The Let's Play Archive

Jade Empire

by Doc M

Part 10: The Beaten Baker

Episode 09: The Beaten Baker

Happy Year of the Rooster! Last time on Jade Empire, we nearly killed ourselves with disgusting food, persuaded an ogre to leave the teahouse peacefully, and returned said teahouse to its rightful owner. We still have the whole town of Tien's Landing to explore, so that is what we'll be doing this time.

Obviously I'm not including most loading screens, but I may occasionally throw one at the start of an update if there's some interesting lore on it. Poor Tiger Shen is looking a bit squat there because of the aspect ratio weirdness.

Dawn Star looks like she has something important to say, but when I talk to her she only has the usual "strange enemies, troubling plots" dialog. We'll go back to the camp at some point in the near future and see if she has something more relevant for us there.

We're not going there now, though; we're exploring the rest of the town like I said. Some sailors are loitering on the path and trying to convince some lady that they're actually nice guys and it's not their fault their ship crashed here, and people should relax and go drink with them.

We can't do anything with the sailors, so let's continue on to the southern part of Tien's Landing.

Maybe you don't see ghosts, but from the looks of things here it seems like you're not going to find too many fish either. There pretty much is no river.

Most NPCs in this area are generic peasants that don't have anything to say, but let's see if Chumin here has something for us.

Judging from the greeting, I'm going to hazard a guess and say he's a woodsmith.

There are several customers who owe me money, but with the dam open, times are hard. I can't expect them to pay me when they can't even feed their families. And if they don't pay me, I can't afford the raw materials to make my woodwork. It's a difficult situation, but I'm trying to make the best of it.

You might be right. I'm a fine craftsman, but I'm not much for business. I extend credit too easily, and then I can't bring myself to collect. It's just not in my nature.

I could lend yo some silver to get back on your feet.

I'm pretty sure we could afford that.

All right then, we'll let him do things his way. We could also offer to help him collect ("I'm the god of unpaid debts" ), but he refuses that as well. That's all we can do with Chumin right now, so let's move on.

We find this gentleman next to the path back to the teahouse. Hey there Lishun, what's the word on the street?

In fact, I think your presence here is a sure sign that things are looking up. Soon all our problems will be solved... It's just like I kept saying.

Are there any visitors who didn't crash their flyer next to the town like we did?

Things will get better. They always do. It's like my father used to say: The greater the problem, the greater the solution. I'm sure it will all work out.

Uh, sure. I should go.

I suppose it is nice to see someone who isn't full of doom and gloom around here, even if that means they're slightly delusional.

Moving on. The large building here, also seen in the Tien's Landing version of the title screen, is the boathouse. While it would be grand to be able to take a tour, we can't actually go in there right now so that's gonna have to wait.

On the other side of the boathouse, we find this portly fellow.

There's a few people walking around, certainly, but due to technical limitations the situation with the dam there aren't any crowds to be found.

It's also not a big city in any way, shape or form.

Who are you?

My name's Tian, but everyone calls me Big Tian 'cause I'm so big. I came to the city to try and find me a wife. So far it‘s not going so good. Say, you're real pretty. You want to be my wife? You could come live on my farm. I got chickens and oxen and lots of land.

We're going to pass on that, of course, but Big Tian at least seems to be quite pleasant compared to that arrogant idiot Yaoru.

...Oh. Well. Ugh. I guess his heart is in the right place and he's just too much of a simpleton to figure out minor things such as tact.

Oh... okay. Well, do you know any other pretty young gals looking for a husband?

I don't know any eligible women.

Yeah, we haven't really met anyone here in Tien's Landing who would fit the bill. Seamstress Lan is engaged to Baker Bei, and none of the other women we've met so far have said anything about looking for partners. I don't think Dawn Star is interested either.

He kind of reminds me of Zhong, just slightly more intelligent.

Enough of that nonsense, we've got a book to read. Jade Empire has a ton of lore stuff like this that sounds really cool but is sadly never seen in the game. Maybe in the sequel... (was what I said back in 2005)

Good luck with that, friend.

