Agarwood like Crumbs (沉香如屑) Novel Translations

Chapter 24: The Mountain God

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The torch in Tang Zhou’s hand slowly burned out, and with a puff, everything fell into darkness again.

Yan Dan brushed her coat and a dense silvery-white light shone out, slowly illuminating the underground cave: all around were stalactites, and water droplets dripped from the stones, making a ticking sound.

Yu Mo smiled lightly and walked forward. After a few steps, he turned back and said, “Tang Zhou, whether you believe it or not, do you think it’s important?” He paused, and then said slowly: “If you want to go Jinghu Shuiyue, come with me; if you don’t want to, then let’s part ways.”

Tang Zhou said coldly, “Then I’ll trouble you to lead the way.”

Seeing this, Yan Dan couldn’t help but heave a sigh of relief. He pulled Yu Mo’s sleeve and shook it: “Yu Mo Yu Mo, why did you come to find me?”

Yu Mo looked down at her, his eyes were dark, and he smiled slightly, “I rushed back to Yelan Mountain, but found that you didn’t come back, so I guessed that you encountered some danger, and then came all the way. But now it seems, you don’t seem to suffer too much.”

“Who said that, you don’t know, I…” Yan Dan laughed and chirped all the way, vividly counting the events after the separation. Yu Mo turned his head to the side and listened quietly. Hearing her talk about something interesting, he couldn’t help but chuckle. Tang Zhou could only laugh and shake his head when he heard her exaggerating what he’d done to her.

“Speaking of which, you found me in Xiangdu, why didn’t you come out?” Yan Dan suddenly remembered this.

Yu Mo nodded slightly, “Weren’t you still thinking about how to escape back then? Even if I force you to go back, you won’t be willing? What’s more—” He said lightly: “I will wait for you to be free from the restrictions.”

Yan Dan was speechless for a moment. Although she should listen to the mountain master’s words, Yu Mo has never put on airs. 

“I followed you all the way to the southwest, and I found out that there must be someone who’s exploring the area before you guys. If even the imperial court can’t control the southwest, how can it be so safe?”

Yan Dan let out a long snort. Before, she felt that the government was controlling too much, not even leaving a bandit. It turned out that she was wrong. The real culprit is actually Liu Weiyang.

Tang Zhou suddenly stopped and looked down at the pile of debris in front of him. Yan Dan leaned over to take a look, and asked curiously, “What is this?”

Yu Mo glanced at it and said lightly, “Snakeskin.”

Tang Zhou thought for a while, then murmured, “Could it be that the mountain god they speak of is actually a snake?”

“It’s not surprising.” Yu Mo said indifferently, “The two locals who led the way had a stench, probably the smell of snakes I’m guessing. With this smell, snakes won’t swallow them.”

Yan Dan said in surprise: “So it’s a snake? I thought it was because they usually eat carrion, but they have such a smell.”

Tang Zhou glanced at her sideways: “Why do you always have such strange thoughts?”

Yan Dan pouted and stopped talking.

Yu Mo smiled slightly, “It seems that Yan Dan benefited a lot after following you.” Yan Dan was shocked, and Yu Mo looked at her lightly, with a smile on the corner of his mouth, “I guess it’s partly because of me. I’m too polite to her, so I’m used to her like this.” 

Yan Dan was extremely angry: “You, you…”

Tang Zhou smiled reservedly.

Yan Dan watched helplessly as these two enemies become almost like brothers for a quick moment and couldn’t help but feel left out.

They went deeper and deeper into the cave, and their feet became wetter with water splashing with each step.

Yan Dan hugged her arms and began to feel a chill rising from her feet. A faint rustling sound continued to ring in her ears as if something was creeping here, “You haven’t heard any strange noises? “

Tang Zhou stopped, listened for a while, and shook his head, “Nothing.”

Yan Dan muttered: “Of course you won’t hear it, a mortal’s sense of hearing and smell are terribly dull.”

Yu Mo smiled and said, “I didn’t hear anything, are you too nervous?”

Yan Dan hurriedly stopped and listened carefully for a while, but she didn’t hear it again. But as soon as they started to move forward again, she heard a rustling sound in her ears again, and couldn’t help saying: “I can hear it again…”

Yu Mo raised his hand, and a small light shone from it, reflecting the entire cave with a green light. In the midst of the green light, Yan Dan stared straight at the tangled snakes in front of them slowly crawling toward them. Wherever the large group of snakes passed, there were trails of shiny mucus behind.

Yan Dan pointed to the front and said in a trembling voice, “Is this a snake’s nest?”

Yu Mo looked around and pointed to the cave on the left: “Go there!”

