Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 72

January 12, 2024 • 10 min read • 255 views

Where Destiny Leads……(1)

Novel- Martial Artist Lee Gwak

The face of the scholar, who introduced himself as Yeo Joong Wol, radiated nobility, and his eyes shone like stars in the night sky. His relaxed demeanour, with a gentle sway of his plain robe, was very serene.

Lee Gwak bowed to Yeo Joong Wol.

“I, Lee Gwak, the thirteenth squad leader of the outer hall, am honoured to meet the master of the Secret Court.”

“Haha! There’s no need for such formality. Please be at ease, Squad Leader Lee.”

Yeo Joong Wol spoke in a manner unbecoming of the master of Secret Court, but Lee Gwak couldn’t do the same.

Although it was the first time he had seen Yeo Joong Wol, he had heard his name so many times that it had become engraved in his memory.

Master of the Secret Court.

The strategist behind the operation of Jade Heaven Alliance.

A genius of his time, known as the 10-Steps Mastermind for devising a hundred strategies while walking hundred steps.

There were many phrases used to describe him, most of which depicted his ingenious mind.

Not only the leader of the Jade Heaven Alliance, but even the masters of Inner Court and Main Court couldn’t treat him lightly, so Lee Gwak was understandably tense.

Yeo Joong Wol, with a smile, then introduced the man sitting opposite him.

“Ah, that’s Sir Sword Dragon, Woon Dae Yeon. Please greet him.

Yeo Joong Wol introduced him casually, but Lee Gwak was inwardly startled.

‘The disciple of the leader.’

Just like Yeo Joong Wol, Woon Dae Yeon was a person who seldom appeared in public. Lee Gwak knew his name but had never seen him in person.

“Outer Hall Squad Leader Lee Gwak greets Sir Woon.”

“No need for such formality, Squad Leader!”

Woon Dae Yeon was dressed in a crimson scholar’s robe.

His vivid facial features, pale skin, and deep, cool black eyes made him look unrealistically handsome.

Woon Dae Yeon looked at Lee Gwak with his characteristic cool gaze. Finding nothing remarkable about him, he naturally turned his head away.

Yeo Joong Wol spoke for Woon Dae Yeon.

“Don’t just stand there, come sit here.”

“No, that’s not necessary.”

“Looking up at you is making my neck hurt. Please, sit down.”

“Understood.”

Eventually, Lee Gwak cautiously took a seat.

“You must be surprised. I apologise for suddenly inviting you without explanation.”

“Not at all.”

“I wanted to see you, Squad Leader Lee, for a specific reason related to Lim Sobo.”

“Hehe!”

Lim Sobo smiled beside him.

Yeo Joong Wol continued.

“Sobo mentioned that you are a reliable and trustworthy person. That’s why I have a request for you, Squad Leader Lee.”

“Please, feel free to command.”

“Woon Dae Yeon and Sobo have an important mission and will go to a certain place. They will be escorted by guards from the Secret Court, but additional personnel are needed. As you know, neither the Inner Court nor the Secret Court can spare extra personnel due to the ongoing war with the Celestial Demon Troupe. Therefore, I would like the Thirteenth Squad to accompany Sobo and take care of her.

“I will do as you say.”

Lee Gwak answered without a moment’s hesitation.

If Yeo Joong Wol had summoned him, it meant that the matter had already been discussed with the leader of the outer hall, Maeng Hee Cheon. There was no use in showing displeasure or refusal.

Yeo Joong Wol’s words, as if confirming his thoughts, followed.

“I have already spoken with the head of the outer hall, so you just need to prepare for departure.”

“Understood.”

“Very straightforward, I like that. Just as Sobo said about you.”

“May I know where we are headed?”

“For security reasons, I cannot tell you yet. But you will naturally find out upon departure. I apologise.”

“That’s fine.”

“I entrust our Sobo to your care.”

“I will make sure not to be a burden.”

At that moment, a spark of interest appeared in Yeo Joong Wol’s eyes. It seemed Lee Gwak had understood his intention.

Yeo Joong Wol hadn’t expected Lee Gwak and his squad to serve merely as escorts. The guards from the Secret Court were sufficient for that. He had specifically asked for Lee Gwak and his squad to accompany them so that Lim Sobo could feel a bit more at ease on the long journey.

Yeo Joong Wol’s gaze sharpened.

Even under that intimidating stare, which had frightened many warriors and scholars of the Secret Court, Lee Gwak’s expression remained unchanged.

Yeo Joong Wol remembered something Lim Sobo had once said.

“Master, there is an interesting person in the outer hall.”

Having observed his disciple Lim Sobo for a long time, it was unusual for her to use such a description. His disciple was a genius too, who knew how to clearly define everything in precise words.

The fact that Lim Sobo had referred to someone as ‘interesting’ had indeed piqued his interest.

‘An interesting person…’

Seeing Lee Gwak in person, he somewhat understood his disciple’s words.
Lee Gwak was indeed interesting.

Despite being just a Squad Leader of the outer hall, his unflinching gaze and unchanged expression felt unfamiliar.

Most people, if invited to such a place, would have been too overwhelmed to even stand properly.

The level of martial skill was irrelevant.

Both Yeo Joong Wol and Woon Dae Yeon were dominant figures, with an aura only those who had reigned for a long time possessed.

It was nearly impossible for a mere martial artist to withstand such an aura. Yet, surprisingly, Lee Gwak seemed unaffected, and it was natural for Yeo Joong Wol to take an interest.

To the eye, Lee Gwak appeared ordinary. But Yeo Joong Wol did not believe that.

Someone who could calmly withstand his gaze and aura could not be just ordinary. However, he was still unable to pinpoint what was so exceptional about him.