These two are talking about a game of some kind, but as far as we can tell they're just standing around. Let's see what's up with them.

Hrmpf. A wise move, but you know you cannot win. You stall this game the way you hesitated to learn of harmonic combinations. You must be bold, Vo.

You are being rude, Jian. We have a guest. Let us place the game on hold a moment.

Bunch of rude old men in this town, I tell you.

We are having our game of Yi interrupted. Playing without the board or pieces is hard enough without some stranger interrupting.

Surely you know of Yi, "the capturing game?" Played on a board of nineteen rows and columns, the black and white pieces capture territory for their player.

So yes, they're playing Go (or wéiqí, as it's called in China) without a board or pieces. In ancient China, wéiqí (or simply qí) was considered one of the four arts of the scholar, and one of the theories on the game's origin suggests it was an ancient method of fortune-telling cosmologists used to simulate the universe's relationship to an individual. That sounds like the kind of thing Jian and Vo here would be all about.

None. Too many people seek our guidance.

You're the worst trainers ever.

And look where that got us! Your foolish devotion to the Way of the Open Palm drove you from my tutelage and made you weak. No more! End of subject.

I'll leave you two to your game.

I know when I'm not wanted.

I, too, see strength, but also the capacity for understanding the world and your place in it. You could prove an interesting pupil.

That's sounding a little more promising.

I will make you an offer. Show me that you understand every nuance of the Way of the Closed Fist, and I will teach you how to bend the storms to your will through Tempest.

Does that involve smashing flasks over your head and setting yourself on fire? (Spoiler: No, although it's still a good magic style)

The gimmick with Tempest and Stone Immortal is that their damage output scales based on your Closed Fist or Open Palm points respectively. Of course, this means that if you're Open Palm but think Tempest sounds cooler than Stone Immortal you're kinda out of luck even if you temporarily go Closed Fist (or cheat to get both styles). Tempest will just end up doing shit damage.

Wu has been a pretty stand-up gal, so I bet we're far enough on the Open Palm path to learn Stone Immortal.

Or not. We are pretty close to the required 50% Open Palm, so it shouldn't take too long to get there.

That's everything we can do in this particular area at the moment, so let's make our way southeast.

These must be the goons who keep beating up Baker Bei, Also, that was a pretty catchy rhyme from him, maybe he should consider a new line of work.

Ai Ling? That's a name we haven't heard before.

Since Ai Ling clearly commands a group of thugs and has told them to beat up Baker Bei for whatever reason, she doesn't seem like a particularly pleasant individual.

Hold on a sec. We got company.

You're a little too interested in our business, friend. Looks like we gotta teach you to back off when Ai Ling's boys are working.

Beating up some baker counts as work? Let's see what happens when they meet someone who can fight back.

That is what happens. It took me an embarrassing amount of time to hit him with the dragon AoE attack.

They... they might have killed me if you hadn't stepped in. Thank you. I never expected such help from a stranger.

You spoke to Lan? How humiliating! My fiancee must have told you I can't protect myself. The woman I love doesn‘t have any faith in me! Oh, the shame! I'll never live this down.

She's just worried about you.

Yes, you're right, of course. I suppose I can't fault Lan for being worried about me. I've taken some serious beatings lately. I didn‘t mean to sound ungrateful. I'm just worried about Lan. She's very emotional. I've done my best to try and keep her from becoming involved in this.

So why did those thugs attack you?

Those thugs are acting on Ai Ling's orders. She's the head of their gang. They have a small hideout in the boathouse. Ai Ling and I were friends when we were children, but we drifted apart as we grew up. She fell in with some rough people... as you've already seen. Ever since I got engaged. Ai Ling has become obsessed with me. Every day she sends her thugs to beat me up. She says she won't stop until I go talk to her.

She has to be doing this for a reason.

I mean, that doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

At least the beatings on the street are out in public. They won't kill me in front of witnesses. Well, not on purpose, anyway.

Silver linings and all that. Still, this seems rather strange. Why would Ai Ling send her goons to attack him if they haven't even spoken in years? Something doesn't add up here.

