Chapter 10.3 – Pure Wind House
Nian Bing voiced out his agreement. He followed the black clothed servant along the small houses made of stone and went deeper into Pure Wind House. The further he went in, the more it exuded a refined atmosphere. Each place was well decorated which showed the owner’s originality. There was nothing missing in the arrangement of the regular and open-sided pavilions. It gave people an impression of beauty which was simple and elegant.
The servant led Nian Bing out to the front courtyard. They arrived next to a house and walked inside until they reached the door of a room. The servant respectfully said, “Head Steward, are you here?”
A clear and sonorous voice sounded out. “Come in.”
The servant turned towards Nian Bing and gave him a meaningful glance. Then pushed the door open and entered with Nian Bing. The room was very clean. It was connected to two bedrooms. The interior of the bedrooms couldn’t be seen. However, from the outside, it appeared to be brimming with a scholarly feel. Several calligraphy paintings were hung on the wall. On the wide wooden desk, with a carving of flowers, there were all kinds of stationery items. A man that appeared to be more than thirty years old sat behind the desk with his head lowered as he wrote something. He was dressed in a white chang pao. Although Nian Bing could only partly see the man’s face, he appeared surprised. Even though this man’s appearance was ordinary, he possessed an extraordinary temperament. In his simple and elegant appearance, there was grandeur. ‘Head Steward, Pure Wind House’s Head Steward, huh?’
The servant faced the middle-aged man and said, “Head Steward, Miss brought this man back. She said to let him go to the firewood house to help. I led him here so that you could register him.”
The white clothed man lifted his head to look at Nian Bing and their eyes met. From this man’s pleasant pair of eyes, which gleamed like brilliant rays, Nian Bing could see the two words “wise” and “farsighted.” In his mind he gloomily thought, ‘This person will not be easy to deal with.’
The white clothed man slightly blanked as he looked at Nian Bing’s handsome appearance and tall build. He asked, “What are you called? Where are you from? What can you do?”
Nian Bing replied, “I’m called Nian Bing. I originate from the Harmonic Flower Empire. I’ve been learning to cook for a while.”
The white clothed man slightly smiled before speaking. “Then, what cooking academy did you attend?”
‘Again with the cooking academy. If I had the opportunity, I truly want to go and see what theses cooking academies are teaching.’ Shaking his head, Nian Bing told the truth. “I didn’t attend any cooking academy.”
The white clothed man spoke. “Little Four, take him to the place where he can get his uniform. Do as the Young Lady said and bring him to the firewood house to work as it was intended. If you do well, I can reconsider grooming you into a junior chef.”
Little Four respectfully said, “Yes, Head Steward. You, follow me.”
After Nian Bing changed into the cyan colored uniform Little Four gave him to try on, he was led into a small courtyard in the rear court. Inside the small courtyard, many piles of wood could be seen. Some were already properly chopped and neatly stacked together. Beyond the area of the pile of firewood, there was a shed. It was clear that they fear the firewood would get soaked by the rainwater. Just as Little Four entered the small courtyard, he started yelling, “Uncle Li, Uncle Li! I brought a new person.”
A loud and clear voice sounded out. “Ah! A new person came. That’s good. My weary old body can finally relax a bit.” Followed by his voice, a man came out wearing the same cyan colored uniform as Nian Bing. It was a tall old man more than fifty years of age. He had a common appearance with not many wrinkles on his face and carried a hatchet in his hand. His face was bearing a smile. He seemed very easy to get along with.
Uncle Li’s gaze fell on Nian Bing. He looked at Nian Bing up and down, sizing him several times. “Hum! Your body looks pretty good. I just don’t know if your body can endure the hardships. The firewood that the entire Pure Wind House uses, comes from here and is all chopped by me. Young fellow, if you’re not capable of finishing the work, you have to do overtime.”
Nian Bing smiled and said, “Greetings Uncle Li. You can rest assured it’s not a problem for me to do manual labor. I came from a family with hardships.”
Uncle Li smiled and said, “That’s good! Little Four, you can go back. Just hand him over to me. In the future, with a new employee like you, we have to strive hard together so that I can avoid finding others to come and help. We must provide for the kitchen first and foremost. Come! I’ll bring you to your place.”
Little Four left. Nian Bing followed Uncle Li to a house in a corner of the small courtyard. The house had three rooms. Uncle Li said, “Originally, the workload of supplying chop firewood needed three people to be accomplished. Ever since that Grand Pavilion opened, it divided part of our business and as a result, there’s just me, one person, carrying on all the work. At times when I have more work than I could handle, I had to find someone capable for help. You stay in the right side of the house. The room in the middle is a mess and I’m not good at cleaning.
Even someone who just chopped firewood had his own room. ‘The Pure Wind House’s way of operating is indeed pretty good.’ Nian Bing thought so as he walked to the right side of the house with his bundle wrapped in a piece of cloth. He put it down and immediately walked back out.
Uncle Li was waiting for him at the entrance. “Young fellow, have you ever chopped firewood before?”
