Fang Zhao brought his pile of commemorative portraits and left the cemetery, heading to his new home—the top floor penthouse he had bought from the elderly musician Xue Jing.
After moving in, the renovations had been completed quickly. Fang Zhao had only added a few newly bought pieces of furniture and did not change much else. After all, most of his time was spent in the office.
He left all the other commemorative portraits at home and only brought the "Martyr Fang Zhao" series back to the office, distributing a set to each member of his staff. One set contained six styles.
"Boss, what is this?" Ying Futian was a little dumbstruck when he received the portraits. He did not really have any interest regarding commemorative portraits. Contrary to him, his parents liked them a lot, and every year, they would buy a few martyr portraits from the Period of Destruction to stick outside their doors. Sometimes they would even stick them outside the individual rooms in their house. He did not know whether they did so because of custom or if they believed in the blessings of the martyrs.
"I know who this is!" Wan Yue exclaimed. She immediately recognized the person upon seeing the scarred face.
"Who is it?" Zu Wen and the others looked over.
Glancing at Fang Zhao, Wan Yue said, "Big Zhao, what made you buy portraits of your namesake now?" In the past, Fang Zhao had showed no interest toward commemorative portraits.
"Namesake?" Zu Wen exclaimed. "Don’t tell me this set belongs to the person mentioned in historical records?" They all knew the famous characters of the Period of Destruction and had discussed them in history classes. If this person had not passed away so early, Yanzhou would have had a different name.
However, people named after martyrs were very common. From primary school all the way to graduating from university and the start of a working life, one would meet many such people. On this subject, most people would find it surprising, but as it went on, people became indifferent toward it. Even if they had heard that the Virtual Idol project would be handed over to a new guy named Fang Zhao, it would not have rang many bells.
"Oh, so it is him." Zu Wen glanced at the portraits in his hands. "Back in secondary school, we had a test with him as the exam question."
"Yeah. I remember seeing students complaining on the message boards about the question of who the two statues standing guard outside the main hall of the Cemetery for Martyrs were. Most people could not even answer. Some only managed to guess Wu Yan—after all, we are in Yanzhou, so General Wu Yan is pretty familiar to us. As for the other one, many were left dumbstruck," Pang Pusong said as he examined the portraits he'd received.
"We never ever got this question wrong." Zeng Huang laughed as he snuck a glance at Wan Yue. Wan Yue was smiling too. This sort of question was like free marks for them. Ever since they'd learnt about a martyr by the name of Fang Zhao, it'd stuck to their memory forever.
The rest of the staff were thinking that their boss was really great. Just before the memorial holidays, he'd given out military postings, and now he was handing out commemorative portraits of his namesake martyr. Was the mind of an artist really that special?
Remembering something, Zu Wen said, " Hey, Boss, let’s say you become popular and famous. Do you reckon that you will be invited to act as Fang Zhao during the Period of Destruction? Hehe, you could start practicing your acting first!"
Fang Zhao did not reply, he just gave Zu Wen a dazed look.
Zu Wen caught the look Fang Zhao shot him and felt that what he'd said was absurd. How could a situation like that happen?
The others thought this to be laughable too. Fang Zhao was a composer. When the composer behind the "Period of Destruction" series was revealed, he would become a famed composer, highly reputed within the music industry. This was certain. After all, the previous three movements were the best proof. Yet Fang Zhao was not an actor.
Besides, shooting a film based on an actual person during the Period of Destruction required the approval of the global film association, as well as the martyr’s descendants. The entertainment industry during the early years of the New Era was a mess. Many accounts of the history of the Period of Destruction were distorted, be it through film, music, or virtual idols. These capitalized on the martyrs to attract the attention of viewers. After some vehement opposition by descendants of martyrs, the entire world set up a restriction to stop this madness. Any films related to actual persons during that period would require a thorough audit as well as approval from the descendants of the concerning martyr.
As the restrictions were widespread, whenever each continent did a film based on actual characters, they would only select one or a few important people who'd had a great impact from that period. This was due to the fact that, if too many characters were lined up, the approval process would be much more troublesome and complicated. Hence, since the restriction set by the global film association up until this moment, there had not been a film made about commander Fang Zhao of the Period of Destruction.
Little did Zu Wen know, Fang Zhao’s expression did not mean that it was impossible. Rather, he was thinking, I am still me. Do I even need to act?
"Eh? Come to think of it, didn’t the global film association intend to shoot a film regarding many important characters from the Period of Destruction? Has it been done yet?" Rodney asked, remembering a piece of news he had read during his university days.
"It has been shelved. Apparently for quite some time. They tried to reboot it a few times, but it was never successful. I have no idea why," Song Miao replied, as she generally paid more attention to the entertainment industry. "However, in recent years, it has been brought up much more frequently. I reckon there is hope for this program yet."
