When Martin King feels a gun in his back, he decides to hide the king's vessel.
| Martin King was in the British Museum in London. He was in the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery looking for a piece to the puzzle: who had mended the king's vessel? Martin hadn't turned the vessel over to a museum yet and believed it was still safe in his office at the University of London where he taught Banking and Finance. His career in finance was a good cover for his hobby in collecting ancient artifacts.
Martin estimated the king's vessel was about 3000 years old and was pottery mended with gold, kintsugi. Martin believed the vessel was not Japanese, so the workmanship pointed to another civilization having the method of repairing broken pottery with precious metal. Martin decided to look through the museum for another, similar piece.
Suddenly, Martin felt something hard in his back.
“Don't move,” said Xiaoping.
Martin wasn't sure what to do. All he knew for handling the unknown was the scientific method, and he didn't feel like doing an experiment with something hard digging into his ribs.
“It's a gun,” said Xiaoping, “Where's the king's vessel?”
“How do you know about it?”
“I've been searching for it for years.”
“I don't have it,” Martin needed to think in a new way to safeguard the king's vessel from a man who used a gun.
Xiaoping didn't believe Martin. He had been searching for the king's vessel for years and hoped to destroy it before it went into a museum, surrounded by security.
“Take me to it,” said Xiaoping.
Martin thought carefully. He could pretend he had it at home, to buy some time and hopefully escape to the police.
Martin led Xiaoping to his home, with a gun pointed at him the whole journey in the subway. Martin had been unable to attract security's attention, and he had no idea how Xiaoping got the gun through security. Disheartened, Martin walked slowly toward his home with Xiaoping behind him. Once at Martin's home, Xiaoping closed the door and pulled the gun out of his pocket. It was plastic.
Martin still didn't want Xiaoping knowing anything about the king's vessel.
“Give it to me,” said Xiaoping.
“I don't have it,” said Martin, “I told you that.”
Xiaoping broke a vase that was in the foyer.
“I told you I know you have it. Take me to where you have the king's vessel and give it to me,” said Xiaoping.
“Why do you want it?” asked Martin, stalling.
Xiaoping bit. “It's from my country.”
“Then your national museum should acquire it,” said Martin.
“No one will ever own it, it is cursed!” said Xiaoping. “Whoever owns it becomes corrupted.”
Martin didn't believe in superstition and needed a plan to go to the police. There were usually police at the local café.
“Look,” said Martin to Xiaoping, “it isn't here. But I understand you want it to help people, so let's go to the local café and you can tell me about it. You can keep that plastic gun pointed at me. Tell me what you know about the king's vessel and I may be able to help you find it.”
Xiaoping agreed to the stop at the café where he poured out his story about searching for the king's vessel for years. “It corrupted my government when it was in the President's house,” said Xiaoping.
Martin still didn't believe in the superstition but encouraged the belief to buy time. Finally, two police officers in uniforms walked into the café. Martin had to figure out what to do.
“I've got to go,” said Martin quietly.
Xiaoping followed Martin toward the bathroom doors and when Martin passed the police he said, “I'm captive, he has a gun!” then Martin ducked behind one of the police officers and fell to the floor.
Both officers had their guns out immediately, one pointed at Martin and one pointed at Xiaoping. Martin put his hands on his head and his face in the floor.
Xiaoping's reactions were too slow. The police confiscated the plastic gun and arrested Xiaoping for assaulting Martin and taking him hostage.
“Destroy the vessel!” Xiaoping said as he was being arrested.
After the police were gone with Xiaoping, Martin paid the café bill and went back to his office at the University of London. Martin realized that if the curse is real, he wouldn't want the British Museum to be home to the vessel. He thought about which country's corruption would benefit Britain, or at least, would probably be harmless.
Martin called the Palace Museum in Laos, ancient enemies of the Chinese.
“I have the king's vessel,” said Martin King. “Do you want it in your collection?”
“No, it's cursed.”