Masterpiece - Chapter 5
Chapter 5 – Getting ready to meet the guest
The duke raised the corner of his lips. Quixote had observed with interest the hostility and rigid countenance displayed by the artist.
Standing upright, a step away from the desk, eyes fixed squarely in this direction without wandering, and the hand that had clenched into a fist placed on his thigh immediately after the polite greeting.
A typical soldier’s attitude.
And a well-trained one at that.
“You must have gathered from seeing my mansion, but unfortunately, I haven’t decided on the scale, quantity, or types of artworks I’d like to commission. However, the compensation will be generous. For each completed work that is framed, you will receive two thousand stotinki. That’s two levs, to be clear.”
Duke Quixote extended two fingers from his clenched fist.
It was quite a favorable negotiation proposal—Couven had expected that he’d have to haggle for his worth. Still, he didn’t show any surprise outwardly.
When selling a single piece through an art broker, after deducting the brokerage fee, he usually received only around four hundred stotinki.
He had occasionally received commissions from nobility, and the highest fee he had been paid was approximately thirteen hundred stotinki.
So, the two levs proposed by the duke would more than cover the cost of necessary oil paints, brushes, and canvases. If he bought groceries, he could indulge in hearty meals of meat and ham for the next three months. Instead of hard and cheap stale bread, he could certainly splurge and enjoy freshly baked and moist bread.
The value he had roughly estimated while touring the mansion was peanuts compared to this offer. There was no reason for him to refuse such a good opportunity.
“…Very well. How do you intend to go about the frescoes?”
“You will set the price, but it cannot be exorbitant.”
Those amethyst-like eyes remained fixed on Couven. The artist stood in a formal posture as he responded.
The compensation offered by the duke was at a level that would allow him to escape the stifling poverty that had been plaguing him. Of course, he didn’t mind such treatment, but his mind was filled with complexity.
He was well aware of his exceptional artistic talent. However, the remuneration offered by the noble was beyond his comprehension, even from a rational standpoint.
To offer such a large sum without any conditions. What kind of person was he to bestow such favor upon him?
Had they met before?
“When you need to stay at the mansion for your painting work, you can use one of the empty guest rooms. If you wish, I can arrange a separate room next to the Wunderkammer for you.”
“Thank you, but there’s no need for that.”
No matter how much he searched his memory, he couldn’t recall ever meeting this person before. Moreover, he didn’t think he had exchanged a single word of hostility with this man before this negotiation.
Perhaps, without Couven’s knowledge, the value of artists had risen.
The artist understood the capricious nature of nobles, who were as easily swayed as a fluttering piece of paper in the wind.
Two thousand stotinki could hardly be considered a fair price for his labor. There would undoubtedly be great responsibility accompanying this unwarranted generosity.
He made an effort not to show any of his agitation and focused on the conversation with the noble. However, the duke continued to speak in a languid tone, as though wrapping up the reception.
“If there are any matters that arise during your work, we can discuss them as they come. I’m busy with my duties, so I’d like to conclude the negotiations here. Is there anything else you’d like to say or request?”
Couven recalled the moment he first set foot in the duke’s mansion, the discomfort and confusion he had felt in the hall just minutes ago.
“It might be off-topic, but please ensure that there’s thorough training for the staff.”
“…Surely, Your Grace didn’t call me here without realizing that I’m an alpha.”
The artist’s eyes gleamed like the sunset. The duke, who had tilted his head, leaned back in his chair. Seeming to signal to continue, Couven added his demands without delay.
“As soon as I entered the mansion’s entrance, the pheromones of the omegas residing here were undulatingly scattered. I could maintain my composure today because I took suppressants, but I don’t know what will happen during my rut cycle, even if I continue taking suppressants. I don’t want to be involved in unforeseen accidents beyond my control. If Your Grace also wishes to avoid unpleasant incidents between alphas and omegas, please enforce the consumption of suppressants among the omegas in this place.”
“Hmm, I understand. Anything else?”
“No, there’s nothing else.”
The duke straightened his body in the chair. It seemed he was ready to conclude the reception.
“I’ll assign a maid to guide you to my daughter’s room. Her name is ‘Vessia Quixote’. Do remember it well.”
Couven bid the duke a polite farewell.
After the artist’s brief words, he exited the study. The duke briefly showed interest in his footwork but soon focused on his documents and fountain pen.
What Quixote had been reading was a summary of Couven Wyeth’s background. It was necessary to know the information about the household’s employees who would be in and out of the mansion.
〈 Basic Information 〉
– Born: January 10th, Kilcullen, a remote border region of Carlingford
– Father (alpha), deceased; Mother (omega), deceased
〈 Education 〉
– Graduated as valedictorian from École de Beaux-Arts
(Note: No record of admission)
〈 Occupation 〉
〈 Military Service 〉
– Graduated as valedictorian from Milita de Puhég*
– Served in numerous wars for seven years
Among these details, the most striking was the artist’s seven-year military service.
It was an intriguing background. The duke tapped his chin in thought. He pleasantly pondered how he could make use of this card.
¹ Wunderkammer – A space where precious and rare items are gathered. ↩
* I’m not exactly sure about the correct spelling for this… In Korean it’s 퓨헤그 though ↩
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