Part 33: Tale of the Mournful BladeEpisode 31: Tale of the Mournful Blade
Last time, we entered the Necropolis in search of the Lotus Assassin fortress, and then immediately got distracted by sidequests and...
...err, hold on a sec
As I was saying, we got distracted by sidequests, mainly ones involving troublesome ghosts that had to be dealt with. We're done with all three of them, so now we just need to get our payment from the ever so charming Gravedigger Shen.
Shen only seems to have one working eye in the first place, so he can't really afford to have someone rip that out.
I dealt with Merchant Bai.
Well, that makes things easier on me, for sure. Now I can start selling those old plots again! Next time I'll just throw the bones in the river and be done with it.
I dealt with Mister Ren.
Good riddance! Hells, it was probably his old lady that offed him in the first place, and for good reason, too, I bet. Eh-heh, its all just business to me, you understand.
Such a lovely fellow.
One spirit didn't stay here at all, though! Took up his body and left! Moved in with his son, I heard, and the son isn't pleased. He even asked me for a refund! Now that was an expensive burial... I can't give refunds like that! It's bad for business, too, having my customers getting up and walking away. That's where you come in. I need you to go to the tanner's in the city core and put his father back in his grave, once and for all! It's Tanner Fong. Eh-heh, therell be an extra big reward for that one.
I guess this particular spirit was really dedicated to haunting his son. Let's head to the market district and find out what's happening.
I think it's pretty safe to assume that this is Tanner Fong, but better make sure in any case.
You're here from Shen? This is his mess! He should have buried him properly! Look... I'll give you money, yes? Just take that wretched old man out of my house so that I never have to see him again!
I suppose we'll do that. I will say, though, that the elder Fong looks remarkably corporeal for a spirit.
The only option for you here is to act really dumb and, frankly, out of character for someone who spends all their days fighting ghosts. It's obvious Fong is not dead at all, but you can't even mention that you wondered why he didn't look like a ghost. Also, how in the hell did Gravedigger Shen end up burying this guy alive? I'm getting the feeling Shen isn't very good at his job after all...
Why do you think? Money, the house, my business that I spent 20 years making... He thinks that with me out of the way, he has the tannery and all my money. But I'll show him yet!
Really? How? Everyone says you're dead.
Here, both of the other dialog choices are just "welp, I'll just kill you anyway!"
I just have to get them to listen to me. Hm... Hey, you could help me convince them! I could give you a good reward!
It's not like we're murdering this innocent old man anyway, so I don't know why you can't just say "oh for fuck's sake, this is stupid, your son is an idiot and we'll go talk to him right now."
Agreed. Let's go talk to your son.
Seriously, how did nobody notice at any point?
Dawn Star decides to chime in by stating the obvious, as she fairly often does.
Just make him... disappear, and I'll reward you well. Nobody needs their *deceased* relatives coming back and making trouble for the living, now do they?
So what if I did! He never cared about us, anyway! All he was interested in was his business... a business I should have inherited years ago!
How could you do this to me? I'm your father, dammit!
Because you never loved me! It was always you and your business! Now you're getting yours, you old bastard!
I... I don't know what to say. How could you think that? Since your mother passed away, you were all I had.
I can tell we're going to be here for some time if we want to solve this peacefully.
[Success] I never thought... Oh, I've been so wrong to ignore you. How could I have neglected you like that?
Never mind, that'll do it.
I hid my own feelings away in my anger and despair. I only wish I had had the eyes to see what it did to you.
I think that last one just might be the most cringeworthy "Closed Fist" line of dialog in a game full of questionable Closed Fist lines. It's like a 13-year-old tried to write a badass villain oneliner.
Indeed we have, and if it weren't for this stranger, this would all have likely ended in tragedy.
Here is the money I promised. I shall not need the task to be carried out any longer.
Our reward for doing this? 500 silver and a whopping 60 EXP. Thanks a lot, guys. Maybe Gravedigger Shen gives us something good when we get back to him. (spoiler: he won't)
Anyway, in the previous update we also fought Fading Moon, the arsonist who was hiding in the Necropolis and one of Captain Sen's bounty targets. Let's get our reward for that, as well.
Yes, yes, of course they do, and they shall have exactly as much protection as they can afford to contribute to the taxes. Here's the standard bounty. Accept it with the thanks of the Empire. Well, that brings an end to our pursuit of two fiends. A shame I don't have more work for someone with your skills.
I should go.
Of course! Thanks again for your help with those miscreants!
It doesn't seem like Captain Sen really gives a crap about protecting the public, but I guess that's just how the Imperial Army rolls these days. The bounty isn't anything to write home about, either.
