Stefan Herschel never knew his parents. Although he had a single picture of his father, Jethro, his mother’s face remained a mystery. But for him, his foster father and uncle, Jericho, was his whole life. He was given to him by his true father the night prior to his valorous death in Iraq. It was snowy that night in Alaska, the chill foreboding and ominous. Jericho was the only family member Jethro could rely on, so he entrusted with him the infant Stefan, who was only a few months old. They were both soldiers, you see, and Jericho had to leave the army in order to fulfill his brother’s request. As soon as Jethro left them, uncle and nephew retreated to a small fishing house in Anchorage.
Although it was clear to Stefan that he was not with his true parents anymore, this very fact was the reason he became an outcast to other people. It was either he was pitied or bullied. But of course, Jericho was always there to rescue him. To cheer him up, Jericho would often tell him stories on how he, along with his brother, saved a lot of people and defeated a lot of “bullies” when he was on the battlefield. That was why he looked up to the both of them as brave heroes. And because of that, he had the lifelong dream of becoming a soldier just like them.
During the most of Stefan’s childhood, they were always on the road, driving along the Alaskan coastline, hiking up the mountains, and collecting objects that they would hang up on their house’s walls. As much as they traveled all over the state, Jericho always warned Stefan to never leave without him. Nonetheless, Stefan broke this and a lot other rules from time to time, which only compelled his uncle to tighten the rules. Soon enough, as several years passed, the constant scolding and sheltering created a rift filled with animosity in their relationship.
Now struggling to live his life as independent—or rather, rebellious—as possible, Stefan deliberately stirred up a lot of trouble in school just so that he can enter military school. Along with two close friends, Ian and Benjie, he formed a trio of, as what the British called it, chavs and lived a life of delinquency. What he didn’t know was that his intentions for an enduring dream accidentally set off a chain of events that would screw up his life for the years to come.
By the time he was fourteen, Stefan, along with his friends, finally got the chance to enter a military school in Seattle. The school’s name was St. George’s Lyceum. Jericho, on the other hand, forbid him from doing so, seeing that moving to another house—and another school at that—was a much better option. This threw Stefan in a fit. He packed up his things, stole his uncle’s jeep and went to St. George’s with Ian and Benjie.
Things turned for the worse as a violent snowstorm came their way during the night. Visibility plummeted to zero, and not even a single vehicle passed by on the road they drove on. It wasn’t that long before the snow halted the jeep to a complete stop. Basically, Stefan and his friends were trapped in the raging cold. They slept through the night until the snowstorm subsided several hours later. Stefan got out of the jeep to see if they could drive through the road. He wandered a bit too far until he heard unusual sounds coming from the direction of his jeep.
Upon getting back, he found several harpies trying to claw their way through the jeep, with his friends trapped inside. As soon as he arrived, the harpies turned their attention and made their way to him, talons ready. Instinctively, Stefan ran for the jeep’s trunk and found an ice pick-looking implement. Little did he know that it was made of Celestial bronze. A grueling fight ensued, leaving the harpies in the dust and Stefan badly injured. Ian and Benjie overcame their fear and brought him to St. George’s in order to be treated.
Several weeks after recovering from the ordeal, Stefan, Ian, and Benjie were already training in St. George’s. However, Stefan, demigod as he was, exhibited abilities that surpassed his classmates. A certain teacher, Roland Irvine, was curious on how the young man could acquire seemingly inhuman skills. Every so often, he would talk to Stefan and test out whether or not he was a demigod. It wasn’t long enough before Mr. Irvine confirmed this, and soon enough, he was filling Stefan with details regarding his godly heritage.
After that, he decided to transfer Stefan to an “elite class” that was composed of demigods like him. This class wasn’t included in the official class rosters of St. George’s Lyceum, and had a pretty bad reputation because its students were mostly juvenile—yet extraordinary—delinquents. Truth be told, this special class was some sort of correction or rehabilitation center that prepared these demigods before being sent to Camp Half-Blood.
While military schools generally taught discipline, St. George’s elite class was much stricter, parring the levels of actual topnotch military camps. Aside from the academics, extracurricular activities, and discipline training, Stefan and his classmates were taught on how to fight monsters. Although mostly aloof and taciturn to his classmates, Stefan’s personal charm of sorts turned him into a leader figure of the class. He still preferred to be with his mortal friends, Ian and Benjie, who filled in the gap he felt whenever he was with the other class.
