The Let's Play Archive

Jade Empire

by Doc M

Part 13: Ashes and Bones

Episode 12: Ashes and Bones

Last time, we finished with the Tien's Landing sidequests for the time being and finally got around to talking to Minister Sheng, who gave us the key to the ruins of old Tien's Landing. The Lotus Assassins, led by Inquisitor Lim, are hard at work looking for the amulet piece in the ruins and we should go there before they get their hands on it. A local wine merchant also asked us to keep the dam open because he's earning a lot of money from the sailors currently stuck in Tien's Landing, but we're not having any of that.

One last pit stop to make before we head out. We now have plenty of silver to buy the last of Darting Lynx's techniques, so let's take care of that.

That'll do it. The gems here are mostly ones we've sold her before, so now that we have Hawk's Elegance we've bought everything useful she had for us. I'll check back later in case she updates her stock, but I'm quite sure that doesn't happen and we now have all we need from her.

As we approach our camp site outside town, we trigger a dialog scene with our party members. There is no cutscene or anything, it just fades to black when we get to a certain point and warps us straight to the dialog around the campfire. I also decided to update Zu's portrait to something a bit less crummy-looking.

Your question would be better directed at his favored student. She was at the school for three years before I arrived.

This dialog choice is a bit pointless, it's obvious Zu was asking Dawn Star instead of us.

Even though Dawn Star was the one who suggested he ask us instead of her, Zu decides to get annoyed with us.

Bad omens? What makes you think that? You said you don't know anything.

I know because of my name. It's one of the few details Master Li was told. I was named for a red glow opposite the morning sun. Like a distant... a distant fire.

I thought she said something to this effect if we managed to ask her about her name way back at the beginning of the game (as you may recall, we chose another dialog option and then the one about her name just disappeared), but maybe I was wrong and she only mentions this detail here.

Of course, at the time we had no knowledge of the events at Dirge, which may have been the cause of the red glow.

It fits the time, but that just confirms my thoughts about being born under a bad omen. What could be worse than this attack on Dirge and the Water Dragon?

If that is the most troubling thing you learn about your birth, consider yourself lucky.

Hmm. Well, that last bit there sounded slightly ominous. Let's see if Zu has anything else to offer us.

I want to know what you and Hui were talking about.

Nothing to concern yourself over. Very old business. I traveled this way when I was fleeing the Lotus Assassins.

It was nothing. Some vagrant waif I passed off after making sure its belly was full. A far less surprising turn than what Hui said about your Master Li.

She confirmed that he is the Emperor's brother.

I know Hui to be a truthful and honorable person. Much more so than I consider myself to be. I do not question her belief, but belief alone is not enough. What if it *is* true? Much will have to change to accommodate this "truth." It means the Emperor lied about Li‘s death, and he may have assaulted the heavens.

Zu seems to be having some trouble believing that the Emperor could have attacked Dirge and stolen the Water Dragon's heavenly power for himself. To be fair, that is quite a lot to take in so I don't know if we can really blame him. We only know what Master Li and Hui told us, but it would seem odd for both of them to be lying about what happened.

Well, he also decided that the peasants of old Tien's Landing didn't need to know that their town might get flooded once the dam is finished. Granted, that's less deception and more lack of caring, but still not exactly something a wise and benevolent Emperor would be doing.

Perhaps, but that, too, implies a weakness that the Emperor cannot have.

He seems so... certain of that. He doesn't say "shouldn't" or "mustn't" but "cannot", as if the mere idea of the Emperor having flaws like a regular human being is simply unthinkable. It's entirely possible Zu is trying to convince himself more than anyone else, because he doesn't want to believe the Emperor would be capable of such terrible things.

Just don't blame me when the whole world is against you.

At least he's still got our back, I guess..

You will need more than my help. Just try not to endanger your companions. They are not to blame for what your destiny mandates. Now, is there anything else?

I want to talk about you some more. You seem agitated.

I am always "agitated." It is because of my training. We were taught that we are always being watched, always being stalked. In many cases, it is actually true. You likely have similar feelings. When trained to be as vicious as the Assassins--or when you are the protege of a famous master--you tend to attract unwelcome interest. I wonder how you will react to this scrutiny. I also wonder if your fellows will stand by you when the true weight of what you claim becomes known.

I suppose we'll see when we get there. Until then, we do what we can.

Your best may not be enough. That is why it is so often used as comfort after failure. "You tried your best, but death consumed the nation anyway. Sorry."

