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Chapter 65: Invitation
After Huan Zhong refused to travel with the disciples of Clear Dawn Sect, Kong Hou subtly refused Clear Dawn Sect’s invitation. Chang De’s gaze moved around her and Huan Zhong, and he did not say anything.
They were not familiar with each other, and it was awkward to try to find a topic to chat about. Also, the dishes were so delicious that everyone’s attention was mostly on the cuisine. Even Huan Zhong who did not have a great appetite couldn’t help but eat more after seeing Kong Hou’s good appetite.
“This tofu and fish soup is so good. After drinking it, I seem to feel the freedom of the fishes swimming in the water. It lifts up people’s mood.” Kong Hou drained her bowl of fish soup and praised, “Your honored sect’s disciples have great skill.”
For cook cultivators, the best praise was to eat all their food. Bai An had encountered many people who praised him. The higher the status of the person, the more pleasing the words they would use to praise the skill of him or his apprentices. However, all these people only took a few bites, and then left the majority of the food in their bowl. Until the table was cleaned off, they would not touch the food again.
So Bai An never thought that the praise was sincere. No matter how grandiose the words they used to describe his cooking, he would not be moved. Yet at this moment, looking at the empty bowl in front of the young girl and her lingering gaze on Spirit Master Huan Zhong’s bowl, Bai An truly felt the sincerity.
“It is this old one’s honor that Celestial likes it.” Bai An stood and smiled at Kong Hou. “Celestial, please wait a moment.”
Kong Hou saw Bai An preparing to leave and said, “Spirit Master, where are you going?”
Spirit Master Bai An smiled kindly at Kong Hou. “To get something. I will be back soon.”
Kong Hou nodded dazedly. She felt something was wrong. Had she eaten so much that Spirit Master Bai An was sneaking to the kitchen to have the disciples make more?
Chang De put down his chopsticks and wiped away the unseen oil at the corner of his mouth. The guests were still eating but the host had left first. Five Flavors Manor was really casual in how they treated guests. Fortunately, he was a casual person and did not mind such minor things. He turned and looked at Radiance Sect’s Huan Zhong and Splendid Cloud Sect’s Kong Hou. He saw the two had put down their chopsticks as well but were still whispering to each other.
The two did not try to avoid Chang De, so he heard their conversation clearly.
“The shixiong and shijie of Food Hall have been defeated.”
“Harmonious City’s food is one of the best in Lingyou World; do not be so humble.”
“Last time, we left too quickly. If we had known each other back then, I would have taken you to taste some of the local specialities.”
“We can do the same in the future. I have not drunk this bowl of fish soup. Here, for you.”
“How can I…”
“I do not like fish soup. It is not good to leave too much food behind in front of a cook cultivator.” Huan Zhong pushed the bowl in front of Kong Hou. Then he pulled gently on Kong Hou’s sleeve under the table, his expression extremely serious. “Please?”
“All right.” Kong Hou looked down at her swaying sleeve and had no immunity against Huan Zhong’s “playing cute” behaviour. She raised the bowl and drained it. Such a good-looking man pulled on her sleeve for her help. Even if he wanted her to capture an evil cultivator, she feared she could not refuse, much less drinking a bowl of fish soup.
Lin Hu looked expressionlessly at Huan Zhong. How come he did not know Master did not like drinking fish soup? Back in Yan City, had he not drunk it? Being picky with food was something that could be acquired?
Chu Ji Xuan silently recorded that Great Grand Uncle did not like fish soup.
Chang De: “…”
After seeing this, he started to suspect that Huan Zhong was a fraudulent Radiance Sect sword cultivator.
After a short while, Spirit Master Bai An came in with a tray, smiling as he told everyone to continue eating. Seeing him say this, Kong Hou picked up her chopsticks. Spirit Master Bai An looked at her warmly, as though he was looking at his own granddaughter. “Celestial Kong Hou, taste this.”
He put the tray in front of Kong Hou.
There was a jade bowl on the tray covered by a verdant green jade cover. Food held in such special dishes as this would not be ordinary.
There were six people at the table, but only Celestial Kong Hou received this dish. Was Spirit Master Bai An’s partiality not clear enough? Chang De’s gaze landed on the tray. He also felt interested in this dish.
Kong Hou reached out to lift the cover. Inside was a milky-white round sphere the size of a fist which gave off a faint sweet fragrance. She looked with puzzlement at Spirit Master Bai An. What was this?
Spirit Master Bai An smiled and handed a small jade spoon to Kong Hou. Like he was talking to a small child, he said, “Tap it lightly.”
The spoon was cool and fine to the touch. Kong Hou’s gaze moved around the ball and then she tapped it with the spoon.
The ball gently shattered. Jade light and golden carps flew out. When she looked closely, they were not golden carps but golden spirit energy. The five colors melded together, the jade light merging with the shell and turning into a thick soup.
When the soup entered the mouth, it turned into dense spirit energy which spread through the limbs and bones. Kong Hou’s eyes widened, and she was unable to speak for a long while.
Seeing Kong Hou’s reaction, Spirit Master Bai An smiled in satisfaction. “I rarely make this dish. It is most suitable for pentad spirit base cultivators. It cleanses the body and condenses energy, and will rejuvenate the skin. You are the most suited for this at this table.”
“What is this dish called?” The dish was so good Kong Hou did not bear to eat it too quickly. She took small spoonfuls and enjoyed the comfortable feeling of the spirit energy cleansing her spirit meridians.
“There is no name.” Spirit Master Bai An smiled. “The most important part of a dish is not its name but its essence. No matter how beautiful the name is, it cannot enhance the taste.”
“Spirit Master is correct. The essence of the food is its taste.” Even though she ate slowly, Kong Hou still finished the dish. She put down the jade spoon, both happy and dejected. “It is great fortune to eat such deliciousness, but when I think that I will not be able to eat this in the future, I feel sad.”
“Do not be sad. If Celestial wants to eat this, come to my place,” Spirit Master Bai An said. “This old man does not know anything else, but understands a bit of cooking.”
“Spirit Master has such divine skill but says that you have just a bit. Other people would not even be beginners in comparison.” Chang De did not understand cooking but he could see this dish was not simple. He felt some desire rise. “Did Spirit Master ever think about walking in unison with other sects?”
What walking in unison with other sects? He just wanted Five Flavors Manor to join Clear Dawn Sect!
Kong Hou turned to look at Chang De. She had not expected Chang De who looked so honest to try and steal from Splendid Cloud Sect! Thinking about the anticipation everyone in Splendid Cloud Sect held, Kong Hou immediately said, “Path Friend Chang De is right. The sect master of my humble sect has attempted to mention this many times to Manor Master, but Manor Master has been unmoved. Sect Master has felt great regret due to this for many years.”
Chang De had heard the news that Sect Master Heng Yan had a good friendship with Spirit Master Bai An. Then something happened later, and their friendship cooled. Hearing Kong Hou mention this, he understood. So Splendid Cloud Sect had the desire to take in Five Flavors Manor.
When he realized this, Chang De stopped speaking to avoid Splendid Cloud Sect thinking that Clear Dawn Sect was trying to steal from them.
Spirit Master Bai An heard Kong Hou say that Heng Yan had attempted multiple times to mention this matter to him. He thought something was wrong with his memory. Had the other not been showing off the cooking skill and cultivation of his disciples? Was it not criticizing the cooking cultivators?
While puzzled, Spirit Master Bai An did not state his questions due to the outsiders present. Compared to the bothersome Sect Master Heng Yan, the sect master of Clear Dawn Sect who had never looked properly at him was an outsider among outsiders.
The meal could be considered to be pleasing to both guests and host. Chang De did not stay to sleep at Five Flavors Manor. After deciding a time and place to meet with Kong Hou in Kui City, he left Five Flavors Manor.
Kong Hou decided to persuade Spirit Master Bai An to join Splendid Cloud Sect and stayed behind with Spirit Master Bai An.
“Celestial Kong Hou, you must have misunderstood. Your honored sect master has never mentioned this matter to me.” Spirit Master Bai An saw Kong Hou so determined and said helplessly, “Five Flavors Manor is just a minor sect. If your honored sect really has the intentions, how could I refuse?” This young girl must have felt that their sect was strong after eating his cooking. Her elders in the sect might have mentioned him in front of her, so she misunderstood and thought the sect wanted Five Flavors Manor as a subordinate sect.
“Spirit Master, I am not lying to you,” Kong Hou said. “I will message the sect master now. If what I say is true, please, Manor Master, consider this matter seriously.”
“All right, if your honored sect really has such intentions, I will certainly agree.” Spirit Master Bai An saw the time was late. It was not appropriate for the young girl to stay in his courtyard, so he could only swindle her by agreeing.
He never dared to desire such a good thing. Even other famed sects were not ones they could join if they said so, much less Splendid Cloud Sect, one of the major ten. The sects that wanted their manor just wanted to strengthen their sect, and they did not care about their cooking.
In the eyes of many people, cooking was not a major matter. Cultivators could do it, and so could ordinary people. Cooking cultivators could not make pills, could not forge talismans, and could not fight with spells. They only knew to cook, and had no advantages compared to other cultivators.
Used to being looked down upon by other cultivators, Bai An had gradually given up.
While they were looked down upon, while they could not possess better cultivation opportunities, persisting in their path was also cultivation.
“Spirit Master agrees?” Kong Hou said joyfully. “Thank you, Spirit Master. I am sending a message to the sect right now to report the good news to the sect master.”
Seeing the young girl so happy, Spirit Master Bai An’s wrinkles relaxed. Someone used to being dismissed by others could be happy for a long time at finding someone who liked their cooking cultivation so much.
Translator Ramblings: Poor Heng Yan, so misunderstood.