Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 92

February 10, 2024 • 10 min read • 185 views

The Tide of an Era Changes (2)

Novel-Martial Artist Lee Gwak

Seo Jong Myeong was completely inebriated, almost to the point of unconsciousness. Lee Gwak, supporting him, exited the tavern.

“Where is your lodging?”

“The… Jade Heaven Alliance!”

Seo Jong Myeong pointed towards the Jade Heaven Alliance, slurring his words.

Lee Gwak frowned at the strong smell of alcohol emanating from him. Still, he couldn’t leave him like this and began to escort him towards the Jade Heaven Alliance.

They passed through the Outer Hall gate without any inspection.

Once inside the Outer Hall, Lee Gwak asked again,

“Where should we go?”

“The Inner Court!”

“Where in the Inner Court?”

“The Main Court’s…!”

“Understood.”

Lee Gwak proceeded to the Inner Court, supporting Seo Jong Myeong.

“Ha, Gwak!”

“Yes!”

“It’s good.”

“What is good?”

“Good is good. Why do you need a reason? It’s just nice to see you. Ha!”

“I’d rather not hear your drunken ramblings.”

“You brat! Feeling shy… Ha!”

Seo Jong Myeong chuckled. Each laugh brought a strong waft of alcohol, but Lee Gwak remained composed.

After asking several people, Lee Gwak finally reached the Blue Sword Pavilion, by which Seo Jong Myeong had almost lost consciousness.

Knock, knock!

“Is anyone there?”

When Lee Gwak knocked on the door of the Blue Sword Pavilion, there was movement inside. He struggled to keep Seo Jong Myeong upright as he waited for the door to open. Soon, someone from inside opened the door.

It was a woman in her late twenties.

She was undeniably beautiful but had an extremely cold demeanor and gaze.

Her sharp eyes scrutinized Lee Gwak from head to toe.

“What is it?”

“The chief here insisted on coming here…”

“Chief?”

Her eyes then shifted to Seo Jong Myeong, who was being supported by Lee Gwak. When she recognised Seo Jong Myeong, she raised her voice.

“Grand Master? What happened here?”

“He drank too much.”

“Quickly, bring him inside.”

She opened the door wide, and Lee Gwak carried Seo Jong Myeong into the Blue Sword Pavilion.

Inside, men with a fierce, wolf-like aura were sitting comfortably. They stood up and approached as they saw Lee Gwak and Seo Jong Myeong.

“What’s going on?”

“Is there a problem?”

They looked like they were about to swing their swords.

The woman who had opened the door calmed the men and said,

“He’s just drunk. No need to worry.”

“What? The chief got drunk?”

“Yes!”

“That’s unusual. He never gets this drunk. How much did he drink?”

To them, Seo Jong Myeong was like an idol, an unshakable tower that had never shown any sign of wavering. To see him in such a vulnerable, drunken state was indeed surprising.
Lee Gwak asked them,

“Where should I lay him down?”

“Ah! This way, please.”

They led Lee Gwak to a large flatbed in one corner of the courtyard.

Lee Gwak finally let out a sigh after laying Seo Jong Myeong on the flatbed.

“Phew!”

“You’ve had a tough time,”

The woman who had first opened the door spoke to him.

“It’s nothing.”

“What’s your relationship with our chief? I don’t recall hearing about someone like you.”

“I used to be under his command.”

“Under his command?”

“Yes! The chief was temporarily in charge of the Outer Hall, and I was one of his subordinates at that time.”

“I see. But your face seems familiar. Have we met before?”

She scrutinized Lee Gwak’s face closely.

Lee Gwak recognized the woman. She was the same talented individual who had challenged the Steel Hell Blood Training Hall at Mount Sohua. Not just her, but all those gathered in the Blue Sword Pavilion were the same talents he had seen at Mount Sohua.

Lee Gwak remembered them all, but they didn’t recall him. To them, Lee Gwak hadn’t been particularly noticeable.

At Mount Sohwa, they were preoccupied with the grueling challenge of the Steel Hell Blood Training Hall. They had no capacity to pay attention to anyone else.

Lee Gwak felt no need to mention his presence at Mount Sohwa.

“It’s just a common face, I suppose.”

“Hmm! Maybe.”

The woman tilted her head, looking puzzled.

Her gaze at Lee Gwak was intense, as were the others’.

Their gaze was like that of a hunter eyeing their prey, a reflection of their battlefield persona in everyday life.

Every day, they followed Seo Jong Myeong’s orders and carried out life-threatening missions on
the bloody battlefield.

Their days on the battlefield eroded their humanity and desensitized their emotions, making it difficult for them to find excitement in everyday life’s stimuli.

For them, the existence of Lee Gwak appealed to them in many ways. Above all, they were intrigued by the fact that he was a former servant of their most revered master, Seo Jong Myeong.

Feeling the weight of their attention, Lee Gwak excused himself and stepped outside.

“Phew!”

He sighed, shaking his head.

The buzz of the alcohol had long since worn off.

As he walked, he pondered the complexities of life. Nothing was simple, and everyone seemed to carry their own story.

Seo Jong Myeong and his followers were no exception, having changed significantly under his influence.

Though Lee Gwak didn’t know why they had returned to the Jade Heaven Alliance, he hoped they would find some rest during their stay.

Only after exiting the Inner Court did his expression lighten.

