The End of Gods (A Welcome to the Underworld Novel, Book 4)Con Template
The End of Gods
A Welcome to the Underworld Novel
Also by Con Template:
Welcome to the Underworld, Book 1
The Fall of Gods, Book 2
The War of Gods, Book 3
The End of Gods, Book 4
Copyright © 2015 Con Template
All rights reserved.
Cover Photo by: C.U. Con Template
Cover Illustration Design by: Dorothy Duong
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. The Author holds exclusive rights to this work.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced without the written permission of the Author.
Dedicated to You:
You who have been with TaeRi since the very beginning—even before you knew their names.
You who walked alongside TaeRi in their long journey and watched as they evolved into the couple they had become.
You who laughed, cried, and went through the obstacles of life with them as they grew up before your very eyes.
This entire story is dedicated to you, my Welcome to the Underworld reader, who has been unconditionally there for TaeRi from the very beginning—when they first sought Paris—to the very end, when they finally found Paris . . .
Firstly, this book is dedicated to my uncle Anthony, who passed away on February 2015. My uncle was like a second father to me and his sudden passing has devastated our family. To my beloved Uncle Anthony: I love you so much, and I will miss you everyday. Thank you for being there for everyone who needed you and for inspiring all of us. We will miss your sarcasm, your laughter, and most of all, we will miss your kind and generous heart. Thank you for being such an amazing uncle. We love you—always and forever.
As always, none of this would be possible without the love and support from my beautiful parents. Thank you to my incredible mother and father for always spoiling me with so much love and for enriching my life with so much laughter. Thank you to my sister for being an all around awesome human being and for being my version of “The Secret”. You are a gift to have in my life. Thank you for being my sister! A big chunk of my gratitude also goes to Hoff-Hoff, Snyderman, Forever Young, Chief Little Fingers, and Waddup G for being my rocks during some of the most difficult times in my life. You guys rock, and you already know it. I want to also give thanks to Trinh, Fey, and Van for being such amazing friends. Brandon, Dearian, and Tiana: The three of you know why you’re here. I love you all so much. Kevin N., I have not forgotten about you, little cousin. I miss you everyday and I hope that we can all reunite for Thanksgiving dinners soon. This book is for you as well. I love you with all my heart. Please stay safe, stay strong, and come home soon.
A massive “Thank You” is owed to my beloved beta readers: Jocelyn H., Anita Law, Anna Chanthakhoun, Annie Park, Ghetty Hilaire, Jamie Lee, My-Trinh Nguyen, Vivian T. Hoang, Yanny Zhang, Maria L. Loo, Joules, Tiffany H., Cindy Thi Cao, Shirley L., Theresa, Grace Suh, Lilianne Wong, and Sandra. Thank you so much again for being so fun to work it and for always being so amazing to me and my beloved story! You’re all so wonderful!
Thirdly, thank you to my graphic artist, Dorothy Duong. I can’t believe we’ve reached the final book. As I said before, there will never be enough words to summarize the love and appreciation I have for you. Thank you for blessing Welcome to the Underworld with your talent and thank you for always inspiring me. You are an amazing graphic artist and an absolutely incredible friend. It’s been an honor “kicking” all those ducks with you. Red velvet cupcakes again, Thy. You are the best!
Last, but never least, all my gratitude goes to my once-in-a-lifetime readers. Thank you for spoiling me and my stories with so much love and support. I could’ve never come this far without all of you. Whether you’ve been there from the beginning or have just started this adventure—thank you for joining me on this journey to “find Paris” all the same. Most importantly, thank you for allowing me to “con” your realities. You’ve been nothing but worth it.
Until Paris Fades,
The Beginning of Gods
The Lord of the Underworld
The Return of the Queen
The War Clause
‘Till Death Do Us Part
The Rumblings of War
The Seduction of Gods
The Meeting of Gods
Game of Preys
Kwon Ho Young
The Queen’s Forbidden Fruit
Of Gods and Humans
The Temptation of Gods
The Battle of Gods
War of the Underworlds
Royals Without a Throne
Every Stubborn Inch of It
Welcome to My Underworld
I found Paris
Wherever You Go, I’ll Follow
Two Steps from the Underworld
Kingdom of the Fallen Gods
The Darkest Hour
The End of Gods
You’re Worth All of It
Until Paris Fades
“Once you’re in, the only exit is death.”
00: The Beginning of Gods
“Uncle Ju Won, what will we do when I come live with you?”
