Part 22: The Heavenly LilyEpisode 20: The Heavenly Lily
Last time, we finished what was left of our business in Tien's Landing and flew away in the Marvelous Dragonfly. Our destination: The Imperial City.
Here we are, in the heart of the Empire. This is where Master Li was taken by the Lotus Assassins, and in all likelihood they brought him to Emperor Sun Hai's palace. If that's the case, getting in may not be the easiest task, especially since the palace happens to be floating in the sky above the city (even though we have the Dragonfly, I'm assuming they won't let us just fly up there). I thought the grey structure next to the Dragonfly's smoke trail might be the palace, but it looks way too small and not high up enough in the sky.
Well, I'm sure we will figure something out. For now, let's just land our flyer.
Does it matter? Death's Hand himself seeks this one. Do you need any more incentive than that? Just question everyone. This person apparently caused a lot of damage in the south.
It seems we've attracted some rather high-profile attention with our exploits in Tien's Landing. As such, we might want to keep our wits around us in the big city.
You! Identify yourself!
By order of the Emperor and the Lotus Assassins, state your name and purpose for being in the Imperial City!
We are questioning everyone who has arrived in the city recently. You... bear a resemblance to someone we are looking for.
I don't know. The long hair, the purple clothing... very similar. It's not enough to be sure.
I've never really considered Wu's outfit to be purple, but of course there are many reddish shades of purple so they're not exactly wrong either.
Fighting city guards immediately after arriving wasn't really what we were hoping to do, but we're not planning to get dragged off by these guys either.
Hold that thought, let's see who this is. The voice sounds vaguely familiar...
MUSIC: Silk Fox Theme
In case the voice didn't clue you in, this cutscene makes it obvious who this woman is. The "Arrival" video at the top of the post contains the whole dialog bit with the guards and Silk Fox, and of course the cutscene is there too.
And here's the big revelation: Silk Fox is Princess Lian, the daughter of Emperor Sun Hai. As for why the Emperor's heir spends her time skulking around dressed as a shadowy assassin, we'll find out soon enough.
My apologies, Princess, but I was ordered to detain anyone even vaguely matching...
Then, unless you wish to be transferred to the Wall, you will leave and continue your search.
The guards run off, and Princess Lian turns her attention to us.
I have no doubt that you will make as much of an impact on the Imperial City.
It is, as you can see, customary to bow in my presence.
Well, I suppose it'd be the polite thing to do. We'd still like to know what the whole deal with Silk Fox is, though.
That is why I often travel without official escort, and occasionally present myself as someone less... bridled by the rules of the court. You understand why I don't go into detail here in the street, don't you? With what I have to tell you, I don't want to lose that option of disguise.
Makes sense. I like how one of the possible greetings earlier was basically " HOLY SHIT IT'S SILK FOX!!!"
I will not speak the location aloud. Take this note. We will meet nearby, but I must have a moment to acquire... more fitting attire.
Very scandalous indeed. Oh, I do believe I'm getting the vapors.
And so is one of Princess Lian's servants, it would seem. I can never not pick that dialog option, because the middle one is a bit generic and the top "Yes, Your Worshipfulness " one is the kind of thing Princess Lian doesn't really expect from us.
I'm certain that my entourage would prefer that this take place in private. Your gruff nature is a bit too much for them.
Don't be too long. My message concerns your master, and time is very important.
As Princess Lian leaves to find a change of clothing, this servant of hers stays behind and hands us a gift from the Princess herself. That's very thoughtful, let's see what the gift is.
Princess Lian's gift for us turns out to be an essence gem named Imperial Favor, and it's a pretty nice one as well (Spirit +3, Charm +1, Intuition +1, more powerups from fallen enemies). We'll put it into our amulet later, but first let's have a quick chat with our party members. This, by the way, is the point where the Chapter 3 intro slide is supposed to appear but once again I figured starting the update with it would work nicely.
EDIT: People in the thread pointed out that you can actually make all of Silk Fox's servants faint during this scene if you pick all the... improper options. Your reward for showing off those amazing social skills of yours is Loutish Approval, a technique that adds +2 to health. +2 to a secondary stat isn't exactly a huge boost (if I am getting my numbers right, +1 to an attribute is a +10 increase to the corresponding stat, so Body +1 would equal Health +10. I need to test this out in the save editor or something), but it's still a fun little bonus.
