Three cauldrons were supported over a bonfire. In the pot, succulent meats were churning. A strong fragrance a.s.sailed one's nose and would make a person drool with desire.
Gu Zuo concentrated his attention on the three savory meals of wolf, deer, and leopard meat.
These three individual kinds of medicinal cuisine were brought together through numerous herbs, which were instantly cooked and blended. All kinds of aromas mutually promoted each other to make the flavors even more deliciously rich and fragrant.
In less than fifteen minutes, the broths in the three cauldrons changed into identical colors. Gu Zuo didn't dare neglect anything as he practically used his fastest speeds to move his arm. He brandished a ladle and made three scoops without stopping, taking out the best of each broth and pouring it into a large bowl.
In a split second, an extremely special fragrance suddenly spread out. It excited the tastebuds and made people's throats rumble, itching to plunder the broth and swallow it into their bellies.
Of course, there weren't any thieves here.
Because Gu Zuo was the chef, he had to use his formidable willpower to control himself and not immediately swallow the bowl of medicinal cuisine. Rather, he pinched his nose and scampered over to Tianheng's side without delay. He urgently pa.s.sed the bowl over to him: “Young master Tianheng, eat it while it's hot! Wait even a moment and the flavors will disperse. The results also won't be good!”
Gongyi Tianheng couldn't restrain a smile: “If Ah Zuo really wants to eat it, then you don't have to offer it to me first.”
Gu Zuo saw him take the bowl, and promptly took four or five steps back before gasping a mouthful of air: “Young master Tianheng is currently training his martial arts with all his strength. Naturally, you need to utilize the best resources and I have the best right here. I can't just give young master something inferior. As for having an appet.i.te for good food, while this is human nature, it isn't compulsory.”
Eating when one couldn't eat? The broth would make his patron's strength rise dramatically once he ate his fill. This was for the best. At worst, after they returned to the villa, he'd just reward himself with a feast. He a.s.sumed that his patron wouldn't be so cheap over a few dietary and medicinal ingredients.
Tianheng also didn't refuse the bowl.
As a matter of fact, Tianheng sensed that as his strength constantly improved, his appet.i.te grew increasingly larger. This could be considered a martial artist's normal state of affairs. A wild beast's choicest meat contained formidable vitality and energy, which was capable of nourishing a martial artist and strengthening the physical body.
So under the circ.u.mstances, so long as a martial artist was able, they would hunt wild beasts for meat to supply their body with energy. However, many martial artists didn't know the specifics on how to strengthen and nourish themselves.
On the other hand, wild beasts ate people and their own brethren for the same reason.
Gongyi Tianheng's body was relatively special. In the past, just like an ordinary person, he simply couldn't eat such things. Otherwise, he would experience tremendous forces rushing through him and explode. Once he was able to practice martial arts, soaked in medicinal decoctions, and ate medicinal cuisines every day, his energy requirements were already provided for. Ordinary foods were still the same as before, and nothing special was cooked.
However, after they headed out this time, Gu Zuo considered things carefully. Every couple of days, he would let Tianheng soak in a medicinal decoction. And each day, Gu Zuo began to switch things up, and prepared many kinds of medicinal cuisines for him.
Although Gongyi Tianheng couldn't refine medicine, he previously thought that his body suffered from an incurable disease and that the art of healing surely had research on it. The healing ability of ordinary people had very little use for martial artists, and the healing ability of martial artists was simple and crude. But to this end, this allowed him to gain some understanding, and he could judge that each and every dish of medicinal cuisine was special.
For the sake of his health, his little pharmacist provided him with food that definitely wasn't without a plan in mind. If this five element meal had an affinity towards fire, then the next would be a five element medicinal cuisine with a water affinity for neutralization. It would be followed by meals with a metal affinity, wood affinity, and earth affinity. One after another would be prepared. Even though the cuisines were so gentle, Gu Zuo strived his hardest to give him a resultant equilibrium among the five elements.
