Part 36: Spirit ShardEpisode 34: Spirit Shard
Last time, we were told by our Lotus Assassin Master Gang to help him out with a minor problem he's been having with his rival Master Shin. We had a couple of training sessions with Shin's attendants (all of whom sadly perished in combat-related accidents), so now we need to look into arranging an unfortunate accident for Master Shin himself.
As we make our way towards the Soul Extractor room (where we're meant to create a spirit shard to power the mighty jade golem), Zu emerges from behind a pillar. He absolutely was not there when we came in, but let's not worry about that and instead find out what's on his mind this time.
It wasn't always like this. Fear used to be the primary tactic. Destroy the family of one to ensure the loyalty of all. It caused chaos, uprisings. Close allies turning on each other. Those inclined to betrayal fear it the most. Imagine if you could corrupt the machine and return the chaos of disloyalty the Emperor dreads.
Corrupting the jade golem does seem like a solid enough plan, as that would presumably cripple any other golems under its control. I'd say we don't want to be too obvious about sabotaging the Lotus Assassins' efforts here since we are supposed to be infiltrating them, but considering how we've already murdered a couple dozen acolytes and at least one full Assassin and got off scot-free, I don't think they're really paying much attention to us.
No matter your motives, helping the Assassins harms you. If you corrupt the spirit shard, you can move forward while *also* crippling their golems. They seek control. There used to be a chance to disobey, when the order given was too harsh... the victims pointlessly innocent. Now there is only obedience. There is something chaotic enough to disrupt that. In the elevator room to come, descend to the deepest mine, to the oldest graves.
It'd help quite a bit if Zu would just tell us what we're looking for, but we know by now that is not how he rolls. I'm sure we'll find out soon enough what he meant there.
This must be the famed Soul Extractor. Doesn't really look like much from here, but maybe it's more exciting when you actually give it a whirl. There's a Lotus Acolyte manning the extractor, so let's go ask them how this thing works.
But, Master Gang is known for being generous to those who please him. You must be quite exceptional to be allowed into service so... directly.
This device is the Soul Extractor. It has a loftier name, but we are here to glorify Emperor Sun through Death's Hand, not pay tribute to some distant celestial lord. It is mounted on an elevator that reaches deep into the Necropolis. Until recently we excavated bodies to extract spirits that lingered near their graves. The results were... unpredictable. Now we use slaves. Freshly killed spirits make the best golems. The more painful the death, the better. The extractor is not gentle.
I'm assuming this is another machine they built using parts stolen from Lord Lao's Furnace, or maybe a device they stole from there and modified for maximum EVIL (at any rate, I doubt Lord Lao would make a machine whose purpose is to rip out a person's soul and turn it into a shard).
I wonder what would happen if, hypothetically speaking, someone was to accidentally blunder into the Soul Extractor.
The golem press is far more dangerous, but I have nothing to do with that ungainly device. I prefer the elegance of ripping slaves apart.
I want to ask about the extractor and spirit shards.
If you must. It is a simple machine to operate. I'm sure you will come to enjoy the subtle joys of it.
How does the extractor function?
Even though we apparently can't use the extractor to get rid of Master Shin, we might as well try to find out something more about its inner workings. We're here to gather information, after all.
That shard is implanted in a golem, infusing it with the energy of the deceased soul. Your task is the creation of a new shard for a Jade Golem. Do not delay.
Who made the extractor?
Death's Hand placed the machine here. It is said the Emperor himself brought pieces of some great celestial furnace back from the heavens. I do not fully understand how it functions, but I am not meant to. I obey, and that is enough.
Do corpses still have souls to extract?
Spirits that die in trauma can linger near their mortal form. The Empire is soaked in blood; many restless dead haunt the Necropolis. But slaves produce a better result.
Only on the prison level. Many of the mines are impassable. The graves were never intended to be stable during excavation. Several have collapsed. Much of the surrounding ground is weak. We do not march too many golems at once. Even that might shake something loose.
Alright, that's enought about the extractor for now.
Yes, yes, got it. This acolyte's name, by the way, is Go Rin. She doesn't tell you that, but you can see it on the HUD when you look at her.
The Soul Extractor room also works as an elevator, with the control panel right next to the entrance. We're obviously on the main level now, let's just go through the rest of these in order.
