Chapter 234 – The Person in the Rumors

The next day was the cultural exchange event organized by the Beijing Calligraphy and Painting Association.

This exchange event was grand, and it was held almost every year. Those who attended were well-known figures in the realm of Chinese calligraphy and painting, all with certain status. Everyone in the calligraphy and painting world who knew about this event hoped to receive an invitation to participate. It not only expanded their network in the calligraphy and painting community but also because this exchange event had an academic nature. It was a genuine exchange of skills, so anyone appearing at this event would undoubtedly learn a lot.

Early in the morning, Chen Li changed into the clothes he had bought the day before. Wei Chen had ironed the clothes, and they now fit Chen Li perfectly without a single wrinkle. He wore a tie with a diamond-studded tie clip, a birthday gift from Zhuge Yu on his last birthday. On his wrist, he had a watch that was one of a pair presented to him and Wei Chen by the Zhuge brothers on Wei Chen’s birthday. The other watch was now on Wei Chen’s wrist. His leather shoes gleamed brightly as they had been carefully polished. His usually messy and unruly hair had been neatly combed by Wei Chen and lay obediently on Chen Li’s head.

There was no doubt that Chen Li was well taken care of by Wei Chen. He had gained a few pounds and no longer looked as emaciated as before. Because of his large eyes and slightly pouty lips, the extra weight had filled out his cheeks, giving him a youthful, doll-like face. He didn’t look like a young man in his twenties anymore; instead, he resembled a teenager. Wearing the suit felt like a child wearing adult clothing, although it was a perfect fit.

“You look handsome.” Faced with Chen Li’s bright and inquisitive gaze, Wei Chen leaned down and kissed his lips, his eyes smiling.

Only then did Chen Li curve his lips and show a faint smile.

Wei Chen wanted to reach out and tousle Chen Li’s hair but, after looking at the neatly arranged hair, withdrew his hand and instead took hold of Chen Li’s hand, saying, “Let’s go. I’ll escort you to the venue.”

This time, the exchange event for calligraphers and painters was not held at a big hotel but in an art gallery. When Wei Chen drove Chen Li there, a few scattered people were already inside.

With half an hour left before the event began, Chen Li had no intention of going down at the moment, and Wei Chen didn’t hurry him. After adjusting Chen Li’s tie, Wei Chen said, “I’ll be waiting outside for you. If you really can’t stand it inside, come out, and we’ll go home together.”

This statement was Wei Chen’s support and confidence for Chen Li. After all, this was the first time Chen Li had to face so many strangers without Wei Chen’s presence. Whether well-intentioned or malicious, Chen Li couldn’t distinguish, so he could only rely on his instincts to cope.

But because of Wei Chen’s words, all of Chen Li’s nervousness and timidity had disappeared. He believed that no matter what happened inside, his Achen was there to protect him.

This change in mindset made Chen Li appear more spirited. His big eyes sparkled as he nodded and said, “Achen, I’ll do my best!”

“Go for it!” Wei Chen couldn’t help but lean down and gently said on Chen Li’s eyelids, “Li Li, I believe in you.”

Chen Li then took a deep breath and, as he was about to open the car door, suddenly pushed Wei Chen onto his seat, taking the initiative to give him a passionate kiss.

When the kiss ended, Chen Li still felt unsatisfied and pecked Wei Chen’s lips a few more times, saying, “Achen, please give me strength!”

Wei Chen was momentarily surprised, finding it quite amusing that Chen Li seemed to have borrowed a seductive move from a comic. Nevertheless, Wei Chen put his hand on Chen Li’s head, reciprocating with an even hotter and wetter kiss, saying seriously, “Alright, I’ll give you strength.”

Chen Li finally got out of the car with a smile on his face.

After a brief delay in the car, more people had arrived at the exchange event. As Chen Li was attending for the first time and was a new face, the other professionals in the calligraphy and painting field assumed he was a volunteer. They exchanged greetings and made their way into the art gallery.

“Xiao Li.”

Zhuge Yu’s voice echoed behind Chen Li. When he turned around, he saw that Zhuge Yu was already surrounded by several people. Their attitude towards Zhuge Yu was respectful, as his position in the art world was well known.

With Zhuge Yu’s voice, these people noticed Chen Li and had already guessed who this young person who appeared to be in his teens was.

Compliments began to pour in.

“Mr. Zhuge Yun, I believe this is your disciple, Chen Li, right? Truly a talent, so young and promising!”

“Yes, indeed!”

Although Zhuge Yu knew that most of these people were just saying polite words, he was still pleased because they were praising Chen Li. He had a cheerful expression on his face. However, he didn’t call Chen Li over. Instead, after sending these people away, he walked over to Chen Li’s position.

“How long have you been here?” Zhuge Yu asked as he looked Chen Li up and down, appreciating the difference in his attire. He complimented, “Xiao Li, you look really handsome today!”

Chen Li raised his eyebrows and said, “It’s Achen who bought this for me,” clearly complimenting Wei Chen’s good taste.

Unintentionally, Chen Li and Wei Chen displayed their affection in front of Zhuge Yu, the elder single gentleman. Zhuge Yu remarked that he had already built up immunity and waved to Wei Chen in the car, then turned to Chen Li, saying, “Li Li, let’s go inside.”

Chen Li turned to Wei Chen, giving him a parting gesture. Wei Chen responded with an encouraging look, and Chen Li then entered the art gallery with Zhuge Yu.

