Chapter 24.1 – Nine Mysterious Green Dragons Concealed in Clouds of Ice
Nian Bing smiled indifferently and said, “Miss Rou’er, you only need to remember the condition when you lose to me. Come, let’s go in.”
After donning his mage’s gown, Nian Bing did not look like his previous self. The waiters and waitresses welcoming the guests at the door absolutely didn’t recognize him, but they did recognize Long Ling and Luo Rou. They hurriedly went to them and respectfully said, “Have the two ladies come to find our miss?”
Long Ling blanked for a moment, then she glanced at Nian Bing. Nian Bing said, “You can also call Miss Xue Jing here. I should take this opportunity to settle everything at once and also clear all the misunderstandings. Thus she won’t continue to misunderstand me.”
Long Ling nodded and said, “Then let’s go in.” The three of them followed the waiter into Pure Wind House lounge. Compared to the Grand Pavilion, the lounge here was many times smaller. However, the decoration was much more unique. Carved wood and ornaments could be seen everywhere. Without exception, all the tables were made of a special sculpted wood. A faint fragrance enveloped the whole lounge as soft music sounded from behind a curtain. The beautiful notes of the zither rang out softly, with the a single trace of discord.
Nian Bing praised the musician in his heart. It was his first time coming into the lounge. In his mind, Pure Wind House hadn’t attained success through pure luck. Every little detail, from the arrangements and the decorations to the overall atmosphere was the result of careful deliberations.
Nian Bing asked the waiter, “May I trouble you to invite Miss Xue Jing here? We came to find her for something.”
The waiter glanced doubtfully at Nian Bing. At this moment, he realized that this man seemed quite familiar. However, he didn’t remember where he could have seen him before. He had seen Nian Bing when he had still been chopping wood. However, clothes indeed make the man. How could the Nian Bing of before compare to the him right now? The waiter looked at Long Ling and Luo Rou, uncertain what to do. Luo Rou nodded to him and said, “Go tell Jing Jing that Ling’er and I have come, and tell her to come quickly.”
Luo Rou couldn’t wait to see what kind of cheap tricks Nian Bing had planned. Watching Nian Bing act with such self-confidence, she was suddenly truly looking forward to what he had to show. There weren’t many things that could make her excited in Ice and Snow City. She was used to planning and strategizing, and she could stage victory from thousands of miles away. Ever since Nian Bing had entered her life, she had encountered more and more surprises. There were rarely any dull moments, from the ice cream cake she had received on her birthday to her investigation of the Magic Reaper’s case. It made her increasingly curious about Nian Bing. Just when she thought that she knew everything about him, he suddenly told her that what she thought she knew was false. At this moment, her mood was extremely complicated, and she was itching to know the answer.
The waiter left, and Nian Bing pulled a chair and sat down. Then, with a gesture, he invited the two girls to do the same. Smiling, he asked, “What is it? Don’t you two want to sit down for a bit?”
Long Ling faintly smiled before replying, “We sat through the entire journey. I’ll just stand for a moment. I once heard Mother said that, if you’re a girl, always sitting will affect your height.”
Luo Rou walked to Nian Bing’s side. She bent down and whispered into his ear, “Jing Jing is going to come out soon. Have you thought of a way to resolve your conflict?”
Nian Bing had a calm smile and said, “Of course I’ve thought about it. Miss Wise Girl, I heard you are already engaged. Being so close to me, aren’t you afraid of people misunderstanding?”
Luo Rou was startled. Her gaze landed on Long Ling who was at the side. “What did you say to him? Ah ha! Ling’er, you’re not jealous, are you?”
Hearing her words, Long Ling’s charming face furiously blushed. “Rou’er, stop saying nonsense! Nian Bing and I are only friends. How can I be jealous? I only told him the truth to prevent him from falling into an unwanted situation.”
Nian Bing laughed and said, “Impossible, impossible! I have always been someone who knows his place. How can Ling’er misunderstand me like this?”
Long Ling glanced at him blankly, “I misunderstood you? I’m afraid that’s not right. I clearly remember someone giving a birthday present, and not letting anyone else but the birthday girl have a bite of it!” The way she said it, it looked exactly as if she was pouting in front of her boyfriend. In her beautiful eyes, waves seemed to surge. All the waiters who saw her gawked stupidly in place.
In his heart, Nian Bing inwardly said to himself, ‘It looks like Long Ling had a somewhat good impression of me! I’m afraid that I won’t be able to stay in Ice and Snow City for too long.’ Luo Rou giggled before saying, “You still say you’re not jealous? Hey! You should look at yourself.”
