Faced with the rhetorical question from Athena, Apollo and Artemis were stunned as they both fell into deep contemplation.
As the siblings remained in silence, it was the first occurrence where Yang Chen had truly come to comprehend that it was less of them being juveniles, but instead veterans who had endured the merciless sands of time.
In their eyes were the complexity of emotions and flashbacks, alongside heart-wrenching sorrow.
Through the centuries of ups and downs, they have experienced every emotion known to mankind.
Watching them from a corner, Yang Chen himself was slightly conflicted!
What? Apollo’s power...is less than a third of what it once was? Could it be that there were actually more to the power of the gods at the beginning?
Winds howled through the pitch-black sky as the temperatures plummeted past zero.
After an extended silence, Apollo took a deep, prolonged sigh. “Athena, forget it. This is madness and you know it.”
“Foolish.” Athena appeared rather disappointed. “You think this Earth was meant for either us or the humans?
Nothing in this universe belongs to any one person, but to the most superior of all beings. Survival of the fittest is the rule of life!
Even if we leave this planet be, humans will one day do it themselves, dragging their own planet and their pathetic species to extinction!
Seeing how this planet is headed towards extinction, it might as well be under the rule of the Gods.”
Artemis frowned at her remark. “Athena, how can you still be this thick-headed?
Even if you revive the heart of Gaia, return the original power to the remaining Gods, defeat our mortal enemy and rescue Zeus, what good does that do for anyone?
Our tribe is gone, Athena! We cannot revitalize the entire divine tribe just by the handful of us!”
Athena cynically stared at the siblings as if they were idiots.
“Do not attempt to implant that monocellular ideology upon me. This is under my control and I will see it done.
The future will remain as it is. All you need to do is sit quietly and watch as it happens. When your power returns and the divine tribe regain its throne…”
“Wait...did your premonition technique show the rebirth of our tribe?” Apollo was flabbergasted.
Athena mysteriously glanced towards the siblings, before she seemingly conveyed a message to them via telepathy, causing Apollo and Artemis to share a gaze.
Athena remained silent, even towards her tribesmen that she had known for millennia. She had no intention of further explaining.
Giving a quick glance to Black Robe, she then vanished into the dark of night.
Black Robe chuckled ever so slightly and hurled himself into the gust of wind.
After Yang Chen could catch his breath, he could no longer trace Athena’s scent, owing to her insane teleportation speed.
“Damnit, she took it with her. I can’t believe I failed Zhenxiu.” Yang Chen frustratedly slapped himself on the forehead.
Stern and Alice on the other hand were seemingly accustomed to Athena’s personality as they were hardly taken aback.
Facing Yang Chen, Stern took to ask. “Hades, what are you doing here? Did you get into a skirmish with Athena?”
“Skirmish is a rather generous word. I was locked up for a while there.” Yang Chen chuckled bitterly.
Stern burst into laughter as the siblings stared at Yang Chen rather bewilderingly.
“You sure have a lot of guts picking a fight with her. She’s not a force to be reckoned with. Unpredictable, volatile, always a lone ranger, yet no one could pin her down. You’re lucky she didn’t leave you half dead.”
Yang Chen pouted, before promptly adding. “Well anyway, what is this Heart of Gaia? I need to know. Why would anyone put through all that effort to hide it from Athena? Besides, she mentioned that you guys were left with less than thirty percent of your former prowess, is that so?”
Stern and Alice were taken aback by his inquiries as their faces promptly dulled.
Yang Chen was mildly irritated from being the only one kept in the dark as he quickly followed. “Look, guys, you don’t need to hide it from me. Even Athena said I’m a member of the divine tribe.”
Alice shook her head. “It’s not that Hades. The divine tribe has always viewed our tribesmen for their divinity and not their status. Since you inherited the divinity of the preceding Hades, you’ve always been one of us.”
“Then why are you still hiding it for?”
“Because it’s a painful past.” Alice sighed in response, her pupils slightly tearing up as she added. “All you need to know is that the past is the past, please stop asking about the Heart of Gaia. It's been tens of thousands of years ago. It’s a part of our history that has been lost.
Rest assured, even if Athena retrieved the Heart of Gaia, there wouldn’t be much that she could do to change our course anymore. Our prowess does directly correlate with the Heart of Gaia, but if we could get it back before we would’ve done it centuries ago. And now, her efforts would only be futile…”
Yang Chen could clearly tell that the siblings were hiding something. But their solemn state kept him from questioning any further.
Giving it a thought, it was clear that when even Christen chose not to reveal the incident, he finally believed that it was indeed a bad time for the Gods.
