Weeks of cooking lessons led to Xiao Tu, Shang Yang and Ye Xiu to dropping the class. They were unable to keep up with the speed and difficulty of the lessons were at. Shi Die was keeping up easily with what Jin Yuan had to offer and Jin Yuan had eventually decided that only Shi Die was going to be capable of keeping up with his lessons in Spirit Cooking. With that, the trio left Shi Die alone in his lessons and they went back to focusing on their daily training.
Jin Yuan was much more strict during the Spirit Cooking lessons compared to when he had been in the normal cooking lessons. This meant that Shi Die couldn't afford to make any blunderous mistakes that could be counted as basic to Jin Yuan. Shi Die's progression in Spirit Cooking was much slower due to the caution he had placed on his work.
Every time he managed to finish something, Jin Yuan had examined it with a close eye. If it wasn't up to a certain standard, he'd dismiss it and ask him to start again. It was harsh and difficult but Shi Die knew that if he truly wanted to help out his friends in the future, he'd have to put in the same amount of effort as he did during training.
Shi Die was fascinated with how Spirit Cooking worked and wanted to ask Shang Yang and Ye Xiu multiple questions due to some of the similarities in the occupation that they had chosen. He had decided that he would ask them after today's lesson which Jin Yuan would cover the basic Qi control exercises that he needed to learn.
He was in the private kitchen, waiting for Jin Yuan to start the day's lesson. He was patient because he knew that Jin Yuan still had to cook for the students and sometimes he had to cook for longer due to whatever hunger pangs those students faced. Jin Yuan couldn't just leave the kitchen because he still had to keep an eye on the cooks to make sure nothing went wrong.
The academy didn't want to offend the many families that had their children enrolled in the academy. Just because the academy was considered as a very strong academy, in actual fact, it didn't have that much reliable manpower. Most of the teachers were associates or friends to the numerous clans that mingled within the academy. Which meant if an actual fight broke out, the academy would lose pretty much instantly due to internal strife.
Jin Yuan took over an hour before he appeared. Jin Yuan had made their lessons become five-hour lessons but most of the time they were shortened to three to four hours due to Jin Yuan's work. Jin Yuan walked into the private kitchen at a brisk pace. He ordered Shi Die to come to the front table so that he could directly show him how he trained in his Qi control.
"You see here, Spirit Cooking relies on Qi control as well. That also means that we have to practice these exercises so that we can have our control at it's best. We use the same exercises as those that practice the Medical arts and Alchemy. They may say that others don't rely on Qi control as much as they do but that's a lie."
"Many disciplines rely on Qi control, exercises may differ from different disciplines but ours don't. We follow the same exercises that those who practice Alchemy and Medical arts because the original founder of Spirit Cooking was actually a person who was a master in the Medical Arts."
"This master had wanted to find out if there were ways to improve a person's health or to speed up a person's cultivation based on the food and beverages that they consumed. Through this, many experiments were conducted to eventually lead to where we were now. He built it on the foundation of infusing Qi into a live body from the Medical arts and eventually managed to infuse it into an object that was dead for an indefinite amount of time."
"From there, he tried to experiment on different effects that the infusion could create and over several years, he became famous and the ways of his methods of cooking started to spread. If you have trouble with these exercises, I'd suggest you go ask your two friends, Shang Yang and Ye Xiu. I know that the two of them are decent alchemists and the level of control you need for it is much higher than Spirit cooking."
Jin Yuan started demonstrating the basic techniques for what he was going to start his control on. After the demonstration, he told Shi Die to go back because the lesson was finished. "Sorry for the inconvenience but there's a meeting today that I have to attend."
Shi Die nodded and left the kitchen. He went to the mess hall to go get the food for the group's training later. Shi Die was busy trying to figure out how Jin Yuan had managed to do the exercise. Jin Yuan seemed to be in a hurry today so he didn't show the technique or explain the exercise well enough for him to understand.
Shi Die was the one to get the food on those days because he was much closer to the mess hall than they were. Life didn't change much for them besides the fact that more teachers in the academy were now getting interested in several students. Teachers usually waited for weeks to pass in the academy when it first starts out so they can see the potential in the students.
The scouting process was unknown to many of the new students but those that had knowledge of it already were the ones who trained much harder and strived to perform at their best in every lesson that they attended. Obviously, the group had no idea that this was a thing in the academy and just did what they usually did.
