The river breeze gusted by, bringing a sensation of coolness.
In the Linjiang Hall, the atmosphere was a little subtle.
Based on normal circumstances, this [A Walk in Early Spring] was very well drawn. Besides, the implication of the theme was also very excellent. For scholars who were inspiring to benefit and help the commoners, this painting contained a warning and a spurring significance.
But who were the people on the scene?
Everyone was either a noble or an extremely wealthy person. They were those who could just lie on the bed and wait for loads of money to enter their pockets. They might feel some pity for these commoners, but they usually wouldn’t take out their money for them.
Zheng Qingfang didn’t think of changing them for the better. He was already very happy that he had been able to squeeze some money out of their pockets to help with irrigation works, pavement repair, and supporting the commoners.
The second painting was opened; the character in the painting was a young girl!
In early spring, the sky was drizzling.
Outside the southern outskirts of the city, in verdant and lush surroundings, a young girl who was clad in goose-yellow robes held a large banana leaf in her hands, using it to block the falling rain. She was squatting beside the nearby creek and positioned the banana leaf to block the rain for those ants who were moving house!
A little frog leaped high in the air, jumping onto the banana leaf. The young girl’s eyes followed its trajectory and she stretched out one of her hands to catch it.
Because of this action, the entire painting seemed extremely life-like!
The instant surrounding people saw this painting, they involuntarily smiled. Their nervous feelings also relaxed immediately. It was as though they had melded into this painting and was standing in the spring rain.
The adorableness of the endearingly silly young girl and the pure innocence in her eyes... With just a glance, everyone felt an indescribable comfort in their hearts when they looked at the painting.
“I’ve seen this painting before!”
An old man stroked his beard and spoke.
“That’s right, I’ve also seen it before last year. Premier Zheng brought it over to my residence. At that time, I really felt like keeping it behind!”
“I heard that the girl in the painting was missing. Premier Zheng only had this painting because he was trying to find her!”
“Eh? Why do I feel that the girl in the painting looks somewhat familiar?”
The guests discussed.
Gu Xiuxun stared at Sun Mo in shock. She had seen the [A Walk in Early Spring] before and at that time, she had thought that Sun Mo had only managed to draw that due to a coincidence. She didn’t expect that his skill in drawing was truly unparalleled.
She knew of the incident when Lu Zhiruo had gone missing. Hence, with all the information above, Sun Mo was the only one who could have drawn such a vivid and lifelike papaya girl.
An Xinhui subconsciously glanced at Lu Zhiruo and compared her with the girl in the painting. Although they weren’t exactly the same, their charm and demeanor made it clear that they were the same person.
After that, An Xinhui had a look of shock on her face as she looked at Sun Mo.
“Aiya, is the girl in the painting this little doll from the Central Province Academy?”
Qi Mu`en exclaimed in shock and realization.
Lu Zhiruo had spoken out earlier, saying that she wanted to donate over a hundred tales. This was why everyone had taken a few glances at her. Qi Mu`en had done so as well, but only now did he realize this.
Everyone turned and compared Lu Zhiruo with the girl in the painting. In the end, they discovered that the resemblance was truly remarkable.
“Premier Zheng, it should be a painting of this girl, right?”
Qi Mu`en asked.
Lu Zhiruo was stunned, she stared at the painting dumbfoundedly. “I was thinking why does this look so familiar. So, the girl in the painting was myself?”
Seeing the endearingly silly look on the papaya girl’s face, several people couldn’t help but smile.
“Teacher Miao, out of everyone present, your drawing techniques should be the best. Could you please evaluate this?”
Zheng Qingfang asked.
Qi Mu`en didn’t know whether it was a misperception or not, but he seemed to hear a tone of ridicule in Zheng Qingfang’s voice when he spoke to Miao Mu.
Yet, Miao Mu inclined his chin slightly and had an arrogant look on his face. He then swept his gaze toward Sun Mo. (Do you see it? Even Premier Zheng thinks so highly of me!)
(Hmph, you want to talk about painting with me? Are you even worthy?)
(You are just a little bro!)
When Miao Mu’s gaze turned toward the painting again, he revealed a serious look filled with appreciation. He was going to take out his true capabilities.
“This painting should have been completed within 15 minutes or even less!”
Miao Mu spoke.
“Ah? It can’t be, right? Producing a famous painting within 15 minutes?”
Fang Lun was badly shocked. “Isn’t a famous painting something that requires time and effort to produce?”
“For a mysterious state like Wondrous Blossom, it depends on the artist’s feeling at that moment. Naturally, the longer they take, the easier it is for the feeling to come. It’s just like archery. After you fire a few arrows, the feeling would appear. That’s just how archery is!”
Miao Mu found an easy-to-understand comparison.
“Grandmaster Miao is indeed awesome. This painting was indeed completed within 15 minutes!”
After Zheng Qingfang said this, several people exclaimed in admiration.
“Being able to complete a famous painting within 15 minutes, that grandmaster’s skill is definitely extraordinary!”
