Dawn came quickly, with both sides taking a welcome respite from the fighting. Although they were still on guard, the cultivators that had previously been giving it their all to attack or defend the Wu Clan had taken the night to rest, recuperate, and prepare for the meeting set to take place this morning.
Now, both sides faced each other outside of the clan walls, the Wu Clan's fighters with their backs to the river that served as a natural moat for their clan grounds, whilst the Zhao Clan's stood cockily out in the open. After all, why wouldn't they be cocky? Their Earth element cultivation method directly countered the Wu Clan's Water element cultivation method, they had a greater number of Core Formation experts, and the surroundings were more suited for them than their opponents. Not to mention what the topic of the meeting was.
"Patriarch Wu. We have waited long enough for you. Show yourself now or we will be forced to take drastic action."
A sinister looking man dressed in the customary earthen coloured robes of his clan and sporting the badge and embellishments of an elder shouted out. Behind him stood a bald, monk like man that looked like a boulder, and a short, stocky woman that lent upon a stone war hammer that was almost the same size as her, both dressed in the same,traditional clan elder garb.
If you counted these three and the elegant looking clan leader who sat upon an engraved stone throne watching all of this, there were 4 core formation experts upon the side of the Zhao Clan, outnumbering the Wu Clan's now 2.
Seeing that the Wu Patriarch did not step forwards, the sinister looking man's mouth curled up in a sneer.
"Don't say I didn't warn you."
He chuckled darkly to himself as he stepped forwards, raising his hand as he did so. A large hand, made out of the earth in front of the Wu Clan's cultivators, lifted from the ground and mimicked his actions so that when he made a fist and punched forwards, the giant hand copied his motions to do the same.
"Treacherous Zhao dogs."
Wu Chi, the only other surviving Core Cultivation expert besides Wu Jian, leapt in the path of the attack to protect her people. The water from the river behind her rose up and surged forwards to meet the hand, seeping into it and softening the dirt into mud.
Seeing this, the sinister looking man changed his posture, incanting something under his breath as both his hands set to work making complex hand signals. His giant fist fell apart but it's components stayed under his control so he directed the mud to swarm Wu Chi's feet and then solidify.
The woman tried to force her feet from the mud's grasp, but she had not progressed her body cultivation enough to have the strength to do so, instead only succeeding in loosening its grip upon her. River water flew to her, following her command as she directed it towards breaking off the mud that rooted her to the ground but the sinister looking man once again had a counter.
The earth in contact with the mud rose up to fend off the liquid attack, being battered and broken by the torrent of water but managing to keep the entangling substance safe for long enough that it started spreading up Wu Chi's legs. She poured her Qi into the attacks, infusing them further with her Dao Shard of Curren to increase the momentum behind the downpour. Finally, she broke through the layers of defence, distance meaning that the sinister looking man could not reinforce his own efforts as much as his opponent could, and managed to destroy the substance binding her. The earth cultivator stepped forth to attack again but a booming voice cut him off and stopped him in his tracks.
The Zhao Clan Patriarch had stood up from his throne and projected his voice towards the Wu Clan.
"Either your Patriarch steps out to discuss the terms of his surrender or we shall wipe you out where you stand."
A crushing aura spread from his body, weighing down upon everyone present. His peak Core Formation Stage cultivation being backed up by a Clan Treasure of equal strength. The Wu family cultivators felt the worst of it, the local hegemon's killing intent directed towards them.
All of a sudden, the pressure was pushed back to halfway between the two groups, an equivalent aura fighting back against it.
"You dare attack my people during a ceasefire? The Zhao Clan clearly has no honour."
A voice boomed across the plains in front and mountains behind as Wu Jian stepped off from his clan's defensive wall onto a large sword of water that he floated up from the river to meet him. His robes fluttered in the wind as he descended towards the assembled cultivators.
"Careful not to insult us Wu boy, the terms of your surrender may become more unfavourable if you do."
The Zhao Patriarch responded as the Wu Patriarch stopped above the defending clansmen.
