The Goryeo Dynasty was teetering on the edge of collapse. Wars and de facto occupation from the disintegrating Mongol Empire led to the split of the royal court between General Yi and General Choe. This conflict was joined by several of the gods who had demigod children on both sides. Most of them, including Zeus, allied with General Yi. Eventually, on the dethronement of King Gongyang, the Goryeo's 500-year rule was terminated. Taejo, a child of Ares, became the first king of what was then known as Joseon. The birth of the new dynasty attracted other gods to have demigod children with its mortals. The two succeeding kings, Jeongjong and Taejong, were children of Mnemosyne and Zeus, respectively.
Joseon's favor with Zeus and the other gods did not last longer than what the latter expected. Soon enough, Taejo's sons began quarreling over the title of Crown Prince. Yi Bangwon, otherwise known as King Taejong, raided the palace and killed Prime Minister Jeong Dojeon, thus dismantling the idea of a kingdom led by ministers. For Bangwon, he envisioned a Joseon ruled directly by the king. The raid's casualties included Dojeon's supporters, as well as two of Queen Sindeok's sons, who were children of Apollo. As a result, King Taejo abdicated the throne to his second son, King Jeongjong. This became the First Strife of Princes.
Unfortunately, the conflict still didn't come to a close. Yi Bangwon fought with his equally power-hungry brother, Yi Banggan in what became known as the Second Strife of Princes. King Jeongjong feared Yi Bangwon's power and so he named his brother as heir presumptive then eventually abdicated his throne. Bangwon, now called as Taejong, became the third king of Joseon. During his reign, he killed many of his supporters and relatives in order to strengthen royal authority. This may have laid strong foundations on the dynasty but Zeus thought otherwise. The god saw his son's ascent to power as unrighteous. As a matter of fact, several other gods in the pantheon complained about Taejong's means, for these have caused numerous deaths among their demigod children. In this light, Zeus placed a sinister curse upon Joseon. It was only a matter of time before Joseon collapsed at the hands of her enemies.
Prometheus had other plans. He foresaw the arrival of Joseon's golden age. He would not allow Zeus' curse to prevent the Joseon Dynasty from flourishing as a powerful kingdom. Thus, in a matter of weeks, he impregnated Taejong's wife, Queen Wongyeong. She gave birth to a demigod son who would be later named and revered as the great King Sejong. Just like his Titan father, Sejong became the catalyst of change and innovation within Joseon. He was perhaps best known for the invention of the Hangul alphabet, inspired by Mnemosyne.
Whether it was possible for a mere demigod to override the curse spoken by the King of Olympus or not, we do not know. However, Zeus was enraged by the unexpected events that unfolded right before his eyes. His anger seemed similar to when he tried depriving the humans of valuable resources in the ancient past, only to find himself tricked twice. That was right. He knew Prometheus was the only one daring enough to defy his will like this. However, instead of chaining the Titan once again to a mountain at the mercy of eagles, he lashed out at his royal son.
Sejong was alone in his quarters when Zeus appeared to him, clad in the minister's robes. The introductions were made quickly before the god finally said, "Very well. You have proved your worth to keep Joseon breathing. The gods have once envisaged a powerful nation reigned by the greatest of kings. However, your father was hungry enough to usurp power by the blade of his sword. And now, Joseon's breath reeks of the blood he spilled. Joseon will live longer, King Sejong, but do know the consequences of your actions. Sometimes, it is better to destroy something earlier than sail beyond the eye of a storm you have created. You will die a great king and yet you will live again. Your crown, even your beloved Joseon, will no longer be with you because, alas, rags and commoners will surround you. What's more is that the cursed blood of your descendants will flow within your veins. Should a deity even mate with anyone in your bloodline, misery will cut through their offspring's lives faster than the flight of a hummingbird. Heed my warnings, King Sejong. You have yet another lifetime to survive."
Years after Zeus' ominous visit, Sejong died from the complications of diabetes. His son to the goddess Hebe, Munjong, succeeded his father in spite of a mysterious illness. This claimed his life two years into his reign. It was the first of many casualties that would tear through Sejong's bloodline in the generations to come. No god dared to have children ever again with any of his descendants ever since. Well, some gods still had children with them, whether it was done intentionally or not. Nonetheless, these poor kids had their fair share of the misfortunes Zeus gave to them.
Sejong's family grew extensively through the centuries. He remained in Elysium ever since his death, anxiously waiting for the time he would be reincarnated. It would only be a matter of time before his soul was suddenly ripped from the luxuries of the afterlife and blasted into the year 2000. It was the year a demigod son was born through the union of Lee Seung-Wan and Psyche.
