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Chapter 24: Maybe She Was Born An Actress.

TL: Resonance


Ruan Yesheng got up at 5am the next day. She was absent minded as she was a little worried about the shadow she saw last night.


Feng Tangtang was waiting in her room early in the morning, attending to her needs as Xi Mo’s personal assistant. She went down to buy breakfast and served it before Ruan Yesheng like a lackey. “Sister Xi, eat it while it’s hot. You will have to put on make up later on and probably won’t have the time to eat.”


Ruan Yesheng was still thinking about something. She was too familiar with Feng Tangtang in her previous daily life, familiar to the point that she has taken some things for granted. In a moment of distraction, she forgot her current situation and said amiably, “Tangtang, I don’t really have an appetite. You can have it.”


Feng Tangtang trembled in shock. “…”


Is Sister Xi still half asleep or does she have a unique kind of temper when she just woke up?


But now that she thinks about Sister Xi and her interaction for the past few days, it seems that sister Xi has indeed treated her gentler than before. Even though she is still cold and indifferent, she could feel genuine concern from sister Xi sometimes. She dazedly felt that sister Xi looked at her sometimes with caring eyes. She once suspected whether she got used to the abuse[1] and got Stockholm syndrome. After all the abuse, she started having illusions that sister Xi treats her very kindly. She almost went to see a psychologist.


Ruan Yesheng saw that Feng Tangtang’s expression looked as if she just got struck by lightning and immediately realised her mistake. She gave Feng Tangtang a glance and said calmly, “I learned it from that Ruan Ruan of yours. Was it similar?”


Feng Tangtang: “…”


Then, she immediately clapped, “You’re the film empress, how can it not be similar! It… It was too similar. You were simply Ruan Ruan!”


Ruan Yesheng showed a meaningful expression.


Feng Tangtang immediately worried whether her flattery had failed and even rubbed Xi Mo up the wrong way.


Ruan Yesheng faced the mirror and adjusted her clothes. She will be putting on make up later on, so she was currently without makeup. “I will call you Tangtang from now on.”


Feng Tangtang: “…”


Ruan Yesheng purposely looked back at her and sneered, “Is the word Tangtang patented by Ruan Yesheng?”


If Feng Tangtang doesn’t show her loyalty now, when else would she do so? She hurriedly replied, “No no! I just felt closer when sister Xi called me this way. Many people around me call me this way too. I like it very much!”


Ruan Yesheng had a sullen look and no longer spoke. The corner of her lips hooked up only as she approached the door.


When she arrived at the dressing room, there were already quite a few people there. Xi Mo was also there. Yan Tinghuan drank last night and probably wouldn’t get up before noon. Xi Mo was too lazy to call her, so she came down alone early in the morning. With no one sticking to her, she felt refreshed.


It takes a very long time to complete the makeup for ancient costumes. Just the hair alone can take half a day. To save time, the hairstylist has already started working on Xi Mo’s hair. Ruan Yesheng didn’t speak and sat straight down on the empty seat beside Xi Mo. Xi Mo also saw Ruan Yesheng in the mirror.


The hairstylist was currently chatting with Xi Mo. “Miss Ruan, your skin is so nice.”


Xi Mo smiled and responded casually, “How could it be. I feel that Xi Mo’s skin is much better than mine.”


Ruan Yesheng unceremoniously gave her a glare, but this glare had a more alluring touch to it.


When the hairstylist noticed Ruan Yesheng who was sitting at the side, she was stunned for a moment. Then, she laughed and said without offending both sides, “Haha, sister Xi having good skin is something everyone knows. Leader, sister Xi has come. She’s over here!”


Ruan Yesheng started enjoying the treatment that originally belonged to Xi Mo as her hair gets styled personally by the leader of the hairstylist. 


The two of them sat in the same row and their sights crossed as both of them turned their heads to look at the mirror reflecting their true self.


The atmosphere was very strange.


The two hairstylists thought that the both of them had stiff necks at the same time and sprained their necks.


The two of them looked away only after the production coordinator came in to distribute today’s work schedule and the script for this afternoon filming. They each took a stack of paper and lowered their heads to read.


The schedule was fully packed with work that even a needle cannot be inserted in between. After putting on the makeup, there will be an start-up ceremony[2]. Filming will start in the afternoon, and there’s also a night scene which they would have to film at night. The workload is very heavy.


