Waking up early in the morning, coming into view was a silver white adorned world, brilliant white snow covering everything, and crisp winter silence permeated the air.
Nie Bufan wrapped himself into a ball, three inner layers under three outer layers, and watched Li Yi in a single shirt practicing martial arts in the yard with a look of envy and hatred.
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Resentfully, he started a fire and boiled water in the kitchen, preparing breakfast for those two idlers.
Speaking of, these days he had practically become a full-time house-husband, which was not a good sign. Those two guys eat his food and live in his house, and even have him wait on them?
Eyes inadvertently glanced at something in the cabinet, and his mood brightened. Nie Bufan turned his head and looked outside, only to see Li Yi who had finished practicing and was currently freshening up, so he shouted: “Li Fourth, come here.”
Li Yi came over.
Nie Bufan poured out a bag of flour and ordered: “Please, knead the dough.”
“Knead dough?” Li Yi looked at the pile of powder and hesitated, “How to knead it?”
“You pour some water in the flour, and then knead it with your hands.”
Li Yi pinched a bit of flour with his still wet fingers, and complained, “You should just let me pick vegetables. This thing is sticky, I don’t like it.”
“What? Are you not a martial artist? Why don’t you like kneading dough?” Nie Bufan glared at him.
“Why should martial arts practitioners like kneading dough?”
“Kneading dough is not something that ordinary people can do well, it contains the essence of supreme martial arts, you are actually this ignorant?”
Li Yi was silent for a moment, and said: “The essence of supreme martial arts?”
He can’t see how rubbing this sticky thing have anything to do with the essence of martial arts.
Nie Bufan looked at him contemptuously, and asked, “Have you heard of Taiji?”
“Just looking at you I know you haven’t heard it before.” Nie Bufan waved his hand and said solemnly, “Taiji practicioners, born from the everlasting, the moment of movement, the mother of yin and yang, the principle of movement is separation and the principle of stillness is harmony. With static overcoming movement, with softness conquering strength, this contains the essence of supreme martial arts.”
“It sounds very profound, but what does it have to do with kneading?” Li Yi thought it over to himself what Nie Bufan had just said, it did not sound like made-up nonsense.
“Hmph, hmph, you look carefully.” Nie Bufan gathered the flour into a sphere, leaving a space in the middle, and slowly filled it with water, then crossed his hands, kneading the flour into the water in a counterclockwise rotation, and said at the same time, “The strength must be balanced, push, knead, twist, and join, follow the circular orbit, coupling strength and gentleness.”
Li Yi didn’t take it much seriously at first, but slowly, his eyes became sharp, his expression changed, and he seemed to be caught in complicated pondering.
“What do you think?” Nie Bufan stopped and patted the newly formed dough, and said, “Will you knead it?”
“Knead.” Li Yi stepped forward without hesitation this time, copying what Nie Bufan had done just now, kneading back and forth with circle as the center.
This seemingly simple and slow movement does contain a different and complex meaning. It was completely different from the martial arts he had learned. A circle containing a square, rigidness within softness, borrowing strength to fight strength, resembling nature itself……
Nie Bufan nodded with satisfaction when seeing Li Yi’s concentrated expression. If you have watched “Shaolin Soccer”, you will be able to quickly recognize that the action he just demonstrated was the scene where Zhao Wei was kneading the dough using taiji at the steamed bun shop.
Just to make Li Yi do hard work willingly, he used “the essence of supreme martial arts theory” to fool him.
Kneading dough, not to be underestimated.
Nie Bufan moved a cutting board and put it in the yard, then picked up a kitchen knife and a large piece of meat, and shouted: “Zhang Third, come and help.”
Zhang Junshi walked over leisurely.
Nie Bufan lifted the knife and knocked it on the chopping board and ordered: “Chop.”
“Ah?” Zhang Junshi looked at the piece of meat, and pointed to himself and asked, “You want me to chop the meat?”
Nie Bufan nodded: “I will make dumplings later. You chop this piece of meat into minced meat.”
