Bookstands and Scrollstands contain text that provide the Player with information and backstory on the Jade Empire and the people, events, and creatures that live within it. Some stands may give the Player configurations to use for Lord Lao's Furnace.
Upon reading the text the Player is given experience points based upon their level. If a complete set of scrolls or books are read a bonus may be rewarded to the Player.
The bookstand "Auspicious Portents" is located in Two Rivers School. It discusses astronomy.
Understanding the stars and the universe is a very important goal. By examining the universe, we can Interpret and predict things to come. The sky is where the Great Dragon was said to dwell, and in his illustrious home we can see the signs of his effects on creation.
Of the observable phenomena, three major ones are the most auspicious: comets, the flames of the heavens, passing across the sky; eclipse, during which the power of the gods blocks the sun for brief periods; and falling stars, marking the descent of one of the Celestial Bureaucracy to the earth.
The Guide to the Imperial CityEdit
Welcome, dear traveler, to the illustrious Imperial City, the heart of civilization in the world and seat of power for the Jade Empire. In this fine city, the wonders of the modern age are plain for all to see. Walk down the expansive boulevards, shop at the many fine booths and stores, and see how the most advanced and civilized people in the world live. You will be awed and amazed by the sights of the city. Explore the Imperial City for the experience of a lifetime!
Horse Lord TacticsEdit
Unlike the ordered armies of the Jade Empire, the Horselords favor lightly armored units of horseman, who can move rapidly over the field of battle. Moving like a rushing tide, small groups of horseman harry all angles of their opponent's flanks. Armed with bows, almost to a man, these mounted archers can rain destruction upon unprepared foes. While the Horselord tactics are surprisingly effective, their men lack the discipline of the Imperial Army; for all the damage they can inflict the horseland forces have difficulty holding strategic locations. For now, the Jade Empire exists in an uneasy peace with the Horselords, leaving the savages to their arid lands north of the Seat of Heaven Province.
Music and the ArtsEdit
- Music and the other arts are vital parts of life in the Jade Empire. As with any truly civilized people, even the common man can enjoy the benefits of music in his daily life. Only the music of the Jade Empire itself truly satiates this primal urge. The lesser, more savage peoples that surround us know nothing of true culture, and their primitive beatings and wailing cannot touch the soul as truly as have the masterpieces of Water Swallow or the heart-wrenching tragedy of Falling Star. For this reason, if not others, it is our duty as a cultured people to bring civilization and joy of the arts to those less advanced and gifted societies.
The Airing of GrievancesEdit
The bookstand "The Airing of Grievances" is found in Tien's Landing, outside the burnt remains of Minister Sheng's building. It chronicles the various complaints the Minister has against the town he governs.
Being a collection of the indignities suffered by Minister Sheng at the hands of the backward shanty town of Tien's Landing:
- His hat has been soiled.
- A parchment was stolen from him before a speech at a community gathering.
- His cat was viciously threatened.
- A chair at his table was placed backward.
- His finger was slammed in a door not once, but thrice.
- An egg was thrown at him by an unknown assailant.
- His cart was stolen, filled with soiled garments, and then returned.
- His face was ridiculed by young children.
- His prized tonberry was squashed.
- It was suggested that he perform acts of deliberate indecency upon himself.
- He was forced to suffer the interminable and petty gripes of the people.
- His hair was accused of being impermanent and false.
- The honor of his family was impugned.
- He suffered a disabling attack by a pack of bees.
- His reputation was maligned by brigands. Brigands!
- A local dog evacuated in the Minister's shoe.
- He was given a gift of turtle eggs by a visiting merchant.
- It was suggested that he would be able to trace his lineage to a simple courtesan.
- He was referred to as "smelly."
- He slipped in mud, no doubt placed in his path by jealous townsfolk.
- Sailors burned down his office.
Many tales circulate of the travels of the Water People, but one of the most disturbing tales comes from far to the west, beyond the Ocean of Tempus. Rumors persist of an area in the middle of the western ocean that is inhospitable to life. The farther one travels across the Ocean of Tempus, the warmer the climate becomes. Many have postulated that this may be because you approach the resting place of the sun, but there must be another explanation, not shrouded in myths and superstition.
