Feng Nu, Almost a Martial Saint
Nian Bing’s handsome face shifted from a serious expression to a slight smile. “It’s simple. I will be delighted, of course, if you promise to let me kiss you after I’ve won,” he said in a low voice.
Feng Nu blushed heavily upon hearing Nian Bing’s unexpected words. “Hey, you’re taking advantage of me!” She made as if to strike him.
Nian Bing quickly dodged. “Don’t hit me! I can’t take your holy qi. I wasn’t joking earlier, it really is the truth! If you don’t believe me, give it a try and see.”
“You’re annoying. Who said anything about giving it a try? I’ll ignore you if you say it again,” Feng Nu snorted.
“Alright, alright, I’ll stop. Feng Nu, your blushing face is really cute,” Nian Bing laughed. Ever since reuniting with Feng Nu, he had felt a particular urge. For some reason, his heart was full of thoughts of Feng Nu, the nervousness he should have for the upcoming match with the Camel Chef God was missing. With her attention, he felt his confidence sharply rising, while his body felt invigorated.
While still blushing, Feng Nu glared at him. “Stop joking around, don’t you need to make preparations for your upcoming dishes? I trust in your ability; just as students will surpass their teacher, seniors will eventually be replaced by the younger generation. This is a very good chance for you. By winning this match, you will gain the confidence to push your culinary skills to the next level. Your skills can only improve under the pressure of facing experts, just like how I practice martial arts against masters to progress further. Perhaps, few years from now, the continent will no longer remember the Five Great Chef Gods, and only the Magic Chef of Ice and Fire,” she said quietly.
Nian Bing was touched by Feng Nu’s encouragement. This was a true friend! Providing encouragement during crucial moments will invariably be extremely helpful. Nian Bing clenched his fist and nodded resolutely at Feng Nu, then wordlessly proceeded to meditate on the chair beside him. In order to bring out his full potential, he would need to maintain a peak mental state.
When Nian Bing opened his eyes an hour later, everything had been fully prepared. The restaurant’s kitchen was divided into two fully-equipped sections, with Feng Nu, Zi Meng, Zi Qing Jian, Zi Qing Meng and Hei Ye seated in a row by the wall. Camel Chef Zi Xiu appeared to have completed his preparations and was mulling over something behind the kitchen counter.
Standing up, Nian Bing nodded slightly towards Zi Xiu. “Senior, let us begin.”
“Alright,” acknowledged Zi Xiu, “Let’s set the time limit to one hour. It should be enough for you to display your skills since there’s only one dish to be prepared.”
“It’s definitely enough. After you, Senior,” Nian Bing agreed with a smile. Before he could walk towards the kitchen counter on his side, Feng Nu’s voice piped up. “Nian Bing, wait a moment.”
Feng Nu got up as Nian Bing looked back with a confused expression. Her figure flashed, and in the next instant, Nian Bing’s nostrils were filled with the unique fragrance of a woman’s body, while his face was gently touched with an ice-cold object. By the time he regained his senses, the sensations had disappeared. Feng Nu was standing at an arm’s length from him, her face glowing red. “Hopefully you’re not deceiving me. I’ll await your Feast of Ice and Fire. If you manage to win, I’ll consider your prior proposal.” she said in a low voice, before returning to her seat in the blink of an eye.
Both Zi Qing Meng and Zi Qing Jian’s expressions changed upon seeing this. While Zi Qing Jian lowered his head sadly and snuck glances at Feng Nu while sighing inwardly, jealousy flickered in Zi Qing Meng’s eyes as she gripped the handles of her seat tightly. Her gaze towards Feng Nu grew cold.
Touching his face, Nian Bing discovered that the gentle sensation lingered. Nian Bing glanced deeply at Feng Nu and nodded resolutely at her before taking his place behind the kitchen counter. He could clearly feel the blood in his body practically boiling, as his hands trembled with excitement. The joints in his fingers and wrists appeared to have become more nimble. At this point, he knew that he was in peak condition.
Placing both hands on the kitchen counter, he gazed at Zi Xiu who was looking at him from the other side. Sparks flew between them as their gazes met. “Not bad, kid!” Zi Xiu smiled.
