Chapter 25.1 – Art Shakes the Pure Wind House
Yes, it really was the Nine Mysterious Green Dragons Concealed in Clouds of Ice. This was more famously known as the first of the seven great meals after Nian Bing became famous.
Looking at the Nine Mysterious Green Dragons Concealed in Clouds of Ice, covered in a layer of mist, everyone at the venue felt as though they were unable to close their mouths. After all, this couldn’t just be described as a dish; it was obviously a work of art! For this invaluable artwork, Nian Bing had spent in total, a quarter of an hour, to complete the carving of the dish. Upon seeing the ice mist curling around those nine vividly lifelike green dragons, no one could make a move.
Nian Bing’s gaze fell on Luo Rou. “Miss Wise Girl, now you should what it is I do. That’s right, my true profession is actually that of a chef. Miss Xue Jing, at first, I had to choose between entering either the Great City Pavilion or the Pure Wind House. This was in order to explore the art of cooking with another chef, without any hidden motive.
“I think we can move past our misunderstandings now. This one dish must have confirmed a great deal of things for you. Yet you are still probably suspicious of how I, a mage, learned about making dishes. I can clearly tell you that in my heart, being a chef is as noble a profession as being a mage. With my cooking skills, I can satisfy countless people’s desire to eat. Cooking is also an art form. For me, the pursuit of cooking is a long, long road.
“Okay, I have said what I wished. Everyone, please take your time to try this. If the ice mist disperses, the dish will lose its proper flavor. I have already explained my reasoning clearly. So long, everyone. Ling’er, you should stay. I will head back on my own.” Gathering his things into a cloth sack, he tucked it away against his chest. Nian Bing nodded slightly to the people around him and turned to leave. No one stopped him. Everyone’s focus was still trained on the dish in front of them, while Nian Bing’s voice reverberated in his or her mind.
The other chef, Ming Yuan, was the first to respond. From the side, he brought out chopsticks and gave them to Xue Ji, the three girls, and himself. He was the first to take action, picking up a slice of cucumber. When the chopsticks made contact with the cucumber, he could feel the separation between the cucumber slices. There was not a sense of connectedness to be found, though the green dragons had been connected very cleverly.
Once they saw Ming Yuan move, the others followed, placing a cucumber slice in their mouths. Upon entering the mouth, the cucumbers changed, transforming into a sweet liquid that slid into their stomachs. It was an indescribable feeling. It felt like, in an instant, the 36 million pores all over the body completely opened. An ice-cold breath merged with the heavens and earth. This fresh feeling made people as light as an immortal. Not only had the heated tension disappeared, even their moods recovered, awakening to a clear, sweet taste.
The three girls–Luo Rou, Long Ling, and Xue Jing–had eyes that twinkled splendidly. Girls were the most fond of this wonderful flavor. Chopsticks flew into the icy mist non-stop. In just a moment, the nine dragons had completely disappeared from the icy mist, already contained in the stomachs of the five people. Cool. Sweet. Fresh. Stimulating. It was wonderful to feel such a refreshing feeling from head to toe. What was even more ingenious was that this dish, with such plain ingredients, fit right with the Pure Wind House’s theme—simplicity and elegance.
Ming Yuan laid down his chopsticks. Shutting his eyes, he mumbled, “The cucumber’s sweet fragrance was completely released by that frigid chill. The addition of the sugar cane’s sweetness made the freshness more penetrating. Altogether, it was a miraculous dish.”
Xue Ji looked at Ming Yuan and said. “Little Ming, if you were to make this dish, would it turn out as good as this?”
Ming Yuan opened his eyes to look at Xue Ji. He shook his head, saying, “That’s impossible. The pivotal points of this dish lie in two areas. One area was knife skills, and the other was magic. That magic had scattered ice in just the right amounts to arouse the sweet fragrance of the cucumber. I definitely cannot do that. If I used the ice being brought into town the day after tomorrow, the flavor would be far different. What’s more, who could make that formation of sugar cane ice powder? Only his master could have thought of using magic in the kitchen.
“How wonderful, a magic cook! He will become a leading figure in the culinary arts world. Really, cooking has no limit. I still have much I need to learn.”
Xue Jing’s eyes flickered with a strange light. She mumbled, “I really didn’t think he was actually a chef and entered the Pure Wind House because he wanted to learn about cooking through interacting with other cooks. I never realized such a cheap vegetable like a cucumber could be made into something so delicious. If he helped us, maybe our Pure Wind House would become better. Father, can we ask him to come back and aid Uncle Ming?”
