Chapter 126 – A Story

As the sound started from the stage, the journalists below directed their gazes towards the elevated platform, searching for familiar or unfamiliar figures.

The first person to step onto the stage was the head of the Dream Cup organizing committee, Zhao Liyou, who was also the president of the Painting and Calligraphy Association. Following him were several judges of the Dream Cup. Not all the judges were present; only six of them were there, while the remaining four were supposed to attend but couldn’t make it due to some sudden issues.

When the six judges appeared, a tall foreigner came up next, and some journalists who recognized him gasped in astonishment. It was Sylvester, the father of modern abstract art!

Sylvester’s appearance on the interview platform caused an immediate flurry among the journalists. He was usually very low-key and rarely appeared in front of the media. Nobody knew the reason for his presence at this press conference.

Even before the press conference began, the journalists were already captivated by Sylvester’s appearance, and their cameras clicked away furiously. Speculations about his presence arose among the crowd.

The last person to step onto the elevated platform was an unfamiliar face to any of the journalists. Some of them began to speculate, wondering who this ordinary-looking, slightly hunched young man could be. Could he be the artist behind “Light”?

“It must be him, right? Look at his shifty eyes; he definitely looks like someone who would plagiarize,” some of the journalists whispered among themselves.

Though they didn’t recognize him, it didn’t mean nobody in the audience knew who this shifty-eyed man was. Lu Xiuran had managed to blend in with the journalists thirty minutes before the press conference started. He was sitting quietly in a corner, eagerly waiting for the show to begin.

Although the aftermath of this incident had caused quite a stir, the official Weibo account of the Dream Cup would livestream the press conference. Even from home, Lu Xiuran could see the outcome of the conference.

However, Lu Xiuran felt that hearing the verdict about Chen Li through a screen wasn’t satisfying enough. He needed to be present, witness Chen Li’s downfall in the art world, and enjoy the excitement firsthand.

As he spotted the shifty-eyed man, Lu Xiuran immediately recognized him. Wasn’t that Huang Hengye, who he had bribed to create “Yearning for Rebirth” based on Chen Li’s “Light”?

A bad feeling surged in Lu Xiuran’s heart, but it vanished as quickly as it came. He had already come up with a reason for Huang Hengye’s appearance here. The organizing committee probably wanted to rectify the situation during the press conference, which would help restore their reputation after this incident.

It was understandable and natural for them to do so.

With this thought in mind, Lu Xiuran felt relieved and found a comfortable spot to leisurely listen to the press conference.

When everyone on the stage had taken their seats, the journalists couldn’t hold back their pent-up questions any longer. Chaos ensued, with no order or sequence; everyone wanted to thrust their microphones in front of the speakers, hoping to get their questions answered.

“President Zhao, has the Dream Cup decided to revoke ‘Light’s’ gold award qualification?”

“President Zhao, what kind of punishment will the Dream Cup impose on the author of ‘Light’ for this alleged plagiarism incident?”

“This incident has had a severe impact. President Zhao, what actions will the organizing committee take going forward?”

“Mr. Sylvester, why did you appear at this press conference? Is it because of justice?”

“Why isn’t Wei Chen, the director of Changfeng Group, present at this press conference? He is also involved in this matter!”

The journalists’ questions were incessant, but almost every journalist had already concluded the outcome of the matter: “Light” had plagiarized “Yearning for Rebirth,” and they all hoped that the Dream Cup would punish the plagiarizer.

Zhao Liyou stood up, took the microphone, cleared his throat, and said, “I know that many of you journalists present here today have many questions. Can you please quiet down for a moment and listen to a short story from me? After the story, I will answer each of your questions one by one.”

The journalists gradually quieted down and focused their gazes on Zhao Liyou.

Seeing that the situation was under control, Zhao Liyou began, “There was a person with autism who lived in a dark space since childhood, cut off from all connections to the outside world. Although his family didn’t abandon him, they didn’t show him love either. They neglected him, mocked him, and even allowed others to beat him mercilessly.

He had never experienced warmth and light in his life. If it weren’t for his love of painting, he might have given up on life long ago. Painting became his refuge, allowing him to struggle in this world.

One day, a pair of warm hands reached out to him, holding his tightly and taking him away from the cold home, creating a warm and loving one with him. He didn’t understand anything, not even the most basic emotions, living in a numb and fearful state. Even with a warm home and his heart gradually being warmed, he still didn’t know the meaning of living and dying. At that time, he was still numb.

