Even a Shaman Needs Evening Self Study

Even a Shaman Needs Evening Self Study

Chapter 2 - Constraining Yoke

This is really dark humor.

Mu Fei was momentarily speechless.

At this time, Mr. Xu, Mu Fei's colleague, picked up his phone, "This time you really found the wrong person, look."

Mu Fei leaned over to take a look. On the screen was a conversation between a colleague and a peer. The latest message was from two hours ago, but Mr. Xu had been busy searching for ancient books and hadn't seen it.

[That Tan Chunying from Nanchu you're looking for? She's known for not having any real skills, so she switched to the cultural tourism track long ago [wiping sweat]. You guys actually didn't know? How long has it been since your unit updated its information?]

[Here, take a look at the news]

The other party also sent two news articles, both published by local media in Nanchu.

Something about Chinese and foreign artists coming to Nanchu for inspiration, visiting the Tan family to observe shaman rituals and ancient shaman dances.

There were also photos of leaders from the provincial cultural tourism department and tourists visiting the Tan Chunying's home, tourists taking photos with shaman masks, with Tan Chunying's whole family, and with both the masks and the whole family...

Tan Xiao also appeared in them.

Mu Fei's pupils suddenly shook.

-- She saw a news report, shockingly about Tan Chunying leading hundreds of local aunties in dancing a square dance adapted from a shaman ritual dance!

It seems the whole of Nanchu knows the Tan family is in the cultural tourism business, only they didn't know and made a big blunder.

Mu Fei thought Tan Xiao didn't seem to avoid it in front of their principal either. She thought she was helping Tan Xiao cover it up, but it turned out to be a complete misunderstanding.

"Sigh, in our line of work, there's a real mix, and real skills are being passed down less and less." Mu Fei sighed to herself.

But I have to say, many peers like the Tan family who jumped to another track have caught the wave of the times.

Like them directly becoming the mascot of Nanchu, it can also be considered a different way to the same destination.

"So what do we say now, keep looking for someone else?"

"Still looking, still looking, there are quite a few shamans in Nanchu, it's all the fault of our outdated information."

"You know, it's not bad to still have information to use."

Tan Xiao felt very disappointed. This place was completely different from what he imagined. It seemed the other party was also very disappointed. He tentatively said, "I feel I probably can't help you much. Should I go back?"

Mu Fei also felt a bit awkward. Generally speaking, they wouldn't disturb people who were "not interested". So now she should send Tan Xiao off.

But before Mu Fei could speak, Mr. Ji, from the cultural relics research institute and one of the leaders of this excavation team, spoke up, "Let's not rush. The young classmate spoke well before. Can I ask a couple more questions?"

This was also true. Tan Xiao was brought here for this reason in the first place, and he had already proven that he still knew quite a bit of theoretical knowledge.

Tan Xiao also nodded.

Mr. Ji picked up the stack of photos on the table and flipped through them. "There are a few more shaman figurines in the tomb, dressed similarly to that pair of grand mourning shaman figurines, just placed in different locations and with slightly different poses. Do you think they are also grand mourning shamans? Or are they performing other rituals? Do you think their job is to bless the tomb owner, expel ghosts and demons, or communicate with deities?"

In ancient times, grand mourning shamans were described like this: "For a grand mourning ritual, first the coffin; to the tomb, to the pit, strike the four corners with a dagger-axe to drive away the spirits."

In other words, the grand mourning shamans would follow the coffin into the tomb and perform rituals with dagger-axes to drive away ghosts.

The figurines come in pairs. The other four shaman figurines Mr. Ji showed were also wearing red and black checkered robes and phoenix-patterned robes, just with slightly different poses. Some had their fingers interlocked in strange and complex gestures, some were in a lifting or grasping pose, which was a bit different from the ancient literature.

So what were their specific functions? For questions involving actual practice like this, scholars also have to rely on speculation.

Mr. Ji thought that since Tan Xiao could recognize the grand funeral shamans, he might be able to provide some useful information, which was also very important for their archaeological work, as the excavation was still ongoing.

