Fangzheng's foot paused. He had to admit that his interest was piqued, not by the titles or even the respect but by the fact that he could make the old monk's dream come true and one day grow the temple until it was as large as Baiyun Monastery. Baiyun Monastery was only a mid-ranged place of worship, it spanned less than seven hectares so how could it stack up to the world's largest temple?
Fangzheng was of the belief that he didn't owe anyone a thing, Zen Master One finger being the sole exception. He never made a last request regardless how close to death he had come, Fangzheng could feel the last wish of the old monk before he released his final breath, the pleading stare in the old man's eyes telling him all he needed to know. Fangzheng had nodded briefly in reassurance, so how could he back away from a chance like this.
Fangzheng sighed, he gazed at the sky. "A man must keep the promises he made, guess I made my choice." Fangzheng shook his head. "There's no free lunch in this world. What do you need me to do?"
"Promote Buddhism," said the System.
Fangzheng blinked, then shrugged. "That would have been part of the job regardless. I, Fangzheng, will accept your offer."
"Ding! Binding of Buddha System has been completed. The Host must diligently study Buddhist verses and promote Buddhism, this will be necessary to save all sentient beings! If these terms are ever violated he will perish without any descendants."
"What the f**k!?" Fangzheng cursed inwardly, before growling a response, "You never mentioned this!"
A monotone reply was the only answer he got. "You didn't ask."
Fangzheng eyes widened when the words hit home. Die without descendants? Didn't that mean he would end up with permanent erectile dysfunction? He had been lured in with promises then tied by the chains of punishment, he furrowed his brows before gathering the shattered parts of his mind and replying.
"Can I take back my words?"
"Yes!" An instant reply.
"Great. I take it back," said Fangzheng.
"The binding will be automatically removed once you die." Fangzheng could almost hear the soft mocking in the monotone sentence.
"F**k you dude!" He could not help but curse.
The ground exploded as clods of dirt were launched around him. A bolt of lightning struck the ground in front of Fangzheng, causing his legs to tremble.
"As a chosen representative of Buddha, you must be clean in both word and deed. You may not curse," warned the System. Fangzheng secretly marveled how he could make out all kinds of different undertones despite its monotone sounding voice.
"Can I curse inwardly?" asked Fangzheng.
"..." He could almost feel the system's shock.
Fangzheng chuckled. "As long as I can do it inwardly..."
"The System has been bound. Presenting to you the System's first mission. Clean the entire temple in a single day! Upon completion, you will obtain one Buddha-augmented plaque!"
"Uh, what good is a plaque?" He was curious. It was only a plaque, so why was it a System reward? He already had one!
"It has been augmented by Buddha, which will elevate the temple's stately elegance."
"Tch." Fangzheng curled his lips and returned his luggage to his quarters. Since he couldn't leave, he had no choice but to aspire to be a proper monk.
He picked up a feather duster and began earnestly cleaning the temple. The temple wasn't particularly unclean. There were still a few layers of dust that had built up since the day the old monk had passed away. After an afternoon of hard work, Fangzheng finally finished cleaning the temple. He wiped the sweat from his face, "System, I'm done!"
"Ding! You did well in cleaning the temple. Rewarding a Buddha-augmented One Finger Temple plaque!"
With a whirring sound, a golden beam of light landed on the plaque. It flickered with a rich golden luster that reminded him of actual four-carat gold!
Fangzheng could not help but think to himself. If it's pure gold, it'll probably sell for quite a lot, right?
"The temple's plaque is the face of the temple. It cannot be sold." The System reprimanded as if it had heard his thoughts.
Fangzheng curled his lips. "Can't I just fantasize about it? Seriously, you don't give me money and yet here you are, forbidding me from even indulging in my fantasies? You control the world and you still want to govern my daydreams?"
The System ignored his tirade.
The golden beam shone for another ten minutes before it vanished.
