Quality Check: Tezuka
The deal was indeed a unique order. Instead of its use of an ornament, the ring signified an incomplete love of greater importance. Even if it was not specifically indicated, everyone knew that they had to design a ring – an engagement or proposal ring.
Xiao Yu had thought so too in his previous life.
It should be a ring, a ring that the young lady was wearing before she had to board the ferry.
After knowing about the details of the order, Xiao Yu took his leave and visited the country that was in that story. After many decades, that harbor had been completely changed. There was no sight of any boat on the calm blue horizon. Only the seagulls loitering above were present as their squawking echoed. Xiao Yu tried to collect some information from the locals. But, no one had any impression of that normal looking couple from back then. However, the elderly residents did know where the jewelry shops near the harbor had relocated.
That was a method to get the best at the least expense. Xiao Yu avoided designing based on love as the theme, but instead, he turned his attention to search for the memories back then. In the end, Xiao Yu’s work was not considered a design, but a drawing of a normal-looking silver ring that had heart shapes engraved on the inside. There was no decorative aspect besides that, and yet it stood out for its uniqueness among the other drawings.
Silver rings were not the only thing the accessory shop sold. But combing through his assumptions after his research, Xiao Yu had guessed that the millionaire was in fact a poor lad back then. The young lady was returning to her hometown to visit her bedridden father. However, they could only afford to purchase just one ferry ticket. So, how would they have had money to buy an expensive ring? And thus, they must have taken an alternate approach and chose a normal-looking ring instead.
In addition to that, Xiao Yu looked at Lin Zhou’s familiar face as his memories started flooding in. If he remembered correctly, that deal should have been sealed in secret by SI. Even if they claimed that it was a fair competition, SI had long interfered with the deal under the table and bribed Mr. Ji to speak well of them in front of his father.
Lin Zhou had told him that. Xiao Yu despised such despicable methods the most. That was why Lin Zhou could successfully use the excuse of helping stand in for him, as he took the leadership rights of this deal from his hands.
Back then, Xiao Yu even felt grateful towards Lin Zhou. He knew that it was not right to push responsibilities onto others, which was why he felt guilty to pass these duties that he did not want to deal with onto Lin Zhou. He even treated Lin Zhou to several meals because of that. Now that he thought back about it, Xiao Yu really wanted to slap himself to death.
Sima Zhao’s intentions were obvious to everyone¹, yet Xiao Yu was the only oblivious one in this situation and was toyed around like a clown.
Lin Zhou desperately wanted to prove to SI that he was more outstanding. Moreover, Xiao Yu was the silly one providing all those opportunities to Lin Zhou.
As the elderly man finished his story, he still did not mention ‘that designer’. Instead, he made Mr. Ji show the drawings of the rings on the display screen.
At first glance, Xiao Yu saw his own work. It was no different from his memories. It was still that normal-looking silver ring. Due to the restrictions of the screen, only the frontal view of every drawing was shown. The exterior carvings weren’t too eye-catching, and the heart shapes on the interiors were even more nonexistent. If they had not looked closer, they would not notice all those details. That drawing stood out distinctively among those glamorous designs.
Among all the designs, Xiao Yu’s design that had SI’s endorsement was the first to draw the crowd’s attention.
The low muttering echoed in the meeting room, but was very quickly replaced by other noises.
If such an original design had won the client’s liking, then naturally it would be well liked by others. If it wasn’t, then there would only be mockery.
For our twenty-five year old gifted designer, FISH, compared to the people who admired him, there were more people who had their doubts about him.
Becoming a chief designer at such a young age? There must be someone in the background supporting him.
Not even one certificate from an overseas university? His standards must be average.
He must be a good-for-nothing. Look at that design, it cannot even be compared to a newly arrived intern.
Those unharmonious voices could not be heard in the video, but Xiao Yu knew that those people in the screen were saying that.
He had not only heard those conversations once. The people who said that would wear similar expressions on their faces, every single time.
That expression that made him revolt in disgust.
They could not even understand his design, yet they assumed that they had discovered the gifted man’s shortcomings. Those opinionated, twisted faces – Xiao Yu had seen them far too many times.
If he was still the original Xiao Yu, he would probably be frustrated over it for a long time. But the Xiao Yu right now –
Was squatting in front of an iPad as he leisurely gnawed on his melon seeds, as if he were watching a comedy show.
There was no point in bothering himself with this mob after all.
The next drawing that Xiao Yu saw was Lin Zhou’s drawing.
Xiao Yu stared at the screen and snorted coldly – the self-assumed snort was in fact just a weird “squeak”.
He had known since a long time ago that Lin Zhou’s design style was different from his. That ring on the screen was made with the most expensive materials available on the market. That was the uniqueness that belonged to Lin Zhou’s glamorous designing style.
After Lin Zhou obtained Xiao Yu’s drafts, he was inspired. Lin Zhou understood that the design began with simplicity. Which was why his final drawing was a platinum ring that was decorated with a single white flower embedded with diamonds in the end. The shape of the ring had more details – not only was it decorated with a flower engraving, it was looped by a chain of flower petals. The inner side of the ring had an ‘ILoveU’ engraving and was filled with expensive sapphires.
It was not the first time for Xiao Yu to be wowed by such a design style that did not consider the user’s feeling after wearing it. What made him cringe was how the higher-ups actually preferred Lin Zhou’s design. When he had just joined SI, a majority of the release conferences depended on Lin Zhou’s glamorous yet unrealistic designs. That was also why whenever they had a difference in opinion, Xiao Yu would always be the one to give in – because Lin Zhou was the more experienced person.
