Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
“If I can’t do the big carvings, I can do the small ones!” Squirrel was quite optimistic.
Fangzheng smiled. “Indeed, you can do the smaller carvings, while the bigger ones might be difficult. But there are also difficulties when doing smaller carvings. They have their pros and cons. Jingkuan’s constitution is getting better, and his claws are nimble enough. His body far exceeds that of ordinary squirrels’. He also has great strength. You can start learning from me once I’m done modifying a tiny knife for you.”
Squirrel immediately beamed as he hugged Fangzheng’s ear and rubbed against it…
Red Boy pouted when he saw this. He had no idea what was so nice about learning to do manual labor.
Down the mountain Guan Xiangfeng, Fan Qing, and Qiu Xiaoye clearly had a better relationship now that they were no longer competing for personal disciple spots. They spoke jovially the entire journey and became closer. Jiang Zhou could not help but sigh when he saw this. “I nearly harmed these young people because of a spot. What a sin.”
However, after they calmed down, the few of them still turned a little disgruntled. Qiu Xiaoye asked Jiang Zhou, “Master, are we really just leaving? Shouldn’t we try a little harder to learn some carving arts from the Venerable One?”
“Heh heh, won’t it be easy to learn if you wish to do so?” said Jiang Zhou with a smile.
“Easy? How can it be easy?” Qiu Xiaoye was at a loss.
Jiang Zhou explained. “The Venerable One might not be teaching, but who said that Lame Ma won’t teach? We can learn from Lame Ma after he is done learning.”
“From him!?” Guan Xiangfeng immediately turned uncertain. Back when Lame Ma had requested for his guidance, he had repudiated him. Great, now that the tides had turned, he was the one hoping to learn from Lame Ma. Would he teach him? He felt bitter as he regretted how he had had his nose up in the air previously. He should not have burned bridges.
“Xiangfeng, you can achieve a lot if you let it go. If you don’t, you will never improve your entire life,” said Jiang Zhou.
Guan Xiangfeng nodded while in deep thought. “Master, I get it. I will apologize to him sincerely. I will never have my dog nose in the air from now on―”
“Pfft! This is the first time I’m hearing someone curse himself for having a dog nose.” Qiu Xiaoye and Fan Qing laughed.
Guan Xiangfeng harrumphed. “This is what is meant by ‘A fault confessed is half redressed!’”
“Haha!” Upon seeing Guan Xiangfeng act in this manner, everyone laughed.
After everyone reached the foot of the mountain, Guan Xiangfeng immediately went to a tiny store to buy branded cigarettes and good wine. He got five kilograms of good meat and ran to Lame Ma’s place.
When Lame Ma saw the bunch of items in Guan Xiangfeng’s hands, he immediately realized his intentions. He said with a frown, “What are you doing?”
“I’m… sorry. I apologize for my past actions,” Guan Xiangfeng said with a bow.
Lame Ma shook his head. “There’s no need to apologize. If not for back then, I wouldn’t have had today’s opportunity. You wish to learn carving?”
Guan Xiangfeng blushed. How long had it been? In the recent past, Lame Ma was the one who wished to learn from him, but now, the tables had turned. He had rejected him without any regard before. What about now? Would Lame Ma teach him?
“Yeah…” Guan Xiangfeng nodded.
“In a few days. Let me learn something first before I teach it to everyone. How much you can learn will depend on yourself,” said Lame Ma.
Guan Xiangfeng was taken aback. What did he mean by that? Was he going to teach him? That simple? There were no conditions? Guan Xiangfeng said with a look of incredulity, “Master Ma, don’t you have any conditions?”
“What conditions? Did Abbot Fangzheng request anything from me? If I have to say something, there is one thing. You are not to sever the heritage of this art! You are not to spread bad morals either. To be honest, your morals just barely make the cut,” said Lame Ma.
Guan Xiangfeng smiled bitterly. He also knew that he was ridden with problems, so he did not refute him.
Lame Ma continued. “However, you are alright deep down, so I’ll teach you.”
“Thank you, Master Ma.” Guan Xiangfeng thanked him.
“Don’t call me Master Ma. I like Lame Ma more. Alright, go back. Anyone who wishes to learn can come over when the time comes. Also, take these things away. I don’t want them.” Lame Ma viewed the matter simply. Fangzheng had not requested anything from him. Therefore, he could not accept items from others either. That just wouldn’t be nice.
Lame Ma was adamant about his decision. In the end, Guan Xiangfeng really had to carry his things back out, only to meet Dog Song at the door. Dog Song immediately asked, “What’s wrong? Why did you bring all these things only to take them back?”
After Guan Xiangfeng recounted what happened, Dog Song laughed. “I have a simple solution. Let’s go to my place!”
“What for?” Guan Xiangfeng put on a perplexed look.
“To set up a banquet! He won’t eat it if you just gift it to him, but he will definitely eat it if it’s from me. When the time comes, we can sit down and have a chat. You can say anything you want at that time too.” Dog Song led Guan Xiangfeng away as he ran off after taking the goods from Guan Xiangfeng’s hands.
However, Guan Xiangfeng had a look of gratitude. “Thanks a lot.” He could not help but feel regretful. “Who said that this world was lacking in kindness? Isn’t this kindness? F**k, I was quite the trash in the past, huh?”
However, Guan Xiangfeng did not notice that Dog Song was caressing the wine bottle as his eyes glowed. This was wine that was worth a few hundred a bottle!
