Even a Shaman Needs Evening Self Study

Even a Shaman Needs Evening Self Study

Chapter 5 - Striking Hunger

Everyone was a bit speechless at Tan Xiao's words. You still want to scientifically crack the powers of your colleagues... Your family really has some good ideas.

"You're impressive." Mu Fei shook her head with a smile, "Alright, let's eat something first, we're all tired."

Mu Fei invited Tan Xiao to have breakfast together, and then she would send Tan Xiao back to rest for a while before studying how to break the spell for Professor Mo. With so many people staying here, they had the restaurant deliver food for the first few days, but now they were cooking for themselves.

At this time, the porridge and buns were ready. Tan Xiao obediently sat on the bench by the door waiting for her. Because the weather was cool in the morning, everyone put the tables and chairs outside to have breakfast.

To be honest, he didn't feel like a night had passed before, but now that the fatigue hit, it felt real. Tan Xiao could still hear the archaeological team members who went into the tomb with him last night discussing what happened.

"Man, as soon as we went down, we felt something was off everywhere. At first, I felt there was movement from snakes."

"Right, right, we didn't even realize it then. Later, we stayed in the coffin chamber for a long time and still didn't feel the danger. No wonder there were illusions at that time. You took the shovel and cut off Old Ji's safety rope in one go."

"I even stepped on a large piece of snake skin. I thought it was the jade burial suit..."


Hearing about their perilous experience, Tan Xiao deeply felt that he and Mu Fei were quite lucky. It was just that when they first went down, Mu Fei's temperament changed a bit and she rushed in impulsively, but later she sobered up on her own.

Later, they happened to encounter the altar and resolved the attacks from the male snake one by one.

"What do you want to drink?"

Tan Xiao turned his head and saw a young lady with long curly hair holding a stack of steamed buns and a bowl of mung bean porridge asking her. Judging from her academic attire, she was probably also a member of the archaeological team. He politely said, "Thank you, someone has already gone to get it for me."

The long-haired lady exclaimed, "Who else? How can you assign two people for one task?"

Tan Xiao felt something was off upon hearing this and tentatively asked, "Sister Mu?"

Mu Fei had just untied her bun, letting her slightly curly hair fall down, and changed out of the dusty clothes from the tomb. Who knew Tan Xiao would turn around and not recognize her. "It's me! Although we've only known each other for a day, we've been through life and death together. You can't even remember my face?"

"I didn't recognize you for a moment..." Tan Xiao said with embarrassment. His face blindness problem was not too severe, but it was a bit awkward in interpersonal interactions. He relied more on clothing and appearance to recognize people.

At school, everyone wore the same uniform, but fortunately, the seating was relatively fixed. He had memorized the seating chart, using various memory aids to at least be able to call out the classmates in their seats. Fortunately, he was only face-blind and had a good memory.

"You're really something, face-blind, aren't you?" Mu Fei let him choose what to eat. "Professor Mo is at the central hospital now. I'll send you back later, and after you rest up, I'll pick up Professor Mo from the hospital. We've discussed that it's better to perform the ritual here. What do you think?"

"I... have no objection." What else could Tan Xiao say?

"You're really muddling through." Mu Fei said, "I see no need to bother two masters. You can come and break the spell for Professor Mo, right?"

This was a Chu shaman technique, and it was most suitable for a spirit master of the Chu shaman lineage to break it.

"It's possible, but I can't guarantee it will work." Tan Xiao still had a non-guaranteed after-sales attitude.

Mu Fei laughed, "Why are you always so cautious? You also said there's no after-sales guarantee in the tomb. The Gengshen Day is coming soon, and it's good to have some self-preservation ability."

"What Gengshen Day?" This touched on Tan Xiao's knowledge blind spot. He was more familiar with the business knowledge of his family.

"The Gengshen Day that occurs once every sixty years, which is the eighteenth of this month. On this night, the moonlight will contain the Emperor's Essence, with countless times more spiritual energy from heaven and earth than usual days. Grass and trees in the human world that receive it have a chance to become spirits." Mu Fei said leisurely, "After that night passes, we don't know how much more work we'll have."

The ancient books say, on the Gengshen night's moonlight, there is the Emperor's Essence, its form like countless olives, with tens of thousands of golden threads, strung together in strings, hanging down to the human world. Grass and trees that receive its essence can become spirits.

Tan Xiao, hearing the date she mentioned, thought of the upcoming "supermoon" observation date.

He nodded in a daze, "Speaking of which, what exactly is your unit about?"

He had been very curious before and had never heard of this Bureau 404. At that time, he didn't even believe in the supernatural.

"It's just as your vice principal introduced, mainly responsible for coordinating and handling some affairs in the supernatural field, including this kind of thing." Mu Fei explained.

"We don't have as many people as the various sects and denominations, but we are linked with most supernatural units, so the full name of our Bureau 404 is actually the 'Comprehensive Coordination and Linkage Office'. Although it's called an office, there are quite a few departments, including the Supervision Team, Enforcement Team, Dispatch Center, etc."

