Author: 公子于歌 / Gong Zi Yu Ge
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 23: Detonate the Hot Search
The media already knew the inside information earlier than the netizens regarding Shen Jintai’s return. Shen Jintai had a charismatic quality that could fascinate anyone. He had a deadly aura, a bad personality, and every one of his moves could set up a bloody storm in the entertainment circle.
“Our next guest will be Shen Jintai, who we haven’t heard from in a long time.” The host knew that he was going to be the focus tonight. He turned to Shen Jintai and smiled. “Tonight’s Jintai is a bit different from the past.”
No, not just a bit different, the change was much too drastic.
Shen Jintai always liked fancy outfits. The more important the occasion, the more ridiculous* and exaggerated his looks would become. Even when wearing formal wear like a suit, it was always adorned with ostentatious bells and whistles that most people couldn’t understand. Later, when his image hit rock bottom, despite wearing low-end clothing, he was still able to garner attention. His hyperbolic outfits, coupled with his long red hair, were consistent with his “mischievous shocking” style.
*[Lei Ran] (雷人) Internet buzzword that means unexpected and shocking things that can leave people speechless. Its original meaning is to knock someone down when the clouds discharge and can be referred to as “thunder people”.
Now, he wasn’t as thunderous, but his mischievousness still hadn’t changed.
Bai Qingquan looked at Shen Jintai with a smile on his face while cursing his name a thousand times in his heart. What the hell is the red rose doing on his chest? It’s obvious it’s there just to attract attention. Although…he couldn’t help but admit that a red rose near his chest had a certain exquisite finesse.
There were many moonlight powders at the scene, and when they saw Shen Jintai coming, they all tacitly chose not to say a word, but the netizens who squatted on the live broadcast had already exploded.
“Ahhhhhhhhhhh, Shen Touhua!”
“Touhua looks so beautiful today. Is it the return of Nirvana?”
“It’s a bit of a stretch to call him beautiful. His complexion looks just average.”
“After a certain something happened to a certain someone, he retired from the circle. Now he’s making a comeback. Fuck me*. I can’t judge him based on his face value alone. Beauty can nourish people, but once the beauty goes downhill, the face goes along with it. How is it possible that Shen Jintai kept his in such good condition?”
*I rely on (我靠) Slang to express dissatisfaction or surprise. Note: This is used a lot throughout the novel, but I decided going forward to Englishize it instead of using the direct translation since it just sounds too awkward. As for the meaning, it could be a variety of things like fuck, shit, god damn, OMG ect. depending on the context.
“Because he’s still young. He’s not older than 20 years old. His peak appearance still hasn’t come yet!”
“Doesn’t he look a bit taller?”
“I really can’t recognize him anymore! Honestly, I have always been a bit blinded by him. I relied on that red hair of his to distinguish him. Now without it, he looks so strange!”
“Whoever thought of putting a rose on his chest is a genius. It’s quite a thoughtful finishing touch to the outfit!”
“Ha ha ha, how many water army* did Shen Touhua put in your area this time?! Shen Touhua has always been ridiculed by the group in your district, okay.”
*(水军) Online paid posters and social media bots commenting or posting predefined content on online platforms. In the entertainment industry, water armies are used to promote, defame or boost data of particular works or celebrities.
The group of moonlight powders was about to explode. They were admiring Bai Qingquan’s beautiful pictures and blowing rainbow farts one by one, saying things like “I rarely see Bai Qingquan’s makeup so exquisite.” or “My brother tonight is so charming!”.
However, the wind was knocked out of their sails when Shen Jintai stepped onstage.
“Attention, attention, Shen Touhua is entering the field!”
“Ha ha ha, I’d like to see what kind of thunderous outfit Shen Touhua will wear today!”
“Fortunately, I washed my eyes with a picture of my brother and reluctantly took a look at Shen Touhua.”
“Just look at it. Don’t post on Weibo to complain about him! Don’t give him even a tiny bit of heat!”
“Understood! Shen Touhua is coming up now!”
“I’m a newcomer here. Is that really Shen Touhua? Why… Why is it different from what you said?!”
“Really, what kind of flower is this?”
