Chapter 24: Where the Sun Shines, the Shadows Fall (3)
Light Novel: Volume 1 Chapter 24
Manhwa: Chapters 26-27
Episode 8. Where the Sun Shines, the Shadows Fall (3)
Lee Gwak sighed as he returned to his lodgings. Today had been a very tiring day.
Seo Jong-myeong was nowhere to be seen again today. As usual, the days he showed his face at the lodgings were few and far between. While this allowed Lee Gwak to be comfortable alone, it was also true that it felt somewhat lonely.
Lee Gwak reminisced about Han Socheon, whom he had seen earlier in the day.
He didn’t know what had happened, but Han Socheon had changed a lot.
“Well, a lot of time has passed.”
Two years was by no means a short period.
It was enough time to change a person’s life. In fact, Lee Gwak himself had changed a lot during these two years. It would have been strange if Han Socheon hadn’t changed.
“Maybe it’s for the better? At least coming here must be a fortuitous occasion for that child.”
For an orphan who had lost both her parents and siblings to be recognized for her talent and admitted to the Main Court was remarkable enough, but for her to be recognized and selected for the Steel Blood Training Ground was an indication of how exceptional she was.
Only the top talents from all over the world were gathered here. And Han Socheon possessed an amazing talent that was on par with them.
A sigh escaped him again.
While the talents might have been fearful of the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground, Lee Gwak actually envied them for being able to train openly and to their heart’s content.
Lee Gwak stood still, gazing in the direction of the lodgings where Han Socheon and the others were staying.
At that moment, his wavering heart strangely settled down.
“They are them, and I am me. They walk the path they have chosen, and I will walk the path I have chosen. That’s all there is to it.”
It was a simple realization, but it solidified his wavering heart.
Lee Gwak considered this also a sign of his growth.
The meteor hammer wrapped around his arm unraveled.
The meteor hammer laid out on the ground resembled a long snake slithering through the underbrush.
As Lee Gwak breathed out, the snake seemed to raise its head.
The black snake made a chilling sound as it ferociously whipped around the courtyard. Whipping, penetrating, coiling—the meteor hammer displayed all the feats possible through Lee Gwak’s hands.
Lee Gwak continued to execute the meteor hammer techniques until he was completely drained.
By the time he finished all the meteor hammer techniques, Lee Gwak had no strength left to move.
Usually, he would have a refreshed expression, but Lee Gwak’s face was dark.
As the saying goes, the more you know, the more you see.
As his martial arts achievements grew, Lee Gwak felt an invisible wall, a wall so high and immeasurably thick that he couldn’t see the end of it.
Had Lee Gwak had a proper master, they might have told him how to get over the wall, or guide him to the right path. But Lee Gwak was alone.
He was like a wanderer groping his way through the dark night. Yet, Lee Gwak did not give up.
Though it was too dark to see the path clearly at the moment, he was certain that the path existed. If he kept feeling his way forward, he would surely find the right way.
Lee Gwak had no doubt about this belief.
Lee Gwak went to the well and stripped off all his clothes, revealing his well-trained body under the faint moonlight.
He was a little thin, but his muscles were toned and well-defined. Since awakening the fifth snake, he had gained reflexes and elasticity incomparable to before.
Lee Gwak scooped up water from the well and poured it over his head. The cold water made his mind snap to attention, and the complex thoughts that had dominated him were swept away by the cold sensation.
Feeling refreshed, Lee Gwak smiled pleasantly as he redressed. It was then that Seo Jong-myeong returned to the lodgings.
“You seem to be receiving quite a bit of recognition.”
It was the first thing Seo Jong-myeong said to Lee Gwak after his rare visit.
“What do you mean?”
“I hear they’re asking for you a lot over at Creation Pavilion. Is that right?”
“It just turned out that way.”
“Ha! Even a worm will turn if you step on it.”
Seo Jong-myeong chuckled.
Lee Gwak just looked at him silently. Seo Jong-myeong laughed for quite some time.
Suddenly, Seo Jong-myeong stopped laughing and patted Lee Gwak on the shoulder.
“Well done. Thanks to you, I’ve been very comfortable.”
“What do you mean?”
“How great is it that I don’t need to worry about my only squad member? You’ve managed to find your own work to do.”
