“Enough, uncle.” Athena’s eyes flashed. Although the expression in her eyes whenever she looked at Yeon-woo and Jeong-woo was usually gentle and kind, at the moment, their expression was so sharp that it seemed as though they could cut through Poseidon.
Poseidon scowled as he looked at his impudent niece who was always interfering in his business. She had never encountered the Black King, but she was supporting Yeon-woo even though it wasn’t a power that a mortal ought to have.
However, his niece wasn’t one to listen, no matter how much he scolded her. Poseidon could no longer stay silent about her interference.
“You dare stop me?” It didn’t matter that she was his niece. “If you don’t move—fine. I’ll kill both of you.”
He released his pressure, and Dis Pluto quickly escaped the storm that began whirling around them. Athena’s and Hermes’ face stiffened. The pressure emanating from the three greater divine beings was so powerful that it created a typhoon.
Just when it seemed like the Temple of the King of the Underworld would be shaken from its foundation, Hades growled from his position by the altar, “Poseidon!”
With a frown, he let his holy power burst out, furious that his brother had the nerve to cause a ruckus in his territory. Rumble! Black lightning shot from the sky and the ground shook all the way to its depths.
This was his holy territory, and Tartarus was his land. His strength was reflected in his territory, and an intense pressure surrounded everyone.
The faces of the gods by the altar paled. They had counted on having the upper hand since they were arriving as Tartarus’ backup, and they were only now just realizing what kind of being Hades had been like during the Gigantomachia and Titanomachia.
He had nearly been forgotten after he left the heavenly world to rule over the Underworld, but in the past, he was a domineering tyrant that even Zeus had to bend to. Hades especially couldn’t stand being dishonored. “You dare raise your weapons in my territory without my permission? Should I take it that you want to become my enemy?” Rumble! The black lightning grew fiercer with every word he spoke.
However, Poseidon was also an Olympian, and he stood his ground with a frown. “Brother! Did you forget what kind of entity the Black King was? We risked our lives to pull him down after we barely managed to defeat Kronos! But how…!” Before Poseidon could finish, dozens of condensed lightning bolts fell in front of him.
Roar! He stepped back in surprise. Hades' eyes glittered dangerously. “I’m warning you for the last time: put that trident down. The child in front of you is my friend and guest.” It was evident that Hades wouldn’t let Poseidon do as he pleased.
When Poseidon still didn’t move, Hades put his hand on the sword at his waist. The gods of Olympus looked on anxiously. If Hades and Poseidon fought, everything would be over. They were already at a disadvantage despite combining all their forces; an internal fight would only benefit the Titans and Giants.
The problem was that both Hades and Poseidon were prideful and would never give up. However, Poseidon eventually moved his trident to the side in fury. “Dammit!”
He blew away a section of the holy territory, but his whirling pressure was reined in once more. Still, he continued to fume, and the atmosphere was still tense. He turned to look at Yeon-woo with a glower. “You got lucky this time. I’ll never forget how you humiliated me today.”
An intense pressure weighed down on Yeon-woo’s shoulders. Ordinary players would have passed out or seen their souls crushed, but Yeon-woo only smirked in response. It was pathetic to see a divine being acting like a stubborn child. “As you wish.”
“You…!” Veins bulged on Poseidon’s temples. For a moment, he considered getting rid of Yeon-woo even if it meant fighting Hades, but he forced himself to keep calm. If he used all his power, he could easily kill Yeon-woo, but Yeon-woo wouldn’t go down without a fight. He was a player who had killed a god before, and the process wouldn’t be that easy.
In the end, Poseidon managed to hold himself back with preternatural effort and turned around. The gods following him hesitated and left after bowing to Hermes and Athena, then glaring at Yeon-woo—Hestia, Hera, and Demeter among them.
Athena only put her sword away after Poseidon and the others were completely out of sight. However, the sharp combative aura around her remained.
Hermes chuckled at his sister. “Do you know something, sister?”
“What?” Athena wondered what her mischievous brother was trying to pull this time and narrowed her eyes.
Hermes continued to smile playfully despite her sharp gaze. “If you only ever show this violent side, any guys interested in you will be scared away.”
Belatedly realizing her mistake, Athena quickly regained her composure, but it was too late. Yeon-woo was already staring at her. “Thank you for helping me.”
Athena nodded in a slightly flustered manner.
『You acted like you had a lot to say when you finally met him. See, I was right, hm?』 Hermes’ voice suddenly rang in her ear.
She recalled how Hermes had giggled at her as she anxiously watched Yeon-woo’s reunion with Jeong-woo. What did he say back then? Something about not knowing what to say when she was finally in front of him?
At the time, she told him to stop speaking nonsense, but it was just as Hermes said. She was so taken aback that she was dumbstruck. The child that she had been watching over now knew all of the past incidents surrounding his brother and all the other occurrences related to it. Athena couldn’t bring herself to speak because she was worried that Yeon-woo still resented her.
『I’ll leave so you two can talk.』 Hermes smiled slyly and disappeared after winking at Yeon-woo.
