The Let's Play Archive

Jade Empire

by Doc M

Part 39: Eternal Battle

Episode 37: Eternal Battle


Last time, we defeated Emperor Sun Hai and rescued Master Li, but we did not exactly "win". Quite the opposite, in fact. Master Li turned on us at our moment of triumph and killed us, revealing he had planned everything from the start.

If the flash of white light didn't clue you in, the Water Dragon confirms that Wu is supposed to be dead right now. However, it seems not all is lost just yet.

Of course, Wu is now just a spirit, and her appearance has changed to reflect that. Pretty neat, although she doesn't really look like any other ghost we see in the game.

Welcome to Chapter 5 of Jade Empire, and welcome to the spirit realm. As the Water Dragon told us, that pillar of light in the distance is our goal, so obviously...

...we'll go in the opposite direction. There is something here that was added into the PC version and the later ports.

The Demon Sword is the final sword upgrade, and to be honest I don't think it's really worth it. While another 25% damage boost is nice, the focus cost gets a bit too heavy for my liking.

Just a quick glance at the quest journal. Nothing there we don't already know, but I figured I might as well show it off every so often.

Nothing else to do here but make our way across the field and towards the light, so let's get to it.

Oh, good. I'm glad these guys are here, I missed them so much.

After each fight (spoiler: there are more fights before we get to the beacon), we get some plot exposition from the Water Dragon.

You know, I think the worst part of being dead is having to hang out with asshole ghosts all the time.

And that seems to have worked out quite well for him.

Yes, that's what we're trying to do, it just takes a bit of time with all these Lost Spirits bothering us. When we look around, it's clear we're on some kind of a battlefield (well, the cannons next to the Demon Sword might also have been a clue), with the bodies... err... spirits? Spirit bodies? Let's just say there are numerous bodies of what look like Imperial soldiers scattering the ground.

will you stop

This was of course the Glorious Strategist's goal all along. Train the Spirit Monk kid to fight Sun Hai, and claim the throne and the Water Dragon's power once Hai's out of the way.

Here's the final Lost Spirit between us and the beacon. Hmm... crossing a devastated battlefield to reach a beacon of light, with the last obstacle being a single enemy... that somehow seems familiar but I can't quite place it.

Lost Spirits aside, this is a cool section and one of the most memorable ones in the game in my opinion. The atmosphere really sells it.

What's going on here?

Your Master, Sun Li the Glorious Strategist, betrayed you. He killed you to claim the power of the Emperor--my power--as his own. You... are dead.

They're really going out of their way to explain that at this point.

But twenty years ago, the Emperor and his brothers attacked Dirge. They burned my temple, slew my servants, and defiled my body so the Emperor could claim my power. When Emperor Sun Hai fell, I reclaimed some of my power, enough to call your spirit here. But now I am fading once more. Sun Li consumes my energy.

So, it appears that right after Sun Hai's defeat, the Water Dragon intervened to summon Wu's spirit here -- wherever "here" is -- upon death, instead of... where it would've ended up otherwise, I suppose.

He consumes my essence to become a god, but he does not yet fully control his power. That is why I could bring you here. and why we can speak now.

My strength wanes. We must act quickly. For you to fulfill your destiny, I must send you to Dirge *now,* while Sun Li struggles to control his new found power.

You will learn this and more, but we must move quickly. When he discovers what I have done, he will try to seal this realm and prevent me from sending you to Dirge.

Unh! Hurry! If you restore the fountains of Dirge, I can restore you to life. If you do not, Master Li will become... unstoppable! Seek out... Abbot Song. He will help you. Restore... the fountains of Dirge. Restore my... restore my power, and I will speak to you again...

Well, now we at least have some hope of returning to life, even if the details of the plan are a bit muddy at this point. Being buddies with the shepherd of the dead does have its perks.

We're clearly not going through there, so let's find another way.

The Gem of Premonition adds +1 to Mind and reduces the focus cost for evading traps by 50%. Ehh.

Oh, hello. This looks like a good opportunity to try out our new Demon Sword.

The sword looks baller and does a lot of damage, but you can see just how much focus it eats up. Honestly, Tang's Vengeance and Crimson Tears are more attractive options for weapon styles, because they do plenty of damage in their own right and don't murder our focus bar. We would've been fine with the Dragon Sword as well (after all, it was the best long sword in the original Xbox release), but since we picked this thing up we can't go back to the old sword. Well, I guess there's save editing (or just replaying the last ten minutes), but

Making our way up the stairs that were blocked by those demons, we come across a ghost just sitting around meditating.

This guy looks familiar.

Before we get to introduce ourselves, though, a ghost in Imperial Army garb appears.

The ghosts charge into battle against each other...

...and swing away with their weapons.

