Chapter 232 – Pinnacle of Culinary Arts (3)

‘Any additional strength is meaningless. And even if it were to rise, there is no way for me to check it through the Status window.’

The limit of values the Status window could show him was 999. There has never been a way for him to see value beyond that. The reason was quite simple. No one had ever managed to surpass 999 in any stat. It was possible that someone in the distant past managed to achieve this, but as far as Sungchul knew, he was the only one in the present who managed to accomplish this feat.

But despite this fact, there was a need for him to see if it was possible for him to get stronger anyway.

Sungchul placed the Essence of the Fire Spirit on his palms and stared at it quietly.

Marakia who had been busily consuming the intestines of the chicken somehow instantly noticed and turned his head towards Sungchul.

“Pii…?”

Marakia’s beak parted slightly.

He immediately flapped his wings to fly towards Sungchul.

“T…that! The Essence of the Fire SPirit?!”

Marakia poked his head up to see.

Sungchul turned to block Marakia’s view, but Marakia persistently followed and displayed his fascination for the Essence.

“I… I’ve seen this in a book before. The legends of the Essence of the Fire Spirit that grants Magic power…! I’ve heard that no one has ever seen an Essence of the Fire Spirit upon the death of the last Spirit King… And there it is before me! I knew it was a good idea to follow you, Destroyer!”

Like before, Marakia blurted out things he wasn’t asked. And of course, Sungchul also completely ignored Marakia this time as well.

“If only I could raise my Magic Power a bit more… Order of Extinction? I’d be able to really shine in a battle against them…”

Marakia continued to blabber away from the side.

“The Essence of the Fire Spirit raises not Magic Power but Strength.”

Sungchul stated bluntly. Marakia’s small body went rigid for a moment but he didn’t give up.

“Strength! Strength is good! Magic is great but I sometimes run into situations where I feel my strength is inadequate. Strength, if I had more strength I could be a greater asset to you.”

Sungchul glanced at Marakia for a moment as he put strength into his grip.

“Ah…No!”

Marakia’s eyes went wide as he reached out with his hands, but it was too late. The Essence of the Fire Spirit crumbled in his hands and lost its form.

The particles of the crushed orbs began to circle around Sungchul. It was identical to the time with the Essence of the Wind Spirit. But, it had a completely different result soon after.

The previously scattered pieces of the Essence of the Fire Spirit recoalesced into an intact orb.

A bright message appeared before Sungchul’s eyes.

 [You possess Strength higher than the limit.]

[You are unable to further absorb the Essence of the Fire Spirit.]

Sungchul slightly tilted his head at the words that appeared before him without showing much other reaction.

‘It’s as I expected. Even the Essence of the Spirits have their limitations.’

Meanwhile, Marakia was overjoyed.

“Yeah! You’ll get a stomach ache if you eat too much! Everything ought to be enjoyed in reasonable doses!”

Marakia’s eyes were drunk with avarice. It was enough to make Bertelgia next to him feel disgusted.

“Ugh… so gross.”

Sungchul also felt the same. More than anything, he had taken Sungchul’s beloved chicken stomach without eating it and spat it out.

“I’m looking to buy an unused Essence of the Fire Spirit~”

Marakia continued to blatantly jeer and provoke Sungchul.

Murderous look returned to Sungchuyl’s eyes. But the smell of something burning saved Marakia’s life for now.

‘It seems to  be getting done.’

Sungchul put the Essence of the Fire Spirit into his Soul Storage before standing up and heading to the furnace.

Marakia waddled after Sungchul.

“Don’t you have any self respect as a king? He doesn’t want to give it to you!”

Bertelgia scalded him but Marakia didn’t seem fazed at all.

Sungchul tasted the chicken he took out of the furnace under Marakia’s stinging gaze.

[The score of this dish is… 71 points]

[The score of this dish is… 68 points]

[The score of this dish is… 75 points]

There were different scores depending on what sauce he had used. The lowest scoring sauce was the spicy one, and the highest point was given to the sweet sauce.

‘So it likes sweet food.’

Sungchul decided that the main ingredient will be sugar.

‘I’ll have to add a whole a lot of sugar in the next dish.’

He concluded his thoughts but he ran into something as he turned to leave.

“Pigiii!”

It was Marakia. He got kicked after loitering too close behind Sungchul. Although it was possible to pass this off as an inconsequential happening, in truth it was incredibly dangerous.

If Sungchul were to unconsciously use any of his god like strength by accident, then Marakia might have ended up inside the furnace as well.

“…Fine.”

Sungchul reluctantly took out the Essence of the Fire Spirit from the Soul Storage and dropped it on Marakia’s head.

