To Li Du, the fire opal's appearance opened the door to true treasure hunting—an entirely new door.
He suddenly realized that he had not been using the little bug correctly. The little bug actually possessed formidable abilities and could be used much more efficiently to earn money.
He had always known that if he used the little bug in the casino, he could be invincible.
However, the waters in the casino were too deep. If he were to enter, he might end up getting chopped to pieces.
There was also the betting stone; the little bug could also look for emeralds to bet upon.
However, the emeralds were mostly located in areas such as Myanmar and Cambodia. It was even more treacherous there than in the casino with warlords and military separatists abound. One might not be able to stay alive long enough to spend the money earned.
He had also wanted to enter the antique trade to become a great collector. But as he hadn't had the opportunity to enter this trade, he didn't want to just barge in. Mr. Li was a careful person; the last thing he wanted for himself was to lose his life after offending some big shot.
He often appeared tough before other treasure hunters because he was well aware that even in the worst case scenario, they would only pick a fight with him—they wouldn't try to kill him.
The big shots helming the various industries were different; they were like alligators that would gobble humans whole without even spitting their bones out. If he offended someone unwittingly, that would be the end of him.
His discovery of the gem hunting trade made him realize that he could delve deeper into the treasure hunting trade. There were actually many areas in which he could make money.
As Li Du rode on the horse that trotted along, Sophie found a shady spot to lovingly study the two pieces of rocks, observing them from all directions.
Ah Meow and Ah Ow rested beside her; Ah Ow kept sticking her little tongue out; obviously, she had suffered in the heat earlier.
Crispy Noodles was still digging up rocks with a serious look on his long, furry face.
Li Du had praised him non-stop earlier, and he felt great about his need for vanity being satisfied. Thus, he continued to work hard even when he was apart from Li Du.
He and Ah Meow had been with Li Du for a long time. Ah Meow, however, seemed to be more useful to Li Du, and had assisted with tasks such as wearing a camera on his head like a detective and fighting the bad guys.
Comparatively, Crispy Noodles had less functionality.
Animals, especially the intelligent ones, have high self-esteem. Their owners are everything to them; they crave for their owners' commendations and praise.
And this praise is not for nothing; they hope to gain a sense of accomplishment through their own hard work.
At that moment, digging up the rocks gave Crispy Noodles that sense of accomplishment.
The little bug's ability was perfect for the searching for the fire opal. As long as it was within Li Du's site, it could fly underground or among the rocks; acting as an extension of Li Du's eyes.
There were not many fire opals around but not so few that they could not be detected.
The little bug shuttled back and forth, and soon discovered another fire opal under a huge rock.
This gemstone was smaller, about the size of the tip of his pinkie. It, however, was almost a perfect sphere—he had a feeling that it would be a rare find.
Li Du was thinking of how to dig it out when a couple walked toward him.
Even on that hot day, the couple wore denim jeans with caps, sunglasses, and leather gloves, looking like gem hunters from head to toe.
After they spotted Li Du, the man waved to him and said, "Hey, you must be Mr. Du Li?"
Li Du was surprised that they knew him. He jumped off the horse and said, "How are you? Yes, it's me. And both of you are...? Have we met?"
"No," the man laughed. "We haven't met, but I'm sure you know my cousin, Stephen Chandler. I'm Brendan Chandler, and this is my wife, Alicia."
This was like meeting extended family—Stephen was Hannah's boyfriend. They were in a stable relationship and would definitely get married one day.
Li Du shook hands with the couple. Brendan said, "I saw you in a photograph. I often talk with Stephen and he told me about his friends—you were among them."
"I can't believe Stephen hasn't told me about you. That's upsetting to learn," Li Du joked.
Brendan, like his younger cousin, looked like a reliable man. Hearing what Li Du said, he quickly explained, "Actually, Stephen didn't make any formal introduction. He shows me photographs once in a while and you happen to be in them."
Alicia tugged his hand, and said, "Brendan, Li is joking. He's joking with you."
A look of sudden enlightenment came across Brendan's face. He smiled in embarrassment. "Oh, my mistake."
"Sorry, Li," Alicia said with an apologetic smile. "My husband has no sense of humor. In fact, when we saw you earlier, we thought you looked familiar but we weren't too sure, so we called Stephen to ask."
"Stephen told us that you had indeed come to Winslow. When we told him that there was a beautiful and elegant lady as well, he said that it was probably you and Sophie."
Noticing that they were chatting, Sophie politely came over to say hello.
As they all spoke, Crispy Noodles released a heart-wrenching cry. "Squeak, squeak!"
Ah Meow, who was beside Sophie, swiftly dashed forward. Like a flash of lightning, he rushed to Crispy Noodles in a few leaps and used his mouth to bite on the lizard before flinging it off.
Li Du was shocked and ran over hurriedly. "What happened?"
Crispy Noodles hugged his paw and hunched over it. He then lifted his head and looked at Li Du pitifully, a grievous expression on his face.
Ah Meow ran after the lizard that had been flung away, and caught it in his mouth. He then threw it onto the ground before Li Du.
At the sight of the lizard, Crispy Noodles unconsciously retreated; he lifted his back paw to reveal there was a wound on it.
The lizard was about six inches long with black and white lines across its collar. Between the lower part of its throat and abdomen, there were tinges of blue and orange.
Noticing the colors on the lizard's body, Li Du took a deep breath. "D*mn. This thing's not poisonous I hope?"
Brendan and his wife walked over, saw the lizard, and laughed. "Don't worry, this is the Mexican Collared Lizard, a kind of terrestrial lizard in the Agamid family. It's mainly found in between southwestern America and Mexico, and is very common here."
Li Du heaved a sigh of relief.
Alicia had brought along a small first-aid kit containing iodine, alcohol, antiseptic and other things. Sophie took over after she saw the items—she was the expert in this.
Crispy Noodles retreated and hid away; he knew that it would hurt when the alcohol touched his wound.
Li Du glared at him. "You're still scared of pain? At your age? It's only a lizard—how did it bite you? Aren't you a raccoon? Lizards are what you eat!"
After being reprimanded, Crispy Noodles was not pleased—he had already been humiliated by the lizard bite.
Sophie hugged him in consolation. "It's alright, Crispy Noodles did well. Crispy Noodles doesn't eat lizards. It must have been a sudden attack by the lizard, that's why. He's not afraid of lizards, but was just caught off-guard by the sudden attack."
Brendan and Alicia smiled as they looked on; they thought Sophie was a little too naive.
After hearing Sophie's words, Crispy Noodles appeared as though he understood her. He nodded his head and wore a That was exactly it! expression on his face.
For a moment, the two of them were stunned.