With that said, all the villagers were appalled.
Noticing that there was silence, Wu Ming believed that he had finally gotten the situation under control. All he needed was to wait for Fangzheng's reply and he could act appropriately to launch a counterattack!
"Wu Ming, who the hell are you? How can you say that?"
"We watched Fangzheng grow up. Do you think we do not know what kind of child he is?"
"You bald donkey, I couldn't stand the sight of you early on. Scram!"
"Wu Ming, scram quickly. If this weren't a monastery, I would have beaten you to the point of debilitation!" yelled Dog Song.
Tan Yong shouted, "I wouldn't dare to take sides if it came to others, but when it's you, I'd rather believe Fangzheng!"
Tan Ming added, "That's right. I've seen many fake monks. In my opinion, you aren't something good. You even came here to slander Fangzheng? Why don't you look at yourself in the mirror!"
Wu Ming was immediately dumbfounded. He had taken everything into account except for the relationship between Fangzheng and the villagers! They were not ordinary visitors. They were Fangzheng's relatives!
One sentence of his had sparked a raging inferno. Wu Ming deeply regretted it. Unfortunately, there was no way to take back his words. He made a last-ditch effort by saying, "Ignorance! All of you will regret it."
Everyone was about to continue cursing him when Fangzheng held his palms together and said loudly, "Amitabha. Patrons, please calm down. Venerable Wu Ming insists that the first incense offering is important despite This Penniless Monk saying otherwise. In fact, this matter is very simple. Just get Venerable Wu Ming's master to explain it to everyone and everything will be revealed! This Penniless Monk has heard of Zen Master Hongyan's fame, that he is truly an accomplished monk. This Penniless Monk believes that Zen Master Hongyan will give everyone a satisfactory answer.
"My master is advanced in age. It's not convenient for him to climb mountains. If you don't believe it, forget it! This Penniless Monk was planning on doing something good to gain merit. Since none of you believe it, forget it." With that said, Wu Ming pushed through the crowd and quickly descended the mountain.
"Tch!" No one was a fool. With Wu Ming fleeing with his tail between his legs, his lie had clearly been seen through. Instantly, many people pointed their middle fingers at him!
Wu Ming felt as though arrows were penetrating his back as he sped up. As a result, he accidentally stepped on ice and fell to the ground with a plop. Everyone laughed out loud as he felt more and more pathetic.
Among the crowd, Chen Jin sighed and did not say a word when he saw all of this. He knew that Wu Ming was finished. At the very least, he no longer had any standing in One Finger Village. As for Chen Jin, he also understood that Wu Ming was up to no good. However, how was he to earn extra money without Wu Ming? Having had a source of income depleted, Chen Jin still disliked Fangzheng! He recalled Fangzheng rejecting his request for Laba Congee. That outcome was identical to the one Wu Ming experienced. It was embarrassing!
Chen Jin felt disgruntled, but he knew that it was not the appropriate moment to make a scene. As for descending the mountain now? Wouldn't that tell everyone else that he was in cahoots with Wu Ming? He did not want to embarrass himself further. Hence, he quietly followed the crowd and decided to offer some incense and return to the village together with the others. His wife, Su Hong was still at home. His son and grandson had rushed back to spend the new year with him too. Thinking about them made him feel warm.
With Wu Ming gone, Fangzheng was left with a dilemma. Although Buddhism taught that the first incense offering was directed to each person's first incense offering, it could not be denied that there was a belief among the populace that the first incense offering of every monastery mattered. Especially the Chinese. They were stuck with the concept of being first. It was quite a difficult task to handle.
And at this moment, there was a sound of firecrackers from the foot of the mountain a great distance away, while there were faint cheers. Such large-scale fireworks implied that the new year had come!
Of course, the villagers were still filled with eagerness despite believing Fangzheng's explanation.
Fangzheng suddenly had a brilliant idea as he turned around and bowed at the temple hall, "On behalf of all of Mt. One Finger's villagers, your disciple, Fangzheng pays respects to you, Bodhisattva!"
With that said, Fangzheng walked in, took an ordinary incense stick, lit it, gestured, and inserted it into the incense burner!
Everyone saw that the first incense stick had been offered. Fangzheng had paid his respects on their behalf. They looked at each other and realized that it was not something bad. Fangzheng was the temple's abbot. It was only right for him to offer the incense...
Without the pressure of the first incense offering, everyone relaxed. They lined up and entered to offer incense to pray for blessings.
Fangzheng looked at the bustling temple hall and felt somewhat proud. However, he was feeling more and more vexed about one thing, "System, one child-giving Guanyin is really insufficient! It really affects the temple's development!"
"Ding! That's why you have to work hard."
"Can you give me advice that's a little more constructive?" asked Fangzheng.
"You have to work hard!"
Fangzheng: "#@[email protected]#%"
The temple hall continued its bustle until about two in the morning. Everyone offered their incense sticks while children ran around and the elderly laughed. There were conversations everywhere. As for Fangzheng, his eyes smiled into a narrow line. He could clearly tell that everyone was especially generous, perhaps because of the new year. Everyone offered high incense! Although the System would take away half of Fangzheng's income, the income he received this time remained sizable.
The development of the temple was one step closer!
As Fangzheng was secretly smiling...
"Why is it so red at the foot of the mountain?" asked someone suddenly.
Everyone rushed to the cliff to take a look. Following that, someone shouted, "It's bad! The village is on fire! We need to put it out!"
Wang Yougui, Tan Juguo, and company immediately turned anxious. They ran to the side of the cliff and looked down. Indeed, the village was on fire. Wang Yougui hurriedly arranged for Yang Ping to call the fire department. He called out to everyone, "All men, follow me down the mountain! We need to put out the fire!"
Instantly, all the adult men and women rushed down the mountain with him.
When Fangzheng heard the commotion outside, he followed to check the situation that was apparently a fire. He stood by the cliff and indeed, it was unknown whose haystack had been ignited! Although it was snowy in winter, snow wasn't rain. The weather was still dry and the winds were strong. The fire spread rapidly! At that moment, one house had been implicated already, while other houses simultaneously ignited.
Standing behind, Chen Jin said eccentrically when he saw the nervous people, "Heh heh, blame yourselves for not staying at home during the new year. Look, isn't there a fire now? With us being on such a tall mountain, everything will be gone even if we rush down-"
At that moment, Chen Jin's cell phone rang.
Chen Jin lifted his phone and saw that it was his wife, Su Hong. He accepted the call, and he said before she spoke, "The village seems to be on fire. It's hard to tell through the mist, but you have to be careful."
"Save me! The house is on fire! I can't leave!" Su Hong's shouts came from the other side of the phone.
Chen Jin was instantly dumbfounded. He yelled, "My house! It's my house! My house!"
Chen Jin charged down... He no longer had the mood to make any sarcastic remarks. He stumbled down as fast as he could, but his feet could not keep up. He even threw his phone.
Fangzheng picked up the cell phone and heard the screams on the other side of the phone call. There was the sound of crackling flames and explosions. There was a child crying and women were screaming. Fangzheng knew that it was bad. People would die!
Fangzheng was not that worried at first as he believed that all the villagers had come up the mountain. But now, it was apparent that that wasn't the case! Someone was trapped!
Upon coming to this conclusion, Fangzheng turned anxious. However, he would not be able to run down the mountain in time!