In the bathroom cubicle.

Qi Cong sat on the toilet with the lid down. His eyes were slightly red and swollen, but he was calm. He held his mobile phone expressionlessly and slowly typed “Gu Xun” in the browser search box, curled his fingers, and tapped “search”.

The signal in the bathroom was not very good and the results loaded for a long time.

Qi Cong looked at the loading icon that kept rotating for a long time, as if it was just a blink of an eye. The page opened successfully and a lot of text popped up.

The first search result was from an encyclopedia. All of Gu Xun’s information unexpectedly filled his eyes.

Gu Xun, male, born in North China on January 25, 1994, grew up in West China, graduated from Horton Business School in the United States. In 2018, he was nominated for best actor at the Hong Kong Film Festival for West. In 2019, he won the best actor award at St. Dylan Film Festival for Chapter of Edward (i.e., Golden Goose Award), and in 2020, he won the Banner Star Golden Cup Award for Heaven Asked, becoming the youngest international double Golden Award film emperor of Mainland China.

The information only showed this paragraph. To see more details, one had to tap on the encyclopedia’s home page.

Qi Cong looked at the information, “born in North China on January 25, 1994, grew up in West China, graduated from Horton Business School in the United States” and his fingers froze for a long time, then he tapped for more details.

More information popped up.

In the column about Gu Xun’s personal experience, there was a clear line that said, “Gu Xun lived in Heicheng for half a year with his brother at the end of 2016, and met Ren Qizhen, the director of West, by chance.”

At the end of 2016, he lived in Haicheng for more than half a year.

At the end of 2016, Qi Cong, who was about to have a winter vacation, went to Huaibei Street in Wenhua District to buy materials. Because of a sudden rainstorm, he took shelter in a nearby twenty-four-hour convenience store . . . meeting by chance the working part-time poor child, Gu Xun.

His mind flashed to a stiff figure in a thin cotton-padded jacket in the winter. Qi Cong’s eyelashes trembled before his eyes snapped shut. A tear fell on a picture on the right side of the personal experience column.

The teardrop made the photo blurry, obscuring the figure in a suit.

So . . . it was all fake?

His throat seemed to be blocked up by something; his body was shaking uncontrollably, expressing his emotions. Qi Cong held the mobile phone tightly, his knuckles slightly turned white due to the excessive force. He was still looking at the encyclopedia page, but he couldn’t focus.

Gu Xun, born with a golden spoon, grew up in a foreign country, had a proud academic background, and made brilliant achievements . . . Gu Xun, who was born in poverty, grew up in the mountains, worked hard to be admitted to a university. Gu Xun, who was clumsy but never spared any efforts . . . Gu Xun who spoke softly and smiled shyly . . . Gu Xun with cold eyes and tone . . . Gu Xun.

When he learned that he had slept for three years, Qi Cong didn’t cry.

When he learned that his family had gone bankrupt, Qi Cong didn’t cry.

When he saw his aged and haggard parents, Qi Cong stopped himself from crying.

Although the situation was bad, he was not desperate because there was still hope. If everyone was still there, life was not bitter.

Tears fell drop by drop, blurring the cold words on his phone screen. Qi Cong lowered his head and wrapped his arms around himself slowly.

He had secretly rejoiced that his life had left him a precious piece that had not been destroyed. He felt that, sooner or later, he would find the lost precious piece and put it together. However, the treasure he was thinking about turned out to be fake from the very beginning.

“Am I wrong? Why did Gu Xun come to this exchange meeting?”

He didn’t know how much time had passed when he heard the sound of footsteps and voices of people in the bathroom. Qi Cong held his arms tightly and raised his head slowly.

“He comes here as a producer. I heard he’s here looking for scripts to invest in.”

“He is going to switch to a career behind the scenes?”

“How can it be? He is still too young. I think he is not willing to be just an actor and wants to develop a sideline.”