Zhang Junshi hesitated and said: “This……”
“As a resident of the Chicken Nest Village, you must make a contribution, otherwise all the chickens in the village will look down on you.”
As if confirming his words, dozens of chicken clucks sounded around them.
“Uh, fine.” Zhang Junshi rolled up his sleeves, raised the knife hesitantly, and then said, “Can you hand me another kitchen knife?”
Nie Bufan handed him another kitchen knife with a look of confusion.
Zhang Junshi smiled faintly: “It’s been a long time since I used the knife.”
Nie was instantly startled, was this seemingly well-mannered young Gongzi actually a rare and unfounded martial arts master? Seeing him in Confucian attire and appearance elegantly handsome, but holding a pair of knives while standing in front of the chopping board with a look of domineering aura, the image was disharmonic no matter how you looked at it.
In the brief moment when he was spacing out, the knife was raised and then chopped down, and the meat was cross-cut into four pieces. Zhang Junshi adjusted his breathing, and then started to chop it with an imposing expression. The speed of his hand was like flickering lights and passing shadows, faster than the naked eye could distinguish.
This time it was Nie Bufan’s turn to be surprised. How did such a perfectly gentlemanly Gongzi turn into a meat-chopping demon after just picking up a knife?
Nie Bufan just came out of the kitchen with a pot, but Zhang Junshi already finished the meat chopping work, and was currently scraping the knife with an expression of having not fully had his fun.
There was a type of person who appeared gentle on the outside but was a berserker inside. They look normal but were the easiest to become twisted. Could Zhang Junshi also be a member of this dangerous group of people?
“Have you practiced knife skills specifically?” Nie Bufan asked.
Zhang Junshi put down the knife, wiped his hands, and smiled heedlessly: “I used to learn knife skills from the chef at home for several years, but unfortunately my father found out and accused me of ‘disgracing the cultured’, and so I haven’t used the knife again.”
“Why do you want to learn knife skills?”
“I like cuisine, and hoped that one day I could make delicious dishes by myself. Unfortunately, I am not talented in cooking, but my knife skills did make great progress.” Zhang Junshi said with a look of nostalgia, “Of course, with my background, even if I had the talent for cooking, I cannot be a real chef anyway.”
Nie Bufan nodded in understanding, then stepped forward and patted Zhang Junshi on the shoulder, and comforted: “It’s alright, as long as you are in Chicken Nest Village, you can chop all the vegetables and meat as much as you want. From now on, this glorious job is left to you.”
Zhang Junshi: “……”
Li Yi and Zhang Junshi were squeezed out of any surplus value by Nie Bufan, but when lunch came, they did not eat the dumplings they expected.
Looking at the simple three dishes and one soup in front of him, Zhang Junshi asked, “Why not dumplings?”
“Oh, I thought about eating during the day lacked atmosphere, so I decided to make it at night.”
Eating dumplings are dependent on whether it was day or night? Both Zhang and Li slandered Nie Bufan’s words silently.
During the meal, Nie Bufan noticed a strange phenomenon. Li Yi’s chopsticks would make an arc in the air every time he picked up something from a dish. He wanted to pick up something from the dish on the right, but he just had to go around it from the left. When ladling the soup he also must first stir it with the ladle.
Had he fallen into Taiji obsession? Nie Bufan thought unkindly.
Zhang Junshi also seemed to be aware of it. During the period, he glanced at Li Yi several times, but Li Yi was unaware, his expression dazed.
At the end of the meal, Nie Bufan glanced at the last chicken leg left on the plate, stretched out his chopsticks, but ended up crossing the other two pairs of chopsticks in the air.
The three of them looked at each other, and at the same time retracted their chopsticks, humbly saying: “You eat, you eat.”
They were superficially polite for a while, but the three of them saw that no one was moving after awhile so they all stretched out their chopsticks together.
Silence, they once again retracted awkwardly.
“Hehehehe.” Zhang Jun chuckled innocently.
Li Yi had no expression on his face, holding his chopsticks as if he planned to use stillness to overcome movement.
