A Snail's Wisdom 74 How To Boil An Egg 1
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"What do you think, Tiny Muscles?" Snail asked the buff-looking elder spirit with a needle-sharp moustache.
Tiny Muscles was the nickname Snail gracefully forced on this buff venerable elder pillar. During the time he was alive, he had spent his time cultivating his physical body and was the current record-holder of half the physical strength records in the challenge pit.
Tiny Muscles stared at the duo with a frown of indifference. It was difficult to tell what he was more unhappy with—Kenja's performance or Snail's nickname.
"Ten stones is impressive, don't you think?" Snail a.s.serted with absolute confidence as he jumped on top of Kenja's upside-down chin and struck a pose.
Kenja's already-unsteady swaying intensified under the surprise of the sticky and slimy sensation near his throat. He tensed his fingers and tried to minimize his wavering, barely keeping the ten flat rocks stacked up on his feet from toppling over.
Tiny Muscles did not reply to Snail as his frown was bent another two degrees.
How could he agree that it was impressive? The record was thirty-five stones on a single fingertip. Even a below-average Qi Flouris.h.i.+ng cultivator should manage ten stones with a single hand. Was he supposed to throw his dignity out the window and pretend that ten stones with ten fingers was something worth showing off?
Kenja had no expectations of Tiny Muscles and was just going through the motions with Snail. It was only thanks to his training over the years and his recent breakthrough to Qi Flouris.h.i.+ng that would allow him to balance all this weight without utilising Qi. With his annoying const.i.tution, there was no way he could circulate Qi and balance a skyskraper of bricks upside down.
"My disciple is quite admirable! Forget ten, he can do twenty for you if you like." Before his words sunk into the crowd, ten more flat rocks flew up from the nearby pile and were positioned vertically above Kenja and his wobbling tower, threatening to crush Kenja at any moment.
This was a veiled threat!
Both Kenja and Tiny Muscles panicked. Forget adding ten, Kenja would definitely topple over with the addition of a single stone. If Snail plopped down all ten at once, Kenja would be lucky to receive only a few injuries.
Was he threatening Kenja's livelihood to coerce Tiny Muscles into acknowledging him, or did he actually think Kenja could balance twenty stones?
Kenja could no longer maintain concentration and…
…the ten rocks and Kenja fell off the top of Tiny Muscle's pillar and into the Dragon's Basin.
Having jumped off Kenja's chin as soon as the boy began his descent off the pillar, he turned to give Tiny Muscles the stink eye.
"Look what you've done now! You took so long to acknowledge my disciple that he sneezed and fell into the water. How are you going to take responsibility for this?"
Tiny Muscles and the rest of the pillars stared dumbfoundedly at him.
Sneeze? There was no sneeze.
This was extortion!
If you were going to scam him for an acknowledgment, the least you could do was supply a fake sneeze.
Sakura fished Kenja out of the water and brought him back to the top of Tiny Muscles' pillar. He landed on the pillar and began squeezing and twisting the ends of his robes so that the water would flow out. With strands of wet, black hair sticking to his neck and his bangs covering his eyebrows, he turned to Snail who was still in the middle of extorting Tiny Muscles.
"You've had your two hours, Snail. Uphold your end of the promise and we'll be on our way."
Kenja was unsure of the exact amount of time that had pa.s.sed, but his biological clock was telling him more than two hours had pa.s.sed.
They had been jumping from one Pillar of Will to another in hopes that one more elder would acknowledge him and his capabilities. This was the thirtieth pillar, and as he expected, they did not succeed in obtaining any acknowledgments. Instead, Kenja's self-esteem took a hit.
Forget showing exceptionality. No matter what technique Snail had him utilise, no matter what task he was given, his performance was below the average Qi Flouris.h.i.+ng cultivator. All because he couldn't adequately circulate Qi by himself.
He was tired of making a fool of himself and reversing all these elders' original impressions of him.
The various elders looked at Kenja's wet and dissheveled state with pity. Although they did not acknowledge his abilities, many of them have secretly acknowledged his disciplined and devoted character. They would have rewarded him already if the fate of their colleague's pillar was not at stake.
