Agarwood like Crumbs (沉香如屑) Novel Translations

Chapter 6: To Escape, or Not To Escape

Reading Time: 10 minutes
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Force isn’t always the key, and since ancient times, there were countless examples of the weak winning over the strong.

YanDan intended to figure out the young hero, even small things like a strand of hair. She knocked against the side of the gourd, “Tang Zhou?”

Tang Zhou’s voice was vague, slightly replied softly before going back to sleep.

This would be the best time to catch him, while he’s in between the blurred lines of sleeping and being awake, and before he creates potion with her ashes.

YanDan softened her voice, “Your cultivation is so high, and I wonder who your Master is?” To teach such an disciple, his master must be extraordinary, preferably someone with that kind of weird temper and an old fashioned temper that could make his disciple complain.

“My Master is a stranger in this world, and is a little bit strange. Why are you asking this?” Tang Zhou’s voice was still quite muffled and he replied casually.

“Your Master dislikes demons?”

“Not only dislike, he absolutely hates demons.” He replied softly, “Before he became a monk, he had a wife and a child. But when he returned home one day, he found out his wife and child had been devoured by two demons, and the only things left were two bones.”

YanDan felt like crying. Tang Zhou from a young age was taught to hate demons, which means that it would be difficult for her to escape. She thought a little, and said, “But, not all demons are evil.” Just like YanDan.

Another moment passed before Tang Zhou said, “I’ve never met one.”

YanDan wanted to yell, a pure and good demon is right in front of you, yet you can’t see it, so badly. Suddenly, Tang Zhou said, “Do you remember when I told you about my first time catching a demon, that butterfly demon? I saw her in such a pitiful state, so I let her out, but the first thing she did was to try to get revenge on me.”

YanDan sighed, feeling as if she had no hope for survival, saying without any energy, “I see. Then in your heart, do you hate demons like your Master?”

“You have too many questions. From now on, you’re only allowed 3 questions per day, and whether I answer them or not will depend on my mood.” Hearing his voice, he seemed fully awake right now, “If you want to convince me to let you free, then that’s a waste of energy, you’re not the first one to do so.”

YanDan leaned against the side of the gourd, couldn’t help asking, “It’s so dark and gloomy in here, how am I supposed to know whether it’s nighttime or daytime, so how would I know what counts as a day?”

Tang Zhou said indifferently, “You can estimate the time yourself. Alright, you’ve already asked three questions today.”

YanDan hmphed, and was clenching her teeth in anger, hearing Tang Zhou saying, “If you keep on acting like this, be careful of me getting tired of you.”

She pounded the ground in anger, twice, and then suddenly smiled. No matter what, there is still some progress. As long as there is time, then there is hope, and she was able to survive even more difficult situations, so there’s no way that this hurdle can’t be crossed.

She must stay awake in this fancy gourd artifact, and staying hungry was one way of keeping awake. Since she’s not an ordinary mortal, she could sustain two to three days without eating, although her head will be dizzy and her eyesight might blur. Instead, she could use this time to cultivate some more demonic powers, using this practice as a way to improve her cultivation and hone her mind.

She listened to the movements outside the gourd, and could feel every road that Tang Zhou passed by and everyone he passed.

When locked in a magical instrument, it’s basically isolated from the outside world. Other than Tang Zhou’s voice when talking to her, there is no sound at all. In such a dark environment, without any will and courage, she wouldn’t last long.

But slowly, YanDan started hearing an outside voice, which was a huge surprise.

“Tang Zhou?” She sat quietly for a long time, but couldn’t help saying something.

Tang Zhou sighed, sounding a little frustrated, “What is it?” It’s been a total of 10 days now, and no other demon had been able to sustain that long in the jade gourd, and now he couldn’t help but compare with the other demons.

“I want to know, do you truly hate demons from the bottom of your heart?” This was really important, and as long as the other was half compassionate, then maybe she would be able to change his mind.

Tang Zhou turned to one side, “Why don’t you ask about your companion?”

Indeed, she did think of asking, but the time for that question didn’t come yet. If Tang Zhou wasn’t in the mood for answering the question, then it was a waste.

“Right now I’m more worried about myself, why would I care if my companion lived or died?”

Tang Zhou almost smiled, “You demon friendships are just like this. That fish demon tried to stop me, hoping you could escape.”

YanDan didn’t speak, her heart sinking. But after thinking about it, she should believe in YuMo’s ability. If he went back to Yelan Mountain and saw that she wasn’t there yet, then he would definitely come and look for her.

