This is one of the most recent extras released for Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System, and my personal favorite extra. The general premise is that Shen Qingqiu dreams of how Luo Binghe spent those five years between Shen Qingqiu’s suicide and resurrection.
Please let me know what translations could be improved.
Laying down to rest, yet opening the eyes to find oneself in a different place–this was not his first time in such a situation, so Shen Qingqiu was not flustered. He knew he had entered the dreamscape of Luo Binghe again. After drifting for a while, he carelessly landed on the ground.
Once he hit the ground, the scene immediately changed, as if riding the wind and treading the willows. All around him was splendid gold and brilliant jade, the decoration style gorgeous and extravagant, as well as a very familiar promenade. This was 100% the Huan Hua Palace.
After passing through this promenade, at the end was the main hall and stateroom of the Huan Hua Palace. In the past, Luo Binghe himself would long already be waiting for him within the dreamscape. But this time there was not a glimpse of him, making this a strange event.
There was someone in the hall. Shen Qingqiu saw the person’s back view looked familiar, and when he moved closer, he found an even stranger event and said in shock: “Younger disciple-brother Mu?”
This respectfully standing ‘Mu Qingfang’ was only a phantom in the memory of Luo Binghe, and naturally could not hear his salutation. This younger disciple-brother has always been friendly and good-natured, but right now standing in the middle of the hall, he did not have a pleasant expression on his face.
Shen Qingqiu remembered hearing a rumor across the Jianghu1 that soon after he cheated death to escape, Luo Binghe brought Mu Qingfang back to the Huan Hua Palace and forced him to ‘treat Shen Qingqiu’s disease’. He realized this scene must definitely be from that time.
A dark shadow swept soundlessly by his side, and Luo Binghe’s voice sounded: “Sir Mu.”
The eyes of this ‘Luo Binghe’ did not reflect Shen Qingqiu’s figure and he was unaware of his existence. This was not Luo Binghe himself, only a memory.
Shen Qingqiu wondered, could it be that he drifted into the range of the dreamscape where even Luo Binghe himself has no control?
Luo Binghe’s attitude and manner of address could not be described as disrespectful. Mu Qingfang said: “Your Excellency2 refers to me as ‘Sir Mu’. Do you or do you not acknowledge yourself as a member of the Cang Qiong Mountain Sect?”
Luo Binghe: “Whether I acknowledge it or not, does it matter?”
Mu Qingfang said: “If you do not acknowledge it, why do you still address elder disciple-brother Shen as ‘Shizun’? If you do acknowledge it, you should call me disciple-uncle, and why did you hurt the disciples of Cang Qiong Mountain and abduct me here?”
Luo Binghe: “Inviting Sir Mu here was naturally to see my Shizun.”
Mu Qingfang said: “Elder disciple-brother Shen already self-detonated and died under everyone’s eyes in Huayue City. His spiritual power dispersed and I’m afraid that now even the body has long since festered and decayed. I have no method to bring people back to life.”
Listening to this succession of questions and answers caused Shen Qingqiu to break out in a cold sweat.
Mu Qingfang did not have a personality like Qi Qingqi or Liu Qingge, with their hair-trigger tempers and intolerance of anything objectionable. But this answer he had given was not pleasant. Even though he knew Mu Qingfang would be fine, Shen Qingqiu could not help but sweat in anxiety, worried that he would enrage Luo Binghe and suffer unnecessarily.
Fortunately, Luo Binghe remained unmoved and coldly said: “Please take a look, Sir Mu, that’s all.”
The captive Mu Qingfang could only be escorted by a crowd of yellow-shirted disciples to the Huan Hua Pavillion.
The cold air of the Huan Hua Pavilion seeped into one’s bones. The two men stepped through the threshold one after another, and the great door immediately closed. Shen Qingqiu rushed in to follow them.
Luo Binghe raised the gauze curtains hanging off the seating table3. Mu Qingfang bent over to examine and Shen Qingqiu also wanted to move closer to look. Unfortunately, Mu Qingfang almost immediately straightened up and let the gauze curtain down, blocking Shen Qingqiu’s line of sight. His face had suddenly distorted.
Mu Qingfang said: “What method did you use to preserve his body?”
Luo Binghe lightly and casually said: “Sir Mu is the Peak Lord of Qian Cao Peak, you know better than I how to preserve a body without damaging it.”
