TN: Page jumps added. 🙂
Under Gongyi Xiao’s guidance, the three of them quickly broke through Huan Hua Palace’s formation and neared the position of their target.
In the original work, the Sun and Moon Dew Flower Seed wasn’t described much. There was only a slight reference that it ‘appeared in a grotto covered by thick forest greenery.’ After all, this thing didn’t have much relation with the male protagonist (and his harem members). It was arranged instead as one of the props for Luo Binghe’s opponent to use. In order to think of such a point in the story, Shang Qinghua really pitted his life to the utmost.
But it was only because of this that Shen Qingqui dared to act. If it was something related to the main plot, like the strange and miraculous herbs that were given to Luo Binghe to use, then he didn’t have the guts to grab it.
Grabbing the things belonging to the male protagonist’s enemies should be no problem!
Duking out resources with the male protagonist didn’t guarantee an ending as easy as the person who tried luring a chicken only to lose a handful of grain! 
Although the location wasn’t clear, the good part was that however large Bailu Forest was, there was only the one grotto.
Shen Qingqiu snapped his fingers and a bright yellow flame leapt from his fingertip. With another flick, the flame wafted round behind them, opening up a path ahead into the dark, wet grotto.
At the beginning, the stone path could accommodate three people walking side by side. But towards the end, the stone path was narrow, and required each person to walk sideways to proceed forward. The path was also complicated, winding around just like a beast’s intestines.
Light was dim. It was dark even with Shen Qingqiu’s flame. He lit a few more, coalescing them into fireballs following after them. Gongyi Xiao was at the rear; Shang Qinghua originally wanted to wait outside the grotto but was kicked inside by Shen Qingqiu. Shen Qingqiu didn’t know if he was afraid or what, but when his arm touched Shen Qingqiu’s from time to time, he felt raised goosebumps on his skin.
In the end, Shen Qingqiu was unable to tolerate it anymore. Because there was still an outsider around, he spoke in a low voice: “Can you stop clutching at me?”
There was no response. But there wasn’t any more touching. Shen Qingqiu continued to feel his way forward, but who knew that Shang Qinghua would kick him in the calf.
Shen Qingqiu couldn’t help himself and spit out: “Fuck!”
From far behind, Shang Qinghua’s voice carried over: “Senior – Martial – Brother – Shen! What – did – you – say?”
His voice reverberated in the twisted rock passageway, stretching from a long way.
As it turned out, Shen Qingqiu unconsciously walked faster and faster while the slow-going Shang Qinghua lagged behind, blocking Gongyi Xiao’s way at the rear and keeping him from walking quickly. He had already left both people behind by quite a long distance.
If it wasn’t Shang Qinghua, then who kept touching him back then?
Or that was to say, what was the thing that touched him?
Shen Qingqiu suddenly stopped.
Expressionlessly, Shen Qingqiu patted his arms in an attempt to shake off the goosebumps on them.
Several balls of fire still hovered in the air, burning faintly.
The enemy is in the dark, I am in the light. 
Shen Qingqiu flipped over his left hand and pulled out a few spell talismans from his sleeve while his right hand slowly drew the Xiu Ya sword.
The sword light slowly became clear. Whether from the front or the back, it was all shadowy black rock exuding a damp smell.
He suddenly remembered, that moment when his calf was hit, it didn’t feel like a kick from a foot. Rather, it was more like…… a headbutt!
Shen Qingqiu silently lowered his head, just happening to illuminate a pale and bloated face on the ground!
Shen Qingqiu’s left hand threw spell talismans towards that face and in that moment, the narrow and rocky path was lit with a mess of lightning and fiery light. Originally, he wanted to use his right hand to draw the sword but the space was too small. He hadn’t even drawn it halfway out before his arm and even the hilt struck rock, making a banging sound.
That thing was soft and boneless, gliding on the ground like a giant snake, fast as a flash. Even at such a close distance, he still couldn’t land a hit, instead still moving a step slower. Shen Qingqiu pulled at his sword two times before he managed to draw it and was late by only a step as he watched it turn and swish away. That direction was where Shang Qinghua and Gongyi Xiao were following up. He shouted loudly: “There’s something coming over! Look out!”
