Chapter 3: Ghost Mountain Villa 3
In the living room, the old steward apologized and explained to everyone that due to an unexpected incident involving a guest during the kitchen tour, the previously prepared dishes had to be restarted, delaying the dinner to 7 PM.
Upon hearing this, and seeing that it was Yan Shixun who walked out, the guests couldn’t help but cast blaming glances at him.
Climbing the mountain and enduring the cold had consumed a fair amount of energy for the guests. The original plan was to take a hot bath and rest a bit before starting the dinner.
However, due to Yan Shixun, they had to wait a bit longer. This made the guests, who were not particularly hungry, start feeling hungry due to the wait, and their gazes toward Yan Shixun turned less friendly.
But fortunately, they remembered they were in a live broadcast and so they refrained from saying anything much.
Yan Shixun took note of everyone’s reactions and rolled his eyes lazily.
Seeing the situation going south, the tour guide immediately modified the plan after discussing it with the production team. They informed everyone that they could engage in free activities after showering, like visiting the villa or taking photos in the nearby garden and forest. This brought smiles back to the guests.
Since each guest carried a small filming camera, they would have their respective dedicated screens on the program’s live page. This made it convenient for viewers who liked a particular guest to subscribe to their live screen. The subscription count would contribute to the guest’s popularity. It would also be a factor in the popularity ranking after each attraction, making the guests eager to engage with the audience.
So, the guests were delighted to have some free time for themselves to showcase their charm to their dedicated small cameras and gather more popularity.
After all, the program’s live broadcast was an all-inclusive event where the audience’s attention was distributed among everyone. There were no exclusive screens for each guest.
The guests laughed and played in front of the cameras, and then each of them returned to their rooms to prepare for a hot bath to get rid of the cold.
Meanwhile, Yan Shixun, who had remained silent, scanned the living room with his gaze and noticed that the old steward had silently disappeared. He then pushed open the door to his own room.
As the tour guide had mentioned, this room located next to the staircase on the second floor didn’t have the best conditions.
While the room had all the necessary amenities, and the modern decor was well done, there were obvious differences in the decoration details compared to the luxurious hundred-year-old style preserved throughout the villa. You could still see signs of the room’s simplicity before it underwent renovations.
Not only was the room’s size much smaller than the others, but a part of the ceiling towards the interior of the room had a staircase-like structure. It was located right beneath the staircase leading to the third floor. There were no ornate carvings around the windows or on the walls.
It was evident that, in this villa owned by someone a hundred years ago, this room must have been occupied by a role like a family tutor or a nanny for the children.
After surveying the entire room, Yan Shixun made a judgment.
Since the old steward had mentioned both “hot baths” and “dinner,” and after his investigation in the kitchen, Yan Shixun became cautious. Therefore, his first step was towards the bathroom.
Perhaps the current owner of the villa had a strong affinity for the style of a hundred years ago, so they had only added the most basic modern amenities, while preserving everything else from that era, such as the wall tiles.
Yan Shixun bent down and carefully examined the bathtub inside and out, but found nothing unusual.
However, just as he was about to straighten up, in the mirror on the washbasin directly in front of him, he suddenly caught a glimpse of a white figure.
When Yan Shixun focused his gaze, there was nothing there. The mirror only reflected the bedroom outside the bathroom where he had just come from, with white curtains fluttering in the wind blowing in through an open window.
Carried by the cool breeze from the rain-drenched forest, the room’s already limited warmth quickly dissipated, leaving one feeling chilled. The white curtains, stirred by the wind, produced a “whooshing” sound that, in the quiet room, sounded as clear as an old person’s “huff” sound.
But Yan Shixun remembered quite clearly that when he entered, the room’s windows were closed. Moreover, he hadn’t gone near the windows, let alone opened them.
Frowning, Yan Shixun turned his head and saw that the bathroom door directly faced the bed in the bedroom.
From his current angle, it seemed as if someone were silently gazing at the person sleeping in bed from the mirror.
Yan Shixun stood in place for a few seconds, then walked over expressionlessly and closed the window.
The white curtains, which had been fluttering around the room, also fell back into place, now silent.
His gaze subconsciously followed the path of the curtains falling back, and then his eyes narrowed as he suddenly noticed something. He leaned closer to the windowsill to get a better look.
“Bang, bang, bang!”
The sudden and unannounced knocking at the door caught Yan Shixun off guard, causing a startle even in his highly focused state of attention.
“Brother Yan, have you started showering? I have a little ailment,” came the voice of the director, Zhang Wubing, from outside the door.
Yan Shixun straightened up and glanced at the scratches left on the stone windowsill. Then, he slowly walked to the door, confirmed the identity of the person outside, and opened the door with an unfriendly expression.
“Huh? Brother Yan, what’s with that expression? You weren’t about to undress, were you? Haha,” Zhang Wubing looked at Yan Shixun strangely and, originally carefree, wanted to tease him a bit. However, under the pressure of Yan Shixun’s gaze, his laughter gradually became awkward.
Because all the guests were getting ready, the live camera turned to capture the scenic mountain view of Gui Mountain. Each guest could decide whether to activate their own camera feed or not.
In this situation where Yan Shixun’s camera feed was closed and the live camera couldn’t capture him, Zhang Wubing took the opportunity to find Yan Shixun.
“Um, well, I just wanted to ask Brother Yan about something.”