After a long while, Mu Qingfang’s original attitude of tactfully refusing to cooperate finally broke down. He said: “Your forceful transfusion of spiritual power into elder disciple-brother Shen’s body every day has absolutely no effect, besides barely managing to stop his body from rotting as well as wasting huge amounts of spiritual power. And if you stop for only one day, all the previous effort will amount to nothing. If I may be blunt, elder disciple-brother Shen has already…”
Luo Binghe interrupted him: “The Qian Cao Peak’s medical skill is the best in the world, and Sir Mu is the Peak Lord. I believe you must have a solution.”
Mu Qingfang said: “There is no solution.”
Faced with this obstinacy, Luo Binghe’s originally already limited supply of patience was finally exhausted. He sneered: “If there’s no solution, come up with a solution. Until you think of a solution, there will be no need for Sir Mu to go back to Cang Qiong Mountain!”
He abruptly waved his sleeve, and the great doors of the Magic Flower Pavilion suddenly opened. The startled Mu Qingfang was shaken out before he could react, and was immediately detained by a crowd of yellow-clothed disciples who had been biding their time. The great door immediately closed again.
A gust of chilly wind blew back and forth. The candlelight in the pavilion shook and flickered.
Suddenly, Luo Binghe called out towards him: “Shizun.”
Shen Qingqiu was first shocked.
He thought that the Luo Binghe in this memory had seen him. However, he quickly discovered Luo Binghe was only calling out and nothing more. He hadn’t expected anyone to respond at all.
Luo Binghe stood at the door for a while. Only then did he slowly walk to Shen Qingqiu’s side, sit down on the seating table, lift the gauze curtain again, and then stare at the corpse’s face in a daze.
This daze lasted a long time. Standing on the side, Shen Qingqiu grew increasingly idle. He kept switching which leg to stand on, and finally couldn’t resist leaning forward onto the bedside. Luo Binghe stared at his corpse’s face, he then stared at Luo Binghe’s face. Staring and staring, Luo Binghe stretched out a hand and slowly unfastened the corpse’s belt.
The leg Shen Qingqiu had been crouching on twisted beneath him.
Saying something like ‘this scene was too beautiful to look at’ did not fit this moment, because the corpse of Shen Qingqiu on that seating table… really did not look good.
Like red flowers and green willows, everything below his neck was covered with the spots of discoloration from livor mortis.
Luo Binghe took off his outer robe. Like hugging a large doll, he held the corpse in an embrace. If someone else saw this, they would inevitably be frightened into shock, or associate it with ugly words and unbearable disgust. But he was in fact only holding the body, and did not make any abnormal actions.
Luo Binghe’s chin pressed against the top of Shen Qingqiu’s pitch-black hair. One hand followed the curve of his back, stroking placatingly while delivering large amounts of spiritual power. The green and purple spots of livor mortis gradually receded, and the skin became pale and smooth once again.
This posture and action tugged at Shen Qingqiu’s heartstrings.
He remembered, he seemed to have performed the same action to Luo Binghe before.
That was on a night not long after Luo Binghe moved into the bamboo house.
It was a winter night. The cold wind whistled as it circled around the forests of Qing Jing Peak, and thousands of bamboo leaves rustled and swayed back and forth.
Shen Qingqiu lay on his side on the long and narrow bed, not entering sleep but resting with his eyes closed. As he rested, a slight creaking sound came through the screen from the little world beyond. It seemed like the person inside was also tossing and turning restlessly, making it hard to sleep.
After not too long, the repeated sounds of tossing and turning abruptly stopped. Someone quietly climbed out of bed, lifted the curtain, and went out of the bamboo house.
What was Luo Binghe doing, not sleeping and slipping outside in the middle of the night?
Shen Qingqiu couldn’t remember anything in the original story during this period of time that required Luo Binghe to sneakily venture outside in the middle of the night. Out of curiosity, he also got up.
His cultivation far surpassed Luo Binghe’s and his motions were light and fast. Therefore, when he circled behind Luo Binghe, the other party was still completely unaware.
Luo Binghe did not slip out very far, and he especially did not go to any shady mysterious place looking for adventure. He was in the back of the courtyard, sitting on a small bench. He had already taken the clothes off his upper body and neatly stacked them on his left leg. His right hand was pouring something into his left palm, and then applying it to his body. After applying it and rubbing the area, his mouth let out a slight exhale.
