Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 74

January 12, 2024 • 11 min read • 256 views

Where Destiny Leads……(3)

Novel- Martial Artist Lee Gwak

The journey to the Myriad Merchant Troupe was smooth.

Despite the civil unrest caused by the war with the Celestial Demon Troupe, the journey was unaffected as they were far from the front lines.

The Divine Blood Executioner Squad fulfilled their roles not only as bodyguards but also as attendants, perfectly executing their tasks.

They rode ahead of the group to scout for dangers or secure shelter, making the journey easier for Lee Gwak and the 13th Squad.

With Woon Dae Yon and the Divine Blood Executioner Squad taking care of everything in advance, there was nothing left for them to do. Their only task was to make sure that Lim Sobo was not overburdened.

The members who were initially apprehensive about Lim Sobo became more comfortable with her as time went on.

Lee Gwak thought that Lim Sobo’s affability was amazing.

Despite being a student of a military strategist, which placed her far above the 13th Squad in status, Lim Sobo interacted with them without barriers.

Perhaps because of this, Cheon Wol also seemed to gradually open up to her.

‘I hope it continues this way.’

Then, the Divine Blood Executioner Squad, who had gone ahead, returned and reported to Woon Dae Yon.

Woon Dae Yon’s expression slightly hardened before he sighed.

“Phew! Looks like we’ll have to camp out tonight.”

The scout from the Divine Blood Executioner Squad reported that there was no suitable village ahead to stay in.

Woon Dae Yon instructed the squad to prepare for camping. The squad members dismounted and efficiently began setting up the camp.

They prepared sleeping areas for not only Woon Dae Yon but also Lim Sobo, and then started preparing the meal.

Lee Gwak also instructed the 13th Squad.

“Let’s get moving.”

“Right!”

Under Seok Yi Cheon’s direction, the 13th Squad quickly got to work. Being the eldest, Seok Yi Cheon had the most experience in camping and took charge.

“Jin Hwi, start the campfire. Il Yeong, fetch some water. Cheon Gwang, prepare the sleeping area here. Cheon Wol, gather some twigs.”

Seok Yi Cheon assigned tasks to each member of the 13th Squad.

The members followed his orders without complaint.

By the time they finished preparing for the night, the sun had already set. The surroundings were steeped in darkness, and only the sound of insects could be heard in the darkness.

The Divine Blood Executioner Squad’s meal consisted of jerky. They sat in their respective places and chewed the jerky as if it were a matter of course.

The 13th Squad’s meal, on the other hand, was hearty.

Seok Yi Cheon placed a small pot over the campfire and quickly whipped up a mysterious porridge. He added a few types of dried grains and finely chopped jerky to create a reasonably good-looking porridge.

“Here, Seok Yi Cheon’s special porridge. Line up, everyone.”

As Seok Yi Cheon raised his voice while holding a ladle, the members of the 13th Squad quickly lined up with their bowls. The exuberant scene made the Divine Blood Executioner Squad frown, but they said nothing.

Their demeanour was thoroughly disciplined, setting an invisible high wall between themselves and the 13th Squad.

Initially, the Divine Blood Executioner Squad seemed intimidating and uncomfortable, but over time, everyone stopped paying much attention to them.

Lee Gwak got in line with his bowl, and behind him stood Lim Sobo, also with a bowl.

“It looks delicious.”

After receiving a bowl of porridge from Seok Yi Cheon, Lim Sobo naturally sat next to Cheon Wol. Cheon Wol flinched slightly but didn’t move away.

Then, unexpectedly, someone approached Lee Gwak.

“May I have a bowl as well?”

It was Woon Dae Yon.

As Lee Gwak looked at him, Woon Dae Yon shrugged, holding a piece of jerky.

“It tastes too bland.”

“Please, stand in front of me.”

“No, I couldn’t possibly cut in line. I feel bad enough imposing. I’ll just wait behind you for any leftovers.”

Woon Dae Yon actually stood behind Lee Gwak, waiting his turn.

