“Three in total.” Qing Linglong took out a thumb ring from her storage item.
“This is ours.” Liu Meng pulled out a wine cup from her storage ring. Qing Qiaoqiao was mindful to let her handle the artifact, even if just temporarily.
“Let’s put everything together.” Li Yiming saw through Qing Qiaoqiao’s intentions the moment Liu Meng took out the artifact. He also brought out the armor he had collected.
“Let’s split it up.” Qing Linglong put the armor with the other two items. Things like this had to be done for a temporary team, since any unfairness in splitting up the loot would make future endeavors together much harder.
“A spell-blocking armor, a talent-enhancing ring, and a stamina increasing potion wine-cup. Mr. Li, I’ll let you choose first.” Qing Linglong checked the artifacts and gave the priority to Li Yiming.
“We’ve worked together for quite some time now, so just call me by my name. Mr. Li is way too polite,” Li Yiming grinned and said, “I’ll pass for this time, you go first.”
Qing Linglong frowned slightly. ‘Using courtesy to push his advantages?’
“Let’s give the armor to Linglong, the wine cup to Eyeglasses and the ring to Ms. Liu. Are we okay with that?” Since she herself did not claim any of the items, it made sense that Grandma Wang would be the one partitioning the loot.
“No problems with that,” Li Yiming answered when he saw the heads turn in his direction. Liu Meng, of course, did not object either, and all were happy with what they received. The real reason for Li Yiming’s abandoning the priority given to him was because he did not know much about the items at all. By forfeiting his privilege, in fact, just as Qing Linglong guessed, he was hoping for something valuable to be given to Liu Meng as a display of good will. In addition, none brought up the topic of the other group of guardians they had encountered back in the museum. It was already fortunate enough that a fight did not break out, and it was their own decision to not further push their luck.
“What do we do now?” Eyeglasses, who was the driver, asked after putting away his wine cup.
“Yiming, I want to have some time alone.” Liu Meng suddenly said.
“Alone?” Li Yiming was a little surprised.
“Yes.” Liu Meng answered with her head lowered: it seemed she had something in mind.
“I’ll keep you company.” Li Yiming caught the message.
“Well, we’ll be looking forward to our next cooperation then,” Qing Linglong smiled as she looked at the two: she had guessed Liu Meng’s intentions.
“Us as well. Eyeglasses, I’ll give this back to you.” Li Yiming took the transmitter out of his ear.
“Keep it. Maybe it’ll be useful again sometime. At least I’d hope so.” Eyeglasses waved his hand and said in a friendly tone. In survival domains, an extra friend meant an extra chance to obtain help. Besides, it was useless to Li Yiming for anything other than contacting him.
“Alright, thank you then,” Li Yiming accepted the gift without pretending at courtesy. “Can you drop us at the next intersection?”
The car made a brief halt by the sidewalk, and Li Yiming and Liu Meng disembarked with a dejected stare from Qing Qiaoqiao trailing behind them. The car slowly drove away.
“Is Li Yiming dissatisfied with the way we split the items?” Qing Qiaoqiao pursed his lips and said in a slightly sour voice.
“I think Liu Meng is just worried about losing her treasure.” Eyeglasses joked from the driver’s compartment.
“What treasure? I can tell. They aren’t even a couple.” Qing Qiaoqiao retorted, making her intentions clear in a daring manner
“It doesn’t matter whether you can tell or not. They’ll be a couple soon enough. You should give up.” Qing Linglong said without the slightest euphemism for the sake of her sister.
“Yiming’s a nice kid. I support you. You should fight for what you want, and even if you fail, at least you’ll have tried. It’s still better than the people who don’t even try and end up regretting it for the rest of their lives.” Grandma Wang caressed Qing Qiaoqiao’s head lovingly, as if she was her own granddaughter, and threw a sorry glance at Qing Linglong.
Qing Linglong froze when she heard what Grandma Wang had said and turned her head toward the window. She gazed at the landscape outside vacantly.
“What is it?” After getting off the car, Li Yiming could not wait to ask Liu Meng. His heart swelled with happiness at the thought of what might be soon to come.