“You guys.” Nie Bufan pointed at them with his chopsticks and shouted fiercely, “No one’s allowed to move! This chicken leg belongs to me.”
Zhang Junshi bowed his head and shoveled rice into his mouth.
Li Yi turned to the cellophane noodles, picking some up and into his mouth.
Nie Bufan succeeded in capturing the last chicken leg.
After the meal, Zhang and Li sat by the window drinking tea and enjoying the snow.
“Next year the tian nu will show up, is Brother Li interested in participating in the competition?” Zhang Junshi asked.
“Hehe, I thought so, otherwise you wouldn’t be hiding in this Chicken Nest Village.”
Li Yi glanced at him and said, “What about you? Are you living in the Chicken Nest Village because you didn’t want to be involved either?”
Zhang Junshi just smiled and did not speak, but his eyes unconsciously looked at the person who was talking to Tu Beng in the courtyard.
Li Yi also followed his gaze. When he saw that person and his rich expressions of annoyance and joy, the expression on his own face couldn’t help become softened.
“Hey, you two, don’t sit in the house and come out to sweep the snow!” After Nie Bufan and Tu Beng finished speaking, he immediately shouted to both Zhang and Li.
The two looked at each other, and at the same time stood up resignedly.
Nie Bufan gave each of them a broom and pointed the area to be cleaned. Chicken Nest Village was now covered with snow everywhere, and the silly chickens were always accidentally getting buried in the snow, making Nie Bufan have to fish them out.
Fortunately, the weather was cold, and not many chickens come out to find unluckiness. Some of them have even entered an intriguing “hibernation” state, saving a lot of trouble. Only, the amount of egg production had decreased. In the past, one egg could be stepped on in three steps, but now not even one egg could be seen in three days.
Nie Bufan directed Zhang Junshi and Li Yi to sweep the snow, chop wood, and take care of the chickens.
Zhang and Li probably have never been this ordered around before, and to be doing the lowest physical labor too.
Nie Bufan never seemed to place significance on the difference between the rich and the poor in his eyes. He knew that Zhang Junshi and Li Yi were from rich affluent families, but he didn’t care at all. He conversed and laughed with them on equal grounds.
Perhaps it was precisely because of such a non-discriminatory attitude that Zhang and Li ignored the class gap and were willing to interact with him, naturally getting closer gradually.
But this person’s occassional carefree ways could be extremely maddening.
After a lot of work, the images of these two elegant Gongzi have changed drastically, looking like two dusty heroes covered in mud and dirt.
Nie Bufan prepared hot bath water for them with a smile. The two men resolutely did not agree to bathe together. Nie Bufan found it troublesome to boil water many times, so he dragged them into the bath together despite objections. In order for convenience, Nie Bufan changed half of the storage room into a bath, which was enough to accommodate four or five people.
Zhang and Li were both in rare states of bashfulness, but Nie Bufan was completely at ease, even showing off his naked body in a narcisstic and pleased manner. He had a well-proportioned figure, healthy complexion, and a special beauty between movement and stillness.
However, after seeing Zhang Junshi and Li Yi’s naked bodies, Nie Bufan stopped. Stronger than him, muscular than him……larger than him.
Nie Bufan silently wept, he will never bathe with them again……
In the evening, Zhang and Li ate the dumplings that they had been looking forward to. For the first time, they felt that dumplings were this delicious. Although ordinary, but full of joy.
“Nie Bufan, will we still have dumplings tomorrow?” Li Yi asked.
“Again? I want to make noodles.”
“……Uh. Kneading dough really contains the essence of martial arts, I haven’t mastered it yet.”
“……” Suddenly there was a sense of satisfaction of having successfully tricked the strong and at the same time the guilt of deceiving the innocent.
“If I can comprehend, my martial arts will definitely be more refined.”
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Nie Bufan was silent for a while, before he suddenly said something very profound: “If you have kneading dough in your heart, then you can knead dough at any time. You can only achieve success if you don’t confine yourself to external matters.”
“This remark is very wise.”
Alas! This is how a generation’s dough kneading master was born……
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