Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 85

January 29, 2024 • 11 min read • 349 views

Encounter with the Black Mist (1)

Novel- Martial Artist Lee Gwak

Just before dawn the next day, the group left the camp.

The Stealth Sword Squad took the lead, alert and cautious.

Their nerves were on edge, having already lost a companion in a night ambush.

A tense atmosphere hung between them.

There was a glint of blood in their eyes as they stood alert for any arrows that might come their way.

‘Just show up again, and I will tear you apart.’

Naeng Ha Gyeom seethed with killing intent, staring ahead.

He hadn’t slept a wink since the unexpected night ambush and the loss of Jin So Myeong. His anger was immense.

It wasn’t just Naeng Ha Gyeom; none of the fourteen members of the Stealth Sword Squad had slept. They knew they should rest, but tension and anger prevented them from doing so.

Despite staying up all night, the Stealth Sword Squad didn’t feel tired. Martial artists of their caliber wouldn’t get tired from just one sleepless night.

Naeng Ha Gyeom glanced back briefly.

He saw Lim Sobo among the 13th Squad, the person they were sworn to protect. Yet, at this moment, she didn’t seem so precious.

“Tch!”

Naeng Ha Gyeom gritted his teeth and turned back to the front, his eyes burning with rage.

‘Just show yourselves.’

He, like the rest of the Stealth Sword Squad, was wishing for the attackers to reappear soon.

Looking at them from behind, Lee Gwak felt a strong sense of danger.

‘Dangerous!’

The attackers had only shot one arrow, yet the Stealth Sword Squad had been in a state of extreme tension all day. He doubted whether they could properly respond to a full-scale attack from the enemy.

Lee Gwak looked back at the 13th Squad.

They were also tense, but having managed to get some sleep, they felt less fatigued than the Stealth Sword Squad.

Lee Gwak drove his horse, feeling somewhat relieved.

Contrary to expectations, no attack came even as noon passed.

Fatigue began to show on the faces of the extremely tense members of the Stealth Sword Squad. However, they never let their guard down, leading to growing exhaustion.

Finally, Naeng Ha Gyeom decided it was time for a break.

He chose a large rock as their resting spot. The rock was large enough to prevent ambushes from behind, creating a natural fortress that only needed to be guarded from the front.

“Don’t let down your guard, even while resting.”

Naeng Ha Gyeom reminded the Stealth Sword Squad to remain vigilant, even during the break.

Whiz!

Sharp whistling sounds pierced the air.

“Ambush!”

“Everyone, take cover!”

Having already experienced an ambush the previous night, the Stealth Sword Squad reacted swiftly. They quickly sought cover or raised their weapons to shield themselves.

Clang!

An arrow shot from the front was deflected by the sword of a Stealth Sword Squad member.

But it wasn’t over yet.

Another arrow came flying at them. But the Stealth Sword Squad were undaunted, swinging their swords to parry the arrows.

Broken arrows littered the ground, but the squad kept their focus and glared in the direction of the arrows.

“Stop hiding and face us!”

Naeng Ha Gyeom roared with his internal energy, his shout causing leaves to scatter as if caught in a storm.

The Stealth Sword Squad remained silent, eyes fixed ahead, but frustratingly, there was no response from the attackers.

“Damn it!”

Only then did the Stealth Sword Squad realize that their unseen enemies were thoroughly mocking them.

“We need to target those shooting the arrows first.”

Naeng Ha Gyeom’s eyes glinted coldly.

Although he didn’t know how many attackers there were, he didn’t think they could all be skilled archers.

Expertise in archery was rare in the Jianghu due to its disdain for long-range attacks.

Martial artists preferred close-combat weapons like swords, spears, axes, or staffs. Those who used hidden weapons or bows were not highly regarded.

As a result, not many people in Jianghu were trained in archery, and even fewer were skilled enough to hit their targets from such a distance that they could not be detected.

Naeng Ha Gyeom gestured to his deputy, Woo Joong-eui, who nodded in understanding.

Woo Joong-eui led some of his men discreetly towards the direction of the incoming arrows, planning to take out the unseen archers while Naeng Ha Gyeom and others drew attention.

Lee Gwak, observing quietly, shook his head.

‘Useless.’

He didn’t sense any presence of the attackers. A few arrows and they were gone.

It seemed their intention was to exhaust them, to bleed them dry without engaging in direct combat.

The Stealth Sword Squad knew that, but the problem was that they had no choice but to react.

It was essentially a dilemma.

It wouldn’t be easy for the Stealth Sword Squad to deal with this situation alone. However, the Stealth Sword Squad’s leader Naeng Ha Gyeom didn’t want to rely on Lim Sobo or the 13th squad to help him.

He still believed that the Stealth Sword Squad could get through the crisis on their own.

“Gwak Oraboni.”

Lim Sobo called Lee Gwak with a gesture.

Lee Gwak quietly approached her side.

Lim Sobo did not look scared at all. Rather, she was maintaining a sharper rationality than ever

“Oraboni, What do you think?”

“About what?”

“About the Stealth Sword Squad. Do you think they can withstand this pressure?”

“I’m not sure.”

“They will never be able to overcome it.”

Lim Sobo was adamant.

Although young, having followed Yeo Joong Wol through numerous situations, she was able to judge the situation coldly.

“We don’t know who the enemies are, but they will definitely not show their true selves easily.”

“That’s true.”

“The enemies are cunning. By instilling fear, they have robbed us of the opportunity to rest. If time continues like this, we will be the first to exhaust and cause internal strife.”

Lee Gwak looked at Lim Sobo, nodding his head.

