Chan Cheng (pronounced: /tʃɑːn tʃɪŋ/ chan ching), called the Mighty Lord of Heroes, was one of the Nine Immortals who served the Celestial Emperor in the Celestial Empire, the dominant religion of Kara-Tur, particularly Shou Lung. He was a god of battle, bravery, and martial arts, and represented the virtue of courage in the Path of Enlightenment. As one of the Nine Immortals, Chan Cheng also held an important place in the Faith of the Nine Travelers.
According to recorded history, Chan Cheng was a great leader who unified a number of warring states along the Ch'ing Tung River in −1887 DR, ruling them from the Imperial City of Ten Mor Shou in Chu'ta Te. This commenced what historians call the Second Age of Shou Lung. The Celestial Emperor blessed Chan Cheng, making him the first of the Nine Immortals.
According to the legendary history of Kara-Tur, shortly after the beginning of the world and humankind, the Celestial Emperor sent his great emissaries among the people, with each to teach one aspect of the True Path of Enlightenment. Chan Cheng was one of these emissaries, teacher of the virtue of courage.
In the legend, nine tired travelers stopped at a poor remote inn in the dead of winter, and the innkeeper lamented he had no more food to spare. So, despite their tiredness, four went to hunt for game, four went to forage, and the last cooked a meal for the travelers, the innkeeper, and his family. Afterward, they preserved the remainder of the food to see the folk through the rest of winter. Overjoyed, the innkeeper made a gift, and a revelation—he was no mortal but the last of the old gods of the land, and he gave the land to the nine to rule. Afterward, these Nine Travelers became the Nine Great Sovereigns, and they ruled Shou Lung for thirty cycles of years. They became the first emperors of Shou Lung, and were recorded in legend as the "Nine Immortals".
Finally, the Nine Great Sovereigns, dressed as ordinary travelers, returned to the site of the inn, but found only a simple peasant's hut. The peasant, Nung Fu, welcomed them in and fed them freely, though it was the depths of winter and he had little to spare. Afterward, these Nine Travelers offered a gift in exchange for this hospitality, and presented Nung Fu with the Emblems of Authority. They took him to their courts, investing him as emperor of Shou Lung. This marked the start of the Third Age of Shou Lung, the beginning of the calendar in Shou Year 0 (−1250 DR).
The Nine Great Sovereigns were then the Nine Travelers once more. The tales disagree as to what became of them after that. According to some, they simply faded away. To others, they went with the gods into the heavens. More tell that the Nine Travelers still wander Shou Lung to ensure that rulers respect the memory of Nung Fu, and that innkeepers take good care of their guests.
It was said that Chan Cheng once descended to earth in the form of a dragon and challenged the monk Wong Fei Hung. The two battled each other for three days and three nights, and in the end Chan Cheng was so impressed by Wong Fei's skill that he gave him a special ioun stone.
As one of the Nine Immortals, Chan Cheng had two aspects: one as a vast dragon, the other a man of powerful build, with eyes like burning coals and breath like steam from a furnace or subterranean vent. He wore black lacquered armor and carried huge black sword called Yung Kan, "Bravery".
As one of the Nine Immortals, Chan Cheng served the Celestial Emperor directly, and stood beside his throne, ready to serve his will. In particular, Chan Cheng was responsible for the virtue of courage within the Path of Enlightenment. His duties were to exemplify it, to teach by example, and to reward the good and just and punish the guilty within these responsibilities.
In the Emperor's name, the Nine Immortals administered and directed all the Lesser Immortals of the Celestial Empire. In particular, Chan Cheng commanded the Spirit Warriors, who had the duties of creating courage and resolve in those who wavered, and leading armies of phantoms, the manifestation of which could swing a battle. Spirit Warriors also helped those who'd fallen in battle for a good cause, escorted the spirits of heroes for judgement by the Lords of Karma, and guarded the gates of the Underworld against trespassers.
Chan Cheng most often heard the prayers of warriors in battle, but also noticed more ordinary acts of courage against adversity—a child who overcame their fear of the dark or one who stood up to a bully were as likely to earn his favour. Chan Cheng was said to bestow blessings on all such folk if he felt their struggle a worthy one. Rarely, he might send greater assistance.
Warriors most often called to Chan Cheng, bellowing his name during battle or a duel to give them courage.
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The Nine Immortals
Ai Ch'ing • Chan Cheng • Ch'en Hsiang • Chih Shih • Fa Kuan • Hsing Yong • Kwan Ying • Nung Chiang • Shu Chia
The Lesser Immortals
Jade Ladies • Ladies of Compassion • Lords of Karma • Mad Monkey • Moon Women • Rice Spirits • Spirit Warriors
The Sages • Ancestors • Spirits