Long Ling turned extremely bashful. She was just about to retort when she heard a clear sharp voice, “Long’er! Rou’er! You all came to play! I was just feeling vexed because I didn’t know what to do. Very good! Since you’ve already come, let Uncle Ming cook us something good to eat. I only need to go pester him a bit and he will certainly agree to cook something for us.”
Along with the voice, a red silhouette came into sight. Nian Bing suddenly discovered that red was the color that fit Xue Jing the most. Her figure, draped in red, was like a passionate flame that could melt everything it touched.
Thanks to Long Ling and Luo Rou standing in front of him, hiding more than half of his body from Xue Jing’s sight, the latter hadn’t taken notice of him. Instead, she talked to Long Ling with surprise. “Ling’er, what’s going on? How come your face is so red? I hope you’re not sick!”
When Luo Rou, who was standing next to them, heard Xue Jing’s question, she immediately laughed so much that the embarassed Long Ling wished she could find a hole in the ground to hide into.
Nian Bing got up and timely helped Long Ling. “Miss Xue Jing, we meet again.”
Xue Jin’s attention was suddenly attracted by Nian Bing’s tall figure as he got up. Looking at him, Xue Jing’s expression changed greatly before she coldly asked, “It’s you, huh? Who let you enter our Pure Wind House? We’re just a small place that cannot serve such a big figure like you. Please leave! We don’t welcome you.”
Nian Bing didn’t care about her attitude and calmly smiled, “Miss Xue Jing must not misunderstand. Today, I came as a visitor. Since Pure Wind House is opened to do business, I think that you also have no reason to refuse a guest, much less a mage. Am I right?”
Xue Jing snorted and was about to say something when Luo Rou hurriedly interrupted, “Jing Jing, don’t take the previous matter to heart. Today, we followed him here to see how he’s going to make a fool out of himself. On my account. Can you give me some face?”
Xue Jing looked distracted for a moment before she doubtfully asked, “What’s going on?”
Nian Bing answered, “Miss Xue Jing, I think you will certainly want to know why I originally wanted to go to the Grand Pavilion before coming to the Pure Wind House to chop firewood, although I am a mage and wouldn’t necessarily need to do such job, I still did.”
Hearing those words, Xue Jing and Long Ling still felt nothing wrong, but Luo Rou’s heartbeat suddenly sped up. ‘That’s right! He’s such a clever person. He won’t do anything that he deems pointless. Since he entered the Pure Wind House to chop wood, he must have had his own reasons. It should not be as simple as only to conceal himself as the Magic Reaper.’ When she thought about it, Luo Rou finally felt that perhaps she had indeed lost the bet.
Xue Jing coldly snorted and said, “So, you’re the kind of person who came to our Pure Wind House with malicious intentions. I don’t know what goes inside your head to make you insist on going to chop firewood. It’s something a proper mage would never do. From what I see, you’re not an idiot. You actually have mental issues.”
Nian Bing calmly said, “That’s right! I came to your Pure Wind House for a reason but certainly not with ill-intent. You must all want to know why I accepted the job of a woodchopper. It’s very easy to understand the reason as I will soon let you all see why with your own eyes. Miss Xue Jing, can you please ask Master Ming Yuan to come out? In fact, he’s the real reason why I came to Pure Wind House.”
Xue Jing blanked for a moment before saying, “You came here because of Uncle Ming Yuan?” She really hadn’t expected this. Nian Bing’s answer was beyond her expectations.
Nian Bing faintly smiled. “It’s the truth. As long as you can invite Master Ming out, everything about me will be clear.”
Xue Jing pondered before she replied, “Alright, then. Please wait for a moment. Let me see what relationship you have with Uncle Ming. He may not be able to recognize you now that you’re like this.” As she finished speaking, her red silhouette turned around and left in a hurry.
Nian Bing turned to the waiter near him. “Since Pure Wind House is Ice Snow City’s best restaurant, I suppose that you have all kinds of tableware. May I trouble you to bring me a platter of one meter diameter? It mustn’t be deep. Could you also bring me nine cucumbers and three sugar canes? Many thanks. As for the rest of the money, think of it as gift.”
Although the waiter saw that the relationship between Nian Bing and Xue Jing was not exactly harmonious, Nian Bing had come along with Long Ling and Luo Rou. The waiter did not waste words, and immediately left to prepare everything Nian Bing had asked for.
Long Ling asked with astonishment, “Nian Bing, what do you want to do with such a tray? And what about the cucumber? Don’t tell me you want to ask Uncle Ming to cook for us in public? This is an impossible thing to do. Uncle Ming’s skills cannot be leaked outside!”
