"Are the both of you ready?" Jiang Songyun asked.
Without even looking at Fangzheng, Ouyang Huazai said with his head tilted up, "No problem."
Fangzheng also confirmed with a nod, "Amitabha."
"In that case, the both of you will be competing in calligraphy. Naturally, both of you will have to write the same thing to determine victory. Let's do it this way. Both of you, why don't you write Su Shi's poem, 'Lyrics to Remembering Your Charm - Remembrance of the Tale of the Crimson Cliff'?" Although Jiang Songyun had spoken using a question, he had, in fact, not given Fangzheng a chance to answer before he continued, "Since the both of you aren't disagreeable to it, please begin!"
Fangzheng was rendered speechless when he saw this. He was not even given the chance to speak a word. Wasn't he being too much of a bully? 'Lyrics to Remembering Your Charm - Remembrance of the Tale of the Crimson Cliff'? He had indeed seen it back when he was still in school. Furthermore, he had even been astounded by the magnificent terms used in the poem. However, he had long forgotten it after not having studied it for so many years. To get him to write it now? He did not know what to write!
As for Ouyang Huazai, his eyes had clearly sparkled when he heard the topic of the competition. He looked extremely confident.
Ouyang Fenghua revealed a smile that exuded absolute trust. Instead, it was Cui Jin who frowned slightly. Clearly, she was somewhat displeased with the matter, but she did not speak a word.
Ouyang Huazai glanced at Fangzheng and sneered inwardly. He did not have much confidence if the topic were some Buddhist scripture. But to write a poem? And such a famous poem? Ouyang Huazai had absolute confidence in himself! Which calligrapher had not written this poem before? Perhaps most people had written it or even practiced it. How could he not produce a good piece of calligraphy when he had practiced the poem hundreds, if not thousands of times? Could he even lose? Could he lose to a young unknown monk from the rural mountains? From his perspective, it was absolutely impossible!
"To think that it's actually 'Lyrics to Remembering Your Charm - Remembrance of the Tale of the Crimson Cliff''? Heh, there's nothing to see then. I heard that Mr Ouyang previously won the grand prize in a province using that poem. He was even nominated at the national level."
"That is one of the works that made Mr Ouyang famous. It was truly astounding. It might have been hard to determine the victor if they were competing in something else but with this, he's sure to win!"
The Calligraphy Association members that were familiar with Ouyang Huazai discussed in whispers. They spoke so softly that they could only be heard by the people surrounding them.
Even Monkey, Fatty, and Wu Changxi did not hear what they said.
However, Wu Changxi knew of this matter. He immediately jumped up and exclaimed, "I object! It's not fair! Using a poem that Ouyang Huazai is most proficient in to compete with Master Fangzheng, isn't that being too much of a bully?"
Jiang Songyun snorted coldly and said, "Wu Changxi, you were the one that raised the competition. The time and venue were determined by you. But when it comes to me deciding on the competition's poem, it won't do? As for fairness? There are countless literates in the world. There are countless people that practice calligraphy as well. As for ''Lyrics to Remembering Your Charm - Remembrance of the Tale of the Crimson Cliff', it's a very common and frequent poem used for practice. If one can't write it well, what else can be written well? I suggested using a poem that everyone has practiced as the competition's poem purely for fairness. If not, with Fangzheng being a monk and him being proficient at writing Buddhist scripture while Mr Ouyang has never written or practiced it before, would that be fair?"
Although Wu Changxi felt that the response wasn't right, he failed to retort.
The other members of the Calligraphy Association jumped forward and echoed the sentiment.
It was only natural for them to support Jiang Songyun. Ouyang Huazai was an expert calligrapher with strong ability from the city, a force to be reckoned with in their circle. Jiang Songyun was the president of the Calligraphy Association. Similarly, he had quite an influence in the calligraphy circle, so they naturally wanted to curry favor with him.
Most importantly, they did not believe that Fangzheng, who was a layperson, was a calligrapher! Deep down, they never treated Fangzheng as a calligrapher, nor did they acknowledge him as one of them.
One of the contestants was in their circle while the other was outside the circle. It was obvious at a glance who was familiar and who was the stranger. They naturally spoke up for Ouyang Huazai!
Especially the Songwu County Calligraphy Association's members. They had been locked in the temple with the wolf released, turning them into tragic wretches. They were still seething with anger and finally had a chance to vent, so they naturally put down Fangzheng.
With so many people attacking Fangzheng, Wu Changxi had no chance to even open his mouth. He was repressed and unable to lift his head at all.
When Fangzheng saw this, he felt rather helpless as well. He was not good at arguing on such matters. He was the kind that would end up being destroyed in a verbal argument. Since he could not beat them in an argument, he decided not to even engage in it!
Therefore, Fangzheng said, "Amitabha. Patron Wu, thank you for speaking up in defense. However, This Penniless Monk doesn't know calligraphy. The words written aren't anything worthy of viewing, so it doesn't matter what is written."
"Little Monk, at least you know yourself! I can't speak of anything else but this time, you will definitely lose!" Ouyang Fenghua looked up as she said with a gleeful look.
Fangzheng smiled slightly and did not say a word.
Noticing how Fangzheng had said so, with his tone sounding defeatist, Jiang Songyun smiled a lot more. He said, "Little Monk, it is rare to know one's limitations. It's rather good that you have such a mindset. Unfortunately, you should not have stirred up such a matter to become famous. Ignoring the fact that you have wasted everyone's time, this competition will only be treated as a joke in the future."
Jiang Songyun would never have expected that he was truly hitting the nail on the spot with that comment. In the future, this competition would really become a joke when people discussed the calligraphy competition on the mountain! A huge joke! However, the person that would be the brunt of the jokes was...
"Little Monk, I think it's better if you admit defeat right now."
"That's right. If you know that you can't write, then don't force it. Just admit defeat."
"I think so too. There's no need to continue the competition. You have already lost on your stance. It would be meaningless to continue the competition."
People echoed the sentiment.
When Fangzheng heard that, he smiled bitterly. He did not know how skilled he was. He just knew that when compared to the true Dragon Buddha Epithet, his words were so bad that they were not worth looking at. He had no idea if he could win or not. Furthermore, the people in front of him were from the Calligraphy Association. Supposedly, they had seen pictures of his calligraphy on the Internet, so since they did not think highly of him, his calligraphy was likely bad.
Upon thinking of this, Fangzheng really believed that he could not win. However, he believed that even if he lost, news of One Finger Temple would still be spread as a result. At least, people would know that the place existed. As for having a bad reputation? Then let it be bad!
"Alright, cut the crap. We will know if he's good or not once we test him! All of you just keep blabbering on before it has begun. What's the meaning of this? Also, those that are only wearing half trousers, aren't you cold? If you aren't cold, then keep chatting here for another hour!" At that moment, Fatty could not stand the sight anymore. He began yelling.
It would have been fine if he did not say those words, but the moment he said that, those that had their trousers torn immediately felt the cold wind chill. Their legs turned cold as they hurriedly leaned towards the fire. At the same time, there were others that went to look for timber. However, it was winter and it had just snowed. It was not easy to find usable timber. Thankfully, there was a lot of couch grass on the mountain which no one chopped off. That was usable after sweeping away the snow and getting some dry pieces.
However, it was not something that lasted long. There were some people almost freezing to death, so Jiang Songyun did not continue with the idle chatter. He stood up and said, "Since both parties have no objections, I formally announce the beginning of the competition!"