Martial Artist Lee Gwak Episode 95

February 10, 2024 • 13 min read • 213 views

Uncomfortable Company (2)

Novel-Martial Artist Lee Gwak

True to its name, the Hidden Sword Art possessed a hidden and gentle nature. Its special technique allowed the user to wield the sword without making a sound, thus neutralizing the noise caused by the sword cutting through the air.

As a result, those who had mastered the Hidden Sword Art to a high level could swing their sword as hard as they liked without producing any sound.

However, the Hidden Sword Art was not solely specialized for stealth attacks like those typically used by assassins. Within its hidden nature, it also contained the essence of powerful sword techniques, showing considerable strength in direct confrontations.

At that moment, what Lee Gwak envisioned was a ghost.

With the proper footwork, one could move like a ghost, tormenting their opponent in unpredictable ways.

Lee Gwak shared his thoughts with Cheon-wol.

“Ah! I hadn’t considered that. I was so focused on the techniques that I didn’t think about the broader possibilities.”

“As with all things, the most important aspect of learning martial arts is imagination. It’s crucial to imagine what the finished form of that martial art will look like, how it can be used most effectively. That’s where the true art lies”

“I see!”

“I saw a ghost in the Hidden Sword Art. Perhaps, if I were to master it, it would ultimately take on such a form. That would be my interpretation of Hidden Sword Art. What about you?”

“Hmm!”

“Think about it! Visualize it in your mind. What you want it to be. Your goal.”

Cheon-wol didn’t respond further but closed his eyes in deep thought. Seeing him like that, Lee Gwak muttered to himself.

‘What about my Eight Sects Sword Art?’

Despite his advice to Cheon-wol, it seemed that he hadn’t applied the same level of contemplation to his own techniques.

Lee Gwak also closed his eyes and imagined.

The ultimate form of the Eight Sects Sword Art he desired.

Shivering!

Lee Gwak trembled.

A sword that could kill anything.

Even if it was the heavens themselves.

Heavenly Killing Sword.

TL/N- I think it was the same technique that Lee Geom-han used in ROTDM against Pyo Wol

That was the ultimate form of the Eight Sects Sword Art Lee Gwak envisioned.

He was surprised by his own imagination.

It was the first time that Lee Gwak realized such a destructive desire within himself.

Perhaps his battles with the Dark Emissary, Yul Cheon Ak, and others had awakened a latent desire within him.

‘No, it wasn’t them. It started after meeting Go Geom Wol. That encounter was the beginning.’

Lee Gwak bit his lip unconsciously.

Just thinking about Go Geom Wol made him feel as if his blood had turned cold.

‘With the Heavenly Killing Sword…’

Lee Gwak tried to envision himself unleashing the Heavenly Killing Sword against Go Geom Wol. However, not knowing the precise level of Go Geom Wol’s martial arts, he couldn’t complete the picture.

“Is it still a blank slate?”

“What? What did you say?”

Cheon-wol’s voice broke through Lee Gwak’s thoughts.

Lee Gwak opened his eyes and looked at Cheon-wol, who was staring at him, his eyes as determined as ever.

“Nothing.”
“I’ve envisioned it. The ultimate form I desire.”

Cheon-wol clenched his fists.

His gaze drifted to a small window on one side of the cabin, beyond which only a dotted castle could be seen.

The Jade Heaven Alliance.

Cheon-wol’s eyes were directed towards someone within that place.

“A sword that stays by that person’s side without leaving a trace, protecting them like a ghost. That is my Hidden Sword Art.”

****

The Poseidon sliced through the Yangtze’s currents. Where it passed, white foam rose and left a trail.

“Wow!”

“What kind of ship is that?”

Fishermen fishing on the Yangtze and people walking along the river were stunned by the majesty of the Poseidon.

Although there were many ships on the Yangtze, none dared to approach the Poseidon. Its enormous size, resembling a small hill, was intimidating, but what frightened them the most was the huge flag on its mast.

The moment they saw the giant triangular flag with the three characters ‘Jade Heaven Alliance’ embroidered in gold thread, they couldn’t help but stare in awe.

“Incredible. To think such a ship sails on the river.”

“But where is that huge ship going?”

“Where else but towards the front lines?”

“I don’t know how many people are on board to warrant such a massive ship.”

Fishermen and onlookers exchanged thoughts as they watched the Poseidon make its way upriver.

But that was only for a moment.

Soon, the Poseidon ventured into treacherous terrain that ordinary ships dared not approach.

It was a canyon of roaring currents and eddies that threatened to swallow up the entire sky. Many ships were sunk here, and the loss of life was incalculable.

Yet, even these fierce rapids couldn’t challenge the Poseidon. Like the king of the river, it effortlessly cut through the wild currents, moving forward with ease.

