The same scene was happening all over the world. Mutated beasts were attacking humans, and things were even worse in those regions with larger predatory species, such as Africa, where hordes of gigantic hyenas, leopards and lions swarmed into cities and villages and began to feast.
It was a global disaster. The former masters of the Earth were rendered helpless and afraid.
But even worse was the craziness happening in the sky.
Enormous purple lights and huge freakish eyes like the mountains of Yungang appeared suspended in the heavens, each one gargantuan beyond all measure, obscuring the skies over several cities at once.
Jiang Shaoliu stared at the stone murals with a bitter face. He had been staring at them for three days, forced by the Monkey King.
During these three days, the Monkey King brought him fruits to eat and carried spring water in banana leaves, but didn't allow him to leave the cave.
As time went by, the Monkey King seemed increasingly patient, walking back and forth around Jiang Shaoliu and scratching its head, pointing at the murals as if blaming him for not studying them carefully enough.
"What do you want me to see? I appreciate you saving me, but I really don't understand what these murals mean!" Jiang Shaoliu said in frustration.
The Monkey King howled in anger, its enormous hand swinging to smack him.
Jiang Shaoliu closed his eyes, thinking it was better to die than to live imprisoned like this.
Jiang Shaoliu soared through the air and crashed into the stone wall, bleeding.
The Monkey King didn't kill him, but punched an impressive crater into the ground beside him, sending rubble flying everywhere.
Jiang Shaoliu covered his head, a scream escaping his lips. Suddenly, inspiration struck.
He stared at the Monkey King hazily, thinking it was doing something similar to what the monkeys in the murals were doing.
He hastily got up to his feet and turned around to carefully look over the stone-carved scenes again. His eyes lit up as he found the right one.
Yes, that was it! It was doing the exact same thing the Monkey King just did!
It was a depiction of a giant monkey subduing a lion, smashing its head with a powerful slap.
The Monkey King quickly ceased its howling and sat quietly, afraid that it might disturb Jiang Shaoliu, who seemed to have finally found something.
The depiction was remarkably similar. Well, it was identical. Even those movements… Jiang Shaoliu studied the rest of the mural in front of him excitedly. Did he find the key to unlocking the mystery of this carved wall?
He looked over his shoulder at the crater the Monkey King blasted out of the cavern floor. The greenish rock was smashed to bits, and he himself was even blown away by the force of the strike… Thinking of how the Monkey King fought all with those beasts back in the city, was it possible that these murals were a type of manual, and the Monkey King wanted to teach him?
Jiang Shaoliu was reminded of the plots of martial arts stories where the lead role fell off a cliff and learned a unique martial art when he met a great white ape or a giant eagle or some such.
With an anxious but clear mind, he walked to edge of the mural and started to carefully study it from the beginning.
The Monkey King made a low sound and showed a satisfied expression. It sat on the ground and even crossed its legs in the lotus position like humans do, its massive palms pressed together. Then, it closed its eyes.
Jiang Shaoliu wasn't looking, but if he did, he would realize that the Monkey King was performing a mudra, like the Buddhist priests he used to see on TV.
He concentrated fully on the murals and eventually made a discovery.
The movements seemed to flow from one scene to the next, and if the other beasts were ignored, it was obvious that those giant monkeys were performing some kind of martial art, powerful enough to subdue even dragons and tigers.
"Is it really so powerful?" Jiang Shaoliu tried to imitate a few of their movements.
The Monkey King opened its eyes, a surprised expression on its simian features.
It was a little strange for him, but Jiang Shaoliu became more and more comfortable with the motions.
There were many movements, but they all added up to only 12 sets when stringed together, and the rest were just repeating.
He was so focused on practicing those 12 sets that he didn't notice some faint golden flickers of light appearing in the lines of the murals as he became increasingly familiar with the techniques and made fewer errors. It seemed as if the murals were coming alive.
Suddenly, the golden light exploded out of the stone, penetrating every pore on Jiang Shaoliu's body.
He lost all perception of time, practicing the sets subconsciously as if driven by some kind of force. He drew closer and closer to perfection, following the movements depicted on the murals with deadly precision. He even composed sets that never appeared in any of the carved scenes.
