On a certain night in 2001, a ship docked on the former whaling town of Lahaina in the island of Maui in Hawaii. Nam Sooyoung stood on the planks as she took in the foreign scenery in front of her. It was going to be her new home. Or, at least, that’s what it said on the travel brochure. The young South Korean botany professor had pinpointed Maui Island as a haven for her scientific pursuits. But before she could even start exploring, she had to find an apartment to settle in first. She stayed for four days in a hotel during her search. If it wasn’t for the god Zephyrus offering her a nice place in downtown Lahaina, she would’ve gone beyond her hotel budget.
The wind god apparently liked Sooyoung. He first showed his interest in the form of pity. During the first time they met, it was during the wee hours of the night. The rain poured hard and unrelenting. He saw her from a good distance, crying out of frustration. She had been rejected of a new home multiple times by the greed of landowners. Having no umbrella and two skipped meals did not prove to be of help at all. The god took this opportunity to impress the young lady with his kindness. Zephyrus waved his hand towards the heavens; at an instant, the downpour halted to a stop. He then gave Sooyoung a leather jacket and led her to his apartment two blocks away from where they met. Ever since then, he dropped by her place every morning with a basket of fresh fruits grown from the fertile lands of Maui. Zephyrus lived right next door but he would mostly spend time assisting the young professor in her experiments. The latter felt even more delightful with the fruits he brought because they were native to Hawaii. She had never seen anything like them when she was back in South Korea.
The seed of love did not take too long to be planted. And when it grew and ripened, a baby boy was born. During her labor, she was left alone in her apartment. She kept on calling Zephyrus for help, but he didn’t answer. As a matter of fact, he had stopped visiting her for two weeks already. It was such a bad timing for her to give birth with nobody to help. She was no midwife. She did not know how to deliver her baby safely with only her own mind and hands to rely on. She was a botanist! She knew how to handle plants but definitely not her own birthing process. The more she bled, the more she screamed for help. Fortunately, the son of the landlady, who lived in the unit directly below her, heard her pleas. The little knowledge on childbirth was all that he had to assist his neighbor in need. He rushed Sooyoung himself to a nearby hospital and stayed with her until she was fit enough for discharge.
Kaleo Mahelona--the young bachelor’s name--and Sooyoung instantly found love with one another albeit their unusually first encounter. The latter wanted to give a Korean name to her first child; however, she decided on the Hawaiian name Keanu instead. It represented both her newfound fondness for Hawaii and her unfortunate parting with her first love, Zephyrus. Keanu meant “the cool breeze”. Zephyrus brought cool breezes, yes, but he definitely left like one. After getting married, the couple moved to a simple wooden house along Front Street, overlooking the ocean.
For the first few years of Keanu’s life, his mother stayed with him. She cannot go in deep into the heart of Maui yet with her son alone at home. Instead, she researched on the marine flora brought by Kaleo from his daily scuba diving trips. He would often bring Sooyoung fruits just like Zephyrus did in the past. She saw a lot of similarities between the two fine men which made her fall in love with Kaleo after a short while. Moving on from Zephyrus wasn’t that hard either. Anyways, by the time Keanu was already going to school, Sooyoung had more freedom exploring the nearby forests and glades in the island. Whenever she would take long, Kaleo took the task of bringing their son home and preparing their dinner. During the weekends, the parents would take Keanu to their place of work; Kaleo brought him on his yacht and explored the Pacific Ocean every Saturdays while Sooyoung travelled with him at Haleakala National Park every Sundays. Keanu was an eager learner whether he was crawling on dirt or swimming on seawater. It didn’t take long for him to develop the adventurous personalities of his parents, as well as manifesting an amphibious fondness for nature.
At the age of seven, Kaleo and Sooyoung brought Keanu to the Lahaina Banyan Tree Park on a hot afternoon. It contained a banyan tree that had been planted there since 1873 and had grown 12 major trunks from its main one over the years. When they were within contact of the main trunk, Keanu suddenly passed out. Right before he did, his eyes flashed a bright tint of purple for a split second. Kaleo wasn’t sure by what he saw but he immediately dismissed this as a trick of the sunlight. Sooyoung, on the other hand, thought that Keanu probably passed out because of the extreme heat. Two years later, he began to dream about a “marching band” passing by the beach at night. His parents would sometimes find him by the banyan tree or the waterfront every fourteenth night of the new moon. Keanu would always say, “I have to see the marching band!” or “The drummer wants me to see them go from the big tree at the park!” However, he claimed that he always missed them and just saw their backs in the distance.