Holding her uncle’s hand on the patio, ten-year-old An Soo Jin could feel her small body shake as her little pink princess dress danced along with the cold wind. The view of the infinity pool spilling into the night’s horizon filled her vision, rendering her prisoner to its beauty. Soo Jin watched in awe as the twinkling city glowed like diamonds in the distant horizon, happily illuminating itself in the cold night.
Though every fiber of her body was urging her to return to the masquerade ball where it was warm, little Soo Jin was stubborn. She wanted d
esperately to talk to her uncle before the evening came to an end. Her father had told her weeks before that she was moving in with her Uncle Ju Won. Now that the deadline was fast approaching, Soo Jin wanted to find out what the fuss was all about. She wanted to understand why it was so important for her to live with him.
Soo Jin knew that if she wanted her answer, then this was the moment to ask. Her Uncle Ju Won was a busy man. She had to take advantage of this rare stolen moment with him.
Seo Ju Won smiled, slowly assuaging her curiosity as he took his eyes off the panoramic view.
“I will teach you everything I know,” he enlightened, staring down at her like he would his own daughter. His eyes held love and adoration for the young girl. As she peered up at him with innocent brown eyes, Ju Won went on, pride pouring from his voice. “I will do everything in my power to make you the most infamous God this world will ever know, and after that feat is accomplished, you will be the one to carry on your family’s legacy, my legacy, and the Underworld’s legacy.”
Soo Jin bunched her brows in confusion. There was so much in his answer that she didn’t understand, the principal one being what he wanted to turn her into.
“God?” she voiced in perplexity. The concept didn’t make sense to her. How could humans become Gods?
Ju Won nodded, releasing his hold on her hand. He bent his knees and squatted down in front of her. When his eyes were completely leveled with hers, he inclined his head towards the world inside his palatial mansion. At this prompt, Soo Jin followed his gaze and stared into the ballroom as well.
Ballroom music swayed in and out of the seven open windows surrounding the mansion on the mountain. All around her were people dressed in tuxedos and beautiful dresses. They were dancing along with the ballroom music, looking so regal that she could not help but feel like she was in a castle with royalty rather than at a simple party. To Soo Jin, there were no other groups more regal than the group of people in that very room. Even at that age, she was already aware of the power, influence, and wealth each individual possessed. Even at that young age, she admired them.
“In there are some of the most powerful people you will ever know,” Ju Won whispered, sharing in her wonderment. Her eyes continued to admire the world within the ballroom as he spoke. “They are the pride of our elite world; they are the Royals of our world.” He turned back to her, his determined gaze meeting hers. “Would it not be amazing to have them kneel before you, Soo Jin?”
Bewilderment overcame her at his odd inquiry. “Why me?”
Why would they kneel before her? What was so special about her?
Something stirred in Ju Won’s once prideful eyes. The stern power that normally inhabited his gaze subdued subtly. It gradually became replaced with an emotion that mirrored sadness—regret.
“Did you know that I had a daughter?” he finally asked.
Soo Jin shook her head, surprised by this new information. He had never mentioned his daughter.
“She would’ve been eighteen this year,” he told her quietly, his voice softer than she had ever heard it.
“What happened to her?” Soo Jin asked, curious as to why she had never met or heard of her uncle’s daughter before.
The light in his eyes dimmed. Ju Won inhaled deeply, taking a moment to collect his own composure. He casted a quick glance into the distance before returning his attention to her. With heavy sadness in his voice, he said, “She died from cancer eight years ago.”
Comprehension found its way into Soo Jin’s blossoming eyes. “Is that who this party is for? Her?”
Ju Won gave a sad, confirming smile. “If Hye Sun was here, then she would’ve made her appearance in this world as a God. If she was alive, then tonight would’ve been the night where she would grace this world with her presence and be known as the Queen of the Underworld.”
Now there was another term she didn’t understand. “Queen of the Underworld?”
Her uncle nodded, cupping a hand over her right cheek with eagerness. The melancholy in his eyes morphed into resolve. Despite the tragedy of losing his daughter, he had found hope in the prospect of turning someone else he loved into a God. “That’s what I’m going to turn you into, Soo Jin. I’m going to give you everything I could never give Hye Sun. I am going to train you to be a Queen, and in turn, you will rule over those people in there and be their God.” He regarded the world before them again, relentless determination overpowering his face. “Don’t you want to be the crown jewel of the world in there, Soo Jin? Don’t you want to rule over the Kings and Queens in there and become an immortal legend in our world?”
