Chapter 2.2 – The Demon Chef, Zha Ji
“No.” Nian Bing suddenly said, “Grandpa, you’re wrong. She did nothing more than a cheap trick. Her cutlet is the limit of what she could achieve with her magic. She could only comprehend to use it on the meat itself. Also with the distinct combustion of fire magic, it naturally resulted in its unusual flavor. If you could also use magic, then your dishes would be much better compared to hers.” Father had told him many times before, that although the magnitude of magic power is important, magic control is as equally crucial. With great magic control, you could achieve the same or even greater results with the same degree of magic power.
Zha Ji sighed and said, “That’s right. Later on, others have also told me this. However at the time, as a man, I had to accept a loss as a loss. She asked me if the wager was still valid. I said that it certainly was. That is why in front of everyone, I proclaimed my title “Demon Chef” was hers. At the same time, I used my own kitchen knife to sever my own hand tendons to express my own withdrawal from the culinary world. Then I came here. I’ve already lived here for ten years. It should now be clear why I was so excited when I saw you use magic. If I had also been able to use magic at the time, my culinary arts would have surely reached a new realm. If I had been able to use magic, perhaps she would have already become my wife. It made me remember something most profound. It was the expression on her face when I had severed my own hand tendons. It was a complicated expression. From center of her beautiful eyes, I saw regret. But it was no use. For my own honor, I had to do it in that way. No one could stop me. From that day on, the Demon Chef Zha Ji disappeared from the stage of the culinary arts and a new Demon Chef was born. Just as I was about to depart, she unexpectedly sought me out and said that was actually the only dish she could make. The only reason she accepted my challenge was because I had once before defeated her father in the Cooking God Competition. When her father was at death’s door, he still hadn’t forgotten about that match and wished for her to one have her culinary arts surpass mine. Her father’s dying words caused her to continuously strive toward that goal. However, she was a mage. Before then, she couldn’t cook at all. She clearly understood that to surpass me would be a near impossible feat. Therefore she choose to join the methods of magic and cooking. As a result, I lost. I lost everything. At that time she said to me, she only wanted to win honor on behalf of her father and that she hadn’t wished to harm me. I smiled and told her nothing mattered anymore. Just that one emotion caused my life to have this kind of tragic end. Leaving behind those words, I departed. After a dazed period of time, I decided to settle at this quiet, uninhabited place.”
Nian Bing was deeply engrossed into his tale, “Grandpa, then do you regret it?”
Zha Ji shook his head, “No. I don’t regret it at all. Although I had lost everything, I can finally see culinary arts expanding in a new direction. That is to combine magic with cooking. Combined with magic, the culinary arts can ascend to a higher realm. However, it is a pity that even though I know this, it is impossible for me. Also, many people rarely attempt this. After all, as a grandiose mage, who would want to be reduced to a lowly cook?”
Nian Bing nodded and said, “I understand. You want me to learn culinary arts from you, fuse my magic with the culinary arts, and become a magic chef, right?”
Zha Ji’s sorrowful mood vanished and he smiled benevolently. “Then, are you willing?”
Nian Bing lowered his head. At this moment, his eyes continuously flickered through various complicated expressions. He truly thought too much for the conduct of a ten year old child. However, Zha Ji couldn’t see his current expression. Quickly, Nian Bing decided. He lifted his head and looked at Zha Ji, “Grandpa, I am sorry. I cannot.”
Zha Ji had a faint light in his eyes, but it quickly disappeared. “En, Grandpa cannot force you. Now you’ve already heard Grandpa’s story. Could you let Grandpa hear yours? You were carried here with the river’s flow. How did that come to be?”
Nian Bing hesitate for a moment and said, “Grandpa, you saved my life. I really shouldn’t conceal this from you again. My father and mother were both mages. We were originally a happy family. However, not long ago, when we passed through the Bing Yue Empire’s region called something…. Jagged Pagoda Mountain, we came across many bandits. They wanted to loot our belongings but father and mother did not allow them to. They raised their hands at once. You would know that although mages possess their own abilities, they are at their greatest disadvantage when they are chanting spells. Although father and mother had destroyed a few enemies, but finally… they had finally….” Saying this, Nian Bing bitterly wept.
Normally, Zha Ji would have certainly realized that Nian Bing’s crying was secretly targeted at him. However, he had just finished narrating his life’s story and his mind was still immersed in the memory of that competition. In addition, the day had darkened. Therefore, he could not take note of these small details.
Nian Bing’s lie did include pieces of truth. At the time, when he followed his father through Jagged Pagoda mountain, they did come across many bandits that tried to rob them. However, his father’s magical prowess handled those bandits extremely easily. Jagged Pagoda Mountain is a famous bandit lair. Because of this reason, Zha Ji was already convinced of Nian Bing’s words. After all, how could a kind old man be wary of a child of only ten years?
“The Ice Moon Empire always had the Ice God’s Pagoda to protect it. I truly don’t know what those Ice God Pagoda Priests are doing. Jagged Pagoda Mountain could not become so evil within one or two days. They should have thoroughly exterminated those bandits earlier. Child, don’t be so heart-broken. Even if you do not wish to follow Grandfather and learn culinary arts, I will say it again, you can live here with peace of mind. Is that alright?”
he current Nian Bing was homeless, so he could only softly nod his head. His young mind was full of hatred towards the Ice God’s Pagoda. Ice God’s Pagoda, one day I shall return.
Zha Ji picked up a cup of water from the side, his hand trembling. Because he turned his back to Nian Bing, Nian Bing did not discover that some fine white powder had entered the water during the trembling. He handed over the water to Nian Bing. “Child, Why don’t you first drink some water? Grandpa will warm up some dishes for you.
Without any doubts, Nian Bing opened his mouth wide and drank cup of water.
Zha Ji’s expression was somewhat complicated. In his mind he seemed to be struggling about something. However, he had quickly decided and made up his mind.
After drinking the water, Nian Bing cutely placed the cup on the side before stretching his body. “Grandpa, how come you haven’t warmed up your food? Your food will definitely be delicious!”
Zha Ji sighed and said, “Forgive me, Nian Bing. Grandpa has no other alternative. You are my sole opportunity.
Nian Bing was shocked. He suddenly felt a spell of dizziness come over his body in a flash.
Zha Ji raised his head and looked at Nian Bing. His voiced deepened, “Look at me, Child. Look at my eyes. Right now you are tired, very tired. Relax your body. Relax everything. I am the person whom you trust most. Sleep. Sleep…”
Nian Bing gazed into Zha Ji’s eyes as his expression gradually became dull. Although his body was the same as before, he no longer wore an expression.