"I'm sorry you had to see my nephew like that. He's usually not such a bad kid but he's been hanging out with the wrong crowd. I didn't have enough time to correct his ways before I came to the academy. He's been in the academy for the past two years and it's been getting worse. Enough of that though, I shouldn't unload my worries onto the children. Shall we go over the basics of cooking?" Jin Yuan stood up from his chair and gestured for them to follow him to his private kitchen.
"My private kitchen doesn't let anybody inside unless I authorise them. The only person that you could possibly see is my nephew if I allow him access to it to get something. I'm trusting you kids to not trash my entire kitchen. It's expensive and I have a lot of valuable ingredients that I store here for usage." He showed them around the room and which things went where.
"This is where we will be holding most of our lessons. Remember where it is now?" The four nodded at his question. "Good, now look here. The basics of my cooking style revolve around simplicity. No flashy movements, no extraneous movements, none at all. This is why I'm willing to teach the four of you cooking. It's fast and no time is wasted."
"I'll bring my nephew over to help with the lessons. I want you kids to get along with him despite how badly the first meeting went. He has a good grasp on the basics and his own style was built on that foundation. I want you all to treat each other with respect in the kitchen because that's how we work. We respect each other to get the work done and to satisfy the people that eat our food."
The kids nodded in affirmation to acknowledge the fact that they understood what Jin Yuan had asked of them.
"My style of cooking doesn't need you to learn much. It requires you to be able to follow the instructions. It requires you to at least know the basics of every single cooking method. With that, it's basically easy to cook. You wonder how I manage to get the food to become delicious? That comes with experience."
"You take a look at the recipe and you use herbs and spices to accordingly season it. It's just that simple. Do you kids get it?" He pointed his kitchen knife at them.
The four nodded their understanding. Jin Yuan continued his explanations, "The important things I'll get you kids to learn are the basics, ingredients and how they are or can be prepared, and different herbs and spices. Each and every single of these will eventually lead to you being able to cook well." He whispered very quietly so that none of them could hear, "Unless you are so hopeless to the point that everything in your hands becomes a disaster."
He clapped his hands together. "So the first lesson of cooking we'll be having... is to train your basics up to notch. I want you people to be able to recognise common ingredients and the way to prepare them. There are multiple ways to prepare an ingredient and it would be best to know each of them to be able to become a good cook."
The next 3 hours went by quickly as Jin Yuan demonstrated and corrected the four's cooking skills. He was immensely pleased with Shi Die's fast learning speed. He managed to complete most of the exercises that he had set for them with extreme ease. He had Shi Die help the others so that the lesson could go faster.
At the end of the day's lesson, the four walked out of the private kitchen room with various expressions. Jin Yuan had given them each a book on herbs and spices and told them to memorise them well. Shi Die and Ye Xiu were immensely proud of the progress they made whilst Xiao Tu had a bored expression on his face. He found cooking to be boring for him and wanted nothing more than to just go out and train.
Shang Yang was completely devastated and was muttering to herself. "How, how, how? How am I not able to cook well?"
Xiao Tu noticed her muttering so he went over to her. "Hey, you okay? It doesn't matter if you can't cook. Shi Die and Ye Xiu can be the ones cooking for everyone in the future."
Shang Yang looked up at Xiao Tu with crazed eyes. "I must be able to cook my own food. I'll never survive by myself."
Xiao Tu started snickering but quickly stopped when he realised that Shang Yang was being serious. "You know what they all say, practice makes perfect. So I'm sure with more practice in cooking you'll get better. Not everyone who is good at cooking started out as a good cook. They also had to practice to get to where they are you know? It's the same principle for cultivation."
Shang Yang had a hopeful expression. "I hope you're right."
Ye Xiu and Shi Die were discussing the cooking methods they had learnt with each other when they realised they had forgotten to buy food for their training session later. "Do you want to go back to get the food?" Ye Xiu asked.
"I'll get the food this time, you shouldn't be the one to always get the food. I also want to choose the food that we eat this time. It'd be nice to have a different flavour of food than the usual one we eat." Shi Die made his way back to the mess hall to get the food for them.
He quickly picked the different foods that he had wanted to try last time and went back to their dorm. They were about to go into meditation. Ye Xiu had pounded the fact that meditation would be more beneficial for them in the past few days especially after they had gained access to the Locket Dimension.
