Chapter 29 Purple-and-Gold Box

Still half-asleep, I turned to ask Uncle Three what was going on outside but I found that he was also dozing on the stool next to me, sleeping even more heavily than I had been. I ran outside the clinic and saw the villagers rushing to pull their carts and mules up the hill behind the village.

“Not good, not good!” A young boy shouted as he ran past. “There’s a fire on the mountain!”

I was completely shocked and couldn’t help wondering if the fire we had set before ended up setting the forest ablaze. But now that I thought about it, we really didn’t take any precautionary measures when we set the crevice on fire. If the flames had spread and burned the forest, there was no doubt that we were the ones to blame.

I started to panic a little. If this forest fire got any bigger, it wouldn’t be a matter of killing one or two people. Those of us who lived in the city clearly didn’t have any type of awareness when it came to forest fire prevention. This was a huge disaster.

I ran back into the clinic and hurriedly woke Uncle Three up. Then, the two of us grabbed two urinal bottles from under the hospital bed—we had to make do since we couldn’t find anything else—and started running up the mountain with the large crowd. At this time, the fat guy rode up on a cart pulled by a donkey. He was holding a washbasin in his hand and shouting at us, “This is a huge problem! Come on, get up quickly! Let’s go and put out the fire!”

Uncle Three and I jumped up, and then the donkey cart wobbled its way out of the village. We could see a large black plume of smoke hovering over the mountains in the distance, indicating that the fire was burning strong. Uncle Three was struck dumb at the sight of it and said softly, “Based on the direction, it really does look like our fire.”

I quickly covered his mouth right as a person who looked like a village official came running towards us. “Hurry up and call the troops!” He shouted. “The mountain up ahead has collapsed!”

I knew right away that the cave must have collapsed due to the fire and I started to worry that the corpse-eaters would rush out of the cave and cause trouble. The fat guy immediately whipped the donkey into a run until its butt was swollen. As a result, it didn’t take us long to reach the mound that had been washed out by the mudslide.

The villagers usually underwent forest fire prevention training so they already knew what to do. Some were clearing paths in the woods while others began to fetch water with their washbasins and transport it further inside the forest. When I saw all those pots and pans, I knew right away that it would take at least two hours for the water to make it all the way to the scene of the fire. It simply wouldn’t be enough to put the fire out.

“Fellow villagers, stop fetching water,” I hurriedly shouted. “This small amount won’t be enough to put the fire out at all. Don’t make unnecessary sacrifices. Let’s just wait for the troops to come!”

They all looked at me like I was crazy, and then an older person said, “Young man, this water is for drinking. If there’s no water to drink, those fighting the fire will get dehydrated and die. We need to cut a firebreak on the outskirts of the blaze. That way, the fire will go out on its own when there’s nothing left to burn. If you guys don’t understand these things, then stop messing around and get out of our way.” As he spoke, he looked at the urinals in our hands and shook his head.

My face turned bright red as they all continued to stare at us. This is so embarrassing, I thought to myself. I won’t dare express my opinions so recklessly in the future. I hurriedly lowered my head and followed the large crowd into the woods. All the trees blocking the path had been cut down so the walk was much faster. After about an hour, we could already tell that the surrounding temperature had risen significantly and the whole sky in front of us was filled with black smoke.

The villagers took out masks, dipped them in the water, and then put them over their faces. I glanced at the fat guy, whose clothes didn’t look like they had any extra cloth to spare for a mask. It seemed that he came to a silent decision, for he took out the gold-trimmed silk scroll, dipped it in the water, and tied it to his face. Then, he picked up a shovel and started helping the villagers dig a ditch for the firebreak.

Forest fires spread very quickly and were extremely harmful so large-scale forest fires could only be contained by dispatching helicopters. “Contained” in this sense meant that you would let the fire go out on its own since it would be impossible to put it out like a fire in the city. It took more than twenty years for trees to grow into useful timber but forest fires could burn them to ashes in just ten minutes. It was extremely destructive. Moreover, forest fires spread across a wide area so if you only put out the fire in one location, the flames in another area would quickly spread behind you until you were surrounded. By the time you realized it, you would already be in the middle of the fire zone, unable to do anything besides wait for death.

I remembered an American film about a group of firefighters who were surrounded by fire and had no way to call for help. It was a story about the last moments of their lives. Of course, such a situation wouldn’t happen to us. The fire hadn’t spread to a large area yet and the ditch for the firebreak was quickly being dug.

We worked until after two in the afternoon, when helicopters belonging to the forest rangers finally appeared in the sky. Not long after that, many troops gathered in the woods to replace us. I was particularly worried that someone would die because of the fire, but fortunately, only a few people were slightly injured when the final count was made.

