"Ding! The ingredients have all been delivered! Do you want to receive them now?"
"Ye- No!" Fangzheng nearly shouted yes but looking at the tiny room he was in, he would probably not have any space left in the room if he accepted the delivery. Climbing out of bed, he ran to the courtyard and said, "Yes!"
"Plop!" Tiny bundled bags landed in front of Fangzheng.
Fangzheng squatted down to take a look. He saw the bags were the size of a palm. They were tied with rope and a count revealed eighteen bags!
"The number isn't wrong but System, are you sure you didn't get the wrong bags? How much can these bags contain? There will be three hundred people. Or did you think there will be three hundred squirrels?" Fangzheng said in a speechless manner.
"Give it a try. If you can use it all up, count it as my error."
"That miraculous?" Fangzheng's curiosity was immediately piqued.
"These are interspatial bags. The space within can store a room's worth of items. Furthermore, they can maintain everlasting freshness. The eighteen bags equal eighteen rooms worth of ingredients. Do you think it's not enough?" said the System.
Fangzheng said, "It's enough! It's even enough to rear pigs!" At the same time, he wondered if he should leave some for himself first.
However, the System added, "A friendly reminder, this is a festival gift from the System. After the festival is over, all the items that are unused will be automatically taken back. Of course, if there's really not enough, the System will provide more ingredients at that time."
When Fangzheng heard this, he immediately felt listless. He could not leave any for himself, and could only use it on that day. What a scam!
After a sigh, Fangzheng carried the eighteen bags back.
"System, the ingredients are here. So how do I make the congee?" Fangzheng asked.
Just as his voice faded, a piece of paper landed in front of Fangzheng. When he picked it up, his face turned green. "System, is this the recipe you mentioned?"
"Is there a problem?" the System asked as though there was nothing unnatural about it.
Fangzheng said, "Heh heh, of course not, no- No, my ass! There are only five words here. "Throw into a pot, add water!" This is a recipe? Why didn't you just tell me in words? Why do you need to deliberately make it mystifying?"
"Laba Congee is originally a unique dish cooked in a pot made from leftover items that monks use to consecrate Buddha as it would be a pity to throw them away. Did you think that there was some other technique to it? If there were other techniques involved, then it wouldn't be considered Laba Congee. As for the secret recipe, the ingredients from Mount Numinous are the best secret recipe! Think about the Crystal Rice that you eat."
Fangzheng realized that it was a reasonable answer. The Crystal Rice was already so fragrant that it made one's mouth water simply from cooking it. What's more, these were even better ingredients.
However, Fangzheng hadn't fully paid attention to what the System said. After all, the System was sometimes quite unreliable. Fangzheng opened the small bags and looked inside. Immediately, he was stunned. He exclaimed, "System, are you sure you didn't make a mistake? These aren't ingredients, they are clearly works of art!"
Fangzheng was truly taken back. The first bag he opened were filled with emerald-green green beans. Most critically, not only did the green beans resemble emeralds, there were pictures of Buddha engraved on them! They looked lifelike! Each tiny green bean had such an engraving. It was completely unbelievable.
The System replied, "Naive child. A Buddhist Laba Congee is not the Laba Congee of the common people. It's very particular. These green beans have the engravings of the eight hundred arhats. The date stones you will see later are in the shape of auspicious lions. The walnuts are in the shape of true dragons, and the jujube paste is molded into the eighteen arhats, etc."
Fangzheng opened one bag after another. Indeed, although there were only eighteen bags, rather than saying they contained eighteen types of ingredients, they contained eighteen different shapes of ingredients! Many of the ingredients were mixed together. Some of them were only of one ingredient of a particular carving, while others were mixed, or had shapes molded from apricot or other things.
Fangzheng sighed inwardly and said, "System, isn't this considered... eating Buddha? Isn't it a little ruthless?"
The System directly answered him with the word, "Ignorant."
Fangzheng rolled his eyes and ignored the System. Fangzheng led Lone Wolf and filled five big pots with water. He lit the fire and threw in the dried fruits and ingredients that were harder to cook first. After using high heat for some time, he reduced the heat. Once the hard-to-cook dried fruits were cooked, he threw in the ingredients that were not that easily burnt...
Finally, he lowered the heat to let it cook slowly.
As for Lone Wolf, he was in charge of fetching water the entire time. Squirrel was running all around, clearly excited. From time to time, he would bring some tree branches as a form of labor for the temple.
Putting aside what Fangzheng was doing on the mountain...
With a rooster's cry, the northeastern village began waking up. Smoke began to rise as they were accompanied by the sounds of firecrackers. It was quite lively with all the crackling and spluttering. It also indicated that a new year was finally coming!
The quiet village began to turn lively as families got out of bed while preparing their breakfast. It was quite a thriving scene.
After breakfast, everyone began setting off. They were to climb to the top of the mountain, pay their respects to Buddha, eat the Laba Congee, and participate in the Bathing Buddha ritual.
Wang Yougui, Tan Juguo, Yang Ping, and company woke up early in the morning. They gathered everyone and went up the mountain together. Mt. One Finger's mountain trail was difficult. It was steep and had cliffs by the side. If there wasn't any organization or discipline, it would be very easy for danger to rear its head. The elderly and young were especially in need of special attention.
It was quite a large lively group of people. As they scaled the mountain, everyone engaged in chatter. Instantly, the cold and quiet Mt. One Finger turned rather spirited.
However, there were always exceptions.
"Are you really not going?" In one particular household, a middle-aged woman had already finished preparing everything. She was speaking to a man that was lying in bed.
"No, why should I? Each and every one of them is going there as if they are starving ghouls. Why? Have they never eaten before? Moreover, what does Fangzheng do to deserve running a Dharma Assembly of Bathing the Buddha? Does he believe that he is really an abbot after being an abbot for a few days? I'm not going!" said the man angrily.
"Heh, why do you speak in this manner? Fangzheng never offended you, right? Alright! Forget it if you aren't going. I'm going!" After saying that, the woman turned to walk out.
The man was displeased as he got up and said, "What do you mean you are going? I'm warning you. I'm prohibiting you from going. No one from our family is allowed to go!"
"Chen Jin!" The woman flared up as she glared furiously at the man and said, "Are you still a man? Why? Just because you failed to gather people to participate in the Dharma Assembly of Bathing the Buddha at Hongyan Monastery, our entire family is prohibited from going to One Finger Temple? Everyone is going to One Finger Temple to support Fangzheng. Why would everyone follow you to Hongyan Monastery? Isn't it all a Dharma Assembly of Bathing the Buddha? It's eating the same Laba Congee and joining in the fun, isn't it? Why must they go with you? Also, didn't the village chief say so already? Everyone can go with you next year."
Chen Jin said angrily, "What does a woman like you know? Master Wu Ming handed me such an important task because he thinks highly of me! I already bragged about bringing everyone there. Now? Great! Not a single person is going! They are even scampering to Mt. One Finger to participate in Fangzheng's Dharma Assembly of Bathing the Buddha. Can you spare some thought for my dignity? How can I face Master Wu Ming in the future?! 'Face' is as important to man as bark is to a tree. Do you understand?"