The hot spring had its water, clearly defined from the rest of the lake with water vapor obscuring visibility. Such a place was very inviting.
However, it wasn’t meant for people. A water plant was actually growing there with tiny branches, crooked. An unbloomed flower was growing on it. Its long stamen were growing quite well, draping downward almost like a beard or a waterfall.
Watching from afar, it looked like this flower was the thing pouring out the spring water, quite a magnificent spectacle. Alas, when looking closely, one would find that this flower looked a bit weak, on the verge of withering at any moment.
A girl was sitting on the lava side, resting her chin on both hands while staring at the flower in a daze.
She wore a green dress and had peculiar features. Her eyes were full of energy; her features innocent and elegant - transcending, even. Not quite a goddess just yet, but if she were to walk around this valley with her long skirt, one would certainly mistake her for a goddess.
“Ice-fire Plant, quite rare.” He sat down next to her and casually said.
“Umm.” She was still distracted and replied without looking at him.
Li Qiye didn’t mind and continued on: “The young bud will have a hard time growing. It will die after leaving this Ice-fire Spring, so that’s why someone spent a lot of effort moving the entire spring to this place in order to plant the flower.”
“Right, a senior took several thousand years just to plant it here.” The girl nodded; her gaze didn’t move from the plant.
“You see it too?” She finally turned around to look at him with a flash in her eyes.
“It’s as clear as day.” He chuckled.
“You know alchemy?” She became interested right away.
He looked back at her and smiled: “Just a little bit from reading random books.”
This was a humble answer because few in this world knew more about alchemy than him. He had spent generations learning this field.
He asked: “Do you like alchemy?”
“Yes.” The girl hastily answered: “I started studying alchemy at a young age, and a senior asked me to take care of this plant. It has been growing very well until recently, it became sick for some reasons. I can’t figure out the cause.”
She felt defeated after saying this. Despite her considerable knowledge on alchemy, this plant still managed to vex her. She scoured through the books but couldn’t come up with the illness.
“It’s not sick in that manner.” Li Qiye chuckled and shook his head.
She was a skeptic: “Then why does it look like it’s on the verge of withering in the last several days?”
“The problem is not the plant itself.” He explained: “You are focusing on this aspect, thinking that it’s sick, failing to see the crux of the issue.”
“What is it then?” She wasn’t quite convinced that someone around her age could be better than her. She was one of the top experts in Longevity Valley or even in all of Myriad Lineage.
Nevertheless, her gentle disposition balanced out her prestigious status. Anyone else in her shoes would have started arguing with him.
“The problem is inside the spring.” He said.
“Hmm, how can that be? The spring is the same as always, what’s the problem with it?” She became surprised.
“The spring is fine too, but there is a new guest there, a neighbor for the plant.” He smiled.
“I’ve been taking care of the plant, never noticing any invader.” She didn’t believe him.
“You’ll find out soon.” He said: “Take Hundred-uses Skin, Stoneroot, Cracking Frozen Terrain… grind them all to dust and throw it into the spring, then you will have your answer.”
“Really?” She hesitated for a moment. This formula was new to her and plus, she knew the effects of the individual ingredients.
“Just try and see. If you know alchemy, you know that these ingredients can’t harm the spring anyway.” He smiled.
The girl pondered for a moment and agreed with this line. She decided to carry it out right away: “I’ll do it.”
After a while, she came back with the ingredients. Longevity Valley was the biggest medicinal treasury in Myriad Lineage and the things he mentioned weren’t that rare.
She ground them down to dust before scattering them all over the spring, not missing a single corner.
There was no reaction from the spring afterward.
“What’s going on?” She looked at him and asked.
To which he responded: “Be patient, you’ll get your result soon enough.”
More time passed. Eventually, the spring boiled with bubbles, and inside these bubbles were tiny worms.
Their corpses were all around the surface, resulting in a chilling and nauseating scene. Some didn’t die completely and would squirm around.
The girl was scared as well: “What are these things?”
“Ash Maggots.” He revealed: “After maturing, they will lay eggs beneath the lava. These eggs can survive for millions of years. One day, when the temperature is hot enough, they will suck in worldly energy. This is the reason for your plant’s sickness.”
“Ah, I’ve heard of them before.” The girl understood right away.
She had read about these worms but haven’t seen them before, that’s why she couldn’t connect the dot. No wonder why she failed to diagnose the plant.
She then bowed deeply towards him: “Thank you for the beneficial lesson. My name is Qin Shaoyao, please continue to guide me in the future.” 
The girl had a fascinating and unique air. When she bowed down, it still seemed so natural and beautiful - a sight for sore eyes.
“Li Qiye.” Li Qiye stated his name with a smile.
“I know who you are, First Brother, you’re the only male here in Hundred-flowers. I just didn’t expect for you to be an alchemist too, no wonder why Master chose you. Looks like I have much to learn from you.” This smile of her exposed all of her gentle charms.
“It’s no big deal, I just know a little bit.” He said.
“Your words are putting me to shame. If you only know a little bit, then I don’t even know past the elementary level.” She simpered before going on: “I heard about you from Senior Sister a few days ago but I didn’t dare to disturb your isolated session. What a coincidence for you to be here and solve my problem.”
1. Shaoyao = Chinese peony