“I’m nowhere near Senior’s level. Let’s begin.” Nian Bing returned Zi Xiu’s smile while blushing lightly. His aura suddenly changed upon taking a step back, with faint flashes of red and blue appearing on the skin of his left and right sides respectively. The kitchen implements and ingredients in front of him were treated not just as ordinary objects, but as enemies.
When Nian Bing’s aura changed suddenly, Camel Chef Zi Xiu watched him, unmoving. Since Nian Bing had challenged him to a match during their first meeting, he knew that Nian Bing had extraordinary skills from his level of confidence. Zi Xiu didn’t take much notice at that time, since culinary skill level was linked to the time spent immersed in the culinary arts. In his eyes, Nian Bing was yet immature. However, upon discovering that Nian Bing had both ice and fire magic, he could no longer treat Nian Bing lightly. He clearly remembered how Demon Chef Zha Ji’s had lost, as well as the huge effect that magic had on food. Hence, the ingredients he had prepared were for making his best dish. Without feeling any urgency, he decided to observe Nian Bing, who Feng Nu had called the Magic Chef of Ice and Fire, and see for himself the true extent of his skill.
“The Free Wind’s Gentle Hymn – Proud Sky Knife.” With a subtle wave of Nian Bing’s right hand, the oddly-shaped Proud Sky Knife appeared in a green blaze of light and embedded itself in the countertop with a thud. Scattered rays of light from the Humming Wind Stone bathed the entire kitchen in a green haze. The knife moaned slightly as it quivered, and the air in the kitchen started circulating into a vortex of wind element.
As the entire Zi family cultivated wind elemental qi, looks of dismay were reflected on their paled faces upon seeing such an exceptional wind elemental divine blade. “Truly an exceptional God Grade wind elemental knife,” sighed Zi Meng in awe. “This is a splendid God Grade magic staff!” Hei Ye exclaimed in admiration. “Unfortunately I’m not a wind elemental mage, or I would definitely take it for a spin.” Nian Bing had never needed to seal the Proud Sky Knife with a magic array.
“The Snow Goddess’s Sigh – Morning Dew Knife.” Pausing slightly, a ray of blue light appeared with a shake of Nian Bing’s hand and embedded itself with a thud beside the Proud Sky Knife. The blue light radiating from the knife was much weaker than the green glow of the Proud Sky Knife. Without a pause in his movements, Nian Bing proceeded to sketch a blue magic hexagram at lightning speed, using ice element from his right index finger. In the middle of the hexagram, he carved a small but intricate magic array using the pinprick technique. With a sudden flicker of blue light, the magic array was directly engraved into the Ice and Snow Goddess’s Stone. The seal on the magic stone was relased, and blue rays of light burst forth, forcing the green aside While reflecting their individual brilliance, both green and blue light rays contested in the air equally.
Aside for Feng Nu, everyone else including masters such as Zi Meng and Hei Ye were staring bug-eyed at the scene before them, seemingly unable to believe that another God Grade precious blade had appeared before their eyes.
However, Nian Bing was not yet finished. “The Flame God’s Roar – True Sun Knife.” The wide blade of the True Sun Knife was the last to appear, its presence restoring the surrounding temperature that was lowered by the Morning Dew Knife. Red ripples of light circulated along the surface of the True Sun Knife, giving the appearance that the Flame God’s stone was alive and emanating a scorching aura. While faintly emitting divine light, the tri-colored light filled the entire kitchen with a dense mysterious energy, allowing Nian Bing to completely suppress Camel Chef Zi Xiu in terms of momentum. Good tools were essential to the successful execution of a job, and Nian Bing’s confidence was raised to peak level with the appearance of his precious blades.
“Nian Bing, you have many treasures. I would definitely convince you to switch to martial arts if it wasn’t for your age.” Zi Meng smiled.
“President, I assure you they will not be neglected. These blades are undoubtedly exceptional divine blades; however, they all serve as my magic staves. Most importantly, they are kitchen knives that are able to bring out the full extent of my culinary skills. I will start cooking now,” Nian Bing said with a slight smile. Upon hearing Nian Bing describe them as kitchen knives, Zi Meng almost spat blood, rendered speechless by Nian Bing who used such precious blades as kitchen knives.