"What two hours? It hasn't been two hours yet. Just ask any of these rocks. Has it been two hours?" Snail eyed the gallery of spirits.
Several of them coughed and came forward to correct Snail by telling him the two hours had long pa.s.sed, but Snail did not give them the chance.
"Of course, if any of you lie to me or my disciple, I will personally take you with me and teach you the importance of honesty…"
The pillars that were about to speak froze and shut their mouths.
This was a blatant threat!
He wasn't satisfied with one pillar. Now, he wanted to take more of them. If they were to truthfully say two hours had pa.s.sed, they had no doubt he would call them a liar before stowing them into his sh.e.l.l.
Seeing no one had come up to speak against Snail, Kenja gave him a cold look.
"I'm going. If you won't keep your promises, you are free to stay here."
With drops of water still dripping from the ends of his sleeves and robes, he stepped onto Sakura who proactively lowered herself for him. Sakura began flying towards the direction of the opening under the basin's surface.
The numerous elders were filled with both admiration and consternation towards Kenja's actions. While they appreciated his attempt to ensure Snail kept his promise, stranding the tyrannical snail here with them felt like they were taking a greater loss than Snail.
Before they could speak up to stop Kenja and convince him to take Snail with him, the sh.e.l.led gastropod cried out first, "Wait, wait, wait! Don't just strand me here."
The snail landed on the crook between Kenja's nose and forehead using one eye to look into each of Kenja's eyes.
"We still have time for one more try. Your teacher will give up after one more," Snail pleaded with a saddened gleam in his eyes that struck at Kenja's heartstrings.
Paused in the air for several seconds, Kenja finally exhaled a long breath and nodded at the Snail stuck to his face.
"After that, you must keep your word and give back the pillar you took, so we can leave."
Snail a.s.sented while swiveling his eyeb.a.l.l.s around at the various pillars to choose his final target. It took only a second for him to scan the crowd and fixate on one.
"Let's try that one."
Kenja looked in the same direction to see that Snail picked out the tallest pillar floating in the basin. The pillar stood out because of its height, but they had not gone near it for obvious reasons.
Although the pillar was the same thickness as the elder pillars belonging to Grunty, Huai Yi and Xiang Xin, it towered over all of the pillars including the central pillar that led them all. This meant that the pillar either cultivated much longer than the other wills or rarely acknowledged anyone—most likely a combination of the two. Moreover, Kenja had not once seen the will leave its pillar once the entire time they were down here, giving him the impression that it was completely uninterested in the present going-ons of his surroundings.
Kenja noticed several elder spirits chuckle under their ghostly sleeves.
He held no expectations, so he might as well accept his fate and prepare himself to fall into the water a few more times.
Sakura flew them to the front of the pillar where Kenja bowed to the pillar with clasped fists.
"Junior disciple greets senior."
They waited for several minutes, but nothing came out of the pillar.
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Since Kenja did not wish to waste any more time, he decided to fly up to its top to read the elder's name. After coming in contact with so many Pillars of Will, he knew their various names and t.i.tles, along with the people they acknowledged, were all engraved on their flat surface.
First Generation Second Elder
The Travelling Gourmand
Why did it stop there? Where were the names of the previously acknowledged disciple?
He was a first generation elder, yet he had not acknowledged a single person?
The nasal voice of a woman interrupted Kenja's thoughts, "Senior Brother Zhu was famous across the five continents as an extremely skilled connoisseur of food and drink before coming to Ryuga. He will only be moved through his tongue, but since his death, no disciple of the sect has ever obtained his approval."
Kenja looked towards Elder Grunty's pillar and nodded with a smile to thank her for the information. He was happy that he didn't have to embarra.s.s himself further and that this would be a quick defeat for Snail since they didn't bring any food with them.
Kenja turned back to the center of the pillar and clasped his hands while bowing.
"Junior disciple greets Second Elder Zhu."
A pudgy, cheek-filled head popped out of the pillar and looked over Kenja. His face would normally evoke positive feelings of warmth and familiarity if it weren't for the condescending gaze and stern frown. He ascended out of the pillar along with a round belly that spilled over his belt.
After gauging Kenja's cultivation and relative age, he snorted, "Hmph, the young are truly fearless. Where do you hail from, junior?"
