“How much did we donate to the village every year, huh? We don’t need you to do anything else, we only need you to do one thing, yet you can’t even do the one thing? Return my hard-earned money!”
“One month! I spent a whole month here! Give me an explanation!”
“That’s right, give us an explanation!”
Feelings were running high, the audience seemed to want to tear the village chief apart, each one of them had the same question—where was the opera house?
“Calm down! Everyone, calm down!” The village chief slammed down forcefully with his cane. Relying on his remaining influence, he finally calmed down the emotions of the audience temporarily. He turned around to look at Ning Yu Ren and said, “Try again.”
Ning Yu Ren tried again under his orders, but the result was the same—nothing appeared, nothing happened.
The crowd erupted again, this time more raucous than before. Not only did they start to hurl abuse at the village chief, even Ning Yu Ren and the other performers were also dragged into it.
“If she can’t do it, then get someone else to do it!” One of the people pointed to the front and said, “Swap her in and try!”
Ning Ning who was being pointed at looked up.
A finger pointed at her, countless legs ran towards her, they did not care if she was willing, they dragged her out from behind the table in a flurry and pulled her towards the stage. One of them remembered the strange incident that had happened on stage, they looked left and right before saying anxiously, “Everyone, slow down, slow down. What if we annoyed Ning Qing? I feel that he is watching us nearby…”
Someone said with disdain, “When he was alive, we were not afraid of him, now that he’s dead, should we be afraid of him?”
Ning Ning was pushed on stage.
A few middle-aged women took off the coat and mask from Ning Yu Ren and put them on Ning Ning again.
Ning Yu Ren rushed over. She attempted to tear the clothes off Ning Ning, but was forcefully pushed away. She took a few steps back, saying to the village chief as she trembled with anger, “Didn’t we previously agree to let me dance in her stead?”
“You can see it yourself.” The village chief glanced at the audience that had lost their heads, sighing. “It doesn’t matter what we say now, what matters is what they say.”
The influence that the village chief and other masked people had was based on successfully performing <<Life Opera House>>.
Ning Ning’s accidents, Ning Yu Ren mentioning Ning QIng—both had already caused a big impact on their influence, the straw that broke the camel’s back was the failure of the performance.
After that, this group of people was out of control, just like their ancestors who had gone out of control.
Ning Ning looked at them. “What exactly do you want me to do?”
“We want to go to Life Opera House!” Countless voices answered together.
“Then go,” Ning Ning laughed innocently, “no one is stopping you.”
“But where is it?” A woman asked as she held her child tightly. “I cannot find it, I only know that it seems to have changed its name, it’s called ‘Life Theater’ now.”
“I, on the other hand, know the address, but what’s the use?” The former grand lottery winner—who had lost all his money and became a pauper—laughed, his laughter was a little neurotic. “The place is a commercial street, there is a boba tea shop and a car repair shop by the side, but there is no movie theater…”
“…That’s right! I’ve been there too, I can’t even see the entrance, we don’t have to talk about going in.”
“What? Why have I never heard you people say that before! Tell me the address, I’ll go try it out!”
“The address is 35 Rouge Street at N City,” Ning Ning abruptly told them the address, “if you want to give it a shot, you can try now.”
The entire place fell silent. After a while, someone mumbled from within the crowd, “Who knows if what you’re saying is true?”
There were people who hesitated, there were people who were completely indifferent, there were people who sneered, but at last, the woman who spoke first sighed. She held her child’s hand and walked out from the crowd.
“You really believe what she said?” Someone shouted from behind.
The woman stopped in her tracks, she looked back with a complicated expression. “…I am also the mother of a child.”
They looked apologetically at Ning Yu Ren who had been desperately fighting, then left with her child in hand. Not a while later, the sound of a car starting up rang out from a distance. The car ferried mother and son out of the village. With her leading the way, three more people walked out of the crowd, one of them turned back halfway through, in the end only three cars left the village.
“Who else? Who?” The former grand lottery winner looked around, finally viciously smiling and staring at Ning Ning. “Alright, there’s no one else, you can begin now.”
Ning Ning smiled and looked at the exorcist. “Let us begin.”
The exorcist looked at her with a strange expression. Ning Ning recognised his eyes, she also recognised his stature—he was Li Bo Yue—what was this fellow doing? Why did he take part in the village’s Nuo dance? That’s not right, the mask on his face was the one Wen Yu had brought. Why was that mask on his face? Why did the villagers allow him to perform as such an important character?
Li family? Li family…could he actually be the descendant of someone who had left the village? The descendant of the exorcist?
“What are you staring blankly for? It’s about to storm, I’m putting it out there, even if it storms, we will not leave, you have to finish the dance… No, succeed in the dance!” The former grand lottery winner urged.
…Now was not the time to think about that. Ning Ning temporarily forgot her doubts and performed the third act, <<Exorcism>>, with Li Bo Yue.
When Ning Ning finished <<Exorcism>> for the third time, the expectation and excitement had long disappeared from the faces of the audience, all that was left was ice-cold rage.
“That’s impossible!” The former grand lottery winner was the first one to lash out from the audience seats. He threw his coke bottle on the ground and stamped the ground a few times, then he held his head and said, “Where exactly did it go wrong? Where exactly did it go wrong…? That’s right, that’s right…”
He slowly looked up, a pair of bloodshot eyes staring at Ning Ning, laughing in a sinister manner. “You have to die.”
