It was said that the grandmaster of the Lin Kuei was a man who possessed power unlike any other.
Ever since his clan had crossed the reaches of the land that had been home to your people for centuries, rumors had spread about the prowess of the Lin Kuei as formidable warriors. This also meant your clan saw them as a threat, and territorial conflicts didn't take long to be the main issue. Confrontations and skirmishes became the norm, and it soon was clear that it would be a feat in itself for the Tengu to defeat the enemy. Fortified in an ancient temple in the mountains, the Lin Kuei had been a force to be reckoned with, and the situation wasn't faring better after several years.
Affairs had reached a point of stagnation, but it wasn't until the grandmaster of the Lin Kuei sent word to your uncle that hope for a truce was born. It was a relief, to say the least, for you feared that many lives had been sacrificed for the sake of getting rid of those foreigners. While you understood that it was in the best interests of your people to take action against any threat, you also knew that the Lin Kuei had grown in number and their might surpassed that of your clan. The way you saw it, there was more wisdom in peace and it surprised you that this man, Kuai Liang, had taken the first step towards that path.
He had invited your uncle, Wu Lae, to his home, and offered the chance to discuss the terms of conciliation. Of course, suspicion was to be expected from the leader of the Tengu, who believed it to be a trap, but in his defense Kuai Liang suggested that he would be the one to go to your land. It was then that you dared to speak your mind during dinner, and told your uncle he should let the man come, much to the bewilderment of your family.
Word of mouth said the world outside had changed, and women had the freedom to take control of their destiny. Still, the society you lived in was rooted in old traditions. Women were subjected to the will of their fathers when they were young, their husbands when they were married, and their sons when they were older. Your intervention earned you reproaches from your elders, who denoted how inappropriate it was of you to step into men's territory. It wasn't what you usually did, but you couldn't remain with arms crossed seeing how your uncle– who, unfortunately, wasn't the most reasonable of men at times– let this opportunity pass.
"But it is the most sensible path to end this conflict! I know honor and pride are important but we have women, children, and men to protect. Do we dare to put that price to their lives? Sometimes it is necessary to put aside grudges for the good of our people."
"Children these days!" Your uncle's wife gave you a look of disapproval that you tried to ignore, focusing your gaze on the brother of your deceased father. It was funny she mentioned that you were a child, when not long ago she had suggested it would be a good time to find a suitable husband for you.
"Please, uncle. There is no need for more bloodshed when we have the opportunity for peace. We would win an ally. Are those snow ninjas with their ice beasts not enough problem as it is? We do not need more enemies."
However, Wu Lae said nothing and so you were left with a heavy heart. Why would he heed your words, after all? Still, you hoped he would find understanding and abandon this hopeless dispute from which nothing good could come out. There was nothing but silence on the matter for some time, and you didn't even dare touch the subject for fear of creating an awkward moment. It wasn't until your presence had been requested before your uncle that you were more at ease. You hoped for a favorable outcome when you found that your grandmother, aunt, and cousins, were present as well. It had to something important what he was about to say, and you were not mistaken when he finally appeared and took a seat on his chair of carved zitan wood.
"I have discussed the matter regarding the Lin Kuei with my advisors," Wu Lae began, furrowing his brows in deep thought as you leaned forward in your seat, eager to hear more. "It has been decided that we shall reach an agreement with the grandmaster to cease hostilities between our people," he announced after some time and you couldn't help but feel relief at those words. "It is necessary that we solve this conflict at once."
"But, son, certainly there must be another reason why you brought us here," your grandmother asked from her seat, and you became curious at her statement.
"You know me well, mother." There was a smile on your uncle's lips as he looked at the white-haired woman. "He will arrive in a fortnight, and I need to request that you cooperate with me– all of you." His brown gaze scanned the room, to show that he was referring to everyone. "I must make sure that I have the support of my family, and that you will have the interests of our clan at heart whatever the outcome should be."
You felt confused, to say the least, as well as the rest of your cousins. For some reason, your aunt and grandmother didn't look fazed at all and you had to wonder why. Turning to your eldest cousin, Yue, you gave her a perplexed look that she returned. Despite your uncertainty, you ended up giving your consent in the end. If it was for the best, then you had to trust in his judgement. Still, those words hung heavy on your mind and you mulled them for quite a while, unable to understand the reasoning behind them. Whatever the outcome should be, he had said. Did that mean that even then he doubted there would be peace between the Tengu and the Lin Kuei? You asked Yue about it, hoping she would know of the quirks of her father better than you did, but she was as clueless as you were. Your aunt didn't offer much help, either, and just said that you should stop worrying about it.