The outcome of that fight is unclear from the cutscene. When we regain control, the only one who's standing is the ghost that turns out to be the Abbot we were looking for.

One would assume so, yes.

I am. I was. But I only led them to defeat and destruction. I failed in my duty to protect the Water Dragon... a duty I would one day have passed to you. You are a Spirit Monk, born here in Dirge and cleansed in the sacred fountains. You were an infant the day the Emperor and Sun Li attacked our monastery. I tried to save you from the slaughter, only to lose you to Li when he ripped you from the arms of your dying guardian.

Seems like our dear Master may have taken some minor liberties when recounting the story to us. He said he worked together with the Spirit Monks and was told to take Wu to safety, which he then did.

Thirty years ago, the Long Drought struck the land. For a decade, crops withered and died. Starving people across the Empire demanded that something be done. Despite his position, Emperor Sun Hai could not alter the natural order. He demanded that his brother, the Glorious Strategist, concoct a plan to rectify this insult. Through Sun Li's cunning, the armies of the Emperor laid siege to the gates of Dirge. They came to seize the Water Dragon's power and her life-giving waters.

The soldiers of the Imperial Army swarmed over us, too many to count. My Spirit Monks fought bravely, but I knew the battle was lost.

VIDEO: Escape from Dirge (Abbot's Cut) ( HOLY SHIT WATCH THIS )

Things start off the same way as they did in Master Li's version of the flashback, we've seen all of this. This time it's in the correct aspect ratio, at least!

And yes, we saw how Abbot Song jumped in to fight Prince Kin, only to get cut down. That's familiar territory as well.

The man in the dark armor, who we always assumed to be Death's Hand? Sun Li himself.

This guy, who we thought was a younger Sun Li? Just some random Spirit Monk who happened to look a bit like the Glorious Strategist. Obviously, he was dressed like the other monks, which should've been a sign of something being amiss, but since Sun Li said he spent a bunch of time helping the monks it wouldn't be out of the question for him to be wearing their garb as well.

We only saw what happened in the temple from the monk's perspective, so we could only tell that something big happened in there.

In the background, we can just about see the monk fleeing with Wu and the amulet.

And here's the crystal Sun Hai, and now Sun Li, used to control their powers.

Sun Kin just shanked the fuck out of his brother there, but it was no use because the Emperor already had the power and a sword through the torso is no big deal when you're a god.

We can see the wall blowing up in Master Li's version of the cutscene (which turned out to be a result of him flying right through the wall), but I don't remember if we can actually see Sun Li going through it.

fake edit: I went back and checked, and yes, you can see him crashing through the wall in the original cutscene. It's just kinda hard to see him unless you know he's there, because there's so much debris.

Li is clearly weighing his options here. He could go back inside and try to help Sun Kin, but he just saw a Spirit Monk flee with a baby in his arms. The same Spirit Monk he thought he saw in the temple (taking the Dragon Amulet) just before Sun Hai got his powers.

Sun Kin appears to be beyond help at this point, and now Sun Hai has his sights on Sun Li.

Sun Li decides to live and fight another day as he narrowly avoids a massive blast of energy courtesy of Sun Hai's godly powers, and sets off in pursuit of the monk.

Li knows that the only way the Emperor could be defeated now (and the only way he himself could get his hands on that power) is if a Spirit Monk were to face him. The problem there is that all Spirit Monks just got slaughtered. Well, except for this one guy who managed to flee, but he hardly seems like someone who could defeat a God-Emperor. But how about that child?

The Spirit Monk child could be trained from a young age to be a powerful fighter capable of going up against the Emperor and winning, but more crucially Li could train the kid to fight in a very specific way, with a flaw that only he could exploit when the moment comes.

Li would raise the child as his own, acting the role of the wise mentor and father figure, to develop the bond required for the next stage of his plan.

Of course, if he's going to raise the kid, that means the real guardian has to be handled.

On a side note, do you remember what Master Li said when we asked him about Death's Hand way back in the beginning? If not, let me remind you.

Indeed. You remember what else Master Li said in that same conversation?

"It" in this case being the Spirit Cave entrance, but we all know what he's actually talking about here. Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled flashback:

And here's what Sun Li actually looked like 20 years ago. It's a good thing that monk kinda resembled him, otherwise the original cutscene wouldn't have worked too well. The monk didn't have the scar, obviously, but that was hardly a sign of anything sinister since Li could easily have received it later.

For good measure, we get the origin story for Death's Hand as well. If you paid attention to the weapons Prince Kin used, by now you may have picked up on the fact Death's Hand has something to do with him. They both use the exact same dual swords. Sun Li used a long jagged sword at Dirge, and we never see Death's Hand wielding that.

