The two guys and the girls that accompanied Jiang Ting were her close friendsMonkey and his girlfriend Lu Xiaoya and Fatty and his fiance Ruan Ying. They had arranged to visit One Finger Temple after seeing her share the news on her Weibo social media. They were just here to travel and have fun.
"Jiang Ting is right. Let's head on up and take a look," said Monkey.
Fatty was extremely reluctant but under his fiance's suspicious gaze, he puffed up his chest and yelled, "Let's head on up then! You think I'm afraid of you!?" He glared at the trail in challenge.
With those words Fatty stepped forward and led the way. Ruan Ying chuckled as she ran up to him and grabbed his hand, holding it in her own with a smile.
Monkey and Lu Xiaoya followed with Jiang Ting at the back.
The mud trail wasn't that long and when they reached the foot of the mountain, stone steps had been carved into the trail making the climb remarkably easier. However, due to disrepair over the years the stairs were worn down and they had to be careful while climbing them.
Two hours later...
"Man...this is killing me! I swear I'll never come back to this crappy place!" Fatty muttered as he crawled forward on all fours, chest heaving as he attempted to catch his breath.
Ruan Ying was also out of breath but was in a better condition than Fatty. However, the moment she stopped walking, her calves trembled. She yelled, "I'm not coming again either. Jiang Ting, if this One Finger Temple isn't fun, I'll hate you for the rest of my life."
Jiang Ting showed her a bitter smile. "I didn't know the mountain trail was so difficult. I thought it would be like one of those scenic routes."
"Jiang Ting, is this One Finger Temple really efficacious? Is it as fantastic as you think it is?" Monkey was in the best shape out of the group.
Jiang Ting said, "I don't know either. I told you that I heard it from two villagers? All of you were curious and insisted on coming. So here we are and now you're questioning me...?"
"Indeed, being superstitious won't help you in any way. I am certain that One Finger Temple is an old and crumbling temple! I have seen many such broken down temples in rural villages. They say they are efficacious but they are, in fact, all cheats," Fatty stated.
"Alright, stop grumbling. Anyway, we aren't that hopeful regarding this temple. We're just here to take a look. It's going to start snowing in a few days, then we wouldn't be able to come even if we wanted to." Lu Xiaoya reminded them.
"That's right. We are just here to have fun, not to offer incense or pray to Buddha. If there's really a temple we'll take a look. There should be a monk if there's a temple right? I'm truly curious. How much of a smooth talker is the monk to be able to fool the villagers into thinking that he can make them conceive? Hehe...I might not have much talent but I'm a specialist when it comes to exposing such scams! When we meet him, I'll show you a beat down of a fake monk! Using people's issues against them like that is despicable and i won't let it stand! " Monkey puffed out his chest, eyes glittering as he looked ready to rumble.
Lu Xiaoya tugged at Monkey's sleeve, "Look at you and your bragging. Alright, let's stop talking about this. There's still a bit more to go before we reach the peak. Let's get this last part done and take a look."
"Let's go!" Monkey exclaimed as he led the way.
Fatty huffed when he saw that. "That darn monk is exhausting me to the point of death. When we meet him don't stand on ceremony! I want him to pay!"
"Fatty, what's this got to do with the monk?" Jiang Ting was rendered speechless. Fatty and Monkey had nowhere to vent their anger and were taking it out on the monk before they had even met him.
Ruan Ying said worriedly, "Both of you, try and calm down. We're in the rural mountains. If there's a monk, he might not be of the nice variety!"
Jiang Ting was happy when she heard the first part of the sentence but her smile was turned upside down when she finished it. She suddenly realized that coming to One Finger Temple could have been a mistake. There was probably going to be trouble...
"Sigh, whatever. The powers of the monk might indeed have been fraught with lies. If Monkey really does succeed in exposing his scam, should there be one, that's also for the good of the people..." Jiang Ting thought while following the rest as they made their way up the mountain.
Meanwhile Fangzheng was unaware that trouble was once again heading his way.
He had just awoken and was in no rush to have breakfast. Instead, he cleaned the temple hall and the courtyard. After cleaning the tables till they sparkled, he wiped the sweat off his face and nodded in satisfaction. After returning to look at the Buddha Vat's water, there was only a little more than half left. He was planning to finish it today, so there was more water for him to fetch.
Just the thought of the water's quality was enough to motivate him.
He practised the Great Strength Vajra Palm, causing the air around him to vibrate a nearly palpable pressure that emanating from him as he flowed through the stances. It felt good to practice although regretfully, there was no audience. Without applause it felt pointless. Once he cooled down, Fangzheng felt his bones shrinking back to size. Once his muscles deflated back to normal, he felt a slight soreness spreading through his body that he was familiar with. The feeling of allowing his muscles to relax was intoxicating!
"Hehe, I never knew that practicing martial arts would have these effects. I should start practicing it daily." Fangzheng muttered as he entered another entry into his to-do list.
At that moment, he heard voices outside.
"This is impossible! Fatty, didn't you say that it would be a crumbling old temple!? It looks brand new, everything is spic and span!" a girl exclaimed in surprise.
Following that, another voice responded. "I'm not clairvoyant. I was just making an estimated guess."
Another male voice made an appearance. "Hehe, it looks like we have really encountered a fraud. Those truly famous and efficacious temples are all ancient! Look at this temple. Even if you ignore its rather small size just look at the wall, the tiles, and the door. It's so clean. It's clearly a temple that was built in a hurry! A temple like that is most likely run by a fraud. Wasn't there similar news two days ago? Some people pretend to be monks and construct small temples to cheat the people, using the incense offerings for profit. Some are even worse. They deliberately go to rural regions to cheat the people of their money and sometimes even smooth talked people into having sex for fake promises. Now I'm positive that we've come across a fraud."
"Really? Are you sure we should head inside?" one of the girls responded nervously.
Fatty rolled his shoulders. "What are you so afraid of? I'm trained. If it's a fake monk, I could beat ten of them by myself!"
"Keep bragging..." The woman obviously did not believe him but still calmed down slightly.
When Fangzheng heard the youngsters words he clenched his hands, brows drawn down as he flexed his muscles. What the hell, since when have I become a fraud!? Just as he was about to rush out to to teach them a lesson the System coughed. Fangzheng took control of his anger with difficulty and restrained himself.
After a few moments, Fangzheng saw five peoplethree females and two malesat the door.
The moment Fatty reached the door, he stopped in front of it and spread his arms. He planned to take a deep breath and muster his courage. Once he reached the door he instinctively relaxed. His impetuous emotions calmed. He mumbled, "Huh, that's strange. I stopped feeling angry the moment I got close to temple door."
Ruan Ying laughed. "I think it's because you're like a deflated balloon. You chickened out right?"
With that said, Ruan Ying walked over to Fatty. Indeed, the worries and fears she originally felt, dissipated. Although they were still there they weren't nearly as severe as before. Her eyes widened as she exclaimed, "It's true! The moment I stepped into the temple, I feel so much more relaxed."
Lu Xiaoya and Jiang Ting held hands and joined them out of curiosity. Once the effects spread to them they stared at each other with wide eyes. What in the blazes was going on!