Chapter 6: Crossed Swords

 

Translated by Prosperousfood dot com

Edited by Gumihou

Re-Host at kitchennovel dot com

 

As the season crept closer to the summer solstice, the days grew hotter. Luckily a light breeze visited them in the evening. Master and servant strolled out of the garden and saw the entrance of Mei Yue Lou from a distance. As they got closer, they found that the courtyard had been swept clean. The flowers and trees were all properly trimmed and taken care of, nothing at all like a place of abandonment and defeat.

They mounted the steps and saw that a large table had been placed in the middle of the balcony. On the table was a large blue and white patterned porcelain bowl, there should be some kind of food within it. A breeze picked up and floated over a mouth watering scent.

Curious, Duan Tingxuan headed towards the table and fished out something from the bowl. He stared at the thing in his hand curiously, before turning to Si Ping. Without hesitation or shame he said, “This shape… should be dumplings, ba? Why is it so large?”

Si Ping smiled, “This servant’s mother sometimes made dumplings like these. It is nothing like the boiled dumplings master had at home, these are called Cabbage Dumplings[1]. These are pan fried and not boiled, look, the surface is slightly crispy and golden in colour.”

Duan Tingxuan looked at the steaming Cabbage Dumplings and felt his fingers twitched, without saying another word, he took a huge bite. In an instance, fragrant and hot meat juice flooded his mouth, overflowing his senses with their strong taste. He heaved in a huge breath, and sighed.

“Heh! And here I thought they would be struggling to survive, who knew they are actually living such a good life here, eating such delicious food.” Duan Tingxuan demolished the Cabbage Dumpling in two or three bites, and reached for another. He grinned at Si Ping, “Go to the kitchen, see if they have anything else to eat. Oh yes, where are the people here?”

Si Ping’s face pulled into a bitter grimace, in a whisper, “Master, surely you know madam’s temper. If she knows you ate her Cabbage Dumplings, she might lose it. If master really likes this dish, I suggest that we leave with the bowl before madam appears.”

“So what if she sees me, what could she do?”

Duan Tingxuan never bothered himself over little matters, in a short while his lips and hands sparkled with grease. He licked one of his fingers casting an eye on the increasingly anxious Si Ping ,and sneered, “The food that she eats, the place she stays all belong to this lord, she should be happy that I’m here to eat her cooking. Less talk, more action, you go check out the kitchen. If anything happens I am here to back you up.”

While he spoke, five more Cabbage Dumplings disappeared into his stomach. There were less than half of the Cabbage Dumplings left in the bowl, perhaps it was the unusually large size of the dumplings, but it did felt like they disappeared quite quickly.

Stuck with such a master, Si Ping had no choice but to make his way towards the kitchen. He had only taken two steps however, when the sound of footsteps was heard. He was so frightened that he immediately hid behind Duan Tingxuan, stuttering, “M-master, someone… someone’s coming.”

Duan Tingxuan was so crossed with his servant that he aimed a kick at Si Ping, he gritted his teeth, “So what of someone came? It’s not like a tiger had appeared, look at your shivering self, are you trying to bring me shame?”

“No wonder Missy is so certain, the cherry really came out well. Just look at this bright red colour. I had a taste just now and it really is better than the sour plum soup Sister Hong Lian usually makes.”

Following the voices, the figure of Hong Lian and Xiang Yun appeared, both of them carrying a white bowl their hands. As they were chatting together, their suddenly felt that something was wrong, both looked towards the table. At the sight of Duan Tingxuan, the maids screamed in fright, the bowls slipped.

“Careful!”

Duan Tingxuan shouted, in a flash he was in front of the two women, his waist bent over. The large porcelain bowl safely in each hand, the contents swirled but not a single drop spilled over.

“Oho, so this is meant to be taken after the dumplings, not bad, you’ve certainly consider things quite thoroughly.

Duan Tingxuan studied the depths of one of the large bowl, ignoring Xian Yun and Hong Lian who were doing their best statue imitation, he gulped two mouthfuls down and sighed with satisfaction. With a hehe laughed, “It really is better than sour plum soup, only it’s still a little warm. It would be even better when served chilled.”

“M… m… this… this… maid g-greets m-master…”

Only after Duan Tingxuan had brought the two bowls over to the table, sat down and began to demolish another dumpling, these two pitiful maids suddenly regained their senses and rushed to make their greetings.

Only to see Duan Tingxuan wave a casually dismissive hand at them, he said mildly, “It’s fine, no need to stand on ceremonies with me. Just get a few more good dishes from the kitchen for me. Hmm, I think Cabbage Dumplings should go well with a little congee, ba? A simple congee will do, bring out some simple sugared congee.”

Just… just what is happening? Is this a dream?

Xiang Yun and Hong Lian couldn’t help but asked themselves these questions. However, none of them dared to say anything. They could only helplessly watch as this shameless man picked up another Cabbage Dumpling form the bowl and took a bite.

It was at this time that a powerful voice roared out with a lioness’ might, “Drop those dumplings.” Following this roar, Su Nuan Nuan rushed out from the kitchen, a bowl of sugared congee in her hand. She took swift steps forward and her leg kicked out towards Duan Tingxuan’s face.

