Matthew Constantine was a Latino man living in New Orleans, Louisiana as a waiter in a local, 50’s themed diner. Working his usual day shift in the diner, he found a lovely woman with dark hair and light eyes. He got so distracted by her, he ran into a wall. The woman laughed loudly, causing the 23 year old to smile. He scurried over to the woman, pulling out his notepad and pen and asked, “may I take your number?” The woman was unaware of the sentence, so she began saying her order, when she stopped mid-sentence as the words processed through her brain. She smiled up at Matthew and gave her number, telling the 23 year old male her name was Anais.
This sort of flirting happened for weeks, Anais, who he now knew as a 25 year old Filipino woman who used to live in the bayou, came to the diner for lunch every day, when one day, Anais noticed Matthew wasn’t exactly his usual cheery self. Anais pulled out a chair and Matthew plopped down, telling Anais that his dad was yelling at him again for something he didn’t do, but he took the blame so his father wouldn’t get angry at him. Anais said that no one deserved that kind of treatment and she waited for his shift to end so she can take him home to de-stress. After a couple weeks of this, Matthew took a big step and asked Anais on a date. She accepted wholeheartedly.
Anais warned Matthew it would rain, but he suggested to eat outside. And Anais was right. The two got rained on, but instead of Anais telling Matthew she was right, she helped him dry off, the latter doing the same. Anais knew that she wanted to be with Matthew and the two were officially together. After moving in with Anais, many ups and downs, after 2 years of dating, Matthew proposed to Anais. Anais said yes and got married.
And 13 years later, Matthew couldn’t be happier. With his wonderful wife, they had 3 children named Ashton, who was his oldest, Praxis, who was 3 years younger than Ashton, and Joseph, who was 5 years younger than Ashton, living in a good home, nothing could break his happiness, until Anais died - at age 38 - of a stroke. His oldest son, Ashton, was only 13 at the time, but he knew that his father felt great pain. He turned to alcohol, often leaving Ashton with his younger brothers, Praxis and Joseph, home alone for very long hours, their next door neighbors checking in on the boys to see if they’re okay. This behavior lasted for weeks - even months - until one faithful day.
While Matthew was strolling the dark streets of New Orleans, his eyes caught gaze of a dark haired Korean woman that came into view. His heart went asunder. Not losing sight of the mysterious female, he offered her a drink. She said, “as long as you’re paying”, making Matthew laugh. He introduced himself and the woman was named Estelle. After a few drinks, he and the mysterious woman stumbled into the hotel room Estelle was staying at, tripping over suitcases and articles of clothing before getting to the bed.
The next morning, Matthew woke up with the bed empty, his clothes folded neatly next to him and the suitcases gone. He felt like a big weight was lifted off his shoulders, nevertheless, and arrived home a few hours later happier. His kids were worried sick about him, but Ashton was able to keep his brothers under control. Ashton wanted to know what happened to his dad, but Matthew replied that he was just relieving stress. Aston was a bit skeptical, but didn’t ask any other questions after that, knowing he won’t get an answer since his father keeps many secret from his children that he didn’t like answering.
Around a few months later, Matthew heard a knock at his door and opened it to reveal an infant, swaddled in a basket with a note attached to the basket. It read;
“Dear Matthew, If you do not remember me, I was the woman you met a few months ago - Estelle. As much as I hate taking advantage over drunken people, this was my only choice. I’m very sorry, but this is your child. Please, take care of him and sees that he gets to Camp Half Blood in New York at age 13. Yours Truly, Nyx”
He hadn’t had a child since Joseph, which was 8 years ago, and this is what he needed. He was so blinded by Anais’s death that he didn’t even think about his sons. He decided that he’ll be a better parent to, not only his sons, but his newest child as well.
The child was a boy which Matthew named Rhys. Rhys was a very spontaneous child who was very energetic and followed Ashton around the most. Rhys loved music, often coming into his brother’s rooms and dance to whatever music they were listening to, to his brothers' annoyance and dismay. Matthew put Rhys into dance at age 4, along with second oldest - Praxis. He figured if Rhys had a lot of energy at home, why not use it for dance? Rhys became very fond of it throughout the years, even meeting his best friend, Yancy Jane. He and Yancy would go over each other’s houses almost every chance they got.