Union, I daresay, would be an understatement. After all, Seung-Wan just wanted to have a good time in Jagalmagang, a red-light district in Daegu. A few hours ago, he stormed off after a heated fight with his newly wedded wife, Sae-Rin. For him, another woman's discreet company would keep his mind off his already miserable life, even just for a night. Beyond the hook up, it should be assumed that Psyche knew about Seung-Wan's notorious bloodline. Her reasons as to why she mated with a so-called forbidden family weren't clear. She probably thought that the man was already at the most distal root of King Sejong's massive family tree. Hell, she probably thought otherwise. Who could've known, really?
Seung-Wan had no other option but to return to reality. He had to make sure his menial job as a delivery man would suffice to sustain him, Sae-Rin, and their firstborn child, Jae-Joon. The little kid, innocent of the vicious world, brought nothing but peace and understanding between the couple. He was the only reminder that flowers still bloom in a garden of weeds. Little did Sae-Rin know that her husband would suddenly appear at the doorstep of their ratty tatty apartment with another infant in his arms. Seung-Wan lied, of course. The new family member was allegedly entrusted to him by his dying aunt, who passed away before she could even name the poor thing. Sae-Rin, although furious for having another mouth to feed, had no choice but to welcome the addition. Finally, the baby had a name of his own: Sang-Hoon.
Life seemed to turn for the better for the Lees when Seung-Wan got his promotion in the delivery service. The increased income gave the family more breathing room, especially when the two youngsters started going to school on the same year level. Sang-Hoon seemed to show deep emotional bonds with Jae-Joon at the mere age of two, which caused Sae-Rin's change of heart towards the the former.
Sang-Hoon was the brightest student of his age. He possessed exceptional intelligence that sometimes surpassed his teachers and multiple talents--singing, visual arts, memorization, you name it--that earned the awe of his peers. His stellar performance in school gave him enough scholarships to get him through grade and middle school without a single cent to pay.
Unfortunately, some of these had to be used for hospital fees because he got his first monster attack. It was back in seventh grade when he was on his way to his usual study place when two harpies ambushed him. Thanks to the help of a passing Huntress--who didn't think twice about leaving him immediately--he only sustained several scratches. The doctor still had to stitch some wounds on his back and thigh though.
Getting into a prestigious science high school was no difficult task as well. A curriculum vitae would've been enough to qualify him, actually. But, of course, he still had to take the entrance exam. It wasn't a surprise that he would be ace it. But behind all these achievements, Sang-Hoon remained timid and quiet. All throughout his life, he had Jae-Joon to back him up. They were practically inseparable, through thick and thin, bliss and sorrow. Long story short, their brotherhood was nothing short of wonderful. Although they had to part ways in high school when Jae-Joon opted for an arts high school, their bond never wavered.
That was the case until Jae-Joon got a girlfriend on their tenth grade. It didn't take long before Sang-Hoon started seeing him less and less. Was it longing? The child of Psyche didn't know. He had no trouble empathizing with the people around him. That was one of his many talents and yet he cannot even feel for himself. He only had a vague sensation when he caught Jae-Joon making out with his girlfriend one night. Other than that, nothing else was felt. Was it jealousy? Love? He still had to figure it out.
The opportunity came when the Lees went out to camp outside Daegu. While their parents were sound asleep, Sang-Hoon beckoned Jae-Joon to come with him and sneak around the woods. They caught up with each other's lives as if they haven't seen each other for many years. It seemed that their conversation would last the whole night so Sang-Hoon decided to talk more about the unusual feeling he gets when he was around his brother. He was quite nervous. It was a good thing for a scythian dracaenae to keep him from making a fool out of himself. However, that only meant they had to run for their lives. A long chase followed before culminating in a giant leap beyond the 100-foot drop of a waterfall. The last thing he saw before passing out in the currents was the dracaenae falling headfirst into the pool, its body slowly dissolving into golden dust.
Sirens stirred Sang-Hoon to waking. He and his still unconscious brother were on the way to the hospital via ambulance. The distressed Seung-Wan and Sae-Rin sat on either side of the vehicle, keeping close watch on their children. Both the young boys were dripping wet and shivering, on top of the badly-looking gash at the side of Jae-Joon's head. He was still alive and, according to the paramedics, he would definitely survive. However, any chances of this being realized were gone. The ambulance got into a tragic crash with a ten-wheeler truck speeding under a red light at the intersection. Sang-Hoon once again blacked out, never knowing when he would wake up again.
