Yang Chen had never wished for his life to be illusory and that he had never been in this world. Even when in his cruelest childhood, his personality had compelled him to never give up his desire to survive.
However, at that moment, a faint aura of death emanated from his eyes. It was a form of physical and mental exhaustion, a decrepit collapse, and frustration that corroded the roots of life.
Illusory, false, hypocritical. His own life seemed to have lost its direction and meaning the moment the woman revealed her true face.
Yang Chen let go of Athena and staggered back two steps with somewhat weak legs. Then, he stared dumbly at the woman. Both of them looked at each other without saying a word.
Not far away, Aphrodite, who was already shedding tears, asked Artemis, "Hades, he… he seems to have known all along?"
Artemis nodded. "I think so. From what they say, Athena seems to have known that Hades knew about it. To think we keep trying to hide it from Hades."
"Hera, Hermes, it was one of you who told him, wasn't it?" Poseidon looked at the two Gods with a blazing gaze.
Hermes chuckled and shrugged. "It was me. I told him a long time ago, but at the time, I wasn't sure if he believed me."
"Why did you do that!?" Aphrodite asked indignantly.
Hermes laughed evilly. "Isn't it obvious? Even if Hades had known, he would still have followed Athena's script because he simply wouldn't believe the truth of what I said. He wouldn't believe that his wife had been toying with him. In other words, if he had given up on Athena once he knew all this, it would only mean that her plan had failed in the first place. Don't you think it's interesting? To keep him in apprehension, holding on to hope until finally the bubble of illusion, too, is poked…"
"Hermes, you really went too far." Apollo frowned.
"Huh? Too far?" Hermes snorted. "I merely added a little drama to it all and a little spice to the protagonist's play. You hypocrites, if you really are looking out for Hades, why did you hide this? Compared to you, I'm far better."
At those words, the Gods could only stay silent.
Indeed, it was all predetermined long ago. Unless Yang Chen had never had true feelings for Lin Ruoxi, he would have come this far whether he knew about Lin Ruoxi's relationship with Athena or not.
Athena's every step was almost always to get to where she was that day.
To take away the possibility of a man, who had the power to change the great plan for the revival of the Gods, from going against them.
Of course, if other people knew about it, they would certainly think Athena was being redundant. That was because with hers and even the other Gods' strength combined, it would be easy to kill Yang Chen.
The Gods, however, thought otherwise.
Nothing Athena did would be baseless, for she was a woman who always saw more than others.
There must have been some undisclosed message in her prophecy that made it necessary for her to write this script and bring Yang Chen to this point.
The Gods had placed their full trust in Athena, and in reality, she had lived up to their expectations.
Yang Chen had no more desire to fight, so the revival of the Gods was just around the corner.
After Yang Chen gazed at Athena for a long time, his expression had become incomparably dazed, as if he had lost his soul.
"Before I leave here, I want to ask you something," he said feebly.
She seemed to have anticipated what he would ask. With a flick of her hand, a crown-shaped object, grey and translucent like crystal, yet strangely draped with some grey and deathly aura, appeared above her hand.
"Do you want to know how I managed to keep myself hidden without disclosing anything? Here is the answer. The previous Hades complied to my requests, followed my plans, bestowed upon me the 'Helmet of Invisibility,' and then bestowed upon you his divinity as I demanded... This everlasting weapon can completely conceal anything. Unless I wish for it, no one will know about my presence, and you will never see my true face."
The Gods were quite saddened to see the helmet. The former Hades had indeed made a great sacrifice for the revival of the Gods.
Of course, Hades himself did not reject the plan, and he did grow weary of his long life. It was all within the context of Athena's prophecy.
Yang Chen smiled bitterly. "No wonder… When you took away the divinity in the Holy Grail and the divinity in the Sword of Death.. I couldn't find anything amiss about it. It's a really remarkable immortal weapon. Hah…"
With that bitter smile on his face, he slowly turned around and left, ignoring the gazes of everyone around him.
The man's back looked incomparably forlorn as if he would be blown away by the cold wind at any moment.
Athena watched on. Her eyebrows furrowed slightly, but she did not say anything.
Aphrodite, on the other hand, could not help herself from speaking. "Athena, aren't you worried about Hades?"