Of particular note are reports of an enormous cloud that rises miles into the air, visible to those few brave enough to travel the increasingly rough seas of Tempus. At night, this cloud glows with heat, and its acrid smell carries on the wood. Those who approach too closely fall in. The few ghost ships found in that area where filled with the desiccated corpses, their skin rotting and their hair and teeth falling from their bodies. One particularly disturbing log, penned in the shaking hand of a dying captain of one of these lost craft, suggests that the skies were filled with a roar like the cries of the gods, and it finished with unfortunate man's wish that death take him before the howling demons descend upon him.
The Celestial OrderEdit
The three bookstands in the series "The Celestial Order" discuss the balance of the Great Dragon and the function of the Celestial Bureaucracy.
The Celestial Order, Volume 1
The world is a place of order. When order is not enforced, chaos reigns. Chaos is the natural state of the world. The order that currently exists in the result of the power of the Great Dragon. Out of this steaming chaos, the Great Dragon created the world, perfect in every way. But nature the forces of the universe, demand balance. For every bit of order, there must be corresponding chaos. That first world, that perfect world, was pure order. It could not last.
The perfect order choked life and did not allow growth, and so chaos was allowed back into the world.
The Celestial Order, Volume 2
- Location: First floor - Imperial Palace
The Great Dragon loosed chaos upon the world he had created, separating man from the beasts and laying foundation for the eventual order that would unite humanity: this glorious Jade Empire. The great animals’ spirits of the past were cast out from the human communities, and Man was forever separated and elevated above the common beasts. Man who now the guardian of order, imposing his will on nature and shaping it to his desire.
But balance must exist in all things. Man was a bastion of order, with chaos in his heart. For as long as the world remains in chaos, man will always war and strive against his fellow man. This is the way of nature. Until the Great Dragon returns to bring the world to order or humanity brings itself above the cycle of nature, this is the way it will always be.
The Celestial Order, Volume 3
- Location: Lord Lao's Furnace
The Celestial Bureaucracy is made up of all the servants that the Great Dragon left behind to administer creation. According to the priests and augers, they know nothing of their creator or where it has gone. The Great Dragon has transcended heaven, they say. They, in their faithfulness, remain behind.
Or so they say. Over the millennia, many have fallen from their duties and have become part of the chaos in the world. This, we can only suppose, is part of creation as well. But as representatives of order, humanity suffers most from the attentions of these chaotic spirits and demons.
The Grand Inquisitor's WillEdit
The bookstand "The Grand Inquisitor's Will" is located in the Lotus Assassin Fortress.
Our mistress demands that all of her servants think clearly and completely in all that they do. She expects that all Lotus Assassins exercise their minds as thoroughly as they suppress the impulses of their hearts. As Grand Inquisitor, Mistress Jia knows all things that happen within the fortress and without. Not even the deepest secrets of the most remote places in the Empire escape her knowledge.
Mistress Jia demands that we be cunning, ruthless, and complete in our loyalty to her master and ours, Death's Hand. To disrespect her is to disrespect the Empire, the Emperor, and Death's Hand himself.
The History of FlightEdit
The four bookstands in the series "The History of Flight" are found in Gao the Greater's pirate lair (volumes one to three) and in the Market District of the Imperial City (volume four). It details the development of flyers in the Jade Empire.
The History of Flight Vol 1
The first person to attempt flight was Cao Shong, an early scholar who originally came from the Prosperous East. Though his ideas were creative, they were hardly sound. Cao Shong met an early end after he strapped several canisters of dragon powder to a bamboo chair and ignited it. It was at first rumored that he had survived the ill-fated mission, but few truly believe that anyone could have survived such a disastrous explosion. His death, however, was not completely in vain. Several of his writings were studied by later scholars, and some of his ideas were adapted for the first successful human flights.
The History of Flight Vol 2
The first known successful flight was made by Mad Fong. Though he had studied to become a scholar, he was kicked out of the school for destroying one of their buildings. Based on the history books, it is difficult to determine if Fong was a genius, or insane. Either way, his techniques were original and in the end, successful. Though his first several attempts were unsuccessful, he refused to give up. Despite the costs and the obvious danger to his own life, Fong persevered until he completed his first prototype flyer. The flyer didn't do much more than hop across the landscape, but it was a start. A year later, he was able to travel for nearly a mile before crashing, and unfortunately, dying, in the process.
