"Do you have it too?" asked Lan He.
"I do," answered Cheng Haidong as he rolled up his sleeves, revealing the five-colored string bracelet. "The boss also said that I already have the peace charm requested from Juehui Temple. I also rang the bell to pray for blessings the last time I went there. I, however, think that for a Chosen One like me, the more protection is nevertheless the better."
—After a while, Cheng Haidong's mentality had completely recovered. He even treated his successive ghost-bumping experiences as idle talk at the drinking table, with probably no less than ten tables of people who had heard of his past deeds.
"You have to help me testify later. I told Editor Wu about this matter today. I was thinking of giving her some writing materials, but she said I was babling nonsense," said Cheng Haidong. The Editor Wu he’s talking about was referring to the screenwriter of this drama, Wu Ling. She had been on standby all this while to keep up with all the ideas that Liu Chunyang would add from time to time.
Lan He: "If you are still talking about that Lan White Impermanence, naturally no one will believe you..."
Cheng Haidong stubbornly straightened his body, "I don't care... Aiyo!"
His waist hurt as soon as his whole body was strained.
Cheng Haidong was a Steadicam cameraman. His equipment was super heavy. Even an average person would feel some discomfort on their waist after doing a day of desk work, not to mention a heavy-load worker like him.
"No, this won't do. Help me buy some pain relief patches, ba. Mine was used up," said Cheng Haidong to Lan He.
Lan He had no part in the two scenes after this, unlike Cheng Haidong, who would get back to work immediately after this short break. He truly had no time to go out and buy pain relief patches for himself.
"Okay," agreed Lan He as he then went out.
There were quite a few stores in the film and television base. When Lan He was buying the pain relief patch, he heard two girls talking:
"... That prop was specially-bought according to the original work. We also bought several spares at that time. Although they weren't real antiques, they also looked quite old-fashioned. They weren't cheap at all. We even spent several thousands of yuan on them."
"Yeah, so now everyone says that the ghost is an elegant ghost who targeted good-quality inkstones."
"But we have taken so much footage with the inkstone before. What should be done now? Retake them all?"
"It can't be helped, right? We haven't been able to find them since they disappeared. No idea whether or not the work will be stopped to do ritual. Seems like it's still being debated."
Lan He felt that they should be the legendary next-door crew that was being haunted. This crew could also be said to have inadvertently helped him. But Lan He didn't insert a word. He silently took the things he needed and went back after paying for them.
When Lan He arrived back on set, he noticed the presence of Screenwriter Wu Ling from afar. By her side was a girl with no make-up on.
As for Cheng Haidong, He was taking advantage of the gap when the director was giving the actors some directions, and said this to Wu Ling, "Wu-jie, look! Lin He has come back. If you don't believe me, you should ask him whether I have really met ghosts before!"
"Editor Wu." Lan He and Wu Ling greeted each other. He didn't recognize the girl standing beside Wu Ling. She looked familiar, must be a member of the crew. So he just amicably nodded to her. That girl also stared at Lan He and smiled.
Wu Ling laughingly said, "It's not that I don't believe you. But this version of yours was too biased."
Cheng Haidong asked, "What was biased? Wu-jie, I'm asking you. Do you know how Nüwa repaired the sky?"
Wu Ling promptly replied, "Using a five-colored stone, ah."
Cheng Haidong shook his finger in disagreement. "I have a northerner friend who told me that the legend in their village was like this: The Northeast corner wasn't closed tightly, so Goddess Nüwa simply used icicles to plug it. That was why the Northeast became particularly cold. Even a gust of northeast wind is also cold."
Wu Ling: "......"
Other people: "......"
Wu Ling was actually a bit convinced. "That makes sense too. There are those non-mainstream versions with local characteristics. Nevertheless, I have never heard of Nüwa repairing the sky with ice, nor of Impermanence wearing the hat inscribed with 'Since It's Here Already'. The one popular among the folk were two versions: The Black and White Impermanence would have their hat inscribed with 'Good Fortune at First Sight' and 'The Whole World at Peace' or 'You Also Came' and 'About to Catch You'..."
She still wanted to laugh a bit when she thought about it: "If one of them was inscribed with 'Since It's Here Already', what would the other one be? 'Peace Wherever You Are'? 'The Kid is Still Small'?"
She looked all around and caught Lan He's sight, seeking his approval.
Lan He of course gave her an affirmative look: "En!"
"Wrong!" The girl who'd been staying quiet on the side suddenly opened her eyes wide. "Wu-jie, it really was 'Since It's Here Already'!"
"...... Hah?" Wu Ling paused for a bit, "What are you talking about?"
"Wu-jie, believe me." The girl said seriously, "It really was 'Since It's Here Already'. I had a performance last month with my partner. As soon as the performance ended, we were met with dirty things. They were looking for us to perform some plays. Later, there came this ghost official wearing a hat scribbled with the sentence 'Since It's Here Already'. He was the one who let us go back."
It's alright if she just said that. Yet she also stared at Lan He as she sought their approval.
Lan He: "......"
He just mentioned how this girl looked familiar!
