Volume 4 –
Chapters 301 To 400
Chapter 318 – Humble Attitude
The most majestic and magnificent hall had a name – Ahn Retreat. It was where Ahn Geungan, Seo Soojin and Ahn Suhyeong lived, and also where they received important guests. There was no way Xia Lei would have been able to get close if Ahn Suhyeong had not led the way; Xia Lei was no important guest to Ahn Geungan or Seo Soojin.
Xia Lei observed everything as they approached Ahn Retreat – where the cameras were installed, where the guards were, hiding spots, the quickest escape route, and so on. He observed, and he considered his options.
Inside the Ahn Retreat, everything was valuable, be it furniture or ornaments. Rare woods, antiques, even the floor tiles were of the finest white marble. The degree of luxuriousness had Xia Lei taken aback.
Xia Lei put on an envious, jealous face and acted all humble. He did not seem like a promising young man, entrepreneur extraordinaire, but a backwards country lad who’d never seen the outside world before, just like Granny Liu in the story ‘Dream of the Red Chamber’*.
Ahn Suhyeong’s eyes were full of contempt, and he thought, ‘He’s a bottom-feeder from the construction sites indeed. He hasn’t seen the world. One hall is enough to make him so much in awe – won’t he reveal his commoner self then, if he sees Father’s collection room?’
Xia Lei’s poor display made a small look of disappointment appear in Shentu Tian-Yin’s eyes. She had hoped that Xia Lei would be more refined, more so than Ahn Suhyeong, because the man she wanted had to be the best, most outstanding man in this world. The Xia Lei she saw now, however, was worlds apart from what she had hoped for.
However, Xia Lei pretended not to see either Ahn Suhyeong or Shentu Tian-Yin’s reactions. He acted like he was admiring the antique ornaments in Ahn Retreat, or the fine art while he used his left eye to scan the whole place.
What confused Xia Lei was that he did not manage to find any collection room.
They went through the living room and Ahn Suhyeing brought them to a study. Xia Lei saw inside of it before they entered. There was a desk, shelves, a sofa, and a tea table made of precious red sandalwood. It looked like a normal study but Xia Lei felt it wasn’t normal after spotting surveillance cameras installed up in the corners of the room.
Ahn Suhyeong stood before the door and entered a passcode, had his fingerprint identified, then opened the study door.
While he was doing that, Xia Lei had swiftly plucked a button from his shirt and removed the tiny receiver from his ear. He threw both items into a potted plant by the wall in the study. He’d spotted a metal door behind the bookshelf and the detection equipment installed on it. If he did not remove the electronics on his body the equipment would sound the alarm when he got close, and he would not end up seeing the sword of Attila but a big group of armed bodyguards.
Ahn Suhyeong entered and went straight to the bookshelf. He reached out and pulled a book. A series of clicks came from the bookshelf and it opened, revealing the metal door behind it. Ahn Suhyeong went to stand in front of it and entered the passcode, then had his fingerprints matched, then stood in front of the dial combination lock to turn it and enter the passcode.
Xia Lei used his X-ray vision to observe the whole process. He had seen the two passcodes Ahn Suhyeong entered, though he had blocked the entering of the passcode so that Shentu Tian-Yin and Xia Lei would not be able to see. He had even used his body to block the turning of the dial, not letting them see it from any angle. Never in his wildest dreams could he have imagined that Xia Lei had seen his every movement, and even more clearly than he could see himself.
The metal door opened slowly, and they could see that it was a foot thick. It probably weighed at least a tonne!
The space behind the metal door was revealed. It was not big – only about twice the size of an average room, about 50 square metres. There were several display shelves and temperature-regulated cases. Many artifacts sat on the shelves and they looked old. In the middle of the room was a wooden platform with a wooden frame on it. A set of ancient armour hung on the frame, in typical Qing dynasty style. Under the wooden frame was a warblade and a sword, and both looked very old.
Xia Lei’s eyes were drawn to the ancient sword right away. It was the sword of Attila, and it looked exactly as it had in the picture his father had given him.
“Please come in, Tian-Yin,” said Ahn Suhyeong.
“Nn, this place is very unique. I’d like to go in and have a look,” said Shentu Tian-Yin.
Only Xia Lei could see things in the distance so clearly, and she could only see some of the larger items, and not so clearly either.
Xia Lei followed them in.
Beep beep beep, beep beep beep…
An alarm suddenly went off.
Xia Lei tensed up immediately and he screamed inside. ‘Was there something I’d missed? Did that trip the alarm? I’m in deep shit if I rouse Ahn Suhyeong’s suspicions.’
Ahn Suhyeong walked back and stared straight at Xia Lei. “What are you hiding on you?”
Xia Lei spread his hands calmly. “I don’t know.”
