Chapter 4.1 – The Silver Feather Knight Regiment
[TL Note: Wood Knife is a machete-like cleaver.]
Pu, Nian Bing blew at the firewood. The firewood’s outer treebark fell to pieces on either side. The log of firewood turned into a perfect even sided octagon. Those eight cuts a moment ago were only to remove the bark and have the firewood become a regular shape. Only like this could he chop the firewood into even pieces.
His left hand did not need to hold the firewood. Nian Bing was very confident in cutting the wood. Although his plumpness affected his body’s flexibility, he still had the great assistance of his stability and strength. His plump face pouted, and the wood knife in his hand moved yet again. The wood knife was like a cool breeze, directly sweeping toward the firewood eight times, each producing a strip of wood. A fine line formed on the firewood as the knife separated from it, and the slices of wood laid down beside the tree bark.
While splitting the log, Nian Bing took extreme care; each cut was made with careful deliberation. The log of firewood appeared to fall into pieces. Surprisingly, the pieces were actually even. At least from the naked eye, they were difficult to distinguish from each other.
How much time does a log of firewood require? Normally, Nian Bing only needed to rapidly wave his knife many times, but today, he had to use half a day’s worth of time.
Zha Ji did not know when he had stood behind Nian Bing. He hadn’t uttered a word. Nian Bing, highly concentrating his spirit power, had not heard him approach. His entire consciousness was focused on the firewood in front of him. Every cut he produced passed through careful deliberation beforehand.
Zha Ji smiled with satisfaction. Not only is chopping firewood is great way to temper one’s strength, but it is also a great way to temper one’s knife work. Perhaps common chefs would feel the heavy wood knife was too unwieldy, but that would be because they could not control the humble wood knife well. The ability required to use it is extremely high. Using the wood knife to practice knife work, requires the mind, eye and hand to be completely united. Compared to simple hand strengthening, chopping wood with the wood knife is an exquisite task.
After the last chop, he lifted the knife, and it flashed a cold light. The sound of clapping came from behind him. Nian Bing used his sleeve to wipe his sweaty forehead and turned around, finding his master. “Master, the wood I chopped this time can be considered even.”
Zha Ji nodded and said, “Pretty good. Originally when I practiced chopping wood with the wood knife, only when I practiced for no less than three years did I initially succeed. You can now chop even pieces; this is proof that you’ve already reached the realm of Lesser Ascension.”
Nian Bing happily asked, “Then do I still have to chop wood in the future?”
Zha Ji’s complexion changed and seriously said, “You are still far too lacking. Although your chops can be considered even, they still aren’t completely even! Furthermore, your firewood pieces can still be cut even more thin. Besides, look at the amount of time you used. When will it be when you can completely chop up a log of thirty centimeters in diameter within three minutes? Only then will I recognize that you have passed.”
Nian Bing disappointedly said, “Then I must practice until when? Everyday you tell me the principles of cooking, the methods of cooking, yet you don’t let me truly practice through work. Like this, when will I finish my apprenticeship?”
Zha Ji faintly smiled and said, “Child, you must know that building the foundation is the most important. If you are anxious for quick results and don’t have a good foundation, you will forever be unable to reach the highest realm of culinary arts. Chopping wood is indeed dull and uninteresting, but it tempers your hands, eyes and mind. Certainly, any other method could not achieve this. After you master chopping wood with the wood knife, when we advance to your other studies, you will learn at twice the speed with half with work.” After saying this, he was in deep thought and it was as if his eyes gazed at the hairs of the firewood. “Consider the method of chopping firewood, it can equally be used for chopping up cooking ingredients. All ingredients are like firewood, each possessing their own characteristics and grains.”
Nian Bing’s heart moved. It was as if he had understood something. Actually, in his heart, he did not reject chopping firewood. Ever since he had chopped firewood for three months, he was surprised to discover that his spirit power had grown at an astonishing rate. This caused his control over magic to multiply several times over. His ordinary elementary magic was able to blossom more beautifully from his hands. His spirit power, magic power, and magic control power all complemented one another. His spirit power was exceedingly strong, enabling him to absorb magic elements even faster and easier and control his magic even more cleverly. Who would have thought that the simple act of chopping firewood would actually produce such a large benefit?
