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Cooking master chapter 10
After two days of walking, finally Dong Lian stumbled into civilization. From afar he could see that this town is bigger than he could imagine. Wing Chu city, is a city five kilometer in radius and surrounded by city wall around it’s perimeter. The houses build from stone which is really different from his wooden village. On the east of the city, an ancient looking building is present, hanging on a mountain cliff. It was the location of Wing Chu school. Built on a cliff which making it feel so secluded, mysterious, but powerful at the same time. The south of the city full of tall building with the shortest is two storey house and the tallest is five storey. The north of the city is kind of cramped and could be considered as the slum. While the west part is full of colorful building serving as the commercial district.
“Whoa! So this is what a big city looks like.”
Dong Lian admired the scene in front of him. The number of people living in this city easily exceed two thousand people. He fasten his pace and arrived at the gate.
“Halt! Who goes there?”
The guard gestured at Dong Lian to stop but then they are surprised.
“Boy! How can you come here? It’s been months since we have visitor from the north. There have been a sky devouring lion set loose and killing the merchant and people on the way.”
The guards doesn’t believe that there will be visitor coming from the north and what’s more to see that it’s only a small boy.
“Yeah. I also encountered the sky devouring lion and fortunately I manages to cross a river to flee.”
The guard hears Lian pure and innocent explanation and sighed in relief.
“That’s very lucky of you. Most of the people who encountered tempest level mythical beast such as the sky devouring lion has died before a chance to tell about their story. Where do you come from boy?”
“I come from a secluded village far in the north, because of that I know very little about the cities. Could you tell me something about the Wing Chu city?”
After some disbelievments in hearing Dong Lian story and couldn’t tell if he’s lying or not, the guard tell him about the city.
“Wing Chu city is one of the biggest city aside from Kung Lao and Shin Ying city. After surviving the apocalypse, the Wing Chu school start to recruit regular people like mad man and finally they regain their honour. The east side is where the famous Wing Chu school located. Built on the natural cliff as if the cliff grows building by itself. The south is house of the noble and aristocrat. The west side is commercial district with one of the busiest merchant company “Blue Rose” organizing it and the north is where normal people lives.”
Just from that, Dong Lian could get a clear grasp on the city. He nodded when the guard explain it to him and he remember it straight away.
“Because my village has been living a seclusion, could you inform to me the changes in city and territories?”
At first they think that Dong Lian coming from a secluded village is just a lie but after hearing this question they more or less start to believe him.
“Out of fifty human cities before the apocalypse, now only around fourty remains. Is that explanation acceptable?”
Certainly that’s not the explanation that Dong Lian want to hear.
“Could you tell me in specific about the geography of this world?”
The guard certainly doesn’t know much or doesn’t understand what Lian asked.
“It’s better if you go to the library. They have all archive and know about the changes in the world and the history.”
Hearing that answet Dong Lian decided that there’s nothing more he could learn from the guards and decided to go inside the town.
He is arriving in the nirth residential area. Altough it is called slum but the condition is far better than his village. He now decided to go to the Wing Chu school first. Afterall it was the reason Dong Lian travelled all the way here to meet with Shao once again.
The city is such a nice place. With children around his age running and playing around he didn’t imagine for it to be such a bright place. Afterall his father keep on telling him that if you’re an unranked level person, living in a city is the same as living in hell. It is true that before the apocalypse unranked people is considered as trash and live below the acceptable standard. But after the apocalypse happened and declining in human manpower, the hierarcy is changed for the better. There’s no more discrimination between rank afterall at the apocalypse people help each other regardless of rank. But the current condition is unknown for the villager which live in seclusion and for Dong Lian who doesn’t even know the meaning of community, politics and rules.
Without realizing Lian already arrived in the Wing Chu school. A breathtaking view as he look at the cliff and the building which seemed to be “grown” by the cliff. There is a staircase to reach the building but just by looking one could guess that it will took more than ten thousand step to reach the top.
“Boy what are you doing here? This is not the place to play around.”
Lian is stopped by a muscular man wearing a yellow monk clothes with a red circle on its upper left shoulder with the character of “Wing Chu” embroidered on it. This man should be from the Wing Chu school and Lian immediately state his reason.
“Good afternoon brother. I come here to see brother Shao.”