Zu must be an absolute riot at parties. To be fair to him, maybe that answer was a bit on the non-committal side.

Enough. I don't have anything else relevant to say. Perhaps I will when I have seen more of what you are capable of... and what your master intends.

Progress the story further to unlock more of his dialog. Got it.

Dawn Star still doesn't have anything relevant to say to us despite the yellow marker appearing over her head once again () so let's get out of here and head to the ruins.

Huh. Well, that's not the angle the ground's supposed to be at. This glitch occurred at the dam site and the ruins every so often, possibly because I had locked the frame rate to 60 instead of the intended 30. Quicksaving and loading seemed to fix the issue.

That's better.

Remember the Imperial watchtower and the gate next to it? We tried the gate (which Dawn Star said was very spooky) earlier and couldn't get through because it was locked, but now we have the key from Minister Sheng.

There we go. Old Tien's Landing is just past here.

We can just about see some Imperial soldiers and a Lotus Assassin ahead of us next to those pillars. Moving towards them triggers a cutscene.

Luckily, it appears they haven't found anything yet.

The Lotus Assassin decides to summon some help, which arrives in the form of a bunch of rat demons.

If you find one, bring it to me right away. If you fail me, your torment will be greater than any you have yet experienced. Now go!

That's one way to motivate your workers.

The rat demons scamper off in search of treasure, and the Lotus Assassin turns to the Imperial soldiers next to him.

Well then, let's try to enter the ruins!

The lieutenant and his soldiers don't put up that much of a fight, although they are able to do some damage if they manage to surround us. That'll be why we lost a bit of chi during the fight, but it won't be a problem because there is a spirit font nearby.

Our reward for beating up these guys is the Gem of Thief's Sense. This is a fairly useful gem that points out which treasure chests are rigged with traps, and I'll show it off soon enough.

Not here, though, because I didn't equip it yet. Let's do that now.

The gem also adds +1 to Spirit. We'll replace Gentle Persuasion (the gem that boosts Intimidation) with this for now.

One of the crates in the area contains dragon powder, which as you may be able to guess is the Jade Empire version of gunpowder. We'll pick this up for later use.

The large gate to the south is the way forward, but before heading that way we'll check the path to the east. It has nothing but the spirit font I mentioned earlier. Well, and a couple of monkeys hanging around the spirit font. I'll call them Spirit Monkeys!

(I am so, so sorry)

Moving swiftly on. The ruins of old Tien's Landing are about as depressing as you might expect and are completely infested with ghosts. These green ghosts floating around never attack us, though, they're there just to add some atmosphere.

Huh? What's that now?

We get attacked by one of the rat demons, although this one is a bit special.

Rat demons in general are very weak and pose barely any threat unless there's at least half a dozen of them, but the cowardly rat demon here is even less threatening than his brethren.

This one actually yields before we kill him.

Rat demon knows things, important things and rat demon tells you... if rat demon lives!

I like the rat demons. Their voice acting is great, and for horrible demonic abominations they're actually kind of adorable.

I knows hitting rat demon not good! Hitting rat demon bad! I also knows that rat demons like the taste of ducks... if you gots any ducks....

You not like ducks? No ducks! But maybe you like gems? Rat demon feels gem is very close. Rat demon tells you where gem is, then you let rat demon live, yes?

Tell me where this gem is.

Gem is hidden behind wall. Go down path and you see. Assassins gots rockets set up. They getting ready to blow up wall with rockets.

So I should use the rockets to blow up the wall?

Yes, yes. But rockets need dragon powder. Lotus Assassins always gots dragon powder handy. Good for blowing stuff up. Look around their camp and you find it.

Way ahead of you, little buddy. I suppose he gives you that hint just in case you somehow missed the crate.

So simple, yes? Rat demon help you, now rat demon can go. Yes?

No harm in letting this one go, I suppose.

He's so happy about it!

The cowardly rat demon wanders off in search of adventure and we won't see him again, although one of his fellow demonic rodent men appears to be lurking inside that house. Let's go see if he's as friendly.

I guess not. There's actually two rat demons in this house, and Wu is looking at the other one right here.

Rat demons can barely take a hit. If your weapon is upgraded at all, you'll probably one-shot the poor critters.

The rats were guarding a pot with 256 silver, but there's more interesting stuff behind the house. It's hard to see unless you look at the minimap (or look through the hole in the wall, which shows there's something back here), but there is a narrow path between the rocks and the wall.

