The door to the fourth storage unit was pulled open. More rosewood stared them in the eyes.
This time, it wasn't furniture, but two huge, purplish-black shelves on the walls. On it, sat little wooden carvings. There were bonzai accessories, wooden cutlery, little figurines, and little wooden animals.
Like the shelves, most of the wooden carvings were dark purple, almost black. Some of them were ochre and chestnut colored.
The treasure hunters were stunned again. Another rosewood storage unit!?
A strong fragrance wafted out from inside.
It was the combined fragrance of multiple types of wood. It was a little sour and pungent. Sniffing closely, one could smell the telltale scent of sandalwood. There was also a fresh, mildly sour fragrance mixed in with it. It was an odd combination.
Li Du scanned the storage unit with his torch. In a low voice, he asked Hans, "You did this? Don't tell me that it really is full of rosewood!"
Hans grinned slyly. He replied just as softly, "Not bad, isn't it? I went out of my way to get these rosewood fragrance sprays from Old Kevin. Laos rosewood, Vietnamese Huanghuali, and Andaman sandalwood. They're even better when used together."
Li Du patted Hans's shoulder. "Good job!" he whispered.
They looked around while whispering to each other. The crowd, too, was full of quiet exchanges between treasure hunters.
Sniffing at the air, someone looked at the bald, middle-aged man who had bought the storage unit full of rosewood earlier. "Bald Buck, there was a lot more rosewood in your storage unit. Why wasn't there any smell then?"
Buck's face was twisted like he had been constipated for a week. "I sniffed it earlier. The smell was there as well, just less obvious. The smell in this storage unit is too strong. Something's wrong!"
Li Du agreed that the smell was too strong. If there were any wood specialists who had any prior experience with rosewood, they would definitely be able to tell that something was up.
But what wood specialist would be here? Rosewood furniture was usually found in wealthy places like California and New York. It seldom appeared in small places like Flagstaff. The treasure hunters here could only have heard rumors of it.
Which was why such a strong smell would probably have reinforced their belief in the storage unit.
The auctioneer Humphries raised his hand. "We'll start with 2,000 dollars again— 2,000 dollars, 2,000 dollars! If anyone wants it at 2,000 dollars raise your hand quickly. Stand where I can see you…"
"Me!" Li Du raised his hand for the first time.
Humphries nodded and pointed at him. "Very good, I see you. Next is 2,500 dollars, 2,500 dollars, 2,500 dollars…"
"Over here!" Akkalou Benidito waved at the auctioneer.
He looked very interested in the storage unit. Ever since viewing it, he had let go of the curvy beauty he had been holding since the beginning of the auction.
Andrew placed a bid even before Akkalou Benidito had lowered his hand. "Ten thousand dollars!"
"What a guy!"
"The people from the Hundred Thousand Club are so bold. D*mn it, why can't I be like that?"
Akkalou Benidito looked at Andrew, bemused. "Hey, Sky Eyes. You're following me pretty closely. Why? Are you interested in men nowadays?"
"F*ck you!" Andrew said coldly, giving him the middle finger.
The auctioneer started calling again. Li Du raised his hand, shouting, "11,000 dollars. Here!"
"Twelve thousand dollars!"
"Over here, Old Humphries, 13,000 dollars!"
"I haven't bought anything—20,000 dollars! Look here, yes, 20,000 dollars!"
Li Du shook his head and took a step back. He had pulled out at 20,000 dollars in all of the storage auctions today.
The Playboy hesitated. Taking another look at the unit, he bid 24,000 dollars.
Andrew immediately raised the price to 25,000 dollars. The Playboy backed out of the crowd with his curvy beauty. He yelled at Andrew, "Alright, you fool, you've got it!"
The last rosewood storage unit had sold at more than 70,000 dollars. This storage unit looked much more convincing, but no one bid after 25,000 dollars.
They had bid earlier because the big-shots—Li Du, The Playboy, and Andrew—had also bid. Because of that, everyone had been full of confidence in the storage unit's high value.
When Li Du and The Playboy had backed out, and Andrew obviously continued bidding just to beat The Playboy, they figured out what was going on: The three big-shots didn't think much of this storage unit!
The treasure hunters had also begun to realize that something was off about the last four storage units. They had been suckered!
The storage unit changed hands at 25,000 dollars. The price was much lower than the second storage unit, but Andrew's face was dark as pitch.
He hadn't become a member of the Hundred Thousand Club without his strengths; he knew better than all the others that he'd lost big today.
When the fifth storage was opened, it was crammed full of rosewood and porcelain items. With one look anyone could tell that it was fake!
"Sh*t, why did you put so much in there?" Li Du glowered at Hans.
Hans laughed awkwardly. "I bought too much. There were supposed to be six storage units, but the negotiations for one of them didn't pull through. I didn't want to waste the stuff, so I just put it all into this one." He tried to defend himself further. "Reason is a virtue. That's one of the fine qualities of the Chinese, isn't it?"
Then, he left the auction venue. When someone asked him where he was going, he just shrugged and quickened his footsteps.
Not many people noticed him leave because the crowd was full of chaos.
At the sight of the storage unit, Reginald, Lambis, and the others felt their worlds turn upside down. The last buyer collapsed to the ground. His burly lackeys hastily helped him up.
This was obviously a scam. The treasure hunters didn't even bother to look.
But Li Du stared at it earnestly. The auctioneer started to call, "2,000 dollars, 2,000 dollars, 2,000 dollars. This storage unit's starting price is still 2,000 dollars…"
"Get lost, Humphries! Do you think that we're all stupid *ssh*les?"
"I'll get the person behind this! I'll kill him!"
"Thank God I didn't bring enough money to bid. Who else would bid for this? It's definitely fake!"
The crowd was full of shouting and cursing. Li Du ignored the noise and raised his hand. "Me!"
The auctioneer pointed at him happily. "Very good—2,000 dollars, 2,000 dollars, 2,000 dollars! Next is 2,500 dollars, 2,500 dollars, 2,500 dollars…"
No one bid. Middle fingers stuck out of the crowd. It was as if bamboo shoots had shot up in the storage company.
The storage unit changed hands at 2,000 dollars. Li Du shook hands with the auctioneer, then placed his own lock on the storage unit.
Black Jack was aghast. "Hey, Li. That stuff is fake—definitely fake!"
Li Du seemed shocked. "How do you know? You know what's going on with these storage units?"
Many treasure hunters turned to look at Black Jack suspiciously, who then became furious. "Don't bullsh*t! I was just being nice by telling you!"
"If I find out who did this, I swear I'll kill him!" Lambis cried out, his voice shrill.
Just then, two cars pulled up. One of them had ABC logo on its side. The other was a small bus.
The small bus opened. A plump, black lady stepped out with a bunch of children, some handicapped people, and some elderly people. The children lined up in front of the treasure hunters and bowed. "Thank you, Uncles"
"What!?" The treasure hunters were dumbfounded.
Beside the news van, flashes of light went off. Some huge, bulky cameras began filming the scene.