The most valuable thing in Ahn Geungan’s collection was not the armour and weapons his ancestors left behind but the sword of Attila. One was a small military officer of a vassal state during the Ming dynasty, and the other was a king of Huns with a far-reaching name - Attila. This was the difference. The sword of Attila represented the glory of Attila and it was sure to create a global stir if he revealed it to the public!
However, the sword of Attila was gone.
The guests were still unaware that anything was amiss and they admired the items in the collection while showering the host with flattery.
Xia Lei, too, smiled and chatted with Shentu Tian-Yin while discussing a decree from the emperor of the Ming dynasty. This was just a cover, though. He was actually keeping watch on the changes in Ahn Geungan and Ahn Suhyeong’s expressions.
“What’s going on?” Ahn Suhyeong had discovered that the sword of Attila was missing too and he became nervous.
“I was about to ask you that.” Ahn Geungan’s voice carried anger and he seemed fit to burst with rage at any moment.
“I don’t know, I…” Ahn Suhyeong turned to look at Xia Lei and Shentu Tian-Yin. He recalled that he had brought them to admire his ancestor’s armour and weapons but he did not link them to the current situation.
Ahn Geungan lost his temper and he seemed to be losing it. “Everyone, quiet! Quiet!”
The guests in the collection room fell silent and all eyes went to Ahn Geungan.
Ahn Geungan spoke solemnly, “Please forgive me everyone, but do not leave this place.”
The bodyguards who had accompanied Ahn Geungan in had used their walkie-talkies to contact the other bodyguards and they rushed over quickly to block off the doorway of the study so no one could leave.
“What happened?” asked someone
“Why aren’t we allowed to leave?”
“Has something happened?”
Questions started flying around and the quiet was dispelled.
A bodyguard walked in and spoke softly in Ahn Geungan’s ear. “Sir, the guard in charge of watching the study has been knocked out. He’s in another room.”
“Dad, we’ve lost a few valuable pieces of the collection other than the sword of Attila,” said Ahn Suhyeong.
Ahn Geungan’s brows were knitted.
“Something’s missing?” said someone in surprise.
“Is he suspecting that we stole his items?”
“What a joke. Weren’t we all in the dining hall?”
“Who does he take us for?”
The guests buzzed and grew dissatisfied. Those who attended tonight were all movers and shakers and they were sure to be uncomfortable being kept in Ahn Geungan’s collection room like this.
“Please settle down!” said Ahn Geungan angrily, “Someone’s stolen my sword. The sword of Attila. That person may be among you, and no one’s leaving until I get to the bottom of this!”
“He’s taken us for thieves!” said someone angrily.
“What the hell, has he gone off his rocker?”
“Can’t he see who I am? To be suspected like this is ridiculous!”
The collection room was bubbling with noise and there was no calming it.
Xia Lei watched Ahn Geungan and Ahn Suhyeong’s reactions all the while. He was calm on the surface and looked like he was just observing something that didn’t involve him but his heart was beating nervously. It would be the worst case scenario if he had left any clues and if those were coincidentally discovered now.
He was a thief but he couldn’t help feeling a little guilty.
“How could this happen?” Shentu Tian-Yin was surprised. “Not just anyone can enter this collection room. Who can be so skilled?”
“I think it’s strange too. There’s passcodes and fingerprints, plus people watching. The person who did this must surely be a master thief. He might have had his eye on the collection for a while.”
“Master thief? Are there really master thieves in this world?” Shentu Tian-Yin laughed. “I’d like to see him. He must be very impressive.”
Xia Lei smiled to himself and thought, ‘He’s standing right in front of you, isn’t he?”
Ahn Suhyeong walked over and his gaze went to Xia Lei. He spoke investigatively, “Mr Xia, it really is strange. I brought you and Tian-Yin here and the most valuable item in my family’s collection is missing. Tell me, what’s going on?”
Xia Lei wrinkled his brows. “What do you mean by that, Mr Ahn?”
Ahn Suhyeong spoke coldly, “I don’t mean anything. I’m just asking. Everyone here is a suspect and I have to clear my suspicions of all of you.”
What he meant was ‘You have to give me a reasonable explanation’!
Xia Lei shrugged. “What should I clear up for you? Do I need to? To be clear about this - I didn’t ask you to take me to your collection room. I’d have no idea that your family even owned such a collection room if you didn’t bring me here. This is the situation, so what should I be helping you clear?”
Ahn Suhyeong’s expression darkened but he did not refute Xia Lei’s words. He’d subconsciously wanted to create some trouble for Xia Lei, going so far as to frame him. However, he’d found no weakness of Xia Lei’s to exploit.
Shentu Tian-Yin grew displeased. “Suhyeong, you mean that I am under suspicion too? Do I need to clear things up for you too?”
“No, no, no,” said Ahn Suhyeong. “I’m sorry, Tian-Yin. You know that I definitely don't mean that. I would rather suspect myself than suspect you. I can escort you out now if you wish to leave.”
