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119 The Fourth Miss Teaches Again

    Back when Yujia promised Yu Zixu that she would teach him a few painting techniques, she only said those things in pure courtesy, without the actual intention of teaching him since she didn't think that he would want to learn whatever random things she managed to come up with.

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    It made her slightly nervous to see that he wanted to learn from her. From what she saw of Zixu so far, he was definitely much more knowledgeable about art than the average person. With beginners like Xiaoyi who only had raw talent and not much experience, Yujia could manage to come up with some random things to teach, but she wasn't sure if she could pull off an attempt to teach someone who was so skilled already like Zixu. Even Yunhe often chided her when she didn't know things- which, somehow, Yujia still needed to get to learning the other five elements of art, since up to this point, she still only knew of Spirit Resonance.

    She covered up her hesitancy with a civil smile though, nodding and replying back, "Of course. Since I promised you already, it would be bad if I went back on my words, wouldn't it?"

    The good thing, she supposed, was that being an artist, she was extremely talented in the art of bullsh*ting. If she didn't know what to say, she would just make some stuff up since she knew how to use flowery language to make herself appear more educated than she actually was.

    Behind Zixu, the individual that Yujia couldn't really remember the name of spoke up as well. "Miss Yang, would you mind if I came along to learn too? I've seen your artwork during the convention, and I think that I would like to see what new things you know about."

    Moving her attention on the person who just spoke, Yujia stared at his face for a few more moments. The young man who just spoke appeared rather young and had a lively complexion, and though she was sure that she recognized him, she just couldn't remember his name for some reason.

    A few more moments passed where Yujia attempted to recall his name, but in the end, she had to settle with, "Sorry, you are...?"

    "Ah, Miss Yang doesn't remember me?" His face sagged. "I'm your Senior Brother, Rong Yuan, of the Rong Family! I really like the pencils you had at the convention, so I was one of the biggest customers at the store you said you were affiliated with! I bought many sets of the pencils!"

    Upon hearing that he bought many of her pencils, a delighted smile lit up on Yujia's face. Customers were always good. "Oh, so it's Senior Brother Rong! It was rude of me to forget about you so quickly- it's just that for the past few days, I've been so busy doing other things that I forgot about a lot of the things that happened in the past. I hope Senior Brother Rong can forgive me."

    Rong Yuan grinned brightly and scratched his neck. "It's not a problem. It would be my fault if I couldn't forgive a pretty-"

    Zixu coughed softly, then cut in as if he was completely unaware of the flirtatious words Rong Yuan was about to say. "Miss Yang, about the painting techniques?"

    Yujia nodded, glad that he brought them up. "Where would you like me to demonstrate to you two?"

    Glancing around the pavilion they were in right now, Zixu replied, "How about the Ice Lily Pavilion? Half Moon is a little crowded today."

    The three of them headed towards Ice Lily Pavilion, which was filled with less people since only a few permitted individuals were allowed to enter. Yujia found it a bit peculiar that Zixu was able to- he didn't seem like a disciple of anyone as far as Yujia could tell. She didn't question it too much though. Whichever reason for why Zixu was able to enter the pavilion wasn't too much of her concern.

    Seating themselves at a table with Yujia on one side and the other two on the opposite side, Yujia picked up a sheet of paper and a paintbrush that was already laid out.

    "If you look right here," she explained, "the first technique I want to demonstrate is how to create an almost... mythical, if that's the right word for it, environment in your paintings. This can be accomplished with blurry yet not too vague lines coupled with a few, very small details. It can elevate the entire energy and elegance of your painting to a whole other level. And this can be accomplished through fading lines like this..."

    Her brush dotted across the page with deep ink that she went back and altered with lighter, less concentrated washes of ink, layering them to create a mountainous range enveloped with deep fog and clouds.

    The two across from her followed suit after seeing her demonstration.

