Translator: CKtalon Editor: CKtalon
Red Boy giggled. “I haven’t had the chance to take action after being here for so long. If it’s really the act of some demon, I can have a good time! Hey, I’m getting all reeled up the more I talk about it. My spear is already unable to endure the thirst!”
Fangzheng raised his hand and rapped Red Boy on the head. “Look at you. Ease your mind. This matter likely has nothing to do with evil demons. However, an investigation will be needed to determine the specifics.”
“That’s true.” When Red Boy thought of this world’s environment, he immediately felt disappointed. However, he still held a little hope. In such a huge world, what if there is a spot that is suitable for the breeding of demons? How exciting…
Bringing Red Boy with him down the mountain, Fangzheng saw Wang Yougui about to leave. When he asked where he was going, he learned that Wang Yougui was worried for the situation in Snow Village and planned to visit it. At the very least, having knowledge of the situation would help him quieten his heart. Fangzheng immediately got a ride from him, and they headed for Snow Village.
Snow Village was the village closest to Ganfanpen. It was also the village which had the most number of people fainting.
By the time Fangzheng arrived, he realized that there were many vehicles parked outside the village—motorcycles, tractors, minibuses, tiny sedans.
Wang Yougui said, “Heh, I know these cars. They are all from the nearby villages. From the looks of it, this hooha at Snow Village has frightened everyone. All of them have rushed here to gather information.”
Fangzheng said, “People nearly died. It’s no wonder they are nervous.”
Wang Yougui sighed. “That’s right. There’s been peace and quiet all these years, so for something to happen so suddenly, who wouldn’t feel worried? Let’s go. They should all be at the village council.”
After entering the village, Fangzheng discovered a strange phenomenon. There wasn’t any barking in the village. There weren’t even any chickens, ducks, swans, or dogs! Instead, there were many cats lying on the walls which caught one’s attention.
Fangzheng asked Wang Yougui about it, and he said with a puzzled look, “It’s indeed weird. The last time I came, Snow Village had quite a bit of poultry. It had quite a few dogs too. Could they have been injured by the demonic aura and locked up?”
Fangzheng frowned. He had a feeling that this matter wasn’t that simple.
When they arrived at the village council, they did see a huge group of people sitting inside. When the door opened, the smell of smoke wafted out. It was so choking that Fangzheng nearly fainted.
Red Boy covered his mouth and waved his hands, mumbling. “These smokers smoke like chimneys…”
Only when Fangzheng hit him did he stop grumbling.
Although smoking was harmful to one’s health, to the point of smoking in public being an uncivil action, saying it right to everyone’s face left them in an awkward position.
However, there was a voice from inside. “Did you hear what the kid said? Snuff out your cigarettes! I don’t even see all of you smoking that much usually. What’s up? Has the demonic aura turned all of you into chainsmokers?”
“Village Chief Song, we were just taking a smoke or two to relieve ourselves. Do you need to say that? Fine, we won’t smoke,” a middle-aged man dressed in a blue shirt said with a rueful smile as he snuffed out his cigarette.
The rest did the same.
Fangzheng pressed his palms together. “Amitabha. Thank you, Patrons. This Penniless Monk shall be intruding on you.”
“Abbot Fangzheng, don’t say that. Quick, come in and have a seat. Somebody, open the windows and air the room,” said Village Chief Song with a smile. A young lad sitting beside him immediately opened the windows. As the autumn wind blew in, it brought the coolness of autumn, jolting everyone to their senses as they felt their minds clear up. As the wind blew out the door, it brought away the smell of smoke, and the room’s air turned a lot better.
Fangzheng exchanged greetings with everyone, but Wang Yougui wasn’t so particular about the niceties as he sat straight down. Fangzheng sat beside him, and there was no particular hierarchy for seats. One could seat anywhere that was empty.
“Village Chief Song, how’s your village doing? Did the higher-ups say anything?” Wang Yougui asked without beating about the bush.
When Village Chief Song heard that, he showed a bitter look and said, “Don’t talk about it. The more we talk about it, the more flustered I feel. This all started yesterday. For some reason, the kid from Old Wang’s place went into the mountains to pluck fruits. On the way back, he suddenly fainted when he saw the village’s entrance. Fourth Li ran over to save him and the moment he arrived, he plopped to the ground. As for the exact reason, no one knows. It’s quite odd; when Old Fifth Gao went over, he was fine, and he successfully brought the two back. We asked him about the exact details, but he said he wasn’t sure either. He only said that when he bent down to carry them, he felt a little dizzy. He was fine when he stood back up. But isn’t that normal? Normally, when you bend your back and suddenly get up, the difference in blood pressure can cause you to feel faint. I asked around, and this isn’t limited to our village. During this period, Boulder Village and Guo Village have also had people fainting on the streets.”
“Boulder Village and Guo Village?” Fangzheng knitted his brows even tighter when he heard that. “If This Penniless Monk recalls correctly, these few villages all have a path that leads into the mountain, right? Did these people faint on those paths?”
“That’s right. It’s also why we suspect that demonic auras from Ganfanpen have leaked, or something tainted has come out. Because how could this be a coincidence?” said Village Chief Song.
Fangzheng said, “Did the government officials come over to take a look after that happened?”
“Yes. They came. People from the scientific bureau, the county hospital, and the police came. But they couldn’t tell a thing. The County Head also walked around and said that he reported it to the higher ups. They say that they are requesting experts to help with the investigation. Now, the police are patrolling with police dogs. The paths into the mountain have been sealed off, and no one is permitted entry,” Village Chief Song said with a bitter look.
With that said, the middle-aged man who first responded to Village Chief Song in snuffing out the cigarette, Guo Village’s Village Chief Guo Qiu, said, “I think this must be related to something sinister. Abbot Fangzheng, why don’t you hold a rite for our villages to exorcise the evil?”
With that said, many village chiefs had their hearts stirred as they looked straight at Fangzheng.
Hongyan Village’s village chief said, “There’s no need for our monk. We’ve already invited an accomplished monk from Hongyan Monastery to do the rites.”
Fangzheng smiled and thought nothing of it. Rites were a business many monasteries partook in. It could earn them quite a fair sum of money. As for whether it worked or not, that was a question…
In the past, Fangzheng had once asked Zen Master One Finger what a rite was and whether it was useful.
Zen Master One Finger had only laughed and said, “Whether it’s useful or not depends on the situation and the people, and each time the outcome can be different.”
However, despite Fangzheng pressing for a proper answer, Zen Master One Finger didn’t say anything else. All he said was that Fangzheng would understand when he grew up and knew more things. Now that he thought about it, Fangzheng realized something. Just like the Light Opening, this too was related to the power of faith. People’s actions were highly dependent on their thoughts. One’s mental state often determined one’s luck involved in one’s next step. This sounded like fantasy, but it was typically the case. The better one’s luck was, the better one’s mood, causing one to have great drive and the urge to work hard. That could result in better results. The worse one’s luck was, the more frustrated and hot-tempered one became. As a result, one would have little interest in doing things. The slightest thing that didn’t go according to plan would be deemed as bad luck. By dodging reality in its myriad forms, one would end up losing countless opportunities. There were copious examples of such situations.