Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 78

January 17, 2024 • 13 min read • 336 views

Connections Are Meant to Be Made (2)

Novel- Martial Artist Lee Gwak

Lim Sobo’s gaze towards Lee Gwak was cold yet serious.

“Why do you want Cheon Wol?”

“Because I like him.”

“Is that the only reason?”

“Because I need him.”

“More specifically…”

“I need someone I can trust and rely on. If that person happens to be someone I like, that’s even better.”

“Really?”

“I’m serious.”

Lee Gwak nodded at Lim Sobo’s firm answer.

Lim Sobo’s expression and aura were indeed serious. Her words were not impulsive.

Lee Gwak’s gaze then turned to Cheon Wol.

“What do you think?”

“I…”

Cheon Wol stuttered, not knowing how to respond.

He hadn’t expected Lim Sobo to ask him to be handed over to the Secret Court. He couldn’t give a definite answer and kept looking back and forth between Lee Gwak and Lim Sobo.

At this, Lee Gwak chuckled.

The guy who acts more mature and cold than anyone in front of others was showing such a naive side in front of Lim Sobo and himself, which was amusing.

Lim Sobo also wore a similar expression to Lee Gwak.

Her choice of Cheon Wol was not just because of her feelings. Sometimes Cheon Wol was surprisingly observant. She had also happened to catch him practising swordsmanship.

For someone who had only recently learnt swordsmanship, his skill was astonishing to Lim Sobo.

Cheon Wol’s talent was no less than the renowned prodigies in the Jianghu. That’s why she decided to formally recruit him to the Secret Court.

Lee Gwak said.

“I would have been happy to let him go if you just gave the order.”

“If I did that, I would have only caused resentment. I know very well how Cheon Wol Oraboni thinks of Gwak Oraboni. That’s why I’m speaking with due respect. To make Cheon Wol Oraboni accept it.”

Lee Gwak found Lim Sobo frightening as he listened to her crisp words.

Despite her young age, she precisely understood how to win people’s hearts.

If she had simply ordered Cheon Wol to join the Secret Court, she would have definitely caused resentment. She cleverly chose a direct approach and left the choice to Lee Gwak.

That’s when it happened.

Cheon Wol suddenly held out the ‘Hidden Sword Art’ to Lim Sobo and said.

“I cannot accept this.”

“Oraboni!”

“I can’t leave before repaying the debt I owe to my elder brother. I will continue to serve him in the outer hall.”

Lim Sobo’s eyes flickered slightly at Cheon Wol’s unexpected answer. She hadn’t expected him to be so stubborn.

Now it was Lim Sobo who didn’t know what to do and looked at Lee Gwak.

“Sigh!”

Lee Gwak exhaled deeply and reached out his hand.

He grabbed Cheon Wol’s head, and tousled it roughly. Cheon Wol looked at Lee Gwak with a perplexed expression.

“E-Elder brother?”

“Just accept it.”

“But?”

“Ah, why are you so inflexible! Sobo went through a lot to get it.”

“But then I would be a Secret Court”

“You don’t necessarily have to join the Secret Court right away.”

“Huh?”

“There are ways to stay assigned to the Outer Hall even as a member of the Secret Court, or you could join the Secret Court after some time. Isn’t that right?”

Lee Gwak’s last words were directed at Lim Sobo.

Lim Sobo frowned but nodded.

Her eyes conveyed a message.

‘We’ll see.’

Cheon Wol involuntarily shivered.

Lee Gwak patted Cheon Wol’s shoulder, saying,

“Fine! I’ll send you. But not right now.”

“I’m not asking to be sent immediately. Even if Cheon Wol Oraboni joins now, there’s nothing for him to do in the Secret Court. I’d prefer him to stay in the outer hall for now and improve his martial arts in secret.

“So, you want a hidden sword.”

“That’s right!”

Lim Sobo candidly responded to Lee Gwak’s piercing words.

Indeed, what she wanted was a hidden sword, a secret weapon.

The military strength that the Secret Court could muster had its limitations. It was far from the capabilities of the Main Court, and even significantly lesser than those of the Inner Court.
The limited troops they had were all they could deploy.

The divisions forming the foundation of the Jade Heaven Alliance were subtly but constantly keeping each other in check. Being the smallest in terms of personnel, the Secret Court was inevitably pushed into a defensive position.

Especially the Inner Court, led by Joo Shin Yoon, always kept an eye on the Secret Court, making it hard to augment their forces.

Cheon Wol, belonging to the lowest squad of the Outer hall and unnoticed by Joo Shin Yoon, possessed exceptional martial talents. He had the ideal conditions to become a hidden sword.