It wasn't until Yue came crying to you, one evening, that you found the nature of your uncle's intentions. Wu Lae wanted his eldest daughter to marry the grandmaster, as a way to ensure a stronger bond between the two clans, but she was none too happy with it. You were shocked at the news, honestly, as she threw her weight on you and wrapped her arms around your neck, clinging to you for dear life.
"Father wants me to marry that man, whom I do not even know!" She sobbed on your shoulder as you held her, not knowing what to say to ease her distress. "Oh, dear cousin, what am I going to do? This was not supposed to happen! What will I tell Shun? How can I look him in the eye after this?"
"It is settled, then?" You stroked her back gently, feeling sad at her misfortune.
"It is unlikely he knows of the offer father intends to make but, either way, what does it matter? If it is my father's will, I have no choice. You know that very well." Yue lifted her head to look at you, and you took the chance to dry the tears from her cheeks. "I do not want to marry him. I do not want to. Have you heard the rumors about him? They say he is cold like the chill of death, and that his eyes are so pale they look lifeless– that he can turn people into ice just by looking at them." She seemed to grow desperate as she went on, gripping your clothes. "Is he even from this world? Could he be some sort of ice beast?"
"That is impossible!" You tried to calm her down, placing your hands on her shaking shoulders and leading her to your bed, where you both took a seat. "Yue, those are nothing but rumors. I am sure the truth is far from that."
She looked down and folded her hands on her lap, still sniffling and shaking as tears kept flowing. "I do not wish to leave Shun. I do not wish to marry another man. I know that I will be miserable the rest of my life. If the gods are listening, I hope they help me."
You couldn't help but feel pity for her, as you tended to her hair and then helped her get in bed. She was in a very difficult situation and, even if he wasn't aware about this arrangement, you were sure Kuai Liang would agree in the end. Yue was a beautiful woman that he would want to take as his wife, and it would be an insult to Wu Lae to refuse the hand of his daughter. It made your heart ache, but there was little you could do to help other than try to console her and tell her that everything was going to be alright... somehow.
The next day, she surprised you when she stormed in your bedroom and closed the door behind her in a rush. She was breathing heavily, as she stared at you with pleading eyes. Curious as to what had gotten into her, you put aside the book you were reading and she dashed to your side, holding both of your hands in hers.
"I found the chance to see Shun today, and told him about what happened," she began with a shaky breath. "He was brokenhearted but said he understood. You do not know how difficult it was for me, knowing that I was the one who hurt him. I felt like a part of me died that moment. You should have seen the desolation in his eyes, heard the pain in his voice, when he spoke to me. Oh, if we could run away together I would do it without a doubt."
Your eyes widened at that statement. "You cannot be serious! Your father will leave no stone unturned until he finds you, and the consequences for Shun will be severe." More specifically, Wu Lae would have the head of one of his most trusted generals for kidnapping his daughter. "That is insane. You will not even make it that far before you are found!"
"That is why I need you to help us," she pleaded with despair in her voice, and you shook your head, realizing what she was about to ask from you.
"I am not helping you escape. If something happened to you, how could I live with myself? The world outside is dangerous. If you were to leave like this, who knows what would happen to you? Even Shun, being the formidable warrior he is, will not be able to protect you on his own."
"I know that, but I shall do it if I have no choice." Her expression was determined as she let go of you and placed her hands on her lap. "I decided I will have no one but Shun as my husband."
You just couldn't let her make this horrid mistake, and so you tried to reason with her. "Would you risk his life? Would you prefer seeing him die? Because that is all you will accomplish with this madness."
A sad look surfaced on her hazel eyes, and she sighed with tiredness and despondency. "Then, please, you need to help me to keep this engagement from happening. You need to find a chance to talk to him."
"Him? Who?" You were perplexed as to whom she was referring to. Talk with Shun? Talk with your uncle in her stead to convince him to desist from his plan?
She gave you a serious look, grabbing your arms. "Kuai Liang."
It took you a moment to process her request and, when you finally did, you started to panic. "Talk to him?!"
She put a hand on your mouth, hushing your outburst. "Shh, don't speak so loud! Someone could hear us!"
