The fifth chapter of the second installment of The Legacies Saga
"Impossible," James said. "You're supposed to be gone."
Aphrodite smiled. "The gods cannot stay in the world very long, not without Aether. Since the gods are powered by their domain, few can come here at all. Look at Zeus, for instance. How can the lord of the sky have much power if half the world can't even see the sky through the ceiling?"
It made sense. James was starting to get an idea of why the gods were gone in the first place.
"So, you have more power than the other gods because love and beauty are still everywhere?"
Aphrodite nodded. "The sky, nature, the seas... they have nowhere near as much impact as they used to. Love, though, is constant. Love has influenced people's decisions for centuries and will do so for the rest of forever. Look at its impacts - Paris and Helen, Romeo and Juliet, Perseus and Annabeth, Be-"
"Didn't those last two, like, almost destroy the world by handing themselves over to Gaea?"
"For love!" she exclaimed, then shook her head. "Whatever. I need to talk to you about the combination."
"That doesn't sound like your style."
She ignored him. "The combination, when all the items are brought together. You must make it happen."
"What?" James said. "I'm not going to-"
"Hear me out before you make rash decisions," she said, with clear signs of charmspeak. "If the combination is complete, then, yes, Ouranos will rise and destroy everything. That's bad. But you still must get the legacies of earth, air, fire, water, and aether together. That's the only way to free Fiona from her imprisonment at Thalia's tree."
"So you want me to risk destroying the world just so I can get Fiona back here safely?"
"Exactly." Aphrodite beamed at James as if he finally understood the obvious. "Like you said, Perseus and Annabeth nearly destroyed the world for love, and if they hadn't, you would never have been born. You have to do the same, and save your beloved Fiona."
"My beloved? Look, I think you're wrong about-"
"You think that I, goddess of love, am wrong about a person's uncomplicated love life?" Aphrodite asked. "You can fight it all you want; just go get the other legacies." She winked at him. "And of course, there's no need for Natasha to know about this."
James stepped out of the vehicle and looked at Natasha.
"So, not a monster," she guessed from the lack of death. "Who was that?"
"Um, one of Alaric's associates," James lied. "Not looking for trouble, just trying to get me to join them."
"So, let's get to Athena Light, then," Natasha said, a smile crossing her face.
"Alright," James said. But he couldn't help but look back at where Aphrodite's vehicle had been, and remembering her words. And if they hadn't, you would never have been born.
They started walking to Athena Light.