Lee Gwak replied agreeably.
Only Seo Jong-myeong would neglect his sole squad member like this.
Then Lee Gwak suddenly crinkled his nose. He could smell a faint scent of blood. The source was undoubtedly Seo Jong-myeong.
“Are you hurt somewhere?”
“Me, hurt? What nonsense are you talking about?”
Seo Jong-myeong tilted his head, to which Lee Gwak furrowed his brows for a moment.
“No, it must be my mistake.”
“Get a grip. If you’re this spaced out when we haven’t even started, what will you do later?”
“What do you mean we haven’t even started?”
“Ha! There’s something.”
Lee Gwak felt a sense of foreboding at Seo Jong-myeong’s words.
He saw a red energy flicker in Seo Jong-myeong’s eyes. It was what people often referred to as madness. But in the next instant, as if it had never been there, the madness in Seo Jong-myeong’s eyes disappeared.
“I’ll be busy for a while, so just keep doing as you are now.”
“Well, I’m off. Ha!”
Seo Jong-myeong patted Lee Gwak’s shoulder a couple of times before heading out.
Lee Gwak watched Seo Jong-myeong’s retreating figure intently.
Seo Jong-myeong was an enigma.
It had been over a year since Lee Gwak became his squad member, but he knew nothing about him.
The scent of blood he had smelled earlier came back to his mind.
It was definitely not a figment of his imagination.
* * *
Lee Gwak carried a box loaded with weapons as he walked. They were weapons distributed by the Creation Pavilion that morning.
He was tasked with delivering these weapons to the group including Han Socheon. The box on his back was heavy, but his steps were light.
As he opened the door and entered the lodgings, the talents were loitering in the courtyard. Han Socheon, unlike the others, was quietly sitting on a platform on one side.
The talent who had spoken to Lee Gwak the day before showed a sharp reaction. Lee Gwak nodded lightly and said,
“I have been ordered to distribute weapons to you all.”
Lee Gwak put down the box. The talents approached and inspected the weapons placed upon it. What were called weapons were nothing more than twenty or so swords that all looked identical.
“What is this?”
“Why are they so shoddy?”
The talents holding the swords immediately voiced their dissatisfaction.
The swords they held were clearly cheap and of poor quality. The surface of the blade was irregular, the weight distribution was a mess, the edges were missing in places, and the handles were not properly finished, making them slippery.
They have never seen a sword this bad.
The eyebrows of the talent who first spoke up now shot up to the sky.
“What kind of swords are these? Did you bring the wrong ones?”
“I only brought what I was ordered to bring.”
“Are you sure? You didn’t switch them out for something else on the way?”
“Why are you not answering? You’re being suspicious.”
“It’s because I’m speechless.”
“What power do I, a mere low-level member, have to swap out weapons?”
“Ha! Look at this guy answering back!”
A subtle killing intent surfaced in the eyes of the talent looking at Lee Gwak.
He was already displeased with the swords given to them, and Lee Gwak’s demeanor only fueled his anger.
The talent’s name was Geum Shi-woo. Geum Shi-woo was a disciple of a fairly large martial faction called the True Soul Martial Hall and had boasted exceptional talent from a young age.
He had been thrilled when he received a secret summon from the head of the martial hall.
The Jade Heaven Alliance was gathering talents.
They said that if he could just pass through their training ground, he would be able to become a top master in the martial world in one leap.
For days he couldn’t sleep with anticipation, and finally, on the destined day, a messenger from the Jade Heaven Alliance arrived. The messenger took him to a secret place.
There, Geum Shi-woo received a great shock.
In the region where the True Soul Martial Hall was located, he was known as the top talent. But in the place the messenger took him to, there were plenty of talents comparable to him, even some who surpassed him.
In the midst of so many excellent individuals, his own talent seemed to pale in comparion. He was already feeling uneasy. So when Lee Gwak arrived and handed over those shobby swords, it only ignited his fury as he was trying to compose himself.
Geum Shi-woo looked ready to swing his sword at Lee Gwak right then and there.
It was then.
An unexpected person stepped forward.
The owner of the cold voice, dripping with frost, was none other than Han Socheon.
At Han Socheon’s unexpected intervention, Geum Shi-woo’s face slightly crumpled.