The History of Flight Vol 3
Several years after Mad Fong's first successful flight, a scholar from the south discovered the unusual device known simply as the Inscrutable Power Source. A few years later, Scholar Shu Wen came up with a design for a flyer that used this mysterious new device. Initial attempts bordered on apocalyptic, in one case destroying half of a mountainside and the village that lay below. Several scholars tried to outlaw the use of this strange new energy source, but Shu Wen continued his experiments until at last he was successful. Unfortunately, his prototype was too successful; both he and the flyer took off at great speeds toward the north, and neither was ever seen again.
The History of Flight Vol 4
Some time after Scholar Shu Wen and his prototype flyer disappeared, an apprentice from the Imperial City discovered the scholar's cryptic notes, detailing the use of the Inscrutable Power Source. The apprentice showed the information to his master, General Sung Tao. Sung Tao was an engineer before he joined the army, and he recognized the potential of the scholar's work. He convinced Emperor Sun Siwen to fund a project to develop a flyer for use in the army. The emperor agreed readily and after several months of trying the first true flyer was created. Within a year the skies near the Imperial Palace were filled with flyers. Though the safety of the new flyers was questionable, it didn't take long for others to adopt and improve upon the design.
The Lotus MonksEdit
The bookstand "The Lotus Monks" is located on the first floor of the Imperial Palace.
As far as we know, all copies of the larger text were destroyed, but I shall include a fragment below for your amusement: "Protection of our glorious Emperor has always been the purpose of the Order of the Lotus. The Lotus Monks are the personal servants and protectors of the Emperor of the Jade Empire, governed by the Hand of Heaven, Sun Kin. They are servants, guards, teachers, doctors, and spiritual advisors. With their simple robes and dyed hands, they are an omnipresent and unpredictable force whose importance is disproportionate to their numbers. Anyone who wishes a presence in the court of the Emperor must, in some way, appease the Lotus Monks. Should someone displease the Emperor or offend the glory of the Empire, the consequences can be dramatic. Fortunately, they watch themselves as well as others, and any who stray are punished accordingly".
- How quaint. Blood stains the hands much better than dye.
The Mysterious EastEdit
Scholars know little about the culture that lies across the Glass Ocean. The tribes of that land have a sizeable amount of gold and a near insatiable demand for silk and spices. They also seem able to manufacture metals to an astounding degree, though perhaps not in as sophisticated a manner as our master tradesmen. Still, something on the other side of the Glass Ocean bears investigation. Unfortunately, few trade fleets have ever successfully made the passage, and those trade caravans that do pass follow a circuitous route through unenlightened peoples hostile to the Jade Empire.
The Old Tongue, Volume 1Edit
"Tho Fan", or The Old Tongue, was the native language of one of many kingdoms struggling for supremacy before the Empire was unified by Sagacious Tien, our first Emperor. As the wars raged, constant shifts in territorial leadership spread the use of the Old Tongue. By the time Sagacious Tien formed the Empire, the Old Tongue was so widely spread that it became a second official language of the Jade Empire.
The Physical UniverseEdit
The Physical Universe: The Philosopher's Viewpoint
Though Scholar Shao Shiang has raised several interesting points in his rebuttal to my treatise on the physical world, his lack of respect for the divine is of greater concern than his lack of understanding of the physical world around him. I agree that there are many aspects to our world that cannot be explained by divine influence alone. We learn and continue to thrive at the mercy of the celestial beings. Without their guidance, and indeed, their blessing, we would quickly discover that research and understanding of our physical world alone are not nearly enough for us to survive.
The Physical Universe: The Scholar's Hypothesis
To suggest that I, of all people, do not understand the significance or the importance of the celestial beings is preposterous. I pay my tributes at the temple because I honor those who gave us our minds and our curiosity. Philosopher Jiang ignores the crux of the problem by hiding behind his arguments of divine belief. The scholars have made some recent discoveries, such as the way in which clouds are formed. But the philosophers, lead by Jiang, dismiss these theories without even hearing them out. How can we progress as a society if we refuse to accept new ideas and new concepts? The philosophers would have us cling to our traditions, even at the cost of our own prosperity.
The Physical Universe: A Rebuttal
Scholar Shao Shiang has once again missed the central point of the philosopher's argument. We do not wish to stall development, nor do we seek to stop people from learning. Philosophers see the work of the divine in the physical world and oppose those who defy tradition only because they find those customs inconvenient or outdated. Learning and respect for the past need not be mutually exclusive; we seek only to learn in a way that does not dishonor the celestial beings that give us our very lives.