Shang Qinghua heard his words and quickly ducked his head: “Young hero, quick! Let’s go back!” As someone who worked in logistics, how could he stand at the forefront and charge forward?
Gongyi Xiao listened to his words but that stone path was so narrow that it was enough to make people bristle in anger. Even sideways, there was only the width of a fist between the body and the walls. He couldn’t pass by at all. Shang Qinghua heard Shen Qingqiu hollering again from over there: “The ground! Look at the ground! It’s crawling on the ground!” Turning around again, he saw a human snake sliding over with a chilui chilui sound.
Shang Qinghua made a prompt decision and quickly lay down!
Gongyi Xiao had also never encountered such a strange creature and was shocked for a moment. Upon suddenly seeing Elder Shang being scared enough to fall over, he was given a fright. But after getting over it and recovering, he said: “Excuse me!” and passed over him with a leap……
No matter how ugly the process, logistics and the vanguard finally exchanged positions……
Shen Qingqiu shouted again: “Don’t pull out your sword……” He hadn’t finished saying the word ‘sword’ before Gongyi Xiao hastily pulled out his sword and made the same mistake. The sword was drawn halfway and the hilt struck the rock wall.
Shen Qingqiu rushed over with his sword, shouting in his heart: ‘Ai, how stupid!’
Gongyi Xiao was very wronged.
Actually, Shen Qingqiu was very clear that it could only be said that he reacted too quickly. He hadn’t finished hearing his words before acting; even if it were someone else, there would be the same result. However, he forgot because when he sometimes joined hands with Luo Binghe and acted in the past, the words didn’t even need to leave his mouth for Luo Binghe to tacitly understand and respond perfectly. Comparing these two like this, Shen Qingqiu thought longingly once again of that worriless disciple.
This stone path was full of twists and turns, both damp and dark. It suited the movements of that thing. By the time Shen Qingqiu held another handful of spell talismans, it had already crawled away without a trace.
Gongyi Xiao was incredulous and said: “Elder Shen, was that thing just now the demonic creature you encountered before in Bailu Forest?”
Shen Qingqiu nodded: “It is. I don’t know how this thing slipped away with both sides pincering it in.”
Shang Qinghua’s face didn’t change expression as he climbed up from the ground and patted at the gray dirt on his clothes. He said: “It climbed over me.”
Gongyi Xiao: “……”
Shen Qingqiu: “……Let’s go. This time, follow closely.”
There was no need for him to say. This time, even if he died, Shang Qinghua wasn’t willing for there to be as much as two chi  of distance between them!
Wandering until their heads almost went dizzy, three people finally exited the stone passage. In the depths of the grotto, the path suddenly opened up in front of them.
At the time, Shen Qingqiu always couldn’t figure out how something like the ‘Sun and Moon Dew Flower Seed’ could grow in a place like the deep depths of this grotto with neither sunlight nor moonlight. Upon first hearing the name, you could immediately tell that it was something formed from the evolution of the essential spiritual energy formed by heaven and earth as well as sunlight and moonlight. Finally, he understood why.
It turned out that at the very top of the grotto, there was a big opening revealing the sky. Both sunlight and moonlight passed directly through this opening down below, just like a spotlight shining onto the heart of the lake in the middle of the cave. And the land at that point was naturally where the Sun and Moon Dew Flower Seed grew.
That small piece of land was surrounded by a glittering, resplendent, and jade-like lake.
Shang Qinghua let out a “Wu,” sound and said decisively: “Lushui Lake . That’s right.”
Only he could make a final judgment on the settings he made.
Even if it was the color of grass, as the writer, he wouldn’t make a mistake.
Having received his judgement, only now could Shen Qingqiu release his breath in relief. It seemed like they found the right place.
This wasn’t any ordinary lake water. It was water without a tributary made from morning dew.
Water without a tributary + morning dew that was full of spiritual energy nourished the Sun and Moon Dew Flower Seed. And after the flesh matured, it needed to be immersed in the water and the soil even more in order to nourish the morning dew in an endless cycle so that the spiritual energy was boundless and inexhaustible.
