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Chapter 2 – Hearthfire Kitchens

Spirit Creek Sect, which was located within the Eastforest Continent, belonged to an offshoot of the lower reaches of the Tongtian River. Established on both the northern and southern banks of the Tongtian River, and with over ten thousand years of history, its name inspired awe throughout the land.

The sect had eight cloud-covered mountain peaks lined up across the Tongtian River. Among them, four of the peaks stood upon the northern bank, while the southern bank had three. The final peak, which was also the most majestic one of them all, was surprisingly situated in the middle of the Tongtian River.

Brilliant white snow could be seen starting about halfway up the mountain. It covered the peak, shrouding the summit. Only the lower half of the mountain, which was hollowed out by the golden water surging forward from the river, was visible. This made the mountain resemble a bridge-like structure.

At this time a colorful streak of light sped through the air just outside the southern bank of the sect. This streak of light, containing the middle-aged cultivator Li Qinghou and Bai Xiaochun, shot towards the miscellaneous chores region of the third peak. A faint scream could be heard as the beam shot past.

Bai Xiaochun felt as if he was going to die of fear. Throughout the entire flight he saw countless huge mountains, and he often felt that he was losing his grip on the the other party’s thigh.

The world blurred together, and by the time it had finally stopped, they had landed outside a tower. Bai Xiaochun sank to the ground, and his legs trembled as he looked at his surroundings. It was like they were in a completely different world when compared to the village.

A large stele was erected beside the tower in front of him. There were three gigantic words written in bold, cursive calligraphy on its surface.

Miscellaneous Chores Department.

Beside the giant rock, a pockmark-faced woman was sitting. As soon as she saw Li Qinghou arrive, she stood up to pay her respects.

“Send this child to the Hearthfire Kitchen.” Li Qinghou did not say another word. He turned around, no longer paying any attention to Bai Xiaochun. Then he transformed into a beam of light and disappeared into the distance.

When the pockmark-faced woman heard the two words, ‘Hearthfire Kitchen’, she became dumbfounded. Her gaze swept over Bai Xiaochun before giving him one of the sect’s Miscellaneous Chores pouches. She expressionlessly gave him an explanation before leading him out of the tower. Throughout this journey he saw numerous courtyards, countless towers and limestone pathways along with fragrant flowers and foliage—making it look like a paradise. As he looked around, the nervousness and apprehension in Bai Xiaochun’s rapidly beating heart slightly lessened.

“Such a good place! This is much better than the village.” Bai Xiaochun’s eyes brimmed with expectation. The beautiful scenery along the way became increasingly brilliant and outstanding as he continued to forge ahead. He even caught occasional glimpses of ethereal-looking beauties passing by. This immediately gave Bai Xiaochun an exceedingly positive impression of the sect.

A moment later, Bai Xiaochun became even happier, especially when he saw what was up ahead. It was a seven story tower; the whole building was sparkling, translucent, and clear. There were even manchurian cranes flying past in the sky.

“Senior sister, we’re almost there, right?” Bai Xiaochun asked in momentary excitement.

“Yes, it’s there.” The pockmark-faced woman was still expressionless as she replied softly, pointing to a small road to one side.

Bai Xiaochun looked in the direction that she was pointing. After casting a gaze filled with expectation, his whole being became petrified. He rubbed his eyes and looked carefully. Unfortunately what greeted him was a small road that was broken and cracked in several places, with run-down and tattered surroundings and several straw houses that looked as though they could collapse at any moment. Not to mention there were even some strange smells that wafted from over there…

Bai Xiaochun felt like weeping but he had no tears. He clutched at his last trace of hope and asked the pockmark-faced woman.

“Senior sister… did you point in the wrong direction?”

“No.” The pockmarked woman said indifferently as she set foot on the road. Bai Xiaochun felt all of his wondrous daydreams collapse in a flash and followed her with a bitter expression on his face.

He hadn’t walked very far before he saw the end of the small, dilapidated road. There were a few huge black woks scattered haphazardly around the place. With a careful glance, he noticed that there was a big fatty under each huge black wok, their brains full of intestinal fat [1]; it almost seemed like grease could be squeezed out from them. It wasn’t the usual amount of fat―especially for the fattest person inside, who looked similar to a mountain of meat. Bai Xiaochun was already worried about him possibly exploding.

Around Bai Xiaochun there were several hundred huge woks around the fatties which they were currently adding water and rice to.

The meat mountain noticed the newly arrived people. Realising that it was the pockmark-faced girl, he became elated. He carried a ladle as he ran towards them, causing the ground to shake. His entire body jiggled as he ran, producing countless ripples. Bai Xiaochun stared flabbergasted and subconsciously tried to reached out for his axe.

“This morning I heard the lucky magpie sing, so it was actually heralding big sis! Could it be that you have already changed your mind, big sis? Do you feel that I have some air of talent, and wish to become Dao partners with me on this gorgeous morning?” The meat mountain’s eyes revealed an lecherous glint as he shouted while running.

“I was told to escort him here to join your Hearthfire Kitchen. My charge has been delivered so I’m taking my leave!” After the pockmark-faced woman saw the meat mountain, she quickly drew back, her complexion extremely unsightly and somewhat enraged.

Bai Xiaochun gasped. He had already been mindful of that pockmark-faced woman along the way; her features were simply the work of devils. He wondered what kind of tastes this big fatty had to actually possess such a lecherous look even in this situation.

Before Bai Xiaochun even finished his thought, that meat mountain had already appeared before him with a whoosh, directly blocking out the sunlight and engulfing the boy with his shadow.

Bai Xiaochun glanced up at this giant whose fat was constantly jiggling. He swallowed down his saliva. This was the first time he had met such an obese person.

The meat mountain diverted his bitter gaze from the direction of the pockmarked woman and swept a glance at Bai Xiaochun.

“Oh hoh, you are just a newbie, yet you have already managed to cut in front of Xu Baocai and steal his position. That was no simple feat.”

“Senior brother, I am… I am Bai Xiaochun…” Bai Xiaochun felt that the other party’s titanic body was too overwhelming. The pressure the meat mountain exerted was too great, and he could not help but take several steps back.

“Bai Xiaochun? Hmm… pearly white skin, exquisite body and pure looking. Not bad, not bad, your name is very fitting.”[2] The meat mountain’s eyes lit up. His hands clapped down on Bai Xiaochun’s shoulder, almost knocking Bai Xiaochun over.

“What is big brother’s name?” Bai Xiaochun asked as he sucked in a breath. Disdainfully looking at the meat mountain, he decided to mock the other person with his own name.

“My name is Senior Fatty Zhang, that is Second Junior Fatty Huang, and Third Junior Fatty Hei…” The meat mountain snickered.

Upon hearing the name, Bai Xiaochun deeply felt that the people standing in front of him matched those names perfectly, and he immediately dropped the idea of mocking them.

“As for you, in the future, you will be named Ninth Bai… little junior brother, you are too skinny! This way, you would only make our Hearthfire Kitchen lose face, but it’s fine, you can relax. In one year, you will grow to be as fat as us too. In the future, your name shall be Ninth Junior Fatty Bai.” Senior Fatty Zhang patted his chest, his fleshy body vibrating vigorously.

After hearing the name ‘Ninth Junior Fatty Bai’, Bai Xiaochun’s facial expression creased to the point where tears of bitterness could be squeezed out from it.

“Since you are our ninth junior brother it means you are no longer an outsider. Our Hearthfire Kitchen has always had a custom of carrying woks; do you see this wok behind my back? It’s known as the king of woks. It’s manufactured from refined metal, and an Earth-Fire Formation was engraved upon it. The fragrance of the spiritual rice cooked within this wok far surpasses that of spiritual rice cooked with other woks. Go, choose one for yourself and carry it upon your back; that will showcase our awesomeness.” Senior Fatty Zhang patted the big black wok upon his back, bragging.

“Senior Brother, about carrying woks, can I not…” Bai Xiaochun took a glance at the wok on big fatty’s back and instantly realized that everyone from the Hearthfire Kitchen carried woks. After imagining the appearance of himself carrying a huge black wok, he hastily spoke.

“How could that be? Carrying woks is the tradition of our kitchen faction. Later on when you are amongst the inner disciples, if people see you carry a wok, they will know you belong to the kitchen faction and will not dare to look down on you. Even though we work in the kitchens, we have a big reputation!” Fatty Zhang stared at Bai Xiaochun with widened eyes. Without pause, he carried Bai Xiaochun to the back of the hut. There, thousands of woks lay dormant, the majority of which were covered in a layer of dust. It was clear that it had been a long time since anyone had been here.

“Ninth Junior Brother, pick one and then we will go and cook. If the rice isn’t ready in time, the outer disciples will complain!” Fatty Zhang shouted. He then rushed out with many other Fatties, carrying with them hundreds of woks.

Bai Xiaochun sighed and stared at the stacks of woks lying about. While he was thinking about which wok to choose, he noticed that in the corner laid a seemingly warped wok.

The shape of the wok rim seemed to be a bit unique. It was not round, but instead oval. At a glance, it didn’t even look like a wok, but instead a turtle shell. There were also faintly visible writings on it.

“Mhm?” Bai Xiaochun’s gaze sharpened, and he quickly walked towards it. After squatting down and examining it, he took it out and then examined it again in detail. Then, his eyes gleamed with delight.

He had loved turtles since he was young, because turtles symbolized longevity. The reason he came to cultivate was also to obtain longevity. Now that he saw this wok which resembled a turtle shell, he thought it was auspicious and a sign of good luck.

When he carried this wok out, Fatty Zhang saw it from afar and ran over while carrying a large spoon.

“Ninth junior brother, why did you choose this one; it has been left here unused for countless years. Since it looks like a turtle shell, nobody ever chooses to carry it on their back either. This one… Ninth junior brother, are you sure?” Fatty Zhang patted his own stomach and advised in good faith.

“I’m certain. I want this wok.” Bai Xiaochun firmly replied. Every time he looked at it, he liked the wok more and more.

Fatty Zhang advised him once more, but after seeing Bai Xiaochun remain insistent on the wok, he merely glanced at him weirdly. Without saying anything, he organised for Bai Xiaochun to stay in a straw hut behind this Hearthfire Kitchen, and hurriedly left.

It was already dusk. Bai Xiaochun was carefully examining the turtle-shaped wok within his thatched hut. He discovered that there were ten dark stripes on its backside that were nearly impossible to discover without a close inspection.

He felt that this was no ordinary wok, and carefully placed it on the stove. Only now did he look at his surroundings. It was very simple―containing a bed, table, and a chair. As he continued his observations, there was a sudden flicker of violet light inside the wok but it disappeared without a trace.

For Bai Xiaochun, this had been an eventful day. Although he had now arrived in the world of immortals which he had longed for, in the end, he was still at a loss within his heart.

A moment later, he breathed in deeply, and a glimmer of hope shone in his eyes.

“I want a long life!” Bai Xiaochun sat down and pulled out the pouch given to him by the pockmark-faced girl from the Miscellaneous Chore Department.

Inside, there was a medicinal pill, a wooden sword, and an incense stick, along with a set of overalls. There was also a token and a bamboo tome filled with small letters.

“Violet Qi Cauldron Technique, Qi Condensing Manual.”

At dusk, Bai Xiaochun was inside his hut, looking at the bamboo tome with high expectations while the Fatties were busy inside the Hearthfire Kitchen. He joined the sect to gain longevity, and this tome in his hand was the first step towards that. Taking several deep breaths, Bai Xiaochun opened up the bamboo tome and began to read.

After a moment, a glimmer of excitement revealed itself in Bai Xiaochun’s eyes. The tome contained three diagrams. According to the manual, cultivation was divided into two realms: Qi Condensing and Foundation Establishment. Furthermore, the Violet Qi Cauldron Technique itself was divided into ten stages, corresponding with the ten stages of the Qi Condensing realm.

When a cultivator reached the first stage, they would be able to harness external matter to aid themselves. Once they reached the third stage, they would be able to harness less than half a cauldron. At the sixth stage, they would be able to harness the majority of a cauldron and a full cauldron at the ninth stage. At the peak of the Qi Condensing Realm, they would be able to harness two cauldrons. [3]

It was just that this bamboo tome only contained the first three stages of the technique. The remaining stages were not included. In addition, this Violet Qi Cauldron Technique also required one to follow a particular breathing pattern and specific motions in order to cultivate.

Bai Xiaochun closed his eyes, focused his spirit, adjusted his breath, and mimicked the motions depicted within the bamboo tome. After persisting for three breaths, his body began to ache and he let out a scream. He was unable to continue, the breathing technique didn’t provide him with enough air to breathe.

“It’s too hard. It says up there that by cultivating in accordance with this first picture, one should be able to sense a trace of Qi faintly running through their body. But other than suffering, I didn’t feel anything at all.” Bai Xiaochun was a little vexed, but for the sake of immortality he clenched his teeth and tried again. Through the evening he encountered obstacle after obstacle, but not once did he manage to sense any Qi inside his body.

He didn’t know that without external forces, even someone who possessed extremely exceptional aptitude would require at least one month to simply cultivate this first stage of the Violet Qi Cauldron Technique. He had only been here for several hours, so it would be impossible for him to be able to sense Qi.

With his entire body currently aching, Bai Xiaochun stretched. Just before he was about to go wash his face, clamouring sounds suddenly came from outside. Bai Xiaochun stuck his head out the window and caught a glimpse of a sickly-looking young man standing outside the gates to the Hearthfire Kitchen’s courtyard.

“Who took my, Xu Baocai’s, designated position? Get the fuck out here!”

This is the official update! This new book is both fresh and delicate like a young sapling, and urgently needs care and cherishment. I beseech recommendations tickets, I beseech favourites!!! Recommendations, recommendations, recommendations, favourites, favourites, favourites; this is an important matter, so I need to repeat it three times!!! [4]

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