Lan He felt his soul pulling away and took the opportunity before anyone noticed that his body was not breathing to protest to Old Bai, “I’m still working, can you refrain from pulling my soul so casually?”
Historically, Impermanents would listen to the officials unconditionally, but Lan He felt that there was obviously room for improvement and that the Nether World was too obnoxious.
Old Bai: “There is an urgent matter.”
Lan He: “What’s the urgent matter?”
Old Bai: “Give me a little money to spend.”
Lan He: “......”
…….He nearly died of anger, but because Old Bai didn’t add a “please”, he didn’t quite seem like an unfilial son.
Old Bai said emphatically, “The handling fee that we agreed upon previously has not been paid to me and all the money I had originally has been spent.”
That much money was all spent? Lan He did not know the specific purchasing power of the ingots in the underworld, but he knew when ordinary people burned joss paper for their deceased relatives, they would burn about four stacks.
His stack of ingots was of an even better quality than what ordinary people used, no matter how he calculated, Old Bai had spent the ingots too quickly.
Lan He recalled family dramas that he had acted in before and could not resist saying, “You’re treating me like an ATM.”
Old Bai: “No, a money-printing machine.”
Lan He: “......”
He was lost for words and said, “Forget it, I’m almost done, you can wait while I finish up with work here and follow me to get money.”
Lan He had been preparing for his role for the past two days and he had been preparing paper ingots for Song Qinmin and Old Bai as well. He even made some handmade incense.
A strangely happy expression was shown on Old Bai’s dead face.
Lan He saw that the production crew was becoming flustered and said, “Okay we’ll talk about it later, I’m in a rush now!”
“How could this be? He’s not breathing, he’s really not breathing!”
“Don’t touch him, I’ll call the emergency number!”
“Is there really no need for artificial respiration? I’ve learnt a little.”
Lan He slowly opened his eyes and said deliberately with a huge breath, “I’m fine, there’s no need to call an ambulance.”
Everyone saw him woke up and their tense heartstrings loosened and some of them even wanted to thank the heavens.
Just a moment ago he wasn’t breathing and scared them to death, they were afraid that something had gone wrong.
How did this…… he said that he would pass away, and he even went cold.
“You’re really fine? Do you want to go to the hospital to get a checkup? Just now, you lost consciousness and your words were strange.” Wang Mao worried. If Lan He’s body was not well, he would not dare to hire him no matter how good his acting was, as being in a production was a high intensity job.
It was a little intense just now, so Lan He adjusted his tone and said, “How can there be an issue, didn’t I say that I was going to show you an act of passing away on the spot?”
They doubted their understanding of the situation a little, what he meant was, that was also part of his act?
How could that be! He went cold, his body went cold!!
His lips were also white and there was no blood on his face, they couldn’t even feel his heartbeat, and it was obvious that his body would be going into rigor mortis soon.
Lan He felt that he was also in a difficult position and made up a reason on the spot, “I…… trained in yoga, it was just controlling my breath and lowering it to be low and weak, so it looked like I was unconscious but I was actually acting.”
Yoga? It had such a miraculous function?
Everyone did not dare to believe him for the time…… If Lan He said that he had a strange illness, they would still have believed it.
Wang Mao said suspiciously, “No matter how we called for you, you couldn’t wake up, did you really not…...faint?”
“I hadn’t finished my act, deceased people don’t have any reaction so I was just portraying that situation.” Lan He glanced at the Old Bai who was waiting for his money and said calmly and sincerely, “Just now, Maomao touched me twice and said that I went cold, and then Director Wang, you said……”
He recounted the whole situation just now as well as what everyone said and did. After all, even though he was in an impermanent state just now, his soul was still in the room and while he was talking to Old Bai, he observed the room.
After hearing what Lan He had to say, everyone gradually believed his words, even though their expressions were still full of incredulity.
Even though they had been in the industry for such a long time, they had never seen any actor who could act as a corpse to this degree. They nearly called for an ambulance.
“I thought you were pranking us at first, but I didn’t expect that it was actually an ultimate move!” Wang Mao relaxed and, thinking of something, said, “I do recall seeing on the Internet, something about a foreign Yoga master entering a state of suspended animation for a few years, but when they dug him out he revived again…… I thought it was a myth, but it does seem like it was based on reality. How many years have you trained? Is it difficult to learn?”
Lan He said with some difficulty, “It’s difficult and it depends on your talent.”
“You’re amazing.” The producer could not help applauding, “that’s too real, too amazing. I’ll say, if this role was given to Lan He, we should take a special shot of this skill of his, maybe take a long shot, let’s see if the netizens can spot his breathing.”
