Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 83

January 24, 2024 • 12 min read • 374 views

On the way home (2)

Novel- Martial Artist Lee Gwak

Lim Sobo informed Lee Gwak that they were returning to the Jade Heaven Alliance.

“We will return to the Jade Heaven Alliance at dawn tomorrow. So, please prepare to leave.”

“Understood.”

“‘But where did you go last night?”

“I met a like minded person by chance and had a drink.”

“At the Myriad Merchant Troupe?”

“Yes!”

Lim Sobo eyed Lee Gwak with a cat-like gaze at his response.

“Why?”

“It’s just unexpected.”

“What is?”

“You don’t seem like someone who would casually drink with just anyone. It seems like there’s an invisible barrier that prevents you from mingling with others…”

“I mingle with you, don’t I…”

“What?”

At Lee Gwak’s response, Lim Sobo’s eyes lit up fiercely.

Although she tried to look intimidating, her expression only seemed cuter.

Lee Gwak chuckled and said,

“I will ensure everything is prepared without any issues, so don’t worry.”

“By the way, Oraboni Woon won’t be coming with us.”

“What do you mean?”

A look of confusion appeared on Lee Gwak’s face.

He had thought that since they had come together, they would naturally return together.

“He seems to have got on well with Prince Eun Il Myeong of the Myriad Merchant Troupe. He said he would stay a bit longer here before returning.”

“Then who will escort you? They surely don’t expect us to do it?”

“The Myriad Merchant Troupe has offered to provide their elite guards as an escort. There’s no need to worry about protection.

“That’s a relief then.”

Lee Gwak let out a sigh of relief mixed with reassurance.

It was unthinkable for an outer hall member to escort a key figure like Lim Sobo.

“I’m sorry.”

Lim Sobo suddenly apologised.

“Why do you say that?”

“I feel bad that I brought you all the way here and you had nothing to do.”

“Don’t worry about it. We are quite used to it.”

Despite Lee Gwak’s joking reply, Lim Sobo couldn’t shake off her apologetic expression.

Lee Gwak thought it was kind of her to feel that way.

Considering Lim Sobo’s status, she could have been arrogant. She was a genius rarely seen in the Jianghu, and the Jade Heaven Alliance was investing heavily in her development.

She was a leading candidate for the next military leader of the Jade Heaven Alliance, and her status was so high that the Outer Hall martial artists could hardly even look up to her.
She had every right to be arrogant, and no one could argue with her, yet she always remained polite to others.

If their nature wasn’t kind, such behaviour would have been impossible.

“I will talk to my master when we return to the Jade Heaven Alliance, so you can take a proper rest.”

“Thank you.”

“That’s all I can do for now.”

“That’s enough. You must be busy, go on. We will prepare for the return.”

“Yes! Take care then.”

Lim Sobo smiled at Lee Gwak and returned to her quarters.

Lee Gwak conveyed Lim Sobo’s words to the squad members.

“Yay! Finally, we can go home.”

“Freedom at last. Hahaha!”

The squad members cheered.

The next morning, early dawn, the 13th squad left the Myriad Merchant Troupe with Lim Sobo. Accompanying them was the Stealth Sword Squad, one of the Myriad Merchant Troupe’s elite forces.

There were people watching them leave from a distance.

It was Lee Shin Chung and Mo Yong Shin.

“They are finally returning.”

“I heard the negotiation went well.”

“They managed to compromise well and achieved what they wanted.”

“That’s good.”

As Mo Yong Shin nodded, Lee Shin Chung suddenly asked as if he just remembered something.

“By the way, I heard you had a duel while I was unconscious?”

“Huh? What are you talking about?”

“I mean the squad leader. You had a duel with him, didn’t you?”

“Why would I duel with him? Am I so idle to have a duel with a mere squad leader of the Jade Heaven Alliance?”

“Why are you acting like this? There are traces left in the training ground. What about it? Did he really possess the great skills that the elder of the public hall mentioned?”

Lee Shin Chung seemed certain, but Mo Yong Shin flatly denied it.

“Oh! What are you talking about? I don’t understand.”

“Why are you like this? I have eyes and ears too. Just tell me the truth.”