At age 7, Yancy said there was a jazz band playing in the nearby club, and as result, she took Rhys to listen to them play with her parents following behind. There, Rhys developed a strong love for jazz music. Even when he was with Ashton - who was 20 years old by then - he’d always hear jazz music in the streets and couldn’t keep himself from dancing. Rhys would often pull his brother into dancing with him. Ashton didn’t like dancing, so he’d watch his brother instead. Rhys often complained about his brother wearing a mask that hid his eyes and upper face. He got many strange looks for it, but seeing as Rhys was with him, they didn’t try to stare for too long.
The mask hid the 3 scars that went diagonally across the middle of his face that he got from being in a fight and didn’t want the public to see. So, he chose to hide behind a mask. At home, Rhys would always put on the mask to try and scare his brothers, but the mask was too big for his face and would often slip off his face, making his father, Ashton and Praxis laugh while Joseph became envious of Rhys as he received a lot of attention than he did.
Joseph would often pull pranks on his little brother, to try to get him in trouble. When Rhys was 8, he and his family were watching Ashton’s fencing match and that’s when Joseph decided to embarrass Rhys in front of his eldest brother - the brother he looked up to the most. During the break, Rhys went to go greet his brother when Joseph grabbed him and told him the old folktale of Bloody Mary. Joseph was 16, he knew the ghost didn’t exist, but Rhys didn’t need to know that.
While Joseph was walking Rhys to the bathroom, he was telling him how the girl was a terrible woman back in the 1800’s and loved to eat little boys like Rhys, even going as far as saying that she lived in New Orleans and her body was buried here. Rhys was scared, but Joseph reassured him that the spirit only appeared if he was in a room with a mirror when the lights were off and can disappear if he turns on the lights quickly and leaves the room on time.
Rhys didn’t even register his brother pushing him into the bathroom and locking him in a stall because he was too wrapped up in the story his brother told him. But, he heard a light switch be flickered off and the closing of a door. It alerted Rhys and realized where he was. It took a few seconds for his eyes to adjust to the dark bathroom before unlocking the stall and rushing out. He wasn’t afraid of the dark, but he was afraid of the girl in the story his brother told him.
He avoided looking into the mirror, afraid that the spirit would be there and tried getting out, but the bathroom door was too heavy for Rhys to open. He tried calling out for help, even banging on the door with his little fists, but to no avail. It wasn’t until about the end of the match that Rhys’ father went into the bathroom to see if Rhys was there and noticed the lights were off. Flickering them on, his father noticed Rhys under the sinks, crying. He picked up his youngest and Rhys told his dad that Joseph locked him in here.
When Rhys’ father walked back to their seats, Joseph saw his baby brother and an angry looking Matthew, calling his name, and tried to bolt, but one of Ashton’s fencing partners stopped him before he could run out the door. As result, Matthew grounded Joseph for a week for leaving his brother locked into the bathroom with some insane, make believe story and that he would apologize to Rhys. Joseph didn’t want to apologize, he didn’t like his baby brother, but did anyways to avoid getting in more trouble. Matthew handed Rhys over to Ashton while he and Joseph were going to have a talk outside.
Rhys said he wasn’t scared of the dark, but he didn’t want to see the “scary lady” in the mirror. Ashton said that the woman isn’t real and he’d protect him. Rhys wanted Ashton to teach him fencing, to be as strong as him. As result, Ashton agreed and took him under his wing.
When Rhys was 9, his father agreed for him to sleepover at Yancy’s house for the summer, the two spent all night talking and around 11:56 at night, Yancy heard jazz music from the nearby bar outside her window. Since it wasn’t far and she lived in a one story house, the two sneaked out to listen to the wonderful music in the alleyway. Rhys couldn’t help himself and started dancing, beckoning Yancy to join him. At first, Yancy was relentless since she wanted to watch, but gave in and started dancing with Rhys, trying to follow the young dancer’s lead.
A clearing of the throat broke them from their dance and looked over at the source and stop dancing, straightening their postures. It was a young man, towering over the two. He asked the duo why they were out after midnight, telling them New Orleans was a very dangerous place. It made Yancy scared since she’s never thought about it before, the man reassuring her that he wasn’t going to hurt either of them, but Rhys smirked, crossing his arms over his chest and stated boldly that his brother would protect him and that he wasn’t afraid of the dark.
It made the male chuckle, shifting his case. The case caught Rhys' eyes and, out of curiosity, he asked what was in the case and the man replied it was his violin. He, then, proceeded to ask Rhys if he’s ever heard a violin, Rhys shaking his head “no”. The male proceeded to take out the instrument, making Rhys gape in awe, and started to play. Time seemed to slip away at the male played. After a few songs, he told them to go home, which the two did.