"If they do start it, it is going to be a revolutionary, groundbreaking blockbuster," said Zu Wen.
The other nodded their heads in agreement. If such a program was really announced, the big investors would surely be the influential families of every continent, such as the Renaults of Leizhou and the Wu Family of Yanzhou. After all, it was their ancestors that would be portrayed in the film, and they were all famous founding characters of the New Era. The casting would, of course, be way more stringent, the main characters would definitely be played by global mega stars. Even the A-listers in Silver Wing media could only hope to achieve a bit-part role in this sort of film.
That would be a really impressive film program. They was no way they had the capability to participate, so they could only stay here and discuss it like losers.
"Anyway, no matter how big the program, it still can’t do without accompanying music." Song Miao turned to Fang Zhao. "Boss, work hard. Who knows, when the time comes, you might contest for the rights to the soundtrack. There won’t be only just one soundtrack for such a big program, and it will not only be from just one company. On that note, when the time comes, we will fight with you."
Even though she said all that, Song Miao was not too optimistic for Fang Zhao. From what she understood, for such a production, the soundtrack would normally be sourced from experienced and established studios or from reputable master composers in the music scene. Given Fang Zhao’s age and influence, the odds of him being picked were not high. Maybe in another hundred years he would stand a good chance, but by then, the production would have already been completed.
Fang Zhao seemed deep in thought, as if he had taken Song Miao's words seriously. Zu Wen was thinking of changing the topic to something more realistic to raise their spirits when Fang Zhao’s bracelet rang. Someone was calling.
"Director Duan?" Fang Zhao answered.
"Come up for a while," Duan Quanji said. "Alone." With that, she ended the call.
"Director Duan wants to enquire about the progress of the fourth movement again?"
"Most likely, given the importance Director Duan places on this series. Or she might just have questions pertaining to the project." Zu Wen and the others continued to discuss.
However, Fang Zhao felt that it was not related to the fourth movement. He had submitted a progress report to Duan Quanji yesterday. It was unlikely that she would ask again so soon.
"I shall head up first."
The others went back to their individual stations to continue working while Fang Zhao rode the escalator to Duan Quanji’s top floor office. Entering, he noticed that, aside from Duan Quanji and her four assistants and secretaries, there were two other strangers. As Fang Zhao walked in, the two strangers watched him. The one of a similar age eyed him with obvious apprehension, whereas the more senior of the two seemed to be sizing him up. His expression showed neither suspicion nor contempt. He was purely examining Fang Zhao,
The two men were neither extravagantly dressed nor wearing any luxurious ornaments. At first glance, they just seemed like any normal technicians. However, emblazoned on their chests was an emblem of a fiery red bird in the shape of an ‘S.’
That tiny emblem was more than enough to make anyone take notice. It was the best proof of their identities.
They were from Fiery Bird.
"Fiery Bird." The undisputed number one gaming company in the world.
"Sit." Duan Qianji pointed to a seat. Following that, she faced the two men and said, "This here is the creator of the first three movements of the 'Period of Destruction,' Fang Zhao." She then turned to face Fang Zhao and introduced the two men. "These are the department heads of Fiery Bird’s sound effects department, You Chuan and Mr. Bi Fu."
"Deputy department head. Deputy." You Chuan waved his hands, not thinking that there was anything awkward about adding the word "deputy".
After which, he turned to Fang Zhao and smiled. "The members of our department enjoyed the three movements of the 'Period of Destruction' series very much. We are all eagerly anticipating the release of the fourth movement. As for the purpose of our visit, it has nothing to do with the endorsement. We are just in charge of sound effects and related stuff. This time, we came with an invitation for Mr. Fang."
"Invitation?" Fang Zhao repeated.
"Yes. We wish to request Mr. Fang compose a piece."
"A custom-made one?"
"Thats right. Accompanying soundtrack for a portion of a two-minute animation in 'Battle of the Century.' To be honest, we had already prepared four pieces of music and were going to choose one out of the four. However…" At this point, You Chuan examined Fang Zhao once more. "After hearing the three movements of 'The Period of Destruction,' our department head found three of the previously prepared pieces to be unsatisfactory. It wasn’t that they were no good, just that, in line with the game itself, they did not seem to blend well, as if they were lacking a little something. Therefore, we have already approached 18 soundtrack composers and studios across the 12 continents to request a custom-made composition. As for Mr. Zhao, this is our last stop, and we were tasked to personally hand over the request by our department head."
"I am number 19?" Fang Zhao asked.
Fang Zhao remained silent.
Fiery Bird had requested 19 compositions and promised to purchase the rights to all 19. However, for the game, Fiery Bird would only pick the one they were most satisfied with.
It was really… inhumane.