The geniuses of the seven great emperors had once again gathered and were awaiting further instructions. Those chosen for the Pill and Martial Pagoda had already gone on, while the thirty-six slated for the main pagoda were still waiting. Jiang Chen knew that the seven emperors were intending to pay their respects to the main pagoda first.
The main pagoda was a structure that symbolized the Capital and was considered its sacred legacy. A solemn ceremony needed to be performed for each entrance, with all sorts of omens appearing after the ceremony. These omens also decided some of the specifics relating to the main pagoda’s opening. It took about an hour for the seven emperors to bring the ceremony to a close. When they exited the main pagoda, their expressions were curiously uniform with surprise and serendipity. It was an easy guess that the augury within the pagoda had gone fairly well. There was no alternative explanation for the coordinated joy of the seven emperors otherwise.
All of the geniuses present felt a certain degree of anticipation. What could have made the seven lofty emperors so happy? Did they foretell something exceedingly good? The seven emperors traded furtively communicative looks. Finally, their collective gazes settled on Emperor Peafowl to announce the results. There was no reason for the leading emperor to refuse. He spoke with an expression of unmistakable joy, “Apologies to have kept everyone waiting. However, I think that you’ll find that it’s been worth your while.”
The emperor’s words successfully piqued his audience’s curiosity. “This particular opening of the Pagoda is different from usual. Typically, when the Pagoda opens, only one single secret realm is accessible. This time, however, three will be opened to you fortunate entrants. Such an occurrence, while not strictly unique, has only happened three times in total since the beginning of antiquity. Therefore, you should count yourselves greatly blessed by providence. Countless Veluriyam Pagoda gatherings have been held throughout millennia, and yet only thrice has this happened before now.” Emperor Peafowl’s tone became a little more passionate. “Gentlemen, this is both a time of boon and a time of doom. In the past, these special occasions have also heralded eras of great turmoil for the Divine Abyss Continent. It is quite likely that a new age of martial anarchy is upon us. I am not here to prophesy doomsday, however, so feel free to simply treat my words as advice. Make the best of this opportunity. Exert yourselves to your utmost and receive plentiful experiences, advancements, treasures, and traditions. No one can predict the future. Obtaining a more varied arsenal now will provide better security down the road.”
All thirty-six young lords in the Ranking became quite serious. They deciphered great opportunity from the emperor’s speech, but a hint of worry as well. In the crowd of people, Ji San couldn’t resist exchanging a look with his sworn brother.
“So that you can better deal with the problems you’ll encounter on this excursion, I would like to tell you about the three secret realms opening this year. They are, in order, the secret realms of heritage, adventure, and battle. Heritage is a place of cultivation and meditation. Adventure, a place where you can gather experience and forge yourselves anew. Finally, battle is where you may test your mettle, an arena to assess the results of your cultivation.
“This year, everyone on the Ranking of Young Lords can choose between the three secret realms freely. Each man can decide on his own which is best suited for him. However, note that the thirty-six of you are divided into four divisions. The fourth division may stay in the Pagoda for only three months, and switch between realms only twice. The third division will be given half a year and four changes. The second, one entire year, eight changes. And lastly, the first division has two full years, and an unlimited number of changes between the secret realms.”
The details made the first division’s nine geniuses grin with glee. Making it into the top nine had reaped a lion’s share of benefits. The freedom to change between the secret realms at will gave them unlimited flexibility. It was an overwhelming advantage. On top of that, they had the longest stay inside the main pagoda.
“Finally, one last reminder. You are not a hundred percent safe inside a secret realm. Moreover, the risk of being kicked out is present at all times. As for when that might happen, you will be informed once you go inside.” Emperor Peafowl smiled at this point. “Alright, I think that’s enough. I’m sure I haven’t mentioned everything, so try to be mindful of the finer details after you go inside. To sum up everything I’ve mentioned: This is a rare opportunity. Whether you do or die here is entirely up to you. Prepare yourselves and receive your jade tokens, because a new realm awaits you all very soon. Note that your jade token is a proof of both your rank and identity. In addition to your authorizations, it will record all of your scores. Don’t lose or destroy it! If the latter happens, you’ll be kicked out instantly.”
Each of them came up to receive a jade token according to their ranking. Beginning from number thirty-six, the geniuses were sent into the main pagoda one by one via the transportation formation. Naturally, everyone coming forward was asked the same question: What secret realm were they entering first?
Jiang Chen answered it with zero hesitation. He picked the realm of heritage. He firmly believed that it was the preferred choice of most of his peers. The secret realm of heritage was a place of cultivation and understanding. The entire reason for the grueling competition had been to vie for a chance into the Veluriyam Pagoda. The cultivation environment there was vastly different from that of the outside world.
