Red Boy had been trying to hold onto a glimmer of hope in the beginning, convincing himself that Fangzheng only knew a limited number of mushrooms. But eventually he realized that a number of mushrooms Fangzheng pointed out were the poisonous mushrooms he had used, and he came to realize something.
Fangzheng pointed out more than fifty mushrooms as they walked, most of them being poisonous mushrooms. The last one left a deep impression on Red Boy.
“This bright-colored and beautiful mushroom with a red top and blackish-brown spots is called the Red Chicken Crown. It is very fleshy, and it looks quite savoury. However, it’s best not to touch it. Some people with sensitive skin will have their body swell up after being poisoned upon contact. This mushroom is extremely poisonous and can be considered the poison king among mushrooms. The natural world is as such. The more beautiful the object, the more likely it is to contain lethal poison. It might not be an absolute law, but it’s quite a good rule of thumb for most plants and animals.”
Red Boy’s face blushed red. The soup he had cooked today contained a large amount of Red Chicken Crown. He had used it because he was afraid Fangzheng wouldn’t die! Now that it was being pointed out by Fangzheng, Red Boy knew that there was no way he could act ignorant. He did not continue the facade as he looked up. “Master, why did you drink the mushroom soup despite knowing it was poisoned?”
Red Boy’s heart tightened when he saw Fangzheng stop. He thought to himself, “I’m doomed. This darn baldy will probably be reciting the scriptures for an entire year. Sigh, so be it. As long as I don’t die, I’ll be a hero once again a year later!”
Fangzheng saw the noxious look shimmering in Red Boy’s large eyes as he sighed emotively. Red Boy was a demon king after all. Although he acted innocent and submissive usually, he was still unscrupulous in what he did. He only cared about the outcome and not the process. However Fangzheng also knew that Red Boy was not a lost cause. If he were, he would not have taken the initiative to summon the rain to help others. However the habits inculcated in him over his long lifespan were not things that could be changed completely in such a short time span. He had to take things one step at a time.
Fangzheng smiled. “Let me ask you this first; did you really want to poison me, or did you not know that the mushrooms were poisonous?”
Red Boy was stunned. His eyes shimmered uncertainly as he looked at Fangzheng before enunciating his question. “Master, would you believe me if I said I didn’t know the mushrooms were poisonous?” The moment he said that, Red Boy regretted it. After spending so much time with Fangzheng, he had learned one thing. Fangzheng was absolutely no fool! On the contrary, he was very smart and could understand many things. Red Boy was convinced that Fangzheng understood what was happening too.
Fangzheng patted Red Boy on the head. “You are This Penniless Monk’s disciple. If This Penniless Monk doesn’t believe your words, who else should he believe? Let’s go. Go pluck some mushrooms and stew a pot of mushroom soup for your senior brothers’ dinner. If not, they will turn petty again. I do not wish for them to feel that favoritism is practiced.”
With that said Fangzheng walked off, plucking a mushroom from the ground in passing.
Red Boy was stunned rooted to the ground as he saw Fangzheng’s back. That was it? Wasn’t he fooled too easily?
Red Boy followed behind Fangzheng silently, and when Fangzheng plucked the third mushroom, Red Boy finally stopped and whispered. “Master, I was actually trying to poison you”
Fangzheng’s body quivered a little as he stood in his spot. Following that, he responded, “Oh.”
Then he continued plucking mushrooms.
Red Boy looked at Fangzheng flabbergasted. The darn baldy was actually not punishing him? He wasn’t reciting the scriptures? He didn’t even reprimand him? This wasn’t logical! However the more Fangzheng did not say a word, the more flustered Red Boy became. He did not know why he was feeling flustered, but regardless, he could not dismiss the matter lightly like before. This feeling made him feel odd and uncomfortable. He looked at Fangzheng’s back, his heart wincing a little. Had he given up on him? He couldn’t even be bothered to reprimand him?
Red Boy did not know why he had such thoughts, but such thoughts were relentless. They only intensified and minutes later, he reached his limit. Red Boy could not bear with it as he shouted, “Master, aren’t you going to reprimand me? Aren’t you going to teach me a lesson by reciting the scriptures?”
Fangzheng finally stopped as he said indifferently, “Why do you think I should reprimand you? Why should I recite the scriptures to punish you?”
“I wanted to poison you. Are you going to turn a blind eye towards what I did?”
Fangzheng suddenly laughed when he heard that. He turned around and chuckled, asking him back in return. “What’s the purpose of reprimanding and punishing you?”
“Uh” Red Boy was truly stumped. He had no idea how to answer.
Fangzheng smiled. “Be it reprimanding or punishment, it’s only to make you understand that you were wrong. Since you admitted to your wrongdoings, why should you be reprimanded or punished? Isn’t that superfluous?”
“Uh” Red Boy was once again stunned rooted to the ground.
Fangzheng looked up. “Of course, if you wish to listen to the scriptures, there’s no problem with me chanting a sentence or two. Do you want to listen a bit?”
“Master, it’s not early. Look, we still have to prepare the mushroom soup for dinner. Since we are so busy, let’s not do any chanting.” Red Boy immediately heaved a sigh of relief and shouted when he saw that Fangzheng was really not angry.
Fangzheng raised his palm and smacked Red Boy on the back of his head, scolding him jokingly, “In that case, aren’t you going to pluck the mushrooms?”
“Yes!” Red Boy did not turn angry and instead grinned. He charged forward, smiling as he plucked the mushrooms.
Fangzheng watched Red Boy silently from behind, foolishly smiling to himself.
Not long later, Monkey, Lone Wolf, and Squirrel ran over. When they saw Red Boy plucking the mushrooms, they immediately joined the mushroom-plucking army. Instantly all sorts of mushrooms were gathered.
At that moment, Squirrel’s voice sounded from behind. “Master! Master, I found the most beautiful large mushroom!”
Fangzheng turned his head and saw a huge mushroom running over! The mushroom was the size of two hand palms! The huge mushroom ran over and stopped in front of Fangzheng. Then a squirrel head popped out from behind the mushroom. It was Squirrel who had carried the huge mushroom over.
Fangzheng saw the red mushroom and asked speechlessly, “Jingkuan, how did you get such a mushroom?”
Squirrel said matter-of-factly, “Fourth Junior Brother plucked mushrooms of this kind in the morning, but mine is bigger! It’s much more beautiful than his. It also smells pretty good. Why? Master, do you not like it? But you seemed to enjoy it during lunch.”
Fangzheng and Red Boy immediately felt awkward. How were they to explain? Therefore Fangzheng secretly took the basket containing the mushroom and collected all the colorful mushrooms before secretly throwing them as they walked