Her name is Aishi the Mournful Blade, and you can find her at the Black Leopard School.
I can? She wasn't there the last time we visited the place.
Moreover, if this Aishi has such a sizable bounty on her head, why didn't Captain Sen mention her?
What is this Aishi accused of?
She is accused of most crimes, and several had to he invented to account for her actions. She is a terror upon the face of the Empire. Murder, theft, and worse, yet never a smile or a hint of revelry in what she did. That is why she is known as Aishi the Mournful Blade.
Thank you for the information. You can go.
When you reach her, you should ask her for her story. She has a most interesting tale to share.
Guess we'll make our way back to the Black Leopard School and go hear that tale of hers, then.
That's got to be Aishi up ahead, next to her latest victim. Hopefully that wasn't anyone we knew from this school.
I think this is just some random bounty hunter. He's dressed like some of the brothers at the Black Leopard School (who just had generic models anyway), but I don't remember his face.
I have a tale to finish. I see no need to tell it to anyone but myself. Stranger, if you continue to talk to me, I will stand up and face you. If that happens, our meeting will end with one of our deaths.
That's a risk I'm willing to take.
We came here to hear the story of Aishi the Mournful Blade, not to kill her, but we definitely will deal with her if she decides to force our hand.
You are not what I expected. Harmony surrounds you and flows out into the world as you pass. I have a story I would share willingly with you, if you would hear it.
That's what we're here for.
In my years in this Empire I have been a wanted criminal, a bandit, a murderer, and worse. I have burned entire towns to the ground to avenge some petty dispute between lords, and led men to slaughter peasants by the score for their meager possessions.
Ah, she's an evil BioWare protagonist. Well, she would be if she took any enjoyment from her work, which apparently isn't the case.
I met a boy. He was a natural leader; he had drive and direction. I was in love. He used to enjoy tormenting the children of our village, and I thought it was all fun. Then one day....
Why indeed? In the intervening years, I've come to believe that it was more than simple horseplay. There was a gleam in my young man's eye that I cannot forget. The child screamed for help: his cries were shrill with terror, for he could not swim. I moved to help him, but I felt a hand on my arm.
I think we all know what happened to the poor kid, to be brutally honest.
"If we help him, he'll only tell the others what we've done. We have to let him go." Simple words, but they still echo in my head, even now. Nights are worse. I can't sleep for the screams of that boy as he washed away; I still hear them to this day.
l have followed his life since that day, as I descended into my world and he climbed the ranks in the Imperial Army. That is why I have come here now. I am tired of my life, but at least I have lived it! He deserved to live as I did, but has never felt a moment's remorse for his part in that day. If you came here because of the rich reward on my head, you may even know him. Captain Sen of the Imperial Army is my quarry. I must make him pay for that boy's life.
Captain Sen. Of course. He never came across as a particularly likeable person, but up until now we thought he was just a garden-variety asshole NPC who is there to show us that the Imperial army doesn't give a shit about the people they're supposed to be protecting. Remember what Silk Fox said about Captain Sen when we first met him, though?
Yeah, turns out that unpleasant vibe he was giving off was less "hidden ambition" and more "this guy once murdered a small child because he thought it was fun, and never regretted doing it."
If you help me, I know how I can reach Sen. You need merely to escort me to his station by the gate. A "subdued" prisoner could get close enough to deal with Sen. Once I have dealt with him, you shall have your bounty. I couldn't let you be implicated in my final murder.
Also, we already killed one guard captain here in the Imperial City (in self-defense but still), so what's another one at this point? Especially if it's scum like Sen.
Let's do it.
Aishi? What are you doing here? You're a wanted criminal! You can't be here!
Well, it's good to see our new bounty hunter was able to bring you in. Frankly, Aishi, I thought you'd fight to the death. You weren't this weak when we....
No, I *was* weak, otherwise I would have ignored you by the river. I'm going to pay for my crimes, but there's one thing I have to do first. I have to kill you.
What? No! Guards!
I already owe you one lifetime of pain; do not bring more than that upon yourself.
If we know anything about this guy, it'll be right about now when he begs us to help him out.
Thinking about that line, it doesn't really make that much sense in this particular situation. I realize they're going for the ironic echo, but what is it Captain Sen would be telling the others about? Sen clearly doesn't know we're helping Aishi murder his ass (although if he was any good at his job, he'd have figured it out) or he'd have brought that up by now, and if we were to accept his offer he would have nothing on us afterwards.
Oh, he'll make sure the underworld won't accept us? A bit too late for that if you ask me.
