Though the three tests were reasonably difficult, Jiang Chen completed them perfectly and effortlessly. Venerated Skysoarer found it hard to describe, but he felt that Jiang Chen had a confidence that belied his age. Not a blind assurance, but true, reliable confidence that was backed up by something substantial.
He seemed to have everything that he did planned out beforehand. It was an odd feeling. The young man was collected, certain, and in absolute control. Traits that, in all honesty, were completely inappropriate for someone of his age.
The venerable master mused that if he were to venture into the three formations himself, he wouldn't have been able to do a better job. In fact, he would probably lack in the treatment of certain details.
"Congratulations, Sect Head. You pass the three trials of the Crimson Heavens Palace!" Ever since entering the Veluriyam Pagoda as one of its guardians, Venerated Skysoarer had never been so happy as he was today.
His heart had been nothing short of bleak for the past hundred thousand years or so, but he now felt that everything had been worth it! The gloom in his heart was clear. With a sect head like this, how could the Crimson Heavens Sect not flourish? What was there to worry about regarding the sect's heritage?
Jiang Chen wasn't uncomfortable with the fact that the venerable master called him 'sect head'. He knew that as soon as he'd received the Crimson Heavens Medallion, he had a responsibility to act as the de facto leader of the sect. He had a responsibility, moreover, of sustaining the sect's lineage. This was one of his life principles.
"I was a bit lucky this time. If I hadn't obtained the Ancient Crimson Heavens Sect's heritage, then this palace would've been significantly more difficult." On this point, Jiang Chen was self-aware. Compared to the first palace, the second was unreasonably easy.
"It is your blessing and fortune alone, Sect Head." The venerable master disagreed. "Any other genius would have much more trouble passing this palace's test. I have a feeling that you'll really be able to conquer all six of the palaces and become the new master of the Veluriyam Pagoda."
"Ah, perhaps." Jiang Chen sighed thoughtfully. "I hear that the six palaces sequentially increase in difficulty?"
Venerated Skysoarer nodded. "The first and second palace are about the same, though the latter is probably slightly harder than the former."
"Starting from the third palace, the difficulty ramps up significantly. I don't advise you to rush into it blindly until you're advanced level emperor realm. Of course, you have the one chance at failure allotted to you for every palace. The fourth, like the second, is not much different from the third… but the fifth palace marks yet another harsh increase, as does the sixth. If you conquer the sixth palace, that means you've claimed complete mastery of the entire Six Palaces of Heritage. You'll have a pretty good chance of becoming the new master of the Veluriyam Pagoda, and then receive all of the inheritances."
The venerable master paused here a moment, sighing himself in turn. "In ancient times, the master of the Veluriyam Pagoda was one of the leaders of the human race. He possessed great knowledge and skill, and gave up all he had to preserve the human race in the wake of the demonic invasion. He burned away his lifespan to peer into the river of time, and built the Veluriyam Pagoda for the sole purpose of passing on the torch of humanity to a future generation. The greatness of the Pagoda master surpasses eras and years, but few know of his greatness. His noble intentions? Fewer still."
Jiang Chen found this amazing. He had heard of the Pagoda master's great deeds from the mouths of both Masters P'eng and Skysoarer. Neither master seemed particularly willing in their custodial duties here, but they hadn't a single complaint against the Pagoda master.
Though Jiang Chen didn't know who the Pagoda master was yet or where the master was from, from what he knew so far, the mysterious man was someone he could hold a great deal of respect for. If a man could leave his enemies silent about his shortcomings, then he was truly great beyond compare. The more Jiang Chen heard, the more the Veluriyam Pagoda and its master garnered his interest.
"The Six Palaces of Heritage and the Veluriyam Pagoda." His eyes shone with a keen radiance. "I'll conquer the palaces step by step. There is none other worthy of being the Pagoda's new master!"
Jiang Chen had a feeling that amazing opportunity lay within. There was no greater on the Divine Abyss Continent, and it could easily match anything that Myriad Abyss Island had to offer. He was here already. Who else could rule the Pagoda better?
"Venerated Skysoarer." His expression became serious and honest. "I don't know who the Veluriyam Pagoda's master is yet, but the remarks from Master P'eng and yourself have decidedly piqued my interest in both him and his Pagoda. I will master the Pagoda and make it my own. You can count on it!"
"Hahaha, wonderful. A genius like you would shine brighter than the brightest of stars, Sect Head, even in ancient times. Furthermore, you have fortune on your side. I think you have more than a fair chance at taking the Pagoda as your own."
Having appreciated Jiang Chen from the start, the old master's impression was improved by the fact that Jiang Chen was also his sect head. These two points combined made Venerated Skysoarer more hopeful than ever that Jiang Chen would one day become the Pagoda's master. It was normal for a man to have his biases. The venerable master was no different.