Nian Bing chose to nod his head. He could be considered a veteran when it came to chopping firewood.
Uncle Li smiled and said, “You can be at ease since it’s unlikely I will bully a new employee. In the future, we’ll split the work between us. All of us at Pure Wind House have to pay particular attention to our work, even us, wood choppers. The logs are delivered by someone. When it comes to chopping, you have to make sure to cut them as evenly as possible. You should watch what it looks like.” While speaking, he pointed his finger next to a pile of wood. “That’s just today’s work which I’ll finish next. You can just stay and watch. You will start working tomorrow and help share the workload. Oh, right! What is your name? Who recruited you here?”
Nian Bing briefly narrated everything that happened earlier on the main street. Listening until the end of Nian Bing’s story, Uncle Li smiled and said, “Although the Young Lady has a violent temperament, she still possesses an excellent character. You should be at ease. Even though we only chop firewood, our salary is still pretty good with provided food and accommodation. Furthermore, our income every month is one gold coin. It could be say that chopping firewood is the most blessed work. What’s more is that as long as we chop all the required firewood every day, the rest of our time can be regarded as free time. We can go outside for strolls using the back door.”
Nian Bing smiled at Uncle Li introducing Pure Wind House while examining the surroundings. With Uncle Li’s explanations, he gradually had a rough understandings of this place. Pure Wind House occupied an area a little bit smaller than the Grand Pavilion, yet, by relying on the use of various elegant sceneries, they were able to keep their customers. If compare with the Grand Pavilion’s number of retained customers, it was a bit more. From the front of the firewood house, the Kitchen was not too far away. Every day, the Kitchen would send someone over to take the firewood. Only during meal times, would we see those chefs coming. According to Uncle Li, the meals that the servants of Pure Wind House ate were pretty good, even though it was made by junior chefs. It also had meat and vegetables, which was a generous bonus.
“Uncle Li, I’m chopping next. You can rest for a moment.” Nian Bing took the hatchet from Uncle Li’s hand and then took a log. The hatchet started to sink into the wood. He slowly descended the hatchet down several times in succession and eight identical pieces of firewood was produce. Uncle Li praised him. “You really are capable, Nian Bing. Looking at how skilled your hands are, you must have practiced chopping a lot of times. When I think back, the Young Lady truly has given me a good helper.” Having Nian Bing as a helper, he was very happy and even his speech changed a lot.
Nian Bing wrily smiled and said, “If I calculate, I have chopped firewood for eight years. Uncle Li, I heard from Little Four and the Young Lady’s conversation about someone called the Great Mage Long Ling looking for her. A Great Mage must be very powerful.”
Uncle Li lightly nodded his head with sincerity and said, “Of course they are powerful, and not just the normal kind of powerful. With the purpose of overtaking the Ice God Pagoda’s position, our Ice Moon Empire’s Mage Association’s headquarters has established itself in Ice Snow city. I heard that Miss Long Ling is the daughter of the Mage Association’s president. Despite her very young age, she seems to have already reached the Great Mage’s realm. Our Young Lady is on good terms with her as her confidante.”
Ice Moon Empire’s Mage Association’s headquarters was in Ice Snow city. For Nian Bing, the information that just came was extremely useful. Although he didn’t know what level his magic power had reached, he should also be close to the realm of Great Mage. Right now, what he lacked the most were Ice Magic books. Ice spells were extremely significant since their magic power was high. Even the spell activation didn’t affect the power. Although he relied on fire magic spells, he was able guess some of the low level ice magic spells. However, each spell above third rank had their own characteristics. It was in vain to have ice magic ice from head to toe if one didn’t have any spells. This kind of feeling wasn’t comfortable. If he could go into the Mage Association to look at the Magic books, it would greatly help him.
With Nian Bing’s assistance, it didn’t take very long to complete today’s task of chopping firewood. Previously, when Uncle Li was chopping firewood, Nian Bing had carefully observed the speed he used to chop them. Therefore, the time he took was maintained to almost the same as Uncle Li. Although the cut firewood was even, it was not at all similar to the time in Peach Blossom forest where he was seeking some sort of perfection. After waiting half the time it normally took to chop wood, two people dressed in the white uniforms of cooks came to take away a portion of the firewood.
Uncle Li laughed out loud and said, “You are so different, truly a hardworking young man. Your speed of chopping is not much different than my usual time. Look at the sky, it’s getting late. It’s almost time to eat supper.”
Nian Bing said, “Uncle Li, I won’t be eating here today. I barely arrived at Ice Snow city. I want to walk around and buy some items for my everyday use on the way.”
Uncle Li was a frank, straightforward person and didn’t have many questions. He informed Nian Bing where the back door was located and allowed him to go out.
When he left Pure Wind House, Nian Bing’s eyes flashed. Since he already knew that the Ice Moon empire’s Mage Association’s headquarters was here, he had to go take a look first. At least, he would try to inquire what the conditions were to be able to read the information there. Full of anticipation, he followed the main street and casually tried to ask someone where the Mage Association was located.