Gongyi Xiao sighed and finally realized the reason why Cang Qiong Sect sent these two Peak Lords on a trip.
But he didn’t understand what the significance of this thing was to them, so he instead felt that it was strange. Cang Qiong Mountain Sect was one of the best sects and collected many unusual and miraculous herbs every day. There would only be excess and no dearth of them. The Sun and Moon Dew Flower Seed was a seldom seen and exquisite herb, but it didn’t deserve the high regard of needing two Peak Lords to personally pick it themselves.
In Shen Qingqiu’s eyes, there was now only that fleshy white bud on the piece of land in the middle of the lake.
This was his hope for survival!
With a sweep of the lower hem of his robes, he went into the lake. The water in the Lushui Lake was good stuff; being in it was even healthier!
After walking some tens of steps, he submersed in the water until it was over his waist. It was neither cold nor warm. It soaked into his skin as though it could directly moisten his heart, making him happy. Shen Qingqiu looked at the tens of small and tender white beans on the little piece of land in front of him. Taking a deep breath, Shen Qingqiu reached out. Carefully, he pulled up each bean with a bit of soil, putting it directly into his sleeves.
Infinite spatial storage sleeve , a must-have product for a cultivator away from home. Courtesy of Cang Qiong Mountain sect head Yue Qingyuan. I won’t tell anyone!
Although these Dew Seeds were still small, they would only make the cut if they grew more sprouts. If he waited until he found a place where spiritual power and fengshui combined and planted it there, growing it according to plan, then they were life-saving straws!
Shen Qingqiu was really afraid of touching and breaking these little things that looked like they would melt if he put them in his mouth.
He hesitated a moment when he was about to pull them out. After all, these Dew Seeds grew here originally and also counted as a vital organ in the ecosystem. If they were all pulled out, it didn’t seem very moral. His thoughts entangled, he thought again. He didn’t even know if this method would work or not; what if it was handled incorrectly and ruined? A few more sprouts would remedy the situation. He could only make sure that nothing would go wrong and take them. Preserving his life came first.
The last Dew Seed was held in his hands and hadn’t yet been tossed into his sleeve when Shen Qingqiu suddenly heard the sound of a sword drawn behind him.
When he turned his head around to look, Gongyi Xiao held a sword in hand. With Shang Qinghua, they came closer and focused their stares on him.
Shen Qingqiu held his breath. Suddenly, a long and large thing like a giant fish came from behind, heading directly towards Shen Qingqiu. A pale, stiff face flew over from the darkness. It really was that thing that had always been following them along the road!
At the same time, Gongyi Xiao’s hand formed a sword seal, his long sword flying towards that thing as swift as the wind and as quick as lightning. But it was sly and agile. Once its attempt to attack Shen Qingqiu missed, it submersed into the lake and didn’t come up. It stirred up the sand and dirt that had settled for many years at the bottom of the lake, turning it into a cloudy mess. Gongyi Xiao retrieved his immortal sword and said: “Elder Shen, quickly come up!”
Shen Qingqiu actually smiled: “No need to panic. I’m going to catch some fish to play with.”
He stood still in place and didn’t move, slowly pulling out a paper spell talisman.
Gongyi Xiao said: “Confronting this thing with a single spell talisman doesn’t seem……”
That word ‘enough’ hadn’t left his mouth before he saw Shen Qingqiu’s fingers pinch and that one spell talisman become a stack of them.
Gongyi Xiao: “……”
Shen Qingqiu held that stack of spell talismans and hit them into the water with one blow. One, two, three.
At his count, there was a tremendous noise!
The surface of the lake blasted open waves that were over twelve zhang  high!
The snake man that was originally hiding at the bottom of the lake had also been blasted flying out the water, thrown high up and falling heavily on the ground beside Shang Qinghua’s feet.
Shen Qingqiu came dripping onto the shore. The dew water bath was so refreshing that he didn’t hurry himself. He crossed his arms and said: “Take a look. What is this plaything?”
