Chapter 120 – Traveling Abroad
Wei Chen had become an internet celebrity with good looks and intelligence. His exclusive interview had benefited many people, and even the employees of Changfeng Group would make a special trip to the Marketing Department to see Wei Chen during their free time.
However, Wei Chen, as the person involved, seemed to be completely oblivious to it all. No, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that he didn’t care about fame and fortune. Every day, he would just go to work and leave work, meet Chen Li at Q University, and live his life as usual, just like before he appeared in the business magazine.
In Wei Chen’s view, life should have stayed the same, and the business magazine was merely an episode. It couldn’t change Wei Chen’s goals or plans.
But who said there were no changes? Some changes were subtle and imperceptible, and at this stage, it might not be obvious. However, when the time came, the benefits brought about by such changes would be unimaginable to Wei Chen himself.
Wei Chen’s life continued as usual, as did Chen Li’s. However, with Sylvester’s guidance, Chen Li’s painting skills had undergone a qualitative leap, which left Sylvester amazed to witness Chen Li’s progress.
He felt that Chen Li was like a bottomless pit. No matter how difficult and incomprehensible the knowledge given to him, Chen Li could quickly absorb and effectively use it.
“Oh my! Zhuge, you really have taken in an extraordinary apprentice,” Sylvester exclaimed, even forgetting how many times he had said this before.
“Feel free to envy. He is my apprentice!” Zhuge Yu replied with a smug look on his face.
Sylvester felt a tinge of jealousy but then earnestly started teaching Chen Li. Although Chen Li couldn’t be his student, Sylvester could still teach him, and he would definitely make Chen Li realize that he was much better than Zhuge Yu in many ways.
As Chen Li’s painting skills improved, the exhibitions of the five divisions of the Dream Cup began one after another. Each division had impressive artworks that impressed the professional judges, and an article that previously criticized the Dream Cup as completely fallen had now praised the other divisions while thoroughly criticizing the capital division from start to finish. The article was exceptionally well-written.
The Southeast Division was the last one to hold an exhibition. On the day the Southeast Division exhibition opened, it was also the start of winter vacation at Q University. Lu Xiuran specially went to the exhibition area of the Southeast Division and saw that his work was exhibited. He felt a sense of readiness, as if everything was in place, and he only needed to wait for the results to be announced.
With the conclusion of the Southeast Division exhibition, the selection process for the Dream Cup in all five divisions came to a complete end. In the next two days, the artworks from these five divisions would be sent to the capital, where the organizing committee of the Dream Cup, comprising ten internationally renowned artists, would select one gold award, two silver awards, and three bronze awards. The remaining artworks would automatically be classified as Excellent Awards, providing consolation to the participants who made it to the exhibition.
The Dream Cup’s evaluation process was extremely rigorous and would last for a month. During this month, the ten judges would argue incessantly over the ranking of the artworks, each wanting their personal favorite to become the winner of the gold award in this year’s Dream Cup.
In every edition, the judges of the Dream Cup would argue incessantly over the gold award winner, and each week, they would fail to reach a decision.
However, this year, when the artwork that had been replaced by an empty frame in the capital exhibition area came out, the ten judges stopped arguing. It created a situation where, for the first time since the inception of the Dream Cup, the gold award received unanimous support.
But there was a small incident. The judges thought Zhuge Yu would abstain to avoid suspicion, but he didn’t. When everyone looked at him in confusion, Zhuge Yu casually said, “First and foremost, this is a participating artwork, and it is outstanding enough to deserve my vote. As for the identity of the artist behind this piece, it doesn’t matter at this moment.”
No one could refute him because they all agreed that it was indeed an exceptional artwork worthy of a vote.
After a month, the results of the Dream Cup were announced. Sealed in an envelope and handed to the president of the Chinese Calligraphy and Painting Association, the rankings would be announced the following day, before the opening of the Dream Cup exhibition.
On the eve of the Dream Cup exhibition, all the participating artworks were moved into the exhibition hall and covered with a layer of soft silk cloth. Until this silk cloth was lifted, no one knew which painting would win an award.
This night was agonizing and nerve-wracking for every contestant. It could be a turning point for them, the moment when they might soar to new heights, stepping out of obscurity and onto the international stage.
However, unlike other contestants, Chen Li felt no nervousness at all. It wasn’t because he knew he would win the gold award; Zhuge Yu couldn’t possibly tell Chen Li this information. Each judge had signed a confidentiality agreement before the awards were announced, and no one, not even their closest confidants, could be informed.
Chen Li wasn’t nervous simply because he was unaware of what it meant to win the gold award in the Dream Cup. So when Wei Chen proposed taking him on a trip abroad, Chen Li readily agreed without a second thought.
Zhuge Yu knew that Wei Chen planned to take Chen Li on a trip because he understood that after the Dream Cup exhibition, it would be a tumultuous time, and Wei Chen would not want Chen Li to get caught up in the whirlpool. He wanted to take him away from the center of attention until things settled down, and then bring him back.
