R is for Rhys. Remember the whole ‘sometimes I change a character’s name thing from N is for? Rhys was probably one of the biggest characters I’ve done that for. Originally he was Sebastian (knowing me, probably because I had just read Black Butler before I sat down to name characters). Then I saw no less than eight new releases with the name Sebastian in my genre and I said, yeah I have to change this. I thought about the character and who and what he is and decided why in the world did I ever think he was a Sebastian. He absolutely needs a Welsh name and Rhys is one of my favorite Welsh names.
You see, Rhys is a Tylwyth Teg, a type of Welsh fairy. He’d like to point out that the human belief that his type is only two inches tall is completely erroneous. I’ve mentioned before I love folklore about the fey both good and wicked. I enjoy stories about the fairylands and I knew I wanted to add to the volumes of material out there.
Rhys is a fey prince, destine to rule some day when his mother decides to step down. His job until then is to police Earth and make sure the wicked fey aren’t messing up the humans much. He decides to shift his base to Pittsburgh, PA (because hey it’s easier for me to write about a place I know). Rhys has spent more time over the centuries on Earth than he has in his own dimension. He doesn’t mind. There are some bad memories there like war and losing not only his wife but his child too.
He meets Aaron at a steampunk party at first captivated by the amazing tech of his prosthetic arm then after they talk for a while, he knows he needs to see Aaron again. It doesn’t matter that Aaron is human. Rhys finds him intelligent, geeky and fun to be with. But he isn’t being honest with Aaron who has no idea Rhys isn’t human nor that Rhys has other children, his twins Bryn and Bran who are about two centuries old, and his daughter Briallen who is one century old. For the Teg, they age very slowly, a century equates to less than a decade in human growth so Briallen is quite young and the twins roughly are twentyish and live to torment Dad.
Even when he knows a past fey lover is after him, Rhys is still reluctant to tell Aaron what he is. He also doesn’t mention that technically he’s married to Gwenllian, an arranged marriage but he does care about her. The fey are polyamorous and Aaron eventually understands this, though unsurprisingly some readers don’t. In spite of there being plenty of open calls for polyamorous relationships there is a persistent belief that polys can’t possibly be happy or trusted. It’s also hard to miss, looking at reviews, that bi-erasure is a very real thing. People seem to want bi-characters but only when we see the homosexual side of it, not the hetero. There is a danger of course with a bi poly of treading into the negative stereotype of they can’t commit and that’s definitely not what I want. Rhys is often on earth for decades at a time and Gwen, also being fey wouldn’t think much of him having lovers. Aaron, however has some adjusting to do.
Rhys, of course, is magical and powerful and has fun with it. On the other hand, he feels some regret and guilt that he can’t use his magic to give Aaron back his amputated arm or fix the other scars the war left behind.
Rhys was such a fun character to write and seriously, one day I need to revisit his and Aaron’s world in long fiction.
You can find Rhys’s story Kept Tears here