“Piiii…?”

Marakia stopped rolling around the ground like he was going to die and motionlessly stared at the Essence of the Fire Spirit that rolled around.

“Oh… Oh…!! This… The legendary… The Essence of Spirits that are no longer obtainable?!”

Sungchul headed to the white forest to start thinking about the next dish while Marakia was over excited and yelling something. But the sky was now dark.

To be clear, the sun was blocked by something quite large.

Boom.

The giant dragon flew over Sungchul’s head and landed in front of Tangrit’s residence.

It was none other than Kha’nes herself.

She transformed into her human shape as she touched the ground. Her human form was still wrapped all over with bandages, making her look very much like a patient. But it seems as though her injuries did not affect her appetite.

“Sniff Sniff. I smell something really nice!”

Sungchul grinned and nodded to Kha’nes who tapped her stomach. All the rejected dishes he had created until now in an attempt to make the pinnacle of culinary art went into Kha’nes’s stomach.

Sungchul was already busy preparing the next dish while Kha’nes busied herself with animalistically devouring all the food.

Kha’nes ate everything in a blink of an eye and walked up to Sungchul with her eyes brimming with curiosity.

“What’s making you cook so much? It couldn’t be, was all this prepared to thank me for my troubles?”

Sungchul shook his head and pointed at the small golden broach bearing the form of a dragon.

“No, I’m making a dish that will satisfy this guy.”

“Ah~. A dish to satisfy his grace?”

Kha’nes’s gaze changed subtly. She knew something. Sungchul asked Kha’nes to confirm his suspicions.

“Do you know something?”

“I can’t help but know.”

Kha’nes replied.

“He’s a blood relative.”

“What…?”

“The first dragon and dragon all-father. His grace is the overseer of the Chef class.”

*

 He couldn’t have imagined that the overseer of the Chef class would turn out to be a dragon.

Everyone knew what a dragon was, but they were extremely difficult to meet. It was because the only times Dragon made their appearance known by using their dragon form was when they’ve gone insane from waves of malice.

There were extremely rare cases like the hermit Kha’nes, but not even she was willing to divulge information about Dragons

So Sungchul realized that he managed to get an unreasonable amount of information by chance.

“Dragon…?”

Sungchul turned to look at Kha’nes as he asked.

“He’s commonly referred to as the Ancient Dragon among humans. He’s something like the Godfather of all Dragons.”

This made Sungchul think to himself.

‘Why is his taste so immature for someone so old?’

“What are you thinking about?”

Kha’nes watched Sungchul with half closed eyes.

“I didn’t think anything. More importantly, Kha’nes.”

Sungchul’s demeanor changed as he called Kha’nes’s name.

“What is it?”

Sungchul continued their conversation after she responded.

“That Dragon. Do you know what his favorite food is?”

“The original Dragon’s favorite food?”

Kha’nes blinked and looked up at the sky. She thought about it for a few moments as she wagged her fingers before she seemed to recall something and look back at Sungchul.

“His grace loves all different cuisines but, according to legends, he enjoys sweets.”

“Sweets you say…”

Sungchul was right earlier.

“Something sweet enough to paralyze the tongue. I’ve heard a story that claims he can’t get enough of something like that.”

“Just as I thought.”

Sungchul nodded.

“What is?”

Sungchul declined to answer Kha’nes’s question before crossing his arms and falling into deep thought.

‘It is not like I am inferior as a chef to Adelwight. She does make excellent meals, but in all honesty, the difference in skill between her and I is but the width of a wafer. No, if it comes to skill in bringing out the full potential of the flavors of the ingredients, I am more skilled. So the reason why she was able to manage when I could not was due to our differences in preferences in meals.’

Sungchul did not often make snacks. Although he could if he must, he had the opinion that a simple fruit was sufficient as a desert.

Cream that melts in your mouth, sugar sweet enough to paralyze the tongue, nothing of the sort exists in Sungchuls repertoire.

Sungchul took out his treasured spices from the Soul Storage.

There was sugar among the spices, but it was nowhere close to the sweetness that Kha’nes described.

“Bertelgia.”

Sungchu lifted his hand to call upon his partner.

“Hmm? What is it?”

Bertelgia was watching Marakia roll around in ecstasy with the Essence in his grasp. She flew over to him when she was called.

Sungchul glared at her and asked her in a calm tone.

“There was something akin to sugar in one of your recipes, right?”

“Sugar?

“Yes. And even among sugar, one that is excessively sweet.”

Sungchul seemed to recall seeing a recipe like that in the passing. Long before they met Marakia, when he was still working as a cook and doing odds and ends at the Frontline of the Demon Realm.

