Chapter 3.2 – A Chef’s Cultivation
Nian Bing said, “Why didn’t you say that earlier? You hadn’t said it clearly, how could you blame me? I’ve finished eating. I’m going to go out and exercise.”
Zha Ji helplessly said, “This time I will forgive you as I hadn’t given you an explanation. If you give another reply like that at noon, you won’t get an evening meal. You should go exercise now. Take that axe and go chop some firewood.”
Nian Bing looked in the direction Zha Ji’s finger pointed. He only saw a large axe in the corner with a handle nearly as tall as himself. The blade of the axe was about a Chi (a third of a meter) in length. Although it appeared to be somewhat rusted, he could still sense it’s sharpness. He nodded his head and said, “Master, I am going now. How much firewood do we need before I return?”
Zha Ji stared blankly. He had originally believed that Nian Bing would have surely complained once he saw that huge axe, but he hadn’t expected him to readily agree. He unconsciously asked, “Don’t you think this axe is too big?”
Nian Bing helplessly said, “I still have to go and chop wood even if it’s big! Now that you have me, just leave all the heavy manual work to me. It must be inconvenient with your hands. Rest well. Maybe your hand tendons will grow back in the future.” Saying this, he walked over to the large hatchet.
Hearing Nian Bing’s words, Zha Ji’s chest expanded as it once again felt as if something was residing in the center of his chest. His heart fluttered as a warmth that had been absent for many years reappeared.
The axe truly was heavy; he was barely able to drag it over using both his hands. Using such a heavy axe to chop wood could not be considered convenient.
Zha Ji said, “Nian Bing, you only have to chop a little firewood before returning, just enough for our livelihood. What I need you to do is to use that axe to split and chop the logs, nice and slender. To become a chef, one must have a robust body. At the same time, your knife handling must become reliable and steadfast through practice. Do you understand?”
Nian Bing nodded his head in understanding as he smiled and dragged the large axe outside.
“Wait a moment.” Zha Ji couldn’t help but break into a cold sweat when he discovered he had forgotten the most important matter. The Heavens have sent me such a great disciple with much difficulty. Even a hundred deaths could not redeem Zha Ji if Nian Bing lost his life because of his carelessness.
Walking out of the room, Nian Bing turned his head to look at Zha Ji, “Master, do you have something else?”
Zha Ji patted his stomach and said, “I have truly gone senile. You have just arrived and I forgot to introduce you to the state of affairs around here. This forest is called the Peach Blossom Forest because over seventy percent of the trees growing here are peach trees.
Nian Bing thought to himself, ‘Isn’t this nonsense? There aren’t any peach trees, so why would you call it Peach Blossom Forest?’ and asked, “How is it like that?”
[TL Note: Nian Bing doesn’t recognize those trees as peach trees.]
Zha Ji said, “The majority of peach blossoms here are a different kind. Do you know why there are no people here? That is because these kind of peach blossoms can secrete a type of poison that spreads through the wind. I named it Peach Blossom Miasma as its toxicity is absolutely fierce. If people or animals inhale it, they would immediately convulse and die. That is why this is one of the Ice Moon Empire’s forbidden areas. Not many creatures can live here apart from the few animals that possess an innate resistance. People definitely won’t come here. Therefore, you do not need to be afraid of any pursuit. ”
Nian Bing stared blankly for a moment, then said, “If the Peach Blossom Miasma is so poisonous, then why aren’t you affected?”
Zha Ji chuckled and said, “Did you already forget who your teacher is? I am a chef. There is no one who is sharper than me concerning everything that can be eaten. Although the Peach Blossom Miasma here is poisonous, it’s not like there aren’t any means to restrain it. There will always be something nearby to subdue anything extremely poisonous. In this forest there is a type of five leaf clover; you can use it to make a medicinal powder. After taking it, your body will be able to resist the peach blossom miasma; it would no longer have an effect you. Here, eat this and continue to do so for the next three months, and your body will naturally become immune. In the future you won’t have to worry about it.” Saying this, Zha Ji handed over a small porcelain bottle to Nian Bing.