"And who said this was a meeting to discuss my surrender? It should be you who is careful not to offend."
"HAHAHAHA! How amusing. The boy has eyes but cannot see Mt. Tai. I was just going to have you shatter your Clan Treasure but now you can surrender your mountain to us as well."
"I'd like to see you try and take it from us."
"Then you shall. ATTACK!"
As the last word was spoken, both sides jumped into action. The Wu Clan cultivators got into a formation, summoning a huge water dragon that flew overhead, whilst the Zhao Clan did the same to summon a giant earthen snake.
Wu Chi looked across at her new clan leader from within the dragon's head, apprehension filling her as she believed he acted rashly out of anger at his father's death. She knew the old patriarch had died the second she sensed the power of the Clan Treasure behind Wu Jian's aura and although this saddened her, she froze her grief to deal with the matter at hand.
The sinister looking man had been absorbed into the earthen snake, disappearing from sight as he took control of it. The summoned creature opened its mouth and his voice came out, taunting Wu Chi.
"Come on, let's finish what we started. The Wu brat won't save you this time."
With those words, it slithered forwards and she responded in kind, swooping down towards it and beginning a fierce battle of elemental beasts.
The other 3 Core Formation Stage experts rushed towards the hovering Wu Jian, who stood aloof with his hands behind his back above the battlefield, as if nothing that was going on bellow mattered to him. Pillars shot up from the ground, creating steps for the Zhao cultivators to propel themselves up and approach their enemy.
They drew close but Wu Jian's expression remained neutral as he passively observed them. His blue eyes were as still as a lake on a sunny day but his hands moved from behind his back as he got ready to fight. Seeing this, the Zhao Patriarch gave a signal and the three launched a joint attack. The Clan Head himself lifted his hands above his head and, in a flash of milky white light, summoned a mountain shaped object the size of a wine gourd.
He yelled, and Wu Jian felt a great weight settle upon his body as if the mountain was sitting upon his shoulders and exerting pressure on all of him.
The monk like man's attack was the next to reach the Wu Patriarch. He punched the air in front of him and at the at the point where his arms were fully extended during the punch, a stone the size of a coconut shot out. The monk like man had managed to fire 4 of these stones in the short period of time that had passed and each swerved towards Wu Jian like they could home in on him. Each of the stones targeted a different limb, hitting the wrists and ankles of the unmoving Wu Jianwho was still being weighed down by the mountain's strange properties. When they hit, they encapsulated his wrists and ankles, forming stone manacles that weighed down each of his limbs and further restrained his movement.
Last was the short lady, who had continued to dash towards their victim. She ran along earthen pillars that sprang up wherever she stepped until she reached right in front of the young Wu Clan Head. Then, with a gigantic leap born of her high body cultivation realm, she swung her stone hammer down towards his head.
In the three seconds it had taken them to do all this, Wu Jian had not moved an inch but, now that his head was about to be crushed by their combined attack, he raised his gaze to meet the Zhao Patriarch's. A bloodthirsty grin appeared on his face and a hunger revealed itself in his eyes, throwing the tranquil lakes within them into chaos. Killing intent exploded from his body, and he released the cultivation base that he had been suppressing all this time.
The Zhao cultivators froze, held in place by Wu Jian's invisible pressure. Not only had the wave of power caught them by surprise, it also carried with it a mysterious power born of Wu Jian's Dao.
The Zhao Patriarch stuttered under his breath, fear and awe taking over his mind. Hearing the terror in the other man's voice, Wu Jian's smile became wider and more monstrous even as he spoke in a sweet voice.
"Since you have been so kind as to come all this way, why don't you stay here forever?"
