The War of Gods (A Welcome to the Underworld Novel, Book 3)Con Template
The War of Gods
A Welcome to the Underworld Novel
Also by Con Template:
Welcome to the Underworld, Book 1
The Fall of Gods, Book 2 of Welcome to the Underworld
Copyright © 2014 Con Template
All rights reserved.
Cover Photo by: 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 My Sister,
Because it is my biggest honor to call you my sister.
The publication of The War of Gods could not have been possible without the unwavering love from my family. Thank you for spoiling me every single day with your love, affections, and your unending support. Thank you to my mom for being so awe-inspiring, to my dad for being so amazing, and to my sister for being my “Holy Trinity”—my best friend, my mentor, and my partner-in-crime.
Kevin N., every time I work on the Welcome to the Underworld novels, I am reminded of you and how much I miss you. Thank you for that majestic card that you sent us—we love it so much. Stay strong, stay safe, and please come home soon. We miss you.
To all my friends—thank you for all the laughs, the heartfelt memories, and all our silly adventures. It is an absolute gift to have you in my life—you’re all wonderful!
A massive “Thank You” is owed to my beloved beta readers: Jocelyn H., Anita Law, Anna Chanthakhoun, Annie Park, Ghetty Hilaire, Jamie Lee, Kim Tong, My-Trinh Nguyen, Vivian T. Hoang, Melanie, Yanny Zhang, Maria L. Loo, Joules, Tiffany H., Cindy Thi Cao, Julie Doan, Shirley L., Theresa, Grace Suh, Sandra, Kix Choi, and Vicky Chow. This book couldn’t have come this far without all your time, dedication, generous help, and genuine love for the story. Thank you so much again!
As always, thank you to my graphic artist, Dorothy Duong. I could never express enough gratitude for all that you’ve gifted to me. Thank you for always giving me something better than I could envision and thank you for being an amazing friend in the process. Your masterpieces leave me in awe every single time, and I cannot wait to finish the final cover with you. Thank you a million times over again.
To Solangel—Publishing a book can be a whirlwind journey. There are the really outstanding moments, and then there are the really frustrating moments. Thank you for constantly being there for me during all those whirlwind moments, for lending an ear of support, for giving me so much encouragements, and for always being such a positive force. I feel unbelievably lucky to have your kind support, and I cannot wait to share in more whirlwind journeys with you!
Last and never least, thank you to all my wonderful readers for opening your hearts to Welcome to the Underworld. I can’t believe we’re already on the third book. Every single day, I find myself humbled by your unending support, awe-inspiring messages, and kind encouragements. I never feel like I deserve so much love from all of you—but I’m grateful for it everyday. None of this could have come to fruition without you. Thank you for taking part in this journey with me—I can’t wait to finish it with you in the final book!
Enjoy Your Coffin
The Coffin Throne
A Royal Run-In
The Siberian Tigers
House of Cards
A King’s Memory Lane
The Sealed Kingdom
The Duel of Gods
The Secret of Masquerades
The King of Scorpions
Blood Secrets of the Siberian Tigers
Master of Deception
The Dissolution of Blood
The War of Scorpions
Before Hell Takes Over
One Last Heaven
The Beginning of the End
The Silence of Paris
An Soo Jin
The War of Kingdoms
The Betrayal of Scorpions
The Changing of Tides
The Human Queen
Welcome back to the Underworld
“Our world isn’t a society where love conquers all.”
00: Fallen Gods
He remained quiet while he stood atop one of the tallest buildings in the city. His dark brown eyes watched as a young woman sped away in a silver taxicab. His eyes moved over to the King of Serpents. The infamous King stood quiet, dazed, and broken. It looked like someone had just ripped the heart out of the Underworld Royal.
A gust of wind rippled over the roof, blowing away the snow that once layered the silent observer’s hooded black jacket. His face was obscured by shadows. His only visible feature was a gold ring piercing on his lower lip and a scar of the number “57” that covered most of his left cheek.
He balled his fists as he watched the taxicab disappear out of sight. Coldness seeped into his eyes. He extracted a silver flip-phone from his pocket and dialed. As the phone rang, his eyes strayed downward to the barefoot King of Serpents sitting on the hood of a snow-covered car. He looked miserable with his face buried into his hands.
“What is it?” a female voice answered over the phone, snapping the man from his stupor.
“She’s alive,” he whispered, getting right to the point.
Hatred saturated his voice. “The Queen.”
A short, uncomfortable pause came over the line. “That’s . . . That’s impossible. She died in Taecin. In the fire . . . she died. No one could have survived the fires we set.”