Liu Meng stayed silent. She turned around to look at the car that was going further and further away and pointed at his ear.
“I already took it off.” Li Yiming swung his arm with the bracelet around it.
“How was my acting?” The air of playfulness suddenly came back to her eyes. Li Yiming could hear his own heart crack at the same time. ‘Looks like I’ve been thinking too much… ‘
“Alright, so what is it exactly?”
“I have an idea,” Liu Meng said capriciously.
“What?” Li Yiming lowered his voice and brought his head closer to her own. They seemed just like a couple having a sweet moment on the street plunged in the darkness of midnight.
“Is this thing really valuable?” Liu Meng took out the ring they had just received. It was a silver thumb ring with an encrusted ruby. The material itself did not look very valuable, so it must have been stored in the museum for its historical value. Unfortunately, Li Yiming did not go to the second floor, so he did not know much more about the ring.
“It’s something that’ll help improve your talent. It’s very valuable and typically you only get one after completing an entire domain.”
“Well, I’m saying that if we can find this in the museum, then we can…”
“You’re saying…” Li Yiming’s eyes suddenly lit up with eagerness.
“Yes. To put it plainly, this is simply something that’s been around for a while. We just need to go somewhere where we can find more of them, and you and I both know where that might be,” Liu Meng said with a self-satisfied raise of the eyebrow. Li Yiming’s eyes ran from her lifted chin to her neck, and to her collar. He looked at her lips that she so playfully pursed, at her white teeth, at her beautiful, inky hair, and her rosy cheeks. She would have kissed her if it were not for the fact that she had her eyes open.
“Why didn’t you say so earlier?” Li Yiming’s heart and soul trembled with envy at the sight, and he lost his ability to think coolly.
“Why would I? It’s not like we’re close to them, so of course we should try to keep as much as we can for ourselves.” Liu Meng poked at Li Yiming’s forehead with one of her fingers and scolded him like a wife scolding her wasteful husband. Li Yiming’s heart once again skipped a beat, and he enjoyed every instant of this heart-warming moment.
“Alright, well it’s getting really late. We should find somewhere to stay for the night and search for an artifact market within the city.” Li Yiming walked with Liu Meng toward the nearest hotel.
“Big brother Eyeglasses…” Qing Qiaoqiao said in a sweet voice while staring at him with her big eyes.
“Oh please, just spill it out. I’ve never been good with sweet food.”
“Can you look for where Li Yiming is right now?” Qing Qiaoqiao whispered to him after glancing inconspicuously at her sister seated in the back.
“Are you sure?” Eyeglasses took out his tablet and started using it while keeping only one hand on the wheel.
“Yes.” Qing Qiaoqiao said firmly.
“Hongyun Hotel. It’s not far from where they got off,” Eyeglasses said to Qing Qiaoqiao, who became visibly upset. “Also, they only checked-in for one room,” Eyeglasses added, completing his combo attack.
However, what actually happened within the hotel room was not nearly as suggestive as one would imagine it to be. After working hard for the entire day, between taking a knife blow to the back and flying in the air, Li Yiming fell asleep on the sofa before Liu Meng could even finish washing her face. Liu Meng carefully wrapped a blanket around him and stared at his slumbering face. She remembered how he had jumped to the rescue of Ji Xiaoqin.
“Would you do the same for me?” Liu Meng muttered.
On the morning of the next day, after quick preparations, the two left for the City God Temple of Shangbei, which was the location for the biggest market of antiques. They were going to look for ancient artifacts, but, obviously, real, valuable artifacts were not going to be easily accessible to all, and most of the transactions of such items would occur in select auctioning houses. With their hopes for obtaining a real artifact ruined, they would at least try their luck with small trinkets. After paying a painful price out of their wallet for the sake of time, they took the taxi all the way to the temple district. Since it was still quite early in the morning, some of the shops were still closed. However, the flow of people was already growing endlessly, and, after buying a breakfast consisting of sesame seed cakes and deep-fried dough sticks, they followed the crowd in the streets.
