Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 71

January 12, 2024 • 22 min read • 273 views

The Brighter the Light, the Darker the Shadow (3)

Novel- Martial Artist Lee Gwak

“That was a stupid thing to do.”

“I apologize.”

Lee Gwak calmly responded to Maeng Hee Cheon’s reprimand, causing Maeng’s brows to furrow. Lee Gwak’s reaction was not what he had expected.

Maeng Hee Cheon looked at Lee Gwak intently. Since Maeng was sitting and Lee Gwak was standing, Maeng had to look up at him.

Suddenly, Maeng Hee Cheon’s eyes became irritated. He disliked the fact that he had to look up at Lee Gwak, and he also disliked the way Lee Gwak looked down at him.

Lee Gwak’s eyes were undeniably gentle and calm, without a hint of defiance. Yet, they somehow irritated Maeng.

‘It must be a misunderstanding,’

He didn’t believe that a mere squad leader could challenge his authority, especially since Lee Gwak was the leader of the thirteenth squad, the least significant of the thirteen.

The Thirteenth squad, incomplete in its number of members, had very limited responsibilities. That’s why Maeng Hee Cheon had excluded them from important missions and relegated them to external patrols.

Maeng Hee Cheon slapped the desk and ordered.

“Release those men.”

“Yes!”

“Unless they cause significant trouble, don’t interfere and leave them be.”

“Understood.”

Lee Gwak replied without any objection.

“Leave now!”

“Yes!”

After saluting Maeng Hee Cheon, Lee Gwak left the hall.

Once outside, Lee Gwak looked up at the sky for a moment.

‘Has it really reached the Hall leader?’

He had considered the possibility, but the confirmation of his suspicion was still unpleasant. But Lee Gwak never showed his disappointment.

One thing he had learnt during his time here was the importance of carefully hiding his emotions.

The Jade Heaven Alliance was the center of the Jianghu. Naturally, it attracted many people, each with their own intentions.

Some approached with good intentions, but many did not. Revealing one’s true feelings in such a place was foolish.

“Sigh!”

Lee Gwak sighed and headed towards the detention facility.

The men he had arrested a few days ago were imprisoned there.

“Hehe! See, I told you they’d let us go. You should have listened to me from the beginning.”

“Now we can finally get out.”

Lee Umyeong and Jang Wimun, the leaders of the men, had smirks of victory on their faces.
During their imprisonment, they had used their connections to reach Maeng Hee Cheon, the head of the Outer Hall.

For them, connecting with the head of the Outer Hall was the highest authority they could appeal to. Once they established a connection with him, they no longer needed to be concerned about Lee Gwak, a low-ranking squad leader.

“Look at you now.”

“Damn! If you had just let us go when we asked, we wouldn’t have had to go through all this trouble.”

The men jeered at Lee Gwak from behind the bars.

Lee Gwak walked silently past them and stopped in front of the cell where Lee Umyeong and Jang Wimun were being held.

Originally, they had been imprisoned with their gang, but it seemed the guards had since separated them into solitary cells.

Lee Umyeong looked at Lee Gwak with a mocking smile, while Jang Wimun had a more cautious look.

Lee Gwak unlocked the cell holding Lee Umyeong and said in a soft voice,

“Lee Umyeong, born in Yongzhen, Yunnan Province, studied at the Holy Martial Taoist Temple nearby. Married the daughter of the temple master, with whom he has a son and a daughter.”

“What? How do you know that?”

Lee Umyeong’s eyes widened in shock.

“Your wife is dead, and your two children are living separately in Pingjiang, about fifty li from here.”

“You bastard! How do you know that?”

Clang!

As Lee Gwak unlocked the cell, Lee Umyeong burst out of the door.

He had thought about the safety of his children and did not bring them to the slums. He entrusted them to someone reliable in Pingjiang.

This was a secret known to no one, not even the subordinates he had gathered since entering this place. Yet, Lee Gwak spoke of this secret effortlessly.