His mobile phone suddenly vibrated twice. Qi Cong looked down and saw a new WeChat message on the prompt bar through the drops of water staining the screen.

Mom: Cong Cong, I forgot to tell you that I have collected some of your old things in my hometown in the country. Is there anything you want? If you have anything, tell your mother, and your mother will send it to you.

Qi Cong suddenly calmed down.

The mobile phone vibrated again, and another message came in.

Mom: Today is your first day of work, isn’t it? Is this job suitable for you? Everything is good at home. Your father got a student’s thank-you letter today. He was so happy that he ate half a bowl more with his meal.

Qi Cong slowly sat up straight, raised his hand, and wiped his face. His wet eyelashes clumped up, which made him feel uncomfortable, so he blinked a few times.

The voice outside gradually drifted away, and when it was about to fade, a vague sentence floated over, “Then why did Shen Jia come?”

Qi Cong tilted his head and then looked down at another message from Qi Yin.

Mom: Go to work and have a good meal. If you are not used to the environment in Beishi, come back. Parents will wait.

His out-of-control breathing slowly stabilized, and after making sure that there would be no more messages coming in, Qi Cong covered the mobile phone and wiped the screen of his mobile phone in his pants. By the time he turned it over, all the water on the screen had been wiped away, just like his emotions that were of no use to his life today.

He tapped on the message and replied to Qi Yin, “Work is going smoothly. I have to attend a meeting first. We’ll talk on the phone tonight.” Then he got up to tidy up his clothes, pushed open the door of the toilet cubicle, went to the sink, and turned on the tap. He bent down and splashed cold water on his face. Finally, he straightened up and looked at his expressionless self in the mirror, wiped the water off his face, and walked out without looking back.

His parents were waiting for him, and he didn’t have time to weep over his insignificant feelings.

 

 . . .

 

At the venue, an old director from the industry was giving a speech on stage. Qi Cong entered the venue sneakily, looked up quickly at the position of each participant in the meeting and ignored the red figure sitting in the middle of the front row as much as possible. He found Shen Jia sitting on the right side of the third row and walked over.

Shen Jia also saw Qi Cong, and was so anxious, he wanted to stand up. Qi Cong hurriedly made a placatory gesture to Shen Jia, asking him to sit down and not disturb the people around him, then he quickly went to Shen Jia’s side.

At last, the two of them were reunited. Behind Shen Jia was a corridor separating the second half, so Qi Cong squatted behind Shen Jia’s chair and whispered to Shen Jia, who looked back.

“Listen to the speech first. I’ll explain the rest later. Turn your head. There are media reporters filming at the back. Don’t lose your temper. I think there are still some seats in the back row. I’ll wait for you there.”

Shen Jia turned around obediently, but he was still worried. He saw Qi Cong’s red and swollen eyes.

“Brother Cong, you—”

“I’m going to the back row. I’ll talk to you later during the break.”

Qi Cong patted the back of Shen Jia’s chair. He sneaked to the last row and sat down in the corner. After sitting, he could not control his gaze and looked towards the middle of the first row, but because the seats were parallel, he only saw a row of the back of heads.

He clenched his lips and turned his eyes to the stage.

The old director had finished his speech and stepped down. The host came on the stage. After saying a few words, he loudly announced, “Now, let’s welcome Mr. Wu Heng, a new screenwriter who has shown great brilliance in the martial arts theme in the past two years, and a divine writer of Jiangwang.com. He will give a speech on the future of the martial arts movie. Everyone, please, a round of applause to welcome him.”

Applause broke out, and several invited media reporters in the back row raised their cameras in a hurry, while Qi Cong froze.

‘Water Without a Trace’? And . . . author and divine writer of the Jaingwang.com? Screenwriter?

After the warm applause, a slightly fat young man with glasses got up from the second row and went on the stage with a manuscript.

Qi Cong looked at the other person and frowned slightly.

