As the saying went, each master had their own special field. It couldn't be more true.
Having been dealing with ghosts for nearly a thousand years, the Maoshan Sect knew the classification, habits, and skills and abilities of ghosts like the back of their hand. Now, with the recovery of the spiritual essence, ghosts were also beginning to make their way back, yet were still rather weak at the moment, making getting rid of them right up the alley of Maoshan priests.
After Chao Kongtu set the six chicken throats into the wall and leaving one in his palm, he fumbled around in his luggage again and took quite a pile of things out, making all kinds of rustling noises in the process.
Only four people were left in the bedroom now. Gu Yu casually set up a confinement and went on watching Chao Kongtu's work with Xiaozhai. Xiaojin, on the other hand, stayed close to the priest and observed his every move with unblinking eyes—the man had a suitcase like Doraemon's pocket and all sorts of rare treasures seemed to be falling out of it.
Chao Kongtu tidied everything up into one place and picked up a carpenter's ink marker first. It was a type of measuring tool used by ancient carpenters. In Maoshan skills, it denoted that the measurement was taken supported by the upright force of heaven and earth, allowing no deviation.
Twisting the thread wheel, he produced a reddish brown thread soaked with chicken blood with which he sealed the two windows. He then instructed, "Get me a basin of water."
It took Xiaojin a moment to realize she was the one he addressed. "How big a basin do you need?"
"A little on the bigger side."
She scurried out of the room and ran happily back a couple of minutes later, landing the big guy in her hands with a bang.
Chao Kongtu eyed the giant basin for washing clothes, then looked at Little Soap, who felt nothing was wrong with the choice. He was seriously considering dumping her inside and making her into a basin of soap bubble.
What the hell? You might as well move the bathtub here!
Shaking his head, he picked up a stash of yellow paper, which burst into flame with a swipe of his hand. It was then thrown into the basin and quickly burnt to ashes after landing on the water, turning it black.
Meanwhile, he waved his right hand and 'clack!', the seventh chicken throat was nailed on to the spot where Tianyou Pass was.
Tianyou Pass was the opening for the circulation of Yang energy. Sealing it up would stop the flowing of Yang energy in the room.
Ordinary people would have difficulty in breathing and feel suffocated. Staying in such a room for long would make them dizzy or even suffer from shock. Cultivators were even more sensitive to the change of air. Gu Yu was observably impressed. The thousand-year-old sect was indeed worth of its fame. Even with their inheritance mostly gone, what was left was easily a skill of remarkable effect.
"Aaaaaah! Go to hell! You'll rot in hell!"
On the bed, Yang Qing seemed to have sensed it as well and was screaming more frantically than ever. However, her body slowly went limp and finally, her eyes turned vacant and she lay there like a vegetable.
Chao Kongtu dared not dally. He took out a piece of talisman paper cut in the shape of a turtle. It was roundish, yellow, and a little smaller than an adult's palm.
"Men come through a paper and ghosts are stopped by a mountain. Even ten thousand evils will not break through… the sky is clear and the earth fair; the three marvels of heaven—the sun, the moon, and the stars—will stir all spirits and ghosts. Should any evil energy or malicious ghost come to interfere, they will be expelled right away from this earth!"
After chanting the ghost-dispelling spell, he pinched his left fingers into a commanding gesture and picked up the paper turtle with his right hand, then pressed into the basin forcibly.
As soon as it made contact with the water, a cloud of white smoke erupted and the basin rumbled. The paper turtle drifted up and down for a couple of times and suddenly lifted its head and began to row with its four legs—it was alive.
Chao Kongtu pinched his fingers together again and pointed at the bed.
The paper turtle reached out with its forelegs and swimmed forward. Slowly, it was trying, trying some more, keeping on trying to climb out of the giant washing basin… Chao Kongtu couldn't help but dart a look at certain soap, who was heartlessly enjoying the show and had turned into an emoji again: OMG, that's some cool sh*t! So cool!
Fortunately, with a splash, the paper turtle finally managed to climb out after much trying.
