Fifteen minutes was far too short for such an important decision. The crowd was caught between a rock and a hard place. Only a firm and unfaltering person could make such a decision under these circumstances.
Jiang Chen however, didn't take everything at face value and scrutinized the details.
How could anyone be alive if this heritage really did come from the ancient era? But of course, he didn't shoot down the idea immediately.
There was a living, breathing example in the form of the Veluriyam Pagoda. Figures from the ancient era had been sealed and kept alive through a series of unorthodox methods. However, they were no different from practically being dead.
They couldn't move, undo the seals, or do anything in general. All that remained was a fragment of their consciousness. So what exactly was going on here?
He didn't understand the underlying mechanisms, but when in doubt, observation was called for.
The incredibly difficult choice stumped many.
This was a test of one's loyalty. To obtain the secret realm's heritage, they would have to sever all previous attachments. The commitment couldn't be half-hearted.
Wandering cultivators were few and far between in the crowd. A large majority of them were heavyweights of great sects and factions.
It was an incredibly ironic twist of fate. They'd come to hunt treasures for their sects. Severing ties with their factions was an extremely ridiculous prerequisite.
Jiang Chen remained unfazed. He wanted to see how these heavyweights would react under these circumstances.
Long Baxiang of the Heavenly Dragon Sect cackled derisively. "You can all continue dawdling! I'll be first to make a move!"
He transformed into a beam of light and was instantly swept away by a transparent, ripple of a whirlpool after diving into one of the gates. The mirrors weren't real objects, but illusory images.
Others scrambled to follow after the first die was cast. The other members of the Heavenly Dragon Sect dashed for the mirrors without hesitation.
Whoosh whoosh whoosh!
One by one, they disappeared like rocks thrown in the sea, never to be heard from again. Nobody could know for sure where they'd gone.
One, two, three…
It wasn't long before a large group had followed suit. They remained resolute despite the difficult choice. The temptation was too great to just give up now!
Emperor Cloudbillow was left in a predicament. He could tell that his companions, including those from Empyrean River Palace, Sublime Chord Temple, and Eternal Celestial Capital, were itching to dive into the mirror after Long Baxiang's demonstration. Eagerness lapped at their heels.
This was an ancient sacred land! What would they stand to gain by remaining loyal to their factions and returning empty-handed? Would they ever get this chance again if they passed up this once in a lifetime opportunity?
"Daoist Cloudbillow, what do we do?" An expert from the Empyrean River Palace asked with furrowed brows. They were clearly waiting on Cloudbillow to make the final decision. Unfortunately, the person in question was in a deep dilemma.
There was too much at stake here. He couldn't make up his mind in such a short span of time. Pillfire was the most powerful and one-of-kind existences in the human domain. Only the true heritage from this secret realm could make up for the regret he'd feel once cutting ties with his faction. There was no going back after he'd taken the first step!
"Daoist Cloudbillow, one must harden one's heart in order to gain a firm footing in this world. The human domain is already in shambles. Your loyalty will not pay off!"
"Daoist Cloudbillow, if this place is really is an ancient heritage, after cutting ties with our factions, we can simply establish another sect with the knowledge we gain!"
"For all we know, this sect of ours might actually become the strongest in the human domain!"
Humans were inherently ambitious and often driven to insanity because of them.
The great emperors from varying sects could no longer sit still; all spoke up to try to convince Emperor Cloudbillow. Anxiety was written clearly on their faces after seeing that Long Baxiang had made the first move.
Cloudbillow was actually longing to jump into action as well. All he lacked was a final push. Moved by their proposition, he decided to move with the current.
"Fine, since this is the common consensus. Just because we've cut all ties with our roots doesn't mean that we can't repay our debt in another way. Absolute strength is all that matters in the martial dao world! Only then can one do as one pleases!"
"Let's go!" With a sweeping gesture, he led the group through the illusory gates.
One by one, they were swallowed by the ripples and disappeared without a trace. Even though many were still loudly cursing on the scene, a majority had chosen to enter!
