Chapter 2 – Peculiar Stone
[TL: Last chapter for this week.]
Chapter 0002 Peculiar Stone
“Brother Ming, you were truly domineering back then!” Lin Xiaodong said with gusto as they walked down the road.
Lin Ming remained quiet. The things that he had said back then had sounded grand and impressive, however, it would be extremely difficult for him to surpass Zhu Yan. The amount of effort that he would be required to pay would be colossal.
He has no fear of hard work or bitterness. But the same could not be said for internal injuries. Medicinal herbs were needed to heal those injuries and those medicines were undoubtedly expensive.
Lin Xiaodong was able to guess what Lin Ming was thinking and said. “Brother Ming, all you need to do is train hard. As for the financial side of things, I will figure it out for you. Just be rest assured, even though my grandfather’s position in the family is not high, it is still nothing to scoff at. Taking out a few hundred gold liangs is not impossible for me.”
Lin Ming stopped walking and turned around to face Lin Xiaodong. In life, there are many fair weather friends, but those who would offer help in times of need are rare. Between brothers, saying thanks would be hypocritical. Yet, Lin Ming still stopped and said in a serious tone. “Xiaodong, thank you”
“Enough, stop this. This is too much for me. I am not someone who pursues much in life. Taking the entrance assessment for the Seven Profound Martial House is simply a way to protect my father’s reputation. Brother Ming, I will bet on you. After you become a master in the future, you must help cover my ass a bit, hahaha.”
Lin Ming gave a hearty smile and laughed. “En! With a brother like you, I will definitely persevere onwards onto the Martial Way.”
By the time Lin Ming returned to his dwelling place, it was already evening. This room was one that he had rented. During this period of time, from the day that Seven Profound Martial House began its registration for entrance assessment until the day of its assessment, all the dwelling places within Sky Fortune City would be packed and inns full. The rental rates would undoubtedly increase by half. Thus, many applicants would choose to rent a room. Naturally, that in itself was not a cheap option.
Lin Ming had rented a single room of only ten square meters in area with a very simple set up. Just as he was about to begin his meditation upon the bed, someone knocked on the door.
Lin Ming opened the door to see the landlady standing there. The landlady is a roughly fifty years old woman with a somewhat obese body. The landlady’s face was usually fierce and harsh, but today she was sporting a pleasant looking smile, causing Lin Ming to feel that something was off.
“Landlady, is there anything?”
“This… little fellow, I am sorry, but can you please vacate this room.”
“En?” Lin Ming frowned. “Why?”
“Hehe, sorry, but I have rented this room,” A harsh sounding male voice interrupted. Lin Ming turned around and found a man with huge monkey like ears walking in from the hallway. The man was smiling in a seemingly playful manner.
Looking at him for a moment, Lin Ming recognized him as one of the underlings that had followed along behind Zhu Yan and the other young man. It appeared that he is the underling of the other young man. Back then, the other young man had remained silent and only looked at Lin Ming and Lin Xiaodong with an expression of contempt.
No doubt, the young man was currently trying to get in the good books of Zhu Yan by sending his own underling to cause problems for Lin Ming. All he needed to do was offer a rental fee several times higher than what he had and the landlady would naturally be willing to force him out.
Presently, the Seven Profound Martial House is holding its registration event, leading to difficulty in searching for a dwelling place. Finding another place to rent was easier said than done. But even if he did, there was no guarantee that this underling would not appear to cause problems for him again.
Lin Ming’s face turned heavy and he gazed coldly at the landlady. “Back then we had agreed that I will be renting for five months. I have also paid you the five months’ rent in advance. Currently, there is still three more months until the deadline. But, you want me to leave now?”
The landlady smiled apologetically. “This… Naturally, I am aware of this. How about this? I will return the rent for the three months back to you. How about that?”
“Ah! Return me the three months’ rent? You have quite the calculative mind!” Lin Ming’s anger had begun boiling. If this landlady had been forced to evict him due to the pressure of the other person, then Lin Ming would simply have left. However, her current actions and words have made him furious.
