By the time the beef is half stewed, the pan has already emitted strong aroma, which makes the two bandits itching. They drool and walk around the hearth from time to time and ask eagerly, "This has been stewed for a quarter of an hour, should we be able to eat it?"
"That’s far from it. It will take at least an hour for the beef to soften." Lin Dan picks up her handkerchief and wipes her hands. "Can you two elder brothers take me to my carriage? I want to get some seasonings."
The two bandits immediately become alarmed and point to the bottles and jars on the hearth. "Let sleeping dogs just fucking lie. There are all kinds of seasonings here, aren't there enough for you?"
Lin Dan doesn't panic either; she explains gently, "Well, I still need a seasoning for this stewed beef to be tasty completely. Both of you take me to my carriage, and then take me back, I am a weak woman, can I still run from your hands? With this seasoning, this pan of stewed beef will be much better than it is now."
The two bandits smell the aroma in the air, and think to themselves that if it is better than now, then how delicious will that be? The imperial chef's cooking skills are really better than others, but they are still frightened to think of that how Lin Dan slaughters the cow.
Lin Dan takes the initiative to take out a length of rope, wraps the rope around her wrists. The two bandits nod reluctantly and lock the kitchen door before leaving to prevent Peony and Cuckoo from running out. The three of them go to the deepest part of the stronghold and go around to find a cave full of vines outside. They will really ignore the cave without anyone who guides them.
The two bandits spread the vines open and shout sternly, "Go in and you find it by yourself, hurry up!"
Lin Dan looks in through the torches of the two bandits and finds her five carriages parked in the cave and dozens of large locked boxes; these are all stolen goods from her. She takes a quick glance and goes in, climbs into one of the carriages, knocks the mud off a large jar, scoops up a few spoons of wine with a long spoon, put it into a small empty jar, and quickly covers the jar with vellum paper and ties it tightly with a rope.
Although she moves very fast and seals the wine jar after only a few seconds, the two bandits still smell the unspeakable bouquet and immediately feel a bit tipsy.
"What kind of wine is this? How can it be so fragrant?" The two speak with coveted tongues.
"It's just ordinary wine. I brew it myself. It's not worth anything." Lin Dan looks slightly stiff, and her eyes dodge.
The two bandits take a deep look at her before taking her away. After returning to the kitchen, Lin Dan pours the wine from the jar into the stewed beef and slowly stirs it with a slice. The thick soup becomes thicker and thicker due to the agitation. Each piece of stewed beef is wrapped with a layer of brilliant and sticky juice, and a strange aroma spreads everywhere. This aroma is nothing less than a sharp weapon. It pierces the kitchen doors and windows and spreads all over the mountain stronghold, making people swoon.
"Come on, come on, and get us some beef." The bandits responsible for guarding Lin Dan and others knock on their empty bowls to urge.
"You two elder brothers, the beef has not been stewed enough yet. We have to wait a little longer." Lin Dan kindly explains.
"I don't care if it's stewed enough or not, as long as it's cooked and eatable, you must fetch it when I ask you to do so. No more words!" The two bandits are so anxious that their eyes are red. They are excited by the smell and want to plunge into the pan to have a good time. The rest of the bandits come running and smelling, and they claim that they have to try the beef in the pan, fortunately, the bandit leader can hold his bandits, and otherwise the kitchen would have been looted.
"What kind of wine did that woman put in the pan, and how could it smell like this?" After leaving the kitchen, the bandit leader immediately seizes his subordinates for questioning and twitches his nose from time to time to smell the aftertaste in the air.
"Boss, I'll show you." The two bandits seem like to present treasures and say, "It will take a while before the food is served. Why don't we brothers drink first?"
"Yes, go and fetch the wine." A few bandits carry the big jar to the main hall, tear open vellum paper to smell, suddenly feel dizzy. No special reasons but that this wine is too fragrant. If it is opened to smell, it is even stronger than ordinary spirits (ancient Chinese liquor) and more mellow than the aging wine made of sticky rice, corn, rice, broomcorn, wheat. Before one drinks it, saliva has flowed all over the floor.
"Fill up my bowl quickly, quickly!" The bandit leader takes out a large bowl and shouts. After drinking it all, he is stunned for a moment, and then laughs heartily, praise the wine for its good quality. The rest of the people also succumb, each one scoops up a bowl of the wine to carouse, strong bouquet diffuses in the air, hooks up more people...
Xiao Zhu and his counterparts originally gather together to discuss how to escape and how to rescue Shopkeeper Lin, they suddenly smell a strong and unspeakable smell of meat, immediately quiet down, then Xiao Zhu says with certainty, "Shopkeeper Lin is making stewed beef with rice wine!"
"I'm hungry!" A servant licks his lips and murmurs.
The rest of them look at each other, the sounds from their stomachs can be heard. As long as Shopkeeper Lin cooks, people who are not hungry will immediately feel hungry. Even the reposing man opens his eyes and looks in the direction of the kitchen. His Adam's apple stirs up and down uncontrollably.
After a moment of silence, the people begin to discuss, but they do not expect a domineering bouquet to come from all directions, making them red-eyed. Being arrested, beaten and imprisoned, Xiao Zhu, who has never lost control of his emotions, spits bitterly and scolds, "Damn, how dare these bloody animals steal our wine!"
The handsome man, who has remained silent all the time, suddenly asks, "What kind of wine is this?"
Xiao Zhu says through his gritted teeth, "I wonder if you have heard a legend which is that Liu Xuanshi bought wine from Zhongshan restaurant in the past..."
The man is knowledgeable and immediately says, "The legend of Drunken Xuanshi, is it Thousand-Day Wine (wine name meaning one will be drunk for a thousand days after drinking this wine) ?"
