Chapter 11.2 – Wild Rose Theater
Shi Yuan stood still, the woman looked at him carefully, bent her eyes, and smiled like a fox: “Apart from acting, would you like to do something else? The troupe has a lot of chores to deal with. If you are willing to take over some, like… ahem, being in charge of publicity, then we can hire you.”
Shi Yuan said, “No problem.”
The pale man’s eyes widened: “Hey, this is my script! If I say he is not suitable, he is not suitable! I don’t allow a tree demon who can only be coquettish to appear on…”
“I’m allowing it.” The woman slapped him on the back. “Shut up.”
The man shut up.
“Chief, you’re okay with that too, right?” The woman looked at Wolfgang.
Wolfgang’s tanned face was torn for a few moments, but he compromised quickly, “Of course.”
“Good, then it’s settled.” The woman smiled. “Shi Yuan, you’re hired. I’m Qin Luoluo, add my contact information and come to work tomorrow.”
Then Shi Yuan was hired inexplicably.
He was very happy.
Qin Luoluo said he could go back early today, and added: “You take this costume with you and go home to practice. You can’t even walk on the road in it. How can you perform on stage? And you hurry up and read the script, you can read as much as you can, and learn from other people’s ‘vicious tone’.”
Shi Yuan hugged the cypress tree costume, left the theater, and squeezed into the No. 3 bus with difficulty. This costume attracted a lot of attention, and a child reached out and touched its branches.
Lu Tinghan gave him permission to enter and exit. He pressed his fingerprints at the gate of the community, scanned his iris, and finally returned home.
Before Lu Tinghan came back, he put on his clothes and swayed around the room while reading the script.
Looking at it, Shi Yuan began to be absent-minded.
He hadn’t seen Lu Tinghan for a long time. He was an abyss afraid of loneliness, with a very high emotional need for timely human attention.
He turned on his mobile phone, looked at the screen in a daze for a while, and sent a text message to Lu Tinghan: “When will you be back?”
Lu Tinghan did not reply.
Shi Yuan plopped down on the sofa and continued to read the script.
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On this day, Lu Tinghan came back with the sound of the curfew whistle.
The adjutant said goodbye to him, Lu Tinghan opened the door, and the warm lights in the living room poured out. He walked in and hung up his clothes and said, “Shi Yuan, are you still up?”
There was no response.
Lu Tinghan: “Shi Yuan?”
After a few seconds, a rustling sound came from behind the sofa, and a few branches rose slowly.
Lu Tinghan: “…?”
Underneath the plush branches and leaves was Shi Yuan.
He just woke up, resting his chin on the back of the sofa, and said with heavy sleepiness, “You’re back.”
“Why are you dressed like this?” Lu Tinghan came to the sofa and saw the cypress tree costume clearly.
Shi Yuan said, “Touch my head.”
As soon as Lu Tinghan sat on the sofa, Shi Yuan leaned over and was satisfied to get the touch and the attention of his human.
He said: “I passed the audition for the troupe to play the tree demon.”
“That’s good,” Lu Tinghan said. “Are you practicing?”
“Yes, this costume is too wide, it’s hard to walk,” Shi Yuan replied. “I’m still reading the script.”
“You can do it.” Lu Tinghan said, rubbing his head. “Go to bed early after practice, I still have things to do.”
“Can I stay by your side? I won’t disturb you.” Shi Yuan added, “We haven’t seen each other for a long time.”
What he meant by “a long time” was actually a day.
Lu Tinghan thought for a while, his hand landed on the back of Shi Yuan’s neck again.
Shi Yuan: “Purr, purr, purr.”
After a while, Lu Tinghan said, “Come upstairs with me.”
With Lu Tinghan taking him, Broken Copper and Broken Iron finally did not stop Shi Yuan. They went up to the second floor and entered a study room with several bookcases full of heavy books, a long table, and a few chairs. Lu Tinghan really didn’t come back often. There were very few things on the ancient wooden table: a fountain pen and two thin notebooks.
Lu Tinghan sat down and opened something, and the holographic screen was projected in the air.
