Welcome back to the Isu Codices. This month, we are looking into the English translation of the third volume of the Japanese manga “Assassin’s Creed: Blade of Shao Jun.”
Key to the historical fiction take on Assassin’s Creed, and even to how this very column addresses it, is its own approach to history. According to its own lore, the history that is recorded across centuries was falsified by the Templars in their various incarnations, as means of removing the influence of either faction in this shadow war. Such behavior mostly benefits the Templars, who paint Assassins and Hidden Ones as violent extremists (which is, to be fair, not so much entirely wrong as it is inaccurate). Even so, Assassins are not above hiding the truth of history as well, such as in the case of Jack the Ripper’s connection to them and his death at their hands.
Assassin’s Creed: Blade of Shao Jun Volume 3 (Chapters 9 – 13)
Unlike previous installments of “Assassin’s Creed: Blade of Shao Jun,” this one has its events nearly entirely in chronological order, even having the modern-day elements take place at the end of the volume, rather than introduced throughout (the sole exception is Chapter 13, but even then, the events are after what was in earlier chapters in Shao Jun’s story). As such, it will be addressed in a more direct by-the-book way (literally speaking). Further, going by chapter count is relatively unnecessary, and will be eschewed here.
While Wang Yangming fended off the first few of his assassins, Zhang Yong left him to be dealt with by Qiu Ju and the various assembled guards.
In the meantime, Shao Jun skulked along after Wei Bin, finding that several of the guards of his residence were themselves Templars. Wei Bin, in his room with his wife, mentioned that he had doubled his guards, and that he hopes to rise in the ranks of the Eight Tigers by killing more Assassins. However, Shao Jun arrived, fatally wounding him after a brief battle. Bleeding out, Wei Bin noted that he knew she was traveling with Wang Yangming, and that by that point, he was likely already dead, then having sprung a trap lain out by the remaining Eight Tigers. Horrified, Jun ran out in search of her Mentor as Bin passed away, with the Assassin destroying a store of explosives on her way to help.
Although Wang Yangming continued to battle against Qiu Ju and his soldiers, he was badly wounded by the time Shao Jun arrived to assist him and dispatched several combatants. The fight was stopped not by all foes on one side being defeated or by captures, but by a lone Buddhist monk who told them not to bring violence to the temple, for while Qiu Ju relented and withdrew his men. However, he did leave a mocking comment to Shao Jun about having already achieved his aim, which proved correct when Wang Yangming passed away from his injuries soon after. Before the Mentor died, he told Shao Jun to continue the fight for peace and order (oddly not for freedom, as would be more common of Assassins, but more or less acceptable nonetheless).
The monks of the temple carried Wang Yangming’s body inside, and prepared for his funeral. As they did so, their leader revealed to Shao Jun that he was the Mentor’s contact with information on Isu artifacts (not using that term, but it’s easier for our purposes) who was to talk about the Precursor box. The two conversed about various topics, particularly the Isu, or as they and most earlier games identify them, “Those Who Came Before.” As he later explained, he knew as much as he did about the Assassins and Those Who Came Before because of having an Assassin ancestor from the Middle East. Was that ancestor one of those from the 12th-century Assassin’s Creed games, or even of a bloodline to one of them? The answer was unclear.
As noted within Assassin’s Creed Chronicles: China, Shao Jun had access to Eagle Vision, which she had used to track guard paths and the area of effect for certain sounds. As shown here, she also was able to have a limited amount of precognition allowing her to see things before they happen in combat, not unlike the effect of the Spear of Leonidas on Kassandra of Sparta nearly two millennia prior. Furthermore, she is able to see the ghostly outlines of people to lead her places, which may be other forms of sight, or perhaps an adjustment of Eagle Vision’s sixth sense itself. Together, these elements led Shao Jun to realize she was of the Precursor bloodlines, and that due to that connection, she could activate and utilize the Precursor box she sought while many others could not.
After attending the funeral, Shao Jun thanked the monks for their hospitality and aid. Setting out in search of the missing Precursor box, she strove to uphold the same principles as Assassins before her, beginning with a vow to do as her late Mentor asked of her and bring peace and stability to her country.
To make their way ahead through the guards at the city entrance, Shao Jun and Xiao Hu posed as siblings. Jun privately revealed her goal of rescuing her best friend, one of the concubines in the inner courtyard (Qijie). While Hu agreed to wait outside, he also wanted to train as her first Assassin apprentice.
On entering the courtyard, Jun received a note by Qijie from a startled concubine, a request to join her at the imperial garden pavilion. Eager to see her old friend once more, Jun made her way in that direction.
Scared by the Bleeding Effect (which seems to have accentuated her reflexes to the point of being able to quickly catch Dr. Kaori Kagami dropping a pen), Lisa Huang elected to end her therapy for that day, leaving once she awakened from her Animus session.
Once she left the Abstergo building, Lisa came across Mari, who explained everything she had learned from Kiyoshi Takakura about the ongoing Assassin-Templar War. Abstergo could use information technology to track and understand every human being, to the point of being able to easily locate and capture descendants of Assassins just by way of blood analysis. Mari also mentions about the Madrid facility, one of those that could do such analysis, where Dr. Kagami once worked.
As an amusing aside, the video game controller used to indicate the product of Abstergo Entertainment (which has not been seen since 2018’s Assassin’s Creed Rebellion) is very clearly an Xbox controller, with the logo of the console being replaced with that of Abstergo. Does this mean that Abstergo Entertainment is the replacement for Microsoft Game Studios, and Xbox’s counterpart is the Animus Omega? Unlikely, but not exactly out of the question in terms of its popularity at least. In the very least, it’s less than likely that Microsoft has quite the same level of mind control in their intentions, so it’s best not to assume they are the ultimate villains.
Unlike with Kiyoshi, Lisa believes Mari, and is troubled by the implication that Kagami is after more than helping her with her violent tendencies. Mari’s encouragement that Lisa has always been good at finding the truth of various matters (such as calling out Mari’s father for abusing his daughter being dropped off of a high balcony for doing so) causes Lisa to briefly hallucinate a vision of Qijie, whose facial expression is similar to Mari’s own. The hallucination seems to result in Lisa deciding to go right back to the Animus and continue her session there regardless of the risks, in order to find the truth of the Precursor box and prevent the Templars from having it.
We will check back next month, by which time the second volume of “Dynasty” is set to release in an English translation!