“I’m sorry, it looks like it’s me…” Shentu Tian-Yin said apologetically, “I have a transmitter on me.” She took out a small electrical device from her clothing as she spoke. “Ming-Mei gave this to me. I just have to press the button on it when I’m in danger and it will send out a signal, then my bodyguards will rush over to save me.”
Xia Lei let out a breath of relief.
Hurried footsteps came from outside the study door at that moment, and a voice speaking Korean came from over a speaker in the collection room. “Is there something wrong, Young Master?”
“No. Just a small accident,” said Ahn Suhyeong.
Xia Lei was shocked. It had taken just 15 seconds from the time the alarm had gone off to the bodyguards turning up outside!
Ahn Suhyeong walked over to Shentu Tian-Yin and said warmly, “Give it to me, Tian-Yin. I’ll put it outside and you can take it back when we leave.”
Shentu Tian-Yin handed the transmitter over to Ahn Suhyeong and he brought it to the desk. Once the transmitter was out of range of the collection room, the alarm stopped and the beeping went away.
“Suhyeong, your family’s collection room security can be compared to the security deposit rooms in banks. The things in there must be very valuable,” said Shentu Tian-Yin.
“Of course,” said Ahn Suhyeong, “Other than the ancestral artifacts, our… Um, never mind. I’ll take you to see my ancestral armour and weapons.”
If Xia Lei hadn’t been here, Ahn Suhyeong might have finished his sentence. In actual fact, Ahn Suhyeong would probably not have brought Shentu Tian-Yin here if Xia Lei had not bragged about an ancestral sword. Maybe he would have in the future, but not now, at least.
Men loved their pride, especially when they were courting women.
Xia Lei was also counting on this. His aim was the sword of Attila and he didn’t care about anything else. He could actually leave now since he already knew the location of the Ahn family collection room and the passcodes. He only needed Ahn Suhyeong’s fingerprints now to go on to the next step.
But Xia Lei still chose to stay on. Ahn Suhyeong was putting in so much effort to show off, so he should play along, right?
Ahn Suhyeong led Shentu Tian-Yin to the collection of armour in the room. Xia Lei followed right behind, sweeping his gaze slowly over the display shelves and cases on the left and right. He found that most of the antiques on the shelves were bronze, jade and porcelain, a large portion of which came from China, not Korea. The items in the temperature-controlled cases were mostly imperial edicts, ancient books, writing on bamboo and the like, all extremely valuable.
‘Just these ancient artifacts must have a value of over a billion. The Ahn family is powerful indeed. They must be much more powerful than the Gu clan’ thought Xia Lei.
“That’s nice.” Shentu Tian-Yin finally got a good look at the armour on the wooden frame and she gave sincere praise, “It’s been preserved very well. Looks like it can still be used on the battlefield. I think you’ll look very dashing in it, Suhyeong.”
“Heh heh…” Ahn Suhyeong laughed rather happily. All the effort he had put in was worth it to hear praise from Shentu Tian-Yin.
Xia Lei’s gaze went to the sword of Attila. The sword was simple, unadorned and not particularly outstanding; the blade even had some obvious notches. Only a single green gem was inlaid at the hilt, lending it some degree of ‘aristocracy’. There was nothing else about it that was special. If it weren’t for the Hun script for Attila on the blade and having seen a photograph of it previously, practically no one would recognise it as the sword of a ruler, used to fell countless foes for the ruler of all the Huns.
Xia Lei felt more settled after confirming again that it was the sword of Attila, and he started pondering his next steps.
At that moment, Ahn Suhyeong picked up the blade his ancestor had used and swung it around twice. He tapped Xia Lei’s shoulder with the back of the blade and said in challenge, “Mr Xia, this is a real antique. How is it compared to the sword your ancestor, Xiahou Dun used?”
Xia Lei laughed awkwardly. “Not bad. Looks like it can still cut.”
A scornful smirk appeared on Ahn Suhyeong’s lips. “Mr Xia, I recall you saying that your ancestor’s sword is bright and shiny, and can show one’s reflection. Do you think that is a real sword?”
Xia Lei reached out and pinched the blade with his fingers, then removed it from his shoulder. He spoke evenly, “I believed that my ancestral sword was the real deal before I saw your ancestral sword. But now that I’ve seen it… I find that mine is a fake.”
“Hahaha! I’d never believe that you would have a precious sword from the Three Kingdoms Period. You have to change your habit of boasting, Mr Xia. This is not a good habit.” Ahn Suhyeong continued criticising Xia Lei, intent on lowering Xia Lei’s value in front of Shentu Tian-Yin.
Xia Lei would have retaliated by now under normal circumstances but he put on a self-effacing act. “Yes, yes, I should change this habit. We’ve seen the armour and weapons. Let’s go, Tian-Yin.”
“I want to look at other things,” said Shentu Tian-Yin. Xia Lei’s performance today had disappointed her greatly.
Xia Lei shrugged. “All right. I’d like to go off now. Bye.”
Ahn Suhyeong was all smiles. He had won in this encounter.