It turned out she wasn't a member of the crew but was the Sichuan opera actor he had previously met! She merely took off her make-up, so it wasn't recognizable at first sight.
—Actually, they especially invited a professional because there were two scenes in the drama that needed a Sichuan opera actor. It just so happened that Wu Ling was acquainted with Meng Qing, so they found her to do it. At this moment, she hadn't put on make-up yet and was talking with Wu Ling.
Meng Qing also didn't recognize Lan He. How would she dare to stare at the Impermanence's face at that time? Granted that she was, the only thing that could be seen would be his pair of eyes. Lan He was wearing a mask after all.
"My God! Beauty, you’ve also met a ghost official?" Cheng Hai was very excited as if meeting his own relatives. "How great! I've been wronged for way too long! I did say it, didn't I? There was a ghost official who wrote this sentence on his hat. They all thought I talked drivel!"
"Is that so......?" Wu Ling initially thought Cheng Haidong's statement was absurd, but after seeing the example he brought up, she began to believe and doubt at the same time. Now that Meng Qing, who was a total stranger to Cheng Haidong, had said the same thing, still claiming that it was a personal experience to add, this matter should really be worth pondering.
"Kinda interesting. I still need to ask some people... In fact, this wording is more dramatic than the other two versions!" Wu Ling became more excited the more she talked. "This kind of Impermanence really made matters more interesting."
Lan He suddenly felt apprehensive. This wouldn't be the beginning of a brand-new legend, would it?
At this moment, Liu Chunyang gave an order. Cheng Haidong went back to his position and got ready for shooting. Meng Qing also prepared to put on make-up.
Wu Ling noted down what Meng Qing had just said to her phone.
Lan He asked her, "Editor Wu, are you planning to write a supernatural drama next?"
"Yeah. I want to write drama with supernatural elements, that's why I collect writing materials from everywhere. Oh, that's right, Lan He, I heard the shooting boss say your grandpa had opened a joss paper shop. Have you had any similar experiences?" Wu Ling asked.
"Eh...This. If you believe them, then they exist. If you don't believe them, then they don't." Lan He perfunctorily said, "I knew some of the taboos of the older generations. Maybe I can tell you about those?"
"Yes, please!" Wu Ling wasn't actually interested in whether ghosts really existed in this world. If there indeed were, she only wanted to know whether the story of that ghost was coherent, whether or not the setting was bizarre.
Lan He recalled as he spoke: "Such as the scissors we used when making joss papers. They can't be taken to other people's homes, for that would bring bad luck..."
Lan He shared the folklore he knew with Wu Ling. After Wu Ling finished noting it down, she muttered to herself as if unconsciously, "I don't know how many people would have heard of 'Since It's Here Already'."
Lan He: "It's hard to say."
... That mainly depends on how many living people I will meet in the future.
Each day, the production team would spend ten or so hours shooting. Occasionally during the period, Lan He would not be needed for some scenes, allowing him time to rest. Once the work of the day was finished, he would go back to take a bath and prepare for the next day's play.
Lan He stepped out of his room in the evening with a sleepy expression on his face. He wanted to go to the hotel's vending machines to buy some drink
By chance, Cheng Xingyang was also there to buy drinks. He raised his chin when noticing Lan He, playfully calling his character's name, "Xunchun."
Lan He also wanted to joke with Chen Xingyang, but instead of using Zhang Xunchun's surface appearance, he lowered his face, then used an eerie voice to call the Male Lead's name, "Meng Jing--"
As soon as he called out, the light flashed twice.
The floor was totally silent without any human voices and the light simply flickered like so. Chen Xingyang was startled for real.
"Damned! Frightened me to death!"
"I also didn't know the light would flash," said Lan He as he unrestrainedly laughed.
Both men exchanged a few words before going back together. Their shadows were drawn extraordinarily long by the lengthy corridor.
There were some decorative cabinets arranged on the hotel's corridor, and statues were placed on them. When they walked past, a bang was heard from one cabinet, as if something had smashed inside.
"What's that?" Chen Xingyang thought the movement was too big, so he stretched out his hand and wanted to take a look.
"Don't look, it may be a mouse." Lan He totally couldn't understand people with too much curiosity.
Let it make a noise if it wants to make a noise. It wasn't an alarm anyway. Why the need to open the cabinet and take a look?
Chen Xingyang had already opened the cabinet, only to find that there were several inkstones stacked on top of each other inside of it. One of the inkstones laid slanted. It seemed to be the source of the bang just then.
Those inkstones had smooth and clear color, were exquisite in their texture, and looked old-fashioned. Chen Xingyang took one and gave it a look. He turned his head back as he doubtfully asked, "Didn't the production team next door......lose their inkstones?"
It wouldn't be these things, right? His voice gradually drifted away. He had also daringly picked up the inkstone himself! Hand trembling, he almost got the inkstone to fall.
A quiet voice rang. At the same time, Lan He quickly reached out to catch the falling inkstone. These inkstones looked exquisite, simple, and unadorned, but they exuded a faint fishy smell.
It was that quiet voice again.
