Fangzheng nodded. "Alright, I got it. Ill settle scores with that salted fish once we return! Humph."
At that moment, Wanderer Tranquil heard the commotion from outside. She walked over and asked, "Venerable One, is something the matter?"
This was the first time Fangzheng was seeing a Daoist priest celebrate a festival, so he was somewhat curious. Hence, he pushed open the door and said, "Amitabha. This Penniless Monk noticed that you were busy before recalling that its the Lower Prime Festival today. Might This Penniless Monk ask if you require any help?"
Wanderer Tranquil smiled when she heard that. "Theres not much to be done. However, if Venerable One is really willing to help, you can help This Penniless Priest take out the sacrificial items out. They are in the kitchen."
Lone Wolf was originally insipid over the matter, but once he heard that they were to head for the kitchen, he immediately became spirited. He hurriedly looked at Fangzheng, afraid that Fangzheng would reject her.
Thankfully, Fangzheng really wished to help. At the same time, he was also curious how much there was to eat in the kitchen. Hence, Fangzheng nodded. "Then This Penniless Monk will be going over."
With that said, he led Lone Wolf to the kitchen at the back, while Wanderer Tranquil busied herself with other matters. The moment Fangzheng stepped into the kitchen, he was stunned. He saw nine plates on the kitchens counter top. Each plate had pastries of different shapes and sizes. However, they were all in the shape of plants. None of them were meat-based or animal-based. This implied that Wanderer Tranquil was a vegetarian. She didnt even eat things that were in the shape of meat-related items.
Fangzheng couldnt help but shake his head. "Shes really a serious Daoist priest who does things better than This Penniless Monk."
Lone Wolf didnt care about that. He stood on his hind legs and placed his paws on the counter top. As he looked at the food, he licked his lips and asked, "Master, do you think she will be able to tell if I eat a little?"
Fangzheng immediately glared at him to make him behave. "She allowed us to help because she trusts us. Behave."
Lone Wolf grinned. "I was only saying" However, the look in his eyes was evident. If Fangzheng had nodded, these pastries could forget about leaving the kitchenevery one of them!
Faced with Fangzhengs adherence, Lone Wolf could only bear with it.
By the time Fangzheng and Lone Wolf moved the pastries out, Wanderer Tranquil had already placed the other items on the offering tablecandles, incense burners, etc.
With Fangzhengs arrival, the pastries were placed on the table. Wanderer Tranquil smiled at Fangzheng and said, "Thank you, Venerable One. This Penniless Priest will first take a bath and change before welcoming the Water Officials arrival."
With that said, Wanderer Tranquil left. Lone Wolf looked over and asked, "Master, arent you going to join her in her bath?"
Fangzheng rolled his eyes. He did wish to do so, but if he did, there was a high chance of him being smitten by lightning, turning into a charred crisp. At best, he would be given a slap.
As he shook his head, Fangzheng obediently waited in the yard.
About half an hour later, Fangzheng heard the sound of slow, light footsteps. When he turned over to look, his eyes lit up!
He saw Wanderer Tranquil in a gorgeous purple Daoist robe. She looked dignified as she walked over slowly. Every step looked designed, neither too fast nor too slow, neither too wide nor too narrow. Everything was just perfect. At that moment, Wanderer Tranquils bearing was truly that of a fairys. It made Fangzheng involuntarily take a few looks, but there was nothing nefarious about it.
Fangzheng knew that the colors of a Daoist robe in the Daoist religion represented many things. One couldnt wear them haphazardly. Typically, when Daoists did chores, they would wear an ocean-green Daoist robe. Such robes were thick and resistant against wear and tear. During normal times, they would wear an azure-colored Daoist robe. The azure color represented the Azure Dragon of the East. It represented the chthonic forces of the East and the Wood element of the Five Elements. The azure color also represented the successors of the ancestral master of the Daoist religion, the Eastern Floriate Emperor.
As for yellow and purple, they were only worn by a Daoist temples abbot or owner. A typical Daoist priest would only wear such colors on major festivals. Furthermore, they had to be celibate priests. Ordinary priests were barred from wearing such colors.
Wanderer Tranquil was the abbess of the Daoist temple. Hence, it was fine for her to wear purple. The only thing that left Fangzheng stunned was how gorgeous the robe was!
On a careful look, the purple robe had golden threads embroidered in it! Fangzheng didnt know if they were real, but regardless, he knew that the robe was definitely expensive. If Fangzheng were in the same situation as before, he wouldnt be able to buy so much as a sleeve even if he sold One Finger Monastery!
Thinking back to the exquisite ingredients used to make the pastry, Fangzheng was certain that the reason why they were tasty wasnt solely due to the culinary skills involved. It definitely had to do with the ingredients as well. Furthermore, for a woman to manage such a huge Daoist temple, while still having such good food, such a nice Daoist robe, and the teapot made of Yixing clay
Furthermore, Wanderer Tranquil had mentioned before that she had come to this Daoist temple only after coming under the tutelage of the Nantian Daoist temples owner. After the owner passed away, this place became hers. Later, she hired people and took years to renovate the temple.
Fangzheng wasnt a fool. The renovation of a simple house in a farming village needed at least ten to twenty thousand yuan. It was even more expensive in big cities. However, no matter how expensive house renovations were, could they match the renovation of an ancient building? This wasnt something that could be done without planning. The restoration works had to be done with meticulous attention.
How much would it take to hire an artisan with the ability to do that?
The more Fangzheng thought, the more he realized that he had been mistaken previously. Wanderer Tranquil was completely different from him! She had definitely been rich before she became a priest! Even now, she wasnt someone who was lacking in money. She wasnt some poor chick in the mountain ditches, but a wealthy woman!
As these thoughts flashed through his mind, Wanderer Tranquil came before the offering table. She raised three sky lanterns and handed them to Fangzheng. "Venerable One, please hang the lanterns on the flagpole by the door."
Fangzheng nodded and immediately did as told.
As the lanterns were raised, Wanderer Tranquil did a calculation with her fingers. She suddenly looked up to the sky and said solemnly, "The auspicious hour is here. May the Water Official please accept the invitation to descend to this mortal plane!"
Following that, Wanderer Tranquil started performing the rites. She did the Seven Star Footwork, used a peach wood sword, etc.
Fangzheng watched by the side in silence. He understood some of the actions Wanderer Tranquil did, while there were other things he didnt understand at all. However, there was one thing he understoodthis was a complete set of rituals used to honor the deity.
About an hour later, Wanderer Tranquil came to a stop. She reverently placed three incense sticks before respectfully taking a step back. Turning back, Fangzheng saw that she had beads of sweat on her forehead. Her face was flushed red. Clearly, it had been exhausting to perform an entire set of rites.
Fangzheng subconsciously took out a handkerchief and handed it over. "Perfected One, use this to wipe your sweat."
Wanderer Tranquil was clearly surprised when she saw Fangzhengs handkerchief. A unique sliver of emotions flashed in her clear eyes before she smiled warmly at Fangzheng. She then nodded and took it. "Thank you, Venerable One."
Following that, Wanderer Tranquil wiped her sweat and returned it to Fangzheng. "This Penniless Priest never expected you would be carrying a handkerchief with you. Few people use them in this day and age."
Fangzheng blushed. Such things were no longer used since years already. But that handkerchief had been made especially for him by Zen Master One Finger when he was still young.