Even a Shaman Needs Evening Self Study

Even a Shaman Needs Evening Self Study

Chapter 12 - Ten Layer Coffin

Topic: When will Jinjiang finally come back!

Main post: I'm scared, why can't I log in after five days of maintenance this time, could it be dead?

1L: Don't jinx it ahhhhh I haven't finished reading the stories I'm following!

2L: The maintenance is really taking a long time, they just issued a vague announcement saying it's due to technical reasons.

3L: Ummmm isn't Jinjiang's rented server in our city, I have some connections and heard the server provider locked down the server room, with burly men guarding it day and night, not sure what big problem came up

4L: Why lock it and use burly men, what, will the servers grow hands and hit people?


"Ahhh, I can't take it, how can the maintenance last this long!"

On the fifth day of Jinjiang's maintenance, Yu Zhenzhen who was calm before broke down, probably mainly because it was Friday, unlike Lin Yang, she usually finishes reading the accumulated updates all at once on weekends.

But the site still couldn't be accessed, making her anxiously search everywhere for why it crashed.

Tan Xiao listened and gave Yu Zhenzhen a thoughtful look, looks like after another two days, Mu Fei still hasn't found it.

Instead, Lin Yang adapted after a few days, getting over the initial withdrawal anxiety, and said with eyes half closed: "Amitabha, doing a few more practice tests will help you recover."

Yu Zhenzhen was about to turn around and pound on his desk when she saw the head teacher Ji Huiming walk in and quickly turned back to sit properly.

"The monthly exam is next week." Ji Huiming tapped on the desk, "Don't just play on the weekend, you're all in 11th grade, time passes quickly, you need to have a sense of urgency, understand?"

Tan Xiao immediately decided to do more chemistry problems over the weekend.

His chemistry score ranked 18th in the grade on the last monthly exam, showing a downward trend, he must bring it back up.

Ji Huiming looked around, sighing when his gaze landed on Kong Xuan, then left with a hint of melancholy.

Ji Huiming's action wasn't subtle, many people noticed and looked at Kong Xuan. Tan Xiao also glanced at Kong Xuan, thinking Teacher Ji must be worrying about the class average, it really is difficult.

Kong Xuan immediately looked back sharply to make eye contact with Tan Xiao, sneering inwardly.

Lin Yang slowly leaned back to avoid the intersection of their gazes.


Qinglong Road.

This is a famous "street of the dead" in Nanchu, centered around the Nanchu Funeral Home at the end of the street, surrounded by shops selling offerings and funeral supplies. There's also a police station here, locals say it's like the street name "Qinglong", meant to suppress the yin energy here, though who knows if it's true.

After furiously working through a bunch of problems, Tan Xiao took the bus to Qinglong Road to pick up the ritual items he custom ordered, taking it as a relaxing outing too, Tan Chunying never advocated for him to bury his head in studying.

When Mu Fei came by the other day, Tan Xiao gave Mu Fei all his ready-made items, so he needed to stock up. Although his family doesn't receive tourists now, there are always other performances, he can't be caught without supplies at the last minute.

Tan Xiao was very familiar with the route, walking past shop after shop, arriving at his destination, but the owner wasn't there, who knew which neighbor he went to chat with, the phone call didn't go through either. The owner definitely didn't go far, the door was open, it was probably just at one of the neighboring shops.

The problem was Tan Xiao didn't recognize his face, so he just stood at the door looking around, figuring the owner would come over when he saw him.

It was while waiting that Tan Xiao saw a young man enter the coffin shop next door and ask the owner: "Boss, is the longevity material we ordered ready? I called you before, need to pick it up early."

"Yeah yeah, it's ready, I was just saying to find someone to carry it to the funeral home for you." The owner pointed to a new coffin, "It's this one, rush order, ten layer cedar longevity material, pay the remaining 4,888 yuan."

"Okay." The young man lowered his head to scan the QR code.

Tan Xiao walked over and said: "Excuse me, sorry to interrupt, ten layer cedar?"

