Fighting for Favour
Charcoal was burning in a basin, the beautiful girl in the green clothes was curled up asleep beside it. Although she was soundly asleep, every inch of her flesh was tempting the person beside her.
Especially the fair, smooth and round shoulder that was peeking out ignorantly from the clothes.
A hand reached out from her side, but it retracted itself before it touched her shoulder as if it was electrocuted. Shi Zhong Tang looked down at his hand, as if he could not believe what he just did.
After a short moment of panic, he quickly turned around and returned to the study table. He repeatedly said to the drawing on top, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry…I was just possessed for a moment…”
Behind him, Ning Yu Ren opened her eyes without making an expression, then she smiled slyly at the view of his back.
She was not sleeping at all.
Being by his side was being in a battlefield, every inch of her flesh was a weapon. Now, she wanted to see what the shrivelled woman in the painting would do to counter her efforts.
The shot slowly shifted from her to another spot.
A crew member laid prone on the floor, he started up the smoke tube in his hand, wisps of white gas filled the air, it looked like steam billowing on top of a lake.
As the cloud billowed and misted, a girl in white slowly walked out from behind the smoke waves, like a moon behind clouds, like snow swirling in a blizzard.
Ning Yu Ren frantically closed her eyes and continued to pretend to sleep after briefly catching a glimpse of her. She pricked her ears and eavesdropped on their conversation.
“Ling Shan, don’t be angry.” Shi Zhong Tang’s voice had a trace of awkwardness and guilt.
“Why would I be angry?” Princess Ling Shan laughed. “Because of her?”
Ning Yu Ren heard a rustling sound, it was the skirt scraping across the floor which had arrived in front of her.
Her eyes remained shut, she did not dare to look at the expression on the other party.
She could only make a guess, would you be angry? Jealous? Or pretend to be magnanimous? No matter the reaction, she would have a plan to handle them.
But the only thing Princess Ling Shan blandly said from above her head was, “The palace is crawling with people like her.”
Ning Yu Ren was slightly taken aback.
…What was going on? Was this how you would react when you see your lover hiding another woman in his room?
“Imperial concubines, maids, eunuchs, everyone was doing the same thing—fighting.” The voice above her head remained bland.
The more she listened the more Ning Yu Ren felt uncomfortable. She felt that a girl should not have reacted this way. She thought that Director Shi would shout ‘cut’ anytime now, but he did not.
“Fighting over a seat, a plate of pearls, a line of praise. They would fight over anything, they would fight over the course of their entire lives.” The tinkling of accessories rang out, as if she was gently shaking her head, shaking her bun along with it. “Sometimes when I looked at them, it was like looking at koi fish in the pond. They would group up with their mouths opened for anyone who approached them, repeatedly begging for food.”
Why is he not shouting cut yet? Why was she allowed to be so calm?
What are you doing Director Shi?
…Exactly what kind of expression is she making while looking at me?
Ning Yu Ren finally could not bear it any longer and opened her eyes.
Chills ran down her spine uncontrollably the moment she saw the expression on the other party.
Ning Ning was wearing white, standing in front of her like a snow-capped tree. The way Ning Ning looked at her was like a noble who would occasionally stop by a pond and watch the koi fish as they fight over food.
“They would stuff themselves even if they could not eat anymore, afraid that they would not have another chance to eat again.” She started laughing, the sandalwood fan was covering the front part of her face, her eyes had a lofty look of pity. “How pitiful.”
Ning Yu Ren looked at her blankly.
She had seen such an expression before. Yes, there was another woman that had once looked at her in the same way.
When she transmigrated into the movie <<Fighting for Favour>>, everyone but one person had to fight. That one person was the Empress!
That woman smiled as she watched Ning Yu Ren get into the Emperor’s bed, she smiled again as she watched Ning Yu Ren get a hanging death sentence by the Emperor because of slander.
Ning Yu Ren had once treated her as a fool. In the end, she realised that the one who was a fool was herself.
The fighting would always amount to nothing. A koi and a flower would not be able to win in a fight for eternal favor.
At that moment, the smile of the Empress had merged with Ning Ning’s smile.
She might have been smiling, but what was written in her eyes was—indifference.
Director Shi’s shout interrupted their gaze.
This was when Ning Yu Ren came back to her senses.
…The scene was already over?
“…Excuse me.” She got up from the floor, avoiding the hand of the makeup artist who was trying to give her a touchup. She quickly walked towards Director Shi and the cameraman.
Director Shi was not in a bad mood when he saw her walked over, which was a rarity in recent times.
“You did quite well this time.” He said amiably, “You have to keep your condition, maintain this standard in the following few days, can you do that?”
Ning Yu Ren nodded her head haphazardly as she looked at the freeze frame on the camera.
The last frame was that of her and Ning Ning looking at each other.
The shot on Ning Ning’s face no doubt had the lofty and indifferent expression.
And the shot on her face was…
“Sigh…” Ning Yu Ren sighed then laughed helplessly.
It had appeared again.
The expression she had when she was hung while looking at the bedchamber of the Empress.
The shame due to her ungainly appearance, and…longing.
The three most important scenes were done, everything afterwards went smoothly.