The Physical Universe: A Final Word
The World that we live in is not as simplistic as Philosopher Jiang would suggest in his treatise on the physical universe. His hypotheses regarding divine regulation of weather and seasons, though interesting, is nothing more than children's tales made overly complicated. Recent research, led by Scholar Dongow, has proven that our seasons and weather are much more than the careless whims of distant celestial beings. Our universe is made up of very real, very tangible components that can be carefully quantified and qualified.
The Righteous SiegeEdit
A vague account of the attack on the Spirit Monks of Dirge that maintains Sun Li and Sun Kin died in the assault. Despite obvious bias, some passages hint at the bloody actions that tormented Sagacious Zu: "Days turned to weeks as denial of the Emperor's authority continued. The gates of the fortress did not yield until cowards within were convinced to turn on their fellows. Victory was as inevitable as the tide, but losses were felt. Two brothers were claimed by crimes that remain unspoken, lest the heart of the Empire break with the telling. Death's Hand rose in their stead, to serve while Sun Hai returned life to the withered land. In the weeks that followed, the price of disloyalty was made clear to those in and out of the Emperor's honored grasp. A difficult time full of changes that not all would accept, but necessary cruelties ensured that no one in the Jade Empire would ever go thirsty again".
The Shadow in the TreesEdit
Travelers in the Great Southern Forest often report strange sightings and bizarre phenomena. Aside from the hospitality of the Pilgrim's Rest Inn, the forest is nearly entirely wilderness, and the verdant canopy of the forest hides wonderful and fearsome creatures unlike any seen anywhere else in the Empire.
The strangest tales are those of a shadow among the trees that seems to follow visitors to the forest. Philosophers hoping to reflect in the peace of the forest often report feeling watched, and patrons of the Pilgrim's Rest Inn claim to have seen a strange silhouette darting among the trees. Despite the apparent otherworldly nature of this figure, those who witness it sense no aggression and attribute it to the mysteries of the forest.
The farther east one goes across the Ocean of Glass, the colder and drier the air becomes. Modern scholars have struggled to understand this phenomenon, but to no avail. If one travels far enough, the sea currents all change, drawing east, just as all winds begin to draw in the same direction. Myths persist, however, of something greater, an ancient devouring evil detailed in the legends of the barbarian savages who line among the isles of the Glass Ocean. The legends tell of a voracious creature, a great demon trying to draw the entire world into its maw. An expedition sent during the Star Dynasty to discover the truth of these legends never returned and was presumed lost at sea.
The Way of the LotusEdit
Many acolytes misinterpret the tenets of the Lotus Assassin order. Stated simply, there are no tenets save one: obedience. Some believe we preach strength over all, but one must be strong to even be considered for recruitment. We are assassins, not monks. Our order does not teach as much as act. Leave the teachings to the scholars in their wasteful garden. Our mandate is to serve the will of the Emperor through Death's Hand and Grand Inquisitor Jia. Because they demand strength, we give them strength. Because they demand cunning, we give them cunning. Most of all, they demand obedience, and so we give them obedience. To do otherwise would be to spit in the eyes of those who hold our spirits in their hands. Acolytes may create philosophical justifications for the lives they have chosen, but in the end, our masters' wills are the only truth and the only law we serve.
Abbot Song's JournalEdit
Something is wrong. The Water Dragon won't speak of it openly, but I can sense that she is troubled by something. No one else suspects, not even her caretakers. But she is the Water Dragon, and if she wants us to know surely she will tell us.
Still, the storm continues to grow. Last week, one of the fountain guardians actually left their post unattended. And there were more conflicts among the monks this past year than I care to recall. The storm is building strength, and it seems poised to strike right at the heart of Dirge. I cannot say for certain, but I believe the Spirit Monks, the whole Empire in fact, is in grave danger. I can only trust that Water Dragon also senses it, and is preparing for whatever may come.
Black Leopard StyleEdit
Zou How grew up in a small fishing village in the south. His uncle was a great warrior, but he died when Zou How was still quite young. The young man longed to learn the ways of his uncle, but his parents did not want him to get involved in such a dangerous life. Despite their caution, Zou How used his uncle's incomplete journals and notes to teach himself how to fight, eventually creating his own techniques to fill in the blanks. His new style was eventually called Black Leopard Style, and it was one of the most formidable styles of his time.
