Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
“Thank you for answering my doubts, Venerable One. By the way, the bell at the entrance seems really interesting. Might I know which patron donated it? I can tell that a lot of effort was made,” said Uncle Da with a smile.
Fangzheng looked at Uncle Da’s honest expression which masked the hypocritical smile in his eyes and smiled. “That’s an old item. It was never used in the past and was recently hung up.”
Fangzheng could not lie, but making vague allusions was still alright. The bell was indeed an old item, an old item that came from Mount Numinous. Fangzheng did nothing but skip a few words.
Uncle Da’s eyes lit up. Its price would definitely not be low if it was not an antique, but if it was, it would be priceless! Uncle Da’s breathing clearly hastened as he asked, “An old item? How old?”
“Amitabha. This Penniless Monk has no idea. However it should be a few centuries old.”
“A few centuries!?” Zhang Zi and Ying Zi exclaimed in unison. They attracted the displeased looks of many devotees. The monastery was a tranquil place. Not only did Bodhisattva enjoy the peace and quietness, monks also enjoyed it. The devotees that came also similarly pursued that sense of tranquility. If it was noisy and chaotic, why would they come to a monastery? They might as well go to a market. Maintaining one’s silence was a basic expectation. Therefore many people looked over fiercely in contempt.
Uncle Da glared back at two people whose mouth turned slightly agape before they remained silent.
Uncle Da said, “That really is old. Thank you for answering my questions. I’ll be heading to offer some incense, so I won’t be troubling you any further, Venerable One.”
Fangzheng nodded and sat back down under the bodhi tree as he quietly read his Buddhist scriptures.
Uncle Da led Zhang Zi, Ying Zi, and Mute into the temple hall. Each of them held three high incense sticks and offered them.
After leaving the monastery, Zhang Zi asked puzzled, “Uncle Da, we don’t believe in Buddhism, so why would we offer incense? Furthermore, we even offered high incense. Isn’t that too extravagant?”
“What do you know? Indeed, I’m not a Buddhist, but if we are going to offend them, don’t we have to offer something in return? It’s a way of apologizing ahead of time,” said Uncle Da nonchalantly.
Zhang Zi was surprised before he said in fervent excitement, “Uncle Da, do you mean…”
“I mean nothing! Let’s go!” Uncle Da cut off Zhang Zi and walked away with wide strides.
Only then did Zhang Zi jolt to his senses. He looked in the direction of the monastery and after confirming that no one was paying attention to them, he followed Uncle Da and left quickly.
However, Zhang Zi might have looked back, but he forgot to look down…
At Zhang Zi’s feet sat a plump squirrel. He was hugging onto a bamboo shoot and having a great time eating. After Uncle Da and company left, he immediately ran onto Fangzheng’s shoulder and said, “Master, I have a nagging feeling that they’re bad people. They speak in riddles, so they’re definitely up to no good.”
Fangzheng put down his book and smiled. “Oh? What did they say to make you think so?”
Squirrel quickly reenacted their conversation.
Fangzheng frowned as he let out a long sigh. “If it’s fortune, then it isn’t calamity, and if it’s calamity…”
“What’s next?” asked Squirrel curiously.
Fangzheng said meaningfully, “Death won’t happen if you don’t seek it.”
Meanwhile Uncle Da had gone down the mountain with the rest. At present, many families were engaging in One Finger Village’s rural tourism. With business getting better, not only was food provided, but accommodation was now also provided.
As such, Uncle Da and company found a family in the village that looked rather honest. There was a plaque that mentioned how they were a model example.
“Uncle Da, why do you keep looking at the boss?” asked a confounded Zhang Zi.
“This fellow doesn’t look like a model example in any way… Zhang Zi, go ask him what kind of person Boss Song is. Is the plaque outside fake? With what we do, it’s best we stay in an honest person’s place. It prevents trouble and puts my mind at ease,” said Uncle Da.
Zhang Zi nodded and immediately left. He returned shortly.
“Uncle Da, I asked around. This Boss Song is indeed a model example. He does volunteer work every day, and he’s an especially nice guy.”
“Oh, that’s good.” Uncle Da nodded. However he continued having a nagging feeling that something was amiss. Having traveled the entire country, he had never seen a role model wear a hat in a crooked fashion while looking like a hooligan… Finally he consoled himself thinking, “Perhaps I’m overthinking things.”
In the evening, Uncle Da said after finishing dinner, “Make preparations. We will enter the mountain early tomorrow morning.”
“Uncle Da, we are going to the mountain already? Are we ignoring the things at One Finger Monastery?” asked Ying Zi curiously.
Uncle Da shook his head. “That thing has an owner. It won’t run, so we can go anytime. It’s different in the mountains. That treasure is ownerless so if we go late, who knows if someone might get to it before we do. Go ask Boss Song if anyone in the village brings people into the mountains. We need a guide. The price is negotiable.”
“Alright.” Zhang Zi left immediately.
“What? You want to enter Mt. Tongtian?” Dog Song’s hat nearly dropped off when he heard Zhang Zi.
“Why? Is Mt. Tongtian very dangerous?” asked Zhang Zi.
“It was dangerous in the past. Mt. Tongtian is famous for its wild boars. They have rough hides and thick flesh. They run rampant in the mountains. If a wild boar that weighs hundreds of kilograms rushes at you, just think about it, how scary would that be?” asked Dog Song.
“Are there that many wild boars?” Zhang Zi jumped in fright. The fiercest wild beast in the northeast was the wild boar. It was better to meet wolves than wild boars in the mountains.
“No need to be so excited. It’s different now. For some reason, after the wild boars came down the mountains to cause havoc the last time, they started circling around humans, never meeting people face-to-face. However there are still packs of wolves, bears, and venomous snakes on the mountain. Most importantly, Mt. Tongtian has never been developed. There are only small mountain trails that people have ended up creating. It’s very difficult to traverse the mountains. By the way, why are you going into the mountains? There’s nothing there apart from wild vegetables and wild game,” asked Dog Song out of curiosity.
“We are city people. We wish to enter a primeval forest to experience nature. By the way, Boss Song, can you find a suitable guide for us?” asked Zhang Zi.
“Finding a guide is simple. I can find one for you. As for the price… As you know, our village is now into rural tourism. A day away can lead to quite considerable losses.” Dog Song was after all quite a cunning person.
Zhang Zi smiled. “Don’t worry. We won’t be stingy with money.”
Only then did Dog Song nod and leave.
After Dog Song left, he found the matter amiss. He had seen city people wanting to enter the mountains before, but few were like these people. They moved adeptly and were nimble in whatever they did. More importantly, they carried many things on them. Their bulging bags did not look like anything light.
“Forget it. What they do has nothing to do with me. I’ll just hire a guide for them…” Dog Song shook his head and could not be bothered to think further.
“Amitabha. Patron Song, where are you going?” A Buddhist proclamation sounded at that moment. Dog Song was taken aback as he exclaimed, “Abbot Fangzheng, why are you down here?”