“Shut up and have a drink.”

“Drinking so early in the morning?”

“Drinking in the early morning is always the best.”

“I won’t drink, I won’t.”

Lee Shin Chung ran away in disgust, and Mo Yong Shin chuckled and went after him.

***

The Stealth Sword Squad was one of the organisations in the Myriad Merchant Troupe responsible for escorting key figures. It was the first time they were escorting someone from another sect.

The Myriad Merchant Troupe considered Lim Sobo a key figure, which is why they assigned one of the best squads from the Stealth Sword Squad for her escort, preparing for any unforeseen circumstances.

This team was the most powerful among the seven squads of the Stealth Sword Squad.

Among the fifteen members of the squad, there was not a single one who wasn’t a top expert. Especially the team leader, Naeng Ha Gyeom, who was an unrivalled master.

He was known for his strong leadership and cold rationality. Although he was currently the leader of this squad, he was also a likely candidate to become the next leader of the Stealth Sword Squad.

Naeng Ha Gyeom gestured for Lee Gwak to come over.

“Excluding Lady Lim, you have the highest status here, correct?”

“That’s right.”

“Then let me make it clear. Our mission is to safely escort Lady Lim to the Jade Heaven Alliance. From now on, we will take charge of leading the group. You just need to follow behind us. Understood?”

“Understood.”

“It’s good that we understand each other. Your role is just to ensure Lady Lim is comfortable, just like on the way here…”

A cold smile hung on Naeng Ha Gyeom’s lips.

It was a clear mockery.

Even though it could be humiliating, Lee Gwak’s expression didn’t change as he replied.

“Understood. We will leave the escort responsibility entirely to the Stealth Sword Squad and focus solely on ensuring Lady Lim’s comfort. So, don’t worry about us.”

“That’s good then.”

Naeng Ha Gyeom spoke bluntly and gestured for him to leave.

Lee Gwak returned to his place without showing any displeasure.

Seok Yi Cheon cautiously asked.

“What did he say?”

“He told us not to worry about the escort and just take good care of Sobo.”

“That’s good!”

“Isn’t it?”

“Definitely!”

Seok Yi Cheon smiled and nodded.

If it had been someone else other than the 13th squad, they might have felt bad. But the 13th squad was used to such an atmosphere. Even when they came to the Myriad Merchant Troupe, they were just a backdrop for the Divine Blood Executioner Squad, so they didn’t take the Stealth Sword Squad’s words badly.

Lim Sobo was riding in the centre of the procession. Next to her, riding shoulder to shoulder, was Cheon-wol, his face half-covered with a scarf.

Ever since receiving the Hidden Sword Art from Lim Sobo, Cheon-wol seemed to be more devoted to her.

Since Cheon-wol was personally attending to Lim Sobo, there wasn’t much for the rest to do. It was admittedly comfortable.

Lee Gwak, riding at the back, reflected on his duel with Mo Yong Shin.

The duel with Mo Yong-shin had been a significant enlightenment for Lee Gwak.

It was the first time Lee Gwak had engaged in a proper duel since childhood, and the experience was profoundly impactful.

Lee Gwak replayed every moment of his fight with Mo Yong Shin.

There were good moments, but more moments of regret. He imagined how it would have been if he had reacted differently to Mo Yong Shin’s moves.

His thoughts continued until Naeng Ha Gyeom declared a break.

“Let’s rest here for a bit. Satisfy your hunger with the rations you’ve brought.”

It was midday. Both the horses and the people were tired.

“Phew!”

A collective sigh escaped the 13th squad.

Their faces were red from the hot sun, and sweat dripped down like rain.

They found some shade, tied up their horses, and took a break.

Lee Gwak asked Lim Sobo.

“Aren’t you tired?”

“A bit, but I’m fine.”

As she answered, Lim Sobo glanced at Cheon-wol.

Cheon-wol took out some rations from his pouch and handed a piece to Lim Sobo. She sat next to Cheon-wol and munched on the rations.

“Damn! That guy is lucky.”

“He’s living the life with just his looks.”

The 13th squad members commented as they watched the two.

While they chatted and rested, the Stealth Sword Squad also took turns resting and keeping watch.