MUSIC: Metropolis I
This walled area we landed in is rather grey and nondescript, with nothing much around except a building we can't enter (to our right) and a bunch of scaffolding, apparently used for construction. I'm going to assume that this little area (and the wall that blocks our view of the city proper) is here to help with loading and performance on the original Xbox, but it's still not the most exciting first impression of the supposedly magnificent Imperial City.
Better shot of the construction going on here. I'm not sure what they're building and there never seems to be anyone around, so we can't ask about it. Anyway, we were going to talk to our party before heading to the meeting spot with Silk Fox, so let's do that now.
I feel like I'm a long way from home, and I don't even know where home is anymore. I haven't had time to think about anything except Master Li and Two Rivers and the Imperial City... it's all so much to take in.
Now I can't help but picture that poor fish flopping in the streets of the Imperial City, oblivious passersby casually stepping around it.
I remember lessons in the school, and you making some joke that had Smiling Mountain snickering under his breath even as he scolded us for not paying attention. What do you remember about those days?
I keep all our fallen friends in mind. With all the spirits I see, it would be hard not to. I see the walls between this world and the next as very thin. Come, we should get going. There is a great deal left to do, and I don't want to leave it for too long.
Okay, next up is Zu. Let's see if he has anything more to say about the Lotus Assassins, specifically how powerful they are here and what Zu's general feelings are on the Imperial City.
If their tactics have not changed, everyone fears them as children fear the shadows, never knowing what might come.
At least, that is how it was meant to be. Pardon my outburst. Every act of the Assassins has the approval of the Emperor. We were supposed to reflect his glory. That is why some actions... should never have been ordered.
The Lotus Assassins were once the Order of the Lotus under Prince Kin, spiritual advisor to the Emperor. During and after the attack on Dirge... changes were made. As flames seared the sky, enemies of the Emperor faced a new threat... Death's Hand. He assumed command of our order, and we began silencing people.
Zu kind of alluded to this earlier, but here's the first time we're really hearing about the history of the Lotus Assassins before Death's Hand. They were seemingly an order of warrior monks serving as the Emperor's enforcers, but then Sun Kin fell at Dirge and Death's Hand took over, turning the Lotus monks into the bunch of murder clowns we know so well.
Weakness suggests losing the right to rule. Can you see how that shook my faith in the Empire? You seem to see why I had concerns... perhaps you might understand. I have not said everything, and I have not yet decided if I will, but I see something in you that may set things right. We will see. For now, what else do you need?
Right now, we need nothing more from him. It's quite clear the Lotus Assassins told Zu to do something horrible and his conscience wouldn't let him, so he deserted. We'll have to wait for more details, I suppose.
Bringing Wild Flower to the Imperial City hasn't been such a great thing for her because there's a lot of evil here and that is apparently making "the Other" stronger.
Gah! We haven't talked to Chai Ka since we first met him at the dam site near Tien's Landing, so we haven't seen what happens when he talks through Wild Flower. What happens is that Wild Flower's eyes start to glow blue and she begins to speak in Chai Ka's voice, which is more than a little unnerving. We probably should talk to him a bit more, now that I think of it.
GAH! What just happened?
You can't stop me from being here. I may not be able to leave, but I can talk... and see. I see you mortal. I've been watching you.
Great, that doesn't sound creepy at all.
Ha! I am Ya Zhen, the Other of whom Chai Ka and this girl speak. They have suppressed me ever since we inhabited this body. But this place is different.
I don't like where this is going.
Let me guess, all we need to do is let the horrible demon out, and then everything will be totally great?
I can't see that turning out particularly well for Wild Flower.
Talking to Wild Flower is so depressing. Now, I thought Ya Zhen became a follower after this conversation but that doesn't seem to be the case. He'll be available fairly soon, but not just yet. Not that we're ever going to use him, since he's very much meant for an evil playthrough.
Certainly. Let's go talk to Sky next, because we all need more Cam Clarke in our lives.