“That’s because you’re already really prejudiced, then you wouldn’t understand it at all.” YanDan was still really angry, and was forcing restraint upon herself and her emotions. “We demons are always restrained and have our own principles. Even if we are evil, we’re still not as bad as you mortals.”

Tang Zhou didn’t say anything.

That meant that he wouldn’t be answering any more of YanDan’s questions.

YanDan thought over and over again, but finally closed her eyes. Just when she was about to fall asleep, she was suddenly awakened by a small sound of water. She turned over and sat up, “Can you please let me get some fresh air and a nice cup of tea?”

Tang Zhou replied simply, “Alright.”

Suddenly a bright light appeared from above her head, and the absolute joy in YanDan’s heart was beyond words. She slowly flew to the mouth of the gourd and leaned over the mouth to look out. She was still constrained by a spell, and she shrank so much that even a window looks extremely large. Looking at the light coming from the window, it should be in the evening. Right now, it seems like they are in a very old inn, with almost no noise coming from the outside.

“Does it feel different from what you saw before?” Tang Zhou suddenly smiled.

YanDan nodded her head, and then turned around, but saw the water vapor around him, shocked that she couldn’t even talk, “You-you-you…” 

Tang Zhou leaned back and swept his hand across his hair, laughing, “What about me?”

YanDan immediately replied, “I don’t want to see you take a bath!”

Tang Zhou looked at her, not feeling guilty, “You were the one who wanted some fresh air. I didn’t invite you to look, anyways.”

YanDan laid at the mouth of the gourd, one hand supporting her chin, “Alright then, but you have to give me something to see!” Tang Zhou’s hand loosened, and the gourd fell into the water. YanDan didn’t react much, and hurriedly put up a spell to block the bath water from coming in. She couldn’t see anything either, everything was a dark and murky black.

Tang Zhou stood up, and used a towel to dry himself, and only after he put on his clothes did he pull the gourd out of the water, “What about that?”

YanDan only felt her stomach churning inside, and after coughing for what seemed to be half a century, she managed to puff out, “Despicable.”

Tang Zhou smiled, but didn’t say anything. He put the gourd on the table and slowly tied his belt, put on the middle robe, and finally the outer robe.

YanDan rolled her eyes, smiling slightly, “It’s tiring to run around to so many places, right?” What if I helped massage your back and your legs?”

Tang Zhou turned his head, looking at her.

“If you let me out, I promise I won’t try to escape. Even if I did escape, then you would catch me anyways, and I would never do these dumb things.” She was taking it step by step, first get out of the jade gourd and seeing the situation outside. Being trapped in that place with absolutely light for many days, she didn’t have any ideas for escaping.

“Are you…tempting me?” He smiled slightly, and said slowly, pronouncing each and every word, “Do you want to know what happened to the fox demon who tried massaging me?”

Listening to his tone of speech, YanDan felt her body turn cold and she couldn’t help trying to shrink smaller, “No thank you, I do not want to know.”

In fact, to leave the gourd, one must make sure that they are still alive. If even a tiny sliver of their soul flew out, then there would be no point anymore.

Tang Zhou picked up the gourd and silently muttered the spell to unlock the gourd, “If you’re actually smart, then you would stay obedient and don’t get any bad ideas. This way, you could live a couple extra days.”

The heavy darkness was back upon YanDan.

She thought for a little, asking, “Was the fox demon pretty?”

Tang Zhou replied without hesitation, “Much prettier than you, atleast.”

YanDan criticized, “If you’re not tempted by beautiful women, then are you into men?”

After 6 hours into the night, YanDan heard light footsteps outside. It was basically midnight, and who would be creeping around then? She immediately pressed against the side of the gourd, listening for more movement. It seemed like someone was walking around the room, and there were definitely more than one person.

They were trying to be quiet, but in vain. She could hear every single footstep, clearly. Compared to when Tang Zhou walked, his steps were light and hard to hear.

YanDan thought a little, and then thought of a good idea, a smile lifting the side of her mouth: she’d finally found a good time to escape. If she guessed correctly, the inn Tang Zhou stayed at was a black shop, and he must have been drugged with Mongolian sweet medicine, and now he sleeps so deeply that he wouldn’t even know if someone came into his room.

She’d thought that Tang Zhou was a very shrewd individual, but in fact he wasn’t that much.

