Chapter 1.3 – Hunt of the Ice and Snow Worshipper
The white congee’s sweet fragrance mixed with the green vegetable’s clean freshness, these two distinct flavors complemented each other perfectly. After he downed the bowl of congee, Nian Bing felt a bit of his strength recover and his spirit had very much improved. This common vegetable congee gave him such a refreshing, pleasant feeling on his lips and teeth. It’s basic taste was extremely satisfying. He could not help but receive a favorable impression of Zha Ji.
“Grandpa, thank you. That congee was delicious. Did you make it?” Nian Bing asked curiously.
A sad expression flashed from Zha Ji’s eyes, “Currently, I can only produce this kind of ordinary dish.”
“Ordinary? In what way? This vegetable congee is the most delicious thing I’ve ever ate. The taste is truly wonderful. It’s… It’s even better than what mother used to make, their flavors are absolutely incomparable.” Mentioning his own mother, Nian Bing’s eyes couldn’t help but turn red. An intense hatred emitted, Zha Ji couldn’t help but be secretly fearful.
“Child, I still don’t know your name, what is it? How did you fall into the water? Where is your family?”
Nian Bing’s whole body became rigid. Although he is only ten years old, he had spent his entire life following his father traveling east and west. Compared with children of the same age, he is much more mature. His father has already told him that when he meets a stranger, to only say a third of the truth. Two years ago, he accidently revealed them, causing them experience an additional month of pursuit. After that month, he clearly understood this. Lowering his head, he said: “I think my name is Nian Bing. I don’t really remember anything else.”
Nian Bing was only ten years old, but in front of this old Zha Ji, how could these words possibly be convincing? However, Zha Ji didn’t ask about it. Instead, he said with a faint smile: “My name is Zha Ji, you can call me Grandpa Zha. You said you’ve already forgotten everything. Then do you have a place to go to?”
With great difficulty, Nian Bing resisted letting his tears flow. He shook his head. “I don’t know where I should go.”
After seeing Nian Bing’s sorrowful appearance, Zha Ji’s heart couldn’t endure it. “Forget about it. Child, I know you have a within your heart that you don’t wish to speak of it. Grandpa won’t force you. If you wish, then you can stay here for the time being. In any case, this peach blossom forest only has one resident.”
Nian Bing suddenly opened his large eyes and firmly said: “No. Thank you Grandpa Zha, but I must leave. You have already saved me. I can’t involve you.””
Zha Ji wrinkled his eyebrows. “By saying such, there are people aiming for your life. What kind of cruel men are they? They won’t even let a child as small as you get away. During your sleep, you unceasingly shout for you father and mother. Don’t tell me…. Your parents have already run into misfortune?”
No longer able to hold back his tears, Nian Bing bitterly cried, flowing down his face. Zha Ji quickly embraced him to his chest and consoled him. “It’s fine now. Everything has already past. You must be frightened. This place of mine is a well-kept secret, it is a so-called forbidden area. Normal people can’t come here. First you should calm down, At least wait until your body has recovered before you think about departing. Go back to sleep. At night, Grandpa will give you something good to eat.” Pacified by Zha Ji, Nian Bing entered the land of dreams once more.
When the ten year old Nian Bing woke from his dream once more, he state of mind was already completely stable. Originally sunshine had entered from outside the window, but it was already dark. The birds had also returned to their nests to rest, and his surroundings have become quiet.
Sitting up from the bed, Nian Bing discovered that he was wearing a set of loose, rough, plain clothing, clearly belonging to Zha Ji. He moved his body for a bit, it seemed he was no longer very tired. He quietly opened the door and walked softly outside. His surroundings were pitch black, it was impossible to clearly see the environment around him. Night’s fog filled the air, producing a bit of a chill. He unconsciously tightened his clothes. He then walked over to the illuminated room on the side. His foot had unintentionally hit something and made a sound.
“Nian Bing? Come in.” Zha Ji’s voice came from the room.
Nian Bing pushed the door and entered. It was simple room slightly larger than his. Looking at the bright lamp, he saw that Zha Ji had a book in his hand. When Zha Ji saw Nian Bing come in, he put his book to the side and said with a smile, “Let’s go, Grandpa will bring you to the kitchen. Everything is already prepared. Only have to warm it up.”