Lan He: “......hahahaha.” He thought to himself, this surely meant that the producer was satisfied with him?
The producer’s words made the gradually loosening atmosphere become cheerful again, and everyone started chatting with each other.
Wang Mao also laughed, “Then Lan He’s body should be pretty flexible, could you do a split for us? Can your leg go behind your head?”
Lan He: “.......”
…… Lying causes harm to both parties!
Actually, doing a split wasn’t impossible if he did it forcefully, but after he split, he didn’t know if he could ever close his legs again.
Lan He laughed unwillingly, “Those are just small tricks, since you’ve already seen the ultimate move, there’s no need to look at those small tricks.”
The man in the peaked cap pulled down his cap and interjected lightly, “This ultimate move really is great.”
To the others it was nothing since they had long known who that person was, but Lan He, who had just managed to see his face clearly, was stunned. “....... Liu Chunyang, Director Liu Chunyang?!”
With Liu Chunyang’s popularity, even if Lan He had not searched previously, if he had just pulled any young person from the streets and shown them, they would also have been able to recognise him.
Lan He did not know it, but Wang Mao and Liu Chunyang used to be classmates, it was just that one went on to film dramas and one went on to film movies, appearing in each other’s crews was not strange at all.
Liu Chunyang had a little interest in Lan He originally, but that ultimate move of passing away on the spot had left an even greater impression on him, so he immediately said, “Your performance just now was not bad. I have a drama that I’m preparing now, do you want to try for a role?”
Lan He became emotional, Liu Chunyang loved using the same people in his crew so the fact that he was allowing a new person to join them and even invited them by his own volition, was so rare!
Without waiting for Lan He to speak, Wang Mao immediately said, “Hey, is there such a thing, coming to our production crew to choose people?”
Lan He calmed down, that’s right, he came here today to audition for Wang Mao’s drama.
Liu Chunyang then said, “Then let’s make an appointment for another day, for now we can add each other on WeChat.”
Wang Mao: “......”
The producer suppressed their laugh and said, “Director Wang, Director Liu, don’t scare someone’s kid like this. Lan He, don’t be afraid, it’s not confirmed that these two production crews will have a conflict in their schedule so you should just audition around, just take this as old friends bantering.”
In actual fact they all knew that Liu Chunyang merely offered an audition to Lan He without a confirmed role in mind, but with the same conditions offered, anyone would choose to enter Liu Chunyang’s crew and film a movie.
At the same time, Lan He was also clear that intentions are not the same as confirmation. According to his experience, it wasn’t impossible that both crews would end up not choosing him as well. For him to think about whether he wanted to choose Liu Chunyang or Wang Mao now was equivalent to a little kid choosing which of the top two universities they wanted to enter when they grew up, basically thinking too much.
He said humbly, “Thank you to both directors for giving me such an opportunity.”
He had basically passed the primary selection for Wang Mao but they still had to consider, gain the opinion of the overall producer and might even request for another audition before they could confirm who would get the role.
Liu Chunyang added Lan He on WeChat as well and said that once he went home he would send Lan He a short excerpt from the script, and make an appointment on another day for an audition.
Liu Chunyang actually had not started officially choosing roles, even the main leads were still being sounded out, it was just that after seeing Lan He he felt that Lan He was a little compatible with a villain in his new movie.
Lan He’s depiction of a sudden death had incited his interest, especially since he had written a death for the villain role that also required a detailed and powerful performance. Even though Lan He had been there to audition for Wang Mao’s drama, Liu Chunyang felt that he was close to what he wanted for the role.
Lan He did not look like a villain and when he smiled he even looked cute, but the villain that Liu Chunyang wanted was exactly one that did not look like a villain, so that there would be a gap between the looks and the character. This was also part of why he was satisfied with Lan He.
But Liu Chunyang also had to judge again to see if Lan He had the capability to portray the character’s other facets, so he gave Lan He a scene that had more individuality.
After declining Director Wang’s request to see his legs go around his neck again and bidding everyone goodbye, Lan He took the subway back. He also sent a WeChat to his company to inform them about his situation, on their side, they took it seriously and asked Lan He if he wanted to look for a teacher quickly to teach him. Lan He declined.
Old Bai stood at his side and said emotionally, “It used to only be us who would walk under the earth.”
There were many people in the subway and Lan He leaned on the supporting pole, calmly looking forward, as if he could not see Old Bai.
Old Bai once again experienced his ability to play dumb. “Ah, so this is an actor?”
Lan He brought Old Bai back to his condo. In the elevator, they met the neighbour who was renting the unit beside his, a 23 year old man who was wearing a Tang suit. He had moved to the condo after Lan He, and even though they shared the same corridor and had been neighbours for more than 6 months, they usually only nodded their heads in greeting and did not even know each other’s names.
