Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 66

January 1, 2024 • 11 min read • 347 views

After the Storm… Part 1

Novel- Martial Artist Lee Gwak

“Sigh!”

Lee Gwak watched Han So cheon move away, a suppressed sigh escaping his lips. Cold sweat had formed on his forehead.

“your body seems to be in bad shape. Are you okay?”

Seok Yi Cheon looked at Lee Gwak with concern.

Lee Gwak managed a smile.

“I’m fine.”

But in reality, he wasn’t.

His physical condition was a mess. His insides were jumbled, his qi and blood circulation were in disarray. Most serious, however, were his external injuries. Wounds severe enough to expose bones were present all over his body.

Lee Gwak had tightly wrapped all his wounds with cloth and concealed them with a loose brown robe. Because of this, the members of the outer hall were unaware of his severe injuries. They only thought he looked pale because he was unwell.

Ki Jin Hwi also looked at Lee Gwak with a worried expression.

“Leader, don’t be stubborn and go rest. The Jianghu Tournament has ended anyway, and there won’t be any issue if one squad leader is missing.”

For the past three days, the Jianghu Tournament had been held in Poseidon.

Since the Tournament was held in the middle of Dongting Lake, ordinary people like Lee Gwak and the thirteenth squad had no idea who attended or what the agenda was.

Poseidon had disappeared as abruptly as it had appeared. Like morning dew evaporating, and people speculated that the Tournament must have ended.

The same was true for the Next Generation Leaders Meet up. It was clearly held at the detached building, but the details were unknown because access was strictly prohibited to the general public.

The people who had travelled far to see the Jianghu Tournament finally realised.

Jade Heaven Alliance was another world.

The wall surrounding this other world was too high and thick for them to peer through.

This was also true for the outer hall martial artists.

They had certainly heightened their vigilance, but they hadn’t seen a glimpse of those who attended the conference.

These days, they had realised once again that they were merely extras, and the feeling of self-deprecation was indescribable.

“Please go inside, leader. There isn’t much time left on your shift anyway, so it should be fine.”

Unable to refuse Cheon Wol’s worried words, Lee Gwak finally nodded.

“Then, I will go ahead.”

“Go on! Don’t worry about it here and rest.”

“Rest well. If there’s any issue, we will call you right away.”

After a few words of instruction to them, Lee Gwak headed home.

Cold sweat poured down his entire body. Yet, he could still smile.

Because he had been able to see off Han So cheon.

That’s why Lee Gwak had volunteered to guard the main gate, despite his condition.

Hoping that Han So cheon would return safely next time, Lee Gwak staggered forward.

As soon as he arrived home, Lee Gwak locked the door and undressed. The white cloth tightly wrapped inside his robe was stained red with blood.

Lee Gwak unwrapped the cloth.

With a ripping sound, the cloth stuck to the wounds fell away, bringing immense pain. Yet, he gritted his teeth and endured.

When he finally got the cloth off, the sight of his body was unbearable. Wounds gaped open like fish gills all over his body. Blood continued to ooze from wounds that hadn’t yet scabbed over.

“Sigh!”

Lee Gwak let out a soft sigh and walked naked to the well. He drew water from the well and poured it over his head, washing away the blood in an instant. Severe pain emanated from the wounds, but Lee Gwak didn’t flinch.

The pain was better. It made him feel alive.

The real pain was when he couldn’t feel anything at all. The time when Lee Gwak was paralyzed due to Gwan Il Hyeon’s punishment was the most painful period of his life.

The thought of undergoing that dreadful experience again, where he couldn’t feel anything
below his neck, was enough to drive him insane.

It was only thanks to the Yoga Secret Manual passed on by Han So cheon that he was able to escape that nightmare, but he had no desire to return to those days.

After thoroughly drying off, he carefully applied a healing ointment to his wounds. Then, he wrapped his injuries again with white cloth and dressed in his brown robe.

Completing these tasks, exhaustion was evident on Lee Gwak’s face.

He lay down on his bed, gazing up at the sky.

The past few days had been like a storm.

His body and mind were worn out from the incredible turmoil he hadn’t anticipated. Yet, he could smile because he had managed to save Han So cheon.

That was enough for Lee Gwak.

The day he returned after killing the Dark Emissary, Lee Gwak had barely clung to life. It was the Eight Snakes Art that had saved him.

Though unconscious, the Eight Snakes Art had healed his body on its own.

Currently, five snakes coexisted within Lee Gwak’s body, a large snake that was a combination of five snakes and a sixth snake. Normally, both snakes would move at the same time, but this time was different.

When his life was in danger, the two snakes moved with a singular will. They purified the corrupted qi and aided in healing his wounds.

Thanks to that, Lee Gwak was able to survive a life-threatening crisis within a day, and somehow managed to show his face in the outer hall for a moment on the second day. He did this to avoid raising suspicions from the Jade Heaven Alliance.

Fortunately, the Jade Heaven Alliance never suspected Lee Gwak in their search for the Dark Emissary’s killer. To them, an Outer Hall Squad leader like him was never a suspect.

They started inquiries focusing on outsiders. Lee Gwak could breathe a sigh of relief.

On the third day, he deliberately stood guard at the main gate. It was to see Han So cheon off.

Having seen Han So cheon off, he could now practise his internal energy in peace.

Lee Gwak sat cross-legged and began to use the Eight Snakes Art.

Both the large snake and the sixth snake woke up and moved according to his will.

The two snakes moved freely inside Lee Gwak’s body, purifying the disrupted qi and healing his internal wounds.

Mist rose from his shoulders as the impure qi was expelled from his body.

Lee Gwak immersed himself in his practice, losing track of time.

When he opened his eyes again, it was the next morning. He had devoted an entire day to cultivating.