I'm being completely honest, I swear! I... I know how this looks. You must think I've done something to deserve this. But I have no idea why Ai Ling is after me!

Maybe I could talk to Ai Ling for you.

Bei does genuinely seem like he's just as confused about this situation as we are. The one person who will surely know an answer to all this is Ai Ling, so we're going to go meet with her.

We'll be heading back that way once we're finished looking around the southeast part of town.

Hm. I guess this is also the seedier part of Tien's Landing.

I don't actually remember seeing any fishermen in Two Rivers, to be honest.

Merchant Jiang here doesn't seem to quite understand how this business thing works. We'd probably spend some silver at his store if he'd just consider selling us something. I'm sure there's someone around here who doesn't turn away paying customers.

Maybe this lady here knows what she's doing.

[insert your favorite RE4 merchant line]

Regardless, it‘s good to meet you! I‘m Darting Lynx, the acrobat. Unfortunately, I'm not putting any shows on in Tien's Landing, if that's why you're here.

Let me tell you, it raises a few eyebrows at first. That's why I tell people I'm an acrobat up front these days. I travel around the countryside putting on acts and sometimes teaching people a few tricks. Hey, now that I think of it, you're a warrior, right? I may not be putting on any shows here, but I could teach you a few techniques to improve your balance and speed if you're interested.

How did you come by the name Darting Lynx?

Training sounds fantastic, but we gotta focus on the important things.

I was quite young, and my master felt I was a little too fast for my own good. "You dart like a lynx," he would say, "but you balance like a drunken frog!" He taught me to slow my movements and really focus on what I was doing, but his nickname for me stuck.

Incidentally, Drunken Frog would be my acrobat name.

Let's get down to business, though.

You'd think *we'd* be the ones having a hard time. I swear, if men had breasts they wouldn't be able to walk straight, let alone hold a handstand. Let's see what I can teach you.

Darting Lynx sells a couple of gems we have no use for, but we're here for the techniques. Balance of Nature is the most expensive of the four, but it's also the only one that doesn't come with any negative effects. After we sell off our surplus gems, we buy Balance of Nature, Conditioning of the Body (Health +7, Chi -3), and Swallow's Grace (Charm +3, Intuition -1). We'll come back for Hawk's Elegance (Health -3, Focus +7) later, as we can't quite afford that one yet.

This looks to be the ship the sailors arrived on, now grounded until someone closes the dam.

Here's Captain Ing, who appears to be losing his authority over his crew at this point (the sailors at the teahouse mentioned that Ing told them not to go there).

Doesn't seem like these guys are much more receptive than their crewmates.

I've had enough of your orders!

Now get back in that ship. I'm your captain, understand?

Things really aren't going well with the sailors and their captain.

We should maybe go take a look at that dam before the sailors wreck the whole town.

You can actually speak to Captain Ing to get a sidequest, but of course I completely forgot to do that. I'll get to it soon enough. For now, let's check out this walled area down here.

Some of the sailors hang out here, along with another NPC we'll be ignoring for now.

Sorrows? What do you mean?

It's no fun bein' trapped in this town. We don't know nobody, we ain't sheen our families in months, and now we're shtuck here. *hic* That'd drive anyone to drink.

I'll be going now.

Uh... okay then. *hic*

Well, that wasn't very exciting, although it did tell us that not all of the sailors are assholes and some of them are just frustrated because they're stuck in this dump and people hate them because some of their crewmates are causing trouble.

Scholar Six Heavens is the NPC you talk to in order to start the Zither of Discord quest. There probably isn't any reason not to talk to him, but I decided to ignore him for now just in case. I'll come back with Wei Shen once we have the items Six Heavens wants.

This sealed gate always confused me. You can see on the map that it's just a shortcut between the boathouse area and the place those sailors and Scholar Six Heavens hang out, but for some reason it remains shut forever. I can only assume that was done for technical reasons on the original Xbox, to help with loading or frame rate or whatever.

Speaking of the boathouse, we should go see a gang leader about a baker.