“I thought he was scary,” said Yancy. Rhys smiled and said, “I don’t know, I thought he was tall, dark and handsome!” It made Yancy laugh and the two climbed back into Yancy’s room. Rhys said he wanted to go back tomorrow. Yancy was scared since she didn’t want to get caught by her parents or taken away, but she also wanted to go back, not only because she liked dancing with Rhys, but she also wanted to see their new friend.
The next night, after a day full of playing with toy swords - Rhys won considering Ashton teaches him fencing - drawing, and playing pretend, the two sneaked out again to watch the jazz band and dance. Their friend came back again and Rhys introduced himself, along with Yancy. The male - who they now knew as Aaron - played his violin for them once more.
Around 6 months later, as Aaron was playing his violin, a black fruit bat had came into the alleyway, startling Yancy to a point where she hid behind Rhys and Aaron almost dropped his violin. However, Rhys wasn’t scared. Hell, he even let the bat land on his shoulder. Aaron warned Rhys, but he began talking to the bat and pet her. If a little boy isn’t afraid of a bat, why should a grown adult? Rhys told everyone that she - the bat - was harmless, and as result, Aaron began petting the bat. With a bit of coaxing, Rhys was able to get Yancy into petting the bat as well. After a few minutes had passed, Rhys released the fruit bat and went back to their usual routine.
After another 6 more months passed, Rhys was about to sneak out and go over to Yancy’s so they can go to the alleyway when Ashton had caught him. Ashton asked him what he was doing out of bed and Rhys responded that he was going over to Yancy’s house. Ashton checked the time. A quarter past 11:00. Ashton said it was far too late for him to go out. Frustrated, Rhys said he has been doing this for almost a year now and Ashton was taken aback.
Enraged, Ashton carried the squirming Rhys back to his room and lectured him how he could’ve been taken or something worse. Rhys countered that it hasn’t happened yet, but Ashton quickly said it doesn’t mean it wouldn’t. As result, Ashton forbid Rhys from sneaking out and was going to tell Yancy’s parents in the morning. Upset, Rhys pushed Ashton with all his might out of his room and buried himself under the covers because it was the only thing that wasn’t pressuring him from his father’s violent outbursts that scared Rhys to no end and his home schooling.
The next morning, Rhys wanted to ignore Ashton throughout the entire day, but he ended up running into his arms and crying about how he didn’t like Ashton being mad at him. Ashton laughed, ruffling the boy’s hair and calling him, “Tramp.”
Throughout the years, Rhys never did see Aaron again and wondered where he went. He and Yancy didn’t hang out as often after the incident, but Ashton said it was just more time with teaching him fencing. Ever since the incident, Yancy didn’t talk to Rhys because she told Ashton about their little secret. Rhys felt heartbroken and desperately tried to get Yancy to listen to him, but no avail.
When Rhys was 13, as he was leaving dance class, he caught sight of Yancy. He decided that this would end now. By surprise, he took her wrist and dragged her to an abandoned part of the studio and tried to get some answers onto why she was ignoring for such a long time. Yancy then rambled on how she felt betrayed, making Rhys feel guilty. Right when Rhys was going to apologize, Yancy grabbed his cheeks and pulled him in for a kiss.
Eyes widening, Rhys didn’t know what to do. He never saw Yancy like this. He always thought of her as a sister. When Yancy pulled away and muttered the words, “I love you”, Rhys ran. He ran as fast as his legs could carry him. He didn’t want to be with Yancy, hell, he wasn’t even sure he was ready for that kind of commitment. He’s only 13!
Once reaching the park, he stopped for a breather when he heard faint growling. He scanned the area, but there wasn’t anyone in sight. But when he looked again, there was large, large dog headed straight for him. Out of instinct - or pure fear - he ran again. Rhys didn’t bother looking back, but he could clearly hear the beast on his tail. Making a sharp turn into a shortcut home with many bushes, Rhys hoped it’ll get the hellhound off his back. Looking back, he saw someone was a weapon made out of bronze in front of the hellhound, but that made Rhys even more scared. What if they were going to kill him? With fear pumping through his veins, he kept going, pushing many branches out of his way to get by easier, the sharp branches scratching and cutting up his legs and arms.