Such was his life for the next year that came, until Jericho came to try and persuade him to come back to Alaska. He explained that Roland Irvine was just deceiving Camp Half-Blood and was actually sending his students to undermine it for a “coming war”. According to him, it would be safer if Stefan came back home with him to avoid the wrath of the gods (The gods’ powers couldn’t reach Alaska.), should Irvine’s plans be foiled. Standing with pride and defiance, Stefan defended his teacher, saying that Irvine was able to provide the things his uncle couldn’t. In the end, Jericho had to leave his nephew with his regrettable decision. But he promised that he would still keep an eye on him.
A few months more came, and along with it were the increasing number of monsters attacking Stefan and his demigod friends. However, Jericho’s warnings still lingered in his mind to the point that he became obsessed on confirming whether or not Mr. Irvine had other intentions for teaching them. The more he followed him around, the more he became suspicious. At one point, in the dead of night, he saw several demigods wearing Camp Half-Blood shirts being taken to a secluded place in St. George’s. Following their footsteps, he saw them being interrogated and tortured by Mr. Irvine.
He snuck around the torture room more and started to regret on not heeding his uncle’s warning. The height of his suspicions reached its peak when he found out that his own uncle, Jericho, had been caught spying on Mr. Irvine’s activities. Armed with a Celestial bronze sword, he ambushed Mr. Irvine in order to save his uncle. However, the teacher, a son of Mnemosyne, was too strong for the both of them. In an unfortunate duel, Jericho was killed. Stefan was spared with several deep cuts, for Mr. Irvine assured him that he would “serve a greater purpose”. The grief of losing his only family left the young demigod silenced, depressed, and exhausted of purpose. After the burial, he decided to fulfill his uncle’s wish and returned to Alaska, where the power of the gods couldn’t mess up his life anymore. Ian and Benjie, who were very much concerned about their best friend, decided to leave St. George’s to help him live his life.
Jericho’s death caused several rumors to spread, including Mr. Irvine’s intentions of infiltrating Camp Half-Blood. It was only a matter of time before these rumors reached the teacher, and thus he started arresting those responsible for spreading them. Most of the students arrested came from Stefan’s class, who secretly knew what he was doing every night. Despite Stefan’s sudden disappearance, their ardent support for him never wavered; however, because of this, they were subjected to severe tortures and interrogation.
The torture of these students instigated a major fight among Stefan’s class and those who supported Mr. Irvine; several casualties were recorded. Some of Stefan’s classmates went to look for him for a few weeks before finding themselves in his humble fishing house in Anchorage. They told him what was happening back in St. George’s, and that his presence and leadership were needed to help subdue the enemy demigods. Fortunately, the news snapped him out of his depression.
Gathering what had remained of his class—about 30—he rallied them to Camp Half-Blood. They first joined as regular campers before quietly setting their plan into motion. A few weeks had passed, and they were able to subdue any demigod suspected of being affiliated with Mr. Irvine—reaching an amount of about 150. Finally, after countless fights and deaths, they were honored at camp for doing it such a great deed.
The good times didn’t last long because Mr. Irvine finally made his move. In one unfortunate night, he abducted Stefan to a secluded place in Pittsburgh. It was sufficed to say that he endured the worst of tortures, not to mention that he was brainwashed by the son of Mnemosyne. Along with him, the ringleader of the uprising, several of his classmates were also captured, tortured, and then killed right in front of him.
Those that remained in Stefan’s class tried to rescue their leader a few days later, but several of them were also killed. Mr. Irvine was taken away by some of his cronies in the midst of the carnage. Although not known to the others, he and his followers had already sworn allegiance to the Broken Covenant, and had resided there ever since. On the other hand, the surviving students decided to hunt down those who were scattered throughout the country, as revealed by Mr. Irvine before he was taken away.
Stefan, who was thought to be dead, was buried in Camp Half-Blood and was considered a hero for leading an uprising against the camp’s enemies. However, while everyone else was snuggly tucked in their beds, he regained his consciousness and made his way out of the ground. But, for some reason, the son of Styx didn’t have any recollection of his heroic deeds. He couldn’t remember how much he made his late father proud for being a soldier of a good cause. His mind was fragile, open, and vulnerable; his memories were seemingly forgotten. Having no apparent direction to take, he left Camp Half-Blood and wandered around for several weeks before stumbling upon The Spire of the Champions of Othrys. After being fed and treated of his wounds, he was indoctrinated with the ideologies of the organization. With his mind made vulnerable due to Mr. Irvine’s brainwashing, he easily accepted such ideologies. At that point, he pledged his allegiance to a group that challenged the very gods whom he used to look up to.
And at that moment, the soldier-hero was no more. He was now a sworn enemy. Whether or not he would discover where his loyalties really lied and fulfill a silent oath he has made to the gods would unfold during his time in The Spire.