After watching his ambushers leave, the Wu Patriarch turned and bowed towards the 5 manifested wills behind him.
"Wu Jian greets honoured ancestors."
He communicated through divine sense. They did not return the gesture, instead staring at the assassin's corpse beside him.
They spoke in unison in his mind.
Wu Jian replied, taking out a bird cage from his spatial ring and infusing his Qi into it. The cage shook and it opened up, creating a suction force within it. The translucent form of the assassin's soul appeared above him, swimming upwards towards Samsara, but destined to never reach it as it was dragged back down and into the cage. It put up a valiant fight, almost breaking free, but eventually it was pulled into the cage, which slammed shut, a floating ethereal light now glowing within it.
"You know what to do, descent."
The voices spoke again.
"I do, honoured ancestors. Return to your rest knowing that it shall be done."
He responded as he bowed again. They inclined their heads towards him slightly before dissipating into motes of ghostly light.
With the projections of his ancestors gone, Wu Jian focused on the more material spoils of the battle. The spatial rings of the two dead elders contained a portion of their wealth, a substantial amount considering they were the highest echelon of a mid sized clan. His divine sense scanned the contents of the assassin's, finding a massive amount of shadow related resources and manuals, but he was unable to access the storage ring of the other elder as his soul imprint remained. It would take an extremely long time to remove it, so he tucked it into the folds of his robes for later.
Next, he retrieved the weapons and robes of the deceased elders, each being inscribed with various formations that made them very powerful in the hands of the right people. Unfortunately for them, inscribers were extremely rare so most cultivators from outside the large clans had to rely upon whatever items they came across or could get their hands on, like these Gao cultivators had to, and were unable to bring out their full strength.
After storing everything away in his ring and placing the assassin's on another of his fingers, he lifted up off the ground and flee back towards the clan. He was met part way by a panicked Feng Lin, who had been worried upon sensing the fluctuations from the fleeing Gao elders and rushed to see if he was okay. Firey wings extended from her back, the Feng cultivator having employed a movement technique to reach him faster.
She gasped upon seeing his injuries.
"Here, let me help."
She moved to use her healing techniques upon him, but he waved her away. Her fire element techniques were antithetical to his own cultivation, meaning they would cause more problems than they solved if used upon him.
"I will be fine. I just need some time to recover."
He assured her.
"As for what happened, those Gao dogs laid an ambush for me, but they paid the price of dishonour in blood."
He explained, showing her the spatial rings. Feng Lin looked taken aback by the revelation, shock filling her face as she looked upon his spoils.
"That is... very impressive."
She commended, searching for the right words.
He flashed her a smile as they landed in the Wu compound, a servant running up to them to ask what to do.
"Follow Feng Lin's commands. There is something I must do."
Wu Jian commanded, deciding to test his betrothed's competence.
"Yes Lord Patriarch."
Was the response. They had seen the Feng woman swoop in to rescue their clansmen and already held her in high esteem.
"See to what must be done."
The Wu Patriarch said to his future wife before heading deeper into the compound towards his meditation room.
He ordered when he got there, sensing no one on the verge of a breakthrough. Once the room was clear, he moved to the centre of the ring and infused his qi into the hidden formation there. It glowed to life, its invisibility peeling back to reveal the entire floor of the room being webbed with complex inscriptions. Once active, it thrummed with building power, filling up with more and more Qi until it seemed ready to burst. it was only when an explosion seemed imminent that it used its energy, filling the room with a blinding white light that, when it faded, left the room empty.
Wu Jian stood in a hall much larger than his own main hall, a cavern that stretched up so far he could not even see the ceiling, and so wide that he could fit his entire clan's compound in here. The air here was thick with Qi, and its connection to the Dao Fragment of Tranquillity, what one comprehended when they combined the Dao Shard of Calm with other similar Dao Shards, was so much that he felt his body start to stiffen up and his mind turn sluggish just from arriving here.
He stood in the centre of the cavern, surrounded by 8 pedestals around him and a fading formation under his feet. On 5 of the pedestals, statues of men and women sat in lotus position, each with a plaque detailing their name and which generation Clan Head they were.
"Wu Jian greets honoured ancestors."
He said once again with a bow. They did not reply but the Wu Patriarch was not expecting one, having been brought before them before by his father. He took the bird cage out of his storage ring and opened it, allowing the soul trapped within to go free. It quickly escaped, not knowing when it would get another chance, and attempted to flee to the cycle of Samsara. Unfortunately for it, the Tranquillity aligned Qi in the surroundings affected it too, slowing it to a snails pace as it swam through the air. Five hungry wills converged on the struggling soul, leaping to tear a chunk of it for themselves.They tussled and fought with each other as much as it, trying to secure as much of the deceased assassin's soul as possible.
He may not have been in the Nascent Soul Realm when he died, but having reached it and progressed through it when he was alive, he had grown his soul to the point where he could put up a decent fight against the Wu Clan's ancestors. Eventually though, he fell under the combined might of 5, being torn asunder and devoured by the wills. Satisfied with their meal, they wordlessly sent their approval to the patiently waiting Wu Patriarch before returning to their respective statues.
"I wish you luck in your advancement, honoured ancestors."
Wu Jian said as he charged up the formation again.
"May you find Longevity and the Dao. In this life, or the next."
He bowed towards them one last time before disappearing in another flash of bright light.