Naturally, Yan Dan immediately turned around and ran away, only to hear the hissing sound getting louder and louder behind her, and suddenly she felt a gust of wind coming from behind. She lowered her body and saw a colorful poisonous snake jumping over her head, hitting the stone wall. Before she could straighten up, someone pushed hard behind her, and she stumbled forward.

Staggering all the way and stepping over stalagmites and puddles, Yan Dan only heard Tang Zhou say something behind him, “Okay, it should be thrown away.”

Yan Dan was out of breath, stroking his fingers lightly, a white light burst into the air, only to see two bright yellow lanterns in front of him. She was stunned for a moment, and then slowly saw it clearly: the two yellow lanterns were growing on a triangular face full of scales, and that face was almost stuck to the tip of her nose!

She almost screamed, but reacted immediately and covered her mouth. She slowly took a small step back, only to see the terrifying face sticking closer. Yan Dan’s knees weakened, and she fell to the ground all of a sudden.

That’s a giant snake!

Although she hasn’t been able to see how long its body is, with how large the head is, it’s definitely extremely large. She forced herself to look up and look at the giant snake. She couldn’t move- she didn’t dare to move. It felt like even if she blinked a little, the giant snake would immediately try to bite her.

Tang Zhou wanted to draw his sword but saw Yu Mo stretch out his hand to stop him, and slowly shake his head.

“Yan Dan, don’t move, I’m right behind you.” Yu Mo approached slowly, trying his best not to make any noise between his steps.

Yan Dan watched helplessly as the giant snake opened its mouth slowly, revealing sharp, blade-like teeth, and an old, rancid smell came over her face, “Yu, Yu Mo…”

“Wait when I touch your shoulder, run forward immediately, and don’t stop until you run to the end.” Yu Mo slowly stretched out his hand and gently pushed on her shoulder, “Come on!”

Yan Dan took one step, but Tang Zhou reached out and grabbed her wrist, pulling her forward. She looked back at Yu Mo and saw a light blue demonic aura all over Yu Mo’s body.

Yan Dan felt that she was really unlucky recently. First, she was chased by mortals, and then chased by snakes. Both times, she was extremely embarrassed.

The tunnel was getting more and more humid, and one can even hear the sound of water rushing not far away. Even a little light is priceless to those who walk in darkness.

The two of them ran until there was no longer a path. She whispered, “There’s a dead end.”

Tang Zhou suddenly asked, “How long have you known Brother Yu?”

Yan Dan thought for a while, then simply said, “It’s been almost twenty years.”

“So, do you know him well?”

Yan Dan thought for a moment and nodded.

Tang Zhou dropped a bombshell, “I think he is likely to be the Palace Master Shenxiao.”

Yan Dan was stunned, not willing to believe it: “How is this possible? I’ve known Yu Mo for so long, and I don’t think so.”

“There are still some flaws in the disguise technique in this world, but Palace Master Shenxiao is already extremely well cultivated, and Yu Mo can change into someone else’s appearance at will, although this might just be a coincidence. The artifact we’re looking for is in the hands of Palace Master Shenxiao, but did Yu Mo ever tell you, how he knows Palace Master Shenxiao?”

“This….”

“Even though he has known Palace Master Shenxiao for a long time, he still doesn’t know the way to Jinghu Shouye. Don’t you find that strange?”

Yan Dan thought for a while and said, “Although these words sound ridiculous, don’t you think it’s even more ridiculous that Yu Mo would deceive people with no purpose?”

Tang Zhou smiled lightly, “How could a smart person like him say such flawed words, you’re wondering, right? So although these words sound absurd, there might be a reason.”

Yan Dan held her chin and said, “You are right, but if Yu Mo is really the Palace Master Shenxiao, I will be pretty happy.”

“If I say I’m not, would you be disappointed?” Yu Mo walked over with elegant sleeves, his dark eyes narrowed slightly, “It seems that some things are not clear, and some people still have doubts. You can ask whatever you want, and I know everything I can say.”

Yan Dan rubbed up to his side, showing a flattering smile, “There is only one thing I don’t understand. You said that you have seen Palace Master Shenxiao twice, so is Liu Weiyang the Palace Master Shenxiao?”

Yu Mo shook his head slightly, “Palace Master Shenxiao’s Disguise Technique is unparalleled in the world, and I’m not sure if what I saw is his true face; but I know for sure it’s not Liu Weiyang.” He turned to look at Tang Zhou: “I said before, I don’t know how Jinghu Shuiyue went, because I was blindfolded all the way. As soon as Yan Dan fell into this underground cave, I felt that it seemed to be somewhat similar to the road I had traveled. I noted the route by feeling and the sounds around you.”

Tang Zhou said slowly, “What about that basilisk, you and I could’ve hacked it to death, but you didn’t want to. Why is that?”

