Chapter 11: Growing in the Time Spent Alone (2)
Light Novel: Volume 1 Chapter 11
Manhwa: Chapter 14-15
Episode 4. Growing in the Time Spent Alone (2)
The first snake that had coiled three and a half turns was now firmly entrenched in Lee Gwak’s perineum acupoint.
‘Have I passed the first hurdle?’
Lee Gwak breathed a sigh of relief.
He didn’t know it, but the very few martial artists who attempted to learn the Yoga Secret Manual directly had been frustrated at this very first stage.
Creating the first snake required a great deal of patience and endurance, especially when one had to not move at all until the unfamiliar area of the perineum point was stimulated to form energy.
Practitioners in Tianzhu were accustomed to such asceticism, but the martial artists in the Central Plains were not. While they could endure a few days, it would be impossible for them to endure three months without moving like Lee Gwak.
Had Lee Gwak not been paralyzed and lying down, he would not have been able to make it through the first gate of the Yoga Secret Manual.
Upon thoughtful consideration, Lee Gwak realized that the heavens had not abandoned him.
It was then.
He suddenly felt a tingling sensation at the tip of his fingers.
Lee Gwak’s eyes widened. He instinctively knew what this phenomenon meant.
“Are my senses… back?”
Life was gradually coming back into his fingers, which had been as lifeless as a dried-up old tree.
Lee Gwak exerted strength into his fingertips. Then, his fingers twitched slightly.
This was the moment Lee Gwak had long been wishing and waiting for.
Although he could only move his fingertips right now, regaining some sensation meant that moving his wrists, or even his entire arm, was no longer a dream.
Lee Gwak stared blankly at the Yoga Secret Manual that was attached to the ceiling.
The Yoga Secret Manual he had been blindly clinging on to and learning for the past three months was genuine.
‘I can get up.’
Hope that had seemed vague now felt within reach.
Taking advantage of the momentum, Lee Gwak began working on opening the second gate.
Suddenly, the snake that had been coiled in his perineum acupoint let go of its tail and began to move.
Its destination was the second gate near the tailbone.
The first snake knocked on the gate.
An explosion erupted from within Lee Gwak’s body. It was a sound the others couldn’t hear.
The gate was sturdy.
The first snake slammed against it again, but it still did not budge. It stubbornly held its ground, like an iron fortress.
Lee Gwak realized that he couldn’t forcibly open the gate.
He needed another way to open the second gate.
Lee Gwak lost himself in thought.
Fortunately, he had plenty of time to think. There was no one to disturb him.
He didn’t care about the passage of time.
In the meantime, Seok Yi-cheon visited him two more times, but Lee Gwak was too deep in thought. Not once did he open his mouth to speak.
Seok Yi-cheon looked at Lee Gwak with a compassionate gaze and then left.
Then Lee Gwak suddenly had a realization.
‘Maybe I’ve been thinking about it wrong.’
Up to now, he had thought only about forcibly opening the gate using the first snake, as is common with the typical energy cultivation methods. However, the Yoga Secret Manual was a study from Tianzhu, not the Central Plains, so he needed to change his thinking.
Lee Gwak focused his mind on the second gate at the end of the spine.
He could faintly sense something.
‘The second snake.’
It was so faint that if he hadn’t been concentrating, he would never have felt it.
The door was firmly closed, and the second snake was weak.
Lee Gwak moved the first snake, but this time he didn’t have it rush toward the second gate like before. Instead, he gently coaxed it.
His idea was to stimulate the second snake on the other side of the gate.
The second snake responded to the first snake’s call and moved, a crisp movement unlike any before.
Time dragged on, but Lee Gwak did not tire.
Because the response of the second snake was gradually growing.
He enjoyed the changes happening within his own body.
He couldn’t believe that he could cultivate qi from a place other than the dantian, and he was surprised that its efficacy exceeded his expectations.
On one hand, he wondered why the martial artists of the Central Plains hadn’t come up with this method. But the more he thought about it, the more he wondered why anyone would want to take the hard way instead of the easy way.
The Central Plains had already developed martial arts in their own way. A method that many already knew well. There was no reason to choose an unfamiliar method when there was a verified, easier path.
