Author: 公子于歌 / Gong Zi Yu Ge
Translator: Kinky || https://kinkytranslations.com/
Chapter 70: Fix It
Zheng Siqi was coming, but Shen Jintai didn’t know about it in advance, so when he saw Zheng Siqi, he was stunned.
Shen Jintai: “Why are you here? Is it an open set visit?”
“I’m here to act,” Zheng Siqi said with a smile.
“Shit!” Shen Jintai stood straight up.
The makeup artist hurriedly got out of the way. He was also surprised. “The prince still has a part! Oh my god! Oh my God!”
“I knew it!” Shen Jintai said. “The director was acting all weird yesterday that it looked like he was planning something big.”
The entire dressing room was overjoyed. The fate of Li Xu and the prince really touched the hearts of millions of viewers. They all guessed that the prince wasn’t truly dead. Screenwriter Meng Xiaosheng was merciful in the end.
Shen Jintai had been acting as Li Xu for so long that he had entered deeply into the drama. It wasn’t possible any longer to see whether it was a HE or BE from an artistic point of view. He only felt excitement as he saw hope for Li Xu.
However, looking at the scene he filmed today, he didn’t know how the ending could be reversed. Li Xu begged for death with all his heart by pretending to be crazy as he sang loudly in the middle of the night, evoking He Lanbi’s fury that sent him to jail.
“I also came here as soon as I received the notice. As for what the scene is, I don’t know yet. I heard that it was going to be filmed on location,” Zheng Siqi said.
“Then go see the director first,” Shen Jintai said, smiling, as he sat down again.
Zheng Siqi left to meet with the director. While resuming putting makeup on for him the makeup artist said, “There have been waves of good things recently. Have you heard that The East Palace is reportedly nominated for the Guohua Awards? Both you and Bai Qingquan has been nominated for best male lead.”
Shen Jintai: “Guohua Award?”
The Guohua Awards* are the most authoritative and weighty TV drama awards in China. Any series can qualify as long as they end before the award ceremony that is held in May. The East Palace’s broadcast would end in March.
*Clarity: I believe this is a fictional award. My research didn’t turn anything up in real life regarding this award.
“It’s still very common for a TV series to nominate two male protagonists. You have so many roles. Although you are the second male lead, your character shined throughout this series, and you acted so brilliantly. If they don’t nominate you for the male lead, the audience from all over the country will feel sorry for you,” the makeup artist said with a smile.
Still, Shen Jintai remained surprised. <The East Palace is Coming> was produced by Sunshine Media, who was also Bai Qingquan’s agency. If he were to be nominated as male lead, it would inevitably affect Bai Qingquan’s chances of winning the award as they would split the vote.
Sunshine Media was ambitious, and the role of Li Xu was too popular. Shen Jintai must give it his all in this final chapter of Li Xu’s ending.
When he finished his makeup, a flying page came. It wasn’t for him, but for Yang Lizhi and Zheng Siqi. He glanced over and saw that Zheng Siqi had a scene. Sure enough, as the public had guessed, Zhou Jing had relented at the most critical moment and saved Zhou Ying’s life.
He watched as Zheng Siqi drove an ox cart. With a single thought, Shen Jintai was about to cry. He fantasized about how Li Xu could be sitting in this ox cart with the two of them drifting away on the ancient road towards the setting sun, leaving behind the palace and all its struggles as they disappeared into the long river of history.
For Li Xu, this would be the most gratifying ending. Li Xu deserved such an ending for the great love he had in his heart.
“Have you seen the flying page?” Yang Lizhi asked him before the shooting started.
Shen Jintai smiled and said, “I saw it.”
“That’s great. I don’t need any more scolding.” Yang Lizhi chuckled. Today’s script made Yang Lizhi incredibly grateful to screenwriter Meng Xiaosheng. She was really scared she’d be scolded endlessly.
She also heard about the nomination of <The East Palace is Coming> for the Guohua Awards. From what she heard, she had the lowest chance of being nominated despite being the heroine, but at this point she didn’t care anymore! As long as she could be whitewashed, nothing else mattered!
Fucking hell*! She had been struggling in the entertainment industry for so many years and this drama was almost the death of her!
*(麻蛋) Swear/curse word. Literally, it’s fried sesame balls.
