“You lowly, common-born girl, if you didn’t rely on rich people like us, how could you have achieved the social status you have now?”
“This card has two million, a million more than enough to buy you for a night.”
Hearing his wild and arrogant words, Sheng Jiaoyang wished nothing more than to stuff him down a toilet.
Zeng Huan already arrived with bodyguards.
“Hurry, it’s this lunatic, drag him out.” Zeng Huan pointed at the insufferably arrogant looking young man with his hands on his hips- it was precisely the Young Master Zeng who had just snuck out of his home.
The bodyguards’ hands were nimble as they quickly seized Young Master Zeng and dragged him out.
“Block up his wretched mouth before escorting him out. There should be somebody looking to claim this lost good later.”
The bodyguards obediently brought the struggling Young Master Zeng out.
“Wait!” Sheng Jiaoyang suddenly shouted to them.
The bodyguards stopped but accidentally allowed Young Master Zeng to struggle free of his gag. He still didn’t seem to understand his own situation as he continued to spit words from his mouth.
“Xu Jiaojiao, do you think it’s too little? You can’t even recall how many men you’ve slept with, I only offered you a million because you look decent, otherwise, ah-” The rest of his words were blocked by a hand.
Sheng Jiaoyang could already tell his character. She picked up the credit card on the ground and walked over gracefully. She slipped the card into his jacket pocket and patted it before speaking slowly, “You’d better fix your mouth, or you’ll regret it.”
“Mmhpfh…” Young Master Zeng was dragged away by the bodyguards with his mouth gagged.
“Oh, Jiaojiao, you should go report this kind of thing to the police. If you punish him privately, you would be the one breaking the law.”
Sheng Jiaoyang turned to look at the speaker and saw the female lead, Qu Wen, walk over with her assistant.
Currently, there was a partnership between Entertainment International and Youzhou Entertainment to produce a popular Imperial Palace drama ‘Empress’. Today was the first day of filming.
“Sis Wen is thinking too much, how could I go that far? His family should be the one to discipline him.” Sheng Jiaoyang wasn’t afraid of facing Qu Wen, who seemingly had good intentions but was actually spreading fake news.
“Oh, so you two know each other. Why is he speaking so maliciously to you? I saw he even gave you a card, saying two million and something about a million more. Why does he owe you so much money?” Qu Wen asked curiously.
Although her voice wasn’t very loud, it also wasn’t very quiet, so everybody around them could hear it. The cast and crew all watched, wanting to hear some gossip.
“He gambled one million on a bet and lost, but refused to pay up and was scolded by his family. Now, he hates me.”
“A bet? What kind of bet?”
“You guys all came so early, what are you guys talking about?” a voice joined in.
Qu Wen glanced over and smiled, “Gu Zhou’s here.”
It really was Gu Zhou, the male lead of the drama.
“Didn’t you see somebody being dragged out when you came in?” Qu Wen actually didn’t want Gu Zhou’s answer, as she did not give him the time to reply before continuing, “That man ran over here early in the morning and started howling at Jiaojiao, saying a lot of nasty words. I was just talking with Jiaojiao about it.”
The first thing Gu Zhou asked was, “Jiaojiao, are you alright?”
“I’m fine, that guy only knows how to use his mouth.” Sheng Jiaoyang shook her head.
“Jiaojiao, you still didn’t mention what the bet was about.” Qu Wen was very interested about this.
“We were betting about a painting in a charity auction. He thought nobody would bid for it, so we made a bet.”
Qu Wen almost couldn’t believe it. “That’s it?”
“Don’t a lot of big issues come from small things?” Sheng Jiaoyang shrugged.
“Alright, let’s go get your makeup done. We’ll start shooting in a bit, today’s scenes are very important.” Gu Zhou saw Qu Wen still wanted to speak and quickly changed the topic.
In fact, today’s scenes really were important- they were filming the prologue.
Just by hearing the title ‘Empress’, you would know the film was about women in the imperial harem fighting and scheming to climb up to the Empress’ position. There were also some military and political elements. After all, the rear court wasn't the one dealing with power struggles, the political powers behind each consort were also in a scramble for power and profit.
The female lead was the newest addition to the Imperial Harem and the male lead was the Emperor. Sheng Jiaoyang was acting out the second female lead who had a similar amount of scenes as the female lead, but naturally fell short at the last step and was trampled on by the female lead.
The female lead, Mu Jinyu, had a humble background. Her father was only an investigator that found evidence on Prince Wen (who had once competed against the male lead for the throne) that he had ties to external enemies, accidentally aiding the male lead into defeating Prince Wen for the throne. Because of this merit, he was able to send his daughter into the imperial palace’s consort drafting.