“Long time no see, I thought you moved away.” The neighbour recognised Lan He and greeted him with a smile.
Lan He pushed the elevator button and said, “I went on a business trip and only came back the day before yesterday.”
He lifted his hand and his wrist was revealed, a ring of red startling against his white skin.
His neighbour caught a glimpse of this scary imprint, “Oh, what happened here?”
“It’s nothing, I got caught in something.” Lan He vaguely said. This ring of red did not exist at first, but he wrapped the soul hooking chains that were given to him there, and after waking up he found that his wrists had gained these red lines. They did not swell and did not hurt, so he felt fine.
When they had almost reached their floor, his neighbour answered a phone call, and after a few noncommittal answers, he said, “......Boss, it sounds like a powerful ghost and it has even been eyeing you, so it’s obvious that it’s looking for a substitute body…...Yes, it’s very troublesome, there’ll be an increase in fees.”
Lan He and Old Bai could not help turning their heads slowly and looking at the neighbour.
The neighbour saw him looking over with a strange expression and quickly covered his phone, whispering, “Don’t be scared, I’m a con man.”
Lan He: “......”
Old Bai: “......”
After entering his house, Old Bai said, “Is that neighbour of yours also an actor?”
Lan He: “Why would you say that?”
Old Bai: “There is clearly a smell of a Gu ghost on him and he even pretended that he could not see me, saying that he was a con man.”
Lan He was a man from Hunan, his mother was even from the Miao tribe, but because there was a localisation from the Chinese, he himself was registered as a local Chinese citizen and not from the tribes. There used to be a huge trend of Gu witches there and he often heard stories about the Gu worms so this was nothing out of the ordinary for him, but he had really not noticed that his neighbour was nurturing a Gu, “He probably was worried that I would be scared or that I would think that he was crazy.”
Lan He did not care much about what his neighbour was doing and told Old Bai, “Stand here without moving, I’ll go get some money.”
Old Bai was upset, why did he have to stand, why wasn’t he allowed to sit?
Lan He took out all the gold ingots that he had folded and the incense that he had made, these materials were all bought using Song Qinmin’s money.
Compared to the moldy ingots and inferior incense that Song Qinmin had been given, Lan He’s incense was made using his grandfather’s recipe, incense powder grinded from the bark of the Nanmu tree, sandalwood and other herbal chinese medicine powders mixed together, pasted onto the straight bamboo stick and dried in the sun.
He piled the incense and ingots into the bowl to burn.
Old Bai ate the incense while lying on the sofa, showing an expression of extreme enjoyment. This was…… extremely detailed craft made by hand, an incense that was made with a delicious formula, he was ecstatic. After a long while, he said dreamily, “Fold some oxen and horses for me, they’re useful……”
“I can fold them for you, but you have to agree that you can’t summon me as you wish in the future.” Lan He said.
Old Bai did not expect that Lan He would agree so easily, oxen and horses were much more laborious to fold compared to ingots, so he agreed, “Of course, of course!”
Lan He received Old Bai’s affirmative and then took out a stack of yellow paper to start folding.
Old Bai saw the size of the yellow paper and realised why Lan He had agreed so easily. Ordinary craftsmen, when making paper oxen and horses, needed to use bamboo strips to make a skeleton and paper paste to form the shape, so it was very tedious.
But this method of transformation was in the spirit of the object, in what was imbued.
If one learnt the technique well, even cut paper could be transformed into oxen and horses, since the size did not matter.
Lan He did not learn how to cut paper for a living, but the paper the size of his palm gradually took shape in his hands. It was much less tedious compared to ordinary craftsmen.
— Lan He’s grandfather used to do this to save time, but mostly, even if it could save time, it needed to be made bigger and more detailed. This was because in addition to serving the underworld, it also served as giving face to the underworld.
Lan He folded while thinking about the scene that was given to him by Liu Chunyang, he did not know anyone who was a psychotic villain and even though he had seen a lot of them in dramas, he felt that Old Bai could have seen a real one, so he gathered up all his materials and said, “Say, an abnormal person who doesn’t care about life, usually, what kind of characteristics would they have?”
“There are so many, evil people, evil spirits…… they’re all the same.” Old Bai comfortably raised his feet, incense smoke swirling around him getting sucked in, “In the past, I was ordered to capture a vicious spirit, he harmed people in life, and committed evil after dying. He was surrounded by a bloody aura.”
Old Bai told his story while getting excited and finally said, “If there is a chance later, I’ll take you to see some malicious spirits, you’ll know then.”