Back then, SI ended up not winning this deal, which was why Xiao Yu did not pay much attention to it. Hence he did not notice the how weird Lin Zhou’s drawing was. Now that Xiao Yu had a closeup view of that design, Xiao Yu could guarantee that this design was based on his draft, which was then transformed into such a tragic sight as a result.
It indeed was a tragic sight. How could he force a supposedly glamorous design style into a rustic look? The result – at least how it looked like to Xiao Yu – had too much burden and had no charm at all.
Xiao Yu knew that his assessment was not objective. His opinion not only had scorns as a peer, but also because Xiao Yu treated Lin Zhou as his opponent. When dealing with an enemy, it was normal to be judgmental.
…… however, the drawing that Xiao Yu considered as ridiculous had instead won the client’s favor.
It was placed right in the center and was enlarged a few times more than the other drawings, proudly inviting people to look at it.
SI’s design director silently gave Lin Zhou a thumbs-up as the few designers muttered, “Senior Lin indeed.” That made Lin Zhou unable to hide the joy on his face, as he started to think of how he should relay his message later so that it would seem like he was genuinely surprised.
Xiao Yu’s eyes captured all that. At this moment, he finally felt disgusted by the joy on Lin Zhou’s face.
A stolen design, a stolen victory. Yet it made him joyous from the bottom of his heart.
Lin Zhou must be thinking that his victory was because of his alterations. Not only did he preserve the charm that Xiao Yu’s original work was trying to express, but it also satisfied the current design trends.
However, Xiao Yu understood at this moment that it was not the case.
Lin Zhou’s victory was purely accidental. Because of how he did not dare to plagiarize every detail of Xiao Yu’s design, Lin Zhou had to make some drastic changes. He knew that if he had only made changes on the finer details, it would be very easy for people to find out about it. Hence, in order to fool everyone, he purposely added that white flower as a decoration. In his design introduction, he specially mentioned that the white flower was removable. Which was to say, the decoration was only there so that his design was not as identical to Xiao Yu’s design.
Indeed, Lin Zhou had succeeded. No one raised any suspicions that this glamorous ring was made based on the same design as Xiao Yu’s hilarious-looking silver ring.
Yet, Lin Zhou probably did not expect that the detail that the elderly man had taken an interest in was in fact the white flower that served as a stopgap.
The reason why Lin Zhou did not add a heart or a water droplet as the decoration, but instead the white flower was because the ring that Xiao Yu had designed was engraved with flowers.
He did not understand why Xiao Yu did that, but that did not stop him from plagiarizing it. If there was a special meaning behind it, then at least he wouldn’t be missing that detail –
And so he added that rose with a single petal.
Xiao Yu sighed.
The engravings on the ring did have a special meaning to it. But it was not what everyone had assumed – it had a profound meaning.
When designing an item, they mostly talk about inspiration. Moreover, inspiration was more unreasonable than a random chance of sight.
Back then, Mr. Ji mentioned that he was just an adopted son of the elderly man, and that he had not met that lady in the story before. That was why Mr. Ji could not provide any useful information except for some collectibles and photographs that the elderly man had kept since a long time ago, to allow the designers to find inspiration from it.
Among those photographs, there was a picture of a young couple. The two of them had their hands linked above their heads as they stood below that gigantic clock tower. Their smiles were brighter than the sunshine, as the hour hand and minute hand of the clock tower aligned together, as if time had stopped for their love.
Most of the designers had drawn something out of this picture. Hence, half of the drawings submitted were the clock-series ring and the other half who had noticed the young lady’s jade bangle, chose to design their rings with colorless jadeite or Tian Yu².
However, Xiao Yu did not gain any inspiration from that picture. He felt that the picture did not represent anything. The couple in the picture was decently dressed, which made them seem like they were well-off. The time that the picture was taken was probably a few years before the couple had separated ways.
Those thoughts of his were deemed as illogical to others. But for certain people, they would become obstinate when they were inspired by these sudden thoughts and would ignore all objections, remaining unmoved.
Xiao Yu was such a person. Some may say that he was a fool, or that he was stubborn.
But back then, he thought: no one likes farewells, so why did the young man not accompany that young lady back to her hometown to visit her bedridden father?
Xiao Yu thought that the most logical reason was because at that time, the couple could not afford to buy a second ticket. The young lady who had left home for love was bound by necessity and unable take another step forward.
That would explain why the young couple had so little photographs taken together. Under the harsh circumstances in life, they did not even have much money left to indulge in extravagant pleasures, much less the money to hold a wedding.
In the end, the young lady had no choice but to visit her parents back home by herself – perhaps she was even thinking of asking for some financial help as well.
But this was not a fairytale-like romance story. It was the trivial livelihood of a young man who was left with no choice.
Very quickly, Xiao Yu found out that there was a large gambling house in that little town. He immediately noticed that everything was not a coincidence.
That gambling house had revealed the harsh cruelty behind this memory that was buried by time, which was hidden behind that rose-colored veil.
Back then, Xiao Yu was in fact very close to the truth. However, it was a pity that just when he was about to link all the clues together, Xiao Yu found out from Lin Zhou that SI had already secretly liaised with Mr. Ji. Feeling disappointed, Xiao Yu decided to head home.
That was why Xiao Yu’s final drawing was not complete. Or perhaps he would say, it was not all it had.
The reason why the ring was engraved with rose petals was because when Xiao Yu was on his return flight home, he saw from the ascending plane that there was a huge rose garden right in the middle of the town.
The fallen rose petals danced with the wind as if they were crying.
 司马昭之心人竟皆知 – Chinese idiom; literally what it meant – this person’s intentions were obvious to everyone, aka, an open secret.
 田玉 – It’s a kind of jade material that’s whitish in color.