Zha Ji looked at Nian Bing who had a slightly dull gaze and secretly thought to himself, Am I treating my disciple too harshly? If he knew that his comprehension is was unknowingly stronger compared to me at his age…! Just this method of chopping wood with a wood knife took me five years in order to have an initial success. Only ten years later when I finished my apprenticeship had I completely mastered it. Naturally, as I was learning the culinary arts at the same time, it was affected. However, looking solely at that boy’s comprehension, mine is far inferior to his. In fact, I had already taught him genuine culinary arts. The everyday lectures had taught him theory and knowledge. The everyday food tempered his sense of smell and his ability to distinguish taste. But chopping firewood, that had given the most improvement. After he completes these and fuse them together, the speed at which he advances will become fast as lightning.
“Alright, go bring out the vehicle from the back of the wood house. We will set out with it.”
Nian Bing said with a blank stare, “Set off? Where are we going?” Ever since he arrived at the peach blossom forest, he had never left there. Neither had he seen leave either.
Zha Ji said, “It has been a while since I’ve went out. Although the vegetables we eat are picked from the peach blossom forest, we still have to buy the essential seasonings. We also don’t have much rice left. You’ve already been here a year. Going out for a walk will benefit you.”
“That’s great. I can finally go out.” Although Nian Bing’s thoughts are no longer comparable to a child’s, he is only eleven years old after all. Everyday he lived a disciplined life there. He was already long past bored. Being able to go out for a walk, how could he not be excited? Throwing the wood knife to the side, he quickly dashed toward the back of the wooden room.
So that he would not disturb anyone, Zha Ji built the wooden house at the very center of the forest. Although this part of the forest was not small at all, there were no fierce or poisonous beasts because of the Peach Blossom Forest’s Miasma. That is why he hadn’t put up fences. But speaking of a man that has crippled hand tendons, making a house would already been exceptionally hard task.
The so called vehicle was a simple cart created from a mere log. Fortunately, the two wheels on it could still be considered round, as pushing it did not require much effort. Although in this past year Nian Bing became an adorable little fatty from a small handsome child, his physical strength was much stronger than before. Those nutritious foods he ate were not without effect, and along with the strengthening from chopping and splitting firewood, his strength was not at all small. Pushing the wooden cart forward was not one bit difficult.
“Master,if you are tired, sit on the cart, and I will pull you.” Nian Bing was excited in his heart and couldn’t help but to want to show off his strength to Zha Ji.
Zha Ji chuckled and said, “I’m still not that old. You should save some strength. When we come back, I’m afraid you’ll have to pull quite a few things. In that time, don’t complain to me. We only go once a year. Think about it, how much will we need to buy?”
Nian Bing’s eyes turned to him and said, “Master! Recently, my cultivation of magic has been a bit rough, especially my fire magic. It doesn’t seem to be very stable. If I’m too tired, the control of the the fire magic in my body might cause a few problems. If you aren’t afraid that I’ll burn everything, then buying a few more things won’t matter.”
Zha Ji unhappily said, “Smelly brat, are you threatening me?”
“Not at all, I would never dare to threaten you.” Although Nian Bing’s mouth said as such, the smile in his eyes could not conceal his true thoughts. Zha Ji had no idea how to handle this magic capable disciple of his and groaned, “We’ll speak of this again when the moment comes.”
Although nobody enters the Peach Blossom Forest, whenever Zha Ji chopped wood, Zha Ji intentionally chopped opened a small path leading outside. Later, when Nian Bing began to chop wood, the task of opening up the path was handed over to him. Because he deliberately opened the path as he chopped wood, they easily departed from the Peach Blossom Forest.
When they walked away from the Peach Blossom Forest, the sun was already approaching noon. As the Ice Moon Empire was located in the north of the Yang Guang Continent, the temperatures were relatively low. But with the sunlight shining down on them, there was still quite a bit of heat. But this was nothing to Nian Bing, as he held the Ice and Snow Goddess’s Stone in his bosom. However, Zha Ji’s health could not be considered well, and at this moment he was already somewhat out of breath.
“Boy, aren’t you tired? Let’s rest for a moment.” Zha Ji called Nian Bing to stop.
“Oh.” Nian Bing pulled the cart to beneath a big tree, and helped Zha Ji sit down in a shady, cool place. “Master, want me to cast a small enchantment on you to drive away the heat?”