Grabbing a chicken from the pile of ingredients, Nian Bing proceeded to speedily gut and clean the chicken on the countertop. Once finished, a large-size metal pot was filled with water and brought to boil. Picking up The Free Wind’s Gentle Hymn, Nian Bing used the sharpness of the Proud Sky Knife in concert with its high-speed ability to cut up the entire chicken into one-inch cubes in a flurry of flickering green slashes. The chicken cubes were set aside to be rinsed in clean water before adding them to the pot. At this point, the showdown had begun.
Similar to Nian Bing, Zi Xiu started with boiling a pot of water. However, he immediately added the ingredients onions, garlic, Sichuan pepper, star anise, as well as an entire cleaned duck to the pot. Subsequently, he filled a basin with water and with a flicker of light in his eyes, took out two palm-sized meaty objects and soaked them in the clean water. Next, he filled a noodle basin with noodles and began its shaping process after adding two eggs and some water. His kneading was very slow but extremely powerful, causing the entire noodle mixture to adhere to his hands without spilling.
On the other side, Nian Bing had also started to show off his unique culinary arts. The chicken pieces that were being repeatedly rinsed were moved into yet another basin of water. However, this time, they weren’t just simply rinsed. Nian Bing’s hands began to dance in the water as they sped up, graceful as a fluttering butterfly. The movement of his hands defied common sense; it as if the joints of his wrists were nonexistent. The movement of his hands had formed a mirage on the water surface due to their extreme speed, yet orderly ripples formed on the water surface without splashing.
“A very good use of Separating Tendons and Bones as the Hand Wishes. It seems you’ve learned Old Zha’s stuff. It’s no wonder you have such confidence if you have this level of skill.” Zi Xiu who was kneading noodles praised Nian Bing’s technique.
“Stop teasing me Senior, this is merely an insignificant skill of mine,” said Nian Bing smilingly while looking up at Zi Xiu. As he was saying this, he changed the water in the basin and continued washing the chicken pieces.
“Little Meng, what do you think Nian Bing is doing? Aren’t the chicken pieces going to break apart if he continues to wash them? Furthermore, the chicken is already clean when it was brought here,” asked Zi Qing Jian, who was looking on with a puzzled expression.
Zi Qing Meng was completely filled with excitement. For Zi Qing Jian, the primary motivation for learning the Heavy Eagle Hand was to improve his martial arts, whereas for Zi Qing Meng, learning the culinary arts was her hobby. The last few years of culinary training had greatly increased her love for this profession; hence she was completely immersed in this showdown between two masters at the pinnacle of the culinary world.
In her mind, she had elevated Nian Bing to the same level as her uncle, Zi Xiu. Upon hearing her brother’s query, she subconsciously replied, “Watch closely. Separating Tendons and Bones as the Hand Wishes is one of the Seven Great Forbidden Techniques of the culinary world. It is ranked third, one rank lower than Uncle’s Life Tearing Heavy Eagle Hand. However, based on Nian Bing’s technique, he has already trained his Separating Tendons and Bones as the Hand Wishes to the level where he can use it freely without restraint. By using Separating Tendons and Bones as the Hand Wishes to wash the chicken pieces, his aim is to remove every single trace of blood from the chicken pieces in order to prevent it from affecting the taste. The essence of Separating Tendons and Bones as the Hand Wishes lies in the principle of ‘squeeze’, and it is the best technique for either preparing noodles or washing ingredients. Uncle’s Heavy Eagle Hand is used for different purposes, and it’s hard to say for sure if either technique is superior. Ah, he also used Separating Tendons and Bones as the Hand Wishes in order to shatter the chicken bones. It seems he wants to use them to season the soup.”
Finally, the washing of the chicken pieces had been completed. At the same time, the water in the pot had reached the boiling point. The chicken pieces which had formed into a funny ball shape in Nian Bing’s hands were directly placed into the boiling water. Using The Free Wind’s Gentle Hymn, Nian Bing separated the ball of meat into small pieces via a flurry of cuts. With increasing speed, Nian Bing added the prepared shark’s fin into the boiling water, followed by an abalone and shredded shiitake mushrooms. Lastly, diced ginger and scallion were added before he closed the pot.