I nodded and said, “I can. However, according to the rule of our business, after everything’s solved, I’ll take the mask.”
The agent waved his hands. “Sure, sure. It’s an evil item, and you can take it right away.”
Yi Xi woke up at this moment. Since the mask had affected him, his mind wasn’t clear. He began to scream. “Song, don’t talk to those swindlers! Whoever talks ill of me must die! I’ll kill him!”
Everybody was scared. The agent wore a grimace. “Mr. Zhang, he…”
Yi Xi had his sanity back, but he was still in a confusional state. I handed the mask to his agent. “You should keep this mask. Be careful with it, and do not let him touch it. When you take him back to the hotel, comfort him a bit. Tomorrow, I will prepare some stuff, and we’ll perform the magic ritual.”
“Will we have to join that ritual too?” asked the agent.
“Okay, I’ll take him back to the hotel first.” The agent thanked me repeatedly.
I called the other guys to untie Yi Xi. As soon as he was untied, Yi Xi bolted toward me and raised his fists. He wanted to attack me.
People pulled him back, but he was still furiously trying to kick me. He even spat in my direction. At this moment, he looked like a big baby throwing a tantrum.
I knew that if he didn’t see me suffer, he wouldn’t stop. It was showtime!
“Ouch!” I clutched my chest and dropped to the ground. I pretended to be in pain. “My heart! It’s so painful. Save me! Hurry! Help!”
Yi Xi laughed crazily. “You swindler! Now you know how fierce I am!”
The agent calmed him down and told him to go. In the meantime, I was still whining and rolling on the ground.
Yin Xinyue burst out laughing. “Brother Zhang, they’re gone.”
“Hey, why aren't you worried? I didn’t act well enough?” I was surprised.
“It was okay,” Yin Xinyue said embarrassedly.
It seemed acting wasn’t my strong point.
I then called Li Mazi. Five minutes later, he came over and asked with a smile, “Did you subdue him?”
“You even have the courage to ask? You ran faster than a rabbit!” I hated that I couldn’t kick him. “Prepare something for me tomorrow. I want a bag of cinder that ten thousand people have stepped on, a bottle of crow blood, and an ancient women’s dress.”
Li Mazi complained, “You’re really asking me to find a set of used ancient clothes?”
Team leader Xu was listening to us. He intervened, “I have one. However, after you’re done with it, you have to return it to me.”
“Can I just buy it? I’m afraid it will be torn apart when we’re done with it,” I said.
Team leader Xu hesitated for a while. “All right, I’ll give you the set so that we can finally finish this drama.”
I thanked him.
Li Mazi muttered, “What about the cinder that ten thousand people have stepped on? Where should I get it?”
“Go take a look at the door of factories that burn coal. There should be ten thousand people getting in and out every day. I’m sure you can get some,” I said.
“Good idea!” Li Mazi nodded.
Team leader Xu asked, “Mr. Zhang, what do you plan to do with the Prince of Lanling’s ghost?”
“I can’t tell you now,” I said mysteriously.
“Can I watch when you expel him?”
“Yes, you can!” I answered.
As it was late, I told people to go back to sleep. The three of us also returned to our courtyard.
The filming work started early the next morning. However, Yi Xi wasn’t in the right condition. He couldn’t remember his lines and looked absentminded. It was just a simple scene, but it took him several shots to film it.
Li Mazi went to town to get the stuff. I called Yin Xinyue to go to the mountain with me. I wanted to check the geomancy of the place.
There was a vast area of wild chestnut trees. The chestnuts weren’t ripe yet, and they hung on the trees like sea urchins. We went to the middle of the mountain flank then turned to see the view. We could see the entire ancient town from the Ming dynasty. The geomancy wasn’t bad. It seemed a master in this profession had designed the town.
Yin Xinyue felt tired. “What do you want to see, after all?”
“The tomb of the Prince of Lanling,” I answered.
“Do you think his tomb is up here?” Yin Xinyue sounded excited.
Later, we found a shabby temple on the mountain. The walls had collapsed.
The temple was surrounded by big trees like pines, cypress, and poplar. This place was a mausoleum.
I found a stone slab under a layer of crisp, dried brown leaves. There was a line of words carved on it, which read ‘Gao Changgong – Northern Qi’s Prince of Lanling.’
I was thrilled. We found it!
Yin Xinyue craned her neck to look at it. “I remember that the Prince of Lanling was sentenced to death by the Emperor himself. I’m surprised he even had a burial mound…”
“This place wasn’t built at that time!” I furrowed my brows.
“How do you know?”
“Look here, it reads ‘Northern Qi’. People at that time didn’t call their country Northern Qi, but the later generations did. That’s why I guess the later generations did this for him,” I explained.