Despite still being filled with unanswered questions, Yang Chen kept his mind at the present. Coming to realize that his conversation with the siblings was going nowhere, he bid them farewell and left for the pile of rubble over at the Swiss bank.
Zhenxiu and Park Cheon were probably still in the basement.
Once Yang Chen departed, Alice and Stern took a sigh of relief.
“Dear brother, do you think it’s right for us to hide it from Hades? It seems a little unfair to him…” Alice noted.
Stern patted his sister on the shoulder. “We don’t have any other choice since Athena told us not to interfere. We should at least make sure all of us have her back. I wonder if Poseidon and Aphrodite were here too, would they stand by her decision as we did. Hades is too young to understand this. The feeling to live through millennia after millennia, watching our tribesman die one after another. The pain that we’ve been through…”
Alice stiffly nodded, before she turned to her longbow Selene in her grasp as she grinned. “Isn’t it right Selene. Glad to have you back with me, my precious…”
A jolt of light darted around the carvings of the bow, its ocean blue light seemingly hinted towards a revelation of its own...
Back at the vaulted tower of the Swiss bank, Yang Chen found out that Park Cheon and Zhenxiu had been rescued from the basement under Kim Jip’s initiation.
Park Cheon slowly regained his consciousness, yet was quickly confronted with the reality that he had lost his family heirloom!
Nevertheless, he took the opportunity to express his gratitude towards Yang Chen for once again saving his life, leaving Yang Chen in an uncomfortable position after losing Park Cheon’s heirloom right before his own eyes. With his current cultivation, in contrast to Athena’s, it would take extended periods of intense cultivation to even match Athena’s far superior prowess!
Notwithstanding the fact that it was ultimately two possessions of the gods, even if the functionality of the Heart of Gaia was kept a secret from himself, Yang Chen knew there was more to it to be unraveled.
Zhenxiu on the other hand was naturally relieved that Yang Chen made it back unscathed.
Comforting her grandfather, the child was less affected by its loss in comparison and had always been skeptical of the role of a superstitious rock.
Back in the Park clan estate, Park Cheon was served a simple dosage of sleeping pills and had taken rest. Zhenxiu who was worn out from the incident was too accompanied by Eunjung to get some well-needed rest.
Meanwhile, Yang Chen had returned to his bedroom. Noticing Lin Ruoxi rolled up on bed pretending to be asleep, he cracked a grin as he sat by the edge of the bed.
No words were spoken between the two as he crossed his legs.
Lin Ruoxi noticed Yang Chen's lack of action, prompting her to turn towards him as naturally as possible, eager to take a peek at her husband’s antics.
What awaited her was instead Yang Chen sitting in a meditating position. This immediately infuriated her. “You terrible, awful human being! You never even thought to explain your absence?!”
Yang Chen forced one eye open as he smirked. “I just didn’t want to wake you.”
“There’s no way you wouldn’t know I was waiting for you anyways!”
“Haha.” Yang Chen awkwardly chuckled. “It’s nothing much really, old man Park’s a little startled though.”
Yang Chen briefly explained his experience, from how he was outmaneuvered by the man in the dark robe, and that he lost the Park clan heirloom. He purposely kept his meeting with Athena secret in order not to fuel Lin Ruoxi’s anxiety.
Lin Ruoxi blinked her eyes from disbelief. “Ever since I’ve met you, all I hear are strange, supernatural occurrences.”
Contrary to her reply however, Lin Ruoxi was already accustomed to his way of life. Her petite lips cracked for a minuscule yawn as she drowsily laid herself back on the bed. “Anyway, why are you meditating, aren’t you exhausted after all that?”
Yang Chen nodded as he kept his eyes shut. “After my duel with ‘Mr Black Robe’, his True Yuan left an aftertaste. So I thought it’d be a good idea if I try to wrap my head around it…”
The man in the black cloak possessed a pitch-black True Yuan, resembling the most sinister type of True Yuan. Through refinery breakdown, Yang Chen could finally delve deep into its properties.
The cultivations of Black Robe are similar to the Ming water cultivations, but it must be far superior to that. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have had such a solid upper hand against me when the cauldron was not in play.
Naturally, it was less of a surprise that it brought a sense of enlightenment to Yang Chen.
As Yang Chen delved into the world in his conscience, the rest of the night gradually slipped away.
Later that morning, Yang Chen eventually cracked his eyes open, as he slowly regained his focus. On the spacious bed he was lying on, he was greeted by Lin Ruoxi with her bubbly eyes staring silently at him.