“What nonsense are you talking about?” Ning Yu Ren said coldly.
“Am I wrong?” He looked at Ning Yu Ren with a weird smile on his face. “Every time the Nuo dance ends, a person from the Ning family would die. It was true for you father, it was true for your grandfather, it was true for every generation.”
Ning Yu Ren did not believe it, but she looked at her surroundings and found that, within everyone’s eyes, seemed to be written that they believed it.
“…Then now it’s my turn.” Ning Yu Ren laughed out loud a few times before she coldly said, “Which one of you wants to do it?”
The crowd looked at each other, their vision finally fell upon the village chief.
“You?” Ning Yu Ren said as she slowly walked up the stage. She stood in front of Ning Ning like a mother hen protecting its chick, looking down at them coldly. “All of you should know that I am not my father, neither am I my grandfather—I have not lived in the village all my life, there is no one in the outside world whi doesn’t know me… I am the movie empress, Ning Yu Ren.”
She stated her identity and looked at the onlookers. “Which one of you dares to kill me?!!”
After a moment of silence, the village chief broke the silence. “We didn’t even say that we want to kill you…”
“Killing my daughter would mean killing me!!” Ning Yu Ren shouted loudly.
The former grand lottery winner abruptly stood up, his eyes held a sinister light in them. “I’ll do it!!”
The crowd looked at him in astonishment, Ning Yu Ren, too, looked at him in astonishment. After half an instant, she screamed, “You dare?! If you were to touch one finger on her, I will take revenge on you even if I have to go bankrupt!!”
“…If I don’t go into Life Opera House today, you wouldn’t even have to be the one to do it.” The former grand lottery winner breathed heavily, his hand that was in his pocket grasping a few lottery tickets. “I borrowed money to buy lottery tickets, none of them were winners, heh heh… The credit company is already looking for me all over the world, I have nowhere else to go anymore…”
His bloodshot eyes were staring at Ning Ning, they were avaricious and entreating. “You are my last chance.”
Upon finishing his words, he walked towards Ning Ning. Ning Yu Ren rushed at him at the same time. The two of them started fighting, but Ning Yu Ren was no match for such a desperado, she was tossed to the ground not soon after. He stomped on her repeatedly, one of them landing on her face—the face loved by thousands was stained with mud, blood flowing out from her nose…
“Ning Ning, don’t lose your temper.” Ning Qing’s voice rang out, “Do you still remember what I told you? You cannot get angry. The moment you get angry, it’s all over for you… Now, you have to make them mad.”
Her shoulders trembled slightly. Under the mask, Ning Ning took deep breaths, the hot air she breathed out hit the mask’s interior and rebounded back to her eyes.
“Enough.” She told the former grand lottery winner blandly, “You said that every time after the Nuo dance ends, one person from the Ning family will die, but the Nuo dance has yet to end. If I die, or if my mother dies, this Nuo dance would never reach its conclusion.”
The leg that was about to stomp on Ning Yu Ren slowly retracted. The former grand lottery winner stared at her for a very long time. “You said that this Nuo dance has yet to end?”
“That’s right.” Ning Ning laughed. “Aren’t we missing the fourth act?”
The former grand lottery winner was stunned, he looked at the village chief. “There’s a fourth act?”
The crowd started to whisper to one another, “Didn’t they say it is only a three-act performance?”
“That’s what I heard too.”
“Since the first three acts didn’t succeed…maybe there really is a fourth act?”
“Listen to her spouting nonsense.” The village chief faced a mountain of inquiring eyes. He shook his head and said, “There have always only been three acts throughout history, where did the fourth act come from?”
“Was there a situation like this in the past? After the three acts were done, not even the shadow of Life Opera House could be seen.” Ning Ning asked.
What she said made sense as well, thus the whispers grew louder.
“A three-act play is a three-act play, the rules are rules. Since it was passed down like this from our ancestors, there definitely would be a reason for it, how can we just change it on a whim? Adding an act on a whim?” The village chief had a horrible suspicion, he quickly brought up the rules to intimidate them, but his influence had been greatly reduced. It was still fine with the villagers, but why would the outsiders who returned home in glory be willing to listen to him?
“Village Chief, you should just say less.” Ning Ning turned and looked at him. “It’s all just bullshit anyway, no one wants to listen to it.”
The village chief flew off the handle, he used his cane to tap the ground forcefully. Seeing that no one paid any heed to him, he used even more force to tap the ground with his cane. The sound it made was getting louder and louder, it sounded more and more anxious, but the crowd only shot a glance at him coldly before they looked back to continue their discussion. It was just as Ning Ning said, they completely didn’t take him seriously, they treated him like crap, they treated his words like bullshit, no one wanted to listen to him.
The village chief trembled with anger, he raised his cane and pointed at them. “You! You will regret it! You will all regret it!!”
…Ning Ning did not know whether she was imagining it, but when he shouted out in rage, the mask on her face seemed to have gotten warmer.
“Haha, let’s continue,” Ning Qing said by her ear, “make them even angrier…”
The crowd had formed a conclusion from their discussion. The former grand lottery winner looked at Ning Ning and licked his lips. “What did you say the fourth act is?”
“<<Owner>>.” Ning Ning turned around and took a few steps forward. “The title of the fourth act…is <<Owner>>.”