Volume 4 –
Chapters 301 To 400
Chapter 305 – Love Trade
After some negotiations, Ning Jing and the other four experts finally threw off the yokes of servitude and were housed in a clean room. Ning Jing had even managed to take a long yearned-for hot bath and was as happy as a lark.
The sword of Attila and a million US dollars – each were enough to move the hearts of the White Hun Tribe. Dayetia was, of course, very satisfied with Xia Lei’s offer.
Xia Lei and Tang Yu-Yan were given rooms too but their rooms were not adjacent to each other – they were at least two hundred metres apart. Dayetia seemed to want to avoid having the two of them discussing anything and she had not only arranged their rooms to be far apart but also posted guards at their doors. Xia Lei and Tang Yu-Yan had almost no chance of communicating.
Dayetia personally escorted Xia Lei to the room she had arranged for him, then entered it with him.
“What is this, Chieftain Dayetia? We are setting off in the morning but you’re separating me from my companion. Are you still worried that we will conspire to escape? We Chinese are the most credible people and we will fulfil our end of the bargain since we’ve made a deal.”
“You and your friend are dangerous. I do not want you two together. We will depart tomorrow. Let me give you a warning – do not play any tricks, or your friend and those experts will die,” said Dayetia.
Xia Lei laughed. “You treat me as an enemy from the beginning. Why can’t you see me as a friend?”
“Friend?” Dayetia scoffed. “I do not trust men. Especially men like you.”
Xia Lei let the comment slide. “I’m willing to help you and let you see my sincerity.”
“What do you think we need?”
“Electricity and schools.” Xia Lei thought for a bit. “And machines. Machines for farming, for logging. You don’t want your tribe to be so backward, do you? It’s the era of globalisation now but you’re still living in isolation. You will all die out if this goes on.”
Dayetia gave Xia Lei a frosty look. “Do not criticise what you do not understand. The outside world has thrown away its traditions. This is not a good thing for us. But the electricity you speak of is acceptable. You can help us with this?”
“Of course. I am a mechanic and an electrical engineer. You have a river here so I can build you a small hydropower station and you can use electricity then.” Xia Lei smiled as he said, “This isn’t complicated, believe me. It can be done easily.”
“Why are you helping us like this?” said Dayetia suspiciously, “What do you want to gain from this?”
“Friendship,” said Xia Lei.
“Don’t try to fool me with this. I am not that sort of stupid woman you seem to think I am. Tell me – what do you want from us?” Dayetia suddenly thought of something. “You have designs on the treasure?”
Xia Lei laughed. “You have treasure here?”
“No,” said Dayetia, “Many treasure hunters come for those ruins but I can tell you for sure that there is no treasure there, just an ancient city from Attila’s time. It’s been over a thousand years. Anything of value there has been taken and what’s left are those stones.”
“Since you say I’m here for treasure, then yes. I am here for treasure. How about this – I build a hydropower station and install electrical lines, uh, I can also provide some appliances like refrigerators, kettles and the like. I can do all these in exchange for an archaeological chance to go into those ruins. How about it?” said Xia Lei.
“One day,” said Dayetia.
Xia Lei paused. “What do you mean?”
“I will give you one day’s time. You will be allowed to move about in the ruins, and whatever you find is yours. You must leave after this one day,” said Dayetia.
“Deal.” Xia Lei smiled and stretched out a hand to Dayetia.
Dayetia did not shake hands with Xia Lei. She turned and left.
Xia Lei retracted his hand awkwardly as he grumbled to himself, ‘She seems very opposed to males. Could she be a lesbian? What a pity.’
Xie Lei went out after Dayetia left and wandered around the tribe. Quite a few women commented on him and some even wolf-whistled provokingly at him. This made him feel like he was a timid, shy little girl and those women were bad men who were picking on him.
He saw quite a few men too but none said hello. They just looked indifferently at him and went about their tasks.
Xia Lei did not go far when Szlamy blocked his way. She had heard the rumours and had come running. Baby-faced Szlamy said nothing as she pulled him by the hand to her home.
Xia Lei’s aim in wandering about was to lure Szlamy out, but he put on a nervous, unwilling facade. He resisted as they walked, “What are you doing? Where are you taking me?”
“To my place, of course!” said Szlamy. She was straightforward.
“I’m not your slave. You can’t do this,” said Xia Lei.
“Who says?” Szlamy said fiercely, “Chieftain said she was giving you to me. What she says is law. You are mine, and don’t even think of running away!”
Their argument drew many women and quite a few of them made jokes at Xia Lei and Szlamy’s expense.
“Going to become a real woman tonight, Szlamy? Want me to help?”
“Szlamy, this Chinese boy is so skinny! You have to be gentle with him – don’t break him!”
“Szlamy, how about I trade you three goats for him?”
The women said all sorts of things and some very unsavoury things too. Even Xia Lei was red-faced as a man but he was gratified to know that his value had increased. He was now worth three goats, not one!
Szlamy didn’t seem embarrassed at all. She grinned happily and joked with the women, giving one the impression that she was really a newly-wed groom with a bride.