She was one among those whom Geum Shi-woo felt uncomfortably wary of.
The talents gathered here instinctively gauged each other’s capabilities and established a hierarchy.
Just from the look in their eyes, their aura, and their posture, they could assess the level of each other’s achievements.
Geum Shi-woo felt an odd discomfort towards Han Socheon.
She was clearly younger than him, yet there was something about her gaze that he found strangely unbearable. There was something in her deep and cold gaze that made him feel overwhelmed. Though he couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was.
“Are you talking to me?”
Geum Shi-woo’s voice rose.
His eyes gleamed fiercely. He was deliberately building up his presence.
Everyone here was a potential competitor.
Although it was important to pass the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground, it was even more important not to lose momentum against a competitor. If he lost his momentum here, his position in the hierarchy would be cemented. That’s why Geum Shi-woo became even more ferocious.
“Didn’t you hear me? I asked if that was directed to me?”
Han Socheon replied without a change in her expression.
“That guy is just doing what he’s ordered. Don’t you think it’s cowardly to take your anger out on him?”
“Am I supposed to use this lousy sword then?”
“If you’re not satisfied with the sword, take it up with someone higher up, not him. Complain to the person who ordered these swords to be given.”
Han Socheon’s words were perfectly reasonable. However, Geum Shi-woo, the actual listener, didn’t feel that way.
He thought Han Socheon was deliberately provoking him.
“What do you have to do with that bastard?”
“What do you mean?”
“Have you fallen in love with that worthless bastard? Is that why you’re picking a fight with me, who’s in the same group?”
“Your bullshit is really on another level.”
“If you keep spouting nonsense, I’ll knock out all your teeth.”
A chill appeared in Han Socheon’s eyes.
Her previously expressionless face suddenly turned as cold as if it was covered in frost. Geum Shi-woo flinched for a moment but didn’t back down.
A tense atmosphere flowed between the two.
It was then.
“Hey, both of you, that’s enough. You’re not the only ones here.”
A heavy voice interjected, and a giant shadow wedged itself between the two.
The man’s face was one that would not lose in terms of imposing looks anywhere he went. What was most notable, however, was his size.
He looked even larger than the combined size of Geum Shi-woo and Han Socheon. When such a giant man went in between them, the two couldn’t see each other anymore.
Geum Shi-woo looked up straight at the giant man.
“Why are you butting in? This is an issue between me and that girl.”
“I told you, it’s not just your problem, but for all of us.”
“Like it or not, we’re in the same group. We may not know what will happen in the future, but for now, we’re in the same boat. How could I not intervene?”
Geum Shi-woo’s hand holding the sword trembled. Then the giant man’s gaze turned icy.
“What? Do you wanna have a go? Then you’ll have to risk your life.”
When a ferocious light flashed across the man’s already tough-looking face, Geum Shi-woo couldn’t help nut inhale sharply.
In the end, Geum Shi-woo backed down first. A smile then appeared on the big man’s face.
His name was Chul Gwan-ho, and he was one of the most noteworthy individuals among those who had entered the Steel Blood Hell Training Ground.
Chul Gwan-ho muttered in a low voice,
“You should be thankful to me.”
His gaze shifted subtly from Geum Shi-woo, who was slowly walking away, to Han Socheon.
Even with Chul Gwan-ho’s intervention, Han Socheon’s expression remained unchanged. What caught Chul Gwan-ho’s attention, though, were Han Socheon’s eyes.
Her eyes were empty as if something was missing. Chul Gwan-ho knew from experience what that meant.
‘Definitely the eyes of someone who has killed before. Interesting!’
Geum Shi-woo would never be able to beat Han Socheon.
The difference between those who have killed and those who still haven’t is greater than one might think.
Thank you for reading!
- True Soul Martial Hall. Raws: 진혼무관(眞魂武館).
- 眞 zhēn – real, actual, true, genuine
- 魂 hún – spirit / soul / immortal soul
- 武 wǔ – military / martial
- 館 guǎn – building / shop / term for certain service establishments / embassy
If you wish to support my translations for Martial Artist Lee Gwak, you can head over to my Patreon, SW21 Translations. This is a Patreon account dedicated to Martial Artist Lee Gwak.
You can join for free to get notifications when a chapter is posted or become a member for $1 to show your support!