It was also because of this that Gongyi Tianheng was energetic every day. Occasionally, he'd suffer injuries, but by slightly emphasizing the medicinal properties, the cuisines could stimulate rapid recovery. It let him have no worries about anything.
These many thoughts that were tumbled around actually occurred within a split second — Tianheng's gaze flashed with a sense of relief as he ruffled Gu Zuo's hair: “Ah Zuo should also eat quickly. Don't let yourself go hungry.”
Gu Zuo chuckled and went to give Dragon Two and Xu Wenhe big bowls of the three fragrance broth. He told them to eat to their heart's content.
Waiting till after everyone finished eating, Gongyi Tianheng announced that they could leave this region.
Stampeding Oxen Mountain Range really was a pretty good place for training. It was deep and vast, with plenty of natural resources. Unfortunately, it already wasn't much use to the current him. For the most part, fights with Meridian Condensing third stage wild beasts were worthy challenges for Tianheng. And all of the first-rate medicinal herbs were found and harvested by Gu Zuo. Staying here would only be a waste of time.
A group of people slowly walked out of the mountain range. Gu Zuo asked: “Young master Tianheng, where are we going now?”
Gongyi Tianheng didn't answer him. Rather, he turned to ask his subordinate: “Wenhe, where is a nearby place where we can train our skills?”
Xu Wenhe thought about it, and replied: “The Arena of Life and Death.”
Tianheng raised an eyebrow: “Be more specific.”
Then, Xu Wenhe carefully told them in detail.
This Arena of Life and Death was the black market arena hosted by a hitman organization. The location was quite hidden. It was basically that organization's peripheral base of operations. Usually, if there was a martial artist who knew about that place, then they could enter through a referral and battle hitmen within the organization.
Gu Zuo was a little skeptical: “The hitmen can meet with people?”
Xu Wenhe smiled: “Pharmacist Gu doesn't know the full picture. The training of the ghost division's. .h.i.tmen is quite cold-blooded. In the arena, life and death are disregarded. The hitmen within are required to hold nothing back, tempering themselves in life or death fights to advance. Reportedly, this kind of training would allow hitmen to see blood, which would make one's nature cold and resolute. In the future, when it was time to a.s.sa.s.sinate, their actions would have no hesitation.”
He pondered for a bit, and said: “In addition, if one wanted the ghost division to release a mission, those strongholds are great places to communicate. This kind of exchange between the outside world and the hitman organization can still raise the organization's reputation. It's also advantageous for the ghost division's recruitment .”
Once again, Gu Zuo refreshed his perceptions a bit.
Hitmen nowadays also kept up with the times and were very modern. Not like before when they maintained a sense of mystery.
Xu Wenhe's speech still wasn't finished: “However, though these strongholds are only partially unrestricted, the ghost division's headquarters are still somewhere quite hidden. Unexpectedly, those who tried to enter the stronghold to check for information couldn't find it. Instead, it only gave them an increased sense of mystery and the ghost division's reputation spread even more.”
It was originally like this.
This ghost division neglected neither propaganda nor elite training.
Gu Zuo's face fell and he was left speechless.
Entering the mountain range might've been a little difficult, but it was much faster when it was time to leave.
A group of people quickly left the Stampeding Oxen Mountain Range. Just before they reached the border, Gongyi Tianheng ‘released' the carriage. Everyone got on, and the hitched flame lion horses were used to hasten their journey — The flame lion horses were only at the Bone Forging realm, but through intense training, they released their own survival instincts and could evade the hunting tactics of other wild beasts. Being called by Dragon Two's whistle, the horses quickly appeared in front of them.
With this mode of transportation , Gu Zuo and the others were much more comfortable.
…Inevitably, there would be a sense of rea.s.surance.
It was a medium sized city of the Cangyun Empire. It was surrounded by long, black walls and all four sides had city gates. The routes in all directions were free-flowing.