Ding E is Deng Sui’s maid, so her costume would be plainer in comparison. She is older than Deng Sui. When she first makes her appearance in the show, she is already of marriageable age[3]. For her first style, her hair accessory only consisted of two elegant hair pins, one green and one white. Hence, Xi Mo’s make up was done earlier than Ruan Yesheng. Ruan Yesheng’s original body’s eyes were born alluring and slightly hooked at the edge. In order for her appearance to be more in line with the role, the makeup artist specially drew a colder eyeliner. Her eyebrows and the corner of her eyes were also dealt with, which immediately curbed the amorous feeling overflowing from her body. To add on, Xi Mo’s facial expression and eyes were calm when Xi Mo is quiet, making her very fitting of Ding E’s image. When the people around looked at her, they only felt that she was a beauty that came out of ancient times. She is Ding E.


Her first set of clothes is a cyan wavy Ju dress with green embossing on the edges of her clothes and a graceful white innerwear. The colours look plain and neat, but if you take a close look, you can see the exquisite patterns, making Xi Mo look incomparably dignified and beautiful. When she came out of the fitting room, everyone couldn’t help but stare at her.


Xi Mo never does things sloppily. After finishing her makeup, Lin Qitang took a look. Once he felt satisfied with it too, she went to the other side to take photos.


As Deng Sui was born in a prestigious family, her makeup, clothing and accessories were of course very elegant. The clothes were made with reference to Hanfu clothes as a basis. For visual beauty effect, they have added more improved design to the base Hanfu clothes. As the plot progresses, Deng Sui would keep growing as well. There were tens of sets of clothes for her. During each photo shoot, the crew would choose the most representative clothing and make up for each stage. The photos taken would be sent to the official blog and major media websites and used for promotion at different time periods.


In order to highlight Deng Sui’s character setting of “beautiful appearance, unparalleled beauty” stated in the script, a lot of effort was put into the makeup. The time changed and changed. Ruan Yesheng also gave some comments at appropriate times and they finally settled on the best plan.


When Ruan Yesheng walked into the photo studio, she was wearing palace clothes which had elegant pink as its main colour. She was wearing a tassel attached to jade and had an elegant bearing, looking beautiful yet not tedious. Makeup is really amazing. The coldness originally carried by Xi Mo’s appearance is now completely concealed. Ruan Yesheng held together the sleeves of her palace clothes with both hands and walked step by step into the lights. During her movement, the temperament that was required as Deng Sui immediately manifested.


“Excellent!” Lin Qitang complimented greatly. 


Everyone else also complimented saying ‘As expected of sister Xi.’.


Xi Mo sat at one side and watched Ruan Yesheng lowering her brows, lowering her head in thought, or looking up at the camera with a smile as requested by the photographer. There was a close-up on her face, of which she looked like a blooming peach blossom, so bright and dazzling.


That face belonged to Xi Mo herself, but at this moment, she couldn’t seem to see her own appearance.


Ruan Yesheng had covered it up and put on Deng Sui’s skin.


Maybe she was born an actress.


Xi Mo thought. She looked away and flipped over to the next page of her script in rare calmness.


A long time later, the first batch of publicity photos were finally taken. After leaving it for retouching during post-production period, Lin Qitang clapped his hands to attract the people’s attention and said, “There are still a few sets of publicity photos to be taken afterwards successively. At that time, everyone can look at the work schedule given out by the production coordinator and follow accordingly. Now, let’s head over to join the start-up ceremony.”


Ruan Yesheng asked Lu Qingming who was next to her softly, “How much media would be here?”


Lu Qingming replied, “Director Lin didn’t invite much media this time, they are all our own people. Even the fans do not know, you can relax a little.”


Ruan Yesheng raised her eyes and said indifferently, “When the media is taking photos, is it that they will not take my whole body? They will purposely let me pass by the camera lens and take a picture of me only when half my back figure can be seen at some corner?”


Lu Qingming laughed and replied, “I knew you would understand even if I didn’t say it.”


For some crews, their start-up ceremony is very grand and they can’t wait to invite all the media to come and report and have fans crowding all over. However, Lin Qitang had previously released information of the supposed “male lead and female lead that are starring in the show” gimmick to trick fans and gain hype. There is a lot of hype about who will be the starring in the show on the Internet. During this start-up ceremony, he has also purposely remained low-key. When the time comes, they just have to release photos of the scene which they “deliberately concealed yet couldn’t cover up”. It’s like dropping a bomb into water that is already boiling. This can increase discussion about the show and will definitely be more effective than directly publicising.


“Lin Qitang that sly fox.” After saying so, Ruan Yesheng looked towards Xi Mo’s side. Xi Mo didn’t look at her, so she turned to leave.


The start-up ceremony is held at the scene to be filmed this afternoon, which is the Deng’s mansion garden. As usual, they put up the incense holder and placed their incense on it, then placed the roasted pig as offering. Pulling behind was the characteristic red banner of chinese society— “Sui Ting” crew starting with good luck! It was also quite interesting to think about. Whenever a crew starts filming, they would make it seem like they are a feudal system with taoist priest making offerings to heaven. All they were short of was the priest holding a sword and spitting a mouth of water on the table full of candles and shouting ‘evildoers to leave’. Who knows who made these rules.