You slapped her hand away and shook your head, feeling even more alarmed than before. "Are you out of your mind?" Your whisper came off as a hiss, and your brows furrowed with a narrowed gaze. She wanted you to speak with him, no less? "What am I supposed to tell him?"
"That we cannot marry!" She was whispering, too, although her tone was desperate and it was reinforced with an expression of gloom. "You need to find the chance to do it.
"I cannot do that! Your father will be furious if he finds out that I am trying to thwart his plans. And what makes you think that I can convince the grandmaster, in the case he wants to marry you, to desist?"
"Please, you need to try. You are my only hope now. I am not allowed to be alone with him, because father and mother know I do not agree to this. They fear I might try to stop him, or show him that I am not a suitable wife. But you do not suffer from those restrictions. You could–"
All of a sudden, the door opened with a fling and you and Yue jumped out of bed, nearly squealing in surprise. As you turned to look at the newcomer, you felt the tug of Yue's hand on your clothes as she hid behind you. "Please, help me," she whispered against your shoulder as you took a deep breath to calm your heart down.
"Ah, there you are my child. I have been looking for you everywhere." It was your aunt, and she wore an expression of reproach that did little to comfort you. "What are you waiting for? Our guests will be here in short time, and you are not dressed for the occasion!" She chided you and your cousin, much to your embarrassment and dread. "The guards have caught sight of the Lin Kuei in the fields, and it will be no long before they are at our doors." Looking behind you, at her daughter, she made a face of warning and scolding. "Yue, go to your bedroom and get ready to welcome the party."
"Y-yes, mother." Her voice was filled with sadness as she bowed her head, resigned to do the woman's bidding. She left in silence and when you were alone with your aunt she turned to you.
"And you, young lady," she spoke, and you stiffened when her somber look was on you. "As one of the eldest children, you are going to be Yue's companion. I expect your behavior to be at its best, and that we do not have to regret unfortunate... events."
You cringed inwardly. It was a way to tell you to stay out of the way if you weren't going to help. "Yes, aunt Min."
There had been a big commotion on the arrival of the Lin Kuei. When Wu Lae had announced that peace would be made with the enemy, there had been controversy and concern at first. While there still was some dissidence in the clan, the majority was content to know there would be an end to the conflict. People gathered to see. Warriors stood at guard, should any danger arise. You and your cousins waited in the company of your aunt and grandmother at the door of the citadel. Your uncle had decided to go ahead and meet the grandmaster and you were to remain behind, with your family, to receive the cohort and welcome them home.
You had dressed in simple garments– a hanfu of black cotton, with borders and sash of color bronze, and a modest hairpiece. Nothing too ornate, so as not to stand out above Yue, who wore a red hanfu with black brocade and had more of an elegant air to her. She looked pretty with a hairpiece of pink flowers, but she was so unhappy and wretched. She must have been thinking of the fact that the man she loved had to accompany her father to hail her husband-to-be.
Surreptitiously, you took her hand as she stood by your side and squeezed it to reassure her. As though taken by surprise, she lifted her gaze to meet yours and her eyes were wide. “I will do it,” you mouthed before giving her a small smile, and her face lighted up ever so slightly at your promise.
It was then that you saw the contingent approach amid cheers and hails. You had to struggle to make out your uncle among the faces that overflowed the streets, and Yue grabbed your arm as she searched for Shun in the crowd. After a few moments you saw Wu Lae in the distance, mounted on his black horse. You also spotted Shun behind him, guarding his master. Yue seemed to catch sight of her beloved, too, for you she sighed with longing. However, she remained silent in the presence of her mother whose solemnity and poise was unnerving.
You looked for the leader of the Lin Kuei, but there were so many people that it was difficult to spot him among the shades of orange– the color that marked the warriors of your clan. You failed to find an old man for all you could see were strong men in their prime and at the ready, trailing after the stranger riding alongside your uncle. It was hard to miss the way his clothes stood out among the rest of the Lin Kuei that were dressed in identical armor. You wondered if the man was an emissary for the grandmaster, as he and Wu Lae rode to the bottom of the stairs and dismounted.
You had a better view of him, then. Dressed in shades of blue, black fur wound around his neck and there was armor of black leather covering his body under a blue tunic of silk. Vambraces and rerebraces of blue steel donned his strong arms, and a cobalt belt wrapped around his narrow waist. As he approached, you could feel a chilly wind bite your face and body, making you shiver for the briefest of moments. Winter wasn’t far away, and the cold air currents were descending from the snow covered mountains in the west. It was the place where the Lin Kuei lived, in an ancient temple built in honor of some deity who had been erased from the minds of everyone.