Cannibal Cookbook, Volume 1Edit
- Valued Customer:
While we appreciate your business, the staff of the Heart of the Empire politely requests that you keep your nose out of ours. To assure that you will no longer wish to pry into our recipes, please enjoy this excerpt recently unearthed in the south.
- Leg of Lam:
This hearty meal was first discovered after Yu Lam the Hunter stumbled upon our community. For five to ten people, use just one leg (the other can be pickled for later or roasted slowly and smoked to preserve it). For larger groups, use both legs of an adult male or female. Boil the legs in a large pot for two hours with the following ingredients: twenty gallons of fresh water, three tablespoons of salt, half a cup of rosemary, three cups of spiced wine (summer wine is best if you can get it), three bags of onions, four whole garlic cloves, and a dash of ginger. When the legs have about half an hour left, add some skinned potatoes and leeks. Can be served on the bone or in steaks.
- "To fight without thought is suicide. The path to victory is laid out one step at a time, each ahead of your opponent's".
- -Sagacious Tien
Harmonic combinations demand the use of two styles in rapid succession. The first must be of the class called Support, the second from the class known as Martial. Timing is the key: begins with a focused disabling effect, and follow quickly with a powerful barehanded blow. The two actions working in concert will create a harmonic channel in your chi and wreak havoc upon your foe. You must be swift, as the window to create the harmony is limited. Disable your foe, close swiftly as you change style, and strike with all available force. Let nothing stand in your way, but beware. Opponents of great strength may possess the training to resist this technique. Thought will guide you to victory. Harmonic combinations will ensure the journey is swift.
Gaze upon these words with reverence, for they offer some small slice of the history of the most glorious contest in the arena.
- The Ravager:
Deadly, cold, and precise. The Ravager refuses to speak and shows no care for the crowd, but none can question his deadly strength. Wildy popular with the more bloodthirsty members of our crowd, the Ravager's rare flights are always sold out.
- Raging Ox:
All of the Imperial City fondly remembers Raging Ox, our recently retired Imperial Champion. Quick with a smile and famous for his antics both in and out of the ring, Ox's legend will live many lifetimes.
- Kai Lan the Serpent:
Kai Lan's phenomenal control over magic and his intense focus made him one of the greatest champions to grace the ring of the Imperial Arena. Cold an imperious, Kai Lan played to the crowd to cultivate a love/hate relationship that has persisted to this day.
Jade Empire BestiaryEdit
Jade Empire Bestiary, Volume 1
These curious beasts are not always as dangerous as their looks might imply. Those who confront one of these hulking monstrosities should treat them with caution, however, for despite the ogres' obvious skills at making weapons and armor, they are little more than wild animals. Although ogres are typically resistant to earth and air magic, fire and ice do significant damage to them, and weapons are usually effective against their thick hides.
Jade Empire Bestiary, Volume 2
A Thought on Golems
Until recently, very little was known about golems; those few people skilled enough to craft golems keep their secrets carefully. Powerful and deadly foes, golems are feared throughout the Empire. Though their workings remain a mystery, there are several useful characteristics worth nothing about these formidable opponents. These man-made beasts are immune to most types of magic. Their solid exteriors are best attacked with equally strong forces. Weapons and strength are the best ways to defeat these dangerous adversaries.
Jade Empire Bestiary, Volume 3
To Kill a Spirit A wise monk once asked, "How can you kill a thing that is already dead?" The answer is simple: you cannot. You can, however, disperse a spirit. This is not the same as killing, but it has a similar effect. It is important to remember that spirits are virtually immune to man-made weapons. You must confront spirits with martial, magic, or transformation styles. Never underestimate the strength of spirits. They may appear insubstantial, but they can still be deadly to the living.
Jade Empire Bestiary, Volume 4
Located in the Pirate Workshop, within the Pirate Stronghold, off the coast of Tien's Landing.
The Dangers of Demons
The average person is never likely to come across one of these horrific beings. Demons are some of the most dangerous and malevolent beings in all of Jade Empire. Though some demons are not evil, they are all powerful, and rarely can they be trusted. If confronted by a malicious demon, it is important to remember that they are usually immune to magic, especially the larger demons. You can successfully combat them with weapons and simple martial styles. Strangely enough, on those rare occasions when demons and ghosts were seen to tangle the strange magics used by the ghosts seem to affect these malevolent beasts.
