Even a Shaman Needs Evening Self Study

Even a Shaman Needs Evening Self Study

Chapter 3 - The Phoenix Bird Hanging Drum

Could it be a psychological effect, after talking about so many strange things with them tonight? Tan Xiao thought to himself.

The only sounds at the scene were the vibration of the generator and the noise of the high-wattage lights dissipating heat. Everyone else remained silent, not in the mood to do anything else.

That feeling of being watched seemed to pass in a flash, raising a few goosebumps.

Tan Xiao muttered, "Do you guys feel..."

As soon as he spoke, everyone looked over.

It was even a bit eerie.

In this environment, what Tan Xiao was about to say would likely make the atmosphere even more peculiar. This made him hesitate a little. Finally, he looked at the ground, "I think I heard a rustling sound, very much like..."

"A snake crawling."

Tan Xiao realized what it sounded like - a snake.

It's said that humans are innately afraid of snakes, perhaps because in the early days of human origins, they were threatened and harmed by venomous snakes. This fear became engraved in their DNA, making them extra vigilant of snakes.

"Then we need to be careful."

"There are many snakes in Nanchu. My friend works in the ER. Especially in summer, many people get bitten by snakes while hiking in parks and are sent to get antivenom. They're all venomous snakes too, like bamboo vipers and five-step snakes."

The Chu region, with its lush vegetation, has always been a good habitat for snakes.

With Tan Xiao's words, everyone became alert. They used sticks to beat around the surroundings but found nothing. Perhaps they had startled the snake, driving away the uninvited guest.

Crackle crackle.

The walkie-talkie sounded again.

"Phew, we've reached the front chamber now. The air isn't very good, so we're taking a short rest. There's actually an altar here!"

Old Ji's voice was panting and a bit excited, "Usually we believe that only from the Han dynasty onward were there sacrificial facilities both inside and outside tombs. But the characteristics here are clearly from the Spring and Autumn and Warring States period. This is extremely rare."

Because progress had stalled, they hadn't been able to fully explore the tomb yet. The tomb passages weren't even completely cleared. The details discovered in this exploration made Old Ji eager to start researching right away.

"Okay, Old Ji, you guys be careful." Mu Fei also didn't quite understand his excitement and just repeatedly urged caution.

"What's that sound? Did you hear it?"

"Are there insects?"

Faint conversations could be heard from the other end of the walkie-talkie.

Mu Fei immediately asked, "What happened?"

"There seems to be something in the tomb chamber... probably snakes or insects. We didn't see clearly. We brought insect repellent, spraying it now." The other side was only in a brief panic before quickly stabilizing.

Hearing about snakes and insects, Tan Xiao's heart suddenly jumped. He originally wanted to return to the activity shed to wait, but now he found it a bit hard to move.

Could it be that they heard the same thing as he did?

Below, after Old Ji and the others rested for a bit, they continued onward. It wouldn't take long to go from the front chamber to where the coffin was located. They maintained communication as they carefully searched near the shaman figurines.

About twenty minutes later, the voice of an archaeologist spoke up, "...Is this it?"

Everyone gathered around. Old Ji spoke into the walkie-talkie, "Is Tan Xiao there? We've found a wooden object. Not sure if it's a ritual implement, but it's definitely a burial object. Only palm-sized, a square wooden stick wrapped with silk ribbons, already decayed. The front end is carved into feathers, fan-shaped."

Tan Xiao was stunned for a moment.

"Tan Xiao, did you hear that?"

The voice from the other end of the walkie-talkie was intermittent.

"I heard it!" Tan Xiao suddenly looked at the ground. He swore he heard a thumping sound from below. "Didn't you hear it? There's a sound underneath."

But the others looked bewildered.

Tan Xiao took two steps back, some instinct urging him to leave this place.

"What's wrong with you?" Mu Fei walked two steps forward in puzzlement, reaching out to pull Tan Xiao.

In an instant, his scalp nearly exploded. Tan Xiao turned and ran!

But just at this moment, the remaining capstone rapidly expanded with a crack, extending to under Tan Xiao and Mu Fei's feet. There was no time to escape at all as the spot they thought was stable collapsed, swallowing up Tan Xiao and Mu Fei in the blink of an eye.


"Tan Xiao? Tan Xiao?"

Tan Xiao rolled over, wiping the dirt from his face. His cheeks felt like they were burning with pain. His nose was filled with the scent of damp soil, along with a musty odor that was quite unpleasant.

He moved a little, feeling like there were no other injuries on his body, and said softly, "I'm okay."

Mu Fei dug out her cell phone and walkie-talkie, but unfortunately they were smashed, the screens shattered and unusable. However, the small flashlight used for illumination, given by the military colleague, lived up to its military-grade quality and was still intact.

