The Let's Play Archive

Jade Empire

by Doc M

Part 40: Corruption

Episode 38: Corruption


Last time, we woke up as a ghost and ended up at Dirge, which we were told is a place between the real world and the spirit realm. The Water Dragon, who had known from the very beginning that we'd die at the hands of Sun Li, has promised to return us to the land of the living if we restore the Dirge fountains. We restored the first one, so let's go find the next one so we can do our Spirit Monk job.

The second fountain is just a quick uphill trek away from the entrance to the inner courtyard. That wasn't so hard.

Well, shit. That can't be good.

There are unnamed things barred from entering both the mortal world and the spirit realm. But with the Water Dragon gone, such a being may have crossed into Dirge. Such a creature would be drawn to the corruption of the fountain. It must have destroyed the guardian and hidden the seal so the fountain could never be restored.

Definitely not good, but if the creature is still here we'll probably be able to find it. Then we can ask it what happened to the seal.

The creature would not go far... wait! Do you feel that? Something is coming.

That something turns out a bull demon. We saw one at Lord Lao's Furnace when we messed around with the machines, but this is where you're supposed to meet a bull demon for the first time. He's apparently got the seal tucked away somewhere, most likely under his Master's (whoever that is) orders.

I am the Minion of Suffering. It was I who devoured the guardian bound to this fountain and claimed the seal for my Master. Seek me out, traverse the Path of Demons, and you can reclaim the seal... if you dare!

Having said his piece, the Minion of Suffering departs. "Seek me out... if you dare"? Really? That's the most threatening line he could come up with?

But he seemed so trustworthy!

But there may be a way to yet overcome this demon. I know of a gem here in the monastery; a gem of great power. You could use it to help defeat this monster.

The gem has been kept here in the monastery for many generations, guarded by powerful spells that keep evil at bay. The spells persisted even after Dirge fell.

We were always going to go that way regardless of what the demon said, but at least now we know what we might find there.

You are the last Spirit Monk; the wards will not keep you from the gem. But take care; its power will be like a beacon, drawing all manner of dark spirits near. Battling through such creatures may be just as difficult as facing the demon. In any case, the choice is yours.

Before we head for the gem, we can check this nearby scrollstand for an excerpt from Abbot Song's journal, written shortly before Dirge was attacked. There was a sense of foreboding in the air, that something terrible was about to happen, but all Abbot Song could do was put his trust in the Water Dragon and believe she was preparing for the danger. Well, we saw how that turned out. The Water Dragon did have some sort of protective magic in place, but that was lost when some of the monks went rogue and tainted the sacred fountains with blood on Sun Li's orders, and then it was too late.

Oh hey, here's a gem. This is not the one we're looking for, although the Brilliant Gem of Balance (+4 to Body, Mind and Spirit) is an excellent gem in its own right. We already have one of these equipped, and this can replace one of our Gems of Unity.

Turning around, we can clearly see a focus shrine up on the balcony ahead. I have no idea how to get there or if you can even get there, there is no path that leads up to the balcony as far as I can tell.

The gate leads to another set of stairs, and at the top we can find what appears to be a very large and glowy jar. That's probably where our special gem is.

We definitely have some dark spirits here, at least.

This spirit thinks it's being stealthy, but we know what's up. We can't interact with it at this point, so we can assume there will be an ambush of some sort coming up.

For twenty years, I have sought to pass the wards protecting this gem. Its power calls out to me, yet the magic guarding this prize has kept me at bay. None can pass.

Well, we'll see about that.

You bear the mark of the Water Dragon! You can pass through the wards, as will I, once I have devoured your spirit!

As the Red Minister attacks, the Lost Spirit we saw hiding earlier also decides to show up.

These guys don't put up much of a fight. So much for the Red Minister devouring our spirit.

Instead, we devour his. Kind of. The Red Minister style is... okay? I guess? It doesn't matter in the slightest, because we have the Jade Golem style and that's the only transformation style you'll ever need.

When we interact with the gem repository, the magical force field simply fades away and we receive the Eye of the Dragon. This Open Palm exclusive gem is a +6 boost to Body, Mind and Spirit, and also adds a 5% chance of a shockwave knocking attackers down when you get hit. Closed Fist characters get the Eye of the Demon, which has the same stats and a similar bonus effect (in this case, 5% chance of damaging an attacker when you get hit)

Now that we've got the gem, let's follow the Minion of Suffering to his lair.

True to its name, the Path of Demons throws a bunch of demons in our way. Nothing we can't handle, of course, and this is also a good opportunity to show off the Red Minister style.

Red Minister can be used to siphon health from enemies, which I suppose is nice, and as a spirit you are also immune to support and weapon styles. (Isn't Wu already a spirit and therefore shouldn't she be immune to those at this point?) Still not really worth it, though.