With Dog Song acting as the liaison, they directly invited Lame Ma, Wang Yougui, and company over. In addition, there were Jiang Zhou, Qiu Xiaoye, and Fan Qing. The table was filled with people as everyone drank and ate. As they chatted, their interactions grew warmer rapidly. Over drinks, everyone became friends.
Guan Xiangfeng even patted himself on the chest and said, “Village Chief Wang, our village’s conditions are actually really good. The only sad thing is that it lacks marketing.”
Qiu Xiaoye rolled her eyes when she heard him. Indeed, alcohol helped narrow the ties between people. Just half a pint of alcohol, and he was addressing One Finger Village as his…
Having his hands tied, Wang Yougui said, “There’s not much we can do about it. The village is poor, so we can’t advertise. We can only rely on word of mouth.”
“Hehe, I happen to have a bro who does precisely this for a living. I’ll get him to quote you the lowest price, and I’ll pay for it! We will advertise for the entire village! Such good bamboo with such good people and such good skills will definitely become popular!” Guan Xiangfeng spoke with bold claims.
Wang Yougui immediately shook his head when he heard that. “That won’t do. How can we get you to pay for it?”
“There’s no question about it! I can’t repay Master Ma for his teachings. All I can do is repay it through the village. This matter is settled. Whoever calls if off is a dog. Bottoms up!”
The next day, Guan Xiangfeng squatted by the village entrance to cry in secret. “F**k, I drank too much and overdid my bragging. I’m going bankrupt!”
Fan Qing came over and asked with a bitter smile, “Why do this to yourself? Why don’t you speak to the village chief? I’m sure he won’t mind.”
“What are you saying? I said that whoever calls it off is a dog. Am I such a person? At the worst, I’ll just not have fun for the next two years and stay here to dedicate myself to learn the craft!” said Guan Xiangfeng through gritted teeth.
Fan Qing said, “Don’t tell me you are serious?”
“What do you think? Such good carving techniques are worth the investment,” said Guan Xiangfeng.
“I thought I was the only one who shared those thoughts.” Fan Qing chuckled as well.
“Hehe, we will be brothers in the future,” said Guan Xiangfeng.
Fan Qing nodded.
Guan Xiangfeng added. “As a brother, shouldn’t you wash my clothes for me? It won’t be for nothing. I’ll pay for our meals.”
Fan Qing: “…”
Meanwhile, Lame Ma had gotten up early to have breakfast before rushing up the mountain.
The moment Fangzheng opened the monastery’s door, he saw Lame Ma standing there with a silly smile. Fangzheng was rendered helpless as well. According to their ages, Lame Ma was Fangzheng’s senior. Back when he was still young, Fangzheng had even stolen eggs from Lame Ma’s place. He was even caught in the act and suffered a serious beating!
But now, the circumstances were different. The future was really unpredictable with how the tides changed…
As for the beating, Fangzheng of course did not bear a grudge. After all, he was at fault back then. Furthermore, the boomerangs and tiny bows and arrows he played with in his childhood had all been made by Lame Ma. He was the envy of his playmates back then!
Fangzheng shook his head and drove out the memories from his mind. Fangzheng led Lame Ma to the bamboo forest and sat down. Fangzheng began guiding Lame Ma in Zen Carpentry. “Zen Carpentry places emphasis on seeing with your eyes and thinking with your mind in such a way that you lead the objects to their natural…”
In the following days, apart from eating and reciting scriptures, Fangzheng spent the rest of his time bringing Lame Ma around. He was taught to observe the patterns in the bamboo and analyze its internal structure. In addition, Fangzheng taught him how to come up with concepts, plan things out, etc. Although Lame Ma had switched from carpentry to carving, he was still trained in woodwork. His decades of experience were not worth nothing. However, his skills were limited to whatever had come natural to him. He had no idea what the logic behind his techniques was. It was just like how many people might know that to build a house, the roof has to be triangular, but they have no idea why. Or how they know that you shouldn’t sit on tree stumps in the forest, etc.
Fangzheng seemed to hold a key as he opened door after door for Lame Ma. Lame Ma was enlightened with every simple example, allowing him to comprehend a lot by analogy. With his years of experience as a carpenter, his hands were similarly very stable. As he diligently studied, he rapidly improved!
Simultaneously, Lame Ma taught whatever he learned to Jiang Zhou and company. Jiang Zhou had even richer experience. He could figure out certain things that Lame Ma could not. Through his own understanding, he would then also further explain to everyone. As such, everyone learned and studied together, improving at ever faster rates as they helped one another.
As for Jiang Zhou, Guan Xiangfeng, and company, they permanently took up residence in the village. To thank the village, they donated their pieces meant for practicing to the village. Furthermore, they imprinted their names on them. As such, exquisite and excellent pieces of art were produced one after another. In the beginning, tourists who came to the village did not realize it, just finding the pieces weirdly expensive. However, when they posted some pictures, they soon attracted people with a good eye. It became even more apparent when someone recognized Jiang Zhou himself. People from all over rushed to the village to purchase the carvings and as such, the businesses in the village flourished. Everyone also earned buckets of money.
Guan Xiangfeng also fulfilled his promise. He spent all his allowance to advertise One Finger Village. One Finger Village quickly became famous in Black Mountain City as many people came to visit.
One Finger Village as well as the surrounding villages seemed to be invigorated, and the lives of the villagers improved. However, everyone knew that such changes were no doubt related to the person on that mountain.