Although spirit masters help the living and celestial masters help the dead, this is obviously different sects trying to steal business by specializing, everyone wants to poach. Plus they're all in the same circle, so spirit masters are knowledgeable about funeral matters too.

The owner's face stiffened a bit when he saw Tan Xiao, recognizing him as Tan Chunying's son, an insider. And judging from his tone, things weren't looking good.

He was very unsure how much Tan Xiao could tell, stammering: "Uh, it was custom made long ago..."

"Did he custom order ten layer cedar planks from you?" Tan Xiao emphasized, "How come this looks like eighteen compartments to me?"

The owner cursed inwardly, what eyesight, how could he tell?! From that far away, he could even tell how many boards were used to fake it?

The young man immediately sensed something was off: "Boss, are you trying to cheat people, let me tell you, my relatives are in the underworld business, you think I can't tell? Watch out or I'll call them over!"

Hearing the buyer's family was also in the yin business, the owner immediately knew he was truly done for, seeing the other party looked young and strong, he quickly admitted fault: "It was a mix-up, the real one is in the back yard! Really really, sorry sorry, didn't know we're in the same business."

The shops in this area used to be village houses, many have the workshop in the back, of course some also partner with factories.

"Even if we're not in the same business you can't cheat me!" The young man said indignantly, urging the owner to the back yard to get the longevity material, then put his arm around Tan Xiao's shoulder, saying familiarly, "Gosh, I owe you one, if I didn't happen to run into you, my mom would scold me to death."

Tan Xiao was stunned.

He stared at the other person for a few seconds, then said after some thought: "Lin Yang, is your second uncle's funeral coming up?" No choice, at school it's easy to tell after a few words, but outside even if it's a relative he has to think for a while...

"Yeah yeah." It was indeed Lin Yang, "I was called to come help out, I was totally confused by what you said earlier, but how come the owner tried to pass off eighteen layers as ten, isn't more better?"

Seeing he guessed right, Tan Xiao secretly rejoiced and explained: "Ten pieces of wood make one panel, that's called ten layers, twelve pieces is twelve layers, eighteen pieces is eighteen layers. But this isn't like the more the merrier with Han Xin counting soldiers, fewer pieces of wood means the wood is larger, sturdier, with fewer gaps. But for your second uncle, how come you're ordering a rush job, shouldn't he have prepared his 'thousand year house' long ago?"

There's an old custom in Nanchu where the elderly prepare their own coffins in advance, they call it a "thousand year house". Tan Xiao knew Lin Yang's second uncle used to be in the funeral business, how could he not prepare one for himself. Those who care about this have everything from the burial plot, coffin to burial clothes all prepared in advance.

"This," Lin Yang scratched his head, "I just found out too. Previously, my second uncle had already designed his entire funeral process, and thought through who to find for each step."

When he went to his second uncle's house before, he even heard his uncle muttering about his plans, like which Yin-Yang master not to find, who might pass away before him due to poor health, who has good craftsmanship and follows the rules...

"The problem is plans can't keep up with changes, and he thought too much into the details. The coffin he ordered originally was meant for cremation followed by burial, so he figured the coffin didn't need to be that big. But now, my aunt and them are arguing with the funeral home, saying they won't cremate anymore and will do direct burial, so the coffin is too small - my second uncle was a really big guy."

Lin Yang helplessly looked at the Nanchu Funeral Home not far away, "My uncle's family has been waiting in line for cremation, you should know about the refrigerated single rooms they put bodies in before cremation right? 200 yuan per day. Later because they waited so long without getting a turn, they transferred him to the freezer.

"Then since they waited in line for so long without getting cremated, plus the dreams our family had recently, apparently my aunt talked to my second uncle's former apprentice, and he did some kind of ritual and divined that second uncle may not want to be cremated anymore. Don't know how they discussed it, but they said let's just go get the body then.

"As a result, when they went to claim the body, they found..." Lin Yang's expression turned strange, not sure how to say it, and lowered his voice, "The body had already started to smell, it was rotting."

Tan Xiao said in surprise: "It went from refrigeration to freezing, how could that happen?"