It sat still on the edge of the basin for a little while, as if trying to find its direction, then hurtled itself out, landing directly on the bed before resuming its slow crawl forward.
Yang Qing remained as motionless as a vegetable, yet the muscles all over her body seemed to be convulsing slightly, almost as if something was going on a rampage inside her but could not get out.
Finally, followed by the eyes of the four, the paper turtle finally climbed onto her body. It then moved further up until it was covering her face.
It lowered its head and gave a sudden peck between her eyebrows, then pulled up.
A streak of rolling black air visible to the naked eye was dragged out. Instantly, sinister wind began to blow inside the room and even the temperature had dropped by a few degrees—it was that hungry ghost in its wandering-soul form.
Sensing the danger instinctively, it tried to flee through the window, but was disoriented because of the sealing up of the Yang energy. All it could do was shoving around in confusion in mid-air.
"Humph! How dare such a petty ghost try to meddle with the human world."
Snorting, Chao Kongtu drew out a peach wood sword and chanted, "The Yellow God comes first and Yuezhang comes after. I will kill the evil ghost before I kill the moonlight. No gods or ghosts will stand the strike. Obey at once!"
After those words, he put his left index and middle fingers together and wiped along the long and thin body of the sword.
With that, the wooden sword made a clunking sound, as if the famous sword Longquan 1 was just unsheathed. An imposing golden glow was now wrapping around the blade.
He was just about to give the command "Go!" when...
There came a "boom!"
An arc of golden purple lightning hacked down from beside him and struck right onto the ghost with an overwhelming power.
Poor thing. It had been underground for god knew how many years and finally found itself a body to possess, but it just had to run into a team of bosses coming out together for a casual trip into the dungeon. The thing was annihilated before it had an opportunity to show its face.
Shock was written all over Chao Kongtu's face as he turned around to look. Xiaojin's fingertips were still flickering with the lightning, but the girl completely ignored him and dived herself onto the bed to check her mother.
You ungrateful bastard!
'Had it not been for me flushing the ghost out, there would be nothing for you to kill! And you're playing superhero with me now?'
Let's be fair. The man was very mild and generous in his disposition, but somehow, ever since he met that bar of soap, he felt that he was constantly thinking of kicking someone's a*s.
Removing the confinement, Gu Yu asked in an ambiguous (more like gossipy) tone, "Priest Chao, is that all? Anything else we need to do?"
"I have made quite a few preparations beforehand… well, yes, that'll be all!"
Chao Kongtu thought about explaining, but then found it rather pointless. He put away the chicken throats in resignation and called out through the window, "Laywoman Long, you can come up now. Everything's fine!"
In a moment, Long Qiu ran upstairs carrying the jar and was amazed. "It's done? Just like that?"
"I had you guarding on the outside in case it fled through the window, but it turned out to be much easier than I thought…" Chao Kongtu had quickly adjusted his mood and already suppressed that helplessness and frustration.
If he were to carry it out the traditional way, he would use the peach wood sword to destroy the ghost after the paper turtle dragged it out. Should the sword fail to work, there were talismans. With door and windows sealed by the ink thread and Long Qiu guarding the perimeter with the jar, it was fail-proof.
What actually happened, however, was like when it finally came to the date with your dream lady, the date which you had set a month in advance and arrived at the scene with a sleek hairdo and stinking with cologne. You two went shopping, had dinner, went to a movie, and you successfully got her into your hotel room when the dream lady said, "Oops, I forgot to mention, but I suddenly got my period today…"
Tsk! How depressing could it get!
"It was such an eye-opening experience today. The fame of Maoshan skills is well-deserved. Thank you for going through all those trouble, Priest Chao."
"We would have no idea how to tackle this without your help. Thanks so much."
The couple knew how to make a compliment sound nicer, but they were actually telling the truth. They were experts in fighting with someone head on, but dispelling a ghost was in their blind spot.
As for Xiaojin, seeing that Yang Qing was at peace and breathing evenly as if sound asleep, she couldn't help but ask, "Hey, Chao whatever your name is, is my mum ok now?"