Lim Sobo’s gaze turned towards Cheon Wol.

“Gwak Oraboni has given his permission. Now, it’s up to Cheon Wol Oraboni to decide. What will you do? I will respect whatever decision you make.”

“Sigh!”

Cheon Wol exhaled deeply.

For a moment, a glint of conflict flashed across his face, it wasn’t that easy to decide.

“Follow your heart. That way, you’ll have no regrets.”

Lee Gwak’s words helped him make up his mind.

“I’ll do it! I’ll be the hidden sword.”

“Thank…… you!”

Lim Sobo’s voice trembled slightly. She had been feeling a great burden.

She had pondered extensively before proposing to Cheon Wol.

Was it right to draw him into the Secret Court?

Wouldn’t it be better for him to live as an ordinary martial artist of the Outer Hall?

Once he stepped foot into the Secret Court, he would no longer be allowed to live a normal life. She still wasn’t sure if it was right to lead him into such a rough life.

Aware of her feelings, Cheon Wol said,

“Don’t agonise because of me. This is my decision.”

“Oraboni?”

“Whatever the outcome, I won’t blame you. So, don’t worry anymore.”

“Okay!”

Lim Sobo’s expression brightened. Cheon Wol’s words had lightened her heart.

Lee Gwak closed his eyes, thinking,

‘Connections that are meant to be, find a way.’
***
The group left the guest house at dawn and arrived at the Myriad Merchant Troupe in three days.

People often imagined the Myriad Merchant Troupe as a massive complex surrounded by a grand fortress, similar to the Jade Heaven Alliance. It was natural to think so, considering it was the wealthiest in the land.

Thus, first-time visitors to the Myriad Merchant Troupe couldn’t hide their surprised expressions. It was vastly different from what they had imagined.

“This is the Myriad Merchant Troupe?”

“Hmm!”

The reaction of the group, including the 13th squad, was similar.

They were stunned by the completely different landscape from what they had envisioned.

In front of the village, nestled at the foot of a high mountain, was a fairly wide river. It was the scene of a prosperous village nestled in a typical mountainous terrain, completely different from what they had vaguely imagined.

Seok Yi Cheon asked Lim Sobo,

“Is this really the Myriad Merchant Troupe?”

“Yes.”

“Hmm!”

“You don’t have to doubt. This is definitely the Myriad Merchant Troupe.”

“But…”

“A massive wealth doesn’t necessarily need to be guarded by walls. They’ve chosen a much smarter way.”

Seok Yi Cheon scratched his head, unable to understand what Lim Sobo was saying. It was the same for everyone else.

The Myriad Merchant Troupe had no barriers to prevent people’s entry. It didn’t discriminate based on status. Coming and going here was entirely free.

From the greatest merchants covering the whole world to small vendors with just one cart, everyone could freely conduct business within its bounds.

Therefore, the Myriad Merchant Troupe always hosted a multitude of people. Among them were treasure escorts, escort fighters, and various martial artists with intertwined interests.

These people did not want any harm to come to the Myriad Merchant Troupe. Effectively, the Myriad Merchant Troupe had employed numerous martial artists as guards without spending a penny.

Of course, there were also numerous martial artists within the Myriad Merchant Troupe. But they hardly ever had to step out to defend it.

“Let’s go.”

Woon Dae Yon led the group into the Myriad Merchant Troupe.

After crossing the stone bridge, the only way to cross the river, they entered the Myriad Merchant Troupe, there were no typical security checks.

“There are no guards or warriors on duty.”

Seok Yi Cheon shook his head in disbelief.

For someone who had spent his life in the Jade Heaven Alliance, this was an incomprehensible scene.

Lim Sobo approached Lee Gwak and whispered,

“Oraboni, you’ve noticed, haven’t you?”

“Yes!”

Lee Gwak nodded.

To Seok Yi Cheon, it might look like just an ordinary village, but Lee Gwak could see the numerous hidden mechanisms everywhere.

There was no need for stationed guards. In case of emergency, everything visible could turn into a deadly trap.

Most of the mechanisms installed in the village could be disarmed by Lee Gwak. However, he didn’t show any sign of it and quietly rode on.

The place Woon Dae Yon led them to was an ordinary-looking mansion in the inner part of the village. Entering the mansion’s courtyard, they saw an old man in shabby clothes sweeping fallen leaves.

The old man continued his sweeping without glancing at Woon Dae Yon’s group as they entered.

“That man…”

Yeom Joong Ak’s eyes narrowed. He was slightly irritated by the old man’s indifference to Woon Dae Yon, busying himself with menial tasks.

That was when it happened.

“Oh! Distinguished guests have arrived.”

A middle-aged man hurried out from the house.