And this is what we find. While we only see a skeleton, the HUD indicates we're actually looking at a cameo next to it

This one. The portrait is very clearly a quest item, so let's take a look at it.

The inscription on the portrait mentions someone called Wei. We know Old Wei was one of the survivors from the flood, so maybe this belonged to him? He never said anything about a wife, but we ought to show this to him anyway the next time we're in town. Even if it's not his, he might know something.

The only path forward is to the southeast. It seems we found the rockets the rat demon mentioned, so let's get rid of the soldiers and blow up that wall over there.

No, no. We didn't come here to spy on you guys, you're just in the way.

Let's just quickly fix that problem.

With the soldiers out of the way, we now have access to the rockets and could use our dragon powder right here. We'll take a look around first, though.

That is actually the way forward. We're not going to progress quite yet, obviously, but we might as well go see what's going on over there.

A soldier and the Lotus Assassin from earlier fighting off some ghosts, that's what.

I can't believe they don't see us. Anyway, that command word sounds like something we should keep in mind.

I'd also like to know more about that Power Source.

seriously how does that Lotus Assassin not see us, we're right there

Oh, now he does. Apparently he can only see what is directly in front of him, and because he was focusing on the soldier's face he didn't notice us a little bit off to the side. Or something.

The Lotus Assassin runs off and leaves the soldier to fight us on his own, which goes about as well for the poor bastard as you might imagine.

But yeah, we're not progressing any further yet because there's plenty to do back here. Let's take a look at these rockets.

Yep, that is certainly a wall we can blow up. Doesn't even seem like a wall, really, just a pile of debris.

All right, the rocket is primed and ready to go. Just gotta yank the lever here and watch the fireworks.

The fuse is lit. Here we go.

Hell yeah. That was pretty satisfying.

The wall is now gone and we are free to pass through, but we should check out this building first because there's something inside.

This rat demon is clearly much less nice than his cowardly friend.

Why is he going on about children? There are no children here, only us. Maybe he thinks we're children.

We're not having any of that, you know.

Well, it turns out that our ratty friend here wasn't actually talking about us, nor was he mistaken. There are in fact children here.

And... there is something very wrong about them.

Very wrong indeed.

I mean, they are obviously ghost children, but I suppose that's not exactly what we're trying to ask here.

Gah! Stop doing that!

I don't care. I don't care! Someone has to pay! Someone has to pay for what happened to us!

How did you end up like this?

You don't care about us! Big people don't help us. They only want to hurt!

Just ignore her. She's gone strange because of what happened when... when the water came. We were locked in here, trapped in the orphanage with the rest of the children. As the water rose, we clawed at the door until our fingernails came off. Then we clawed at the window. When the water was too high, we clawed at each other. Then we stopped.

I should be a woman now, with kids of my own. I should have a husband and a house. Instead I have ashes and bones.

We're tired. living one. We've been here for too many years. We just want to sleep, but we can't. Not until the mistakes of the past are undone.

We could go "RARRR GHOSTS MUST DIE" but that doesn't really seem like the best way to handle things here. Instead, let's talk to them and see if there is anything we could do to ease their plight.

As you may have noticed, Miao here has become somewhat unhinged by the whole ordeal, dying in such a horrible way and not being able to rest. As such, she wants blood and she wants it now.

Bin, on the other hand, has remained surprisingly calm and rational after all that has happened. He only wants to rest.

You may remember that we met Kindly Yushan before. He was spending his time in the teahouse, doing nothing but staring at the wall, and brushed us off when we tried to talk to him.

We can find peace for a time at least, maybe until the voice of the shepherd returns so that we can find peace forever.

Clearly, we need to pay Kindly Yushan another visit. Bin also acknowledges that any peace we might bring them now is likely to be temporary due to the situation with the Water Dragon, but it'd hopefully be better than nothing.

Yes, find him and kill him! Bring me Kindly Yushan's head. Or bring him here, and let me kill him!

No! Please, living one. There has been too much death. If you find him just... just bring him here to bury our bones. Then we can finally rest.

Right. We'll go get Kindly Yushan and get this sorted out. Maybe he'll tell us why he allegedly left the kids to die in the flood and...

...okay then. When Miao said she was hurting us, she wasn't kidding. She did that twice and we're almost dead. I'm quite sure she can't actually kill you, but that's still a gigantic chunk of health she took off.

When you're this low on health, you begin limping and become slow and useless in general. You probably won't end up in such bad shape too often because you generally have enough chi to heal up a bit, but it's still something to keep in mind.

Sadly, we can't fast travel back to Tien's Landing from here so we'll have to backtrack.

Some areas such as the ruins have unique loading screens, showing an enemy or character that is relevant to that area. The ruins have a couple of these, here is one showing off a rat demon.

And we're back in the teahouse. Kindly Yushan is on the upper floor, so that's where we're headed. I could also have gone to Old Wei at this point and shown him the cameo portrait, but we'll do that later on.

Old Mother Kwan is trying to make this place respectable again. You can't stay here. Go close the dam!

Oh hey, look who's still here.

Ru, I don't have time for this! I have other customers to take care of. You have to leave now.

No, I'm really pretty sure I have to drink now. I need to get my courage up so I can go close the dam. Just another drink or two... or three. Maybe four. More wine!

You will? Thank the Emperor! I've lots of other work to do.

Well, we were supposed to talk to Ru anyway, so this works out quite nicely for us.

Oh god, his beard has a will of its own!

My... my help? Nobody asks for my help. They don't even trust me enough to ride on my barge! But I'm not some useless old drunk! I'll show 'em! That's why I volunteered to go close the Great Dam. Just need a drink or two to get my courage up, first.

I need you to take me to the pirate camp.

Straight to the point.

There will be plenty of time for wine later, first we have work to do and it seems that work starts with persuading this idiot to take us to the pirates.

I promised to close the dam and save the town. Truth is, I wish I'd never told anyone what I was going to do. I was a bit drunk when I said it. But I can't back out now! Everybody thinks I'm just a worthless drunk. But when I close the dam, they'll think I'm a hero! I just need a few drinks to get my courage up before I go.

[Success] You... you mean that, don't you? Well, I may have a bit too much fondness for the wine, but I won't turn my back on someone who needs me! Let's do it! To the Pirate Lair! I'll make my way down to the little dock where l have my barge and get everything ready. Just meet me at Beggar's Pier in the southeast corner of town when you‘re ready to go.

There we go. We could go there right now and leave the dam for later, but we might as well finish what we've got going on. Who knows, maybe Ru will have had time to sober up a bit by the time we return from the dam site.

Who am I kidding, he'll be even more drunk by then. Oh well, as long as he can get us to the pirates it doesn't matter.

Dawn Star seems to believe Ru will come through for us.

Got it. First things first, though.

The waitress thanks us for helping out Mother Kwan earlier, but that's all we're getting out of her. Let's find Kindly Yushan.

There he is, still in the same corner.

Still not too friendly either, but now that we know he used to be the orphan-master we might be able to get him to open up a bit.

What happened the day of the flood?

I was at the market buying food when the flood came. I ran back to the orphanage, but the water was too high. There was nothing I could do! The water kept rising! I had to flee. I came here with the other survivors and settled this town. I tried to start a new life. But everywhere I go, I see little faces watching me. A better man might have saved them. Sometimes I wonder... I wonder if I should have died with them.

Well, we know a certain ghost girl who would agree with that, but let's not go there.

Let's ask about the kids instead.

Miao was strong; she did not give up easily. As for Bin, I recognize the name. A quiet boy, I think. I barely remember him. But they are gone now. All of them.

Yes, the ruins are haunted. Yes, the children will be waiting for him. He's not wrong.

We're not giving up so easily, though. He needs to come to terms with what happened the day of the flood, and we'll help him with that.

Fortunately, we don't need to walk all the way back to the orphanage, the game will teleport us there automatically.

Seeing Bin and Miao here clearly shocked Kindly Yushan quite badly, because he seems to think they're actually alive despite obviously being ghosts.

Bin is right. Nobody is getting hurt this time, Yushan will bury the bones and that will hopefully bring peace to everyone involved.

VIDEO: Burying the past

For some reason, this is an in-game cutscene instead of an FMV as you'd expect. I'm not entirely sure those bones are rendering correctly, as they look rather weird.

In any case, Kindly Yushan has buried the bones of the children, and now we will see if that has helped them find the peace they deserve.

Bin and Miao are still here, staring ominously at Kindly Yushan...

...who, as you might imagine, is scared out of his mind right now. Did it not work? Were we not supposed to bury the bones?

However, the children don't attack or show any kind of hostility at all. Instead, they smile at Yushan and float away from the ruins of orphanage.

They've been unable to cross that threshold in the last 18 years, but now it appears they are no longer stuck.

And for that, they're showing their gratitude.

Miao is finally able to let go, and disappears as soon as she finishes thanking us.

Bin has found peace as well. We don't know how long that will last or if they can find their way to the underworld if we don't restore the natural order of things, but at least they should be free of the orphanage now.

And with that, Bin also fades away.

The rewards for doing all this aren't anything to write home about, but that's hardly the point.

Now that we have helped out the children, we can head through the wall we destroyed earlier and see if we can find some of those gems the rat demon was talking about. There is what looks a lot like a large Buddha statue in the background, which is an interesting detail. Buddhism isn't a thing in Jade Empire as far as I'm aware (neither is any other real-world religion for that matter), so the statue must represent something else -- perhaps one of the many gods in the Celestial Bureaucracy, or an ancient Emperor like Sagacious Tien.

When we get close to the headstone to the right of the entrance (to our left here because we're facing the entrance), convict ghosts attack. They all use Ice Shard magic, which makes them quite a bit more threatening than the average ghost.

The main problem here is that they can freeze you with the area attack, and it seems to have a rather big area of effect as well so avoiding it can be difficult especially if all the ghosts are ganging up on you. Getting frozen causes damage over time, and it's not exactly a small amount either so it's really a good idea to be careful in situations like this.

Luckily, our Dire Flame attacks work just fine here. Using magic is generally helpful because we don't really want to give these guys any kind of range advantage, and with Dawn Star on support duty we can regenerate chi fast enough to keep going for quite some time.

These guys are a bit annoying to fight, but we get them eventually and gain a level while we're at it.

Here's what the ghosts were guarding, a unique gem that is quite useful indeed (Charm +5, Body +1, Mind +1). We don't equip it just yet, though, because our gem slots are full and I want to show off the Gem of Thief's Sense.

That is in fact what I'm trying to do here. This headstone is rigged with a trap, which is indicated by translucent red particles emanating from it. Unfortunately, they blend into the background all too well in this area, so you really have to squint in order to see them in the screenshot. It's much more obvious in-game.

What the Gem of Thief's Sense doesn't do is help you avoid the trap if you choose to open the rigged container. There are other gems for that kind of thing. This one only tells you there is a trap, so you can just ignore that container if you prefer. I, of course, open everything because I don't want to miss out on silver and gems, so what we see here is still going to happen plenty of times.

There is another path leading out of this area, and when we approach it another cutscene triggers.

Oh, it's just a very small tornado.

Or maybe not. It's actually another convict ghost, and this is a special one.

You! What are you doing here? The quarry is ours! It was ours when we lived, and it's ours when we‘re dead!

As far as I recall, this is the only ghost in the game whose eyes and teeth are fully visible. It's supposed to make him look really creepy and kinda does, although it also tends to make me think of those infamous Assassin's Creed: Unity glitches.

I'm Yuxi. Stabber Yuxi. Everyone was afraid of me when we were alive. Toughest convict on the chain gang. Then the water came. Everyone ran, no one came to help the prisoners... except Turnkey. But I know he only came to laugh at us. So... Turnkey had to die. The water kept rising. And rising. And then we died. But the quarry is still ours, even when we're dead! And now you'll join us!

Did you know there was a quarry here in old Tien's Landing? I don't think anyone's mentioned it until now. But yes, that path next to us leads to the quarry, and we'll take a look at that once we deal with some more pressing issues.

Stabber Yuxi is a boss with a gimmick. He keeps summoning convict ghosts to help him out and whenever we damage him enough he'll absorb one of those ghosts to restore his health EDIT: Whoops, I'm thinking of the next boss. Yuxi does summon a new ghost when we kill one of them, but he doesn't use them to restore health. Sorry, got confused there. Anyway, Yuxi will attack with Ice Shard and his bladed staff, giving him a ton of reach and opportunities to fuck you up especially if/when he manages to connect with the Ice Shard's area attack.

The reinforcements eventually stop coming, and after that it's just a matter of whittling down his health bar. He has a lot of HP, so this'll still take a little while. I decided to use chi strikes to speed things up a bit, although it doesn't really help because Legendary Strike is far too slow and has too little range against his staff.

This, of course, makes my chi deplete extra fast. When I switch back to Dire Flame, I occasionally end up having to wait for Dawn Star to recharge my chi before I can attack again. Eventually, we manage to take Stabber Yuxi down for good. While I usually post videos of these boss fights, this one sadly ended up being so long and boring that I'm not going to make you sit through that.

Next time, we check out the quarry. It's a short side area, so we should also get to the main objective in the next update. See you then!