The Let's Play Archive

Jade Empire

by Doc M

Part 20: Bonus 01: Zither of Discord

Bonus 01: Zither of Discord

Last time, we destroyed the Mother and her cannibal servants, removing the corruption from the Great Southern Forest. That means we're done with Tien's Landing, aside from one last round of camp conversations. Well, actually there is one more thing -- a quest that is unavailable to Open Palm goody two-shoes such as us, but can be shown off thanks to the magic of save editing. Of course, just having Wu do this would be silly, so today's episode has a guest star.

Wei Shen, if you're unaware, is the protagonist of Sleeping Dogs. Wei is an undercover cop with a history of "extreme behavior" (as his HKPD file puts it), which often involves shoving people's faces into cooling fans and the like. I chose to give his name to the Furious Ming character here because I'm a giant nerd. This screenshot was taken long before I recorded the actual update (when I was just testing out the save editor), so Wei's level is lower here than it is in the rest of the update. I think he's actually at level 12 or 13 at this point.

Here's Scholar Six Heavens, the man we need to chat with to start today's quest. He has no time for Open Palm bullshit so Wu wouldn't have much luck talking to him, but Wei should be fine with all his undercover experience. How do you do, fellow Closed Fist follower?

Excellent. Here we go.

I seek the Zither of Discord, an artifact that belonged to Bladed Thesis, the sage who first advanced the Way of the Closed Fist as a philosophy.

This zither is a link to one of history's greatest minds. Find the zither's case and its silk strings. Bring them to me, and we will silence all who refuse to honor my work!

You may remember we picked up both of those items around Tien's Landing, so let's just present them to Six Heavens.

The bridge is missing, as I thought it would be. Since you have proven capable so far, I'd like you to acquire one more part.

Seems easy enough.

If we can recover the last part of this zither, the bridge that would lift the strings off the case, then I will double the silver I was going to give you.

I'll do it.

Good. In his last work, Bladed Thesis wrote of the "final test," and it taking place where "wood met water and rock." The work talks of a test for followers of his philosophies. I suspect the reward is the final piece to his famous Zither of Discord.

From studying the full text, it seems that it would be near a river in the Great Southern Forest. There must be some structure that allowed him to stay there for some time.

What was the ”test" you mentioned?

I expect the test to measure your conviction to the ideals of the Way of the Closed Fist. Bladed Thesis would not let his instrument fall into anyone else's hands.

Can I ask you more details about this Zither of Discord?

As I said, it was an instrument that belonged to Bladed Thesis, the scholar who first advanced the Way of the Closed Fist as a philosophy.

I said "more details."

I thought it would be pointless to ask about the Way of the Closed Fist since we obviously *cough* know all about it, but actually that would've been a good idea. See, Scholar Six Heavens is like a BioWare writer in that he doesn't understand Closed Fist at all. At least not in the way it was originally intended, before it became Literally Kicks Puppies (seriously, that's a thing you can do at full Closed Fist). This may or may not be relevant once we reach that test that was mentioned.

The Either of Discord is as unique as it is ancient, however. It has five strings instead of seven, and each is fashioned from unbreakable silk.

Uh, okay then. Thanks. Let's get out of here.

We're heading right back to the Great Southern Forest.

What did he say? A structure near the river, "Where wood met water and rock?" Well, we're certainly near the river, and I think we might be able to figure out the rest.

That has to be it.

Hm. No ghosts are appearing. That's actually slightly disappointing, as I was hoping to show off some of Wei Shen's kung fu.

That guy was not there the last time we went to the spirit font, so we must be in the right place.

Here's a slightly better shot of your shadow growing these writhing tentacles at full Closed Fist. It's a really cool effect. Actually, have a video:

VIDEO: Shadow tentacles!

(I tried to make a GIF but Gooncam was having some issues with my desktop scaling)

This ghostly fellow is none other than Bladed Thesis himself. We shall see what kind of test he has prepared for us.

Simple enough. Let's see now...

If you have enough Closed Fist points, this option appears.

I thought to test you, but you need no trial. You are worthy. I grant you the chance to carry out my wishes.

While I do like how Bladed Thesis is taken aback by that, picking the "best" option causes the test to be skipped entirely, and since the test is the most interesting part of this quest we shall pretend that never happened and pick the middle option instead. I have never done this quest before or even seen it, so I'm kind of winging it here.

The bottom option, of course, makes Bladed Thesis hostile, and we don't want that either.

Name your test. I will take it.

What type of test is this?

The test is simple if you understand the Way of the Closed Fist. Speak with each of these wretches and hear their stories. Tell me which of them deserved to die, and why.

Well, if we were going by what most Closed Fist options in this game have shown us thus far, we'd just say that everyone deserves to die because they're weak. Then we'd kill them, take their pocket money and laugh in their faces as we kick them a few times when they're down. Losers.