The refrigerated rooms are a few degrees above zero, not to mention the freezers are below zero.

"Exactly, that's why they started arguing. Who knows what management issues they had."

Lin Yang himself didn't understand this stuff, it was all hearsay, but he was also filled with righteous indignation. Thinking of the dreams from before, he felt goosebumps rising.

This was just too bizarre!

"It must be because there were too many bodies, so they let people cut in line through connections!" The shop owner already called the workers to carry out the coffin, muttering to the side.

"You guys don't know, every time it's peak season at the funeral home there are things like this, especially in winter when more old people pass. But now it's summer, and it hasn't been cremated for so long, tsk, of course the smell would be strong. Aiya, earning this kind of money from deceiving the dead, they deserve to die."

Tan Xiao and Lin Yang looked at him together.

The shop owner lowered his head in shame: "I'm the same, I deserve to die too."

Tan Xiao: "..."

"With such a strong smell, could the funeral home workers not notice it?" Tan Xiao muttered to himself. In China, the dead are treated with the same respect as the living. Situations like what the shop owner described, he had heard of it before too, but that was a long time ago when management was not as strict. Anyway, with Tan Xiao's family connections, he hadn't heard of such issues in Nanchu in recent years.

But regardless of what went wrong, for the family who lost their loved one, they were already grief-stricken to begin with. Finding out their loved one's remains were treated this way would be another huge blow.

"If his family hadn't changed their minds, they definitely wouldn't have found out. But now that it's discovered, they can totally claim compensation." The shop owner chattered on. Running a shop here, he had seen a lot. "I'm telling you, this is definitely their responsibility, no question. Make them pay."

"We'll see, right now we still need to quickly finish the funeral first. My uncle's entire troupe came, and there's an elderly Yin-Yang master who fainted from anger." Lin Yang said with a bitter smile. "Why else would they call me to get the coffin? Everyone's busy as hell and still need to find someone to replace the Yin-Yang master."

Hearing this, Tan Xiao checked the time. "If you guys haven't found anyone, I can fill in too."

Lin Yang said in pleasant surprise: "Really?"

"Really, my mom said when she was young she partnered with your uncle's troupe a couple times too." Right now Tan Xiao wanted to lend his classmate a hand, but he also vaguely felt something was off somewhere, he just couldn't put his finger on it.

Lin Yang's second uncle was previously part of a Yin gong-drum troupe. As the name implies, countering the Yang, they handle funerals and ancestral worship, and are also called "singing mourning songs". It has a strong Chu area flavor.  

Their troupe usually also has a role that communicates with ghosts and gods, like a Yin-Yang master, fairy maiden, or spirit master. Tan Chunying in her early years before fully transitioning to the cultural tourism field had also partnered with them a few times to make money together.

Tan Xiao and Lin Yang, along with the coffin shop workers, moved the coffin onto the rented truck and entered the funeral home.


Lin Yang's aunt and her group had already been invited to the office. When Tan Xiao and Lin Yang arrived, they happened to see Aunt Lin walking out with a gloomy face, while the funeral home director kept bowing behind her.

Next to him, a young man softly said: "It was inspected every day, clearly nothing was wrong, how could the temperature malfunction..."

"Enough!" Seeing Aunt Lin raising her eyebrows, the director quickly stopped the young man. "This is definitely all our fault, we once again express our sincere apologies to the family."

With that he kept bowing. At a time like this, how could you argue with the family? Besides, you were in the wrong to begin with.

That young man had tears welling up in his eyes as he lowered his head to bow. "Sorry."

Aunt Lin's eyes also reddened. She wiped the corner of her eyes and glared at them resentfully, turning to her father's apprentice. "Brother Ning, let's go."

She took a deep breath to control her emotions and asked: "Did we find a master yet?"

Lin Yang's uncle's apprentice was actually only about ten years younger than him, also quite old. He frowned: "Not yet."

"Um, Auntie, this is my classmate." Lin Yang quickly interjected. "His name is Tan Xiao. Just now outside I almost got scammed by the coffin shop owner, but he helped me see through it and said he'd come help out."

