Agarwood like Crumbs (沉香如屑) Novel Translations

Chapter 5: The Hero, Tang Zhou

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YuMo slowly stood up, YanDan behind him, and closed his eyes. When he opened them, they were a fiery red.

The young man shifted his weight to one foot, and floated down to where the two people were, holding a sword.

Suddenly, a black and white demon energy appeared, wrapping around the sword tightly.

YuMo raised his hand, a wave of demonic energy rose around him, his pupils turning several different colors at once. There’s not many people who have powers stronger than his, so there honestly wasn’t much of a competition between him and a mortal.

Suddenly, a sword of light pierced through the demonic energy and penetrated his chest. YuMo felt blood rushing out and all sounds became dim. He hurriedly pulled YanDan, jumping off the boat, “Go!’ Suddenly, waves started rising up, and it morphed into a dragon of some kind, raising his dragon head high and smelling the air, looking for something to eat.

The young man unhurriedly took out a talisman paper from his sleeves, waved his fingers, and chanted, “Break!”

The giant dragon dissolved into countless beads of water droplets, falling on the deck and making a ticking sound, as if it was raining.

He raised his hands, put his sword back into the scabbard, ready to charge, but suddenly something tightened around his foot, and he was tightly held in place. In the hole in the ship, river water started pouring in, dampening the hem of his clothes.

Zhou ShiMing hugged his feet, his body of white fat trembling viciously, “Hero, please don’t leave, please save me quickly, I don’t want to be eaten by that scary monster…” 

His eyebrows furrowed and looked at the white fatty, “The monster already left.”

“Nononono, they are definitely going to come back, and eat all of my flesh, please save me hero…”

The young man looked around, the monster already left to who-knows-where, and kicked him, “Get out.”

YuMo stumbled onshore, staggering, and spit out a mouthful of blood. He laid down on the river bank, closing his eyes and rested.

YanDan sat at his side, only to see his face color white, the side of his lip speckled with blood, every now and then coughing, his hand placed on the wound, “YuMo, how are you? You okay?”

YuMo suddenly sat up, one hand holding the ground, and then started coughing viciously. YanDan was startled, immediately patting his back, asking, “Are you alright? Is it serious?”

YuMo stopped coughing immediately, and collapsed against YanDan.

YanDan hugged him, not daring to move, feeling anxious in her heart, “YuMo, you’ve got to hold on, you must not die…” After a long time, she felt YuMo move a little, speaking weakly, “Isn’t it a little too early to be sad?” His face color still wasn’t the best, but there was already a hint of color.

YanDan said coldly, “Master.”

YuMo replied, “Lotus.”

YanDan spoke frostily, “Please forgive the concubine for not being able to send off the master. Please don’t blame me.”

YuMo looked at her, replying seriously, “Lotus is so affectionate, looks like she can only repay in the next life.” After saying this, he couldn’t help laughing.

YanDan also laughed, still a little bit worried, saying slowly, “That hero is pretty powerful, even you aren’t his opponent, not to mention me.” 

YuMo hummed lazily, saying softly, “It’s not surprising. His soul is so clean and pure, in order to be this powerful. In all three worlds, the most powerful isn’t the Celestial Lord, nor is it the demon that got destroyed back in ancient times, it was the ones with the purest of souls. Demonic magic is definitely not pure enough.”

“YuMo, can you say something?”

“Say what?”

“If you turn your head and look back, that person is coming, and he’s almost here.”

YuMo cursed under his breath, standing up, “It was always me chasing the person fleeing, looks like it’s going to change today.”

YanDan’s expression was sincere, “Experience is also good for cultivating.”

YuMo looked into her eyes, “Let’s split apart, in case our luck isn’t enough, one dead is better than two dead.” He pointed to the front, “You walk that way, I’ll walk next to the river, opposite to you.”

YanDan looked back at him, hesitating for a little bit, “Alright then.” Walking towards YuMo’s direction, it’s hard to say whether the hero will come and attack him, but YanDan’s on a much safer route.

YuMo pushed her, “Start walking.”