All the ingredients he used back then were used in the Soldiers’ meal. Although he hadn’t taste it for himself, he was sought out by not only the soldiers but even officers on where he managed to find such a sugar.

“Sugar? Sweet… Yeah. There’s something like that.”

“That’s good.”

Sungchul commanded Bertelgia to open the recipe.

“It really has been a while. Showing you my infinite knowledge of alchemy that is.”

Bertelgia spoke brightly before opening the pages.

Soon one of the pages arrived at the recipe that Sungchul was searching for.


<Stardust Sugar>

Level: 3
Rank: C
Attribute: Wood
Type: Food
Effect: A much sweeter sugar than normal


“This is it.”

Both the level and the rank was low. For someone who successfully created high level items such as the Stone of the Warrior, this was like swimming with a float.

Problem was the ingredients.

Stardust Sugar required more materials than just sugar. The sugar he had was sufficient, but he lacked ingredients like Moonstone or root of the Cobalt Grass.

Not only did he now know where to go about obtaining them, even if they were locally grown, it would be near impossible to find them under the thick layer of snow.

“Mmm…”

He was already done deciding on what dish to make.

It was not a type of desert like bread or snacks. Even though Sungchul had experience making them in the past, it was a far cry from him being able to produce them at the highest quality.

Sungchul was determined to face this challenge with a main course dish instead.

So what he came up with was a simple chinese fried dish. Just because it was simple did not mean that it was inferior in flavor. 

The meat that the Human Empire provided him was of excellent quality, and the Soy Sauce he had made himself was there to add depth to the taste.

And most important of all was Sungchul’s confidence in taming the fire as a chef.

The Stardust Sugar would become the main ingredient in bringing that dish together.

‘But where do I get the ingredients? This is quite troubling.’

Now that the Toporo village was destroyed, there was nowhere he could go to get missing ingredients. The Tower of Recluse was going through hard times, and he knew that the airships of the Human Empire don’t carry alchemists.

That meant that in the end, he would have to travel far away from the Tower of Recluse and collect materials from distant lands. This was not something Sungchul was willing to do.

He was determined to make a dish surpassing 90 points here and now and meet the Ancient Dragon. If anything, to satisfy the intense curiosity burning deep inside his chest.

“How about we use that then?”

Bertelgia suddenly spoke up while Sungchul was still deep in thought. But Sungchul had a good feeling about this.

Bertelgia liked to poke her nose in business unnecessarily but she often gave suggestions that were highly effective.

It was the same now.

Even though she may come across as strange, her suggestions came from the bottom of her heart.

“I’m talking about that black lump”

“You mean the Fragment of Calamity?”

He hadn’t even considered this possibility. But it seemed feasible.

The Fragment of Calamity was a hyper condensed concentrate of energy and was fully capable of transforming into something else under the effects of Alchemy.

‘The privilege of the Creationist class. Conversion, was it?’

But Sungchul was not yet a Creationist. He was still just an ordinary Alchemist. It was uncertain if someone of such low experience even had the capacity to use such a wondrous material.

But it didn’t seem like a bad idea to at least give it a try once.

Sungchul immediately retrieved Eckheart’s portable alchemical cauldron.

“What are you doing?”

Kha’nes walked up to him after she saw the cauldron.

“There’s something I have to make.”

Sungchul lit the fire under the cauldron. He then took a very tiny bit of the mysterious black material known as god’s clay to use as material.

Cla-clang

The tiny black fragment rolled onto the bottom of the heated cauldron.

There was no change to speak of until this point.

‘According to the recipe, it said to add the sugar and slowly heat it as I add the other ingredients. But Fragment of Calamity shouldn’t need anything else.’

Sungchul didn’t add anything into the mix as he began to swirl his ladle in the cauldron.

Although it would seem like a fruitless behavior to the uninitiated, the interior of an alchemist’s cauldron was a space that ignored the laws of nature and broke notions of common sense.

Sungchul understood this very well, so he imagined what he wanted to create as he diligently continued to turn the ladle.

Some amount of time passed, when words suddenly appeared before Sungchul.

[The Clay of God responds to your will.]

[What shall you create, o’ traveler on the path of creation?]

Sungchul couldn’t contain his surprise.

He immediately thought of what he wanted to create. He wanted Stardust Sugar. The moment he imagined the thing he wished to create, he felt his mana slowly get drained into the cauldron.

‘Wait…?’

Sungchul gazed into the interior of the cauldron feeling at loss for words.

