Chapter 32: Old Ma’s Antique Shop

“Mei’er, what exactly is a spirit stone?” I asked, puzzled. Although many novels mention this item, who knows if its real-world use is the same as in the books.

“Spirit stones are categorized into three grades: upper, middle, and lower. They provide abundant spiritual energy, accelerating the cultivation speed of practitioners,” Mei’er explained, her excitement palpable. It seemed the spirit stone had a significant impact on her.

“Xia Tian, what are you standing around for? Let’s go!” Sister Lin’s voice came from a distance just as Mei’er finished speaking.

“Coming!” I replied absentmindedly, hauling the large bags as I walked towards Sister Lin, all while contemplating Mei’er’s words.

Mei’er had previously mentioned that due to human pollution, spiritual energy on Earth had become extremely scarce. Though I wasn’t sure how much energy a lower-grade spirit stone held, from Mei’er’s tone, it seemed significant.

If Mei’er got her hands on this spirit stone, the seal on her tail would likely be broken faster.

“Sister Lin, I have something to do. You go back first!” I tossed her “equipment” onto the car, feeling much lighter without the weight.

Sister Lin frowned at my words, “What are you up to?”

Why should you care? I roared inwardly but maintained a smile on my face, “It’s nothing. You know, I’ve recently started dating someone, and I want to buy her a gift.” I used an excuse, hoping she’d leave.

Unexpectedly, Sister Lin got excited and wrapped her arm around my shoulder, “You sly dog! Trying to impress your girl, huh?”

Sister Lin’s che*st pressed against me. Due to malnutrition, I didn’t feel much, but her unique fragrance made me fantasize a bit.

If only her che*st were bigger, I thought.

“If you’re buying a gift for a girl, you must take me along!” Sister Lin said, closing the car door and walking ahead. This wasn’t looking good!

I forced a smile, “That’s not necessary.”

Sister Lin stopped and turned to me, “What does a guy like you know about what girls like? I’m just trying to help!”

Help my foot! You leaving would be the best help!

“Xia Tian, I’ve pinpointed the spirit stone’s location. It’s to the southeast, about thirty-six yards away!” Mei’er’s voice came through again. Seeing Sister Lin hanging around, I had no choice but to take her along.

“Let’s go!” I said reluctantly. Sister Lin didn’t mind, smiling brightly. Her smile made my heart flutter. If only her personality and che*st size were different.

Following Mei’er’s directions, we quickly found the source of the spiritual energy—a shop called Lao Ma’s Antique Shop.

“Mei’er, are you sure it’s here?” I asked, uncertain. Anything associated with the word “antique” usually wasn’t cheap.

“The spiritual energy is definitely coming from inside,” Mei’er confirmed.

This might cost me dearly. I hoped it wasn’t a rip-off.

I sighed, adjusted my pants, and was about to enter when Sister Lin pulled me back.

“You’re not seriously going in there to buy something for your girlfriend, are you?” Sister Lin asked, incredulous. When I nodded, she slapped her forehead, looking exasperated, “Xia Tian, are you kidding me? You could buy a trinket from a street vendor that would be better than the old stuff in there!”

I laughed awkwardly. There was no explaining this, so I just said, “Those things are too common. I want to get something unique!”

“Good point,” Sister Lin nodded, which made me worry about her intelligence. With nothing more to say, we entered the antique shop together.

The shop was quiet, the tables covered in visible dust, and the cabinets haphazardly filled with items, as if they were casually placed there.

“Xia Tian, let’s go somewhere else!” Sister Lin wrinkled her nose in distaste. I didn’t blame her; the place was pretty dirty. If my room didn’t have those random paper balls lying around, it would be much cleaner than this shop.

“The quirkiest shops often have the best finds. Let’s give it a chance,” I told Sister Lin, ready to look for the owner, but then I noticed there was no one around.

“Anyone here?” I called out tentatively, but there was no response.

I raised my voice, “Hey, we’re here to shop!”

“Coming, coming!” An elderly voice responded, and soon, an old man in his fifties emerged from the back room.

He initially had a welcoming smile, but upon seeing me and Sister Lin, a look of disappointment flashed in his eyes. He quickly masked it with a cheerful expression, “What can I do for you? Despite the shop’s humble appearance, we have famous calligraphy, Ming and Qing dynasty porcelain, ancient coins, and jade treasures!” He wiped the dust off the table with his sleeve as he spoke.

“I’d like to see the jade items,” I said with a smile. I hadn’t seen a spirit stone before, but based on descriptions in novels, they looked like jade. The spirit stone Mei’er mentioned should be among the jade items in the shop.

“Follow me,” the owner said, his face lighting up with excitement. He brushed the dust off his sleeve and gestured for us to follow.

Sister Lin giggled at the owner’s antics, and I shrugged helplessly, following him.

“This jade Guanyin is the shop’s treasure. It’s…” The owner began enthusiastically, but I shook my head. After consulting with Mei’er, I learned that the spirit stone wasn’t large—about the size of two thumbs. This jade Guanyin was clearly not it.

The owner, thinking I didn’t like it, picked up a jade vase from the cabinet, “This jade vase, made of Hetian jade, is a treasure from the late Ming Dynasty palace!”

I shook my head again. The owner’s enthusiasm waned, and he stopped introducing items, signaling for me to look around freely.

I couldn’t blame him. The shop’s dusty state indicated poor business. Finally, two customers came in, but they kept rejecting everything.

Given our young ages, the owner likely didn’t feel much incentive to serve us.

I pretended to search for a suitable jade piece while communicating with Mei’er in my mind.

“Mei’er, this random searching won’t work. Can you sense the exact location of the spirit stone?” I asked. The shop’s clutter made it difficult to find such a small item.

“To your right, in the farthest corner of the cabinet,” Mei’er responded quickly. I looked in that direction and saw a pile of porcelain and calligraphy.

Sighing, I reached into the cabinet. As soon as I did, a ring-like object slipped onto my finger.

Ignoring it, I continued searching until my hand felt a cool, small hard object.

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