They went jovially past houses like this and Xia Lei was dragged to a wooden house owned by Szlamy. This wooden house was built by the river and flowers and plants were planted in the patch of empty ground in front of it. The fresh flowers in bloom were fairly pretty with the setting sun and the reflection of golden light sparkling off the surface of the river. The wooden house, flowers and river made for a rich and colourful oil painting. Add a big-breasted, baby-faced young woman and this painting seemed to have sprung from the pen of a Japanese comic-maker, tinted with some naughtiness.
Xia Lei was pulled into the house by Szlamy and he saw the compass on the wall right away. Fortunately, she had hung it up on a rope and not put a nail through it. It was not broken and looked exactly the same as when he had seen it last.
He had not felt anything special when he saw the Ming dynasty compass last but it was different now. He felt inexplicably stunned by it when he saw it again, because of the many secrets it held.
“I’ll get you some water. Take a bath, and we can begin,” said Szlamy. Her youthful face had a happy smile all over it.
Xia Lei came back to his senses and said a little nervously, “Begin? What?”
“Sex.” Szlamy giggled, “Don’t worry. I’m not like the other women. I’ll be gentle.”
Xia Lei was speechless.
Szlamy went to get water for Xia Lei’s bath but turned around after taking just two steps. “No. I’m a woman. Why must I do things for you? You should be serving me. Go get the water for a bath, then bathe me.”
“I’m not your slave, and not your husband either. You can’t order me to do anything. You probably also know that your chieftain and I are very good friends. I will help you get your sacred relic back and help your tribe build a hydropower station so you can have electricity. I am already your respected guest, so how can you treat me this way?”
Szlamy’s wrinkled brows raised higher and higher, and the happy smile on her face was gone, replaced by gloominess. She wasn’t very informed about all these, but Dayetia had specially told her not to be disrespectful to Xia Lei before she had gone looking for him. She had brought Xia Lei to her home without Dayetia’s permission so she didn’t dare do anything bad to him.
Xia Lei smiled. “But we can still be friends. You are an adorable, lively girl. I think we can be great friends.”
“I don’t want to be friends!” said Szlamy huffily, “The girls in the tribe my age all have husbands, and their own children. They all have their own families and become heads of their households.”
“You can have that too. You have so many men in your tribe. I’ve seen it. There are many young men,” said Xia Lei.
“I don’t want them. They can’t do anything other than farming. I like you. Handsome, healthy, good with a gun!” Szlamy got more excited as she spoke, then suddenly said, “How about… You marry me. You serve me and listen to me outside, but back here, at home, I’ll serve you and listen to you.”
Xia Lei was speechless.
“How about I draw the bathwater for you, and bathe you?” said Szlamy suggestively.
Xia Lei felt a headache coming on but he put on a hesitant face. “We don’t even have a base for our feelings to develop yet… This isn’t good. How about we date first and we can be together if we both feel like we’re suitable for each other.”
“Date?” Szlamy laughed. “Are you talking about doing those things? No problem! Let’s do it now!”
Xia Lei was defeated by her twisted logic and he bit the bullet as he said, “By dating, I mean love, not doing those kind of things. For example, I will give you presents and you will give me presents.”
“Give presents?” Szlamy blinked her large blue eyes at Xia Lei. “What present do you want?”
Xia Lei removed his watch from his wrist and put it in Szlamy’s hand. “This is a tactical watch that displays not just time but also points north, measures air pressure and wind speed. A marks-woman like yourself will find it useful. It is the most advanced and very expensive; 10,000 US dollars.”
“Wow, 10,000 US dollars… How many goats is that?” Szlamy’s mouth was open in awe and she moved the tactical watch about in her hands as she looked at it.
“Mm, I’ll be willing to give you more expensive presents, but you have to give me a present too.” Xia Lei glanced at the compass on the wall as he spoke.
“What do you want? Should I give myself to you?” said Szlamy.
“How can people become presents?” said Xia Lei, “How about you give that to me.” He pointed at the compass on the wall. “I like it.”
“Take it if you like it, hee hee.” Szlamy readily agreed.
Xia Lei kept his excitement in check as he retrieved the compass from the wall. He then said, “Well, I’ll be going back now. See you tomorrow.”
“Wait!” Szlamy abruptly blocked his way.
Xia Lei let out an internal groan but spoke calmly on the surface. “Why are you acting like this again? Didn’t I say that we should first date? Look, we’ve exchanged presents. This is a good start.”
“No…” Szlamy’s face suddenly turned red. “Those women will laugh at me if you go out just like this. My prestige within the tribe will fall. You have to stay here tonight. You can’t leave.”
Xia Lei let out a sigh of relief when he heard what she said. He thought she’d discovered that he’d come for the compass and was going to stop the ‘present exchange’, but he had not expected her to stop him for this reason. This was normal – Szlamy would not have hung it up on the wall if she knew the secret of the compass.
At that moment, a woman’s voice suddenly came from beyond the door. “What’s going on, Szlamy? Why is it so quiet?”
Szlamy suddenly started to make gasping cries of ‘ah, ah’ as she exclaimed, “You’re so rough… Oh…!”
Xia Lei felt right away that it was going to be a tough night.