Nian Bing sighed before replying, “What do you mean, they cannot be leaked outside? If other people can learn from just looking, then it means they have the ability. If people attached too much value to something because it was theirs, then who knows how much heritage and tradition wouldn’t have been passed down to this day. Ling’er, don’t be impatient. You just wait and see.”
After a while, Xue Jing returned with Ming Yuan. As Xue Jing walked to Nian Bing, she asked, “Uncle Ming is already here. Now, can you explain why you came to Pure Wind House to find Uncle Ming?” While she spoke, her eyes looked mockingly at Nian Bing. “Were you looking for Uncle Shu only to pay your respects to him?”
Nian Bing smiled with indifference as he replied, “Why wouldn’t that be possible? This is what we call attaining eminence as an expert. Master Ming, I don’t know if you still remember that day when I recited the production formula of the Golden Aromatic Ring?”
When Ming Yuan looked at Nian Bing dressed in a mage’s magic gown, he showed a somewhat dumbstruck expression. He only shook off his stupor once Nian Bing asked him the question. As he looked at the young woodcutter from before dressed in a Great Mage’s clothes, suspiciousness crept into his voice as he asked, “You… How did you become a mage? On that day, I couldn’t look for you because of the lockdown of the city. After the situation was resolved, I had the time to go find you, but you had already left Pure Wind House at that time. Indeed, I did find it very strange that you knew about the formula recipe for the Golden Aromatic Ring. That recipe was something passed on by master from one generation to another. The key-points of the recipe were kept secret and outsiders couldn’t have possibly known them. That’s the reason why in other restaurants, even if they can serve the Golden Aromatic Ring, it’s still very different from the authentic Golden Aromatic Ring at Pure Wind House.”
Nian Bing smiled as he replied, “The formula was passed down to me from my master.” Master Ming, you’re very smart, so I’m sure you already understood.” At that moment, the waiter who went out to fetch the things Nian Bing had asked for came back. Walking towards Nian Bing, he held a platter in his hands.
Nian Bing extended his right hand and steadily received the platter before putting it on the table. The one meter in diameter platter almost covered the entire table. Nian Bing faintly smiled. “Now, I’ll give the answers to all your questions. Master Ming. Cooking skills are similar to how a boxer never forgets how to punch or how a singer never forgets how to sing. Amongst your kitchenware you must have a knife you’re most pleased with. I would like to borrow it for a moment.”
Ming Yuan’s expression changed as he coldly refuted, “Impossible! For a chef, the knife is akin his life. It follows the same principle as warriors with their weapons.”
Nian Bing kept his smile. “So, it’s like this? I believe your master must have told you that in the past there was once a person who help him when he needed it the most. What’s more, that person had imparted three great skills to him, which resulted in his reputation as the Kitchen Immortal to skyrocket.
When Ming Yuan heard these words, he was suddenly greatly alarmed. “How did you know?” His tone became different, wanting to know Nian Bing’s answer, since this matter was a big secret and his master had only told him about it and no one else.
Nian Bing smiled lightly before replying, “That’s because the one who helped Master Ling was my master.”
Ming Yuan’s body strongly trembled. “Your, your master is Demon…”
Nian Bing interrupted Ming Yuan with a wave of his hand. “Master Ming, could I borrow a knife to use?
There was respect in Ming Yuan’s eyes when he looked at Nian Bing. Ming Yuan looked at the cucumbers and the sugar canes on the platter and nodded. “It’s certainly possible.” Immediately, he took out a 35 centimeter-long dagger. Except for Nian Bing, everyone else couldn’t see where Ming Yuan had taken the knife out from.
Nian Bing took the knife. He examined the blade, which had a faint green light covering its edges, and praised it,“Such good knife! It’s truly the Kitchen Immortal’s treasured knife, the Immortal Beheader. It is said that this knife once chopped off an ox’s head so quick, blood hadn’t had the chance to stain the blade. This is truly a good knife!”
Ming Yuan stood there with both his hands on the side. “I wouldn’t dare accept such praise. This knife can only be served to highlight the greatness of your revered master’s True Sun Knife.” Ming Yuan no longer doubted Nian Bing’s identity ever since Nian Bing had spoken about the secret of his master’s skill , a secret only Ming Yuan knew. Besides, the mnemonic verses for the Golden Aromatic Ring was something Ming Yuan’s master had learned from his benefactor.
Nian Bing faintly smiled. He looked at his surroundings and caught sight of the three women’s gloomy state. He said with a smile, “I’m starting. Although the weather is now slowly turning colder, it’s still summer. Today, I will make a refreshing dish for you three ladies. I hope you will like it. Could you please step back for a bit? Thank you.”