Without waiting for Ning Ning to take action, the Doorman immediately stopped Shi Zhong Tang from entering.
“You don’t have a ticket.” The Doorman said coldly.
Shi Zhong Tang looked around. “Where is the ticketing counter?”
The Doorman did not answer the question.
Shi Zhong Tang tilted his head and took a look at the Doorman, he took his wallet out. “I’ll give you these alright?”
The Doorman gave him an extremely cold look as if what Shi Zhong Tang took out was not a wallet, but a Christmas sock, and within the sock was a study guide.
Shi Zhong Tang was unwilling to give up. He pestered the Doorman for a very long time until the previously shut entrance opened. Ning Yu Ren staggered outside, her eyes were slightly bulging, her right hand was touching her neck while she coughed, as if she had just escaped from being hung and had not recovered.
There were no aesthetics to speak of here. She looked up at the few people in front of the entrance, her expression looked like it was from a lifetime ago. Her line of sight was fixed on Ning Ning, suddenly she rushed over to hug her and bawled her eyes out.
Ning Ning looked at the poster as she patted Ning Yu Ren’s back.
It was a good thing the title of the movie did not change, if not the air would turn quiet again.
“What happened?” Shi Zhong Tang came over. “What happened inside?”
“Maybe the movie was too tragic.” Ning Ning quickly changed the topic, “Alright, it’s getting late, let’s hurry back, we have to film tomorrow.”
“Alright.” Shi Zhong Tang would not let two girls walk alone in the middle of the night, so he temporarily suppressed his curiosity and sent the two of them back.
It was 3am when they got back to the hotel. Ning Yu Ren was in a terrible shape, Ning Ning could only bring Ning Yu Ren back to her room. She used a warm towel to wipe Ning Yu Ren’s face and neck. Halfway doing so, Ning Yu Ren suddenly grabbed Ning Ning’s wrist.
“You aren’t You Ling, right?” Ning Yu Ren faintly looked at her in the unlit room.
Ning Ning hesitated for a moment then nodded to her.
“Who are you?” After experiencing a movie, Ning Yu Ren already wanted to know more, but there were a lot of doubts troubling her at the same time. “Why are you helping me?”
For a moment, Ning Ning almost had a slip of tongue and said, ‘I am your daughter.’
“…No matter who you are.” Ning Yu Ren said quietly, “Thank you.”
Light snores rang out, Ning Yu Ren was too tired and had fallen asleep.
Ning Ning breathed a sigh of relief and sat by the bed. The sky outside the window started to brighten, filming would continue after daybreak.
They were filming a scene where the male lead was afraid of the problems that would arise if others saw Princess Ling Shan who had walked out of the painting. He locked himself up in his room, living together with her in the inner courtyard.
Ning Ning slithered out from under the blanket like a white fish. She was wearing white clothes with her long black hair, her fair and tender hands were casting aside the green curtain. Just as she was about to get off the bed, a well-defined arm wrapped around her neck from behind her.
“You want to go back?” Shi Zhong Tang who was also draped in long hair sat behind her, his clothes were slightly opened revealing his clavicle and sturdy chest. He placed his lips by her ear and asked in a low husky voice, “Can’t you stay by my side?”
Ning Ning blinked.
She was required to struggle free from Shi Zhong Tang’s embrace afterwards, but the script did not specify how she was supposed to do it.
How would she portray this? Would she shout at him with chagrin, or would she twist her shoulders to get out of his embrace?
Pat. Pat. Pat.
She did not shout nor struggle, she only patted the arm around her neck, signalling for him to let go.
“Oh?” Director Shi was a little surprised and satisfied.
The act of patting encompassed the feeling of an elder person interacting with a younger person, like an adult interacting with a child. A single pat would be an order. The three pats were not fast or slow, not light or heavy, they signified an order that had traces of familiarity.
This also fit the dynamics of the two.
In the movie, Princess Ling Shan was older than the male lead, her status was also higher. The male lead would not even dare to look at her openly while she was alive, he could only peek at her while kneeling down to greet her.
With the difference of age and status, the distance between them would increase over time. This sort of distance could not be shortened within such a short period of time.
So while interacting with him, Princess Ling Shan would not lower herself by shouting for him to let go, it was even less likely that she would try to struggle. She would only lightly pat his arm ordering him to let go. Because to him, she was a princess before she was a lover.
Shi Zhong Tang let go of his arm and looked at her helplessly.
Ning Ning tidied up her top without changing her tone or expression, then walked towards the painting that was hung on the wall. There were mountains, bamboo forests and rocks in the painting, but the center of the painting was empty. A person was missing.
