In addition, Fangzheng did things frankly and forthrightly, so he was not afraid to be looked at. He was calm and Jing Yan naturally could not tell a thing. Jing Yan only made an additional mental note, "Although he's young, he is adept in deceit!"
If Fangzheng knew what Jing Yan was thinking, he would have probably vomited blood thrice and exclaimed his innocence.
Wu Changxi hurriedly went forward, "Master, about this, what do you think about the competition?"
Fangzheng decisively shook his head and said, "Patron, Buddhist places of worship are meant to be tranquil. Please do not mention the competition any further. If you are here to offer incense to honor Buddha, please come in. If there's nothing else, feel free to stay here," with that said, Fangzheng turned to leave.
"Master, don't go!" Wu Changxi realized how Fangzheng had steeled his heart to not partake in the competition. So with a stroke of genius, he shouted, "It's a matter of life and death!"
Fangzheng frowned and asked, "Why do you say so?"
Noticing that he had a chance, Wu Changxi immediately said, "Master, the matter is like this. The last time I came, I was lucky enough to see you write in the snow. The text was very nice and had the style of a master, so I took some pictures, hoping to share it with everyone. There's nothing wrong with appreciating something good together, right?"
Fangzheng thought for a moment. It was a good thing, and he had nothing against it. He nodded.
Wu Changxi immediately said, "Here comes the problem. There were people who did not believe in it! They said that the pictures I took were fake and that the text you wrote in the snow was fake as well. Everything was fake to them! I, Wu Changxi, am a reporter and I have been in this business for more than twenty years. Ignoring everything else, integrity is something I have. My good name of two decades cannot be sullied by others. I could not accept it, so I went to debate the matter with the naysayers. But they actually cursed me and you as cheats! Master, you might be able to tolerate this matter, but I can't."
"My entire life's integrity has been destroyed. It's equivalent to taking my life! I'm a reporter, if I lose the trust of the people, what else can I do? If I do not prove my innocence today, how can I live on? I might as well die somewhere here today."
Fangzheng looked at Wu Changxi as Wu Changxi looked angrily back at Fangzheng.
Fangzheng shook his head and said, "Patron, what you said makes sense, but it's not bad to the point of death."
Fangzheng could tell any impending catastrophes a person would face in the coming three days. If Wu Changxi were about to die immediately, it would be impossible for Fangzheng to not see it. Since there was no strange phenomenon, it meant that the fellow was just lying to him by telling him a sad tale. Fangzheng detested being lied to by others or being used by others. He turned and left.
"Master, Master, don't go! It really is a matter of life and death. I've made a bet of a million bucks. If I were to lose, where would I get the money to pay them back!? When the time comes, I'll be bankrupt and my family will crumble! You can't not lend a helping hand!" Wu Changxi rushed forward and grabbed Fangzheng's thigh. He yelled as he persisted annoyingly.
Fangzheng was also helpless. A number of reporters had come early in the morning for no apparent reason. Then, such a scoundrel ruffian had come. Could he not peacefully enjoy his quiet days? Also, there were so many people, all of them had pleaded, but none of them had offered incense. Weren't they not embarrassed to make such pleas?
Although Fangzheng was displeased, Wu Changxi's words had moved him. A million bucks! How much money was a million bucks? Fangzheng began counting with his fingers and realized that there was no way he could finish counting that number with his fingers. They had actually used so much money for a bet? What a bunch of bastards. If you have an excess of cash, donate it. Don't you see that this abbot can only eat rice daily without even salted vegetables?
"Amitabha. Patron, please let go. This Penniless Monk really cannot participate in this so-called competition. It is completely meaningless, so why are you doing this?" Fangzheng still shook his head and objected.
"Little Monk, who said that this competition is meaningless?" at that moment, Jing Yan took a step forward and shouted.
Fangzheng returned with a question, "Patron, may I ask: What meaning is there?"
"It is extremely meaningful. Presently, Chinese culture is gradually waning, while foreign culture is overwhelming us. Look at our children. They use pencils, ballpoint pens, or fountain pens but does anyone use a brush? Look at our classes. The Chinese language is less important than foreign languages! Look at our children's names, there are more and more foreign names. Nowadays, when they speak, they add an English word or two in everything they say to appear extraordinary and to appear superior. In this society that is ridden with ills, the root of the problem lays on the fact that our culture has not been fully proselytized. Our culture is gradually fading away as our children get jaded and end up being attracted to foreign culture. In this day and age, a battle between Wu Changxi and Ouyang Huazai that appears to determine one's reputation is actually a great opportunity to promote our culture."
"As long as we sensationalize this matter, we can make news out of both your texts. We can stir society to talk about it and pay attention to Chinese calligraphy. Isn't this meaningful?"
"Furthermore, Wu Changxi is indeed an old reporter. What else does a reporter have other than his reputation? Nothing!"
"Moreover, I would like to remind you that back then, when Ouyang Huazai had doubted if you had faked the calligraphy, Wu Changxi ran around all over the place in the hopes of redressing your name but because of Ouyang Huazai's tricks, he lost his job. Now, he may say that he's a reporter but, in fact, he is no longer one."
"To participate in a competition for such a person, for yourself, for Wu Changxi, for the country and culture, isn't it something you ought to do? Is that meaningless?" Jing Yan gave a plethora of reasons like a sonorous and powerful barrage.
Fangzheng was rendered speechless. He had not even finished high school, so how could he be more eloquent than Jing Yan, who was a top student? Besides, she was a reporter and she made a living through her literary skills! More importantly, women were always fiercer than men when it came to a quarrel. Therefore, aggregating all the factors, Fangzheng had no choice but to raise the white flag.
However, Fangzheng was feeling aggrieved too. Who wouldn't want to make a name for himself? However, the System did not permit it. He had the heart, but he was lacking in strength too, yet who could he air his grievance to?
Fangzheng sighed and said, "Amitabha. Patron, what you say makes sense. However, competitions are really barred from being held in the temple. Everyone, please leave."
"You little monk, why are you so stubborn? If we can't compete in the temple, can't we compete down the mountain?" Chen Jing yelled.
It would have been fine if this matter hadn't been raised. Fangzheng was even more infuriated when he heard it mentioned. Down the mountain? He too wanted to go down the mountain! But he couldn't!
Therefore, Fangzheng shook his head and said, "This temple only has This Penniless Monk, so how can he go down the mountain? Patrons..."
"There's no need to go down the mountain! Master, if the temple isn't suitable for competitions, we can compete in the empty space outside the temple. The mountaintop is so wide and if we do it a distance from the temple, it would not disturb Buddha, right?" Wu Changxi smacked himself in the head as he yelled.
Fangzheng was surprised. That's right! If he was not allowed to compete inside the temple, he could do it outside.
With that, Fangzheng asked, "System, is it permitted to compete outside?"
Fangzheng was immediately overjoyed. He nodded and said, "Alright then. Since everyone has said this much, This Penniless Monk can only agree. However, This Penniless Monk's calligraphy is ordinary. It's nothing impressive. If This Penniless Monk loses or my text is too ugly, please do not laugh."
Fangzheng was not a fool either. Honestly, he did not have the knowledge to determine his own abilities. Since Ouyang Huazai was a calligraphy expert, he was bound to be extremely skilled. Fangzheng did not dare to be too full of himself. If he got figuratively slapped in the face, it would not be making a name for himself, but embarrassing himself instead.