Shi Yuan moved a chair across the table and immersed himself in the script. Reading the script was a struggle for him, and he flipped through dozens of pages in a casual manner, as if he could understand.
In any case, Shi Yuan felt much better after having company. Occasionally, he would look up – the holographic screen was one-way, and he couldn’t see the content on the screen, only Lu Tinghan’s focused expression.
Most of the time, Lu Tinghan was expressionless, and it was difficult to judge his mood. It’s also the case now, he wrote down records against the screen, his writing was swift and his handwriting was like iron and silver hooks.
Shi Yuan was distracted for a while.
“Don’t look at me, read the script,” Lu Tinghan said without looking at him.
Shi Yuan continued to read the script, and many words made him dizzy, so he could only read while checking. The script was set in a western fantasy background. It told the story of the male protagonist carrying a sword to slay and eliminate demons. At the beginning, he set off from the tavern and went to the dangerous forest to kill the first monster, the tree demon in the forest played by Shi Yuan.
The tree demon was good-looking and ruthless, turning all travelers into nutrients for the forest to keep itself forever young.
The tree demon was no stranger to Shi Yuan.
During the long journey, Shi Yuan had seen many tree-like infected creatures. Some of them had distorted eyes and limbs, and some would emit pheromones that attract other monsters into their predatory range.
He had met a towering banyan tree, which occupied the village. There was a huge eye in the center of the trunk. The branches stretched like a crouching dragon, hung with decades-old dried bodies that swayed when the wind blew.
Shi Yuan asked it, “Hello, do you know how to get to the city?”
The old tree didn’t say anything, the huge eye looked at him, and then slowly closed.
The monsters Shi Yuan encountered were always like this. He spoke to them, and they either hurriedly avoided him or were unresponsive.
He bid farewell to the banyan tree and continued the journey.
Now he looked at the script and thought of the tree. According to the standard of the script – or according to human standards, the banyan tree should be a very terrible monster. He wanted to learn its ferocity. After thinking about it for a long time, he didn’t have a clue. He curled up his tail in confusion, thinking to himself, wondering if it was scary because of its big eyes.
He opened his eyes wide, put his chin on the script, stared at Lu Tinghan, and wandered off into the sky.
Lu Tinghan quickly discovered his actions and reminded him again: “Shi Yuan, you should do things with concentration.”
“Oh…” Shi Yuan responded, still not moving.
Lu Tinghan asked, “Why are you looking at me with your eyes wide open?”
Shi Yuan said, “Because it will make me more fierce.”
“…” There was a half-second confusion in Lu Tinghan’s eyes. He continued to write and said, “You went to the Wild Rose Theater, right? I forgot to ask you, what is your hourly salary according to the contract? How long is the working time?”
“The hourly salary is 5 yuan and the length of work has not yet been set.”
Lu Tinghan said: “5 yuan is the minimum wage, especially if you don’t include food or shelter, it stands to reason that you should get more for performing on stage. You can discuss it with them again, ask me if you don’t understand.”
Shi Yuan explained: “I played the villain. They said that my tone was completely not suitable and did not conform to the character image.”
Lu Tinghan: “How exactly is it not suitable?”
Shi Yuan said: “I’m already very fierce, but they still said that I’m simply pouting and acting coquettish.”
“This evaluation is a bit mean.” Lu Tinghan stopped writing. “Say a few lines for me to hear.”
He suspected that the troupe deliberately attacked Shi Yuan so that he could accept such a low hourly salary.
Shi Yuan turned to his lines: “Traveler, you have disturbed the spirits in the woods, today is the day you will die! You, humans, have cities and weapons, but we, monsters, also have a world of our own. You have crossed the line!”
Lu Tinghan: “……”
Shi Yuan: “I will kill you, nourish the ancient trees with your flesh and blood, grind your bones and feed them to the beasts, and then put your soul under the blazing sun for the flames and vultures to gnaw on for a lifetime!”
Lu Tinghan: “……”
Shi Yuan: “How is it?”
Lu Tinghan was silent for a while: “Shi Yuan, they are right.”
Shi Yuan: ?
Shi Yuan asked, “Then, is my salary really too low?”
Lu Tinghan was silent for a while: “It’s not that low either.”