Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
Ning Li called her class teacher, Geng Haifan, to take the day off.
Geng Haifan was the language teacher of the senior year’s first class. He was also the language team leader for all of the seniors. He went to the inner state for a symposium a few days ago and only came back yesterday.
He understood Ning Li’s situation better than others because he had a 13-year-old daughter. So, he sympathized with Ning Li and tried to take care of her.
“Oh, right. Ye Ci said she was going to the Huatsing Cup finals at the city art center today. Are you taking the day off to attend the event?” Geng Haifan asked.
Ning Li paused. “Yes.”
Only then did Geng Haifan sigh a breath of relief.
Considering how much Ning Li had been through recently, it was a good idea for her to take a break. Besides, it might be an opportunity for her to repair her relationship with her mother and Ye Ci.
Geng Haifan had seen Ning Li’s perfect score test paper, hence he was not worried about her even if she skipped a few classes.
The mentality was the most important aspect for a senior-year student.
“Thank you, Mr. Geng.”
Ning Li hung up the phone and hailed a taxi at the school entrance.
Yunzhou’s city art center.
Right after Ning Li got out of the taxi, she saw Wei Songze waiting for her by the roadside, looking anxious and nervous.
When he noticed Ning Li, Wei Songze came over right away.
Ning Li cut to the chase and asked, “Where’s the painting?”
“It’s inside. Follow me.”
Wei Songze brought Ning Li inside.
There were twenty participants who made it into the finals and every one of them was given a room to themselves.
The two of them went into the room labeled ‘Wei Songze’.
Meanwhile, Ye Ci and Su Yuan were heading upstairs too.
There was also a middle-aged man in his forties behind them. He was the vice-president of the exhibition, VP Zhan Qing.
“Besides me and the other teachers in charge of the exhibition, Mr. Yu will also be there.”
Mr. Yu Pingchuan was the president of the exhibition.
Yu Pingchuan was the master of oil painting and a famous artist who had held countless exhibitions across the country. He was also one of the committee members of the National Exhibition Committee.
He loved traveling for inspiration, so he was barely in Yunzhou. He came back to Yunzhou this time for the Huatsing Cup finals.
“Lil Ci, if your painting catches Mr. Yu’s attention, your future will be promising.”
Ye Ci was nervous. “Thank you, Mr. Zhan, I’ll try my best.”
Zhan Qing smiled. “Mrs. Ye, you’ve raised your daughter into a talented person.”
The praise lifted Su Yuan’s mood.
“You’re so generous. It’s all thanks to your teachings. Besides, Ye Ci has put in a lot of hard work and I barely have to supervise her.”
After some chit-chats, Zhan Qing went upstairs.
Ye Ci and her mother returned to the room.
Then, Ye Ci stopped all of a sudden.
Su Yuan looked towards where her daughter was looking and asked curiously, “Lil Ci, what’s wrong?”
Ye Ci was a little hesitant. “I thought I saw Sister Ning Li.”
Su Yuan frowned. “You’ve invited her twice and she rejected all of them. Why would she be here? Besides, she doesn’t even have an invitation.”
Huatsing Cup was a high-class competition, where visitors were not allowed in without an invitation.
She believed she was mistaken after hearing what her mother said.
“I guess I’m seeing things.”
She then glanced at the sign with the name ‘Wei Songze’ on it and sighed.
“Let’s go, mom.”
“The competition starts at 10:00 a.m. I went to the toilet for a while and when I came back, the painting was ruined, someone threw paint on it,” Wei Songze said, looking irritated.
Ning Li sized up the painting.
The oil painting was about an old street block at dawn. A layer of warm sunlight shed over the buildings and the few pedestrians on the street, bringing out the liveliness from within.
It was a beautiful painting until it was ruined by a splat of blue and black paint.
“I was careless. I didn’t lock the door when I left.” Wei Songze looked at Ning Li with a pitiful gaze.
“What am I going to do, Sister Li?”
Ning Li grabbed the palette from aside. “No one could have foreseen this. It’s not like anyone can come into your room and ruin your painting.”
Wei Songze found it difficult to believe either.
“Yeah! I know right? There are surveillance cameras all over the place, we’ll know who sabotaged my painting if we can get the footage. If the culprit is this bold, does it mean that the surveillance cameras are broken?”
Ning Li reacted calmly. “Even if it’s functioning, it will be broken when we get to it.”
Wei Songze turned around and wanted to walk out.
“I’ll talk to the organizer about this!”
“Talking to the organizer won’t help. Why not wait for the competition to end?”
Ning Li started to mix the colors on the palette.
“We’ll know who did it then.”
Wei Songze scratched his head and came back to her.
“But Sister Li, there are less than 2 hours left to the competition. Even if we apply to present the painting last, we won’t make it…”
Ning Li sighed.
She had not taken up a brush ever since the accident that ended her past life.
She lifted the brush and said, “We’ll make it.”
The hall on the third floor.
The participants’ paintings were being displayed on stage one after another.
Every painting must be judged by seven judges. The scores from all the judges would be then compiled and the average score would be the final scores.
Su Yuan and everyone else was sitting below the stage, waiting for the results.
The judges were discussing and whispering in front of one of the displayed paintings.
“This one is good. The structure of space and the use of color are great. She’s not even 20 years old and he can already paint to this standard, what a rare talent.”
“I think this painting is better than the others.”
“Huh? Zhan Qing? If I remember correctly, you praised this Ye Ci before, right?”
Zhan Qing smiled.
“I did. She’s gifted at painting. I’ve only given her a little tip and she was able to improve a lot.”
Then, he looked at Yu Pingchuan.
“Mr. Yu, what do you think?”
Yu Pingchuan was a 53-year-old cultured man with a refined temperament.
He looked at the painting but did not agree with Zhan Qing.
“It’s definitely a good painting but the painter’s triteness is distinct and it lacks liveliness.”
One of the judges said with a chuckle. “Mr. Yu, your standards are too high. This painting can be considered as the best in this year’s Huatsing Cup.”
“Eh? Why are there only 19 paintings?” asked the other judge.
Zhan Qing explained, “One of the participants had a little technical problem at the last minute. It’s being fixed as we speak. It should be up soon.”
Below the stage, Su Yuan was chatting with the family members of the other participants.
“Mrs. Ye, it seems like your girl, Ye Ci is going to get first place.”
Su Yuan smiled gently and politely.
“The competition is still ongoing, so it’s still up in the air.”
“Up in the air? I see the judges praising her painting endlessly!”
“If she got first place, it would mean an express ticket to Xijing University. Mrs. Ye, I envy you for having such a marvelous daughter.”
The frustration that Ning Li caused in the past few days immediately disappeared as Su Yuan bathed in the endless praise.
At that moment, the door opened and Wei Songze came in with his painting.
Truth be told, no one held hope for Wei Songze’s painting anymore.
A good painting required extensive preparation and thoughts about how to create the structure. He told the judges that he wanted to do a last-minute modification but how much could he do?
However, when his painting was displayed in front of the judges, everyone was stunned into silence.
It was a painting about a city at dawn.
It was when the sky was the darkest before dawn and the urban jungle was at its most quiet state.
The painting was dark, the only warm color was the light at the horizon, vaguely casting its warmth over the city.
As though a restriction was torn apart by a crack, creating a tiny entrance for the endless life energy.
It felt like the dark urban jungle was going through reincarnation.
Yu Pingchuan stared at the painting in silence for a long while before he looked at Wei Songze.
“Who modified the painting for you?”