The Path of Demons continues to throw demons at us, including the rare rhino demon. There is actually a rhino demon transformation style in the PC version of Jade Empire, although you could only access it if you preordered the game or via save editing.

You may also notice that something's a bit off with Wu's model here. For some reason, using a transformation style while your character is a ghost will revert them back to their original model, albeit still with the ghostly mist effects around them.

Changing zones fixes the glitch, so now we're properly spooky again.

This is obviously the Minion of Suffering's lair, and before we get to the horrible bull demon we've got some more of his friends to deal with, including another rhino demon.

There's the Minion. Somehow, I doubt he's going to give up the fountain seal willingly.

Dirge belongs to the master I serve. His strength grows; he feeds on the taint of this place. And when he is ready, he will unleash us on the mortal world!

A BioWare writer in 2005: "Shit, I can't come up with a name for this evil thing in Chapter 5. Fuck it, let's just say he has no name, that'll make him sound super evil and mysterious. Yeah, that'll do it, now let's go get smashed."

I do not fear you, for the power of my master flows through me. I enforce his will, for all must bow down to him, in time. The earth, the heavens. The living, the dead. All will grovel before my master when he unleashes himself from Dirge. But do not fear. You will be spared this fate... for I will rend your spirit into nothingness!

That's a slight improvement over "Seek me out... IF YOU DARE!" at least.

The Minion of Suffering fights very differently to the bull demons at the Furnace (which were really just generic enemies with a bull demon model), and is also a hell of a lot stronger in general.

At range, he keeps firing these purple projectiles to deal minor damage to all three bars, but especially to make it harder for you to get close to him. They're not difficult to avoid for the most part, but you'll probably have to eat a few of them if you want to get in his face without spending a lot of time dodging.

I like the bull demon design, it looks suitably horrifying for what's meant to be the strongest and most evil demon of them all. Here you also get a better look at the giant eye he's got on top of his head... err, heads, which also looks kind of unsettling.

The Minion can also charge up and shoot pink mist out of his... lower body. This is easily his most dangerous attack and also gives you the Shocked status, but it's usually pretty easy to avoid and I got hit here mainly because I was being very aggressive. The Minion has a fuckton of health.

His monstrous pile of hit points aside, the Minion goes down without too much hassle. Abbot Song on support duty is a huge help in this fight, letting us use chi strikes and the Demon Sword without worrying about running out of chi or focus.

???: I have feasted too long to fall to you. Too many souls, too many spirits. The pain and misery of their slaughter sustains me. For twenty years, I have lingered in the shadows, growing stronger. The corruption of Dirge feeds me. It gives me power.

Whoever it is, it sounds as you'd expect a mysterious entity of pure evil to sound. Deep voice, scary vocal effects, that kind of stuff.

Wonderful, looking forward to that.

I knew spirits and demons would overrun Dirge after the Emperor defiled it, but the corruption is far greater than I ever feared... and worse is yet to come!

Uh... camera? You okay there, buddy?

That's better.

We should return to the fountain by the courtyard gates. Restore it with the seal you took from the demon and the gates to the temple courtyard should open.

Will do, let's get going. There is some minor loot in the cave, but nothing worth mentioning.

Naturally, some more demons show up to pester us on our way back to the fountain.

Slap the seal into the slot, and that'll do it. We can now access the courtyard.

The power of the Water Dragon is divine; any mortal touched by it would be instantly consumed. However, the Emperor found a way to corrupt the divine power. The immortal purity of the Water Dragon was befouled by human blood spilled in her fountains. Her power was tainted, allowing the Emperor, a mortal, to seize it as his own.

For a mortal, blood is life. A sacrifice of blood can have great power, even over the gods. But now is not the time for this discussion. The gates are open now; we can make our way through the temple courtyard to the temple itself. Inside the temple, you can complete the restoration of Dirge!

And once the restoration of Dirge is complete, we should be able to return to life. As fun as it is to walk around as a ghost, we'd rather not spend any more time doing that than we absolutely have to, so we should get a move on.

There's the temple itself. Quite a view.

Of course, before we proceed to the temple, we can see something down the path to our left. Looks like a focus shrine, and since we've spent quite a bit of focus fighting all those demons we should probably pay the shrine a visit.

Don't mind us, just passing through.

Upon reaching the shrine, we're ambushed by two Red Ministers and another Lost Spirit. I'm sure we could take them, but you know what?

Fuck these guys.

Well, we did get all our focus back without even having to use the shrine, but lost a bunch of health and chi while fighting those idiots. There's nothing here except the focus shrine, so if you don't need to use it (and don't mind missing out on some EXP) you might as well just skip this side path altogether.