Checking his inner state, a light flickered in Lee Gwak’s eyes.

‘My internal energy has deepened.’

His power had improved drastically compared to before his fight with the Dark Emissary. The gains Lee Gwak made were not just this.

The biggest gain was realising new aspects of his technique and power usage while fighting a formidable opponent like the Dark Emissary.

If his martial arts had been a dead art against imaginary or equal opponents, the fierce battle with Dark Emissary had transformed it into a living art.

Lee Gwak recognized his shortcomings and clearly determined the direction for his future development.

‘The foundation of my martial arts is the Eight Sects Sword Art. No matter how many extensions I add, it cannot escape the scope of the Eight Sects Sword Art.’

The Eight Sects Sword Art, created by the military, was simple and rustic, which also made it limited in variability.

Common sense would suggest increasing the variability. However, Lee Gwak decided to do the opposite.

‘Simpler, faster, more powerful…’

Having more variations wasn’t always better, and it didn’t suit Lee Gwak’s nature.

Though he wanted to act on his thoughts immediately, now wasn’t the time. His priority was to fully heal his internal and external injuries.

Training would come next.

Lee Gwak got up.

After a quick wash, his destination was the residence of Maa Doo Won.

“Have you arrived?”

Maa Doo Won greeted him, lying on his bed.

“Are you alright?”

“As long as I’m still alive, it must be okay.”

“I’m relieved to hear that.”

“It’s all thanks to you. Thank you, Lee Gwak!”

“It’s nothing.”

“No need to be so humble.”

Warmth filled Maa Doo Won’s gaze as he looked at Lee Gwak.

Perhaps due to his recent brush with death, his eyes seemed softer than before.

If it weren’t for the miraculous medicine administered by Lee Gwak, Maa Doo Won would no longer be of this world.

He was on the verge of death, and the pill had revived him. It was obvious that it was a precious item that was difficult to obtain even for a thousand gold. He was grateful to Lee Gwak for not hesitating to administer it.

“I always seem to owe you. How will I ever repay this debt?”

“I didn’t help you expecting a reward.”

“I know. But still, I can’t help but feel indebted. I can’t think of anything right now, but before I retire to the countryside, I’ll make sure to repay this debt.”

“You’re thinking of retiring from the Jianghu?”

Lee Gwak’s voice cracked.

Maa Doo Won’s gaze drifted to the window.

“Yes. After coming back from the brink of death, everything else seemed meaningless. I used to pride myself on handling major affairs in the Jianghu, but facing death made it all seem pointless. Maybe my heart is broken? So, I thought it would be better to retire from the Jianghu and cultivate younger talents in the countryside.”

“Will the Jade Heaven Alliance accept your retirement?”

“It won’t be easy.”

Maa Doo Won gave a bitter smile.

His value in the Jade Heaven Alliance, especially with his extensive knowledge from working in the Creation Pavilion, was too significant for them to let him go easily.

“But I’ll insist. My body is in ruins, I can’t possibly continue working for the Jade Heaven Alliance. Since it’s actually true, they won’t be able to keep me there forever.”

“Hmm!”

“If my retirement is accepted, the Jade Heaven Alliance will probably provide me a residence not too far away. They’ll assign bodyguards for my protection. Although my movements will be restricted, at least I’ll be able to live without a direct involvement with Jade Heaven Alliance.”

“I hope everything goes as you wish.”

“I hope so too.”

Maa Doo Won’s self-deprecating smile deepened. Lee Gwak silently observed him.

Initially, they had met through work, but now they had developed a deep bond. The thought of parting soon was genuinely regrettable.

“By the way, I haven’t told anyone about you, so don’t worry.”

“About what?”

“The person you killed in the secret battle. I’ve taken care of it, so you won’t be exposed.”

“Thank you.”

“I told you, didn’t I? I owe you. It’s only right that I take care of this before it becomes a bother for you.”

By now, Maa Doo Won was aware of Lee Gwak’s extraordinary martial arts skills. He knew that if the Jade Heaven Alliance found out about Lee Gwak’s abilities, they would take drastic measures.

Firstly, they would imprison and torture him to find out where he learned his skills and what his purpose was in the outer hall.

Even if Lee Gwak argued that he had developed his skills independently, the Jade Heaven Alliance would never believe him.

The Jade Heaven Alliance was fundamentally a place bound by suspicion. People there never easily trusted others. They questioned everything and probed until they were convinced. If they remained unconvinced, they would mercilessly destroy a person, like children breaking a toy.

That’s why Maa Doo Won had kept the miracle that was Lee Gwak a secret.

Although he planned to retire from the Jianghu, he intended to observe from afar how far Lee Gwak could develop.

“If you feel better, come see me in the evenings.”

“Why?”

“I’ll teach you my secret techniques.”

Lee Gwak’s eyes widened at Maa Doo Won’s words, prompting a faint smile from Maa Doo Won.

“There’s no need to be so surprised. With your current level, you should be able to learn my techniques without trouble.”

“But…”

“Don’t argue. I’ve made up my mind. I’m retiring from Jianghu anyway, so what use is hoarding my techniques? It’s better for you to learn and carry them on.”

“Thank you.”

Realising Maa Doo Won’s firm intention, Lee Gwak suddenly stood up and started to bow deeply to him.

Once, twice… nine times in total.

It was a gesture of accepting Maa Doo Won as his master in the art of mechanisms.

This was the first time in his life that he had taken someone as his master.

Maa Doo Won didn’t stop him. It was his acceptance of Lee Gwak as his disciple. Although it couldn’t be declared publicly, Lee Gwak was now the sole heir of his knowledge in mechanisms.

“I will teach you everything I know.”