Chapter 5.2 – Blue Fields on a Warm Day, Mist Rises from the Jade
Ice Snow City, Ice Moon Empire’s second largest city. Looking at it from a distance, the city walls were several tens of meters tall, and extremely wide. Although it couldn’t be described as threatening, the entire city standing tall gave a stable and steady feeling. The Azure Sky River flowed in from the west of Ice Snow City, and the entire city was actually built around the river, making use of the river water. Although it was not as famous as the Capital of Ice Moon Empire, Ice Moon City, or the Ice God’s Pagoda, it was absolutely one of the economic hubs of the empire. Many large merchant federations were based in Ice Snow City, and its population was several million strong. Several dozen years of peace had allowed it to become truly prosperous.
Nian Bing and Zha Ji approached the city from the north. Being inconspicuously dressed as commoners, the guards at the gate did not question them and they easily entered the city.
After entering the city, they immediately noticed a change in atmosphere. The Peach Blossom Forest had an otherworldly beauty and life to it, but the bustling streets of Ice Snow City showed a different type of prosperity. The streets of the city were lined with cordierite and all sorts of shops stood on both sides of every road, and the whole city bustled with noise. Although Nian Bing had been here a year ago, he had spent the rest of the year in a quiet and peaceful setting, so he was unused to this environment.
“Master, what are we going to buy now?” Nian Bing asked.
Zha Ji smiled faintly and said, “This time, we are here to buy many things. We need to buy several sacks of rice so we do not need to come back here so often, and we also need to get some good spices and condiments. Oh yes, I also need to buy you a good knife; you will be officially start learning how to cook soon. A chef’s knife is like a warrior’s weapon; they are the most important tools of their trades. Only a good knife will allow you to make use of all your skills. It would be best to buy you a knife with a magic stone so you can make use of your magic while cooking with your ingredients.. I’m not sure about other chefs, but for me, the most important kitchen utensil is the knife.
As soon as he heard Zha Ji say that he was going to buy him a knife, Nian Bing grew excited, “That’s great, Master! I can finally stop using the cleaver already. You must buy me a good one, but… do you have enough money?”
Zha Ji gave a humph, saying, “Remove that question mark. Your master was, after all, once the great Demon Chef. I wouldn’t be able to spend all of my savings even if you gave me several lifetimes. How else do you think I survived alone in the Peach Blossom Forest all these years, choosing that place just because I enjoyed the peace and quiet?”
Nian Bing grinned and said, “That means Master is a rich man, then. But what knife do you use? I didn’t notice anything special about the knife you usually use?”
Zha Ji sighed as he said, “My own knife… I have long since sealed it. Since I am no longer the Demon Chef of the past, how can I let such a treasured knife follow me into obscurity? If your cooking skills reach a level that meets my standards in the future, I might give it to you.”
“Let’s go, don’t keep thinking about knives. Even if you get a great knife now, you won’t be able to make full use of it. Let’s go buy rice first.” With that said, Zha Ji brought Nian Bing deeper into the Ice Snow City, and, due to his familiarity with the city, it was not long before the cart Nian Bing was pushing was filled with goods: basic necessities, foodstuffs, spices and condiments – Zha Ji bought them in bulk, along with a few sets of rough cloth clothes for changing. Of course, he also did not forget to buy a string for Nian Bing as he had promised. Now the jade tile was worn on Nian Bing’s neck, its warmth pressing close to his chest, giving him an extremely comfortable feeling.
As he pushed the increasingly heavy cart, Nian Bing complained, “Master, I’m getting hungry, let’s get some food first before continuing shopping!”
Looking at his plump little disciple, Zha Ji laughed and said, “You already have so much fat on you, you won’t have any problems skipping a meal. But alright! Anyway we are almost done with our shopping, come, let’s find an inn to stay at before we eat. Tonight, I will bring you to look for a suitable knife.”
Nian Bing sighed in relief, pointing to a small inn right in front of them saying, “Master, let’s just stay here, I really can’t move anymore.”
Zha Ji nodded, saying, “Alright then, I’ve stayed there before. Although only average, it is quite clean.”