Once it disappeared, Fangzheng took a peek. The plaque was still the same old and worn plaque. Nothing indicated that it had undergone a change. Except... the plaque now gave off a soft aura inducing a somewhat different feeling. Just a glance gave Fangzheng a sense of solemnity and peace. His frustration vanished and his stiffened muscles relaxed as a sensation of comfort spread throughout his body.
"Heh, it truly is divine." Fangzheng muttered as his face twisted under conflicting emotions.
"Ding! Because the Host completed the first mission perfectly, the System will grant an additional reward and will renovate the temple and reward you with a free draw!"
Before Fangzheng could even react, he saw a golden beam shoot down from the sky, as though Buddha's hammer had landed!
"What the f**k!? This isn't a renovation, it's a demolition!" Fangzheng raced towards the temple, arms flying as he tried to stop the beam of light from destroying his home. A golden dome rose over the temple preventing his entry.
As he stepped back he could see that the dome took the shape of a huge bell that glittered in a resplendent golden light.
Fangzheng could hear Buddha wielding His hammer inside of the golden bell, but could not tell what was happening. After ten minutes, the golden bell disappeared in a soundless explosion of golden light taking the unseen Buddha along with it. The entire temple had changed!
The once-crumbling temple walls had been re-plastered. They were painted in an extremely eye-catching red.
The withered bodhi tree in the courtyard had flourished and was now full of rich green foliage!
Fangzheng's lips curved as he stared at the tree. "To think this old thing is showing its health even in the late autumn, aren't you afraid of freezing to death a second time? Seriously, I was going to turn you into firewood. Seems I will have to scrap that plan."
Unfortunately for the bodhi tree it could neither speak nor move. Otherwise, a beat down would have most probably occurred.
The temple hall had also been renovated. Carved beams and painted pillars with extremely well crafted overhanging eaves. The temple was gorgeous, it radiated simple elegance! He could almost feel the work of Buddha radiating from the craftsmanship. Its simple natural beauty made it seem the wood had been grown instead of carved, Fangzheng stared in wide-eyed shock.
There had always been a broken down Skanda statue by the door. Originally it had a single missing limb and the demon-felling pestle it wielded had also been broken. The statue now looked lifelike, the coloring of the armor that had long since faded once more shined with pride. One of its hands was held by the waist and the other hand held the pestle pointing downward, the statue radiated power and a nearly palpable majestic aura spread around it.
One Finger Temple was only a tiny temple, with the Skanda statue in its previous state it let visitors know that the temple was small and could not provide for three meals. A mid-range temple, such as Baiyun Monastery, would have a Skanda statue in the hall with both arms embracing the demon-felling pestle. That meant that meals and lodging could be provided to visitors for three days. In large temples like the Shaolin Monastery, the Skanda statue would hold the demon-felling pestle in an embrace while its hands were pressed together in prayer. It showed the people that meals and lodging could be provided for visitors for an entire week.
The Skanda was not merely a guardian but was used to show people the temple's capabilities. If one was an experienced devotee, a glance at the Skanda would provide them with the information they needed.
Across the doors of the entrance was a red Merit Box made of hardwood. It was empty of donations.
Upon seeing this Merit Box, Fangzheng shook his head. For as long as he could remember the One Finger Temple's Merit Box had never been filled with notes. Even at the peak of their days, they would have been regarded as poor.
Beneath the Merit Box were three mat cushions provided for devotees so they could comfortably pray to the deities.
Facing the main door was a white statue. It held a baby in its arms and a boy and girl each took a spot to its side and were praying. It was Guan Yin, the giver of children and the boy and girl resembled its attendants.
This was also the goddess that One Finger Temple had always enshrined. But in the past, the Guan Yin statue did not have the attendants. The design had been poorly made, in fact, it had been so bad that its facial features were barely visible.
The Guan Yin looked extremely lifelike, no different from the wax figures at Madame Tussaud's. It was dignified, stately, sacred while at the same time portraying its kindness and love.