They had fallen into the tomb along with the collapse of the capstone. Looking up again, it was already tightly sealed.

Cracking sounds rang out as the rocks seemed to be in danger of further collapse.

Mu Fei's face looked very grim, but with an underage person beside her, she could only muster up her spirits and say, "There are still people above who will organize a rescue immediately. But this place is at risk of a second collapse, so we need to move away a bit. You... don't be afraid, I'll protect you."

Even if Tan Xiao wasn't superstitious, he was still a high school student. Suddenly encountering a collapse accident, and inside an ancient tomb at that, he now felt extremely uncomfortable with the environment here and desperately wanted to escape.

The effect of Mu Fei's reassurance was actually... just so-so. After all, Tan Xiao remembered Mu Fei saying above that she had an office job, which is why she chose not to enter the tomb.

Tan Xiao said dryly, "In this emperor's tomb, there must be many traps, right? Won't we run into trouble if we wander around?"

"Of course there are. Some crossbows were dismantled in here before." Mu Fei emphasized they had been removed. The excavation work didn't just start today. It had been going on for some time, and what needed to be eliminated had been eliminated. What hadn't been dealt with was being resolved now. "Besides, we're not going far either."

Mu Fei didn't want to scare him, but she knew the collapse of this capstone was strange. Her hand secretly gripped the talisman in her pocket as she said nonchalantly, "Let's just find a place to take shelter. Maybe we can even meet up with Mr. Xu."

Tan Xiao followed closely behind Mu Fei. His cell phone was in his backpack, so now they relied on the light from Mu Fei's flashlight.

The tomb passage was deep and long. Except for the faint light ahead, everything was unclear. Only a weak airflow flowed through as they had to walk towards even darker places, as if step by step entering an unknown world.

A sloped section began up ahead. Perhaps because of this incline, as the two walked, they both felt a vague sense of exertion.

Dragging footsteps echoed in the narrow passage. The light from the flashlight was devoured by the unknown depths ahead.

The sealing stones used for theft prevention had already been dug through, and the mechanisms removed, so they could enter unobstructed, just as Mu Fei had said, without worrying about traps.

"I can barely walk anymore, why don't we just stay here." Mu Fei observed the structure here, planning to wait here and not go deeper into the tomb to avoid other troubles.

But at this moment, she heard a faint talking sound, and her eyes couldn't help but light up.

"Mr. Xu!" Mu Fei shouted, suddenly unable to control her volume. The sound reverberated in the long passageway, making her feel uncomfortable.

The talking sound over there seemed to get even louder, as if it was very close.

Mu Fei couldn't help but quicken her pace forward: "It must be them, let's go."

Tan Xiao could almost hear his own heartbeat. He always felt that although Mu Fei said it was very dangerous here, why were her actions unconsciously going deeper and deeper...?

Tan Xiao subconsciously wanted to reach out and pull Mu Fei, but Mu Fei's steps were simply rushing forward. Tan Xiao followed behind with a stiff scalp, "Sister Mu, slow down."

Following Mu Fei's quickening steps, a stone chamber appeared in front of the two, pitch black inside. Mu Fei poked her head in to look, walked in and shone her flashlight around, confirming that there was indeed no one here.

Mu Fei was not an expert like Old Ji, she just followed the source of the sound, but when she got here, she didn't see anyone and didn't know what this place was.

"Tsk... better not keep going, otherwise who knows where we'll end up." Mu Fei suddenly regretted chasing after the sound just now, and couldn't even remember why her first reaction was to chase after it.

At the time, she just felt it wasn't far, so she rushed forward with blood pumping. Now thinking back, it was very strange, making her extremely vigilant.

Mu Fei stepped very carefully, afraid of stepping on any cultural relics.

This tomb chamber was at least several hundred square meters, with the walls painted with strokes. The flashlight illuminated an area in front, and square lacquerware could be seen, looking like an altar.

All around were also countless exquisite jade and bronze wares on display.

Shining the light to the side, first there were two tigers lying down below, and above, they were holding up a large round object. Only then could the whole picture be seen clearly - it turned out to be a drum.

The drum rack was carved into the shape of a phoenix bird, still in the classic red and black color scheme, with patterns drawn.

Because of the unique shape of this phoenix drum, she looked at it for a few more seconds.

Mu Fei knew that everything here was priceless, so she didn't dare to move them carelessly, only shining her light to look around in the small space. The circular light swept past one spot, then moved back.

"This thing..." Mu Fei said, looking at a fan-shaped ritual object in front of her, "This looks a lot like what Old Ji described, except it's bigger, and is human-sized."

