Chapter 219: Eighth Grade Experts, Arrived!
Translator: CatatoPatch Editor: Vermillion
Outside the majestic gates of the Imperial City, verdant sprouts reared their tender heads as the end of winter heralded the arrival of spring. Having been covered in snow for an entire season, the soils around the capital finally began to show signs of revival. All around, a burgeoning aura of life washed over the lands.
Along the wide main road just outside of the capital, a crisp clip clop could be heard echoing over the horizon. From a distance away, a figure slowly loomed into view.
It was an old man dressed in a full-bodied robe, riding an ashen-gray donkey while holding a gigantic wine gourd in his hand. As he made his way toward the capital, he would take a swig from his wine gourd from time to time, all the while swaying right and left.
With a satisfied look on his face, the old coot would hum a small ditty between each swig of wine.
Standing beneath those majestic gates of the imperial capital were three figures with their backs perfectly straight as they stood there watching while the chilly winds ruffled their coats.
As Tang Yin laid eyes on the looming figure of a donkey-riding old man, his eyes lit up. "Master, the senior has arrived." Tang Yin couldn't help but quip to Ni Yan, the woman standing beside him.
Ni Yan nodded her head and pursed her lips. That old drunkard sure had a sense of humor... to think he actually chose to ride a donkey here all the way from Wuliang Mountain. Could there be anything more comical than that?
"So this is the Senior Hu, whom master always talks about." Longbow strapped over his back, Ye Ziling opened her eyes wide to get a closer look at the old senior who came riding a donkey.
"If you're trying to say that your master always talk about an old drunkard, then yes, that's him." Ni Yan smiled and gave Ye Ziling a jovial pat on the back.
Once more, the rhythmic clip clop of the donkey cut across the quiet of the icy air. Suddenly, within the mere moments it took for their hearts to jump in surprise, what was originally a distant figure actually appeared before them in an instant.
Still reeling from the surprise, Ni Yan gasped. But that donkey was just... Why was its trotting speed so quick!?
"You damned brat, an old bag of bones like me can't take this kind of shock anymore. If this old man doesn't see this Five Stripes Path-Understanding Fruit Tree, then you can forget about ever touching his wine ever again!" The old man snapped, mouth wide open, after which he took another swig of wine.
Hearing that, Ni Yan immediately griped to herself, "as if anyone would think about that Dragon's Breath of yours when they had Owner Bu's Frost Blaze Path-Understanding Brew over here in the capital."
The old drunkard flipped himself over the donkey's back, secured his wine gourd to his waist and then pulled up his pants before flashing Tang Yin and Ye Ziling a roguish smile. With donkey in tow, he proceeded onwards toward the imperial capital.
"So this lass is that old witch's disciple?" *clicking tongue* "Well, isn't she a pretty one." The old drunkard smiled once more after giving Ye Ziling a throughout look.
Immediately, she returned the old coot an alarmed look.
Like that, the four of them continued their light-hearted banter as they walked toward the gates. Yet, just as they were about to enter the capital, a thunderous beastial howl echoed in the distance.
Ni Yan and the others promptly whipped their heads in the direction of the howl. As for the old drunkard, he made sure to take another swig of his wine before turning around as well.
All they saw in the distance was a giant black dragon with its wings fully extended, bellowing as it flew in their direction. As it did so, its body let forth a surge of mighty aura that could have only come from a pseudo-dragon like itself.
"Oh hoh, a seventh grade spirit beast, Black Hell Dragon?" The old drunkard chuckled.
Unlike the senior, Ni Yan and the others were all suffering under the pressure of that mighty dragon. Suddenly, their eyes narrowed as they noticed a figure standing aloft on that dragon's back.
It was a hunched-back old man with an aura as steadfast and heavy as a mountain.
"That's... an expert from the Godly Temple of the Wildlands?" Ni Yan murmured.
So an eighth grade expert from the Godly Temple of the Wildlands had finally joined the fray.
Within a small courtyard in the imperial capital, the Ghost Chef Wang Ding was in the midst of dissecting a fifth grade spirit beast with a few flourishes of his cleaver.
His hands were so nimble that the cleaver almost seemed to dance in his palms. With every flourish, a slice of spirit beast meat came flying off.
In mere moments, an entire spirit beast was stripped clean by his practised slices.
Storing the cleaver, the Ghost Chef wiped his hands clean before shakily making his way back to a tiny house within the courtyard. There, he sat down on a rocking chair and slowly rocked himself.
Just in front of the rocking chair was a gigantic black wok. The wok was bubbling with a white steam that gave off a strange odor as it wafted around the room.
After sitting there for a while, the Ghost Chef stood up and brought in a giant bucket. Within the bucket was the meat he had just dissected not too long ago.
