The Let's Play Archive

Jade Empire

by Doc M

Part 37: The Grand Inquisitor

Episode 35: The Grand Inquisitor


Last time, we made some preparations for our upcoming assassination of Master Shin, but before we get to that there is something else that needs to be taken care of. According to Kang, the great celestial artificer Lord Lao (of Lord Lao's Furnace fame) has been imprisoned by the heavens themselves, and we need to take a flight to "the edge of perception" to set him free. Well then, what are we waiting for?

As dated as some of his concepts are, I look forward to meeting him. Perhaps I can suggest some improvements.

Let's go.

Prepare yourself. This route is much stranger than any I have seen before. Clearly we are not bound for a terrestrial location.

Even though we can take three flyer upgrades into missions, I only take these two for whatever reason. It doesn't really matter, as these two weapons are all we're going to need on this particular trip.

The edge of perception looks remarkably like all other flyer levels, except instead of regular enemies we've got some weird balls of energy flying around... well as some flyers that also appear to be made entirely out of light. The enemies in this mission are generally a lot easier than those we've seen so far, there are a lot of these guys but they're not that dangerous.

Eventually, we run into a bigger ball of energy. This is presumably the force keeping Lord Lao imprisoned, and it's the first proper boss we fight in one of these flyer sections. Its shots aren't too hard to avoid (on the easy minigame difficulty, anyway), but it does take quite a bit of punishment before going down.

Well, that's why we brought Dragon's Wrath. Look at the size of that explosion, I'm sure Kang approves wholeheartedly.

The main core of the boss is still intact after the super bomb blast, but not for long.

That'll do it. Lord Lao should be free now, wherever he happens to be at the moment.

We're returned back to the campsite, and given another flyer upgrade we will never use.

Yes, we need to discuss what... what was discovered.

Yes, well, it seems the entity holding the memories of Lord Lao is vanquished. The great artificer was imprisoned for insulting heavenly works. Unjustly, I might add. He is free. He is... somewhat disoriented by the process. Oh, and there is perhaps something else you should be aware of. Uh, he is me.

Silk Fox doesn't seem to be particularly impressed by this earth-shattering revelation.

I suppose I should have been more concerned with having no memories before the last few decades... or a century. Come to think of it, I guess I'm pretty old. There was always so much to do. It never seemed to matter where I was from. I'm not even sure what I did to earn this fate. I must have stepped a little above myself and angered the Celestial Bureaucracy. In the time before their wrath filtered down, I built the furnace to point back to myself.

That'll explain why Kang was immune to explosions, being an immortal celestial artificer tends to help with that kind of thing. However, I don't really know what to think of Kang turning out to be Lord Lao himself. It's supposed to be a big deal, I guess, but my reaction to the reveal has always been along the lines of "Oh, well, okay then. " Maybe it's because Lord Lao doesn't get any buildup outside the furnace and this particular sidequest.

I don't think I'll give them cause. I like it here. So many things to build for so many small problems. All the interesting big scale things are already built. And, I have an interest in seeing your endeavor through to the end. For curiosity, you understand. And I could possibly improve the yield of the furnace. I brought two unspoiled gems from our flight to rescue... ah... "me," in the void. The "Eyes of the Void" or the "Glare of the Jerk that Locked Me Up" or something. Very volatile fuel. With my new understanding of the furnace, you now have a configuration unrivaled, but there is risk. Combined with this fuel it may damage the furnace. So, continue using the furnace as it is, or risk its functions on the most powerful effect it can produce? Well, if I built it, and I guess I did, I'd fix that restriction first.

Then why don't you fix it?

The rules of inspiration defy such logic. That is why a single flyer is greater than many, and duplicates devalue the whole. The furnace is what it is. I'll make something better, but adjusting this one will require monumental effort. It is not designed for adjustment.

Uh, sure, that makes sense.

With the last two configurations in hand, we'll head back to the furnace for one last time.

Since it is the last time we're here, let's screw around for a while and test out random combinations.

There are many different results we can get from doing this. First off, we manage to light ourselves on fire, which oddly does no damage whatsoever.

Then, we accidentally summon an elephant demon. The demons you fight at the furnace seem a bit weaker than the ones in other locations, but if you come here early on and hit random buttons there's still a decent chance to get wrecked. Well then, let's see what's next.

oh my god what the fuck is that

As it turns out, this unholy abomination standing before us is a bull demon. These guys don't fuck around, so I ended up fighting him in focus mode just in case.

For whatever reason, all enemies you fight at the furnace give 209 EXP.

