Master Bitter Cicada did not rest at all. He waved the black staff fast and bashed the Multi-Horned Bizarre Dragon’s head crazily, his spiritual energy leaking in like water. It was not until the tough skull was pulverized and changed into nothing more than soft dough that he took a deep breath and retreated his staff.
Resuming his former solemnity, he put his palms together toward the Multi-Horned Bizarre Dragon and paid respect to it. In the end, he spoke to the homeless peasants nearby. “Although the poison in the animal has been neutralized by this monk, it is the meat of a demon beast that contains powerful spiritual energy after all. If you eat it without self-control, you will end up the same way as if you take the Jade Crystal Pellet. Your guts will flow out, and your veins will be broken. You will die the most miserable death!
“This is how you should eat the meat. Everyone can pick a tiny bit with your fingernail and then mix it into half a bucket of water. Then, you will divide the water into even proportions and have the water over three days and three nights, not any faster. In such a way, you will not be thirsty or hungry for the next couple of days, and you can manage to survive even if you don’t have any food or water for one week. By then, the aid from the court will surely have arrived. Rest assured, everybody!
“You have been separated from your hometown, but do you have mayors or any one in charge? If you don’t, asking any respected seniors to divide the meat for everyone will also be fine!”
Master Bitter Cicada’s words were plain, yet they seemed to boast marvelous power that made all the homeless peasants line up obediently and elect more than ten respected seniors for distribution. It was in order without any chaos.
It was not until then that Li Yao realized that Master Bitter Cicada went through so much trouble to purge the head of the Multi-Horned Bizarre Dragon with his own spiritual energy because he was preparing food for the hungry peasants.
All the victims of the disaster were ordinary people whose consumption was little. If a head of the Multi-Horned Bizarre Dragon was ground into powder and mixed into water, it was indeed enough to support thousands of people for a couple of days.
After finishing the distribution, Master Bitter Cicada finally nodded at Li Yao with a smile in acknowledgement.
Then, crazy noises echoed from the handsome monk’s belly. He had been working in the flood for a day and a night too and must have been very hungry himself.
Rubbing his stomach, Master Bitter Cicada walked to an empty spot nearby.
Li Yao followed with great curiosity.
The homeless peasants naturally could not thank Master Bitter Cicada enough. However, seeing that the two ‘deities’ were about to talk, they did not draw too close and simply kept their distance.
A big pit had been dug at the center of the empty spot, in which some wood and grass was smoldering.
Other than the smell of burnt plants, there was also a weird flavor that Li Yao could not recognize.
Master Bitter Cicada sniffed and, probably feeling that the food was ready, squatted near the pit. He wiped his staff, which was stained with mud and brains, with a corner of his moon-white robe before using the staff to lift up the twigs and wood that covered the pit, revealing a cluster of black things.
After a boom, a sour and smelly scent suddenly rushed into Li Yao’s nostrils.
Li Yao craned his neck and glanced at the pit, only to almost vomit out what he had eaten yesterday in disgust.
Inside the pit were a few pieces of beef covered in mud.
It was a way to cook chicken. If the food had been properly cooked, there should be a fragrant odor.
However, beef was too large and thick for such a cooking method in the first place. The fire was not strong enough, either. As a result, the beef was still half raw, with blood flowing out. There were also tremendous guts in the pit, which looked black but released colorful pus at the first touch.
When all the beef was combined, it should have made up more than half a bull, but they had been soaked in the flood for so long that they had all deteriorated. However they were cooked, the stink was too intense to go away, haunting the pit!
Li Yao had never been picky about food. Fine dining was certainly great, but the most regular snacks on the street could be enjoyable, too. However, he found the highly-rotten, stinky meat that had been soaked in the flood for too long very repulsive.
Master Bitter Cicada, on the other hand, took out a handful of powder that Li Yao did not recognize and sprayed it onto the pit, managing to suppress the stench.
Then he jabbed his staff and picked up a bleeding bull’s leg before he clenched the hoof with both hands as if the leg were a saber. Extending his neck, he bit the leg comfortably. After only two mouthfuls, there was almost only the bone left!
Master Bitter Cicada was not satisfied. His teeth shining, and with cracking noises echoing nonstop, the leg bone of the bull was gnawed section after section as if it were sugarcane. Eventually, there was not the slightest residue left!
Li Yao was stunned.
He had never seen it coming that the most voracious man whom he had seen in his life would actually be such a good-looking monk!
Master Bitter Cicada chewed the leg until there was nothing left. Then, he picked up his staff again and stabbed a block of ribs in the pit. It was not until he grabbed the ribs that he realized that he had company. Smiling at Li Yao bitterly, he said, “This monk has a large stomach that the beef here can barely fill. So, I will not offer anything to you, Master Spiritual Vulture. Do excuse me!”
Li Yao was still in a trance. Watching the guy rip apart the ribs and suck them into his belly as if they were noodles, Li Yao did not come back to himself after a long time. He stammered, “Do—do monks eat meat, too?”