Jade Empire Bestiary, Volume 5Edit
Horse Demons Words are only wasted describing these equine horrors, for their appearances are all too easily recalled from the nightmares of childhood. All the legends talk of these beasts' fiery manes and terrifying strength, but few sources delve beyond the lore to seek out the fact. It was a most fortunate happenstance that led this author into a roadside discussion with the venerable Li Shi Tun, a master warrior who had recently destroyed one of these beasts. His insight proved most valuable, for it was this master who first made clear the true effect of the horse demon's terrifying mane. Holding out blistered hands, the ancient warrior made his point most clearly: to strike a creature who controls elemental fires with such ease is to strike the flame itself. One must be prepared to hurt themselves with each attack.
Mantra of InspirationEdit
The scrollstand "Mantra of Inspiration" is located in the Temple Courtyard of Dirge.
An ancient text penned by some of the first Spirit Monks, this book has taught you how to properly focus upon the Mantra of Inspiration.
"Understanding the totality of being is the only goal worth achieving, and yet it is a goal that cannot be fulfilled in any life. Still, in the striving can be found deep inspirations, and those can aid you in your search. In this paradox, the never-ending journey is made possible.
Think upon what you have read here, and take your lessons to the meditation wheels of Divine Harmony in the temple's hallway. They will help you to find the next step upon the unending path."
Master Black LeopardEdit
By the time Zou How was twenty, he had already mastered his new style. Rather than leave his small home, he decided to start a school and have the students come to him. Word slowly spread throughout the south of a new master teaching a unique style. In time, the school became one of the most powerful in all the south, and Zou How soon became known as Master Black Leopard. Though he gained many eager students, Zou How never gave away all the secrets of Black Leopard Style, believing instead that his students should create for themselves a new style out of the basics, just as he had. Black Leopard Style died with Master Black Leopard, and no one since has been able to learn its deepest secrets.
A collection of logs, notes and records maintained by the Yun family up until roughly fifteen years ago. One entry catches your eye.
"My son seems utterly disinterested in the temple, and I worry that he pays no attention to the lessons I try to impart. They key, of course, remains in knowing that the seasons which most affect a forest are summer and winter, and the colors associated with these two seasons. If I am right and my lessons fly from his head as quickly as they can, then I fear for his safety should he attempt the ritual incorrectly. These furnaces are an ancient magic, and ancient magics draw dark attentions".
Another note, entered a bit later, reads, "As I feared, my son pays little heed. Perhaps I will install something to remind him. Violet is not our family color, but I hope it can be a potent reminder."
Text of WarEdit
In the art of war, it is not enough to have superiority in numbers, or strength in arms. True victory, lasting victory, is a cultural thing. To stop a conflict, you must not only defeat armies, you must defeat the will to fight. You must appease your enemy, convince them they have won, or eradicate them utterly. A nation with an expansive population, therefore, benefits from extermination. With a surplus of peasants, a newly cleared land can be rapidly repopulated, and, with an Infrastructure of buildings already in place, made productive in short order. In the reign of Emperor Yuan XI this was demonstrated most admirable in the marshlands to the south.
The Dragon of StormsEdit
Being an argument on the origins of Focus.
Min Shi the Dragon of Storms was a master who lived hundreds of years before the formation of the Jade Empire. Legends of her exploits could fill a library and while the veracity of such fables must be questioned, all the yarns agree that she formalized the teachings of the Storm Dragon style and brought knowledge of true focus to the martial arts.
Debates still rage on the subject, but the evidence is there to support such claims. Take, for instance, that harmonic combinations initiated by Storm Dragon invariable allow the user to collect his thoughts and steal some of his opponent's focus essence. Such a synergy is hard to dismiss, and when I questioned Jian the Iron Fist, a master of some renown, he replied, "Only a fool denies legends. They always hold a grain of truth". Jian speaks wisely; would it be so hard to accept that Storm Dragon was developed to make it easier for its adepts to achieve true focus in battle? This author thinks not.
