The next day, after Yujia had a pleasant evening and a good night's sleep, she woke up to an invitation. A messenger came by, apparently, with word from Zhou Luowei.
Zhou Luowei, now Madam Zhou since she was the wife of Bo Zhiyuan, was Yujia's first commission portrait subject in this world. Yujia was on friendly terms with her, going to one of her social gatherings before. At the meeting, she had met many kind and young ladies that were friends of Luowei. Yujia acted as an art instructor there, but when an incident occured, where one of the attendees, Rong Tianyu, fell into the pond, Yujia had saved Tianyu.
Even though that part of the meeting had been very unpleasant and terrifying, Yujia still found herself overall enjoying the company of those young ladies. It was nice to talk with other women around her age.
So, when the messenger came by with an invitation to attend one of their gatherings again, Yujia didn't hesitate for long before accepting.
Remembering how Luowei gifted her a beautiful set of silk robes, made of pale teal fabric and embroidered with glowing iridescent threads, Yujia decided to wear that along with the matching veil that came along with it. After placing jade hairpins in her hair, Yujia realized that the dark blue threads her Lingxin Pavilion pendant had didn't match the outfit very well, and without a pendant, the belt area looked empty.
She glanced over at her vanity table, realizing the best pendant she had was the jade pendant Zixu gave her. The green jade beads at the end of the pendant matched the colors of her robes much better.
With a small smile, she unclasped her Lingxin pendant and strung Zixu's pendant onto her belt. The Lingxin pendant could go in her pocket.
The gathering went well this time around. The banisters were fixed, so no one fell into the water, which was definitely a plus.
The first person Yujia was concerned about was Rong Tianyu, and if she had recovered. The good news was, it seemed like the young girl was perfectly healthy, greeting Yujia with a bright smile, lots of grateful "thank you"s, and plenty of gifts. Overwhelmed by the platters of things Rong Tianyu had to give her— it was close to the level of Yujia's business partner's, Bo Zhizhong, elaborate procession of gifts when he tried to apologize for nearly killing her with a horse— Yujia quickly rejected most of it, insisting that saving someone was something she should've done. Of course, Tianyu would not take a declination as an answer, so at the end of the meeting, Yujia ended up going back to Lingxin with many servants carrying gifts behind her.
Zhou Luowei was as soft-spoken and graceful as always, her presence soothing to be around. Sima Qianzi, the oldest member in the group, carried the discussion in an organized manner. Lu Feifei, the girl who had gone to Yujia to talk, with guilt that the entire pond incident may have been her fault, seemed to be on perfectly fine terms with Rong Tianyu again, the two of them showing no signs of cracks in their friendship. Feifei was also less shy now, opening up and talking a lot more in comparison to when they first met. And lastly, Luo Xiya and Jing Juan had lovely, vibrant personalities, so Yujia enjoyed interacting with them as well.
At the end of the gathering, Yujia left with a significantly improved mood, along with an invitation to come to their next gathering, only three days later, since it would be Jing Juan's birthday, and they all wanted to celebrate it.
Back at Lingxin, Yujia looked through all the gifts Rong Tianyu gave her. The one item that caught her eye was a calligraphy brush set. It wasn't like her courtyard didn't have good brushes for calligraphy, but the set Tianyu gave had such elegant matching parts that simply looking at the brushes, made of white jade, made Yujia want to become invested in calligraphy.
Usually, perhaps Yujia would've been more fascinated by the gift platter of small pastries and cakes, but she focused entirely on the brushes. She passed the cakes onto Yufeng, then took the brushes and went over to her master's courtyard, ready to ask him for some tips.
Upon seeing the set, her master also noted that they were fine brushes. However, before he gave her any actual tips, he pulled out a random topic out of thin air.
"So," he asked, leaning forward, a smirk across his face, "yesterday… when I sent you to fetch that paintbrush in the pavilion… which, by the way, I found under my desk. I didn't actually lose it… cough cough… Did you run into anyone interesting at the pavilion?" He raised his eyebrows up and down, but then coughed again, flattening his expression. "I mean," he pointed out, "not that I'm asking about anyone in specific… or that I set you up to meet with anyone… or anything of that sort."
Yujia knew where this conversation was going, covering her face with a hand. "Yes, Master. I ran into Senior Brother Yu."
He knew this. She knew that he knew it! He was the one who set it up, and here he was, acting completely innocent and even demanding some gossip.
"Hm?" Her master stroked his wispy white beard. "You don't seem all that happy about it? Do you not like him?"
Yujia looked up, in protest, "Of course I like Senior Brother—"
"Aha!" he interrupted, grinning.
"No— I meant like—" she hurried to explain, but then gave up, mid-sentence. Whatever. Let her master interpret how he would like to. It was hopeless and pointless to try to explain. Besides, it made him happy, and why would she deprive him of this happiness?