While still clasping his hands, Kenja replied, "Disciple reports to elder, Disciple has lived his whole life in Ryuga."
Zhu Jidan snorted once more. "Leave. You do not have the qualifications to be tested."
Weak cultivation, young age, a lack of life experiece and travels…such a person could not be capable of creating or locating a good meal. Why would he sully his tongue as a joke?
Kenja remained bowing in silence.
Kenja had cooked food for Baba and his sisters, but he was eons away from being a professional. He was not going to beg the elder who had pursued the Dao of good food to let him embarra.s.s himself.
Seeing that his turn was up and that the fat elder was about to return to the pillar, Snail stopped him. "Now, now, Little Egg. It's still too early to sleep, so stay and play with my disciple."
Already halfway back in the pillar, Zhu Jidan's body froze and his face darkened at the form of address. He glanced at the speaker who was casually standing on the back of Kenja's bowed head while staring at him intently. His face darkened several more shades.
"After all, my dear disciple has come all this way to treat you to the tastiest meal of your lif—ahem—the tastiest meal you've ever had. Give me some face and let him feed you."
The faces of the other pillars darkened as well.
Since when did you come to see Senior Brother Zhu? You clearly just read his name off the top of the pillar a second ago!
Zhu Jidan floated closer to Kenja and examined the snail on top of his head.
"I have never tasted a talking snail before. I am willing to try if junior wishes to offer."
Now, Snail's face darkened. He peeked at Sakura who was convulsing in the air, obviously laughing at Snail being labeled as food. The other pilars were offering a prayer for their senior brother who chose to cultivate within his pillar and ignore everything else. Snail glanced at the grand pillar far away who seemed to be bobbing up and down in a manner similar to someone trying to hold in their laughter. He turned back to Zhu Jidan and adopted a more serene aura.
"Little Egg is good with his jokes. Let's move to a more s.p.a.cious location so that my disciple can cook freely." He slid from Kenja's head to his shoulder cueing him to stand straight.
Without giving Zhu Jidan a chance to inquire his intentions, the hurried voices of other spirits were heard in the background.
"Whoa, watch it!"
The central pillar was b.u.mping into several dozen pillars as it made its way towards Zhu Jidan's pillar. The giant pair of eyes darted around to each injured smaller pillar with an apologetic look that let them know it was unintentional. Zhu Jidan stared at his leader with a befuddled expression.
The pair of eyes gave him a hateful glare. You were the one who wanted to eat him, so why was I dragged here?
Snail jumped down onto the surface of the grand pillar and a bunch of tables popped up out of nowhere along with a single seat with a plate in front of it. He looked at Kenja and Zhu Jidan before materializing a chef's hat that fell on top of him and covered his eyes and eyestalks.
"Now that I got my toque, let's get—one sec." The repet.i.tive sound of something smacking cloth was heard from inside his hat.
His two eyeb.a.l.l.s popped out of the top of the hat.
"There! Now I can see. Come, disciple. Let's start cooking."
An ap.r.o.n appeared around Kenja's neck with a warning on it: Beware of Snail-in-Training.
With slumped shoulders, Kenja resigned himself to his fate and jumped on top of the large pillar and stood next to Snail. Zhu Jidan was repeatedly astounded by the course of events, but looking at his brethren's reactions to Snail's ostentatious behavior, he quickly understood that the snail was not someone he should offend.
He floated over to the seat Snail brought out and floated over it all while pretending to not notice his leader's annoyed expression.
Sakura flew over to Snail and seemed to be speaking with him.
"You want something for your head, too? Why should I give an unfaithful utensil what she wants? You don't even have any hair that could fall in the food, so the hat would be pointless for you!"
Sakura's blade hummed threateningly at him and her retort caused Snail to stammer.
"Ahem, s-so what if I don't have hair? …Fine. But you have to listen to my orders while we are cooking."
After giving her silent consent, a green bandana materialized in a knot tied around her hilt. Kenja could see the words "I AM A" on one end and "FORK!" on the other, but Sakura did not seem to notice.
A Snail's Wisdom 74 How To Boil An Egg 1
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A Snail's Wisdom 74 How To Boil An Egg 1 summary
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