Even though both were in the Jade Heaven Alliance’s territory, the aura of the outer and inner court was quite different. Unlike the slightly free atmosphere of the outer court, the inner court was rigid and felt somewhat exclusive. Prompting him to avoid lingering there.

Lee Gwak quickly returned to the 13th squad’s quarters.

“Squad Leader!”

“Welcome back.”

To others, they might seem like a ragtag group with no discipline, but he preferred this relaxed atmosphere.
***
Lee Gwak had noticed a change in the air in the Jade Heaven Alliance since the return of Seo Jong Myeong and his men.

Key figures like Geum Gu Ho, the head of the Outer Court, and Maeng Hee Cheon, the head of the Outer Hall, frequently visited the Inner Court, and leaders of other squads were also busy.
Lee Gwak intuited that the day of departure for the front lines was approaching. He instructed his squad to make sure they were ready and left the outer hall.

His destination was Eun Family Steelsmith, a well-known ironworks shop.

Though he had no specific item in mind, he thought it worthwhile to see if there was anything useful.

“Welcome! It’s been a while.”

Eun Cheon Myeong, the owner of Eun Family Steelsmith, greeted him warmly.

“It’s been a long time.”

“I heard you went to the Myriad Merchant Troupe.”

“Yes!”

“Did you meet my uncle?”

“Have you already heard about it?”

“I received a letter from the main family. It seems your meeting left quite an impression. It’s unusual for him; he wrote quite a bit about you in his letter.”

“That meeting was meaningful for me as well.”

“Ha! You’re lucky. Not many have met him, and he specifically asked to take good care of you in his letter.”

“Is that so?”

Lee Gwak’s expression showed surprise. He hadn’t expected Eun Gwang Ho to send a personal letter with such a request.

“It’s the first time my uncle has made such a request, which even surprised me. It seems he thinks quite highly of you.”

“I’m just grateful.”

“So, what brings you here today? Don’t tell me you’re setting off on a long journey again?”

“That’s correct.”

Lee Gwak’s response caused Eun Cheon Myeong’s expression to harden slightly, followed by a sigh.

“Phew! I sensed something was off, and now this. You’re heading to the front lines again?”

“Yes.”

“Tsks! You’ve barely returned, and now they’re sending you back into the jaws of death. I can’t understand it.”

Eun Cheon Myeong’s concerned words brought a smile to Lee Gwak’s face.

“Do you have any useful items that have come in?”

“Have a look and judge for yourself. Fortunately, a few days ago, we received a variety of items not just from the main family but also from other sources.”

Eun Cheon Myeong led Lee Gwak inside.

As he said, various items that couldn’t be seen from the outside were laid out. Most were produced in Eun Gwang Ho’s workshop, but a few bore signs of use.

Eun Cheon Myeong picked up one such item, a large broadsword with signs of previous use.

“These are from the front lines. Lately, many ownerless items have been coming in.”

“I’ve heard the situation at the front isn’t good.”

“It’s probably worse than what you’ve heard. So many people are dying that items like these are coming in en masse. I hope the sword you’re using doesn’t end up back here.”

“Let’s hope not.”

Lee Gwak concentrated on examining the unusual items, rummaging through the jumbled merchandise. His eyes lit up when he discovered a transparent thread hidden among the many items.

“What’s this?”

“That’s silkworm thread. Tougher than iron, yet softer than silk, its uses are limitless. A garment made from this thread is itself a treasure impervious to sword and fire. But there’s too little to make a garment, so it’s been left unused.”

“Was this also acquired from the front lines?”

“Yes! It was a fortunate find. But sadly, there’s too little of it.”

“I’ll buy it.”

“You will? What for?”

“I’ll think of something.”

“Looking at you, you’re always interested in seemingly useless items, like that frost needle you bought before.”

“It’s just my nature.”

“Quite a peculiar nature, I must say.”

Eun Cheon Myeong’s comment was met with a broad smile from Lee Gwak.

Lee Gwak hadn’t yet thought of a specific use for the silkworm thread, but he had a hunch that having it would come in handy.

He carefully examined the thread, which stretched about ten yards, almost invisible to the naked eye. It was so sharp that lightly touching it could cut the skin.

“As you can see, it’s razor-sharp. Be extra careful, or you might lose a hand.”

“Understood.”

Lee Gwak nodded.

After securing the silkworm thread, he continued to browse but found no more items as striking as the thread.

Eventually, the thread was all Lee Gwak purchased from Eun Family Steelsmith. Most of his money was spent on it, and even then, Eun Cheol-myeong had given him a generous discount. Otherwise, it would have been unaffordable for Lee Gwak.

The heavenly silkworm thread was a treasure of such value, and Lee Gwak had the knowledge to utilize it effectively.

Lee Gwak stored the thread in a deer leather pouch and left the shop.

His pouch was empty, but his heart was full.

When he returned home, he lay down and closed his eyes.

Little by little, his troubled thoughts faded away, leaving him with a serene silence.

In the silence, he heard the cry of his blade calling to him.

Opening his eyes, the first thing Lee Gwak saw was the full moon emerging from behind the clouds.

His heart strangely throbbed.

Ever since his blade had been groomed by Eun Gwang Ho, it had emitted a sharper light.

That night, under the full moon, Lee Gwak wielded his blade until dawn.