As you watched the man and your uncle climb the stairs, to where you were waiting for them, you assessed his appearance. His garments were tailored and hugged the contour of his muscular and powerful physique which, added to his considerable height, made him imposing and intimidating at a first glance. The boots he wore were made of fine black leather, and looked to be custom-made too. His hair was short, and black as the long nights of winter. It contrasted with the light tone of his skin– much lighter than you had ever seen in other people before. He also had strong features, with high cheekbones and a chiseled jaw covered in a layer of stubble. In your opinion, he wasn’t bad looking at all. What drew your attention, however, was the long crimson scar that ran across his forehead and cheek, through his right eye.
His eyes. They were the palest shade you’d ever seen, almost white, and when they settled on you and your family, you knew the man couldn’t be from this world. They seemed to be covered in frost, and you nearly gasped at the realization that crossed your mind. This was no emissary from the grandmaster– it was Kuai Liang himself who stood before you. In your own confusion, you had expected to greet an old man, with graying hair and wrinkles on his face. Nothing could be further from the truth and, when your aunt greeted him with an air of mirth and hospitality, you understood your error in judgment.
He was actually young, even younger than your uncle was, and this could be a problem. There was no doubt he and Yue would make for a beautiful couple, and your aunt and uncle would have it no other way. Kuai Liang could very well be looking for a wife at his age, if he didn’t have her already. Quite honestly, you were beginning to wish he was married, for Yue’s sake.
It was hard not to feel intimidated by his imposing presence, or unnerved when his eyes stared at you. He seemed to be drawn to your cousin almost immediately, however, and you could feel her stiffen as she let go of your hand. Your uncle then introduced his wife Wu Min, and his mother, before he briefly introduced you with the rest of his children. You and your younger cousins made a bow in greeting, to which Kuai Liang responded in kind. Still, you were aware your aunt did not wish his attention lingered on you for longer than it was necessary. What she and her husband cared about was presenting beautiful Yue, who you noticed trembled as she rigidly curtsied to welcome him.
Wu Lae and Wu Min invited him to their dwelling, and that gesture marked the beginning of a new period in history for the Tengu– one that would be inscribed on their records, along with the celebration of the engagement between Kuai Liang and Wu Yue, should it take place. If he was indeed unmarried, it was likely he would want your cousin as his wife. His eyes seemed to stray a little too much in her direction when she walked ahead of him, or so you thought. It was hard to tell when you had to look after the behavior of your younger cousins, and Yue’s small hands clung to your arm as she asked time and again you what he was doing.
“Is he looking at me?” The question was full of dread as she whispered close to your ear. When you turned your head to steal a glance from him, you were startled at the quick way he looked at you, as though he knew you were keeping an eye on him.
“I think he is.” Without wasting a second, you looked ahead, blushing with embarrassment, and she squeezed your arm with more strength.
“Gods no,” she muttered, her eyes about to brim with tears as her hand covered her mouth.
“Yue, calm down, please. Perhaps he just finds you pleasing to look at.”
“Do you know what men do with women they find ‘pleasing to look at’? They either marry them or take them as mistresses. Cousin, help me. I need to see Shun.” She was about to make a dash for the gardens outside, but you held her firmly to keep her from making a scene before everyone in the house. Poor Yue, she was always a gentle soul that had so little resilience at the slightest setback. As you and her hurried to a corner out of the sight of her parents, you pushed her softly against the wall. “Please, tell him I want to talk.”
“Yue, stop.” You looked around you to see if someone had noticed your absence, but they seemed to have forgotten about you. “Please, Yue. I will talk to him. We will find a solution, but don not risk Shun’s life like this. Do you not love him?” She stopped and looked at you with regret, before she lowered her gaze to the floor. “Do this for him, to protect him. For his sake, wait and let me handle this.”
“Do you promise?” There was hope in her voice and her eyes. You nodded and then she took your hands in hers and gifted you with the first smile in days. “Thank you. You may be the answer to my prayers.”
In theory it was easy to make a promise. The real problem was to keep it. Honestly, you had no idea of how you could help Yue in her predicament. It wasn’t like you had any saying in the matter, and you didn’t have many options either. You really wanted to help your dear cousin, but the despair was making you lose hope as you didn’t see a way out. It was clear your uncle wanted a commitment to take place between the two clans, and it would be futile to try and change his mind. Your aunt wouldn’t be of much help, since she supported Wu Lae and seemed to be more delighted with Kuai Liang than Yue actually was. But perhaps someone could help, although you didn’t hold much hope.
