Chapter 1: Ghost Mountain Villa 1
When the camera turned around, Yan Shixuan was gazing out of the window, lost in thought.
“Next, we have our fourth guest,” the tour guide enthusiastically introduced, facing the camera. “Wow! It turns out to be someone who hasn’t signed with any company yet. Can you tell us what attracted you to join our tour?”
Yan Shixun lazily withdrew his gaze, seeming somewhat displeased with the question, “Didn’t your director ask me to come here?”
The smile on the tour guide’s face instantly froze.
The other idol artists sitting at the same long table, introduced by the tour guide, also cast surprised glances at Yan Shixun.
Even though they had heard that this half-dead travel variety show couldn’t even find enough people and had to force the last person to join, did this guy have to be so stubborn?
Sensing the surrounding stares, Yan Shixun felt even more irritated.
The director, sitting out of the camera’s view, saw Yan Shixun’s expression and urgently gestured wildly at him: Brother Yan! This is a live broadcast! At least pretend to be interested.
Yan Shixun clicked his tongue but, upon seeing the director’s money-counting hand gesture, he finally remembered that he had a contract with this guy.
“Yan Shixun.” He introduced himself to the camera with a cold expression, concise and straightforward, not uttering an extra word, wearing an expression that said, “This is the limit of my patience.”
The tour guide quickly turned the camera to the next person.
Sitting next to Yan Shixun was a fairly famous singer, who immediately introduced themselves to the camera in a sweet voice, lightening the previous cold atmosphere with humor and capturing more screen time.
It was raining outside the window, but inside the brightly lit room, the seven guests, originally actors, singers, or idols, were enthusiastically talking about the attractions they were interested in, trying hard to garner more camera time and attention.
Yes, this was a travel variety show with “live” and “authenticity” as its selling points. The eight guests, including Yan Shixun, were invited by the production team. Because there was a rule of elimination after each attraction based on audience votes, everyone except Yan Shixun was striving to gain more popularity.
As for Yan Shixun, his goal was the opposite of the others.
He just wanted to get eliminated as soon as possible, preferably right after the first attraction, so he could leave quickly.
—Because he was the “rumored” one, the artist the director had forcefully brought in to make up the numbers because they couldn’t find enough participants.
Yan Shixun wasn’t a part of the entertainment industry, his aspirations were different.
He was a charlatan, making a meager living by exorcist ghosts and dispelling evil spirits. It was just because he was familiar with the director, and the director thought his appearance was outstanding, so he was lured in with a hefty sum of money.
You and I have no predestined relationship; it’s all thanks to your money.
Considering the money, Yan Shixun endured it
But at the same time, he made it very clear to the director that he was just here to show his face and make up the numbers. After a few days, once he was eliminated by the votes, he would leave immediately.
Yan Shixun was confident about this.
After all, he had zero fame and wouldn’t deliberately attract attention or hog the camera during the live broadcast. Even if someone momentarily got intrigued by his appearance, they would be scared away by his foul and stubborn temper.
—He knew very well what kind of person he was.
“Now that the most voted attraction is Gui Mountain, let’s decide on our first stop here!”
“Let our little fairies and little gods prepare a bit, and we’ll be back soon. The next live broadcast is at 12 noon, everyone, don’t forget to tune in on time!”
The enthusiastic voice of the tour guide from over there brought Yan Shixun back from his daydreaming.
With the intention of just showing up, getting paid, and leaving, Yan Shixun hadn’t bothered to learn about the program’s journey in advance.
Now, when he heard that the first destination was Gui Mountain, he couldn’t help but furrow his brow. His fingers, hidden under the table, unconsciously traced on his thigh, as if calculating something.
The cameras were turned off, and the live broadcast was over.
Suddenly, all the guests relaxed. They cooled down from their earlier pretentious and friendly acts in front of the camera.
The tour guide, who had been embarrassed in front of the camera because of Yan Shixun, was a bit annoyed and even rolled her eyes and snorted when passing by him.
She muttered loudly, “What’s he pretending for? Doesn’t he know he’s just a nobody? Who’s he trying to impress with that attitude? He doesn’t even have a single hit work.”
Her name was Liu Yiyi. Over a decade ago, she gained some popularity with a supporting role. Although she had long since faded from the spotlight, she still had some recognition thanks to the role she played back then. So, the director hired her and made her the tour guide for this travel variety show.
Liu Yiyi considered herself a senior in the industry and always looked down on these seven young artists in her words and attitude. She had even less regard for Yan Shixun.
However, Yan Shixun paid her no mind at all. He regarded her with an indifferent expression as if he were looking through thin air.
The feeling of punching into cotton infuriated Liu Yiyi even more.
“This guy has no manners, wait when you’re out of luck!” She huffed.
At this moment, Yan Shixun had finally finished his calculations.
He lazily propped his cheek up with his hand and looked at Liu Yiyi, who deliberately walked past him. “I actually think you might run out of luck before me. Don’t worry, even if I’m unlucky, you won’t see it.”