Entering the prison level, we run into this guy. He's the one guarding the slaves, some of whom we can see there behind the bars. We can also see the control lever for the cell door on the wall.
We'll come back here in a bit, but let's move on for now.
That's the plan. Next, we'll hit the near-surface mine level.
The most exciting thing about this level is the jar that immediately respawns when we break it. The Iron Skin Gem adds +3 to Body and negates all damage from traps.
We'll keep that in mind.
At this point, I figured it might be a decent idea to look at Zin Bu's inventory for a change. He updates his wares as we progress through the chapters, and he's got some pretty good stuff in. I end up buying the Golden Tongue here, although to be perfectly honest we don't really need it anymore. The conversation skills are mostly used in sidequests, and we've pretty much completed all the ones this gem would help with.
On the way out, we can smash the jar again to get another Iron Skin Gem. This time, the jar stays destroyed. Now that we are done on this level, we should finally head down to the abandoned deep-level mine Zu mentioned.
That's nice, Go Rin.
The deep-level mine is another dark cavern, as you'd probably expect.
As we make our way further in, we're stopped by a cutscene.
That's Zu speaking, by the way. Sounds like he didn't send us here simply out of the goodness of his heart and this is a test of some kind.
Zeng Sai knows you! Knows your meddling scent! Zeng Sai will destroy you! Destroy it all!
This test apparently involves fighting a very large and very angry ghost. Being a spirit enemy, Zeng Sai is vulnerable to magic styles so we'll try a bit of Stone Immortal on him.
Unfortunately, harmonic combos don't work on Zeng Sai, so petrifying him and hitting him with a strong martial attack instead sends him sliding back. Way back.
Zeng Sai mainly attacks with Ice Shard and is more of an annoyance than anything resembling a challenge.
That'll take care of him. Hopefully Zu's happy now.
That was a Horselord? Looked just like one of the big fat convict ghosts we fought back in Tien's Landing.
I gambled that the vengeful spirits of these marauders would sense if you truly are a Spirit Monk. So many people are not what they seem to be. I had to be certain.
Even in life his kind were devoid of restraint. His spirit is pure chaos; a shard made using his ancient corpse will cripple the Jade Golem and those it commands. When you finish your master's other task, present the shard to earn passage to the inner chambers. Inside is the information you need to proceed to the palace. I, however, will not be leaving.
That sounded a bit ominous.
This fortress holds many secrets. Some are valuable, some are dangerous, and some are hidden because the dark is where they belong.
Cryptic to the bitter end, I guess.
The only object of interest down here is Zeng Sai's coffin. Good old Zeng is still kind of pissed at us, it seems, but that's not going to stop us from taking his corpse and shoving it into the Soul Extractor. I'm sure Go Rin won't suspect a thing when we show up with this ancient skeleton from the bottom of the mine.
I guess Go Rin really doesn't give a shit. Well then, Soul Extractor, work your terrible magic and make me a spirit shard!
This contraption looks like something you'd see in Shang Tsung's flesh pits lab in Mortal Kombat.
I can't let this continue! This area is my responsibility! I don't care who you are!
Oh, now she's paying attention and wants to fight us for messing up the extractor. Let's try out one of the styles we learned recently and haven't had the opportunity to test yet.
Paralyzing Palm does what it says on the tin. You strike the enemy with a palm blow, and they're paralyzed for a short time. Simple enough.
The strong attack can be used to initiate a harmonic combo. This one works a bit differently from the other combos we've been using.
See, when we land what would normally be the killing blow using the Leaping Tiger strong attack, the opponent doesn't die but instead turns into a stone statue. A proper statue, not the crude lump of rock you'd get with Stone Immortal.
At this point, you can use whatever attack you want to insta-shatter the statue.
We've got our corrupted spirit shard, and Go Rin has been taken care of. Now's the time to go back to the prison area and have a chat with the slaves.
F... forgive me. I saw a new face and hoped there was kindness there. I was mistaken.
Some of the others were captured by pirates and sold. One merely asked why the Imperial Army reports to the Lotus Assassins now. We did nothing to deserve this harsh fate. You must be able to see that.
How many slaves have passed through here?
Hundreds... thousands... I don't know. All that were here when I arrived are gone. There are scratches on the walls... names of wives, of daughters. What did so many do to deserve such a horrible death? We can hear them scream... one by one.
I may try to help you.
