An Old Man's Quest

Like most days around this time of year, the streets of China will filled with merchants, traders, tourists, and little kids playing ball in the streets. The sun rose straight overhead, signaling it was high noon. Every way you looked, you could see carts and wagons filled with all sorts of things; ranging from fruits to perfumes. Merchants manned these carts, trying to sell their wares to their customers.

Among these shoppers, an old man wiped his brow and looked around. It was especially hot this summer, and the old man could feel it. His cheeks were becoming red and hot due to sunburn, but he didn't stop. He had been looking at carts and stands for over two hours now, only stopping to buy some sun block about half an hour ago. Walking along, he saw something that caught his eye. A small stand, so small he would've surly missed it had he not noticed the slight twinkle from the precious stones coming from it. Curiosity raging inside him, he walked over to the stand, the merchant in charge smiled.

"Welcome, traveler. What can I do for you today?"

The old man smiled. "Good day sir. My name is Arnold Thomas." He always greeted merchants and salesman as such. He felt it rude to begin a conversation with out knowing each other; not matter with whom he was talking. "I'm looking for a present for my granddaughter. May I browse your goods?" His sharp, crisp, British accent articulated every syllable with a regal tone. The merchant sensed this, and smiled.

"But of course Mr. Thomas. I'm sure your granddaughter will love some of my wares. What's the occasion?"

"It's for her 15 birthday. She's always had an interest in the things I collect in my travels. I want this to be extra special."

"But of course." The merchant said. His English carried a heavy Chinese accent. He began lifting boxes of gems, jewelry, and pendants, some with strange designs of dragons and serpents. "Take a look. Tell me if anything sparks your interest."

Arnold began shifting through the piles and piles of necklaces, bracelets, and rings. He considered a few things, but in the end, nothing really had that extra special ring to it. He looked back up at the man.

"These are all very nice. But I'm looking for something out of the ordinary. Something…something different. Know what I'm saying?" The merchant pondered the strange, Englishman's statement, then looked up at him.

"Well, I do have one thing. Something I rarely show to my customers. It dates back thousands of years; all the way back to the second dynasty."

"Go on."

The merchant eyed him curiously, but continued. "No body is quite sure of its origins. But we do know that it's old. It has inscriptions that I can't even read."

"Can I see it?"

The merchant went to the area behind his cart and began digging through his many piles. After about five minutes, he came out with a black box.

On the box were written many ancient writings not even a scholar like him could read. The man smiled.

"If you want different, this is it."

Arnold scanned the box. He knew his granddaughter was into some interesting and different things. But is this pushing it? After fully examining the box, he lifted the lid. His eyes widened in amazement at what he saw.

"I told you. Nothing in the world like it. A one in a kind set."

"Why did they only make one?"

Checking to make sure that no one was looking, he leaned in close to Arnold. His voice almost an inaudible whisper. "Well Mr. Thomas, this is said to be cursed. The last person known to have possessed this, was tortured and then killed, in ways you would never imagine."

"A curse you say? Yes, she was always interested in curses. I'll take it."

"Are you sure?"

"Of course! I know she'll love it." After the payment transactions have been made, Arnold went back to his hotel. He had to catch his flight tonight if was going to be able to make it back to his granddaughter's birthday.