The black fragment transformed, losing its form inside of the Alchemic cauldron and began to fill the interior with a bright rainbow colored substance. This was quite the sight to see, to watch a tiny black fragment the size of a fingernail turn into vibrantly colored liquid and fill up the interior of the cauldron.

‘So this is the power of the Fragment of Calamity?’

Soon, a blinding light erupted from the cauldron. Bright enough to completely illuminate everything in the vicinity of Tangrit’s residence.

“Pii…?”

Even Marakia who had been under euphoric bliss from having received the Essence turned to look at the bright light that faded back into the cauldron.

But the miracle wasn’t over yet. This was just the beginning. Sungchul saw it, the sight of powder spewing out of Eckheart’s Alchemical cauldron like a geyser sparkling in the moonlight.

[Fusion Success!]

The Stardust Sugar completely filled the cauldron to the brim and even spilled over the edge, making small dunes.

“Wow! Wow!”

The one who was the most excited was Bertelgia.

“I said it just because, but you actually did it!”

Bertelgia orbited around Sungchul rapidly to show her great happiness. Sungchul’s growth as  an alchemist was her pride and joy.

Sungchul bore a grin as he poked a finger into the fine grains of sugar he had made to test it.

“Mmm.”

It was sweet to the point of stinging the tongue. Sungchul was not a big fan of this flavor, but there was always the possibility that this might be something irresistible to the overseer.

The all-important ingredients were ready, signaling the start of cooking.

The well marbled meats were scorched crispy on the surface with flames before they were cut into thin slices. Those were placed into a heated pan along with an assortment of spices.

When the meats were cooked long enough for the contents in the pan to begin caramelizing, it was time to bring out the big guns.

A generous amount of stardust sugar was sprinkled on the top. Enough for it to be too sweet for Sungchul’s taste

‘This really doesn’t suit me.’

Sungchul had to taste test throughout the process and constantly felt the flavor at significant odds with his preferences. But that wasn’t what was important.

The one he was going to present the food to was not himself after all.

Sungchul thought to himself as he shook the pan that was heated until it was glowing bright red.

‘Perhaps the pinnacle of culinary arts is actually a result of false bravado?’

The things Sungchul prepared were the best of the best dishes he had come across in the highest classes of restaurants.

Each of those dishes were worthy of standing independently at the top of their respective categories with strong identifiable characteristics.

But that couldn’t be sufficient to call it the pinnacle of culinary arts, since preferences in taste were as numerous in variety as there were people. No such food existed that could satisfy every single person. Such a miracle was privileged to only the Gods.

Sungchul thought as much as he plated the masterpiece he had created. With a proud and dignified voice, he announced the name of his creation.

“Sungchul Kim’s Masterpiece, Moonlight Crimson Beef”

A timely breeze just happened to blow at the right time to flutter his jacket and reveal the golden broach hidden beneath.

“Ugh…”

Bertelgia looked like she was full of comments but she did not verbalize them in the end. Meanwhile, Kha’nes was greatly pleased and moved this way and that to get a better look at the food.

“Can I have a bite?”

“If it’s just one.”

And so Kha’nes had the first bite.

But Kha’nes’s expression was strange.

“Mmm. This… is tasty and all…”

“And all…?”

“I think it’s too sweet.”

“Is that so?”

Sungchul had a bad premonition as he brought the food he had made to his mouth using chopsticks.

“…Urk!!”

The crunchy texture and the flavor of the sublime marination of soy sauce and spices in the soft meat was perfection itself. But the Stardust Sugar mercilessly drowned all other flavors in its overwhelming sweetness.

‘This is wrong.’

Sungchul put down his chopsticks with those thoughts.

But in the next moment, shining words appeared before his eyes.

[T…the score of this dish is…]

Something was about to happen. Sungchul instinctively knew because of his long experience. That the overseer of the Chef class which shared his sensation was reacting abnormally to what he had just tasted.

A completely unreasonable score was soon revealed to Sungchul.

 [103,234 points!!!]

‘Motherf…’

He almost verbalized his cursing. Luckily there was no chance to do so. An enormous number of magic formations sprouted before Sungchul like a field of flowers.

The Overseer of the Chef class.

The doorway to the first dragon was finally open to Sungchul.


That was a nice long chapter! I want to thank all of you, Master Hunter K has launched and reviewed well. Your continuous support makes all this possible. We are never going to say no for couple more reviews and ratings as we need as much as we can get!

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6 thoughts on “Chapter 232 – Pinnacle of Culinary Arts (3)”

  1. What a bad taste this dragon has lol.
    Also, so sad that I caught up, I started reading a few days ago and thought it was completely translated already 🙁

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