Martial Artist Lee Gwak Chapter 1

Light Novel: Volume 1 Chapter 1
Manhwa: Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Martial Artist Lee Gwak

The greatest sect under the sky.

People called it the Jade Heaven Alliance.1

There are as many legends of heroes as there are stars in the sky, and the land is as large as a castle.

The tales of heroes which were as numerous as the stars scattered in the sky, caused the hearts of countless people to flutter. 

The endless towering high walls, the innumerable number of pavilions visible from afar, and the large flag fluttering above the gates in the center of the castle, with the three words ‘Jade Heaven Alliance’ embroidered in golden thread.

The tattered and worn-out triangular flag was the symbol of the Jade Heaven Alliance. This was the very source of excitement for many people. 

Hundreds of martial artists lined up left and right under the triangular flag at the gates of the Jade Heaven Alliance. Dressed in plain robes with crude swords around their waists, they were all standing motionlessly, as if waiting for someone.

Their clothes and facial expressions were so identical that there was not the slightest hint of individuality. Anyone who would look at them would find it hard to see a difference.

In the midst of the martial artists standing motionless like statues, was a young man who looked to be barely twenty years old.

He was an ordinary looking man, with nothing remarkable about him except that he stood a head taller than the rest of the crowd. His eyebrows were thick, yet his eyes were gentle. His features were also soft, giving him an overall weak look.

The young man’s name was Lee Gwak, a martial artist from the Outer Hall of the Jade Heaven Alliance.

Lee Gwak looked at the road that stretched into the distant horizon with a nervous expression.

The main task of the Outer Party was to guard the outskirts of the Jade Heaven Alliance. 

Due to their constant chores and missions, most of the Outer Hall martial artists stayed in their quarters. They would only be sometimes mobilized for ceremonial processions and other miscellaneous duties outside of their primary duties.

Lee Gwak would normally have gone to his quarters after his nightly guard duty and taken a long nap by now. However, since a mobilization order was suddenly issued to everyone, he had no choice but to attend the procession without getting any sleep.

Since he hadn’t slept well, he found himself yawning a lot. But he couldn’t yawn in front of so many people, so he gritted his teeth and held it in. 

In the end, he couldn’t help but feel tears forming in the corners of his eyes.

“Are you really that sleepy?”

Lee Gwak heard a low voice from beside him.

Even without turning his head, he recognized the owner of the voice, so he answered in an equally low voice,

“I feel like dying.”

He was communicating in a way similar to ventriloquism, transmitting his voice by barely opening his mouth.

The young man nodded slightly when he heard Lee Gwak’s answer.

“Well, you’ve been up all night.”

He, too, was using ventriloquism, barely opening his mouth to communicate.

He was different from Lee Gwak in many ways.

He was a handsome man with distinctive features, and his angular jaw muscles made him look strong.

His name was Go Jeon-ok.

He joined the Jade Heaven Alliance two years later than Lee Gwak. One of them would normally have been the senior and the other junior, causing them to treat each other strictly because of the difference in hierarchy, but since they were the same age, they were comfortable with each other.

Since Go Jeon-ok belonged to another group, he had worked the morning shift yesterday. So unlike Lee Gwak, Go Jeon-ok’s eyes were full of vitality because he had a good night’s sleep.

The two of them continued their conversation in ventriloquism, their eyes still fixed in front of them,

“What’s with all this fuss today? Who’s coming? Did you hear anything about it?”

“I don’t know.”

“Is a renowned martial artist from the Ten Sects2 coming? Otherwise, why else do such an elaborate welcoming event?”

“How would a bunch of small fries like us know about stuff like that?”

Lee Gwak raised his voice slightly at Go Jeon-ok’s persistent questioning. His face filled with impatience.

Having stayed up all night, he was restless and agitated from being called upon for this non-mission related task of standing around without moving. 

The problem was, he didn’t know how long this waiting would continue. 

It was then.

“Would the two of you be quiet? Or do you have a death wish?”

A low but sharp voice came from behind them.

Lee Gwak and Go Jeon-ok didn’t dare to answer. They just kept their mouths shut. They could tell from the voice alone who the voice belonged to— it was Oh Guhong.

Oh Guhong was the captain of Outer Hall’s Squad 13, to which Lee Gwak belonged. Like the other two, Oh Guhong’s face was full of impatience. Even though he held the position of the captain, he was equally tired of waiting.