The Inner SelfEdit
The great Wheel of Life turns eternal, bringing one through life, into death, then back around again into life. Though the new life is always different, the core essence, the spirit, of a person remains the same. This spirit, breathed into each person, is eternal. To achieve harmony with the universe, one must perfect their harmony with the spirit. Indeed, the spirit in each individual is a reflection of that greater universe. It is a reflection of the Wheel of Life and the Great Dragon that created it.
The Journal of Abbot SongEdit
There is something disturbing in the air tonight. I cannot be sure of my suspicions, but I wonder at the behavior of some of the younger monks. They seem nervous, like something is about to happen. Not long ago, I spotted one of them leaving the well room off the temple, and when I asked why she was down there she could produce no reason that satisfied my fears. The look she gave me when I assigned her extra chores as penance for being distracted from her duties chilled my heart; it was filled with such menace. Could some of the younger acolytes have discovered the secret path at the bottom of the well? Are they leaving our monastery without my permission? To what end? Troubling questions that will have to wait until tomorrow to answer.
The Land of Howling SpiritsEdit
To the west of the Jade Empire proper lies the Land of Howling Spirits, a range of sheer mountains and desolate, haunted passes. Not many men dwell in this harsh land. It does not support much in the way of communities, and those who dwell there are hardy mountainfolk who rely on themselves and their herds of goats more than trust in nature.
There is one exception to this rule. High in the mountains lies a secluded monastery, home to a reclusive and mysterious order known as the Spirit Monks. They tend an unknown charge in their sealed monastery. No one, not even an emperor, has been able to discover what lies within. The monks possess strange powers, but they exist in balance with nature. Eventually that land will be absorbed, and the Empire shall learn its secrets.
The Long DroughtEdit
The Long Drought stands as one of the worst periods in Jade Empire's recent history. Ten years of scorching heat and little rainfall took their toll on even the prodigious reserves of the Empire's granaries. The sages predicted at least three more devastatingly dry years, while those in the Ministry of Harmony watched the death toll mount into the hundreds of thousands. Then Emperor Sun Hai declared that the drought was over, and somehow it was. Through the Emperor's divine will, green returned to our parched land, and stability was restored.
The Martial ArtsEdit
The pride, perfection, and achievement of an individual are represented in many ways: the honing of the mind, civic achievements and glory gained for the Empire, the development of the spirit and one's inner energies, and the training of the body. Through the body the practitioner imposes his will upon himself and, through that, upon the universe. Through use of his body, the martial artist achieves transcendence and strength, overcoming all obstacles, both physical and spiritual.
The Nature of the SpiritEdit
The five scrollstands in the series "The Nature of the Spirit" discuss the relationship between humans and spirits.
The Nature of the Spirit, Volume 1
Mankind has long known that we are not alone in this world. Descended from heaven, risen from the ground, present all around us are spirits. These beings often go unseen, but when they choose to interact with us, the effect is usually profound. But what are these beings? Are they people who have died? Are they servants created at the beginning of the world by the Great Dragon? Are they something else entirely? Or are they all of the above?
In my research I have managed to find and communicate with a number of them. I contacted some through priests or relatives, when it was a spirit returned from the dead. But other encounters were much stranger.
The Nature of the Spirit, Volume 2
- One encounter brought vividly to mind was deep in a mine along the ridges near the Land of Howling Spirits. I was searching for a spirit I had seen the previous day, a spirit of moss and fungus that dwelt in this abandoned mine. Years earlier the mines were so prosperous that several communities depended on them for their livelihood, but collapses, fires, and unexplained disappearances in the mines led people to become more and more fearful of them. A local monk ventured in one night after hearing a disturbance, and he was never seen again. Thereafter, miners repeatedly reported hearing screams in the deepest tunnels in the voice of that young monk.
The Nature of the Spirit, Volume 3
The folktales surrounding the disappearance of the monk did not disturb me. The mines had been inactive for a century or more, and the surrounding villages had long since decayed. Any spirit that fed upon humans or human emotion or pain would have left in search of easier prey. Or so I had thought.
As I searched for the moss spirit that had brought me to the depths of that mine, I began to wonder if the legends were true after all. If the spirit or whatever it was that had driven away the miners could reside there still. In my mind, I began to hear the whispers in the dark and the screams and cries of those who lost their lives ages ago.