Seok Yi Cheon deliberately reduced the amount of porridge he gave to the others, leaving enough for Woon Dae Yon. Thanks to this, Woon Dae Yon was able to receive a full bowl of porridge.

“I’m sorry. It seems like everyone got less because of me.”

“Not at all.”

“I’ll make it up to you later.”

“Uh, that’s…”

At Woon Dae Yon’s words, Seok Yi Cheon didn’t know what to do.

To Seok Yi Cheon, Woon Dae Yon was an overwhelming presence.

It would be one thing if he spoke casually, but his formal politeness made it even more burdensome.

Lee Gwak felt the same way.

Woon Dae Yon was the sect leader’s second disciple, a significant figure even among the martial artists of the Jade Heaven Alliance. His modest demeanour made it all the more overwhelming.

Woon Dae Yon sat down right next to Lee Gwak and started eating his porridge. Lee Gwak quietly ate as well.

Though hastily made by Seok Yi Cheon, the porridge was really delicious.

Then, Woon Dae Yon spoke.

“It seems you lead your squad quite well.”

“Excuse me?”

“The faces of your squad members show full trust in you. That’s rare.”

“Oh! Maybe it’s because we’ve been close for a long time.”

“Even with closeness, without capability, subordinates don’t follow sincerely.”

“…”

“Did I bring up too heavy a topic?”

“No, not at all.”

Woon Dae Yon closely observed Lee Gwak. His gaze was as sharp as a well-honed blade.

Lee Gwak knew what that look meant.

Woon Dae Yon was scrutinising him as a person – analysing his speech, attitude, gaze, posture, and relationships to dissect and assess Lee Gwak’s character.

Woon Dae Yon’s interest in Lee Gwak was likely due to his relationship with Lim Sobo.

Lim Sobo, true to her training as a disciple of a military strategist, had an exceptional eye for people. She specifically requested Lee Gwak to accompany her, indicating that he had some outstanding qualities that others didn’t have, according to Woon Dae Yon’s perspective.

However, Lee Gwak seemed ordinary to Woon Dae Yon.

‘His internal strength doesn’t seem remarkable, and his gaze is ordinary…’

Yet, something about Lee Gwak was unsettling.

It was the first time that Woon Dae Yon felt so uncomfortable, despite the lack of any noticeable characteristics. This made him even more curious.

‘Regardless, I must acknowledge his boldness.’

Most people couldn’t even breathe comfortably in his presence.

The combination of his status as the sect leader’s second disciple and his inherent presence was overwhelming for most. Most people bent over backwards in his presence, but Lee Gwak showed no such signs.

Instead of fear, Lee Gwak seemed more bothered.

“Hmm!”

A peculiar sigh escaped Woon Dae Yon’s lips, a habit when he encountered someone intriguing.

“Squad Leader Lee Gwak!”

“Yes!”

“Have you ever thought about working somewhere other than the Outer Hall?”

“I haven’t considered it yet.”

“Really? What if I invited you to join the sect leader’s department?”

“Excuse me?”

For the first time, Lee Gwak looked genuinely taken aback, not expecting such a suggestion from Woon Dae Yon. However, his response was firm.

“I apologise. Managing the Outer Hall is already challenging enough for me. I appreciate the offer, but I doubt I could keep up in the sect leader’s department.”

“Hmm!”

Woon Dae Yon was surprised by Lee Gwak’s firm response and his expression stiffened. However, he quickly laughed it off.

“Perhaps I was too hasty. If you change your mind, feel free to approach me anytime.”

He then stood up and returned to the Divine Blood Executioner Squad.

Lee Gwak watched his retreating figure intently, feeling a deep sense of contemplation.
His refusal was not out of pure goodwill. There was a strong sense of probing in the offer.

One of the biggest changes in Lee Gwak after his heart eye opened was the ability to discern the good and evil intentions behind people’s words.

Lee Gwak didn’t know Woon Dae Yon’s exact intentions, but he sensed that the offer wasn’t made out of pure goodwill.

