Zuo Yu had noticed this happening with Fang Zhao a number of times in the game. When watching Fang Zhao slaying monsters in-game, there were times where his mind seemed to have left his body. When asked about it once, Fang Zhao's reply was that he had realized something at that point in time.
As for what he realized, Zuo Yu knew as well—song inspirations!
Zuo Yu had even joked that Fang Zhao was lucky not to have lived during the actual Period of Destruction. If such an out-of-body experience had occurred during the actual period, he would have long been dead.
Fang Zhao had only laughed; he had not replied.
Watching the surveillance footage of the dance hall once more, Zuo Yu tried to guess whether his boss had had a realization. However, regardless of the truth, Zuo Yu would not tell Qu Wei.
If Fang Zhao had really found anything suspicious, he would have said it himself. As the bodyguard, it was better for Zuo Yu to keep his lips tight.
Zuo Yu had gone with the reply of "gaining inspiration." At least on the surface, he had given a reply. Whether Qu Wei believed him was another matter.
Inside the room.
Natiwuzi handed over the preliminary findings of the investigation to Fang Zhao. The six men had been paid for this. Their employer was still unknown at this point, and more time was needed to continue investigation.
"The other party is probably experienced, given how he knew which people to employ and how to hide his own identity, but my guess is that the other party isn't one of those big companies. Given my many years of experience, the possibility of a big company using these means is extremely small. At the most, they would give it a push on the back if they caught wind of it. After all, it is because of you that Silver Wing has a virtual projects department and the currently emerging gaming department."
There was something else that Natiwuzi refrained from saying. If these big companies really wanted to do something, they would target Duan Qianji or other senior management executives, not someone of Fang Zhao's status. Also, their methods would not be so simple.
It was rare for Natiwuzi to speak so much, but this was a sign of his sincerity. In the first place, it was his nightclub that'd had the lapse that had allowed these people a chance to make their move. Furthermore, Natiwuzi wished to invest in Fang Zhao.
"Many times, some small characters without presence will bite you over trivial matters. The moment you are not alert, they might bite off a big chunk of flesh. Luckily, you were guarded this time," Natiwuzi said. Back then, he had been a glittering celebrity too and had his own fair share of troubles.
If Fang Zhao was not aware of the perpetrators' intentions this round, the drugs could have been injected or slipped into his pockets. From there, arranging for a journalist to report about Fang Zhao "using stimulant drugs and visiting a nightclub for inspiration" would have been really troublesome for Fang Zhao.
"Once you get famous, these things become more common. Prepare yourself; these things can't be guarded against, and you can only be careful." Noticing Fang Zhao looking pensive, Natiwuzi continued on, "Most likely, it's some personnel from a small- or medium-sized company. They are probably afraid to do anything to Silver Wing's senior executives, so they targeted you."
"Understood." Fang Zhao had some doubt in his heart, but Wang Tie was also helping him investigate. He would get the findings soon.
After all that, Natiwuzi told Fang Zhao the reason he had been called over.
"Fang Zhao, your speed-strumming skill is quite good. Self-taught?" Natiwuzi asked.
"I learned from someone a long time ago. After that, I practiced for quite some time." Playing it in my mind counts, right? Fang Zhao thought to himself.
However, Natiwuzi had guessed wrongly. He had thought that Fang Zhao was mostly self-taught and had been learning for a long time.
"No wonder you play so well despite not having a reputation in the ancient-instrument circles. In the future, you can come and stretch your legs with the others in the ancient-instruments circle, take part in some performances, or even come to my club to strum a few tunes. Why don't you play a tune now. I know that you did not give your all last time. Show me your fastest strumming speed."
Natiwuzi switched on a camera at the side and prepared to record. He told Fang Zhao, "After this recording, I will upload the video of your speed strumming online. That will dispel people's doubts of you. Don't worry, this guitar of mine is high quality. There will be no issue when strumming. I have used it for so many years already and maintained it well. The quality of the strings could be said to be the best in the world. Just be at ease and strum to your heart's content." Natiwuzi was in a good mood and was speaking a lot more today, although he was still speaking slowly, unlike his lightning quick strumming.
"All-out strumming?" Fang Zhao asked.
"That's right, you don't have to hold back. Let me see how fast you can go!"
Generally speaking, a period was needed for someone to adapt to a guitar that did not belong to them, but Fang Zhao did not need it! During their previous "communication" in the wee hours of the morning, Natiwuzi had seen it for himself. This time, he hoped that Fang Zhao would give him a surprise.
The strumming started with a tune like a silk cloth sliding across the floor, quick and flowing. The density of the notes were concentrated raindrops pounding on the body.
Fang Zhao's wrist was swiveling rapidly on the guitar neck as the fingers of his left hand looked as though they were on a piano keyboard. The speed was still rising, the notes becoming more and more urgent.
Most people could only hear the starting and ending notes. As for the middle portion, unless they used equipment, there would not be able to differentiate it!
However, Natiwuzi had an outstanding hearing ability that an ordinary person's could not compare to. He was praised as one of the world's three speed-strumming maestros, and before Jiminy and Li Kasi had emerged, he had occupied the throne of speed strumming for close to twenty years.