He, too, was curious about the identity of the guests. But as a squad captain, he had to be patient and endure silently. 

It was then.

With the screeching sound of rusted hinges, the massive gate of the Jade Heaven Alliance opened. As soon as the gate opened, revealing a group of warriors, Oh Guhong’s pupils shook.

‘Why are they here?’

When a guest or outsider arrives, the Outer Court’s Leader,3 Geum Guho, would usually be the one who would go out to greet them. The Outer Hall is also part of the Outer Court. Most of the things that took place outside of the Jade Heaven Alliance were within the jurisdiction of the Outer Court. 

That was why Oh Guhong assumed that the Outer Court’s Leader would be the one to greet incoming guests today as well. However, the people walking out of the gates were clearly martial artists from the Inner Court. Among them, the most prominent one was the man in his mid-to-late forties at the head of the line.

Wearing a light blue robe and holding a sword tightly, the man’s face looked cold and intelligent. His eyes were sharp and transparent like glass, as if he could read the thoughts of the people he was looking at, and the tense atmosphere he exuded made the people around him naturally tense up. 

There were countless martial artists in the Jade Heaven Alliance, but only one had such a unique atmosphere and aura.

The Inner Court’s Leader, Joo Shin-yoon.4 

He was a fearsome swordsman, nicknamed the Phantom Moon Sword.5 He possessed tremendous political power, enough to control one of the most important factions of the Jade Heaven Alliance, the Inner Court. 

The Inner Court’s Leader, the most powerful of the four temples that serve as the backbone of the Jade Heaven Alliance, was none other than the Phantom Moon Sword, Joo Shin-yoon. However, he was extremely reluctant to appear in public, so very few people had actually seen him in person. 

For Joo Shin-yoon to appear in a public event such as this meant that the guests coming to the Jade Heaven Alliance today were in no way ordinary. 


When Lee Gwak sneakily took a quick glance at Joo Shin-yoon, he could not help but shudder. 

Although Joo Shin-yoon rarely showed himself, Lee Gwak had actually seen him a few times when he went on errands to the Inner Court. But even after seeing him several times, Lee Gwak could never get used to Joo Shin-yoon’s emotionless appearance. He would always have goosebumps at the sight of him, who did not seem like a human.

Standing in front of him, Lee Gwak felt like he was standing naked in a snowy field.

Joo Shin-yoon’s uncharacteristically emotionless eyes would make anyone flinch and shrink back. 

As Joo Shin-yoon walked out, he was accompanied by his fellow Inner Court warriors. None of the martial artists in the Outer Hall dared to look them in the eye, only swallowing dryly.

Joo Shin-yoon stared off into the horizon, his eyes devoid of emotion.

“Are they coming?”

At that moment, a huge cloud of dust rose from the horizon, as if it had been waiting for him to appear. The dust cloud quickly moved closer to the Jade Heaven Alliance.

Lee Gwak looked at the dust cloud with great concentration. After staring at it for a while, the dust cloud became clearer, and he could finally see the hundred or so horse-mounted warriors charging through them. 

As he inspected the horse-mounted warriors, Lee Gwak felt his breath catch in his throat. He didn’t know anything about their identities or status, but the tremendous momentum they exuded was enough to overwhelm him.

It was as if a giant mountain was approaching. The faces of the Outer Hall members turned white  in fear at the sight of their overwhelming majesty. Lee Gwak was no different. 

Although he was an Outer Hall martial artist of the Jade Heaven Alliance, his martial arts skills were nothing special. The only martial arts he had learned after joining the Jade Heaven Alliance were the basic ones that the Outer Hall martial artists practiced.

Of course, that was enough for him to earn a decent position in a local gang, but in the Jade Heaven Alliance, his skill was nothing. There were plenty of martial artists with higher skills than him in  the sect.


A groan escaped from Lee Gwak’s lips, similar to the other martial artists.

The closer the hundred or so cavalry got, the pressure the Outer Hall martial artists felt grew.

The corner of Joo Shin-yoon’s mouth twisted.

“Are they trying to intimidate us from the start? How arrogant!”

A gleam of contempt and anger appeared in his eyes.

At that moment, the martial artists standing behind him surged their qi. Their qi shielded the Outer Hall martial artist from the pressure exuded by the cavalry.


Sparks flew in the air as the qi of the cavalry clashed with the qi of the Inner Court martial artists.

Finally, the cavalry arrived at the front of the Jade Heaven Alliance’s gate after passing through the group of Outer Hall martial artists stationed outside. The cavalry were all clad in jet-black armor, and every single one of them exuded an unsettling aura.

Although there were only a hundred of them, their commanding presence was enough to overwhelm the entire group of the Outer Hall martial artists. In particular,  the man at the forefront of the cavalry emanated such an intense presence that it was suffocating.

Lee Gwak frowned as he looked at the man leading the cavalry. 

The man didn’t look much older than Lee Gwak, but the energy he exuded, and the look in his eyes were incomparable to Lee Gwak’s.

Lee Gwak believed that the man was at the pinnacle, or at least on par with one of the top martial artists occasionally seen in the Jade Heaven Alliance. This was because the top masters in the Jade Heaven Alliance exuded the same presence as this man.

The man’s gaze swept over the Outer Hall martial artists lined up at his left and right.


A gasp escaped Lee Gwak’s lips.

Although it was just a passing glance, the man’s eyes sent a chill down his spine, and caused his heart to pound like crazy.

The man’s gaze was so terrifying, that it felt like his entire body was being stabbed by a sharp blade.

That’s how Lee Gwak felt when he saw the man, a man who lived in a world so far above him that he dared not look up.


Only after the man’s gaze passed by did Lee Gwak breathe a sigh of relief.

While he was relieved to be alive, he also felt that the world was not fair.

There was not much of an age difference between him and the man, yet the difference in martial arts skill and status was as great as the difference between heaven and earth.

Lee Gwak didn’t know the man’s name or identity, but he felt that he must belong to a great power or sect, or otherwise, the great Inner Court’s Leader Joo Shin-yoon wouldn’t have come out himself to meet him.

The man leading the cavalry got off his horse. When Joo Shin-yoon approached, the man smiled enigmatically and took up arms.

He greeted Joo Shin-yoon first, but did so with confidence and without any hint of humiliation. Joo Shin-yoon looked at the man without saying anything, causing a tense atmosphere to hang between the two, like a tightly stretched rope.

Joo Shin-yoo looked at the man with disapproval, while the man responded with a calm expression. But that didn’t last long, since Joo Shin-yoon spoke to the man in a low voice causing the man to nod in return.

After exchanging a few words, the two of them soon walked to the Jade Heaven Alliance, followed by the Inner Court martial artists and the hundred horsemen. 

The martial artists who were far away, such as those belonging to the Outer Hall and Outer Court, couldn’t hear what they were talking about. In any case, their role was no more than that to display the glory of the Outer Court. Anything more was off-limits to them, an inviolable territory.

“Everyone, disperse and return to your places.”

The martial artists from the Outer Court who were mobilized for the procession were now ordered to dispersed. 


“I thought I was going to die.”

The Outer Hall martial artists, who had been standing still until now, spoke in a tired voice while slapping their stiff limbs.

Lee Gwak also rubbed his back to loosen his stiff muscles. 

Go Jeon-ok walked over to Lee Gwak’s side, and asked, 

“Who do you think they are?”

“Why do you care?”

“Aren’t you even curious? That they’re being greeted personally by the Inner Court’s Leader?”

“What’s the point of wondering? It’s not like we would be able to find out anyway.”

Lee Gwak replied bluntly.

Although he didn’t know who the man was, it was clear that he was a chosen one, unlike themselves. Lee Gwak knew that those who lived ordinary lives like himself, could never become someone like that man, no matter how many times they die and come back to life.

While others might blindly envy the untouchability of the Jade Heaven Alliance, there was still a hierarchy within the sect. And the Outer Hall, of which Lee Gwak was a member, was at the bottom of the food chain.

Once a member of the Outer Hall, it was not easy for someone to move to another organization within the Jade Heaven Alliance. The hierarchical and organizational structure of the Jade Heaven Alliance was more rigid than anyone might think.

It was better not to pay too much attention to what was going on above them.

Lee Gwak knew that from experience over the past few years. But his friend, Go Jeon-ok, thought differently.

“I’m watching from the sidelines for now, but I’ll be standing among them one day, I promise!”

“Yes! When you do, look out and take care of me.”

“Hmph, we’re friends, just trust me.”

Go Jeon-ok boasted, pounding his fist on his chest.

Lee Gwak just stared at him wordlessly.

Go Jeon-ok has always been ambitious. Although he was currently at the bottom, he had always openly expressed his ambition that he would become the leader of the Jade Heaven Alliance one day.