After inhaling all the incense, he got up and collected all the ingots, saying, “I’ll leave first, the oxen and horses you can send to me.”
For the people in the Nether World, “burning” and “sending” had the same meaning.
“Alright.” Lan He had only wanted to do paperwork at first and was unwilling to go out on excursions, but the role that he was trying to figure out made him want to go out with Old Bai to gain experience and see for himself. Things on paper were hard to feel, going out to experience was a better option.
Old Bai had left already, but Lan He continued to fold the paper oxen and horse and was finally left with a piece of paper, so he ripped it apart and folded it into a little donkey.
It was finished. Lan He poured a cup of water to drink, it was almost 12 but he heard a great disturbance outside. Lan He’s water spilled on the table.
What happened… Lan He wiped the little donkey that got wet and got up to look out of the door using the peep-hole.
He saw the neighbour that he had met only a few hours ago outside, his arms bleeding, door wide open and the inside of his house a mess. The elevator doors closed and opened abnormally, and the light in the corridor flickered.
Lan He looked at it calmly for three seconds and asked across the door, “Dude, are you okay?”
He sniffed with his nose and vaguely detected a smelly odour.
“No, no problem, I merely fell! You don’t need to come out!” His neighbour yelled.
Lan He: “I wasn’t planning on coming out, but if you continue shouting, I’m going to call the property manager.”
The neighbour’s face within the peep-hole was a little distorted, or maybe it was actually really distorted.
He supported himself against the wall and walked towards the stairs, but the elevator doors suddenly opened wide and a green sleeve shot out, pulling him into the elevator and leaving a trail of blood on the floor.
And then with a “Kuang!” sound, the elevator doors closed vehemently.
Lan He’s brows furrowed, green? New ghosts would wear white, after a long time they could wear other colours. Colours that were bright and pure like red and green were not simply worn by any ghost, they had to be powerful ghosts. Powerful ghosts, he recalled what his neighbour had said in the elevator.
Lan He turned around and pulled out a slip of paper, wrote a line of words and burnt it, sending it to Old Bai.
But Old Bai may not be able to come right away, perhaps he would only reach in time to bring his neighbour to the Nether World.
Lan He did not like to deal with the underworld. By chance, he had become an Impermanent, and he was not someone who stood by while others were harmed. After thinking about it, he cut a mask and threw himself onto the sofa, his spirit leaving his body. It was the first time he became impermanent of his own will and passed away…… no, left his body.
Lan He’s mask blocked most of his face and his eyes were also deliberately obscured by the high hat that he pressed down. He saw that the elevator had stopped at the basement and quickly went down from the stairs, as expected, floating was indeed fast.
There were only dim lights in the parking area. The elevator was still stopped on this floor with shut doors, so he went forward to press the button.
The elevator door opened slowly.
His neighbour was sitting in a pool of blood and was still breathing, but it seemed that he was not quite conscious.
If that vague stench was still there……
Lan He looked around vigilantly, but suddenly saw his neighbour lift his face up. The bloody face suddenly smiled evilly, seemingly inhuman. It was obvious that his neighbour was possessed.
At the same time, something brushed by Lan He’s cheek and when he glanced down, it turned out to be long black hair. Behind him, someone coldly said, “An Impermanent? Another person who is being nosy……”
Her words, Lan He could barely describe it, it just seemed like every word had an aura of blood and resentment.
So…… Not just one powerful ghost, but two? And their hostile aura was so heavy that they dared to provoke an underworld official.
Old Bai hadn’t arrived yet, and Lan He was only a new part-time Impermanent, he had to consider how to protect himself and at the same time ensure that his neighbour still lived.
“It’s a misunderstanding, I’m just passing by.” Lan He said slowly.
“Ha…… Mr Impermanent really can joke.” The long hair moved even without wind and obscured Lan He’s face.
Lan He slowly turned around, “Look at my hat.”
Only to see that standing behind him was a red clothed female. In total, there was one red and one green.
In terms of face, they were actually not as scary as some of the special effects makeup that Lan He had seen during filming, but the smell of blood from them was too thick and it was almost unbearable for Lan He’s sensitive nose.
Little Red saw the words on Lan He’s hat and could not help but read it out, “Since I’m Already Here?”
What the h*ll.
Even a powerful ghost would be confused after seeing this.
Lan He touched his hat and said, “You’ve never seen this slogan right? Even though I’m an underworld official, you guys should know, there are many types of work in the Nether World, and this situation is not in my job scope.”
Little Red was suspicious and said, “All underworld officials are busybodies.”
The neighbour who was possessed by Little Green asked as well, “What department are you in?”
With a sincere expression, Lan He said, “I’m a chef.”