Fortunately, his voice was low enough that Jang Wimun, imprisoned in the next cell, couldn’t hear, but it was enough to horrify Lee Umyeong.

To him, who had lost his hometown and wife, the well-being of his two children was everything.

In a loss of rationality, he lunged at Lee Gwak.

Thump!

At that moment, Lee Gwak’s dagger plunged into Lee Umyeong’s abdomen.

Overcome with pain that seemed to penetrate his entire body, Lee Umyeong crumpled without even a scream, gasping on his knees.

“Hey, you! What did you say to our boss?”

“I’ll kill you!”

Lee Umyeong’s subordinates shouted, but Lee Gwak’s expression remained unchanged.

Lee Gwak indifferently watched Lee Umyeong and then turned to unlock the cell of Jang Wimun, speaking softly.

“Jang Wimun, from Renhuai. Studied martial arts for seven years at the Li Family Martial House. Had an affair with his teacher’s wife, Yun Hua-Suk, and had a daughter with her. When the affair was about to be discovered, he poisoned his teacher…”.

Ugh!

Jang Wimun shuddered as Lee Gwak’s words continued.

What Lee Gwak revealed were secrets that the world should never have known, Jang Wimun’s own disgrace.

“Ugh!”

Even though Lee Gwak opened the cell, Jang Wimun couldn’t attack, just trembling. He had seen how Lee Umyeong had been rendered incapable of fighting back with a single strike.

Knowing it was futile to attack, he just shook.

‘How can a martial artist of the outer hall have such skills…’

He himself was a martial artist who had practiced martial arts for a long time. Despite committing adultery and poisoning his teacher, he was confident in his martial arts skills.

He had believed he could handle the low-level martial artists of the Jade Heaven Alliance’s outer hall, but his beliefs were shattered by Cheon Wol, a junior member of the Thirteenth squad. And now, he dared not confront Lee Gwak.

There was no divine light or aura emanating from Lee Gwak, nothing that he should be wary of on the surface, yet he was strangely unable to attack.

It was as if the bridge connecting their minds and bodies had been severed.

‘Sometimes, a dragon plays in the mud, but isn’t this too much?’

Jang Wimun bit his lip till it bled.

Regardless of Jang Wimun’s glare, Lee Gwak opened the cell doors of the other men.

Clang!

The dull sound of iron echoed through the prison and the door opened. However, none of the men who had mocked Lee Gwak a moment ago dared to attack him.

They all just trembled, as if bewitched, mouths agape.

Jang Wimun could easily guess why. It was obvious that Lee Gwak had recited a secret to their faces, a secret that shouldn’t be known to the world like he and Lee Umyeong.

‘How?’

He felt chills all over his body.

They had only been imprisoned for two or three days – too short for such thorough background checks.

Moreover, there were dozens of them. Completing background checks on all these people in just a few days was impossible alone.

It was absolutely impossible for one person.

That was Jang Wimun’s understanding.

‘Someone else is behind this.’

Chills ran up his spine.

Lee Gwak was blackmailing all of them.

He knew everything about them.

If he wished, he could destroy everything they held dear. So, they should behave themselves.

‘What is this?’

Even after making a connection with Maeng Hee Cheon, the head of the Outer Hall, they thought they could ignore Lee Gwak’s warnings and live freely. But now, they realized they could never defy Lee Gwak.

“Clench!”

Jang Wimun clenched his fist.

If he could, he would have liked to kill Lee Gwak right there. But there was no weakness in Lee Gwak; he seemed like an impenetrable wall.

Above all, he feared the person backing Lee Gwak.

With this level of intelligence, it couldn’t be just the head of the Outer Hall; it had to be someone of higher standing.

Finally, after opening all the doors

“Go ahead.”

Lee Gwak did not offer any words of warning to them. However, no one dared to confront or speak against him.