“This basilisk is full of poison, even on its scales. If its blood so much as touches their skin, the person will fester and die immediately. It is not difficult to kill it, but the cave is narrow and the ground is not strong enough, so there’s a large risk.”

Tang Zhou nodded slightly, “That makes more sense. So, you have found the way to Jinghu Shuiyue now?”

Yu Mo pointed at the waterfall, “It’s right under here.”

Yan Dan stuck her head out and looked over the waterfall, wondering if she should just close her eyes and jump down. After all, a waterfall is just water flowing down a cliff, and if she jumps down it, it’s equivalent to jumping off a cliff. Even if she is a demon, she only has a certain amount of bones. If it is all broken, where will she find new ones?

Yu Mo walked over without blinking and jumped down.

The celestial master jumped, and Yan Dan naturally had to follow. What’s more, Yu Mo’s face is calm, so she was sure that jumping down was safe. Yan Dan fell into the pool at the bottom of the waterfall, immediately stuck her head out of the water, looked around, and couldn’t help but say, “The scenery here is beautiful.”

Yu Mo stood wetly on the shore, and seeing that she swam to the shore safely, he said lightly, “Now walk one hundred and fourteen steps along the lake.”

Yan Dan glanced at him secretly, and carefully pulled his sleeve, “My lord… are you angry?”

Yu Mo turned to look at her, but remained calm, “How did you know that I’m angry again?”

Yan Dan smiled obediently, “I can see what you are thinking when I look at you… even if I see a strand of your hair, I can guess what you are thinking.”

Yu Mo looked at her for a while, and the corner of his mouth slowly turned upward into a smile, “Really.”

They walked along the lake for a long time, only to hear two screams in front of them, only to see blood slowly dripping from the sword in the hands of the woman in the lavender dress and two corpses, one tall and the other short, fell to the ground. The two corpses were the two locals who led the way for them.

The woman in the purple shirt turned to them when she heard the footsteps behind her. Yan Dan blurted, “Miss Tao!” The woman in lilac clothes turned out to be Tao Ziqi, whom she and Tang Zhou met in the dark passage of the ancient tomb in Qingshi Town.

Seeing them, Tao Ziqi didn’t even change her expression. Her voice was like broken jade, she said, “My lord sent me to lead the way for the three of you, and go to Jinghu Shuiyue to take a look. He has been waiting to make tea with you for a long time.”

Yan Dan watched her turn away, and asked with a slight smile, “Is Palace Master Shenxiao very proficient in the tea ceremony?” 

She suddenly remembered that before Lingxiao Taoist Temple was attacked, the figure in night clothes that she saw was very similar to Tao Ziqi’s.

Tao Ziqi glanced at her coldly, “My master is excellent in Qin, chess, calligraphy and painting, and even miscellaneous study of scriptures..”

Tang Zhou said lightly, “Miss Tao, I was worried that you would be trapped in the tunnel, but now it seems that you are safe and sound.”

Tao Ziqi’s back froze, and she said coldly, “Thank you for your concern. The second half of the secret passage in the cemetery was actually repaired by the Lord later. I was originally ordered by the Lord to bring you here, but unexpectedly, Shen Yijun suddenly betrayed and locked me in the tunnel.”

Yan Dan couldn’t help but think that the level of the Palace Master Shenxiao’s acting skills was probably extraordinary. Even his subordinates had this skill. Tao Ziqi was cowardly and shy in the cemetery. But now, she killed a person even without shaking her hand and had a cold personality.

“Why did Palace Master Shenxiao bring us here?” Tang Zhou asked.

Yan Dan sighed, wondering when Tang Zhou’s thought process was so slow.

However, Tao Ziqi hesitated for a moment and said softly, “My Lord has obtained one of the artifacts, and he needs a pure soul to unlock the curse seal engraved on this artifact. Although in this world, you are not the only one with a pure soul, we think you’re the best choice, Mr. Tang. It only takes one person, but the process of unlocking the curse is extremely difficult and if you don’t put in the effort, it’s impossible to do.”

The group continued walking while talking and saw a small boat docked on the shore not far away. Tao Ziqi stepped forward, untied the rope at the stern, and stepped onto the bow: “You can decide now whether you want to go to Jinghu Shuiyue. Once you get there, it will be too late to regret it.”

Yan Dan was slightly puzzled, even though Tao Ziqi was the subordinate of Palace Master Shenxiao, it seemed like everything she said and did wasn’t very respectful to her master? To put it nicely, it seems like she was pretending to be nice and amiable.

Tang Zhou turned his head to look at them, and said softly, “You guys can go back now. You’ve already accompanied me this far.”

His expression was vaguely determined.

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