Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 68

January 8, 2024 • 11 min read • 277 views

After the Storm… Part 1

Novel- Martial Artist Lee Gwak

It was when Lee Gwak and Cheon Wol left the inn to join the Jade Heaven Alliance.

“Brother!”

Suddenly, a lively voice called out from behind.

Cheon Wol’s face instantly stiffened. Instinctively, he pulled up the scarf around his neck to cover his face.

Seeing this, Lee Gwak slightly smiled. He knew exactly why Cheon Wol was doing this.

When Lee Gwak turned around, a familiar face came into view.

“Sobo!”

It was Lim So Bo, a beautiful girl with strikingly deep black eyes.

Lim So Bo’s face was bright with a smile. However, Lee Gwak knew that her smile was not meant for him.

Her gaze was fixed on Cheon Wol, standing beside Lee Gwak. Cheon Wol, with his face half-covered by the scarf, was avoiding Lim Sobo’s gaze.

Lim So Bo smiled warmly at Cheon Wol.

“Hello, Brother Cheon Wol!”

“Uh-huh!”

Cheon Wol responded shortly, hunching even more.

Surely, his face hidden within the scarf must be blushing red, Lee Gwak thought, as he asked Lim So Bo.

Although he couldn’t tell, his face must have turned bright red under the cloth around his neck. Lee Gwak thought so and asked Lim So Bo.

“Where are you headed?”

“I’m also on my way to the Jade Heaven Alliance. Let’s go together.”

“Let’s do that.”

Over the past year, Lee Gwak had become quite close to Lim So Bo. Though not overly familiar, they were comfortable enough to be informal with each other.

Lim So Bo approached Cheon Wol. Cheon Wol flinched even more.

“Brother Cheon Wol.”

“What?”

“Are you cold?”

“No, not at all!”

“Then why are you wearing your scarf like that?”

“Well, it’s just…”

Cheon Wol stammered.

Lee Gwak watched him, a slight smile on his face.

It was a scene he had seen too often over the past year. He already knew what would happen next.

Lim So Bo reached out and gently pulled down the scarf covering Cheon Wol’s face, revealing his flushed cheeks.

A look of satisfaction appeared on Lim So Bo’s face.

“Why hide such a handsome face?”

“Stop it. Don’t you feel sorry for Cheon Wol?”

Unable to stand it any longer, Lee Gwak interjected, making Lim So Bo laugh heartily.

“Hehe! Should I?”

“Are you visiting Brother Woo Gyeong today?”

“No, somewhere else today.”

“A secret, as usual?”

“Hehe!”

“Let’s go!”

Lim So Bo nodded and stood close to Cheon Wol. When their arms touched, Cheon Wol recoiled in surprise. Despite the potential for hurt feelings, Lim So Bo seemed indifferent.

Whether by chance or not, over the past year, Lim So Bo had encountered Cheon Wol quite frequently. Each time, Cheon Wol reacted just like now, his face turning red and avoiding Lim So Bo’s touch.

Lim So Bo then asked Lee Gwak.

“How’s the atmosphere in the Outer Hall lately?”

“Well, the same as usual.”

“Quite idle?”

“To some extent…”

“That’s good.”

“What is?”

“That it’s idle.”

“What do you mean?”

“There’s something I need to do that requires the outer hall’s assistance, and it would be better if my idle brother could accompany me.”

“Accompany? Are you going outside?”

“I can’t tell you yet. It’s a secret.”

Lee Gwak remained silent, prompting Lim So Bo to laugh and pat his shoulder.

“Ho-ho! No need to look so serious. It’s really a simple task. I’m just worried the journey might be long.”

“Do as you wish. If the Secret Court officially requests support, I’ll naturally have to comply.”

Lee Gwak responded with a calm expression.

Lim So Bo stared intently at him.

Lee Gwak was just walking ahead, looking straight.

‘An intriguing person.’

At first, she thought he was just an ordinary man.