Gongyi Xiao turned over that thing.
Once it was turned over, all three people were stunned.
After a long while, Shen Qingqiu finally turned his head around and asked Shang Qinghua: “What is this?”
Shang Qinghua squeezed out three words: “……I don’t know!”
He really didn’t know. According to their observations, this organism was covered with a head of dirty hair, the entire body soft-boned, moreover its skin coarse and spread over with scales and in patches. There wasn’t a single even spot, like its scales were scraped off uncleanly all over.
Although earlier Shen Qingqiu thought it was a female ghost, after taking a closer look at that face, it could be seen that it was a man’s face even though it was swollen.
Shang Qinghua waved his hand and said: “I definitely haven’t……” written about this kind of creature.
Shen Qingqiu said: “……I believe you.”
If the original work described this kind of creature using over 50 words, there was no reason why he wouldn’t remember!
Gongyi Xiao couldn’t understand what his elders were saying, so he spoke his own guess: “Take a look, Elders. This creature; maybe it was born like this.”
Shen Qingqiu thought it was reasonable. Looking at its grotesque shape that was completely unlike a normal creature, it looked more like it was deformed or a hybrid species.
He muttered: “Heavenly punishment, a curse, or a failure in cultivation.” 
The three possibilities listed above were most likely to result in this kind of strange creature.
It kept staring at Shen Qingqiu’s sleeve. Even though this thing’s appearance was hideous and frightful, making people want to vomit, the eyes in that head of messy hair were very clear, just like the Lushui Lake.
Shen Qingqiu suddenly saw the light and said: “No wonder it wanted to attack us.”
The other two people looked blank. Shen Qingqiu said: “This thing was born from the dew water of Lushui Lake. You take a look.” He pointed: “The brightness of its eyes is definitely something that developed from drinking the dew water. On its scales, some red and green moss is also growing. It’s identical to what’s growing on the rocky walls. It must have lurked in this grotto for a very long time.”
This made sense. If it let Shen Qingqiu and his group pull up all of the Sun and Moon Dew Flower Seeds, it wouldn’t only destroy the cycle of spiritual energy. Over time, Lushui Lake would also be unable to function and become a pool of waste water, completely exhausted. That was why that thing would follow them all the way and wait for an opportunity to attack.
In his hand, he held that tender and beautiful Dew Seed to prove his point, swinging it about. Sure enough, that creature’s eyes brightened. It anxiously raised its head and revealed a mouthful of white teeth.
Gongyi Xiao shouted: “Looking for death!” His hand turned over and held his sword hilt, his movement made with a hint of killing intent.
That snake man struggled to crawl on the ground. Shen Qingqiu looked at it and thought it was a bit pitiful. He turned around and said: “Wait.”
Gongyi Xiao stopped, but didn’t understand: “Elder?”
Shen Qingqiu said: “The fact that the local inhabitants around Bailu Forest have been safe and sound for so many years indicates that……this snake man has never done any evil things. There’s no need to exterminate it.”
These words were not false. If this thing had truly killed people before, Huan Hua Palace would have already discovered it and eradicated it to the roots. Because it had never done evil things, it hadn’t died. Speaking of this matter, it went every day into this grotto to take dew water, so Shen Qingqiu and his group entering had disturbed its daily routine.
Since he spoke up for it, Gongyi Xiao thought for a bit and withdrew his sword into its scabbard. Only, Shen Qingqiu and those Zhao Hua Temple masters  belonged to the compassionate side. That being known, Shen Qingqiu always had a soft spot for these unusual animals. He’d long since said that was always interested in these mysterious creatures, far more than those sisters who were like a hundred flowers contending in beauty. One could well imagine that he used this kind of loving (……) vision, to look upon the soft crawling creature on the ground.
But no one noticed that the creature on the ground was currently trembling slightly.
The malformed body secretly pressed down on a thin Dew Seed sprout. That pair of bright eyes incompatible to its body contained a turbulent ecstasy.
After leaving the cave, Gongyi Xiao actively sat on the driver’s seat of the carriage.
