Those Years I Employed Non-Humans as Actors - Chapter 4.1
Zhong Jiudao was a decisive person. Once he made a decision, he would immediately act on it.
He tore off three blank pages from his notebook, grasped the pen in his left hand, and drew a mysterious symbol on each of the sheets. With practiced moves, he skillfully rolled the sheets into thin sticks, conjured up a spiritual flame with his fingers, and then carefully lit the paper sticks with the flame.
All at once, the group of ghosts who were hysterically fighting over the movie roles stopped whatever they were doing to sniff the air, saliva pooling in their mouths. “It smells so good!”
Cinnabar, talisman paper, incense, mahogany sword—ever since he was a child, Zhong Jiudao had always carried all those props with him, but after he stopped working as a celestial master, he returned every single item to his family.
However, as the most gifted Zhong family descendant within the last five centuries, those props had never been a necessity for Zhong Jiudao. He was born with a soul pen and massive amount of spiritual power. With his innate talent, he could draw talismans on thin air and turn mere papers into swords.
Although these impromptu sticks weren’t made from the proper materials, the papers contained the channeling talisman Zhong Jiudao had drawn with his own spiritual power. As such, they were able to emulate the transmission function of authentic incense sticks.
After lighting the paper sticks, Zhong Jiudao quickly went on to burn his script, making sure each page was completely ignited before the paper sticks’ flames died out.
There were more than thirty ghosts in this house; if he were to distribute a printout of the script to each of them, how much ink and paper would have to be wasted? In comparison, because he opted for this method of spiritual transmission, three blank sheets of paper from the notebook were all it took to do the job. It was certainly way more economical.
Besides, most of these old era ghosts were illiterate. If he really gave them a hard copy of the script, he would have to teach them how to read, which would simply take too much time and effort. By using the channeling talisman to offer up the script, the contents would be transformed into spiritual information that each ghost could understand. This way, they could slowly digest it on their own time.
After he confirmed that all the ghosts had received the script, Zhong Jiudao said, “In this movie, there are only five ghost characters. The rest of the roles will be played by human actors. You guys choose the roles that you feel are suitable for you, and I’ll give you one day to prepare for it. The audition will start tomorrow night.”
The time had already struck past three o’clock in the morning. As tough as he might be, Zhong Jiudao was no machine, so it was only natural that he needed to rest. Drowsiness having caught up to him, he left the theater, wanting to go back to his room to sleep. As for how these ghosts planned to compete for the roles, he left it entirely up to them.
When he was going from the third floor to the second floor, he heard the rustling sound of flipping pages coming from the first floor.
Zhong Jiudao took a few more steps down the stairs to look at the source of the sound and saw a script floating in front of the female ghost stuck to the main switch. She was reading through the script with great difficulty.
Sensing Zhong Jiudao’s gaze, the female ghost struggled to raise her head and weakly asked, “My lord, I also wish to audition. If I managed to pass and become an actor, will I no longer have to be subjected to this torture?”
Zhong Jiudao wasn’t a tyrannical person. Even when facing the most vicious ghosts, he rarely ever tormented them and usually defeated them quickly or directly exorcized them. What he did to this female ghost was a stopgap measure because he currently didn’t have a better choice. If he didn’t have to refrain from exorcizing her, he would’ve increased the power of the Five Thunder Talisman and sent her to blissfully go into reincarnation.
Be it a reduced electricity bill or a reduced actor’s fee, since the goal was to save money, either one of the options would work. Zhong Jiudao nodded and told the female ghost, “If you pass the audition, you’ll be spared from this tribulation.”
“Many thanks, my lord. I shall do my very best.” The female ghost’s eyes gleamed with a determination to win.
Zhong Jiudao was moved by her fighting spirit. In his script, there was indeed a character who was very fitting for this self-willed and wayward female ghost. Thinking so, he simply released her for the time being.
“Prepare well. Do your best to leave the main switch as soon as possible,” Zhong Jiudao encouraged her.