When teachers chose the students that they wished to teach, it was a very private affair. Teachers didn't like being badgered by students so that they could be chosen. They disliked it more when they were harassed because of the student they chose. They kept who they had chosen to teach in quiet so that if they had done well under their tutelage, they could shine above their peers.
This was how many of the teachers were renowned throughout the academy. They chose those of high potential and only allowed them to participate in the teacher's name once they had reached a suitable level that the teacher had deemed appropriate.
Some of the teachers had their eyes on the group who had been running around at night. They had noticed their speed of cultivation and their effort that they put. This alone attracted interest and many teachers wanted to see more of the four's potential.
Deciding to just go back to the dorm room so that he could ask Ye Xiu or Shang Yang for help on the exercise. He saw that the three of them were already meditating. He scratched his head because he didn't know where to put the food. Deciding to just call for Ye Xiu who would probably hear him. "Ye Xiu, mind waking up? I'd like to ask a few questions and I also need to use your storage to put the food in."
Ye Xiu's eyes opened suddenly and he got up from his meditating position. He passed over his storage ring before stretching for a while. "What do you need to ask me?" He looked at Shi Die as he stretched.
Shi Die was placing all the food into the storage as he answered Ye Xiu. "Jin Yuan told me that I needed to practice Qi control and that the two of you, Shang Yang and you could be asked to help me for my control. He said that the Qi control exercises for Spirit cooking were the same as the ones you practice for the Medical Arts."
Ye Xiu looked at Shi Die surprised. "I didn't think Jin Yuan knew that we were alchemists. He probably he heard it when Shang Yang was shouting at his nephew though." Ye Xiu was deep in his thoughts before snapping out of it. "Why does Spirit cooking use the same control exercises as the Medical Arts though? I know that for smithing, Xiao Tu had to practice a different type of control so it should differ for most disciplines shouldn't it?"
Shi Die nodded at Ye Xiu's question. "Apparently, the start of Spirit cooking was started by a person who originally was a master in the Medical Arts who wanted to make food and beverages benefit cultivation and the body."
"That's very interesting." Ye Xiu clapped his hands. "Oh right, you wanted help with your Qi control? What exercises did Jin Yuan set for you to practice?"
Shi Die took out pieces of paper and Ye Xiu understood the exercise because it was the first one he had practised. He started to slowly go over the sensation and how to guide the Qi in his body to come out of his finger. With Ye Xiu's help, Shi Die managed to guide his Qi to his finger but was unable to externalise it. He was panicking thinking that it was supposed to be easy.
Ye Xiu noticed and calmed him down. "It's fine, most people don't get it on the first try. Just imagine that you are pushing out poop but from your finger. You have to force it out. Imagine it like you are threading a needle and it finally comes through. It's similar because the Qi thread can come out of your skin pores."
After several minutes with a face that looked like he was constipated, Shi Die finally managed to push out a single thread out of his finger. He looked at Ye Xiu who smiled at him. "Good job. Now we have to practice your thread movement. I don't want you to head straight for the exercise because it'd be more beneficial if you learnt how to control the movement of the thread first."
Shi Die practised his thread movement so that it became more natural to him. Ye Xiu instructed him that instead of making it move with physical motions, he should use thoughts to move the thread. He had told him that Qi control mainly relied on the mental strength and soul strength.
He tried to acclimate to the weirdness of the sensation of moving the thread with his thoughts. It felt very unnatural because he couldn't physically feel the movement of the Qi thread and could only observe the movement. He persisted with the exercise because he really wanted to continue with Spirit Cooking. He also didn't want to disappoint Ye Xiu because he was taking time out of his schedule to help him with the exercises.
After a few hours of moving the thread around, Ye Xiu told him that he could begin piercing the thread through the paper. "I want you to pierce the paper with your thread, the holes from the thread can only be the exact diameter of the thread. If it isn't, keep on piercing until you manage to pierce all your holes with exact precision.
The others started to wake up from their meditation and noticed Shi Die poking holes onto a piece of paper. Shang Yang was intrigued. "Shi Die, are you doing Qi control exercises?"
Shi Die made a mistake when he heard Shang Yang and quickly looked up. "Ah.. yeah. Jin Yuan told me that Spirit Cooking required me to have good Qi control so he decided to set me exercises to improve it. Ye Xiu helped me with the thread so I had much less trouble in starting the exercise.:
"That's good, we'll be going into the Dimension now so you should come with."
Shi Die nodded, he walked towards Ye Xiu who took ahold of their hands before entering the Dimension.Exer