One of the two had to be malicious. But which one was? Jiang Chen had thought about it for a long time now, but he still couldn't arrive at a definite conclusion.
"What are you waiting for? Hurry into the palace to locate your fortunes. The second floor has countless opportunities for those with luck on their side. Still, I advise you to err on the side of caution. That feathered beast won't let you go so easily. You should find all the treasure before it recovers its strength, then come to the third floor. I'm there to protect you then. You can be sure that that chicken won't hurt you!" The voice issued incessant reminders.
Everyone who heard this flocked upwards, each worried that he would lose out compared to the others.
Past the opulent main hall was a long staircase that seemed to stretch into the mystery of the ancient past.
"Let's go!" A whirlwind of bodies teemed onto the second floor in a maddened frenzy.
Jiang Chen was completely unhurried. He knew that because of so many great emperors and preset division rules, he would have a hard time getting anything valuable.
Since he wouldn't get any loot through above board means, he wasn't in a rush to get up there any time soon. The palace was too strange. It was dubious where any treasure would end up in the end. Who would have the last laugh?
It wasn't necessarily a good idea to beeline for the spoils now. Just possessing something valuable was a crime in many places. It was too risky to attract anyone's attention at this stage of the proceedings.
Jiang Chen slowly ascended to the second floor.
It really was a level dedicated to storing treasure. Blocked spaces were clearly designed to store prized possessions and were largely still filled with their original contents. There were weapons, scrolls containing methods, mysterious pills and their recipes, amazing talismans, and various other unnameable items.
Stands scattered everywhere contained hundreds of treasures. Some looked so attractive that they glowed with desirability.
Cloudbillow led the charge, his tall figure at the front of the group. "Friends, do you remember our agreement earlier? Everyone swore to it and now is the time to make good. If anyone tries to stir up trouble, they will no longer be eligible for their cut. Does anyone have a different opinion?"
Cloudbillow made a certain amount of sense. The plan from earlier had to be executed; otherwise, their lengthy argument would have been meaningless.
Pillfire City and its allies were to receive sixty percent, and the Heavenly Dragon Sect and Ninesuns Sky Sect, fifteen percent each. The last ten belonged collectively to the remaining factions.
It was just as well that not many had managed to enter. Even so, it was unlikely that every person would get even one treasure in the end.
Jiang Chen's eyes swept across a stand. He wasn't interested in the weapons stored there. Though a good weapon could make a cultivator, so could it break one. An indomitable blade often led to mental slacking, the variety that wasn't ordinarily seen.
The other treasures were the same way. They were unique enough, but that didn't make them attractive to Jiang Chen. Talismans and pills invaluable to normal people were quite boring to Veluriyam's young lord. Most importantly, a minor character from the Purple Smoke Sect didn't have the right to make a grab for any treasure.
Jiang Chen was more than happy to stand in a corner and observe calmly. He was thoroughly confused now. The palace still felt odd to him, but this place of storage and the treasures here were very much real.
Any of these in the human domain would be extremely expensive. Some could be described as unrivaled, even.
Am I just paranoid? Is this secret realm a normal ancient holy place after all, and there's no danger like I imagined? Jiang Chen began to doubt his own judgment.
However, the seal in his consciousness had never lied to him. As long as it was still on high alert, he couldn't bring himself to relax.
Any of these treasures could be called a rarity in their own right. For my part though, not getting them is no big loss. Safety is my priority on this trip. If there's no treasure that pops out at me, I'll be as conservative as I can.
He'd resolved himself on what to do. Having done so, Jiang Chen examined his surroundings with excruciating detail. The treasure storage level was quite extraordinary in its own right, and he spared it maybe a tenth of the focus it deserved.
The treasures on the stands though, he did analyze carefully. His eye and experience meant that he could boast ninety-nine percent accuracy when doing so.
Meanwhile, the great emperors finally came to a consensus.
"Friends, there's three hundred sixty treasures on these stands. We will rank them according to their worth, then divide them accordingly to our earlier agreement." Cloudbillow's words filled everyone with expectation.
Their trials and travails on the way here had been almost entirely devoted to this moment. How could they not be attracted to the treasures that stretched as far as the eye could see?
Ranking the treasures was very difficult. The great emperors endlessly bickered among themselves about the perceived value of each item, coming to difficult final decisions after lengthy discussions. Various rankings were drawn after great effort.
Jiang Chen nodded to himself when he saw the split. So these great emperors aren't totally useless. These rankings are mostly right, and there's barely anything missed.
I'm just a junior disciple of the Purple Smoke Sect. He smiled self-deprecatingly. Good treasures won't reach me any time soon
That was still no reason for him to give up though. He swept his own eyes across a nearby table.
There was a brush pot upon it that contained a dozen brushes of various sizes. It was a bit worn after innumerable years, as were the writing implements it contained.
Several cultivators had come to the table during the interim, rummaging through the things on it. A few picked up the brush pot and looked it over a few times before tossing it aside in derision.
They were uniformly sure that the brush pot was absolutely normal. There was nothing special about it at all. The brushes were the run-of-the-mill haired ink brushes too.
Of course, there were bound to be others willing to pick up what some threw away given the volume of people here. Still, no one took an interest in the end.
After the Upper Eight Regions' experts picked through everything, the brush pot and its brushes within ended up scattered and unknown.
A few of the cultivators from second and third-rate factions were interested in sifting through the trash left behind by the Upper Eight Regions' experts. After careful consideration however, the brush pot turned out to be a normal object.
"Son of a… it's garbage. There's garbage like this in treasure storage?" A cultivator swore, tossing pot and brushes to the ground.
The brush pot was cylindrical, so it rolled to where Jiang Chen was.
He picked the pot up impassively, blowing off dust. "No one wants this?" he laughed. "Even if it's not treasure, it's something from an ancient sacred place. Not bad as a souvenir, right?"
His tone was somewhat self-deprecating. Several around him sneered upon hearing what he'd said, unimpressed by his scavenging behavior.
Jiang Chen didn't care about what others thought. With a casual motion, he put the brush pot into his storage ring.
As trash that'd been tossed aside numerous times, the brush pot was extremely unlikely to attract further interest. Therefore, his act drew no suspicion whatsoever. Rather, there were a few whose ridicule was evident on their faces.
The lack of attention allowed Jiang Chen to breathe a sigh of relief. He'd been a bit concerned that someone would try to take it away from him, but people's attentions were thankfully on the stands. The brush pot had no spirit energy, which meant it was just a normal item. Aside from its excellent material, it had little merit.
"What did you just do, kid?"
Even as Jiang Chen relaxed, someone's gaze locked onto him. At the same time, a cool voice cut in from a distance.
It was Long Baxiang who'd spoken just now!
The great emperor of the Heavenly Dragon Sect was perpetually observant despite his surroundings. He had been in the middle of dividing the stands' spoils, but detecting the activity near Jiang Chen had been within his purview as well.
He was looking at Jiang Chen with curiosity and suspicion. His observation skills were incredible; though he hadn't recognized Jiang Chen's true identity, he instinctively felt that there was something wrong about the youth's actions.
"I… not much, I think," Jiang Chen gasped, feigning lack of awareness. "No… no one wanted that brush pot, s-so I wanted it as a souvenir. I won't get the other treasures, any… anyway…"
His pretend anxiety didn't fully manage to fool Long Baxiang.
The emperor glared at Jiang Chen. "Give me that souvenir," he interjected suddenly. "I'm taking a look first."
As one of the most paranoid around, he was very sensitive to Jiang Chen's pick up of anything. He hadn't seen what the brush pot was like himself, after all.