The men, with their shoulders drooping, weakly moved out. Finally, everyone left except Jang Wimun.

Before following his subordinates, Jang Wimun looked back at Lee Gwak.

“It might sound like an excuse, but my master was the worst of humanity. He raped female disciples, and my wife also had to live with him due to his threats. If I hadn’t killed him, many more would have suffered in a hellish torment.”

“……”

“What’s the use of such excuses anyway? As per your warning, Head Lee Gwak, I won’t ever touch ordinary people. So…”

Jang Wimun bowed to Lee Gwak and then left.

Lee Gwak silently observed Jang Wimun’s retreating figure.

He knew well what Jang Wimun and the men thought of him. That was exactly what Lee Gwak had intended.

It was a gift from Nam Woo Gyeong. Before leaving the Jade Heaven Alliance, he had left Lee Gwak a booklet with the personal details of people who had infiltrated the slums.

Although it was not possible to pass on crucial information due to Hao Clan’s policy, Nam thought this level would be fine.

After coming out of the prison, Lee Gwak suddenly looked up at the sky.

The sun was shining intensely in the vivid blue sky. Lee Gwak frowned at the intense sunlight.

“Squad Leader, Lee Gwak!”

A familiar voice called him.

Turning his head, Lee Gwak saw a member of another squad running towards him.

“What is it?”

“You’re summoned to the inner court.”

“The inner court? You don’t know who’s summoning me?”

“Yes! The order came from above. They said someone inside will guide you.”

Lee Gwak frowned for a moment at the member’s answer. But his answer had already been decided.

“Understood. I’ll head there right away.”

“Yes! Then I’ll leave…”

The young member bowed to Lee Gwak and returned the way he had come.

Alone, Lee Gwak walked towards the main gate of the inner court.

He used to frequent it when Maa Doo Won was at the Creation Pavilion, but had stopped visiting since Maa Doo Won retired from the Jianghu. So, the path to the inner court felt particularly unfamiliar today.

After identifying myself to the guard at the main gate of the inner court and waiting a while, someone came running out.

It was a stern-looking scholar, whom Lee Gwak was seeing for the first time.

The scholar, appearing to be in his late twenties, examined Lee Gwak from head to toe with sharp eyes.

“Lee Gwak, squad leader of the thirteenth squad of the outer hall, right?”

“That’s right.”

“Follow me.”

He turned and walked away without further explanation.

A bitter smile formed on Lee Gwak’s lips. The scholar’s attitude showed what he thought of him. But Lee Gwak wasn’t particularly hurt or annoyed. He was used to it by now.

The scholar led Lee Gwak to an area he had never visited before.

After passing through several strict security checkpoints and mechanical traps, they finally arrived at a secluded area surrounded by high walls.

“Be very careful with your movements from here on. Do not make any misinterpretable actions. A slight mistake could lead to disaster. It’s the first time someone like you, a squad leader of the Outer Hall, has been allowed into the Secret Court. Do not disclose anything you see or hear here to anyone.“

Lee Gwak nodded silently at the scholar’s warning, who looked at him with displeasure.

‘So it’s the Secret Court,’.

Neither the inner court nor the main court were places Lee Gwak could easily enter, but the Secret Court was a different dimension.

It was like the brain of Jade Heaven Alliance, where policies and strategies were formulated, so the number of outsiders allowed was extremely limited. Naturally, someone from the outer hall like Lee Gwak had even less reason to be there.

The scholar’s displeased look at Lee Gwak was understandable.

He led Lee Gwak to a large hall within the Secret Court. In front of the deepest chamber in the hall, he spoke cautiously.

“I’ve brought Lee Gwak, squad leader of the outer hall.”

“Let him in.”

Without a sound, the door opened, revealing a spacious room.

Lee Gwak cautiously entered the room, and a familiar face greeted him.

“Oraboni!”

It was Lim Sobo.

But the room didn’t only contain Lim Sobo.

