Yang Chen's lips curled into a sour smile. He sagged into the couch, as though depleted of energy.
Things eventually returned to their previous state. He couldn't even touch Athena, who was occupying Lin Ruoxi's body, and now that he knew Athena was both Lin Ruoxi and Seventeen, he couldn't hurt her.
While it was joyous news to know that Lin Ruoxi and Seventeen, two women who meant so much to him, were both alive in another way, it was depressing to note that he could not save either of them.
The more Yang Chen thought about it, the more he was on the brink of going crazy. In the end, he began to slap his head hard with both hands, emitting growls from his throat like a fierce beast being thrashed.
With his fingers thrust into his hair, Yang Chen's eyes brimmed with hot tears.
His cultivation was useless when he could not save his child's mother and his beloved wife.
Meng Xiaoyao merely watched him vent his despair silently. All he had on his face was a faint smile as he waited for Yang Chen to calm down.
A few minutes later, Yang Chen seemed to have stabilized his emotions and lifted his head, staring at Meng Xiaoyao with a frosty gaze.
Now that things had developed to that point, he had also straightened out everything.
In short, this 20,000-year game was nothing more than a gamble in which Meng Xiaoyao and Athena were both feigning ignorance.
Meng Xiaoyao needed to find a successor to his legacy and an opportunity to decide whether the human race or the Gods would rule Earth.
Athena also knew that the mysterious man who had "deliberately" released her and sealed only Zeus was not someone she could handle.
However, it was also clear that Meng Xiaoyao had deliberately let Athena put up a scheme.
Since Athena had the Great Prophecy, it meant that sooner or later she would be able to figure out a way to revive the Gods. Thus, he just had to take his time and wait for Athena to pick out a suitable candidate for him.
The two were using each other, except that Athena played a passive role. While she was only able to perform the Great Prophecy according to Meng Xiaoyao's intentions, he was the main cause of it all. It was his choice that made it necessary for Athena to lay out her plans for choosing a successor for him.
Yang Chen, who had the most outstanding comprehension of the Endless Resolve Restoration Scripture, could be considered a candidate that Meng Xiaoyao was quite satisfied with. That was the key to the gamble between the two, the most significant variable in the cataclysm.
Although Meng Xiaoyao was not bothered about whether the humans or the Gods would win, he did not want Yang Chen, his potential successor, to lose to Athena just because of his feelings as it was contrary to him getting rid of all his personal desires and abandoning Yu Xuening 50,000 years ago.
In a way, it was also a contest between Meng Xiaoyao and Yu Xuening, with him hoping to prove the choice he made 50,000 years ago was the right one and bring her to her senses sooner.
Athena, on the other hand, believed that Yang Chen would disregard the safety of all mankind because he loved the two women in her soul. Even if he knew that she had deceived and used him, he would not bear to kill her.
It was a gamble in which the outcome relied on Yang Chen's decision.
"In that case, all the things that I have encountered since meeting Ruoxi are things that Athena has deliberately arranged and used to set her prophecy back on its original trajectory?" Yang Chen asked in a deep voice.
Meng Xiaoyao nodded and said, "As I said, she needed to make amends for her miscalculation. Originally, if Seventeen did not die, then you might have continued to go on a killing spree around the world. In that case, sooner or later, you would have been a challenge to the whole world, causing panic in all countries and eventually evolving into a public enemy of humanity.
"Nevertheless, as I am not her, I can only get a rough idea. Still, it had to be the earliest blueprint in Athena's Great Prophecy, in which case you would certainly have quickly increased your cultivation because of the non-stop fighting. However, no one expected that Seventeen would choose to leave with your child because of her true love for you, hoping that you would repent and not die in the end. After returning to China, you kept a low profile, which was different from what Athena anticipated. The person you were at that moment would not forsake all killing intent or become a demon from all the slaughter. Instead, you'll idle away the rest of your life.