Athena closed her eyes and said in a muted voice, "He just needs to be alone. He won't go against us anymore."
"That's not the problem! I mean don't you care about him!?" Aphrodite said in distress.
Athena opened her eyes. Coldness had returned to them once again. "Everything I have done in these 20,000 years has been for the revival of the Gods and for today. This is me. Whether he accepts it or not, it's an unchangeable future."
"You..." Aphrodite was about to say something else but choked with fury. In the end, she simply waved her hand. "I don't want to waste my breath on you!"
Athena did not seem to be in the mood to say anything else to her, and her gaze was directed towards one of the divinities being birthed on the Mother Tree. She seemed slightly lost in thought, and no one knew what she was thinking about.
The Chinese cultivators hurriedly fled the scene when Yang Chen left.
The truth they had seen had shaken them to the core, and they no longer dared to stay longer, lest they die in vain.
As for the cultivators of the illusionary dimension, they were in great distress. Never did they expect the Gods to overpower Yang Chen. As it turned out, Yang Chen, the hope of humanity, had long been in Athena's grasp.
No one in the world would possibly kill their wife and the mother of their children.
The fate of humanity seemed to have fallen to a dead-end once again.
In the mysterious yet scenic independent space, there was also a group of people watching everything that was happening at that time.
Outside Meng Xiaoyao’s small building, a mirror image hung overhead. Like a giant monitor, it gave a clear view of all the images and sounds happening at the North Pole.
Jane, who was seated at the stone table, abruptly rose from her seat when she saw that Athena's true form was actually Lin Ruoxi.
At that moment, when she saw Yang Chen's desolate figure, she could not stop sobbing while covering her face.
She was well aware of the importance of Lin Ruoxi to Yang Chen, and the weight she held in his heart.
In this world, the greatest pain is to be hurt by the one you love the most.
It was as if Jane herself experienced the pain as her heart ached terribly. When she looked at Athena, a strong hatred had begun to well up in her eyes.
On the other side, Meng Xiaoyao and his disciples, who long knew about the truth, and Yu Xuening, who had always been unfazed by changes, looked rather calm.
"This foolish boy is really obstinate," Meng Xiaoyao lamented.
Yu Xuening glanced at him teasingly. "Do you think everyone is like you, who can be unceremonious with their beloved? Not everyone is like you who can get rid of all emotions and thoughts, both good, evil, and selfish ones."
Meng Xiaoyao did not mind her mockery and smiled slightly. "I expected this. Crossing that hurdle is not such an easy task. It was only when I saw the letters left by the Great Ancient immortals in the Sky Tower that I came to an understanding… Never mind. I'll go there myself. I just hope he won't ruin his great cultivation..."
"Master..." Yang Yuanshu held his hand and asked in a respectful voice, "This time, the God of Fire has already damaged the critical point of the array, so it won't be long before Zeus and a large number of demons return. If Yang Chen remains hesitant to make a move against the Gods, should we first stabilize the situation so that the demons won't turn the mundane world into hell?"
Meng Xiaoyao said expressionlessly, "If Yang Chen still does not come to his senses, it only means that it is Heaven’s will that mankind cannot escape from this calamity. It makes no difference whether it is sooner or later, whether it is more or fewer casualties. However, if you want to intervene, you can go. The demons of the past are not demonic beasts or fierce beasts, they are mostly ghosts and demons of low strength. They can harm the mortals but are no match against the cultivators."
Yang Yuansu and Li Xuemei were stunned. Despite knowing that their master had never cared much about human life, they did not expect him to be this apathetic.
Of course, it was not to say Meng Xiaoyao was wicked. It was just that in his world, there was no such thing as good or evil. All beings had a meaning in existence, at most, he had just a hint of bonding to humans of the same kind, and a hint of reverence for the Great Ancient immortals.
Yu Xuening giggled. "Meng Xiaoyao, you've frightened your disciples, heh... They have been with you for more than two thousand years, but they still don't know you well enough. They won't be able to bear it if you keep talking so much about things that seem to go against the way of the world."
Meng Xiaoyao chuckled but did not intend to explain more. With a flash, he had already disappeared from that world.