It was just too beautiful. This wasn’t a renovation, but a building given new life.
All of the furniture was made from woven straw and rattan, and there were no big or complicated patterns on them, but the deep shades of the colours of nature made for a natural pattern. It was not just done in good taste — it was also quite refined and artistic. The broken-down feeling of ruin which the courtyard gave off in the beginning took on a minimalistic feel after undergoing Song Yucheng’s ingenious renovations.
City people led busy lifestyles in modern society, so one could assume that their most desired lifestyle was that of an idyllic countryside life. The lodging which Song Yucheng had renovated definitely fit the bill as a wonderful representation of idyllic countryside life.
So did this mean that Song Yucheng was capable of doing home interior design too? The watching netizens who were in home design industry were surprised. They were starting to wonder if the production crew had hired some outside help for Song Yucheng and his group. How else could they have pulled off such a personalised style of renovation?
The programme producers then showed the design plans to everyone, and they were shocked. All of it had been designed by Song Yucheng.
“OH. EM. GEE. He’s too freaking talented!”
“I have to say, as a member of a home design team, I can only sigh at such good work. His designs are very professionally done, and the degree of completion in the drawings are really high too. Professional teams in the industry can also do this level of work at best with that short amount of time. These youngsters and Song Yucheng are really scary good.”
“I’m suddenly feeling bad for the participants who appeared on the last three seasons. It’s like they all agreed to be underachievers and then these guys come along and made up all their missed lessons to become the top students.”
“I really wanna know where the programme people found Songsong. No wonder they gave him so many restrictions before. He’s already so OP with all these limiters in place. Won’t be just basically be a god without the limiters?”
The viewers of the main broadcast were already shocked, but a new wave of shock him them five minutes later.
The price Song Yucheng proposed for a night’s stay at the guesthouse was so exorbitant that it robbed them of speech.
A thousand a night.
This was way too much! Sure, Song Yucheng had indeed renovated the lodging very prettily, and it was quite fascinating, but the shortcoming of the place were very obvious too.
First of all was the distance of the guesthouse from the city. Transport was not convenient enough, and that was the factor which put potential guests off the most. The relatively primitive way of life in the countryside made people miss modern conveniences, and was a cause for worry and reluctance.
All this leisurely-looking work might look good to the viewers on screen, but it was definitely not going to be very convenient for them if they actually stayed there. The access to a shower and a toilet was already quite difficult, plus, evenings in a village were bound to be filled with so much chirping and croaking that it might very well lead to mental collapse.
The place was like this, and Song Yucheng was asking for a thousand a night? Nobody would actually want to go over an experience life like that even if they were influenced by the programme!
The netizens who had been admiring how beautifully Song Yucheng had transformed the lodging subtly changed the topic and started discussing how realistic this goal was; they didn’t feel that it was a reachable target. Not many people would want to go over to the filming location to take a look around even when the programme released the contact number of the production crew on the broadcast.
And so, hours passed, and the landline which the production crew had set up stayed silent. It was not till evening that the quiet was broken by their first visitor.
However, this tourist was not here for a simple holiday. She had come for Chu Rong.
She was actually the president of Chu Rong’s fan club.
“Guys, does this count as using our influence, or not?” Li Zhao was a little gloomy after hanging up.
Song Yucheng didn’t think it mattered. It did not matter how business started coming in — what mattered was that business had come. They only needed this opportunity to start things up, and open up the possibilities of the venue.
Song Yucheng calculated the time that the fan club president would take to arrive and quickly assigned tasks to Chu Rong and his group.
While he was busy preparing to welcome their first guest, however, a small problem occurred on the fan club president’s end.
She was not coming alone but with her male childhood friend. The two of them had set out on their trip in relative harmony which lasted till they came to the small county town; they abruptly had a fight.
Transport in the small county town was much worse than what they’d seen on the live broadcast. No one expected that there would only be a tractor to pick up and drop off passengers from the county town to the village where Song Yucheng and the others were. What was even worse was that this tractor came just once every three hours.