Soo Jin was still confused with everything that he was telling her. “How will I become a God?”
At her question, Ju Won’s once enthusiastic visage faltered slightly. Grimness darkened his features. As this occurred, the skies above were faltering with their tranquility as well. Soft rumbles disturbed the skies, indicating to those below that an unstoppable storm was about to commence.
“You will go through one of the most difficult ordeals anyone could ever dream of going through. Once you say yes, you’re in it for life. There will be days where you will be in so much pain that breathing will feel like a burden rather than a blessing. There will be days where you’ll wish you had chosen another life, and there will be days where you will pray to God for death.” His eyes grew sterner, his features multiplying in solemnity. “The road will be agonizingly difficult, and you won’t be able to escape from it. Once you’re in, I will not let you quit. If you quit, then I will punish you for your weakness.”
Soo Jin laughed, not even taking anything her uncle was telling her to heart. She was already so confused with everything else he was conveying to her. His last line about punishing her was too comical for her; it was simply too silly for her to take seriously.
“How will you punish me, uncle?” she inquired with a sheepish and innocent smile. “I’ve never even seen you mad at me.”
Ju Won smiled sadly. He made an effort to soften his features. It was clear that he wanted to enlighten her, but he did not want to scare her.
“I don’t want to punish you; I don’t ever want to punish you,” he assured her, his eyes genuine with confliction. “But this world that you’re born into, it is different from the rest. It is a very powerful world, and a very strict one at that. I have the responsibility as an Advisor of this world to make sure that the future leaders of our society are the best leaders this world could have. I love you, but I am bound by the laws of this world—by my responsibility as an Advisor.” He swallowed tightly, tilting his head while telling her something that broke his heart to share. “You will not get any special treatment, Soo Jin. If you show weakness—if you make the unforgivable mistake and show weakness to the entire Underworld—then I will show you the consequences of your weakness. You will not be forgiven, and you will be punished severely for your oversights.”
For the first time in her life, ten-year-old Soo Jin felt pure fear slither through her body. She may not have been afraid of her uncle, but she was terrified of being punished by the world that he described. It seemed cruel and unforgiving. Her uncle looked so serious that even if a part of her still didn’t believe he had the heart to punish her, there was a bigger part that was now apprehensive of that belief.
“I . . . I don’t want to get punished,” she said fearfully, truly meaning it.
He smiled, nodding his head. She gave him the exact answer he wanted.
“I know you don’t, Soo Jin. I know you don’t,” he said vehemently, calming her with a reassuring voice. “All you have to do is train well, work hard, never give up, and keep your eyes on the prize, then you will be fine. Never disobey me, never disobey what the Underworld wants from you, and never disobey our bylaws. If you adhere to all of that, then you will never get punished. You will only be rewarded.”
He turned towards his ballroom as a still-nervous Soo Jin nodded her head, feeling unease with the whole conversation.
/> “What is . . .” he prompted, his eyes scanning through the mansion.
Soo Jin’s gaze followed his lead and trailed into the decadent ballroom. Her eyes wandered over the room before something arrested her complete attention. Her eyes zeroed in on her other uncle, Shin Dong Min. Her attention was not arrested because of her Uncle Dong Min; it was captivated because of whom her uncle was speaking to.
When she rested her eyes on the one her Uncle Dong Min was interacting with, Soo Jin felt an emotion she couldn’t decipher surge through her.
Laughing merrily, Dong Min squatted down and hugged the young boy who simply fascinated Soo Jin.
Dressed in a black tuxedo, this boy was tall for his age, utterly striking, and he evoked nothing but attraction from Soo Jin (and she imagined the rest of the girls her age). For the first time in her young life, little Soo Jin could feel her heart race while butterflies began to flutter in her tummy. Suddenly, the conversation she had with her Uncle Ju Won seemed insignificant when vying for her attention with the hunky boy.
Oh my God, she thought dreamily, never before seeing someone who captured her attention as much as this cutie in front of her. In a matter of seconds, the fear she felt vacated. This handsome creature eclipsed all of her other thoughts. He’s so cute . . .
Gazing unblinkingly at the boy as he spoke to Uncle Dong Min, a dazed Soo Jin could scarcely hear her Uncle Ju Won’s voice as he finished the rest of his question, “. . . that saying your dad always lives by? The one he uses whenever he needs to remind himself that to get into a position of power, some actions are unavoidable?”