Suddenly the sky shook, and YanDan leaned forward and slid to the other side. She heard a voice say, “This is made of jade, how much money do you think its worth?” Another person replied, “Looking at the shine, you should try opening it, and there might be some goodies in there!”

YanDan smiled, hoping that he would open it quickly, that way she could quickly escape.

Suddenly the gourd turned upside down, YanDan felt weightless, and then fell out of the gourd. Seeing the green smoke rising up, she turned around, pulled a green piece of silk over her head, and looked towards the hero’s bed. Tang Zhou was still dead asleep.

Behind her, the three men were all dumbfounded, and it took a long time for them to speak a sentence, “Oh god, there are monsters here!” And then they scrambled out of the room as fast as possible.

YanDan flicked her fingers, and the person who tripped at the end fell to the ground again, unable to get up for a long time. The man was trembling all over, and he wailed, before YanDan allowed him to get up and leave.

YanDan was a bit dissatisfied, “Do I really look that scary? They seemed like they saw the devil.”

But today she was in a good mood, and nothing could change that.

She walked to the table, opened the lid to the teapot to smell the tea, and grabbed a small snack from the plate, “It really is Mongolian sweet medicine.” She turned around and walked to the bed, looking down at Tang Zhou. He was sleeping very deeply, breathing slowly, his face was calm and he looked very handsome. YanDan whispered to herself, “You look down on us demons, but I just want you to owe me a favor.” But the anger from the past couple of days was slowly coming out, and she slowly raised her hand, gathered her strength, and used all her force. She intended to slap him a couple times, but before her hand touched his cheek, it suddenly stopped.

Tang Zhou opened his eyes, “What?”

YanDan was calm, showing a faint smile, “There was a bug on your face, and I wanted to take it off for you.”

Tang Zhou sat up slowly, laughing, “Your hand was raised so high, I thought you wanted to slap the living daylights out of me.”

Hope suddenly turned to disappointment, which made her extremely resentful.

She was trembling with anger, and jumped to her feet, “I would rather commit suicide than go back to that magical artifact! If you want to chop me into pieces of meat or take me to refine alchemy, just come at me, I’m not afraid!”

Tang Zhou drew out a piece of talisman paper from his sleeve and stuck it to YanDan’s wrist. Suddenly, the talisman flashed a beam of light and changed into a heavy jade bracelet. He released his hand, “This spell prevents you from stepping more than 5 steps away from me.”

YanDan stretched out her fingers to touch the jade, but the bracelet flicked her finger away. Although she’d escaped the jade gourd, she was still restrained and had to follow Tang Zhou, with no way to escape.

She looked at the bracelet for ages, still trying, “5 steps is a little bit too less, how about 10 steps?”

“I think that 3 steps would be the best.” Tang Zhou got out of bed, raised his hand to tidy his clothes, and suddenly his sleeves tightened, pulled by YanDan. She looked sad and begged, “I can’t do anything even if it’s twenty steps. Ten steps, okay?”

He chuckled slowly, his eyes clear and handsome, “You’re so pitiful, I can’t help but be moved.” The tone of voice suddenly changed, “One more sentence will put you back into the jade gourd.”

YanDan pursed her mouth, muttered in a low voice, and suddenly sat down at the table and took a bite of the snack from the table.

Tang Zhou grabbed her wrist, frowning, “There’s Mongolian sweet medicine in this snack.”

“When I’m hungry, I’m not even afraid to eat snacks with arsenic with it,” YanDan smiled proudly, “not to mention the trivial Mongolian sweet medicine.”

He took the dim sum away from her and placed it back onto the plate, “QingShi town isn’t that far away from here, let’s go there to eat.”

“QingShi town?” She was a bit startled, “Why are you going to QingShi town?”

Tang Zhou didn’t say anything and walked out of the door.

YanDan felt an invisible force dragging her towards Tang Zhou, him walking in the front and her in the back, 5 steps away.

“I heard that there are many things happening in QingShi town. Some people died at home for no reason, and some people had their hearts gouged out, so why do you want to go there?”

Tang Zhou turned his head and smiled, “I haven’t seen it, so I want to view it just once.”

YanDan walked some more steps, unable to stop herself from asking, “You didn’t eat any of the food at the inn, so you weren’t affected by the Mongolian sweet medicine, right?”

Tang Zhou avoided answering, and picked up his pace. They could see a small town not far away, the sun slightly exposed, and the morning glow was bright and beautiful.

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