Chen Xingyang couldn't hear it.
Lan He however did. So, he swept a glance as if carelessly to the side, only to see a man with a long beard and tattered long gown at some point had squatted beside the cabinet. He whispered, "Don't take away my tombstone again."
Lan He's hand almost weakened in that instant. Silently, he put the inkstone back.
It was clearly an inkstone, how was it a tombstone?
Lan He had no time to ponder too much. He said to Chen Xingyang, who had had his scalp numbed, "Perhaps they were stolen from the team and were hidden here. Aren't they living in the same hotel as us? Don't beat the grass to startle the snake, let's first leave them where they were. We'll talk to their team about this in private tomorrow."
Cheng Xingyang was originally frightened, but when he heard how Lan He said this with a calm and earnest expression, he thought that was quite right. It was making sound by itself just then, maybe was nothing more than being unsteadily put. He was influenced by the gossip and made a fuss out of nothing. "OK!"
The long-gowned ghost hugged his legs while continuing to mutter with a slight bitterness.
Lan He turned him a blind eye. He stood up and said, "Then, go back first and rest. Good night."
Even though playing the villain character can be called a rise in rank and can be counted as the second male lead, Lan He was still a small transparent. He was arranged to live with Cheng Haidong in a standard hotel room, not that he minded that, anyway. When he went back, Cheng Haidong had already fallen asleep. He also prepared to lay down.
It was just that, the long-gowned ghost might have heard of his agreement with Chen Xingyang to report tomorrow, so he shuttled back and forth between their rooms, mouth kept harping on, "Don't ... Don't move my tombstone ..."
Lan He was so disturbed by the noise that he tossed and turned but still couldn't fall asleep. Every time he was about to sleep, the long-gowned ghost came from Chen Xingyang's room.
Tombstone. What tombstone? ... Lan He was so annoyed that he simply separated his soul from his body and put on the mask.
When the long-gowned ghost just came out of Cheng Xingyang's room, the first thing he saw was the Impermanence's uniform. His eyes momentarily widened.
Lan He: "What's your problem? What are you being noisy about?"
The first thought after the long-gowned ghost snapped out of his shock was to run. But he immediately reacted, the other party was actually asking about his situation. His lower lip trembled, "L-L-Lord! How bitter I am!! Boohoo!!"
He suddenly threw himself down to hug Lan He's leg.
What habit is this?! Lan He was so frightened that he floated a few inches. He stooped over and said, "If you have something to say, then say it. Hurry up!"
The long-gowned ghost wiped his tears with his sleeves, "Lord, I can't be reincarnated because my skeleton was not complete. I had always stayed by my grave. I've been well-behaved. I've never done anything evil. It's been like this for decades! But, there's this scoundrel who just stole my tombstone out of the blue!"
So many years had passed, even his coffin had become dilapidated. But that person went as far as stealing away his tombstone.
Lan He: "Steal your tombstone? Then, where did he take your tombstone to?
He seemed to have a guess, but he still had to ask as if he didn't know a thing.
"He brought it here!" The long-gowned ghost cried, "Lord, that person was very bad. They stole away other people's tombstones, ground down the inscriptions, then sold them out again to be new tombstones or other products. He could steal away several stones in a night. He stole from everywhere. Because my tombstone was made from a whole piece of Qiyang Stone, he divided it into quite a lot of inkstones. That tombstone was bought by the money I had painstakingly saved ah! Boohoo....."
Qiyang Stone was also called eternal stone. It's a specialty of Hunan Province and was very suitable for making inkstones. The finished inkstone would be called 'Qiyang Inkstone'. Of course, if conditions permit, a big one can even be turned into screens and tombstones, taking this long-gowned ghost as an example.
Such a pity, that it was stolen by someone who does this low-cost business.
The long-gowned ghost became more heartbroken the more he cried, the more he felt wronged the more he cried. "That person was too terrible! I couldn't scare him. I just want to get my tombstone back. But those people that bought the inkstones may find out soon."
He watched how the ghost cried while shrinking himself tighter. So noisy that it made people's brains hurt. "Don't cry. Tell me where that person who stole your tombstone is now. You certainly remember, right? Also, tell me your name. I'll burn-- I'll let someone bring you a piece of clothing."
The long-gowned ghost was dizzied. He timidly asked, "R-R-Really, Lord? I don't have money."
Never mind whether he has no money. Even if he does, requesting a Netherworld official to take care of such a trivial problem of a lonely wild ghost would be a hard feat to succeed, right?
"I don't want your money." Lan He woodenly said, "Go find a place to quietly stay for now. Just wait for my news."
"Than-Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Lord!" The long-gowned ghost was wild with joy. It was still hard for him to believe. "Really, Lord? Is it true? I didn't mean anything bad with this. I had stayed for decades in the desolate countryside, but never would I have thought the Lord might give me justice for free. What auspicious day is it today?"
Lan he said inwardly, that's just how an Impermanence does their usual business, I'm lending a hand in passing, but still being doubted. He perfunctorily said, "Today... The day the Netherworld sends justice to the countryside!"