The second female lead, Wu Qinghe, was different. She had a powerful family background and came from an important general’s family who, for generations, had always rushed headlong into the battlefield. She was a peerless beauty herself, and after her own father died on the battlefield, had specially begged the late Emperor for approval to become the first female general and led the army to defeat the enemy. As a result, she became the male lead’s greatest assist to ascending the throne.
After the male lead ascended the throne, to claim the military power for his own, he directly married Wu Qinghe and made her an imperial consort. To balance the power, the male lead naturally needed to find somebody to contend against her, and that person’s family background couldn’t be too strong. It was then that the male lead noticed the female lead, Mu Jinyu, who had a simple background. After encountering one another repeatedly, he gradually fell in love with this delicate yet strong woman. Though of course, before all that, he was to get rid of the increasingly domineering and willful Wu Qinghe.
The second female lead’s life could be divided into three parts: the first part beloved by the country as she galloped valiantly into the battlefield, the second part where she became an imperial concubine and had to fight for the Emperor’s love against others; losing herself as she did more and more things against her nature, and the third part where after being thrown away like trash by the Emperor, requested to return to the army and ultimately died on the battlefield.
The drama’s battlefield was inside the imperial harem. At the start, the second female lead was already an imperial concubine.
The beginning of the drama would show the male lead pampering the female lead before the jealous imperial concubine storms in and spoils it.
For this scene, Sheng Jiaoyang was dressed up as grandly as possible, decorated from head to toe and hair combed not a strand out of place.
The second female lead was a female general- in the army, rank decided everything. As an imperial concubine now, every accessory chosen was of utmost quality to show her superior status.
In comparison, the female lead’s appearance was more simple and clean looking.
Qu Wen had light, natural makeup while Sheng Jiaoyang had flamboyant makeup. When they stood together, the height difference only made Qu Wen appear even more stale. Furthermore, because Sheng Jiaoyang was a lot younger than Qu Wen, she appeared younger even with heavy makeup.
If this contrast wasn’t fixed, the audience would probably think something was wrong with the male lead’s eyes.
The director, assistant director, and executive producer’s faces darkened when they watched them.
“When Gu Zhou and Qu Wen stand together, they look fine together. But how come when she stands with Xu Jiaojiao, it seems so off?” The director, Li Fei muttered in confusion.
“Actually, it’s understandable. Qu Wen and Gu Zhou are around the same age but there’s quite an age difference between Qu Wen and Xu Jiaojiao. Xu Jiaojiao’s also taller and has a very imposing aura so Qu Wen’s a bit repressed by her.”
The executive producer heard the two directors and commented, “Then just change the actor to somebody who doesn’t conflict.”
“No way!” The two directors simultaneously disagreed.
They both knew that Xu Jiaojiao was recommended by Entertainment International. If Entertainment International chose to give such an important role to a newbie actor like Jiaojiao, they definitely wouldn’t switch the actress easily.
Director Ma waved his hand. “Call the makeup artist to give her face a bit more colour so it doesn’t seem so lifeless.”
Qu Wen was a bit unhappy hearing that the director actually called her appearance ‘lifeless’. Although she was already over thirty, she never thought of herself as old. She could even act out a younger role. This was the first time she was suppressed by a supporting character.
But even if she was more unhappy, it was useless. She could only endure. In the set, the director was king and whatever the director said, she had to do.
Very quickly, Qu Wen returned with a face full of makeup, making her appear much more lively.
Once preparations were ready, the female lead lay on the bed while the male lead gently stroked her face. The male lead was just about to push aside the quilt when the second female lead made her entrance.
“Bang!” A loud noise boomed from the door outside. The male and female leads both jumped.
The camera panned out to the doors, first revealing part of a dress before a woman burst into the camera.
The woman’s eyes were cold, her red lips clenched together and pulled downwards into a slight frown. Her aura was akin to the female lead’s.
“Impudent!” The Emperor stood up, glaring at the girl who had burst in coldly. “Qinghe, do you have any manners!”
Wu Qinghe trembled and stopped, raising her chin as she retorted stubbornly, “Your Majesty, today is my birthday.”
On the bed, Mu Jinyu sat up, wrapped in a quilt. She nodded to Wu Qinghe in courtesy, “Hello, Imperial Consort. This servant isn’t fit to stand up to bow, may Imperial Consort please forgive this servant.”
Wu Qinghe’s attention turned to Mu Jinyu and scolded her, “Where did a fox like you come from? How dare you try to steal the Emperor away on this Consort’s birthday? You should be punished!”
The Emperor originally wanted to assist the Mu Family and naturally didn’t want Mu Jinyu to be suppressed by Wu Qinghe. He stepped up and took Wu Qinghe’s hand, walking outside. “It’s this Emperor’s fault for forgetting my beloved concubine’s birthday. Let’s go, this Emperor will celebrate it with you.”
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TL: Kiki | Editor: Grace | TLC: Grace