”

Lee Gwak’s eyes narrowed.

Very few knew of his role in inspecting the Alliance’s mechanisms and discovering its hidden passages.

Swoosh!

With a quick movement, the figure drew a sharply honed sword from his waist.

“It’s in your best interest to cooperate. If not you, others will speak.”

At his words, Lee Gwak thought of Master Maa Doo Won.

Among the Jade Heaven Alliance, Master Ma was the one who knew the mechanisms and passages, along with Lee Gwak.

“What have you done with Master Ma?”

“That’s none of your concern. Just provide me with what I seek.”

The figure raised his sword and pointed it at Lee Gwak’s throat.

He didn’t seem to care about Lee Gwak’s resistance at all.

In his eyes, Lee Gwak was just a lowly member of the outer hall.

Even though the Jade Heaven Alliance was said to be the best in the world, the outer court was just like a worker ant at the bottom of the heap.

But then, Lee Gwak said something unexpected.

“Are you an assassin from the Celestial Demon Troupe?”

“What?”

For a moment, the figure’s eyes flickered.

He was usually very good at hiding his emotions, but Lee Gwak’s unexpected words caught him off guard.

He hadn’t expected that a mere Outer Hall squad leader like Lee Gwak would be able to pinpoint his identity and strike with such precision.

“Who are you?”

“Didn’t you say it yourself? I am Lee Gwak, the squad leader of the Thirteenth Squad.”

“Hmph! So you’re not just a simpleton?”

The assassin lunged at Lee Gwak without warning.

Swoosh!

His sword cut through the darkness, rushing towards Lee Gwak with terrifying speed.

The assassin intended to disable Lee Gwak’s shoulders in a single move and then torture him for information. He had no hesitation in his movements, confident of a quick victory.

“Ugh!”

But in the next moment, his confidence turned to disbelief as a painful groan escaped his mouth.

His sword had stopped mere inches from Lee Gwak’s collarbone. A slight push would have split Lee Gwak in two, but the assassin couldn’t do it. His arm, holding the sword, had lost its strength.

Grit!

“What?”

His grip on the sword was spasming, constrained by a dark object tightly coiled around it.
The end of the black whip, Lee Gwak’s Meteor Chain, had wrapped around the assassin’s arm like a massive python, exerting immense pressure.

Crack!

“Argh!”

The assassin’s eyes widened in pain as his muscles were torn apart and his bones shattered into dozens of pieces.

An ordinary martial artist would have been incapacitated by now, but this assassin was seasoned, having succeeded in numerous killings.

‘I’ll sacrifice my right arm.’

He extended his left hand towards Lee Gwak.

Whoosh!

Suddenly, hundreds of silver needles shot out from his sleeve.

The deadly Deadly Soul Sucking Needles, a notorious weapon in the Jianghu. Even a single hit from these needles could dissolve flesh and bone into mere blood.

The assassin was confident that these needles would take Lee Gwak’s life. Although he regretted that he hadn’t received any information about the secret passages, he didn’t worry, because another assassin had been sent to Maa Doo Won.

Psssh!

A white smoke arose, obscuring his vision.

A smirk appeared on the masked assassin’s face. The white smoke was a sign that the needles had hit their target.

“How dare a mere squad leader of the outer hall…”

Whoosh!

That’s when it happened.

The white smoke parted, and a shining white blade shot out like lightning, piercing the assassin’s forehead.

“Ugh!”

The blade protruded from the back of his head.

His body trembled violently, eyes turning upwards.

As the smoke cleared, Lee Gwak emerged, holding the blade.

Lee Gwak’s face showed subtle emotions that could not be expressed in words. His hand on the sword was trembling slightly.

This was his first kill.

He had always known that being in the Jianghu, he would have to kill someone someday, but he really didn’t expect that moment to come so quickly.

The surprise attack of the Deadly Soul Sucking Needles was dangerous. But Lee Gwak had instinctively drawn his sword for defence and retaliated immediately.

The result was the blade piercing through the assassin.

The trembling of the assassin’s body ceased; he was dead.

Swoosh!

Lee Gwak retracted his sword and Meteor Chain. The assassin’s body, now limp like a scarecrow, collapsed.

Lee Gwak looked down at the corpse, biting his lip. This was not the time for sentiment.

He searched the assassin’s left sleeve and found a small cylinder, the device that launched the needles.

After examining the cylinder, Lee Gwak found a small button.

He pointed the cylinder at the corpse and pressed the button. With a faint metallic sound, the needles fired.

Psssh!

Lee Gwak’s expression twisted slightly as he watched the assassin’s body dissolve into a pool of blood.

“Insane!”

He had not anticipated the extreme lethality of the needles from such a small cylinder.

The thought of what would have happened if he had been hit by just one needle sent shivers down his spine.

The assassin disappeared without a trace, leaving behind only a pool of blood. Lee Gwak turned away, leaving the past behind.

His destination was the main gate of the Inner Court of the Jade Heaven Alliance.

Thanks to arrangements made by Maa Doo Won, the guards at the gate readily let him in.
Lee Gwak hurried straight to Maa Doo Won’s residence.

“Please!”

Bang!

He kicked open the door to Maa Doo Won’s room and rushed inside. There, he saw Maa Doo Won lying in a pool of blood and a maid standing over him with a dripping dagger.
Blood was dripping from the maid’s hand. The maid looked momentarily surprised at the sudden intrusion. But it was only for a moment, as she charged at Lee Gwak with a terrifying speed.

Swoosh!

The dagger in her hand flew towards Lee Gwak, aiming for his vital points.

In a flash, Lee Gwak bent his waist and grabbed the hilt of his sword.

Flash!

A brilliant light flashed.

The first stance of the Eight Sects Sword Art, Mountain Splitting Slash., was executed with terrifying force.

“Gah!”

A fountain of blood gushed from the maid’s neck. With her throat half cut, her breathing was instantly cut off.

Lee Gwak moved past the maid and rushed to Maa Doo Won.

“Are you alright?”

“Huuugh!”

Maa Doo Won let out a wheezing groan.

His chest was lacerated with dagger wounds, looking as though he had been tortured.

Fortunately, he was still breathing, but he had lost so much blood that his life was undoubtedly in danger.

Suddenly, Lee Gwak remembered he had a precious pill in his possession.

The Recovery Elixir.

It was a sacred elixir of the Jade Heaven Alliance, given by Dan Liyan to treat wounds inflicted by internal energy attacks.

It was an elixir of the Jade Heaven Alliance that Dan Li Yeon had given him to heal the wounds he had suffered at the hands of Yeom Gi Ho.

Without a second thought, Lee Gwak administered the Recovery Elixir to Maa Doo Won. He then tore a piece of cloth nearby and tightly wrapped it around Maa Doo Won’s wounds. After stopping the bleeding, some colour slowly returned to Maa Doo Won’s pale face.

When Maa Doo Won’s breathing, which had been as precarious as that of an extinguished candle, steadied a little, Lee Gwak spoke urgently.

“Master Ma, it’s me, Lee Gwak. Do you recognize me?”

“Kuh! Lee…Gwak.”

Maa Doo Won recognized him and barely managed to speak.

His voice was weak, but fortunately, it didn’t seem like he would pass away immediately.

Grasping Lee Gwak’s hand, he continued.

“The… assassins disguised themselves as my servants.”

“More than one assassin?”

“Yes. They extracted information about the Detached Court from me.”

“…”

The Detached Court was where the Ten Lesser Skies Meeting was to be held.

The assassins were targeting the participants of the Ten Lesser Skies Meeting. Lee Gwak felt somewhat relieved, thinking that the participants should be capable of defending themselves.

Suddenly, Maa Doo Won laughed.

“Hehe! They think they got everything from me, but I didn’t tell them the most crucial part.”

“And that is?”

“The Hidden Blood Squad is lying in wait in the Detached Court. As soon as they enter, they’ll be annihilated by the squad.”

“The Hidden Blood Squad…”

“You may not know. The Hidden Blood Squad is the Jade Heaven Alliance’s elite assassin unit active on the front lines. Even the strongest assassins from the Celestial Demon Troupe can’t stand against them.”

Maa Doo Won explained, assuming that Lee Gwak would not know about the Hidden Blood Squad. But Lee Gwak already knew about the Hidden Blood Squad.

‘So Cheon!’

Han So Cheon was a member of the Hidden Blood Squad.

Lee Gwak’s gaze turned towards the direction of the Detached Court.