He asked: “Elder Shen, this junior doesn’t understand something. Why did that……snake man never take those Dew Seeds, and only take the dew water from the lake?”
Shen Qingqiu said: “When you just entered, did you see the ray of light shining down from the ceiling of the cave? When we were in Bailu Forest before, we were entangled with the creature all along the road. One of those times, it was burned by the light reflected off the sword and only retreated because of that. My guess is, that thing cannot meet light, especially sunlight and moonlight. That’s why it can only move freely in the shadows of the forest and the grotto. The Dew Seed is covered by sunlight or moonlight all day, so of course it cannot come close.”
Compared to a theoretical education like Baike , Huan Hua Palace focused more on actual combat. Gongyi Xiao didn’t understand much but complimented him: “So it’s like that. Elder Shen is not only compassionate, but also possesses wide learning and a powerful memory. This junior still has a lot to learn.”
Shen Qingqiu laughed a few times to express his modesty. It was clear that the person who spoke hadn’t said anything very constructive, but Gongyi Xiao strangely still had to express his personal admiration, serving as a foil to the other’s high intelligence. This kind of scene really made people’s balls hurt. Even if he wanted to be conceited, he couldn’t bring himself to feel conceited. There was only a deep sense of powerlessness. =.=
After exiting Bailu Forest, Gongyi Xiao still wanted them to stay. He invited them to rest at Huan Hua Palace and greet the old sect head. Shen Qingqiu returned with: “Things having finished with your assistance, it’s not good to disturb you further.”
Are you joking? What are we going up to Huan Hua Palace for? To show you the Sun and Moon Dew Flower Seed we just got in our hands? What if your higher-ups couldn’t let it go and just had to argue about its ownership rights?”
Shen Qingqiu smiled and said: “Although this trip was made in a hurry, young gentleman Gongyi must visit our Cang Qiong Mountain in the future. Qing Jing Peak will be waiting.”
Shang Qinghua said: “Right. An Ding Peak doesn’t have anything fun. If you go to Qing Jing Peak, your Elder Shen will definitely take good care of you.”
Gongyi Xiao was overjoyed at this unexpected gain. He knew of Qing Jing Peak’s reputation, which was the same as its name. It was peaceful and quiet and normally didn’t like outside guests to intrude. With a face wreathed in smiles, he said: “Elder Shen, I will remember these words. I’ll be bothering you in the future.”
When he said these words, the arch of his eyebrows and his smile was so like Luo Binghe’s that Shen Qingqiu couldn’t help being stunned for a moment. He slowly said: “That’s only natural.”
After separating from Gongyi Xiao, Shang Qinghua sighed at the side: “Similar, he’s really a little similar.”
Shen Qingqiu kicked him neither lightly nor heavily: “Woolgathering?”
Shang Qinghua said: “Your own heart is clear who I’m talking about. I’ve observed you for a long time. There are some words that if I suppress in my heart and don’t say, I’ll feel uncomfortable. Did you really care for Luo Binghe as that obedient and treasured darling disciple of your heart?”
Shen Qingqiu rolled his eyes and pulled his ears.
Shang Qinghua really didn’t know whether he wanted to live or die. He continued to analyze reasonably: “Hearing your Qing Jing Peak disciples speak, Senior Brother Shen spent every day like he’d lost his soul and it’d ascended to the heavens those days after returning from the Immortal Alliance Conference. Several times you’d call out Luo Binghe’s name. You even uttered sighs while arranging his sword grave. You……do you really have a bit of a tendency towards being a trembling M?”
This is the second time there are these words ‘lost his soul’! Are these words going to become a black stain in this old man’s life?!
Every one of my Qing Jing Peak disciples walk the path of having their bellies stuffed with poetry and books. When did they become such lovers of gossip, how could these words be said carelessly everywhere, completely losing your Shizun’s image?!
Shen Qingqiu suddenly felt a cold chill on his back.
Great God Airplane Towards the Sky chasing him with these questions was just like high schoolers from the same dormitory gossiping nonsensically: ‘Say! Do you have a secret crush on XXX!’ ‘Don’t twist words~ Don’t be embarrassed O(∩_∩)O, haha~’ It was that kind of pink scene…… he was going to go insane!