Under the moonlight, the fifteen-year-old boy was not thin, but not strong either. His body was covered in bruises of blue and purple. The night wind brought the light fragrance of medicine and alcohol.
Shen Qingqiu’s voice broke the silence: “Luo Binghe.”
The person being called was completely startled. As he jumped up from the stool, the folded clothes fell to the ground. The stunned Luo Binghe said: “Shizun! How did you wake up?”
Shen Qingqiu walked forward: “I did not sleep.”
[T/N: Shen Qingqiu refers to himself as “为师” whenever he is talking to disciples. This vaguely translates to “this teacher,” but I’m going to make them all “I” to avoid excessive clunkiness]
Luo Binghe said: “Did this disciple’s noise awaken Shizun? I am so sorry! I originally came out because I did not want to disturb Shizun’s rest, I didn’t expect I still…”
[T/N: In front of Shen Qingqiu, Luo Binghe almost always refers to himself with the polite “this disciple” in place of “I”.]
This child was afraid the fretful tossing would wake him up, so that’s why he came out to apply medicinal liquor in the middle of the night. Shen Qingqiu was afraid Luo Binghe’s pain must be truly unbearable.
Shen Qingqiu said: “Where did the injuries on your body come from?”
Luo Binghe said: “It’s no big deal! This disciple was just cultivating improperly in the past few days and suffered a few extra minor injuries than normal.”
Shen Qingqiu carefully looked at the injuries on his body: “The people of Bai Zhan Peak picked on you again, didn’t they?”
Luo Binghe did not want to say it, but he did not want to lie either. Shen Qingqiu saw his speechless appearance, and the more he looked, the angrier he became. He said, “What did I teach you?”
Luo Binghe said: “If you can’t win, run away.”
Shen Qingqiu: “Did you follow this?”
“But…” Luo Binghe said, “But this way, this disciple would be bringing great humiliation and shame to Qing Jing Peak.”
Shen Qingqiu said: “Picking a fight just because they dislike something… what difference is there between this Bai Zhan Peak behavior and the despot bandits below this mountain? Saying it straight like that, is this shameful for Qing Jing Peak, or is it actually shameful for Bai Zhan Peak? I am going to find Liu Qingge right now. There are three hundred and sixty-five days in a year. If he took even a single day to control that group of juniors, they would not be so undisciplined and out of control.”
Luo Binghe hastened to pull him back: “Shizun, you can’t! If you and disciple-uncle Liu begin quarreling again because of this disciple, then I… then I…” Unable to pull him back, Luo Binghe’s legs wobbled. Seeing Shen Qingqiu halt, he hurriedly said, “Besides, it’s not all from being hit by the Bai Zhan Peak disciple-brothers. It’s only because I fell and hit myself even more during my own cultivation practice that it looks so ugly right now.”
Seeing his anxiety, Shen Qingqiu slowly exhaled and said: “Cultivation practice requires a proper sequence of gradual progression, going with the flow. How could it be forced? A fostered seedling like you, if your foundation crumbles, would that not lead to a lifetime of eternal regret?”
Someday he must think of a method to process4 that group of violent elements in Bai Zhan Peak, borrowing Liu Qingge’s hand to teach them, so they may feel resentment but are forced to keep it to themselves.
The Peak ranked seventh in qualifications actually dares to provoke the one ranked second5, did seniority mean nothing? How could this be tolerated?
Luo Binghe promised to avoid forcing himself. Shen Qingqiu said: “Go in.”
Luo Binghe continuously waved his hands: “No, I am fine outside. Going inside would disrupt Shizun’s rest.”
Shen Qingqiu hooked his finger and the clothes on the ground flew into his hands. He unfolded them and smoothly draped them on Luo Binghe’s shoulder: “What rest? Since I have seen you, how could I allow you to freeze in this cold wind outside, alone in the middle of the night?”
The two returned to the bamboo house. Luo Binghe originally wanted to go back to his own bed, but Shen Qingqiu took the medicinal liquor from his hands and signalled him to come onto the long bed of the inner room.
The startled Luo Binghe was pulled over by him until Shen Qingqiu began to remove the belt that he had only just fastened. His face abruptly flushed and he repeatedly backed away, pulling in his collar: “Shizun, w-w-w…what are you doing!?!”
