Sunday, 12 June 2016

"The Legacy" - a Chor Lau Heung 1984 & Nirvana in Fire 2015 cross-over

I wanted to publish an MV today, but I think I need a few more days to finish it. Hence, this fanfiction; a crossover between Chor Lau Heung 1984 and Nirvana in Fire 2015.

Before the fall of Liang, the old retired Emperor Jing was determined to save the descendant of his best friend. Eight centuries later, another hero arrived at the deserted Langya Hall to revisit the past. Inspired by the similar savviness between Mei Changsu and Chor Lau Heung. Romanisation a mix of Mandarin Pinyin and Yale Cantonese.

The bridge to the famous Langya Hall, Nirvana in Fire 2015


-xxx-


“Visitor.”

Leaning over the alcove, the Old Langya Master Lin Chen didn’t bother to look up from his scroll. Although the person who spoke to him was more than 60 years old, that person still acted like a teenager he was 40 years ago.

“Who?” the Old Master asked in the same ignorant manner.

“Su ge-ge.”

That made the Old Master look up from his scroll. He stared at Fei Liu who excitedly nodded and pointed at the door. Fei Liu had communication problems, he knew that, but the old rascal was not stupid. He knew Lin Shu died four decades ago and he wouldn’t joke about it. Still...



“Su ge-ge!” This time, Fei Liu even stomped his foot and pouted. The effect was still funny despite his greying hair and large built. Lin Chen pondered this fact for a few seconds before returning his attention to the said visitor.

In fact, it could be more than one visitor, but with Fei Liu, you’d never know.

Yet, curiousity got the best of Lin Chen as he rose and walked out of his alcove, leaving behind the beautiful misty landscape of Langya Mountain that served as the grand view of the study. He followed Fei Liu, who excitedly had left the study towards the meeting hall. Half-expecting to find a memento belonging to Lin Shu or even a not-so-funny joke waiting for him in the hall, the Old Master stopped short as he saw who the visitor was.

“Prince Ting Shen...”


-xxx-


It had been at least two decades since he last saw Ting Shen. Back then, the son of the late Prince Qi was a handsome warrior in his mid-thirties. Now the late Emperor Jing’s adopted son had grown into a wise mature prince and one of the most important generals of Liang. Lin Chen saw some traces of Lin Shu in Ting Shen, for although the prince was the biological son of Prince Qi, Lin Shu was Prince Qi’s cousin, hence some faint similarities. The fact that Lin Shu died when the Strategist was younger than Ting Shen now made Lin Chen sighed inwardly. Yet the very fact that Ting Shen was alive here, holding a very important position in the Liang cabinet, showed the Old Master that Lin Shu did not die for nothing.

Or did he?

“Is the situation that bad?” Lin Chen asked as a matter of fact.

Prince Ting Shen nodded. “Aunt Nihuang asked me to bring her here. I think it’s the best decision too, given...the situation now.” Ting Shen produced a letter from one of his sleeves. “This is her letter to you.”

Lin Chen studied the letter on his hand for a while. Of course he recognised Mu Nihuang’s hand-writing; although not frequently, at times they wrote to exchange news. During the first few months following Lin Shu’s death, the letters between Lin Chen and Nihuang were that of shared grief. Yet, Lin Chen remembered one of Nihuang’s letters that arrived less than a year after Lin Shu’s death. The letter brought great joy for both of them and for all who knew Lin Shu or Mei Changsu. Lin Chen wished that this letter was also of that nature, but he knew better. Upon opening the letter, his fear was confirmed.

“What... what did Aunt Nihuang say?” Upon studying Old Master Lin Chen’s changing countenance, Prince Ting Shen asked almost in a whisper. “Did... did she say bad things?”

Lin Chen shook his head as he folded the letter. “Nothing you haven’t already known. She asked me to take her grand-daughter under my wing. But I’m glad that her action was also endorsed by our late Emperor.” By saying ‘our late Emperor’, Lin Chen meant Emperor Jing, not the suspicious late Emperor Xiao Xuan.  

Ting Shen lifted one eyebrow in surprise. “I wasn’t aware that this request was at the behest of my late honourable adopted father.”

“ ‘Honourable’ was indeed an attribute the late Emperor Jing deserved,” commented Lin Chen. Then, realising that he didn’t answer the Prince’s question, he added, “Amidst the uncertainty of war, the late Emperor wanted to ensure the safety of his best friend’s descendant. And as another friend of said best friend, I can understand that.”