She turned around and walked, walking and then turning around, to see YuMo slowly walk towards the river bank. She walked until she got to the twisting and turning mountain path, before looking back again. At this point, she could only see his silhouette against the river bank, before she turned and rushed away.

As the night darkened, YanDan was still walking on the mountain, both tired and freezing, but was afraid to stop. Through the layers of trees, she could see the Emperor Star, brighter than all the other stars in the sky. The brighter the Emperor Star is, the more stable a dynasty is. 

YanDan suddenly remembered something she’d learned quite a while back. In fact, she was the best at learning the Zen philosophy, but once she thought about it, it wasn’t of much use. Back then, she would be so proud to say that she never wanted to cultivate into an immortal, because it wasn’t so rare at that time. Now that she thought of it, it seemed like such a long, long time ago.

When dawn came, she finally saw a small village on the horizon, as well as a tea plantation on the hill behind the small village.

She sighed in relief, sitting down on a tree stump to rest. Suddenly, she heard footsteps behind her, and she turned around, resisting the urge to jump up and run away, thinking that the hero had chased her all the way here. The man had wide sleeves, a flamboyant robe, and a handsome face. He still had that particular toughness of a young man, and it looked like he couldn’t be too old. YanDan let out a breath of relief, it was just an ordinary mortal that had lived in comfort for too many years. 

That young cultivator walked towards her, slowing down before her and asking, “May I ask where a young woman like you came from?”

YanDan was secretly grateful, because yesterday, it was YuMo who started the fight, and the man probably couldn’t see her very clearly. But right now, she looked very suspicious, so it would be better to tread lightly. She replied slowly, “Look, the tea trees are so much prettier this year.”

The man looked kind of startled, “There’s no evil here, I was just wondering if there was a place I could spend the night.”

YanDan said, “You see that rock that looks like a monkey at the top of the mountain?”

The man finally gave up, and continued walking forward. YanDan looked at his back, wondering if she should continue walking forward, in the same direction as the man, or start walking in the opposite direction. She no longer had enough strength to continue walking for a long time, and in case that man realised something was off and started chasing her, she probably wouldn’t have the energy to hide. If she walked the same directions as him, although it was risky and there was a chance of putting herself to death, maybe she could get out of it.

At that thought, she stood up, and started walking forward.

After walking two steps, as expected, the young man turned around, asking, “Miss, have you seen another girl, about the same age and height as you, as well as having a pretty face?”

YanDan was unwilling to look at him, walking past him, mumbling, “I want to go home, Mother’s waiting for me, are you also coming?”

She walked forward another two steps, hearing the man whisper under his breath, “Turns out she’s just a fool…”

YanDan pouted, yet could only curse him silently. Based on her personality, she definitely would have made a savage comeback, but at the moment, she could only swallow her anger. She walked some more, and then suddenly heard the person mutter a spell lightly and quickly. She heard wind blowing past her ears, and then suddenly everything turned black, the only light seeming to be coming from above her head. But that light soon got extinguished.

YanDan was shocked, and then flicked her fingers, a beam of light shooting from her fingertips, but it bounced off of the darkness.

She heard a voice coming from the outside, saying, “Don’t waste your energy, based on your abilities, unless someone lets you out, then you’ll never be able to get rid of this artifact.”

Artifact? YanDan felt the sides, cold and slippery, kind of like jade. She turned in a circle once, it seemed like it was in the shape of a sphere, it should… it should be the Enlightened Jade Gourd?

She was depressed for a moment, and could only sit down, “I didn’t reveal any flaws, you believed me earlier.”

“Your acting was so real, I almost was fooled. It’s a pity that the clothes on you are such good quality, and your hands look like you haven’t worked a moment in your life before, as well as your face. With the wind blowing and the sun shining on your face, it would obviously become more rough over time.”

YanDan sighed, acknowledging her failures, “May I ask for your name?”

After a while, he replied, “Tang Zhou.”

YanDan layed down inside the gourd, closing her eyes, “I have one last important question. Have you seen my companion?”