A young scholar, appearing to be in his mid-thirties, and a young warrior of a similar age were sitting

“I apologize.”

Lee Gwak calmly responded to Maeng Hee Cheon’s reprimand, causing Maeng’s brows to furrow. Lee Gwak’s reaction was not what he had expected.

Maeng Hee Cheon looked at Lee Gwak intently. Since Maeng was sitting and Lee Gwak was standing, Maeng had to look up at him.

Suddenly, Maeng Hee Cheon’s eyes became irritated. He disliked the fact that he had to look up at Lee Gwak, and he also disliked the way Lee Gwak looked down at him.

Lee Gwak’s eyes were undeniably gentle and calm, without a hint of defiance. Yet, they somehow irritated Maeng.

‘It must be a misunderstanding,’

He didn’t believe that a mere squad leader could challenge his authority, especially since Lee Gwak was the leader of the thirteenth squad, the least significant of the thirteen.

The Thirteenth squad, incomplete in its number of members, had very limited responsibilities. That’s why Maeng Hee Cheon had excluded them from important missions and relegated them to external patrols.

Maeng Hee Cheon slapped the desk and ordered.

“Release those men.”

“Yes!”

“Unless they cause significant trouble, don’t interfere and leave them be.”

“Understood.”

Lee Gwak replied without any objection.

“Leave now!”

“Yes!”

After saluting Maeng Hee Cheon, Lee Gwak left the hall.

Once outside, Lee Gwak looked up at the sky for a moment.

‘Has it really reached the Hall leader?’

He had considered the possibility, but the confirmation of his suspicion was still unpleasant. But Lee Gwak never showed his disappointment.

One thing he had learnt during his time here was the importance of carefully hiding his emotions.

The Jade Heaven Alliance was the center of the Jianghu. Naturally, it attracted many people, each with their own intentions.

Some approached with good intentions, but many did not. Revealing one’s true feelings in such a place was foolish.

“Sigh!”

Lee Gwak sighed and headed towards the detention facility.

The men he had arrested a few days ago were imprisoned there.

“Hehe! See, I told you they’d let us go. You should have listened to me from the beginning.”

“Now we can finally get out.”

Lee Umyeong and Jang Wimun, the leaders of the men, had smirks of victory on their faces.
During their imprisonment, they had used their connections to reach Maeng Hee Cheon, the head of the Outer Hall.

For them, connecting with the head of the Outer Hall was the highest authority they could appeal to. Once they established a connection with him, they no longer needed to be concerned about Lee Gwak, a low-ranking squad leader.

“Look at you now.”

“Damn! If you had just let us go when we asked, we wouldn’t have had to go through all this trouble.”

The men jeered at Lee Gwak from behind the bars.

Lee Gwak walked silently past them and stopped in front of the cell where Lee Umyeong and Jang Wimun were being held.

Originally, they had been imprisoned with their gang, but it seemed the guards had since separated them into solitary cells.

Lee Umyeong looked at Lee Gwak with a mocking smile, while Jang Wimun had a more cautious look.

Lee Gwak unlocked the cell holding Lee Umyeong and said in a soft voice,

“Lee Umyeong, born in Yongzhen, Yunnan Province, studied at the Holy Martial Taoist Temple nearby. Married the daughter of the temple master, with whom he has a son and a daughter.”

“What? How do you know that?”

Lee Umyeong’s eyes widened in shock.

“Your wife is dead, and your two children are living separately in Pingjiang, about fifty li from here.”

“You bastard! How do you know that?”

Clang!

As Lee Gwak unlocked the cell, Lee Umyeong burst out of the door.

He had thought about the safety of his children and did not bring them to the slums. He entrusted them to someone reliable in Pingjiang.

This was a secret known to no one, not even the subordinates he had gathered since entering this place. Yet, Lee Gwak spoke of this secret effortlessly.

