Trial of the Witch
The previous two videos were taken at home, they had lighter tones. No matter if it was Xu Yue or Lin Yin Yin, they tried their best to make themselves stand out in the light, so that Yan Qing would have a better look at the vivid expression on their faces and their abundant body language. But the third video was different—it was filmed outdoors.
The location was a school.
The sky was dark, the students had all gone home. A door to the classroom slowly opened, a figure which could not be seen clearly was walking into the room. The figure walked in the darkness and stopped by a wall, then they raised their hands and hung the item they were holding on the wall.
A light from a flashlight lit up her hand and the item she was hanging.
It was a photo frame.
The flashlight shifted onto the photo frame. There seemed to be a photo in it, but before Yan Qing could see what was in the photo, the flashlight had already shifted downwards onto the back of the woman’s head.
All of her hair was combed back and was tied high up in a bun. This hairstyle made her look more strict and old-fashioned, it suited her loosely fitted black clothes, she looked like a nun from the middle ages.
“Thanks for your bouquet, Yan Qing.” She said with her back to the camera, “The next one to get married was me as expected.”
Clack, her phone fell to the floor.
Yan Qing’s hands trembled, she stared firmly at her phone on the floor.
“Teacher Yan, what’s the matter?” Wen Yu walked over and bent over to pick up the phone from the floor, he tried to return it to her.
Yan Qing unexpectedly jerked back. It was as if the item Wen Yu was holding was not a phone but a weapon that could harm her, a fire that could burn her.
“You don’t have to introduce a prospective partner for me anymore, because I have already found the perfect partner at your wedding.” A woman’s voice rang out from the phone, it sounded like she was bragging and looking forward to the future. “Mr Pei…I will have a perfect love life with him, then have a perfect wedding—right in front of you.”
She laughed softly, raising a hand to touch the photo frame in front of her. It looked like she was touching a real person who was hung on the wall and could not move.
“No…” Yan Qing suddenly covered her eyes, she said in a weak and pitiful tone, “No…”
“I didn’t actually want to hurt you, I didn’t think that things would turn out like this either. A photo, a rumour, almost everyone believed it, almost everyone joined in on this crusade. Do you think their lives are too boring? Or are they just too easily controlled by other people?” The woman shown on the phone said.
“Why?” Yan Qing suddenly erupted. She put down her right hand and looked at the phone—seeming to have forgotten that what she was watching was but a video.
“…There was no reason, maybe we did it just for fun.” The woman shown on the phone laughed. “Your life is too easy. You graduated from a famous school, you have looks that stand out, you even married a perfect man. We wished you well at your wedding, but the truth is that I am jealous and I hate you. I stabbed you in the back once, the rest were done by other people, including the teacher from the dorm room next door and the male teacher who used to like you. There were also people who tried to defend you, but they would stop whenever we put them down…”
“So Yan Qing, whom do you hate the most?” The woman on the phone slowly turned around, “Is it me, Pei Xuan, or the people who forced you on the path of death for fun?”
Yan Qing’s chest rose and fell continuously, she looked very agitated. Wen Yu saw what was happening and was about to stop the video, but Yan Qing reached out to stop him.
“Yun Lin.” Yan Qing stared at the woman on the phone and said, “Is that you? You’re not dead, right? You’re back for me…”
The woman on the phone finally turned around, but she looked down without saying anything. She reached out to the back of her head with a hand and untied the bun. The moment the bun was released and her hair fell, she looked up abruptly, revealing a face full of tears, gritting her teeth like a poor girl being accused of being a witch in the middle ages, caught in a trial by the mob.
A ray of pale white light was shining from above to illuminate her. She turned as white as paper in an instant and shadows were eroded out under her in all directions.
“I did not cheat on my husband!!” Ning Ning shouted at the camera. She dug her chest viciously with her right hand, as if she wanted to dig out her innocent soul for the mob to see. “Every one of you closed your eyes and covered your ears, none of you listened to my explanation, you were not willing to open your eyes to the truth. You are so sure that I am guilty, but who are you to judge me? Will my corpse bring happiness to you? Answer me! Answer me!!”
She let out a long sad wail, a sound from the deepest part of her soul, it made Yan Qing relate to her, causing her to tremble.
“Ah…” Yan Qing reached out to touch the video, it seemed like she wanted to pass through the phone and stroke the scarred woman in it, the scarred woman who was herself.
As her fingers touched the ice-cold screen, a cold voice suddenly rang out from within the screen.
“I hate all of you.”
Yan Qing was shocked.
“I hate all of you who don’t know anything yet ask me to die. I hate you too, Yun Lin. I treated you as my best friend, but you stabbed me in the back.” Ning Ning slowly took out a fruit knife from her pocket. “But the person I hate the most is you. You were the ringleader, you were the one who has ruined my past…”
She suddenly looked up to the screen with hate-filled eyes, stabbing towards the screen with both hands holding the knife while shouting, “Pei Xuan!”