At this moment, Nian Bing discovered that Zha Ji had an extremely tall body, but his back was somewhat hunched. Holding Nian Bing’s narrow shoulder, Zha Ji led him to out of the room and said while walking, “In this small courtyard of mine, I was the only one that lived here. Now that you are here to keep me company, I am less lonesome. Come, see what delicious food Grandpa prepared for you.”[TL Note: Think of a Chinese courtyard style house like this, but much smaller. ]
The kitchen is five meters to the side of the two bedrooms. It was an isolated room. When Nian Bing followed Zha Ji there, he was surprised to discover that the kitchen was larger than the two bedrooms combined.
Zha Ji lit an oil lamp. The long table to the side had many dishes covered by a wooden lid. The wood covers were weaved from rattan. You could clearly see the green vegetables on top of the plates through the small gaps.
Zha Ji lifted the covers, revealing four plates of green vegetables. The four dishes’ appearances were all distinct. It looked as if they were created with a simple cooking technique. Zha Ji walked to the stove’s side and stopped, striking the flint. With his trembling hands, he tried to start a fire with uneven pieces of firewood. “I already finished the dishes a while ago. Unfortunately, it’s gone cold. Lets warm it up. Although it’s flavor lessened, it shouldn’t be too much worse.”
Nian Bing surprisingly discovered that Zha Ji’s hands continuously trembled. Although the flint had sparked, because of Zha Ji’s exceptionally unsteady hands, it was difficult to light the firewood. Nian Bing cutely hurried over, and said, “Grandpa, let me help you.”
Zha Ji sighed, wearing a sad expression on his face, and handed the flint to Nian Bing. “I’m old, truly old. I should’ve used the oil lamp to light it. Who would’ve thought that man once known as the Demon Chef currently couldn’t even light a fire. Everything has already become the past.”
Nian Bing didn’t take the flint. Neither did he pay attention to Zha Ji’s words. He completely focused his spirit and softly said, “Passionate flame elements, I request of you, condense into a blazing radiance, bring warmth to this world.” His voice wasn’t smooth, but let out an unusual tone, a resonating tone. His small hands extended toward to stove, and a small red flame rose. Although the flame wasn’t especially bright, it caught onto the stove’s firewood. Once it had ignited, Nian Bing stood up.
Dumbstruck, Zha Ji looked at Nian Bing and murmured, “Magic, this is fire magic. Great Gods! Could it be you have intentionally delivered this child to my side? Thank you! Thank you! At last my wish is fulfilled, this is too great!” He cheered without rhyme or reason, and couldn’t help but look at Nian Bing a bit dazed. At this moment, it seemed as if Zha Ji’s back was no longer humped, his body stood straight and tall. He excitedly cheered toward the ceiling.
“Grandpa, Grandpa Zha, what caused you to become like this?”
Zha Ji returned from above, grabbing Nian Bing’s shoulders with his hands, and excitedly said, “Child, you are a mage, right? Quickly tell Grandpa that you are a fire mage.”
Nian Bing’s body shook. He had just realized he had revealed that he was capable of magic on a whim. He shook his head with much force, “No, I’m not. I.. I’m not.”
“No, you are.” Zha Ji said verifying, “Child, be at ease, grandpa has not a bit of malice toward you. I am just extremely happy. You are so young but you are unexpectedly already a mage. This is a gift granted to me from the Heavens.”
Nian Bing seemed to have recalled what happened at the Ice God’s Pagoda, and emotionally shouted,” No, I’m not. I’m not.”
Zha Ji realized at this moment, the somewhat rehabilitated Nian Bing had been upset by him, to a point he was somewhat unable to bear and hurriedly said, “Child, listen to me speak. First let me finish. Look at my hands.” He let go of Nian Bing, turning his hands over and showing his wrists.
Nian Bing had understood Zha Ji’s words and unconsciously looked at Zha Ji’s wrists. “Ah…..” On Zha Ji’s wrists resided a scar on top of his wrinkly veins. A deep scar about a centimeter thick. Although the cut had healed long ago, the scar is an existence that shocks the eye and astonishes the heart. The cut had left a sunken depression, leaving a dark purple. It appeared extremely frightening.