Fortunately, his voice was low enough that Jang Wimun, imprisoned in the next cell, couldn’t hear, but it was enough to horrify Lee Umyeong.

To him, who had lost his hometown and wife, the well-being of his two children was everything.

In a loss of rationality, he lunged at Lee Gwak.

Thump!

At that moment, Lee Gwak’s dagger plunged into Lee Umyeong’s abdomen.

Overcome with pain that seemed to penetrate his entire body, Lee Umyeong crumpled without even a scream, gasping on his knees.

“Hey, you! What did you say to our boss?”

“I’ll kill you!”

Lee Umyeong’s subordinates shouted, but Lee Gwak’s expression remained unchanged.

Lee Gwak indifferently watched Lee Umyeong and then turned to unlock the cell of Jang Wimun, speaking softly.

“Jang Wimun, from Renhuai. Studied martial arts for seven years at the Li Family Martial House. Had an affair with his teacher’s wife, Yun Hua-Suk, and had a daughter with her. When the affair was about to be discovered, he poisoned his teacher…”.

Ugh!

Jang Wimun shuddered as Lee Gwak’s words continued.

What Lee Gwak revealed were secrets that the world should never have known, Jang Wimun’s own disgrace.

“Ugh!”

Even though Lee Gwak opened the cell, Jang Wimun couldn’t attack, just trembling. He had seen how Lee Umyeong had been rendered incapable of fighting back with a single strike.

Knowing it was futile to attack, he just shook.

‘How can a martial artist of the outer hall have such skills…’

He himself was a martial artist who had practiced martial arts for a long time. Despite committing adultery and poisoning his teacher, he was confident in his martial arts skills.

He had believed he could handle the low-level martial artists of the Jade Heaven Alliance’s outer hall, but his beliefs were shattered by Cheon Wol, a junior member of the Thirteenth squad. And now, he dared not confront Lee Gwak.

There was no divine light or aura emanating from Lee Gwak, nothing that he should be wary of on the surface, yet he was strangely unable to attack.

It was as if the bridge connecting their minds and bodies had been severed.

‘Sometimes, a dragon plays in the mud, but isn’t this too much?’

Jang Wimun bit his lip till it bled.

Regardless of Jang Wimun’s glare, Lee Gwak opened the cell doors of the other men.

Clang!

The dull sound of iron echoed through the prison and the door opened. However, none of the men who had mocked Lee Gwak a moment ago dared to attack him.

They all just trembled, as if bewitched, mouths agape.

Jang Wimun could easily guess why. It was obvious that Lee Gwak had recited a secret to their faces, a secret that shouldn’t be known to the world like he and Lee Umyeong.

‘How?’

He felt chills all over his body.

They had only been imprisoned for two or three days – too short for such thorough background checks.

Moreover, there were dozens of them. Completing background checks on all these people in just a few days was impossible alone.

It was absolutely impossible for one person.

That was Jang Wimun’s understanding.

‘Someone else is behind this.’

Chills ran up his spine.

Lee Gwak was blackmailing all of them.

He knew everything about them.

If he wished, he could destroy everything they held dear. So, they should behave themselves.

‘What is this?’

Even after making a connection with Maeng Hee Cheon, the head of the Outer Hall, they thought they could ignore Lee Gwak’s warnings and live freely. But now, they realized they could never defy Lee Gwak.

“Clench!”

Jang Wimun clenched his fist.

If he could, he would have liked to kill Lee Gwak right there. But there was no weakness in Lee Gwak; he seemed like an impenetrable wall.

Above all, he feared the person backing Lee Gwak.

With this level of intelligence, it couldn’t be just the head of the Outer Hall; it had to be someone of higher standing.

Finally, after opening all the doors

“Go ahead.”

Lee Gwak did not offer any words of warning to them. However, no one dared to confront or speak against him.

The men, with their shoulders drooping, weakly moved out. Finally, everyone left except Jang Wimun.