Night came, Ning Yu Ren stayed behind with a few supporting characters for a night shoot. Ning Ning was done for the day, so she had her makeup removed and was preparing to rest at the hotel.
The moon hung above the trees. A voice came from behind the trees.
“Do you not care about me too?”
Ning Ning got a fright from him. She looked over and could not help but rolled her eyes, “You scared the living daylights out of me!”
“Tell me, Ling Shan.” Shi Zhong Tang approached her in an elegant way. For the sake of catching up to Ning Ning, he did not even change out of his costume, he was still wearing the ancient garb from the movie. He blinked at Ning Ning and said, “Do you not care much about me like how Yan Hong Xiu does?”
“I’m off work.” Ning Ning said, “I am not Ling Shan.”
“Alright then, I am also off work.” Shi Zhong Tang shrugged, “Shi Tou Ge is here.”
Ning Ning could not stop him if he wanted to get off work, the only person in the crew that could stop him was his dad.
Wind began blowing from behind the trees.
“I’m not just playing around.” Shi Zhong Tang said suddenly.
Ning Ning smiled at him.
“…Ah, you are looking at me with that expression again.” Shi Zhong Tang lifted her chin with his hand. He bowed his head and stared into her eyes. “The way you look at me is like looking at an old friend who knows you inside out.”
Ning Ning pushed him away, he smiled as he took two steps back. “But your attitude towards me is not of an old friend.”
“Are you done?” Ning Ning furrowed her brows. “If you carry on with this, I will report you for sexual harassment!”
“No, you won’t.” Shi Zhong Tang looked at her gently. “No matter what kind of things I do to you, you wouldn’t do anything to me, you would only give in and forgive me…Why?”
…Because the person who would die is the king.
Ning Ning looked at him speechlessly, she didn’t know how he managed to notice it.
But it was like he said. Knowing he would commit suicide, she did not dare stop him. She felt nothing but pity and guilt towards him. Thus, no matter what he did to her, as long as it didn’t go overboard, she would close an eye.
“…How mysterious.” Shi Zhong Tang looked at her, puzzled. “ We definitely have known each other only for a short time, but you look like you understand me very well. You definitely don’t like me, but you give in to me everytime…”
The trees were swaying in the wind, the bright and clear moonlight was sliced up by the leaves, gently sprinkled on his hair, like a silver laurel crown, he was like a moon god full of temptation, but he was tempted by her (instead).
“You are so close yet so far. I feel like I can catch you just by reaching my hand out, but it also feels like I can never catch you.” He smiled at Ning Ning. “You really are like the person within the painting.”
Ning Ning fell silent for a moment then told him, “Then don’t waste time on me. Anyway…”
He suddenly hugged her.
“…Even if you are the person within the painting.” He placed his lips by her ear and told her seriously, “I want you to stay by my side forever.”
Ning Ning did not struggle to break free of his embrace. What got him to let her go was a surging beer belly…No, Director Shi.
Ning Ning finally breathed a sigh of relief as she watched Director Shi pull Shi Zhong Tang away by the ear. She touched both sides of her face and murmured to herself, “He came just at the right time.”
If Director Shi had been slightly late, Shi Zhong Tang would have seen her blush.
Originally, she had wanted to return to the hotel to rest, but Ning Ning changed her mind. She took two breaths and told herself, “Let’s enjoy some cold air and calm down.”
No matter how unpopular she was, she was still a celebrity. She left the crew after she wore a mask, then wandered around on unfamiliar streets. Eventually, she wandered in front of a familiar building.
Ning Ning could not help but exclaim in surprise.
The Doorman was not here again.
In 2017, he would unshakably be there everyday. Why would he slack off so much in 1990? Ning Ning circled around the entrance a few times. Suddenly, sonorous footsteps rang out from behind her, the Doorman had returned with a bag of masks again. He did not acknowledge her existence as he looked at his surroundings.
He seemed to be a little tired as he conveniently chucked the bag of masks on the floor, then sat down on it while hanging his head low as if he was taking a nap.
Ning Ning looked at him for a moment, then walked over and asked him, “…You really don’t recognise me?”
He did not bother to look up. “Yes.”
Ning Ning fell silent for a moment, then she asked again, “Then why did you ask if I wanted to go back?”
He continued looking down, “…”
Ning Ning suspected that he fell asleep, she walked over and squatted in front of him.
He looked up at her all of a sudden, behind the snow-white mask were a pair of cruel eyes.
But she did not look away from his gaze, she continued to look at him with her clear eyes.
“So annoying.” In the end, he was the one who could not bear the way they were looking at each other and tried to wave her off, but he was low on energy and hung his head low again. He explained impatiently, “Because your brightness in our eyes is different.”
Ning Ning was taken aback, “What brightness?”
The Doorman sluggishly raised his right hand and gestured a length of a candle with two of his fingers, “In our eyes, humans are like a candle.”
Then, he shrunk the distance between his two fingers, leaving only one third of the original length.
“In our eyes you are only left with this much now.” The Doorman said, “The shorter the candle, the brighter the flame. You want to know why I asked if you would like to go back?”
Ning Ning’s face quickly turned pale.
“Because from what I see, you are almost burnt out.” The Doorman laughed coldly, “You have already changed the fate of a lead character once right? This is your second?”