After taking down the bull demon, we manage to summon a couple of horse demons. There is also a chance for rat demons or spirits to appear here, but I didn't manage to get them to trigger.

We're almost done here, but let's just press this button one more time.

Water wheel/cauldron/chimney + tiger button will cause your character to change gender, much to Silk Fox's delight.

The effect is only temporary, so we won't be spending the rest of the game as Wei Shen Furious Ming. It would've been pretty cool if you were able to use the furnace to change your appearance at any time like you can in Dragon Age's Black Emporium, but sadly that feature does not exist yet in this game.

Anyway, now that we've seen all (well, most of) the wacky shenanigans we can get up to with the furnace, it's time to use the contraption one last time.

We can only choose one of these configurations. Sadly, there is no way to find out what they do beforehand, so you either have to look them up or just load your previous save if you're not satisfied with your choice. For the record: the Configuration of the Goat yields the Harmony and Balance technique (+3 to all attributes), and the Configuration of the Rat gives you a technique called Strength of the Bull (+25% bonus to all damage). Neither choice is bad, really, but that +25% damage bonus is going to be more our speed so that is what we're going for.

There we go.

Using the Eyes of the Void causes all the machines at the furnace to stop working and their levers to snap off, so we won't be messing with this thing ever again.

At this point it's just as well, because we've done everything there is to do with the furnace and there is never any reason to come back here even if we don't use the Eyes now. Also, you'd think Kang/Lao would have something to say about his furnace breaking, but he only has his generic dialog at this point. Odd.

Welp, time to make our way back to the Lotus Assassin fortress. Somehow, I managed to actually get through the Necropolis without fighting anything.

As you may remember from last time, we're supposed to clear the Hall of Induction so that we can fight Master Shin without any witnesses. The two mold masters will not leave the place unless the golem press breaks down, and they helpfully told us that adding the wrong amount of Phoenix Oil into the machine tends to do that. They also let us know Kia Jong is giving out the oil quite freely, so let's ask him about it. Kia Jong has relocated to the lower chamber after we persuaded him to leave the Hall of Induction.

Here, take this clay pot, but be careful. This stuff burns much hotter than any other kind of oil. Is there anything eise you need?

Now we're cooking with... oil, I guess. Right then, now we'll just head back over to the golem press to shove all of this oil into the machine. That ought to cause a bit of a malfunction.

[It slides neatly into the machine. It does not take long for a malfunction to occur. The machine shuts down]

Oh dear. Looks like some idiot got the amount of oil all wrong and caused the machine to fry itself. How careless. We should tell someone about this.

Like I said last time, the tutorial scroll on golems in this room has incorrect information. You can't hurt golems with martial styles, as demonstrated here.

thanks camera, this is very helpful

Okay then, now if we could just get to the mold masters without any further interruptions. Back to the Hall of Induction we go.

The press malfunctioned. Someone used too much Phoenix Oil.

What? Which one of you idiots threw off the mixture? Bah, it doesn't matter.

Err, yes, very bad. Hopefully the culprit is found soon and receives the appropriate punishment. Yes.

Mold Master Soto sounds so disappointed here that I almost feel bad for messing up the press. Almost.

I love how dickish that other line is.

So much wasted work. If we don't get it fixed, Jia will have us slaughtered.

I know, I know. We need to go to the market district and find a smith. Come on. We're wasting time.

Perfect. The Hall of Induction is now empty, so now we'll just need Master Shin to show up.

Right on cue. After you've cleared the Hall, Shin appears when you approach the door to the lower chamber.

You thought to make me vulnerable by killing my Attendants and emptying the hall? A miscalculation. I am a favored of Grand Inquisitor Jia! You will die!

Unlike everyone else we've fought around here thus far, Master Shin can actually back up his big talk. We've been sleepwalking through the fights for almost the entire game, but that will not last for much longer.

The main problem with Master Shin is the fact he uses Tempest, possibly the most overpowered magic style in the game. The area attack of Tempest will stun you for several seconds, and there is no way out of it if you get hit.

Once we manage to get Shin's health down to 50% or so, these two golems decide to wake up for some reason and join the fight.

Shin also uses Storm Dragon, but that isn't really an issue because enemies can't use it as effectively as we can.

Eventually, Shin goes down, and his golems don't last much longer.

Master Shin now has some... pressing matters to attend to.

Well then, that's Master Shin eliminated. That should make Master Gang happy, not that it's going to make much of a difference.