Indeed, his status was ordinary. Though he was a squad leader of the outer hall, he was no different from any other member, and his martial arts skills weren’t particularly remarkable.

At least, that’s what she knew. But strangely, whenever she faced him, he didn’t feel ordinary.

His composure, despite his knowledge of her status, his relaxed gaze and a unique dignified aura made him seem extraordinary.

That’s why she was confused. Was Lee Gwak truly extraordinary, or was it just her misconception?

‘Considering he’s on familiar terms with Woo Gyeong Ahjussi, there must be something more…’
Nam Woo Gyeong was not an easy man.

As the intelligence chief of Hao Clan, he was a man who lacked nothing, be it martial arts skills, mental acuity, or leadership. That’s why it took her considerable effort to establish an intelligence exchange agreement with him.

The same Nam Woo Gyeong who was so strict with Lim So Bo treated Lee Gwak with no disrespect, so he must have known something about Lee Gwak’s strengths that he did not.

Even as they passed through the main gate of the Jade Heaven Alliance, Lee Gwak remained mostly silent. Cheon Wol was the same.

Cheon Wol had again pulled the scarf up to cover his face. Seeing this, she felt somewhat irritated.

“Ugh!”

Thwack!

Lim So Bo suddenly kicked Cheon Wol in the shin.

“Ouch!”

Caught off guard by the unexpected impact, Cheon Wol let out a low cry of surprise. He looked at Lim Sobo with an astonished expression.

“Bleh!”

Lim So Bo stuck out her tongue and then quickly ran away.

Cheon Wol frowned as he watched her retreating figure, but he didn’t raise his voice or show anger.

Cheon Wol again carefully pulled the scarf up to cover his face.

Lee Gwak laughed at this sight.

“You keep getting hit by So bo because you act like this.”

“But if I don’t, it becomes troublesome.”

Lee Gwak nodded at Cheon Wol’s response.

As Cheon Wol grew older, he became even more handsome. His physique and facial features improved with his training in the Sun Splitting Sword Art, making it impossible not to attract attention.

Because of this, numerous women came to see his face, causing disruptions in the Outer Hall’s work.

Eventually, Cheon Wol started covering his face, which significantly reduced the number of people coming to see him, though many women were disappointed.

The two entered the residence of the Thirteenth Squad shoulder to shoulder. The squad members were already waiting for them there.

“Have you arrived?”

“Welcome.”

Even though a year had passed since the Jianghu Tournament, the Thirteenth Squad consisted of only six members: Lee Gwak, Seok Yi Cheon, Ki Jin Hwi, Go Cheon Gwang, Woo Il Yeong, and Cheon Wol.

Due to the need to send newly recruited warriors to the front lines, this situation had arisen. It wasn’t just the Thirteenth Squad; other squads also suffered from chronic staff shortages.

The Thirteenth Squad, especially short-staffed, faced greater difficulties. But a good thing was the bond that had formed among the six members due to always moving together.

“Haha!”

Lee Gwak joked informally with the Squad and laughed. Time seemed to fly when he was with them.

After a brief conversation, they set out for patrol. Today, their patrol was not within the outer hall but outside.

Leaving through the main gate and heading towards the northern streets, the expressions of Lee Gwak and the Thirteenth Squad members were not particularly bright.

The northern streets were busier than before due to a recent surge in people. Most of the newcomers were refugees who had lost their homes in the conflict between the Jade Heaven Alliance and the Celestial Demon Troupe. Displaced from their destroyed homes, they eventually settled in the Jade Heaven Alliance, seeking a place to live.

They demanded the Jade Heaven Alliance take responsibility for their lost homes. However, the Jade Heaven Alliance did not accept their demands, knowing that if they conceded once, countless others would make similar demands for various reasons.

Unable to get anything from the Jade Heaven Alliance, the refugees naturally settled in the outskirts’ slums. The already problematic slums expanded further, creating numerous issues.

