Chapter 511: Encountering Familiar Faces
In the middle of the day, Tang Xiu met a happy Li Laoshan, but what made Tang Xiu at a loss whether to laugh or cry was Li Laoshan’s entire grand parade of 16 bodyguards in black suits and black sunglasses, who greeted and escorted him just as he came to hotel entrance. The scene was so strange that it garnered the attention of many people, thinking that there was a movie in the making!
“Old Brother Li, can you at least act low profile?”
Tang Xiu, who was wearing a casual outfit with a duckbill cap, added large black sunglasses on his face. Dressing up like that was mainly due to what had happened in the morning, when he accompanied his aunt, Tang Min, to stroll around shopping. At that time, he had to go through a bitter experience of being surrounded by tons of people. After all, this time was completely different than the days in past. Firstly, it was because the footage of him singing while playing the zither at the Shanghai University’s freshmen welcoming party, and secondly was because of his identity as the young divine doctor who rendered medical services at Star City Chinese Medical Hospital, which resulted in him becoming a celebrity.
No, that was not entirely accurate!
He was now even hotter than a celebrity! Because every person, be it an 80-years-old or a teenage, always greeted him as long as they were able to recognize him, asking for his signature and requesting to take pictures together. Moreover, the number was simply too big to count.
“Well, there’s nothing I can do about it, Brother Tang,” said Li Laoshan with a grin. “I brought Yuchang Sword with me, thus I’m afraid that people with crooked thoughts will come after it! By the way, it’s you that’s making me feel strange. Why are you looking like this? If I wasn’t familiar with you I really wouldn’t have been able to recognize you.”
“I dislike the fact that my appearance doesn’t look low profile enough, though,” Tang Xiu forced a smile. “I’ve been run in tough situations whenever I go outside ever since that footage of me giving medical services at the Star City Medical Hospital got uploaded to the internet. There’s always someone recognizing me whenever I come out. I really wish I could go to H country and have a facial plastic surgery or something like that.”
"Hahaha..." Li Laoshan burst into laughter. “I did watch the footage of you giving medical services at Star City Chinese Medical Hospital. I really liked it! Especially about the dialogue saying that you would donate money; it quite touched my heart. This old bro of yours may be a layman in medical terms, but I also have a heart! Hence, I donated 1 million yuan to the Star City Chinese Medical Hospital’s relief fund. Besides, the Star City Chinese Medical Hospital’s website has just featured thei relief fund page, and it’s really great. It’s transparent enough. Enough to make all donors with goodwill and intention feel relieved.”
“About that, it was kinda unintentional intention, to be honest,” said Tang Xiu with a smile. “Anyways, let us not talk about this subject anymore, alright? What about the upcoming underground auction? Where will it be held?”
“The venue is in a very covert place, you’ll simply be unable to imagine. Okay, follow me! There’s less than two hours away from the auction now. If we hurry up we’ll be able to get there before 2 PM.”
Yongding River! It was one of the main tributaries in the Hai River system in Beijing, as well as the largest river flowing through the city. And this very underground auction was going to be held in this river.
“Old Brother Li, are you not mistaken? Are we really going to take this small wooden boat to participate in that underground auction?” On the bank of a certain part of the river, Tang Xiu wore a strange expression as he gazed at the dozens of small wooden boats along with the burly men in black suits before him. Tang Xiu’s expression was that of disbelief when he asked.
“What do you think? You never expected it, right?” Li Laoshan grinned. “Every underground auction is organized by the Situ Family. This year’s trick is just similarly impressive and didn’t disappoint me. Do you see that rowing boat in front? I know them, and they also came to participate in the auction.”
Tang Xiu gazed to the front, as he nodded and sighed, “This is indeed impressive. The people from the Situ Family truly use their brains. Let’s go! We might as well go directly to the auction venue since we’re already here. I really want to see it.”
As Li Laoshan let out a faint smile and walked shoulder-to-shoulder with Tang Xiu to board the boat, the guards there stopped them. A burly man then checked Li Laoshan’s invitation and said, “Mr. Li, you can only bring three people on board.”
“I know!” Li Laoshan nodded and boarded the boat together with Tang Xiu. He motioned for two bodyguards to board as well, and then the boat moved toward the far side of the river.
About ten minutes later, the action venue finally entered Tang Xiu’s sight. He gazed afar at the wide river channel. There was a half meter high platform that had been temporarily built on the river surface. It was surrounded by a row of boats at its four corners, each of which was tied with iron chains, while the two of them were lined up to the shore.
“Brother Li, seeing this spectacle kinda makes me dizzy,” said Tang Xiu while shaking his head. He looked at a loss as he couldn’t help commenting with a sigh.
Li Laoshan himself felt rather novel as he chuckled and replied, “This is indeed interesting. Just look at those boats. Many people there look familiar, and a few of them are acquaintances. By the way, we’ll be late to get there, so I’m afraid we’ll have to take the back seats. But it’s all right, though. It won’t affect our bidding whatsoever.”