“Lei, let’s go. Looks like it’ll be better if we stayed in a hotel,” said Shentu Tian-Yin. “I don’t want to stay here either after this has happened.”
Xia Lei nodded. “Sure, let’s go stay at a hotel.”
Ahn Suhyeong blocked Xi Lei’s way. “No, he can’t. Mr Xia can’t leave.”
Shentu Tian-Yin frowned. “Suhyeong, Lei is my friend. Must you do this?”
“Please understand, Tian-Yin. Look, the people from the banquet are here too, and they are movers and shakers in Korea. They would leave too if Mr Xia leaves. We could be letting a thief go if we let all of you go.”
“Fine, then I’m not leaving either.” Shentu Tian-Yin was annoyed.
Ahn Suhyeong tried to explain but Xia Lei said, “Tian-Yin, you should leave. Who knows, he might ask to do a body search later. I don’t mind, but you are someone of status and you cannot suffer this indignity.”
“What? A body search?” Shentu Tian-Yin grew more angry.
“Xia Lei!” Ahn Suhyeong was angry too. “What nonsense are you spouting? Who said that Tian-Yin was going to be searched? You’re a scoundrel!”
Xia Lei gave a dry laugh. He stopped using Chinese and spoke loudly in English, “I’m a scoundrel? I think you’re the scoundrel here! You’re treating us all like thieves! Every person here is of good standing - who do you think you are, the Korean president? You have no right to treat everyone like a suspect!”
Not many in the group knew Chinese but English was a language most of them knew. They were the elites of Seoul after all and English was a language which was more commonly used in their nation, so they were definitely more diligent about learning English than Chinese. Xia Lei’s outburst in English stirred the pot in the collection room. That’s right - they were all people of good standing so what right had the Ahns to hold them here for investigation?
Ahn Suhyeong had been making trouble for Xia Lei since he arrived in South Korea and adding to it too. It was now time for Xia Lei to make trouble for him.
It was disadvantageous for even Ahn Geungan, chairman of Shinyeok Group and with strong influence on politics, to offend so many movers and shakers in one go. He was also hoping that these people would support him in the next presidential election.
Ahn Geungan’s face darkened, his gaze one of an experienced old wolf.
Ahn Suhyeong was not as calm as Ahn Geungan. He grabbed Xia Lei by the collar and said coldly, “You will have a bad end, Xia Lei!”
Xia Lei did not resist but he spoke loudly in English, “Are you threatening to kill me? I’ll make a police report!”
The guests’ gazes went to Ahn Suhyeong and Xia Lei and discussion flew.
“Suhyeong, let him go,” said Ahn Geungan, “Everyone, I do apologise. I made the wrong decision in a moment of panic. How about everyone have a seat in the living room, where I will offer you some tea by way of apology.”
The guests’ anger seemed to settle a little. Ahn Geungan and Ahn Suhyeong brought the guests to the living room, Xia Lei and Shentu Tian-Yin included. A large group of policemen arrived in the living room in a few minutes and the police technicians took a look at the video surveillance. Some policemen surveyed the crime scene and some questioned the guests.
Xia Lei was obviously shown special attention. A police officer interviewed him in English and Xia Lei responded calmly. He had thought about the questions the police would ask and had his answers prepared in advance.
Xia Lei’s gaze went to Ahn Geungan as he answered the questions. Ahn Geungan had been in a call since he entered the living room and he was tense and worried.
Xia Lei was puzzled and he thought, ‘It’s just an ancient sword. Even if it is the sword of Attila it’s just an item to Ahn Geungan, a plaything. Even if it cost 200 million or one billion, this amount is nothing for someone like Ahn Geungan, isn’t it? So why is he so worried?’
Xia Lei suddenly remembered the abnormal weight of the sword of Attila.
Was the sword of Attila hiding some sort of secret?
“Lei.” Shentu Tian-Yin walked to Xia Lei’s side. “I regret asking you to accompany me to Korea now. You should not be experiencing trouble like this.”
Xia Lei’s train of thought was interrupted. He laughed. “It’s fine. What’s this compared to the trouble I’ve experienced?”
“You don’t have to accompany me to the groundbreaking ceremony tomorrow. We shall return to China once we are done there.”
“Sure.” Xia Lei couldn’t ask for more.
Just then, Ahn Geungan ended his call and talked a bit with a police officer before raising his voice. “Everyone, I am deeply sorry for inconveniencing you tonight. I do beg your forgiveness.” So saying, he bent in a deep bow.
Ahn Geungan had got to where he was today not because of luck but through manipulation and power. His bowing-apology appeased many of the guests.
“You may return, everyone. I shall be giving each and every one personal calls to express my apologies.” Ahn Geungan finally released them.
Xia Lei and Shentu Tian-Yin left.
Ahn Suhyeong did not ask Shentu Tian-Yin to stay. He glared at Xia Lei’s retreating back with eyes full of hate.Previous Chapter Next Chapter