Lian said that but the man completely ignores him.
“This isn’t some playground boy. If you come here and say that you want to see someone, do you think I will allow it? What if thousands of people saying that they want to meet with your brother Shao? Will I have to let them all come? This isn’t your playground kid. Just go home, watch your feet and sleep.”
If it was any other man they will surely get angry. But Lian not in the slightest get agitated because of him. Lian with his six years old is still mentaly immature but his anger management is better than grown up people.
“Please brother. I have come a long way to be here. Brother Shao tell me that I could just mention his name and I will be welcomed.”
The man just smirked hearing Lian words and mock him.
“Do you think we’re an orphanage? Or are we a charitable inn that will welcome people just because you mention a name to us? I only said this once more kid. Go home and never return here.”
Facing with the man stuborness Lian is surrendering. He don’t want to push his way trough. Still, he is a six years old boy inside. Seeing a water basin near where the man originaly standing, it should be his drinking supply. Lian takes out from his spice supplies an ingredients. Fire chili, it was an ingredients that is extremely spicy and could cause your stomach to get upset just by smelling it’s aroma. He mixed it with blue grass to hide the aroma and spicy feeling but the effect is there. Lian secretly put it on the basin after moving in a circular motion to keep out the man from noticing him.
With a childish yet devilish smile his mission is accomplished.
“Hehehe.. With the effect of Fire chili he will stay in the bathroom for three days straight. Hehehe…”
The six years old spirit in him is still playful despite his bitter life experience. Lian saw the man drink from the basin and saw the changes in his expression. He is trying to hold it in for an hour before he running to a bathroom while pressing his hand at his bottom to hold it in.
“pffft.. That’s so funny.. Hahahaha.”
Lian satisfied after having his sweet revenge and decide on what to do next. Because the man is replaced by another one in less than a minute after he is gone.
“if it’s like this, it’s probably better for me to find a place for stay first.”
After hearing some noise from his own stomach, he put his hand on his stomach and said
“It is also better if I could get some food on the way.”
There is one big problem right now. For Dong Lian who doesn’t know the m in money, how could he possibly afford the food? Dong Lian still didn’t know about this and walk back to near the residential district. Before he saw a stall of fried rice which attract his nose because of the smell.
He arrived at the stall, sit down and ordered.
“Sir, can I get one portion of fried rice?”
Thr owner of the stall quickly examined him from head to toe.
“Boy… Do you have money to pay it?”
Hearing the owner words Lian only tilted his head sideways looking confused.
“Money? What is money uncle? Do I have to pay the food with money?”
The owner look at Lian in disbelievements. What kind of primitive world that this boy come from?
“Listen here. Money is used if you want to buy anything. There’s cooper coin, silver, and gold. 1 silver is 100 cooper and 1 gold is 100 silver. This is a cooper coin, this one silver, and this one is gold. Now, a portion of fried rice is 30 cooper. Do you have the money?”
The owner was kind enough to took out the coin one by one and explain it to Lian. The cooper coin is kind of rustic coloured, the silver coin have a hint of silvery trace but the gold coin is look dazzling. After that he move his hand in open palm towards Lian, asking for the money.
Knowing what the owner of the stall wants, Lian politely bow.
“I’m sorry uncle, I don’t have any money with me. Can you tell me how could I get some money?”
Lian lived on secluded village where everything is done by bartering or doing errand in return. He have no idea on how to get money.
“You can always work to get it. If someone hire you, they could give you money monthly. Or if someone ask you to do some errand then you may also get money.”
Lian nods hearing the explanation. So that means it is the same like in the village but instead of direct bartering they have to do it with the coins called money. Lian quickly understand it. Lian is not the brightest or the smartest kid, but since he was little he always listened to his father teaching earnestly. He always have that same attitude whenever he learned something. It is not because he was smart but he was focusing really hard that it was understandable for him right away.
The stall owner looked at him deeply.
“Don’t you have a parents boy? It was too early for kids like you to work. You could ask your parents to give you some money.”
Lian shook his head when he hears that.
“I’m currently alone and my parents live in a village far from here.”
Seeing the smile on this boy face makes the owner heart ache. Lian isn’t lying to him because his eye still show its purity. If that’s true, Lian must have suffered a lot before he finally reach the city. Like a caring father the stall owner ask him.