“I followed you just to look around and see the financial resource contests between you and that the guy who tried to get your Yuchang Sword.” Tang Xiu shook his head. “Besides, this auction probably won’t have many useful items for me. Anyways, if the funds you prepared are not enough, I can lend you some.”
“Ah, you’re joking with me, Brother Tang.” Li Laoshan couldn’t help laughing and grinned. “Though your Magnificent Tang may have made quite a lot of money recently, there are still many places that will need your money, so forget about lending me. Relax! I have prepared sufficient funds this time. If it exceeds the budget I’ve prepared, then I can still sell the Yuchang Sword at a high price.”
“Are you really willing to give it up?” Asked Tang Xiu with a slightly flickering expression.
“I’m reluctant to do it, to be honest. Each thing has its own value, but the gains won’t cover up the losses if we insist to buy it once the price exceeds its value,” answered Li Laoshan.
Giving him a thumbs up, Tang Xiu praised him, “For Old Brother Li to be able to let it go, you really are a person with good spirit. Pity that there’s no wine now, though. Or else I would have offered you a toast to you as a token of my respect.”
With a strange smile, Li Laoshan replied, “Who said there’s no wine? I dare say that someone will send us wine within less three minutes. Do you believe it?”
“Someone will send us wine? Really?” Asked Tang Xiu, surprised.
While pointing to several rowing boats, Li Laoshan smilingly said, “Do you see them? Those boats should be delivering teas, wine, and delicacies to the arriving guests. The people from the Situ Family have something in common, that is, they seek to get along with everyone and secure their favor, as well as paying attention to everything concerned. I heard that every underground auction makes its guests feel at home.”
Just like he said, a small rowing boat drew near their boat a few minutes later. After a stalwart man tied the rope, he cupped his fist to Li Laoshan’s group of four and said, “We welcome you to this Beijing Auction. Also, our Situ Family is currently inventorying the items that are going to be auctioned. If you also intend to auction something, you can take the registration form from me and give me the item. Then you will be asked whether you want to sell it or not after the item has been appraised…”
Li Laoshan took a rectangular wooden box from his bodyguard and handed it to the stalwart man. He filled in the form and signed the agreement entrusting the item to the other party before he took the tea and wine handed by the man. Along with it was a tray of fruit bowls, desserts, and some other delicacies.
“The arrangement set up by the Situ Family is great indeed. It’s just that I’ve also heard about the big families in Beijing, but how could I have never heard about the Situ Family among them?” Asked Tang Xiu in a whisper after the other party left.
“The Situ Family is part of the Occult Sect, and they only have a few clansmen. Even if the Situ Family boasts a colossal wealth and possesses deep network and connections, their family has never involved themselves in politics. Moreover, they always kept a low profile, thus they are not famous. However, don’t ever underestimate them, though. I dare say that the mid-sized families in Beijing are perhaps more or less the same as the Situ Family.”
“They are that powerful?” Commented Tang Xiu, surprised.
“For families who have managed to operate for 100 years, they have a very deep foundation; the Situ Family itself has been in the business for more than 100 years. Rumor has it that this family kept their existence hidden during turbulent times, which greatly averted the losses of the family. The torrential waves of the reformation time also didn’t have much impact on this family. Hence, never underestimate the Situ Family,” explained Li Laoshan.
As he spoke up to there, Li Laoshan toned down his voice and continued, “Brother Tang, you’re a martial artist yourself, so you should know that these families have more than just wealth in their possession, am I right? There’s another huge factor here, that is the number and strength of martial artists in their families. And I heard that the Situ Family is also one of the big families built upon the foundation of martial arts. Each and every member of the family is a top martial arts expert.”
“The guy just now has a rather good ability. Perhaps you’re just slightly weaker than him, Old Brother Li,” said Tang Xiu with a nod.
“Ah, don’t mention me, Brother Tang. I know my ability is insufficient and even disgraceful!” Li Laoshan looked embarrassed. “In normal times, I can barely deal with small thugs, but I would definitely be knocked down with three fists and two kicks if I were to encounter a genuine expert.”
Tang Xiu only gave out a faint smile in response.
Time passed by, and 2 PM finally came. More boats kept coming, the number numbering more than 100. In other words, there was at least 100 guests attending the auction this time.
“It’s almost time,” said Li Laoshan while touching Tang Xiu’s arm after he saw a woman in a crimson-colored coat, leather boots, and dress stepping onto the platform built in the middle of the river.
Tang looked up ahead and his expression suddenly turned blank.
“How could she be here?”
Tang Xiu rubbed his eyes and was finally sure that his eyes weren’t betraying him. The woman in crimson attire was Ouyang Lulu.
However, his astonishment was not over yet, for there was another person he had never imagined would appear here. That person was someone he was very familiar with. The one he once hated, felt hostile toward, and wished he could hit her.
“Brother Tang, my adversary is coming,” said Li Laoshan in a low voice while touching Tang Xiu’s arm.