Seeing that the atmosphere in the group had changed, the group leader hurriedly spoke, “Pay attention. Pay attention. Shen Touhua is clever. This is not his usual way of creating hype.”
“That’s right, when everyone thought he would show up in a gaudy outfit, he suddenly turned into a normal person. In fact, it’s all within his calculation to create hype!”
“At best, it’s just average, and it can’t compare with our brother’s beauty and prosperity!”
“That’s definitely incomparable. I just think the rose on his chest is very pretty.”
“Ha, ha, ha, he shouldn’t put it on his chest. He should wear it on his head!”
“Please tell the group leader, let’s go to Weibo to suppress the comments. I just watched the real-time comments and they seemed to be praising him!”
“My god, it’s so irritating. Some people say that he is suppressing our brother today. Are they looking out of their asses?!”
“Go and control the evaluation!” The group leader gave the order.
Fans quickly rushed to the major forums and Weibo. However, others were quicker. There was already a GIF of Shen Jintai’s red carpet walk. The animation had filters that made it look as if there was light glowing out of his body.
Moonlight powder: “…”
That rose really was suitable for the outfit… How nice would it be if their moonlight brother dressed up like this?!
It wasn’t only netizens who hadn’t seen Shen Jintai for a long time that were surprised. Yan Qiuchi, who just saw him yesterday, was shocked himself.
Shen Jintai walked in the dazzling flashes of light with firm eyes and a bright smile in a well-fitted high-end black suit. His posture was upright, calm, and confident.
“Look at the flower on his chest…” Bai Qingquan smiled and whispered to Yang Lizhi.
Yang Lizhi felt aggrieved with Bai Qingquan for grabbing the limelight, but her hostility when seeing Shen Jintai wasn’t as great as Bai Qingquan’s. She replied back to Bai Qingquan, “It’s pretty good looking.”
Her response dumbfounded Bai Qingquan, who thought she would call it out as just hype. He was trying to goad her.
He turned his head again and glanced at the reporters in front of him. Almost all the reporters’ cameras were turned on Shen Jintai. There was only one reporter from a magazine that was still focused on him. He made a note to himself which magazine company it was. He would give them an exclusive interview in the future.
Now that the focus of the stage was no longer on them, even the host had gone to cue Shen Jintai. Bai Qingquan took Yang Lizhi’s hand and took a seat in the first row. The host on stage had already stretched out his hand towards Shen Jintai, who bowed politely, shook the host’s hand, and took a microphone.
“This is our Li Xu’s actor in <The East Palace is Coming> Shen Jintai. Jintai, say hello to everyone.”
Shen Jintai’s spoke in a sharp, clear voice. “Hello everyone. My name is Shen Jintai. Long time no see.”
Hearing “long time no see” made the gold powders burst into tears. The “Gold Powder Family” currently had more than 200 active users.
“Oh, my brother is finally back.”
“Thank God I finally saw him! I didn’t give up!”
“My brother is so dazzling tonight. It seems like I’ve travelled back to when he first started!”
“I really cried. I was so excited! Shit.”
It was truly a long time since they had heard from Shen Jintai. Only a loyal gold fan could understand the emotions that they were feeling right now. It didn’t matter if he wasn’t as famous. It didn’t matter if he wasn’t a top idol. The only thing they needed was to be able to see him often. They had always been there and would always stay with him.
As Li Meilan had expected, Shen Jintai detonated today’s hot search, and “Shen Jintai’s comeback” was followed by the word “explosion”. Shen Jintai was unaware of the matter as his phone was with Li Meilan. He sat under the stage by himself and watched the scene intently.
According to the process, the starring actors would take the stage one by one, introduce their roles, and interact with the audience.
When Bai Qingquan came on stage, the cheers from below were the warmest. About 90% of netizens who came today were moonlight powders. The host liked him very much. Bai Qingquan spoke eloquently and was obviously well prepared.
But no matter how well he talked, he could not avoid being asked the question regarding his rivalry with Shen Jintai. After all, both the crew and the host knew that the biggest selling point of this drama lay in the joint performance of Bai Qingquan and Shen Jintai, a pair of mortal enemies. What kind of fate brought these former mortal enemies together?!
The host asked, “I heard from the crew that you recommended Jintai to the director to play the role of Li Xu?”
