Wang Yougui was taken aback slightly before he said with a smile, "That's good. Venerable Fangzheng, I won't beat around the bush with you. As you know, it is almost the new year. Every family needs a pair of couplets on their doors. In previous years, we used to buy them. However, there's a master calligrapher here in our village now. Everyone naturally doesn't want to buy them anymore. So we would like for you to write couplets for us... Do you think..." Wang Yougui shrugged as a way to indicate that it was up to Fangzheng to decide.
What else could Fangzheng say? They were all friends in the village who he could not reject. Furthermore, Wang Yougui had already explained the matter. It was not considered out of the blue either. Thus, he agreed gladly.
The villagers were very happy that Fangzheng agreed to their request. They were a little worried before that Fangzheng was going to turn them down because of some bizarre rule.
While the villagers rejoiced, Sun Guanying and Ouyang Fenghua also saw a glimpse of hope. They stepped up with the rest of the people from the Calligraphy Association and greeted Fangzheng.
Fangzheng still remembered Sun Guanying and jumped in fright. He hurriedly said, "Amitabha. Patrons, if you are here to compete with me again, then please leave. This Penniless Monk will not compete again."
"Master- Uh, Venerable Fangzheng. You misunderstand. I'm not here to compete. I want your work too."
Compete in a calligraphy competition? After seeing Fangzheng's Dragon Buddha Epithet, Sun Guanying obviously lacked the confidence to compete with Fangzheng again! He would have to be crazy for that to happen.
Fangzheng was very surprised. He understood why the villagers wanted his works, but even these calligraphers? He couldn't understand. Weren't they just couplets? Couldn't they write their own?
Fangzheng did not say a word. Sun Guanying and company panicked. Was it not going to work out for them? What would they do if Fangzheng rejected their request? All of them looked at him uneasily.
Ouyang Fenghua walked over and said carefully, "Venerable One, are you still mad at us? We can apologize for last time right now."
"Right, we owe you an apology. We made mistakes the last time we were here. We broke the rules," somebody spoke out immediately.
Fangzheng shook his head hurriedly, "Amitabha. Patrons, you misunderstand. This Penniless Monk just didn't see this coming. Whatever, since you are here, I can write for you too." Fangzheng thought that since he was planning to write for the villagers anyway, writing a few more for the calligraphy bunch was not a big deal. After all, the new year was approaching. He didn't want to ruin the festive atmosphere.
Everyone was delighted when they heard him agree!
Fangzheng didn't know how valuable his calligraphy was, but everyone else knew! Such great calligraphy might not be worth its weight in gold, but it would still be worth thousands! It would be awesome to hang the couplets in their own homes, adding more elegance to their homes. If Fangzheng became famous one day, then his couplets would become priceless! More importantly, it was refreshing to see such excellent calligraphy. If they figured out something from his calligraphy, it would be tremendously beneficial to them.
Liu Qingshu had been walking right at the back, snapping pictures of Mt. One Finger's beautiful scenery. He felt it would be quite a nice experience if he produced a painting of it and added a poem to it. He was completely uninterested in what the people ahead of him were talking about.
Liu Qingshu only gave a cursory glance when Fangzheng appeared. He shook his head and felt even more ambivalent. "How can such a young monk be able to produce any great piece of calligraphy? Even if he began practicing in his mother's womb, he would still have less than twenty years of experience. Can he be better than Elder Sun? Sigh, I really do not know what this monk's background is for everyone to hold him to such high acclaim to the point of sensationalizing the news."
Liu Qingshu grumbled inwardly. He circled around the group and ignored what the others had to say. All he cared about was himself.
When he came to the monastery's entrance. He took out his cell phone and wanted to take a picture, but he was left stunned in his spot!
He lowered his cell phone as he looked at a pair of couplets that were plastered by the entrance like he had seen a ghost! Just a look at them made Liu Qingshu feel like he had seen a buddha riding a divine dragon who had left a line of imprints!
They were bold and vigorous words. It boiled his blood, and he also felt like a magnificent air befell the heavens. It was cathartic as all his troubles were swept away! He felt peace!
"What- What is this?" Liu Qingshu looked at the scene in front of him in disbelief.
"Uncle Liu, this is the master's calligraphy. How is it? Isn't it shocking?" Liu Qingshu did not realize that Ouyang Fenghua had come to his side. She had spoken with great satisfaction when she saw Liu Qingshu's expression.
Liu Qingshu immediately nodded and said, "It's indeed shocking! It's no wonder all of you are heaping praise on him. This calligraphy is truly good!"
"Uncle Liu, you are overthinking things. We are not heaping praise on Master for nothing. It's because he truly is skilled! However, he is extremely modest." Ouyang Fenghua looked at Fangzheng's back as her eyes were filled with idolatry and confusion. She grew up in a family of calligraphers. Under the influence of her environment from a young age, her passion for calligraphy was something most people couldn't compare with.
From a young age, she was the best calligrapher in her class or even school. She received numerous awards and was augmented by these accolades. She was bound to be a celebrity of the calligraphy world! She had always held herself to those standards, to become a master calligrapher at the international level!
Due to her success, she was always picky when it came to the calligraphy of her peers. She believed that no one could challenge her. But after seeing Fangzheng's calligraphy, she suddenly realized that her calligraphy was nothing but a joke!
Why was he able to have such great accomplishments when they were the same age? He was just a young monk, yet why did he smile so radiantly? His every move made her feel so comfortable.
Normally, she would view anyone that surpassed her in many aspects with animosity. But against Fangzheng, she idolized him... It left her astonished! She had believed that she would only feel such emotions towards her father.
"He's indeed a rare genius. But I have to see him produce the calligraphy or I won't believe it! Let's go to take a look!" Liu Qingshu was completely intrigued. Was the young monk really capable of producing such calligraphy?
By that time, the tables had been set up with everyone's help. Red paper meant for couplet writing was placed on the table. Sun Guanying personally ground the ink for Fangzheng.
Wang Yougui held a tiny booklet and placed it in front of Fangzheng. "The couplets that people want to be written are all in here. Do as you deem fit. The people will claim their requests by themselves."
Fangzheng nodded and began waving his brush. The brush produced strokes as beautiful characters with great flair leaped onto the paper as if they were alive!
Every stroke seemed to be accompanied by rapturous thunder and a dragon's roar. However, that was only an illusion. There were no such effects in reality.
Liu Qingshu was completely convinced after he saw Fangzheng write a few characters. He watched intently and did not dare let his mind wander! Missing such excellent calligraphy would feel like an incredible loss!
It would have been nothing if Fangzheng did not begin. But the moment he began, he felt like he could not stop! Ever since he learned the Dragon Buddha Epistle, he always lacked ink and paper to practice his calligraphy. Now that he had sufficient materials, he could finally practice his calligraphy to his heart's content!
Furthermore, it was the new year. The mountain's bustle made him feel good. He was naturally happier. He produced huge strokes and wrote faster and faster. His characters also became prettier and more magnificent!
Fangzheng effused a state that resembled a dragon or a buddha. He seemed solemn but also benevolent. Anyone who saw this was influenced by his aura. None of the spectators dared to have any stray thoughts.