He had placed all the food into Ye Xiu's dimensional storage that had been given to him so he could carry the food and handed it back to Ye Xiu. "What's on our agenda today?" He asked.
"We'll be meditating for a few hours before heading into the Dimension. Ye Xiu and I have bought quite a few herbs and plants for us to plant in the yard for our alchemy." Shang Yang answered.
His ears perked up in interest. "I want to ask, would it possible for me to use at least one plot of land so that I can grow ingredients for cooking? You never know when it might come in handy."
Ye Xiu thought for a moment before nodding. "Yeah, it's definitely fine, I would've eventually done that myself but I guess you want to do it? We have a lot of space for growing things so there's absolutely no problem with how much you actually want to grow. The only problem would be how you would harvest it all by yourself."
"I'll do the harvesting and planting by myself. It'll help me ensure the ingredients quality and it'll also help me practice my skills if I do become a Spirit Cook in the future."
Ye Xiu nodded before looking at Shang Yang. "Did you really have to mention our rank to Jin Yuan's nephew? I know you were angry for his rudeness but you could've just mentioned your own rank instead of mine. I still want to keep a low profile in the academy. Though that's ironic seeing how we were seen conversing with the top rank Spirit Cook in the academy but still there was no reason for you to flaunt it like he did."
She rolled her eyes. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to do that, it was a spur of the moment thing. Would you forgive me?"
Ye Xiu sighed. "What's done is done. Let's start meditating now. No point in wasting any more time on pointless chatter."
The group went to their separate beds and started to meditate away from each other. Ye Xiu was prodding the numerous spheres of elemental Qi that he could spot towards each other. He wanted to see if he could do anything with the Qi that he saw during meditation. It didn't go as well as he had thought it would.
The green spheres which were of the wood affinity immediately disappeared when they were in contact with the red spheres. The red spheres increased in size whenever he did this. He had deduced that the spheres acted the same way as the typical Chinese element chart. Wood would feed fire and fire would feed earth.
He found it weird that fire would feed the earth but then when he thought of it logically, it made sense. Fire burnt things and after they were burnt it left the soil much more fertile than it was before.
Knowing that he had at least sated one of his curiosities, he decided to focus on utilising his cultivation technique. He was on the verge of breaking through for both his cultivation techniques and wanted to push through that last bottleneck. The dragon and phoenix technique were ready for the second stage but the bottleneck just wouldn't budge.
He kept on pushing and pushing for the rest of his meditation session before waking up after three hours had passed. He decided to wake up his friends and pull them into the Dimension.
"Shang Yang and I will go over to the fields to get some planting done. Don't wreck anything as usual otherwise, I'll come for your head." Ye Xiu and Shang Yang headed over to plant the herbs and plants that she had gotten over the past few days by sneaking outside.
Shi Die looked at Xiao Tu. "Do you want to just cultivate? I have too much energy from the cooking lesson so I want to release that energy and it's either cultivating or sparring? Do you want to come with?"
Xiao Tu thought for a moment. "I'll join you in a few minutes. I want to pick up a book from the library and test it out during sparring. It had some cool interesting moves that fit my fighting style so I want to try it out and practice it if it goes well."
Xiao Tu ran into the house to find the book that he was talking about before meeting up with Shi Die at the training yard. "Right go easy on me for awhile. I need to get used to the movements for the techniques."
Shi Die moved at a much slower pace because he had borrowed Xiao Tu's gravity accessories. He decided that if Xiao Tu was going to practice his new techniques, he might as well take the time to work on his strength and speed. He quickly got used to the slower pace and the two started sparring at a faster speed.
Xiao Tu was able to land more hits than Shi Die due to his faster speed without the gravity accessories. He was trying to get into the rhythm that his fighting style required him to be in. He eventually took out his quarterstaff and started to fight at a further range. The fight became slightly more even because Shi Die was able to hit with stronger attacks and pushed the quarterstaff into awkward angles.
Shang Yang and Ye Xiu were busy at the fields deciding where to plant things. They wanted it to be easier for them to harvest so they decided to put the faster-growing plants and herbs that were going to be used for alchemy on the plots of land closer to the house whilst the ones that would be left to grow on the plots of land that were further away from the house.
Their day was very good considering all the gains that they had made.