Shangri La, China
July 10th, 2022
A man approached a small cottage in the middle of the Chinese town of Shangri La, a small settlement that was originally named something else before it was renamed in 2014 to capitalize on the popularity of the fictional mythological region.
Inside the cottage, a man was talking with a customer who was on his way to retrieve some jewelry he had made. This man was Cameron Scott, a former museum curator who had moved from Great Britain to Shangri La to open a museum there. When that plan fell through he took to making unique specialized clothes and jewelry to sell for a steep price.
"No no, they are done and will be waiting for you when you arrive. Just get here soon, okay?... I just want you to uh... see them..."
..."Yeah, their beauty is more enhanced when you see them just after being made.."
"...No, I know you're not interested in their beauty and just want to give them to family and friends when you get back to the United States!"
"Look, please get here immediately, I may need help to protect my investment- GAH! I mean, yeah, get here please. Now. I will sell them if you don't."
Cameron hung up the phone before his customer could respond, then turned to the man who had walked into his home unannounced.
"Can I help you, young man?"
"Yes... my name is Tobias Corvan and I was told to pick up something very rare and valuable for my client. He told me he will pay handsomely for it."
"He also told me something else, but I would forget my own name if it wasn't on my coat! HAHA!... not funny? Yeah I would imagine so. So, Mr. Scott... where is the artifact?"
"I don't know what you are talking about, Mr. Corvan. I do not sell or trade ancient artifacts, I used to when I was a museum curator, but that past is behind me."
"Mr. Scott... please don't lie to me. I know you're hiding the Artifact. I know it's here, a contact I have here said you were lifting a very heavy-looking chest into this house a few nights ago. So where is it?"
Tobias glared his eyes. "Is it... behind you? You said trading artifacts is your past and your past is behind you, so it must be... behind you!"
Tobias walked over to an ancient-looking chest and opened it. Cameron had a worried look on his face as the man searched the chest. "It's not in here. I don't see it, so it's not here."
"Oh well." Cameron said. "Are you sure your contact was correct? There are some foggy nights here in Shangri La. Maybe he saw someone else carry a chest into their house."
"I suppose so. Besides, this chest was gold, and nearly indestructible. It has to be somewhere around here though... but where." Tobias stopped walking and looked at the floor.
Tobias walked out into the town, smiling all the way. "You know, I still wonder what that second thing my client told me to do was. I am so forgetful. Goodbye, Cameron."
"Whew" Cameron said. "Good thing, too. Now I can tell my customer I'm sorry for acting rude to him."
Cameron took his phone out and started searching through the list of recent calls when a number he'd never seen popped up as an incoming call. He answered it, and heard a small chuckle.
"Hello?! Who is this?!" Cameron asked through speakerphone.
"It's me, Old Chum. I just realized what the second thing I was supposed to do! I was supposed to tell you that I left something in that chest in your living room when I was looking through it!"
"What did you leave in my living roo"
"That...." Tobias said as and explosion ripped the house apart, throwing pieces of brick and wood miles across the Shang countryside.
There it was. Tobias had figured the artifact was under the floor board, because he had stepped on a loose flooring as he left the cottage. He wanted to play to his own sense of humor to get it, and somehow knew that the explosion wouldn't damage it.
Tobias walked into the crater that was Cameron Scott's house and opened the golden chest at the center. Inside was the very thing he came all the way from Twinbrook to get: it was a strange piece of material, metal that he had never seen. He quickly grabbed it and put it in his pocket, then climbed the crater to call someone.
"I have the artifact, my friend. Where do I deliver it to?"
"You have done well in getting it, Tobias. I saw the explosion from satellite view myself. Stay there, I will retrieve you and the artifact very shortly. Accessing transportation field... now."
And just like that, Tobias and the artifact he was sent to retrieve was gone.
It was a few moments later that a man in a brown jacket ran up to the wrecked house. He was on his way there already to purchase a special series of sapphire, ruby, and amethyst necklaces for his friends and cousins back home, and had heard the explosion a few minutes before, but did not see who or what started it. He stopped short when he saw the house burned to the ground and no one in or around it.
The man climbed down the crater that the house had become, and spotted the golden chest lying there. He stepped up to it and, using gloves to open it because he didn't want to get them burned from the fire-heated object. He was surprised to see nothing inside.
"What the? It's empty?" The man said. "What could have happened here? Who could have stolen what was in this chest?!"
He heard sirens and, not wanting to look like the one who caused the explosion, threw his gloves in the fire and ran down the street. He had the urge to call his friend, who had a genius-level intellect, and ask her if she knew anything about ancient golden treasure chests.
"Hey Annabelle, I-"
"TOM!" He heard his friend's voice frantically yell out his name through the phone. In the background he heard crying, like someone was injured. "I've been trying to get a hold of you all day! You need to get back home immediately!"
"What's going on?"
"It's about Keera, Tom. She was hurt... bad."