Xue Ji heard his daughter’s words and felt his heart stutter. He turned his head to look at Ming Yuan, who sighed lightly. “Big brother, if he really wants to come, then I would give him the position of senior chef. Although he isn’t that old , he has already reached such a height. However, you guys all heard what he said before. His ambitions are great. No way would he be content to hold such a small piece of territory. I’m afraid there is no way he would agree to stay.”
Xue Ji sighed. He said, “The first time I saw him, I knew he stood out from the crowd, yet I never thought his speciality was actually cooking. No matter what he said, I will do my utmost to try. This so-called person must listen to the mandate of heaven. If he really has no desire to stay, then at the very least I will have gained a friend. Oh, that’s right. Little bro Ming, who IS his master?”
Ming Yuan’s eyes let out a reverent air. He said, “Big bro, you should’ve heard of the Five Great Chef Gods of the culinary world.”
Xue Ji nodded his head. “Of course I’ve heard of them. I studied them in my early years. It’s a pity that the Five Great Chef Gods seem to have become hermits. There is no way to get them as a chef. You brought up the Five Great Chef Gods. They should be Demon, Strong, Camel, Spirit, Mysterious.”
Ming Yuan said, “That’s right, that’s them. The Mysterious Chef God is the one who ranked them. Is this ranking according to seniority and points? Although the Five Great Chef Gods are tied in ranking, they do have their differences That young man is the successor of the Demon Chef, first of the Five Great Chef Gods. From the very beginning, my master only made it this far after receiving the help of Senior Demon Chef. Master has always regarded Demon Chef as his benefactor, but at the same time his own master. Master’s age is greater than Senior Demon Chef’s by not just a little, but whenever he brings up this Greatest Demon Chef, he speaks with such reverence. It’s just a pity that after that incident, Senior Demon Chef left the culinary world. Since then, there has been no word from him.
“I did not expect that his disciple had actually come out to the world. Compared to Senior Demon Chef, he is probably worse in his temperature technique, but he also has the advantage of magic. I believe that after several years of experience, it will not be difficult for him to attain the previous peak of Senior Demon Chef’s achievements. He may even surpass him.”
Xue Ji’s eyes exuded an extremely surprised feeling. “Demon Chef, he is actually Demon Chef’s disciple. Ai, I was really too silly. I let go of such a person without knowing his worth. If my peers knew that Demon Chef’s disciple was actually at our Pure Wind House cutting firewood, I can’t even imagine how they would laugh at me. Jing’er, go and prepare lavish gifts. We will pay a visit to the Mage Association and apologize.”
Xue Jing, extraordinarily, did not get angry. She nodded softly and left from the back of the main hall.
Luo Rou and Long Ling exchanged a look. Luo Rou said to Xue Ji, “Uncle Xue, we are going back. Nian Bing was actually a chef, which was extremely contrary to what I expected. I flaunted myself as intelligent, but I’ve lost twice to him already. It seems that this Wise Girl nickname should be revoked. We’ve troubled Uncle and Jing Jing. Goodbye, Uncle.” Luo Rou’s heart was more complicated than Xue Jing’s at this time. Nian Bing used this move as verification. The bet had been lost, yet Luo Rou did not have the slightest feeling of regret. She had been sincerely convinced of her defeat. It was time to make good on their deal.
Nian Bing walked along the main thoroughfare of Ice Snow City. Since he had left Peach Blossom Forest, this was the first time he had exerted all he had to make a dish. Right now, his mood was extremely good. Not only was it because he had resolved the matter between Xue Jing and Luo Rou, but it was even more so because he had discovered that his increased knowledge of magic had additional applications in cooking. When he was making the Nine Mysterious Dragons Concealed in Clouds of Ice, his magic had been used to achieve an intangible realm. Although it was only the lowest ranked ice magic, using it to such a degree made him extremely satisfied with himself. Besides temperature control, which, compared with his master, he was still far from reaching, he had become one step closer to integrating magic with cooking. The art of cooking was now within his reach. He did not need to repeatedly practice over and over again to raise his strength. Right now, he need an opportunity, an opportunity to raise his comprehension.
While walking, a wheel behind him suddenly made a sound. Nian Bing subconsciously stepped to the side, but discovered the carriage he had been riding before had stopped next to him. Luo Rou leaned out of the carriage. With something strange in her voice, she said, “Great Chef, get in. I will send you home.”