I came quickly after hearing of his stumble. Perhaps it was the cold of the sanctum that made him careless and dulled his senses. Open the press.

We should honor our fallen comrade, but I am distracted by thoughts of who will take his place. I think the choice is obvious.

While Gang is distracted, we should get a move on. Our good friend Roderick the golem is still suspended above the walkway, so if we can just get to the controls in time...

Oops, sorry about that.

Looks like someone else is getting that promotion after all. Farewell, Master Gang, you were a terrible instructor and a complete fucking moron. Let's get out of here.

Ah, look who's back.

But you may learn more than she wants to know. I know that I did, many years ago.

Hui in Tien's Landing told you that in response to that act, Master Li's wife was condemned to death. She was with child at the time. This I know for certain. I was there. I was one of the elite ordered to kill Master Li's family.

If you've been paying attention to all the dialog from Hui, Zu and various Lotus Assassins, you've probably pieced this together by now.

I could not question the orders. They could not be wrong.

For years I wondered what kind of creature could issue such an order and what I was for following it. It was easier to be a coward than to question the Empire. Now I understand, and I hope I have shown you, as well. They broke a sacred trust. I have returned because of that, even though I know what Death‘s Hand is. My fate is sealed, but one secret must live on. I killed them all, my fellow Assassins. I would not let them finish their mission.

The Keeper of the Archive mentioned this too, although she wouldn't name any names. So, if the mission was not finished, then that must mean...

This is something Zu will only tell you if you've completed a series of conversations earlier in chapter 3. If you missed one of those or told Zu to be quiet, he'll only mention that he was one of the Assassins sent after Master Li's family. As for the identity of Li's child... well, all in due time.

Huh. Nice mask.

That is one way to describe what just happened, yes.

You were Gang's acolyte. You deal with this and get me the spirit shard I require. Since your master is dead, you may present it in the ritual.

I have the spirit shard now.

Bring it to the doors of the inner chamber. Finish whatever business you have in this place. Grand Inquisitor Jia may... alter your duties.

This is a good time to drop a hard save, do a bit of last-minute shopping or visit a spirit font or something, because once we go through that door we'll be locked to plot stuff for a while.

You have the spirit shard? Very good, acolyte; you are on the verge of being welcomed into the heart of the fortress. Have you completed all other business?

They really want you to be sure you're ready to continue through the door, so they give you one more chance to back out. We're finished all our business, of course, so let's just get on with it.

VIDEO: The Inner Chambers (watch this one)

Meet the mighty jade golem. This is still Zogu talking, by the way, not the golem. Golems don't talk, even the big jade ones (EDIT: No, scratch that, golems can totally talk. The ones guarding the dam controls in Tien's Landing asked for the password and everything).

Now, we must complete the ritual. A score of clay golems stand idle without a focus. This Jade Golem will awaken them all, direct them as one.

Looks like we're about to see what our special spirit shard does.

That's probably not normal.

So much for his demands.

Thanks to our corrupted shard, the jade golem is moving in a rather erratic fashion and is obviously messed up pretty seriously.

Meanwhile, the golems all over the fortress wake up as well. With their commanding jade golem corrupted as badly as it is, how are the clay golems going to behave?

Not very well, I'm afraid. At least not from the Lotus Assassins' point of view.

The golems have gone berserk and started smashing up the place, along with anyone who gets in their way. Well, we told Sky we would bring this whole place down, and our golem friends are doing a bang-up job so far.

Finally, the corrupted jade golem comes crashing down as well.

And of course, this whole racket has gotten the attention of Grand Inquisitor Jia, who is obviously not impressed by what's going on in her fortress.

Err... I didn't do it?

And you... hidden in plain sight, like your master. You caught us unsuspecting, but not unprepared. Who are you, to think you could enter our lair so easily?

Grand Inquisitor Jia decided to remove her mask for some reason, revealing a rather unpleasant-looking older lady.

That is why Death's Hand stands at the forefront of the Assassins. He draws attention, diverts criticism, while the Emperor solidifies his power.

I'm not sure why the game is now showing us a cutscene of some poor bastard getting dragged to the Soul Extractor while Jia talks, but there it is. I'm not complaining at all, the game just usually doesn't do this kind of thing.

However, what she is saying is kind of troubling for us and especially Silk Fox -- her father, Emperor Sun Hai, is apparently responsible for everything that happens in this fortress. Not Death's Hand, like Silk Fox had assumed.