A gentle breeze flew into the hall, bringing in some petals of plum blossoms. Lin Chen gave a small smile as he recalled Nihuang’s story when she told the then-Prince Jing that she was carrying Lin Shu’s child. Back then, Lin Chen had arrived back at Jinling from Mount Langya just to check on Nihuang’s health. Since Nihuang would be the mother of Lin Shu’s child, her health became a very important issue to the Langya Master. As Lin Chen checked the Princess’ pulse, she half-giggling said that she knew Jingyan was dying to ask if she ever got married to Lin Shu before the great battle, but he was too polite to ask. In the end, she offered him that information: Yes, they were secretly married the night before Lin Shu departed northward and she departed to Southern Chu. Lin Chen was the main witness, but Meng Zhi and some inner Jiangzuo Alliance people also attended the ceremony. Apologies to Crown Prince Jing for being in the dark, but had the Prince known that Lin Shu and Mu Nihuang were married, the Crown Prince would definitely abort the plan to send Lin Shu north to face the Kingdom of Da Yu.

“What did the Crown Prince say then?” Lin Chen had asked after he was satisfied with Nihuang’s health.

“Nothing. At least he voiced no concerns.” Nihuang stopped giggling, but she still smiled as she resumed, “He hugged me and called me Little Sister, and wished me all health and happiness. And that he should be the one to name the baby.”

After Nihuang gave birth to a healthy baby boy, the then-Crown Prince Jing named the newborn “Lin Nishu”, a simple combination of his parents’ characters. The Crown Prince loved Nishu like his own child. Two decades later, when as the old Emperor Jing he saw how close Nishu was to his own daughter, he was more than happy to grant the two love birds marriage. Now not only Nihuang was his sister, she was his in-law as well. When Nishu’s wife gave birth to Mu Lingyang, it seemed that all was happy and cheerful in Liang.

Yet, five years ago, a few years after Emperor Jing abdicated the throne and gave his eldest son the reign, the neighbouring countries attacked Liang again. This time, Jingyan was too old to lead the battle even if he wanted to. He sent General Meng Zhi to fight the first few battles. They won the first round, but at the cost of the brave general’s life. Jingyan was very heartbroken to learn Meng Zhi’s death that he died a week after his friend’s passing. From then on, the retired General Princess Mu Nihuang, her son General Lin Nishu and General Ting Shen were the main defence of Liang.  


-xxx-


The sound of cicadas outside brought the Old Master Lin Chen back into the present. Inside the peaceful Langya Hall, one would be forgiven for thinking that no war was waged outside; that the outside world was as peaceful as Mount Langya.

“Is Nihuang still going to the battlefield?” He asked half-jokingly, for Nihuang was more than 70 years old now. Surely the brave general princess knew when to retire her sword? Yet, he wasn’t surprised when Ting Shen nodded.

“Honourable Aunt is going to accompany Nishu. She has Counsellor Xia Dong and her husband, the retired General Nie Feng, with her. Aunt wouldn’t be able to do much, but she wants to go. Especially because the battle is in the north...against Da Yu.”

“Nearby where Lin Shu died...” whispered the Old Master to himself. Gravely, Prince Ting Shen nodded. Everyone in the kingdom knew the dire situation of Liang. Despite decades of defending the country under the brave leadership of former Emperor Jing, General Meng Zhi and General Mu Nihuang, even the bravest person knew that Liang had a very thin chance this time. Nihuang was most likely going to the north without the intention to return. Instead, she wanted to die there, near the place where Lin Shu had died.

A swallow swooped down from the sky very close to the closest window from where they were sitting. Ting Shen blinked back his tears and realised that the hall was getting dim. Several servants entered the hall to light more lamps. Prince Ting Shen fixed his seating.

“Master, will you take her with you?” he gently asked the Old Master.

Lin Chen studied the floor for a short while before nodding. “Where is she?”

“Outside. Most likely playing with Fei Liu.”

The Old Master chuckled. Fanning himself for no apparent reason, he ordered Fei Liu to bring Mu Lingyang in. Fei Liu’s excitement was evident in his quick steps as he entered the hall, chased by a six years old girl.

Prince Ting Shen introduced the little girl to the Old Master. “This is Mu Lingyang, Aunt Nihuang’s grand-daughter. Also the grand-daughter of Adopted Father.”

Lin Chen sharply exhaled. He never met Nihuang’s only grand-daughter. He’d met her son years ago when she took him to Mt Langya. He remembered that he was awed at the similarity between Mu Nishu with Lin Shu. An exact carbon copy. Now, the little girl that stood in front of him was the exact carbon copy of Nihuang, though her lively eyes were sprinkled with a spark that was Lin Shu’s. A very familiar silver bracelet was dangling on her tiny wrist. Lin Chen glanced for a few seconds at the bracelet. The little girl noticed that. Briskly, she hid the bracelet behind her back. The Old Master smiled and kneeled so that he was at eye-level with the girl.

The silver bracelet (NIF, Ep 1)

“Hello Lingyang. I’m Lin Chen. I’m an old friend of your grand-parents. Would you like to stay here with me?”