Sticking this on two big men was truly very disgusting!
Shang Qinghua was very innocent. Actually, he was being very serious and straightforward in expressing his doubts. It was Shen Qingqiu’s own heart that was having too many strange thoughts.
Shen Qingqiu interrupted impatiently: “Why aren’t you moving?”
Shang Qinghua was stunned: “What?”
Shen Qingqiu looked at him and stuffed the horse whip in his hands: “Gongyi Xiao has left, there must be a carriage driver.”
“……Why haven’t you driven even once?”
“You want to try a heavily-poisoned patient?”
What damn patient!
Who just played around at taking care of that creature and bombed it with spell talismans so happily!
Have some face!
Shen Qingqiu lay inside the carriage and settled his sleeves.
These things were his last resort for preserving his life. Calculating the time, there was still five years before Luo Binghe came out from the Endless Abyss back into the Human Realm, enough to complete a masterpiece.
His only miscalculation was only for one thing.
That was that Luo Binghe would come back so quickly.
—End Chapter 30—
TN: GASP… Did Shen Qingqiu and Luo Binghe have the legendary unspoken communication ability that only the closest married couples have?
*is sliced by Xiu Ya sword*
Spell Talisman 101: Can also be translated as ‘charm,’ but I think ‘spell talisman’ sounds nicer (符咒). These things are slips of paper that are drawn with special ink and infused with spiritual power. They’re basically portable, insta-cast spells that can be thrown. The Japanese equivalent would be ofuda.
 The person who tried luring a chicken only to lose a handful of grain (偷雞不成蝕把米): This is a saying in Chinese meaning someone who tries to gain an advantage but only ends up worse off than before (failing to lure the chicken and losing the grain as well). So Shen Qingqiu is saying that duking it out with the protagonist will end with a result worse than simply ‘coming off worse’ – likely indicating someone’s old life is going to be thrown out the window. XD
 The enemy is in the dark, I am in the light (敵暗，我明): This is a saying meaning that you don’t know the enemy’s position but the enemy knows where you are/what your circumstances are.
 Two chi: Chi (尺) is a unit of measurement and is the Chinese version of the foot, approximately 33 cm.
 Lushui Lake: Lushui (露水) means ‘dew. So that’s where the ‘Dew’ from Sun and Moon Dew Flower Seed comes from.
 Infinite spatial storage sleeve (無限空間乾坤袖): You’ll see ‘spatial storage’ items a lot in ‘high fantasy’ cultivation novels. You can think of these as portable storage items – lower-ranked items tend to have a limit on how much you can store within them. An ‘infinite’ storage item is rarer. The funniest thing is the appearance of the storage item (this is a cultivation novel), it’s the fact that his storage space is his sleeve…… Typical storage items range from rings to pouches and other accessories, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sleeve show up, LOL. (though in ancient China, sleeves were like extra pockets)
 Twelve zhang: Zhang (丈) is a unit of measurement.
 Heavenly punishment, a curse, or a failure in cultivation: These three things feature in cultivation novels a lot, especially the first and the last of the three. Heavenly punishment is exactly as it sounds (it has nothing to do with religion). The heavens are associated with fate/destiny or the natural way of the world in Chinese culture. Cultivation is something that’s regarded as going ‘against’ the world, so that incurs heavenly punishment. Someone who doesn’t make it through all right ends up badly off (usually dead), which is why Shen Qingqiu speculates that the creature may have had this happen to him. A curse is… a curse. Very simple. Failure in cultivation is like qi deviation (frequently associated with it, in fact). Just know that it can also end very badly, just like a run-in with heavenly punishment.
 Zhao Hua Temple masters: It’s not very noticeable in English, but the Chinese term used indicates that Zhao Hua Temple consists of monks. In other words, Buddhist monks. Can’t escape from them in cultivation novels. LOL
 Baike: In case you forgot, this is referring to Baike Baidu, which is the Chinese equivalent of Wikipedia. XD