Lee Gwak had always thought of her as just a little girl. Although he knew intellectually that she was an extraordinary person, he didn’t feel that way when he actually saw her, perhaps because Lim Sobo was so approachable.

But when she showed her true colors in the face of a crisis, he realized how wrong he had been.

“The nearest branch of the Jade Heaven Alliance is over 300 li away from here. And there are no sects to help. In this situation, it’s foolish to move according to the enemies’ intentions. Rather, we should draw them into our flow.”

“How so?”

“If we go north from here for about a hundred li, there is a place called the Steel Crown Gorge. It’s shaped like a gourd, with cliffs on both sides of the gorge, so you can only enter through the entrance. We should hold a siege there.”

“A siege?”

“With the geographical advantage, your knowledge of mechanisms, my formations, and the power of the Stealth Sword Squad, it should be enough.”

Lee Gwak countered Lim Sobo’s assertion.

“What if we get isolated? If the enemies block the entrance and hold out, we will starve to death without being able to do anything.”

“If I don’t contact the Jade Heaven Alliance branch for two days, they will send an investigation team.”

“Hmm!”

“It takes two days to realize that something has happened to me, and one day for the investigation team to arrive, so in total, we only need to hold out for three days.”

“Three days…”

Lee Gwak’s eyes deepened in thought.

If what Lim Sobo said was true, there was definitely a chance of success. The problem was convincing Naeng Ha Gyeom, the leader of the Stealth Sword Squad.

Lee Gwak and Lim Sobo, still tense, told Naeng Ha Gyeom the conversation they had just had.

Naeng Ha Gyeom’s already cold expression became even colder.

“So, you’re saying we should run away cowardly and hold a siege?”

“It’s a strategic retreat. It’s not cowardice at all.”

“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that, Miss Lim.”

“Leader Naeng!”

“I Naeng Ha Gyeom, has never shown his back to any enemy. Especially not against such cowardly enemies who ambush. As always, we will break through the crisis head-on.”

Naeng Ha Gyeom was resolute.

It seemed to hurt his pride to have such a conversation in the presence of Lee Gwak.

Naeng Ha Gyeom glared at Lee Gwak for a moment and then returned to his original position.

“Sigh!”

Lim Sobo let out a sigh.

She knew he was proud, but she hadn’t realized he was such an impenetrable fortress.

Lim Sobo looked at Lee Gwak, seeking his opinion.

“We have no choice but to follow them for now.”

“Oraboni?”

“But we should always be ready to rush to the Steel Crown Gorge at any moment. So, you also prepare your mind thoroughly.”

“Understood.”

Lim Sobo nodded vigorously, her face filled with resolute determination.

Lee Gwak looked at her for a moment and then turned his gaze to Naeng Ha Gyeom and the Stealth Sword Squad.

Meanwhile, the group of Woo Joong-eui, who had secretly left, returned. As expected, they had not achieved any results and came back empty-handed.

Naeng Ha Gyeom’s face twisted in dismay as he greeted them.

Eventually, they had to set off again without proper rest, and the enemy’s attacks continued.

Although they were well-defended and no more casualties occurred, the Stealth Sword Squads’
nerves became increasingly frayed.

They were like a volcano about to erupt, so fragile that even a slight touch might set them off, prompting the 13th squad to be especially cautious.

At some point, Lee Gwak felt someone’s gaze on him.

In response to the stealthy, intimate gaze, the sixth snake awoke. As if to warn Lee Gwak.

Hiss!

It was as if he could hear the sound of a snake flicking its tongue in his head.

Lee Gwak did not take the warning of the snake lightly.

“Everyone, be careful.”

He warned the members of the 13th Squad. They took his warning seriously and guarded their surroundings more carefully.

Then it happened.

Ssshhhwack!

With a sharp sound of cutting through the air, an arrow flew again.

“Again?”

Naeng Ha Gyeom, looking annoyed, swung his sword again to deflect the arrow, as he had done before.

The same was true for the other members of the Stealth Sword Squad. The enemies had only shot arrows several times so far without revealing themselves. So, they thought it would be the same this time.

But this time was different. Suddenly, dark shadows leaped out from both sides of the road.

It was the Black Ghost Mist Squad.

Shhhgak!

They ambushed the Stealth Sword Squad.

The Stealth Sword Squad, distracted by the incoming arrows, belatedly noticed their ambush.

“Shit!”

“Sons of… Ugh!”

Screams erupted from all around.

Several martial artists lost their lives without a chance to respond properly to the lightning-fast ambush.

“These bastards!”

Enraged by the death of his men, Naeng Ha Gyeom spurred his horse and leapt forward.

His sword created a blade of energy.

Naeng Ha Gyeom, riding the momentum, attempted to slaughter the attacker in front of him. However, his intention was not fulfilled.

Thud!

“Ugh!”

An arrow, silently shot, pierced through his left shoulder.

“Leader!”

Deputy leader Woo Joong-eui was about to save him. But before he could take a step, two members of the Black Ghost Mist Squad blocked his way.

“Get out of the way!”

Woo Joong-eui shouted, swinging his sword.

Clang!

Sparks flew and then vanished from their swords, indicating the intensity of their clash.

While Woo Joong-eui was held up by the Black Ghost Mist Squad, Naeng Ha Gyeom was fatally wounded.

His head was pierced by an arrow from nowhere, and his abdomen was deeply gouged, his intestines spilling out.

It was a wound not even a great divine doctor could heal.

Just before his last breath, his eyes met Lim Sobo’s in the air.

“You damn… because of you…”

He glared at Lim Sobo with eyes full of resentment, then died in despair. It was a truly futile death.

As Lim Sobo bit her lip, Lee Gwak stepped in front of her and shouted.

“We retreat to the Steel Crown Gorge”

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