Chapter 24.2 – Nine Mysterious Green Dragons Concealed in Clouds of Ice
At this moment, even the most simple-minded Xue Jing could tell that Nian Bing had changed. She was familiar with Ming Yuan ever since her father invited him to be a chef at Pure Wind House. She couldn’t fathom how much time and effort her father had spent to successfully convince Ming Yuan. Although, officially Ming Yuan was the head chef of Pure Wind House, but, in reality his influence exceeded his position. When her father, Xue Ji, saw him, even he would be respectful and would always treat Ming Yuan like a brother. This was the first time she saw Ming Yuan have such a respectful expression and the one who caused such an expression to appear was no other than the mysterious Nian Bing, the one who had upset her so much.
Nian Bing moved next to the table. He picked up some chopsticks and stacked them at the table’s leg in a neat and orderly pile. Then he took out all the cucumbers and sugar canes from the platter and piled them on top of the chopsticks. It was very clear that he didn’t want the ingredients to be dirtied by dust. Finally, he kept only one cucumber in his hand.
Nian Bing’s left hand held one end of the cucumber before slowly lifting it up. The waiter brought back nine cucumbers. The cucumbers weighed almost the same which met with Nian Bing’s request, but they all had different shapes. Nian Bing was staring at the cucumber and seemed to have completely forgotten about his surroundings. He only had his eyes on the green cucumber. In his right hand, he was holding Ming Yuan’s knife without moving.
Xue Jing looked at Nian Bing who was standing there strangely. She couldn’t help turning impatient. Just when she was about to say something, she was stopped by Ming Yuan with a shake of his head, hinting at her to not disturb Nian Bing’s concentration. Then, he himself resumed his observation as he watch attentively at Nian Bing’s hands, waiting with anticipation at Nian Bing’s next move.
At last, Nian Bing moved, to be precise, his right hand moved while his left hand kept holding one end of the cucumber as steady as a boulder. The knife in his right hand rose in the air and turned into a green light as it lightly cut the cucumber into 5 centimeters pieces with one swing.
Xue Jing almost laughed out, but she forced herself to keep her mouth closed and didn’t laugh out. ‘In the end after half a day of waiting, it was only just cutting a cucumber.’ However, she soon couldn’t even make a smile as Nian Bing’s wrist flipped and sliced the cucumber from one end to the other. The slices of cucumber were linked together, and what was most peculiar about that was that each slice was connected to each other by a tiny point which, according to common sense, shouldn’t be able to keep the slices linked together as each slice was too heavy and it should have broken already. But in reality, the points of connections were still holding together the slices of cucumber.
Ming Yuan exclaimed in surprise subconsciously, “The lotus roots may break, but the fiber remains joined!” As he realized the words he just said, he quickly covered his mouth. However, he was unable to hide the excitement sparkling inside his eyes. As a top-rated chef, how could he not feel anything when he watched such perfect cooking skills?
Nian Bing didn’t hear Ming Yuan at all. His mind was completely focused on the cucumber in his hand. Once again, the knife merely moved, but this time, it wasn’t like the two slow and unhurried knife slices. This time, the knife was like snow, with the flip of the wrist, the knife seemed to flutter in the air to the point that even Ming Yuan was unable to see clearly what Nian Bing was doing. He only saw slices of cucumber slowly falling down with each slice linked to each other by a point. Slowly the chain of slices became longer and longer, slowly reaching the platter, and occupying the center of the platter. As the bladelight continued to flicker, everyone looked on in complete rapture.
Luo Rou recalled the time when she saw Nian Bing cut her birthday cake. It was very clear that the knife technique he used to slice the cucumber was much more difficult than the technique he used to cut the cake. Not only were the cucumber slices thin and connected by a point, the most praiseworthy characteristic was how even the place of connection between the slices was without any damage or defect.
Finally, the cucumber’s head fell into the middle of the platter. The cucumber that was less than 30 centimeters long was now sliced into something that was more than 45 centimeters long and he didn’t even cut the whole cucumber. The knife in Nian Bing’s hand kept flickering with light as he continued to cut, making the cucumber’s chain longer and longer. His wrist shook and the knifelight froze for a moment before it cleverly slashed down behind the cucumber head once. Then, the knife continued to flicker as the cucumber chain slice continued to elongate. When the cucumber slices were able to circle the platter three times, Nian Bing finally reached the other end of the cucumber. He didn’t slice it further. Instead, he put the other end of the cucumber on the side on the platter.
In everyone’s eyes, towards such knife skills, they could only describe it as miraculous. The miracle continued with the second cucumber that Nian Bing had pick up at some point, but this time, the light in everyone’s gaze was clearly different. As the knife blade flickered and fluttered once again, everyone focused their sights onto the cucumber in Nian Bing’s hand, without being able to take off their eyes. Although Nian Bing cut the second cucumber the same way as he did with the first one, in the bystander’s eyes, the movements were much more vivid.
