[Big-Clawed Crab]: I was reading a script. My brother wants me to audition for a drama tomorrow.
[Class Monitor]: Oh.
[Class Monitor]: Which drama?
[Big-Clawed Crab]: Not telling. I'm not getting the role anyway.
And Jiang Ying really wasn't interested in landing the role. He wasn't that interested in acting, full stop. Although his dad was a legendary movie star, neither he nor his brother had inherited a passion for acting.
His older brother Jiang Xun had played professional esports for several years, eventually winning a world championship with his team. Jiang Ying, on the other hand, had entered the entertainment industry and dedicated a few years to making himself infamous.
The audition was scheduled for the next day, early in the morning. Assistant Chen scraped Jiang Ying out of bed at the crack of dawn, packaged him up, and shipped him out.
"Do you want makeup?" Assistant Chen asked.
Jiang Ying looked like he had just crawled out of bed, and like he'd gotten up on the wrong side of the bed to boot. "No, it's fine. We're just going through the motions. No one's gonna want my shitty acting skills."
Assistant Chen shrank back and didn't dare say anything else. Acting skills (or a lack thereof) aside, Jiang Ying currently emitted an aura that perfectly befit the villain of this drama.
The production team behind 'An Auspicious Snow' was full of impressive names from the industry. Many people in entertainment had their eye on the project. Various agencies had sent over their actors to audition; even the role of the villain was highly sought-after. Jiang Ying was scheduled as one of the last auditions of the session, but he didn't really care about that. He took out his phone as soon as they arrived and started thinking about the problem of Qi Zhu following him on his alt again.
The root of all his current problems… was that there were people who thought he was Qi Zhu's fan.
As long as he could provide adequate proof that he wasn't a fan, he could clear Boss Crab's name.
In that case, he could just open up 'Fight!' and play another round. He could wait until he landed the same question and argue for the opposite stance.
Just as he was about to load up the app, he heard a voice call out to him: "Yo! If it isn't Jiang Ying."
Jiang Ying looked up. "You are…?"
Standing in front of him was a person he didn't recognize. Probably another actor there to audition. The guy looked like he was brimming over with arrogance.
"Miao Ye, from the same agency as T.ATW," Assistant Chen whispered to Jiang Ying. "He's here to audition as well, but not for the same role as you."
Jiang Ying wasn't really interested in any of that. He just wanted to hurry up and play another round of 'Fight!' to bash Qi Zhu and clear his own name.
But Miao Ye suddenly raised his voice and exclaimed, "It can't be! You're trying out for this role with your shitty acting skills? I sure wouldn't want to shoot a drama with you in the future. Weren't you in some idol drama that totally bombed? You're like a horror story that people at Bilibili use to scare their interns!"
Jiang Ying slammed his cell phone down on the seat next to him. Some poor soul had just wandered up to his executioner's block and put their own head down. As if Jiang Ying would pass up this chance for a fight.
"Miao Ye. Actor. Signed to Xueqing Entertainment," Jiang Ying recited. "You haven't appeared in any idol dramas, but you've only ever landed roles as background characters that no one likes. You've been an extra who died for the heroine three times, and an extra who existed only to advance the male lead's story five times. You're destined to be a C-lister forever, and your agency's best roles and resources will always go to top boy band T.ATW. What's the matter? You mad?"
It seemed Miao Ye had only wanted to strike up some innocent banter. His face quickly turned the sickly color of pork liver. "I…"
Assistant Chen cast Miao Ye a pointed look, warning him to keep his mouth shut. He didn't know if this little celebrity had taken the wrong meds that morning or what. Who in their right mind would pick a fight with Jiang Ying of all people?
Just as Assistant Chen was debating whether he should simply cover Jiang Ying's big mouth, this young actor with no sense of self-preservation turned his face to the side and dared to mutter, "Weren't you supposed to be some fresh and clean youth when you debuted?"
"You think anyone would buy that persona, coming from me?" Jiang Ying rolled his eyes. "I only ever speak the truth, and if…"
"Number 37, Jiang Ying." The door to the audition room suddenly opened, and the person who emerged waved at the two young men waiting in the hall. "Miao Ye, you come in too. Your character has already been set, so you can run through this scene with Jiang Ying."
Jiang Ying shot Miao Ye a tauntingly cocky smirk, then got up and strode into the audition room.
The director was a friend of Jiang Ying's father, but this wasn't the sort of place to make small talk. Jiang Ying was promptly handed a script that had already been opened to the page with the relevant scene for the audition marked out. After skimming his lines, Jiang Ying realized this was the scene where Xuan Moling threatened Zhao Jue into going out and interfering with the protagonist Luo Nanke.
The character he would be threatening, Zhao Jue, just so happened to be played by Miao Ye.