Speaking of Sun Li and Death's Hand, when I did the original version of this cutscene, I tried not to directly identify either of them if I could help it, instead going with "Well, this must be Master Li in his younger days" and "That guy in the dark armor can only be Death's Hand". I did end up simply calling Li Death's Hand at one point (when he looks back at the monk) but fixed that later (I also added the wall explosion which was missing for some reason). At the end I mentioned that Master Li got away safely with the baby and the amulet, which... well, he did, didn't he? He just wasn't the guy in the screenshots.

He trained you to be an instrument of vengeance, an agent to succeed where he and Prince Kin had failed. But with your death, the Emperor is now invincible.

You spoke with the Water Dragon? Of course! Only she could guide your spirit to Dirge, while all others must wander the mortal world. I worried that our last hope had died with you. But now I see. You have come to restore the fountains of Dirge... the first step in restoring the Water Dragon herself!

How exactly are we restoring these fountains, anyway?

Well, at least he's helping us out.

"I don't need the help of a ghost" seems like a very silly thing to say, considering the situation we're in at the moment.

I know the monastery well. If there are questions you wish to ask in your quest to restore the fountains, I will do my best to answer them.

Do you have any advice for me?

Only that you should do as the Water Dragon asked and try to restore the fountains of Dirge.

Great, that helps. Thanks, Abbot Song. Anyway, time for some exposition, so sit tight!

The amulet is an artifact of great power, though few truly understand its nature. What do you wish to know?

I saw Li take it from me. How can I still use it?

The amulet is a powerful tool, but it is only a tool. When you were first learning to unleash the power within you, the amulet helped you to focus your mind and energy. But you are a Spirit Monk. The power of the Water Dragon was always in you, not in the amulet. Now you are strong enough to draw on that power without the amulet.

If the amulet is only a focus, why did Li take it from me?

You no longer need the amulet, but Li has a use for it. Li's brother Sun Hai consumed the Water Dragon's power, but without the amulet it was a long and slow process. Even after twenty years, he was not strong enough to defeat you. Had the Lotus Assassins brought him enough pieces of the amulet, he would have been far more powerful. But Sun Li has the amulet, making him far more dangerous. With it, he can draw on the Water Dragon's power much faster. Unless you stop him soon, he will become invincible.

If the power was mine, what does the amulet do?

It is a tool and a focus. It allows you to understand the power you can wield, and to use the essence gems that so many discount as trinkets.

So uh, if we don't have the amulet with us, how are we still able to equip and de-equip gems? Where exactly are we putting those things now?

The answer is probably "It's just a game and I should really just relax."

I gave the pieces to my apprentices and told them to flee to the farthest reaches of the Empire. The core of the amulet was given to the young monk who fled with you.

Wait, no, that's not how it happened. The monk took it from the altar inside the temple, which was how Sun Li noticed him in the first place. Or maybe it was given to him earlier and he realized he left it in the temple when the attack came?

Eh, whatever. Next question.

I would be honored to help you learn more about our order and your legacy.

You said I was born here at Dirge?

Many of our order were brought to us as children, orphans we raise to serve our Great Mistress. But a few children are born here at the monastery. Both your mother and father were Spirit Monks. You were born right here in Dirge and bathed in the sacred fountains, mere days before we were destroyed. Both your mother and father died in the attack, along with the rest of us who served the Water Dragon.

What were my parents like?

They were good people. Their love for each other was matched only by their devotion to the Water Dragon herself. Had they survived, you would have been raised here in Dirge. You would have been instructed from birth in the duties of a Spirit Monk. It is a tragedy you never knew them.

What did the Spirit Monks do, exactly?

That's probably something we should know.

We would seek out these lost spirits. Those with unfinished business, or those who had suffered traumatic deaths, would need our help to reach Dirge. But now that the Water Dragon is gone, none of the spirits can find their way to Dirge. And those already here are trapped: the portal to the afterlife is sealed.

Ah, so that is how it all works. The exact nature of what happens to a person when they die has been a bit ambiguous until now, but here we finally learn how things are supposed to be. You die, you go to Dirge either on your own or with the help of the Spirit Monks and the Water Dragon, and then pass through the portal to the afterlife where your spirit is eventually reborn. And now that everything's fucked, none of this process works any longer.

Once it was a holy place, but now it is defiled. Dirge has become a place of great evil and corruption... a corruption that has been growing for the past twenty years.

I think we should move on.

Hold on, I still need to ask how you actually do that.

The fountains were tainted with human blood, which shattered their seals. The blood that stained them is gone. Replacing the seals should restore them.

Okay, that sounds simpler than I expected. That corruption he spoke of might cause some issues, though, so we should be careful.

Abbot Song is going to act as our follower for the time being, and as you can see he's got a pretty goddamn useful support skill. So, of course, I forget to put him on support. We can still access Zin Bu's store as well, in case we need something from him.

