Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 93

February 10, 2024 • 12 min read • 195 views

The Tide of an Era Changes (3)

Novel-Martial Artist Lee Gwak

Early in the morning, Lee Gwak left his home and headed towards the Jade Heaven Alliance.

As usual, he greeted the outer court martial artists guarding the main gate and was about to enter when he heard an unexpected message.

“Don’t go to the quarters. You’re summoned directly to the inner court.”

“The inner court?”

“Yes! You are ordered to come to the main building.”

“Do you know what this is about?”

“No!”

“Understood!”

Lee Gwak nodded and immediately made his way to the main building of the inner court.

Upon arriving at the entrance of the main building, he was checked by the guards. After identifying himself, he was led to the training ground.

In the training ground, not only Lee Gwak but many others had already gathered. Among them, he recognized a familiar face – it was Cho Mu-tak, the leader of the 12th squad.

Lee Gwak approached him.

“Brother!”

“Oh, you’re here too.”

“What’s the occasion for this gathering?”

“Everyone here are heads of one organization or another. And they have all agreed to be dispatched to the frontline.”

“So?”

“It seems the departure date has been set.”

At Cho Mu-tak’s words, Lee Gwak’s expression stiffened slightly.

At that moment, the door to the training hall opened and a group of people walked in. Lee Gwak’s expression hardened slightly as he recognised their faces. They were all familiar.

Among them, Lee Gwak’s gaze was particularly drawn to a man with a majestic stature at the forefront.

His eyes were fierce, like those of a lion, peering through his disheveled hair, and his blunt nose and tightly set lips made him look even valiant.

He was wrapped in a white hero’s scarf and wore a vest made of white tiger skin. A bold aura of ambition seemed to naturally emanate from him.

In the Jade Heaven Alliance, many martial artists were present, but only one exuded such a tyrannical aura.

‘The Great Disciple Yong Cheon Myeong.’

It was Yong Cheon Myeong, the chief disciple of the Jade Heaven Alliance’s leader Ja Hong Cheon.

The martial artists following him also exuded an extraordinary aura.

‘Chief…’

It was Seo Jong Myeong and his followers, the Shadowless Squad.

Seo Jong Myeong, trailing behind Yong Cheon Myeong, scanned the people gathered in the training ground. Those who met his cold gaze involuntarily flinched.

His gaze finally rested on Lee Gwak. Seeing Lee Gwak, Seo Jong Myeong looked unexpectedly surprised, but soon returned to his usual composed expression.

Yong Cheon Myeong ascended the platform in the center of the training ground. All eyes focused on him.

“As you all know, I am Yong Cheon Myeong, the chief disciple of the leader of the Jade Heaven Alliance. I have been entrusted with the momentous task of leading you all to the frontline. I have called this meeting to familiarize myself with you all. I look forward to working with you”.

His voice resonated powerfully throughout the training ground.

Many flinched at the sound of his voice, as if a lion were roaring nearby.

Lee Gwak’s expression turned grave.

He felt the formidable internal energy in Yong Cheon Myeong’s voice.

Yong Cheon Myeong was one of the top ten early-stage geniuses, the Ten Lesser Skies. His martial prowess was known to be outstanding even among the Ten Lesser Skies.

Alliance leader Ja Hong Cheon had recognized Yong Cheon Myeong’s extraordinary talent early on and nurtured him as his successor.

Numerous masters of the Jade Heaven Alliance taught him, and he was bestowed with many elixirs and secret manuals. Yong Cheon Myeong absorbed all their teachings like a sponge absorbing water.

No one knew the exact level of his martial arts prowess except for the Alliance Leader Ja Hong Cheon himself. However, those with discerning eyes did not hesitate to place Yong Cheon Myeong at the pinnacle of the Jianghu.

With his unique presence and overwhelming aura, Yong Cheon Myeong completely captivated the audience. His presence was reminiscent of the king of beasts, a lion.

After briefly introducing himself, Yong Cheon Myeong stepped down from the platform and approached the people.

The strongest-looking man among those standing below greeted him as representing.

“I am Jwa Ryoon, the leader of the Mystic Martial Squad of the main court. It’s an honor to serve under you, Great Disciple.”

Jwa Ryoon’s gaze towards Yong Cheon Myeong was intense.