“Boy, can you do something special? I mean, is there something that you’re good at that could earn you money?”
(What am I asking to a six years old boy?)
The stall owner quickly realized his mistake. “I mean boy, will you help me wash the dishes in return for your food?”
After understanding what the owner want to say Lian replied.
“Uncle, I understand what you mean. If I can eat a portion of fried rice in return for washing the dishes then I will be glad to take the offer.”
Lian by now already know that if he wants to eat, he must work to earn money and pay for the food. Right now out of his kindness the stall owner wants to help him by giving some job in return for a portion of fried rice.
Lian stand up from his table and asked.
“Where is the sink? I’ll wash the dish right away.”
Seeing that the owner is startled and explained awkwardly.
“No no no.. There’s no need for you to wash the dishes right away. You could eat first and wash it afterwards.”
Once again Lian smiled and shook his head.
“my father always said that if a person didn’t work they you shouldn’t give him food. Let me wash the dish first before I get my food.”
No one could refuse to Lian request. Such a straight forward boy, pure and polite, even the fried rice stall owner heart has gone soft at Lian. The stall owner then pat Lian on his head and said gently.
“There, the sink is on the back. If you have wash around twenty plates you could come here and eat.”
Lian moves to the sink and could ser the stack of plates is nearly a hundreds. Out of his kindness the stall owner only required him to wash twenty. But this kind of thing is usual for Lian who always helped at his father shop. In a blink of an eye the whole plates are cleaned.
The stall owner doesn’t realize that Lian already washed all of the plates when Lian comes back and sit down.
“Have you finished washing twenty plates boy?”
With a smile Lian said. “Uncle you have been too kind at me. In return I already wash all of the dishes.”
“What? All of it?”
The stall owner eyes is widened. How can a small boy like Lian washed the stack of dirty plates on the back? The stall owner look back and was blown away. Lian is telling the truth at him. For Lian who is used to help in his father shop, washing dishes is already a part of his daily breakfast menu.
“You don’t believe me uncle?”
With a wide grin Lian greeted him when he comes back causing him to stuttered in response.
“N-n-no.. Of course I believe in you.”
The stall owner then move to his cooking area and start to make Lian’s fried rice. Even though he just met with Lian today, his heart is already warm up to him.
(If I have a child, maybe this is what it feels like)
The stall owner smiled at Lian while continue to cook.
“Here’s your food.”
The fried rice is finished and served in front of Lian. The reason Lian decide to eat here is because of the smell. Even right now the smell of the fried rice is tickling right under his nose. He pays his respect to his ancestor and pray then he took a spoonful of it and shove it to his mouth.
Lian said that as soon as the fried rice touch his tongue. The taste is more exquisite than his father’s even if the ingredients used is much simpler. He could feel the warmth of the fried rice fill his stomach and spread all around his body. Altough eating vegetable and rice never gives Lian this feeling, it was certainly the feeling when your body is absorbing Chi.
“So, how is it?” the stall owner asked him.
“It’s good uncle. It taste even better than the one my father make. You used a mythical beast in this dish right?”
Lian last remark surprised him. “How do you know?”
Lian have to answer this carefully. If he answered wrong, the stall owner may grow suspicious of him.
“My father told me a secret once. If the food I eat is better than his cooking then it must surely used mythical beast as ingredients. Even if I didn’t see any meat I still believe in him.”
The shop owner then smiled and whisper to Lian.
“This is a secret but I used a special oil made from storm level tyrant bull. Even though I used huge amount of my fortune just to buy a lump of fat to produce a small bottle, but even one drop of it is enough to cook ten plates of fried rice.”
Lian now secretly admired this uncle. He understand the process of creating oil from fat has to be done continously while maintaining the temperature to let it transform into clear oil. Also the usage of only one drop of oil for ten plates must have come from trial and error in search of the perfect taste.
Lian is curious in the method of creating the oil. Afterall he only know the theory from his father without actual practice.
“Uncle, can you teach me how to make this oil?”
The shop owner attitude changed greatly and grow hostile.
“What boy? You’re trying to steal my secret recipe?”
“it’s not like that uncle. My father has told me about a method of processing fat to oil but I never understand and know of the real process. I just want to learn the method.”
After hearing that the stall owner returned to his warm tone.