Similar to the first cucumber, the second one was sliced into a chain that coiled inside the platter three times. Nian Bing did the same for the third cucumber, the fourth one and so on, until there was no more cucumbers left. Luo Rou who had good eyes discovered with amazement that after Nian Bing had finished slicing the cucumber, a faint white mist could be seen on the layer of sliced cucumber.
In fact, since the beginning, no one took notice of that phenomena until Nian Bing started slicing the fifth cucumber. At that time, the whole platter was already covered with cucumbers and a faint white mist. The white mist covered the cucumbers, making their green color more fainted, making it looked extremely ethereal.
No one knew since when the owner of Pure Wind House, Xue Ji, arrived and stood behind his daughter because everyone’s state of mind was in daze by Nian Bing and no one noticed the arrival of Xue Ji. When Xue Ji saw the rapid flickerings and light trajectory of the knife,, he immediately followed suit with everyone else. As someone who had a Martial Master’s strength, he naturally was able to follow Nian Bing’s movements with his eyesight. From what he saw, the movements didn’t need much thinking to be executed. Looking at the elongated chain of sliced cucumbers, Xue Ji reached the conclusion that his power control couldn’t compare to Nian Bing. As for Nian Bing’s top rated knife skills that cut as if it was like drawing with a brush, it had reached such a great height that it was astonishing to see.
When all nine cucumbers were sliced, the whole platter was covered with nine coiling cucumbers that all looked the same. Surprisingly, all the cucumbers’ head were slightly raised and assembled together in the middle of the platter. The cucumbers were all spaced evenly without any errors, the same goes for the tail of the cucumbers.
A light flickered, going straight towards Ming Yuan. By reflex, Ming Yuan lifted his hand in protection, but what entered his hand was the knife’s handle.
“Master Ming, thank you for lending me your knife.” Nian Bing’s attention was already completely focused on the dish in front of him. His sight setting on the cucumbers as green as jadeite and the faint ice mist spiralling into the air. His hand went into his chest pocket where he took out a small pouch. It was the same pouch that contained the tools he used to make the pigeon dish for Feng Nu at Shui Huo Metal Shop.
Without even looking, he used his forefinger and middle finger to search the bag. As he pulled out his fingers from the cloth bag, a light flashed as a small knife no longer than 12.5 centimeters was taken out. The knife’s tip was extremely small and fine. The same goes for the knife’s edge, spine and handle as its were no longer than 6.3 centimeters. There was a faint blue light emitting from halfway across the blade and on the side of the blade was a sinister carving.
Ming Yuan took a deep breath and muttered to himself, “The Demonic Engraving God Knife!”
Nian Bing responded, “The work of the Gods hidden in blue flames. Engraving dragons, engraving phoenix with one wave of the knife, just like a demonic engraver.”
Ming Yuan glanced at Nian Bing. “The Demonic Engraving once out, who knows what it will strive?” As he looked at the Demonic Engraving, his eyes was brimming with respect.
Nian Bing’s sight rested on the nine cucumbers’ heads. “Demonic Engraving Knife, although it is good. It also depends on how it will be used in one’s hands. I hope I won’t disgrace my master’s name.” Suddenly, his waist bent as if it suddenly snapped and his thighs leaned on the table’s side. His whole body was bent 90° and was now above the table, facing the middle of the platter. His wrist slightly shook and, in a flash, nine blade lights could be seen. From the cucumbers’ heads, suddenly, many cuts could be seen on it.
Ming Yuan suddenly understood what Nian Bing wanted to do. His eyes were overwhelmed with shock. At first, his heart still had many misgivings, but, ever since Nian Bing’s first knife slice, he was very clear about one thing, he was far from being that youth’s rival.
At this moment, not only Ming Yuan, even Xue Ji forgot to breath. “Don’t tell me this is the legendary technique ‘Dancing of the Gathering Rain Dragon’? Heavens! Don’t tell me it truly exists?”
Soon enough, Xue Ji’s questions were answered by the reality in front of his eyes. From Nian Bing’s knife, the hidden blue light suddenly seemed like a cold flame pulsing between Nian Bing’s fingers. As the knife moved, Nian Bing softly recited, “As the demonic hand fell, the startled Heavens transformed. The finished carving billowed hundred of cycles. God’s work lasting through eternity. Today, it shall start to exist. The knife raised only to reflect the waning moon in the cold spring.” With each sentence that Nian Bing uttered, Xue Ji observed that the cucumbers’ head was placed in the middle of the platter. Amongst the unceasingly swirling of the ethereal blue light, more and more cuts were made while pieces of green cucumber were sent flying into the air. As Nian Bing ended his recitation on the word “spring”, he had made a total of 260 cuts, including the first nine cuts on the cucumbers’ head. In the short span of a few sentences, he was able to cut the cucumbers’ head so many times. All the green pieces of cucumber that were sent flying had now orderly and neatly landed in the middle of the platter forming an intriguing circular and deep green vein-patterned without the slightest deviation or anything out of place. There were also of same dimension. The most earth shaking thing was that on each piece of cucumber was something engraved on it.