“Hey, what are you talking about. Back then, we had only talked about it and not signed off on anything. This room is mine. Who I choose to rent it to is up to me!” Considering Sky Fortune City’s status as the capital city of Sky Fortune Kingdom, all the property owners here have a subconscious sense of superiority. To them, all those who came from the outside are but country bumpkins; they would look down upon them while speaking in tones of disdain towards them. Furthermore, this man beside her was obviously someone sent by a rich and powerful family. With someone like this backing her up, the landlady became more courageous.
At this moment, the man with monkey like ears laughed out arrogantly. “If you are sensible, then just get out immediately. I will tell you something else. This Young Master has my eyes on you. Even if you manage to find another place to rent, I will still be able to throw you out. Within this three months before the entrance assessment for the Seven Profound Martial House begins, you should just resign yourself to sleeping in the streets, haha!”
The man laughed.
For those who were born within the circle of elites, it was only natural for them to form an arrogant sense of superiority. However, even when they were expressing their arrogance, they would still maintain a certain bearing of grace and speech, just like Zhu Yan. This person standing before him on the other hand was revealing a naked form of arrogance, one befitting those of bullies who could only depend on others.
Lin Ming stared at the man with monkey like ears, his eyes turning colder with each passing moment.
“What are you looking at? Are you thinking about hitting me? Let me tell you, my Young Master is the second son of the lord of the Defence Army for Sky Fortune City. If you dare beat this Young Master, then this Young Master will…”
“Scram!” Lin Ming shouted and threw out a punch, striking the man squarely in this nose. With a “peng”, the man flew out followed by a series of crashing sounds. After which, the man lied on a pile of debris amidst broken furnitures and pots, his hair dishevelled and his face dripping with blood.
A fist capable of indenting Iron Tree struck the man squarely in the face. The result could be imagined, the man’s nose had totally sunk inwards.
The landlady became shocked, her eyes bulged out for several moments before suddenly shouted out miserably. “Help! Murder!”
The landlady rushed out, but her fat legs were unable to work properly and she fell on the floor with a plop.
Lin Ming stepped towards the man with monkey like ears. Even though his First Stage of Physical Training was only the beginner territory of the martial way, it was by no means worthless. After all, many people within Sky Fortune Kingdom were unable to train in martial arts. Lin Ming on the other hand was a good talent to begin with. In addition, he was very hard working. Amongst one thousand peers of the same talent, it may be difficult to find even one with the same level of strength as him. As for this man, he was simply an underling and did not take much effort for Lin Ming to deal with him.
The man kept moaning, he had never imagined that Lin Ming would actually beat him. He raised a blood-stained finger and pointed at Lin Ming. “You… you dare hit me, you… you are finished.”
“I do not know what would happen to me, but I do know that you are finished,” Lin Ming delivered a kick at the man’s abdomen, causing him to cry out miserably. Once again, he flew out. Only this time, he broke through the door and ended up being kicked all the way outside the house.
Lin Ming did not say anything. He returned to his room and packed up his belongings and began to leave. The entire house had been reduced to a state of mess, causing blood to drip out of the landlady’s heart. She timidly said. “You… you cannot leave like that, you… must… must compensate.”
Lin Ming stopped walking, he turned around to face the landlady who was slumped on the floor like a human meatball. He asked. “Compensate?”
“Compensate… compensate…” The landlady’s voice began losing its strength. She felt as though the gaze of the young man before her was just like a window into the nine infernal abysses, causing her to shudder.
Without saying anything, Lin Ming punched the walls, his fist penetrating through the brick walls of the house, causing the entire house to shudder and dust to fall off the ceiling. The landlady screamed out and fainted.
Lin Ming carried his luggage and walked out of the house without even glancing at the fainted man.
Lin Ming was well aware that after beating up this man, the person behind him would never let this go and would certainly bring upon Lin Ming no small amount of trouble. However, Lin Ming had no regrets.
As a man, there was a need to endure. If the person who had come today was a martial artist, Lin Ming would not have acted as he did and would have chosen to endure. This loss was one that must be endured. However, the one who appeared before him was a worthless underling, one who could only depend on the backing of his master. If Lin Ming had to endure what this kind of person had to say, then what was the point of him learning martial arts?
