The Let's Play Archive

Jade Empire

by Doc M

Part 12: Preparations

Episode 11: Preparations

Last time, we helped a gang leader find a husband (as I mentioned, I'll show off the different options for that quest in a bonus update once I get around to that) and... well, that was pretty much it, as I wanted to get that quest out of the way before tackling one of the main objectives. We need to gain access to the ruins of old Tien's Landing in order to close the dam and find that piece of the Dragon Amulet before the Lotus Assassins do.

We need to go speak with Minister Sheng, the man who currently passes for Imperial authority in this backwater town. Before that, though, let's check with this merchant and see if he has anything useful for us. This will be another very wordy update without much of anything in the way of action, but I promise we'll get to it soon enough.

Not looking too promising so far. Those are certainly useful items for the local fishermen and such, but not exactly something we'd want.

Do you have anything useful? Like weapons or magical items?

I have a cloak so warm it's like a weapon against the cold. I have a scrubber so good that it cleans like magic.

You don't actually have anything I'd want, do you?

Heroes don't need warm cloaks or scrubbers.

To be fair, I think all our party members could use some extra clothing just in case we hit some bad weather. I'm pretty sure Zu doesn't even own a shirt.

Who wouldn't want a basket so big you can carry two babies in it?

Do you sell wind maps?

I am afraid I do not. Just a few years ago, you could find wind maps everywhere, although only the rich needed them, with their airship racing. Recently, the wind maps have disappeared. I know that when the Emperor's men left Tien's Landing, they took all the wind maps with them. There are those who say... but it is not important.

Tell me.

Some say that Death's Hand is collecting all the wind maps and destroying them, so that only he and his minions may travel freely about the Empire. However, I do not believe such talk. I believe firmly in the goodness, kindness, and wisdom of our Emperor and all those around him.

Yes, I hear Death's Hand is actually a very pleasant fellow when he's not out there murdering peasants and children with his friends.

I suppose there may still be merchants in the Imperial City who have some. And they were once so widely available that there must be some here and there. But I do not have any. Nor do I know anyone who has one.

All right. No wind maps or anything else that might come in handy, but at least we now have an idea why wind maps seem to be so rare these days. Assuming Merchant Chiu isn't full of shit, of course.

We saw how that sailor tried to steal a sword from Merchant Cheung here and was somehow foiled by Minister Sheng showing up. Let's have a chat, maybe he has some problems for us to solve or even some useful items to sell.

Oh. Well, that doesn't help us much, does it?

Most of what is missing is perishable items: grain, baked goods, fruit. There's little chance of getting them back, and they're hardly worth the effort. The only thing I'm really upset about is a clay figurine. Yesterday, Tong, one of the sailors, took it. There was nothing I could do to stop him. The figurine isn't worth much, but it belonged to my mother. I wish there was some way to get it back.

Have you told the authorities about this?

Normally I would look to the local officials to help, but as you've already seen, Minister Sheng can do little about these sailors. Nobody in town can help.

I suppose that's true. Even if Minister Sheng was competent, he doesn't have any place to put criminals in because someone burned down his office and the jail. As for Tong, we met him a while ago just loitering around and drinking his sorrows away. Maybe we should pay him another visit and tell him stealing is bad (unless you're the protagonist, I guess).

Is there some kind of reward if I help you?

If you convince Tong to return my mother's figurine, I'll give you a discount on all my merchandise when it arrives. I promise!

He offers that same reward even if we don't ask for anything. He'll also tell us where Tong is, but we already know that so let's get on with it and head on over to Beggar's Pier.

And here's our man, still standing around doing nothing.

You stole a figurine from Merchant Cheung.

Figurine? You mean that clay shtatue? Pretty little thing. *hic* I jusht borrowed it for a while. I didn't shteal it.

We could be all about this, but we might as well hear him out before we do anything drastic.

Here. take the figurine. *hic* I didn't mean to cause no trouble. I just missed my ma is all. *sniff*

Hey, it's okay. Don't cry.

I ain't cryin'! I jusht... I jusht got shomething in my eye! *sniff* I... I gotta go back to the boat now. Come on, boys. Let'sh go.

Excellent. We'll take this back to Merchant Cheung in a moment, but first there's something we have to do down here at Beggar's Pier.

That is, go talk to the captain of the ship.

We're sailors, we don't belong on land. If we could just get our ship back on the water, everything would be fine, but that won't happen until someone finds a way to close the dam.

If the river is too low and fast, why don't you go close the dam?

If I leave the ship, my men will have Tien's Landing in flames. The locals think the dam is haunted, and Minister Sheng can't find anyone brave enough to risk closing it.

Aw hell, we were going to do it anyway.

The moment I saw you, I knew you were the fearless sort. I hoped you would offer to help. It shames me to need the help of a stranger. I'm not a rich man. But my reputation, my ship, and my men are worth everything I can give. Close the dam and free us, and I'll give you all the silver I have.