“You come out in the middle of the night and return in the morning.” Shi Zhong Tang sighed from behind her, “Why do you have to return to the painting everyday?”
Her jade-like feet stopped in front of the painting.
“What’s so attractive inside the painting?” Shi Zhong Tang sat with his legs curled up on the bed, he propped his cheek up with one hand and smiled at her from behind the curtain. “Those few rocks, few bamboos, could they be compared to this richly ornamented building, this warm bed and me who is on this bed?”
Although he was teasing her, his expression was very serious. There were not many girls who could reject such a serious look on such a handsome face.
Ning Ning who was standing in front of him slowly turned her head.
The camera was pointed at her. No matter if it was Director Shi or anyone else, everyone paid full attention and fixed their eyes on this head turn.
This was a very important turning point within the script.
Her next move and line would decide why the male lead would change.
Director Shi and the scriptwriter had a discussion at length for the sake of this next line and action. They even called Chen Guan Chao who fell into decadence because his edits to the script were mostly deleted, but their discussion ended without a conclusion.
What exactly should Princess Ling Shan say and do so that the male lead would give up on his current decadent lifestyle? For him to desperately try to find a way—A way to enable her to completely live outside of the painting, a way to make her into an actual person instead of a person within the painting!
After they failed to come up with anything, Director Shi could only let Ning Ning express herself. He held no expectations, he was ready to shout ‘cut.’
But once he looked closely at her expression, the ‘cut’ was stuck in his throat.
Even Shi Zhong Tang was mildly shocked.
Because the expression on her face was simply too weird.
It was too cold for it to be the look of a lover, it was too familiar for it to be the look of a stranger, it looked like she cared about him while not at the same time.
“Aren’t you just playing around?” This sentence laid his thoughts bare, then she smiled.
It was not a plaintive smile, nor was it a resentful smile. On the contrary, it had a trace of an unexplainable pity, no one knew what she was really thinking when she said that.
Director Shi was dazed for a moment, he shouted cut all of a sudden and clapped his hands once. “Pass! This is a good expression!”
Indeed, there was no better expression.
—Because it was brimming with secrets.
Just like the famous painting <<Mona Lisa>>, the reason the smile of this woman went down in history was because she was mysterious. Modern people used an emotional discerning software to analyse the smile and found that it was rich in connotation. It consisted of 83% happiness, 9% hate, 6% fear and 2% anger. Then here was the question. What was she happy about? What was she hating? What was she afraid of? What was she angry about?
For centuries, there were countless answers among countless people.
Ning Ning’s smile might not be eternal like Mona Lisa, but it was good enough for this movie. It could even be said that as long as she had this smile, her performance for the rest of the movie would not even matter anymore.
She had achieved the maximum vase results.
—Letting the audience remember this shot, letting most of the audience remember this scene for a long time.
Afterwards, mid day break.
“Aren’t you just playing around?”
Ning Ning was sitting on a chair, getting her hair accessories removed by a makeup artist in the makeup room. She opened her eyes and looked at the mirror in front of her.
The mirror reflected her and Shi Zhong Tang who was behind her.
Shi Zhong Tang said with a smile, “Let me help you remove those.”
He sent the makeup artist away then removed a jade hairpin from Ning Ning’s bun. He asked with a smile, “How did you suddenly come up with this line?”
Ning Ning started to smile.
It was that elusive smile again, reflected in the mirror in front of her.
Shi Zhong Tang looked at the smile within the mirror, suddenly he bent down and told her as if feeling wronged, “Don’t tell me you were speaking from the heart? I’m innocent! I’m a serious person, I’ve never even had a girlfriend!”
Ning Ning turned her head and looked at him.
He had indeed never had a girlfriend, but that didn’t mean that he didn’t have female friends. After he committed suicide, there were two famous actresses, four smaller actresses, a socialite and a lot of other unknown girls claiming to be his girlfriend, wanting to claim his ashes. There was even one who wanted to take up widowhood for him, it was an indescribable mess.
Afterwards, if anyone were to mention him, they would describe him as such—going through a flower bush without getting leaves stuck on his body.1
They began the second set of filming.
They were going to film the highlight scene for Yan Hong Xiu.
In this scene, Yan Hong Xiu had finally shed the innocence of a girl after going through strict training, displaying an astonishing level of feminine charm. It was so charismatic that the male lead who had his heart set on Princess Ling Shan displayed a moment of uncertainty.
“Young Master, lunch is here.” Ning Yu Ren in the green servant girl clothing gently knocked on the door.