And the sword beneath him exploded into a hundred water blades that lashed out at the three frozen cultivators. The woman, being the closest, was shredded by the blades before she had chance to react, he body cultivation only holding up for a brief moment before she was torn asunder by the power of a superior realm. The monk like man was better off, having time to form a cross in front of his upper body and construct a stone shield in front of him. This barely saved him but his shield was shattered by the water blades, causing stone shards to pelt him and leave him gravely injured. The Zhao Patriarch fared the best out of them as, being furthest away, he had time to redirect his mountain's weight onto the attacks that targeted him, slowing them significantly so that he could reposition himself to take the hits on his non vital areas and reduce the power behind the attacks at the same time.
Left over streams of water twisted around Wu Jian's body like tamed snakes, wrapping around and crushing the stone shackles when they passed them, freeing his movement completely.
The Zhou Patriarch shouted, jumping down from his pillar and increasing his own weight so that he crashed towards the ground away from Wu Jian. The monk like man was not lucky enough to be able to escape at the same speed. As soon as the man moved to follow his leader, the Wu Clan Head had caught up to him, the water snakes jumping off of him and onto his victim. They crawled up his body as Wu Jian left him to his fate, eventually finding their way to his neck through his swatting hands and materialising stone defences. There, any of the snakes that made it detonated themselves into tiny blades of water that ripped the poor man's throat out. He promptly died.
Meanwhile, Wu Jian caught up with the fleeing group of cultivators from the Zhao Clan and flew above them like a vengeful god. The enemy patriarch had hit the ground hard and broken one of his legs, and so was being carried away on the back of the summoned earthen snake that even now was still being maintained, the lower level cultivators having been absorbed into its body to keep them safe and travel with them. The Wu Clan's water dragon was harrying the snake, but it was unable to do more than harass it and leave scratches along its defences. Fortunately, that stopped it from being able to burrow underground and escape that way so Wu Jian was able to catch up.
"Judgement is upon you Zhao dogs. Prepare yourselves to join my father in death!"
He announced. A milky white light appeared between his eyes and the small golden bell flew out from between his eyes. It trembled in anger at those who had killed its former master and sounded out once, as if announcing their end.
Across so many targets, the effect of the bell was weakened, causing it to have no effect upon the 2 remaining Core Formation Stage experts. But for the weaker cultivators, it managed to take full effect. This Clan Treasure, like all others, had been imbued with the Shard of a Greater Dao at the moment of its creation, and the particular Dao Shard that the bell possessed was one of Calm. Each and every Zhao Cultivator under the Core Formation stage was forcefully put into a state of pure calm, where nothing effected them and they could just relax. Of course, relaxing completely meant that their concentration was no longer upon supplying Qi to the formation and therefore, it collapsed. The aggressing clan members were thrown unceremoniously to the floor, the calming effect breaking for many but not all of them.
Whilst the bell was doing this, Wu Jian had utilised his own Dao Fragment of the Clouds and Dao Shard of Rapids to gather a storm on top of his foes. Once they were defenceless, he directed his Qi to attack them and spears of turbulent water rained down upon them, slaughtering them to the man. Or at least, to all but one man. There, clinging onto life and clutching his crumbling Clan Treasure was the Zhao Patriarch.
Anger threatened to overwhelm Wu Jian's reason, having already paid back his father's death manifold by killing the core of the Zhao Clan and destroying their Clan Treasure, guaranteeing their downfall. But he knew there was a use for the man in front of him. He knew it, but at the same time he felt the need to exact more vengeance. Sensing his distress, the tiny bell flew back over to him and chimed softly, bringing him back to his senses. Sure killing the man would avenge and honour his father more, but keeping him alive would be of more use to the clan that his father had sacrificed his life to save.
"Wu Chi, seal this man's cultivation and lock him in the dungeon. We have use for him yet."
He spoke, carefully sticking to the words he planned out in his head in case he accidentally flew off the rails and ordered his new asset's death.
Wu Chi replied, looking at her Clan Head with newfound respect.
"Good. I will be going into secluded meditation for a while to consolidate my cultivation. Make sure to seize all the Zhao Clan's territory and assets whilst I'm in there. Only disturb me if there's a problem with doing that."
And with his final orders, he turned and flew back towards Mt. Serenity.