Bai Qingquan smiled and nodded, then looked at Shen Jintai in the audience. “He has been out of the circle for a long time. I heard that he was planning to make a comeback. It just so happens that there was a role in our crew that has not yet been decided. We still kept in touch, so I called his agent, Sister Lan, and the next day, Sister Lan brought Shen Jintai to audition.”
The moonlight fans in the audience’s mood became complicated. Their brother’s kindness was a bit too much!
The host said, “After so long, working with him again, do you think there have been any changes between the two of you?”
Bai Qingquan didn’t dare answer the question. The host would rarely adlib during these events. These questions were most likely staged by the crew in order to hype his relationship with Shen Jintai. He smiled and said, “We’re not the same as we were in the past. After all, two years have passed. Everyone can see what changes have occurred, right?”
Of course, the biggest change was that he had become the male lead. He had become a top idol. Shen Jintai was now a has-been. He even needed an introduction just for an audition, but how could he say these things? It would be too shameful!
The host, who was extremely observant, faintly noticed Bai Qingquan’s strangeness. He finished asking his questions and quickly said, “okay, thank you Qingquan. Let us look forward to Qingquan’s wonderful performance in <The East Palace is Coming>.”
The host smiled and watched Bai Qingquan leave the stage. Bai Qingquan turned to the audience and gave them a smile as he exited. “Next, we invite our Li Xu to the stage.”
Prompted by the sound of music, Shen Jintai got up and walked towards the stage. As he passed by Bai Qingquan at the entrance, he smiled politely as Bai Qingquan turned to look at him.
Bai Qingquan didn’t know whether it was an illusion, but he felt like Shen Jintai was particularly radiant while he was quite flustered. He recalled the past when Shen Jintai hadn’t retired yet. The two of them participated in an event together. Shen Jintai would always be heavily focused on the media’s attention. He always had various ways of attracting their eyes, and he was usually open to answering questions. Naturally, the media liked this kind of artist. One single interview with him would give a month’s worth of material.
Bai Qingquan, on the other hand, didn’t have such capable abilities, thus he would always live in the shadow of Shen Jintai. When Shen Jintai retired, he was able to rise to become a top idol. He thought he had finally gained a foothold in the circle in the past two years. He didn’t expect that as soon as Shen Jintai returned, his moonlight would disappear.
No matter how beautiful the moonlight was, it couldn’t match the shining gold powder.
Bai Qingquan felt terror. He didn’t want to return to those days anymore. He didn’t want to live in Shen Jintai’s shadow again. After taking his seat, he glanced at his phone. As soon as he opened Weibo, news of Shen Jintai’s comeback had already exploded.
Bai Qingquan felt dizzy. He became completely rigid as he put the most standard smile on his face and looked at Shen Jintai, who was currently on stage.
“Jintai it’s definitely a surprise to everyone that you’re in this drama.” The host eloquently spoke. “As we all know, you were once a king of the stage and was called the king of a new generation of dance. I would like to ask you, after taking a break for so long, what made you choose to star in <The East Palace is Coming> as the debut for your comeback?”
Why you ask? It’s because he was an outdated star and had no better job opportunity.
There were, of course, general standard answers to this kind of question, such as, “Because of the script. Because of the director. Because of the actors. Because of the production team”, but Shen Jintai said, “Because I like acting.”
It had always been his dream to be able to say something like this on a high-profile occasion. When he was nominated for best supporting actor, he secretly rehearsed countless times in the hopes of standing on stage and saying those words if he won.
He loves acting. Love and money were negligible to him compared to acting. For the sake of his career, he could remain a virgin forever and never fall in love.
Shen Jintai’s response resonated deeply with him, but others had a different reaction.
Shen Jintai like to act? Haha what a joke. Just like the act you’re pulling right now! Bai Qingquan sneered and crossed his legs.
The moonlight powders was even more harsh.
The host also felt very surprised and was left quite speechless.
Shen Jintai had acted in a drama before. After the show became a flop, he placed all the blame on the producer. After squabbling back and forth a few times, the producer broke the news that Shen Jintai was nothing but a film diva. He was always late to the set and always left early. He would change his lines without permission and use them to attack other celebrities, like Bai Qingquan.