“Put it by the door.” Shi Zhong Tang’s voice came from within.
“I would not dare to let Young Master do it himself.” Ning Yu Ren was there on orders, she could not leave just like that. “Could you kindly open the door and let me bring it in for you?”
“Why are you talking back?” Shi Zhong Tang’s voice was quite irritated, “Put it where I tell you to!”
He was getting more and more irritable because he was going nowhere with Princess Ling Shan, losing his graceful young master image, losing his temper easily. A few servants dared to challenge his authority and entered his room, they were then chased out of the house after being punished.
“…Yes.” Learning from others’ mistakes, Ning Yu Ren put down the tray of food.
She turned around and her grim gaze fell onto the pond not far from her.
Plop. A woman was shouting for help, “Help! Help!”
Within the study, Shi Zhong Tang who was opening a scroll of painting and touching Princess Ling Shan on the painting was taken aback by the sound. He pushed open the door and saw someone flopping about in the pond crying and shouting, “Save me, Young Master! Save me, Young Master!”
Shi Zhong Tang hurried over and scooped the person out of the water.
The person in his arms was trembling, she shivered and told him in a crying voice, “Please, please don’t tell Master about this. He would definitely punish me if he knew I made a mistake on my first errand.”
The Young Master in front of her was the weakest towards girls. He sighed upon hearing her words, bridal carried her and returned to the room.
“There is charcoal in the room, dry your clothes by yourself.” He placed the person on the floor, then turned over.
“Young Master.” The girl behind her called out to him in a weak voice.
“What is it?” Shi Zhong Tang turned back without precaution, then was stunned.
Ning Yu Ren was sitting with her back facing him. She was soaked through the bone, her green clothes were stuck to her body, outlining her curvy figure. Like a lotus leaf sprouting out of The West Lake that had yet to bloom, making it look more innocent and cute.
Originally she only gave off an innocent feeling. But now she was half-dressed, revealing a smooth and fair shoulder, her cheeks were slightly slanted, water droplets rolled down her cheeks dripping onto her smooth and moist shoulder.
She yelped in surprise as if she did not expect Shi Zhong Tang to turn back and look at her, she quickly pulled her clothes over her shoulder.
“I’m sorry!” Shi Zhong Tang quickly turned his head back. Everyone else behind the camera did not look away.
“Oh?” Director Shi had a satisfied and surprised look on his face again.
Ning Yu Ren ad-libbed that last action.
The script had only indicated for Yan Hong Xiu to seduce the male lead while half-dressed, but it did not indicate that she would pull her clothes back on. But pulling her clothes back over her shoulder came off a lot better.
It could be described as someone who could not express her embarrassment.
“…Alright.” Shi Zhong Tang relaxed his tone. His face wasn’t shown as his back was facing the camera, but the way he spoke had already expressed his thoughts. He had wavered. He gently said, “Quickly put on your clothes, I have turned around.”
“Yes…Young Master.” Ning Yu Ren answered timidly, like a bunny who had been frightened, arousing a man’s desire to protect. She turned back and looked at Shi Zhong Tang, seeing that he had indeed turned his back, her lips slowly curled upwards, revealing a smile.
The people behind the camera gasped.
That was such a scary smile.
Reckless with greed, unscrupulous in efforts, determined to win, she did not look like she was looking at a man, she looked like a starving person looking at food, as if she would die if she did not get to eat it.
How would they know what Ning Yu Ren had gone through in yesterday’s movie, <<Fighting for Favour>>. She had to fight for a man with an entire harem, this man’s grace represented what she could eat, what she could wear, where she would live, how she would live and how she would die.
Director Shi was dazed for a while, then he suddenly clapped his hands once. “Cut! Pass!”
Then he turned and looked towards Ning Ning, “Get prepared, it’s your turn.”
Ning Ning nodded, many people behind her exchanged looks.
The situation was not good for Ning Ning.
Ning Yu Ren had done too well in her scene, so well that it largely affected the next scene.
In the next scene, for the sake of finding out who her opponent was, Yan Hong Xiu hid in a dark place and peeped at the male lead while he was summoning Princess Ling Shan. The moment Yan Hong Xiu saw the true face of the other party, she could not help but feel ashamed of her ungainly appearance.
How was that possible?
Ning Ning’s smile might be mysterious, but Ning Yu Ren’s shoulder was equally alluring. When you compare the two, a lot of men would feel that Ning Yu Ren’s flesh was more fresh and exciting.
What did Ning Ning, in other words Princess Ling Shan, have that would let this beauty feel ashamed of herself?
1This means interacting with a lot of girls without committing to any one of them.