That was simply incompatible with the Martial Way within Lin Ming’s heart.
Thus, Lin Ming left the neighbourhood. After a while, he put down his backpack and started considering how to solve his dwelling problem. As of now, all the inns were full; in addition, the prices were also far too expensive for him. Even though he has no objections to sleeping in the wilds, Lin Xiaodong would probably throw a fuss and insist on bringing him to his own abode.
If Lin Ming were to do so and the second son of the Army Lord sends his men there, Lin Xiaodong himself can forget about sleeping in his house. He will have to accompany Lin Ming and sleep on the streets.
Moreover, Lin Ming had just provoked a dangerous trouble. There was no guarantee that the Army Lord’s second son would not send some thugs over. In these people’s eyes, causing others to become crippled was no big matter. Lin Ming did not want to bring such a kind of problem to Lin Xiaodong.
If that is the case, then where could I go?
After contemplating about it, Lin Ming finally thought of a place – the most luxurious dining establishment in Sky Fortune City – Grand Clarity Pavilion.
The Grand Clarity Pavilion’s consumer base are all of the highest class. In addition, they themselves possess a strong background. With such a strong base of power, a mere second son of an Army Lord could no nothing against it.
The reason Lin Ming wanted to go to Grand Clarity Pavilion was obviously not to spend money to rent a place. He was headed there to find work. Lin Ming’s parents operate a restaurant, it was a given that Lin Ming would be able to cook, the taste of his cooking was quite good as well. However, he was not conceited enough to think that he could compete with those cooks in Sky Fortune City. After all, his forte did not lie in the area of cooking…
Grand Clarity Pavilion remained brightly lit even as Lin Ming arrived. It is the establishment with the best business in Sky Fortune City.
Lin Ming’s clothes were too ordinary, causing all who saw him entering the establishment to look at him with a strange expression. A person with such a kind of clothes would usually be unable to eat within this Grand Clarity Pavilion. Furthermore, there was also the fact that Lin Ming is only a fifteen-year-old teenager.
However, the waiter maintained a favourable manner as he walked over and asked. “Little brother, are you here with your parents?”
Lin Ming shook his head and replied. “I am here for a job.”
Hearing that, the waiter frowned. What kind of job could a mere fifteen-year-old kid do? Here, waiting requires beauties who are at least eighteen years old or handsome males who are at least twenty years old. As for cooking, what kind of cooking could a fifteen-year-old kid produce?
“Go away, don’t cause a disturbance here,” The waiter waved his hand impatiently.
“I can really work, just let me into the kitchen to try.”
The waiter asked in an unhappy voice. “What can you do?”
Lin Ming smiled and replied. “Deboning.”
“What?” The waiter became stunned.
Deboning is a biased line of work and not every restaurant would set up such a job. This job requires the meat dresser to cut up the quarry or hunted animals into pieces while removing its bones.
A master level meat dresser could cut up a cow with ease and skill, a good meat dresser could also cut up a cow, but would require a change of knife every year. Some meat dressers even need to change their knives once a month. In addition, the efficiency involved was low and they would need half a day to cut up a cow.
As for Grand Clarity Pavilion, their ingredients are not cow meat but Ferocious Beasts meat. The meat of Ferocious Beasts is delicious but their scales, skin, bones and tendons are exceptionally tough. Ordinary people would have to struggle to great lengths just to cut out a small part of it. Martial arts masters on the other hand would not be willing to lower themselves to do such a kind of job. Even if they were willing, someone who does not understand how the muscles, bone and tendons come together would not be able to do it. Using pure strength alone in the cutting up process would cause it to lose its delicious taste.
Deboning was how Lin Ming had first come into contact with the Martial Way. Within his parents restaurant, he trained himself in the deboning process every day for the past ten years.
It was a very tiring job! Lin Ming had never considered himself a genius in the martial way. All he could depend on was his own hard work, and continue training over and over again. That was how he managed to form his solid martial foundation, by slashing down the knife, slash after slash within the kitchen.
The waiter was unable to chase Lin Ming away and could only bring him over to the kitchen…
“Sister Lan, this little brother wants to apply work as a deboning worker.”
