Red Boy looked up into the sky. “I want to cry.”
“Cry, cry it out, and then you will feel better. But at least you still have new clothes. Look at Monkey. The robe he wears is filled with patches. Squirrel and I don’t even have clothes to wear,” said Lone Wolf as he shook his head.
Squirrel added, “That’s right. Besides, Master already said that they will be returned to you when you renounce asceticism.”
Red Boy rolled his eyes. LOL! Renounce asceticism? Was it possible for him to do so? Even when every monk in the world renounced asceticism, he would probably have to return to the South Sea and strike wooden fish in the Purple Bamboo Grove and chant the sutras. What a bitter life However Red Boy also knew that it was not suitable for monks to wear such clothes in a monastery. Furthermore, he also understood Fangzheng’s dilemma when he saw the envious tiny guy beside him.
At that moment, Fangzheng’s voice sounded from inside the meditation room. “Jingxin, come in here.”
Red Boy entered with his head down. He looked at Fangzheng as he curled his lips, looking extremely displeased. “What?”
“Nothing. I’m just taking custody of the clothes for you. You can wear them during the festivities.”
“Really?” Red Boy’s eyes lit up immediately as he looked worriedly outside.
Fangzheng smiled. “Everyone’s cultivation path is different. Monkey is destined to take a more solemn path. As for Squirrel There’s no other way. I will have to bite the bullet and spend some money to get some pieces of cloth to sew him some clothes.” Fangzheng felt quite resigned as well. As for Lone Wolf, Fangzheng ignored him. That rascal only cared about food instead of clothing.
Red Boy was instantly delighted. He thought he would have no chance of wearing the clothes again, so now that he knew there would still be opportunities to do so, he was naturally delighted. He left in high spirits.
“Ding! Congratulations on helping a person find his goal in life, causing the world to have one more better person. Do you want to take a chance at the draw?”
“Not for now. Accumulate it. I want to draw a big one!”
“It’s up to you.”
That night was uneventful. Early the next day, Fangzheng led his disciples to Mt. Tongtian to pluck mushrooms and wild vegetables.
When they reached the foot of the mountain, several villagers had already woken up. They all greeted Fangzheng who returned a bow with a smile. Monkey mimicked him, but his face that naturally looked aged could not emulate Fangzheng’s radiance. Therefore he ended up looking like an old monk. People were used to it and said that Monkey had gained Buddhist enlightenment and was something magnificent.
In the past, Monkey did not understand them, but now he could. He was feeling very pleased with himself, as indicated by the frequent flicks of his tail.
Lone Wolf grinned when he saw this. He ran in front of Monkey and began spinning his bushy tail like a fan. Monkey rolled his eyes and could not be bothered with the loathsome dog.
Squirrel monopolized Fangzheng’s shoulder as he imitated Fangzheng by bowing with his hands folded in front of him. It tickled everyone. Regardless how hard the little guy tried to learn, he only ended up looking more adorable. He did not seem to have anything to do with Buddha. It infuriated the little guy as he turned his head away and ignored others, which only tickled everyone even more.
As the group left the village, they saw a vast bamboo forest. After Fangzheng’s care and the villagers’ consuming hard work of taking care of the forest, it had grown greatly. Swaths of forest made it a scenic spot known to all. Most importantly, it was unknown who the villagers had invited to help with the design, but it was great. The bamboo forest underwent strategic redevelopment, making it not especially dense. People could enter the bamboo forest easily and enjoy the the feeling of merging with the bamboo forest’s serenity and smell its fragrance. It was extremely delightful.
There were also a few pavilions made of thatch. It looked like a return to nature, exuding its original simplicity. Matched with long wooden benches and tables, a tea set, and a few big bows, it truly lit up the eyes of several tourists that passed by it.
It was Fangzheng’s first time inside, though. It was indeed quite comfortable to walk through it.
After passing through the peripheral bamboo forest, the group came to a dense bamboo forest. Few people came here, and it was basically already the periphery of Mt. Tongtian’s mountain range. Past here and up a steep slow was the Mt. Tongtian mountain range. There were no proper mountain trails up there. Only people who came to the mountain to pluck wild vegetables would barely work their way up the mountain through tiny trails.
Usually people would use machetes or poles while climbing up the mountain. Firstly, they were good for cutting through any vines, and secondly, they served to scare away any nearby snakes. And then there was something else they absolutely needed to bring with thembells!
There were black bears deep in the mountains which the locals called Blind Bears. Under normal circumstances, bears would not attack humans, but if humans intruded into their territory, they would often attack. At the least, they would bellow out to express their displeasure. Some people claimed that most of the time, bears attacked humans because they mistook humans as animals. If they recognized them as humans, they would normally choose to leave. After all, guns had made bears suffer in recent years.
In order to reduce any conflict with bears, they would bring bells. As they walked, the bells would sound. Such metallic sounds that did not belong to Mother Nature easily roused the attention of the bears and warned them that humans were coming. As such, the bears would avoid meeting with the humans.
This was just a housewife’s tale of which Fangzheng had no way to confirm the veracity, however. In any case he of course did not bring a bell, since he had a disciple beside him with tremendous combat strength. He was not afraid of meeting bears.
On the way up the mountain, there were always red clothes hanging on tree branches. They were nothing superstitious. They were actually road markers. If anyone got lost, they could basically find their way back or enter the right part of the forest again if they found the cloths.
As they proceeded into the mountains, Fangzheng would point out to the animals which wild vegetables could be eaten and what couldn’t be eaten.
Although they were all animals that hailed from the mountain, wolves ate meat, squirrels ate acorns, and monkeys ate wild fruits. None of them ate wild vegetables, so they were naturally unfamiliar with that domain.
“This is eagle fern. This is a Monkey Head Mushroom. It’s good stuff, really expensive. Jingzhen, pluck two of the wild fruits on the tree. Jingkuan, I see some acorns. Jingfa, what are you doing? If you want to pee, go to the side. Don’t pee in the middle of the road. It stinks!”
Fangzheng pointed things out on the way to no end. His disciples had a great time running around everywhere.
Rewinding time to a month ago
Beneath Mt. One Finger, in Backriver Village, there was a farming household. It was late into the night, but the lights were still lit. The windows were half opened as thick smoke billowed out. A swarm of mosquitoes sat outside the window with fervent gazes as they buzzed. It was as though they were saying: “If not for the heavy smoke inside which will give us tuberculosis, I would have already sucked all you half-naked men dry!”
The room wasn’t huge. There were three square tables, with four people to each table. They held poker cards in hand as cigarettes hung from their mouths. The cigarette ashes extended far out and would fall to the table when the wind blew, but the smoker in question would not care or look at it. He would throw out a card before taking a mouthful of thick tea to freshen up his mind, before continuing his focus on the red bills on the table.
Apart from the four people at the table, there were people crowding around to enjoy the buzz. All of them were engaging in cacophonous discussion.
Following that, someone shouted, “Laosi, hurry up. I’ve been waiting all day. I’ve already prepared the money, but I don’t have a seat!”