Shen Qingqiu shook the small bottle in his hand: “Applying medicine for you, rubbing out the extravasated blood.”
“No need, I’ll do it by myself!” Luo Binghe rushed to grab the medicine bottle. Shen Qingqiu’s right hand turned to twist his wrist. He stepped forward and said expressionlessly: “You—Can you see where your own back is bruised?”
Luo Binghe shivered: “Everywhere, applying it everywhere works!”
He persisted in trying to snatch it back. Luo Binghe usually had a look of meek submission, warmth, and steady calmness; this was Shen Qingqiu’s first time seeing him so embarrassed and blushing to the point where his ears looked like they were about to drip blood. He found it amusing and thought it was probably a growing child feeling shame at having been beaten, and then after the beating, feeling even more shame at the teacher having to help apply ointment. He secretly laughed to himself, but his face remained serious and he reproached: “Noisy. Qian Cao Peak sends a fixed amount of medicinal alcohol every time, how could I allow you to waste it like this.”
Luo Binghe could not even say a ‘this disciple’, eyes watering, clutching his clothes to protect his chest, completely besides himself with panic. Shen Qingqiu supported his shoulders, turned him around, easily removed his shirt, and then began rubbing the liquid in the small bottle onto the bruises on his back.
Without warning, Luo Binghe let out a small whimper: “Ah!”
Shen Qingqiu immediately lightened his applied force: “Am I pressing too hard?”
Luo Binghe shook his head like crazy. Shen Qingqiu said: “Then why are you crying out? A manly man like you should be able to tolerate this small pain.”
Luo Binghe’s voice was like a mosquito: “No, it’s not pain…”
His heart at ease, Shen Qingqiu rubbed for a while longer. He attempted to slowly send spiritual power from the palm of his hand. Luo Binghe again let out an “Ah!”
Shen Qingqiu wondered: “Why are you making so much ado about nothing? Completely disregarding proper deportment like this, how can you be a disciple of my Qing Jing Peak?”
Luo Binghe’s voice quavered: “I… I… This disciple, this disciple is fine just finishing the application of the medicine, and doesn’t want Shizun to waste spiritual power.”
Shen Qingqiu’s right palm closely attached to the exposed skin of his back and slowly moved back and forth. Shen Qingqiu said: “Is this comfortable?”
“…” Luo Binghe did not speak and seemed to bite his lips.
Shen Qingqiu slowly and gently caressed around Binghe’s waist, while being secretly baffled: Uncomfortable? Impossible. Did I misremember these acupuncture points? This amount of spiritual power should be just right, not too much and not too little. How could he feel this bad? Is it that… I am disabled and unlucky to legendary proportions?!
Shen Qingqiu withdrew his hand. Luo Binghe let out a sigh of relief, his eyes bloodshot. Who knew that the next moment, he was pulled down into a full embrace.
While hugging him, Shen Qingqiu toppled onto the bed.
Luo Binghe sounded like he was gasping out his last breath: “…Shizun, Shizun!”
Shen Qingqiu did not take off his innermost shirt, but they were only separated by one thin layer of clothing and could feel each other’s heartbeats. Hugging him like this maximized their area of contact and also maximized the area of spiritual power delivery. He said: “I’m afraid only using the force of the palm is not fast enough. Stay a while like this and your body’s injuries will be almost healed after my spiritual pulse has run a few circuits, much more effective than the medicinal liquor you were applying.”
Like a little hedgehog, Luo Binghe struggled in his arms: “Shizun! Shizun! I have medicinal liquor all over my body!”
Shen Qingqiu’s temper was ignited into a fire by his rubbing. He smacked Luo Binghe’s arm once to reprimand him, and said with dignity: “What are you twisting around for?”
I’m treating your wounds and you’re still misbehaving!
After the not harsh and not soft smack, Luo Binghe stiffened into a stick. Specifically, a tormented stick being roasted over a fire.
The ‘stick’ said: “Shizun… This isn’t working… Let, let me go…”
Shen Qingqiu said: “Luo Binghe, if you were Ning Yingying, blushing and acting shy like you are right now, needless to say I would not be doing this. But you are not a little girl, are you still afraid I will eat you?”
