Ouyang Fenghua might have been too engrossed in her drawing that she completely failed to notice Fangzheng’s arrival. When Fangzheng walked over silently and was about to call out to her, he heard her mumble to herself, “I’ll draw circles to curse you! Darn you, Fangzheng! Darn you, Jingxin! Going out to have fun without me! I’ll draw circles to curse you. I curse you to only realize that there’s no toilet paper after sitting on it!”
Fangzheng was rendered completely speechless when he heard that. One could make such curses? To not have toilet paper while on the toilet? That was truly Merciless!
Fangzheng took a deep breath when he noticed that Ouyang Fenghua had not discovered him. He silently raised his foot and prepared to run. Although he had left Ouyang Fenghua in the lurch, all was equal since the lass had just cursed him, right?
However the moment Fangzheng raised his foot, he heard Yi Xing cry out, “Venerable Fangzheng, you are back!”
At that instant Fangzheng had the thought of sending Yi Xing flying with a slap. However he quickly thought of an idea, immediately retracting the foot he had shot out and pressed his palms together. “Amitabha, Venerable Yi Xing. This Penniless Monk just came back. Is something the matter, Venerable One?”
Upon hearing Yi Xing’s cry and Fangzheng’s voice, the squatting Ouyang Fenghua jumped in fright. She turned her head over and saw Fangzheng. Her face turned red when she recalled how she had been drawing circles and cursing. She thought to herself, “He shouldn’t have heard me, right? Getting caught while speaking ill behind someone’s back is so embarrassing”
“Patron Ouyang, it’s no longer early. Return early and have some rest. This Penniless Monk has matters to discuss with Venerable Yi Xing, so please excuse us,” Fangzheng said calmly to Ouyang Fenghua.
Ouyang Fenghua subconsciously nodded since she felt a little guilty.
Fangzheng escaped the moment he saw that as he pulled the dumbfounded Yi Xing away.
Yi Xing asked in a daze, “Venerable Fangzheng, This Penniless Monk was only greeting you There was actually nothing.”
Fangzheng smiled. “Well, This Penniless Monk has a question. Where’s the vegetarian hall?”
“Oh, so that’s the question. This Penniless Monk is also heading over for dinner. I’ll bring you there.” Yi Xing immediately laughed when he realized that it was nothing important. However why did he have a nagging feeling that Venerable Fangzheng was up to no good, as though he was escaping from punishment?
Only when Fangzheng and Yi Xing went far off did Ouyang Fenghua jolt to her senses. She stamped her feet angrily. “That’s not right! He was the one who left me in the lurch. I should be the one blaming him, why did I turn afraid of him? Ah, how infuriating! Time for bed! Boohoo”
Ouyang Fenghua stomped off angrily, but she did not realize that she was not blaming Fangzheng. Instead, she had been worried for Fangzheng’s and Red Boy’s safety, which was why she had been sillily waiting at the entrance. Now that the two were back, she naturally lost all her tension. Midway to her quarters, Ouyang Fenghua saw Red Boy running around like a headless chicken. She grabbed Red Boy and asked him, “Jingxin, what are you doing?”
“Patron Ouyang, where is the vegetarian hall? Why have I been going in circles while running around?” Red Boy asked with a blushed face.
Ouyang Fenghua looked at the kid speechlessly. “Are you direction-blind?”
Red Boy’s face blushed even redder
Ouyang Fenghua immediately laughed when she saw his face. She then led Red Boy and said, “Let’s go. Sis will take you to dinner.”
Red Boy whispered, “Patron Ouyang, please don’t tell others.”
Ouyang Fenghua was enlightened as she said, “Sure, but you have to call me Sis.”
“Call me Sis Fenghua.”
“That’s more like it. Haha, don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me.”
Fangzheng and Yi Xing headed for the monk’s vegetarian hall, while Ouyang Fenghua brought Red Boy to the vegetarian hall meant for visitors. The two vegetarian halls were different. The monk’s hall had truly vegetarian food. The dishes were very light in taste, having been glazed with a bit of oil and salt. As for the other vegetarian hall, its dishes were different. They were cooked with spices such as garlic, ginger, and shallots. The taste was not too bad.
“Venerable Fangzheng, why did you only take a few mouthfuls?” Yi Xing was chomping down on his food as he asked out of curiosity.
Fangzheng smiled. “This Penniless Monk is full.” However he thought to himself, “Is this even edible? This thing tastes horrendous. How in the world is this fellow able to swallow it down? What a pitiful person”
Yi Xing asked out of curiosity, “Venerable Fangzheng, I didn’t know you had such a small appetite.”
“That’s right. This Penniless Monk typically eats very little at night.”
“I see. My master is the same. He doesn’t eat at night for his health, but I can’t do that. If I skip a meal, I won’t even be able to sleep,” said Yi Xing before he ravaged his meal.
As Fangzheng watched Yi Xing eat, he could only feel the emptiness of his stomach. He was hungry!
“Oh? What’s that sound?” Yi Xing looked at Fangzheng curiously.
Fangzheng looked up at the roof and said, “Well deserving of a famous historical monastery. This building sure is good.”
Yi Xing looked up as well, but he shook his head. “This was built later. The roof frames are made of cement and not real wood. If we want to talk about old buildings, Sunglow Monastery’s Mahavira Hall is a truly ancient building. The rest was all built later. By the way, Venerable Fangzheng, are you really not going to eat a little more?”
Fangzheng wore a bitter expression. He wished to eat, but having already said that he was done, wouldn’t he be smacking himself in the face if he ate again? Furthermore the dishes were just too unpalatable! It was even more nasty than the salted vegetables he made in the past! At the very least, the salted vegetables he made had a little saltiness, but the dishes in front of him were basically boiled green vegetables! He couldn’t figure out why such a huge monastery would skimp on salt.
Unbeknown to Fangzheng, it was not because his salted vegetables were really delicious. It was because he was accustomed to eating produce from Mount Numinous such as Crystal Rice and bamboo shoots. Ordinary dishes ultimately fell short. Besides, the dishes served were worse than ordinary dishes, so the contrast was so stark that he immediately could not tolerate it.
Fangzheng quickly diverted the topic. “Oh? Sunglow Monastery’s building was rebuilt? What happened to the old one?”
“Everything was burned down during a massive fire on Mt. Changbai,” said Yi Xing.
This reminded Fangzheng that Zen Master One Finger seemed to have once mentioned something like that in the past. However he had not said that a monastery had been burnt down. All he had said was that there had been a fire on Mt. Changbai a few decades earlier which had destroyed quite a number of objects. Since Fangzheng had not probed further, he naturally wasn’t aware of the history.
Yi Xing ate very happily and quickly. He patted his belly and smiled. “This Sunglow Monastery’s food tastes pretty alright.”
Fangzheng was rendered speechless as he looked pitifully at Yi Xing and thought, “What a poor child. What has Abbot Hong Jin been feeding him daily? Could it be that there’s no oil at all?”
Yi Xing smiled after he finished speaking. “By the way, Venerable Fangzheng, do you know where the meditation quarters are?”
Fangzheng shook his head, to which Yi Xing smiled. “I knew you were unaware. Let’s go. I’ll bring you there.”
After interacting more and becoming familiar with each other, Yi Xing seldom addressed himself as ‘This Penniless Monk’ anymore.