Jiang Chen sighed to himself. The voice had clearly taken control of the situation. Even the great emperors were dancing to his tune. Or bluntly put, they were being led about by the nose.
If an ancient sect's inheritance truly was at hand, then playing along might not be a bad idea. However, Jiang Chen didn't believe that tall tale, not even for a second. But now wasn't the time to stand out. To wait and see had been his plan from the start.
Primosanct Sect or not, he stuck to his goal of unearthing all of the realm's secrets and acquiring the greatest benefits.
He wasn't so different from the others in that regard, but unlike them, he hadn't been blinded by greed. He hadn't fallen prey to the voice, his every step manipulated like a puppet.
"Dear juniors, it's too early to rejoice. Perhaps you've made ninety nine strides forward, or maybe you've made just the first. None of it matters unless you make the hundredth one! Don't be complacent, for you can easily stumble in the next trial."
The voice dumped cold water on the cultivators, as if it could hear the greedy whispers flaring up.
"Open your eyes wide and take a good look around. There are seven pillars around the palace in accordance with the Big Dipper. Together, they form a seal. You'll have to break it in order to enter the palace. Otherwise, you aren't deserving of my sect's inheritance!"
No matter how august and indifferent, there was a certain magic to the voice, as if one couldn't help prostrate oneself in front of its loftiness.
"The main gate is on the southern side. Break the seal there and the entire restriction will crumble. You will then be annointed as my sect's successors, ushering mankind into a grand new era!"
Young and old, the blood of the cultivators boiled at the irresistible enticement within the voice. To inherit the strongest sect in antiquity and lead mankind into a new era? Who could resist such temptation?
Loyalty to one's sect? Righteousness? Such considerations had long collapsed in front of domineering temptation.
Like bees, the crowd swarmed towards the southern gate. An enormous board was mounted there, three words written in a calligraphy style of old: The Primosanct Sect!
Like kings haughtily surveying the world from high above, the majesty of only three words awed the crowd.
The Primosanct Sect? Jiang Chen blinked. Against all expectations, was this truly the ancient sect's sacred land? Not necessarily! Bizarreness and traps pervade every corner of this realm. After encountering so many illusions, am I to simply believe everything I see? He held firm to his first conclusion.
The words hadn't shaken his conviction, but he was the exception to the rule.
Almost everyone else had rushed to the southern gate. The huge pillar there towered over them like an ancient guardian. A golden layer of light spiraled around it, sparkling with the brilliance of a thousand stars.
Indeed, it was one of the pillars of light they'd seen outside.
Jiang Chen stood behind the crowd, his face inscrutable. Having reached the palace doors, he had a strong hunch that the truth would soon be revealed. Would the so-called "Primosanct Sect" truly bring them happy surprises?
He rather doubted it. His intuition remained staunch and unyielding.
At the front, Long Baxiang cackle. "Emperor Cloudbillow, I was the first to challenge the Gate of Life. I trust you won't object if I go first again."
Emperor Cloudbillow snorted. "Suit yourself. I simply fear you'll prove insufficient to the task and embarrass yourself."
Long Baxiang sniggered. "If I fail, you won't succeed either. What's there to be afraid of?"
He gathered all the Heavenly Dragon Sect's elites. "On my command, attack the seal!"
His momentum swelling, he ordered an all-out assault.
Even if he wasn't number one in his sect, he still ranked in the top three. Added to that his sect's superb martial skills and the exceptional strength of his bloodline, that placed him on par with Cloudbillow.
His figure spun furiously, churning up a dragon-shaped whirlwind. His sect members also merged with it, wholeheartedly pouring their energy in to strengthen his strike.
With extraordinary speed, the breathtaking attack crashed heavily into the enormous pillar.
Terrifying vibration rumbled continuously in the air like fearsome claps of thunder. Golden light spilled everywhere, rippling outward from the pillar.
Struck by the light, Long Baxiang's figure swiftly rebounded a thousand feet away before he finally steadied himself. His mouth bleeding, he scowled malevolently. He'd clearly sustained considerable damage.
How did such a monumental attack suffer such a crushing defeat? The powerhouses from the other factions stared in abject disbelief.
The fearsome seal had withstood the combined might of the Heaven Dragon elites. Could anyone else break it?
Not in the mood for sarcasm, Cloudbillow fixed the seal with a meaningful stare. Inside the golden haze, innumerable tadpole-like runes were engraved on the pillar, abstruse and indecipherable. How can a seal from eons past retain so much power? Our cultivation is far too lacking compared to ancient times. How do we break it?
All of the other great emperors shared the same thought.
Long Baxiang's failure was a tremendous blow to their confidence. No one even had the desire to mock him.
"Cloudbillow, aren't you going to try?" Still frustrated, Long Baxiang tried to goad his rival into action, wanting to bring the latter down to distract from his own shame. If Cloudbillow also failed, no one would think much of the earlier fiasco.
Cloudbillow paid him no heed. As if in a trance, he stared intently at the runes on the pillar. One might even be tricked into thinking he could understand them.
"Heh, you later generations are ignorant indeed. Do you think you can solve the problem by yourselves? If you could, then you wouldn't need my sect's inheritance to begin with." Derision tinged the indifferent voice.
"Perhaps it's time to take a stand. Your only hope is to work as one." The voice continued, utterly uncaring. "United you stand, divided you fall. The decision is yours.
"However, this sacred land only suits the strong. Now is time to discard your preconceptions and work together. Remember, after entering the palace, all of you will become the Primosanct Sect's heirs! As peers of the same sect, perhaps you will forget all prior grudges."
The notion sounded preposterous.
However, no one could retort otherwise. If they truly completed this trial, they would indeed become members of the same sect whether they wanted to or not.
Uniting against the seal was their only hope of success!
The more they thought about it, the more reasonable it seemed.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I must admit that Emperor Dragontyrant is right" Cloudbillow finally took the initiative. "If he can't break through it, neither can any of us. Why don't we set aside past prejudices and work together without ulterior motives? The glory of the ancient holy land is waiting for us!"
"I agree. It's a life-changing opportunity for all of us. Do you want to cling to your old lifestyle and wallow in mediocrity for the rest of your lives?"
"Let's do it! As long as we succeed, our names will resound throughout the ages! We will become heroes of the human domain!" More and more supported Cloudbillow's suggestion.
Of course, it was still only first rank sects had the right to speak. The second and third tier factions had been mostly marginalized, even though quite a few of them were present. The Upper Eight Regions had the final say.
Only the Heavenly Dragon Sect and the Ninesuns Sky Sect were holdouts.
Long Baxiang smiled coldly. "Emperor Cloudbillow, I'm not one to beat around the bush, so let's get the unpleasant parts sorted out first. Let's agree on the division of spoils. Otherwise, it might cause unwarranted conflicts and mutual losses later!"
Getting the unpleasant parts out of the way first was his style of doing things.