Hearing this, Luo Binghe indeed stopped wiggling around. But his point of focus shifted and he said: “Shizun’s meaning is that you, you would not treat elder disciple-sister Ning like this?”
If it was Ning Yingying injured today, even if Shen Qingqiu had a hundred times more courage, he wouldn’t dare to use this convenient method to heal her. He only hated that he couldn’t swear an oath to express his clear and whole-hearted innocence. He decisively said: “I naturally would not.”
Luo Binghe said again: “Then… then if it was not elder disciple-sister Ning, if it was some other disciples who were injured, would Shizun also do, do this same…”
“…” Shen Qingqiu said, “What nonsensical things are you imagining? Calm your mind and control your breath.”
The hedgehog in his arms finally settled down. Shen Qingqiu contentedly picked the most comfortable position. He placed his chin on top of Luo Binghe’s head. One free hand stroked placatingly along the curve of his spine.
But not long after having gotten comfortable, Shen Qingqiu started to become unable to hold him further.
Luo Binghe was scalding hot, like he had only just come out from a bout in a steamer. The sweat on his body had soaked Shen Qingqiu’s thin innermost clothes until they were drenched.
Shen Qingqiu was completely shocked. Was it possible that Luo Binghe losing spiritual energy could even give him a high fever?!
He had just placed a hand on Luo Binghe’s cheek to check his complexion when unexpectedly, his whole hand touched dripping and trickling sweat. The body in his arms suddenly struggled with everything it had, like a large white fish stuck out of water. With a “Thump”, Luo Binghe escaped from his arm and fell off his bamboo bed.
That wasn’t all. Next came an unbearably miserable chain of ‘Bang’! ‘Crash’!
His foot kicked over the stool, his head banged into the screen and knocked it over. Luo Binghe looked like he had gone crazy, frantically rushing out of the bamboo house.
Shocked by this flurry of events, Shen Qingqiu could only stare blankly from the bed. For quite a while he cluelessly scrambled for what to do. He swiftly unfroze and hurried to jump out of bed and chase outside: “Luo Binghe?!”
Luo Binghe had long since run quite a ways away, and shouted as he ran: “Shizun, I’m sorry!”
Shen Qingqiu’s face was full of black lines6: “What are you sorry for? Get back here!7”
The night wind carried a distant tearful voice: “No! Shizun, I can’t see you right now! Don’t come over, don’t come over no matter what!”
What in the world, was this child bewitched?!
In general, Shen Qingqiu’s cultivation was more than one level higher and he was definitely faster. But Luo Binghe’s adrenaline had apparently flared up or something, and Shen Qingqiu unexpectedly could not catch up.
The two of them ran and dashed along the road, shouting at each other. Before too long, the entire Qing Jing Peak had been alerted. Small groups of lanterns lit up throughout the peak, and a mass of disciples holding torches came out one after another: “Who is it yelling in the middle of the night, disturbing the tranquility of Qing Jing Peak?”
“The voice sounded to me like Shizun’s!”
“Nonsense! How could Shizun be so discourteous…”
The sound of the voices hadn’t yet faded when, like a gust of wind, Shen Qingqiu expressionlessly scraped past this group of disciples. It instantly became so quiet you could hear a pin drop.
Shen Qingqiu was worried that with Luo Binghe running like a headless chicken, he wouldn’t be able to see the road and would rush off the cliff. He took a deep breath to shout: “Ming Fan! Stop him! Stop Luo Binghe!”
Ming Fan had just put on his coat, come over with a lantern, and stared out to see–wow! That mere lackey Luo Binghe running like mad in front, Shizun looking positively murderous behind him – this scene. Everything’s finally returned to normal!
He ecstatically exclaimed: “Shizun! This disciple will help you! Grab this brat and teach him a good lesson! Come on disciple-brothers, charge!”
The crowd of disciples went in all directions to outflank, and Shen Qingqiu finally caught up to the running wild Luo Binghe. But before he could seize the brat’s collar to lift him up, Luo Binghe refused to submit in the face of death and desperately lunged forward—with a ‘Plop’ sound, water splashed. Luo Binghe actually threw himself into the Qing Jing Peak’s Quiet8 Pool.
The fall seemed to have woken him up. All of Luo Binghe was soaked in cold water and finally stopped moving.
Shen Qingqiu said: “Are you done?”