And no, we haven't missed a party member. The question mark next to Abbot Song kinda suggests we should've gotten another follower before meeting him, but that's not the case.

Let's get going. The first thing we come across as we head towards the Dirge gates is this group of ghosts, who appear to be fighting each other.

Li cut me down on the steps of the temple. My body fell, and my spirit rose. Powerless, I fled toward the outer courtyard while the battle still raged. I wanted to see if you had escaped. Instead, I saw Li take you... and I found myself trapped out here. The Emperor had sealed the gates behind me.

My spirit cannot leave Dirge. None of the spirits here can leave. For twenty years I have been trapped in the outer courtyard, unable to pass through the gates. My hope is that the restoration of the fountain will allow the gates to open. Perhaps inside we can find a way to restore Dirge and free my brethren from this curse.

I cannot say what fate lies ahead. But after twenty years, your return gives me reason to hope once more.

What lies ahead is that we're going to do our duty as Spirit Monks and get this place back up and running.

Since the main gates are closed, we head down these steps instead. For whatever reason, the minimap is gone -- Dirge still has an actual map in the pause menu, so I probably just turned it off by accident (pressing X on the 360 controller while out of combat toggles it). We don't really need it anyway, as these zones are quite small.

That's probably one of the fountains we need to restore, so let's do it.

I'm going to assume these guys aren't here to help us with our task.

Meet Xian Wu and the Betrayers, also meet Abbot Song on attack duty because I'm an idiot. This group can be pretty annoying to fight, mainly because Xian Wu keeps slowing us down with her blizzard spells.

Obviously, separating one of the enemies from the group is always a good idea and we can do some real damage here before the others join in. I also finally realized at this point that Abbot Song was in attack mode and fixed that, so maybe now we won't be useless.

Yeah, that's way better. Look how much health, chi and focus we're getting back.

Xian Wu goes down not long after.

Long before the attack, Li sent spies to bribe some of our... weaker members. When they tainted the fountains, the power sustaining us against the army vanished.

That's our Glorious Strategist. The story doesn't tell if the blood was the betrayers' own or someone else's, but I guess it doesn't really matter.

That sounds rather unpleasant.

I don't understand. How did he bind their spirits?

The binding is a sacred ritual of the Spirit Monks. We can draw on the power of the Water Dragon to bind a spirit to us. It is one of our tools for shepherding the dead. Even before Dirge was befouled, there were ghosts in the world. Some spirits would become lost in their journey here or refuse to let go of the mortal world and go mad. If we found one of these restless ghosts, we could bind it to us and bring it to Dirge. Then we would release the spirit so the Water Dragon could lead it into the afterlife.

A spirit can never escape such a binding. It feels an inexorable pull, but it has nowhere to go. It feels a compulsion to obey, but it is never given a command. The spirit twists and corrupts, and in its agony, it goes mad. Binding a spirit to a place is a terrible crime for our order. The only thing worse is binding a living creature.

Who the hell would even...

Oh. Oh yeah. It seems Sun Hai did exactly that to create Death's Hand. Sun Kin never died at Dirge, he was bound to the armor while still alive.

The ability to bind spirits comes from the essence of the Water Dragon inside you. You may not have the power now, but one day you will be able to call upon it when needed. But this is not the time for lessons or instruction. The guardian is dead, but you must place the seal on the fountain for it to be fully restored.

Right, the seal. I like that icon, looks like a little dragon's head.

And it'll probably go in here.

Perfect. That is one fountain restored, and the courtyard gate is now open.

Yes, that's what I just said. Let's get going.

I have left you without my guidance for far too long, Abbot Song. But I could not speak with you; my strength was consumed contacting the last of the order.

Well, she is the shepherd of the dead and kind of in charge of the Great Wheel and everything, or at least used to be.

That was about... 30 seconds? At most? Talk about cutting it close.

And yes, the plan was always for us to die at the hands of Sun Li. That was inevitable, and something the Water Dragon has been foreshadowing the entire time with her cryptic dialog. We had to die at that exact moment, otherwise the Water Dragon's plan wouldn't have worked and Sun Li would have won.

What you see is how you perceive abilities that are inherently yours as a Spirit Monk. Essence gems still serve you because the amulet was a pathway, not a source of power. The amulet trains you to access what is already present, something Sun Li misunderstood. However, as a focus it still allows him to take my power much faster than his brother did. Let the wisdom of the abbot guide you if you need aid. Restore the second fountain and I will speak to you again... if I am able.

The Water Dragon vanishes again, and it's time for us to head to the inner courtyard of Dirge. That's where we'll pick things up next time.

VIDEO: Meanwhile, in a familiar location...