Arc 5 Chapter 5

 

***

She ran into the librarian as he came downstairs, but she didn’t seem to care much. This is because most students do not even know if there is a record room for influential families in the central library, but some students often come to see it for field trips.Elena went down the stairs and brushed shoulders with the librarian.

“That’s strange. No one else went up except your Highness and her maid…”

Looking at Elena’s back, which was getting farther away, the librarian muttered to herself. It was a very small word, but Elena heard it clearly. And she was as happy as a child that the librarian didn’t recognize her.

“The disguise is quite successful.”

Security guards and librarians working in the central library must be familiar with their names and faces after receiving portraits of high ranking aristocrats in advance. In other words, they knew Veronica’s appearance but did not recognize Elena as the same person.

“How long has it been since I’ve had this freedom?”

Elena felt liberated for a while. It was so comfortable now that she could do whatever she wanted, free of Leabric’s surveillance, oppression, and regulations. However, such feelings did not last long.

She realized that she was also pretending to be Lucia, not her true self.

“Let’s not be mistaken. It’s not freedom. Real freedom can only be enjoyed when revenge is over.”

Elena stepped into the plaza where the eve festival was in full swing, taking care of her excitement for a while. It was bright from a distance, but when she arrived near the square, it was as bright as day.

There is a saying that the highlight of the eve is the night market. It wasn’t wrong when she looked around the night market. An innumerable number of tents lined up, creating a street filled with food and entertainment.

“…!”

Elena’s expression, which was moving through the crowd, hardened. Anne was standing in front of her, of all things.

She wasn’t alone, but she was laughing and talking with a pretty good looking man, and judging by the feeling of awkwardness, it felt like they had just met on the eve.

“What should I do?”

There were so many people that it was not easy to pull out, so it was hard to go back.

‘Let’s not avoid her. If I can’t fool Anne, I’llbe caught any time.’

Elena, who chose to go head-to-head, walked confidently toward Anne.

“Ho-ho, you’re having so much fun.”

Anne’s eyes, covering her mouth and laughing, collided head-on with Elena, who was walking ahead.

“…”

In less than a second, Anne turned her head aside. She was busy talking in front of a stranger, but she seemed to not be interested in Elena.

Quickly.

Elena, who passed Anne like that, breathed a short sigh of relief. She was unknowingly nervous, but when Anne didn’t recognize her, she gained confidence.

“Let’s hurry.”

Elena hurried to the western square. Outside the main street of food and play, the western square came out. There were many exotic stalls. Among them, there was a place where students from the art department sell their talents to earn money.

In the Faculty of Arts, most of the students were the second son of a nobleman or the students who were admitted as scholarship students with sponsorship, so there were many who needed such extra income. The main clients were enrolled students from aristocrats or wealthy middle class who could afford them.

Portraits from famous artists were so expensive that it was difficult for even a nobleman to own more than one.

As a result, students in the arts department who were talented but had yet to build a reputation often sold portraits at low prices.

Elena looked from place to place to find the man who had suffered.

She endured the hassle of looking through the drawing papers on the easel to find the faces of the students in the Faculty of Arts. As a result, Elena was able to find the man she was looking for.

“I’m finally seeing him.”

Elena’s eyes, standing in the distance and looking at the man, were soaked with regret. The unordered orange hair, the old-fashioned single eyeglasses, and the suspiciously stiff expression that he was not angry at all… He was still young, but he was exactly what Elena remembered.

Unlike other art students who are eager to paint their clients’ portraits, his front seat was empty, perhaps because of his hard and difficult looking impression.

But Elena knows. How kind of a person he is.

“Laugh a little. That’s why I’m told loneliness suits you, Mr. Raphael.”

During her time as a queen, he was appointed as a court painter and became Elena’s painting teacher. The appointment of a young painter, who was only 21 years old at the time, as a court painter and being recognized by the imperial family was shocking enough to resonate. However, no one could refute Raphael’s appointment as a court painter.

Elena recalled his assessment from the public.

A painter who had changed the vein of painting for centuries, a pioneer in the Renaissance. In addition, there were countless modifiers referring to Raphael.

Raphael was a historical figure who was the starting point of the cultural movement in the Empire, where the imperial power weakened and the tyranny of the nobles intensified.

‘I was so fascinated by the emperor… I didn’t know what a wonderful man this man was.’

Looking back, Elena craved Cyan’s affection to the point where she was almost obsessed. Starting to learn to paint was also part of efforts to get closer to Cyan, who was artistic. When she put down her useless obsession and took a step back, she realized that this man, who was regarded as a painting teacher, was great again.

“Am I your first customer?”

“Maybe. Look at me and sit comfortably.”

Elena smiled as if she knew it would happen and sat down with her hips attached to her chair. She did not forget to sit diagonally so that she could see Raphael.

“How long will it take?”

“Two hours at most is enough.”

If another artist had heard of it, they would have cursed him as a swindler. The theory stated that portraits can be completed to a level that is worth seeing after more than four hours of hard work. But Elena didn’t say those words. She was familiar with Raphael’s natural drawing skills, and that he drew quickly, so she never spoke.

“I draw faster than you do, but this painting contains my lifelong efforts.”