“Aaah.. Is that so? I could teach you how to make the oil. You’re also in luck that my oil is about to run out. Boy, do you have a place to stay for the night?”
Lian is happy hearing that and shook his head.
“No Uncle, I don’t have a place to stay.”
“Good. You can stay in my place as long as you want. Even though it wasn’t great but it is acceptable to sleep in. Let’s go in an hour. That’s the time I usually closed my stall.”
“Thank you uncle.” Lian gives him a bow to express his gratitude.
“Never mind that boy and from now on you can call me Uncle Lu. What’s your name kid?”
“Lian. Dong Lian.”
“Lian? What a good name. I like it. Alright, wait here a bit before I close my stall and we will head back.”
Unle Lu fried rice is apparently well known in the city. Just in an hour until the time the stall is closed it was the busiest time Lian have ever see. Serving more than one hundreds plates alone in a span of one hour.
After the stall is closed, Lian followed Lu to his house. Lu house is not big and kind of shabby but this stone house is better than the village wooden house. It only have two room, one bedroom and a kitchen.
“I’m sorry it’s a bit messy. You can put your things there in the corner.”
By now Lu realized the nature of the black shell on Lian back. It was a wok.
“Lian. Can you cook? Seeing a small boy carrying a wok, you could cook right?”
Lian nods but shyly answered.
“I just learn it from my father and nowhere good enough. More importantly uncle Lu, when will we refine the tyrant bull oil?”
Lian is trying to change the conversation and uncle Lu fall for it. Seeing the commotion Shao made when he cook the saber toothed tiger, he doesn’t want to attract attention.
“Oh right. We can start tonight. I already bought the tyrant bull fat in advance.”
That night Lian saw uncle Lu refine the lumo of fat in a really hot wot and when the fat touches the wok, a sizzling sound accompanied with a tasty aroma fill the kitchen.
It has too be done in a precise temperature otherwise the fat will be burnt and the taste is gone. This continue for almost two hour until the whole lump of fat is transformed into thin clear oily substance.
Lian is happy enough to learn about the method and he didn’t forget to take note on everything that Lu tought him in the process.
“So, Lian, why did you come to Wing Chu city in the first place?”
“I come to see an acquintances of mine. Do you know brother Shao from Wing Chu school?”
Lu frowned a bit then asked him.
“There is a famous man named Shao which able to increase his rank every year.”
“Yes, that’s the one. Do you know where he is?”
“Hmm.. I just know he traveled towards the west a couple days ago. It will probably take another months for him to come back. If you really want to meet with him you could stay in my place until then.”
“Thank you uncle Lu. I won’t forget your kindness.”
Lian bowed deeply at him. But there’s one thing that have been disturbing him. How did Lu get the solution of one drop of oil for ten portion?
“Uncle Lu, how did you found out about the usage of the oil?”
“It is a long story boy. At first I was told about it but I don’t know the amount I should put in my cooking. What’s more there’s been many accident of human exploding when I first started. So at first I was taking one drop of oil for one plate of fried rice. When I tried it my body caught a bad fever and I’m afraid that I will die. Fortunately I survived. I keep reducing the amount of oil used until I didn’t feel heavy burden on my body.”
Lian understand the whole process, but that means Lu rank of power should have been improved greatly when he first trying to absorb the tyrant bull oil.
“Uncle Lu, can you tell me how do you assess rank of power?”
Lian definitelly interested in this subject.
“we usually do it using the power monument in the hunter hall.”
This is new for Lian. This is the first time he know about those words.
“What is power monument and what is the hunter hall?”
Lu remembered that Lian come from secluded village then explained to him.
“Power monument is a special device that has a power measuring stone embedded in it. Like the repeling stone their amount is limited so only special places got a hold of it. That special places is the hunter hall. Every human upon reaching the regular rank of power rank then could register themself and gain a hunter badge. You then could take mission given by the hunter hall and recieve rewards accordingly.”
“Then, what is the requirements to use the power monument?”
“to prevent people just coming and assess their power level as much as they want, the hunter hall place a limitation. A person could have their level of power assessed when they are already seven years old and they can re-assessed it once a year.”
Now, this is the question that Lian want to ask the most.
“So, have you assesed your power in the past few years uncle Lu?”