Yes, tell me.

Years ago I found my end at the hands of an executioner. His yellow sash, symbolizing his service to the Emperor, was the last thing I saw. I had tried to rob a store armed with a saber that my husband had used before his death. I thought to take all the silver the shopkeeper had and leave town with my only child. We would go far away and start over.

I claimed my silver without a problem, but the shopkeeper's son had ducked out the back and ran to tell the guards. I did not get far before they caught me. I knew the penalty for what I had done, so I fought viciously, but they were too many. I was caught and beheaded.

Apparently, this particular executioner thought cleaving half of someone's head off is the same thing as beheading.

We can ask her to repeat the story if need be, but let's just go over to the male ghost and ask what happened to him.

One day, one of the traders decided to make a stand. He called me out and challenged me to a fight. I accepted.


I laid into him, beating him soundly and then backing off. Enjoying his suffering. Then, betrayal! Realizing I was growing tired and deliberately sloppy, my second in command plunged a dagger into my back. She took it all: my life, my men and my silver. That is the tale of how I died.

Now that we have all the information we need, we can go to Bladed Thesis and give him what we think is the correct answer.

I'm ready to tell you which deserved their death.

Then tell me, who deserved their death? The man, or the woman? Do not bother with fabrication, I will hear the truth of what you say.

Despite what you might think based on everything we have seen, "EVERYONE MUST DIE" is in fact the wrong answer.

You understand the Way of the Closed Fist. Taunting a foe, playing with them, teaches them nothing. The other bandit was right to kill him and seize his power.

See, Closed Fist is supposed to have some nuance to it and it's not just stupid evil! It's a shame this is one of approximately two quests in the entire game that follows this line of thought in the slightest. Bladed Thesis would be disappointed.

We, on the other hand, haven't disappointed him and have passed the test, so now we can help him with something that needs to be done.

That said, we're not just going to kneel down in front of Bladed Thesis and blindly follow his orders, because what kind of self-respecting follower of Closed Fist would stoop to that?

Before my death, I performed my greatest composition, preserving me from madness. But the zither was dismantled before I learned how to fully harness its strength.

The process will kill him. I will ensure that the zither's discord consumes him. In that moment I will seize some of his life force, making myself stronger.

Take the bridge to him, and say nothing. Let him bring his doom upon himself, and I will use the magic of the zither to strengthen you and I both.

Having said what he needs to, Bladed Thesis disappears and takes the two ghosts with him. Our job is clear.

You were following me?

Naturally, Scholar Six Heavens has been following us, and now he shows up to demand the bridge. We're obviously going to give it to him, just as he asks.

Take good care of it, Six Heavens!

This will show those stuffy scholars in the Imperial City that I am serious. People will talk for centuries about this discovery! *My* discovery.

Yes, totally his discovery. Nobody helped him pass Bladed Thesis' test which he'd have failed miserably, nobody at all.

True to his word, Bladed Thesis appears and eats Six Heavens' soul, making himself more powerful in the process.

Of course, we're not quite done yet.

More and more you surprise me. Your understanding of the Way is impressive; it would almost be an honor to lose to you. It won't happen, but it would be an honor.

This fight is entirely optional, but I think it's the perfect way to cap off the quest. We have shown we understand Closed Fist (or at least the way it was intended to be before a bunch of idiots like Six Heavens screwed it up), and what better way to show that understanding than challenge Bladed Thesis when he is more powerful than ever?

Here's the Tempest style in action. Much like Stone Immortal, the visual aspect of it is really lacking. I know you're supposed to be manipulating the winds and ripping things apart, but it just looks so weak.

Bladed Thesis is a spirit enemy, so we can't use Storm Dragon on him to set up harmonic combos. However, Tempest (and Stone Immortal) can also be used to start a combo if you use the strong attack. Tempest's strong attack suspends the enemy in midair, leaving them vulnerable.

One strong attack from Leaping Tiger, and this fight is over. Bladed Thesis has been destroyed.

We also get the Zither Bridge, but have no use for it so it'll just stay in our inventory for the rest of the game.

The gameplay rewards from this quest aren't particularly great, we just get a technique called Chaotic Strains (+5 to Health and Chi) and some Closed Fist points (or Open Palm points if you kill Bladed Thesis to "protect the weak" and that sort of thing), but the main draw of Zither of Discord is the fact it's one of the few quests that try to add some nuance to the Closed Fist philosophy. Of course, since the rest of the game is what it is and you spend most of a Closed Fist run as a sociopathic dickbag, the quest just comes off as this strange anomaly.

Next time, we'll go back to Wu and maybe show off those alternate ways to complete the Matchmaker quest.