Liu Yiyi didn’t expect Yan Shixun to disregard her seniority and fire back directly. She was momentarily stunned before reacting.
“What did you say? Yan Shixun, say it again, and I’ll make sure you can’t make it here!”
She raised her voice sharply, attracting the attention of other guests who were getting ready to leave.
“Seeing you so fired up, I feel relieved.”
There was limited time for the guests to pack their belongings and depart for the first attraction. Yan Shixun also stood up sluggishly and glanced at Liu Yiyi with a sly smile. “It’s good that you’re all fired up; it might help you survive a bit longer. But those who make empty threats often end up in an awkward situation first.”
Liu Yiyi, who had intended to mock but got retorted instead, contorted her face in anger.
However, the other seven guests didn’t step forward to mediate; they either stood by indifferently or joined the onlookers with a mocking attitude.
They didn’t have a favorable view of Liu Yiyi either.
Although they weren’t A-list or top-tier stars in their respective fields, they all had a decent level of fame. One of the idol artists who chose to debut through this program was especially popular. They had joined the show primarily because the director was willing to pay handsomely.
But this Liu Yiyi, who didn’t even have any traceable background, acted like a big senior with a haughty attitude, which irritated everyone.
Yan Shixun’s retorts to Liu Yiyi received approving glances even from those who hadn’t cared about him before.
Liu Yiyi, still unwilling to let go, wanted to say something as she watched Yan Shixun walk away, but the director interrupted her.
“It’s getting late; the tour guide needs to pack, and so do all of you.”
Since she was receiving money from the director, Liu Yiyi had to suppress her anger. However, before leaving, she shot a fierce glare at Yan Shixun’s retreating figure.
The rest of the guests were upstairs packing their belongings, as the director’s team was preparing to move.
“Brother Yan, don’t be angry. In a few days, you won’t have any interactions with her anymore. Despite Liu Yiyi’s bad temper, many people consider her a childhood idol, but she still can attract a portion of the audience to the show.”
The director walked over to Yan Shixun with a tablet in hand, looking worried. “We’ve invited quite a few high-profile guests, but the audience response has been lukewarm since the show started. What should we do?”
Compared to being a director, Zhang Wubing seemed more like a carefree scion of a wealthy family.
And indeed, that was the case.
This scion of a wealthy family, who knew nothing about the entertainment industry, managed to cobble together this makeshift variety show solely by investing money, despite the lack of support from his family and having been advised by his friends at entertainment companies not to get involved. This show could barely be considered a variety program.
In this manner, they barely managed to secure six guests.
Their other contracted guest, who had already signed a contract and received a leading role in a web drama, promptly broke the temporary agreement and left.
With no other options, Zhang Wubing had to turn to Yan Shixun, whom he had known for several years.
—Even though Yan Shixun was not connected to the entertainment industry, he looked good!
Zhang Wubing had seen many attractive people, but he had never seen anyone better-looking than Yan Shixun.
However, in Yan Shixun’s eyes, if this mediocre variety show could last a week, it would be considered a success.
But that was fine; he could go home soon.
After glancing in the direction where Li Yiyi had left, Yan Shixun decided to use the environment for divination. After a moment, he chuckled, “Indeed, I won’t have any interaction with Li Yiyi in a few days.”
But he was somewhat puzzled.
From the perspective of divination, why was it he who stayed, and Li Yiyi who left?
“You’re hiring people with money, the team is temporarily assembled. Even the right to go live on air took several people several days to figure out. I’m starting to doubt if anyone watches this miserable stuff because they have nothing better to do.”
Yan Shixun sneered: “Why do you care so much? Anyway, it’s something you like. Once you make a decision, just do it. As long as you’re satisfied with yourself, that’s enough.”
The previously downcast director immediately became excited. “Brother Yan is right! Maybe I’ll get lucky, and we’ll create a top-notch variety show! When that happens, I’ll definitely show my dad up and prove that he was wrong!”
Yan Shixun sighed: “…..It’s broad daylight; stop daydreaming. What nonsense are you thinking about?”
Zhang Wubing had money of his own, and he was willing to spend it to make the variety show a success. Therefore, he provided the guests with excellent accommodations, food, and transportation.
When the guests came down from the five-star hotel, several expensive tour buses were waiting for them.
Liu Yiyi finally looked somewhat satisfied, straightened her chest arrogantly, brushed past Yan Shixun, and rolled her eyes at him.
Yan Shixun found it inexplicable. Why would someone with twitchy eyes choose to participate in a variety show? Shouldn’t they go to the hospital?
“Um…” A sweet voice filled with curiosity came from next to Yan Shixun.
It was the singer who had been sitting beside him just now.
She introduced herself with a friendly tone as she offered a bottle of water, “Your name is Yan Shixun, right? I’m Bai Shuang. I noticed earlier that Brother Yan seemed to be lost in thought, and I guess you didn’t hear my name, so I wanted to introduce myself.”
“Also, when Brother Yan confronted Liu Yiyi earlier, you looked incredibly handsome.”