When he was in his neighborhood, he stopped to take a breather, but he heard police sirens and it alarmed the boy. Walking home, he realized that a few police cars were outside his home. Eyes widening, Rhys sprinted for his home and once he reached home, he saw a few police officers taking his father to the car with handcuffs on his wrists. “Dad!” Rhys called out, but his father didn’t hear him.
Tears stung his eyes and a hand grasped his shoulder. Looking up, it was Ashton, mask off his face, showing clear pain and grief. Rhys asked, “what’s gonna happen now, Ash?” and wiped his eyes. He noticed Praxis and Joseph were nowhere in sight. “Where’s Praxis and Joseph?” And Ashton responded with, “Praxis and Joseph went to live with their friends before dad was arrested for illegal drug possession. I’m going to get custody over you if dad’s trial doesn’t go well.”
Sure enough, Rhys’ father was found guilty for illegal drug possession. Someone had informed the police that his father had marijuana in his home. They found it and arrested him. Despite Matthew’s pleas and cries that is was for his PTSD when he was mistreated in his home, they found him guilty for having it illegally. Ashton was able to gain custody over Rhys and they moved to New York, Ashton saying he had a few friends up there that’ll keep them safe.
Once in New York, his friends were living in - what appeared - an abandoned warehouse, but had multiple rooms and bedrooms. His friends said they took in people with no home and let them live here and in return, they were to complete missions and tasks for them. What were these mission and tasks? Rhys had no idea, but he was too depressed over losing his father and 2 of his brothers to care.
It wasn’t until 2 months later Rhys got a package for him, telling him it was a late birthday present. A card read it was from his mother, but that made Rhys confused. It was a comb. Inspecting it further, there was a small clasp on the handle. Pulling at it, it slid out and transformed into a katana, the comb part transforming into a bladed, cleaver-like sheath with a rectangular hole on the top to hold it. Rhys eyes widen. It was 2 weapons in one, both made out of bronze.
Putting the katana in the bladed sheath, a soft click was heard. He noticed on the hilt of the katana there was a small button and pressed it. The weapon turned back into the comb. Why would his mother give him a weapon? He noticed there was a note written and read,
“For your protection. Use wisely and carefully. -Mother”
Rhys stored the comb in his pocket and threw the box away. Hearing commotion outside, Rhys went to check it out. There was a man he’d never seen before and a girl with the right side of her hair blonde and the left side brown. Ashton beckoned Rhys to come greet them. Once seeing the girl, Rhys noticed the blonde side of her hair was dyed, obvious by the natural colored roots. Her right eye was a dark brown and her left eye was slightly lighter - like a hazel color. Ashton introduced him to Weiss Jung and her father, Cameron Jung. Weiss was one year younger than Rhys, but they were going to live with Ashton and his friends because they got evicted from their home.
One year later, Rhys had enough with staying inside and begged Ashton to take him along with his missions. Ashton said he’d have to go through rigorous training in order to do so, but Rhys agreed. His brother’s “rigorous training” was more abuse than it was training. Ashton had bottled up so much emotions and he wanted someone to feel the same way he did and took it out on Rhys.
Ashton had drilled various of attacks into Rhys’ brain and for each time he messed up, Ashton punished him. Weiss was too young to know what was going on at first, but seeing how it hurt Rhys physically, she knew it couldn’t be good.
When Ashton found Rhys perfect for missions, he took him along. These “missions” were anything but good. It all led to violence, whether it was gathering information about a rival gang, or retrieving an item, it broke out into arguments or even battles. Rhys had been in a few fights, even though Ashton did try to steer him away, it often led him with either fighting or fleeing.
Over the course of the years, Rhys was chased down by monsters every year. Luckily, Rhys was able to get away. Unfortunately, as Rhys grew older, the harsher Ashton became to him. If Rhys so much as cried, Ashton would punish him, barking at him that he wasn’t allowed to cry as it made him weak. Rhys was scared - no, terrified - of his brother and often tried to hide from him.
The people in the gang - named Ivory - would make fun of Rhys for his race, hanging out with a girl, and going as far as mocking him for being a virgin since they had no one else to pick on. Rhys would go to Weiss and her father, the only people he could trust out of everyone. Weiss’ father took care of Rhys like he was his own child and, even though it made Rhys miss his own father, he felt comfortable around him.