Thus, there were many people traveling here, and one could say that it was a mix of the good and the bad. That is, it was expected for one of the ghost division's strongholds to be secured here.
Xu Wenhe still had his way of doing things. He only walked into some random alley before coming out with a lithe teenager walking by his side.
As Gu Zuo carefully observed that guy's face, he discovered that this youth wasn't actually a young man. He ought to be a thirty year old with a tender, doll-faced look. Those two eyes were profoundly deep and didn't have the alertness of a teenager.
Xu Wenhe introduced him to Tianheng and the others: “This is someone who gives referrals for the Arena, Owl Nine. Now that we've already said our h.e.l.los, he can bring us over.”
To the referral person, he said: “This is my employer young master Li Dali, his bodyguard Liu Er, and his manservant Gu San.”
Regardless of one, two, three, or even nine, it was obvious that they were all pseudonyms.
However, both sides really didn't care that the other was actually using fake names.
After Owl Nine heard everything, his face revealed an eager smile: “So it turns out to be young master Li. It's an honor, an honor.”
Gongyi Tianheng had an arrogant smile: “You flatter me.”
Gu Zuo: Patron's starting to perform again…
Afterwards, Owl Nine seemed accustomed in his footsteps as he walked ahead onto the sidewalk: “Sirs, please come with me. I don't know how many of you will be going, and if you'll be going through the life door or death door?”
Tianheng kept pace with him: “Tell us what the life and death doors are.”
Owl Nine said: “The life door goes to the Arena of Life and Death. The death door goes to where you can spend a little money. The life door is one's own life, and the death door is someone else's death. Life and death isn't so complicated.”
Gu Zuo couldn't help ridiculing: Right. It's not like where if I live, you die. It makes sense depending on how you say it.
Not long after, Owl Nine brought a group of three to…a brothel.
That's right, a brothel. Even though this place didn't have the t.i.tle of “brothel,” the ones who were entertaining guests were all girls with flirtatious smiles. This definitely wasn't a hoax? After entering the building, the obscene extravagance and concealed activities that only martial artists could sense also weren't fake?
If one said that the stronghold was actually this brothel, then the ghost division's choice was definitely really strange.
The flame lion horses and the carriage were handled by attendants and moved to a stable. Owl Nine brought the people on the side into the building. Soon, some of the vague implications were slowly dispersed.
As it turned out, the brothel wasn't the stronghold. It was the stronghold's entrance.
After they moved forwards into a patch of darkness, Owl Nine exchanged a couple pa.s.swords with someone. Then, a sliding door opened.
Gu Zuo couldn't help trembling.
Within the door was a pitch-black  pa.s.sageway. There were absolutely no sounds. Moreover, it gave a person a feeling…that it was truly gloomy and cold.
Just at this time, a hand touched his shoulder.
Gu Zuo almost jumped into the air in fright. Fortunately, he had a sense of familiarity that promptly made him recognize it was his dear patron. It gave him a bit more sense of security.
Right, he and his patron were in this together.
This stretch of road wasn't long, and Gongyi Tianheng partially embraced Gu Zuo's shoulder. Although he didn't say anything, this imperceptible action gave Gu Zuo a lot of comfort.
Gu Zuo's frame of mind settled down. His reaction before was a little shameful.
Right now, he could dissect wild beast corpses without batting an eye . Unexpectedly, his reactions to being in the dark was the same as before. This wouldn't do. After they returned, he wondered if he should ask his patron for instructions. Maybe he'd make plans for him to adapt to different surroundings as training and so on? He was frightened when he met an unfamiliar situation, but that wasn't suitable for living in this world.
He needed to keep on living.
 生意拓展 - Sheng yi (life force) tuo zhan (expand).
 脚力 - Jiao li, refers to one's capability of traveling, usually on foot.
 伸手不见五指 - Shen shou bu jian wu zhi, stretching out your hand but being unable to see your five fingers, an idiom for complete darkness.
 Actual phrase used was 面不改色, where one's face doesn't change color.
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