What was engraved was nine green like jade carvings of a head where antlers sprouted out. Near the corner of the mouth rising to the top of the head were whiskers, under the forehead was a pearl. The nine heads engraved were clearly those of a dragon! The dragon head looked lifelike as if it was in high spirits and ready to swallow clouds and blow out fog.
That was the secret of the Demonic Engraving. Nian Bing sighed as he looked at the nine dragon heads. “Unfortunately, I still haven’t reach the peak of perfection of the Dancing of the Gathering Rain Dragons.”
Ming Yuan hurriedly asked, “What will happen if you had reach the peak of perfection?”
Nian Bing calmly smiled before replying, “Nine dragons will soar through the clouds in constant permutation.” As Nian Bing finished talking, both his hands grabbed on the platter and used a bit of effort to lift it from the table. He did it very carefully as if he was afraid that the design will shift with his movements.
At this time, Xue Jing and Long Ling were already dumbstruck, only Luo Rou’s gaze was still slightly relaxed, but there was a lot of things flickering through her gaze.
Nian Bing’s whole body emitted a layer of light blue light. The light followed his gaze and condensed itself on the table. A block of ice, the size of a human hand, appeared on the table. The surface of the ice cube was extremely brilliant and looked like a round disk, with a thickness of 2.5 centimeters. This was the most basic ice spell, but Nian Bing used it in such a way. Because his magic control was strong, it resulted into such a wonderful effect. It was absolutely stunning and was even comparable to a rank 4 magic spell.
He put down the plate once again, placing it right in the middle of that ice cube. He lightly give the edge of the platter a spin which unexpectedly started to slowly revolve on the ice cube. The Demonic Engraving reappeared. Every time the other end of the cucumber faced Nian Bing, an ethereal blue light flickered five times. After three spins, he made another 135 cuts, but from the point view of the spectators, it only seemed like his hand shook a few times. The dark green pieces of cucumbers fell and formed nine clouds making the nine lifelike emerald green dragons appeared as if they were ready to fly off.
As Nian Bing finished cutting the dragon tails, the nine cucumbers inside the platter seemed as if they transformed and turned to life, like nine azure dragons hovering between clouds and mist. The platter continued to spin around slowly. The nine azure dragons appeared as if they were frolicing between the clouds and mist, greeting each other as if they were interacting with each other in mutual respect.
Nian Bing wasn’t finished yet. He picked three sugar canes and the Demonic Engraving flickered again. The sugar canes’ skin were slice off and dropped outside of the platter. While the Demonic Engraving seemed as if it was fluttering, the sugar canes transformed into a glossy and white jade under the exciting slices of the Demonic Engraving. Only Ming Yuan knew what Nian Bing was doing. Xue Ji waited for everyone to become aware of it. The sphere of sugar canes seemed simple at first glance, but it very challenging for anyone to cut the sugar canes into a into a perfectly round and smooth sphere. However, Nian Bing had already given them a lot of things to be amazed of. At this moment, everyone’s mind was already numbed from shock and amazement.
Nian Bing gently and carefully placed the engraved sugar canes inside the dragon heads in the middle of the platter, completing the image of nine dragons each holding a pearl.
It was perfect. Except for being perfect, there was no other word that could describe such a dish inside everyone’s mind.
The platter once again rotated while Nian Bing picked up two more sugar canes. The blue light gathered inside his hand. For the first time, he didn’t peel anything. Instead he quickly grinded the two sugar canes against each other.
‘Sugar canes could be grinded? Won’t it become juice instead?’ However, the extremely frozen sugar canes didn’t turned into juice when grounded. It became milky white sugar cane powder that floated down. It carried a sweet scent and added a touch of elegance to the dish. As the powder fell, the ice mist rose, spreading out the fallen sugar powder in every nook and cranny of the platter.
The nine life-like azure dragons was soaring into the clouds, harnessing the mist while holding a pearl. The green color inside the platter didn’t became monotonous despite the lack of colors because the colors varied in intensity. The sugar canes’ pearls and ice mist were used as decorations. Everything was perfectly thought of.
Nian Bing clapped his hands while smiling calmly, before saying, “The cucumber’s sweet scent combined with the sugar cane sweet flavor, supplemented by the ice frost, are the most suitable to be used to ease the heat.”
Ming Yuan’s eyes were sparkling. “It is possible for you to tell me the name of this dish?”
Nian Bing calmly smiled as he responded, “Nine mysterious green dragons concealed in clouds of ice…”