Zhang Wubing scratched his nose and asked with a worried look, “Can you help me figure out if this show can actually become popular? Before I left, I made a bet with my old man that if this fails, I’ll give up my dreams and become a rich second generation who just idles around. That would be terrifying.”
Yan Shixun: “…”
He looked at Zhang Wubing, who didn’t seem to realize what was wrong with what he said, and asked, “Do you know a term called ‘Humblebrag’?”
Zhang Wubing looked puzzled, “Huh?”
“You should be glad we’re not live right now, or you’d be heavily criticized,” Yan Shixun chuckled, “Besides, I don’t do fortune-telling; I exorcist ghosts. Don’t you know that after all these years?”
Yan Shixun’s lips moved slightly, but he didn’t continue speaking.
Although he helped people exorcist ghosts and dispel evil spirits, he never practiced fortune-telling or studied Feng Shui. However, when he received Zhang Wubing’s invitation, he did attempt to consult the I Ching (an ancient Chinese divination) to see if this trip was meant to be.
However, the divination results were completely blank.
Apart from telling him that he had to participate in Zhang Wubing’s variety show, which was a necessary experience, no matter how many times he tried to divine, he couldn’t get any more information.
So, for Yan Shixun, this journey was like being in a wilderness where all signals were blocked. He couldn’t rely on his familiar methods to gain any assistance as he had done in the past.
Yan Shixun, thinking about the anomalies that had started from the moment they arrived, turned his thoughts and asked Zhang Wubing, “Did you book this villa?”
“Not at all,” Zhang Wubing replied honestly. “The assistant director and production assistant said the scenery here is good, and the villa environment is nice. I’m only responsible for paying.”
Yan Shixun looked at Zhang Wubing with a gaze that seemed to be directed at a naive, chubby lamb.
“Have you ever considered the possibility that some people in the production team might have conspired to take your money?”
Zhang Wubing: “!”
Yan Shixun looked at his somewhat foolish demeanor and said, “Forget it. We can’t leave even if we want to at this point. I guess even if we go downhill now, we won’t be able to leave… Let’s just go with the flow.”
Yan Shixun’s unusual attitude finally caught Zhang Wubing’s attention, who had been frequently encountering ghosts due to his constitution. He recalled that Yan Shixun had asked him on the way up if he wanted to add some money to Yan Shixun’s ‘usual work money.’
He swallowed hard and tremblingly asked, “Brother Yan, you mean something is here, here?”
“Yep,” Yan Shixun glanced at him and motioned for him to stop, raising a slender finger to his lips, making a “shush” gesture.
“Don’t mention any related terms. Don’t provoke them,” he put on a forced, business-like smile. “Can you do that?”
Zhang Wubing nodded frantically.
It seemed that Yan Shixun had hastily closed the windows, but they weren’t completely sealed. Now that the room had quieted down, they could hear sounds from outside.
Yan Shixun went to the window and looked down. In the villa garden directly across from his room, a woman in a long dress was singing.
It was Bai Shuang, one of the two female guests, singing a song on her split-screen livestream while occasionally laughing and interacting with her viewers to retain more audience engagement.
Her singing was very sweet, but when it echoed in the villa and the forest, it inexplicably carried a chilling sensation.
Yan Shixun’s gaze instantly turned cold.
“Bai Shuang is quite clever. She prepared early and took advantage of the fact that no one opened their split-screen. Her subscriber count has actually increased, it’s almost catching up to the program’s official subscribers.”
Zhang Wubing said as he checked real-time data on his tablet. He was focused on another matter. A guest gaining popularity was also good for him, and it temporarily diluted the fear he had just experienced due to what Yan Shixun said, making him smile again.
Yan Shixun didn’t say anything more and continued the work he had started when he glanced at the scratches on the windowsill.
These scratches, unlike the knife marks he had seen on the dining table, looked more like they were made by long nails or a small knife. It seemed that due to the room’s previous simplicity, the windowsill had also been renovated, making it difficult for Yan Shixun to uncover more information.
Yan Shixun furrowed his brow and said to Zhang Wubing, “Don’t just focus on your amusement. Pay more attention and tell others to do the same.”
Zhang Wubing, still engrossed in watching the live broadcast’s continuously increasing subscriber count, agreed without thinking, “Don’t worry, I’m very reliable.”
Next to the French doors on the first floor facing the garden, a figure of elderly appearance stood quietly, seemingly blending into the darkness of the corner.
Suddenly, as if he had heard something, he looked up at the ceiling above him.
A smile played at the corners of his mouth.
At exactly seven o’clock, the dinner began as scheduled.
Facing the live camera, the well-dressed and lively guests were playfully interacting, trying to create a lively atmosphere for the show.
Some eagerly shared their exploration of the villa, sparking interest in those around them.
When others saw a person gaining several hundred subscribers by exploring the villa and showcasing the luxurious classical furniture through their split-screen, they couldn’t help but exclaim and say they’d explore the villa after finishing their meal.
The tour guide, upon hearing this, suggested exploring the mansion at night together, saying they might even find some things from a hundred years ago.
The spoon in Yan Shixun’s hand, which had been silent in a corner, stopped.
He chuckled and said, “Weren’t we supposed to play games in the living room after dinner? Let’s enjoy that instead of wandering around.”
“If you get lost, no one will be able to rescue you.”
“If you like what I’m doing please show your support by donating me a cup of coffee through Kofi, or join membership tier to get access to 5 early chapters every month!’