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109 The Fourth Miss Talks Things Ou

    The two of them were the only ones left in the pavilion. Everyone else had departed, and while Yujia leaned against the table as she spoke, Zixu sat across from her.

    "To make things clear, first," Yujia stated, "I'm the Fourth Miss of the Yang Family. You might know me as the one who's going to become your father's concubine."

    Zixu nodded slowly. His expression didn't change much after this revelation, as if he expected it. "And I think that you may know me as the one who's going to become your younger sister's husband." Right. Yujia almost wanted to ask him about Xiaoyi, but now was not the right time. Zixu added on, "But relationships are always bound to change, aren't they? I think that you don't seem like one who will gladly become a concubine to my father."

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    "You're not wrong." Yujia laughed softly while she looked down. "And maybe my painting gives off a depressed feeling because of these things that conflict me. Except, at the same time, it's also because I found that I don't want to look at myself and the actions I've chosen. Maybe it's the whole deal with marriages that made me realize this, but lately, I can't help but think that maybe I'm destined to fail, to have a bad ending, all because of the kind of person I am."

    "Why don't you change yourself, then?"

    Yujia looked up at him, and Zixu was looking back at her without any waver in his gaze. He made it sound so simple. As if she could just change herself at will. As if she could become someone completely different than who she was now with just a brief decision.

    "It's not that easy." She bit the inside of her cheek and curled her fingers. "I- I can't just change myself because I want to."

    His eyes were still focused on hers. "How so?"

    "I'm afraid to." She decided to tell him everything. Since she said so much already, she might as well just say everything. "Because I'm pathetic. Because I'm terrified to face myself. Because I'm terrified to accept change. I've lived as the person I am for so long- if I just changed myself now, how could I possibly make up for all the things before? What if the person I change into becomes someone even worse than the way I am now?"

    Zixu sighed. "I don't know exactly what kind of person you are, but based on what I've seen so far, you're not a terrible person, Miss Yang. Why not just pay heed to what others are saying and suggesting and change yourself based on that? If the change is not the right kind of change, continue correcting yourself until you become someone you can be satisfied with, someone that you can accept."

    There was a brief pause of silence before he continued, "In the end, an attempt to become better is better than no attempt; therefore, change is better than no change. How do you know what sort of future you will have without trying different things out? I am one who doesn't believe in predestined endings. Every individual is in control of their own life. It's up to them to decide what sort of choices they make. Would you be satisfied knowing that you chose to let go of the chance to change, or would you prefer to live knowing that you never gave another version of yourself a chance?"

    It took a while for those words to sink in for Yujia. Silence hung in the air, but the silence allowed her to think.

    Zixu's philosophy wasn't complicated. It was just as simplistic as his entire perspective, but Yujia hadn't thought of it before. Perhaps this could be due to the reason that her thoughts were so clouded, or due to the reason that she had pushed all her thoughts away before she could truly think about it. She didn't like to think about it back then, but now that she could look at the entire situation with his words in mind, everything was clearer.

    Why wasn't she giving herself another chance, instead of choosing to give up without trying?

    It would likely take her a long time to adjust herself, but Yujia was glad that she talked things out with Zixu. Now, at least, she had a direction to go. She didn't know how long it would take for her to become a better person, but he was right in the fact that it was better to put in effort than to not try at all.

    "Thank you." She gave him a genuine smile, which he returned with his usual calm smile. "Now that we've talked about this though, I'm still not clear on why you're just willing to listen to me rant. I appreciate that you're willing to- I just don't know why- if that makes sense?"

    "I told you before; I'm curious," he answered, "And also, maybe more of an acceptable reason, but it's a waste to see true artistic skill weighed down by heavy thoughts. I was hoping to see Miss Yang's true capabilities, but it appears like your demonstration today was weighed down by your doubts. If you're feeling better now, I hope that you can show me some of your true paintings."

    His smile was a little warmer now.