When we returned to the village, we were all completely exhausted. I was so hungry that I asked a kid to make me two sesame seed cakes and ate both in one bite. I could feel the tears running down my face as I told myself that I had never tasted anything so delicious. Someone who looked like the village secretary started praising us and saying that it was really rare for city people to be so conscientious.

Please stop praising us, I thought to myself. I’ll feel even more guilty if you do. If you knew that we were the arsonists, you’d start strangling us.

The nurse changed Pan Zi’s bandages and cleaned his wounds. He was breathing a lot easier now but he hadn’t woken up yet. The doctor told me not to worry and assured me that he wasn’t in any danger right now. If anyone was wounded fighting the fire, they would be sent to the big hospital in the city so they could take Pan Zi with them when they went. I felt a little relieved when I heard him say that.

I went back to the guesthouse with Uncle Three and then took a nice bath. I didn’t realize until I took my clothes off that there wasn’t a single place on my body that wasn’t injured. As I looked myself over from head to toe, I found that my whole body was practically covered in bruises or cuts. I hadn’t felt any pain when I was running for my life but now every single bruise and scratch seemed to be throbbing as if they wanted to remind me that they were there. It was so painful that I could barely move my legs when I came out of the bathroom.

I made my way to the bed and fell asleep in seconds, sleeping so soundly that I didn’t wake up until noon the next day. When I finally got up, I saw the fat guy and Uncle Three lying in their beds, snoring as loud as thunder.

I went down to eat breakfast and asked the waitress what the status of the forest fire was. She said that the fire had been put out and the troops had already withdrawn since it was only a small-scale forest fire. I felt a little more at ease after hearing this and then went to the clinic to ask about Pan Zi. The staff told me that he had been sent to Qianfoshan Hospital in Jinan. I thanked them and then headed back to the guesthouse. I knew that we couldn’t stay here for long and that it was time to prepare ourselves to head back.

There’s not much more to say. When we returned to Jinan a few days later, Uncle Three and I went to the hospital where Pan Zi had been admitted so that we could complete his paperwork. He wasn’t out of danger just yet and was still in a coma so Uncle Three and I decided to stay there for a few days.

The fat guy parted ways with us as soon as we left the mountains, leaving only a phone number we could use to contact him later. He also handed the gold-trimmed silk scroll to my Uncle Three to deal with.

A few days later, I called the hospital to check on Pan Zi but found that he still hadn’t woken up yet. I couldn’t help but sigh, but at this time, Uncle Three gloomily walked in and started cursing, “I’m so fucking pissed! I can’t believe I was tricked!”

I was shocked, thinking that someone in the antique market had tricked him, and said, “Uncle Three, if someone with your qualifications was deceived, then that means that the counterfeit is very good. You’ll definitely be able to sell it to someone else.”

Uncle Three took out the gold-trimmed silk scroll and said to me, “Resell, my ass! I’m not talking about antiques, I’m talking about this thing!!”

I nearly fell out of the bed and shouted, “What?! That’s impossible!”

“It’s absolutely possible,” Uncle Three said. “I sent this thing to have the gold content inspected. As it turns out, the purity is too high. It couldn’t have been refined during that era. This is an almost perfect counterfeit!”

I couldn’t believe it, but Uncle Three just sighed and said, “I’ve had my suspicions for a while now. That young man could obviously beat the blood corpse so why did he run away in such a panic at first and then get rid of it towards the end? He must have wanted to get rid of us so that he could go do something by himself.”

I was surprised, “So when he got separated from us, did he go to that cave, open King Shang of Lu’s coffin, and put this fake gold silk scroll inside? But how is that possible? How can one person do all that on their own? Moreover, the hole in the tree was opened by those chains. As long as it was opened, we would’ve definitely been able to see traces of it.”

“Did you see the back of the coffin?” Uncle Three asked. “He’s a grave robber so he probably dug a grave robbers’ tunnel behind the tree, took the real gold silk scroll out from the back of the coffin, and then replaced it with this fake one!” He sighed again. “It’s a pity that I didn’t see it despite my decades’ worth of experience in this business. This man is way too mysterious and impossible to predict. I had originally thought that he was a descendant of Faqiu Zhonglang Jiang but it seems that his origins are far more complicated than that.”

I didn’t really understand what he was talking about so I shifted the topic back to the scroll, “So is everything recorded in that scroll fake?”

Uncle Three nodded, “It’s just like the stories in the ‘Classic of Mountains and Seas’. It doesn’t sound credible at first, but we were influenced by the mysterious atmosphere of the ancient tomb at that time and readily believed it. But looking back on it now, there were too many flaws. And if you think about it, with your current level of knowledge, why could you only understand the two most important paragraphs? Since you didn’t understand the other sections, this shows that he put a lot of effort into these two paragraphs.”

I was so shocked that my mouth fell open. Uncle Three sighed heavily and added, “It seems that he’s the only one who knows the secret of the Lu Palace now. Since the tomb has collapsed, it’s impossible for us to go back in and check it out.”