Not long ago, he had lost many subordinates in a surprise attack by the Celestial Demon Troupe. The Mystic Martial Squad had almost been decimated.

Somehow, he managed to replenish his ranks and reorganize, but his hatred towards the Celestial Demon Troupe remained deeply ingrained. Therefore, he volunteered to follow Yong Cheon Myeong to the battlefield.

It was for revenge against the Celestial Demon Troupe.

“I look forward to your support, Leader Jwa Ryoon.”

“If you command, I would leap into the flames of hell.”

“Trustworthy words.”

Yong Cheon Myeong smiled roughly in response to Jwa Ryoon’s answer.

The next person introduced themselves.

“I am Ha Gong Wol, the deputy leader of the Heavenly Intelligence Hall from the outer court. It’s an honor to accompany the Great Disciple.”

“Pleased to meet you, Deputy Leader. Having the Heavenly Intelligence Hall with us is reassuring.”

A smile appeared on Yong Cheon Myeong’s face.

People gathered in the training ground rushed to introduce themselves to Yong Cheon Myeong. He committed each of their names to memory as he walked among them. Finally, he stood before Lee Gwak.

“And you are?”

“I am Lee Gwak, the 13th squad leader of the Outer Hall.”

“Ha-ha! Even the outer hall is joining? Well, the more the merrier. I look forward to working with you.”

Yong Cheon Myeong patted Lee Gwak’s shoulder a couple of times before moving on.

The Outer Hall was considered the least significant within the Jade Heaven Alliance, and among those gathered, Lee Gwak was relatively low-ranking.

So, Yong Cheon Myeong treated Lee Gwak with mere formality, without giving him much attention.

He showed a similar attitude towards Cho Mu-tak, the leader of the 12th squad. The problem was Cho Mu-tak’s reaction. He trembled with excitement and greeted Yong Cheon Myeong with ecstatic expressions, lavishing praise upon him.

Even though Yong Cheon Myeong didn’t pay much attention to the outer hall, he couldn’t help but smile at Cho Mu-tak’s overly enthusiastic adulation.

Finally, after all the introductions, Yong Cheon Myeong spoke.

“We will depart in three days at Dawn. Prepare thoroughly and be ready by then. See you in three days.”

Yong Cheon Myeong ordered the dismissal and stepped out of the training ground.

A small ripple appeared in the pupils of Lee Gwak’s eyes, a ripple of emotion in his gaze. It was because of the woman who greeted Yong Cheon Myeong at the entrance of the training ground.

‘Yul Seon!’

She was Geum Yul Seon, Lee Gwak’s former lover.

Geum Yul Seon radiated the epitome of beauty, like a fully bloomed rose. Her dazzling beauty captivated everyone in the training ground, leaving them spellbound.

In the Jade Heaven Alliance, there was no one who did not know of Geum Yul Seon.

She was not only the finest artist produced by the Great Musical Performance Hall but also the lover of Yong Cheon Myeong, the likely successor to the Jade Heaven Alliance leader.

She was a woman who seemingly possessed everything in the world. Naturally, she stood by Yong Cheon Myeong’s side and walked with him. In an instant, they disappeared from the sight of the people.

“She’s truly beautiful. No wonder the Great Disciple is smitten.”

“To spend just one night with such a woman would fulfill all my wishes. Ah!”

Whispers admiring Geum Yul Seon’s beauty filled the air. However, the crowd soon dispersed.

“Sigh!”

Lee Gwak, who had remained until the end, suddenly let out a sigh.

His eyes were filled with deep melancholy.

Though he no longer harbored any lingering feelings, it didn’t mean his heart was completely at ease.

Lee Gwak thought fate was playing cruel tricks on him.

He was to accompany his old lover on a long journey with a man who loved her.

“Do you always sigh like this? What’s the matter this time?”

A playful voice broke his reverie.

Lee Gwak turned to see Seo Jong Myeong standing with his followers.

“Chief!”

“You’re the chief, call me brother.”

“Brother!”

“So, you’re also headed to the frontline this time?”

“It seems that way.”

“Hmm! Seems like someone’s got their eye on you. The outer hall isn’t usually dispatched there. How about it? Shall I pull some strings for you?”

