Chapter 18 - Stone Relief
“Welcome.” Chen Jiawang stood up with his professional smile and greeted the two middle-aged men who entered the tea shop.
“Oh? Nicely decorated. How about here?” One of the men, with very short hair and holding a large golden chain, said as he looked around.
Suddenly, the man laid his eyes on the golden flower that Chen Jiawang had transmuted and he was instantly captivated. Chen Jiawang, having never received instructions to throw it away, decided to put it on display on the front desk.
“Do you have a private room?” One of the men asked.
“I’m sorry, but the main hall is all we have…” Chen Jiawang answered as he scrutinized the newcomers. One of them held an item which was wrapped in a piece of black cloth. It had the size of a laptop, but based on the visible effort that the man was making, it seemed much heavier than one.
“It’s okay. We don’t have time to find another place,” The man with the golden chain said.
“Listen, we have a business meeting that requires privacy with no interruptions. Could we reserve the entire shop? Of course, if there are other customers, we’ll pay for your losses.” The man then turned toward Chen Jiawang and pleaded as he took out a pile of banknotes.
“Of course. Please, have a seat.” Chen Jiawang made the call to accept the proposition as soon as he saw a pile of banknotes.
“What would you like to drink?” Chen Jiawang asked as he presented the menu.
“Give me the best tea you have. Also, give us the best tea set. We’ll make sure to pay you for it.” The man who held the golden chain once again turned his attention toward the golden potted plant, while the other man looked around nervously with his item on his knees.
“Please wait a moment…” Chen Jiawang said.
During his many hours spent working in the service industry, Chen Jiawang had acquired the basic skills of observing his customers in order to find the best way to please them. He concluded that the man holding the golden chain was obviously someone who liked to show off, making him the perfect target to persuade into splurging money.
‘Tea… The best green tea we have… and the tea set… That guy seems to like gold… So I’ll give him gold. This will be the perfect customer experience…’ Chen Jiawang decided to create a tea set made of pure gold. Everything from the kettle to the cup to the small plates, was transmuted into pure gold.
As Chen Jiawang appeared with the irradiating tea set, the man holding the golden chain was shocked beyond belief.
“Is… Is this made of pure gold?” The man grabbed one of the tea cup and examined it closely.
“Please enjoy.” Chen Jiawang smiled and returned to the counter.
“I told you… Look at this cup…” The man with the golden chain said.
“Alright, alright. We’d make a joke of ourselves if we actually served tea in this…” His partner said, knowing gold was not a suitable material to make a tea set with. Chen Jiawang dove behind the counter, humiliated by his own lack of knowledge.
“Well, what do you know? What about the guy we’re seeing today… He’ll be surprised by this, won’t he? Even if he has spent many years working with ancient artifacts, I’m sure he’s never seen anything like this…” It was clear from his reaction that the man with the golden chain was completely obsessed with gold.
“Alright, enough about this. Did you give him the address?” The man who held the black parcel glanced at the window.
“Of course, he should be here soon. Come, have a taste of this Oolong tea, it’s good!” The man with the golden chain picked up the kettle and poured a cup for himself and his friend.
“This is green tea…” His friend sighed.
Just as Chen Jiawang was wondering for whom the pair was waiting for, another person entered the shop. Chen Jiawang’s eyes widened when he saw the newcomer. It was a man who was very short, with small eyes, a flat nose, and a large mouth. In short, he was the polar opposite of what Chen Jiawang imagined a professional appraiser to look like.
‘Who the hell is this guy?’
Just as Chen Jiawang wondered whether he should shoo the newcomer away, the man with the golden chain stood up and went to welcome the latter.
“Oh, what a pleasure professor Chen… Please, have some tea.”
“This is professor Chen Quan?” The man who held the black parcel asked, palpably shocked at the professor’s physique.
“How did you find a nice place like that?” Chen Quan stood at the entrance and looked around.
Out of ten, Chen Quan could give a seven to the wooden screen at the entrance, and an eight to the decorations for the shop’s interior. However, his opinion changed drastically when he saw the shining potted plant standing in a dusty corner of the front desk. He knew right away that it was not an ordinary item.
“Please, please, have a seat. So, are you satisfied with this place?” The man with the golden chain asked as he poured a cup of tea.
“This cup…” Chen Quan frowned as he scrutinized the tea cup. He could tell that it was made of pure gold the moment he picked it up.
“Beautiful, right?” The man with the golden chain said and winked at his friend.
“Yes, indeed…” Chen Quan licked his lips, put the cup down and turned his attention toward the potted plant. Knowing that even the tea cups were made of pure gold, the plant itself had to be an invaluable treasure.
‘Seriously? This luxurious for only a tea house? I’d be sneaking here at night if it weren’t for the fact that I don’t specialize in working with people who are alive…’ Chen Quan thought. After the conclusion of the domain on the Pandaria, he had lost part of his memories once again. Chen Quan concluded that it due to his having come into contact with something he should not have, or seen something he should not have seen.
As a result, Chen Quan stopped his work at once and changed profession. Leveraging all of his years of experience spent dealing with artifacts, he had made quite a name for himself in the field of artifact appraisal. Today, he was going to meet the man with the golden chain and his friend. The man with the golden chain was called Wang Youfa, and was a businessperson in the coal industry. To acquire a more refined taste, he had bought many items from Chen Quan, and sincerely believed in his appraisals.
“Allow me to make the introductions. This is professor Chen Quan, the appraisal expert I’ve talked to you about. This is Lao Dai, an old friend of mine. He just bought something a few days ago, and I would like to ask you to have a look at it.” Wang Youfa said as Chen Quan and Lao Dai sat down.
“Did you bring it?” Chen Quan glanced at the parcel Lao Dao was holding onto closely.
“It’s here.” Lao Dai put the parcel onto the table. He had been losing sleep over the item for many nights now, and he itched to know the result of the appraisal.
“Excuse me, could you please go put a sign at the entrance? Also, can you give us a moment of privacy?” Wang Youfa asked Chen Jiawang.
Chen Jiawang went to the front entrance right away and put a closing notice. When he came back, he peeked at the three men sitting around the table, only to see that Chen Quan had put on a pair of white gloves and was already examining the artifact with his magnifying glass and flashlight.
The object concealed by the black cloth was a stone tablet, which contained a rather poorly sculpted relief.
‘Are you serious? A piece of rock?’ Chen Jiawang completely lost interest and returned to the counter to play with his cell phone.