A distant roar carried on the wind.
Like a raging thunderstorm, the Monkey King threw the mastiff into the air and trampled the fierce animal to death after catching it again in midair.
With Jiang Shaoliu on its back, it rushed forward, casting aside any wild beasts that that stood in its way.
With no chance to help the poor people behind him, Jiang Shaoliu hugged the Monkey King's neck and hoped it would just run and run and leave this hell on earth.
"Help me! Why are you so selfish!?" a man pressed down by a sharp-toothed rabbit screamed at Jiang Shaoliu.
One man started chasing after Jiang Shaoliu and the Monkey King, roaring, "Wait! We are all humans! Why are you so heartless!? I hope you get eaten alive, you- aah!!" Three slobbering wolf dogs brought him down to the ground.
With no way to escape, these people began taking their desperation out on Jiang Shaoliu, but he just kept silent. Now he knew very well the depths of human selfishness.
The Monkey King kept running forward into the suburbs. Mount Huaguoshan was not far away.
Suddenly, the heavy smell of blood assaulted Jiang Shaoliu's nostrils and a huge yellow shadow, like a sand dune on legs, shot out from behind a building.
A sabre-tooth tiger as big as a mammoth blocked the Monkey King's way, with a more intimidating form than the monkey and a dangerous gleam in its eyes.
The Monkey King stopped and squared its shoulders imposingly, silently confronting the tiger.
After only a short moment, the tiger roared with a deafening boom and pounced on the Monkey King.
The two mighty beasts grappled like demons out of hell, the Monkey King swinging its fists in anger and the tiger's long, sword-like fangs gleaming coldly under the noon sun.
Jiang Shaoliu held on for dear life. The Monkey King tried to protect him when it was fighting, but this tiger was so strong the monkey could spare no effort to take care of him at all.
"Ooh!" The Monkey King bellowed in anger. One of the tiger's sharp sabre-teeth pierced into the king's arm, gouging a bloody hole, while at the same time the Monkey King's fist violently struck the tiger's head, breaking the skin.
The Monkey King was more seriously injured. It was a fierce battle and the two giants were fighting with no regard for their safety. Jiang Shaoliu was flung in all directions like a rag doll on a roller coaster, his aching arms barely maintaining their grip on the Monkey King's neck.
Jiang Shaoliu's heart sank. It seemed like the Monkey King couldn't beat the tiger while still protecting him.
A cunning look flashed in the tiger's eye. It knew this foolish monkey was trying to protect the weak human.
With a wild roar, the tiger rushed in again, its sharp teeth aimed straight at Jiang Shaoliu.
The Monkey King dodged, but the cunning tiger whipped its tail around at Jiang Shaoliu's head as it sailed past him through the air.
Seeing that Jiang Shaoliu had no way to avoid the blow, the Monkey King screeched and lifted its injured arm to block the tail.
The Monkey King screeched. Its arm hit the tiger's tail and shattered, pieces of broken bone jutting through its fur. Meanwhile, Jiang Shaoliu felt like he crashed into the side of a mountain. Pain exploded out of his chest, and he coughed up a wad of blood.
The Monkey King jumped back, but the tiger's sharp claws, immense fangs, and whip-like tails followed it like a shadow. The monkey screeched and howled, using its own hide to protect itself and Jiang Shaoliu. Bleeding gashes covered its skin.
Suddenly, a bright golden light illuminated the sky, while an indistinct, ominous roar rolled in from the distance.
The tiger and the Monkey King stopped their fighting and looked up. Jiang Shaoliu saw that the floating mountain in the sky had been completely covered by the golden light. Dazzling, painfully blinding flashes of light radiated in all directions.
For a moment, the whole world lost its color. Even the sun and the moon dimmed behind the golden mountain.
The roar carried on the wind grew deafening, as if a titanic monster was rampaging across the earth, obliterating all things and all people in the fire of its wrath. The overpowering pressure of this roar left thousands across the city paralyzed and convulsing in abject horror.
Great changes had occurred on Heaven and Earth. What was this madness?
The tiger and the Monkey King exchanged a glance that called for a temporary truce.
The tiger shook its head and turned to leave, giving the Monkey King a provocative glare as it did.
The Monkey King howled angrily and was about to chase after it, but finally gave up when it took another fearful glance at the golden mountain in the sky.
Jiang Shaoliu felt sick to his stomach. He tightly hugged the Monkey King with a sour grimace on his face. The world has gone mad, and the Monkey King was all that was keeping him alive.
Looking around to make sure the coast was clear, the Monkey King dropped Jiang Shaoliu to the ground and crouched down beside him, its gaze focused in the direction of Huaguoshan. Jiang Shaoliu could not guess what lay behind the complicated expression in its eyes.
Jiang Shaoliu put his hand on the monkey for balance and bent down to retch. Feeling much better, he stood upright. The Monkey King's enormous hand swung towards Jiang Shaoliu to lift him back up onto its shoulders.
"Wait, wait." Jiang Shaoliu wriggled out of the monkey's grip. "Why do we need to go to Huaguoshan? It'll be dangerous up there with the earthquake."
The Monkey King shook its head and howled, pointing at the floating mountain in the sky, then it pointed at the distant Huaguoshan and jumped up and down excitedly, shaking the ground and crushing the asphalt beneath it.
"Do you mean the flying mountain is dangerous and you can protect me if we go to Huaguoshan?" Jiang Shaoliu said in confusion. "But we will be even closer to the sky if we climb up there!"