I've come full circle, and I think it's time to let go of the past and look forward. We have exciting things ahead of us.
In my heart, I know my daughter rests as easily as any spirit now. Whatever happens, I have that. And if we succeed, I know she finds peace. If I could go back, I don't know if I would. I'm a different man now, and while I treasure the past, I look forward to the future with the same warmth.
Well, Sky seems to be at peace with what happened to his daughter now that she has been avenged, at least that's the impression he's giving us here. It's nice to see he might be able to move on with his life.
You know, I look forward most to the day when I figure out how to deal with you.
My BioWare romance sensors have just activated.
You're better than that. You're a companion and a damn skilled warrior. So I find I never quite know how to deal with you.
Yep, definitely active now. We're going to shoot Sky down at the earliest opportunity, of course, since the vote in the thread didn't go his way. I kinda did the vote a bit too early, as we hadn't even met Silk Fox or Sky in the LP by that point but I wanted to know as early as possible who to start hitting on.
I see we can't say straight out that we're not interested.
I don't deny your beauty; I just don't want to treat you like I would... other women. I respect you, and well... Let's just leave it at that for now.
Yes. Let's. This better not be leading towards one of those scenes where Sky comes up to us in a huff and demands we choose between him and Silk Fox even though we've never shown any interest in him. That said, let's go see if the Black Whirlwind has any new stories for us.
A bunch of fights broke out in the first few days, but after I'd killed a few dozen of their clansmen, they settled down. That's when things got boring. The leaders took the next *three* days to talk... and talk. If they hadn't let me dip into their wine stocks, I might have snapped sooner than I did.
After five days it looked like the peace would fall apart. It looked like the two leaders were about to come to blows over Jin Lo, so I stepped in. It was my job to stop them from fighting, so I cleaved the wench in two and told them to each take a half. Seemed like a good idea at the time.
Uh. Right. I see.
They weren't too happy with my decision. Everyone turned on me. Of course, they all died, but they gave it a good effort. I don't know what they were so upset about. Better a quick death by the sword than the prolonged agony of your heart being ripped from your chest and thrown to the dogs.
I believe the moral of this story is "holy shit, never hire the Black Whirlwind to do anything." I hope Henpecked Hou has something slightly less horrifying to say.
Some people in the thread are starting to think Hou's wife doesn't even exist, and I can't really blame them.
I am very happy, indeed. Instead of dying upon my return home, I am free... until she returns, of course.
Looking forward to meeting her! As for right now, we still have Kang the Mad to talk to before we can go do other things, so let's get on with it. I didn't really want to frontload this update with a shitton of talking, but that's just how things turned out. It's best to talk to the party members as soon as you see the yellow arrow above them, so you can be sure you don't miss anything.
The "need to fly somewhere" option is fast travel. We can pick a destination on the map and go there, although at this point that'd just mean going back to Tien's Landing. We're not doing that.
Gao the Greater heard about my inventions and bribed some officials to effect my release. I thought I had found a nice rich benefactor, but I was locked away in his lair. He gave me a nice workshop... but he really was a fool. I showed him my wind map. He didn't care where it led. He was only interested in his slaves.
Let's hear more about this wind map of his.
It seems to me I left something... a clue for myself... but I'm not sure why I'd need to. I don't suppose you'd be interested in taking a short trip back the way I came?
Sure, it's not like we have anything important to do anytime soon.
Keep an eye out. I don't know why my tracks were covered, but I do tend to incur the occasional death threat. Craters are remarkably unappreciated.
Yep, it does seem we ran into some folks who aren't too happy with Kang for some reason. These flying pirate ships that drop bombs are some of the most annoying foes in these shoot 'em up segments, because they take a million hits unless you have the spread shot.
Of course, we only have the single shot so that's great. The "boss" of this section is the biplane seen here, not exactly a massive threat even though we're out of missiles (had to kill those bombers somehow).
Now that that's taken care of, let's see where this wind map is leading us.
I kept this loading screen in because it's gives us a better look at Ya Zhen in all his froggy glory. But that's enough about him, let's find out where the wind map took us!