It’s not that Lee Gwak couldn’t understand his friend’s determination, but the Jade Heaven Alliance was not a place where lower-level martial artists could easily surpass the barriers. The greater the ambition, the heavier the scars one is likely to receive.

Lee Gwak was afraid that Go Jeon-ok’s feelings might be hurt someday because of his own ambitions, but in the end, he decided not to say anything because he knew that Go Jeon-ok wouldn’t listen to him anyway.

Go Jeon-ok patted Lee Gwak on the shoulder and said,

“I have to go on guard duty now. You should go and get some rest too. You look terrible.”


“See you.”

Go Jeon-ok hurriedly rushed inside the Jade Heaven Alliance, while Lee Gwak, who was alone, walked slowly.

His back felt sore and heavier than ever today, probably because he’d been up all night. So Lee Gwak shuffled along the street, grimacing in pain.

He was walking through the streets of the outermost part of the Jade Heaven Alliance. 

Over the past few years, the Jade Heaven Alliance had grown to an enormous size through repeated expansions.

Major organizations such as the Heavenly Intelligence Hall, the Inner Court, and the headquarters were all located inside the walls, but the Outer Court and other supporting organizations were located in the outer walls.

The street where Lee Gwak was walking down now was one of the areas within the outer walls.

Despite being outside the walls, there was nothing that couldn’t be found in the massive city. On either side of the streets were numerous shops, smithies, inns, and even brothels where courtesans were plying their trade with laughter.

While strict procedures were required to enter the inner walls, the outer city was relatively simple to enter, this in turn cause many people to visit every day.

When Lee Gwak first entered the Jade Heaven Alliance, he was struck with amazement by the sheer scale of the place, and though he had gotten used to it over the years, there are still times when he would feel unfamiliar with the scenery.

Today was one of those days.

There were tons of people moving around with purpose. Unlike himself, who spent each day wandering aimlessly since entering the Jade Heaven Alliance, these people around him were all living their lives with such energy and purpose.


An exasperated sigh escaped Lee Gwak’s lips.

He stumbled along, with his head lowered. His back cast a long black shadow as he faced the rising sun.

Lee Gwak’s figure quickly disappeared into the crowd.

SoundlessWind21’s Notes:

I haven’t finished reading the manhwa yet but I’ll do my best to align the translation or terminologies used for consistency. Anyway, thank you for reading!

  1. Jade Heaven Alliance. Raws: 창천맹(蒼天盟).
    • 蒼 cāng, cǎng – blue; green
    • 天 tiān – sky, heaven; god, celestial
    • 盟 méng, míng, mèng – swear; oath, covenant, alliance
  2. Ten Sects. Raws: 십패(十覇).
    • 十 shí – ten, tenth; complete; perfect
    • 覇 bà, pò – rule by might rather than right
  1. Outer Court’s Leader. Raws: 외원주(外院主).
    • 外 wài – out, outside, external; foreign
    • 院 yuàn – courtyard, yard, court; school
    • 主 zhǔ – master, chief owner; host; lord
  2. Inner Court’s Leader. Raws: 내원주(内院主).
    • 内 nèi – inside
    • 院 yuàn – courtyard, yard, court; school
    • 主 zhǔ – master, chief owner; host; lord
  3. Phantom Moon Sword. Raws: 월영검존(月影剣尊).
    • 月 yuè – moon; month; KangXi radical 74
    • 影 yǐng – shadow; image, reflection; photograph
    • 剣 jiàn – sword, dagger, saber
    • 尊 zūn – respect, revere, venerate; honor
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Oh man i can’t believe i finally get to read this novel.


I wonder how much the manhwa left out. It is awesome to get to read this.


Thank You, and in what chapter the web novel catch up with manhwa last chapter?

Chung Myung

How about directly going into chapter 120 :p! The manhwa was pretty legit.


Thank you, i hope you will keep translating =)

Chung Myung

Please keep translating this one as fast as possible. I would love to read what happens after Chapter 100 in Manhwa. Been looking for this series for a while.

Keep up the good work.


as much as i know from the manhwa this is first mc who is humble by nature in murim stories i have encountered so far not much arrogance which is a refreshing take


Love this novel. Finally got to read this novel. I hope you will keep translating and the updates are fast

Chun ma

I love the manhwa and am glad to see the novel. Can you please update the new chapter I have been waiting for about 1 month?