I'll go to the dam right now.

Well, after talking to Minister Sheng because he's the only one who has the key.

Yes, that.

There we go. I called this a sidequest a couple of updates ago, but it's really more of a way to get a larger reward from the main quest. We're closing the dam anyway, and talking to Ing here doesn't give us any extra objectives or anything.

Okay then, let's return that clay statue.

After talking to this guy near Merchant Cheung, that is. We'll brave the Great Southern Forest in due time, but right now we have more pressing matters.

I have your figurine here.

I... I don't believe it! Thank you, mighty one! You have no idea what this means to me. I have no silver to offer you, but I'll give you a discount on all the goods I sell... as soon as the dam is closed and I can replenish my stock.

Excellent, we'll be taking a look at that soon enough. We should go see Minister Sheng, but instead I'll talk to all the peasants in this area since I didn't do so earlier.

These two don't have much of anything to say, other than affirming what we've already seen; Tien's Landing is not doing well at all.

Maybe the old man here will be more talkative.

Of course, we're both pretty old compared to most of the people in Tien's Landing. Why, most of them don't even remember what it was like before the flood.

Time for a history lesson, everyone!

Eighteen years ago, Emperor Sun was young and flush with success from ending the drought. He began public works all over the Empire, including the Great Dam down-river. The workmen came and started building it near our town. We were not engineers and so we were not sure what it would mean. Some worried that it might flood us out. Most were unconcerned. After all, if there were any danger the Emperor would tell us, surely. One day, the Great Dam was finished. And the floodgates were closed.

What happened?

The town... the town flooded. We took what we could and fled. Mothers ran about screaming for their children who had gone out to play. Children screamed for their dogs. Some folks climbed to the roofs of their houses and refused to leave. We survivors straggled upriver... some collapsed from exhaustion, but the water kept rising. I carried a boy and a girl. I saw another boy fall, but I couldn't carry him. Finally, I fell over too. When I woke, I found the water had stopped rising.

Go on.

The emperor is a dick. We already established that with the whole Dirge thing, but not bothering to inform the people of Tien's Landing that they might get flooded and killed is some serious dickery in its own right.

Life went on, but no word ever came from the Imperial city. No warning, no explanation. Did we displease the Emperor? Or were we just beneath his notice? I will never know. The crewmen who manned the Great Dam would come to town sometimes, but they knew no more than we. I will go to my grave never knowing.

No one here will talk about the ruins.

The people started a new life here. But there was much pain and sorrow. Conversations would trail off. At night you could hear women sobbing... and not a few men. Finally, people stopped talking about the past, and then they refused to talk about it all together. Eventually they pretended it never happened.

I saw the ruins on my way here. They aren't underwater.

Mm. A few months ago, the Emperor's engineers and soldiers left. They just went off in the night. Soon after, the Great Dam opened on its own. There wasn't anyone around. The water drained, revealing the old ruins. Underwater these eighteen years, and now they're back. I don't know what made the Great Dam open. Some say it was ghosts. They say those who died in the town don't want to be forgotten.

We, of course, know why the dam opened recently. Hui said the Lotus Assassins drained the lake while searching for the piece of the amulet.

We don't know how. We are simple people, and the Great Dam is not a simple thing. They say there is magic involved in its construction.

There is magic involved in the construction of a lot of things in Jade Empire, so this would not be a huge surprise.

So that's what happened to the old Tien's Landing. Not exactly the most uplifting story in the world, but interesting nonetheless.

Now that we know the history of the town, we can finally go talk to Minister Sheng and see if we can do something about the town's future.

Truly, can you not see that I am busy watching my career slide into oblivion? Minister Sheng simply hasn't time for your petty concerns! I have problems of my own!

Yes, we've noticed as much.

This backwater pimple of a town lives off of the lake created by the Great Dam. But the Great Dam is open and the lake is dry. The town is dying... under my supervision!

Minister Sheng is clearly much more worried about his own status than anything that might happen to the town.

I have nary a clue. Unless... very well, you’ve convinced me to talk. It is dangerous to say anything, but I am a brave man. It was that horrible Inquisitor Lim! Lim oversees the Lotus Assassin operations in this area. A few weeks ago, he came to town and demanded a key to the ruins. Then his men went up there and opened the Great Dam!

I don't think we've heard of this Inquisitor before, but if he's in charge of the Lotus Assassins around here we can assume he's not the friendliest of guys. We should hope he hasn't found the piece of the amulet yet.

Wu, you know perfectly well why they did that. Were you not listening to Hui earlier?

I didn't want the town to panic, so I kept Lim's presence here a secret. Better the peasants think it was ghosts... a much less terrifying idea.

Is there anything I can do?

Some brave soul must travel through the old ruins, which are absolutely not infested with ghosts, and close the Great Dam. The gate to the ruins is locked, but I have a key. I cannot order, or even ask, someone to go do this! If the Great Dam closes, the ruins will flood! Various Assassins and soldiers will be killed! Not good for my career.