Lin Qitang brought along the producer, director, screenwriter and actors of the crew to pray, putting on a show for the invited media.


The photographer came to greet Ruan Yesheng, saying that sister Xi has worked hard. Ruan Yesheng knew what the photographer wanted. Nodding her head, she turned and walked towards the direction of the crowd. During this walk, she also had to act casual like nothing unusual is happening. She walked a few steps and reached Lu Qingming. As she talked to him, she turned her head slightly, revealing only half her face to the camera lens. They still have to film this afternoon, so her makeup wasn’t removed. Her neatly bunned up hair had a jade hairpin which happened to enhance the inexplicable feeling of obscurity. Behind her was the wooden-like Lu Qingming as backdrop. 


It was rare for the photographer to be able to take a posed photograph that could actually give out a real sense of accidental encounter. Feeling ecstatic, the photographer took many photos and thanked Ruan Yesheng repeatedly.


Ruan Yesheng glanced left and right and saw Xi Mo standing alone beside the wall. The wall had an antique flavour. A few flourishing tree branches sticked out from above the wall, its shadow spotting over Xi Mo’s cyan and white costume. Some golden light spilled through the leaves as well, making Xi Mo have the cool feeling of being away from the bustle. 


This made Ruan Yesheng have the thought of going over there.


The weather was hot, but for some reason, seeing Xi Mo standing there made her feel cool.


She thought so and indeed did so. Lu Qingming who was beside her saw her move and said, “Where are you going? Let Gu Qisong follow you. Don’t go too far.”


After what had happened in the hotel, Lu Qingming often displayed great concern like that of a grandma and wanted the assistant cum bodyguard Gu Qisong to follow for many things.


Gu Qisong is tall and taciturn. He’s an example of the type of person who would keep silent and wouldn’t respond no matter what you do. Occasionally, he will say a cold joke he learned from god knows where. The joke is so cold that everyone is dead inside, but Feng Tangtang has a very good impression of him. Whenever she meets someone, she will say that brother Gu is very humorous and that his jokes are very funny. This made Ruan Yesheng feel that Feng Tangtang’s poor IQ had not only confused her heart thoroughly, but also shattered her hearing, vision, and comprehension along the way.


“No need. I’m only going towards the walls to cool off. Isn’t there a tree there?” Ruan Yesheng waved her hand. Gu Qisong was originally holding an umbrella for her. Seeing her walk away, he knowingly held the umbrella and followed after her not too closely yet not too far away. Seeing Gu Qisong heading over, Lu Qingming is finally rest assured to go settle other matters.


When Ruan Yesheng was halfway there, Xi Mo also noticed her and Xi Mo’s expression was slightly perplexed.


However, Xi Mo did not walk away.


Ruan Yesheng walked until she reached beneath the shadows of the tree.


The two stood left and right. They both didn’t speak and just looked at the front. The midsummer sunlight seemed to have captured all the surrounding sound at this moment, leaving behind only the sound of cicada on the tree. Hence, even the cicada cries became empty.


After a long time, the two of them were still silent. The two stood planted there like two trees, neither of them talking. It was rather strange to say: The weather was so hot, beside her stood the unwelcomed Ruan Yesheng who took her body, and they were also in this kind of awkward silence. When combined together, these few things were completely able to create a blasting firecracker, but Xi Mo actually didn’t even feel the slightest irritability.


She felt that the current situation is reasonable. The quietness and comfort were rare to come by, she even felt a little bit of reluctance to break it.


However, Ruan Yesheng broke the silence after a while. “In the last few days, did you see anything that doesn’t make you feel good about it?”


This question was strange and came out of nowhere. Xi Mo replied indifferently, “Yes.”


“Where did you see it? What does it look like?”


“Right here.” Xi Mo replied, “You.”


Ruan Yesheng: “…”


Then, Ruan Yesheng narrowed her eyes and said with a smile, “You didn’t answer the question correctly. What I asked was something that didn’t make you feel good. Very obviously, ‘something like me’ is not considered a thing.”


What she is now is Xi Mo’s original appearance. Xi Mo took her sharp words head on and her heart finally exploded like firecrackers. No matter when it happens, her anger will explode eventually.


Xi Mo crossed her arms and gave Ruan Yesheng a sideway glance. “Then you really can’t compare to me. At least, I feel that ‘something like me’ is still a thing.” Whether it’s a thing or not, it’s not hers anyway. She can say whatever she wants.


Ruan Yesheng: “…”


Xi Mo leaned over in pretense. Leaving only some room in the middle, she continued, “I just don’t know what kind of thing is ‘something like me’? Take a look, can you tell?” 