Hopefully they've got a spirit font or two somewhere around here.

Oh, there they are. Excellent.

Once again, since we used the transformation style we're looking a bit more normal than we're supposed to. Shame they didn't get around to fixing that glitch, it's a bit annoying.

What? No! Did you not see how good he is when you put him on support?

You suffered doubt in defeat, but you are strengthened by the actions of this Spirit Monk. Go. Lead your fellows to victory and rest. Your path does not lie in the temple.

Yes, Great Mistress. It is all so clear now. I will do as you say, and the Spirit Monks shall avenge the great slaughter of twenty years ago!

I... but... dammit. Thanks a lot.

Really could've used it, to be honest.

A great evil awaits, and only you have the power to defeat it. Destroy the creature corrupting my temple. Do this and the restoration of Dirge will be complete.

The true corruption of Dirge rests in the temple, where Emperor Sun Hai struck me down. That desecration drew terrible things to Dirge. Beings not part of the natural order. An abomination has gorged itself for two decades on the pain and suffering released with my murder. Twenty years growing strong, feasting on the death of a god. All creatures, all spirits--even the gods--have their place. but this nameless *thing* is not truly part of our existence. It is a manifestation of all that is wrong in our world. Sun Hai disrupted the natural order, and unknowingly gave birth to a mindless evil driven only by instinct and hunger. It feeds and it grows... and now you must destroy it.

Well, better get to it, I guess. I still say we could've used the abbot's help, especially if this creature is as bad as the Water Dragon says.

Not much else we can do, so let's find this monster.

I'm not trying to join the battle, but thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

I'm assuming he meant those huge stairs up ahead.

There are some prayer wheels here, but we don't have time to bother with those now because we have a temple to cleanse.

Here's the inner sanctum, where Sun Hai stole the Water Dragon's power twenty years ago. No sign of any great evil thus far, just a giant statue of the Water Dragon.

What could this abomination be? If even the Water Dragon is freaked out by it, it's got to be something terrifying.

Oh no.

Well... shit. Obviously, this is not the creature's true form, but if these Wu clones are even remotely as good in a fight as we are, this is going to hurt.

Welcome to the part of Jade Empire where the game suddenly gets kind of hard. We've spent most of the game ridiculously overpowered, crushing every enemy we've met with relative ease, but this is where things start to ramp up difficulty-wise. I suppose it makes sense that the first time we'd have real trouble would be in a fight against ourselves (especially when multiplied by three).

In any case, we'll ditch the Demon Sword for now because the focus cost is too great. Tang's Vengeance does the job quite nicely, anyway. We could try to Jade Golem our way through this, but one of the Wu clones (or "Aspects") has weapons and, as we'll see shortly, she's pretty good with them and we wouldn't last long as a lumbering monster.

The camera is also having some issues in this fight, getting stuck on pillars and such.

So far, we're doing pretty well. We've got the Aspect of Rage down to half health and stunlocked to boot, so as long as we can keep up this assault we should have an easier time with just two opponents.

Come on, just a few more hits.

Unfortunately, we don't get those few more hits in, because she uses the Ice Shard area attack to slow us down to a crawl and then starts healing.

And now she has all her health back. Fantastic. In hindsight, I could've just gone into focus mode... or used the Storm Dragon area attack... or Jade Golem'd her before the Aspect with the swords got too close... but I guess I just didn't think of it at the time.

Getting stabbed with those swords even once is massively painful, so, uh, don't do that.

This has all gone horribly, horribly wrong. The area attack you see here is the Eye of the Dragon's shockwave kicking in, and it does that at the perfect moment because we're almost dead after getting double-teamed.

And now we're all out of chi. Time for a tactical retreat.

For the next few moments, we're going to have to use Spirit Thief to get some of our chi back so that we can heal. We'd preferably have some chi in reserve, as well, because we'll probably get mobbed again. Also, the enemy name indicator has now disappeared from the HUD for whatever reason.

That's better. We got some health back, and even though we're out of chi again we at least got rid of Aspect of Rage. Two of these guys should be a lot more manageable.

A bit of friendly fire is always fun as well, even if it doesn't do any damage to Aspect of... hold on, gotta look it up... Despair here.

Down goes another Aspect, and we're looking pretty good health-wise too.

Not even going to bother with Spirit Thief at this point, we'll just get rid of Aspect of Sorrow with the good old Storm Dragon/Leaping Tiger combo.

That really could've gone better, but all's well that ends well.

VIDEO: Dirge Restored

With the taint cleansed from the temple, the Water Dragon statue starts to belch out smoke like an 80s metal band's stage prop. The smoke eventually reaches the ghosts, still battling outside the temple.