The Prince of Lanling was an outstanding young man. Not only did he have an appealing appearance, but he also had a great demeanor and talent for commanding soldiers. In Northern Qi, his existence was like that of a God. It was understandable that the Emperor was wary of him.
At an imperial feast, the Emperor offered the Prince of Lanling wine and said, “Brother, the battlefield is too dangerous. You don’t need to go there personally. I’m afraid something bad could happen to you.”
The Prince of Lanling answered, “It’s my business. You don’t need to worry too much.”
The Prince of Lanling was a member of the royal family, as well as the cousin of the Emperor.
The Emperor wasn’t pleased when he heard that. He felt that the prince was aiming for his throne. As such, he secretly gave the Prince of Lanling a tumbler of poisonous wine. The Prince of Lanling died when he was just thirty-two years old.
After his death, the generals and soldiers of Northern Qi cried and lamented that the God of War had left this world. They cried that their country would perish.
Indeed, four years later, the Northern Qi was wiped out by Emperor Yu Wenyong of Northern Zhou. The royal family was eradicated. No member was left alive.
Yu Wenyong respected the Prince of Lanling on the battlefield. Although they were opponents, they were both heroes. There were some novels and films that described their relationship with an ambiguous hint of a secret and forbidden love.
In an unofficial historical document, a certain event was recorded. When Yu Wenyong struck the imperial city of Northern Qi, the first thing he did was put on the mask of the prince to honor his dead rival! The Emperor thought that the ghost of the Prince of Lanling Prince had come to take revenge. It scared the crap out of him.
That was why I told Yin Xinyue that perhaps Yu Wenyong had built this mausoleum for the Prince of Lanling. He even let the Prince’s descendants live here to guard the mausoleum.
“Brother Zhang, do we have to go into this mausoleum?” asked Yin Xinyue.
“There’s no need. I just need to take some soil.”
Then, I took off my jacket and found a piece of broken roof tile to scrape the soil on the ground. I put it on my jacket and wrapped it up.
On the way back to the village, I sprinkled the tomb soil on the ground. In the end, there was a small amount left. I packed it up as I needed to use it later.
The mask had brought the Prince of Lanling’s ghost to the town. To send him away, the perfect solution was to send him away with the mask. However, I was an otherworldly merchant first and foremost.
When Yin Xinyue and I returned to the filming location, the director hurried to welcome us like a star waiting for the bright moon. “Mr. Zhang, where did you go? Our film crew turned upside down today.”
“Did something major happen?” I asked.
“Not really. But today, Yi Xi was more irritable than usual. He hit a makeup artist. We didn’t dare to provoke him, so we had to coax him every time. I haven’t shot many scenes the entire morning.”
“Where is he now?”
“After lunch, he went to his van to rest. I will shoot the other scenes with the other characters this afternoon.” The director wore a grimace.
After Yin Xinyue and I had lunch, Li Mazi returned. He was sweating a lot.
He put a plastic bag in front of me. “Hey brother, see how fast I got it done. I got all the stuff you asked me to find.”
I complimented him then said, “We have nothing to do this afternoon, so give me a hand. We’re going to mold some dolls!”
“Mold dolls? What dolls?” Li Mazi was surprised.
“You’ll see.” I smiled.
I took a bucket of water from the well in the town and returned to the courtyard. I put the soil and mud I took from the tomb into the bucket. I added the crow blood and ashes from paper money then stirred them together.
When Li Mazi saw me playing with mud, he teased me. “Little Brother Zhang, are you having fun? Trying to remember the childhood fun?”
“You only talk nonsense. When I was small, I didn’t play with mud or clay. Every day, my grandfather asked me to stay home and read books. All right, you two, wash your hands and come help me mold more clay statues!” I called Li Mazi and Yin Xinyue.
Since we had only a bucket of soil and mud from the tomb, I told them not to make big dolls. They just needed to make small dolls and horses. I didn’t need perfect statues, but they should have the correct forms.
We couldn't dry the dolls under the direct sunlight, so we had to keep them in the room and let them dry up naturally.
Yin Xinyue created the dolls carefully; the statues she made were beautiful. Li Mazi’s molding skills were terrible, and his products looked like pieces of modern art. We kept working on this until our wrists were sore, but we made only around one hundred dolls.
“It’s already 4:00 PM, but we still have plenty of soil left!” Yin Xinyue sounded worried.
I wiped the sweat off my forehead with the back of my hand. “Okay, go find Team leader Xu and ask him to send some men to help us.”
I thought the staff from the prop team would have better skills. Yin Xinyue agreed and left. Suddenly, we heard a loud commotion outside. Yin Xinyue rushed back to the yard. “Brother Zhang, not good! Something big happened out there!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter