The other was a short, black rod, over a meter long, and seemingly a fairly ordinary iron poker. It was covered with dents and notches all over, as if it had been used as a weapon in many fights. There was a crack at the top, as if a part was broken.
Jiang Shaoliu didn't know what about the rod drew his eyes so much.
It felt like it would absorb his soul, or expand the hidden, violent will that affected his mind and made him want to roar to the sky.
The golden hoop shot toward Jiang Shaoliu and slid onto his neck. Then, it began to tighten.
He couldn't move. He felt a sharp pain in his skull, as if it was going to explode. A strand of a mysterious awareness appeared and pressed against his mind, making his body tremble.
Billions of thin rays of golden light shot out of the golden hoop, and as it continued to tighten, it seemed to become ethereal and slowly merged with his head.
Jiang Shaoliu almost lost consciousness, but he was help up by this mysterious and powerful awareness that took control of his hands and feet, forcing him to move in patterns that were clearly martial arts moves.
The technique it showed him combined various clumsy and simple motions that made no attempt to attack at all, but each of them would protect him from an oncoming strike, and even drew power from Heaven and Earth to from a turbulent airflow around him that could deflect attacks.
The heavenly chant gradually grew louder until it enveloped his consciousness, and then disappeared suddenly.
"Demon Fist." The words appeared in his mind suddenly.
It was a new fighting style, not very useful for attacking, but very good for defending.
Jiang Shaoliu felt exuberant. He was now completely free from the mysterious force that took over his body, and began practicing this new technique immediately.
Then, something changed.
The light of the golden hoop burst out of his head in all its splendor, illuminating him. The golden ring that had formed around his heart was projected in front of Jiang Shaoliu by the hoop, shaking violently, its color fading.
"What's happening?" Jiang Shaoliu felt himself again being controlled by the mysterious force as the ring faded, and the feeling of power it gave him began to fade with it.
Even though he stopped performing the new technique, this process did not stop.
The ring slowly changed from gold into silver, and then into bronze.
The power inside him decreased greatly. Puzzled, he closed his eyes and could see the suspended golden hoop in his mind… It had given him the new technique, but why did his golden ring become bronze?
At that moment, the black iron rod shook slightly and shot towards him entering Jiang Shaoliu's body just like the golden hoop.
His shrieks echoed in the cave as the golden hoop trembled. In his mind's eye, he could see the hoop and the rod roll and circle around one another, until the iron rod struck the golden hoop!
The muffled clatter shook his mind. Jiang Shaoliu felt a piercing pain in his head and fell down to the ground with a cry.
The monkey rushed to him quickly, screeching and scratching its ears helplessly.
The black iron rod struck the golden hoop again and again. Jiang Shaoliu was in great pain, and could taste his own blood in his mouth. As the iron rod struck, the bronze ring began to change color once again, slowly turning silver.
As the ring was about to become completely silver, the golden hoop bloomed with light and advanced on the iron rod.
The massive golden light covered and pressed against the black iron rod, making it shake violently as it danced about crazily.
The hoop and the rod fought each other, churning and gushing inside Jiang Shaoliu's suffering body. The Monkey King jumped up and down anxiously, but there wasn't much it could do to help.
Finally, a brilliant light exploded from the golden hoop, alongside the booming sound of a heavenly chant, completely suppressing the black iron rod so that it couldn't move at all.
Jiang Shaoliu gradually regained his calm and found that the ring, which had previously become silver, had returned to a bronze color.
Words appeared in his mind.
Now, besides the new techniques the golden hoop showed him, he had learned a unique respiration technique - "The Great Sage's Formula".
Chewing the wind and drinking the dew, breathing the thunder and eating the lightning.
When one faced unforeseen and difficult obstacles, one could merge the mind and the breath, to utilize the power of nature as one's own. This power cleansed the body as it flowed through it, making it as strong as steel.
Jiang Shaoliu also understood his current state as he practiced the Formula.
State one, the fate Chakra.
There were 9 Chakras on the body, which were located in the heart, liver, spleen, kidneys, lungs, stomach, spine, brain and navel. The practitioner cultivated his spirit and combined it with the power of Heaven to channel it as True Qi. This created the fate ring in this mysterious Chakra, so that he was able to obtain greater power through practice.
Fate rings could vary in quality depending on one's method of practice, understanding, and strength. A bronze ring was of the lowest quality, following by silver, and the best one was gold. Furthermore, the mysterious Chakra could only be opened when a golden ring was created.
Jiang Shaoliu had created a gold fate ring, but it was suppressed by the golden hoop and changed into a bronze ring. He couldn't understand why the golden hoop reduced his fate ring into a bronze one, since it had also taught him the defensive technique.
As Jiang Shaoliu was thinking to himself, a sudden animalistic roaring came from outside the cave. The Monkey King ran out, returning moments later with what turned out to be, surprisingly, a white tiger, as big as an elephant. It was being carried on the monkey's shoulder, struggling helplessly like a child and roaring indignantly.
The Monkey King put the tiger down and held it in place. Then it beckoned Jiang Shaoliu over enthusiastically.
"What…? You want me to fight it?!" Jiang Shaoliu exclaimed, wide eyed, but the Monkey King released the tiger before he had a chance to refuse.
This predator knew that the Monkey King was too strong and didn't dare attack it, but instead swung around and dashed towards the seemingly puny Jiang Shaoliu.
"Oh shit!" screamed Jiang Shaoliu as he turned around and ran for it. This was no joke - that tiger could crush him with one sweep of its paw.
He scampered and ran to the far end of the cave. When he turned back, he was stunned to realize that the tiger was still dozens of meters away from him. It was galloping after him at full tilt, but still couldn't catch up with him.
"Am I… that fast?"
Jiang Shaoliu realized that he was no longer the same after these days of practice, especially since he created the fate ring.
Staring in a daze for a moment, he inhaled deeply: "Maybe I can… give it a go?"
The tiger leaped, a bitter smell of blood emanating from its gaping, sharp-toothed maw.
Jiang Shaoliu felt a little nervous, but he fought to control himself. He followed the Great Sage's Formula and punched the giant tiger right on the chin.
His heart's fate ring vibrated and energy flowed through his whole body, concentrating into his fist. With a miserable yelp, the giant tiger was thrown upside down, flipped over in the air several times, and fell heavily on the ground, passed out.
Jiang Shaoliu was dumbfounded, frozen with his fist stuck out in front of him, unable to believe his eyes. Did he just one-punch a 2-ton tiger?
The monkey jumped up and down, making noises like it was laughing.
Jiang Shaoliu smiled in embarrassment and rubbed his knuckles.
"How did I become so strong?"
In the following days, Jiang Shaoliu fought with a variety of wild, mutated beasts caught for him by the Monkey King.
He felt nervous at first, but eventually this became just a routine to him as he mastered the Great Sage's Formula. Now he had no fear, no matter how gigantic the beasts were.
When he practiced the Great Sage's Formula, Jiang Shaoliu would guide himself through his breathing and communicate with the gods of Heaven and Earth to summon their power inside him. He could feel himself becoming stronger and stronger, his blood racing like a dragon, filled with unlimited power.
The bronze fate ring in his heart became more stable and firmer. It consumed the force of Heaven and Earth and Jiang Shaoliu could immerse in it to see the glorious light released by the fate ring as it was changed into a silver color.
But each time it changed, the golden hoop would vibrate and suppress the fate ring again. However, the energy taken in by the fate ring would scatter and be absorbed into Jiang Shaoliu's body, strengthening him further.
He didn't know if the golden hoop was good or bad, but he had to accept it doing this.
During the battles with those wild beats, Jiang Shaoliu could test and classify them according to their strengths and weaknesses.
The bigger the beast, the more powerful it would be, but it wasn't hard for him to deal with even the most enormous ones. However, some of the beasts had mastered the same strange power as him, which could form a fate ring.
Those beasts that formed a fate ring could mutate parts of their bodies into metals when they fought. For example, one giant wolf could turn its sharp claws into bronze, as hard and sharp as any real bronze knife.
His body was quite tough now, and only those kinds of mutated beats could hurt him. He didn't kill the first tiger the Monkey King had brought him, as he thought it was rather impressive, and asked the monkey to tame it. Later, he performed a few experiments and realized that that tiger could do little more than scratch his skin, no matter how hard it bit him.
As the weeks passed, Jiang Shaoliu became increasingly energetic. He could easily defeat even those beasts with fate rings.