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108 The Fourth Miss Blends in the Convention

    Needless to say, only a few minutes after the pencil was introduced, it became a huge hit.

    Yujia only partially expected the warm reception to the pencils. She knew that some people would like it, but not to the degree that she saw right now.

    Word had somehow spread throughout the school that in the Ice Lily Pavilion, there was currently a demonstration of a "celestial art tool" that could draw as smooth as brush and ink even without ink. They said that the "heavenly tool" could capture souls in the drawings and reflect an exact moment in time.

    Because of these clearly over exaggerated rumors, the hundreds of others attending the convention swarmed towards the pavilion. They were not permitted in the pavilion, so they could only watch as afar and catch the exclamations and marvelling of the lucky individuals who had the ability to experience this "tool blessed by the deities of art".

    Yujia slowly faded away into the background, her pencil stealing her spotlight away from her. It wasn't that she minded much- it was just that now, instead of everyone else being amazed by her pencils, she was the one who was amazed by their reactions.

    She had no idea how things got blown out of proportion so much. Who even spread the word that her pencils were some legendary, godly, invention?

    As great as pencils were in her opinion, those claims were overdoing it a little.

    Though, if Yujia truly thought about it, if a man of this time period went back to the era of cavemen and introduced the current brush and ink techniques of this time, then the cavemen would be in awe of that too, she supposed.

    Since many people were standing up, Yujia finally got a seat next to Yunhe. He surveyed the pavilion and the crowd that was gathering outside of it, then told her with a smile, "I see that your invention is doing well."

    "I'm pretending that it's not anyone's invention right now," she replied, "but thank you, Senior Brother. I didn't expect this much of a reaction, honestly." A nervous laugh escaped out of her.

    He shrugged. "If you showed the pencil to anyone else, there wouldn't be this much of a reaction. The main reason is that all the present individuals here are some of the most enthusiastic young artists in all of Xiang. Their guests are all fairly involved in art in some way too." His hand casually gestured to Cao Cixuan, who was one of the people that scribbled with a pencil in his hand. "It might not look at it, but even a guest like him does know a few things about art or poetry."

    Yujia laughed again, this time a little less nervously than before. "Aren't you afraid that this Noble Cao will take offense if he hears your subtle insult?"

    "He's not going to." Yunhe glanced over at Cixuan, then scoffed, "Listen to all the loud chatter. Who is going to pay attention to our conversation? Besides, he's the one who's yelling the most out of all of them. I'm surprised that he doesn't get tired from talking so much every day."

    Hearing Yunhe's words, Yujia gasped dramatically and gave him a joking scandalous gaze. "Senior Brother! I never knew that you were one to throw insults like that!"

    His eyes dropped from her gaze, shaking his head as he replied, "I'm usually not. It's just that people like him are often a little too irritating. Plus, he's just so unstable with his attitude, and I don't like people like that. Take for example a few moments ago, when he was insulting you, but now, he's the person who's using your pencils the most."

    Even though Yujia appreciated the fact that Yunhe and her shared a mutual disliking for Cao Cixuan, she still felt like there were words that she needed to get off her chest.

    "Hm, Senior Brother, when we first met, weren't you also insulting to me about my lack of knowledge about the Six Principles? Yet now, we're such good senior and junior siblings." Yujia leaned forward to rest her chin on her hands, keeping her tone light. "I'd say that your attitude might be a little unstable too."

    Realizing the hypocrisy in his words, Yunhe looked back up, his eyebrows tightening. "Junior Sister, you know that back then, I was just a little bit angry since you were the one who first insulted- I mean, criticized- my work! I was just being the bigger person and deciding to let fickle matters like that go because we're under the same master now."

    It seemed like bringing up the topic of their past conflict put Yunhe on a defensive edge. Perhaps he just didn't like to think of the fault in his actions from the past. Yujia was perfectly fine with that, though. If he wanted to push these things behind, she wasn't going to purposefully keep bringing them up either.

    "I know." Yujia nodded, coming up with a quick response. "I simply think that since Noble Cao doesn't treat me with a negative approach now, I can be the bigger person too and ignore the things he's said before."

    "Are you sure?" He raised his eyebrows, and prodded, "Or is Junior Sister only acting this way because he has a lot of wealth and can potentially buy your paintings and pencils in the future?"

    Yujia grinned mischievously. "Since Senior Brother knows me so well already, why ask?"

    She was glad that he diverted this conversation into a more playful tone. This gave both of them an opportunity to move onto something else to talk about.

    Both of them laughed briefly, then moved onto the topic of her pencils again.

    ...

    Eventually, the initial interest in the pencils died down. Many still thought it was an interesting product, but they wouldn't want to spend all day analyzing the invention. The crowd outside the pavilion left quickly too upon realizing that there was no chance of them getting to view the pencil.

    And so, the group moved onto other things within an hour, such as creating paintings and writing poetry to match the paintings.