Lifting up the lid on the wok, a rush of steam shot out and into the sky.
With an inscrutable look in his eyes, Wang Ding stared at the bubbling in the wok. His lips curled into a slight smile, after which he tossed all of the meat within that bucket into the wok.
Crackle... The meat began threshing about in the wok at a rapid speed.
Hands quivering, the Ghost Chef retrieved a tiny jar from his tunic and flipped open its lid. From within, he fished out a dark purple pill with two of his nearly dried up fingers.
Laughing creepily, he crushed the pill between his wizened fingers and poured the powder into the wok before covering it once more.
"That's the 35th fifth grade spirit beast... another two more and the Essence Meat Broth should be ready. By then, the fight for the Path-Understanding Fruit Tree should've started.
The Ghost Chef shakily made his way back to his rocking chair and plopped himself down comfortably. As he did so, he covered his legs with a plush fur blanket before resuming his rocking.
Over the past few days, the tiny restaurant had seen increased traffic. A number of Battle-Saints had long since lost their patience and had to see for themselves how far the Five Stripes Path-Understanding Fruit Tree had grown.
Of those that came, a number had been thoroughly conquered by the small restaurant's chef after having a taste of some his dishes. From then on, they became daily customers. After all, being able to savor such delicacies while basking in the Path-Understanding Notes of the fruit tree honestly wasn't a bad deal at all.
Within an earthen flower pot, tucked away in a corner of the restaurant, the Five Stripes Path-Understanding Fruit Tree grew. Its leaves had taken on a dark green hue and were riddled with a profoundly complex set of veins. There were five of them that coiled around it like a tiny snake.
Hidden amongst the leaves were three spirit fruits, the size of an infant, hanging tantalizingly off the tree's branches. As they barely hung onto the branches, four light blue clouds could be seen engraved onto their peel.
Those present knew that the moment the fifth cloud appeared, that meant the fruit had completely ripened.
Today, however, there were only four cloud engraved; it was still one short of the magical five.
"Xiaoyi, serve the dish." The faint voice of Bu Fang echoed from the kitchen.
A moment later, a bowl of piping hot Fish Head Tofu Soup was placed onto the windowsill of the kitchen by Bu Fang.
Ouyang Xiaoyi weaved around the dining hall along a path she taken multiple times before, dish in hand, till she finally came up to the table of a man dressed in a red robe.
"Your Fish Head Tofu Soup, please enjoy," Ouyang Xiaoyi said in her usual bubbly voice before winking at the handsome man dressed in a set of red robes.
For the past few days, this man visited them on a nearly daily basis. Each time, he would order a different dish and after finishing it, would leave right away, unlike the other Battle-Saints who loitered around for a long time, like flies.
"Many thanks." The man smiled warmly at Xiaoyi before turning his attention to his soup.
By now, Mu Lingfeng had been thoroughly conquered by the delicacies of this tiny restaurant. The first time he had a taste of its heavenly dishes, he received the shock of his life. Every pore in his body quivered from delight and his heart practically leapt out in joy.
He wasn't the only one either. Around him, a number of Battle-Saints had grown accustomed to this daily routine of finishing a dish or two and leaving right after.
"Such a pity... Once this fruit tree matures, this tiny shop will turn into a battlefield. I doubt it will survive then... I wonder if I will ever get the chance to savor such delights again." Mu Lingfeng lightly sighed to himself.
"Hmm?" Just as he took a few sips of his soup, his consciousness stirred. He promptly took out a jade talisman; it seemed to be sending a message of some sort.
"Elder Bian is already here?" Mu Lingfeng gasped in surprise, with one hand still ladling the fish soup with a blue and white porcelain spoon while the other operated the jade talisman.
Suddenly, Mu Lingfeng couldn't help but spit out the mouthful of fish soup he drank. His eyes suddenly widened as he accepted the message within the jade talisman, with a look of incredulity on his face. Truly, he didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
"Sheng Mu, that moron... he actually called for Elder Xia? He's even rushing here right now with the elder in tow... What exactly is he up to? Is he trying to make a move right now?" Mu Lingfeng had a dumbstruck expression on his face at the moment.
In fact, the Three Godly Temples of the Wildlands weren't as united as they seemed; each temple often competed with each other. Mu Lingfeng, himself, belonged to the Imperial Beast Hall. The Elder Bian he mentioned earlier was an expert of said Godly Temple.
As for Sheng Mu, he belonged to the Ferocious Divine Hall. Like the name suggested, he was all brawns and no brains. Elder Xia was an elder of the Ferocious Divine Hall and was a famously stupid but destructive man...
With the Five Stripes Path-Understanding Fruit Tree so close to maturity, the fact that this bunch of people were rushing here right now... wasn't it a bad thing?!