So who said the Soul Extractor doesn't leave a corpse? Because that's very obviously a corpse (also surprisingly graphic for this game). Of course, Master Gang probably wanted us to leave a body that would somehow still be recognizable as Master Shin, and the extractor basically just leaves behind a skeleton, but we straight-up told him that the extractor leaves no body. Maybe Wu misunderstood what Go Rin was saying.

And that's what a spirit shard actually looks like, I guess.

They've got a lot more jade golems, all right. Including these two right in this very room, and they don't look corrupted to me.

Well... shit.

Fantastic. Now we're fighting two jade golems. Executioner Zogu is here as well, but for some reason he seems like the least of our worries at the moment.

Yeah, that vertical double axe swing seems like something we should probably avoid at all costs, judging from what happened to the other Executioner in the cutscene.

The golems don't really care about friendly fire, so Executioner Zogu gets launched across the room when one of the beasts accidentally whacks him with an axe. Surprisingly, that does no damage to him.

Still, we manage to finish him off in style, even though we get hit immediately afterwards. That's not too much damage, though.

Focus mode really helps here, making the golems' attacks easier to dodge and letting us do more damage in short bursts.

Whew! We made it through that all right, but you really want to be careful when engaging these guys.

Oh hell yes.

That is exactly what it looks like. We got a transformation style that lets us turn into one of these big bastards. This is the best transformation style in the game, and trivializes most of the combat especially when upgraded. I won't be using it a whole lot because that would get boring, but when you need a "fuck this shit" button the Jade Golem style has got you covered.

Reading this scroll completes another book set and gives us a new technique (Chi +10).

Welp, can't go back. Guess we'll have to press forward and get to that amulet, then.

That is a very good idea at this time. I'd really rather not grapple with Death's Hand right now.

No spirit fonts or focus shrines in this hallway. At least we're looking pretty good as far as health, chi and focus go.

We have warriors across the Empire, and other Jade Golems that are not corrupted. You have diminished us, but it is not a mortal wound. Death's Hand will be here soon. You will be my gift to him, drawn as you were by your precious amulet. Live or die, the will of the Emperor be done!

So, now we're fighting Grand Inquisitor Jia, and she's not exactly a pushover. Hopefully you didn't lose too much health, chi and focus in that fight downstairs. And if you did, hopefully you didn't just save over your only save file (I mean, you should save in different slots anyway, but I'm sure there's someone who didn't), because in that case you may have just made the game borderline unwinnable. Oh, and that dialog from Jia is unskippable, so have fun with that too if you need to attempt this fight several times like I did back in the day.

We have no intention of fighting fair, though. Jia wants a jade golem, so a jade golem she shall receive.

Despite its imposing looks, the jade golem is far from invulnerable in this fight. Jia fights with a sword, and those swings of hers come out quickly so she can do a ton of damage to our lumbering jade beast. You also can't heal while using a transformation style.

That being said... one of our "weak" swings takes off about 25% of Jia's health, so as long as we keep attacking we'll probably win the damage race. Focus mode is a big help here as well.

As usual with transformation styles, the biggest drawback of the Jade Golem style is the chi cost. I put a couple of points into the style to bring it up to the same level as my other transformation styles, but it still has a ravenous appetite for chi and continues to do so for quite some time.

There's the amulet. Finally.

Zu has managed to follow us inside, as well. Doesn't seem like he's going to tell us he's here just yet.

Now we just need to grab the amulet and get the hell out of this dump.

Ah, shit. That is not good. That is, in fact, the opposite of good.

We've got the amulet, all right, but Wu has not noticed Death's Hand sneaking up behind her.

Thanks to Zu's warning, she just barely manages to dodge Death's Hand's sword.

But not the kick.

That's one hell of a kick, and Wu is down and out.

Fortunately, Zu still has our back, but we clearly can't withstand the strength of Death's Hand for very long.

I think this is a really cool scene. It's the first time we properly see Death's Hand in action, and he comes across as the fucking boogeyman just as he has been built up in dialog throughout the game. I mean, he is obviously just supposed to be Fantasy Chinese Darth Vader, but it still works well.

Zu pushes Wu down the stairwell, just in time to avoid another one of Death's Hand's attacks.

Zu's kick doesn't even faze Death's Hand.

Zu manages to dodge a couple more sword swings, which end up hitting the large pillars next to the walkway.

But even someone as skilled as Zu isn't going to avoid the blade of Death's Hand forever.

Not that he was ever trying to dodge Death's Hand forever. He just needed Death's Hand to take out those two pillars, and that is what happened.