“Somehow she did survive,” he stated firmly. His voice pulsed with scorn. “And she’s back in Seoul.”
“Why . . . Why are you calling about this?” she stuttered. “Why aren’t you going after her?”
; “The King of Serpents was with her.”
His eyes returned downward when he heard the sound of shattering glass. The Underworld King had punched his fist into the window of a parked car. Blood oozed from his clenched fist. He did not appear to be affected by the physical injury, but his face still reflected pain from a different source. Perhaps from the one who just left him.
There was a long pause on the other end at the mention of the King of Serpents. “And he isn’t anymore?”
The man withdrew his eyes from Kwon Tae Hyun.
“Just gather everyone,” he said instead, absently running his fingers over his scar. The thirst for vengeance seared in his eyes. “We have unfinished business to take care of.”
Apprehensive silence occupied the line. “But boss—”
“I’ll personally deal with him,” the man assured, cutting the woman off. His jaw clenched as he cast one final glance at Tae Hyun.
“Right now, all that matters is making An Soo Jin pay for what she did three years ago.”
“It is a cruel world. . .”
01: Enjoy Your Coffin
When faced with the adversities of life, most people turn to the likes of alcohol to take them unto a world where the pain becomes numbed, nonexistent.
Always a firm believer in maintaining control, Choi Yoori opted out of the “get-my-ass-drunk-because-my-life-sucks” therapy and gravitated toward something healthier. In lieu of wallowing in a bar somewhere, Yoori chose to immerse herself in a world where there were stories that were bigger than hers, stories that could con her reality and momentarily shield her from her problems. A local library proved key to this therapeutic endeavor.
It had been three weeks since the altercation between herself and her former crime lord boss, Kwon Tae Hyun. After months of being together, she discovered that he purposely sought her out, blackmailed her into being his assistant, and used her because of her resemblance to the Queen of the Underworld, An Soo Jin. Though it turned out that Yoori was indeed the missing Queen who somehow acquired amnesia, it did not lessen the blow of the discovery. She had fallen for him—hard. To find out that he had used her like a fool since the beginning was a difficult pill to swallow. Needless to say, their breakup was as volatile as an exploding car.
Since the dispute, Yoori returned to her cramped apartment and did her best to get some semblance of her life back. Regrettably, Tae Hyun made such an attempt difficult for Yoori. Instead of disappearing from her life, he continued to make his presence known by ensuring that she was well taken care of. It was likely because of a guilty conscience, but he not only made sure that her bank account was stocked with enough money to last her for years, he also sent over a messenger days later with the key to his black Mercedes convertible.
Yoori was initially too pissed off to even look at the car. Once she calmed down, she rationalized that it was safer for her to be at the library late at night with her own car as opposed to taking any public transportation. She may be stubborn and prideful, but she wasn’t stupid. Aware of the dangers around her, she knew that having the car would decrease the amount of trouble she could find herself in. Though she had more than enough funds to purchase a brand new car, Yoori convinced herself that she should keep the Mercedes because she wanted to save money for emergencies. Deep down, she couldn’t deny the warm feeling that came over her whenever she was in the car. She chose not to examine why she felt that way. She merely convinced herself that it was because she was in love with the car, not the previous owner.
Yoori made her peace with accepting Tae Hyun’s car, but adjusting to the other aspects of her life proved to be difficult. She hadn't realized how comfortable she had grown in Tae Hyun’s apartment until she started to feel like a stranger in her own. She also couldn’t stop thinking about how her best friend was raped because of her, how she singlehandedly killed eleven men, and how she found out about Tae Hyun’s betrayal. It didn’t help that she had no one to vent to. Her only saving grace was the library and the escape she found in the stories living there.
In the midst of adjusting into her new life, her best friend Lee Chae Young, was discharged from the hospital. When Yoori visited her, Chae Young’s boyfriend, Jae Won, was there with her. Jae Won, who was in Tae Hyun’s gang (and An Soo Jin’s former right-hand man), had been by his girlfriend’s side since she left the hospital. While Yoori was able to refrain from having another guilt-stricken breakdown, it still tore her apart to be in Chae Young’s company. As absurd as it sounded, she didn’t feel worthy enough to breathe the same air as her best friend. Despite this torturous feeling, Yoori didn’t show it externally.
Yoori’s thoughts drifted from the fictional book she was reading to a memory of what took place the last time she visited her best friend.
“Is everything okay? You look thinner than before,” Chae Young had observed during one of Yoori’s visits. Her face was also pale. Unlike Yoori’s though, Chae Young’s face was still marred with healing bruises and scars.