“hehehe why do you ask Lian? For me who assesed to be in the first rank of unranked power when I was seven years old, do you think there’s a need for me to assess it again?”
Now Lian understand the whole thing. The people only believe that the first time they got their power assessed is like the death verdict. If you show no promise then they will completely forget about it and won’t get their power assesed at later time. Lian could roughly guess that uncle Lu should have break trough the unranked to regular level rank, as well as his father and uncle Pan but they just give up on the idea that they improved.
“How old are you Lian? Have you get your power assessed?”
“I just had my birthday two months ago uncle Lu. Why don’t you get your power re-assessed tommorrow uncle?”
Lian by now want to prove his own hypothesis. That’s people may have grown in rank but they didn’t realize it. Afterall he want to clear his father, mother, and uncle Pan resentment for being unranked people.
“I don’t see a point in that Lian.”
“Pleasr uncle Lu. Get your power re-assessed tommorrow. I want to see. Please.”
Seeing Lian pleading in front of him, Lu surrendered.
“Alright. But tommorrow you have to help me wash the dishes again alright?”
Lian nod furiously.
“yes uncle Lu. Afterall I have to work to repay your kindness for the meal and the rent.”
Lu pat Lian head then strangely enough in just a day he feel to be really close to Lian.
In the next day Lu bring Lian to the hunter hall before he open his stall later in the afternoon.
The hunter hall is a big place that is full of people that looks to be very powerful. However there are also a lot of children that is going to be assessed for the first time.
“We have to line up here.”
Lu get Lian to stand with him waiting for their turn. Lian took this time to examine the process.
The power monument is like a black monolith and full of engraving in gold colour. To get your power assesed you only have to put your hands on the square space in front of the monument and wait for it to automatically examine you.
While waiting in the line suddenly there’s a big commotion in the front.
“8th rank unranked level.”
That words is floating in front of the black monument and written in golden shining colour.
“Gao, you certainly have big potential. As expected of Zhao family heir.” the one assessed is only a small boy. Wearing fancy robe with sword ornaments embedded. Sharp eyes like the eagle and long nose giving him a handsome look that will be better once he grow up. Certainly he is seven years old and to have 8th rank level in unranked means he is stronger than Lian father. The boy is congratulated by people around him and looked very proud.
Zhao family is one of family with powerful lineage running in their vines. The most famous one is Zhao Heng that reached grandmaster level. Gao as one of the family member is already showing it’s potential.
“Whoa, that boy even stronger than me.”
Lu gaping his mouth in awe. For a seven years old children, to have power above the 5th rank is already showing their talent. To be in 8th rank mean one thing. Genius.
Zhao Gao then going out of the hunter hall accompanied by people and walk passed Lian before Lian foot by chance tripped him.
“Hmph.. What a brat doing in here? You better go back and play doll.”
Gao stand up and haughtily said that. Coming from a powerful family, having talent and potential making him to have a special trait. Arrogance.
“Please, young master Gao doesn’t have to be angry. Let me handle this.”
The one said that seemed to be someone hired to be Gao guardian.
“Boy, please watch your feet next time. If you cause harm to the young master, the zhao family won’t let you off easily.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it.”
Lian bowed deeply and after that Gao leave with his guardian. Lian can still see some malicious intention from Zhao Gao eyes.
After the group get out of the hunterhall, Lu asked him.
“Lian, are you alright? What happened?”
Lian just smiled at him and right now for Lian there’s nothing more important then proving his theory.
“I’m alright uncle Lu. More importantly it is your turn.”
Lu realized that he already in the front line and he quickly stepped in front of the power monument.
“5th rank unranked.”
“Whoa! Lian. My power has increased.”
Lu ran to him and show his happiness. This continue to prove Lian theory.
At first Lu is only around 3rd or 4th rank unranked. When he absorb a small portion of oil of storm level mythical beast the tyrant bull, it is already enough to push him to break trough the 5th rank and he is lucky he didn’t explode.
“Good for you uncle Lu. If that’s so, then we should hurry and open the stall.”
“Oh right. Let’s hurry. Tonight I’m going to treat you steamed bun.”
With that said Lu and Lian walk out of the hunter hall with a satisfied expression. Lu is satisfied to know that his power rank has increased and Lian satisfied to prove his own theory.
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