The time was now 7.30 p.m.
In the distant Yan Capital, a quaint courtyard house was brilliantly lit. This place could be considered a political and cultural center where innumerable experts had left their marks. And right in the heart of its premises, a bespectacled young man sat in front of a screen, completely dumbfounded by the video he had just received. His eyes burned with passion.
“This is… a beast-head gilded cup?” He blinked in disbelief and adjusted his glasses. His heart began to race with excitement.
He clicked on the video and watched it closely. After ten full minutes of repeated scrutiny, he sighed in his heart and typed rapidly in the chat box, “The beast-head gilded cup… isn’t quite the same as the beast-head gilded agate cup. The agate cup is a national treasure, and there are few treasures that can be discussed in the same breath as that artifact. Nevertheless, this beast-head gilded cup is still something that would’ve been from the home of a general, and it’s quite difficult to pinpoint the exact value ascribable to it.”
Qin Ye immediately responded, “What do you estimate it to be?”
The young man deliberated for a moment, “The video you’ve sent earlier didn’t show any of the inner parts of the cup. However, I could tell that the condition of the outer portions is very well preserved. If there are no issues on the inside as well, this would easily fetch at least 30 million.”
Keep calm… Qin Ye took a deep breath, “Then, please take a look at the rest as well.”
“Please hold on.”
Back in Yan Capital, Master Bai was also incredibly excited. He was well aware of a seller’s mentality. The first item sent would usually be the appetizer, and the main course would usually follow behind. Therefore, he quickly dragged down on his scrolling wheel, and his eyes immediately stopped on the last video.
“This is… Tang Dynasty pottery?!” His voice went an octave higher in an instant. He shot to his feet and took several deep breaths while pacing the room before he could calm his wildly palpitating heart down. Then, he took another good look at the screen.
“What a complete, unblemished set… and it’s even a dragon and phoenix set to boot!” His eyelids throbbed as he took in what he saw with great ecstasy. About a dozen seconds later, he closed his eyes and ruminated on what he had just seen. Then, five seconds later, he opened his eyes again, gulped nervously, and looked at the other videos.
Two minutes passed. He finally finished watching the other videos, and the only thing on his mind was - Where the hell did such a big fish come from?!
These artifacts are worth well in the tens of millions each. How could this guy whip out four of them just like that?
“I roughly estimate the four artifacts to be worth approximately 120 million in total.” He suppressed the welling emotions in his heart and continued to explain, “The most expensive set here is the Tang Dynasty dragon and phoenix pottery set. That’s an incredibly rare artifact you have. We’re confident that it would sell for at least 40 million. That said, the Tang Dynasty pottery is still a burial artifact, and it’s difficult for something like that to go for an amount beyond 50 million.”
“The next artifact is the Hotan blood jade phoenix seal. It’s made of excellent quality and workmanship, and well preserved to boot. I estimate its value to be over 30 million. However, the determining factors surrounding this artifact can vary the price quite substantially. It first depends on which dynasty it comes from, and then who its holder is. The last and most important determining factor is who the attendees of the auction will be.”
Qin Ye typed, “I can understand the dynasty and the original holder of the artifact being variables, but the attendees of the auction?”
Master Bai immediately responded, “Most of our clientele are men. And as far as men are concerned, a phoenix seal would largely be kept as part of one’s personal collection or a keepsake. He wouldn’t be using it often. But… it’s not as though we don’t have female tycoons around here. True, blue female tycoons are by no means inferior to men. If you’ve got the luck to cross paths with such female tycoons… then there’s a possibility that this seal could become a hit, and perhaps fetch an even higher price than the Tang Dynasty pottery!”
Qin Ye’s eyes gleamed. But before he could even respond, Master Bai sensibly reassured him, “You don’t have to worry. If you entrust your goods to us, we’ll naturally get in touch with the relevant prospective buyers on your behalf. Major auctions have never seen a single item unsold at the end of it.”