‘A person to be wary of.’

That was Lee Gwak’s assessment of Woon Dae Yon.

In his heart, he wanted to live as freely as the wind, but there were so many things holding him back.

‘Will I ever be able to break free from all these chains?’

Lee Gwak leaned against a rock.

At that moment, Lim Sobo cautiously approached and sat beside him.

“Oraboni!”

“Yes!”

“You seem tired.”

“A little!”

“I’m sorry.”

“For what?”

“Just for dragging you out of the Jade Heaven Alliance when you were living well there.”

“There’s nothing to be sorry about. As a warrior of the Jade Heaven Alliance, I must follow orders.”

Lee Gwak’s words brought a smile to Lim Sobo’s face.

His answer was something anyone could say, but coming from Lee Gwak, it brought her comfort.

“This mission is very important. That’s why Young Master Woon is accompanying us.”

“What kind of person is he?”

“A typical martial fanatic.”

“Martial fanatic?”

“Like the Dark Martial Empress, Lady Yeon, he too is obsessed with martial arts. He ignores the power struggles within the Jade Heaven Alliance, focusing only on personal strength. He spent most of his time in the training hall, ignoring numerous requests from others.”

Many tried to draw him out of his almost hermit-like existence in the training hall.

It was only after assigning him the duty of overseeing the Lesser skies meeting that they managed to bring him out into the world, and subsequently, assigned him the mission to Myriad Merchant Troupe.

Lee Gwak quietly observed Woon Dae Yon.

Woon Dae Yon was chatting quietly with the Divine Blood Executioner Squad. Though they had set up an invisible wall with the 13th Squad, they were laughing and talking freely with Woon Dae Yon.

Sensing Lee Gwak’s gaze, Woon Dae Yon turned and smiled at him. Lee Gwak felt an indescribably chilling sensation.

The next day, the group set off early in the morning.

No one in the group showed any signs of fatigue despite spending the night outdoors. This included not only Woon Dae Yon and the Divine Blood Executioner Squad, but also the 13th Squad.

Lee Gwak stayed at the back of the procession, naturally taking up a position to guard against any potential threats.

Then, someone from the front line gradually fell back to join Lee Gwak. It was a member of the Divine Blood Executioner Squad.

The man, in his late thirties with a stylishly groomed moustache, spoke.

“You are the Outer Hall squad leader, right?”

“Yes.”

“Apologies for the late introduction. I am Yeom Joong Ak, tasked with guarding Master Woon.”

“Lee Gwak.”

“Pleased to meet you, Squad Leader Lee Gwak!”

“Yes!”

Unsure of Yeom Joong Ak’s intentions, Lee Gwak responded briefly. Yeom Joong Ak smiled and said,

“No need to be so guarded. We’re going to be travelling together for a while, so I thought I’d break the ice. I’ll let the others know too. If there’s anything difficult or you need cooperation, feel free to come to us.”

“Thank you for your consideration.”

“We should help each other. I understand Lady Lim specifically requested your squad to join. It seems you have a special relationship with her.”

“We happened to meet and got to know each other.”

“Lucky you, to have a connection with someone like Lady Lim. She’s like a treasure in the Jade Heaven Alliance. So make sure to take good care of her.”

“Yes!”

“Then, I’ll be on my way. Take care.”

After patting Lee Gwak’s shoulder a couple of times, Yeom Joong Ak returned to the front of the line.

Lee Gwak frowned slightly as he watched him leave. He had felt a strange flow of internal energy through the pat on the shoulder.

Yeom Joong Ak had infused energy through the shoulder to gauge Lee Gwak’s internal strength.

A martial artist of a certain level would naturally react to foreign internal energy. Yeom Joong Ak had tried to measure Lee Gwak’s strength through such a response, but since he felt no counterforce, he lost interest and returned to his place.

Lee Gwak silently watched Yeom Joong Ak’s retreating figure.

Yeom Joong Ak joined his colleagues at the front, laughing and chatting. The smile on his lips clearly seemed to mock someone.