Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
As the auction was held at a rather unexpected period, not many treasure hunters were attending it. Most of the people chose to stay home during the holidays, together with their families.
Out of habit, Li Du and his group arrived at eight o’clock at the location of the auction. He was surprised to notice that no treasure hunters had arrived yet.
He took everyone to search for a coffee shop. It would not be precise to say that the weather in Philadelphia was warm. Compared to New York, Boston, and the surrounding big cities, it was indeed warmer.
However, compared to Phoenix, which Li Du was familiar with, it was still cold. It was especially cold in the mornings when the grass that lined the pavements was covered in a snowy frost.
His breath came out in white puffs resembling a steam engine.
This triggered a memory of playing with his friends when he was in primary school. At that time, in winter, everyone would form a line and run around, exhaling with all their might so that their breaths would resemble the smoke from a departing train.
Thinking back about what happened twenty odd years ago, Li Du found that meaningful and could not help but smile.
Unfortunately, he would not be able to return to the past. In fact, he could not even reconnect with friends from primary school. With the demolition of his county, the old neighbors had all moved away.
Brother Wolf surveyed their surroundings and said, “Boss, there’s a coffee shop here.”
“Let’s wait inside, it’s too cold,” Li Du exclaimed. He exhaled a warm breath and it left his mouth like a cloud of white smoke.
They had their coffee and sat at their table until half past eight. Only then did they finally see treasure hunters arriving at the entrance of the museum.
There were few people, and they stood scattered near the door. They did not look like they were interacting. Each was doing their own thing, some rubbing their arms, others smoking.
After a while, more people came.
Li Du examined the treasure hunters who appeared to be strangers to him. Among them, he spotted two familiar faces. One of them was a man whose hair was combed back. They had met the night before.
Seeing that man, Li Du grinned and waited for the museum to open, feeling relaxed.
The man with the back-comb saw him but paid him no special attention. The night before, it had been very dark at the museum. With the poor lighting, the man had only noticed that Li Du’s group had quite a few strong men. He had not managed to see the men’s faces clearly.
The sun had risen and it was bright and sunny.
The museum auction attracted less than twenty treasure hunters. That was a rare sight for Li Du, based on all the auctions he had been to.
Initially, he did not give it much consideration, but now that he thought about it, it seemed like the museum administration had purposely chosen to hold the auction two days after Christmas. They had hoped that as few people as possible would attend the auction.
The museum had already undergone some cleaning. Once they entered, it became obvious there was little left at the place.
Treasure hunters hated to come to an auction and discover this. In fact, warehouse companies would not do that as it was against the auction guidelines.
A fat man whined with a grouchy face, “Look, buddy. I told you we should have stayed at home to play Call of Duty. Look at this lousy place, it has been cleaned up.”
“Sh*t, let’s complain about them to the Warehouse Auction Association. Why would we come? Do they treat us as trash collectors?” A treasure hunter who had a gold chain hanging from his neck said angrily.
The two of them were in a temper and they left after some scolding.
Li Du shrugged his shoulders and the treasure hunter beside him smiled. “So what if they complain about the museum, right? They will only hold the auction once and would not care about qualifying for future auctions.”
That was another reason why few came to participate in the museum auction. Watching the local news, one would know that the museum had undergone bankrupt eviction. Anything valuable would long have been confiscated by the bank or government.
Li Du grinned and said, “Of course, they don’t care about our complaints.”
The auctioneer seemed to have guessed already that there would not be much success at the auction that morning. He looked lazy and spoke slowly, “Alright, there’s a total of 68 rooms here, big and small. You guys know the rules. Every room will be an auction unit, so let us begin now.”
“For the big hall, the starting bid is one thousand dollars, who is interested?”
Hearing that, the treasure hunters laughed. “Starting bid of one thousand dollars? Are you kidding? There’s nothing left here except a bunch of rocks.”
“So there’s no value in the stone statues?” The auctioneer rolled his eyes.
A treasure hunter shook his head. “Those statues are not antiques. Two hundred dollars and I will clear this place.”
The auctioneer pointed at him and said, “This buddy here bids two hundred dollars. Is there anyone who will offer a higher price? Two hundred dollars once, two hundred dollars twice, I make the last call…”
The treasure hunters waved their hands, gesturing that they were uninterested.
The treasure hunter beside Li Du spoke up again and said to him, “Hey, Li, aren’t you going to give it a shot? These statues look pretty valuable.”
The man recognized him although they were not acquainted. Li Du was not surprised. He was considered famous in the treasure-hunting circle. It was normal for people to recognize him in Pennsylvania as well.
Li Du shook his head. He was not interested in that hall. Those stone statues were not old. He knew that since the little bug was uninterested in their Time Capability.
The little bug had become choosy. It would not just absorb any Time Capability. It would only want to absorb the Time Capability from things that have been around for generations.
“Two hundred dollars, OK. It’s yours now,” The auctioneer patted the treasure hunter’s shoulder and said, “Congrats, you won the first auction.”
The treasure hunter shrugged and said, “Hope that God blesses my win.”
“You should rather hope for Darwin to bless you,” another treasure hunter pointed at Darwin’s stone statue and laughed.
They staked their hopes on the next room but were disappointed. The next few rooms were empty.
Those rooms were worthless and nobody was willing to fork out even one dollar.
Then, they opened another room and there were some items inside. Seeing that, the treasure hunters perked up.
They turned on their torchlights and wore their glasses for a more careful look. However, they did not spot anything that was very valuable.
However, at least there were some items. That gave them a bit of interest. That room invited the first bid war and was auctioned off for three hundred and fifty dollars.
Another room was opened. It was full of items placed messily inside. Some toppled chairs were all bunched up together. The ceiling of the room was broken and there was a huge hole. It seemed like those chairs had fallen through the ceiling.
After seeing that, most of the treasure hunters shook their heads. There was someone, however, who was interested and joined the bidding. “One hundred dollars, I will take the risk to take it down for a look.”
Li Du also joined in the bidding. “Five hundred dollars, I want to take it down too. Perhaps God’s Christmas present for me is inside.”
That price deterred the rest of the treasure hunters. There was not much competition and the auctioneer pointed at him. Li Du had taken down that warehouse.
Although there were many warehouses, few joined the bidding. There was not much competition. Hence, the auction proceeded very quickly. They were soon done with the first floor and moved on to the second.
The man with the back-comb, who had been watching the fun with his arms crossed, shook his shoulders and sat up.
When the first room of the second floor was opened up, he peered in and then his face assumed a shocked expression.