After the Poseidon set off, Yong Cheon Myeong retreated to his cabin and remained secluded. This allowed the lower-ranked martial artists to use the deck without concern.

Lee Gwak, having stayed in the cabin for a while, finally came out to the deck.

Over the past few days, Lee Gwak and Cheon-wol had delved into Hidden Sword Art. Even though they were studying the same techniques, their interpretations varied, necessitating caution and resulting in slow progress.

Despite the tedious process, both Lee Gwak and Cheon-wol were patient and persistent. Once they set a goal, they focused solely on Hidden Sword Art, enabling Cheon-wol to gain a solid understanding of techniques that had previously been unclear to him.

As soon as Cheon-wol grasped all the techniques, he secluded himself to practice the Hidden Sword Art, freeing Lee Gwak from their joint study.

Leaning on the railing, Lee Gwak gazed at the flowing river.

Hidden Sword Art had enlightened not only Cheon-wol but also Lee Gwak. He believed that properly integrating it could enhance the power of the Eight Sects Sword Art. However, merging two fundamentally different martial arts was no simple task, especially since Lee Gwak’s Eight Sects Sword Art was not purely martial arts but already included the Thunder Blade Arts as well.

Mixing three different martial arts could result in a confused mess, necessitating caution.
There was no set timeline for completion, nor any estimate of how much more effort it would require, but Lee Gwak was not discouraged.

After mastering the Eight Sects Sword Art, Lee Gwak’s intellectual capacity had significantly increased, particularly his insight into martial arts following the opening of his Heart Eye.

With continuous exploration and refinement, he believed he would eventually achieve completion.

The key was endurance and an unyielding will, qualities Lee Gwak confidently possessed more than anyone else.

“What are you thinking about so deeply?”

A familiar voice interrupted Lee Gwak’s thoughts.

Turning around, Lee Gwak saw Go Jeon-ok had approached him.

“You haven’t shown your face on deck for days. What’s been going on?”

“Just wasn’t feeling well, so I stayed in bed.”

“Ha! Seasick, are you? Heh! When have you ever been on a ship?”

Go Jeon-ok laughed, looking out at the Yangtze River.

“You talk as if you’ve been on ships before.”

“I have been on a few. Working for the Heavenly Intelligence Hall gives you all sorts of experiences. Once I even hid in the sewage for two whole days.”

“Why stick with the Heavenly Intelligence Hall to that extent?”

“What else but to advance?”

Go Jeon-ok stated as if it were obvious.

Lee Gwak thought Go Jeon-ok was remarkably consistent.

At least Go Jeon-ok didn’t hide his ambitions, and what you saw was what you got. Such straightforward people were rare.

“Aren’t you worried about being out here? Won’t the deputy leader notice?”

“I’ve been sticking close until now. Just came out for some fresh air, so it’s fine.”

“Is that so?”

“Sometimes, I think being in the outer hall was better. Of course, that’s just a fleeting thought. You should join the Heavenly Intelligence Hall, instead of being satisfied as an outer hall leader. I’ll pull some strings for you.”

“I’m fine as I am.”

“Are you sure you’re fine?”

“What?”

Confused by Lee Gwak’s expression, Go Jeon-ok responded in a softer voice.

“Geum Yul Seon!”

“…”

“Yong Cheon Myeong’s lover. You saw them parting in tears at the dock. Doesn’t it bother you? You lost your lover because you lacked power.”

“Jeon-ok!”

“It’s all because of lack of power. If you had been strong, would Geum Yul Seon have left you so easily? Wake up, Gwak! You can’t be satisfied with trivial daily life forever. A man should harbor great ambitions. Only then can you truly protect what you want.”

Go Jeon-ok’s words were like a dagger, thrown casually.

“Jeon-ok, I’ve already removed her from my heart. So, stop bringing her up.”

“Really? Can you swear on your conscience?”

“…”

“See? You can’t. You haven’t forgotten her either. You pretend to be unaffected, like a magnanimous gentleman, but inside, you’re just as materialistic as me. Let’s be honest with ourselves.”

“There might be a trace of lingering affection in a corner of my heart, but that doesn’t mean I should cling to ambitions of success like you.”

“Ha! You’re truly obstinate. It’s useless to say more. But if you ever change your mind, come find me. Then we can talk seriously. I’m going.”

Without waiting for Lee Gwak’s response, Go Jeon-ok entered the cabin.

“Sigh!”

Left alone, Lee Gwak let out a heavy sigh.

The conversation with Go Jeon-ok had drained him.

Like parallel lines that would never meet, there was an unbridgeable gap between him and Go Jeon-ok, making their interactions uncomfortable.