It was really hard to read.
Shen Jintai continued, “During the two years of rest, I have taken a lot of classes. In fact, when I retired, I mainly thought about what to do next. After deciding to pursue a career in acting, I enrolled in acting classes to improve my performance.” This was also a good excuse to explain his reborn acting skills.
“I hope that after this drama is broadcast, everyone can see my changes.”
The host smiled. “We are all looking forward to your wonderful performance in <The East Palace is Coming>. We all know that you play a very important role, the great eunuch Li Xu. Next, let’s talk about your role.”
The next step was standard procedure, but the host was still nervous, afraid that Shen Jintai, who had never played cards according to common sense, would make a surprise move. He gripped his flashcards tightly. They had different emergency strategies should things go awry. It was specially prepared for Shen Jintai.
Who knew that Shen Jintai was exceptionally cooperative? Not only that, but he was also especially poignant in his responses, which astonished the host even more.
Interview questions were usually very standard and had very typical scripted responses. Yet even in the entertainment circle, many celebrities were still unqualified when speaking. Often times, they would interject “uh” and “um” while giving responses. Some actors would stumble upon their understanding of the script and role when being interviewed. They would make a lot of grandiose statements that were completely hollow.
But what Shen Jintai said was informative, in-depth, and cultured. He described Li Xu as a “villain with a sense of vulnerability”. He described the script as, “after reading it, tears will flow out, and your heart will surge”, and when it came to the love between Li Xu and the Prince, he said, “It’s like the flower language of wild roses, romance, and repentance.”
Shen Jintai talked eloquently and calmly while he looked at the host intently. The rose on his chest felt as if it was alive. It was like he was a different person.
Bai Qingquan sat down under the stage, unable to sit still.
He didn’t know what was wrong with him. He was in complete disarray. He took the opportunity to go to the bathroom, got into a stall, and started crying. When he came out, he saw Wei Ge giving him a serious look.
Bai Qingquan’s eyes were still red. Wei Ge said, “Wipe them. Don’t let anyone find out.”
Bai Qingquan nodded. “I regret it.” He deeply regretted giving Shen Jintai this opportunity.
Wei Ge: “You have to be confident. Don’t let your inferiority complex get the better of you whenever you see Shen Jintai. You are better-looking than him, more popular than him, and your acting skills are no worse than his, plus you’re also the male lead. He is the green leaf that exists to set you off. Bai Qingquan, why can’t you see your own qualities?”
The shadow left on him by Shen Jintai was deep. Even thousands of affectionate words and overwhelming praises couldn’t undo the damage that he had suffered.
“I will not be beaten by him.” Bai Qingquan said, “I will act better than him even if it kills me.”
He reorganized his makeup and returned to the press conference. Shen Jintai had already stepped down and was sitting next to the director, leaning slightly, and whispering to him.
Li Meilan sat in the lounge and swiped Weibo, visited forums, and instructed gold powders to control the comments. There wasn’t much gold powder left. Their combat strength was limited. It was completely crushed by the moonlight powders at the beginning. However, as the press conference went on, the tides changed. They couldn’t match the large numbers of passersby that gathered. Amidst the overwhelming insults from moonlight powders, the compliments of onlookers were interspersed, praising Shen Jintai’s shift in both appearance and personality.
“Shen Jintai seems to be a changed person.”
In any case, the comeback seemed to be successful. If Shen Jintai could seize this opportunity when the drama was broadcast, as long as his acting skills improved by half as much as before, he would be able to pick up momentum.
While Li Meilan was reveling in delight, she heard a noise outside. The door was pushed open and Shen Jintai came in with Xiao Tang. Shen Jintai took off the rose on his chest and asked Li Meilan, “How is it? Are they scolding me or praising me?”
Li Meilan said, “half and half.”
This was no longer easy.
When Shen Jintai heard this, he immediately grabbed his phone and took a look. He started reading the comments left by netizens when he heard Xiao Tang’s phone constantly pinging, as if there was a steady stream of notifications coming in.
He looked up at Xiao Tang, who shouted, “Wow! A lot of people have applied to join the fan base!”
It was more than two hours ago, and the numbers were already in the hundreds. The effect of returning fans was truly remarkable!