Xiao Zhu looks at him surprisingly and nods, "Yes, this wine is the legendary Thousand-Day Wine. Shopkeeper Lin had travelled many places in Zhongshan County for three years. She finally restored the wine recipe of Thousand-Day Wine. After successful brewing, she buried the wine underground for seven years. She recently dug it up and prepared to take it to the capital to sell for a good price. When the wine jar was opened, there was already a wine worm (an unproved worm which enables one never to be drunk) in the jar. The wine was very mellow and thick. Although it would not make people drunk for a thousand days, it could make people drunk for three days and three nights."
"Drunken Xuanshi" is a legend that has been circulating for hundreds of years. It is said that there was a man named Dixi in Zhongshan County who reached the peak of his brewing skills. A drunkard named Liu Xuanshi came to buy wine. Dixi sold him a jar of wine, but forgot to tell him that this kind of wine had great delayed effect and must be controlled in amount. If drunk, one can stay not awake for a thousand of days. Liu Xuanshi returned home after drinking his fill and fainted due to drunkenness. His family thought he was dead and buried him. After one thousand days, Dixi suddenly remembered this matter and went to find Liu Xuanshi. The Lius dug up the buried Liu Xuanshi just after he woke up. His body was still permeated with a strong bouquet. The people around him were intoxicated after smelling it and woke up three months later.
After being passed on to the later generations, this kind of wine has been named Thousand-Day Wine, which can be called a true fairy in wine.
The nose is soaked with wine bouquet, and the ears are immersed in the noise of bandits playing drinking games. The handsome man licks his dry lips and gnashes his teeth. "It is indeed a bunch of animals!" The words just stop, he breaks the rope and stands up with his face clouded. He originally wants to wait until late at night, but now he can't bear it.
"You, you, how did you break the rope?" Xiao Zhu and others look at him tongue-tied.
"You stay here first, I'll go to save Shopkeeper Lin, and then you come out to join me when you hear the whistle." Afraid of a few people running at random will surprise the bandits, the handsome man specially tells them after untied, and then breaks the chain on the door bolt with his bare hands, and puts the broken chain back, walks gingerly following the direction of the strongest flavor.
Lin Dan is stir-frying beef tendons. Peony and Cuckoo knead the beaten beef into balls and put them into milky soup cooked with cow marrow bones. Seeing the handsome man entering through the door, the three people in the kitchen are stunned slightly, but Lin Dan’s reaction is the fastest, she immediately pulls him in, and then closes the door.
"Why are you here? Where are Xiao Zhu and the rest of them?" She lowers her voice and asks.
"I come to save you," the handsome man's weapon has been confiscated by the bandits, and he is picking out kitchen knives in the kitchen at the moment. His tone is very calm, "I'll take you out of the mountain stronghold first. Don't run around in the mountain forest. And then go along the stream and wait for me in the open area at the foot of the mountain. Others including Xiao Zhu and I will come later." The scene later will be a little bloody, not suitable for women to watch, but Xiao Zhu and others can stay until the last save, they also can help him clean up the bodies.
After thinking, the man goes to pull Lin Dan’s wrist, but she gently pushes away, "There are more than 30 fierce bandits here, you are only one man, how to deal with them? You can sit and eat, and then we can go down the mountain." As she says this, she brings a plate of fried beef with scallion and stuffs a bowl and chopsticks into his hands.
Unconsciously, the man takes the bowl and chopsticks and gulps down a few mouthfuls. His eyes gleam with satisfactions and enjoyment. He pauses stiffly and says in an awkward tone, "This is not the time to eat. Please go with me!"
"No, sit and eat!" Lin Dan pats the man's outstretched hand with a glimmer of smile in her voice.
The man looks at the back of his itchy hand and also looks at Lin Dan's smiling face which is as beautiful as a flower. He becomes silent and lowers his eyelids unconsciously.
Peony and Cuckoo look at the stewed beef which remains only half in the pan and complain, "I tell them the beef is not stewed enough, so it has to be stewed more. They insist to scoop it out and eat. They are really spoiling the dish!"
"It's lucky to spoil the dish and not us." By hearing this, Lin Dan smiles a lot more and says, "There's no more noise. Let's go and have a look."
The man immediately puts down the bowl and chopsticks and stands up, but Lin Dan presses on his shoulder forcing him to sit back. "Sit down, we go and have a look." The words stop, she goes with the two little servant girls, who are carrying a plate of hot dish separately, and they walk out unhurriedly. Even if they meet bandits, they can cover up with the excuse of serving food. They are not afraid at all.
The handsome man touches his shoulder with an odd expression and follows the three closely. They smoothly come to the hall, they see the ground is full of bandits; some are on tables, snoring like thunder. The air is filled with a bouquet that can’t be dissolved. As soon as the door is pushed open, the strong bouquet comes, making people unable to walk. Snoring also comes from several other houses, which shows that these bandits can’t resist the temptation of drinking Thousands-Day Wine and have already drunk to death.
Peony and Cuckoo stand on tiptoe and look at the wine jar placed in the center of the hall. They gnash their teeth and say, "The wine has been spoiled completely!"
Lin Dan touches the heads of the two little servant girls, but she says still the same words, "It's lucky to spoil the dish and not us. Let's pack up and leave."
The handsome man looks at the drunken bandits on the ground, he is surprised. He doesn't expect that it will cost nothing to deal with those bandits, and Shopkeeper Lin solves the problem without any help.
Lin Dan bypasses the handsome man and says slowly, "There is nothing I can't solve with one meal." The words stop and there is the clatter of horses' hoofs outside the stronghold. There seem groups of torches approaching here, and nobody knows what is going on.