By this time, more people had entered the gallery. Zhuge Yu’s arrival caused a small stir, with people coming over to greet him and hoping to exchange a few words with him. They could tell that Zhuge Yu didn’t want to engage in lengthy conversations, so they refrained from bothering him.

Zhao Liyou, the president of the Calligraphy and Painting Association, noticed Zhuge Yu’s arrival and put down his work to greet him.

“Oh, Old Yu, I’ve been looking forward to your arrival for so long,” Zhao Liyou said with a smile. “I’ve been sending you invitations for three years, and you finally came today!” There was a hint of complaint in his tone.

“I happened to have some free time, so I decided to come,” Zhuge Yu replied with a smile.

Zhao Liyou had noticed Chen Li by Zhuge Yu’s side, and he looked at Zhuge Yu with a hint of disbelief. “Old Yu, is this your young disciple? I didn’t expect him to be so young, is he really in his twenties?”

While Zhao Liyou had known that Chen Li was the author of “Light” and a student of Zhuge Yu, during the Dream Cup, Zhuge Yu had kept Chen Li hidden, and Chen Li hadn’t even appeared when he received the award. So, Zhao Liyou had never seen Chen Li before, and he was quite surprised to see him now looking like a young man.

It was completely unexpected for Zhao Liyou that, prior to seeing Chen Li, he had assumed Zhuge Yu’s student would be at least 27 or 28 years old, given the level of skill and experience needed to create the awe-inspiring artwork “Light.”

“In his twenties,” Zhuge Yu proudly replied. Chen Li was the most talented person he had ever encountered, although he didn’t count the eccentric Chen Yunlan.

Thinking of that person, Zhuge Yu’s good mood quickly faded, but it was soon replaced by Zhao Liyou’s conversation.

Not long after, there was a commotion at the entrance, catching the attention of both Zhao Liyou and Zhuge Yu.

An elderly man wearing a navy blue traditional Chinese robe, leaning on a cane, walked in. The man was very old, with all-white hair, yet he exuded vitality. Despite the cane, he moved with great stability.

The old man had a serene and mysterious aura, as if he could ascend to the heavens at any moment. His appearance was benevolent.

This old man was none other than Sun Ruocheng, Master Sun. In the Chinese calligraphy and painting community, he was an absolute luminary. When he walked in, no one dared to make a sound. All eyes turned with reverence toward Master Sun.

The president of the Calligraphy and Painting Association was momentarily stunned before quickly approaching to welcome him. He hadn’t expected Master Sun to attend this exchange event.

“Master Sun, welcome. I am truly honored by your presence,” Zhao Liyou said.

Master Sun nodded to him. Although he had a kindly appearance, his aloof demeanor was evident.

Zhao Liyou understood that given Master Sun’s status, he couldn’t be expected to be approachable. However, in the next moment, Zhao Liyou’s mouth fell open in astonishment. He saw Master Sun walking toward Chen Li and ruffling his hair, with a smiling expression. The distant attitude he had displayed just a moment ago vanished completely.

Master Sun knew Chen Li? How did they know each other? This question immediately occupied Zhao Liyou’s thoughts. Of course, he couldn’t ask directly and could only quietly observe the unfolding events.

“Xiao Li, you look very handsome today!” Master Sun said.

Chen Li walked over and supported Master Sun without trying to please him, but with a faint smile, he replied, “Thank you, Teacher.”

Chen Li’s words were not too loud or too soft, but they genuinely reached the ears of everyone present.

What did the young man just call Master Sun?

The word “Teacher” held a significant meaning, and everyone understood it. This young man was Master Sun’s student!

But when did Master Sun take on a student? Wasn’t he estranged from all his students, except for Chen Yunlan? When did this young student suddenly appear?

Zhao Liyou was already astonished beyond words, and now, he heard this shocking news. He felt like his jaw was about to drop!

This youthful-looking young man was not just a student of Mr. Zhuge Yu, but also a student of Master Sun Ruocheng? How could this be possible? Mr. Zhuge Yu and Master Sun Ruocheng were from different generations, so if this young man were the student of both of them, wouldn’t it disrupt the hierarchy?

However, in the next moment, these shocked individuals recalled a widely circulated rumor that had been circulating in the art world recently.

This rumor was about the author of the Dream Cup Gold Award-winning work “Light.” It stated that the author of “Light” was named Chen Li and was a student of Zhuge Yu as well as a student of Master Sun Ruocheng.

This rumor had been circulating in the world of calligraphy and painting for quite some time, gaining momentum recently. Most people thought that some individuals were using the fame of Zhuge Yu and Master Sun to promote their own artwork, leveraging the popularity of “Light.” After all, the young artist named Chen Li had managed to fetch sky-high prices for his paintings.

It was essentially a malicious hype, and many people watched the spectacle unfold, expecting to see this person named Chen Li raise their own profile high and then come crashing down. However, those who had truly seen Chen Li’s artwork believed in his identity and were eager to obtain one of his pieces, which was one reason for the soaring prices of Chen Li’s paintings.

Nevertheless, Chen Li’s artwork was quite rare in the market, and very few people had seen it. “Light” didn’t count since the author’s identity had not been revealed during the competition.

So, when Chen Li and Zhuge Yu had entered, people’s attention had been focused on Zhuge Yu. As for the young person accompanying Zhuge Yu, they simply assumed he was a student that Zhuge Yu wanted to mentor and didn’t associate him with the rumored Chen Li.

However, with Master Sun’s sudden appearance, that young man who had been overlooked suddenly called Master Sun “Teacher”!

So, the Chen Li in the rumors was the young man standing before them with only a youthful appearance?

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