Unable to get Foo to give up on the portal, the old man eventually had to lead the way. They passed through the moonlit street, making their way past the rubble that some poor souls were calling houses.
Eventually, they reached an imposing tower. That is, if you ignored the vegetation that were having an successful battle of dominance. Ivy and moss had crawled up on the wall due to the many ages of neglect, making it look more like a part of a forest, that had lost its way from the park.
After clearing the overgrown door, the both men opened it and stepped inside.
The inside were in much better condition. Nature had made no claim, so there were only a thick layer of gray dust on the wide floor. The grandeur decorations were completely ignored by Foo, he only had eyes for the portal, which he assumed was the large arch like thing that were in the middle of the room.
Hurrying forward to inspect the rune inscribed stones, Foo then asked: "Hey, how to you turn this thing on?". The arch were empty after all. One could just look straight through it to see the other side of the room. Everyone knew that is should be glowing and stuff.
Looking around, the old man answered: "Well, there should be a gatekeeper here that protects the tower and opens the gate."
Joining the old man in his search, Foo could not see anything that could be described as a gatekeeper. As such, he could only ask: "Where is the gatekeeper then?"
Stroking his beard, the old man mused: "There seems like the gatekeeper might be lazing around somewhere. There have not been anyone in here for ages after all. Even spirits gets bored, especially if they are intelligent."
With his curiosity piqued, Foo then asked: "You said that intelligent spirits easier gets bored? Does that mean that there are primitive spirits with low intelligence that have easier to do boring tasks, and intelligent spirits that can adjust to the situation, but easily get bored?"
The old man chuckled and affirmed: "That is indeed the attentive mind that I chose to follow. Yes, there is such a distinction. Each type is useful for different things."
Uncertain about what type he should pursue, Foo concluded that it did not matter much. He was only intending to use it for the examination after all. Of course, if a chance presented itself where he could get a better spirit with little effort, he should go for it.
After that thought, Foo realized that he should ask: "How do you get a spirit then?". They had already reached the portal, but as the gatekeeper did not seem to appear any time soon, it was best to prepare a bit for the visit.
The old man then repeated what he had said before: "To get a spirit, you have to bribe it, take time to befriend it, or subdue it."
Then he elaborated further : "Most spirits are quite greedy. It is bad, in the sense that it means that they need huge sums to agree to become contracted. But it is good, in the sense that most things can be solved with money. Of course, they do not want the actual money, but things that they find interesting, and that can you often buy with money."
Continuing on the topic, he said: "Some spirits are also vain, and want some elaborate rituals to be performed for them to agree to anything. It can include offerings of strange and rare objects, and silly dances."
Shaking his head on their silliness, he continued: "Of course, you can also try to befriend them. Sometimes gifts can help, but it is also possible to befriend them just by talking with them for an extended period of time. Spirits are quite chatty when you well get to know them."
With the last option that he mentioned left, the old man explained: "Then you can also subdue the spirit, either by using magic, or the mind. Using magic to subdue them is quite hard; most spirits are better at controlling it, after all. And the same thing with using your mind; most spirits are stronger. And if your mind is weaker, some evil spirits are even able to devour your mind and posses your body, to become what is called demons."
Shivering at the mention of demons, the old man then summarized: "In short, you have to somehow make the spirit to initiate a contract with you. Some contracts are really plain, and some might contain elaborate traps. After you have accepted the contract, they are your contracted spirit."
Feeling bored at what he already knew from his old world, Foo then turned back his attention to the portal. With an undetectable glint in his eyes, he asked: "You said that the gatekeeper are protecting the tower, right? It have been doing its duty without receiving any gratitude at all. The academy even let the tower decay to such a state."
Giving a deep sigh, and with a solemn mood that would be slightly disturbed if one noticed the slight smirk on his lips, Foo mused on: "I think it is admirable that the gatekeeper have been doing this ungrateful task so dutifully. As such I should give an offering. Ah, but what should i give?"
Pretending to think hard about it, Foo then exclaimed: "Ah! Just some days ago, some wooden acquaintances of mine were were spiritedly discussing that poop were the greatest blessing they could receive. Only that would express my deep thankfulness towards the gatekeeper."
The words had barely been spoken when a transparent old man appeared from thin air. Clearly extremely agitated, he hurriedly spoke out: "Ahaha, there is no need to offer anything. I am just doing my job, my job!"
The ghost only sighed in relief when he saw Foo remove the hands that were going for his pants. Wiping away the mental cold sweat from his forehead, he then continued in a warm tone: "Just the fact that you seem to think so highly of me is more than enough for me."
But inside his mind, there were other thoughts: ``What the hell do he think of me? Who the hell would be happy to be offered poop? Even free tree spirits would look down on it, as they no longer have any use for it. Only some freaking odd spirits would enjoy it!``
With a twitching smile, he could only cry inside his mind: ``If I were a bit slower, he might just have pooped right here! This man is dangerous! Never in my long years in this tower have I ever felt so threatened! I must get rid of him right away!``
Making up a grand and elaborate master plan on how to get rid of this dangerous man, the ghost then said: "You wanted to use the portal? Normally I would take a fee, but your deep considerations have moved me so much that I will do it for free!"
Making some odd movements around the portal, it then lit up, and the opening in the arch were distorting to show another scenery. It was a gloomy place, a scene as if taken from a nightmare.
While happily saying: "In you go!", the ghost pushed Foo inside the portal. After confirming that he was on the other side, the ghost quickly deactivated the portal.
Observing the portal for a moment, to ensure that the danger were really gone, the ghost then took a deep sigh of relief. This kind of extremely delicate and elaborate master plans were not something that he could normally pull of so casually. But it was true that when you were in great peril, you displayed prowess beyond what you were capable of.
At ease now that he had sent Foo to the most terrible place in the spirit world that he could think of, the ghost disappeared to happily resume his original mission: lazing around.
During all the commotion, the old man could only stand there with his mouth open. Completely stunned, the only word that was on his mind were: ``Shit!``. No one knew if it was that he recognized the place that Foo were sent to, or that he was still absorbed in the matter with the offering.
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