Before following his subordinates, Jang Wimun looked back at Lee Gwak.

“It might sound like an excuse, but my master was the worst of humanity. He raped female disciples, and my wife also had to live with him due to his threats. If I hadn’t killed him, many more would have suffered in a hellish torment.”

“……”

“What’s the use of such excuses anyway? As per your warning, Head Lee Gwak, I won’t ever touch ordinary people. So…”

Jang Wimun bowed to Lee Gwak and then left.

Lee Gwak silently observed Jang Wimun’s retreating figure.

He knew well what Jang Wimun and the men thought of him. That was exactly what Lee Gwak had intended.

It was a gift from Nam Woo Gyeong. Before leaving the Jade Heaven Alliance, he had left Lee Gwak a booklet with the personal details of people who had infiltrated the slums.

Although it was not possible to pass on crucial information due to Hao Clan’s policy, Nam thought this level would be fine.

After coming out of the prison, Lee Gwak suddenly looked up at the sky.

The sun was shining intensely in the vivid blue sky. Lee Gwak frowned at the intense sunlight.

“Squad Leader, Lee Gwak!”

A familiar voice called him.

Turning his head, Lee Gwak saw a member of another squad running towards him.

“What is it?”

“You’re summoned to the inner court.”

“The inner court? You don’t know who’s summoning me?”

“Yes! The order came from above. They said someone inside will guide you.”

Lee Gwak frowned for a moment at the member’s answer. But his answer had already been decided.

“Understood. I’ll head there right away.”

“Yes! Then I’ll leave…”

The young member bowed to Lee Gwak and returned the way he had come.

Alone, Lee Gwak walked towards the main gate of the inner court.

He used to frequent it when Maa Doo Won was at the Creation Pavilion, but had stopped visiting since Maa Doo Won retired from the Jianghu. So, the path to the inner court felt particularly unfamiliar today.

After identifying myself to the guard at the main gate of the inner court and waiting a while, someone came running out.

It was a stern-looking scholar, whom Lee Gwak was seeing for the first time.

The scholar, appearing to be in his late twenties, examined Lee Gwak from head to toe with sharp eyes.

“Lee Gwak, squad leader of the thirteenth squad of the outer hall, right?”

“That’s right.”

“Follow me.”

He turned and walked away without further explanation.

A bitter smile formed on Lee Gwak’s lips. The scholar’s attitude showed what he thought of him. But Lee Gwak wasn’t particularly hurt or annoyed. He was used to it by now.

The scholar led Lee Gwak to an area he had never visited before.

After passing through several strict security checkpoints and mechanical traps, they finally arrived at a secluded area surrounded by high walls.

“Be very careful with your movements from here on. Do not make any misinterpretable actions. A slight mistake could lead to disaster. It’s the first time someone like you, a squad leader of the Outer Hall, has been allowed into the Secret Court. Do not disclose anything you see or hear here to anyone.“

Lee Gwak nodded silently at the scholar’s warning, who looked at him with displeasure.

‘So it’s the Secret Court,’.

Neither the inner court nor the main court were places Lee Gwak could easily enter, but the Secret Court was a different dimension.

It was like the brain of Jade Heaven Alliance, where policies and strategies were formulated, so the number of outsiders allowed was extremely limited. Naturally, someone from the outer hall like Lee Gwak had even less reason to be there.

The scholar’s displeased look at Lee Gwak was understandable.

He led Lee Gwak to a large hall within the Secret Court. In front of the deepest chamber in the hall, he spoke cautiously.

“I’ve brought Lee Gwak, squad leader of the outer hall.”

“Let him in.”

Without a sound, the door opened, revealing a spacious room.

Lee Gwak cautiously entered the room, and a familiar face greeted him.

“Oraboni!”

It was Lim Sobo.

But the room didn’t only contain Lim Sobo.

A young scholar, appearing to be in his mid-thirties, and a young warrior of a similar age were sitting