“Everything is okay,” Yoori lied with a forced smile. It agonized Yoori that even in her own state of misery, Chae Young was still watching out for her. “You know me, I suck when it comes to dealing with cold weather. I’ll be better soon.”
Chae Young nodded, her sad eyes detecting the lie in Yoori’s voice.
Yoori kept a reassuring smile on her face. Standing at a modest 5’3” with big eyes and plump lips, Yoori was a force to be reckoned with when she smiled. She had the ability to make people feel reassured, like the heartless world was actually a safe place. It was a power that, for the good of everyone around her, Yoori used and exploited daily.
Jae Won was busy preparing dinner so she had some alone time with Chae Young. During the course of their conversation, Chae Young wasn't inclined to talk about the details of what happened to her in the diner. Yoori respected this and played along. They spoke about nonchalant things that meant nothing to either of them. While they spoke, Yoori also decided it would be better not to update Chae Young on the situation with Tae Hyun. It was an odd thing that two best friends couldn’t confide in each other. One was traumatized while the other was consumed with guilt. Yoori wished she was stronger for Chae Young, but she knew if they even mentioned Tae Hyun or spoke about what happened in the diner, then she would likely have an emotional breakdown that would push Chae Young over the edge. Yoori couldn’t do that to her best friend. She’d rather suffer in solitude.
It wasn’t until Chae Young left to shower that Yoori was snowplowed into talking about Tae Hyun. The force behind this ambush was Jae Won. Yoori had been ignoring Jae Won the whole time she visited her friend, and she was not happy when he finally confronted her.
“I know that things are over between you and Boss Kwon, but why are you ignoring me too?” Jae Won confronted with frustration.
They could hear the showerhead running as they stood in the hall.
Jae Won, looking like a refined aristocrat with a rugged quality to him, eyed the bathroom door. He towered over her. He was dressed simply in a khaki jacket and jeans. Had Yoori not seen his fighting capabilities firsthand, she would venture to say that he looked like a spoiled rich boy who had too much money and too much time on his hands. In reality, he was far from the spoiled rich boy. He was a formidable figure in a powerful Underworld gang. He may have served Kings and Queens, but to the rest of the world, he was a deadly royal in his own right.
When Jae Won determined that Chae Young wasn’t within earshot of their conversation, his attention returned to Yoori. He, too, knew that it was best to keep all the drama away from Chae Young. She needed time to heal; she didn’t need to be hounded with other worries.
“You knew he was using me all along, and you didn’t warn me,” Yoori answered irritably. She clenched her fists in resentment. “You just watched as he played me for a fool—you and your brother.”
She’d had time to mull over everything and a big realization came over her: Jae Won, along with Kang Min who was his younger brothe
r and part of Tae Hyun’s gang, knew all along that Tae Hyun was using her. That was why they told her in the limo they weren’t sure if Tae Hyun could be trusted. It was because they knew that her relationship with Tae Hyun had been forged on lies. They knew and never told her. She loved the brothers, but her pride—her hatred for feeling betrayed—was all consuming. As far as Yoori was concerned, cutting off ties due to the betrayal didn’t end with Tae Hyun. It extended to the brothers too.
“Why the hell would we tell you since we all knew you’d run off because your damn pride means more to you than your own life?” he snarled. For the first time since she had known him, Jae Won’s face contorted in anger while speaking to her. He was beside himself with fury. “We knew he used you to get me, to get my gang to merge with his. That was why I hated him in the beginning. That was why I told you not to trust him. But as time went on, it became obvious that he fucked himself up because he fell for you. We took back our uncertainty and told you that we thought he could be trusted because we both knew that he would take care of you, regardless of the decisions he made in the past when he didn’t even know who you were to begin with.”
Yoori snorted at his last sentence. “You’re siding with him?”
Jae Won made a rude sound as well. “Boss, do you honestly think that Kwon Tae Hyun is the type of guy who brings girls to lake houses, creates personal made Winter Wonderlands for them, and decorates his apartment for their birthdays? Do you think he did all that just to get into your pants?” He shook his head. “He did all of that because he felt guilty for bringing you into this world. He wanted to take you away from the cruelties of this world and allow you to temporarily live in a dream world.” His eyes became aggrieved. “He may have dragged you into this world for his own selfish needs, but he’s paying for it now. He’s fucked up his status and power in this world. He’s paying for it now, and he protects you more than you’ll ever know. I told you that I trusted him—I still do. I’m not siding with him; it’s just that I empathize with loving someone who suffered because of the world I brought them into.”