“Nai nai,” you called your grandmother, Chen, who was busy weaving a piece of fabric in her loom. She hummed to acknowledge you, and then you took a seat by her side, watching her focused on her task. You wanted to ask what she was weaving, but she didn’t give you time to make conversation to set the mood.
“Should you not be preparing for the feast?” The question sounded casual and you laughed with nervousness. You knew you should be doing as she said, but there were other matters that occupied your mind. At any rate you were not concerned about being late to the spread, since Kuai Liang and his men were given proper accommodations and the time to bathe and rest.
“Actually, I was wondering… about something,” you admitted with some embarrassment, realizing that you couldn’t fool her even if you tried. She only nodded and you took a deep breath, hoping she wouldn’t mind such a personal inquiry. “Were you in love with grandfather when you married?”
For a moment, she was silent and you were about to repeat yourself, believing the old woman didn’t hear you. But then her hands left the weaving, and she was giving you a glance full of suspicion out of the corner of her eye. “This is about Yue, is it not?”
You lowered your gaze and bit your inner cheek. “Well, I… I may get married someday, too, right? And if they chose a husband for me, and I did not love him, I would not be happy either. I guess it is no secret that Yue is despondent at the decision of her parents, but should they not try at least to heed that pain? Yue’s spirit is gentle and she may not endure the agony of being taken away from her loved ones, to a strange land with people she does not know. I know that when a woman gets married she must say goodbye to her family and follow her husband, but would her suffering not lessen if there was love for him?”
“You may be right, my child, but I am afraid that is not the way the world works. And was it not you the one that wanted peace between us and the Lin Kuei so badly? What a better way to ensure that than to unite two hearts?”
Her words stung and made you feel guilty. Was she implying that you were partly to blame for this? “But there is no love! What difference does it make? We might as well sign a treaty and be done with it. I just cannot bear the thought of seeing Yue so full of wretchedness. Please, why make her go through all this unnecessarily?”
“You are aware those that have lost their husbands, brothers, and sons, to the Lin Kuei are reluctant to accept peace. This union is necessary to placate any doubts. Words and treaties are forgotten, but a bond like this will be hard to severe and perhaps, in time, love can bloom between those two. I did not love your grandfather at first, I admit it, but I learned to do it. I am sure it will be the same with Yue if she gives him a chance.”
“I am not so sure,” you whispered with slumped shoulders, knowing that you wouldn’t get anywhere with this conversation. It seemed it was up to you, and only you, to find the way to save your cousin from this fate.
The question still remained. How were you supposed to do that? As your handmaiden groomed you for the feast, you felt yourself growing nervous as the time approached. You hadn’t seen Yue in a while, but you guessed she was getting dressed and embellished for the celebration, to the pleasure of Kuai Liang’s dead-looking eyes. You hoped she was alright, as you made your way to her bedroom, but the truth was that you found her sobbing in her underclothes, as several handmaidens fussed around her and begged her to cooperate. When she saw you, she came running to you.
“Why did you take so long to come to see me?” Yue sniffed, hugging you tightly, and you tried to keep your balance as she lay limp against you. “You left me alone. How could you?”
“Yue, please, what are you doing? You are not even dressed.” You held her and led her to her vanity, inducing her to take a seat.
“I am so sorry.” She dried her tears, but more kept coming and she couldn’t stop them. “I am so scared. I thought I would make it through this evening but now I am not so sure. I do not want to go. I want to stay here, in my bedroom, and not see anyone. What am I going to do?”
“I am here now. Everything is going to be fine.” You brushed the hair out of her face and turned to the rest of the women, who were looking expectantly at you. “You may leave. I shall take care of her.”
“But Lady Wu Min will be furious at us!” One of them squeaked, and the others agreed. “The young lady is our responsibility.”
“A responsibility that you have handled fantastically, from what I can see,” you said through gritted, narrowing your eyes at them. “I will take care of my cousin. You either leave or I call the Lady Wu Min myself and tell her what you have done, or rather what you have not done.” Doubt and fear appeared on their faces and, soon, they were walking out of the room and you were left alone with Yue, who was still a sobbing mess. Stroking her back softly, you tried to comfort her. “There, they are gone. Now let us get you ready, shall we?”