The pair were used to air-conditioned rooms in the big city, so it was quite unbearable for them to wait under the hot sun. The fan club president’s childhood friend was a naggy one too, and he got more and more worked up as he talked. He was sure that the fan club president had been bewitched by Chu Rong. Why else would she spend a thousand yuan a night to come way out to a place like this in the countryside? Wasn’t this just a grab for money?
The fan club president had a temper too, and she shot back with, “Just leave if you don’t want to come with me! I’ll transfer you the money for the ticket back if you don’t want to come.” And so they fought.
“So you’re going to split up with me over an idol?”
“Master Chu is not an idol. He is an actor. I can understand if you don’t like him, but can you stop with the insults? Plus, you were the one who insisted on coming along in the first place. I didn’t force you to come.”
“You think I want to come here? If it wasn’t because of…” The childhood friend was pissed off and almost let it slip, but he quickly swallowed the rest of his sentence. Still, the fan club president immediately knew his reason for coming with her.
Her childhood friend worked as a reporter for a gossip magazine. It could very well be a work trip for him and not a holiday.
So was she being used by him? The fan club president got angry. She slapped her childhood friend and shoved him away. What she had not foreseen, was that this intangible temper outburst of hers had caused Song Yucheng and Chu Rong great trouble.
“Swapping Lives” was being broadcast in two ways. Other than the livestream broadcast, an episode with clips to summarise the week was aired every Saturday on a cable TV channel.
With the surprising existence of Song Yucheng, the popularity and discussions about “Swapping Lives” were high on the charts. It was sitting quite solidly at the top in terms of ratings.
Results like these made the older variety shows jealous, and the benefit the programme had from doing livestreams was great too.
The individual livestreams, in particular, were very popular. Practically all purchases made to access an individual livestream was for Chu Rong and Song Yucheng. These two were making a tidy sum for the programme.
It was impossible to have no voices of objection with all this large-scale exposure. There had been some so-called professionals who, at the beginning of the broadcast, had left comments criticising the video of Song Yucheng weaving straw though they did not understand the art itself. They’d said that Song Yucheng’s technique was not standard or something.
These sort of people were few in number and they did not cause any great disturbance, but the winds changed once the news of the thousand-yuan-a-night guesthouse spread.
The norm for guesthouses in China was about a hundred yuan a night. Even four-star service in a small village like that would cost just two or three hundred yuan. However, Song Yucheng had opened his greedy mouth and asked for a thousand a night. It was a bid to get money out of fans no matter how you looked at it.
Even if one did not look at it from that point of view, “Swapping Lives” was now the hottest topic in the media. The fan club president’s childhood friend had wanted to come with her because he was hoping to get something out of the show’s popularity.
This childhood friend had not had a good scoop in a long time, and he was seizing the opportunity now to get one. He was not going to miss this chance.
Unfortunately, he could not keep a lid on his temper and he got left behind in the little county town. No matter. He was just about done with gathering dirt on the programme. There was no real need to go to the village to experience tough times; he could find some other way. Greed flashed across his face as he took out the pen recorder he had hidden in his clothes.
In the short span of an hour, a headline was published on the Weibo account of the gossip magazine where the childhood friend worked. The main topic was about the influence of idols on fans. The beginning of the article put forth examples of television personalities enticing schoolchildren into giving tips and donations, and towards the end, it talked about Song Yucheng and Chu Rong’s guesthouse.
What made it worse? This childhood friend had uploaded a recording of his argument with the fan club president, and painted her as a person who was blinded by her infatuation with a television personality.
He also very cunningly took screenshots of the criticisms of Song Yucheng, describing him as a vulgar claptrap to please the crowds, and added those to the summary. He even hinted that the lodging that Song Yucheng and the others were staying in was a hazard. One, they had no license to run this business, and two, they had no guarantee of safety. Just what were they planning to do, duping a young woman into going there?
It was simply too frightening to think about.
This childhood friend had also put in his all to have his headline out there; he’d bought a “hot search” spot. Song Yucheng’s guesthouse was going to go up in flames.
The focus of the nation was on internet media these days, and those cases of television personalities cheating people out of their money were real cases. Major fan support groups even raise funds to show support for their preferred celebrity, and this resulted in there being a difference in financial support for individuals, even within a group.