    Yujia took note of the fact that Rong Yuan and Yu Zixu all had varying methods of the way they learned and painted. Rong Yuan painted immediately after she drew her first lines, following and mimicking her movements. On the other hand, Zixu took his time. He observed what she did slowly, and with great precision and slow movements, he used his paintbrush to understand what she was doing first, then painted at greater ease and speed once he understood.

    Because of these different styles, while both managed to create an excellent example of the first technique Yujia had in mind by the end of her demonstration, Rong Yuan's work seemed more of an exact copy of what she did while Zixu's work held more stylistic elements that he managed to weave in as he experimented with the technique.

    As she went on with painting and demonstrating, there were a few moments where there was no talking. For the sake of conversation, Yujia directed a question towards Zixu first. And this time, since Rong Yuan was present, she decided to go with a more formal "Noble Yu" than a more personal and casual "Young Master Yu" that she was used to calling Zixu by only because he used to call her "younger brother".

    "Noble Yu, are you a disciple of any elders in Lingxin?"

    Zixu, while drawing a slanted line on the page, answered, "No. Unlike many other students at Lingxin, I don't have much time to devote to just art. I only visit Lingxin on occasion, so I didn't feel like there was a need to find a master within these brief visits. Besides, I only took the entrance exam as an entertaining challenge, and therefore..." His voice trailed off, the thought unfinished.

    Meanwhile, Rong Yuan cut in, "You took the entrance exam for fun? What? Why?"

    "The same reason as to why Noble Rong enjoys chasing after people he can't get. Challenges are amusing to me." A relaxed smile rested on his lips as he came up with the answer without a single pause, his hands continuing on with the painting all the same even though Rong Yuan had long stopped painting and was more interested in the conversation.

    Yujia's thoughts clung onto the "chasing after people he can't get" part that Zixu spoke of. Was this something true about Rong Yuan?

    Her answer arrived when Rong Yuan only shrugged carefreely, without any single attempt at defending himself as if Zixu's words were completely true. "I guess Noble Yu knows me well."

    Yujia added in, "Are you two close?"

    Zixu finally looked up, shaking his head. "We actually have only met twice before. But I've long heard of Noble Rong's reputation, and it seems like we share a similar interest in painting."

    "I see."

    "Then, are you close with Noble Yu?" Rong Yuan questioned, an eyebrow raised. "What was he talking about with the promise of teaching him painting techniques?"

    "It was just an old agreement we came to a while back. Nothing much." Zixu replied for her.

    The conversation cut short there. A few seconds later though, Rong Yuan spoke up again. "Junior Sister, what do you think of my painting so far? Are the techniques that I used decently executed?"

    Yujia leaned over to look at his work. It was all fairly accurate, and she couldn't find much fault from it. So, besides for the sake of being polite, she truly spoke her thoughts. "They look quite nice."

    "Quite nice?" A mischievous smile crept up Rong Yuan's face. "Then, if you think that my paintings look quite nice, what do you think about me as a person? Quite nice as well?"

    "Ah?"

    Yujia doubted that she heard his words correctly. How could someone blatantly flirt like such right when another individual like Yu Zixu was right next to them?

    She looked over at Zixu, who seemed to be ignoring the entire situation again, absorbed in his own work. She was positively sure that he was listening intently though, waiting for her to come up with an answer to amuse him.

    Before she could say anything, Rong Yuan rephrased his question. "What's Junior Sister's first impression of me, if that's more direct? Good, right?" Yujia opened her mouth to speak, but Rong Yuan continued without even noticing, "You know, I talked to Senior Brother Ye the other day, and he was talking about how he actually brought me up in front of you. I don't think he portrayed me that accurately though, because it seemed like you had a negative impression of me? So I'm happy that fate has played a role in letting us meet today so that I can prove to you that I'm not what you may think of me..."

    Yujia's mind trailed back to her conversations with Yunhe. It was true that he mentioned someone, but it was also true that Yujia criticized the exact person he mentioned by claiming that he was repulsive, obnoxious, and distasteful.

    And if Rong Yuan claimed to be the exact person Yunhe was describing...

    Yujia's expression soured.
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