Nian Bing smiled slightly and didn’t refuse. He stepped onto the vehicle. Long Ling, at this time, sat in the innermost part of the cart. She lowered head and did not look at him.
“I will be troubling you again, Miss Wise Girl,” Nian Bing said politely.
Luo Rou said with an ill-temper, “Are you mocking me? Relax, a loss is a loss. I will fulfill the agreement. Go ahead and tell me your demands.”
Nian Bing stared blank before saying, “I never wanted you to promise anything. It was just a joke, no need to regard it seriously.”
Luo Rou snorted and said, “If you agree to a bet, you must accept a loss. Since I have already lost, then naturally I will fulfill my promise. Who told you it was a joke? Although I’m a girl, I will not cower and hide.”
Nian Bing laughed and shook his head, saying, “There’s no need. I honestly do not have anything to ask of you.”
Luo Rou’s eyes exuded a strange light. She said provocatively, “Didn’t you ask me at the beginning, ‘if your condition is to marry you what would happen?’ You can go ahead and ask that of me.”
Nian Bing was shocked. He smiled, saying, “No, I don’t desire to be jumped from behind and killed by a group of your followers. What’s more, aren’t you already engaged?”
Luo Rou said, “Do you not dare? It’s just having a fiance—I haven’t married anyone. You can pursue me. If you use your favor, then naturally, I will give you an opportunity.
Nian Bing stared blankly. It looked as though Luo Rou was serious. He extended an arm in front of Luo Rou and said, “Pinch me and tell me I’m dreaming. Miss Wise Girl actually took the initiative to ask me to pursue her. It’s hard to believe.” Luo Rou giggled and used her full strength to pinch Nian Bing’s arm. Nian Bing suffered from the pain, immediately pulling his arm back. He said bitterly, “You didn’t need to use that much force.”
Luo Rou snorted. She said, “Who told you to hide yourself this deeply, to the point where even I had been fooled? This is still light; I cannot wait to kill you. Does beating me feel good?”
Nian Bing’s heart trembled slightly. He nodded his head and huffed out a laugh and said, “I have to admit, it really is a feeling of accomplishment. Yet, I won’t say it was a very noble accomplishment.”
Luo Rou glared at him, saying, “You can make the condition now. Don’t tell me you aren’t attracted to me at all?”
Upon looking at Luo Rou’s crystal clear blue eyes, Nian Bing suddenly understood many things. Luo Rou was not actually looking at him. Rather, she wanted him and her to renew the battle from the dance floor. If he made the condition to pursue her or even to take her as a wife, then maybe the trouble to follow would be even more difficult to deal with. What a wise girl. As expected, she wasn’t simple. Her competitive spirit surpassed that of a man. Since he’d already understood this, how could he be fooled? “Miss Wise Girl, my condition you must abide by has already been fulfilled.”
Luo Rou was temporarily stunned, but quickly understood. She stared at Nian Bing and said, “You rogue.” Nian Bing had asked her to pinch him before, but was that considered a proper condition?
Nian Bing adopted an innocent expression. He said, “A rogue? I won but didn’t make things difficult for you, yet you even called me a rogue. Honestly, there mustn’t be a heaven. I see how it is; I better get off the carriage.”
Finally, Luo Rou could not keep up her cold attitude. She said, annoyed, “You sit down. You’re not allowed to move. Do you need to be so guarded against me? Don’t tell me I’m as scary as a severe flood and ferocious beasts?”
Nian Bing smiled and said nothing in response. He sat down and didn’t utter a word for the rest of the trip. In front of Luo Rou was a handsome youth, unmoved by force or persuasion. Even if she was filled with intelligence, there was no chance for her to use her abilities. She could not help but become angry.
For the rest of the way, the three did not open their mouths at all. The carriage settled to a stop in front of the Mage Association entrance. Nian Bing was the first to descend and helped Long Ling, still deep in thought, to descend smoothly. To Wise Girl, still in the carriage, he said: “Thank you very much for the ride, miss. May fate bring us together again.”
Luo Rou said fiercely, “Nian Bing, remember this: I am not finished with you. One day, we will meet each other again. Go!”
The carriage sped away. Nian Bing could not help but shake his head. “A woman’s heart is as unfathomable as the ocean floor. I really cannot see through it. I think there isn’t any more animosity between us, so why does she always make things more difficult for me?”