In an explosion of light, the Water Dragon's magical energy is released and washes over the eternal combatants.

After twenty years, the curse of Dirge is finally lifted and the spirits are free.

Hopefully, that is also enough for us to return to the world of the living.

At the very least, the Water Dragon is now able to return to her temple.

Even though we restored Dirge, it's not going to matter if Sun Li isn't stopped so we're not celebrating too wildly just yet. And if we want to have a chance to beat him, there's something else we have to do first.

That was how he ended the drought. You must find my body and kill it, so that when you defeat your former master, my power is free to dissipate. Until then, I cannot be reborn.

As it turns out, Sun Hai did not kill the Water Dragon at Dirge. He took her heart (that's the green crystal we saw earlier) and somehow brought her physical body to the Palace, keeping it alive for all these years. The Water Dragon wants us to end her torment, so that she can be reborn. Presumably, had Sun Hai actually killed the Water Dragon, the drought might not have ended so swiftly and the natural order might have been restored because the Water Dragon would've been reborn at some point.

You must destroy my body in the palace to weaken him, but there is more you can do. I see within you the knowledge of his child. If it lives, Li's rage can be proven false.

But Dirge is not known to the Empire. It is a secret place, and its death was only visible from one height, one vantage. The palace of the family Sun.

You only get this reveal if you go through all of Zu's dialog and get him to tell you about Li's child, but if you pay attention to the conversation between Zu and Hui in Tien's Landing and later dialog between Zu and Dawn Star, it's quite easy to piece this together on your own.

Sun Li does not look with the eyes of a father. His gaze does not seek life. She was appraised as a tool, just as you were, but her potential did not hold his interest. The loss of his family hides his ambition, perhaps even from himself. It may benefit you to reveal this. but my body must also die.

I wonder if Dawn Star's ability to sense and communicate with spirits has something to do with the circumstances she was born in. I could see that being the case.

The maddened spirits that swarm this realm hunger for passage anywhere. I will not be able to stop them following you. But there is no other way. Remember: Find my body in the palace and destroy it, or you will not be able to defeat Sun Li. Enter the portal. I return to you the life that was so wrongly taken.

This is it. Time to go.

All this talk about the Water Dragon's physical body reminds me, we never did find out what happened to ours. Maybe we'll get a new and improved one to commemorate our return?

VIDEO: Meanwhile, in another familiar location...

Looks like our friends made it out okay. That's good. They appear to be in the Great Southern Forest right now.

I don't know. We'll think of something. For now, we have to make sure we survive.

While the party members ponder the next move, Dawn Star is contacted by the Water Dragon and told what needs to be done.

What? Why?

We must go to Dirge... quickly, there's no time to explain.

Looks like everyone's going to Dirge. This is shaping up to be quite a reunion.

Speaking of Dirge, it seems we've made it back in one piece, and we're back in our body as well. If our body is here, what happened to the one we presumably left behind in the palace?

Whatever. The important part is that we're alive again, and we know that both Sun Li (with Death's Hand in tow) and our party members are making their way to Dirge as we speak.

Well, maybe Wu doesn't know that. In any case, we should look around.

Hm. That's probably not supposed to happen.

Just like the Water Dragon said might be the case, some demons have followed us to the real world.

We can fight the demons, but the real target is the glowy orb (or "disturbance"). Once we destroy that, the portal closes.

EDIT: Or, as people in the thread have informed me, you can just beat up on the demons until an Elder Horse Demon appears and then when you kill him, you get a technique that adds +2 Mind and +15 Health as you punch him so hard a shard of his skull ends up lodged in your arm. I genuinely did not know that was a thing (why would the orb have a health bar if I wasn't supposed to attack it), otherwise I'd have shown it off.

Ah, that's better.

Certainly. First of all, though, we'll take a look around the real Dirge because there's plenty of interesting stuff to be found.

Zin Bu is now selling some horribly overpriced techniques, and we'll get the one that gives us more chi. We can never have enough of that.

Hm, wonder what these are for. I guess we'll find out.

We'll take a look at the Mantra of Inspiration in a bit, there's still a few more things around here we need to check out.

For one, we've got the Heavenly Gate Guardian statue. Meditating in front of the statue restores our focus, so it's basically just a focus shrine.

On the other wall, we have the statue of Mah Tsung. This one works like a spirit font.

There's another statue on this side, but we can't interact with it. Instead, we can take a look at another excerpt from Abbot Song's journal. He makes mention of a secret path at the bottom of a well, which I assume was used by the rogue monks to get to the Dirge fountains and mess them up.

That'll do it for now. Dirge has been restored, we've returned from beyond, and the Water Dragon gave us the task of destroying her body so she can be reborn. Next time, we'll explore the rest of the temple and hopefully reunite with our friends.