Wu Jian exited his meditation room and was greeted by a bowing messenger who awaited permission to speak. He took a moment to stretch before giving it, having spent the last two days sitting in one unmoving position.

"Patriarch, the Clan Heads from our subservient Ye, Dai, and Wang families have come to pay their respects to you whilst the Clan Heads for two of the Zhao family's subservient Clans are here to pledge loyalty to you."

The servant recited, cultivation and practice giving them a near perfect memory.

"Good, I will see them in the main hall."

Wu Jian replied, cleansing himself by summoning water around his entire body and then repelling it from his skin to dry off completely. The servant ran off to relay his message, and the Wu Patriarch took a moment to collect himself.

The bell within his soul chimed, helping him calm his turbulent mind and push down his grief once again. This was no time to mourn, he had to be strong for the Clan and seize the opportunities that presented themselves to him, and once he was done he would take the time to process his emotions. A cold glint flashed in his eye, reminiscent of the one he had before the slaughter of the Zhao Clan but lacking the anger that burned at that time. Instead, the frozen lakes of his irises promised a cold, calculated demise for all that stood in his way.

Making his way to the main hall, a Wu Jian seated himself upon the golden throne at the head of the room. Ornate patterns adorned his chair and sea blue gems, containing water aligned Qi, were embedded along its frame. He straightened his back, sitting ramrod straight, and rested his arms along the arm rests, allowing his baggy sleeves to drape over them and cover the surface. He gave a gesture, and the large double doors to the hall, similarly engraved with patterns, were opened to reveal a congregation of 5 people.

The visitors stood in two groups, a trio and a duo. The three at the front were the Clan Heads who already paid tribute forthe Wu Clan's protection and the two at the back were the Clan Heads who had just lost the protection of the Zhao Clan and were looking for a new canopy to shelter under. The closer group approached first, reaching half way through the hall before they hit an invisible wall of pressure that the seated man exuded. All three have a deep bow towards him as one of the attendants standing along the side of the room announced.

"Presenting Ye Daiyu, Dai Xue, and Wang Kueng."

The cultivators' faces scrunched at the disrespect but quickly schooled their expressions as they kept their heads bowed towards Wu Jian. The man in question stared down at them imperiously, letting them stay in position for a long few moments to show his displeasure, before gesturing for them to rise.

Ye Daiyu was the first to rise, speaking as she did so. Her voice sounded out as if she was singing a beautiful song which, combined with her elegant, jade like beauty and tall, slim figure, caused an ethereal feeling to radiate off her.

"Congratulations to Patriarch Wu for breaking through to the Nascent Soul Realm. My humble Ye Clan has prepared a gift to celebrate the occasion."

A spatial ring upon her one of her fingers, flashed with pale yellow light and an elaborately crafted silver sword appeared upon her dainty hands. Blue formations were penned onto the flat of the blade, each flowing on to another like a meandering stream, whilst the edge glinted with a wicked sharpness.

Wu Jian raised a hand a beckoned for her to come closer, to which she slowly made her way towards the foot of the throne, passing by rows of lapis pillars that lined either side of the room and depicted the Wu Clan's ancestors during various battles and challenges, but was stopped by his pressure when she made it within 5 steps. She lifted the sword once again, bowing her head and lowering her gaze as she did so, and it floated out of her hands towards him.

"A fine gift indeed."

The Wu Patriarch remarked, inspecting the weapon in his grasp.

"I shall use it well."

"I would ask nothing more, Patriarch Wu."

He nodded towards her once before turning his gaze to the next in line; Dai Xue.

The Clan Head of the Dai Clan was a petite woman, with a complexion as pale as snow. She looked unhealthy but was far from it as her silver eyes brimmed with life. She shrunk a little at his stony stare but mustered the courage to speak.

"The Dai Clan would also like to express its congratulations to Patriarch Wu. Please accept this small offering."

In another flash of light, a square, purple cushion appeared upon the Dai Matriarch's hands. Resting atop it was a tiny, perfectly spherical pill as transparent as morning dew. A faint medicinal scent wafted off it, only detectable by the Clan Heads' cultivation enhanced senses.

Wu Jian beckoned her forwards, her steps only halting 10 steps away from his throne. A faint tendril of water Qi extended from the seated man, wrapping around the proffered object and carrying it back to him. His divine sense, a new, spiritual sense that he awakened upon reaching the Nascent Soul Realm, scanned the pill in it's entirety. His eyebrow raised as he felt the energies contained within the tiny sphere and Dai Xue found herself able to take another 3 steps towards the throne, which she did.

"Quite a useful, if unusual, pill."

He observed.

"Should the need arrive to use this, I will be very grateful to have received it."

"You honour my clan Patriarch Wu."

He inclined his head towards her before his eyes slid to the last Clan Head in the first group. Wang Kueng met his stare with one of his own, speaking whilst holding eye contact.

"Congratulations on your breakthrough Master Wu. It is only a matter of time before your Clan follows and joins the ranks of the mid sized Clans."

He let his words hang in the air for a few moments before continuing.

"Of course the Wang Clan has prepared a gift for the occasion, I hope Master Wu will be kind and accept it."

A rich yellow light flashed, much more colourful than any of the previous lights from the others' spatial storage rings, and a smooth piece of jade appeared within the Wang Patriarch's hands. A chilly look crossed Wu Jian's face as he regarded the item, the disrespect that his subordinate was showing him indicating that nothing good was contained within.

A tendril of water picked it up and brought it to the Wu Patriarch, who brought it to his forehead and pushed his divine sense into it. He had heard about jade being used to contain information in place of scrolls, due to its ability to hold said information for eternity without any of it being lost. The only issue with this, besides it's price, was that it required one to have divine sense, and thus be of the Nascent Soul Realm of Qi Cultivation, to read the contents within. Therefore, whoever sent this had to be both wealthy and possess someone of at least the Nascent Soul Realm to be able to acquire this item and inscribe the contents within. This pointed to the Wang Clan having received it from an outside source, a foreign faction that was trying to send a message.

The ice caps within Wu Jian's eyes melted from his fury as he sifted through the jade's contents and his aura flared, falling heavy upon Wang Kueng's shoulders and forcing him to his knees.

"It seems like a big fish has taken an interest in our Wu Clan."

His hand griped his newly acquired sword and his cultivation base stirred.

"I guess we'll have to show them we're not an easy bite to swallow."


About the author

R L Grey

Bio: Just a burnt out University student trying his hand at writing.

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