Ruan Yesheng shook her head and also pretended to take a close look at the body that originally belonged to her. After she has seemingly appraised it, she said, “Forgive my imperceptive eyes. I can only see that ‘something like you[4]’ is very beautiful. Who cares what kind of thing she is, isn’t it enough that she is beautiful?”


“That’s true. Who cares what kind of thing she is, isn’t it enough that she is thick skinned?” Xi Mo gave a fake smile.


Ruan Yesheng saw that Xi Mo was fighting back pretty smoothly and did not mention anything else. With that, she knew that Xi Mo really didn’t see anything strange and felt relieved.


At this moment, a ball of black was suddenly thrown over from outside the wall. It seemed to be wrapped in a layer of black cloth on the outside.


That thing appeared so abruptly. Xi Mo caught a glimpse of it and avoided it instinctively. At the same time, she agilely pulled Ruan Yesheng along to dodge one side. However, Xi Mo was still wearing her Ju dress which restrained her movement. When she dodged,  she twisted her ankle and almost fell.


Gu Qisong who was nearby saw this scene and immediately ran over here with a grim face.


In the end, they didn’t get smashed by the thing. Xi Mo secretly stretched the slightly hurting leg and let go of Ruan Yesheng.


Ruan Yesheng didn’t say anything at all during the entire process. She was only panting and her back was covered in cold sweat. She looked fixedly at the thing that landed less than half a meter away from her. The ground was splashed with blood and a few feathers flew around messily.


This is a rooster.


It was already dead.


Someone made a neat cut on this rooster’s neck, then threw it over. The black cloth underneath its body used to wrap the rooster earlier spread open. Hence, the rooster just laid there with a twisted neck and its eyes opened. The cloudy white part of its eyes was turned out and looking at Ruan Yesheng.


Its posture was strange and looked like a dead person whose neck was cut and bled until the ground was covered in blood.


Gu Qisong retired from the special force and his body responded quickly in all aspects. Fortunately, not many people looked at this side. In order to avoid causing a panic, he quickly put away the folding umbrella, threw the chicken inside and wrapped it up tightly. Ruan Yesheng was obviously shocked and still hasn’t come back to her senses. Xi Mo just happened to be standing beside her, so Gu Qisong stuffed the chicken into her hands.


Xi Mo was suddenly stuffed with a chicken: “…”


Gu Qisong had already moved away quickly and climbed the wall to get to the other side.


Xi Mo carried the chicken and stared at Ruan Yesheng.


Ruan Yesheng still has an absent-minded look. Xi Mo thought that she got shocked to the point her soul flew out and her heart immediately felt a little constricted. She didn’t know why, but she just didn’t feel that comfortable. She pondered for a moment and wanted to comfort Ruan Yesheng. However, ever since young, the word comfort wasn’t even in her dictionary.


Hence, Xi Mo was stuck there for a while. After a while, Xi Mo finally forced out a sentence with a stiff expression, “Don’t be scared, the chicken is with me.” 


Only then did Ruan Yesheng slowly lift her head to look at her: “…”

[1] Abuse – I don’t think she meant the literal sense of abuse. Probably just Xi Mo being a cold person in general. The chinese word used is also used by readers when they comment that the writer is abusing them through angst story writing.

[2] Start-up ceremony – 

I only translated a small part of it for understanding in this novel, but there are some pictures of what the ceremony is like if you are interested to learn more. 

According to the website, the audience are becoming more interested in what’s happening behind the screen. Other than what can be seen on television and cinemas, the audience is becoming more curious of the behind-the-scenes acts. Hence, pictures of their initial start of filming, behind-the-scenes moments and set location are exposed to the public. In the chinese film industry, whenever there is a new show being filmed, there is a need for a start-up ceremony. They will choose an auspicious day and have a worshipping ceremony.

At this start-up ceremony, the table used for the worshipping ceremony will be covered in a red cloth and is used to worship Emperor Guan (worshipped as god of war, wealth and protector of merchants in the past but more as god of protection, wealth and business is modern days). On the table, there is an incense holder as well as roasted suckling pig and fresh fruit presented as offerings. The camera most often used would be covered with a red cloth. The leading actor, producer, director and screenwriter of the crew will pray in turn. At the end, they will remove the red cloth covering the camera and announce the start of filming.

[3] Marriageable age in ancient China – 15 years old

[4] Xi Mo and Ruan Yesheng are using the same words 这样子 over and over again. They have different meanings depending on the context of the sentence which is difficult to get across in English translation. The main meaning of the words in this context is “something like this” which doesn’t flow well if I just insert them into the sentences. Other meanings of 这样子 are: ‘in this way’, ‘this appearance of mine’.

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