The child of Psyche remained comatose for approximately six months after sustaining a traumatic head injury. While unconscious, he dreamed of what would seem to be a royal palace, attendants and the nobility walking here and there, and a regal looking man who wore the most elegant red dress with gold sewn on its fabric. The events that flashed before him were scenes from the life of Sejong, all of which were generated from the mind of the king himself. Even his raw emotions were felt by Sang-Hoon. Before the moment he woke up, Sejong spoke to him, saying, "I am you. And you are me."
Sang-Hoon wished that he could've stayed asleep for the rest of his life. Jae-Joon was already dead six months ago due to the crash. His death shook his mother to the core so badly that she was diagnosed with depression three months after. On top of that, she blamed Sang-Hoon for his brother's demise. It was a loathing far worse than when he first arrived at their doorstep. Day after day, he was at the mercy of his mother's berating. Soon enough, her verbal attacks became physical to the point that Seung-Wan would have to literally rip them apart from each other.
Sae-Rin's attacks against Sang-Hoon were so many that the latter lost count. However, while in the middle of a another fight with her, being hit against the wall triggered a seizure attack. This episode was mild and mistaken for Sang-Hoon "acting up"; and it persisted for a few more times over a span of three weeks. When another one made Sang-Hoon unconscious, he was rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with epilepsy. It seemed that his head injury was the main culprit behind his illness. Likewise, his illness made him drop out from school because it affected his academic performance significantly and made him a target for bullying from the other students. Tormented by Jae-Joon's death, shattered dreams, fragile health, isolation, and a broken family, depression and anxiety soon followed.
The once stellar Sang-Hoon lost contact with the outside world when he locked himself up in his room. His only company was his mentally and emotionally crippled self, bed, stash of books, medications, and his memories with Jae-Joon. By then, his feelings for his brother have been lost in the void. Up to this day, he still hasn't sorted out if it was familial or romantic love. Sae-Rin, on the other hand, grew tired of attacking him on a daily basis but still treated him with disdain. After all, it would be bad for a newly pregnant mother to be so stressed. She was genuinely happy for once until she found out that Seung-Wan lost his job. Ever since then, they were living from the financial sustenance of their distant relatives in the United States.
The Lee Family wasn't new to the reality of being poor. However, Sae-Rin's pregnancy care and Sang-Hoon's medications and psychiatrist consultations were becoming too unbearable. What made Sae-Rin send Sang-Hoon to the US was when he was diagnosed with diabetes. It perplexed the doctors for Sang-Hoon never displayed any risk factors for having the illness. In actuality, it was Zeus' curse already revealing itself. Looking back to what the god said to Sejong in the past, "Should a deity even mate with anyone in your bloodline, misery will cut through their offspring's lives faster than the flight of a hummingbird." It only meant that any demigod born into Sejong's bloodline would manifest the signs of the curse faster than anyone else. Manifestations varied between each member but for Sang-Hoon, it was diabetes--just like his previous incarnation. It would only be a matter of time before he died from its complications as well.
Seung-Wan didn't protest to her idea because he thought it was the best way for his son to escape the environment that gave him his conditions. Unfortunately, Sae-Rin's intention was different. She was going to start a new family with her husband and unborn child, and she wanted Sang-Hoon out of the picture. That was her reason when she left him in his sleep at the Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. When he woke up, neither his mother nor his relatives were to be found. He waited there for almost half a day until he realized that nobody was going to pick him up. He was alone for good, forsaken in a foreign territory by none other than his own family.
The new environment was surprisingly worthwhile to learn about. Sang-Hoon learned a few English phrases along the way, which helped him beg for food from kindhearted passersby. Aside from that, he started going by the name of Niccolo Pauling (inspired by his love for biochemistry) to serve as a reminder of his severed ties with the Lees. Anyways, he would eventually run into three fire-breathing horses running amok outside a racetrack stadium; but thanks to a sudden seizure attack, he couldn't run for his life. Several demigods from Camp Half-Blood just arrived at the nick of time before any of the horses trampled him into a smoldering crisp. They were on their way from a finished quest so they brought Sang-Hoon with them to camp.
Sang-Hoon stayed in Hermes' Cabin for a few days, hoping that his so-called god parent would claim him. At the very least, he could still call someone his family. One night, he was quietly eating dinner with the other demigods at the dining pavilion when a luminous sign appeared at the top of his head: a crimson butterfly. The other campers were at awe because they haven't seen such a symbol before, even for a place that had forty-five cabins for various demigod children.
At once, Alexander stood from his seat and announced, "The bloodline is determined. Psyche--The Breath, The Human Soul. Hail, Niccolo Pauling, son of the goddess Psyche."