Err. I don't think this was where we meant to end up. At least we got another special weapon for the flyer, but this one is kind of useless and we're sticking with the homing missiles.
One thing for certain, there was no destination. We ended where we began. The route was the important part! Let me show you what it inspired me to make! Its a... well, it's a... I'm not sure what it is, but it has a lever on it that is begging to be pulled.
I see no issues with this.
*crickets chirp, tumbleweed rolls by, etc*
I need some time to think, to get my brain straightened out. This is most intriguing... and infuriating. Give me... give me some time.
You have the resources of the Imperial City at your disposal. Think harder.
Hmm... you know, it is true that I should be able to find what I need here. Let me... let me rummage through what I have stockpiled. Just a few tweaks... hmm... tight fit... not sure how that will affect things. What's that... hmph... don't remember seeing that before. Just get this last.... There we go. It's ready. Now we can finally find out just what it does. After I name it, of course. Nothing works right until you name it. How about... the Confoundable Minutia?
Apparently, it still doesn't do anything. Oh well, we tried. I guess we should head to wherever Silk Fox is meeting us. I should've taken a look at that note she gave us... huh. Something seems a little odd around here.
Whatever Kang did, it seems to have worked. At first glance, it would appear we're still alive at least and also haven't turned into monkeys or anything silly like that, so that's a good start.
Oh, looks like we brought Dawn Star with us since she was our follower at the time.
Good idea. Something about this place makes me want to explore, too. I am compelled to step this way... there are gears here that I remember.
Watch where he goes. We'll need him to get out of here.
We have no idea where this is, but that is some seriously impressive machinery.
I haven't the slightest idea. But it must be important, wouldn't you think? I mean, just look at it. These machines... they are manipulators, fabricators. They bully energy into... into something. They can be activated, deactivated, on and off, off and on. You see?
Lord Lao's Furnace! Holy shit, that is amazing! Wait, who the hell is Lord Lao?
I don't think Lord Lao has come up even in passing until now, so a first-time player has no clue who he is and why his furnace is a big deal, but that's why we have party members to spout exposition.
Well, I suppose we can also just ask.
Still, he is an inspirational figure for inventors. And we are in his playhouse. You select the machines you want to activate and then the tiger or the dragon button. Like this.
Err... are we sure that's wise? I mean, Kang is a genius and all that, but he's also a complete loon who loves explosions. We still have that date with Princess Sun Lian, and getting blown up and/or turned into a newt by Lord Lao's doohickeys right before that would be bad form. Not to mention that we still need to find Master Li as well.
I actually forgot the game has more than three expressions for your character when picking dialog options. Usually you just have the happy, neutral and angry faces, but there's a couple of expressions that show up on extremely rare occasions. The sad frown here is one of those.
You also have to select a fuel. It looks like there are a few pieces of cinnabar in the contraption, but it may accept others, as well.
Oh. Why didn't he say so in the first place?
It looks like a powerful thing, so just guessing at the possible configurations will probably get you into trouble and waste the cinnabar in the machine. So... you might want to be careful how you go about it. Things like this usually have directions... no, recipes... no, that's not it. Configurations! That's it.
Oh yeah! The Configuration of the Horse, which sadly wasn't a set of instructions for making your own horse demon. Instead, we can use it here at Lord Lao's Furnace.
Right then, let's see what we've got.
There it is. Deciphering these configurations is a fairly simple puzzle, you just need to find out what fuel to use, which machines to activate, and whether you need to press the tiger or dragon button. You may also notice that we still have the zither case and the silk strings, as we technically didn't do Zither of Discord on this file. More specifically, I didn't turn Wei Shen back into Wu when I was done with the quest, I just loaded the earlier save.
Before we mess with any of the machines, let's read some books. This one just has some lore about the Celestial Order, nothing particularly important for us right now.
Here's the fuel hopper. It doesn't really matter if we put in the fuel now or after we activate the devices (as long as we hit the tiger or dragon button last, of course), but let's just go and yank on those levers first.
We'll start with the Cranking Cauldron in the middle. The order you activate these in also doesn't matter, as long as all the necessary ones are active when you press the button.
The machine starts up and begins doing its thing. If you fuck up and activate the wrong contraption, you can go back to the lab and reset.
