When Fangzheng saw the gesture, he accepted it graciously. He opened the bags and said with a laugh, "Heh! There are so many vegetables. They can be used to make dumplings. Heh heh."
When they saw Fangzheng laughing like a child, Su Hong and company laughed as well. At that instant, the status gap between master and ordinary man vanished instantly. It was as if they had returned to yesteryear. Fangzheng was still Fangzheng, and they were still themselves. The atmosphere turned warm.
"You want to eat dumplings? I can get you some flour and wrap a thousand dumplings that you can keep frozen! You can eat them whenever you want to!" exclaimed Su Hong suddenly.
Fangzheng said happily, "Patron, thank you very much. However, there's no rush for that. Patrons, you must have many things to settle after the fire, right? If you need any help, This Penniless Monk will definitely do his best."
Chen Jin said, "You don't have to bother. The matters with the house are my darn son's problem now!"
Chen Jin kicked Chen Long.
Chen Long chuckled and said, "I sure am lucky to have such a father-"
In exchange, he received another slap.
After quite a bustle, the group entered the temple hall to offer incense. When they looked up, they realized that the child-giving Guan Yin statue was gone. It was replaced with a golden cloth and on it, the child-giving Guan Yin and the Thousand-arm Guan Yin were drawn. Everyone was immediately delighted. They originally planned on going through the motions with the offering of their incense so as to give Fangzheng some donations. After all, they already had children and had no other wishes.
It was now different with the Thousand-arm Guan Yin. There were many things they could request from her!
Chen Jin and Su Hong prayed for a peaceful family. Chen Long prayed for a smooth-sailing career. Chen Long's wife prayed for her son to grow up healthily. The child prayed for many snacks...
Everyone offered one incense stick. After they were done, they bade farewell and left. Their house had been burned down, so there were many matters they had to tend to. They needed to settle all of them personally so they could not stay on the mountain for too long.
After sending the family away, Fangzheng looked at the big bags of carrots, napa cabbage, celery, etc. He laughed happily, "Heh heh, I can finally eat something with green leaves. I might forget what these vegetables taste like if I don't eat them soon. System, am I free to leave the mountain now?"
"Yes, but are you sure your monastery does not need someone to watch it?" asked the System.
Fangzheng replied, "Aren't you around?"
"I do not take care of these matters. Besides, if the monastery were to be broken into or damaged, the corresponding merit will be deducted from your balance. It will also affect your grading on each mission. Therefore, think through carefully before leaving the mountain," said the System.
Fangzheng said nonchalantly, "Although this monastery has many things of value, those that come here are from the village. Who would steal my things? Besides, my monastery has a guardian."
Although he said so, Lone Wolf was quite an unreliable fellow. He ran around all day and was frequently not home. How could Fangzheng rely on him? Fangzheng felt that Lone Wolf was less reliable than the squirrel. When he looked up, he realized that Squirrel was not home either. He was unsure where he had run off to.
Fangzheng immediately revoked his words. Indeed, the most reliable person was himself!
At the foot of the mountain, Chen Jin returned to the Chen household's ruins. He knitted his brows as he looked at the ruins.
Chen Long said, "Dad, don't be sad. It has already been razed to the ground. I'll build a better one for you."
"What do you know? This house was constructed by your grandfather and grandmother. There are many memories in it. This was the reason why I was unwilling to demolish it to build a new house. Now that it's gone... Sigh," Chen Jin sighed as his face seemed to put on a couple of years.
Su Hong held Chen Jin's hand and said, "It has already burned down. Don't think about it."
"How can I not? This fire is a little too abnormal, right? All the villagers were basically on the mountain. How did the fire start?" Chen Jin said with a scoff.
Chen Long exclaimed, "Dad, are you saying that it was man-made?"
"I don't know, but it's a possibility! Past fires were usually a result of brats releasing firecrackers. However, I feel that it wasn't so simple this time. Wait here. I'll have a chat with the secretary and the village chief. Regardless, I will not let this matter rest. There has to be a reason!" With that said, Chen Long left.
Su Hong and company exchanged looks as their expressions turned sullen. If it was truly man-made, it was simply...
Fangzheng was unaware of what was happening at the bottom of the mountain. In the afternoon, he took out the green vegetables, plucked them clean, and washed them. He made vegetable soup. The Unrooted Clean Aqua paired with the vegetables produced a soup that Fangzheng, Lone Wolf, and Squirrel enjoy greatly. Finally, they collectively sprawled on the snow and lay there lazily.
A night of silence ensued.
Fangzheng woke up early the next day. He cleaned the temple hall and considered the future. Now that he could leave the mountain, he wanted to travel around. Birds naturally wanted to fly with the cage opened.
At that moment...
"Master, good day," at that moment, he heard a depressed voice from the entrance.
Fangzheng looked over and was stunned. He knew the people who had come! A disconsolate woman was carrying a short-haired girl. The girl had a sad look on her face.
Fangzheng sighed when he saw this. He came in front of them and held his palms together. "Amitabha. Patrons, This Penniless Monk is sorry for your loss."
"Master, sorry for disturbing you," Lu Shuangshuang said with reddened eyes.
Fangzheng shook his head and said, "Patrons, please come on in."
Lu Shuangshuang carried in her daughter, Xiaomi. Fangzheng now had a bench, so he naturally did not need his guests to sit on rocks or on the ground. He also carried a furnace over as they sat down.
Lu Shuangshuang took out a letter and handed it to Fangzheng. She said, "Xiaoguo gave me this letter before he left. He wanted you to have it, Master."
It was a cowhide envelope. There was no stamp on it, just three words: 'To Master Fangzheng!'
Fangzheng opened it to see a wordless piece of paper. Following that, Fangzheng was enlightened as he held his palms together and said, "Amitabha."
The lack of words meant that he had nothing to say. For him to have nothing to say, it meant that he had no regrets.
However, Lu Shuangshuang had brought Xiaomi over, which meant that Han Xiaoguo did not leave without regrets. At least, he left the world while worried about his family.
"Master, Xiaoguo has left and I'm feeling upset. I wish to stay on the mountain for a few days of quietness, can I?" asked Lu Shuangshuang suddenly.
Fangzheng was taken aback. He shook his head and said, "Sorry, Patron. This Penniless Monk's monastery is clearly very small. Besides, there's only This Penniless Monk. It's not suitable to entertain female patrons."
"Is that so." Lu Shuangshuang's eyes turned dull. Clearly, she was in a very bad mood after Han Xiaoguo was executed.
Fangzheng sighed and said, "Patron, if you wish, This Penniless Monk can arrange for you to stay at One Finger Village for the time being. If you wish to show your respects to Buddha, you can come during the day."
"Thank you, Master." Lu Shuangshuang's eyes lit up when she heard that, and she turned a little more spirited.
Xiaomi echoed, "Thank you, Big Baldy."