Most of the martial artists in Jianghu thought that Yoga techniques only had the effect of making the muscles flexible and strong, but Lee Gwak, who had practiced it himself, thought there was more to it than that.
One of the reasons Lee Gwak thought so was because the creator of the Yoga Secret Manual was a martial artist from the Central Plains. In the preface, he clearly stated that he was a martial artist from the Central Plains.
Having learned the Central Plains’ martial arts himself, Lee Gwak speculated that the author of Tianzhu’s yoga techniques would have looked at it from a different perspective and extracted its essence.
‘I don’t know who created the Yoga Secret Manual and for what purpose, but I will definitely learn its essence.’
Lee Gwak bit his lip tightly.
Suddenly, the Lunatic Pugilist came to mind.
Lee Gwak remembered the energy the Lunatic Pugilist had in the wilderness, the power that seemed to overwhelm the heavens and earth.
A strength that seemed inhuman.
Just thinking about him sent chills down his spine.
The Lunatic Pugilist had told him to live like a wolf, not a dog.
The Yoga Secret Manual would become the fangs of a wolf for him.
Perhaps stimulated by Lee Gwak’s thoughts, the second snake suddenly violently shook. Like his turbulent thoughts, the second snake was also turbulent.
At that moment, Lee Gwak had a small epiphany.
The first snake was calm and steady, while the second snake was violent. Coincidentally, these traits overlapped with Lee Gwak’s thoughts and temperament at the time.
‘Maybe the snake latent within my body has a personality of its own.’
As soon as that thought crossed his mind, there was no reason to hesitate.
Lee Gwak amplified his violent thoughts. Then, the second snake rampaged even more violently. This consequently caused the first snake to be influenced and became more violent in response.
The sound of something breaking could be heard.
It was the sound of the gate breaking.
The two snakes became even more violently agitated, and in an instant, the door that had been so solid shattered.
The first snake burst through the gate.
Riding a vortex, the first snake that entered the gate met the second snake. The two snakes became dizzyingly entangled.
The snakes tangled wildly as if they were trying to bite each other’s throats, but at some point, they started to twirl around, biting each other’s tails.
The two snakes taunted, encouraged, and mingled with each other.
Lee Gwak’s lips parted.
It was because he felt a strange pleasure along with pain, as if thousands of ants were biting his body all at once.
Lee Gwak forcefully bit his lip.
When human senses become extremely sensitive, it becomes hard to distinguish between pain and pleasure. It was an inevitable process that occurred as the senses awakened and expanded.
* * *
“Ah, no luck. No luck at all.”
Seok Yi-cheon grumbled, rubbing both shoulders.
White breath scattered into the air. It seemed like it was just summer yesterday, but the season was already turning into winter.
His shoulders naturally hunched as he constantly fumbled with his collar. Still, the cold wind relentlessly penetrated through his clothes.
The small room toward which Seok Yi-cheon was heading with a trotting step was located in a secluded place in the Outer Hall.
As Seok Yi-cheon looked at the small room, a shadow naturally fell across his face.
Although Seok Yi-cheon considered himself to be quite an optimistic person, his mood always felt heavy when he came here.
In that small room was Lee Gwak.
A young man who had once been the most youthful of them all was now a cripple, unable to move. That fact weighed heavily on his heart.
Initially, the members of Squad 13 also consoled and took care of Lee Gwak, but now they rarely came to visit, crushed by the heavy atmosphere.
As the saying goes, a long illness wears out even a filial son. How could it be easy to take care of someone with whom you don’t even share a drop of blood?
In the end, only Seok Yi-cheon came to visit and take care of him after all this time had passed.
Seok Yi-cheon massaged his stiff face with his hands. After practicing smiling several times, he took deep breaths in front of the door. Then he deliberately spoke in a cheerful voice as he opened the door.
“Kwak, your brother is here, eh?”
Seok Yi-cheon, who had been opening the door with great enthusiasm, suddenly widened his eyes. It was because an unbelievable sight unfolded before him.
Stunned by the shocking scene, Seok Yi-cheon stuttered.
“Did you arrive? Brother!”
Lee Gwak was sitting in his place, welcoming him.