Chao Kongtu went up to the bed and looked at Yang Qing, then took out another talisman and ignited it with a shake of his hand. The talisman turned into a ball of flame, with which he scanned Yang Qing.
The flames remained red with a little blue core and did not change color the whole time. He then said, "The ghost is completely destroyed. She is only exhausted from the excessive consumption of energy. With proper rest, she will be all right in about half a month."
"Haha! I have never expected that you could pull that off with you not reaching the innate state and stuff!"
Xiaojin was glowing with jubilation and found Chao Kongtu so much more pleasant than before. Wrapping an arm around his shoulder, she said, "I owe you one. Anybody giving you trouble from now on, let me know. I'll handle them for ya!"
Late that night, the hotel.
There weren't enough rooms in the villa for all these people, so after making sure of Yang Qing's safety, Xiaojin and Xiaozhai were left behind while the others went to a hotel for the night.
Mother Zheng and Zheng Kaixin waited downstairs the entire time. They had no idea what was happening, other than seeing Long Qiu running around with a jar. Later when they heard about the whole ghost-catching thing, oh man, both were so frightened and excited that they were not sleepy at all.
Xiao Qiu was quite fond of Zheng Kaixin. Since there wasn't much left to do, she stayed in their room and chatted with them while taking the opportunity to talk to them about Phoenix Mountain.
Let's turn our attention back to Gu Yu.
Right now, he was in Chao Kongtu's room making inquiries.
"Priest Chao, Zhongyuan Festival is tomorrow. Should we be prepared?"
"Haha, the folks always talk about the 'ghost door' that opens on Zhongyuan Festival. There isn't such a thing called the 'ghost gate'. Ghosts are most likely to show up on this day become it is the time of the year when the Yang energy is the weakest and Yin energy the strongest."
Chao Kongtu had changed back to his blue robe and was leaning back casually into a sofa. "Don't worry. Ghosts can only make their appearance to mortal men through specific ceremonies such as the seventh day ceremony and evocation, or via certain object that is a representation of their obsession. Other than that, they cannot simply show up as they like. The world of men always precedes that of immortals in priority, such is the law of Nature—unless great upheavals take over the world, plunging the living souls into misery and suffering, only then would the world become the playground of monsters."
"Are there no exceptions?"
"There are, such as when a ghost is favored by some great opportunity and regains its consciousness, which makes it much more difficult to catch. If it then manages to get hold of cultivation methods, it will become a ghost cultivator, making it a fellow member of ours. The method ghost cultivators adopt are very peculiar and there isn't much information left in my sect. We only know that the limit to their cultivation level comes much earlier and they would become Ghostly Immortals at most."
Gu Yu nodded. After a moment of pondering, he went on, "You mentioned evocation just then. So, the soul you call back, is it a wholesome one, or a wandering kind?"
"Well…" Chao Kongtu gave it a thought and said, "That is determined by fate itself. After one dies, their soul stays intact for the first seven days and disintegrates after that. Some disappear right away, some recombine with other wandering souls, some turn into ferocious ghosts, while others roam the earth in a confused state. Usually, they're in whatever state they're in the moment we call for them. Of course, there are some masters who can mend the three hun and seven po to rebuild the physical body… well, it's not my place to show off in the presence of an expert."
Seeing the look on Gu Yu's face, he added, "Evocation is a very advanced skill, which I am incapable of carrying out before reaching the innate state. If the layman is thinking about a deceased loved one, I'm afraid there is nothing I can do."
"Haha, no problem. I understand."
Gu Yu chuckled at the reminder—this priest was indeed a fascinating character. Despite their previous confrontation, he grew to like the man a lot after getting to know him a little more. He then asked, "Priest Chao, since you're already here, how about coming to Phoenix Mountain for a few days if you're not in a hurry to get back?"
"Phoenix Mountain?" Chao Kongtu blinked and replied unaffectedly, "Sure. I've been shut up in Qiyun for such a long time and finally get an opportunity to travel outside. My master would tell me off if I didn't make the most out of it!"TL/N: meaning "dragon spring"