At the start, Natiwuzi had a gratified and excited smile. From the view of one from an older generation, as he was listening, he could appreciate it in his heart. But gradually, the smile on Natiwuzi's face disappeared, and he no longer pondered, instead focusing his attention on listening. Even so, he found it strenuous, and this sort of feeling was getting stronger.
Fang Zhao's fingers were flying around so quickly they appeared to have vanished. It seemed like a fireball was jumping around on the strings and the guitar was like a reactor undergoing nuclear fission, releasing an immense amount of energy.
The torrential downpour of notes pounded away, and even Natawuzi who had a superb hearing ability capable of slowing music down could not keep up!
Is this Fang Zhao's speed?
Natiwuzi stared at Fang Zhao in shock, not believing his own eyes and ears.
For people without a strong sense of musical perception, it might have only seemed like a dazzling display of skill, but for people like him who had good musical perception, this was simply a colossal blow to him!
And this blow had been brought about by Natiwuzi himself.
His mind was on the verge of shutting down from the concentrated bombardment of notes! His whole body was shocked to the core by that immense energy.
However, at this moment, when the atmosphere had been built up and was on the verge of exploding, it abruptly disappeared. Fang Zhao had stopped.
Natiwuzi regained his composure and waited a full eight seconds before looking at Fang Zhao blankly. Only sounds of exhaling came from his throat, as he could not bring himself to speak. He looked at Fang Zhao with an imploring gaze that asked, Why didn't you continue?
"It's out of tune," Fang Zhao replied helplessly. He had not wished to stop midway either. His mind had been overflowing with inspiration just now, and he had nearly forgotten all about Natiwuzi's motive for getting him to play. However, since the strings had become out of tune and it would become more severe if it was not retuned, he could only break his train of thought and stop.
When Natiwuzi heard these words, the muscles on his face nearly cramped up. Was Fang Zhao actually able to hear the notes going off-key at that speed?! He had been totally unable to catch up already and had not noticed any off-key notes, yet this young fellow had actually caught it the first time? That meant this little fellow's hearing ability far surpassed his own!
Natiwuzi stared silently for a while at Fang Zhao, as if he was observing a new species, before stumbling over to the coffee table at the side.
Fang Zhao hurriedly put down the guitar and prepared to go over and lend an arm for support. Natiwuzi's appearance seemed as if he had suffered a big blow. His face was pale and his steps were unsteady, as though he might faint at any time.
Natiwuzi forced a smile and raise his hands to wave Fang Zhao off, meaning he did not need Fang Zhao's help. He pressed a button on the coffee table that made a drawer pop out. Retrieving a small bottle of medicine, he sprayed himself a few times, and after some deep breaths, color returned to his face.
Resting on the sofa, Natiwuzi recuperated for a while before speaking. "I am relieved, and I am also glad."
The look Natiwuzi gave Fang Zhao was complicated. It was the sum of all sorts of feelings in his heart.
"I am very relieved that you did not appear back in my day."
If a Fang Zhao had appeared during Natiwuzi's glorious days, Natiwuzi might not have had the cumulative fame and popularity he had now and would not have had that strong self-confidence and haughtiness when playing the guitar.
"I am also glad because, if Yanzhou doesn't have me, there is still you!"
Natiwuzi might be known as one of the three speed-strumming maestros in the world, but due to age, his health was no longer as it once had been during his peak. He was unable to compete with Jiminy who was 20 years younger or Li Kasi who was only 40+ years old.
In New Era terms, 45 was the prime of one's life. Furthermore, both Jiminy and Li Kasi had lots of experience being at the summit, whereas Natiwuzi would slowly decline.
Natiwuzi was not one to concede defeat or admit old age and was still holding back anger in his heart! Although he no longer gave public performances, he still practiced loads in private. He always felt that he could stake it all and pit himself against Jiminy and Li Kasi for a round. However, reality was cruel, and the changes in his body restricted him.
But now, Natiwuzi felt as if a great weight on his heart had been lifted. He no longer felt regret!
When a disparity was small, people tended to brood and not admit defeat, but if the disparity was large and there was simply no way of closing the gap, even if the person was not as good, he would be at less of a loss.
Natiwuzi clearly recognized that, even if he was still at his peak, there was no way he could compete with the skill that Fang Zhao had just displayed.
When he was younger, Natiwuzi had always heard people say that, when he was strumming the guitar, he was like a robot in human form, achieving feats that were not possible for normal humans. But now he felt that the one in front of him was the real robot in human form! Was that even possible for a human?
Previously, people who had watched Natiwuzi's performance would say that, after watching him, there was nothing much interesting to watch among other's performances, but now, Natiwuzi felt that, after seeing Fang Zhao play the guitar, rewatching videos of his past performance had no meaning anymore.
Taking a deep breath, Natiwuzi felt his strength returning. He grabbed a piece of tuning equipment and surveyed the guitar. Indeed, the guitar strings were out of tune; Fang Zhao was right.
Not in a rush to tune it, Natiwuzi sat down and proceeded to pour Fang Zhao and himself a cup of tea.
"Interested in working together?" Natiwuzi asked. "I own a few businesses besides this nightclub, and there is one that everyone knows of: 'NaZ.' An ancient-instruments brand that specializes in all sorts of ancient musical instruments. The ancient guitar is the main product, and I would like to invite you to be the brand ambassador of 'NaZ'."