Awesome! This is so awesome!
That was the only thought on Jiang Shaoliu's mind. He felt hot all over, as if he was standing in front of a blazing furnace. He didn't know where the power came from that made his blood run so fast and made him feel so excited he wanted to scream.
The sweat slowly pouring out of his pores contained some sticky black substance. The Monkey King gave him a sniff and hurriedly backed away.
The golden light shining from the stone wall became brighter and brighter, threatening to completely consume Jiang Shaoliu. He felt like he was in a dream, practicing those 12 sets wearing a harness of divine golden armor.
Jiang Shaoliu had never felt so powerful before. He seemed to have unlimited energy. The more he practiced the more proficient he felt, and he never wanted to stop.
A sudden noise rang in his mind, like the breaking of some kind of barrier. The strength of his body surged, and Jiang Shaoliu felt a massive stream of heat rising from his waist along his spine to the back of his head.
The golden light flashing in his eyes was accompanied by all manner of sounds. The next moment, he had a vision of a magical scene.
A giant ape, tall as the sky and gleaming with golden light, was jumping from mountaintop to mountaintop, covering a thousand feet with each step.
A multitude of fierce beasts were raging and roaring around the giant ape, including fire lions, storm tigers, and a dragon that breathed lightning.
The giant ape jumped to the sky, dragged the dragon down from the heavens and tore it in half. Drops of its blood fell among the mountains and became blood-red flowers.
A lion covered the great ape with a spray of flame, but it was unharmed and just squashed the lion into a bloody pulp. Then, it roared and trampled a few tigers, stamping out the billowing wind.
Incredibly, the giant ape performed the 12 sets Jiang Shaoliu practiced and gouged out a 30-foot trench off a mountaintop with just one strike, water flowing out and turning the valley below into a lake.
Jiang Shaoliu was so amazed and concentrated on the giant ape's display of power that he didn't stop to imitate it so that he could perfect his technique.
The heat went around his skull and flowed down the chest to the belly, then it circled back through the waist to the spine.
Then, hot gas with many black impurities spewed out of his head, and his skin became almost transparent. His bones rattled and his blood boiled.
An entire day passed as he trained.
When he finally stopped, he felt extremely energetic and strong. His eyes saw everything more clearly than ever before.
The heat inside was still circulating behind his chest, which made him feel like his blood was boiling. Unable to resist the temptation, Jiang Shaoliu cried out and threw a quick punch. A tiny shockwave cut through the air in front of him.
One could imagine how powerful it was. Was this really a unique martial art?
Was it created by that giant ape?
What was that smell?
Suddenly, a stench went into his nose and almost made him vomit. After carefully looking around, Jiang Shaoliu realized it was coming from his own body. The sticky black material was clinging to his skin and clothes.
The Monkey King looked at him with approval, but covered its nose and didn't get close to him.
Jiang Shaoliu felt a little embarrassed. He smiled sheepishly and walked to the mouth of the cave, where he washed himself and his clothes under the waterfall.
He found that the impact of the torrential flow on his skin had become much softer than before… In reality, it was not the waterfall that became softer, but his body that became so much stronger.
Stomachs gurgling, man and monkey sat on the ground, eating wild fruits and thinking what to do next.
So, what was happening in the world outside? Humanity must be struggling to deal with the gigantic plants and animals. And what about that mountain in the sky?
Jiang Shaoliu looked at the Monkey King and ventured to ask: "I don't know if you can understand me, but I want to go home."
The monkey shook its massive head and pointed at the mural.
It really could understand. Surprised, Jiang Shaoliu tried again: "But my family must be worried sick about me by now."
The Monkey King's finger remained pointed at the mural. Jiang Shaoliu understood the general idea.
"Do you mean it's too dangerous outside, so I can only get out of here after I master the martial arts on the murals?"
The Monkey King nodded.
"But how can you tell when I've learnt it? I've to be out where it's more dangerous to test it myself. I'm just worried about my parents."
The monkey kept pointing. Jiang Shaoliu fond it rather difficult to understand, and eventually gave up.