It's customary in China for relatives and friends to help out with weddings and funerals in the family. With the chaos here, it wasn't strange for someone who ran into it to come lend a hand.

That Brother Ning looked at Tan Xiao and let out an "ah", recognizing him. "You're Tan Chunying's son right?"

Tan Xiao nodded in greeting, addressing him as is customary in their troupe: "Brother Ning."

In their troupe, regardless of age, the leader is addressed as "brother". With Tan Xiao calling him that, people wouldn't think it's rude, only that he knows the rules.

"Oh my, your family is doing great now." Brother Ning squeezed out his first smile of the day. "Please give my regards to your mother. You guys don't know, back when my family had difficulties, Tan Chunying signed a performance contract with the scenic area and said to add me and the other brothers to accompany her. You're in high school now?"

Tan Xiao nodded, "High school sophomore, Lin Yang and I are classmates."

"Good, good, study well with your mother. Once you learn her skills, your future will be more secure than ours." Brother Ning also knew that the Tan family was now a folk culture calling card in Nanchu, with many official invitations.

"Grandpa Ning," Lin Yang wasn't in this line of work, normally he would call him grandpa, but calling him that today made him feel several generations younger than Tan Xiao, which was puzzling, "Tan Xiao was just saying, if you're short on people, he can help out."

Tan Xiao grunted in agreement, "If you're missing a soul summoner, I can do it."

Aunt Lin wiped her tears, "Really?"

Their original plan was to handle things for three full days after bringing the body back, but now discovering that the corpse had started to smell, they divined that it needed to be buried quickly for peace, so being in such a rush, it was hard to find people.

Although Aunt Lin didn't know Tan Xiao, hearing Brother Ning praise Tan Xiao's mother highly, and that he was Lin Yang's classmate, she knew he was reliable.

"Yes, my mother is not in Nanchu right now, but I'm sure if she knew about this she would be willing to help." Tan Xiao explained, "I've watched these procedures since I was little. If Brother Ning thinks it's okay, I'll lend you a hand."

"It's fine, of course it's fine." Brother Ning immediately nodded, "Then I'll trouble you, later you come with us to escort the hearse."

Tan Xiao nodded and walked together with Lin Yang.

Some people in the Yin gong-drum troupe gathered together and raised an objection to Brother Ning: "Brother Ning, Tan Chunying is already an old mascot, are you really going to have her family's little mascot join the troupe?"

Brother Ning owed Tan Chunying a favor, but some people felt Tan Chunying wasn't very capable and was more suitable as a mascot.

Old Master Lin had sent a dream message asking everyone to dig him up for burial, maybe he harbored some resentment.

"Can you find a capable soul summoner right now? Who will take responsibility if we delay?" Brother Ning's face hardened, "The Yin-Yang master up front has already determined the location, what can go wrong with him performing the ceremony."

In the ceremony, professions like Yin-Yang masters or spirit masters are mainly responsible for three things: dividing gold and examining the land, sealing the coffin and illuminating the path, and appeasing the household gods.

Old Master Lin had long ago completed the first item himself, personally selecting the grave site. Appeasing household gods refers to placating them if the funeral procession disturbs them, but they were doing an emergency burial now and definitely wouldn't have a procession.

So in reality, only sealing the coffin and illuminating the path remained, which was indeed not that difficult in comparison.

"Although that makes sense, this youngster..." That person knew this was the best choice, but still couldn't help arguing a bit, "Is he up to the task or not?"

Brother Ning said with disdain: "Tan Xiao goes to the same school as Lin Yang, and that's a key high school. In the future he's sure to attend a prestigious university. You're a middle school dropout, and you dare criticize him? Up to the task? You do one ceremony a day, he performs seventeen or eighteen for tourists every day, can you compare!"



Hello! I'm Echo, and I've always been fascinated by how stories can connect us across different worlds. When I'm not translating, I'm probably playing guitar or experimenting in the kitchen. I hope my translations resonate with you, just like a good melody

Give me feedback at moc.ebircssutol@ohce.