Their disciplined stance was evident, a stark contrast to the 13th squad scattered around the place.

They occasionally glanced at the 13th squad and Lim Sobo but didn’t speak to them. The 13th squad also didn’t bother them and continued their break.

After the brief rest, they set off again. Until then, the Stealth Sword Squad and the 13th squad members didn’t exchange a word.

This situation continued all the way to the Jade Heaven Alliance.

“Let’s camp here tonight.”

On the fifth day after leaving the Myriad Merchant Troupe, Naeng Ha Gyeom decided to camp out.

There were no suitable villages nearby, and it was already getting dark.

Both the Stealth Sword Squad and the 13th squad prepared for camping.

The 13th squad was much more adept at preparing for camping than the Stealth Sword Squad. While the Stealth Sword Squad was still setting up their sleeping arrangements, the 13th squad quickly made a campfire and prepared a simple meal.

Seok Yi Cheon was the one who prepared the meal.

He cooked an unidentified type of porridge and offered it to Lim Sobo.

“Please have this, Lady Lim.”

“Thank you. I’ll enjoy it.”

Lim Sobo expressed her gratitude.

Knowing Seok Yi Cheon’s excellent cooking skills, she ate without hesitation.

The other squad members, including Lee Gwak, gathered around the campfire in a circle and ate.

“As expected from our brother.”

“It’s really delicious.”

The squad members gave Seok Yi Cheon a thumbs-up for his cooking.

Lee Gwak finished a bowl of porridge and rested. Ki Jin Hwi came over and sat next to him.

“Ah, after resting comfortably, camping out makes every part of my body ache. Are you okay, squad leader?”

“I’m fine.”

“Haha! Being young is great.”

Seok Yi Cheon chuckled. To an outsider, it might look like mockery, but Lee Gwak knew it wasn’t.

“I’m curious if the Jade Heaven Alliance hasn’t run away, being away for so long.”

“Would it have legs to run away?”

“Haha! You never know. Maybe it really has legs.”

They exchanged silly jokes.

“Ah! Those Ahjussi.”

Lim Sobo looked at them disapprovingly, and Cheon-wo; beside her bowed his head deeply.
Ki Jin Hwi glared at Cheon-wol.

“Are we embarrassing you?”

Cheon-wol didn’t respond.

Ki Jin Hwi looked at Lee Gwak with a hurt expression.

“See? Squad leader, how can Cheon-wol do this to us?”

“Indeed.”

“It’s because of this. We shouldn’t have taken in a young beast with black hair. Already swayed by a girl and abandoning his brothers.”

Ki Jin Hwi glared at Cheon-wol, who then pulled his scarf higher to cover his entire face.
The other squad members laughed wildly at their interaction.

Lee Gwak smiled, and Lim Sobo also laughed heartily for the first time in a while.

“Hmph!”

Naeng Ha Gyeom snorted at the sight of the 13th squad.

To him, the 13th squad seemed nothing more than a rabble. He couldn’t understand why they were so happily making a fuss. Naeng Ha Gyeom and the Stealth Sword Squad were taught never to let down their guard under any circumstances. Complacency on a mission meant death.

Naeng Ha Gyeom and the Stealth Sword Squad remained alert even at that moment.
He looked at Lim Sobo.

The little gem of the Jade Heaven Alliance, a brilliant talent, was mingling and laughing with these insignificant outer hall members.

Naeng Ha Gyeom couldn’t understand her.

‘She’s still young and probably doesn’t realise how important she is. Tsk! It’s a pity.’

If he were in Lim Sobo’s position, he would have built connections with the Stealth Sword Squad rather than with these useless external characters, for the sake of her future.

Just then, Lee Gwak’s gaze met Naeng Ha Gyeom’s.

The leader of the rabble showed no significant change in expression even when their eyes met, which irritated Naeng Ha Gyeom even more.

Suddenly, Lee Gwak’s eyes sharpened.

Naeng Ha Gyeom, interpreting this as a challenge, was about to rise up when…

Whiz!

A sound of breaking air echoed in the night.

Instinctively, Naeng Ha Gyeom shouted,

“It’s an attack!”

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