    Yujia nodded with confirmation. "Alright, if I ever am in the mood to create a better painting, I'll call Young Master Yu over to watch. I'm honored that you find my humble skills worthy enough."

    "Don't be so humble. Some of the techniques that you used in your paintings are things I've never seen before, and I always want to discover new things about painting." He waved his hand.

    "So, the reason why you talked to me was all for your own benefit?"

    "Of course." His smile transformed into a sly one. "I always act for my own benefit."

    "Then, I'm glad we both benefited from this conversation. I'll be sure to pay you back by showing you a few new painting techniques in the future, if you want."

    Zixu clasped his hands. "This Young Master is grateful to Miss Yang's offer." He glanced over to her box of pencils and changed the topic. "Why are you starting up a store to sell your pencils?"

    "How did you know that I'm- ?" Yujia's eyebrows flew up. She only claimed that she was affiliated with the store, and not that she was starting it up.

    "I'm good friends with the Second Young Master of the Bo Family. I believe that you may have had a commission with him, and accidently left one of your pencils there, meaning that you've been in possession of these pencils for a while. Based on the drawings you've created with them, you're also skilled at using them. It wouldn't make sense for a mere affiliate of the store who was asked to advertise the tool to be given a crude prototype that's clearly not the work of a skilled artisan. With some simple deduction, I came to the conclusion that your relationship with the store must be more than that of affiliates. Am I wrong?"

    Momentarily stunned by his response and all the thought that went behind his answer, Yujia shook her head and replied, "No- you're very right. I'm going to be the co-owner of the store that will sell these pencils, which are my invention."

    He didn't seem like he would be one to instantly turn down the idea of her pencils just because she was female. Zixu clearly displayed his lack of bias towards different genders because of his statements when he was inviting her to join the painting convention at Lingxin. She could trust him with the fact that she invented the pencils, considering that he didn't seem like the insensitive type who would just blabber this fact around.

    "Who's the other co-owner?" He tilted his head.

    "The Bo Family's Third Young Master. Somehow, I got involved in having him invest in my work, and we've been good business partners since."

    "Ah." Zixu paused as something unknown passed through his gaze before he returned to normal. Yujia barely caught the shift in his eyes, but because she couldn't decipher it, she chose to ignore it. "I wish you two luck with your business."

    "Thank you." Yujia glanced at the exit of the pavilion, realizing that she was hungry for lunch. She didn't have any other need to talk to Zixu, so she said, "I'll need to get going soon, if Young Master Yu will allow me."

    "Of course."

    Once she bid farewell with him, Yuija picked up all of her belongings and left the pavilion, the corners of her lips turned slightly upwards, and worries finally fleeing her heart. She truly was grateful for their conversation today.

    ...

    Zixu watched as she left the pavilion, then stood up, preparing to leave as well. Today, he gained what he came to the convention for: new knowledge in art. The Fourth Miss of the Yang Family did have some interesting techniques that set her work a level higher than most others, but she lacked practice with her work. It was a pity for all the unique techniques to be wasted on her average work, but in the future, when he learned the different styles from her, it wasn't really a loss either.

    He was also introduced to a new puzzle to which he was slightly intrigued by. She mentioned, before she left, that the co-owner of her new store would be the Third Young Master of the Bo Family. The only problem was that the Bo Family had no Third Young Master. Zixu was absolutely positive with this fact, considering his long relationship with Zhiyuan. He would've known if his friend had a younger brother.

    It would be fun to figure out who this "Third Young Master" that Miss Yang was referring to, but it wasn't high on his priority list. His father still wanted him to work on managing their new trade partnerships, so he was rather occupied with that at the moment.

    He didn't regret taking time to go to the painting convention though. Miss Yang was an interesting individual with many peculiar things about her, such as her new identity as Master Yue's disciple and her engagement with his father. It was obvious that she wasn't going to stick with becoming a concubine to an old man though, so in the future, Zixu guessed that there was going to be a good show for him to watch.

    From all the new things that he learned, Zixu decided that today was a good day.
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