Before Zhou Jing died, he left two life-saving tokens for Li Xu. The decree was for the people of the world to witness, and the Red Book Iron Voucher was for the new Emperor and He Lanbi to witness.
He Lanbi took the decree, read it from start to finish, and sneered. She threw the decree on the ground and kicked it away.
Li Xu rolled up the decree and said, “The empress doesn’t have to be angry. This edict is only to preserve the reputation of the late emperor’s benevolence and kindness. It cannot save the life of a slave.”
He Lanbi: “The decree will not save your life. Only I* can.”
*She’s referring to herself as “the palace/this seat”, which is something the Emperor’s women refer to themselves when they are talking to someone of lower position.
Li Xu laughed. His voice was haggard, but his expression was haughty. He Lanbi walked around him. The dungeon was damp, and the withered grass was covered by Li Xu’s thin robe. “When the late emperor was alive, you were so honorable that you didn’t care about me. Now look at me. You’re kneeling while I’m still standing. In the end, I still won.”
“Niang Niang1, don’t be in such a rush to be proud. There’s still an undercurrent in the dynasty. Though I have a reputation as a wicked man, I can still maintain balance for your dynasty when I’m alive. If I die, they will bully you orphans and widows2. What would you do then?”
1(娘娘) Means goddess and it’s a respectful way generally used to address queens, concubines, and princesses.
2(孤儿寡母) Refers to the child and women left behind after a man’s death. || In this context, the new emperor and He Lanbi.
He Lanbi sneered, “Will the world still be chaotic without you?”
“He Lanbi, do you know that you, as a person, are not as good as me? You may be good at most things, but you are not ruthless enough.” Li Xu rolled over and groan in pain. With a bitter voice, he continued, “You are young. The old courtiers in the dynasty respect you on the surface, but in fact, they aren’t afraid of you. At a high level, respect isn’t enough. You must also command fear. The ministers are feared and the people support them, thus allowing them to sit firmly on their high platform. Currently, the courtiers do not fear you. To the common people, you mother-son duo are just orphans and widows whom they have never heard of. The courters show no fear, and the people show no support. How can your future remain favorable?”
He Lanbi was stunned as if what Li Xu said shot straight to her heart.
“I will never be such a cruel and cold-blooded person like you,” she said. “You… You killed so many innocents. If I hadn’t watched this death row closely, you would have been killed a long time ago. Do you know how many people in this world can’t wait for your death?”
Li Xu then looked at her and smiled. “So, your opportunity has come. The late emperor is gone, and the new emperor is young. You are orphans and widows. If you want to stand firmly, you must do a major event that the people will laud you for after you ascend the throne.”
He Lanbi turned around and looked at Li Xu, whose hair was covered in dirt and grime. Li Xu said, “Kill me. Let the ministers see your wrists, and let the people remember that Wufu Chitose, the demon that everyone fears, died by your hands, Empress Dowager.”
“So, it turns out to be like this.” He Lanbi laughed and took two steps back as she stared at Li Xu. “You acted crazy because of this. You really are affectionate and righteous toward your country and the people.”
Li Xu: “You and I both know that I have countless sins, and the outcome will not end well. Rather than die at the hands of my enemies, it’s better to die in yours and the new emperor’s hands. I, Li Xu, have lived a tumultuous life. I at least want to die well. The late emperor knows my intention and will not blame you in Jiuquan*.”
*(九泉) Land of the dead.
He Lanbi turned around, remaining silent.
“You really deserve to be damned,” she said. “The late emperor has already been criticized for protecting your legacy, but now you’re begging for mercy. I’m afraid you still don’t know one thing.”
She looked straight at him; her eyes were red. She couldn’t see love or hate in his eyes and just said, “Elder Prince Brother… He is still alive.”
After filming this scene, Shen Jintai’s mind was heavy. Just as he was about to finish work, there was a knock on the door outside. He opened the door and saw Meng Xiaosheng standing outside the door with a smile.
“Are you calling it a day?” She asked.
Shen Jintai nodded. “I’m leaving now.”
Meng Xiaosheng: “Let’s go to a small bar together. I want to have a final chat with you about the next scene to be filmed.”
“Are you giving me spoilers?” Shen Jintai smiled, but his expression remained somber.
Meng Xiaosheng really did spill it all. The two started chatting about Li Xu’s role. She was tipsy toward the end of the conversation. She lit a cigarette and handed him the script that contained Li Xu’s final ending.