Jiang Chen looked at the Purple Smoke Sect's forefather meaningfully and smiled. "Do you wish to enter as well?"
The forefather sighed dejectedly and nodded. His feelings and memories for the sect ran incredibly deep, but the temptation before him was simply too great to resist.
"Then do as you please. Don't worry about cutting ties with your sect. It's all a pile of bullshit!" Jiang Chen advised through his consciousness with a cold smile.
A pile of bullshit? The forefather was taken aback. So many great emperors had racked their brains over the matter and finally walked through a gate after much contemplation. How could they have failed to see that it was nonsense?
Jiang Chen didn't care to explain anything. Based on his observations, the so-called 'Gate of Life' was merely a hoax. The voice was definitely not telling the whole truth. He didn't believe that everyone present was so resolute as to cut ties with their own sects. Moreover, he hadn't felt any powerful ripples of consciousness coming from the gates during this entire time.
It was likely just a trick.
He wouldn't fear it even if it was real. As someone who'd already been through the wheel of reincarnation, why would he be afraid of a measly contraption?
Not even reincarnation could sever his ties from his previous life. A measly Gate of Life would never be powerful enough to succeed. The act of severing attachments was completely up to oneself. A firm and unwavering heart could never be overcome.
Jiang Chen no longer hesitated after arriving at that conclusion. He turned into a flash of light and launched himself towards the gates.
The Purple Smoke Sect's forefather stopped hesitating too after the young lord made his move. If the young lord of Veluriyam Capital could be so resolute in his decisions, what excuse did the forefather have to be hesitant?
Jiang Chen was instantly carried away by a wave of energy after stepping through the gate. It felt as though he was being swept by away by the sea's tide. It wasn't long before he felt solid ground again.
Upon finding his footing, all he could hear was a series of complaints.
"What sever all ties? What Gate of Life? Nothing's changed!"
"Damn it. Were we tricked?"
"Why are you all so anxious? We've yet to receive the heritage. Perhaps it's not yet time for us to make the choice. For all we know, we might have to swear a poisonous vow for it!"
His ears were assaulted by complaints and speculation. Cultivators that passed through the gates were amassed in a common area.
"Hahaha! Congratulations to all! You've passed yet another test! Those who are destined for great things will not be caught up with trifling matters. That trial was merely to test how decisive you are! The fact that you're standing here means you've passed the test! Those who didn't pass through the gates are indecisive cowards who will never achieve great things! They will not be missed!" The voice sounded once again.
The crowd felt wordlessly disgusted with themselves, as though they'd swallowed a fly. Pangs of guilt struck them hard. Even though they hadn't truly betrayed their factions, in a way, their decision just now was a stain on their loyalty.
The Purple Smoke Sect's forefather was even more impressed with Jiang Chen. So many experts failed to notice the intricacies behind the Gate of Life, yet the young lord could tell that it was a hoax!
One couldn't help but commend him for his extraordinary insight and wit.
"Continue down this path and you shall arrive in front of the main hall of the Primosanct Palace. You will receive your next test there." The voice disappeared into the void once again after the announcement.
Why would the crowd hesitate after hearing that? At this stage, they no longer had a reason to stop. Moreover, Long Baxiang had sent two emperors through the gate, but they were nowhere to be found.
The crowd could only pray that those two didn't rise to the top first, or the rest of the group would become the biggest laughing stock in the world. They couldn't allow someone else to enjoy the fruits of their pain and hard work.
The voice didn't lie this time. After a long sprint, the faraway palace was finally within reach. One could only realize how vast and monumental the palace was when standing directly in front of it. Even the most powerful of great emperors were flabbergasted by its sheer size.
They'd even begun to suspect that they were in the celestial realm of the legends.
"The leading faction of the ancient era is quite extraordinary alright! Tsk tsk, look at the scale of this! How many treasures and ancient heritages must lay within the palace?"
"Yeah! I can't wait!" The crowd whispered feverishly amongst themselves.