Tan Xiao took the photos and observed carefully before saying, "You see this pair of shaman figurines next to the tomb-guarding beasts, one in a drumming pose and the other in an archery pose. They are commanding the tomb-guarding beasts and shooting down ghosts. The other pair, one is treading the Yu Steps and making hand seals with both hands."

The Yu Steps and hand seals need no explanation. Which school doesn't have its own hand seals? The Yu Steps are said to be based on the steps of the great Yu, with the effect of summoning ghosts and gods, and are also widely spread. The great Yu was also said to be a shaman.

Drums and bows were also standard equipment for Chu shamans in ancient times. Chu shamans often "drummed and shot them". Back then, the Chu state had to present peach bows and thorn arrows to the Zhou emperor, which was very representative.

Tan Xiao pointed to the details in the photo, the interlocked fingers, which had become a bit blurry after a thousand years, but Tan Xiao had excellent eyesight and could still make them out.

Tan Xiao said, "I don't know what this hand seal was called in ancient times, but now we call it 'Jia Shi'. As the name suggests, it locks the other party in place, immobilizing them, unable to move."

Mr. Ji listened attentively. Upon hearing the last sentence, he couldn't help but feel a chill all over. "This!"

He couldn't help but stand up directly and exclaimed, "Locked! Old Mo's posture, isn't it just like being locked in place! Could it be that what happened to Old Mo was because of this shaman figurine?!"

Tan Xiao had just arrived here. There was no way he could have known what happened to the Old Mo mentioned, especially with the secrecy work done so well. Moreover, his attitude had been one of disbelief and incomprehension.

And Old Mo was the archaeology expert Mu Fei mentioned who had inexplicably been afflicted by an unknown evil art. He was cleaning artifacts on the front line at the time, but unexpectedly got hit as soon as he went down. Apart from his eyeballs, he was almost completely immobilized and relied on nutrient injections to survive, visibly emaciated and weakened in the past few days.

He had been to the hospital and experts had examined him, but they were all helpless.

Mr. Ji's many years of archaeological experience had led him to encounter some things that ordinary people couldn't believe. So he sought help from the provincial Bureau 404 staff who happened to be in Nanchu, but unfortunately, they were also helpless and couldn't even locate the source of the problem.

Because the Chu people valued shamanism, there were too many elements of shamanism in the tomb - several pairs of shaman figurines, tomb-guarding beasts, silk paintings, jade discs, and various other burial objects.

Moreover, the tomb hadn't even been fully excavated. Because of what happened to Old Mo, they had just started before stopping.

But Tan Xiao's words were like a ray of light, allowing them to vaguely pinpoint these few shaman figurines.

Looking at the shaman figurines in the photo now, with damaged features but original coloring, the smiles at the corners of their mouths seemed even more sinister...

The room fell silent, everyone staring at the photo of the shaman figurine, their breathing unconsciously lightening.

"What, what should we do, Mr. Xu?" Old Ji looked at Mr. Xu from the Bureau 404, very anxious for his old friend. "Now that we know it's because of the shaman figurine, is there any way to break the spell?"

Tan Xiao looked at Old Ji's agitated appearance and weakly said, "I still think it's better for you to go to the provincial hospital's Institute of Tropical Diseases and try again. It's the only place in the province that can do blood tests for parasites."

Through his research, many of the so-called soul loss and gu poisoning were actually parasites...

Old Ji said his colleague seemed to be shackled, but Tan Xiao felt that he might have been smoked by the toxic gases that had been trapped in the tomb for thousands of years.

Mu Fei forced a smile, feeling a bit helpless now and not having the energy to refute.

Tan Xiao considered himself a lucky charm, but it was none other than him who brought them clues. Fortunately, they hadn't easily let Tan Xiao go back before.

"Don't be anxious," Mr. Xu said with a smile, looking very calm and composed. He turned to Tan Xiao and said, "Why don't we wait for Little Tan to tell us about the remaining human figurine first?"

That's right, there was still one shaman figurine that hadn't been mentioned.