Luo Binghe immersed his head deep into the water and covered his face with both hands. And Ming Fan had already been moved to tears.
Luo Binghe’s entire body shivered in the cold water, and he looked like he had been thoroughly beaten up. Shizun stood on the opposite side, sneering with his arms crossed. Ah, what a familiar act; ah, what a nostalgic scene!
The group of disciples whispered to each other, surrounding the Luo Binghe in the middle of the pool still covering his face and not saying a word. Ning Yingying, as a girl, had always been slower to dress and comb. She arrived late just to immediately see this situation, and involuntarily cried out: “A-Luo! How… how did you end up sitting in the pool? Who was bullying you again? Shizun, what is going on?”
“…” Shen Qingqiu said coldly, “I also want to know exactly who was bullying you, exactly what is going on.”
Luo Binghe covered his face and shook his head: “No one bullied me. Nothing is going on.”
Shen Qingqiu stood at the edge of the pool for a while. He suddenly sighed: “Come on up. What are you doing still sitting in there?”
Luo Binghe continued to shake his head: “No, Shizun. I’m remaining here. Let me stay here for a while and I’ll be good…”
It was currently cold winter. Although it was not snowing, if Shen Qingqiu let him continue to sit in the cold pool like this for the whole night, would he still be alive?
Shen Qingqiu lifted the hem of his clothing and moved to enter the water and pull him out. Luo Binghe hurriedly said: “Shizun, don’t come down here! The water is freezing cold and dirty, you shouldn’t get wet…”
With a few steps, Shen Qingqiu had already waded through the water to reach his side. He looked at Luo Binghe sternly.
Luo Binghe hung his head even lower and did not dare to meet his eyes, and only sunk deeper into the water.
Shen Qingqiu said: “Do you also need me to help you up?”
“…” Luo Binghe, “Shizun, I… you should just let me stay here by myself!”
Shen Qingqiu couldn’t do anything about him, and decided on another way. He suddenly faced the Qing Jing Peak disciples who had been looking on from the shore and strictly said: “Rise at 4 AM9 next morning for early classes. Anyone who is late must copy the texts a hundred times.”
4 AM, it was currently already 2 AM10! Copying the texts, and copying them a hundred times!
As soon as this statement came out, the poolside was empty like it had just been swept clean.
Once Shen Qingqiu confirmed there were no onlookers, he turned around and suddenly bent over, moving to take up Luo Binghe’s back and the crook of his knees.
Perceiving what he wanted to do, Luo Binghe increased his efforts to hide in the water, like a thrashing large white fish: “Shizun, Shizun, don’t do this, do not do this!”
Shen Qingqiu’s entire face was splashed. He wiped his cheeks with the sleeves of his already wet clothes and said: “Haven’t you created enough trouble for one night?”
He saw Luo Binghe did not dare to move anymore, so exerting a little effort, he picked up Luo Binghe into his arms.
A tad heavy. With that small silent complaint, he carried Luo Binghe in his arms back towards the bamboo house.
Halfway there, the Luo Binghe in his arms said with a face of suffering: “Shizun, I… I should just return to the woodshed.”
Shen Qingqiu sternly said, “What is wrong with you tonight? Acting this evasive and bashful, trying every possible way to escape…. Other people who didn’t understand the situation would fear I did something grievously sinful towards you!”
The Luo Binghe from that night had indeed lost immense amounts of face and completely destroyed his image.
Black history11, this was Luo Binghe’s black history!
Shen Qingqiu later fortuitously remembered this incident and made fun of him with it. But Luo Binghe unexpectedly did not even blush. Sure enough, while growing up he had also grown more shameless. He defended himself: “I was just at the age to be full of vitality and easily excited. With my most admired person embracing me tightly, hugging and rubbing against me, Shizun tell me, how could I have completely controlled myself? Discerning my own mind, having no way to suppress my body’s reactions, and fearing you would notice… other than that embarrassing and ugly behavior, what else could I have done?”
Thinking of Luo Binghe saying those words while revealing a rare expression of complete shyness, Shen Qingqiu couldn’t help but laugh out loud.
Laughing and laughing, he couldn’t laugh anymore.
He did not dare think about Luo Binghe’s mood right now, holding his body.
This inescapable dream was endless and dull, just like Luo Binghe’s life had been in the Huan Hua Palace.