Qi Mu`en was shocked. He then looked at the corners of the painting, wanting to find a name inscription, but he couldn’t see any.
“The composition of this painting is very simple, there’s no profound concept as well. It must have been purely produced because the grandmaster was in the mood. However, don’t think of this painting as something simple. It clearly displays the grandmaster’s concern, doting, and even love toward this girl perfectly.”
Miao Mu sighed. “This [Young Lady Spring Rain Portrait] gives off a feeling of pureness, not containing even a tiny bit of impurities.”
“Eh? So Teacher likes me so much?”
Lu Zhiruo was astonished as she gazed at Sun Mo. She suddenly felt that she was too stupid. Her aptitude was bad and compared to Li Ziqi and Ying Baiwu, her teacher would surely like them a little more. But from the looks of things now, she seemed to have misunderstood her teacher.
Sun Mo laughed softly and patted the papaya girl’s head.
Lu Zhiruo grinned. She instantly cast aside those distracting thoughts. (I don’t have to care about anything else. In any case, in my heart, I’m the student our teacher loves the most!)
Li Ziqi’s lips twitched. Intense envy suddenly rose in her heart. (I also want to ask Teacher to draw a painting about me! There’s no need for it to be a famous painting. It’s fine as long as Teacher is the one drawing it personally.)
Sun Mo was in deep thought. No wonder Miao Mu was so arrogant. He did have the capabilities to support his arrogance.
“There’s no need to think too much about this famous painting. There’s also no way for you to overthink things. It’s enough just to appreciate that pure sense of beauty.”
Miao Mu concluded and showed a thumbs up. “This grandmaster is truly very impressive!”
Everyone looked at the painting again.
The tender grass shoots had sparkling dew trickling down. Black ants crawled on the ground, and there were also wisps of smoke rising from the wet soil. Just by looking at it, the presence of the world in the painting seemed to gush forth, causing those who looked at it to be able to clearly feel this.
Indeed, upon looking at this painting, the chaotic emotions of the guests soon calmed down. The effect was even quicker compared to those famed incense or high-grade teas.
“Prince Li, what do you think?”
Zheng Qingfang asked.
Li Zixing’s expression had turned unsightly. This painting was no doubt a good one, but because of it, he recalled the son of his that had died a miserable death.
Although his son was useless trash, no, even if it was just a dog from his clan, it wasn’t up to others to deal with him.
“Haha, good painting!”
Li Zixing praised, but he had decided that if there was a chance to do so, he definitely had to kidnap that girl from the Central Province Academy and sell her away to countries extremely far away, making it so that no one could ever find her.
“Premier Zheng, I wonder who was the grandmaster that drew this painting?”
Miao Mu was curious because he discovered that the famous painting didn’t have a name inscribed on it. Hence, he could only ask.
Zheng Qingfang answered simply.
“Who? Is it that Gandalf who authored [Journey to the West]?”
“I didn’t expect that he would be a famous artist as well!”
“Eh? Top-level skill in both writing and painting? He’s actually an expert in two fields?”
The guests were shocked.
When Qi Mu`en heard this name, he was stunned as well. After that, he subconsciously glanced at Lu Zhiruo and followed her gaze to Sun Mo.
“This girl really worships Sun Mo a lot!”
Qi Mu`en mumbled. He kept feeling that this painting had some relationship to Sun Mo.
“Aiya, why are you guys so shocked? Could it be that you guys have never seen a painting by him before? The first painting, [A Walk in Early Spring], was also drawn by Grandmaster Gandalf!”
The guests were speechless. Earlier, who could have been idle enough to check for the name inscription? Everyone had been thinking about how to evade the matter of donation. After all, compared to giving out their own money, the identity of the painter wasn’t as important.
“Premier Zheng, I wonder if you are willing to part with this painting?”
Qi Mu`en was conflicted, but he still decided to ask. After all, he was also a lover of paintings. Since he had seen this, he didn’t want to miss out on it.
“Prince Consort Qi, you are asking for my life!”
Zheng Qingfang rejected.
“In that case, Uncle Zheng, since you were able to get two paintings from Grandmaster Gandalf, you must be very familiar with him, right? Are you willing to introduce me to him?”
Prince Consort Qi took a step back and settled for the next best thing.
Given his identity, there was no way for him to develop more in his career. Hence, he started to dabble in the arts.
“How about I give you a reply after I check with Grandmaster Gandalf?”
Zheng Qingfang didn’t reply recklessly.
“I’ll have to trouble you then!”
Qi Mu`en clasped his hands and bowed. After that, he grew agitated again. “Isn’t there one more famous painting? Quickly take it out!”
“The third painting should be the best, right?”
Fang Lun guessed.
“Earlier, everyone admired Grandmaster Miao’s Reverend Sanzang Painting and had high evaluations of it. Now, I also have a Sanzang Painting. Everyone, please feel free to evaluate it.”