The more Rhys and Weiss hung out, the more they got to know each other. Ever since Rhys and Ashton moved to New York, Rhys was extremely depressed and his brother lashing out at him wasn’t helping. He told Weiss that he felt numb, that he was void of any emotion whatsoever. It scared him since he used to be a very upbeat and energetic child. Rhys even went as far as saying that he didn’t want to be alive since all he did was bring everyone down. Now, Weiss was always the quiet type, never really speaking up and more of a listener, in fact, she did such little talking that lots of people mistook her as mute, but when she did speak, it’s usually something very important to say.
She told Rhys that she was very glad she met him, that they used to live in very poor environments until Ashton took them in. If something were to ever happen to Rhys, Weiss never forgive herself because she thinks of Rhys as her best friend and partner in crime.
At age 17, 3 weeks after another monster attack, the adults of the gang had to have a meeting. Ashton ordered Rhys and Weiss to watch the base. Weiss gave Ashton a dirty look before nodding. A couple hours passed and the two were really bored. Out of boredom, they decided to eavesdrop. As it turns out, there was no one in the meeting room and Ashton and Weiss’ dad were having a heated discussion.
Weiss said she’ll go look for everyone else as Rhys continued to eavesdrop, picking up slips of the conversation such as, “we’re not putting ourselves in jeopardy just because you need to cover up your crimes.” Crimes? What crimes? All Rhys knew was he tried to sort things out with other gangs, or so he thought. As the more the argument went on, the angrier Ashton became, and in a flash, Weiss’ dad was on the ground, blood seeping from a wound Ashton had made with his own weapon.
Ashton seemed as shocked as Rhys was, but Weiss was right about Ashton. He was becoming a monster and now his eyes were wide open. He quickly fled the scene and tried to find Weiss. Everyone was in the main area and Rhys told everyone that Ashton had killed Weiss’ father. Murmurs and whispers went around and Weiss went to check for herself. Rhys demanded what Ashton had been doing, and one of Ashton’s close friends replied that they were stealing illegal drugs and selling them for profit.
Weiss came back and confirmed Rhys’ statement. When Ashton arrived, everyone glared at him. One spoke up that Rhys told them that he killed Cameron. The eldest looked at Rhys and ordered everyone to leave. At first, they didn’t budge, but when Ashton pulled out his sword, they fled. Except for Weiss. She hid, staying behind a crate.
“I gave you everything,” Ashton started off, “food, clothes, a roof over your head, training and protection and this is how you repay me, little brother? You’re nothing but a coward. And I know I didn’t train a coward.” Rhys pulled out his own weapon and lunged forward. “I’m not running.” Rhys stated firmly.
“You should be.”
Soon, a battle broke out between the two, Ashton having the upper hand due to being more skilled, but what happened next shocked the three of them. Rhys was cornered, he couldn’t fight. Ashton was about to swing at him, attempting to finish him off, but Rhys shadow traveled and appeared a few feet behind Ashton. He was confused, but used Ashton’s daze to hit him on the back of the head with the hilt of his katana, knocking him out.
Rhys grabbed Ashton’s mask and crushed it under his feet. “Goodbye,” Rhys muttered and began walking off to get Weiss, but Ashton got up and charged at Rhys. Weiss shrieked, “look out!” and out of instinct, Rhys thrusted his katana forward, the blade going right through Ashton’s chest. Rhys went wide eyed and felt all the oxygen leave his lungs. Ashton said in a hushed tone, “you betrayed me,” before Rhys pulled out the weapon, leaving Ashton’s lifeless body on the ground, a smirk on his lips. Rhys felt the room was spinning and was light headed. The last thing he saw was Weiss and an unknown face before blacking out.
A day later, Rhys woke up and found himself in an infirmary, a goat-like creature sitting next to Weiss. The saytr explained how he saw people leave the base and smelled the two demigods. Rhys was a son of Nyx and Weiss was a daughter of Apate and they needed to stay at camp in order to be safe. Rhys didn’t want to stay, he wanted to live with his other brothers, but Weiss explained how she overheard some of Ashton’s friends that they died in a fatal car accident 2 years ago when driving up to New York to see Rhys and Ashton.
Rhys felt his walls crumbling. Everyone he loved was gone or dead, he killed his own brother and it’s all his fault. He felt so guilty and numb. He can never look at himself the same again, nor his own weapon. But, if the saytr said it was true that he would be safe here, then this is the place he will need to stay. Besides, he doesn’t have anywhere else to run.