Shen Jintai was the focus tonight. Even the rose he wore on his chest went on the hot search.
“How did you come up with the idea of putting a rose on your chest?” Li Meilan thought it was a stroke of genius.
“I am paying serious attention to this comeback. I wasn’t afraid of being scolded, but rather that there wouldn’t be any splashes. I happened to see a young girl holding a bunch of roses. I didn’t know who it was for, but I asked her for one so I could put it in my breast pocket. I think people would think I planted it purposely for the hype, but at least it got me enough attention.”
Since men’s suits usually had little differentiation, they were usually not as memorable or stunning as female celebrities’ dresses. By putting a rose on his chest pocket, it made Shen Jintai’s outfit stood out among other male actors. He no longer had his red hair, but he could always do something to create new highlights.
“I think it was pretty smart. They’re all praising you for being innovative with your design. You can probably use this as your signature look in the future.”
Shen Jintai saw a comment that stood out: [So Shen Touhua is wearing flowers? Hahaha.]
Li Meilan smiled slightly. “Maybe you can still whitewash your black name.”
“Then I will wear flowers on my chest for important occasions in the future.”
“You have to wear a real flower with a stalk and everything. None of the fake stuff.” She thought that the flower Shen Jintai wore today was well received because of the stem. The cyan stem had two leaflets growing out of it, enhancing the overall look of the rose. Because of this, it made him look more casual rather than deliberate.
Shen Jintai went to his “Gold Powder Family” and took a look. His gold powder was extremely excited. After more than two hours, there were thousands of comments. One of his fans, who had fast hands, had even painted a portrait of him in accordance with his appearance tonight. Shen Jintai felt that although the picture looked simple, it was still very beautiful. The red rose on his chest was very conspicuous and could be identified at once. It was very fitting for his signature look.
He asked Xiao Tang to contact the fan, and after the fan agreed, he made it his own Weibo avatar.
While changing his avatar, he found the Weibo post he had prepared for publication in his draft box. The picture showed the script of <The East Palace is Coming>. The silhouette of a towering palace could be seen with gilded words <The East Palace is Coming> with the accompanying text: [Hello, Li Xu.].
Sunshine Media had set up a banquet at the hotel after the conference. Many celebrities were invited to the dinner party. Friends of Bai Qingquan and Yang Lizhi who were in the circle all joined. There were many fans gathered outside the hotel. Their screams never stopped. Shen Jintai opened the corner of the curtains and looked down. He saw the expansive, dark crowd and the endless, silent flashes of light.
He wondered when he’d have that many fans who would scream his name every time he appeared.
A knock came at the door. A staff member entered and said, “Mr. Shen, the banquet’s about to start.”
Shen Jintai nodded. Li Meilan tidied up his collar again and patted him on the shoulder. “Go. We’ll wait for you here.”
Shen Jintai nodded and followed the staff member out. The corridor was chaotic with a mess of people everywhere. He happened to run into Song Wei. Song Wei liked him now and beckoned to him from a distance. “Xiao Jin, this way.” Shen Jintai smiled and went over, and together they walked to the banquet hall.
Song Wei was a veteran actress. When she was younger, she used to be a huadan who could command the wind and rain. Now she occasionally acted in film and television dramas, usually as the motherly role. In <The East Palace is Coming> she played the Empress Zhao.
As they were walking through the corridor about to reach the banquet, they ran into Yan Qiuchi. He truly was a boss and a leader. There were several senior executives behind him. However, with his 1.9-meter height, even among them he stood out prominently. Surrounded by stars, he looked even more dignified and morose.
Song Wei smiled and greeted him. “President Yan.”
“Teacher Song,” Yan Qiuchi smiled and greeted back, then nodded to Shen Jintai. In public, he still gave Shen Jintai face.
Shen Jintai nodded and said nothing. He saw Yang Lizhi and Bai Qingquan through the crowd. Suddenly, Xiao Ai came online, startling him with a ding dong sound.
“I’m really sorry to disturb you at this time,” Xiao Ai said, “but I think I should inform you in time.”
“What’s the matter?”
“Bai Qingquan’s favorability towards you has plummeted, and the decline is incalculable. For the time being, it’s considered to be in the negatives!”