Duan Tingxuan’s height stood at 7 feet tall on bare feet, in modern measures, he’s about 1.83 meters tall. Su Nuan Nuan’s slim and delicate body should never have allowed her to kick Duan Tingxuan in the face. However, it just so happened that Duan Tingxuan had settled himself comfortably on a chair to feast on her food, which allowed this vicious female character a chance to strike at the face of a slag male.

Too bad, Duan Tingxuan’s skill with martial arts was the real thing and he was able to avoid this sneak attack by leaping backwards out of his chair. Unfortunately, due to the suddenness of the attack, his movements was too frantic, and he dropped the Cabbage Dumpling to the floor.

“S-stop this… just what is going on?” Duan Tingxuan watched as the woman calmly picked up the half eaten dumpling . Heat suffused his cheeks and he greeted his teeth, “You… are you trying to revolt against me?”

“Xiang Yun, feed this to the chickens.” Su Nuan Nuan handed the half eaten dumpling to Xiang Yun, before giving Duan Tingxuan a neutral stare, “Apologies, but who are you?”

“M- missy, this… this is master, ah.” Hong Lian rushed, her face pale. Her mistress’ sickness after ‘near death experience’ had acted up again, to the point that she had forgotten even her own husband.

“Master? As in, my husband?” Su Nuan Nuan frown, when she saw Duan Tingxuan’s face, dark as the bottom of a pot, she casually sat down and smiled, “Oh, so it’s the lord, why have you come without a word informing me earlier?”

“Why should I inform you anything? So that you can make plans and create a bigger trouble?” Duan Tingxuan laughed coldly. Though Su Nuan Nuan was famous for being tough and aggressive, but he never thought that this poisonous wife would develop the guts to try and kick him in the face. Just when did she learned tricks like this anyway?

“Would the lord please stop joking. It’s been a long time since I’ve created trouble for anyone.” Su Nuan Nuan smiled slightly, and in a smooth motion swept up the bowl of Cabbage Dumplings and handed it over to Xiang Yun. “Leave us, since the lord has something to say to me return these to the kitchen first. There’s no need to draw the master’s ridicule on us.”

Duan Tingxuan’s eyes fixed themselves onto the bowl that was being carried away, he was about to suggest that they could chat and eat together when Su Nuan Nuan light laughed shimmered out, “The next if my lord wishes to come, please do inform us earlier. This one really felt guilty for serving crude and shameful fare to the lord.”

 

Duan Tingxuan’s eyes were glued to the plate as Hong Lian took it away. He want to say that they could chat and eat at the same time, but Su Nuan Nuan smiled, and remarked, “Next time, if you want to come, you must first inform me. This commoner’s food is not suitable for a man of your status.”

“Do you begrudge your lord for eating those few dumplings?” this was just too much, Duan Tingxuan slammed his palm angrily on the table. How hateful, after staying here for just half a year this woman had grown less brutish and wicked, but her tongue seemed to have sharpened quite a lot? How hateful, really hateful, ah.

“As long as the lord understands.”

Against a man slut like this, a food thieving man slut at that, Su Nuan Nuan naturally did not give a shit about him. When his face turned a few degrees darker at her little dig, her heart grew so much lighter.

“You’re especially sharp today, your tongue especially. Moreover, you don’t seemed to recognise me just now, just what is going on here?”

Duan Tingxuan quickly calmed down and grasped the most important matter at hand, his black face grew normal as he waved a paper fan leisurely. The image of a perfect gentleman of leisure.

“After my near death experience, my memory seemed to have gone a bit hazy. There are times when I could not even recall my lord’s face. Since it’s the first time we meet after my near death experience, it just so happened that I did not remember you.” Su Nuan Nuan flapped her mouth carelessly with zero pressure. What’s the most brilliant way to tell lies? As long as I treat it as truth, it will be the truth.

The black expression that had just receded from Duan Tingxuan’s face returned as he looked down at this small woman a little uncertainly. He had the strangest feeling that there was something different about this person, but could not quite point out what. She was just as shrewish and aggressive as ever, but for some reason, the air of dignity around her seemed to have increased? Su Nuan Nuan had always been good looking, but she never possessed such a commanding aura before.

“Well, the day is late. It should be time for dinner, ba? I haven’t had my fill just now. En, you certainly know how to enjoy yourself, putting a table outside to enjoy the evening breeze and nice atmosphere. Hmm, it certainly has a luxurious feel to it.” The little marquis changed the subject, as he he spoke he studied Su Nuan Nuan’s expression closely.

However, Su Nuan Nuan did not seemed to have received the message. Oho, so you want to change the subject and eat my food? Hei hei, I will crush your futile fantasy now.

“We won’t be eating. Many thanks to the lord’s kind thought. It’s still a little early for dinner, we can wait until nightfall for our dinner.” Why should I let you eat? The ingredients are all earned by me, there’s nothing for a man slut like you.

“The food just now was at the right temperature, if you wait too long, wouldn’t the taste just degenerate?” Duan Tingxuan could also tell that it won’t be easy for him to lay his hands on the food. However, he was not willing to let go of the matter and decided to take an indirect approach. Who knows, he might be able to learn something interesting from this.

 

 

[1] Cabbage Dumplings – 菜饺子

 

 

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Re -Translated by Gumihou

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