-xxx-


The Retired General Mu Nihuang and her son General Lin Nishu eventually perished during the last battle with Wei. Some soldiers said that the old General Princess smiled in her death. When the Old Master Lin Chen heard about it, he did not wonder why she smiled.

The Kingdom of Liang was finally defeated by Wei, which was later absorbed by the Sui Dynasty. Although bereft that all his Liang friends were no more, noticing the benefit of a unified country, the Old Master Lin Chen finally accepted the annexation. He expanded his Langya Hall network to cover the Jianghu in the old Northern and Southern Dynasties, now under the auspices of the Sui Dynasty. Lin Chen also adopted Mu Lingyang as his own daughter and gave her the commands of the Langya Hall. He specifically instructed Lingyang that the Hall should record all facts that happened in and outside Jianghu and continued helping the poor and the weak in obtaining justice, regardless of what kingdom or race they were from.

In the mid tenth century, Langya Hall was destroyed during the transition from the Southern Tang Dynasty to the Song Dynasty. However, the late Master Mu Lingyang had ensured that the secrets and teachings of Langya Hall still lived on, carried by wandering teachers that was directly connected to Mount Langya through blood or teaching.


-xxx-

The Langya Hall, NIF Ep 1


Mid Ming Dynasty

Princess Wing Ching, also known as Song Siu Ching, giggled as her husband finally lowered her down safely. Chor Lau Heung had been bridal-carrying her for a while, hopping from one tree to another. It’s not that Siu Ching had no ching kung ability; her gravity-defying skills had been very good even before she married the King of Thieves. Yet, today the climb up Mount Langya was particularly steep, so when the Lingering Fragrance offered to carry her to the peak, she happily accepted the offer.

“Here we are...” Chor Lau Heung tenderly said. “Mount Langya. One of the most beautiful mountains in the Central Plains.”

Siu Ching inspected the surroundings. They just landed on top of the famous mountain, on a platform surrounded by tall and grand trees amidst the mist. Although rather late in the season, pink hue of plum blossoms decorated some trees, sending a waft of fragrance into the air. Swallows and pigeons were but a few types of birds that she could identify flying around them. She could hear the faint sound of a waterfall nearby. That would be great, for she then could take a bath and...perhaps he could sneak up like he did the first time they got married? She remembered one fine afternoon during their honeymoon when she took a bath on a small lake while Lingering Fragrance went hunting for dinner. To her pleasant surprise, her husband later joined her bath, which was followed by some activities on the lake shore that resulted in her voicing her pleasure...rather loudly several times. Almost needless to say, their dinner was delayed by several hours that night, but neither of them regretted it.

Dare she hope that the exciting event would repeat itself again?

[click this for the mature scene of Chor tai-gor joining Siu Ching's lake bath...]


Yet, when she turned around to suggest such a possibility, she was rather stunned to see the changed expression in Chor Lau Heung’s face. His usually jovial countenance was sombre and somewhat respectful. Siu Ching tilted her head, wondering what went wrong.

“Chor tai-gor, is everything okay?” Since he didn’t reply, she took one of his hands and caressed her own face with that hand. “Are you okay?”

As if waking up from a trance, Chor Lau Heung blinked. He looked at her as if he hadn’t seen her for a while. Then he turned around to inspect their surroundings. He detected a smaller platform on a rock a jump away from their place. Ignoring her question, he took her hand and jumped to the second platform. He then left her as he explored the rocky wall that sheltered the platform. He returned a few minutes later, asking her to follow him. Behind the wall was an opening well-hidden by hanging roots. He set aside the roots and slipped into the darkness. Bewildered, Siu Ching followed Lau Heung entered the small opening. She found themselves inside a small landing. Lau Heung produced a pair of flint stones and created fire. He lit a staff he found outside to light their surroundings before giving her the new torch. Lingering Fragrance then crouched to clear something. He groped here and there until he found a mechanism to open a hidden opening which, judging from the loud noise when opened, seemed to have not been opened for a very long time.

“Chor tai-gor, where are we going? What is this place?”

Lingering Fragrance looked at his wife, almost as if he just realised she was there. He shook his head. “I’m sorry, Siu Ching. When I took you here, I didn’t say the real reason for me wanting to come here.”

“Not for sightseeing, I take it?” his wife lifted one of her fine eyebrows.

“Not really.” He took the torch from Siu Ching’s hand and checked the opening. “I think it’s okay for us to go in. The air inside is fresh.”

Yet, Siu Ching didn’t feel like going without further information. She stayed still. “What is this place?”

Chor Lau Heung looked at her again for some moments until he realised he had to tell her what little he knew. “What do you know about my master?”

“The no-name master of yours? The amazing teacher who raised you to be who you are.”

The King of Thieves smiled. “Yes, Master No-Name. Many people always asked me where he was from, what his lineage was, and so on, and so forth.”

