After the little bug had flown into the thick and heavy vase, Li Du was surprised to see that there was something in there!
It was the contents that had attracted the little bug. What it had seen was a bronze pot with a straight mouth and a long neck extending into a round abdomen, with short stout feet below.
There were two folded beams at the neck of the pot. One resembled a bird's beak and the other was a beast's head. There were rings around the pot's mouth, with corrugated lines. Between the lines were patterns of clouds. The entire design looked intricate.
Once the little bug had wiggled into this bronze pot, it opened its mouth to absorb its time capability.
Li Du quickly stopped it, and then made enquiries about several items in the shop.
The owner, who was an old gentleman with spectacles, spun a pair of walnuts around in his palm.
He could tell that Li Du didn't look like a collector of antiques, and so gave him cursory replies. When Li Du asked him about the prices, he would just quote the prices without elaborating.
After making one round, Li Du gave Hans an eye signal.
The two had been working together for a long time, and seeing Li Du's eye signal, Hans understood what he wanted. He looked at the vase at the door and asked, "Hello, elderly sir, I think this vase looks special. Is this antique Chinese porcelain too?"
The owner did not understand English, and so Li Du translated.
After listening to the translation, he gave a perfunctory smile and said, "Yes, it's also an antique. It's a Qing Dynasty double-eared lotus vase. If you like collecting Qing Dynasty antiques, this vase would be a good choice."
Hans asked, "How much is it?"
The owner said, "Fixed price: 10,000 yuan."
Li Du frowned. "Isn't this price a bit too high, boss? Since you're using this vase to keep the door open, it's obviously not a genuine antique. My American friend likes it. How about you offer a better price?"
The owner took a sip of tea. "Well, your American friend is really odd to be liking this stuff. To tell you the truth, this double-ear lotus vase is just an imitation of in the Qing Dynasty style."
Li Du said, "He likes big and heavy things. He probably wants to buy it to decorate his living room."
The owner pondered this for a moment. "Since you are sincere about buying it, I'll give you a sincere price: 2,000 yuan. This vase costs 2,000 yuan!"
Li Du said, "Reduce it by a little morehow about 1,000 yuan? You can use a chair to block the door instead, and earn an easy 1,000 yuan."
He knew that when buying antiques, one could not be too eager. If he acted as though he was too keen, it would arouse the other party's suspicion.
Sure enough, the owner did not seem to find the bargaining tiresome. He waved his hand. "DealI'll sell it to you for 1,000 yuan, but you'll have to move it yourself. I'm not providing any manpower."
Li Du nodded with a smile. "Okay, no problem."
After paying the owner 1,000 yuan, he released the little bug into the vase.
After flying in, the little bug manically started to absorb its time capability.
Lifting the heavy vase, he was ready to leave when the owner asked enthusiastically, "Your foreigner friend likes heavy things? I also have a Ming Dynasty Hongwu period gold-plated copper ear-shaped furnace adorned with cranes and boys. Do both of you want to take a look at it?"
Li Du asked, "How much is it?"
"I'll be upfront with you. This is a true-blue Ming Dynasty antique. Its market price is at least five million"
Upon hearing the price, Li Du decided to leave: to spend five million yuan on an ornament? He was not daft!
The little bug had only taken a few seconds to absorb time capability from the copper coins and seals. In the bronze vase, it took two minutes before the bug stopped.
As it stopped, its body gradually shrank and another pair of wings emerged on its back.
This way, its original four limbs with a pair of wings had become four limbs with four wings.
Li Du looked at the bronze vase; it had lost all its time capability. Its surface had lost all its sheen, and looked rusty both on the inside and outside. But because of the layer of porcelain, it still looked well-preserved on the whole.
As they walked along the road, Hans asked expectantly, "Hey Li, what's so precious about this vase?"
Li Du shrugged. "There is nothing special about it. I just like the pattern on it, and wanted to buy it for my parents to decorate the house with."
Hans looked at him suspiciously. "Just for this reason?"
Li Du handed the vase to him and said, "What else could it be? Did you think I've picked up some antique treasure? To tell the truth, I would like to, but it's really difficult."
This was no exaggeration. Although the market was big and offered many items, the shrewd bosses would not give others any opportunities to pick up antique treasures.
He continued to stroll around, and had almost visited all the shops along the antique street. There was nothing else that piqued his interest.
Since there was nothing in it for him, he drove off without any cares.
It had previously occurred to him that he could make use of the little bug's ability to pick up antique treasures at the market so as to make some money.
Being in their heyday now, the prices for antiques continued to rise. Even if he was only able to get hold of one antique treasure a week, he would still enjoy an impressive income.
That evening, however, he had a disappointing experience at the antique street. The street was packed. China had a huge population with many smart people; there were many such smart people in the antique market. As long as something looked a little valuable, they would try any means to determine its true identity.
For that night, the piece of bronze was an exception. It was not known why its former owner had made it into a piece of China, by adding clay to its frame.
Such opportunities were hard to come by; there might not be that many antiques which had been created this way.
After he got in the car, he got curious about the identity of the bronze artifact and started to conduct a search on the Internet.
However, after he had made a search using keywords relating to the bronze pot, no such images emerged. There was a similar item called "bronze pot with looped handle."
The looped handle pot was rather similar to the interior of the vase, except that it had an additional cover. It neither had the cloud pattern, nor the beast's head, although it had the same bird's beak at its mouth.
According to the introduction, this item had been classified as a first-level state-protected cultural relic. It had been produced in the late Shang Dynasty and the early Western Zhou Dynasty. It was a national treasure not to be brought out of the country.
As for its value? There was no specific value because no similar item had ever been transacted previouslysome had even doubted its authenticity.
Given that the little bug had absorbed such a huge amount of time capability, Li Du deduced that this bronze artefact that he had gotten was of the same era as the bronze looped handle pot in the National Museum.
It was a pity then; based on his experience, since the time capability in this item had been all absorbed by the little bug, it was doomed . . .
Having determined the identity of the bronze artifact, he was curious about the little bug's new ability after this round of evolution.
From having two limbs to having two wings and double wings, it now had four limbs and a pair of double wings. The three rounds of evolution had caused the little bug's appearance to change, as well as brought about changes in its abilityhe was looking forward to the little bug's new ability.
Back at the hotel room, he released the flying bug, and began to rack his brain, wondering how to discover its new ability.