Masterpiece - Chapter 1
Chapter 1 – Choice
“You may wait here.”
After the artist was led to a drawing room by a maid, she bowed as she said this. And as the maid was about to leave the room, Couven also bowed briefly back.
Another maid followed in with a tray. She placed a tea set down on the gilded mahogany table. High tea was served with desserts well paired with black tea, and the plates clattered faintly as they were set down.
Not immediately sitting down on the sofa, the man looked around the drawing room.
The walls had been covered with a pale, light blue hue, and each part that was carved had a graceful curve while painted with gold. And with sunlight streaming through the wide windows, which were framed with navy blue curtains tied to the sides, the chandeliers’ crystal-like surfaces reflected bright patterns all over the space.
Several swords adorned one wall, while in the middle, sofas and armchairs boasted of antique patterns of foliage. Then, beneath a large mirror was the lit fireplace.
‘This place, too, is empty.’
After taking in his surroundings, the artist finally sat down on the sofa.
Although this room displayed such remarkable splendor, this was the first thing that he thought of—that this place was empty. There were quite a few sculptures to be found in the mansion, but only a few portraits or fresco paintings.
He wondered if this was what ‘ducal’ mansions were meant to be. Its exterior was more magnificent than most castles could be, and with how extravagant it all was, one might think that the interior would house countless paintings as well.
There wasn’t even a single portrait of the family’s daughter, so he had absolutely no idea what she might look like.
[ My daughter’s name is ‘Vessia Quixote’. Keep that in mind. ]
He had no mental image of her whatsoever, so only the name that the duke told him about flashed through his head.
Warm steam rose from the teacup. Macaroons and butter cookies were placed on the dessert plates, while the vase containing flowers next to them created a pleasant visual harmony.
‘It’s the perfect composition for a still life piece.’
By the time his thoughts started straying, the artist heard distinct rustling sounds from behind one of the walls.
Here in the drawing room, there was one door that’s connected to a room beyond. It sounded like a conversation between at least two people, and one particular voice was raised.
“You’ll regret it if you go out as you are now, Milady!”
Even so, it wouldn’t matter how the person inside would present herself. The artist was not interested.
Since the servant inside mentioned the title, ‘Milady’, there’s no one else who’d be addressed as such other than ‘Vessia Quixote’, the esteemed daughter of this ducal household.
The artist had been summoned to the mansion as a painter, and all he needed to do was his job so that he could receive sufficient remuneration for his labor.
He picked up a cup that’s filled with tea. His hands were so big that just one was enough to wrap it around the teacup.
Then, the door opened.
Three people walked out from inside.
One woman, then one man.
Firstly, the man.
When trying to imagine what a nobleman might look like, this man had the visage that might first pop into someone’s mind. Dark blond hair, clear blue eyes that looked as if they were gems that contained fragments of the sky, and tightly closed lips underneath an angular nose. A long dimple hollowing out his cheek.
No. Let’s go over that again.
His golden hair was badly disheveled, his thin lips were smeared with bright rouge. Where his cravat should have been around his collar was gone, and the front of his dress shirt was completely open.
Then, the woman.
The duke’s daughter had smooth, pale skin, as though she was made of porcelain. Her dark green hair cascaded in waves, and her fine, drooping eyes looked straight at Couven. Her thick lips were smeared with bright rouge, just like the man.
What caught the artist’s eye next was down, lower, down the ducal lady’s neck and by her clavicles—stains. Perhaps because the noble lady’s skin was pale, but the dark red marks blooming all over stood out starkly.
Like specks of paint splattered upon a white canvas.
This was Vessia Quixote.
Only a second passed as Couven took in their appearance, but as he was completely shellshocked by the sight, he nearly let go of the cup in his hand.
Good grief. Take a deep breath.
He had taken a sip of tea at that very moment, and as it flowed down the wrong pipe down his throat, his adam’s apple bobbed up and down as the tea spewed back up.
The artist coughed for a long time.
“I, beg, your pardon.”
Veins started popping out on his throat as tears flowed out little by little. He couldn’t breathe properly because of all the coughing, and because of this, the artist’s face turned as red as his hair.
He wanted to fix his blunder right away, but the stinging in his throat refused to abate.
Vessia clicked her tongue. As she let out a curse word, it was clear that she was far from pleased with this situation.
The man standing next to the noble lady bit his lower lip. He looked perplexed.
Why was this happening?
Why, of all things, was something like this happening in Vessia’s drawing room?
To know the reason behind this, it’s necessary to go back to some time in the past…
* * *
Couven was washing his hands with water from a basin when he heard someone knocking on the door. At the sound, he looked up. Then, shaking off the droplets from his hands, he walked towards the front door.
“Who is it?”
Without even opening the door, he asked who it was on the other side. There was no reply. Instead, an envelope slipped in through the gap underneath the front door.
Confused, Couven eventually opened the door.
He looked left and right, casting his gaze upon places where the person might have gone to.
Yet there was no one there. Even when he tried looking further away, he couldn’t find who it could have been. Like the morning dew, the person who came here evaporated just like that.
To get quickly away from this filthy, deplorable domain of an ‘alpha’.
Through his red hair, the artist scratched his head as he closed the door. He then wiped off the lingering moisture on his hands on the smock he was wearing before picking up the envelope on the floor.
Couven grabbed the mysterious letter and headed back to his studio.
Flipping over the envelope, he saw two names denoting the sender and the recipient. Of course, the recipient was him, ‘Couven Wyeth’, while the sender was ‘Duke Alevi Quixote’.
The letter had been sealed with purple wax, and embossed upon it was the coat of arms of the ducal household.
¹ fresco – one of the techniques used for painting murals. It involves applying paint to a freshly laid plaster wall before it dries completely ↩
t/n: hiya, yonnee here~ i picked up this novel elsewhere about a month ago, but i figured that it would just be so much easier to keep it here anyhow ^^;; hope you guys enjoy this one~ regular content/trigger warnings apply as per the usual korean r-19! iykyk
updates will be sporadic for the meantime, but i’ll keep things regular once i’ve gotten into the groove of this story
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