The video ended here.
Yan Qing sat back on the sofa, holding up her head with her right hand as she fell silent for a moment.
“…Because of that experience in the past.” She started talking slowly after a period of time, as if she was talking to herself, “I once had a very serious mental problem. I avoided seeing a psychiatrist because of our traditional mindset. It was not until my husband found out that I was taking sleeping pills behind his back that he sent me to a psychiatrist. It was under the suggestion of the psychiatrist that I started to commit myself to charitable work, extending a helping hand to pitiful people who are in a situation similar to what I experienced once…”
Wen Yu looked at her quietly.
“…But my nightmare has not ended.” Yan Qing put her hand down and slowly turned to look at him. She laughed bitterly. “ I can forgive a lot of people, I can even forgive Yun Lin, but there is only one person I cannot forgive—Pei Xuan! Only that person. I have to find him, I have to exact my revenge on him. Only then can I end my nightmare.”
Had the movie really ended?
Maybe Yan Qing was still in a movie, depicting the fourth part of her life—a nightmare which could not be driven off.
Going through a rollercoaster of emotions made Yan Qing feel exhausted. Wen Yu fed her a cup of warm water, then had someone bring him a thin blanket to allow her to take a little nap in the lounge. He walked out of the lounge, looking down as he took out his phone. In the phone was the video Yan Qing had just sent him.
The audition video of Ning Ning.
All Yan Qing saw was Ning Ning’s spectacular performance of two different characters, but Wen Yu had noticed some details.
The two previous actresses weren’t bad, why was it that this video was able to move Yan Qing? Because of the details. Wen Yu narrowed his eyes as he played the video again, he cross-referenced it with his memory. As expected.
He had a very good memory.
Even if it was a person he saw ten years ago, a scenery he saw ten years ago, he could replicate it in a drawing today.
Ning Ning might not have noticed it herself. When she was acting—especially when she was acting as Yun Lin—her expressions, her demeanor, the way she dressed, her manner of speaking as well as her every little action were too true to life. It was as if they were really looking at Yun Lin!
Yun Lin was dead. She had died without a trace, there were no videos of her left. Although Yan Qing had talked about Yun Lin in her memoir, she was already getting on in her age when she wrote it, she could only remember the broad outline of this enemy from the past. If one were to act according to the memoir, they would only be able to act out the broad outline of her.
But now, Ning Ning had reproduced a complete Yun Lin in front of Yan Qing.
That was why Yan Qing lost herself.
“How did you know…” Wen Yu stared at Ning Ning on the screen and mumbled.
“How did you know?”
Li Bo Yue looked at Ning Ning in the office and asked her, “How did you know that Yan Qing’s adversary was named Yun Lin?”
“…I read her memoir and watched videos of her speeches.” Ning Ning answered, “She mentioned this person in these.”
Li Bo Yue nodded, he seemed to have accepted this explanation. His phone was by his hand, he would occasionally shoot glances at it, as if he was waiting for someone to call him. He randomly asked Ning Ning the question as he was bored from waiting for the call.
The phone finally rang.
“Hello.” Li Bo Yue answered the phone, the person on the other end said something that made him slowly start to smile, it was the smile obsessed with ambition that Ning Ning was most familiar with.
He crossed his arms and smiled at Ning Ning after he put the phone down. “Good news.”
Ning Ning’s heart skipped a beat. “I passed?”
“Yes, you passed the first test.” Li Bo Yue answered honestly.
Ning Ning breathed a sigh of relief and asked, “Who am I acting as? Yan Qing or Yun Lin?”
Li Bo Yue was a person who was unwilling to take the short end of the stick. When someone else wanted to use him to fill the quota up, he would refuse to take it lying down. He immediately found a location and some lighting to let Ning Ning portray two characters, the objective was clear—if she could not land the female lead, she would at least land the role of the supporting female character! They could not stay inconsequential, they must rock the boat!
Ning Ning was a lot calmer compared to him. She had not much use for money after her mother passed away. She did not act for the sake of money, it was all for the sake of improving her acting skills, so it didn’t matter if she landed the leading role or supporting role., But if she had a choice, she would prefer to act as Yan Qing, because she had acted as Yun Lin before, so it would not be a challenge.
“Yan Qing? Yun Lin?” Li Bo Yue raised his eyebrows. “They can go to hell.”
Ning Ning was stunned. “…Weren’t you waiting for the results of the audition?”
“I was waiting for the results of the audition.” Li Bo Yue laughed. “But I didn’t send the video of you acting as two roles to just them, so of course I’m waiting for an answer not only from them.”
He pulled open the drawer to take out a book and tossed it in front of Ning Ning once he finished speaking.
Ning Ning looked down, it was actually another memoir, titled <<Trial of the Witch>>.
“It’s another famous woman, another biographical film.” Li Bo Yue smiled at Ning Ning. “She had watched your audition video and had decided to give you a chance at the role of the female lead, but she has one request—you have to act as two roles in this film!”