The Monkey King blinked at him. Then it just snatched Jiang Shaoliu up in its hand and galloped on toward Huaguoshan despite his protests, clobbering any beast that stood in its path.
Huaguoshan had changed beyond recognition. The ground was broken and uneven in the aftermath of the earthquake, and many of the huge trees had fallen down. Everything was covered in a lattice of vines and cobweb. The roads were cut off and it would have been impossible for anyone to enter, but the Monkey King simply hugged Jiang Shaoliu to its chest with his injured hand and climbed up the huge tree branches with the other hand, swinging from vine to vine.
Swinging precariously amidst the treetops, Jiang Shaoliu noticed that the injuries the Monkey King had sustained in the fight with that tiger had already almost entirely healed.
Behind them, the floating mountain still flashed with golden light and the formidable roaring boomed across the sky again and again, full of malice. After a while, the golden light and the noise gradually faded.
Suddenly, the dense canopy of trees vanished, and Jiang Shaoliu looked up to find himself at the summit of Mount Huaguoshan, looking down a precipice at a sea of clouds.
But the Monkey King showed no intention of stopping, running headlong towards the cliff's edge.
"Stop! There's a cliff!" Jiang Shaoliu screamed in fear and struggled to get away from the monkey's grip, but the Monkey King held him firmly within its enormous palm.
The Monkey King leaped off the edge of the precipice and Jiang Shaoliu closed his eyes in terror. Then came a feeling of weightlessness and the world turning upside down…
A singular thought permeated his consciousness: Death.
However, that did not last long. Suddenly, Jiang Shaoliu felt that the Monkey King was standing on solid ground and opened his eyes, looking around in amazement.
It was as if they had stepped into another world. Tall trees were radiating clear and bright light all around them. Everything was still, except the sound of a waterfall tumbling in the distance and a rainbow hanging amongst the cliffs. The Monkey King leaped and jumped towards the rainbow, stepping upon it as if it was a solid bridge.
They were definitely not in Huaguoshan anymore.
Jiang Shaoliu opened his eyes and looked up at the soaring waterfall across the rainbow bridge… It looked like Heaven itself was leaking down to the earth from the sky. There were many unknown plants in the hills on either side, and many fresh and appetizing fruits.
The Monkey King seemed excited and quickened its pace, covering at least ten meters with each stride. The waterfall loomed overhead.
The Monkey King leaped at the raging water, but this time Jiang Shaoliu was not afraid at all. He kept his eyes eagerly open, waiting to see what lay behind the waterfall.
A ferocious curtain of water beat down on him with a thunderous roar, almost choking him with its brute force. After a grueling ten seconds, the Monkey King finally burst out the far end of the waterfall and entered a new place just as Jiang Shaoliu was about to lose consciousness.
A big cave.
How big was the mountain that formed such a cavern?
The space before them was the size of a huge stadium, faintly illuminated by white stalactites gleaming like jades. Everywhere lay the smashed remnants of what seemed like chairs, tables, beds, and benches carved of greenish stone.
Many kinds of plants poked out of cracks in the rocks, from the floor of the cave all the way to the top.
The Monkey King finally put Jiang Shaoliu down, breathing heavily.
He silently backed away from the Monkey King as he took in the grand dimensions of the cavern.
The Monkey King had kept growing as it was climbing the mountain, and was now at least ten meters tall, looming over Jiang Shaoliu like a hairy three-story building. It could squash him with a finger.
The Monkey King turned back and looked at him.
It looked a little confused, scratching its ears and cheeks in embarrassment as if it wasn't sure what they were supposed to do next.
Later, it patted itself on the head and pointed ahead, showing him where to go.
Jiang Shaoliu hesitated for a while but didn't dare to disobey the Monkey King's order. He slowly started in the direction indicated.
There was a tall wall of greenish stone on that side end of the cave, unknown purple vines crawling over it like a curtain.
The Monkey King walked beside Jiang Shaoliu and removed those vines for him.
Jiang Shaoliu was a little surprised. He had already witnessed the ease with which the Monkey King could pick up and throw whole cars, but it was obviously straining itself when it was pulling aside those vines. What could they possibly be made of?
The green wall behind the vines was exposed. Jiang Shaoliu stared at it with a frown.
There seemed to be images carved on it.
The artwork was simple and unsophisticated, and there were at least ten different murals carved into the wall of the cave.
The murals were made of simple, rough lines, but were well preserved. Jiang Shaoliu didn't know what instrument could carve out such deep lines.
Every scene depicted monkeys.
They were all as strong as the Monkey King, waving their fists and beating down ferocious beasts such as lions, tigers, and leopards.
There was even something that looked like a dragon, forced down from the clouds by the monkeys and torn into several pieces.
Looking at the Monkey King beside him, he didn't know what to say.
Were these cultural icons of that monkey race? What was this cave?
The Monkey King kept pointing at the murals, intent on Jiang Shaoliu studying them.
Jiang Shaoliu felt a little winded. First a planet-wide fog lasting a whole month, now a mountain in the sky shooting beams of golden light to the ground and turning all the animals into giant monsters… Even the Monkey King looked terrifying when it was so huge.
Usually, he got along quite well with the Monkey King, since he would always bring it some food when he visited Mount Huaguoshan. They had a good relationship with each other.
But why did it take him here to see those murals? There had be a deeper purpose to all this.
What could it be?