Whenever they encounter such matters, they will analyze and register them, and then dispatch them to the Enforcement Team or the priests of various temples and monasteries to handle.

"Don't think Sister can fight. Strictly speaking, I'm actually a civilian employee in the unit. You see, I still have to take photos and make ledgers, and I have to write reports when I go back. You can punch the Xiong Hui in five minutes, but I have to work on materials for three days."

Tan Xiao: "..."

After breakfast, Mu Fei drove Tan Xiao home. Tan Xiao's home was a two-story antique-style self-built house with a courtyard located in the old town. At this moment, dewdrops were still hanging from the eaves, reflecting the afterglow of the morning sun.

Facing it, red anti-fraud and anti-superstition slogans were posted on the wall. There were also many signs on both sides of the first-floor door, from "Civilized Family" to "Folk Culture Tourism Demonstration Site", which were quite complete.

Mu Fei recalled what Tan Xiao said about receiving tourists for revenue and laughed, "Do you often have tourists visiting your home?"

No wonder Tan Xiao performed rituals without any stage fright, not inferior to some great masters. This was all tempered through experience.

"Yes, we're not receiving any recently. The peak season has passed anyway. My mom needs to focus on preparing for a new dance drama, and she's gone out for inspiration." As Tan Xiao spoke, an old lady passed by and greeted him.

"Xiao Xiao, who is this?"

"Granny." Tan Xiao knew this was most likely Granny Mi from the neighborhood. He greeted her and directly said, "She's here to ask my mother to perform a ritual."

"Oh," Grandma listened to the method and her expression was very natural. "Your mother hasn't come back yet? Why is she out for so long this time? You should tell her when she's back that our square dance team is waiting for her to guide us, especially for that snake dance. We are going to perform at the opening ceremony of the Nanchu Tourism Festival."

Grandma mentioned it with a very proud look. Being able to participate in performances everywhere, they could be considered as the elite in the square dance circle.

"It's the snake-charming dance," Tan Xiao said. "Grandma, she's still out of town, we'll see if she can make it back."

Mu Fei was numb listening to this. She thought to herself, you really don't avoid the topic at all. Anyway, other people think your method is pure art, right? You even teach people the snake-charming dance everywhere. The Chu emperor would cry if he heard this...


Tan Xiao temporarily said goodbye to Mu Fei. In the evening, Mu Fei called again, saying she had picked up Professor Mo from the hospital and was coming to get Tan Xiao.

Tan Xiao had already packed a large bag of things and put it in his backpack. When Mu Fei arrived, he got in the car directly and they drove to the excavation site.

This time when Tan Xiao went in, although he still didn't have a certificate, he didn't need Mr. Ji to make a special call. It seemed arrangements had been made.

It was still the activity shed they had stayed in before. Only this time, there was an additional old man lying stiffly on the camp bed. He looked haggard, with dull eyes. His two students were guarding by the bedside.

Professor Mo's family didn't know about his accident yet. His two students took turns caring for him in the hospital. Because of this, these two had not met Tan Xiao and were not clear about what happened last night. They only knew that a local spirit master seemed to have been invited.

The two of them were not from Chu Province and didn't care about this aspect. They had basically never heard of spirit masters and understood them to be local folk sorcerers.

The senior and junior disciples looked at each other and said to Mr. Xu, "This... little brother looks too young. Didn't you say before to see if there are any Celestial Masters?"

In fact, what they questioned was not age, but rather felt that compared to these so-called spirit masters, a slightly larger mainstream sect seemed to provide more assurance, as dependable as a regular army.

As for Tan Xiao, he even wanted to nod when he heard this.

Mu Fei scratched her bun, irritably saying, "I am a Celestial Master. But this is the Nanchu territory, and spirit masters are Chu shamans. There is a saying in Nanchu, 'Spirit masters save lives, Celestial Masters save the dead.'"

Indeed, in the past customs of Nanchu, there was this saying. Of course, in reality, it may have only been a kind of market segmentation.

Professor Mo's disciple mumbled, "I mean, is there anyone else? You didn't solve it before either..."

Mu Fei stiffened.

Previously, their Bureau 404 had made a lot of futile efforts. And since Tan Xiao was introduced by them, Professor Mo's disciples couldn't help but question it.

"Ahem." Old Ji coughed. He was still holding a few photos in his hand. He didn't directly use his identity to tell everyone to stop arguing, but said, "Last night, Little Tan accompanied us down into the tomb. These are a few cultural relics we cleared out during the day, very interesting. They have also been unearthed in other Chu tombs before."

Tan Xiao glanced at it. "Phoenix bird hanging drum, hmm, this is a musical instrument unique to the Chu State."

He had even played it at the bottom of the tomb. Just thinking about it was exciting. This was a cultural relic.

Professor Mo's disciples immediately shut up.

Old Ji's words revealed two points. First, they didn't dare to go down into the tomb before, but after Tan Xiao accompanied them last night, the excavation had already resumed today. The implication was self-evident.