Athena wanted to slap his face, but she stopped herself. “Are you…hurt?” She’d carefully contemplated what to say, but the words that actually popped out were so stupid. She wanted to smack herself on the mouth, especially since she was supposed to be the goddess of wisdom.
“I’m fine, thanks to you.”
“That’s a relief.”
There was an awkward moment of silence between them. The onlookers wondered what had happened and stared with wide eyes.
Suddenly, the world excluding Yeon-woo and Athena, slowed down. Yeon-woo had sped up his speed of thought, and as he intended, Athena was able to follow. It was a quiet environment for the two of them to speak, like a private bubble within the noise around them.
Just then, the pocket watch spun and Jeong-woo’s spirit body slowly slid out. He looked at the goddess who had watched over him for a long time.
‘So that’s what she looks like.’ That was Jeong-woo’s first thought. It was his first time to see Athena, but she seemed so familiar, especially the eyes that looked so sadly at him. They were the same eyes that had supported him until the end. seeing Athena for the first time.
『Thank you.』 Jeong-woo could finally express his gratitude. It was something he’d wanted to do for a long time.
Athena’s eyes quivered from his unexpected words. “I…”
『You’re the only one who protected me until the end, Athena.』
Athena pressed her lips together. However, Jeong-woo was smiling brightly. 『Of course, I resented you, too. You’ve watched me from the beginning but you never showed yourself like this. I felt uncomfortable because you only ever watched me, and I was hoping that you would help me in the end when I was grasping at straws.』 Jeong-woo recalled the message that popped up right before he closed his eyes. It was something about an unrevealed god watching him with sad eyes.
That message repeatedly popped up in his special benefit as well, and it became almost predictable. In a way, being watched like this was an unpleasant experience, but at the same time, he was grateful that she’d stayed by his side until the end. 『Whenever I closed my eyes, I always had the same thought: it’s not so lonely, and there’s someone who’s always watching me.』
Technically, Athena had no reason to help Jeong-woo. All she had done was peek at the future and show her pity. It wasn’t as if she could interfere either. The Tower’s fixed system blocked the interference of the heavenly world in the name of the laws of causality. Also, Athena had done her best to help Yeon-woo and Jeong-woo after that.
“Thank you…for saying that.” Athena wiped her eyes with a faint smile, although tears continue to brim in her eyes. She had been wondering what to say when she finally met the brothers, and she was grateful that they’d spoken first.
As he looked at her, Jeong-woo thought of how fragile she was, even though she was a goddess. He’d always felt it from the way she’d looked at him with sad eyes, but it was clear to him now that she was even more fragile than he’d believed.
How could such a delicate person be the goddess of war and wisdom? When she had confronted Poseidon, she seemed like a steady ally, but now, she seemed like an older sister who lived next door. Jeong-woo was reminded of his mother, and he instinctively spread his wings and took a step closer to Athena. They were close enough to feel each other’s breath.
Athena took a step back unconsciously. No man had ever stood so close to her before. Normally, she would’ve brushed him away, but when she looked into his pure eyes, she lost the will to rebuff him. Instead, she felt surprised.
Then, Jeong-woo hugged Athena lightly, as if reassuring her that everything was all right. At first, she was stunned, then she realized that he was trying to comfort her with his warmth. She nodded graciously.
* * *
“Do you know you can be punished heavily for touching a god’s body without permission?” After a while, Athena pushed Jeong-woo away, pouting with embarrassment. Although she was pretending to be strict, she just seemed cute.
『Hahaha! Are you really the goddess of war? You seem to have a lot of tears.』 Jeong-woo found himself bursting into laughter, making Athena’s pout grow bigger. Jeong-woo realized that Yeon-woo was staring at him and tilted his head. 『What?』
Yeon-woo shook his head. “Nothing. I was just wondering what face Sesha and Ananta would make if they saw you like this.”
Jeong-woo couldn’t reply.
“Or maybe if I said something to Brahm…”
『That’s not what this is!』
Athena smiled as she watched the brothers squabble. She could see herself and Hermes in them. Really, they were quite adorable.
Then, Yeon-woo pushed away the noisy Jeong-woo with his hand and he locked eyes with Athena, who had a warm expression on her face.
“Can I ask you something?” The reunion was over. It was time to ask her what he’d always wanted to know.
“Yes.” Athena’s eyes widened slightly, and she nodded stiffly. She had an idea of what he wanted to know.
“If I’m correct, you foresaw something when Jeong-woo first entered the Tutorial.”
Athena hesitated, then nodded heavily and said, “Correct. It was quite short, though.”
‘Just as I thought.’ Yeon-woo muttered to himself. He asked another question. “Were Jeong-woo and I in that vision?”
“What happened to us?”
Athena hesitated and replied with a sigh. “Before that, let me correct one thing. The vision I saw was of you, but not the both of you.”
It was a confusing answer that made the brothers’ eyes widen. “What does that mean?”
Athena’s face hardened. “There was...only one person.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter