Chapter 22 – Strength and Delicacy
These days Lin Ming had been practicing deboning with the flat back of a knife. He had taken half of the 95 gold and used it to purchase medicines. Now when he was training, he was able to leave a seven inch deep indentation in the Iron Wood tree with each punch. His strength was not any lower than 1500 jins.
However, he had still not reached the boundary of formlessness as described in the ‘Chaotic Virtues Combat Meridians’ manual, where each fist flowed like silk. The so called ‘flowing like silk’ was merely controlling one’s own strength. As soon as he accomplished this as described in the ‘Chaotic Virtues Combat Meridians’, then, if he were to punch at the Iron Wood tree, he would leave the bark unblemished, but the inner wood be shattered! Lin Ming had still not reached this ‘flowing like silk’ boundary.
Lin Ming drank a bowl of medicinal soup, and stripped off his shirt. He had practiced deboning like this every day, and through this method, was slowly beginning to understand how to control his strength.
The kitchen was hot, and using the back of the knife, the strength Lin Ming consumed was increased by several times. He even activated the ‘True Primal Chaos Formula’ at the same time he was cutting. Rivulets of sweat quickly flowed down his body. At this time, he did not that his inscription symbol had already caused a not-so-small controversy.
“Mister Muyi, Miss Qin, I would like to personally welcome you to our establishment. If you would like to come in we have already specially prepared a private room for you.” Sister Lan had already received the news ahead of time and arrived at the main entrance to greet the esteemed guests. The Great Clarity Pavilion and other high class restaurants and special rooms prepared for dignitaries and other high profile guests. These guests often did not like to eat in the open, so in order to create a more comfortable environment for them, there were several private rooms that were set up.
“Xiao Lian, prepare the best blue spring tea we have any inform the kitchen to prepare well. Bring out the best dishes!” Although Great Clarity Pavilion often entertained many honored guests; Muyi and Qin Xingxuan were the absolute cream of society! Regard if it was the Martial Quarters or the Imperial Palace, they had several executive master chefs that were beyond the skills of Great Clarity Pavilion’s chefs; there was simply no need for them to come here to eat a meal.
Qin Xingxuan said, “It is unnecessary, this time my master and I have come here to look for someone.”
“Oh? Looking for someone?”
“Yes, I hear you have a fifteen to sixteen year old boy staying here. About as tall as me, and his last name is Lin.“ Qin Xingxuan said Lin Ming’s last only, because it was common practice for guest room’s to only have the last name registered. For instance, Mr. Lin. Qin Xingxuan guessed that Lin Ming might even be with his master, if so, the registration wouldn’t be under Lin.
“A fifteen or sixteen year old youth….” Sister Lan thought about this then asked Xiao Lian, “Have we recently had a young man stay here?”
Xiao Lian shook her head and said, “I don’t recall, but I will check the log book to see.”
After Xiao Lian left, Sister Lan entertained Qin Xingxuan and Muyi as they sat down. After a period of time, Xiao Lian came back saying, “I checked the log books, and haven’t seen any recording of a young man coming in recently.”
The Great Clarity Pavilion was an establishment mostly frequented by professionals and top-level figures on business. They tended to be older individuals. There were very few families that came in and of course rarely young men.
Muyi frowned and said, “Not in the last ten days? How? Eight days ago the young man was at the Great Clarity Pavilion.”
Sister Lan seriously thought of this and said, “Our Great Clarity Pavilion doesn’t have many young boys or girls that stay here. Perhaps, if you are looking for someone with the last name Lin, our kitchen does have one and he has been here a month, but…he shouldn’t be the one Miss Qin is looking for.”
Sister Lan thought that Qin Xingxuan and Muyi came to look for a junior of some aristocratic family. Although Lin Ming had an interesting story in the kitchen so far, his family background was ordinary and his martial arts cultivation was not high. He shouldn’t have had any dealings with the Martial Quarters.
“Kitchen?” Qin Xingxuan said with a hint of surprise.
“Mm. He is a deboner…he is a very responsible young boy…it’s a job where one slices the meat.” Sister Lan saw Qing Xingxuan did not know what the occupation of deboning involved, so she explained to her.
“Slicing meat? Not possible.” Muyi heard it and did not entertain any hopes. How could an esteemed inscription master be a meat slicer?
But Qin Xingxuan did not give up. She pressed on, “What name was he called?”
“I’m not very sure; he speaks very little. We only know his last name is Lin. He should be working in the kitchen at this time. Would you like to take a look?”
“Mm. Lead the way.” Qin Xingxuan nodded as she stood up.
They followed Sister Lan and arrived at the Great Clarity Pavilion’s kitchen. Upon opening the door, Qin Xingxuan felt a billow of hot air and steam wrap around her. It was late in the summer, and combined with the kitchen heat, it was unbearably hot.
Qin Xingxuan simply revolved her soul force and scattered the dry, scalding air, and entered the kitchen along with Sister Lan. The kitchen chefs widened their eyes in amazement; some of the young men’s jaws almost reached the floor.
Great Clarity Pavilion had many esteemed guests entering and leaving, so these waiters and chefs had a broad experience and knowledge of who was important. Many of them recognized Qin Xingxuan and didn’t believe their eyes. In the entire Sky Fortune City there was nobody who had not heard of her name or knows of her outstanding talent. Why would she come to the Great Clarity Pavilion’s kitchen?
Sister Lan finally stopped and pointed at a room just off the corner of the kitchen, “Over there…”
Great Clarity Pavilion’s kitchen was very large, and Lin Ming worked in his own little room. He would slice the vicious beast meat here and then have it sent off to the freezer for preservation.
The door opened and Qin Xingxuan peeked inside. She could only see a youth wearing just a pair of green pants. His slightly muscled upper back was bare, and he was holding a common bone knife as he cut into the body of a vicious beast.
The youth’s back was facing Qin Xingxuan; viewed from behind, the young man had a symmetrically muscled and fit back, with skin tanned from the sun, and with a healthy sheen from exercise. Perhaps it was because of the kitchen heat or the maybe it was because the boy was working very hard, but his back was entirely covered with beats of sweat, and it gave off a daunting sense of strength.
Was he Lin Ming?
Qin Xingxuan was unsure, so she approached several steps. She saw the young man’s profile; it was a young and tender face with a resolute expression. At first glance it was not noticeable, but looking a bit longer could cause the heart to palpitate and leave a sense that he was an unforgettably lofty character.
Although she only saw a small side of him, Qin Xingxuan recognized that focused and sharp look, and it began to overlap with the image she had of Lin Ming from the Zither Department. She did not know why but it caused her mind to jump and a slight flush crept up her neck.
She hadn’t imagined the scene in front of her. The exquisite inscription symbol that required fine control of soul force and a delicate, gentle touch, was the same as this young man that was barbarically cutting the animal meat? These two completely contradictory ideas appeared in the same boy; the complicated and mysterious noble beauty, and the simple strength in contrast with each other gave her heart a momentary sinking feeling.
At this moment Lin Ming turned around. The kitchen had many people passing through, and when Lin Ming practiced he often ignored his surroundings, but he felt a difference that there were some people observing him. It might have been that there was someone coming to look for him.
But as he saw it was Qin Xingxuan, he paused. Qin Xingxuan? Why did she come to the Great Clarity Pavilion? For him?
Qin Xingxuan had noted the simple knife in Lin Ming’s hand. It was less than a foot long bone knife, and there was nothing special or particular about it, but what astonished Qin Xingxuan was that Lin Ming had unexpectedly been using the back of the knife to cut the meat. This, this was really…
Her gaze moved to the cuts of meat that Lin Ming had sliced up. The sections were consistent, even, and neat. Were these made using the back of a knife?
“Miss Qin, were you looking for me?” Lin Ming asked. He saw Muyi from behind and his heart shrank. This old man gave him a feeling of absolute strength, as if some invisible and constant force was pushing down on him. His background was most likely a top powerhouse, perhaps some master in the pulse condensation stage or even the rarer houtian stage!
“Little brother, are you Lin Ming?” The old man asked Lin Ming with a smile on his face. Lin Ming nodded; he couldn’t conceal anything from a master at this level. He guessed it was because of the sale of the two inscription symbols were brought to this old man’s attention. Although he had already assumed that the inscription symbols would be brought to others attention, he didn’t think it would happen so quickly.
This kind of circumstance might be a stroke of luck, but it could also be a calamity. If it was luck, then his inscription symbol prices would sharply rise in prestige and price, and he would be able to obtain a fortune he could use to buy some medicines to cultivate. But if it were calamity, then because his strength was low, he would be like a rhinoceros that was hunted and killed for its horn. Lin Ming had no ability to protect himself and might even be put under house arrest by certain parties and forced to create inscription symbols all day.
Before Lin Ming had entered the auction house he had considered all these points. He had thought of changing his identity and looks, but he didn’t know any profound skills to do that, and moreover was only fifteen years old so any illusion would easily be broken.
Sooner or later his inscription skills would have attracted attention and there would have been major forces investing him. He was just a young boy at the first level of body transformation, and had no great background. Using some cheap parlor tricks to disguise himself from these major powers was no different from some moron spouting nonsense.
Therefore, Lin Ming did not plan to hide his identity, and thought of a different way.