“Excuse me?”

“I mean getting you out of the frontline deployment. I have that much influence.”

“No, thank you.”

“Why? Don’t you trust me? After all, you were my only squad member. Even the Great Disciple would listen to me.”

As Seo Jong Myeong’s voice rose slightly, Lee Gwak replied with a wry smile.

“I trust you.”

“Then why?”

“It’s just what my heart tells me to do.”

“Hmm!”

Seo Jong Myeong, surprised by Lee Gwak’s reaction, frowned and crossed his arms. Seeing that Lee Gwak was unlikely to change his decision, Seo Jong Myeong sighed.

“Sigh! You’re stubborn, kid. Fine, I respect your decision. But promise me one thing. I don’t want to lose someone who was once my squad member in vain.”

“What is it?”

“Just stay low, as if you don’t exist. Don’t react, even if someone tries to provoke you on the frontline.”

“What do you mean?”

“Remember my words. If you want to survive, do as I say.”

With that, Seo Jong Myeong returned to the Shadowless Squad. He glanced back at Lee Gwak before leaving with his group.

Left alone, Lee Gwak silently watched their retreating figures.
***
On his way back to the 13th squad, Lee Gwak encountered an unexpected figure.

“You’re also heading to the frontline this time?”

The man who casually struck up a conversation was Go Jeon-ok.

When Lee Gwak looked at him with a puzzled expression, he smiled.

“I’m going along with the deputy leader this time.”

“The deputy leader? Ha Gong Wol?”

“Right! I’ve got myself in his good graces. He’s fond of me, so he decided to take me along. It’s not just any task – it’s accompanying the Great Disciple. If things go well, I might catch his eye and rise quickly.”

Go Jeon-ok was visibly excited at the mere thought.

Knowing his ambition-oriented nature, Lee Gwak made no comment about it.

Instead, he asked something that piqued his curiosity.

“Why is the Heavenly Intelligence Hall accompanying us?”

“What else? To assist the Great Disciple up close and collect vital information.”

“What information?”

“I’m not sure yet. But according to the deputy leader, a significant number of Heavenly Intelligence Hall members have already infiltrated the frontline. We’ll know what information they’ve gathered once we get there.”

“Hmm!”

“It’s a joint operation with the Great Disciple and the Shadowless Squad. With the Shadowless Squad and the Heavenly Intelligence Hall supporting, something enormous must be waiting for us. For those of us at the bottom, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime.”

“What opportunity?”

“Don’t you know? It’s an opportunity for advancement. How else would we climb to higher positions if not during such chaotic times and wars?”

Go Jeon-ok clenched his fists.

His face, flushed with eagerness, clearly showed his determination to rise at any cost.
Lee Gwak neither blamed nor ridiculed Go Jeon-ok.

After all, their thought processes and aspirations were different.

Go Jeon-ok had always been driven by a single-minded ambition to rise. Lee Gwak could at least respect that determination.

“Anyway, I’m glad we’re going together. I was worried about not knowing anyone there. I’ll go ahead; see you when we depart.”

“Sure!”

Go Jeon-ok left with a smile.

Even from his receding figure, it was evident how excited he was.

Lee Gwak shook his head and returned to the 13th squad’s quarters.

“Brother!”

Cheon-wol was the first to greet him.

His body was drenched in sweat, seemingly from practicing martial arts just before.

“Where are the others?”

“Only Ahjussi Jin Hwi went out; the rest are in their rooms.”

“Do you know where he went?”

“He didn’t say, so I don’t know.”

“Okay. Let’s go inside.”

The two of them entered the room where the other members were.

“You’re back?”

“Leader!”

Seok Yi Cheon and the others greeted Lee Gwak.

Lee Gwak informed them that they would be accompanying Yong Cheon Myeong on this journey.

“Phew! Being with the Great Disciple is no small matter. This means the higher-ups are paying close attention to this mission.”

“If anyone wants to back out, speak now. I’ll make arrangements for your exclusion.”

But no one expressed a desire to withdraw.

Seok Yi Cheon, Go Cheon Gwang, Woo Il Yeong, and even Cheon-wol looked at Lee Gwak, clearly indicating their intention to go together.

They were the 13th squad.

The 13th squad was tightly knit as one.