Many soon took notice of this headline, and discussions started up.
“The entertainment circles are just too messy. These celebrities already get quite a bit from commercials! How can they be so unscrupulous.”
“It’s the same for online celebrities. I’ve heard of the guy mentioned in the article. Damn it, the adults work so hard to earn all that money and the foolish little children go and send it all to him. He even refused to refund it, saying it’s a legitimate source of income. He’s heartless.”
“Celebrity restaurants are a joke too. The taste and quality of the dishes are crap and they’re only there to sell their brand name.”
Discussions like these started up here and there, and whether it was on purpose or by accident, all of these bad feelings about the state of things were then turned on Song Yucheng and Chu Rong in the short span of two hours. There were even people implying that they were breaking the law and making illegal profit.
Things were really bad now.
However, the production crew was still in the village right then and up to their ears in work; they could not respond to the public relations crisis immediately. This delay, in turn, resulted in the situation getting to a level where there was no going back.
Some youngster on the net with extreme nationalistic tendacies actually reported this to the police, accusing the production crew of cheating consumers and carrying out illegal business. As the main sponsor behind “Swapping Lives”, Xu Muzhi was contacted by the higher-ups right away, requesting that he cooperate with investigations into the matter.
A cold and solemn young man sat in Xu Muzhi’s office, listening to Xu Muzhi give him a report.
He was obviously younger than Xu Muzhi, but his aura of power was so great it easily crushed Xu Muzhi, and made him feel dread.
Still, the young man did not look strict at all — he was so handsome it was unreal. His smouldering eyes, in particular, were like the clouded night sky, hiding billions of stars in their depths. If it weren’t for his overly calm gaze, he would very likely be able to make hearts flutter at the drop of a hat.
“The situation is like this. Have a look, Godfather…” Xu Muzhi stood respectfully by his side, and bent at the waist to hand the document folder to the young man with both hands. He worded what he said carefully for fear of saying anything which would displease him.
Xu Muzhi was truly afraid of him. Though he knew that he was younger than him, he still respectfully addressed him as ‘Godfather’ and did not dare to show him any disrespect or rebellion.
The situation right then was making him break down inside. Xu Muzhi had quickly cleaned up all the accounts when he had heard that the young man was coming. He’d planned on presenting a good image of himself but ended up greeting him with the news that the company was facing a lawsuit.
And Song Yucheng, of all things, was the cause of the guesthouse issue. Everyone knew that Song Yucheng was his kept pet.
“It is all my fault for not training him well.” Xu Muzhi did not bother about other matters regarding “Swapping Lives”, and quickly apologised before saying anything else.
However, the young man shook his head, indicating that he need not explain things. He silently turned on the computer and casually scrolled through the internet discussions. The young man then shook his head in disappointment.
Xu Muzhi was just too stupid.
Whatever the cause was, it was obvious that someone was fanning the flames of this fire when one observed the trends on the internet. “Swapping Lives” was a popular variety show, so how could it be bombarded so collectively by so much negativity with no room to fight back?
Xu Muzhi had not done any emergency public relations actions right away, but pushed the blame onto a young man of 17 or 18 instead. What a moron.
#Let’s talk about the alternative ways celebrities collect money. A house of danger being touted as a guesthouse — for 1,000 yuan a night.#
The young man’s gaze grew increasingly darker as he read the brainless scolding and insults on Weibo and the major internet gossip forums, but the expression on his face remained unchanged, like these people weren’t insulting a business registered under his corporate banner.
Xu Muzhi was standing next to him, so he could see everything on the screen clearly too. His fear of the young man grew with every beat of his heart.
They had not seen each other in two years. This Godfather of his was even more indecipherable now.
But the young man did not seem to sense his apprehension. He casually clicked, and gained access to the livestream of “Swapping Lives”. Chu Rong’s fan club president was almost to the lodging, and the bullet screen was full of slanderous comments throwing brainless insults around.
He turned off the bullet screen and looked closely at the screen for a bit, then suddenly asked Xu Muzhi a question. “Which one of these two is Song Yucheng?”