He continued smiling, tapping his chin. "I noticed that you returned rather quickly. Why did you not talk for long?"
Thinking about why they departed, which was that both of them had things to do in life, she realized that her master would likely be very depressed and discouraged to hear that. Yujia decided to entertain her master, going with a partial truth. "Someone walked into the pavilion and interrupted our conversation, so we had to go."
There was definitely someone, a random servant, who came over with a broom towards the end of their talk
"Oh?" His nostrils flared, seemingly taking great offense at this person. "Who is this insolent brat, interrupting conversations like that?"
Yujia, who didn't want to blame an innocent servant, blurted out the first name she could think of, at the description of insolence.
"Disciple Rong Yuan."
Holding Rong Tianyu's gift in her hand, Yujia did feel a twinge of guilt for throwing Tianyu's brother under like that, but the two of them were truly different. While Tianyu was bubbly, her brother was just downright annoying. The fact that he always tried to figure out where Yujia was at all times to follow her around, along with his persistent personality, and the reality that he even tried to bribe people to figure out her likes and dislikes, made it so that her impression of him really wasn't all that great.
"Ah, that kid under the old man?" Her master meant the current head of the school, Ye Yunhe's father. Yujia gave him a brief nod in response. "I'll chew him out later," he continued with a scoff.
On the inside, Yujia gave a silent cheer. On the outside, she gave a solemn nod, then prodded at the box of brushes. "Master, about calligraphy…"
"Right," he mused, turning his attention back to the brushes, "Kid, you really want to learn calligraphy?"
"I just want to have better penmanship." This was a fact— her modern-styled writing really didn't work well with a calligraphy brush.
Giving another look at the brush, her master then said, "You know, if you want to learn, you have to observe from the great masters first." He coughed. "You should… come with me to the library. There are some calligraphy works I want to show you."
Yujia's eyes lit up. She liked the idea of that.
Yujia should've known, again, not to be gullible. She should've known, again, that her master would never be up to any good.
She followed him to Lingxin's library, not thinking much about it. The moment she stepped aside, ahead of him, he suddenly gestured at a wall to the far right, telling her to observe the calligraphy on those shelves for now, without his guidance, since he wanted to talk to Yunhe's father about school matters temporarily, before getting to teaching her.
Leaving it at that, he closed the door and walked away. Yujia was now alone in the quiet library.
She walked through the shelves, familiar with the layout, looking for the wall and calligraphy that her master told her to observe.
When she arrived at the shelf, which she remembered to be the shelf with calligraphy works, she realized that she was facing the wrong direction. So, she turned around and reached over for the scrolls on the opposite shelf.
Without realizing that someone was actually on the other side, her hands brushed against warm skin. Yujia flinched, wondering who it could be, before looking up into the eyes of Yu Zixu.
And then, she mentally face palmed, realizing that she fell for her master's tricks, yet again.
Yue Ze walked away from the library with a very happy grin plastered across his face. He saw the face of Ye Xuanhe, standing on the opposite side of the room, and walked to reach over, gripping onto the shoulder of that old man. He muttered, under his breath, "You and I— let's get out of this building."
Ye Xuanhe looked at him with absolute exasperation, gesturing at the row of disciples in front of him. "I'm having class right now."
Yue Ze didn't care. He barely cast a glance at the disciples, saying, "Go have class outside, or something. I won't have anyone going into the library." He gestured at the door to the side of the building, which led to the library.
"Are you drunk again?" Ye Xuanhe gave him a frown.
Yue Ze crossed his arms. "No, I'm just trying to ensure that my precious disciple gets to have a perfect future, alright?" Seeing Xuanhe's puzzled expression, he quickly added on, "No need to ask what that means. Just get out of here. Not taking any risks of my disciple getting interrupted again. Which, by the way, any of y'all Rong Yuan?"
He turned his attention to the disciples, who shook their heads.
"Eh," Yue Ze grunted, then waved his hands for them to get out.
Very grudgingly, Ye Xuanhe took his disciples and exited the room. Yue Ze paused for a moment, the sly smile on his face appearing again. He then stepped to walk behind them, closing the doors himself and pulling out a set of keys from his pocket. With a solid click, the door to the building was locked, and Yue Ze was satisfied.
Ah. She complained about getting interrupted, didn't she? Well now, no one would be able to interrupt her. No one could even get into the same building. She could have her lovely discussion for as long as she wanted. And surely, she would appreciate that.
He would unlock the door sometime later. For now, there was some new imported wine that he wanted to try out— not that he would get drunk. He would be careful about what he drank.
Whistling, he walked away, spinning the ring of keys on one hand.
hehehe ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
long chapter 2k words! hope yall enjoyed. if u did, drop a vote and comment plsss <3
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