    It appeared like both pencils and her previous ten-minute-demonstration won over the hearts of the disciples and guests. Seeing that she was a fellow artist like them, they could accept Yujia's identity as a female a lot easier. There was still a clear divide between her and the others present at the convention, but this didn't matter too much to Yujia. As long as they were willing to give in a little, eventually, they might be able to accept even more.

    When noon came around, it was time for the convention end.

    Yujia watched as one by one, various individuals left the pavilion after saluting everyone. They trickled out slowly, with some having a few last words to say and others wishing to leave on time. The few familiar faces that she managed to talk a little extra with at the convention, such as Cao Cixuan and Jiang Muyun, both specifically bid farewell to her before they left. Yunhe and Bo Zhiyuan also did the same.

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    Yujia was one of the few still left in the pavilion when most had gone. She was busy gathering her pencils and organizing her sketches which were dispersed across the table. As she gathered her belongings and prepared to leave as well, her hands stopped at the piece of turned over paper that contained her ten-minute painting.

    Her hands reached down and turned the thin sheet of paper over. Once more, she had the chance to look at the painting, yet still, she couldn't understand.

    She thought back to the first of the Six Principles that her master had taught her: Spirit Resonance.

    Was the reason for the sorrow in the painting because of Spirit Resonance? Had she somehow pushed her emotions, energy, and messy thoughts into the painting? It felt like every stroke of her brush carried one of her worries, making all of it weave together to create something that represented the very depths of her thoughts.

    This explained her unwillingness to look at the painting and the wish to keep it close to her at the same time. It was the same with her mindset towards her past and current self too, wasn't it?

    She heard footsteps approaching her from behind, so she turned away from the painting, glancing over to see who it was.

    The person who walked up to the table, standing next to her as he observed the painting, was Yu Zixu. He looked at it, then looked back at her, the calm smile he always had vanished off of his face.

    "Young Master Yu, is there anything you need?" Yujia mustered up a polite smile.

    "I see now why you ranked in front of me in the exam. Your painting skills are truly admirable." Yujia was about to thank him for the compliment, but he continued. "The only problem is that something's wrong, isn't it? Something's bothering you, and it's clear from the way you paint."

    She blinked twice, her smile dropping from her face as well. Out of everything she heard today about her painting, no one pointed out the emotions that were going on in her mind while she painted, except for him. Except for Yu Zixu, the one person who only took a glance at her painting before walking away.

    "How did you know? How do you always know

    everything

    ?" she asked, her words rushed.

    She didn't know why, but Zixu confused and irritated her more than ever now. She clearly knew that he had no fault, but she couldn't help but push all her anger at herself that she had hidden away for all this time onto him. She just hated the way that he could read her every thought and crawl into her mind while she couldn't even decipher a single expression of his. She just hated that he always smiled in his calm, collected way, as if he couldn't be bothered by any problems in the world.

    "I don't."

    Yujia blinked again, and there Zixu was once more, standing with a blank gaze. He wasn't smiling. There was no smile.

    For once, Yu Zixu seemed

    human

    .

    "I'm just very observant," he went on, "I pay more attention to most things that others ignore. It's a skill. It takes a lot of practice. I still don't know most things about others the majority of the time, but that's when I guess. In the field of painting though, I think I'm skilled enough to be able to decipher the true emotions of the painter from the art. That's another skill that I seem to be more adept at."

    She stared at him while he spoke.

    Seeing that she didn't have anything to say, he kept going with his words. "Another thing about me is that I'm curious. Art and people intrigue me. So, when I'm faced with a puzzle like this painting with unexplained worry portrayed within its lines, I want to know the reason behind it. But- if that was too personal and bothered you, I apologize. I was too forward."

    He clasped his hands and bowed. "I'll be leaving now, then, Miss Yang." After that, he turned around, heading to the exit of the pavilion.

    Yujia stared at his back silhouette walking away from her. Out of everybody in this world so far, no one fully understood her. Not Hui'er, not Xiaoyi, not Yunhe, not Zhizhong, not anyone. They never noticed whenever things truly distressed her. They never noticed the chaotic mess that went on in her mind, or the cowardice that haunted her after all of her revelations. She never had anyone like that. Not in her past world, and not in this one either.

    Yet why was it that

    Yu Zixu

    , someone she barely knew, someone she barely talked to, and someone she usually tried to avoid, noticed these things?

    As she watched him walk away, Yujia realized that she wanted someone to talk to. She wanted someone to express her concerns with.

    Yu ZIxu didn't seem like the best person, but he was here now, wasn't he? He was willing to listen, wasn't he?

    That was what Yujia truly wanted- someone to listen. Someone who she could blurt out all of her problems to without having to care about what they thought of her.

    She wasn't sure if Zixu was the right person, but it wouldn't be a mistake to try.

    So, Yujia called out his name. Her voice was quiet, holding the slightest bit of a tremble, but he heard her. And turned around. And walked over.

    And listened to her words.
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