‘I will come to understand in time.’

Yeo Joong Wol put aside his thoughts about Lee Gwak and looked at Woon Dae Yeon, who was quietly sitting.

It was unexpected for Woon Dae Yeon, who was as reclusive as himself, to accept his request.

‘Did the Lesser Skies meeting affect his feelings?’

Yeo Joong Wol knew Woon Dae Yeon had organised the Lesser Skies meeting, but he was unaware of the discussions that had taken place there.

Feeling Yeo Joong Wol’s gaze, Woon Dae Yeon looked at him.

His eyes were calm yet sharp, like his nickname, Sword Dragon. For a moment, their eyes met in mid-air.

A smile formed on Woon Dae Yeon’s lips.

“I will take my leave now. We will meet again when it’s time to depart.”

“Lord Woon, I entrust my inexperienced disciple to you. She is still young and might need a lot of care, but I am grateful you have willingly accepted this task.”

“Not at all! Then, I will take my leave. Perhaps, Squad Leader Lee, would you like to accompany me?”

At Woon Dae Yeon’s words, Lee Gwak stood up.

Though it sounded like an invitation, it was more of a command.

“I will take my leave now, Lord Yeo.”

After bowing to Yeo Joong Wol, Lee Gwak left, followed by Woon Dae Yeon.

Left alone, Yeo Joong Wol turned to Lim Sobo.

“Your task is of great importance. I apologise that the support is not sufficient.”

“No, Master. This is enough.”

“Really?”

“Lee Gwak is recognized by the young master of the Hao Clan. There must be something we haven’t seen.”

“Hmm!”

Yeo Joong Wol nodded silently at Lim Sobo’s confident words.

‘I hope that’s true.’

Yeo Joong Wol looked out the window.

Through the window, he saw Lee Gwak and Woon Dae Yeon walking side by side.

***

Woon Dae Yeon, walking beside Lee Gwak, asked him,

“How do you know Lady Sobo?”

“I have known Sobo for a long time. But I am meeting strategist Yeo for the first time today.”

“Hmm!”

Woon Dae Yeon walked with half-closed eyes, his silence heavy, but Lee Gwak followed quietly.

Unbeknownst to Woon Dae Yeon, the air around him had turned cold, a sign that his emotions were affecting his surroundings – a state few could achieve at his age.

He was curious about the true strength of the Sword Dragon, but he suppressed it. Thinking that he would naturally learn more as they spent time together.

Then Woon Dae Yeon broke the silence,

“We have a long journey ahead, so there’s a lot to prepare. Sobo and my things will be handled by the escorts, but the outer hall should prepare their own. Make sure everything is thoroughly prepared to avoid problems during the journey.”

“Understood.”

“We’ll meet at the Outer Hall gate in three days.”

“Yes!”

Woon Dae Yeon walked away without looking back.

Lee Gwak stopped and waited until Woon Dae Yeon disappeared.

“Phew!”

When Woon Dae Yeon was out of sight, Lee Gwak let out a sigh. He was not particularly pleased to have caught the attention of Yeo Joong Wol and Woon Dae Yeon.

But he had no choice.

Lee Gwak hurried back to the quarters of the Thirteenth squad. The members were all gathered there.

He informed them that they would be leaving the Jade Heaven Alliance in three days to an unknown destination.

“So, we’re going without knowing where?”

“Yes.”

“How long will it be?”

“We don’t know that either.”

“That’s troublesome.”

Ki Jin Hwi frowned. Then Cheon Wol asked,

“The guards from the Secret Court will accompany us?”

“Yes.”

“So, we’ll just be doing menial tasks.”

“Probably!”

Lee Gwak answered honestly.

Seok Yi Cheon, who had been listening quietly, spoke up,

“If the Secret Court is sending guards, it must be a very important matter. We should prepare thoroughly to avoid any issues.”

“Please prepare the list of items you think we’ll need. You’re the most experienced among us.”

“Got it.”

Lee Gwak looked at everyone.

“I know none of you are happy about leaving the Jade Heaven Alliance, but we have no choice. Since we don’t know our destination or duration, we must prepare thoroughly. Besides the common items, everyone should bring what they personally need.”

“Understood.”

“Yes, Squad Leader.”

The members responded energetically.

Though there were only six of them, including Lee Gwak, their voices were strong.

Lee Gwak looked at each of their faces – Seok Yi Cheon, Ki Jin Hwi, Cheon Wol, Go Cheon Gwang, and Woo Il Yeong. They were not only his squad members but also the people he needed to protect.

Feeling the weight of responsibility, Seok Yi Cheon chuckled at Lee Gwak’s serious face.

“What’s so serious? You’re not thinking about something ridiculous like you have to protect us all by yourself, are you?”

“…”

“Gwak! I know you feel burdened as the Squad Leader, but don’t think of us as a burden. We might not be powerful, but strength isn’t everything in this world. We’ll surely be helpful.”
Seok Yi Cheon’s words hit Lee Gwak like a hammer, making him realise that he had been thinking of his members as people to protect, not as comrades.

“Phew!”

Lee Gwak sighed.

He found himself feeling unexpectedly relieved.

He apologised sincerely,

“I’m sorry. It’s our first external mission, and I was too serious. You all are as experienced as I am.”

“Haha! Then buy us a drink.”

“Buy us a drink, Squad Leader!”

“Drink! Drink!”

Encouraged by Seok Yi Cheon, Ki Jin Hwi and the others joined in.

Lee Gwak raised his hands,

“Alright, I’ll buy tonight.”

“Yay!”

Joyful laughter filled the quarters.