“Next, let’s talk about the imperial green gemstone. It’s qualities are fairly decent, and I estimate its value to be in the region of twenty million. It’s the cheapest one among the four artifacts. Mr Qin…”
Master Bai sighed at his end of the terminal, “Would you be willing to entrust these four artifacts to Guardian Auctions? What I mentioned earlier was only our estimations. We’ll definitely engage our top auctioneer in the auction of these artifacts. I can guarantee that the final sale price would only be higher than our estimates, not any lower!”
Qin Ye took a deep breath and responded, “I need this sum of money quite a lot. That’s why I’m selling these artifacts. What if the final sale price is less than 120 million?”
“Then we’ll cover the difference from our own pockets!”
With that, Qin Ye finally understood the extent of their confidence. The reported price was evidently merely the reserve price, while the actual price of the goods would probably be in the region of 130 million.
“Alright.” He finally agreed. Back in Yan Capital, Master Bai sighed deeply with a wide grin on his face.
“Then… we’ll send our second maven out from Yan Capital in three days’ time. The full appraisal of your artifacts will be completed in a week’s time. Assuming all goes well, may we tentatively arrange for these artifacts to be sold during the fall major auction?”
“What he means is that your artifacts aren’t sufficient to become the mainstay artifact of the major auction. Otherwise, he would immediately arrange for them to be sold at the upcoming auction.” Arthis suddenly spoke up.
Qin Ye was taken aback, “An artifact worth over 40 million isn’t sufficient to be the mainstay? I know there’s an item listed on the website that had been sold for well over 100 million, but that’s in the very first auction of the year. Every major auction house would have to put on a show like that, while the summer and fall sales would be far lower in transacted values. I was thinking of participating in the summer major auction… but to think that the Tang Dynasty pottery isn’t sufficient for that…”
Yet his words drifted off midway, and he quickly furrowed his brows.
That’s right… if this were to be the mainstay artifact, why would they only send their second maven over here? Where is their first maven going?
“I’d like to participate in the summer major auction. As I said, I’m rather desperate for the money.” Qin Ye didn’t mention to him that he was currently residing in the City of Salvation.
But as soon as he typed these words, the other side went silent.
And it took the other side over ten seconds before he finally began to type his response, “Mr Qin, as far as the summer auction is concerned… I would highly recommend you not to participate with these artifacts of yours.”
Without missing a beat, he explained further, “Because there’s going to be a national treasure making an appearance in the auction house this summer. And it’s precisely because of it that we’re shifting the auction venue to a place outside of the Cathayan territorial waters.”
“Guardian Auctions generally conducts its major auctions within mainland Cathay. It’s only when a national treasure appears that we use our venue out in the high seas. Historically, this has only happened approximately five or six times. And news of this has already begun to spread. All of our Premium VIPs know what this artifact is, and most have already begun to raise funds for the auction. With all due respect, your artifacts may be precious, but… the treasure that’s appearing this summer is of the most profound historical significance. It’s in a completely different class from regular first class collections. If your artifacts appear in the very same auction as the national treasure… your artifacts might end up being priced downwards.”
In other words, most of those who were attending the summer major auction were there for the national treasure, and they might only give other treasures a token bid.
Master Bai continued, “If your artifacts can wait till the fall major auction, I can personally assure you that it will be made the mainstay artifact of that auction. The mainstay artifact usually fetches a price that is approximately 15% higher than our appraisal and estimations.”
Qin Ye gritted his teeth - 15%! That’s millions in float value! But… I can’t wait that long!
“There’s no need… I’ll have them sold this summer. Like I said, I need the money quite urgently.” He was practically on the verge of tears as he typed these words into his computer. His hands trembled incessantly.
It’s millions we’re talking about… how many skins can this buy…
Master Bai sighed deeply at his end of the terminal. He didn’t want these artifacts to clash directly against the mainstay artifact of the summer major auction if he could help it! After all, he’d seen his fair share of auctions, and he knew full well that the artifact being sold this summer was one of the most precious treasures ever auctioned by Guardian Auctions! In fact, none of the other auction houses has a comparable treasure at all!