During the day, he spent most of his time holed up in the freezing cold Huan Hua Pavillion, bringing files inside to process them.
Shen Qingqiu seldom had the opportunity to see Luo Binghe seriously handling official business. The vast majority of the time, Luo Binghe’s style in front of him was not quite right, his entire being behaving like a maiden in love. When he dealt with urgent Demon business, Shen Qingqiu would consciously keep a distance so as to not disturb him. When he did occasionally trespass, Luo Binghe would immediately lose all interest in his work, throw down the files that had piled up into a mountain on his desk, and come running over eagerly and lovably. Who would have thought it would actually be within a dreamscape that Shen Qingqiu could carefully observe the appearance of Luo Binghe earnestly dealing with official business on his own.
Shen Qingqiu liked to sit by the desk, curiously staring at the side view of his calm and solemn face. Luo Binghe had a slight frown, reading ten lines at a glance, his pen both fast and accurate, his instructions concise and comprehensive, abstemious in his use of ink. All in all, his sheer gravity and seriousness was astounding.
He still retained his previous habits of persistently cooking every day: a beautiful and exquisite snack in the morning, four dishes and a soup at noon, and a bowl of congee at night. Snowy white congee rice, chopped green onion, pale yellow shredded ginger–just like the first bowl Luo Binghe had ever made for him. Served in a snow-white porcelain bowl, only once the heat and steam had dissipated did Luo Binghe personally put them in a food container and take them away.
Even though no one cared, he still persisted in following his past routine on Qing Jing Peak. As if he was waiting for the day Shen Qingqiu would suddenly awaken and open his eyes, at which time the food could immediately be put to good use without any delay.
Sometimes Luo Binghe would leave for most of the day, usually when the Demon side had chaos others could not resolve, requiring him to handle it personally.
He was almost never injured, except for one day.
Luo Binghe first walked through the door before he immediately thought of something. He retreated quite a few steps, took off his blood-stained robe, and used a tiny bit of force to burn it to ash. Only after confirming he had no blood smears on his body did he slowly approach the seating table.
Looking like he did on any normal day, he faced the corpse and said: “Shizun, outside business caused a delay. This disciple came back late today, so there is no congee.”
Naturally no one answered him. The situation appeared a little… comical.
Shen Qingqiu didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Something wrenched at his heart, and he answered: “If there’s none, there’s none.”
Over these days, he had already made a habit out of talking to himself. Separated by time and space, you can’t hear me, I can’t touch you, but when all is said and done… I still hope for a response.
Luo Binghe stood quietly for a spell, and finally said: “Forget it.”
He turned and went out. After a while, he came through the door with a bowl of steaming congee. Smoothly putting it down on the table, Luo Binghe began unhurriedly unfastening the body’s belt while saying: “Liu Qingge rescued Mu Qingfang.”
Shen Qingqiu hummed out a ‘Mm.’
Luo Binghe said to himself: “If he’s rescued, he’s rescued. Anyway, Mu Qingfang only knew how to say ‘There’s no way’, he was no use at all.”
Shen Qingqiu said: “How can you badmouth your disciple-uncle like this?”
Luo Binghe took off his robe. His chest had a wound in the process of slowly healing on its own. At a glance, Shen Qingqiu recognized it to be a burn mark from Liu Qingge’s sword aura. Under this new injury, there was an old wound that Luo Binghe had recalcitrantly refused to let fade.
Luo Binghe lay down, turned over, and moved the body to nestle into his arms. He said: “In the past, when the Bai Zhan Peak disciples picked on me and beat me up, Shizun always came up with a method to get back at them. When will Shizun get back at Liu Qingge himself?”
Shen Qingqiu sat by the table and said: “There’s nothing to be done, I can’t beat him.”
Luo Binghe said: “Shizun.”
Shen Qingqiu said: “Mm.”
Luo Binghe: “Shizun, I can’t hold on.”
Luo Binghe smiled slightly and said: “…Really. Shizun. If you don’t wake up, I… I can’t hold on.”
But Shen Qingqiu knew, he will continue to hold on.
He will continue to hug that ice-cold and lifeless body in his arms, and hold on for almost two thousand of these days and nights.