The female ghost madly nodded, clutching the script as she started studying it intensively.
Zhong Jiudao returned to his room and slept until he was rudely awakened by a phone call at nine in the morning.
“Director Zhong, what’s the address of the site you’ve rented? Send me the location, I’ve brought the props with me,” said the person on the other end of the call.
This man was Qian Duoqun, the props manager, stage manager, as well as producer of Zhong Jiudao’s upcoming movie. Despite being in charge of multiple positions, he wasn’t taking any payment from Zhong Jiudao, requesting only a small share of the movie’s future box office sales as his remuneration.
Zhong Jiudao met Qian Duoqun during one of his past internships. Coming from a poor family, he started working in the film industry right after graduating from high school, taking on all kinds of odd jobs that were available to him and running errands for various filming crews. Up until now, he had mingled in this circle for a full ten years. Although his status wasn’t high, he knew a lot of people in the industry and was able to rent many props at a very favorable price.
Back then, Qian Duoqun’s yintang1印堂(yin tang), the spot right between the eyebrows. In traditional superstitious belief, it’s said that when a person’s yintang turns dark, something horrible is going to happen to them had turned dark because he was plagued by an evil aura. Zhong Jiudao could see that he would run into an unexpected calamity a few days later, so he gave some words of guidance to help Qian Duoqun avoid the calamity.
Due to the ultimatum from his family, Zhong Jiudao refused to accept the money Qian Duoqun wanted to give him and never admitted that he was a celestial master, telling him that everything was merely a coincidence. He explained that he just happened to read about such precautions in a book before and he didn’t expect that the offhand advice would really save Qian Duoqun’s life.
However, Qian Duoqun was convinced that Zhong Jiudao was hiding his identity. From then on, he kept addressing Zhong Jiudao as ‘Director Zhong’, firmly believing that Zhong Jiudao would sooner or later become a famous director.
Not because he thought highly of Zhong Jiudao’s prowess as a director, but because he thought Zhong Jiudao would definitely be able to use sorcery to turn luck in his favor and make himself successful.
This time, Qian Duoqun took the initiative to help out Zhong Jiudao mainly because he wanted to invest in him. He was very optimistic about Zhong Jiudao’s prospects, thinking that it was only a matter of time before he could ride on Zhong Jiudao’s coattails and make rapid advancements in his career.
Still feeling groggy from sleep, Zhong Jiudao sent the location to Qian Duoqun. Knowing that it would take the man some time to drive to the villa, he lay back in bed, wanting to nap for another half an hour.
But as soon as his head touched the pillow, Zhong Jiudao abruptly opened his eyes and sprang up from the bed.
He wasn’t the only one staying in this house—more than thirty ferocious ‘original residents’ were sharing the same space. Zhong Jiudao was able to suppress all those evil spirits on his own, but Qian Duoqun certainly couldn’t.
Qian Duoqun had spent many years in a highly materialistic environment and been tainted with too much worldliness. Although he had never committed any major wrongdoing, he had accumulated plenty of small misdeeds and depleted a lot of his own fortune. In consequence, he was highly vulnerable to evil aura.
With this kind of physique, even if the ghosts in the villa didn’t actively try to harm him, the thick Yin energy in this place would inevitably corrode his body, making Qian Duoqun weak and sick.
In this low budget filming crew, there were a ton of things Qian Duoqun was in charge of. Zhong Jiudao couldn’t afford to let him fall ill.
He immediately got up, intending to wait for Qian Duoqun outside the gate and stick a protective talisman on his body the moment he came. This would work as a temporary measure to ward off the Yin energy in the house. After that, Zhong Jiudao planned to drive to the market and stock up on ingredients with ample Yang energy. He would stew those ingredients into a soup and further imbue it with a strengthening spell. When the filming started, he had to make sure every single person in the crew drank at least a bowl of the soup everyday to prevent Yin energy from entering their bodies and decreasing their lifespan.