Looking at Yan Shixun up close, the aura of his top-tier appearance and sharpness made even Bai Shuang, who had seen many beautiful people in the music industry, momentarily lose her composure. There was a moment when she couldn’t help but hold her breath, afraid of disturbing this beauty.
Curiously, she asked, “With looks like Brother Yan’s, how could you haven’t been signed by any company yet? It’s just not logical.”
Bai Shuang was a sweet and cheerful girl, her smile was not irritating at all.
Yan Shixun glanced at her before accepting the water with a slight pause, as he didn’t want to create any unnecessary karma.
“Alright, consider this your payment to me. You’ve cleared your conscience, and I did receive it.” He took the bottle and said with a carefree smile.
The water bottle was tossed in the air by Yan Shixun twice. Then suddenly, he reached out and patted Bai Shuang on the shoulder, making a motion as if brushing away dust.
As Yan Shixun’s well-defined hand came into contact with Bai Shuang’s shoulder, she suddenly felt a wave of warmth at the point of contact.
Following that sensation, there was a feeling of relief, as if a burden had been lifted, and even the air seemed noticeably fresher.
Bai Shuang felt as though the heaviness and soreness she had carried in her body for over a year had vanished completely, leaving her feeling light, as if she could almost fly.
And this change was brought about by Yan Shixun.
“Brother Yan?” Bai Shuang asked in amazement, “Is it just my imagination? What, what’s going on?”
Yan Shixun casually twisted open the water bottle, took a sip, and then poured the remaining half onto a nearby tree.
“I don’t know what you were thinking, but there was just a bug on your shoulder.”
With the guests gradually boarding the vehicle, the cameras had already started rolling. Chasing away her curiosity and apprehension, Bai Shuang refrained from asking further questions on camera.
As soon as he got on the bus, Yan Shixun made his way to the last row and lay down to get some rest.
Meanwhile, the other seven guests on the bus cheerfully played games and sang songs in front of the camera, giving off an enthusiastic appearance as if they were enjoying a trip. Laughter and joy filled the air inside the vehicle.
However, Bai Shuang occasionally found herself gazing towards the back where Yan Shixun was peacefully resting. Her eyes held a mixture of astonishment and contemplation.
The convoy quickly left the city and headed towards their destination, Gui Mountain.
The area around Gui Mountain was filled with dirt roads that made for a bumpy ride, and one particularly rough bump woke up Yan Shixun.
He lay back, opened his eyes, and was met with a dark and overcast sky outside the car window. It looked like it was already nearing eight or nine o’clock, even though it was only three in the afternoon.
Yan Shixun sat up and looked at his phone, it was only three o’clock, and his sharp brows immediately furrowed.
The weather didn’t seem right today, there was no mention of it in the weather forecast.
At this moment, the car suddenly made a sharp brake, causing almost everyone to lurch forward. Then it was filled with screams and expressions of concern.
Only Yan Shixuan remained seated at the back, unmoved.
“Director Zhang, the main road ahead is blocked by a fallen tree. It doesn’t seem like it will be cleared anytime soon. It looks like we’ll have to continue on foot,” a staff member ran over to the vehicle where the guests were and whispered to Zhang Wubing.
Everyone opened their windows to take a look, and indeed, a massive locust tree had fallen across the only road up the mountain, completely blocking the passage. It was impossible for the vehicles to pass through.
Yan Shixuan’s brows furrowed sharply.
A locust tree?
The sky, as dark as night, at only three in the afternoon, coupled with the locust tree that had fallen and decayed due to death…
Locust tree… an omen of ghosts nearby.
Yan Shixuan had a bad feeling about this.
Zhang Wubing had someone try to move the tree, but they quickly gave up.
It was too heavy; it had to be a centuries-old tree.
“The plan has changed, but isn’t that what travel is all about? It’s full of surprises, right?”
Zhang Wubing didn’t turn off the camera. Instead, he thought that such an unexpected event could add excitement and unpredictability to the live broadcast, attracting more viewers.
So, he cheerfully instructed a few guests off the vehicle with their luggage, preparing to hike up the mountain.
Except for the necessary staff and equipment, all other people and supplies were left in the cars, holding walkie-talkies and waiting at the foot of the mountain.
Seeing some of the more delicate guests who were reluctant to walk and climb the mountain, Zhang Wubing encouraged them, saying, “The production team has booked a historic villa on the mountain, which is said to have been a famous person’s former residence. Everyone put in some effort, and we’ll be there soon.”
Upon hearing that they would be staying in a high-end villa, several people’s eyes lit up.
Some of them even planned to take some photos at the villa and post them on their social media accounts to enhance their image with a touch of historical charm.
Everyone was full of enthusiasm as they climbed up the mountain, not forgetting to show off in front of the cameras.
The only one lagging behind was Yan Shixun. Just as he set foot on the stone steps leading up the mountain, he suddenly stopped.
He turned around, coldly gazing at the lush forest enveloped in white mist.
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