Next up, the water wheel.
Then, the Clapper Chimney.
And finally, the conductor. To the left of the conductor we can see the Whirling Cogs, which is the only device we're not activating for the Configuration of the Horse. With all the required machines up and running, let's go take a look at that fuel hopper again.
The configuration mentioned a stone from a cow's stomach, and we just happened to buy one from Merchant Shipeng in Tien's Landing. We shove that into the machine.
A perfect fit. Now all we need to do is go punch that tiger button and hope we didn't mess up the configuration. If you randomly fuck about with the furnace, some strange things will happen and we'll take a look at those later.
This time, though, we receive the Song of the Spirit, a technique that boosts our... well, spirit by 5. We can earn more techniques by using the other configurations, so the furnace is a pretty great place to boost your stats and attributes.
It kind of is.
Well then, time to go look for more configurations!
In fact, we can find one right next to the furnace. Let's see here.
Right. We need to activate the water wheel and the Clapper Chimney, and hit the dragon button at the end. Foul smelling water, though? We don't have that on us, so this'll sadly have to wait for later. Another jar near the Configuration of the Ox had another cow bezoar, so we're taking that with us as well.
Where can I find configurations for this device?
Well, given the rather fantastic nature of the furnace, I would bet that whoever has them, doesn't really know what they are for. You found one previously in an unrelated endeavor. I'm afraid that is just the kind of continued uncertainty we will have to deal with. Keep your eyes open.
I'm ready to leave this place.
Very well. In the meantime, I will try to see if I can learn anything more about this interesting machine. I can always bring us back here later.
We can return to the furnace at any time by talking to Kang. For now, though, we should go take in the sights and sounds of the Imperial City.
Allow me to officially welcome you to the Imperial City. I am Bai the Outcrier, and I am here to direct you around our illustrious capital if you have any questions at all. It would be an honor to say that I aided someone who was greeted by Princess Sun Lian herself!
Bai the Outcrier can tell us about the different areas of the city, but we don't really need that since there's only two districts to speak of. We're in the market district, and further up is the gate to the Golden Way. He can also inform us about what's going on around the city, which is a lot more useful.
There's Captain Sen, of course, standing guard at the gates out of the city. Word has it the Captain has some bounties. Rich rewards for those who can track down some wanted criminals.
Okay, sounds good. Anything else?
You must know about the Imperial Arena. Qui the Promoter is always looking for skilled fighters to participate in his matches. It's this huge building right here.
Fighting at the arena, all right. What else?
There's word from the Scholars' Garden that some strange Outlander has taken up residence there. Causing quite the ruckus, as barbarians typically do.
Well, that sounds good for a laugh. We should go check it out. Is that all?
There's a rumor floating around that the Black Leopard School has been having some difficulties recently. Feuding masters, that sort of thing. The Black Leopard School lies across the waterway and up the grassy path, if you're curious.
That's the school Student Wen mentioned at the very start of the game. He said he studied there for a while but the feuding masters made learning kind of difficult. We should stop by sometime, but let's just ask if there's any other stuff going on besides what we've already been told about.
Word has it there's going to be a new play happening some time soon in the Golden Way district. Over at the large pagoda on the left side of the road.
A play, huh? Sounds fun, not sure if we have time to catch it while we're here though. We've got a lot of things to do, after all. That is also everything Bai the Outcrier could remember off the top of his head, so let's actually go and see the city now.
Looks a lot shinier than Tien's Landing, although I did like the lighting going on in that town. The Imperial City's atmosphere is very different.
We got this note from Kang after returning from the furnace. Apparently, there is a configuration somewhere in "the place of all dead" which sounds a bit ominous.
We should probably also take a look at the note Princess Lian gave us. Scholar's Garden is at the end of the Golden Way, so we'll be getting a good look at the city.
Huh, it seems someone didn't get a good look at us. That, or there is someone else who's been causing trouble in the south.
Well, that part about changing our form is true, even though we never really use transformation styles.
The large gate ahead of us is locked and will remain that way. We can find Captain Sen near the gate, but for now we'll ignore that and go the other way.