What Old Ji had described before was carved out of wood, and was the size used by the shaman figurines, which were only about 1.2 meters tall, so the things they used were only palm-sized.

But this one was much larger, with the bamboo frame decorated with silk in a fan shape, and the silk painted with feathers using pigments. The top had diagonal stripes, while the bottom had circles that looked somewhat like eyes, a bit abstract but still recognizable.

"But these feathers don't look quite right, they look more like peacock feathers to me." Mu Fei said strangely, wasn't it supposed to revere the phoenix? Why are there also peacocks?

"It should be peacocks," Tan Xiao thought for a moment, "Legend has it that the primordial phoenix gave birth to two sons, the peacock and the roc, all of the same lineage."

"So you're saying, could it be that the shaman figurines used this kind of fan? What exactly is this ritual object?" Mu Fei asked. After Old Ji asked this question, they hadn't waited for Tan Xiao's answer before the capstone collapsed.

Bringing this up, Tan Xiao's expression was a bit dazed, and he even seemed a little hesitant to answer: "You know my mother is dedicated to adapting ritual dances into dance dramas and square dances and other art forms, right?"

"...I actually do know that." Mu Fei had just read the news before.

"Mm, long ago, the Chu shamans had a type of ritual dance that required holding this kind of fan-shaped ritual object, the famous Chu shaman snake-handling dance.

"The Chu people revered the phoenix for another reason, which was their fear of the ubiquitous venomous snakes, while birds could overcome snakes. To them, the phoenix represented life, while the snake represented death. They worshipped the phoenix in hopes of ascending to immortality, and also believed that after worshipping the phoenix, they could control snakes. Thus, the snake-handling dance was born, communicating with the gods above while commanding the ghosts and demons below.

"To perform the snake-handling dance required holding a feather-patterned fan in the hand while dancing the Yu steps, so Old Ji probably found the right thing. The three pairs of shaman figurines likely each had their duties, one pair guarding the tomb owner, one pair expelling ghosts and demons, and the last pair representing a curse upon those who disturbed the tomb owner's rest, handling snakes to restrain them."

Tan Xiao's voice echoed faintly in the empty underground stone chamber.

Mu Fei dry swallowed, feeling a chill down her spine, suddenly recalling how Old Ji and the others seemed to hear the sound of snakes in the tomb chamber before.

Was that just because the Chu region had many snakes? Or...

Mu Fei held her breath, her fingers tightly gripping the handle of the flashlight, suddenly sensing something and looking up.

Only then did she notice that at some unknown time, a huge shadow had appeared in the corner of the tomb chamber ceiling, indistinct in the darkness. As this thing gradually drifted, there seemed to be two round objects reflecting the light of the flashlight, luminous and cold.

It was unknown how long it had been there, when it came, or perhaps it had never left, quietly listening to them discuss the Chu custom of snake handling.

Mu Fei only felt a sense of evil chill surging from her chest!

She didn't dare move her gaze, continuing to stare at the giant snake, and said in a whisper: "I'll count to three, then you crouch down."

Tan Xiao stiffened and nodded imperceptibly.

"One, two, three--"

Mu Fei shouted the last word, and at the same time, she took two running steps, her feet tapping on the stone wall, her whole body rising into the air as if flying, shooting straight at the giant snake. The talisman she held in her pocket also flew out, "Paying respects to all gods, commanding thunder and lightning!"

Tan Xiao crouched on the ground and looked back, his pupils shaking instantly.

He saw a coiled mass covered in patterns rapidly slithering, accurately raising its head to catch the yellow talisman in its mouth, then hissing and flicking its tongue.

The place where it touched the yellow talisman began to rot, but the rotting stopped at this point and did not injure any vital spots.

The giant snake retreated to the entrance, seeming to have some reservations, but did not leave. Those golden yellow eyes once again coldly stared at them, as if ready to pounce again at any moment.

Mu Fei stepped on the giant snake's body and did a back flip to land. Seeing this, she also gasped.

Just now, as soon as she made a move, the giant snake also moved at the same time, as if it had anticipated it. Even though it had ample strength, it did not dodge, but instead, as if testing her ability, it bit onto that talisman.

At the moment the talisman was pasted, she was almost pressed against the giant snake, and could sense the giant snake lazily glancing at her...

What was even worse was that since Mr. Xu was the one going into the tomb, she had given most of the limited resources to Mr. Xu, only keeping three talismans for herself. She had just used one, and the effect was obviously not good.

Tan Xiao moved next to Mu Fei, stunned, "How can there be such a big snake?"

And there were the talisman papers Mu Fei threw out...

Mu Fei kept thinking in her mind what to do, and even pondered how Mr. Xu and the others were doing. She replied, "This one seems to be the snake manipulated in the snake dance. Perhaps we shouldn't ask how there can be one, this guy may be the native inhabitant here."