Their argument had been interrupted before it reached a satisfying conclusion, and Jiang Ying was still pissed. He tossed aside the script and accepted a prop sword from one of the crew. He gave the blade a whirl in one hand, getting a sense of its weight and balance, before brandishing it with a fierce swing. One second, he was smiling. The next, the tip of his sword was pointed at Miao Ye's throat.
Although it was only a prop sword, the fierce glint in Jiang Ying's eyes made Miao Ye shudder. Miao Ye had yet to get into character, and his mind suddenly went blank.
Normally, Jiang Ying would have just read his lines and left. But today, he wanted to use the audition as an excuse to get a bit ferocious with Miao Ye.
"This is the way of the world," Jiang Ying declared, instantly falling into character. He advanced, step by step, exerting immense pressure on Miao Ye. "This is justice. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. You hurt me, and now I'll hurt you. There are debts that must be paid. I'm threatening you now, which naturally means you'll have every right to threaten me in the future. As long as you're able."
Miao Ye had already been given a good scare by Jiang Ying out in the hallway. Now, hearing all this, he took a fearful step back. Dimly, he realized the audition had already started. He managed to dredge up his lines from the back of his mind: "I… I'm not…"
"If you start thinking you can't do this for me, just think of your family." Jiang Ying gave Miao Ye's cheek a pat with the flat of his blade. He flashed a smile which just so happened to show his two sharp little canines. There was nothing particularly menacing about this smile, but Miao Ye still felt a chill race down his spine.
"Are you not afraid I'll expose you? If you're threatening my family, I can do the same to you in the future," Miao Ye recited. His delivery wasn't perfect, and he could already sense that he was no match for Jiang Ying in this scene.
"Threaten me all you like." Jiang Ying bullied Miao Ye into a corner and fiercely stabbed the tip of his blade into the wall. "You people have already taken everything from me. The only family I have left… is Luo Nanke."
Miao Ye's knees went weak. He nearly collapsed right then and there.
"Alright." The screenwriter slapped an extra copy of the script down on the table.
"Alright what?" Jiang Ying drew a breath and collected himself. "I already know my acting sucks."
He returned the script and sword, getting ready to leave. "Bye-bye."
"The lead actor is arriving in five minutes. Do you want to wait and try a scene with him?" the assistant director asked, eyes gleaming. "Just to get a feel for it?"
"Nah." Jiang Ying's interest in acting had been non-existent since he was a kid. He gave zero fucks about who would be playing Luo Nanke in 'An Auspicious Snow'.
On his way out, Jiang Ying flashed Miao Ye another smirk. "You wanna go again next time?"
After Jiang Ying sauntered off, Miao Ye also wobbled out of the room on shaky legs.
"Let's go with him," said the screenwriter after replaying the footage of Jiang Ying's audition a few times. "This kid was born to play a villain. As long as you can stir up his emotions, he's golden."
"I just knew Jiang Zheng's son couldn't possibly be a bad actor," the director said. "Jiang Xun definitely won't get into acting, but Jiang Ying… there's still hope for him as long as we can get him interested. If we guide him down the right path, he'll be just as good as any other actor in the industry."
Out in the hallway, Assistant Chen got up as soon as he saw Jiang Ying emerge from the audition room. "All done?"
"Done," Jiang Ying said. "This was all just to make me lose face anyway. I'm off to my middle school reunion now. You wanna leave first?"
"You… probably won't cause any trouble at a school reunion, right?" Assistant Chen asked with no small amount of trepidation.
"No way, no way." Jiang Ying was still in a hurry to clear Boss Crab's name. He would have waved off anything Assistant Chen said. "I promise. No trouble."
As Jiang Ying rushed off, Assistant Chen watched with some doubt in his eyes. Was it normal for a boy with his temperament to be so excited about a middle school reunion?
Assistant Chen started down the hall as well, passing a familiar figure huddled in one corner. It was Miao Ye, who had just picked a fight with Jiang Ying a short while back.
Miao Ye had just had the shit scared out of him by Jiang Ying. He was cowering in a corner now, making a phone call. After finding the right number in his phone and dialing, he heard the other party pick up right away.
"Jiang-zong…" Miao Ye was practically sobbing.
The person on the other end of the line was silent for a moment before saying, "Jiang-zong… Jiang Xun isn't here right now."
"Oh, is this Gu Wei?" Miao Ye asked, recognizing the voice on the other end and remembering the relationship between Gu Wei and Jiang Xun. "Well, that's fine. You'll do."
Miao Ye drew a big, deep breath. Then he vented all his hurt and frustration into the phone: "You tell Jiang-zong the price has gone up! His little bro is too fierce! Way, way, way too fierce!
"If I hadn't been in a good state of mind today, Jiang Ying would have crushed my spirit with what he said to me just now!
"If I weren't so well-adjusted, Jiang Ying would have made me kneel!"
Gu Wei, on the other end of the line, was rendered speechless.
As was Assistant Chen, who'd just so happened to overhear.