Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 89

February 2, 2024 • 11 min read • 348 views

A Sharp Awl is Bound to Pierce Through the Pocket Eventually (1)

Novel-Martial Artist Lee Gwak

Escorted by the White Heaven Sect, Lim Sobo and the 13th Squad returned safely to the Jade Heaven Alliance. Upon arriving at the Jade Heaven Alliance, Lim Sobo immediately entered the secret court, and Lee Gwak and the 13th Squad were also relieved of their duties. But that didn’t mean they could rest easily.

The incident involved Yeo Joong Wol’s disciple being attacked. Naturally, it put the Jade Heaven Alliance on high alert, and an investigation commenced to identify the attackers.

Lee Gwak and the 13th squad were also summoned by the investigation team.

The head of the investigation team was Doo Il Yeob, the chief of the Enforcement Pavilion within the inner court.

The Enforcement Pavilion was responsible for enforcing the rules and laws of the Jade Heaven Alliance and wielded considerable authority.

The mere fact that the Enforcement Pavilion took charge of the investigation was proof of how seriously the Jade Heaven Alliance took the matter.

The 13th squad and Lee Gwak were summoned to the Enforcement Pavilion. Doo Il Yeob questioned them intensely.

“Did you have any contact with outsiders before leaving the Jade Heaven Alliance?”

“Did you, by any chance, inadvertently leak information to anyone you met by chance?”

He pressed the 13th squad relentlessly.

The 13th Squad felt as if their souls were being thoroughly searched. By the end of the interrogation they were completely drained.

“Hmm!”

Doo Il Yeob’s eyes shone coldly.

Although he interrogated the 13th squad, no particular anomalies were found. Their testimony was consistent and there was nothing suspicious about their actions. However, this did not completely dispel his suspicions.

Doo Il Yeob couldn’t believe that the Stealth Sword Squad had been destroyed, while the 13th Squad had escaped unscathed and returned safely. He still had his doubts.

Just then, he heard the voice of his subordinate from outside.

“13th squad leader Lee Gwak has arrived.”

“Let him in.”

“Yes!”

Right after the response, the door opened, and Lee Gwak entered.

There was a slight look of fatigue on Lee Gwak’s face. The fact that he had to undergo such an interrogation was enough to make him extremely tired.

“Sit down!”

“Yes!”

Lee Gwak replied and took his seat.

“Lee Gwak!”

“Yes!”

“Your subordinates unanimously praised you. They said thanks to your quick judgment, their lives were saved. It was your decision to not help the Stealth Sword Squad in their moment of crisis but instead flee to the Steel Crown Gorge. Is that correct?”

“Yes, that’s correct. However, the initial suggestion was from Miss Lim.”

“Didn’t you think of saving the Stealth Sword Squad?”

“I apologize. We thought it was beyond our capabilities.”

“Hmm! So, you watched the Stealth Sword Squad get annihilated and still chose to flee?”

“Our mission was initially to create a safe environment for Miss Lim to travel, not to protect her. As you know, we lacked the capability to do so. In that situation, fleeing was the only option I had.”

“Hmm! Isn’t that cowardly?”

Doo Il Yeob’s eyes shone sharply.

His tone was filled with criticism towards Lee Gwak.

While he acknowledged that Lee Gwak’s decision might have been right under the circumstances, the fact that a martial artist fled without even fighting was, in his view, deserving of criticism.

Even though it was unpleasant, Lee Gwak responded without changing his expression.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s considered cowardly. Thanks to that decision, both Miss Lim and we survived.”

“Hmm!”

A look of displeasure appeared on Doo Il Yeob’s face. However, he tried to maintain his composure as he changed the subject.

“Alright, let’s change the subject. After retreating to Steel Crown Gorge, Miss Lim executed five formations in a row to protect the group, is that right?”

“Yes.”

“The attackers who attempted to kidnap Miss Lim destroyed four of the formations, and retreated while leaving the last one intact?”

“Yes! It seems they retreated after seeing the White Heaven Sect martial artists arrive.”