The suppressed distress and heartache in his chest burst open. Shen Qingqiu saw a hand stretching out, trying in vain to touch Luo Binghe’s pale face. He saw this hand trembling slightly, yet unable to touch anything. He suddenly realized this was his own hand.
From this fuzzy trance, Shen Qingqiu felt someone supporting his shoulder into a sitting position. He hazily opened his eyes to see Luo Binghe’s face right within reach, gazing at him with nervousness and concern: “Shizun, what’s wrong?”
Shen Qingqiu had not yet recovered from his contemplation, and stared blankly at Luo Binghe.
Upon seeing this, Luo Binghe became even more anxious and fearful. He had experienced a crisis in his cultivation that day so he sealed his consciousness at night and had no time to control his dreamscape. He did not sleep steadily, and was roused in the middle of the night. Seeing Shen Qingqiu at his side with brows furrowed and forehead dripping cold sweat, he knew something bad had happened. He must have failed to draw in all his power, and allowed Shizun to enter a nightmare.
He feared he had given Shen Qingqiu some kind of especially terrible dream. He questioned closely: “Shizun, what did you dream of just now? Did you get hurt?”
[Shen Qingqiu directly uses “I” here, instead of “this teacher”]
After tarrying too long in the dreamscape, Shen Qingqiu’s soul had not yet been pulled back. Luo Binghe’s face wavered between real and imaginary. His vision was sometimes blurry and sometimes clear, he didn’t know what to say.
Luo Binghe became even more worried, raising his voice: “Shizun! Say something!”
Suddenly, like a blessing from the heart, Shen Qingqiu blinked, cupped his face and pulled it down, and kissed him.
Luo Binghe: “…”
Though he didn’t know what was going on, Luo Binghe was very happy with this unexpected kiss. His eyes widened. In a flash, he pressed Shen Qingqiu’s neck and took the initiative to deepen this kiss.
Shen Qingqiu did not stop there. After a period of rustling, he had already untied Luo Binghe’s belt, grabbed his hand, and explored into his own collar. Following the tight lines of the abdomen, he led Luo Binghe’s hand to his own passionately agitated heart.
This time, Luo Binghe was almost overwhelmed by the favor. But on the contrary, he did not dare to be impulsive and impatient, and his movements became cautious.
However, while he was slightly hesitating, Shen Qingqiu had already turned over and pressed him under his body, roughly tearing open his innermost clothes.
Luo Binghe’s gasps for breath were slightly unstable as he supported his waist. A faint blush rose to his cheeks and he stammered: “Shizun… What is going on with you tonight?”
Shen Qingqiu pressed their lower halves together and said in his ear: “Tonight I feel… I really like you.”
Luo Binghe instantly stiffened from head to toe.
He abruptly rose up and trapped Shen Qingqiu between his arms.
With a slight inhale, Luo Binghe said: “Shizun, I… may not be able to be gentle.”
Listening to his strong and composed voice, Shen Qingqiu laughed: “You speak as if you being gentle will not make me hurt.”
Without waiting for Luo Binghe to react, Shen Qingqiu had already reached out with both hands.
“I’ll gladly endure it.”12
- 江湖 (jiānghú) = the martial arts world of ancient China
- 阁下 (Géxià) = Your Excellency; also means your distinguished self, sire, your majesty etc.
- 坐化台 = Seating Table = rough translation of the platform where monks/Buddhas sit
- 炮制 = “Process” = a technique in preparing traditional Chinese medicines
- Qing Jing Peak is ranked 2nd highest in seniority of the peaks, while Bai Zhan is 7th
- 满头黑线 lit. “Face of black lines” is shorthand for saying someone is sweating in sheer frustration and disbelief (like you just saw your friend do something extremely stupid).
- 还不回来’s direct translation would be “Still not coming back?”, but it carries the tone of a forceful demand rather than a question.
- 清静小池 lit. “Quiet Pool” uses the same Qing Jing 清静 as Qing Jing Peak 😛
- 寅时 lit. “hour of the tiger” = 3 AM to 5 AM in ancient Chinese timekeeping
- 丑时 lit. “hour of the ox” = 1 AM to 3 AM in ancient Chinese timekeeping
- 黑历史 lit. “black history” = a shameful event in one’s past that you want to pretend never happened
- 甘之如饴 lit. as sweet as syrup (idiom, from Book of Songs); to endure hardship gladly