Tang Zhou replied simply, “I have met him.”

“Then did you kill him, or did he escape?”

“I already answered your first question, so I don’t have to answer that one.”

YanDan knocked against the bottom of the gourd angrily, “You…” and then started smiling, “So he escaped, thank god.”

Tang Zhou wasn’t fooled, and he seemed to be smiling, “Be smart.”

YanDan could only close her eyes and go to sleep. Now that trying to get out of this gourd was a waste of energy, at least she could nurture her energy before thinking of a way to escape.

Because she was too tired, she quickly fell into a deep sleep, and it was much easier falling asleep in the dark gourd. By the time she woke up, her surroundings were still a black mass, not being able to tell what time it was outside.

She sat up, hugging her knees trying to think of a way to escape, and after thinking of seventeen to eighteen ideas, the possibilities of them becoming reality were slim. Suddenly, everything started shaking and she slammed against the side of the gourd hard.

To hear Tang Zhou saying slowly, “You were so quiet I was beginning to think you weren’t in there.”

YanDan replied tiredly, “It was so comfortable in here that I fell asleep.”

He laughed deeply, saying, “You’re different from all the other demons I’ve imprisoned here. They were all too afraid to fall asleep.”

YanDan’s heart beated loudly, asking, “You’ve imprisoned other demons in here?”

After a while, she could hear Tang Zhou’s voice replying back, “You want to ask what I did to them, right?”

YanDan was indeed thinking about this, “Yep.”

“When I caught my very first demon, I was just learning how to make potions, and accidentally mixed the wrong ingredients together, so that butterfly demon died a terrible death. The second time was a bear demon, and his demise was basically the same as the butterfly’s. And for the third, it was a medicine flower demon, her entirety was very precious and she was used to study potion recipes from hundreds of years ago…” Tang Zhou’s speaking was maddeningly slow, “As for the tenth one, I couldn’t even think of a way to use her before she went mad. And you’re the eleventh.”

After YanDan heard that, her entire body turned cold and she smiled reluctantly, “What an honor.” No matter who heard the brutal demise of the others before her, how could she stand it, right? 

She sat in the darkness, opening her eyes and suddenly spoke, “Tang Zhou, I’m hungry.”

TangZhou’s voice seemed a little surprised, “You’re a demon, and is able to know what hunger is?”

YanDan pouted, trying to not make her voice sound too mad, “Of course demons can feel hungry, even celestials can feel hunger. When I’m outside, I can absorb the aura of the sky and earth, so if I don’t eat anything, that’s still fine, but there’s nothing in this gourd, so dark and gloomy.”

After a while, there was a bright light shining from the top of the gourd, and before YanDan could adapt to the sudden brightness, a blade of grass fell down next to her, and then everything was dark again. YanDan was absolutely trembling with anger, and had to keep telling herself to remain patient.

Moments passed, and she hissed out one phrase through her clenched teeth, “You sure are a good person.”

“You’re being a little too generous, it was a simple act, there’s no need to thank me.” It sounded as if the person saying this was smiling.

YanDan hugged her knees, trying to think of another idea. She’d managed to live until now, basically every person she met could be played around by her. This person wouldn’t be any different, other than his brain being a little bit bigger, so she would have to think of a really good plan this time.

Every person has a fatal flaw, and once she found the opponent’s, then she could easily leverage that against him.

But what is Tang Zhou’s flaw?

She remembered ZiLin’s flaw was that he was afraid others would know his true form was a mountain tortoise, DanShu’s was that he was afraid of ghosts, YuMo… well, as long as it isn’t outrageous, he would do anything she asks for, which led to her bad habit of not doing any physical labor.

And where is YuMo right now? Is he safe?

Although she was about seventy to eighty percent sure that YuMo was able to escape from danger, there’s still that remaining twenty to thirty percent left. Tang Zhou wasn’t willing to reveal anything, and she wouldn’t be able to trick him into revealing something either.

YanDan had a splitting headache, and could only close her eyes and sleep. Since the surroundings were so dim, after a short while, she managed to fall asleep again.

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