Lee Gwak leaned on the railing, gazing endlessly at the flowing river, letting go of the slight remnant of attachment in his heart.

Though the existence of Geum Yul Seon had indeed stirred his heart, Lee Gwak’s cultivation was not so shallow as to forever be hung up on a past relationship.

During the days he was confined to the cabin, Lee Gwak’s spirit had hardened considerably, and it would only continue to strengthen.

Suddenly, Lee Gwak noticed something unusual.

He spotted ships approaching the Poseidon.

They were sleek ships, unlike any fishing boats or flatboats he had ever seen.

Despite their small size compared to the Poseidon, the presence of a dozen such ships was intimidating.

On the leading ship, the words “Green Forest” were clearly visible.

The crew also noticed the approaching ships and shouted.

“Ships are approaching.”

“It’s the Green Forest, the overlord of the Yangtze.”

At their call, the Martial Artists from inside the cabin rushed out.

“What’s happening?”

Among them was Yong Cheon Myeong, who stood beside Seo Jong Myeong at the bow, watching the approaching ships.

The captain respectfully reported.

“This is the Green Forest’s territory.”

“That’s not what I’m asking. Why is the Green Forest blocking the Poseidon’s path?”

“Well…”

As the captain hesitated, Yong Cheon Myeong’s eyebrows shot up.

“Don’t tell me they intend to demand a toll from the Poseidon?”

“Su, surely not! Unless they’re mad, they wouldn’t dare…”

Yong Cheon Myeong’s aura of menace turned the captain pale.

He internally acknowledged the gravity of the situation.

Green Forest was known as the overlord of the Yangtze. If it were merely that, there would be no issue. Even as the Yangtze’s overlord, compared to the Jade Heaven Alliance, they were insignificant.

However, Green Forest was one of the six mountain clans under the Sky High Castle.

During the Great Heavenly Blood War, the Green Forest was unified by an outstanding martial artist.

His name was Muk Il-gwang

He was a great martial artist who reunited and rebuilt the Green Forest after it had been torn apart by the Demonic Sects. In later years, he was revered as the Martial Ancestor of the Green Forest.

Muk Il-gwang merged eighteen of the Green Forest mountain clans into six, naming them the Sky High Castle, to be recognized as a legitimate martial arts sect, not just a band of thieves.
The Jianghu scoffed at the Sky High Castle and Muk Il-gwang, believing that even if thieves united and pooled their strength, they couldn’t transcend their limitations.

But Muk Il-gwang was no ordinary martial artist. With a wise wife and the support of the strongest martial artists, he quickly organized the Green Forest, and the Sky High Castle rightfully took its place among the Ten Great Sects.

The ship blocking the Poseidon was one of the six clans of the Sky High Castle.

Someone from Green Forest’s ship then stepped forward and shouted with internal energy,

“Is the person aboard the Poseidon the esteemed Young master of the Jade Heaven Alliance?”

“Who are you?”

Yong Cheon Myeong responded with a roar, to which the man performed a fist salute and said,

“I am Shin Soo-myeong, the lord of Green Forest.”

“Why does the lord of Green Forest block our path? You don’t intend to disrupt the Jade Heaven Alliance’s affairs, do you?”

“Ha! How could I dare harbor such disloyal thoughts? Currently, the young master of the Sky High Castle is visiting the Green Forest. I thought it might be beneficial for the Grandmaster to meet our young master, which is why I have momentarily blocked your path. Please don’t misunderstand our intentions.”

“The Young master? So, White Eye Blood Hand So Gun-myeong is here?”

“That’s correct.”

“So Gun-myeong? If it’s him, then he certainly warrants a meeting. I accept your invitation.”

So Gun-myeong was also a member of the Ten Lesser skies. Although Yong Cheon Myeong had never met him face to face, he recognized him as someone worth engaging in conversation.

At Yong Cheon Myeong’s acceptance, Shin Soo-myeong laughed heartily.

“Ha! Then, please follow our ship for a moment. We will guide you to the Green Forest.”

“Good!”

The Poseidon and the ships from Green Forest changed course. Seo Jong Myeong then expressed his concern.

“Are you sure this is wise? Our schedule is tight; is it necessary to waste time meeting So Gun-myeong?”

“In any case, he is among the greatest talents of our era. If nothing else, he is destined to become the master of Sky High Castle. It won’t be bad to establish a rapport now, as we will either clash or cooperate in the future.”

“Alright! If that’s your judgment…”

Seo Jong Myeong trailed off, looking reluctantly towards the opposite riverbank.

‘Time is of the essence, and here we are, wasting it.’

Although he understood Yong Cheon Myeong’s desire to build relations with So Gun-myeong, he couldn’t help feeling a sense of unease.