“Are you kidding me?” As the two entered the commercial district, Li Yiming froze and stood there dumbly while Liu Meng took a long sip from her soy milk that left her lips trembling from the burning hot feeling.
The two were staring at a stall with goods spread onto the ground. A man old enough to be their grandfather was keeping the “shop”, or rather, the tablecloth that was beneath the piles of trinkets and the small plastic bench on which he was sitting. He was reading newspapers which were covered with oil stains, indicating that he had probably just wiped his hands with it. On the tablecloth, one could find rows of small trinkets and other items, including comic books whose pages had turned yellow from age, porcelain wares with scratches and unorthodox colors, poorly carved wooden decorations, oddly shaped river stones, and, in a plastic basket in a corner, a pile of rusty bronze coins.
What attracted the attention of Liu Meng and Li Yiming was one coin amongst that pile. They could see it shining like an 80 watts light bulb.
‘It’s that easy?’ Li Yiming was not sure if he could even believe what he saw. He looked around and carefully approached the tablecloth. The old man, when he saw that a customer had shown up, dropped his newspaper.
“Hey boy, have a look, these are all precious items! The name of the Old Chen’s Shop is one that’s renowned on this street. You can count on me for quality and trust!” The old man smiled at the two. ‘A hot-blooded boy with a beautiful girlfriend. Just the kind of people for making good money. They’ll do anything to impress their girlfriend with just a little bit of… guidance. What a good day today.’
Li Yiming did not answer him. He handed over the sesame cake he had to Liu Meng and knelt down in front of the plastic basket. He picked up the single coin that was glowing and scrutinized it. It was poorly made, with the inscriptions on the surface damaged and illegible. He weighed it in his hand and found it to be too light to be made of bronze. Even to Li Yiming, who was not an expert, this was undoubtedly a low-quality replicate produced in one of these family workshops in the countryside.
“Ah, you have sharp eyes, young man! This coin is one of the most precious things in the entire shop! Look at that…”
Li Yiming picked up the flattened cigarette box that he found in the basket. “Three for ten yuan.”
“Haha.” The old shopkeeper smiled awkwardly, and he regretted putting the cardboard into the basket today of all days. “Do you want to look at something else? Look at this back scratcher made of bo-tree root! Look at the exceptional color! Come on, don’t hesitate to touch it, I’m telling you, this is the work of a grandmaster… “ The old shopkeeper picked up another item and tried to sell it to the two, but he was mostly looking at Liu Meng when he talked.
“Do I look like someone who can afford something like that?” Li Yiming interrupted him. “I’m just looking for a coin to hang on my cell phone. As Li Yiming said so, he took out his cell phone that was domestically made. It was almost as big as a brick, and the old man shuddered when he saw it.
“Ah okay, then take your time then.” The old shopkeeper had given up and picked his newspaper back up. Liu Meng brought a hand to her mouth to hide her smile.
“Well, I’ll take this one then.” Li Yiming searched the basket and only found one magical coin. He took out four yuan from his pocket. “I only need one, so I’ll give you four yuan for it.” Li Yiming was even nice enough to not bargain for a lower price.
The old shopkeeper opened his mouth to say something, looked at Li Yiming’s brick-sized cell phone and swallowed his words back. He simply took the four coins Li Yiming handed to him.
“Hey, can I have a red cord to hang it with?” Li Yiming happily put away the coin and said jokingly. The old shopkeeper seemed to have given it all up and quickly gave him one of the pieces of red cord that hung from his plastic bench.
“Thank you. Prosperity to you.” Li Yiming smiled when the old man gave him the red cord. ‘Wow, big-sized domains really do have big opportunities. And only for the capable!’
He exchanged a glance with Liu Meng, and both saw the eager anticipation in each other’s eyes for their adventure during the day.
Finally, a sensible, intelligent female lead in a novel where the MC is male. A sight as rare as the great panda. Also, tell me what you think about having an article/chapter published on the “wheres” of sundering nature (Shanghai, Lishui, Hangzhou, Ning Village), and the even the food. (Aren’t you curious about sesame cake and deep fried dough sticks?)
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