“I do not want to go,” she repeated, shaking her head. “I’m staying here. I will not be displayed like cattle on sale to him.”
“Yue, look at me.” You hunched before her and met her desolate expression with a smile of your own. “I promised I would help, alright? Leave this to me. I will find a way for you and Shun to be together but, please, you have to attend this celebration. Shun is going to be there and, contrary to what you believe, I am sure he wants to see you. Do not crush his heart like this. He will worry if you do not attend. Do not do this for your father, or mother, or even me. Do this for the man you love. Does not every second with him count, even more now?”
“What use it is if we cannot be together?” Her voice shook and she hiccupped some more, trying to muffle the sobs.
“It will not be this way for too long. You pray to the gods, but you have to show you are willing to fight for what you want. Are you giving up so fast?”
“Oh, you are right!” Suddenly, Yue clasped her hands and smiled with tears in her eyes. “You are right! What an awful person I am. How could I not see this before? You are a godsend, my dearest cousin. I am going to see Shun tonight, and hope he has forgiven me. Please, bring me my clothes. We must not wait any longer!”
Well, indeed, promises were easier to make than keep. You wondered how in the world you could stop this engagement from happening, as she stood by your side anxiously scanning the great hall bustling with life. Relatives, generals, advisors, and soldiers had been invited. The celebration extended to the common man, too, which had been granted the opportunity to participate. Every once in a while, they would come to greet you and Wu Lae’s daughter but while you did good in delivering pleasantries, Yue’s mind was elsewhere. Her eyes wouldn’t settle for a second, and you swore she would grow a couple inches more if she kept standing on her tip toes trying to catch a glimpse of Shun.
“Be patient. He will be here soon.”
“You said that a while ago. It worries me that he has to share the same space with that man.” She huffed, folding her arms. “He is so unnerving and scary. I have never seen someone like him before.”
“I already know that you are not fond of him.” Her comment amused you, and she looked at you with disbelief.
“Of course I am not! I have eyes only for… Shun…” Her voice trailed off, and you rolled your eyes with a smile.
“Yes, I am aware of that too.”
“No, I mean. It is him.” She was clutching your arm again, shyly pointing towards the direction of the door. All of a sudden, all eyes were set on the appearance of Wu Lae and Kuai Liang, as a young warrior announced their arrival. The grandmaster looked fresher now in clean clothes of silk, his dark hair was neatly slicked back, and his face was devoid of facial hair this time. There was a more jovial air to him as he walked side by side with your uncle, to the direction of the dais. “Shun.” There was glee in her voice, as she watched him mingle among his men in the hall, but the smile disappeared when she realized she would have to share space and air with Kuai Liang. “Oh, may the gods help me endure throughout this evening.”
It wasn’t until everyone had gathered for the celebration, and you were seated at the table, that you started to feel the tension around you. Yue’s face was expressionless, a stark contrast to her usual lively self, and your aunt looked at her with a frown as if telling her she should smile more. However, Yue was determined not to make any of this easy for her parents and she refused to show any joy or complacency. As they waited for her to pour the tea for their guest, she didn’t make any attempt to move, instead she intently gazed ahead with a thousand-yard stare.
Of course she wouldn’t do it, and when your uncle and aunt started to grow uncomfortable at her behavior, you took on her role. Once the beverage was poured, you grabbed the teacup in both of your hands and offered it to him. His pale eyes looked at you with solemnity for a moment, but they softened the slightest bit and he nodded in silence, accepting your hospitality. When you looked at your cousin, her expression was hard and that of unhappiness, but there seemed to be relief in her gaze. Your aunt, however, was glaring at her from the corner of her eye and your uncle’s face seemed to be carved in stone.
What a great evening lay ahead of you.
The clothes Liang is wearing when he arrives to the home of the Tengu clan are meant to be those in this concept art (http://i.ytimg.com/vi/IXFsiLURzUI/maxresdefault.jpg), specifically the one in the right. The reason why he doesn’t have facial hair is because this story is set years before the events of MKX– time before SPOILERS DON’T READ SPOILERS DON’T READ SPOILERS DON’T READ Liang and Hanzo made peace END OF SPOILERS END OF SPOILERS END OF SPOILERS. Liang didn’t always have beard, as was shown in the Mortal Kombat X comic.
And now I’m gonna show you a beautiful art of him. It takes my breath away.
Hope you enjoyed ;A;