Woon Dae Yon’s eyes brightened.

“And you are?”

“I am Jo Geum San, the external chief manager of the Myriad Merchant Troupe.”

“External chief manager?”

“Yes! I handle all the external affairs of the Myriad Merchant Troupe.”

Jo Geum San looked at Woon Dae Yon with a friendly smile.

“Do you know who I am?”

“How could I not know the famous Sword Dragon Woon Dae Yon, renowned throughout the world? In fact, I was waiting for you, as the young master told me you might arrive today.”

“Hmm!”

Woon Dae Yon’s eyes gleamed.

Even though they had been informed of their visit in advance, accurately predicting their arrival time was no easy feat.

‘This won’t be easy.’

One of his reasons for coming to the Myriad Merchant Troupe was to secure more support.

The Myriad Merchant Troupe was already providing substantial war supplies to the Jade Heaven Alliance. Obtaining more support from them would not be an easy task.

Jo Geum San approached Lim Sobo.

“You must be Miss Lim Sobo, the treasure of the Jade Heaven Alliance?”

“Pleased to meet you, Manager Jo.”

“You’ve had a long journey.”

“No, not at all.”

Lim Sobo replied with a smile, shaking her head.

“Then, I will show you two inside. For the rest of the group, separate accommodations will be prepared, so please rest comfortably.”

“Wait a moment!”

“Yes?”

“I would like my direct subordinates to accompany me inside.”

Woon Dae Yon pointed towards his group of elite guards, the Divine Blood Executioner Squad.

Jo Geum San appeared slightly troubled, but his expression soon returned to normal as he nodded in agreement.

“If that’s more comfortable for you, please proceed. Should we prepare accommodations outside for the rest of your group?”

Woon Dae Yon briefly glanced at Lee Gwak and the 13th squad. They were brought along just to make up the numbers and were of no real help in the negotiations.

“Captain Lee and his men will stay outside.”

“Understood.”

Lee Gwak nodded agreeably.

He knew that even if they went inside, they would merely be onlookers. It would be better to rest and explore the Myriad Merchant Troupe instead.

Lim Sobo whispered softly,

“The negotiations might take a while. Please rest comfortably.”

“Got it.”

Lastly, she looked at Cheon Wol.

Lim Sobo pointed to the veil covering Cheon Wol’s face with her finger, indicating he should not remove it in front of others, especially women.

Cheon Wol nodded silently, and Lim Sobo, pleased with his response, joined Woon Dae Yon.

Jo Geum San led Woon Dae Yon, Lim Sobo, and the Divine Blood Executioner Squad out of the house.

Left in the courtyard, Lee Gwak was approached by the sweeping old man.

“Follow me.”

With a blunt voice, the old man started walking. Lee Gwak and the 13th squad hurriedly followed him.

“This is where you will stay.”

The old man showed them a ramshackle room in the village. It had three rooms and a small courtyard. Though other martial artists might have complained about such modest accommodations, Lee Gwak and the 13th squad were quite satisfied.

“We have some freedom for a while.”

“Hoo!”

Once the old man left, the 13th squad cheered.

Even though their journey had been uneventful, they were tired from the long travel.
Lee Gwak addressed his men.

“As you heard, we’re resting for now. Feel free to relax, but do not leave the Myriad Merchant Troupe.”

“Understood.”

“Yes, Leader!”

The men replied energetically.

“Those who want to rest, rest. Those who want to explore, go ahead. Today is completely at your leisure.”

“Hahaha!”

The men cheered at Lee Gwak’s words.

Under Seok Yi Cheon’s lead, the group excitedly dispersed outside. However, Lee Gwak and Cheon Wol chose to stay and rest.

Once they were alone, Cheon Wol spoke to Lee Gwak.

“Will Sobo be alright?”

“You seem worried.”

“…”

Cheon Wol’s face flushed red, unable to hide his feelings.

Seeing this, Lee Gwak smiled.

“Though Woon Dae Yon will lead the negotiations, Sobo is the brains behind it. She will undoubtedly be well-protected. She is that important.”

“That’s a relief.”

Cheon Wol clenched his fists.

His flushed face betrayed a sense of frustration, feeling guilty for not being able to accompany and protect Lim Sobo.

“I’m going to rest in my room.”

Cheon Wol quickly went to his room.

The sound of flipping pages echoed through the gap in the door.

He was finally reading the Hidden Sword Art that he hadn’t been able to look at because of prying eyes.

Left alone, Lee Gwak lay on a wooden bed and gazed at the sky.

“The same sky!”

Whether it was the sky over the Jade Heaven Alliance or the Myriad Merchant Troupe, it was all the same.

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