“What the hell?!”
“Dear, you really have to work harder, otherwise you’ll never get the next level reward!”
“What is the reward for the next level?”
“Killer waist. You chose it yourself,” Xiao Ai said. “Believe me, this waist is definitely killer! You deserve it!”
Shen Jintai pursed his lips and looked at Bai Qingquan. Bai Qingquan was smiling and looking very grand, as if there hadn’t been any changes at all. He was a very cultured little fairy, so even if he hated anyone in his heart, he would never show it.
Why does he hate me? Could it be because I robbed him of his limelight today?
But he couldn’t help it. He needed the momentum, so he couldn’t let it go. Although he liked Bai Qingquan, Bai Qingquan couldn’t compare with him becoming more beautiful and his path to stardom. His favorite thing in the world was acting. If he wanted to have a career as an actor, he needed popularity. If he wanted to be a male lead and grab good film and television resources, he would have to have both acting skills and fame.
This was really a dead end. He originally had two options, either please Bai Qingquan or fight Yan Qiuchi. Could he only go the latter way in the future?
Shen Jintai turned to look for Yan Qiuchi. From his view, he could only see Yan Qiuchi’s back, surrounded by people, as he was walking forward.
To fight against Yan Qiuchi… It seemed like he couldn’t do it. It’s too difficult!
Xiao Ai said, “Dear, what’s the point if the tasks are too easy? Don’t forget, if you don’t complete the ultimate mission, what will happen to you?”
“What are you talking about?” Shen Jintai asked. He only knew that these tasks, whether he completed them or not, would make him beautiful or not. Was there anything else?
“Of course there is. Let me repeat what I once told you. The highest-level reward you can get is that not only can you live in this new world, you will also get a man who will never change his mind, even if decades have passed, and will love you for a lifetime*.” Xiao Ai paused. “If you can’t complete the final task and are unable to reform the male protagonist, you will not be able to live in this new world. In other words, you can’t rewrite the fate of Shen Jintai, the cannon fodder. You will die.”
*Clarity: This second part was added on by the author. It was not there when Xiao Ai first told him about this (In chapter 1).
“Remember, you are already dead in the real world.”
“So dear, face those difficulties head on! You can do it! I’m sorry to have disturbed your meal. Bye bye!” With a beep, Xiao Ai went offline.
Shen Jintai’s back was cold. Sure enough, there was no such thing as a free lunch in the world*.
*Saying that you can’t get something for nothing.
Shen Jintai looked forward with a serious expression. He glanced at Bai Qingquan and then at Yan Qiuchi.Bai Qingquan was beautiful and gentle, and Yan Qiuchi was cold and abstinent.What was he supposed to do next? Desperately clash against Yan Qiuchi? Or hysterically pursue Bai Yueguang?
Neither option was the path he wanted to take. Of course, living was important, but it was more crucial to live with dignity and without remorse.
Having gone through several confrontations with Yan Qiuchi, he wasn’t able to take advantage of them. On the contrary, it only made Yan Qiuchi’s misunderstanding of him worse. Being looked down upon by a good man was a matter of self-esteem. He felt that his interaction with Yan Qiuchi was best for treating each other well.
As for his strategy to pursue Bai Qingquan, it was acceptable. After all, he did like the little fairy. Due to the filming, he would be in the same crew as Bai Qingquan for more than a half-year. He wouldn’t be obtrusive, he wouldn’t be unfettered, and he would rely on his professional abilities to slowly change Bai Qingquan’s heart.
With his resolve intact, Shen Jintai walked towards Bai Qingquan with confidence. As he strode towards him, Yan Qiuchi turned his head and caught sight of Shen Jintai. Shen Jintai’s back was upright. Looking at his back, Yan Qiuchi couldn’t help but feel as if he was looking at a total stranger.
The author has something to say:
There are also roses on the cover of Shen Jintai.
Wow, this was a LONG chapter. I’m sorry to say, but I think I’m a moonlight powder. Poor Bai Qingquan. I hope he can get over his trauma and can love himself!
Side note: Here’s what Bai Qingquan looks like in the manhua. How could he think that he’s not beautiful?!
Second side note: Here’s Shen Jintai’s comeback look on the red carpet.