Second, for the cultural relics Old Ji casually used as examples, Tan Xiao could tell their origins without looking up information, which was something the two of them couldn't do without flipping through materials. They had to admit defeat on this point!

Mu Fei pushed Tan Xiao, telling him not to bother and just do his own thing.

Tan Xiao originally wanted to stand there and wait for them to continue questioning. After all, he himself wasn't very confident. Only after being pushed did he open his backpack and take out incense, candles, paper money and other items.

Tan Xiao had borrowed the Chu emperor's burial items to perform a ritual at the bottom of the tomb. But to remove the curse on Professor Mo now, he still had to perform the full set of formal spellcasting procedures.

As soon as Mr. Xu smelled the incense, he praised, "Good maple incense!"

He was an incense-burning fanatic and naturally recognized at once that this was the best choice for underworld incense, made from the powder of maple trees. It was very long-lasting, and the flame was blue, short and not bright. Those in the know called this kind of flame "yin fire".

He looked at Tan Xiao with great appreciation and asked, "Such fine craftsmanship, did you hand-roll it yourself?"

Tan Xiao: "I provide the formula, the factory does the production."

Mr. Xu: "..."

"There's one more thing," Tan Xiao muttered to himself. He took out a plastic bag from the bottom of his backpack. Inside, there was actually a carp. He continued to rummage and even had dried bamboo shoots, shiitake mushrooms and the like. He looked up and explained, "These are offerings. We spirit masters are used to making them fresh and hot."

This was really strange. Nowadays, who doesn't use ready-made cold dishes?

Old Ji pondered, "These offerings have also evolved gradually. From the earliest raw meat offerings to later cooking, with the fragrance rising, it is believed that the gods also like hot food. Or in other words, people want to offer the best things to the gods and ghosts. It seems that the customs of spirit masters are very traditional."

Hearing this, Tan Xiao weakly said, "Uh, I didn't think that much. We used to use cold dishes too. It's mainly because after the performance, the offerings have to be eaten by the tourists, and the tourists complained."

Everyone: "..."

What a guy, are we at a Chu shaman's restaurant?

To prepare the offerings, Tan Xiao directly dragged over the stove in the camp.

An important part of ancient people's sacrifices was to offer food to the gods. Cooking and sacrificing were inseparable.

And on the altar, carp was also common.

Tan Xiao deftly handled the carp. He found the fishy tendon, made a cut, and without using tweezers, his slender fingers directly reached in, pinched it with a deft force and pulled. The white tendon was pulled out in one piece without breaking. His movements were clean and smooth.

The fish was split in half, with the backbone removed. While marinating it with yellow wine and fine salt, he prepared the side dishes. Shiitake mushrooms, ham and dried bamboo shoots were chopped up.

After a few minutes, the fish was marinated. After being coated with egg wash, it was put into the pot. With a sizzle, it was fried until its head and tail curled up, slowly taking on an enticing light yellow color. Obviously, under high heat, the skin of the fish was becoming crispy, and even the fish bones were fried crisp, wafting a rich aroma. Just looking at the color, one could imagine its crispy on the outside and tender on the inside texture.

The fish fillets, which were fried to look like two strips, were placed on a plate. The left and right sides were then respectively poured with red and white thick sauces. One side was made by stir-frying ham, shiitake mushrooms, ginger and other ingredients, while the other side had winter bamboo shoots and scallion segments.

The piping hot thick sauce, when poured on the crispy fish body, made a sizzling sound.

Everyone swallowed in unison. Professor Mo's disciples couldn't help but mutter, "We were a bit unreasonable just now!"

Among the things Tan Xiao prepared were sacrificial wine, fruits, cakes, and only three real dishes. After all, it wasn't a grand ceremony, and Tan Xiao alone couldn't carry out a large-scale ritual that would keep him busy from dusk till dawn.

In addition to the carp, he also made chicken soup and tofu. He stewed a whole chicken with ham, dried fish, and other ingredients. The chicken soup was thick and creamy white, while the tofu was cooked to perfection, with an enticing golden hue and an extremely delicate texture.

After the seemingly food show-like program ended, Tan Xiao packed all the offerings into bamboo containers.

The Book of Songs described sacrifices, stating, "The gods enjoy food and drink, granting the ruler a long life." The ancients believed that even deities loved delicacies. When satisfied with the food, they would bless the person making the offering.

Tan Xiao made a hand seal and tapped the edge of the bamboo plate, producing a crisp sound reminiscent of clinking porcelain. This was called "striking the appetite."

In the tranquil room, the steam rising from the plates wafted in all directions, accompanied by the sound of bamboo and food, summoning the deities to come and enjoy the feast.

The sacrificial incense burned brightly without smoke, but the rising steam resembled the incense smoke during a ritual. Through the mist, Tan Xiao slowly unfolded a colorful sacrificial mask and wore it on his head at an angle.

The sound of striking the appetite still echoed with a ding.

In an instant, the atmosphere turned solemn...

And delicious.


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.