This jerk is the reason we couldn't get in earlier. The door is locked, and we seem to have... misplaced our membership card to their exciting club.

However, since we met Baker Bei, we now have an extra dialog option that helps us persuade the guard to let us in.

All right, let's finally find out what the hell is going on with Baker Bei.

I'll try to make sure it doesn't come to that, but I'm also quite sure we're strong enough to take on a bunch of thugs and win.

It's a bit hard to see in the screenshot, but the person with the yellow arrow over her head is Ai Ling.

We don't actually need to go over to her, because the game takes over at this point and she comes up to us when she notices we're there.

Along with a number of horrible burn injuries, yes.

Huh, apparently we didn't kill those guys this time. I just generally assume everyone we fight is either killed or suffers gruesome injuries unless the game shows them getting right back up after the fight, but I guess these gang members didn't get too badly brutalized.

But we're not here to talk about those idiots, we're here to find out more about the situation with Bei.

That'll complicate things if it is true. Bei did mention that he barely knows Ai Ling these days and hasn't even spoken to her in years, though.

And he certainly didn't say anything about any marriage promises.

But the fact is, Bei promised to marry me long before that seamstress batted her brazen little eyes at him.

If we're talking about the same Seamstress Lan, "brazen" is not the description I would use for her in any situation.

Yes, sending a bunch of thugs to assault the guy might not be the most efficient way to get him to come to your criminal hideout and talk things over.

Bei promised to give me all that. He promised to marry me. and now he's trying to weasel out of it. But a promise is a promise. I won't forget that, even if he tries to.

I can see only one way to make any sense of this.

I'll go get Bei right now.

Better drag him here immediately and get this over with.

After a quick fade to black, we're right back inside the boathouse with Bei (I'd have liked to see that conversation) and...

...Lan, who is here as well. This is going to be awkward for everyone involved.

True or not, I'm sure she will take this well.

Don't pretend like you don't remember, Bei! It was summer, and we were sitting on a little raft catching fish. I was upset because Lishun had called me ugly. I was crying, so you took my hand and said, "I think you're pretty, Ai Ling. And someday, when we‘re grown up, I'll marry you."

What? But that... that was years ago. We were kids. We were only six years old! You can't hold me to that!

Okay. Time out, guys. This is getting silly now, but what I'm wondering is just how old exactly are Bei and Ai Ling supposed to be? Ai Ling seems like she's in her early 30s at most and they're the same age, but Bei was given the "middle-aged dude" character model and as such he looks as if he's twenty years older. Poor guy must've aged really badly. ANYWAY, back to the situation at hand...

Seriously. All of this was over some dumb childhood "marriage promise"? Come on, you're better than that.

But that same day, you gave me the frog back. You said you‘d never, ever, ever do anything to make me unhappy. Kids always say things like that. It doesn't mean anything!

Ai Ling's expressions in this scene are a bit weird in general, with her eyes wandering all over the place, but here she genuinely does look hurt despite the ridiculousness of the situation.

Well, if we're going to hold people to promises they made as tiny children, let's hold Ai Ling to hers. The game also gives you the option to suggest that Ai Ling and Lan should fight to the death, which ends with both Bei and Lan getting killed. Then, Ai Ling blames you for causing the bloodshed and you kill her too (along with everyone else in the boathouse). This, of course, gives you the most Closed Fist points you can earn from this quest. Closed Fist totally isn't about being an evil asshole who kills people for no reason.

You changed, too.

You can still pick the super evil option at this point. We, uh, won't.

Instead, we've persuaded Ai Ling who finally comes to her senses.

Once again, we might be doing this pretty much 100% Open Palm, but we're still not going to refuse a quest reward because that would just be stupid.

Uh, you kinda already promised that when we said we'd help Bei, but thanks anyway I guess.

With the crisis peacefully resolved, Bei and Lan are free to go back home and presumably get married at last. Ai Ling realizes she's been unreasonable, and there are no hard feelings between them.

Well, Bei and Lan may have gotten their resolution, but what of Ai Ling and her hopes of having a family? Maybe we're not done here just yet.