Elena readily accepted.

“I’m glad it’s fast. What’s the price?”

“There is no fixed amount. You can pay after looking at the picture.”

Raphael held a pencil in his hand for the sketch. Every time his gaze went back and forth between easel and Elena, countless lines were drawn on the pure white canvas.

Elena looked at Raphael without any movement.

‘I need to get this guy.’

The real reason for visiting the place. It was to make Raphael turn to her side. He is the only current student who she hasn’t encountered so far.

However, three years from now, his <The Fall of an Angel> is released, and the imperial art world is shaken.

Naturally, Raphael’s paintings were traded for astronomical sums of money, and the paintings that were recognized as famous paintings fell below half the value, saying they were outdated.

Elena planned to prepare for the changing future in advance. To do so, she wanted to sign a contract with Raphael and have the right to publish and sell his work exclusively.

“It’s done.”

Two hours later, Raphael put down his paintbrush.

“Would you like to take a look?”

“Yes, I want to see it.”

Elena rose from her chair and approached Raphael’s back. Elena’s eyes deepened when she saw the portrait painted on the canvas.

‘It’s not his style I know?’

The colorful colors were pleasing to the eye, but it felt as if it were exaggerated, and the feminine feeling was somewhat alien. This is because beautification, a characteristic of the old-fashioned style of painting, was mainly this.

‘This is a picture of a client’s favor.’

Elena didn’t expect that the self-respecting Raphael would paint such a picture.

“Do you like it?”

If another young lady commissioned Raphael’s portrait painting, they would have been satisfied. It’s because people want to hide their inferior complex and make use of their strengths to the fullest.

“No.”

Elena was not an ordinary person. Raphael’s eyes, which were calm, shook at this unexpected reaction. 

“What specifically makes you not happy?”

“This is not what I wanted.”

“…”

“This portrait is a lie.”

Elena pointed to her portrait on the canvas.

“The woman in there, and your painting style.”

“…!”

When Elena pointed out the style, Raphael, who was expressionless, frowned. The style of painting is inherent to the painter. It’s impossible to be happy to trip that over.

“Am I the only one who feels that way?”

“…”

“What I wanted to see was your real painting.”

Raphael couldn’t refute that remark.

“Not the kind of painting that caters to other people to make money, but my painting. But I seemed to have wanted too much.”

Elena took out the gold coins and put them on the table.

She turned coldly away from the painting without even looking at it.

‘I didn’t expect this.’

Elena was upset as she said. In her memory, Raphael was a man who had a strong sense of pride in his painting and was united by his faith in art. A picture that did not contain the artist’s observational power and insight was not treated as a picture even if it was well drawn.

When she was empress, he was so determined that he scolded Elena, who only tried to capture her appearance.

Is it because of that? She was looking forward to seeing the portraits painted by Raphael all the way here. It may not be as good as it was in court, but she believed that Raphael’s painting could be a soothing agent for the body and mind and would make her feel tired of revenge just by looking at it. However, his paintings were disappointing.

‘You might not be good enough. Because you’re still young.’

Elena was really angry because he was so contradictory to what Raphael told her at the imperial palace.

‘It’s just a painting to sell to others. This isn’t right. He was even showing off the style that everyone else uses.’

Elena did not want him to paint a good street portrait, or a painting with soul. Instead, she wanted him to draw a picture that was a little sincere.

But now he was painting a picture that himself despised the most.

She was so disappointed.

‘Let’s go back for today.’

Raphael was necessary for revenge. But she didn’t want to see him today.

Raphael couldn’t take his eyes off Elena. Her face was half gone. Then Raphael came to his senses and ran and grabbed Elena’s wrist.

“Oh!”

When Elena looked back in embarrassment, Raphael was looking fiercely.

“Who are you?”

“Let go of me.”

“What the hell are you talking about, like you know everything about my paintings?”

Elena glared at Raphael who didn’t let go of her wrist.

“I told you. At least I can tell you whether it’s your real style or not, whether it’s a true drawing or not.”

“You’ve never seen my painting before, how do you know it? By what standards?”

Raphael was quite agitated. It was true that he also drew elements that the client would like in an ordinary and popular style. That way he can make money. He has not yet painted with his immature technique or style of painting. No, he didn’t. He has yet to fully establish his identity in his paintings.

But this woman was saying that Raphael’s paintings were fake. As if she had seen Raphael’s real paintings.

“Because it’s awkward. It’s uncomfortable. It’s too much.”

“…!”

“That’s the answer, right? Let go of me.”

Elena used her strength to shake off Raphael’s hand roughly. Then she stroked her swollen red wrist and looked back. Raphael, who belatedly realized that he had made a mistake due to his agitation, quickly spoke.

“Just this once. Can I have your name? I apologize for what happened a while ago. So…”

“Are you curious about that? Then think about that.”

Elena, who was offended, left coldly without looking back after leaving an answer.

When Raphael saw Elena moving away, he never thought of catching her. No, he couldn’t move a foot.

Elena’s words wandered in his mind. It was quite a while before Raphael’s mouth, which had been standing firm for a long time, opened.

“What was I drawing?”

 

Notes

N/A

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