“There is still a week before we shoot this scene. It must be kept in complete confidentiality. I’m giving it to you in advance so that you can know the ending and figure out how to act the part.”
Shen Jintai read the script and was quiet for ages. In the end, he said to Meng Xiaosheng, without knowing whether he loved or hated it. “I can do it.”
The whole world was squatting on Li Xu’s final ending. Although the episode has not yet been broadcast, everyone knew about it on the day when Shen Jintai shot his exit photo. The official blog posted a video of Shen Jintai applying makeup in his dressing room in advance.
In the video, Shen Jintai had his eyes closed as the makeup artist put a hood around his head. His hair was completely white and there were no traces of love.
“Ahhhhhhhhh it’s about to be finished. Is Li Xu going to die? So, it’s true that the prince is really dead? Ahhhhhhhh!!”
“Will Li Xu go crazy like the white-haired Li Xu who was sitting on the ground rocking back and forth, calling out to Zhou Ying?”
“Please don’t abuse me anymore. My little heart really can’t stand it anymore!”
“Abuse! Abuse! Abuse hard! My tears are ready!”
“Originally, the crew was more than a month ahead of the broadcast. To prevent Li Xu’s ending from leaking, they filmed other scenes first, and the episode with Li Xu’s ending was moved to pre-broadcast filming. It’ll be filmed this week, with the broadcast next week. The crew is ruthless!”
On the day of filming the finale, the top executives of Sunshine Media came.
Yang Lizhi’s agent said, “It’s the same drama. There will still be two more episodes after this.”
But everyone knew that this episode was the most important in the series. Everyone was looking forward to it. The East Palace crew cleared the entire venue. Only a few senior leaders and necessary staff were allowed on set. Everyone else was blocked off.
Even Li Meilan, Xiao Tang, and Shen Jintai’s assistants couldn’t watch the filming of the finale. They only knew that after the finale was filmed, Shen Jintai stayed alone in his dressing room for a long time.
He had been acting as Li Xu for over a year and it was finally time to say goodbye.
There was a knock on the door. Shen Jintai glanced back and said, “Come in.”
It was Yan Qiuchi. Shen Jintai gave him a weary, reluctant smile as he was feeling wistful.
Yan Qiuchi said, “Congratulations, you are done.”
“Thank you.” Shen Jintai stretched out his hand to wipe the makeup off his face and said, “You came to say goodbye?”
Shen Jintai looked in the mirror. It showed the reflection of two people.
Yan Qiuchi said, “You did a great job. On behalf of the company, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
“I would like to thank you as well,” Shen Jintai said. “Without you, there would be no Li Xu by Shen Jintai.” He turned to the mirror again and raised his hand to remove his headgear, which took off his white hair, leaving behind his black hair that had now reached shoulder length.
Before Shen Jintai left the crew, he hugged everyone and finally stood in front of Zheng Siqi. Zheng Siqi tilted his head, smiled, and stretched out his arms first, and the two hugged each other. It lasted for quite some time before they both let go.
Shen Jintai and the crew had developed deeper feelings than the other actors. They continued to wave their hands and bow as he got into the car and drove off.
On the eve of the finale broadcast, the trailer of <The East Palace is Coming> was looping online. It was accompanied by a grand and solemn theme music, as the satellite TV channel said in the most sensational voice:
“Unforgettable, when he looked up, was gentle and tender.
Looking back, it’s been ten years since his intersection with life and the loss of death.
Now the roses are blooming again, the lovers are full of flowers.
The beautiful scenery of a good day. Jintai Qiongying invites you to share tomorrow, as the East Place is here!”
The last shot was of Li Xu with completely white hair, wearing a rose on his head. He smiled brightly, but the viewers wanted to cry.
The author has something to say:
Let us squat together and watch the finale of The East Palace tomorrow! In the next three consecutive chapters, there will be scenes in the East Palace, and they are abusive. If you don’t like it, you can skip it. A friendly reminder.
Well, I was hoping for a happy ending, but given the author’s comment… looks like I’m going to be an abused dog. *Prepares tissues*.
Side note: Li Xu’s hair is supposed to turn white, not gray. I was using gray in earlier chapters, but I’ll go back and fix them, so if you’ve read those chapters before my edits, just know he has white hair.