After the young man came on stage, he exchanged a couple of words with the host, and then the host stepped down. The young man took the microphone and introduced himself, “Hello everyone, I am the author of the novel series Chivalrous, and the writer of the TV drama, Chivalrous Spirit: The Legend of Liu Fengyue, Wu Heng.”

Qi Cong stood up, but when several media reporters on his side cast puzzled gazes at him, he sat back down and clasped his hands.

Chivalrous, Liu Fengyue. That’s right. That was the name of the first script and of the protagonist he conceived in his sophomore year. At that time, when he was analyzing the script of an old martial arts movie, he had an inspiration. He grabbed a piece of paper and wrote down the beginning of《Chivalrous Bones》.

At that time, he was full of excitement and couldn’t help but want to show it to others to ask their opinion. But he was a bit shy and didn’t want to show such an unfinished and immature work to his classmates and teachers. So he went to Jiangwan, a novel website that mainly promoted martial arts novels and registered an author’s account on it. He then published the beginning of the simplified version of Chivalrous. Then he went to the internal authors forum on the Jiangwan website and posted a message asking the experienced authors for advice.

At that time, he did not understand the rules of the forum and did not know that posts asking for advice should follow a certain format. The post was deleted by the forum administrator within ten minutes after it was sent out. Fortunately, before the post was deleted, an experienced author, who had written two martial arts novels, left his contact information on his own initiative, saying that he was very interested in his story. He was called ‘Water Without a Trace

For various reasons, the Chivalrous on the Internet had remained in the state of the simplified beginning only, but in private, he and ‘Water Without a Trace’  became friends because of their similar interests. The whole story structure of Chivalrous was taken out and discussed with ‘Water Without a Trace

But now his carefully conceived Chivalrous had become ‘Water Without a Trace’ ‘s work?

In disbelief, he stared at Wu Heng, who was giving a speech on stage, for a few seconds, then suddenly returned to his senses, took his phone out of his pocket, opened the browser to search for the Jiangwan site, found the right search result, and accessed it. Then he put three words “Water Without Trace” into the search box of the website and tapped the search button.

A row of works jumped out from top to bottom respectively:

《Chivalrous Bones》

The End of Chivalry

《Chivalrous Bones》 Stained with Blood

The Trip of Chivalry

The Battle of the Desolate City

Blue Blood Stained with Qingfeng

Qi Cong’s brain was buzzing, and his fingers instinctively opened the topmost work. A novel profile page popped up. After reading the introduction quickly, Qi Cong tapped on the catalog to read all the free chapters. Once his fingers loosened, he looked up at Wu Heng on the stage again and was a little short of breath. This was obviously . . . his Chivalrous

After Wu Heng finished his speech, the host came to the stage again. After a few words with Wu Heng, he announced that they would enter the Q&A stage, saying that people down the stage could raise their hands to ask Wu Heng questions, limiting them to three questions only.

Qi Cong’s expression tightened, and he immediately raised his hand.

“Huh? There is a very unexpected man who raised his hand.” The host smiled and looked down at the middle of the first row from the stage. With a kind tone, he said, “Please pass the microphone to Mr. Gu Xun. Excuse me, Mr. Gu Xun, are you also a reader of Mr. Wu Heng?”

Qi Cong froze, slowly put down his hand, and looked at the slender figure slowly standing up in the first row.

Because he could see only his back, he could not see Gu Xun’s expression, but he could still hear Gu Xun’s very indifferent voice.

“I’m not a reader of Wu Heng,” Gu Xun spoke slowly with one hand in his pocket and the other hand holding the microphone. “I just want to help one of my friends who reads novels to ask, Wu Heng, is the rumor true that the Chivalrous you wrote was written at the beginning by a novice author?”

As soon as his words fell, everyone was shocked.

Sitting not far away from Qi Cong, a reporter directly choked on the imported water he had just drunk and said in a rude voice, “What? Chivalrous wasn’t written by Wu Heng? Where did this rumor come from?”


Edited by : Faro

Proofreader: Taalia

Support translation:

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