Seok Yi-cheon could only stare. He could not answer.
Every time he had come here, he had always seen Lee Gwak lying helpless. A lot of time had passed, but Lee Gwak showed no signs of improvement, which had led him to somewhat resign himself to the situation.
If he was going to recover, he should have already. It was foolish to hope that Lee Gwak, who had been paralyzed and lying down for nearly six months, would miraculously recover now.
Just a short time ago when he had visited, Lee Gwak was lying there weakly. But now, that same Lee Gwak had sat up on his own after just a few days.
“You! What happened to you? Can you walk now?”
“I can only move my upper body for now.”
Seok Yi-cheon suddenly hugged Lee Gwak. Tears welled up in his eyes.
His chest, which had felt as if it was blocked by a massive rock, now felt light.
While hugging him, Seok Yi-cheon touched Lee Gwak’s upper body with both hands. Lee Gwak was still skinny like a bamboo stalk, but he could feel some vitality in him.
“It’s a relief, really a relief.”
“You’re suffocating me, brother.”
“Hm? Oh sorry, sorry! I forgot you’re still not fully recovered yet.”
Finally, Seok Yi-cheon calmed down and pulled away from Lee Gwak. A questioning look appeared on his face.
“But how did you get better? Everyone had given up–”
“I don’t know. I just began to regain some sensation little by little.”
Seok Yi-cheon exclaimed in admiration.
Had he looked up, he would have seen the Yoga Secret Manual attached to the ceiling. However, his gaze was fixed on Lee Gwak, so he did not notice the Yoga Secret Manual and just thought a miracle had occurred.
“It’s really fortunate. I was worrying about how I couldn’t visit for a while.”
“The truth is, the entire organization of the Outer Hall is being reorganized. Our Squad 13 will also be restructured and we’ll likely scatter and split up in all directions.”
“It’s something decided from above. How could people like us know the reason?”
Seok Yi-cheon’s expression was dark.
Until now, Seok Yi-cheon had lived without any problems in Squad 13. They had lived together for so long that they felt like they were brothers.
If the organization was restructured, Seok Yi-cheon couldn’t guarantee that he would remain in Squad 13, as they’d have to scatter and live separately.
Leaving Squad 13 would inevitably make it difficult to visit this small room. He had been worried, but now that he saw Lee Gwak sitting alone, he felt somewhat relieved.
“The atmosphere in the Outer Hall can’t be good, can it?”
“Just talking about it isn’t enough. Everyone’s at their wit’s end. We’re all just barely holding on. Still, some guys are happy about it. Especially Go Jeon-ok. That guy is impatient, after all, he wanted to break free from the Outer Hall all this time. So, now he’s blatantly courting the Heavenly Intelligence Hall and other organizations. It’s ridiculous.”
“He’s never come to see you, has he? It’s all because he’s trying to satisfy his own greed. How could he claim to be your friend when he never visited even once? Is that even human?”
Seok Yi-cheon’s voice naturally rose.
Lee Gwak smiled bitterly in response.
Was it only Go Jeon-ok?
Most of the people he had known for the past five years did not even show their faces. This small room was a prison for Lee Gwak, but it was also a line that helped him distinguish true friends.
Only a few people, including Seok Yi-cheon, had crossed that line.
Lee Gwak closed his eyes.
He should feel sad, but strangely enough, he didn’t. Rather, his mind was still, like a ripple-free surface of the water.
Whether it was because he had become accustomed to loneliness, or because he had mastered the Yoga Secret Manual, he didn’t know, but either way, it didn’t matter.
Lee Gwak liked his current state.
Lee Gwak asked,
“By any chance, do you know what happened to Socheon?”
“The young lady from the same hometown? Well, I don’t know. I haven’t seen her since. Do you want me to look into it?”
“No, I’m sure she’s fine. She’s a smart girl.”
“Yes, she will. By the way, about…”
Suddenly, Seok Yi-cheon began to stutter, a troubled look on his face.
“What is it?”
“Hoo! Is it about Lady Geum of the Grand Abyss Music Hall?”
“It seems like she has another man.”
For a moment, a heavy silence descended on the room.
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