"Then how does it reproduce and survive in the tomb? Isn't this tomb sealed, and it can't go out to find food?" Tan Xiao subconsciously asked.

Mu Fei retorted, "So how many years do you think it has lived based on its appearance?"

Tan Xiao was about to say a few decades, when he noticed the giant snake's gaze shift to him, inspecting him as if it had human nature, even carrying a hint of disdain. He got goosebumps and suddenly didn't dare to answer this question.

He took another look at the rotting chin of the giant snake where it had been touched by the talisman paper, and had a direct feeling that the result would be very bizarre.

"Get up," Mu Fei mustered her spirits and said, not very confidently, "I'll lead you to escape first."

Tan Xiao slowly stood up, afraid that making big movements would attract the other party's attention. Now it was troublesome - doing this volunteer work almost cost him his life.

"Sis, I believe in you, but didn't you say you were a civilian employee?" If Tan Xiao hadn't seen the giant snake, the first thing that should have shocked him would have been the skills Mu Fei displayed.

She even said she was a deskbound employee, but she was almost flying. Compared to Old Ji who could forcibly lift 250 pounds, she was no worse, and perhaps even more extreme.

Mu Fei held the remaining two talismans, staring intently at the giant snake's movements, and said, "I am a deskbound employee. I mainly use talismans to attack."

Tan Xiao: "..."

What the hell, this kind of deskbound employee?

Mu Fei pointed her chin towards the giant snake and said in an extremely low voice, "Be careful, this evil creature understands human speech."

She wanted to quietly explain her plan to Tan Xiao, but heard Tan Xiao tentatively say, "He understands us? How about speaking English now?"

Mu Fei: "...OK."

Mu Fei: "When I do it, you run towards the door."

Tan Xiao: "OK!!"

Mu Fei retreated backwards.

Sure enough, the giant snake thought she was chickening out and also advanced a step forward. But in doing so, it lost its position guarding the entrance, revealing a sliver of space to escape.

Mu Fei was worried about the safety of the cultural relics and didn't dare retreat too far inside. Judging the distance, she decisively flung the talisman and shouted, "Paying respects to all gods, commanding thunder and lightning!"

Then without looking at the outcome, she quickly ran towards the entrance together with Tan Xiao, mainly going for misdirection.

But unexpectedly, before reaching the entrance, a tail flew up from the ground in front of them and smacked right on their chests, sending both of them flying.

Mu Fei rubbed her chest. This old thing had quite a wide defensive range.

From the corner of her eye, she saw the giant snake had already slithered over. Her face changed and she tried to block in front of Tan Xiao.

The law for protecting minors couldn't protect Tan Xiao now. Only she could still struggle a bit.

Tan Xiao faced it head-on. This giant snake that had lived who knows how many years in the Chu emperor's tomb moved extremely fast. In the blink of an eye, those orange-yellow vertical pupils seemed to be right in front of him. He could even smell the decaying odor from its mouth.

Tan Xiao helplessly leaned back and accidentally leaned on that phoenix bird hanging drum. With his eyes closed, he subconsciously shouted, "Get lost!"

At the same time, his elbow made contact with the drumhead, making a "dong" sound.

That sound was deep and not loud, but it reverberated in the cold and desolate tomb chamber, flowing into people's chests and making their hearts pound hard along with it. It is said that the sound of drums is obtained by the ancients imitating the sound of thunder. Countless times, the shamans beat the drums, seeking to shake heaven and earth.

At this moment, it seemed that flames were dancing, surrounding the lingering remnants of the shaman music from a thousand years ago.


The huge body slammed onto the thick stone wall in response. It quickly coiled up in a defensive posture, as if it had seen a natural enemy, and looked up in fear!

Mu Fei's movements also stagnated. Her original intention to charge forward changed midway to slowly hiding behind Tan Xiao...

Tan Xiao: "..."

Mu Fei shone the flashlight and found that the giant snake was anxiously slithering around, completely different from before. It was not leisurely waiting for prey as before. If one had to say, it was more like it wanted to go to the entrance but was afraid of Tan Xiao blocking the way in front of it.

The situations of both sides had completely reversed!

"What's going on with you?" Mu Fei asked in a low voice.

"Yeah, what's going on with me??" Tan Xiao was even more bewildered than her.

"Damn, why are you imitating my shock," Mu Fei just felt that her previous action of blocking in front was quite unnecessary. "Having this effect without even reciting a spell, and you say it's a folk performance. You're a great shaman."

Tan Xiao's mind was in a daze but his mouth was still stubborn, "Then maybe I'm speaking Parseltongue?"


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.