“So the attackers capable of destroying the Stealth Sword Squad were scared off by the White Heaven Sect? And they retreated without even fighting?”

“……”

“Do you think that makes sense?”

“I don’t know. As you know, we were only inside the last formation, so we have no idea what happened outside.”

“You don’t know?”

“Yes!”

“Is that really so?”

“It is.”

Lee Gwak answered without any hesitation.

Doo Il Yeob stared at Lee Gwak with piercing eyes, a gaze that seemed to see through people.

People with weak hearts couldn’t dare to meet his eyes, and even the bold ones shrank from his razor-sharp gaze. Such subtle reactions were what Doo Il Yeob used to deduce the truth.

However, even under Doo Il Yeob’s intense gaze, Lee Gwak showed no change in expression, which was somewhat disconcerting.

‘Is this guy really just an outer hall leader?’

The fact that a mere Outer Hall leader possessed such audacity was beyond comprehension. On the other hand, it was probably because of this audacity that he decided to flee, leaving the Stealth Sword Squad behind.

In the end, it was Lee Gwak’s decision that saved both Lim Sobo and himself.

After staring at Lee Gwak for a moment, Doo Il Yeob waved his hand and said,

“Enough! The interrogation is over. You may leave.”

“Thank you.”

Lee Gwak bowed to Doo Il Yeob and then left. Immediately after, the deputy leader entered.

He asked Doo Il Yeob,

“How do you see it?”

“It’s not clear.”

“What aspect do you mean?”

“The fact that the ones who annihilated the Stealth Sword Squad just withdrew. They had broken through four of the five formations. They could have achieved their goal by breaking the last one, but why did they withdraw? I don’t understand their identity or intentions.”

“Most likely, it’s the men from the Celestial Demon Troupe. Who else would try to kidnap Miss Lim in the current situation? They probably wanted to take her to manipulate the military forces according to their will.”

The deputy leader’s voice carried certainty.

Indeed, most people were thinking the same.

Doo Il Yeob said,

“Put the 13th squad under surveillance for the time being.”

“Is that necessary? They’re just insignificant people. Frankly, their survival this time was just good luck, wasn’t it?”

“I have something that bothers me. We can stop the surveillance if nothing comes up, so just do as I say.”

“Understood.”

The deputy leader didn’t quite understand what Doo Il Yeob was saying, but it was still an order, so he obeyed.

Doo Il Yeob murmured while looking out the window,

“We’ll see. Whether it was just luck, or if there’s something they’re hiding.”
***
“How did it go, leader?”

As Lee Gwak came out of the hall, Ki Jin Hwi was the first to greet him.

“It seemed like they were suspicious, but I think it went reasonably well.”

“Given Doo Il Yeob’s nature, he’s bound to put us under surveillance. We must be careful for a while.”

“Yes, we should.”

Lee Gwak nodded and began walking. Ki Jin Hwi kept pace with him, shoulder to shoulder.

There was a faint glint of awe on Ki Jin Hwi’s face as he glanced at Lee Gwak.

‘I knew his martial arts skills were strong, but not to this extent.’

The leader of the Black Ghost Mist Squad he saw was no ordinary man. His martial arts level was far above that of the famous masters of the Jianghu. Lee Gwak had killed him without a scratch.

Ki Jin Hwi himself had also devastated the Black Ghost Mist Squad with his techniques, but Lee Gwak had killed their leader purely with his own martial strength.

This was far beyond the level that Ki Jin Hwi had originally guessed, which made it all the more astonishing.

Before the arrival of the White Heaven Sect’s martial artists, they had secretly disposed of the corpses of the Black Ghost Mist Squad. They gathered the bodies in a remote cave and collapsed the entrance. Then they camouflaged it so well that no one could find it.

They also made sure that Lim Sobo couldn’t wake up from her induced coma, thus covering their tracks perfectly.

“It’s frustrating not to know the identity of those people.”

Lee Gwak and Ki Jin Hwi had thoroughly searched the dead bodies, but found nothing to identify them. Therefore, neither of them knew the identity of the attackers.