Silk Fox is right. We don't have time to stand here and mourn Zu, because this fortress is about to come down on our heads and getting killed like that would be a terrible way to honor his sacrifice.

Obviously, every Lotus Assassin that is still standing is now hostile to us, so we're going to have to fight our way through. We also got a couple of crappy gems and a Viper scroll (which we can't use because the other Viper scrolls we had were destroyed when we learned Iron Palm) for some reason, but who cares.

The camera is doing a fantastic job once again.

Eventually, we manage to defeat the camera (and the Keeper of the Archive, good riddance) and get to the Hall of Induction.

The Hall has seen better days.

We have to fight a bunch more clay golems, but they're not much of a threat at this point and we just need to keep moving forward.

Eventually, we battle our way through the rubble and reach the exit, leaving the fortress behind for good.

The path crumbles behind us, so there's no going back even if we wanted to. Not that we're finished with these jerks quite yet, of course. Did you expect we wouldn't be fighting the Watcher at some point?

So, this fight. Fuck this fight sideways. The Watcher uses Tempest and keeps spamming the area attack, which... sure, okay, we can handle that without too many issues. That's not why this fight is bullshit.

This fight is bullshit because while the Watcher keeps us locked in place by spamming Tempest, his goons spam Ice Shard to keep us stunlocked.

They just KEEP DOING IT. Watch the video and you'll see just how infuriating this is. There is absolutely nothing I can do to stop these assholes from spamming this crap until their AI decides to do something else for a change.

Eventually they let me do something, by which point almost all of my chi is gone because I had to spend all my time healing.

Spreading these idiots out might be a decent plan. Or maybe not, but that's what I end up doing here anyway.

I wish I had brought Dawn Star for that sweet, sweet chi recovery, but as it is we have to use Spirit Thief instead.

Go to so much hell, Watcher. In hindsight, we probably could've just steamrolled these morons with the Jade Golem style since none of them had weapons, but whatever.

In case you don't recognize the place, we're in the Unfinished Tomb we visited earlier. The last time we were here, we saw the door at the back but couldn't access it, and that was of course the door we used to exit the fortress.

The Necropolis is now absolutely crawling with Lost Spirits (more so than usual) and mummies, but they're nothing we haven't seen before and getting out of the city of the dead isn't a huge ordeal.

Thankfully, the game teleports us right to the campsite so we don't need to do any more backtracking.

My dear little Dawn Star. I'm a princess. People bow to me. That is the way things are. Of course, many things are not as I thought they were, if what we learned from Jia is true.

By the Water Dragon's mercy, they are enslaved until they die... and then trapped within the golems. I have seen the proof... but how can it be true?

He has taken our master, killed our friends. What if assaulting the Water Dragon is true, too? He must be stopped.

No! I will not believe it! We have to go to the palace and give him the chance to explain.

This applies to a lot of things we do, to be honest.

Yeah, we should probably bring that up at this point.

Now you are really stepping beyond the realm of reason. Why would Zu know this?

Might as well tell the whole story while we're at it.

Does this change anything? We can tell Master Li and give him hope, but we must rescue him first.

Then let's quit talking and go to the palace! I will lead the way.

We must be on our guard. Is there another way to reach the palace? The princess doesn't want to see the danger.

I wish these two could stop fighting with each other one of these days. It's not really helping anything.

Everyone, be quiet! Are you ready to go? If you have business left in the Imperial City, you'd better finish it. I won't be leaving the palace without an answer.

If you haven't finished all the sidequests in the city by now, it's a good idea to do that before you tell Silk Fox you're ready to go to the palace and end chapter 3. After this chapter, the plot kicks into high gear and never really stops for the rest of the game.

We're done here, of course, but before we go we should see if there's any way we can make Silk Fox feel a bit better.

We still have much to talk about, but it will have to wait. I must speak to my father. Forgive me.

Let's go to the palace now.

Good. My father has much to answer for. I know he will explain everything. And if Death's Hand is there... I'll have some words for him, as well. Kang! Those flags that I gave you, the ones with the royal seals? Mount them on your pile of scrap and let's go! I don't want to waste any more time!

*shakes head*

Silk Fox really isn't in the mood for anyone's bullshit right now, even Lord Lao's.

I'm not fighting any more enemy ships anytime soon.

And that wraps up chapter 3. Sorry about the long update, but I really wanted to finish the chapter here. Next time, we'll find out what's going on with the Emperor and hopefully get a satisfactory explanation for this whole "slaughtering slaves en masse to create a golem army" thing, and while we're at it we'll try to rescue Master Li as well.