The Nature of the Spirit, Volume 4
- Location: The Necropolis
It is said in the journals of the lost monks of the Jinzhi sect that there are spirits of every desire. By summoning that desire within themselves, men can commune with the spirit, summoning it to them. I can't imagine what kind of spirit must have been summoned in the dank of that mine. Darkness on all sides, only the slight flickering of that lamp. A great unknowable fear welled up within me. Those ancient monks knew too much, I think. They communed with their own dark desires too often. In that place, I, too, faced my fears. The circumstance and research that led me to that point scarcely prepared me for what I faced. The Dweller in the Depths spoke to me.
The Nature of the Spirit, Volume 5
- Location: Necropolis
- It is clear to me now what manner of creatures these spirits are, and it is also clear what their goals are. For all that their lies portray them to be, the Celestial Bureaucracy is nothing more than the subjugation of man by the eternal beings of that court. The Dweller has shown me many things, many dark and terrible truths I could not have seen before, but which are clear to me now.
When I return, I know what they will say. The Emperor, the one closest to heaven, is their tool, their puppet. I know they will send him against me, fearing the power of my knowledge. Oh yes, I know. They will burn my works, but I must make copies, as the Dweller said, spreading my dark knowledge far enough that it will never be destroyed.
Remember this, reader: To a spirit, any spirit, the life of a human is worthless. We are tools and toys for their amusement alone.
The Ritual of BindingEdit
The ability to bind a spirit is one of the great honors that the Water Dragon has bestowed upon us. Therefore, we must always remember to treat this gift with the proper respect. When you bind a spirit, you become the guardian of that spirit. It is as though the spirit is your child. Though it is your duty to return the spirit to the Water Dragon for her judgment, until you give the spirit over to her, you are fully responsible for that spirit.
Since the spirit will obey your every command, you must always have the best interests of the spirit in mind while it is under your control. You must never command a spirit to do anything that might affect the Water Dragon's judgment of that spirit later on. And though it is the most common rule when binding spirits, I will repeat it again: Under no circumstances will you ever bind the spirit of a living person. Such acts are punishable by death and judgment at the hands of the Water Dragon herself.
The fox spirits are among the most wily and deceptive of all the minions of heaven. They think nothing of playing games with mortals, and they often follow no rules at all. Though some are said to serve honorably in the Celestial Bureaucracy, many more have made their mark in more sinister ways. Tales of demons snatching children from their beds, husbands and wives led astray, and good men led into lives of excess and murderous depravity are all the work of these spirits. Never, should you value your life, trust one of this breed completely, no matter how honorable their intentions seem.
The Undeniable FireEdit
Of all threats the young Jade Empire faced, the greatest was the barbarian warlord Zeng Sai. Titled "The Tree that Defies the Fire," Zeng Sai managed to organize the barbaric Horselords into an efficient and deadly machine of warfare, conquering much of the lands to the west and north of the Empire before coming to bear on the borders of the Jade Empire itself. Zeng Sai, whose savagery denied even the great Wall built to keep his people out, led his hungry, maddened people to attack our fledgling Empire in a rabid attempt to destroy all that would become our advanced and prosperous civilization.
So vicious and deadly was Zeng Sai's attack that it roused the insular Spirit Monks from their temple in the Land of Howling Spirits to come to the Empire's aid. Left unconquered by the devouring Horselord army, the monks of Dirge stood alongside the Empire and, in a great battle recounted by sages, playwrights, and scholars around the known world, laid waste to Zeng Sai and his ravenous army of wild bowmen. With the help of the monks from Dirge, the Empire finally burned down the Tree that Defies the Fire, and our glorious land has never since faced so deadly a foe.
Tragedy in Tien's LandingEdit
Let the history of this town not be forgotten, for the water that defines our border covers ghosts of children.
Nearly two decades ago, just after the shining Emperor Sun brought water to the land again, Tien's Landing lay where the water now stands. Children played and people lived and worked in the peace that only the lands away from the bustle of the heart of the Empire can bring. When the Great Dam came, few believed that the Emperor would allow us to come to harm, but harm came in the form of water that covered our homes and buried our families. When the flooding came to an end, the town of Tien's Landing lay submerged beneath this new sea, where only ghosts and ruined homes could flourish.
Those who survived lived to rebuild, and Tien's Landing has come to prosper once again. Lest anyone here forget, however, we must always remember that our lives bend to the whims of the gods, the Emperor, and the decades-old machinery of the Great Dam.