“How about this.” After a long time, Master Bai typed, “We can… give you an advance of 60 million first… just to push back the auction of your artifacts to the fall major auction?”
Qin Ye was also thinking hard on his end.
If he could launch his golden trade route in summer, then it would take his potential partner one month to raise their funds, and then a further month for him to hand over his stock of Southsea Huanghuali to that person. This would take him all the way to the fall auction as well.
But this was contingent on his ability to negotiate the terms of this golden trade route in summer to begin with. In the very best case scenario, the billions he would be receiving for his stock of Southsea Huanghuali would arrive in his bank account by the end of fall.
That said, the crux of the matter right now was… that there was simply no way to go about his negotiations at all.
He would only be able to head out in fall…
“Alright…” He opened his eyes and sighed with resignation, “This gives me more time to make preparations after all. With this, perhaps I’ll be able to bring the entire stock of Southsea Huanghuali with me when I head out, and negotiate, transact and deliver all at once…”
He looked for excuses. Unfortunately, he couldn’t quite shirk off the resentment in his heart.
He could practically see the golden trade route in front of him right now. And yet, he was forced back by the circumstances time and again. With every day that he dallied on, Hell would grow that much more unstable, rife with unrest. The fact that Hell remained as desolate as it had ever been was the most heart wrenching sight to him.
Qin Ye had many flaws, yet the one good thing about him was that he was a man of his word.
So much so that he would feel like death if he were unable to stay true to his promises.
“Mr Qin?” This protracted pause was slightly longer than the others before, and Master Bai couldn’t help but probe anxiously, “What do you think?”
Qin Ye gathered his thoughts and furrowed his brows - What exactly is it that would dwarf prized artifacts like the Tang Dynasty dragon and phoenix pottery set?
“I’m a Premium VIP as well. I should have the right to know what exactly the mainstay artifact of this summer auction is, right?” He typed.
“Yes.” Master Bai paused for a moment, “Mr Qin, this treasure is truly exceptionally precious, and there are several tycoons, including some of our foreign Premium VIP account holders, have already come forward to register their interest. Even the government has caught wind of the news. Truth be told, the government is aware of every instance we shift the auction venue to the high seas.”
Qin Ye could tell that this was a silent warning to him. Master Bai was disclosing a hint of the authority backing him, implicitly telling him that even though he was going to disclose to Qin Ye what exactly the mainstay artifact was, it was strictly only for his ears.
After receiving Qin Ye’s tacit confirmation, Master Bai sent a picture to him. Furthermore, it was the type of message that would destroy itself after a single viewing.
Qin Ye opened it.
It was a piece of white paper. And on this white paper, there was a small bowl.
The bowl sat upright. Its entire body was dark blue in colour, and there were countless white spots on it, almost as though it depicted… the universe on its surface.
Qin Ye was mesmerized by its beauty with a single look. It was an indescribable beauty. The iridescent spots that were like little pea-sized puddles appeared as vast and distant as constellations in the sky. And this was only a broken piece of the bowl. Most of the other half was missing, and yet… it seemed to emanate a demonic presence that tugged powerfully at his soul.
“The Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl?!” Just then, Arthis’ voice called out, “Wake up!”
Qin Ye’s mind was a blur. Then, suddenly, like a shocking thunderclap, he shook violently and jolted back to his senses. It was only then that he discovered that his entire forehead was already percolated with cold sweat. In his stupor, he had gravitated closer and closer to the screen, until he was no more than an inch from the screen.
“What the hell is this thing?” He wiped off the sweat from his forehead and asked with a palpable sense of urgency.
Arthis didn’t respond immediately. Instead, she pushed him to the side and stared soullessly at the bowl.
“The Obsidian Heaven’s Eye Bowl… It actually still exists… They’ve actually found it… This is absolutely unbelievable!”
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