You... you would do that?
Not so loud!
I assumed Wu would mutter that line about helping the prisoners under her breath or something like that, but apparently that wasn't the case. Especially with Silk Fox deciding to announce our intentions as loudly as possible. Oh well, since the guard probably already knows what we're up to, let's just get on with it.
I can't allow these slaves to remain here.
You tread dangerous ground, acolyte. Unless you plan to speed their processing in the extractor, you risk being punished for your impudence!
You *demand* it? You are clearly not here as an acolyte! If you want to die for these scrawny dogs, so be it!
Hey, he caught on. He's pretty smart for a Lotus Assassin, too bad he dies now.
Hey! Now that's just rude.
One harmonic combination later, the guard has been disposed of and all we need to do now is open the door to the prison to free the slaves. I would assume that at some point in the near future, someone will enter the extractor area and see that we've killed the guards. Or maybe they'll just wonder why there are suddenly these scattered rocks everywhere.
I heard someone got away once. I don't know if they made it out of the Necropolis, but it is a chance!
I think they figure this out on their own even if you don't inspect the tunnel on the near-surface mine level, so that area is completely optional.
Han Ro and the rest of the prisoners run off and make their bid for freedom. Since we took out Go Rin earlier, they have an open path to the near-surface mines. I don't think you see these guys after this so I don't know if they make it out of the Necropolis, but I would assume they do manage to get out.
Anyway, we're done with the extractor now, and our next order of business is to go show off our shard to Master Gang.
Oh, hello there, fellow Lotus person. Err... I didn't do it.
Never mind, it's just one of those idiot acolytes who picked a fight with us when we first came in.
If his favorite acolyte falls, that will prove it was a mistake to neglect us! We regain our place, and you are gone! We want our place back, and if you have to die for that to happen, that's ﬁne with us!
Oh boy, here we go once again. Some people just never learn, do they?
I don't think there will be many acolytes left once we're done with this place.
The inner chambers are not usually accessible to acolytes, but you have proven a valuable ally. You will go far in the Lotus Assassins.
I examined the extractor. It could kill Shin, but it leaves no corpse.
I don't think that's what Gang's looking for. I believe his exact words were that he wanted there to be a corpse for him to gloat over.
Right, we shall take a look at the golem press then, and hope that is more suitable for Gang's plan.
That's quite an impressive bit of engineering. Of course it is, it was made from Lord Lao's furnace parts after all.
Here's a look at the press itself. It's just produced a golem, although that one's clearly unfinished.
After the golem husk is made, the press operator uses the crane here to lift it out of the press and move it to the other side of the room.
Gotta say, though, that does not look very safe at all.
So much for the golem, and it was nearly curtains for that Lotus Assassin as well. This whole cutscene is obviously trying to tell us something, and it's not being too subtle about it either.
When the Jade Golem is done, have a normal spirit shard made and replace this clay golem. The ranks must be full when the Jade Golem is activated.
Distractions are the key to weakness in a target. If you look to the future, Master Gang will have his plans come crashing down on him.
Oh hey Zu, long time no see. Zu is clearly suggesting that we should arrange an unfortunate golem-related accident for Master Gang, getting rid of both him and Master Shin. Not a bad idea, although Shin is the priority at the moment.
And just like that, Zu is gone. The nearly flattened Assassin walks right past us and out of the door, so we can't compliment him on that nice dodge back there.
Appropriately enough, the golem press room has several clay golems lining the walls. Unlike their counterparts outside the Soul Extractor room, these guys are obviously active and waiting for someone to power up the jade golem.
Quite impressive, yes.
This corner of the room has a scrollstand and a trapped chest. That scroll is bullshitting us, by the way; strength (or martial skill) does nothing against clay golems and we must use weapons to dispatch them.
We've got another acolyte manning the press. Let's see if he can tell us anything relevant.
I will instruct you on the use of the golem press and crane. Forming the golems is an honored task that elevates us above slaves and mere servants. The press is simple to use. Using this machine, we can create a legion of warrior golems in a day.
This is only one step. Here we create husks, devoid of energy. Each golem needs a spirit shard to move, and a Jade Golem must guide them all. For each shard, a spirit must be reduced to its essence. For a time we used those that lingered near their graves, mining them as if they were silver. No longer. The recently dead make a stronger, more obedient golem, if the death is painful. With a Jade Golem guiding them, legions act as one, utterly obedient. The Extraction Chamber is a far more interesting place to work. The screams over there are music. Here, we have only the creaking of clay.