We will spend a lot of time at the arena soon, but not at this very moment. Instead, we're going to explore the path to the left of the arena gate.
It's a dead end with what seem to be creature cages (empty ones), but there is something important here we want.
Again with the sulphuric water. We still don't have that, so this'll also have to wait.
Up ahead, to the south, is the entrance to the Black Leopard School. We're not going there yet either, but while we're here we might as well look around a little.
We'll visit this blacksmith shop later.
The best thing about the Imperial City? It's got these tiny doggos wandering around! If you're at full Closed Fist and are also worse than double Hitler, you can kick the dogs. What, you thought the thing about literally kicking puppies as a Closed Fist character was a joke? Nope.
Despite the best efforts of the gentleman in yellow, we manage to read this book about the history of flight, which has now apparently reached the boring stage with far fewer explosions than in the early days.
Well then, time to hit the Golden Way. This is a zone change with a loading screen in between, because the Imperial City would otherwise have been too big for the Xbox to handle.
And here we are. To our right we can see another gate, that one leads to the Necropolis (the "place of all dead" mentioned in Kang's note, obviously) but we're not going that way just yet. I'm pretty sure the way is actually blocked by a guard at this point.
That guy has a very shiny outfit for a beggar. Let's see what's up with him.
Oh my god, he's an idiot.
Oh my god, he's a massive idiot.
Yes, I can see how that would be terrible.
Wisdom is only gained by experience. Wine, women, and song, as it were. But a life of revel with no reflection still does not lead to true wisdom. One must ponder. One must daydream. Even if I could bear the shame of sullying my hands with work, when would I think? How could I grow wise?
And what does any of this have to do with begging?
Oh. Of course.
I thank you. It's not easy for one such as I. I have it far more difficult than the impoverished beggars of this city. Farewell!
I'll bet. Let's go find someone who isn't a complete moron.
The Imperial City has a lot more people walking around than any of the places we've been to so far, although as you can see there isn't always that much variety in their character models. You also clip right through these people when you walk into them, which is kind of useful because it means they don't block your path at any point.
Oh, now what?
I'm sure there is a perfectly sensible explanation as to why this important-looking person has hired this guy to insult passersby in the middle of the street. Well, we should be able to handle him.
"So can I, but beating up people like you keeps me in shape."
"I see you have spent a lot of time breathing in the wind of an ox. And at least I can remember when my last meal was."
"My belief is that you don't know what any of those words mean."
Your demand for justification of his arguments was admirable. You are exactly what we need. An Outlander strolled into the city several days ago and now sits, like a cormorant, taking what he wants from the river of our hospitality. He balks at our attempts to calm him and answers requests for payment with strange coins of questionable value. He needs to go.
So far, he has escaped the notice of any higher officials. Perhaps he was mistaken for an actor in a troupe, but that will not last. If he is reported, the Lotus Assassins will take notice. They'll want to know if he was harbored or his offense was encouraged. Guilt by association is enough for them.
Hm. Yes, that does sound like a problem.
Several of our brightest have faced him, but as soon as they get the better of him, he sets off his strange firework and says they are beaten. Normally the peasants like it when we intellectuals are maligned, but they tire of his presence, too. Getting rid of this nuisance will endear you to many.
The thing is, I happen to have a meeting planned with Princess Sun Lian that I really need to get to, so the outlander can wait for his turn. We'll deal with him when we have time.
He is in the Scholars' Garden, and no amount of opposition has moved him. Please, I hope you will prove to be a worthy opponent.
We're going to the Scholars' Garden anyway, so we can probably take care of him as soon as we finish our business with the princess. He's not going anywhere, it seems.
Honestly, reading this makes me kinda sympathize with the outlander.
We can go inside this hostel, but there's nothing there for us at the moment so we'd better just move on.
And here's the stage where the play is supposed to be taking place. Not much going on right now, though.
Nothing of interest on this stand either. Let's just head on over to the Scholars' Garden, it's right at the end of this road.
I suppose we have time for the obligatory scenery shot, though.
Next time, we meet up with Silk Fox/Princess Sun Lian at the Garden and find out how she might be able to help us. Once we're done with that, we'll go see what this outlander is all about and send him packing if necessary.