At a crossroads, Lee Gwak said to Ki Jin Hwi,

“I’m going to head home now. You’ve had a hard time with the interrogation too, so please take some rest.”

“Alright! Leader, you’re finally going home after a long time, so take a good rest. It’s great that we’re free from all duties for now.”

“Yes.”

Lee Gwak gave a bittersweet smile.

At the Jade Heaven Alliance, Lee Gwak and the 13th squad were ordered to step back from all duties and to take care of themselves.

As a result, Lee Gwak and the 13th squad were excluded from all tasks, left in a state of limbo. It was certain that they would continue in this state until Doo Il Yeob and the Enforcement Pavilion completed all their investigations.

Lee Gwak parted ways with Ki Jin Hwi and returned home.

It was a house that had been left unoccupied for a long time. He was curious about its condition.

The firmly closed gate came into view. Fortunately, the exterior seemed unchanged from when Lee Gwak had left.

Creak!

As he unlocked and opened the door, the rusty hinges screeched.

“Hmm!”

Entering the yard, Lee Gwak’s eyes showed a hint of surprise.

The house had been empty for quite some time.

Usually, a house without its owner quickly falls into disrepair, but strangely, there were no signs of neglect. It even seemed as if someone had been taking care of it.

The grass peeking through the slate-coloured stones in the ground was trimmed as if someone had cut it, and the dusty wooden floorboards were shiny and clean.

It was clear that someone had taken care of it during his absence.

“Who?”

With a puzzled expression, Lee Gwak opened the door to the room. Neatly folded bedding was inside.

Someone had stayed and slept here.

As he entered the room, Lee Gwak caught a faint scent. He recognized the fragrance very well.

“So Cheon!”

It was Han So Cheon’s scent.

Lee Gwak closed his eyes and took a deep breath. The scent became more vivid.

Han So Cheon had clearly visited during his absence.

“She is safe.”

A smile formed on Lee Gwak’s lips.

He felt a sense of relief washing over his tired body.

Lee Gwak sat leaning against the wall for a long time.

He suddenly longed to see Han So Cheon.

Lee Gwak was surprised by his own feelings.

After Geum Yul Seon’s betrayal, he had tried not to get emotionally attached to anyone, but Han So Cheon had somehow deeply embedded himself in his heart.

“So Cheon!”
***
The next morning, Lee Gwak was up early and bustling about.

Although Han So Cheon had taken some care of the house, proper maintenance required the owner’s touch.

Rolling up his sleeves, Lee Gwak began to tidy up the house.

He pulled out all the grass peeking through the slate stones and cleaned thoroughly. He repaired any broken items and washed dusty dishes, spending the day in these chores.

Days quickly passed by doing just housework. During this time, Lee Gwak refrained from going outside, and nobody came looking for him.

Thanks to this, Lee Gwak was able to spend some time entirely by himself for the first time in a long while.

He neither practiced his swordplay nor touched the meteor awl.

Forgetting about martial arts, he focused solely on housework. Yet, he didn’t feel bored.

Lee Gwak actually appreciated this time. It allowed him to reflect on himself in the ordinary course of life.

Lying on a wooden bench, Lee Gwak blankly stared at the sky.

“Nice!”

He enjoyed the blue sky and the drifting clouds.

Everything just felt right.

Lee Gwak lay on the bench, enjoying the blowing wind.

He slowly drifted off to sleep.

Lee Gwak didn’t resist the drowsiness.

He didn’t know how much time had passed.

Lee Gwak woke up feeling a bit cold. Looking around, he realized the sky had darkened. It was already evening.

Time seemed to fly by.

Thump, thump!

Just then, someone knocked on Lee Gwak’s house door.

When Lee Gwak opened the door, a familiar face appeared. It was a young man in his late twenties, an outer hall martial artist. From Lee Gwak’s memory, he was surely from Oh Gu Hong’s group.

The young man greeted him with a bow.

“Leader Lee!”

“What’s the matter?”

“The Outer Hall Leader has ordered to bring you.”

At the young man’s answer, Lee Gwak slightly furrowed his brow.

He sensed that his brief, sweet respite had come to an end.