Chapter 139 – Senior Brother

The Spring Festival arrived, and the Wei family members scattered all over the country, even around the world, knew that Old Master Wei valued tradition. Therefore, on this reunion holiday, they all flew back to the Wei family villa, regardless of how distant the journey was. After all, the entire world had now become a vast interconnected sphere, and they could easily take a few more flights if needed.

For the Wei family members, their only thought was to show their faces before Old Master Wei as many times as possible. Whenever Old Master Wei was in a good mood and revealed even a hint of favor, it was a treat for them.

Today was already the thirtieth day of the twelfth lunar month, and in the evening, it would be New Year’s Eve, the most important and grand festival for the Chinese people.

Because of this day, all the guest rooms in the Wei family residence were filled. It was fortunate that the main mansion of the Wei family was spacious enough; otherwise, with so many people returning at once, the Wei family wouldn’t be able to accommodate them all.

Of course, even if they wanted to make an appearance before the old master, they knew that the old master preferred tranquility. Unless it was a special occasion, they wouldn’t approach him, as it would likely do more harm than good.

As a result, the villa where the direct descendants of the Wei family resided wasn’t very noisy.

Even so, on the morning of the thirtieth day of the lunar month, Wei Chen and Chen Li set out. Whether it was noisy or not was one thing; the main reason was that they disliked the current atmosphere of the Wei family. Wei Chen also knew that Chen Li didn’t enjoy staying at the Wei family’s residence. So, they finished breakfast early and went out together. This caused Old Master Wei to miss them when he looked for someone early in the morning, leaving Housekeeper Zhang helpless.

Wei Chen and Chen Li headed straight to the city center’s shopping mall. Unlike the usual bustling mall, there weren’t many people today, but there were still a few groups shopping.

What surprised Wei Chen and Chen Li was that the art shop of Zhuge Yu was open. Although Wei Chen and Chen Li hadn’t set a specific destination for their outing today, they had come to this mall for the sake of the art shop. The fact that Free Spirit was open naturally pleased them.

As soon as the two entered the shop, the bell hanging on the door chimed. The store manager at the cash register saw the two entering and immediately came forward.

“Welcome, welcome,” the store manager said upon seeing them and quickly recognized who the two were. With a smile, the manager greeted them, “Welcome, welcome. It’s been a while since I saw you both. It’s been almost half a year, I think.”

“It has been quite a while,” Wei Chen replied, taking Chen Li’s hand and entering the store. “Are there any new materials?” Coming back urgently from the capital this time, Wei Chen hadn’t brought along the materials for Chen Li’s painting. This was also his purpose for visiting Free Spirit today.

“We do have some,” the store manager said. “A batch of new supplies arrived yesterday. Let me show you.” The store’s employees were on break, and currently, the store manager was the only one working. Thankfully, during this season, not many people would be browsing art supplies stores, so it wasn’t too busy, and the store manager had time to show Wei Chen and Chen Li the materials.

Free Spirit remained the same as before, with only a new batch of paintings on the wall. After Chen Li picked the materials he needed, without even paying, he became engrossed in the paintings on the wall. Zhuge Yu, with a wide reputation and connections in the world of art, had hung up works by internationally renowned master artists. Each painting had a distinct style, and what Chen Li saw before him was a world of vibrant colors.

If the last time Chen Li visited Free Spirit he saw the emotions of the painters, after several months of training under Zhuge Yu’s guidance, what he saw now was not just emotions, but also the artists’ styles and brushstrokes. He could even imagine the posture with which the painters held their brushes as they created each painting.

Because of this talent, Chen Li possessed a remarkably powerful skill that Zhuge Yu had discovered during his teaching.

Chen Li could reproduce other artists’ paintings down to the smallest detail. Both in terms of technique and emotion, a painting replicated by Chen Li would appear as if it had been copied, to the point that Zhuge Yu speculated that even the original artists, without careful scrutiny, might mistake the replica for their own work.

When Zhuge Yu was imparting techniques to Chen Li, he used a few highly skillful paintings for Chen Li to copy. The results astounded Zhuge Yu, who quickly destroyed those paintings. Since then, he never dared to let Chen Li replicate other artists’ works.

Zhuge Yu knew that once Chen Li’s copies appeared on the market, it would not only disrupt the market but also pose a considerable challenge to the original artists. Of course, Zhuge Yu never mentioned this to Chen Li.

Because Zhuge Yu was confident that Chen Li wouldn’t realize the implications behind this situation. Even if he did, Zhuge Yu believed that Chen Li wouldn’t replicate those works again. After all, Chen Li had a presence that surpassed these artists.

Returning to the topic at hand, Chen Li continued to gaze at the paintings in front of him as if in a trance. He silently absorbed the techniques portrayed in the paintings, standing still for a long time in front of each one, meticulously deciphering the rise and fall of each brushstroke. Soon, he understood them all.