Zhuge Yu fully supported Wei Chen’s decision, and since Wei Chen had already arranged everything, there was no point in staying behind.
Though it meant missing out on the glorious starting point of Chen Li’s journey, there was no great loss in doing so.
On this day, the capital city did not witness any snow or sunshine; the weather was gloomy, and the cold wind blew mercilessly, making people shiver.
On this day, it was also the grand event of the Chinese art world that took place every four years—the Dream Cup Finals exhibition. After more than two months of selection and exhibition, it was finally time to announce the results.
Despite the cold weather, the passion of art enthusiasts, collectors, and artists couldn’t be dampened. They came from all directions, traveling far and wide, just to witness the birth of the next rising star in the art world.
Of course, many people were there to see the hidden painting from the capital division. They wanted to know if the artwork was truly outstanding enough to be reserved until the end, or if it was just a marketing gimmick of the Dream Cup.
Had the Dream Cup fallen into the quagmire of commercialization? This was the pressing question for all art enthusiasts who regarded the Dream Cup as a holy grail.
However, all this hustle and bustle had nothing to do with Wei Chen and Chen Li. Early in the morning, they boarded a plane bound for the southern hemisphere, where they would spend three days and two nights together.
As the plane reached a higher altitude, Chen Li leaned his head and fell asleep. Wei Chen had woken him up early in the morning to catch the flight, and he hadn’t fully awakened. Throughout the journey, he remained in a dazed state until the plane stabilized, and he fell asleep almost instantly.
Gently, Wei Chen pulled the blanket higher to prevent Chen Li from catching a cold and then bent down to kiss Chen Li’s forehead.
‘Sleep, everything will be over once you wake up,’ Wei Chen whispered in his heart.
Not long after, Chen Li woke up, just over two hours later. It was mealtime, and he was probably awakened by hunger.
Seeing Chen Li getting up, Wei Chen knew he was hungry. He reached out and rubbed Chen Li’s head, smoothing down the messy hair that had been tousled while he slept. Softly, he asked, “Are you hungry?”
Chen Li obediently nodded, “Yes, I’m hungry.”
“Then let’s eat,” Wei Chen said, just as a flight attendant passed by with a food trolley. Wei Chen took two meals.
The business class meals were naturally not lacking in quality. They quietly enjoyed their lunch and then leaned in together to watch some videos.
The videos weren’t anything particularly exciting; they had downloaded them the previous night to pass the time. However, because they were watching together, they found them quite enjoyable.
By noon, both of them were feeling a bit sleepy, so they leaned against each other and dozed off. When they woke up, the plane was already announcing that it was about to reach the destination, and asked them to fasten their seatbelts. They had slept quite a long while.
As they felt the sensation of the plane landing, the night had already enveloped the surroundings. In the Southern Hemisphere, it was currently mid-summer, and upon landing, a wave of hot wind hit their faces.
Chen Li found it quite remarkable how, before boarding the plane, it was still freezing cold winter, but as soon as they got off, it became a sweltering summer.
Seeing Chen Li’s puzzled look, Wei Chen didn’t explain that it was due to the difference between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Instead, he held Chen Li’s hand and said as they retrieved their luggage, “I have magic that can change the weather and climate.”
Chen Li, though withdrawn, wasn’t gullible. Clearly, he didn’t buy Wei Chen’s explanation, but he still played along, saying, “Wow, Achen, you’re amazing!”
Wei Chen happily leaned over and planted a kiss on Chen Li’s lips.
By the time they reached the airport entrance, the car from the hotel they had booked was already waiting for them. The driver got out and loaded their luggage into the car, driving them towards the reserved hotel.
Meanwhile, back in China, as the Dream Cup awards were announced one by one, it caused an uproar that shocked the world.
“I know that when the outstanding artwork from the Capital Division was hidden and then exhibited today, countless doubts and inquiries would come pouring towards the Dream Cup,” said the president of the Chinese Calligraphy and Painting Association, who was also the head of the Dream Cup organizing committee. He stood on a raised platform in the central area of the exhibition hall, next to a painting covered by golden silk cloth, hiding its full appearance.
Under the platform, the attendees crowded together, their eyes fixed on the artwork, waiting for the painting, praised to the skies by the Dream Cup organizing committee, to reveal its true face.
Among the crowd stood Sylvester. Unlike some of the skeptics, he knew that this artwork was destined to be a masterpiece that would astound the world. However, he was curious about how this artwork would achieve such an impact.
Lu Xiuran was also among the onlookers, his eyes filled with unwillingness and jealousy. This kind of glory should not belong to that fool! Why did that fool get to have such an honor?
But when he thought about what would happen next, Lu Xiuran smiled, a very gratifying smile!
‘Just stand tall and shine brightly for now. After you fall from that height, you’ll experience endless pain!’
At this moment, Lu Xiuran’s expression seemed somewhat morbid and distorted, and under the venue’s lighting, he appeared rather sinister.