The dreams and frequent trips to the waterfront occurred less and less when Keanu’s attention became more focused on school, extracurriculars, and water sports. This led to the conclusion that these peculiar events were nothing but a product of an imaginative childhood and an adventurous spirit. Other troubles arose when he was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD at the age of ten. Keanu continued studying despite his difficulties. However, he had to be pulled out before entering eighth grade due to failing grades and constant bullying. The public school cannot provide for the demigod’s learning needs anymore so his parents took on the responsibility of teaching him themselves. In exchange for his freedom from school, Keanu was barred from leaving their home. Kaleo and Sooyoung still had reservations regarding their son’s dreams and nightly trips.
It is expected for Keanu to sneak out every now and then to visit either the beach or the Banyan Tree Park. He would wait for the marching band as usual yet he would always miss them. At one point, however, something else waited for him in the shadows. He was already fourteen years old by the time of his first monster attack. A hellhound appeared from behind the banyan tree. It hungrily bared its pointed fangs at Keanu. He managed to run and cover several hundred meters but he was no match to the speed of the hound. He sustained several bite marks and shallow scratches before being saved by the noise of chanting, drumbeating, and crackling thunder. Before he knew it, the hellhound had disintegrated into golden brown dust.
What stood before him was none other than the marching band he had always been waiting for. At a closer look, they seemed to be spirits because of their translucent bodies and outlines softly glowing an eerie shade of purple. Some were clad in the ancient Hawaiian attire, while others wore clothing that spanned the past one-hundred years. One of them marched forward, wearing the modern soldier’s uniform. He introduced the group as the Night Marchers, a band of spirits searching for Pu’u Keka’a, an entrance to the afterlife. They have been waiting for Akoni Mahelona, their clan member, to guide them to the aforementioned place but he had suddenly disappeared. Ever since then, they wandered Maui for twenty years trying to find Pu’u Keka’a. They always returned to the same spot in Lahaina, specifically the banyan tree, because that was the supposed meeting place between Akoni and the Marchers. Long story short: Keanu was mistaken for Akoni because of their strikingly similar appearance. On this basis, the Marchers threatened Keanu into bringing them to Pu’u Keka’a on the fourteenth night of the first new moon of the new year. Otherwise, he would be joining them. But before he could even protest, he fell unconscious. He was later found by Kaleo and Sooyoung at the foot of the banyan tree.
Kaleo and Sooyoung were initially skeptical of Keanu’s accounts of the mysterious encounter with the Night Marchers. They only decided to seek help when his nightmares worsened over several months. Kaleo first asked his mother, Leilani, who was the landlady of their former apartment. She told them to head for the heiau at Pi’ilanihale, a sacred site in Maui. Near the heiau was a small settlement that housed the elders of the Mahelona Clan. Iolani was the chief elder and the last of her kin possessing the Sight. To summarize Iolani’s explanation: Akoni Mahelona was a child of Melinoe tasked to become the psychopomp of his deceased relatives. However, he died earlier due to a disease. With the construction of roads, resorts, and other manmade structures around Pu’u Keka’a, the path of the Night Marchers was altered. The marriage of Kaleo and Sooyoung introduced Keanu into the clan. This, along with his demigod status, inadvertently led him to being chosen by the Marchers to carry Akoni’s torch. He had no other choice but to complete the task or risk dying to be one with the Marchers. Nobody else could do the job because only someone with the Sight can pinpoint the exact entry point to the Underworld through Pu’u Keka’a.
I wouldn’t bore you with the nitty gritty details of how everything went. It would be sufficed to say that rituals, enchantments, and other preparations were made before the promised day. Keanu was successful in escorting the Night Marchers on their journey to the afterlife. However, Elder Iolani warned him that during the passage, he would feel extremely drawn to Pu’u Keka’a; he must resist any urges of jumping off the rock. The generally underprepared fifteen year old, of course, cannot handle the magnitude of the situation. He jumped as soon as the last spirit did. Luckily, he was caught by a cloud nymph sent by Zephyrus before he could even hit the jagged rocks below.
Once everyone was gathered, the cloud nymph explained about Camp Half-Blood. Zephyrus himself had ordered for Keanu to be transported there because he was not competent enough to perform the duties being forced upon him. Kaleo and Sooyoung refused. Instead, they surrendered him to Iolani whom they thought would protect him better. Keanu lived for a few months in the heiau with the other elders until Iolani died of old age. Soon after, a harpy attacked him. If it wasn’t for the accidental release of a gust of wind, he would’ve followed the late elder. His parents realized that nobody else could safeguard and train him so they called for the wind nymph to escort him to camp. He was claimed by Zephyrus thereafter.