"The male shaman figurine also has his feet in the Yu step position, and there are phoenix patterns on his long robe. The Chinese all say they are descendants of the dragon, but the Chu region was considered 'barbarian' in ancient times, with very different customs. The Chu people all respected the phoenix and looked down on dragons and tigers. The phoenix represents the hope for the tomb owner to ascend to immortality," Tan Xiao said, looking at the other male figurine.

"But this male figurine is obviously holding some kind of ritual instrument in his hands, and the instrument is missing. This kind of paired shamans always work together, with one using the instrument and the other performing the ritual. Without knowing what he used and what the target was, we can only judge from his partner's actions that it was also very aggressive."

Mr. Xu muttered, "Since we know it's most likely related to this object, there's actually a simplest way to deal with it, which is also an ancient Chu custom - burying the filth and evil. Find the source after the spell is cast and bury it. But now it looks like the source hasn't been unearthed yet."

Well, good luck to them. The thing they want to bury hasn't been dug up yet.

And this thing is a priceless cultural relic, where do they want to bury it?


Outside, the shower had stopped at some point, leaving only the sound of raindrops falling to the ground.

After a moment of dead silence, Old Ji frowned and said, "In that case, we still need to go into the tomb! I was down there before and know the location of the shaman figurines. They shouldn't be too far away. I'll go back down into the tomb to look for them."

At that time, because of what happened to Old Mo, the clearing of the ruins was suspended, so the artifacts from the same batch had not been taken out yet, only photographed.

"Old Ji, isn't it too dangerous?" someone tried to dissuade him.

After what happened to Teacher Mo, it was impossible for everyone not to be afraid. Who knew if they would be next? What if there were other mechanisms in the tomb?

"Things have to be solved eventually. I've been down once, so it's more appropriate for me to go. The last round of excavation had already caused some damage to the tomb, and with this weather, we can't wait any longer. Whether or not there's the matter with Old Mo, we must go down again. The excavation work must proceed," Old Ji said firmly.

Some people also felt that Old Ji made sense, because having an expert here boosted their courage. "With experts from the Bureau 404 here, it should be fine, right?"

Mu Fei was concerned about Old Ji's health. "This, can you handle it?"

Old Ji: "I can easily lift 250 jin."

Mu Fei: "..."

Old Ji had been on the front lines for years and had done a lot of physical work. He also worked out to improve his physique. Despite his age, he was all muscle under his clothes...

This issue was clearly not an obstacle.

"Alright, we had also thought about going down to investigate before, but when we came to Nanchu, we lacked manpower and resources, so we hadn't decided," Mu Fei said, looking at Mr. Xu, her senior. "What do you say?"

Mr. Xu and Old Ji looked at each other for a long moment, then said, "Then, let's go into the tomb!"

After some discussion, it was finally decided that Old Ji would take two experienced staff members, two armed men from outside, and Mr. Xu to go down together.

As for Mu Fei, she said, "As you know, I'm a desk worker. I'll hold the fort up here."

Out of concern for the situation in the tomb, they deliberated repeatedly and decided not to take too many people down, lest they lose control of the scene instead.

Although Tan Xiao felt that talk of sorcery was far-fetched, the scene before him was still quite affecting, after all, there was now truly an expert who had contracted a strange illness.

He looked and saw that it was already past 8 pm, and asked eagerly, "Excuse me, do I have to wait here then?"

"We don't know when we'll be able to find it, and we may still need your help identifying the nature of the artifacts. How about this, trouble you to wait a little longer tonight. If we're still not back up, you can go home and rest," Old Ji said after some thought.

"No problem, as long as I can sleep before midnight," Tan Xiao said.

This was the tomb of a state ruler from the Spring and Autumn and Warring States period. When else would an ordinary person have the opportunity to observe it? Outside, the security was very tight, not only with fences but also with very high barbed wire.


While everyone was preparing their tools, Tan Xiao felt it would still take a while, so he took out a physics test paper to work on.

Mr. Xu took out some incense, candles, and paper money. With just a snap of his fingers, the incense and candles lit up.

Tan Xiao watched, feeling a bit dazed. This unheard-of organization, the Bureau 404, was very strange, full of talk about supernatural powers. He didn't know if it was really an official organization or a big scam...