There’s no need to worry that Chen Li’s learning is becoming too varied. In the end, he is destined for art. These techniques only enhance his painting skills. He’s a natural with a paintbrush; as soon as he picks it up, without any instruction, he finds the most suitable way to create each stroke, sometimes without even needing to think.

Finally, Chen Li’s gaze settled on a traditional Chinese painting. This painting seemed to possess a magical quality, drawing all of Chen Li’s thoughts into it. Everything around him seemed to fade away, leaving only this traditional painting in his eyes and mind.

With only black and white colors and a few simple but profoundly simple elements, the varying shades of ink created a sense of purity. Chen Li even felt as if he could hear the sound of birds chirping, with orioles singing as they emerged from their nests. His body and mind relaxed entirely.

Chen Li stood before the traditional painting for a long time. It was as if his feet had grown roots, making it impossible to move away.

Wei Chen noticed Chen Li’s change. He stood beside Chen Li, not disturbing him, silently appreciating the traditional painting in front of them.

Although Wei Chen wasn’t an expert and had no knowledge of painting, he was still a person with senses. Looking at the painting, Wei Chen felt a sense of tranquility washing over him. It was as if he stood in a quiet forest, surrounded by silence, with only a few birds singing melodiously. This serene environment relaxed him, making all his worries seem to vanish.

“This is quite a remarkable piece,” Wei Chen thought to himself. The painter of this artwork must be extremely skilled.

When Wei Chen inquired about the artist, he noticed there was no signature on the traditional painting. “This is a painting that my teacher worked really hard to obtain. You could say it’s the centerpiece of our store. There’s no signature because once people find out it’s the work of that master, our little shop would likely be swarmed. After all, the works of that master are quite rare in the market these days,” explained the store manager, who seemed to have perceived Wei Chen’s confusion. Of course, there were those who could recognize the master behind the painting just by looking at it, but collectors at that level genuinely respected the work and the artist. They wouldn’t resort to forceful means to acquire it.

Wei Chen didn’t inquire about the identity of the master. Instead, he noticed another word in the store manager’s explanation—teacher.

“I’m a student of Professor Zhuge, so Chen Li is my junior,” the store manager smiled and clarified for Wei Chen. “I’m Wu Zailin. I apologize for not introducing myself earlier.”

“Hello,” Wei Chen extended his hand for a handshake with Wu Zailin. He hadn’t expected the store manager to be Zhuge Yu’s student and Chen Li’s senior brother.

“Quite surprising, isn’t it?” Wu Zailin remarked. “I didn’t have big aspirations, and my teacher understood my personality. He didn’t expect me to achieve great fame, so when they needed a store manager for ‘Free Spirit,’ I came over.”

Wei Chen didn’t offer any specific assessment of this. Everyone has their own way of living. Wu Zailin might not be aiming high, but he was living an easy and carefree life, which could also be a different kind of success.

Time flew by, and before they knew it, it was already noon. Perhaps due to today being New Year’s Eve, Free Spirit had only had Wei Chen and Chen Li as customers for the entire morning. As noon approached, Wei Chen figured that Wu Zailin would be closing the store. He went to the cash register to settle the bill for the new materials they had bought that day.

Wu Zailin didn’t calculate the cost for the two. He simply said, “Consider this a gift for my junior. Although it’s not anything valuable, I’ll make up for it next time we meet.”

Wei Chen didn’t insist further, and after packing everything, he left with Chen Li.

Not long after they left, Wu Zailin closed the store and prepared to head home for the New Year. Since his family lived in the same city, it didn’t pose a problem for him to finish work and go home.

Wei Chen held Chen Li’s hand as they entered the underground parking garage of the mall. When they got into the car, Chen Li gazed at the painting materials on the back seat with a sense of confusion. He didn’t realize when he had gained a senior brother. Evidently, he had been so engrossed in looking at the paintings that he hadn’t heard the conversation between Wei Chen and Wu Zailin.

“He’s also a student of your master,” Wei Chen clarified, noticing Chen Li’s confusion.

In fact, under normal circumstances, after accepting a disciple, a teacher would hold a gathering, even a small one, to introduce the new disciple to the teacher’s other students. However, considering Chen Li’s situation, Zhuge Yu didn’t organize a dinner party. He simply informed his other students one by one, letting them know about the existence of this new junior.

Of course, Zhuge Yu had mentioned his senior siblings to Chen Li before, but at that time, Chen Li was engrossed in his painting and hadn’t paid much attention. So, the sudden appearance of a senior brother had caught Chen Li off guard.

“Oh,” Wei Chen explained, unraveling Chen Li’s confusion. After this clarification, Chen Li no longer dwelled on the matter. For Chen Li, having a senior brother or not didn’t hold much significance. After all, given Chen Li’s current circumstances, he wouldn’t actively interact with his seniors.

Anticipating Chen Li’s reaction, Wei Chen ruffled his hair, started the car, and drove out of the mall’s parking garage.

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I changed the art shop’s name to Free Spirit. (@_@)

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