Until one day, a speeding car was about to hit him, and the person who had given him warmth risked his life to protect him! Fortunately, he survived without any harm, and the person who saved him also survived. At that moment, he finally understood what it meant to be alive, and he began to desire life.”

This is a really short story. When Zhao Liyou told the story, there was no fluctuation in his voice, nor any emotional exaggeration. However, every word struck deep into the hearts of everyone present at the press conference. The scene fell silent, and no one was brought back to reality by the story.

It wasn’t until a more emotional female journalist’s sobbing sound broke the silence that the press conference gradually regained some sounds.

One journalist raised their hand.

Zhao Liyou looked at the journalist and said, “Please.”

The journalist asked, “President Zhao, can I understand from your story that the person with autism is the creator of ‘Light’? Did the inspiration for ‘Light’ come from this car accident?”

Zhao Liyou replied firmly, “Yes!”

“Given that, can I interpret President Zhao’s meaning as the fact that ‘Light’ was not plagiarized and that its creator is indeed the original creator of the artwork?” the journalist pressed on.

“You can interpret it that way,” Zhao Liyou responded calmly, leaving no room for doubt.

“Alright, my questioning is done. Thank you, President Zhao.” The journalist then took their seat.

With the first question answered, other journalists became more enthusiastic. However, they were not like before, chattering away. Instead, they raised their hands to indicate their desire to ask questions.

But at this moment, they were all somewhat surprised. They had expected the Dream Cup to announce the punishment for the plagiarizer during the press conference. However, they didn’t expect the Dream Cup to be so firm in its belief that the creator of “Light” did not plagiarize. Instead, they were presented with such a touching story.

Yet, they couldn’t help but wonder about the authenticity of this story.

The netizens watching the live broadcast were also filled with doubt. Some restless individuals began to flood the comments section, accusing Zhao Liyou of fabricating a story to whitewash the creator of “Light.”

However, there were others who believed in the story and replied, saying they were moved to tears by it.

In the absence of concrete evidence, “Light” remained a painting full of controversy.

After listening to the story, Lu Xiuran furrowed his brow. The ominous premonition he felt earlier resurfaced, and this time, it was even stronger. His hands involuntarily clenched the edges of his clothes as he looked at the stage. Lu Xiuran gritted his teeth and turned his gaze towards another journalist in the audience.

The journalist caught Lu Xiuran’s eye and stood up abruptly, even though Zhao Liyou had not called on him.

“President Zhao Liyou, we came to this press conference to seek the truth and find out how Dream Cup will punish the plagiarizer. The Dream Cup is now considered a benchmark competition in our country. If you were to cover up for the plagiarizer, what impact would it have on the integrity of future competitions in our country? Would plagiarism become rampant? Would every plagiarizer get away with it as long as they play the victim card, leaving the original creators with no justice?” The journalist’s tone was aggressive, and his voice grew louder as he seemed determined to force a direct answer from Zhao Liyou.

Zhao Liyou looked at the journalist who had stood up without permission and said, “I invited journalists to this press conference in the hope that they would adhere to the order of the event. If you can’t do that, then please leave.”

“President Zhao Liyou, are you avoiding my question? Is Dream Cup trying to protect the plagiarizer? Did Dream Cup accept bribes from Wei Chen?” The journalist’s accusations grew more intense, and he wore an increasingly confrontational attitude.

Zhao Liyou maintained a calm demeanor as he replied, “The Dream Cup has always upheld the principles of fairness and justice. Anyone who violates these principles will not be accepted by the Dream Cup. This can be guaranteed.”

“In that case, President Zhao Liyou, why haven’t you announced that ‘Light’ is a plagiarism? Why haven’t you declared the gold award for ‘Light’ invalid?” The journalist continued to press on.

“Why do you keep insisting that ‘Light’ is a plagiarism? What gives you the right to determine that ‘Light’ is plagiarized?” Zhuge Yu stood up. He had not intended to say anything, but he found the journalist’s attitude rather irritating.

“And what if I do? The evidence of plagiarism is right in front of us,” the journalist scoffed, ridiculing Dream Cup for its stubborn resistance.

“Is that so? Just based on a meager piece of evidence taken out of context from the internet, you’re already certain it’s a fact?” Zhuge Yu slammed the table angrily, showing signs of frustration.

“Then what? Does Mr. Zhuge have substantial evidence that refutes the out-of-context evidence? Can you present another fact to me?” the journalist retorted with a challenging look.

“You know what? I actually do,” Zhuge Yu’s angry expression suddenly disappeared, replaced by a smirk as he responded to the journalist.

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