“Deboning worker?” Within the Grand Clarity Pavilion kitchen, a beautiful woman in her twenties wearing a gorgeous dress appraised Lin Ming. Observing the plain clothes on his body and the backpack he was carrying which made him appear like a refugee, she frowned. She then spoke in a dissatisfied manner towards the waiter who brought Lin Ming in. “What are you doing, bringing just anybody into the kitchen. Dong Zi, give him some silver and send him away.”
Obviously, this beautiful woman considered Lin Ming as a distressed child. As for the rebuked waiter, his face was bitter. Truthfully, he had tried to push Lin Ming out, but had discovered that Lin Ming’s legs seemed to have grown roots and was immovable.
A young man had moved over to drive Lin Ming away. However, at this moment, he suddenly felt his hands becoming lighter. He stared in confusion as Lin Ming had somehow taken away the boning knife that he was holding.
Before the man named Dong Zi could understand what had happened, Lin Ming said. “I am not here to beg for money. Sister, it won’t be too late for you to drive me away after seeing my craftsmanship.”
The beautiful woman was slightly surprised; it appeared that this little kid has some experience in the craft. She shot a look at Dong Zi and said. “How useless, you cannot even handle a little kid. Go to the storehouse and bring over a pig.” After that, she turned to Lin Ming and said. “If you can complete it in half a long hour (1 hour), then I will allow you to stay in Grand Clarity Pavilion.”
Dong Zi knew that he had lost face and turned shamefully to go bring the pig over. However, Lin Ming interrupted him. “No need, I will do that one.”
Lin Ming said as he pointed towards a Scaled Draconic Beast.
The beautiful woman became surprised. A Scaled Drconic Beast is a Level Two Ferocious Beast whose body is brimming with muscles. These muscles are extremely tough and could resist even normal sword attacks. However, using certain herbs and simmering it for three days and nights would produce a thick soup with delicious taste.
For such a kind of Ferocious Beast, even a deboning master would have a difficult time cutting it up. This kid is crazy.
“Are you joking? This Scaled Draconic Beast is worth over a hundred gold liangs. How do you plan to pay us if you end up ruining it?” Dong Zi spoke out in discontent. He was still unhappy at Lin Ming for taking away his knife.
The beautiful woman gave Dong Zi a glance and snapped. “If I let you ruin it, do you think you have what it takes to ruin it?”
Dong Zi suddenly found himself becoming speechless. The Scaled Draconic Beast is not the same as pigs, cows or sheep. Ordinary people would not be able to break its scales even with a knife. Ruining it was not something that normal people could manage to accomplish.
The woman turned to face Lin Ming and said. “I will let you cut!”
Lin Ming nodded his head and picked the best boning knife in the kitchen. He had only cut Scaled Draconic Beasts twice; both times were during the birthday some important figures in the Lin Family. After all, Ferocious Beasts was not something that an average person could afford to buy.
Taking a deep breath, Lin Ming carefully stroked the scales of the Scaled Draconic Beast, feeling the whereabouts of its veins. This process took up the time of an incense’s stick. In his mind, he formed a diagram of the veins. Comparing it with the diagram of his previous Scaled Draconic Beast, he confirmed it to be correct.
While waiting, some people became impatient and finally asked. “What are you doing? Why aren’t you cutting?”
“Stop trying to be mysterious and just cut it.”
It was only natural that these people would become impatient. A fifteen-year-old teenager claiming to be able to debone a Level Two Ferocious Beast, it could only appear to be a prank to them.
Lin Ming turned a deaf ear to these questions. He picked up the knife, his eyes becoming extremely focused. For him, the deboning process was the equivalent of a practice session.
After having confirmed the diagram of the veins, Lin Ming finally began. He did not use an axe or a slaughtering blade; he only used the hard to wield boning knife.
In the hands of Lin Ming, this ordinary knife turned into an exceptionally sharp weapon. The knife descended and the Scaled Draconic Beast’s scales were cut apart!