Stranger, I cannot thank you enough. I have touched a thousand lives with my crimes, and yet now I feel some peace. It is time my story ended. I have only one more favor to ask. Face me now and grant me an hon... no, there is no honor left for me. Just grant me an end.
Aishi is still a criminal who has done awful, awful things, but I'm not sure if running her through with our sword is the best way to help her find peace. She most likely won't accept this answer, but we'll give it a try nonetheless.
Face me, and let this battle be glorious enough that the city will talk of it for generations!
Aishi's not having any of our bullshit, she wants to finish this on her terms, and that means dying in battle.
We will grant the Mournful Blade her last wish, although we take no pleasure in doing so.
Aishi wants a glorious battle. The problem there is that we are so insanely powerful by this point that we'd actually have to hold back if we wanted to give her half a chance.
Speaking of which, what would happen if Aishi actually managed to defeat us? Maybe she knows we're too strong for that to be remotely possible.
There it is. Aishi the Mournful Blade is dead, and her reign of terror is finished. The only question that remains at this point is what the deal was with that old man who pointed us in Aishi's direction.
Here, take this. It's something Aishi would have wanted you to have, I think. I hate for a good deed to go unrewarded.
If Aishi's father has been alive all these years, maybe at some point he could've informed her about that little detail, and maybe then she wouldn't have needed to become the most dangerous criminal in the Jade Empire.
Never mind that! Since when have ghosts in this game been able to disguise themselves as living people, to the extent they can even fool Dawn Star? They're not supposed to be able to do that, or at least there's never been any mention that they might be. Well, there was the whole thing with Tanner Fong, but that was just everyone being an idiot and not being able to tell the old man wasn't a ghost!
Also, if ghost dad here was able to follow Aishi for years, couldn't he just appear in front of her one day and tell her he was worried about her? We do in fact know ghosts can do that kind of thing, that one lady's son back in Two Rivers showed up as a ghost and told his mother that the accident he died in wasn't her fault.
I like this sidequest a lot, but the more I think about it the more I find to complain about, especially when it comes to the stuff with Aishi's father.
I will wait. What choice do I have? I know the underworld is cut off, but I must try to fight through the despair and anger. I have some idea of what you face. Take my best wishes as you try to set things right. I have waited more than two decades. I can wait a bit more, and now... now I have a reason to smile.
Our reward for helping ghost dad out is the Gem of Unity, an Open Palm-only gem that adds +3 to all three main attributes. I could unequip the Imperial Favor because this is a straight upgrade, but Silk Fox gave that gem to us and it has sentimental value. The Gem of Unity can wait until we're able to equip a larger number of gems at once.
In any case, we're now 100% finished with the sidequests in the city proper, so now it's time to head back to the Necropolis and explore the rest of it before we enter the Lotus Assassin fortress. We'll start by telling Gravedigger Shen what an utter moron he is.
Of course he was dead! The family wouldn't exactly have given me a live man to bury, now would they? That would be... unprofessional. Can't have stuff like that getting around.
I don't know, maybe next time he ought to check if the "deceased" is breathing or something.
Elder Tanner Fong's family has taken him back.
Well that's good, I guess. Heh, as long as I'm not giving any refunds, of course, eh-heheh. Here's what I promised you. Business has been more lively lately, with you around, eh-heh. A little gravedigger humor there, see? Lively? Eh-heh, I'm good.
That's Gravedigger Shen's quests done as well, so let's see what our next destination is.
I don't think I've ever actually shown the full in-game map, so here it is. It fills in as you explore the area, and as you can see we've explored the southern half of the Necropolis pretty thoroughly. That means we're heading towards the north next.
In a minute.
The northeast exit leads to two paths. The one to the left takes us further north, of course, and the one to the right leads to another fork in the road. We'll go north first.
Can't get into this tomb yet, just gotta remember it's there.
The path to the north leads to a dead end with another huge tomb.
Oh hey, it's Jinlin. Poor girl must've been waiting quite some time by now.
There. The ghosts are just beyond the door. They haven't noticed me... yet.
How did she even get past all the Lost Spirits back there? Or do those things only attack people carrying Spirit Monk amulets?
The artifact is supposed to be in the room at the end of the tomb. Once you're there, I'll catch up with you.
I'm sure this will go well.
Oh hey, new enemy. I'm not sure why Jinlin called these guys ghosts, because they pretty clearly aren't that.
The mummies aren't even classified as spirit enemies, so we can actually use weapons on them. Crimson Tears does a good job as usual, but we got another weapon style a while ago that we want to try out.
The double axe style is massively strong against these guys.
