After they had finished eating and left the kitchen, Qu caught another ride so they could meet with the Supreme ghost. When they were halfway back down the mountain they left the car near a cliff along the road. Qu took a shortcut through the mountain with Qian tagging along and they exited near an old isolated grave yard that was obviously neglected. The grass and weeds were overgrown and obscured the already deteriorating grave markers. The souls buried here, that had family, were long ago abandoned and some probably never had anyone to care for them. At least that was the only conclusion Qian could come to when he saw that some ashes had been put in a simple stone pickling crock; a good indication of a pauper’s grave.
No humans would venture to this sparsely populated area day or night and very few ghosts would come here either unless they had a reason to do so. As they got closer, they both were trembling slightly as the local ghosts had noticed them and had started to gather around. Ghosts were territorial just like all species of life and these particular ghosts were exceptionally so because of their unfortunate circumstances.
Although Qu was apprehensive, he sensed that he better speak out before the gathering mob became too aggressive. “Is Supreme brother Takeo (Tah ·kay ·oh) present? We need to speak to him.” Qu thought to himself that this ghost must be very old judging by his name as it was a very popular name during the Japanese occupation.
A formidable ghost with a booming voice interrogated him harshly. “What do you want with Takeo?”
“I’m Qu-Kai. Brother ghost Huo-Mu suggested that I see Takeo for help with a problem.”
Upon hearing a familiar name, the tone of the challenger softened a little. “Oh! Brother Huo-Mu. Where did you meet him?”
“He was hanging out near the cliffs by Qian’s brother’s house. We started chatting and I asked if he knew of any wise ghosts that could give us advice on how to solve our problem.”
“Oh, he is our good friend and you can trust his recommendation. So what is the problem?”
“My friend Qian has lost his soul’s energy and needs to find it. Huo-Mu said that Takeo is very old and wise and could probably help us.”
The stranger turned to Qian and scanned his spirit. He knew instantly that this was not a person that would have associated with him in the living world and turned away in disgust at what he saw. “Come with me, I’ll show you the way to Takeo.”
They went deeper into the grave yard and near the center, in a spacious tomb they came upon a very large and strong spirit nearly double the size of any ghosts Qian had ever seen. “Takeo, you have guests.”
Takeo appeared to be meditating. Without stirring or opening his eyes he asked, “Who would come looking for me?”
“His name is Qu-Kai along with Mo-Qian. Brother Huo-Mu recommended that they consult with you concerning a problem they have.”
Takeo did not speak or open his eyes. He slowly turned his head toward them waiting for Qu to speak.
We were at the house of Qian’s brother near the cliff villas and met Huo-Mu while we were looking for a ghost to help us haunt his brother’s family. We started chatting about how difficult it was being a ghost because nobody knows where to go if you have a problem. We are all trapped in limbo by fate and don’t have any escort to show us the way. Then he mentioned about how wise and respected you were and assured me that you could give us the help we needed if any ghost could.” Qu was pleased with his rhetoric and hoped it would flatter Takeo enough to convince him to give them help.
“I see no problem with you Qu. Besides, I have more to do than just sit here waiting to give advice to other ghosts out of charity.”
Qu sensed that Takeo was reluctant to accommodate their request so he hurriedly offered a fervent plea for compassion. “We would not have come to see you if we were not desperate. We worked very hard to find you so at least could you please listen to our problem and see if you have a solution for it. If you can solve it for us we are prepared to thank you generously!” He motioned to Qian to show his money.
After envisioning the money image in his mind Takeo took interest. He thought, they not only came prepared with money but this kid is really a persuasive speaker. He opened his eyes finally and said, “OK, tell me your problem.”
“My friend Qian was totally unprepared for the ghost world. He had no descendants to conduct the funeral ceremony. His brother eliminated the traditional seven days rituals to save money. They did not burn any paper money or give offerings of food. He ended up here with no ghost powers and totally confused. We met immediately after some bully ghost had assaulted him and hung him on a street light post to destroy him. All his soul energy had been beaten out of him. I helped him get enough strength back to search for his souls but we have no idea where to start and he has only 49 days from that day to find and capture them.” Qu had purposely left out the reason for the brutal attack and was dreading what might happen if Takeo found out that Qian had spoiled another ghost’s chance for reincarnation.
Takeo scanned Qian for a long time and then spoke. “According to your life you only sought the help of rich and powerful persons like yourself in order to advance your position in life. You never gave a thought to the poor or unfortunate. I am only willing to help you because you have a loyal friend willing to intercede on your behalf. Even if you gave me all the money you had I still would not help. Today you need the help of the poor to succeed.”
Qian replied with great humility and remorse. “I realize now that everyone needs true friends to feel warmth in their life. I have learned a valuable lesson here in the ghost world and beg you to give me a second chance and help me become whole again.”
“I see in your heart you have repented and I will tell you how to accomplish your task. But, even though I explain the methods to use, whether or not you succeed depends on your luck.” Both Qu and Qian nodded in understanding as Takeo continued. “According to the condition of your soul stripped of its energy, anything I tell you is all empty talk without some help from the gods.”
“We found the landlord God of the district where Qian’s ghost returns every day and he gave us a hulu to capture Qian’s souls and energy.”
“With his help, you have a better chance of success. Where are his two shadow souls?”
“They have been captured in the hulu.”
“How much time do you have left?”
“About 40 days,” Qian answered with great concern.
Takeo paused for a moment in deep thought. “I will explain about how your souls are constructed so listen carefully. Your core soul is composed of three parts; The primary soul, which is the essence of your personality, and two shadow souls; one for evil and one for good. You are fortunate to have found both your shadow souls otherwise there is no remedy that can be applied to your situation. You have seven subordinate souls that contain the energy of your emotions. At death, the two shadow souls are separated from your primary soul and remain behind; one in the cemetery and one at the shrine for the descendants to worship for you. The subordinate souls are dissipated at death. After judgment the shadow souls are stripped and new ones are generated during reincarnation. The subordinate souls controlling your emotions grow as the new person develops. For ghosts like yourselves, the souls did not disperse normally and you retain strong memories that you mistake for your subordinate soul energy. They keep replaying in a dream cycle that you cannot control.”
“The district landlord god told us to look for and capture shadow souls in a hulu, which we have . If a ghost does not possess the seven subordinate souls then what is left to be done.” Qian was obviously confused about what he and Qu should be doing.
“Your soul is severely damaged and needs to be repaired. Although it is true that you don’t possess the seven subordinate souls of your emotions, you are strongly attached to the living world so that the memories of your emotions provide the energy that binds your other souls together. That energy has been stripped from you and you have to recover it to repair your soul. You will have to retrace the significant occurrences of your life and look for clues that lead you to the events or places where the energy of a particular emotion was the strongest. The seven events that shape your soul energy are joy, anger, sorrow, fear, love, hatred, and desire. I hope you have listened carefully because I cannot help you beyond this point. It is all up to your intuition and ability to recall and investigate the events of your life.”
They both nodded and bowed with the respect due the wise Supreme ghost. They gave him the generous sum of money they had offered for his help, turned around and left; filled with an intense desire to begin, but uncertain of where to start.