Observing this occurrence, the person who had been asking questions immediately shut his mouth. This feat alone would have required wrist strength of at least three hundred jin (181.4 kg). For them, the feat of dismembering a Scaled Draconic Beast would normally require either axes or saws.
The edge of the knife moved through the gap in the veins, cutting through it smoothly as though he was cutting through paper. Everyone could only hear the sounds of “shua shua” before the Scaled Draconic Beast’s white muscles were revealed.
Looking at how easily Lin Ming was cutting away, the man called Dong Zi rubbed his eyes. He suspected that there was something wrong with his eyes. Is this little kid really cutting apart a Scaled Draconic Beast?
Lin Ming moved gracefully. Occasionally, a few unavoidable tendons would interrupt his work. When that happened, he would use brute strength to pull it out. Thus, he ended up using about less than half a long hour to cut the Scaled Draconic Beast into pieces. Beside the pieces of meat, rows of ribs were laid down in order. These were the most valuable part of the Scaled Draconic Beast. The lengths of these ribs were all consistent, showing almost no loss during work.
This scene caused everyone to become astounded. What Lin Ming had done may seem easy, but everyone here knew that the dismembering of a Scaled Draconic Beast is a huge project, requiring around five strong men to work in tandem for around half a day. However, that teenager only has a slightly reddish face after completing the task. Judging by his looks, cutting up a few more would not be a problem!
As it was already night, the Grand Clarity Pavilion was no longer that busy, allowing many of its kitchen members to quietly watch the scene unfold. Then, Lin Ming placed down the knife and asked. “Can I work here now? My working hours must not exceed two long hours (4 hours) and my asking monthly salary is at five gold liangs. One more thing, you need to provide food and accommodation for me.”
The beautiful woman pondered this for a moment before nodding. “Deal!”
Lin Ming’s condition was not low; however, it was worth it. Judging by the speed Lin Ming had shown earlier, many things could be done within two long hours. Most importantly, his work was highly efficient, causing very little loss in key ingredients.
Thus, Lin Ming began working for Grand Clarity Pavilion. The two long hours he spent there was not a loss because it was also a form of training for him. Punching tree trunks was a form of training in brute strength, while deboning was a form of precision training.
On that very night, Lin Ming remained in the storehouse and cut apart three Level One Ferocious Beasts. After having done so, his entire body was drenched in sweat and his arms were feeling sore. He prepared to cut apart the last one before heading to his lodge to rest.
For the last one, he chose another Level Two Ferocious Beast – Goldback Pangolin, this Ferocious Beast has teeth that could crush stones and could drill through a mountain as though it was tofu.
Due to having consumed too much primal energies earlier, Lin Ming had to exert a great deal of strength in order to cut open the Goldback Pangolin’s scaled abdomen. The reason he had chosen this Goldback Pangolin was to force himself to surpass his limits.
After cutting open the scales, his work became much easier. The knife-edge slid through the gap between the muscles of the Goldback Pangolin abdomen. However, it was at this moment that Lin Ming felt the knife being blocked. It felt as though the knife had run into something hard.
Bones? No, the central abdomen area should not have any bones.
If that is not it, then could it be rocks? No, the Goldback Pangolin may occasionally swallow rocks, but those rocks would have been crushed to smithereens. Even if it were not crushed to smithereens, the powerful acid within its stomach would erode it. Such a big rock could not possibly continue to exist inside, could it be…
Thinking of this possibility, Lin Ming became excited. An Inner Core from a Level Two Ferocious Beast is a valuable item. Even if he does not sell it, he could consume it, bringing a considerable amount of benefit to his body.
Lin Ming slipped on a pair of gloves and carefully retrieved the hard item while avoiding the stomach acid. Looking at it, Lin Ming became disappointed. It was a square shaped object, which meant that it was not an Inner Core, because Inner Cores are all spherical in shape.
It really does look like a stone, but there is something peculiar about this stone…
The grey coloured cube seemed to have been neatly cut, with precise corners. In addition, the six surface areas of the cube were engraved with black coloured inscriptions, giving it a mysterious aura.
Lin Ming carefully observed it. It did not seem to be metal, nor does it appear to be stone. Perhaps it is a form of jade?
[TL: It’s the All Spark…]