"Haha, have you seen this before?" Mu Fei saw Tan Xiao watching the ritual and asked in a low voice.

Tan Xiao withdrew his gaze. He wasn't so easily swayed in his worldview and also said in a low voice, "I performed this in elementary school on Children's Day. Rosin powder in contact with incense fire emits a flame, an old trick."

Mu Fei: "..." They really had invited a pure little swindler shaman.

On the other side, preparations were complete and they were about to enter the tomb.

They tied safety ropes to their bodies and stood at the location of the tomb's original cover stone. The subway construction had dug out cracks in the cover stone, so after assessment, partial excavation was carried out to preserve it as much as possible.

This Chu emperor's tomb was a very "advanced" and rare horizontal tunnel for its time, using a large amount of stone. Its tomb roof was originally very well preserved, and there was ample space inside the tomb.

It was such a large tomb. With this level of productivity, it could be said to be ahead of its time, at least a few hundred years ahead of its peers. This was also the reason why Old Ji and the others paid special attention to it. The value of this tomb was too high.

At this moment, there were people beside them holding video cameras and still cameras, filming all around. When they got to Tan Xiao, they even zoomed in for a close-up.

Tan Xiao, locked in by the camera lens, awkwardly shifted his gaze. "What's this for?"

"Such an important archaeological activity naturally needs to be fully documented. There might even be a documentary made later. Congratulations, you're on camera." Mu Fei said. She took out a camera from her own bag and also started snapping photos. Seeing Tan Xiao staring at her, she explained, "For the archives. I still need to make a work log when I go back..."

Tan Xiao: "..."

Over there, Old Ji and the others had already descended one by one through the crevice. Old Ji, having worked on the front lines for years, was still very agile.

"We've come down and are heading towards the inner chamber. All safe."

A voice with crackling static came through the walkie-talkie. This was Old Ji reporting their status. Everyone had agreed to use the walkie-talkies and tugging on the safety ropes at regular intervals to indicate all was well.

Mu Fei led a few informed staff members to stand in a circle on the side keeping watch. There weren't many people at the excavation site, after all, this matter required a certain level of secrecy.

Perhaps because she was so deeply impressed by Tan Xiao's eloquence on theoretical knowledge earlier, she couldn't help but ask, "Tell me, do you really not believe us in the slightest?"

"To be honest, not one bit more than this." Tan Xiao answered frankly. "Besides, even if you all are for real, it doesn't have much to do with me. Just like the UFO sightings abroad - aren't those even more official and aboveboard than you all?"

Tan Xiao displayed an open-mindedness that surprised even Mu Fei, but what he said really made a lot of sense. It indeed had nothing to do with him.

Especially since starting from Tan Xiao's mother's generation, they no longer had any real skills, only theoretical knowledge. After leveraging their strengths to jump into the cultural tourism industry, they had nearly shed the identity of shamans in the popular sense.

She laughed, "Alright, then just treat this completely as an archaeological activity."

"Mm-hmm, I'll spectate a bit more then go do my homework." Tan Xiao peered into the crevice. Naturally, it was pitch black inside and he couldn't see anything. The stuffiness in the air was even more apparent, making him feel like it was going to rain.

Rustle rustle...

Tan Xiao vaguely felt he heard some movement, like the sound of some kind of insect crawling.

Out here in the wild, and with the rain, it was quite normal for bugs to be scurrying about. It's just that Mr. Xu had burned a lot of incense at the site earlier, and they had even joked about its mosquito-repelling effects. Who would've thought - there were no mosquitoes but crawling insects instead.

But glancing at the people beside him, everyone seemed very calm, not making a fuss at all, displaying the steadiness of adults.

Mu Fei was still reviewing the photos on her camera, complaining, "Such crappy image quality. Our work unit's cameras are all ten years old and they can't bear to replace them. Others have long switched to newer models!"

Rustle rustle.

That sound started up again.

Tan Xiao looked around in puzzlement. As his gaze swept past the crevice, he seemed to see a round object flash by, orangey-yellow in color. He felt an even more viscous, slimy sensation attach to his own body, as if tangible.

He thought with discomfort, this feeling is like...

Like being "stared at" by something.


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.