The transportation formation activated, and he was whisked directly into the secret realm of heritage. Bzzt! An ear-screeching noise blasted against his eardrums. In the next moment, he found himself within a veluriyam world filled with fantastical color. He was standing upon an enormous field. Even with his God’s Eye, he was unable to see an end to its boundaries.
“Congratulations on entering the secret realm of heritage. You are the twenty-fifth entrant here.” An emotionless voice sounded near his ears.
Twenty-fifth? Jiang Chen furrowed his brow. If he remembered correctly, there were twenty-eight cultivators who had entered the Pagoda before him, since he was in eighth place. Including himself, there should have been twenty-nine.
Did four cultivators choose another secret realm? Though Jiang Chen was a little surprised, he didn’t find it very unusual. People had different natures. Some naturally fancied risk and speculation, and there was certainly nothing wrong with an unconventional choice. It wasn’t necessarily good for everyone to choose the same secret realm, either. At the end of the day, though, Jiang Chen didn’t particularly care about the choices of others. He cared more about what he himself could get out of the trip into the Veluriyam Pagoda.
“Each entrant has his own cultivation area. All areas are separate from each other, and interference between one another is not allowed.” Another voice sounded. “You are in the secret realm of heritage. Please listen carefully to the instructions before continuing. You have hereby received the right to cultivate within the secret realm of heritage, and your first mission is as follows: you must comprehend three Veluriyam Obelisks. Note that you must complete the task within half a month or be eliminated. All who are successful shall receive randomized rewards. What you receive is dictated by luck alone.”
Jiang Chen didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Was this kind of thing alright? The rewards were apparently different to the point of being completely arbitrary. The Veluriyam Pagoda was definitely a unique place.
“Even in ancient times, what kind of amazing powerhouse did one have to be to build a structure as remarkable as the Veluriyam Pagoda?” The prized construction aside, Jiang Chen had to admit that despite his wealth of experience, the Pagoda was truly a distinct design. The person who had built it was absolutely a divine level genius. They had been erudite and multi-talented, possessing a mastery of spatial powers and an understanding of various kinds of intricate machinistry. Moreover, they must have been fabulously wealthy. It was impossible to design such a miraculous, interdimensional tower without possessing all of those factors
All three Veluriyam Obelisks each contained a martial mystery. The first was a boxing technique. Observing it a few times over, Jiang Chen did not feel that the technique was particularly familiar. However, it clearly wasn’t difficult for him to learn the technique on the spot given his wealth of second-hand experience. He understood its intricacies in only around half a day or so.
The technique was between a sage realm technique and an emperor realm one in terms of complexity—enough to keep a typical genius occupied for a few months. It was hardly any trouble for any genius listed on the Ranking of Young Lords, though. Of course, understanding had to be followed by an immediate display in the form of a practical examination. A genius was considered to have successfully learned the technique only after passing the test given by a mirror. A single set of forms was enough for Jiang Chen to pass the test on the spot. The mirror gave the highest possible evaluation almost instantly.
The test of the Veluriyam Obelisk was divided into four marks: failure, acceptable, excellent, and perfect. Jiang Chen received the impressive distinction of ‘perfect’. The entire Obelisk became a pure cyan hue, indicating the impeccable result of its pupil. Because they were outside of the Veluriyam Pagoda’s formation, the seven emperors didn’t know the specifics of what was happening inside. Still, they were able to notice some of the more basic things. For example, they were aware of the number of people that had entered each secret realm.
“Tsk tsk, it looks like thirty-one went into heritage, three into adventure, and two madmen directly into battle.”
“Most geniuses were reasonable enough. The largest number of people picked the safest choice. Going into the secret realms of adventure and battle risks being ejected at the slightest of errors.”
“I hope that those unorthodox geniuses can rise to the challenge.” The seven emperors were engaged in lively conversation.
Suddenly, one of the emperors called out, “So fast!. There’s someone who’s already grasped the first Veluriyam Obelisk in the secret realm of heritage. It’s only been half a day, hasn’t it? That’s unbelievable.”
“How could that be?”
“See for yourself.”
Outside the Veluriyam Pagoda’s formation was a formation of images. Though it did not record any specifics from inside the main pagoda, it reported a large portion of the results and scores to the outside.
“Huh, so it’s true after all. Looks like they’re the first one to finish. What’s more—look, that’s a perfect score! Half a day to attain perfection… what kind of inhuman powers of understanding does he have?”
“Quick, what number genius is it?” There was a flurry of commotion amongst the emperors.