The medicinal powder created from the five leaf clover tasted sharply bitter. After Nian Bing put it in his mouth, he nearly spat it out. With great difficulty he completely swallowed it down. Then he continued, dragging the axe towards the forest.
Walking into the Peach Blossom Forest, Nian Bing observed the surrounding environment. The air here was exceptionally fresh and clean and had the faint aroma of peach blossoms. The air was also very moist. This place should be beside the Azure River. There was only a small gap between each of the peach trees. Although Nian Bing wasn’t tall, he still had to be careful while walking as he definitely didn’t want to run into a peach tree.
The peach trees weren’t tall. Even after a decade, peach trees would remain the same. Nian Bing chopped at the leafy branches for firewood. Compared with common tall trees, these peach trees were much easier. However, Nian Bing was currently facing a problem. Even if those peach trees were short, he would still have to lift the axe. How could he pick up such a heavy axe like an adult at his young age?
Nian Bing had only managed to wear himself out and felt somewhat embarrassed facing the peach tree in front of him. He tried to chop at the branches several times, but all he could do was lift the axe a little from the ground. Strength was not a mage’s strong suit.
“If I can condense a blade of ice, maybe I can cut down the branches.” Nian Bing said to himself. However, although he possessed ice magic power, he had never practiced any ice magic incantations before. That’s why he didn’t have any suitable incantations. Even though he had magic power, he couldn’t do anything with it. Could it be that he had to use fire magic to burn it down? He had long been familiar with fire magic incantations and knew all the incantations from ranks one through eight. But that was useless, unless he wanted to burn the whole peach tree down.
This axe was truly too heavy for a child of only ten years. Nian Bing, whose mind far exceeded those of his own age, sat pondering against a peach tree. Break a few branches and bring them back? No, he couldn’t even chop firewood. Only after chopping a few branches could he return. But he couldn’t even lift the axe, how would he cut them down?
Suddenly, Nian Bing was struck by a bright idea. Although he couldn’t use ice magic, there was a kind of flame blade technique in rank two fire magic. Condensing fire elements, one could create a long, beautiful blade of flame. The flame blade’s attack potential was most concentrated at the blade’s edge. If used to chop wood, not only would the result be no good, but it would easily cause a wildfire. It’d be troublesome if the Peach Blossom Forest were to catch on fire. However, if this flame blade’s incantation were to be altered, fire would become ice. He didn’t know whether or not he could do it as his magic power was barely enough to use a few rank two spells. But he could give it a try, after all there was nothing to lose.
Nian Bing jumped up from the ground and threw the axe to the side without care. He took out his treasured Ice and Snow Goddess’s Stone from his bosom. With a slight smile, he pinched the stone with his thumb and forefinger and held it above his head. Concentrating, he chanted, “Ice elements, I request of you, condense into a large, sharp blade edge, and chop through the world’s bindings and chains.” The tone and intonation were completely similar to that of the execution of flame blade. He clearly felt the surrounding ice elements rapidly condense toward him, continuously resonating with the ice magic power within the left side of his body. A near transparent ice blade of exactly one Chi (a third of a meter) in length appeared in the air. Nian Bing exulted in his mind, knowing that he succeeded. He pointed his finger toward a large branch and said, “Go.”
The ice blade threw itself forward at his command. A ray of light flashed as the blade chopped at the branch, producing a fragment. The ice blade’s might was quite limited as his magic power was still not strong enough. Nian Bing was very excited nevertheless. He knew he had found a shortcut at last. Perhaps advanced spells possessed their own unique incantations; but the chants to elementary spells should mostly be the same. The ice blade had chopped a third of the way through the branch. Running to the branch while relinquishing control of the ice blade, he grabbed the branch with both hands and used all his strength to pull it down.
The branch snapped off jaggedly after he dragged it down, it wasn’t made of metal after all.
While continuously using the same method, Nian Bing soon surprisingly discovered that his ice magic power had exceeded his previous fire magic power by quite a bit. He obtained seven more thick branches after using seven ice blades in succession and his ice magic power was neatly consumed.