At this time, I suddenly remembered something and said, “Oh, that’s right! I almost forgot. This trip wasn’t a complete waste of time. I did manage to bring something out of that cave!” I rummaged through my backpack as I spoke, praying that I hadn’t lost it along the way. Fortunately, the purple-and-gold box was still there. I took it out and said, “This is it. I took it from the fox corpse.”

Uncle Three looked at it and said, “This is a puzzle box. The main compartment is where the locks are housed so it can’t hold many objects. These kinds of boxes are very difficult to open. You see?” He twisted the box’s lid and the four corners on the bottom of the box suddenly opened at the same time, revealing a turntable with eight holes on it. Each of these holes had a number in them, much like the dial of an old rotary telephone.(1) “This type of box is one of the oldest puzzle boxes. You need to know the password to open it. Wait here while I go borrow a gas cutter from the nearby auto shop. We’ll cut it open and take a look.”

Uncle Three ran out the door before I could stop him. If it’s an eight-digit password, then is it that 02200059 number I saw before? I wondered. But how can an ancient password possibly appear as an embossed stamp on an American’s belt? As I was thinking this, I tentatively dialed in the following numbers: 0-2-2-0-0-0-5-9. When I put them all in, I was stunned to hear a click, which was immediately followed by a sound similar to a coil spring in a clock. Then, the lid on the box automatically flipped open.

<Chapter 28><Table of Contents><Part II Chapter 30>   


TN Notes:

(1) I would think of it like a Da Vinci codex (on the left) but the one on the right is what it looked like in episode 8 of the drama.


Hooray! We finally made it to the end! Sorry it’s taken so long. But on the bright side, I’ve got “Angry Sea, Hidden Sands” run through all my translation sites so we’re good to go on that front. Like I always do with books that have multiple parts, I’m just going to keep the chapter numbers rolling (easier to keep track of on novel updates that way). I should probably finish fixing Tibetan Sea Flower before the drama comes out but I lost motivation at Chapter 77 so we’ll see if I get inspired at some point lol


14 thoughts on “Chapter 29 Purple-and-Gold Box

  1. Ah motivation. A fickle elusive thing. You’ve done a marvelous job! I’m excited to reread everything! At whatever pace works best for you!


  2. It’s so nice to reread this book! Love to see our Iron triangle first meetings and how they interact! The feeling is so different from first time! To think Poker face talk that much! Such long speeches too!
    I knew I would love your version better than the official translation and I wasn’t disappointed! Your translations are the best! Many many thanks. I don’t know what would I do without you!
    Hope you find your motivation for Tibetan Sea Flower (hope NPSS find it too🙏🙏🙏) but I’m really enjoying revisiting main story! So thank you again and again for your hard work ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Σ(°ロ°) so fast! Weren’t you just on “A Thousand Faces” a few days ago? lol

      I know, the licensed version made everyone seem like such assholes so I was trying my best to avoid that while still sticking as close to the original as I could. Glad you enjoyed it 😊

      I felt a little motivated this morning so I got up to chapter 90 on Tibetan Sea Flower at least. Who knows, maybe I’ll finish it up tonight or tomorrow instead of getting the first chapter of “Angry Sea, Hidden Sands Out”. 🤔

      Liked by 2 people

      1. My notifications went to spam folder!!! Why???
        So you think I’m fast… I think I can’t stop reading.
        I started reading the first book by September or October last year and after book 2 I devoured everything else…
        I reread official version of Cavern of Blood zoombies and I’m currently reading official Angry sea waiting for you to finish your translation before I’m done! ( Crossing all fingers and toes)
        I’m so so happy you found a little motivation with Tibetan Sea Flower. I don’t know why but I’m not mad at that book that’s fully reserved to Sand Sea
        To finish this long post, have i told you how awesome you are? Because you are!


    2. It feels like a movie being released with bonus features that weren’t available in the theater. But since we’re in the Fan Club we get exclusive access to the new material and behind the scenes extras.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Honestly I am in awe that you have any motivation to work on ZHH given that ending, so pat yourself on the back! Thank you!! (PS I am excited for the drama! think the new WX looks great!)


  4. No matter your pace or if and when you have time. Thank you for all the hard work in translating this series. Much appreciated.

    Now I am going to go and read the official version of Angry Sea< Hidden Sands before I come back to read yours. Made a huge difference with book 1 already.

    See you in a few..

    Liked by 1 person

  5. OMG! I recently read the officially translated version of book 1. I decided to compare it with yours (just to see how different the translations might be). It’s crazy how many parts and conversations the official ones skips! Your translations are so much more meticulous and well-finished. It’s also really helpful how you add little notes explaining details that non-chinese fans might not understand. Thank you for your hard work!


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