"Therefore, after taking care of Lanlan's matters, Athena did not bother to recover her spiritual energy and reincarnated to Lin Ruoxi. After meeting you, she used her relatively weak spiritual energy in a short-term prophecy to arrange a path for you to sharpen up. At first, it was the pawn, Yan Buwen, who, through God's Stone, triggered the crisis of anti-matter energy. During the fight for God's Stone, many people caused you trouble.
"Following his death, it was Wen Tao's time to face a more arduous battle. It was a fantastic strategy on her part. Athena made a wise choice in selecting Wen Tao, as he was a more formidable opponent than Yan Buwen, fighting you all the way to the bottom of the Sky Tower. Yan Buwen wasted many of the fake Gods she manufactured by taking divinities from various divine artifacts and putting them into your clone since Athena's Great Prophecy lost its precision halfway through. However, because she discovered a technique to compensate for utilizing Earth's elements, she did not pursue that research further..."
Every sentence he said sounded like thunderclaps in Yang Chen's ears.
Although he was mentally prepared, he did not expect Athena to have secretly made so many moves.
Despite all the dangers he had been through, he survived it all. There was even a time when Black Robe saved him in Australia. Perhaps that was also Athena's instruction.
Meng Xiaoyao remembered something else, so he clapped his hands and laughed. "There is another interesting thing that I discovered from observing silently on the sidelines. Among the Gods, the three main gods, Hera, Hephaestus, and Hermes, are all quite hostile to Athena. Hera practiced a Chinese divination technique that was not as good as Athena's Great Prophecy, but it was still very magical and could predict many future events.
"Because the three of them were either reincarnated as cultivators or blood races with extremely long lifespans, they hoped to break Athena's scheme and search for Gaia's Heart while she went through reincarnation in hopes of reviving the Gods. Then, they would get rid of the unawakened Athena and completely change the hierarchy among the main Gods. Unfortunately, their plans failed multiple times.
"In the case of the fake Magical Girdle, they originally thought that when Lin Ruoxi was in danger, Athena would have no choice but to reveal her strength to protect that physical body. Thus, Athena's scheme will be exposed once you arrive at the scene. However, Athena held back until the end and did not save Lin Ruoxi. Then, it just so happened that you also arrived in time.
"There was another time. Do you still remember when Hermes stepped in to stop you when you were about to kill Yang Lie? That was also an attempt to change Athena's script. Initially, if you had killed Yang Lie, it would have been unlikely for you to return to the Yang clan and would have been completely on the opposite side of China. Moreover, you would wage war with people in the illusionary dimension instead of becoming one of the four great families. However, Athena still did not intervene, but she made the script follow a different path through a series of twists and turns and gave Yang Lie another way to die…
"In conclusion, Athena went to a lot of trouble to set things right to undo the future signaled by the Great Prophecy that she herself had destroyed. Alas, it was inevitable for some omissions to exist. Even so, I have to admire her for the fact that, in the end, she overcame all sorts of problems and managed to let you reach the level of cultivation you are today in just a few years. At the same time, I'm able to acknowledge your capabilities and give you the power to make a choice."
Yang Chen chuckled scornfully. "I rather not have such power. You don't dare to make a decision, so you want me to take the blame. How cunning of you."
Meng Xiaoyao wore a nonchalant smile as he stood up and reached out to pat Yang Chen on the shoulder.
"Kid, you are wrong. I made a decision 20,000 years ago, which is not to take sides. I will not force you if you choose to defend Athena and refuse to fight. I have come here today to tell you the truth you deserve to know. As for the rest, it is your own matter and the fate of mankind itself".
After saying that, Meng Xiaoyao turned around and disappeared without a trace as if he was a phantom.
Even with Yang Chen's current cultivation level, he could not fathom how he left.
In the bar, which had once again fallen into dead silence, Yang Chen lay on the sofa, staring blankly at the pendant light with a glazed look in his eyes.