After Zheng Qingfang spoke, the last muscular guy unscrolled the painting as a [Sanzang’s Journey to the West] appeared before the eyes of everyone. In an instant, everyone in the Linjiang Hall fell silent.
When they looked at this painting, they didn’t know what to say. Their focus was completely absorbed by the look of resolve shown on the face of Reverend Sanzang.
Was Miao Mu’s Sanzang Painting not good?
It was very good and could be considered a rare work. If there were no comparisons, it would be fine. But upon comparing the two, Miao Mu’s work was clearly two levels inferior!
Strictly speaking, Zheng Qingfang merely took out a simple portrait painting. However, the simpler it was, the easier it was for people to resonate with it.
Those on the scene, especially those older people, involuntarily sighed. Time was ruthless; their youth had already faded. Who among them didn’t wish to live for a few more years?
Honestly speaking, when the majority of people reached this age, they would be satisfied to just muddle through life without high ambitions. But after seeing this painting, their spirits suddenly stirred.
“Haha. Marvelous! Marvelous!”
An old man laughed loudly, stroking his beard. He stared at this Sanzang Painting. “This old man has long since wanted to travel to the west years ago to witness the magnificent view of the desert. However, I was worried I might die on the way there, hence, I’ve never done so before!”
“Laughable, how sad, how lamentable!”
After the old man spoke, he suddenly clasped his hands toward Zheng Qingfang. “Brother Zheng, please take care of this little brother’s clan for me!”
After the old man spoke, he laughed loudly and strode away vigorously. His lofty aspirations were ignited by this painting. He wanted to accomplish his ambition from back when he was younger!
“Eh? Father, father! You can’t go!”
A middle-aged man was anxious and wanted to chase after his father. His clan was able to have their current status due to his father’s influence and social network. If his father died outside, the influence his clan held would be greatly diminished.
“Little Zhang, don’t chase after him. Just let him go!”
Zheng Qingfang persuaded the middle-aged man. He had been acquainted with the old man for a very long time, but ever since he became an official in court, Old Zhang had never referred to him as ‘Brother Zheng’ ever again. Now that he had started to use back this term of address, it meant that his heart had really returned to those days long ago when they were young.
“Calm down! Calm down!”
Governor Fang kept warning himself that he mustn’t do any stupid things. Right now, he felt an impulse to quit being an official and pursue his ambitions when he was young of conquering famous mountains and great rivers.
“This is the power of famous paintings!”
Qi Mu`en sighed ruefully.
At this moment, everyone was immersed in a strange atmosphere.
In the past year, [Journey to the West] was wildly popular and sold greatly. Even the illiterate commoners had heard the story from storytellers.
When the frenzy was at its highest, let alone the inns of Jinling, there were even storytellers at the roadside tea stalls in the outskirts, singing the story out loud.
It was precisely because everyone had experienced [Journey to the West] before. Hence, after they looked at this Sanzang Painting, their feelings were exceptionally intense.
The Reverend Sanzang in the painting no longer wore a magnificent kasaya and looked like an eminent monk with fair and clear skin. He was now covered in dust, and even his white steed was covered in mud. He held the Nine-Ringed Staff and continued forward despite miasma and monstrous beasts blocking his way.
The colors of this painting weren’t gorgeous because of the greyish tone used. At first glance, one would feel a stifling and even depressing feeling. They would struggle in their hearts and feel uncomfortable.
However, this sense of discomfort would vanish like snow under the sunlight upon seeing Reverend Sanzang.
Sanzang’s gaze was resolute and showed an unwillingness to bow. It could peer through all fog and gaze at the western paradise!
Sanzang’s steps were heavy but holy. It was as though he could walk through a thousand difficult calamities and trample all dangers underneath.
Sanzang’s expression was filled with persistence and a lack of regret at leaving everything behind to head to the west for the sake of acquiring the holy scriptures. Regardless of how difficult the path before him was, no matter how far it was, he would never cower back.
Such will gushed forth from the painting, into the faces of everyone looking.
In life, there were troubles upon troubles!
Who wouldn’t feel weary in their life?
Sometimes, they truly felt weary and could only continue decadently. But after looking at the painting, an intense battle will ignited in their hearts!
“I feel that I’m 30 years younger!”
Li Zixing laughed uproariously.
(I actually started to feel anxious and even a little nervous due to the rise of the Central Province Academy? There’s no need to be afraid. I will definitely make the school belong to me before I die!)
Also, for the position of the throne....
Li Zixing’s eyes shone. He bit his lips. (Who says that I will never be able to sit on the throne in this life of mine?)
An Xinhui was someone intelligent. After her frame of mind exited from the painting’s concept, she glanced at the name inscription and was startled.
Why was it that fellow again? But upon thinking of it, the [Journey to the West] was also authored by Gandalf. It was only normal that he drew a painting for the main character in his novel.
It was unknown why, but An Xinhui directly looked at Sun Mo before winking.
Sun Mo helplessly shrugged. After that, he heard the system notification.
Favorable impression points from An Xinhui +1,000. Reverence (11,000/100,000).
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