I see. So, about that key...

Perhaps I could direct you to the historic ruins of our old town, which lie across the footbridge and out the west gate. Certainly a sight worth taking in. Strictly for interest's sake, of course.

Well, we seem to have... found the key to the ruins. Before we go sightseeing, let's see if Minister Sheng has any more information we can use.

I suppose, in theory, you could find a flyer at the pirate camp upriver. In practice, however, I doubt you would find the pirates very accommodating. I suppose Ru the Boatswain is mad enough to take you, if he's drunk. Hmmm... yes. Ru is surely the only one who would make the trip. And then the pirates would kill you.

I love how casual the delivery of that last line is. Ru the Boatswain is, of course, the sentient wine barrel we met at the teahouse earlier, as he was bragging about how he was going to go close the dam. In his case, I don't think we need to worry about whether or not he's drunk.


First things first though, we've got another bookstand to take a look at. The text is a bit long, so I'll just post the transcription:

The Airing of Grievances posted:

Being a collection of the indignities suffered by Minister Sheng at the hands of the backward shanty town of Tien's Landing:

His hat has been soiled.
A parchment was stolen from him before a speech at a community gathering.
His cat was viciously threatened.
A chair at his table was placed backward.
His finger was slammed in a door not once, but thrice.
An egg was thrown at him by an unknown assailant.
His cart was stolen, filled with soiled garments, and then returned.
His face was ridiculed by young children.
His prized tonberry was squashed.
It was suggested that he perform acts of deliberate indecency upon himself.
He was forced to suffer the interminable and petty gripes of the people.
His hair was accused of being impermanent and false.
The honor of his family was impugned.
He suffered a disabling attack by a pack of bees.
His reputation was maligned by brigands. Brigands!
A local dog evacuated in the Minister's shoe.
He was given a gift of turtle eggs by a visiting merchant.
It was suggested that he would be able to trace his lineage to a simple courtesan.
He was referred to as "smelly."
He slipped in mud, no doubt placed in his path by jealous townsfolk.
Sailors burned down his office.

It sure ain't easy being Minister Sheng. Come on now guys, don't threaten his cat, that's just uncalled for. Also, I'm not sure how they managed to squash a tonberry without getting stabbed horribly.

When we try to leave the area, a cutscene triggers and someone runs up to us.

Who are you?

Huh, I think it's obvious where this is going. Merchant Jiang here does not look very trustworthy.

I simply fill a need the best way I can. What is the crime in that? Now, you seem a capable young woman, and I really need some help.

Where does your wine come from? The town is cut off.

We all must have our little secrets. How I conduct my trade is mine. Now, I need the help of someone with... discretion. Someone who knows how to keep their mouth shut and recognizes a good deal. Someone who likes silver... lots of silver. Does this sound like you?

Not really. Well, we do recognize good deals and won't say no to a bit of silver, but I don't think we want any deal he's offering. Might as well confirm what's going on, though.

This is an excellent time to be a wine merchant. The sailors trapped in our town were on the river for quite a long time, and they had saved up massive amounts of silver. They've made me a rich man, but they still have much silver to spend, and I have a large enough supply of wine to last many moons before my stocks run dry. I saw you speaking with Minister Sheng, worthy one. I suspect he asked you to go out to the Great Dam and close it. Am I right?

Do you have a proposition or not?

I like the way you come right to the point. It shows that you are strong and decisive. I will answer the same way. I do not want you to close the Great Dam.

That's unfortunate, because I'm going to close the Great Dam.

I want you to destroy the controls of the Great Dam, leaving it forever open. Then there will be no danger of some adventurer coming by and closing it.

I'm not going to doom this entire town!

Don't be so dramatic! I know that some think this river situation is fatal, but they are overreacting. They cannot adapt to the new realities. True, if the Great Dam remains open, the town will consolidate a bit. That might be a good thing. Either way. the smart ones who planned for their future will be fine. If you perform this service for me, I will pay you twenty percent of my profits to date. Rest assured, it’s a very substantial sum.

It actually is a substantial sum (2000-2500 silver) but we're not having any of this guy's FYGM bullshit.

I'm really not sure how "surviving this crisis" would make the town stronger. As Minister Sheng said, Tien's Landing lives off of the lake created by the dam. If we keep the dam open, all the trade routes remain cut off and the sailors will be trapped in the dying town for who knows how long. The townspeople will inevitably leave, and then only the few "smart ones" such as Jiang here will be left... with a rowdy bunch of sailors who are now pretty much permanently marooned and looking to take out their frustrations on something. That doesn't seem like a proper foundation for a stronger Tien's Landing.

Twenty percent of my profit to date. Remember that.

Fuck that.

Next time, we will finally go to those ruins. I wanted to get there today, but as it turns out this update is already pretty damn long and it's better to cut it here for now.