The lens was split, the camera zoomed in.
The ray of light perfectly outlined Pei Ziheng’s handsome side profile, capturing his expressionless expression and thin lips pressed into a straight line. Xia Ling knew every detail of his facial features all too well; this was the look he put on every time he tried to conceal his emotions.
Outside of the shot, the commentary was complimenting Chairman Pei to no end, mentioning how heavy-hearted he must be feeling in that moment. Xia Ling squinted, and at the corner of her eyes, she saw a prompter gesturing aggressively, asking for Pei Ziheng to continue speaking to the media.
But still, he did not say another word.
It’s hard to say whether who between she or the director was more disappointed. When the focus of the shot turned away from Pei Ziheng, Xia Ling felt as if all her energy had evaporated, leaving her weak. This short moment helped her understand one thing — Pei Ziheng came all the way here only as the Boss of Imperial Entertainment to fulfill his duty. It had nothing to do with reminiscence, much less anything to do with Xia Ling.
He had been a cold and cruel businessman all along, never one who did anything uncalled for.
In fact, over the decade that Xia Ling had been by his side, she had heard countless rumors and hearsay about the ruthless things he had done. Yet the person he was with her had always been nice, even indulgent, to her, so much so that she naively thought that maybe she was the exception.
Now, it’s time she snapped out of that dream.
The mourning wasn’t over yet, but Xia Ling wasn’t interested in the rest of the event. She was just numbly waiting for the show to be truly over and for the crowd to disperse.
Lu Tao ordered his two underlings to get some discs as he accompanied Xia Ling on her stroll along the road. He said, “Ye Xingling, don’t be too sad. The dead cannot come back to life. Xia Ling won’t be able to rest in peace if she knew that her fans were this upset by her passing.”
“Huh?” Xia Ling looked at him, confused.
He knitted his brows. “Aren’t you a fan of Xia Ling?”
“Don’t lie to me, I saw how devastated you looked during the mourning just now. How could you not be her fan?” Lu Tao scoffed. “Just admit it. Xia Ling was a Diva, there’s nothing embarrassing about admiring her.”
“I’m really not her fan.”
Lu Tao couldn’t stop talking throughout the journey. The sky was gradually illuminated by the stars, setting a tone of dazzling tranquility. At that moment, Xia Ling was glad that he was by her side as his high-spirited voice chased away her sorrow and dejection.
Back at the training camp, at the foot of the hotel building, Lu Tao wished her good night.
“Ye Xingling, there’s a saying that goes ‘the deceased have to rest in peace while the living —’ something like that… basically,” he said as he scratched his head. “Don’t be too hung up over the deceased. Go to sleep soon, and don’t forget you have an MV to shoot tomorrow morning.”
She was stunned for a moment, before softly mumbling “okay”.
It’s true, the deceased have to rest in peace, and the living will have to move on with their lives.
That night, there was not a cloud in the clear night sky.
Following Tan Ying’s lead, the trainees headed for the location set.
It was a mountainous forest far from the city. The team’s chartered bus circled along the winding mountain road, the paths between the peaks and ridges half concealed and the rivers flowing continuously. Viewing the mountain peak from the mountainside, one could faintly see the picturesque disorder of the cluster of white buildings, the clean and beautiful lines of the architecture dim against the mist, creating a fairytale-like aura.
Every scene along the way seemed like the result of nature’s work, yet it was all an ingenious creation by no less than an expert.
Somebody couldn’t help but ask, “Chairman Tan, where’s this place? The houses in the neighboring mountains seem to be uninhabited, only this mountain we’re on has a huge building. Is it a newly-developed tourist attraction?”
Tan Ying, who was in the front passenger seat, rolled up the newspaper in his hands and patted the head of the student who asked the question. “Have you ever seen a tourist attraction with so few people? Let me tell you, this is Boss’ territory. This mountain,” Tan Ying gestured. “and the neighboring mountains — any area within sight — is his territory.”
“Wow…” A unanimous gasp of envy echoed through the bus.
Xia Ling looked out the window and saw mountains after mountains, their peaks a dark grey in the distance — the territory was indeed big. She was not as excited about the fact as everyone else. She had seen similar estates of Pei Ziheng’s before, but they were mostly private mountain villas and gardens. Having experienced them before, it was no novelty to her.
The others were in high spirits, gathering around Tan Ying and asking, “Are these Boss Li’s property?”
“What rubbish, of course! Which other boss do we have in Skyart Entertainment?” Tan Ying laughed.
That was enough to crack everyone else up as well.
Skyart Entertainment, unlike Imperial Entertainment, which had a long history, was a fairly new company. Xia Ling remembered the time when it was just established; she was already famous then. It had only been a short six to seven years since. Even so, it was just within the short span of time that it grew from a new, nascent star to a large and established company. Even a giant in the industry like Imperial Entertainment was shaken.
All of their achievements were said to be Boss Li Lei’s credit.
Xia Ling had never seen him in person, and everything about him was impressions she formed through hearsay. Apparently, he was the grandson of a family with generations of triad members, and that he founded Skyart Entertainment as an avenue for money laundering. It was also rumored that he was a cold-hearted, brutal, and unimaginably merciless…
Oh, no more.
In her last life, she never cared for gossips, she couldn’t even remember Li Lei’s face at this point. But that wasn’t an issue, the person she was now was no more than a small, average member at the very bottom of the Skyart Entertainment hierarchy, while Li Lei was the boss at the peak. They had nothing to do with each other, thus however brutal or capable he was as a person was none of her business.
Thinking of all these, she rested her head on the back of her seat and fell asleep in the midst of all the gossip around her.
Later, it was Lu Tao who shook her awake.
When she opened her eyes it was already evening, and the landscape was dark and misty. The bus had parked at the guesthouse area on the mountainside, and a single file of people made their way to the guesthouse with their backpacks and belongings with four people assigned to each room. They had just settled down when Lu Tao looked for her to grab dinner, and then gathered everyone — trainees and crew — to the conference room for a mass meeting.
The meeting was hosted by Wei Shaoyin, the director and producer of this MV.
He arrived a few days earlier than most of the team to survey the location and set and was now efficiently allocating roles and duties. The schedule was tight and the workload was heavy, but everything seemed to be in place — organized and smooth-running, just like a well-oiled machine.
Almost all the crew members were expressionless and with their heads down as they quickly scribbled all the important notes. Only Xia Ling and the other trainees were in shock, “I’ve always heard that Wei Shaoyin was abnormally and disturbingly efficient, but I wasn’t expecting him to be so perverse in his demands. How could anyone complete the tasks if he’s assigning them this way…”
Lu Tao nudged Xia Ling, “Hey, Ye Xingling, do you think he took the wrong schedule? The way he’s setting deadlines is driving people to death.”
“Did he?” Xia Ling thought for a bit. Actually, it didn’t seem too bad. In her previous life, when her producer Feng Kun was recording her music, the schedule was not as tight as this, but there were times they were in a mad rush as well. She had worked with this sort of pace before.
It didn’t drive anyone to death.
Lu Tao rolled his eyes, “Well, you haven’t made it big yet, how are you similar to them?” He stroked his chin as he watched the crew members at work. “These people, it’s obvious they are used to being tortured; they’re not even protesting.”
Xia Ling laughed. Suddenly, nostalgia hit her — the busyness of the location set, the crew members stern faces, the filmmaking equipment all around… even the air seemed to hint of a lingering presence of inspired artistes.
At that moment, she finally felt like she was alive again.