You nearly saw one as you entered, but they are rare. Falling victim to an obvious danger like a dropped golem--or worse, the press--wou|d take a monumental fool. The machines are loud, and you can see the operator from anywhere in the room. A past victim of the press suffered more damage after the incident than during it. Reputations are very important in the Lotus Assassin order. Falling victim to the press would cause a loss in status almost fatal in and of itself.
Okay then. We can ask this acolyte more questions about the crane and press and the different golems, but I think we can work things out ourselves from here. Time to head back to Master Gang once more.
Master Shin would be disgraced if killed by the golem press.
Hmm... an interesting idea. It has happened before, and the victim was certainly considered a fool for letting it occur, but it is impossible. You may as well try and drop one of the golems on him. He would never be so distracted as to enter the press. We are Lotus *Assassins,* after all.
Hm, true enough. I keep forgetting that little fact. Still, who says Master Shin needs to be alive when he enters the golem press?
A possibility, but Shin does not leave the inner chambers often. Only to inspect the new slave shipments arriving in the Hall of Induction. You would have to close a great many eyes to get away with an assassination in the hall and moving the body to the press, but it would certainly send a message. The hall cleared of all witnesses, the press operator distracted, and the slave shipment stopped outside in the Necropolis before it arrives? A daunting list of tasks.
We got this. No problem.
Welp, let's get to it then.
First off, we'll just take a look at the quest journal and our new objectives. I think we ought to start by getting rid of the press operator, as that seems simple enough.
I need to relieve you at this post. You must leave the room.
Is that so? Why should I step aside for a new-blood acolyte? I have my own position to think about, and I will not be so easily replaced. If you bring an order from Master Gang, I will relent, as he is my master, too. Until then, I am not moving.
I see. The ways of the order are mysterious and brutal. If an... opening is created away from witnesses, all of us under him will beneﬁt. I understand. I will tend to the golems that are being readied for the Jade Golem's command. I do not think I will be able to return to this room today. But... a thought occurs to me: If one opening raises us all, two openings will raise us further. If something were to befall the good master.... Just something you might want to ponder.
They really want us to kill both of the masters, don't they?
Well, I think we can arrange that, and since we've got the press to ourselves for the rest of the day we can prepare something fun for our dear Master Gang.
[There is an opening in the side that looks like it accepts clay containers of some kind. Other than that, it seems quite simple]
[Make a clay golem]
There we go, we've made ourselves a new friend! He looks about as hard-headed as a certain Outlander we know, so we shall name him Roderick.
Now we'll just operate this crane here...
Roderick is now in position, waiting to deliver swift death to anyone dumb enough to walk beneath him. We'll leave him there for now, and go to the Hall of Induction to get rid of the folks hanging around.
First off, we've got Merchant Kia Jong.
Perhaps. They are not often late unless delayed by spirits outside in the Necropolis. Shin makes a point of demanding they be on time.
I need this hall cleared. Move to another room.
Now why would I want to do that? Moving my wares is a noisy, heavy task, and I do as little as possible to disrupt the workings of this place. I am fine where I am, so leave me be.
Oh, goddamn it.
I don't see how.
Bah. Well, I guess we could always pay him... with the silver he just gave us when we sold some of our useless vendor trash to him...
And Silk Fox goes for the seduction. That just might work.
Hey, not bad.
Duly noted. That's Kia Jong and his guys out of the way, now let's go see who else we've got standing around in the hall.
This sorcerer was not here before, nor were his buddies.
I will show Grand Inquisitor Jia that tapping the spirit realm for servants is more efficient. Witness as I effortlessly summon an able minion from the void.
Hey, that's what the first Assassin we saw in Two Rivers was doing. The game kind of forgot about the Lotus Assassins being able to summon ghosts to do their bidding, until now at least.
There are hardly any preparations needed, acolyte. They *want* to serve. They tell me so. Golems want nothing. Watch and learn.
I don't think that was supposed to happen.
So of course, we're stuck cleaning up the mess this moron made.
Still, these are just regular Lotus Acolytes who simply happen to be on fire, so they go down just as easily as every other acolyte we've fought in this fortress.