On our way to the door at the back, we must fight another group of mummies. They don't last particularly long against the wrath of our axes, but what's interesting here is the powerup the last one of them drops. I'm not 100% sure what that one does, because when I picked it up there was no effect. I'm guessing it either recovers all your health, chi and focus, or makes attacks unblockable as we saw earlier, but since we're out of combat and at full strength we don't get any effects.
The chest next to the inner sanctum door contains the Spirit Harvest, which boosts EXP from killing ghosts at the cost of no powerups from spirit enemies. Not really that useful, as most spirit enemies give crappy EXP anyway and 1.5x (or however much the increase is) that is still not good.
We've made it to the inner sanctum. That was easier than expected, with just half a dozen mummies to beat up on the way. Let's go find this thing Jinlin was looking for.
Or maybe not just yet. You may remember the red spirit from the Zither of Discord quest, where Bladed Thesis appeared in this form. The enemy is known as Red Minister.
Check out the face on that Lost Spirit. As much as I despise those things, I do like how some of them have different mask designs.
This is the toughest fight we've had since the arena. The two Lost Spirits and the Insane Emperor Ghost are all able to drain our health and chi with their attacks, and with three of them doing that we'll want to watch out. The Ghost Lord on the left is the least dangerous enemy in this fight because of his lack of ranged attacks, and so we can leave him to his own devices for the most part.
That area attack has ridiculous range, making it difficult to focus on the Lost Spirits since you'll always get blasted from behind.
Still, the Lost Spirits have by far the least HP of these guys and they keep firing their homing projectiles, so the first order of business is to take them out. The Emperor Ghost will hit us at times, but that's okay. Using focus mode to give ourselves more time to attack really helps here.
Once the Lost Spirits have been dealt with, things get quite a bit more manageable. The Insane Emperor Ghost will try to heal himself, but we're not having any of that shit.
He can also zap us and drain our health and chi from a mile away, which is very annoying. This fight is a long one because he's got a ton of HP, so you'll want to make sure you don't run out of chi here. Having Dawn Star on support duty is a tremendous help, and Spirit Thief is of course an option if you didn't bring her along.
Look how much chi and focus we spent trying to take this guy down. Using chi strikes to power up Leaping Tiger probably didn't help matters. There wasn't really anything stopping us from taking out the Emperor Ghost with a harmonic combo (that's what we used to defeat Bladed Thesis) and we could've started one with Stone Immortal, but I kind of forgot about it.
The Ghost Lord is barely a threat at this point, so we make short work of him. Ghost Lords were actually a new enemy type added to the PC version, they didn't show up in the original Xbox release at all.
Now that all the ghosts and mummies have been taken care of, Jinlin follows us into the inner sanctum.
Getting out of here is going to be harder than getting in, I think.
That's just a couple of mummies, no problem there.
Another one of these? We already sold one because it was useless.
I like how the mummies are polite enough to wait at the door for us.
They also drop powerups very frequently for some reason.
The main hall has more mummies as well as a few magic-using ghosts, nothing we can't handle.
The strong attack of the Stone Immortal style is kind of annoying, because it is kinda slow and has fuck all range.
However, what it actually does is pretty damn cool. Petrifying an enemy also sets them up for a harmonic combo, and this time I actually remembered that.
I like how the leaves just float down after you disintegrate the petrified enemy. That's some nice attention to detail.
It doesn't make any sense. "Conductor, cog, and a bit of iron. Don't play with the tiger." Whatever that means.
That is obviously what it is, yes. Or maybe just some very strange poetry.
Thank you again for helping me. Purveyor Shouji is waiting, so I should be going. Goodbye.
Speaking of Purveyor Shouji, I'm not sure why we can't just go punch him in the face and tell him it's not cool to blackmail small children. That seems like something we should be able to do in this game.
Last time I said we were at full Open Palm, but that was not the case because the status screen changes once you're maxed out. Last time, you could still see the forest background behind Wu, and now it's gone because she's fully in harmony with the universe. Or something to that effect.
One more path to go. Since we got that configuration and also have another one we can now use, I figured we'd pay a quick visit to Lord Lao's Furnace. So, let's return to Kang (actually I don't know if you could just head to the furnace by clicking on Kang in the party member screen, I need to test that at some point) and take care of that stuff.
This is just silly now.
Configuration of the Tiger gives us The Quieted Mind (Focus +30), while the Spirit of the Master from the Ox configuration increases our magical attack damage. Both are obviously very useful upgrades.
Next time, we'll finish up the quests in the Necropolis and finally enter that Lotus Assassin fortress. It's been a long time coming, hasn't it?