"You are granted to two rewards for conquering the Crimson Heavens Palace, Sect Head. Naturally, both are formation schematics. One is for the Great Dream of Spring and Autumn Formation, and the other, for the Heavenly Chalice Sword Formation."
Jiang Chen was no stranger to the former. It was a terrifyingly murderous formation, and anyone who couldn't pierce its mysteries was stuck in a deathtrap. However, this was his first time hearing of a Heavenly Chalice Sword Formation.
"Sect Head, I'm sure you know of the Great Dream formation already. I should remark, however, that if you have wood from the Divine Tree of Dreams, then the formation will be ten times as effective as it is normally."
"The Divine Tree of Dreams?" Jiang Chen remembered the first trial he had gone through in the sixteen kingdom alliance. It was during the trial of fortune that he'd seen a Divine Tree of Dreams.
"Yes. Aside from the formation itself, you will receive a set of flags fashioned from that kind of tree's wood. If you use the flags, even a great emperor realm cultivator will find it exceedingly troublesome to be ensnared by your formation. You'll have about a fifty percent chance of victory over them. If you are a great emperor yourself, you can kill fellow great emperors outright."
As an ancient formation sect, the Ancient Crimson Heavens Sect had a tremendous amount of knowledge. The only reason for the Earth Bodhisattva Sect's dominance over it all those years ago was the Earth Bodhisattva Orb's power. In terms of formation-related skill alone, the Ancient Crimson Heavens Sect reigned supreme.
"The Heavenly Chalice Sword Formation is a bitingly sharp formation in its lethality. If used together with the Great Dream formation, the duo becomes a fearsome combination. However, usage of this excessively powerful formation is rather taxing on the consciousness. Moreover, it requires eighty-one flying swords forged from very specific materials. Compared to the Great Dream of Spring and Autumn Formation, this one is much harder to cultivate. Alas, neither do we have a set of flying swords for you."
Though the master of the Pagoda was fabulously wealthy and owned countless treasures, he didn't quite have everything on demand. In particular, the matching swords for this formation required several types of high-grade materials, as well as one of the very best blacksmiths at the pinnacle of his craft. It was impossible to get a full set in a short amount of time.
Jiang Chen found this a little lamentable, but wasn't overly disappointed. After all, his Divine Five Thunderclap Sword Technique did pretty well on double duty as a sword formation. The thunder and lightning in its blades was a veritable formation itself.
"Sect Head, the necessary materials for the matching swords should be at the back of the book. If you're lucky enough to get all of them one day to forge the swords, then you must practice the formation. Since the founding of our sect, not a single one of us has succeeded in cultivating the formation perfectly. However, there was once a noteworthy senior who used a simplified version of the formation to kill three cultivators the same level as him in a single stroke. It is optimistic to say that he managed to harness even a fifth of the formation's true strength."
"A fifth? Multiple cultivators the same level as him, you said?" Jiang Chen was mildly astonished. He noticed that the Heavenly Chalice Sword Formation was a powerful one, but he didn't expect it to be quite so effective.
After all, if a formation only had a fifth of its power, then it wouldn't do very much against real experts. That this formation could kill three cultivators of the same level at twenty percent of its full effectiveness was incredibly staggering. Despite the wealth of experience from his previous life, Jiang Chen had very rarely heard of this kind of thing.
Looking over the sword formation's book of diagrams, Jiang Chen pondered it quite a while before putting it away.
"If I have the chance to, I'll definitely study the sword formation," he promised to the venerable master.
"Excellent." The venerable master was fired up by his commitment. "I'm looking forward to it."
After finishing the second palace, Jiang Chen had no intention of proceeding directly to the third. Just as Venerated Skysoarer had said, it was better to wait until advanced level emperor realm to try his luck there. Having entered the realm only a short while ago, he had a long way to go and so was in no hurry at all.
Knowing that Jiang Chen was about to depart soon, the venerable master was a bit sad. "Good luck and stay safe, Sect Head. Here is the spacetime seal for your safekeeping. When you next come into the Pagoda through the seal, you will be transported directly to the third palace. If we meet again, it will be when you've fully mastered the entire Veluriyam Pagoda."
The Veluriyam Pagoda had very strict rules. Jiang Chen could only return its guardians' freedom after he gained full control. This was the law laid down on the day the Pagoda had been built. No matter how badly Jiang Chen wanted to take out the two masters he'd met so far, it was unrealistic.
As Jiang Chen prepared to leave, a stray question suddenly came to mind. "Venerated Skysoarer, there's a formation called the Great Formation of Heavenly Soul Confinement. Do you know of it?"