Siu Ching folded her arms as she recalled something. “I asked you about it once, but you were very vague about it.”

“It’s because I wasn’t sure about it myself. My teacher told me of his lineage of course, but he said that until I see it for myself, I better keep it to myself. For his lineage was very famous, and without evidence, I’d better not tell anyone about it. And believe it or not, despite my adventures, I never got to come here until now. Perhaps... perhaps because I was scared that it would prove to be incorrect.”

Intrigued, Siu Ching stepped forward into the opening. “And how are you going to get the evidence?”

Chor Lau Heung gently ushered his wife into the small opening. “By entering this hole... and then somewhere down, by using this.” He produced a silk pouch from his pocket and took a silver bracelet from the pouch. Siu Ching recognised the bracelet. It was a simple wide bracelet with some ancient characters engraved on it. She had seen Lingering Fragrance playing with the bracelet several times. He had said that it belonged to his teacher, but he didn’t tell how important it was.

“That bracelet...you’re going to use it to open a door?”

The King of Thieves nodded. “Theoretically, at least.” He took her hand and led her through the opening. After walking through a tunnel, they arrived at a stone door. Lau Heung lifted the torch to inspect the door again until he found a hidden indentation with some embossed markings. Tentatively, he placed the bracelet on the indentation, such that the ancient characters matched the embossed markings. He pushed the bracelet. A creaking sound was the evidence that he held the right key to the place.

Chor Lau Heung and Song Siu Ching entered the stone door and emerged into an open space hidden in the womb of Mount Langya. The open space was not truly ‘open’, for large trees had grown on its ground, creating a forest within the mountain. Siu Ching looked up to see the afternoon sky amidst the dense tree canopy. Squinting to see the surroundings, she thought she saw large indentations on the walls; almost as if they were book shelves. Slowly, she turned to see Chor Lau Heung, who himself was looking around in awe.

“So it does exist...” he whispered in reverence.

“What... does exist, Chor tai-gor?” Siu Ching shivered suddenly, more due to the mysterious ambiance than the temperature. “What is this place?”

“This place is, or rather, was, Langya Hall. Once, this place was the most powerful place in Central Plains for it held all known knowledge of the ancient world. Before greed and war destroyed the place, that is. You see, my teacher...” Lau Heung examined the silver bracelet on his hand, “ – he was the last known descendant of the last Master of Langya Hall. Old Mistress Mu Lingyang was her name. In turn, she was the descendant of a very prominent strategist of the Liang Dynasty.”

“The... the Liang Dynasty?” Siu Ching slowly sat on a rock under a tree. “That was...what, seven...or eight hundred years ago?”

Chor Lau Heung just slowly blinked his eyes once for confirmation. Then, realising his wife’s stunned face, he smiled and sat next to her. “Perhaps I need to start from the beginning. But we might be late for dinner again.”

Siu Ching smiled. “It seems we’re going to camp here for the night. I bought some buns from the last village we visited today. That should do it until you finish your story.”

Lingering Fragrance nodded. He reached for Siu Ching’s hands and caressed her palms with his thumbs. She shivered from his touch; he smiled. “Thank you, Siu Ching. I will make it up to you later.”

Upon receiving her consenting smile, he reached for his bracelet and traced its ancient characters with his thumb. He started:

“Eight hundred years ago, there lived a very brave general named Lin Xie. He had a son named Lin Shu...”


-xxx-


Author’s note:

When watching Nirvana in Fire (Langya Bang), I realised a similarity between Mei Changsu and Chor Lau Heung. In addition to being brave and siding with justice, truth and all those noble values, both men were very smart and were great strategists. The two big differences between them were that CLH was a jovial person with amazing kungfu, while MCS lost his kungfu and was very subdued, understandably, due to what happened with his family. Then I wondered if I could link the two heroes together somehow. Establishing CLH as a descendant of MCS and Nihuang seemed so cheesy, so I opted to link the King of Thieves with the Liang Strategist through his teacher, the un-named expert.

I always want Mei Changsu (or Lin Shu) ending up with Nihuang and that their descendant would link back to Prince Jing. I also want to always make a reference on CLH’s excellent arts of making love (he should be!), thus I wrote a bit of nuances in this fan-fiction also for these purposes.

The silver bracelet in this fan-fiction refers to the military bracelet that all Chiyan soldiers, including Lin Shu, wore in their battles. Lin Shu still kept his bracelet after assuming the Mei Changsu identity; and I assume that the bracelet would be given to Nihuang later, whether they were married or not.

I know that many CLH fans might have not seen Langya Bang yet or vice versa. Not that I force you to either. But I hope that this fanfiction still resonates with you, somehow. For NIF/LYB fans, feel free to correct me if I miss anything from the Langya settings. I haven't read the novel, most likely will not have time for it, but I'm all ears.

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