The sorcerer is at least smart enough to run off by himself, so we don't even need to murder him.
Finally, we've got Gi and Soto, the mold masters responsible for maintaining the golem press.
What could cause a machine as sophisticated as the press to break down?
You are right to marvel at its stability. It is a machine in balance. Only errors of its operators have damaged it before.
Several foolish acolytes were killed for damaging it. It's not so hard to use properly. All you do is work the crane and occasionally add Phoenix Oil to the Material Selector.
The what now?
What is Phoenix Oil? Where does it come from?
Gang needs to better train his acolytes. You were obviously rushed through the initiation process.
Phoenix Oil is a viscous liquid that burns at an incredible temperature. It heats the press to cure the golem husks. If there is too much in the machine, it burns too hot. Too little, and the golems crumble. The merchant brings the oil from the craftsmen of the Golden Delta.
Well then, I suppose we'll go ask Kia Jong for some Phoenix Oil. A shitton of Phoenix Oil, to be exact. We're not doing that just yet, though, because we have a slave shipment to intercept.
On the way out, we come across our third Aura of Calm Gem. This one was in a random pile of bones. You know, I am beginning to think the wiki may have been mistaken about this gem being unique to that one sidequest.
It's pretty nice to see some sunlight for a change. The Lotus Assassin fortress is a bit on the drab side, which is of course fitting for such a location but there's only so much brown and grey I can handle.
Err, hello. Fancy meeting you here.
Sorry, we're not taking any more slaves today.
You are mad to test an Assassin! I'll kill you where you stand!
Yeah, about that...
What? Thank you... thank you so much. I knew someone would stop them, someone kind and honest.
Be safe. Now go!
Spoiler: It won't. Besides, we weren't about to deliver a bunch of slaves to the Lotus Assassins. That's just not our style.
There they go. Since we're outside the fortress for the time being, I think this might be a good spot to return back to the party campsite and ask Kang to take us to Lord Lao's Furnace once more. We got the final configuration for the furnace, after all, so let's go take care of that before we...
As I was saying, we'll take care of that before returning to the fortress, and while we're out here we can also meet with some of the folks we've been helping. Hey, it's Jinlin!
I still think Purveyor Shouji deserved a swift kick to the face and/or balls, but he freed Jinlin and her mom from their debts so things seem to have worked out for them nicely enough.
I thank you once more. I hope the heavens look kindly on you and give you a fate to be proud of.
Mad Wen and his daughter are also doing fine, so that's great as well.
Time to hit the Furnace.
We've activated all the machines required for the Configuration of the Rabbit, so let's smack this dragon button and get this over with.
Err... sorry about that, Silk Fox. My bad. What happened there was that I accidentally activated the cauldron instead of the cogs, fucking up the configuration and turning our girlfriend into a monkey. Oops.
At least she changes right back and, surprisingly, doesn't want to kill us for that slight blunder. Screwing up these recipes causes all kinds of weird nonsense like this, and I'll be showing it off in a later update.
For now, let's just do this properly. Oh, look, another one of those damage shield gems we don't need.
I'm beginning to think you have learned all of the secrets the furnace has to offer.
Oh, not again.
Silk Fox is being awfully casual about this. If Kang explodes, I don't think we're getting out of here anytime soon and that would pose a small problem for our main quest.
Well, there's nothing like mortal danger to jog the memory. Anyone up for a flight to the edge of perception?
What are you talking about, Kang?
The memories, they are seeping in. I see patterns, schematics, explosions. Lots of explosions. And... and someone seeking rescue. Lord Lao. That's why the furnace is here, why the configurations are spread across the Empire. When it was safe for his tools to be used, it would be safe for him to return. Lord Lao is imprisoned... locked away so his inventions could no longer challenge the works of the heavens. It's an insult to the inventor spirit. We must fly.
I suppose I should be dead, but it's not the first time. Perhaps I've grown resistant to such energetic assault and surprised my assailant with my resilience. Whatever the case, I have a vision of a new wind map. It goes... nowhere, and everywhere. We have to destroy the force holding Lord Lao in check.
Kang has exploded so many times he's now immune to explosions. Sure, that works.
We should go now. I do not think the furnace will function again until this is resolved.
There you have it. Next time, we'll fly to the edge of perception to rescue Lord Lao, and once we return from that trip it will be time to handle Master Shin.