Greasy and surrounded by the stench of meat, Master Bitter Cicada was holding the ribs in his mouth, but faint pity and sorrow still lingered on his face. There was no telling whether it was because the food was too awful or because he was feeling sorry for the bull that had ended up in his stomach.
Pushing the residue at the corner of his mouth into his mouth with his thumb, he sighed. “How can a monk have the strength to save people without eating meat?”
The statement truly made no sense.
However, Master Bitter Cicada indeed boasted such charisma that even the most ridiculous words in the world, if spoken by him with such a poignant expression, would force other people think whether or not they made sense after all.
Batting his eyes for a long time, Li Yao frowned. “Even if you want to eat meat, you should eat the meat of the animals that contain tremendous spiritual energy. Do you not have a Cosmos Ring that stores food?”
“There were a few pieces in the beginning,” Master Bitter Cicada explained casually. “However, there were too many peasants on my way here. The food has been divided by them.”
“Even so, you should at least get some fresh meat.” Li Yao could not help but observe, “A lot of dead pigs and cows are drifting in the flood, not to mention the incessant river fish. Although the pigs and cows are mostly decayed, too, some of the meat must be edible. Why do you have to eat such filthy food?”
“The fine meat on the pigs, cows, and the fresh river fish are naturally offered to the homeless peasants,” Master Bitter Cicada replied. “The deteriorated meat, however, is certainly not edible for ordinary folks. If they eat it, they would suffer diarrhea until they died of dehydration! But it doesn’t matter for this monk. It tastes slightly sour, but it is still good enough to provide nutrition for me!”
Li Yao was greatly moved and lost for words. He could only hold back his shock while he watched Master Bitter Cicada swallow the half-putrefied meat one mouthful after another.
Although he was eating the most sour and greasy roasted beef in the middle of the mud softened by the flood, Master Bitter Cicada was so casual and comfortable as if he were enjoying the finest tea in the world with the most delicate utensils in the most peaceful chamber while appreciating the beautiful landscape out of the window!
“Master…” Taking a long breath, Li Yao calmed himself down and looked for a topic. “It was with your help that we managed to block the Multi-Horned Bizarre Dragon yesterday. We retrieved three invaluable demon cores. I am certainly not a greedy man. According to the tradition of the Cultivators, the three demon cores should be divided evenly among you, me, and ‘Sword Maniac’ Yan Liren!”
“You are very welcome, Master Spiritual Vulture. But dividing them evenly is not necessary.” Master Bitter Cicada waved his hands generously.
“How can we do that?” Li Yao could not have admired the ascetic monk more. He said earnestly, “I heard your name a lot when I was in Southland of Sorcerers, Master Bitter Cicada. Now, I have come to the central plateaus to make a name for myself and even establish my own sect one day! If word gets out that I took your demon core, won’t I be too ashamed? You deserve the demon core, Master, and you must keep it!”
“You misunderstood me, Master Spiritual Vulture.” Master Bitter Cicada sighed. “This monk meant that the Multi-Horned Bizarre Dragon was found by me in the first place. Most of its strength was exhausted by me when this monk hunted it all the way down. It was this monk who launched the critical strike, too. Therefore, it is only fair that this monk takes two of the three demon cores!
“This monk was going to visit your sect and ask for them after this monk finished the beef. But now that you have brought it up, Master Spiritual Vulture, it is even better. This monk can tell that you are not a petty man. You are not going to argue over a demon core with this monk, are you?”
“If you think that two is too much, Master Spiritual Vulture, we can always negotiate,” Master Bitter Cicada said solemnly. “How about we each side have one demon core and divide the third one? This monk will take eighty percent, and your sect will take twenty percent. Do you find it reasonable?”
“How—how can the demon core be divided?”
“Ask the auctions in Divine Capital to appraise and sell them. We’ll divide the income,” Master Bitter Cicada said unhurriedly. “Of course, if your sect thinks that it is too much trouble, you can offer a price to me. If this monk is satisfied, this monk will directly sell it to your sect. That way, the intermediary fees for the auctions can be saved!”
Li Yao was rendered speechless.
Master Bitter Cicada continued guzzling the meat. “Why are you quiet, Master Spiritual Vulture? Do you think that my price is too high? We are not in a hurry. It can be negotiated slowly!”
“Not exactly.” Li Yao scratched his nose and smiled. “I did not expect that you would be so straightforward as to talk about money directly!”
“We do not know each other. What else can we talk about if not money?” Master Bitter Cicada frowned. “Do you want this monk to preach the Dharma to you?”
“…” Li Yao.
“Right. It doesn’t matter what the final price is. But if your sect can afford it, this monk would like to sell my share to your sect and trade it for food, medicine, and clothes. Does your sect have time to collect resources, I wonder? If you can collect a large sum of food in a short time, this monk can slightly reduce the share. We can divide it fifty-fifty.”