The original inhabitants of the slums were not welcoming of the new arrivals, leading to confrontations. Frequent incidents and accidents occurred, resulting in many deaths.

The slums were becoming a veritable ‘city of demons’.

Under the sun of the Jade Heaven Alliance, the darkest shadow was formed.

Initially, the Jade Heaven Alliance ignored the slums’ problems, but they eventually realized the severity of the situation and had the Outer Hall warriors patrol. However, it was only a temporary solution, not a real fix.

Over the past year, the situation in the slums worsened. Previously, most dwellings were proper houses, but now, nearly half were just shacks made of a few long wooden poles covered with mats.

Upon entering the slums, the Thirteenth Squad was greeted by a terrible stench. The squad members unwittingly scrunched their faces at the overpowering smell.
Hostile and fearful glances were felt from all around.

“This place never gets easier to adapt to.”

Seok Yi Cheon clicked his tongue.

His expression was very dark as he looked at the slums.

He was from the slums, but the atmosphere back then wasn’t as bad as it was now. There was hope that if one worked hard, they could eventually join the Jade Heaven Alliance.

But the looks they were receiving now held no hope, only hostility and anger.

“Phew!”

Seok Yi Cheon let out a sigh, and Ki Jin Hwi patted his shoulder.

“Are you okay, brother?”

“I’m fine!”

“Don’t worry too much. It’s not your fault things turned out like this here.”

“I know.”

“Whenever we come here, our brother’s heart gets weak. Let’s finish the patrol quickly and have
a drink.”

“Let’s do that!”

Seok Yi Cheon nodded and followed Lee Gwak.

Lee Gwak watched the slums in silence. Seok Yi Cheon still found the changes strange, but Lee Gwak was familiar with them as his home was not far from the slums.

He had no choice but to watch the process of people wailing in front of the Jade Heaven Alliance eventually ending up here.

Lee Gwak felt heavy-hearted but didn’t show it on his face.

“Jade Heaven Alliance’s hunting dogs!”

“What are they trying to snatch by coming here every day? Ugh! Spit!”

They thought they were whispering quietly, but Lee Gwak heard them clearly. However, he pretended not to notice and kept looking ahead.

This was always the case when entering the slums. He decided not to inform the squad members to avoid creating trouble.

Lee Gwak and the squad members walked through the main road of the slums, observing the surroundings.

As the end of the slums came into sight, Seok Yi Cheon and Go Cheon Gwang’s lips curled into a slight smile. They maintained a calm demeanor, but deep down, they wanted to leave this place as soon as possible.

That’s when it happened.

“This bastard! I’ll kill you.”

“Stab me, go on, try it!”

As if mocking their wishes, loud shouts echoed.

The squad members all sighed in unison.

“Sigh! Of course, it won’t end that easily.”

Shaking their heads, they walked towards the source of the noise.

They arrived at a gloomy clearing at the back of the slums. There, dozens of men were divided into two groups, facing off against each other.

At the center stood two men.

One had a large scar on his face, and the other’s forearm was covered in a fierce tattoo.

They were burly men, apparently the leaders of their respective groups.

They each held large knives, like those used to slaughter cattle, and exuded a murderous aura.

“Are you going to keep crossing the line? We clearly said we manage this area.”

“Who made that a law? Do we have to follow what you say? Where do you get off spouting such nonsense?”

“What? You really want to take this to the end?”

“Yes! If we back down here, we have nowhere else to go. Let’s see it through.”

They twitched their shoulders, ready to swing their knives at any moment, and the men behind them seemed poised to jump in.

Lee Gwak watched this scene and sighed, stepping between them.

“Let’s stop here, everyone.”

His voice was soft but strangely clear, reaching the men’s ears.

“Who are you?”

“Damn it! An Outer Hall nobody…”

Recognizing Lee Gwak’s attire, the men’s faces turned hostile.

Lee Gwak’s gaze deepened.

‘These are men trained in martial arts…’