The inn was named ‘Living Beings’. As the two of them, one old, one young, pushed the cart towards the inn’s entrance, a staff member came out to greet them with a smile, saying, “Do you two want to stay in our inn? We have all the basic necessities, provide hot water all day and night, and our pricing is very reasonable.”
Zha Ji said rather impatiently, “Alright, enough with the sales pitch, we will be staying here. Please move our cart into the courtyard.”
As they entered the inn, Zha Ji brought Nian Bing to the counter and said, “Give us a standard room, one with two beds.”
The clerk at the counter was an ordinary looking, 18-19 year old youth, who smiled faintly and said, “The price per day of lodging is one silver coin, please pay now.”
“Wait a minute, we want two single rooms.” Nian Bing quickly said.
Zha Ji asked curiously, “Why do we need two rooms?”
Nian Bing stuck his tongue out at him, saying, “Master, ah, normally you sleep next door, but your snoring can still shake me awake. If we are in the same room, I won’t be able to sleep! I still need to push the cart home tomorrow; please take pity on this fat little body of mine.”
Zha Ji flushed in embarrassment, and passed two silver coins to the clerk, saying, “Fine, two rooms then. Is my snoring that loud?” The clerk took the silver coins, struggling not to laugh out loud, and assigned the pair two adjacent rooms.
Zha Ji took the keys and said to Nian Bing, “Weren’t you hungry? Let’s just have a meal here.”
The dining area of the inn was not very luxurious, only about a hundred or so square meters, and contained several neatly arranged tables. As Zha Ji had mentioned earlier, although the place was not too grand, it was quite clean. It was not a normal meal time, so the dining area was still very quiet. Zha Ji brought Nian Bing to a table near the street, where they could observe the bustling streets.
“What do you want to order?” A waitress walked up to them and lazily asked. She naturally did not feel a need to be very respectful to people like Nian Bing and Zha Ji who were dressed in commoner’s clothes.
Zha Ji said, “Four steamed buns, a bowl of white porridge, and some salted vegetables will do.”
A contemptuous look flashed in the waitress’s eyes, and she didn’t even bother writing the order down. “Wait here, it will come in a while.”
Staring dumbfoundedly at the leaving waitress, Nian Bing gave a weird cry. “Master, didn’t you just say you were rich? Why be so miserly now? How can just eating steamed buns be enough nourishment?”
Zha Ji said exasperatedly, “Silly, do you think you can eat these outside foods? After getting used to eating my cooking, if you eat the food from these ordinary dining halls, I guarantee you will immediately vomit.”
Nian Bing said suspiciously, “Master, I know you are the Great Demon Chef, but you can’t look down so much on other people. Even if their food isn’t as good as yours, there shouldn’t be such a huge difference right, if not, how could they have become chefs as well?”
Zha Ji gave him a strange smile, and said, “Alright, you don’t believe me? Let’s order two dishes of green vegetables, and you can try for yourself. If I am no different from an ordinary cook, how could I have possibly won the World Championships five times in a row.” Then he called the waitress back and ordered the two dishes.
Although the attitude of the waitress wasn’t great, the green vegetables were easy to make and the steamed buns and porridge were pre-cooked, so everything was served quickly. By then Nian Bing was already very hungry, so he quickly scooped a large number of green vegetables into his mouth.
“Wah! Peh, peh, peh.” Before he could even chew twice, he had already spat out the mouthful of green vegetables. “What is this?! It tastes disgusting, all covered with the taste of uncooked oil! When they fried this the oil was definitely not heated up first, and their fire control was terrible! The vegetables are not fully cooked and their fragrance had not been brought out at all; instead they added so much salt and MSG – this is terrible!”
Zha Ji did not mock Nian Bing, but instead nodded his head in satisfaction. “En, not bad, looks like you learned well during this past year. You can basically call out all of the dish’s problems. Looks like you still have quite some talent. Your Master will reward you today by showing you some real cooking. Staff!”
#abstract #TL;DR [Nian Bing] experiences horrific “fast food”. [Zha Ji]’s snores can wake dead.