[Image description: Clipart of a swan on water.
The Herzogin remarries. The new Herzog is something of a mad scientist as he turns his twelve sons into genetically altered swans and his stepdaughter into a swan hybrid. The siblings are cast into a far off land where they find shelter at the court of foreign princess. The princess will give the resources to allow the sister to transform herself and brothers, but things become even more complicated when the princess falls in love with the swan maiden.
Some NSFW stuff below. Like lesbian making-out and third base.
Though Elise was an apt student it was no easy task to reverse the engineering done to herself and her brothers. She graduated from the royal academy within five years. In that time she had participated in several projects. She had helped develop a vaccine for a new disease that had suddenly flared up by the sea she and her brothers had already landed.
She isolated an enzyme in cattle that made them more muscular and modified a virus to alter the DNA of mice to produce this same enzyme. It was the basis of the serum her stepfather had used to mutilate her and her brothers. Nevertheless the exact replication of his serum, and how to reverse it, remained unknown to her. She learned that he had not used true swan DNA to alter their genetic code, rather he had somehow modified some other genetic code and made it think it was swan DNA. How he had accomplished such chicanery became her obsession.
The princess at least was pleased with her. For the first six months or so she had been as indifferent to Elise as any of her other “treasures” for she kept a menagerie of all that was strange and unusual. That had changed when she had tried to exhibit the twelve swans to some visiting dignitaries. Elise knew her brothers were ashamed of their appearance and given to stress. They only remembered their humanity because she spoke to them.
She couldn’t refuse her benefactor. She could only exchange. That night she told her brothers to roost in the mountains. When the princess called for her exotic birds Elise instead appeared. She dressed in her best silks with golden slippers. She put bells upon her wrists and ankles.
And she danced. Azra had called her “aspara”, she danced as one of the heavenly nymphs. It took her weeks to perfect her technique and her performance that night was an encapsulation of all her passion and despair. She was neither woman nor bird but something suspended between heaven and earth. She was beautiful and beyond reproach.
The princess fell in love with her that night.
The courtship was subtle for the princess couldn’t be too open about flirting with a monster. Nevertheless the swan maiden was the princess’ favored companion. She accompanied her on her hunts, to her bath, to her bed chamber. They spent nights alone in perfumed chambers and in luscious gardens. Elise received frenzied poems and miniatures.
Elise began to feel conflicted. She had always intended to return to her mother’s region after her brothers were cured. They must reclaim their birthright.
The princess was charming despite her temper and arrogance. Elise knew she would miss her presence. In idle hours she found herself fantasizing about raising children amongst those lapis lazuli halls. She knew she enjoyed it when her princess pried her legs apart and placed her mouth there. That she relished the taste of her and the warmth of her skin.
It was more than a beast should hope for.
To be the favorite was dangerous however. Many established families coveted the position of spouse and fancied it for their own children. The thought of being usurped for a foreigner, and a monster moreover, was too much to bear. Her research was destroyed three times. Each time she was forced to start over and always come within the same inches of the cure.
After her third rally it was realized she was not going to be intimidated. The malice that time came to the form of an insidious rumor. The swan maiden wasn’t crafting a cure for her brothers at all, she instead intended to turn the princess into a monster so she would be forced to marry her.
The princess laughed at first to hear this.
“If she had intended such a thing, she would have by now!” She waved her hand in mirth.
“But her research keeps getting destroyed.” A courtier pointed out. “Maybe that’s why.”
The princess shook her head. “She only wants to cure her brothers!”
“Your majesty’s head is clouded with love,” The vizier sighed.
“She talks of power a lot less than you.” The princess fumed and the man firmly shut his mouth. Nevertheless the rumors continued and began to amass into a wave that flooded the halls, alcoves, and gardens. The princess turned her back to that cold tide but couldn’t ignore the water swirling around her waist when the swan maiden was thrown before her feet one winter day.
“Your majesty this serum can only be used to transform men into swans!” Her senior engineer bellowed. He shook the vial. “I have analyzed it!”
The princess paused. Until now this advisor had been impartial. His accusation carried a serious weight. Elise shrieked in an attempt to explain. With her swan’s beak all she could do was honk and weep. The princess turned away at the pathetic sight. She raised her head at the tapping of the windows. The twelve swans were clamoring to get in. She narrowed her eyes.
“Have her beheaded.” She whispered as she crossed her arms over her chest. Elise screamed in a shrill cry that reverberated down the lapis lazuli halls. The princess’ shoulders tensed. Azra Darzi had told her the legend of the asparas when she was still a child. They were heartless creatures with no human empathy. After all one even drowned her children relentlessly.
She was just a monster.
Yet after Elise had been removed from the hall and imprisoned the princess removed herself. She retreated to her quarters. Upon her silk pillows and plush cushions, she wept for the first time since her father had died.
In an act of mercy Elise was allowed her equipment even as she prepared for death. Perhaps the princess wanted to offer her a distraction as an executioner was summoned from the royal capital and his blade was sharpened. For her beloved the princess would grant the swiftest and most painless death. This gave Elise two weeks to at last craft her cure.
Yes, her serum would create another transformation. At this stage. She had at last realized how to cure her brothers. All she needed to do was remind their DNA it was human. If placed in an animal, as they senior engineer must have done, it would have made a hybrid.
If it was injected into a human however it would have no effect.
The serum was still unstable however, if injected it may not fully transform. Her last days were spent trying to stabilize the virus that would awaken her brothers’ humanity. She had no way to speak of her hope to her brothers for she was kept in a windowless laboratory. She could only hope the princess’ compassion had extended to her brothers. Without her soothing words however they may have forgotten they were ever men.
On the day of execution Elise hid her syringes within the folds of her clothes. With shackles on none feared she would attack. She waited until she was on the scaffold. Her execution was to be private. There was no one present save the princess and a few senior advisors. And all twelve of her brothers along a wall. The guards step back, allowing her a few last words.
She raised her bill and looked her beloved in the eyes. She turned her arm and turned her hand up. A syringe slid down and she pierced her palm. She injected herself by pushing the plunger against her hip.
It burned, it hurt as much of the first time. She staggered and she heard the princess scream. The guard grabbed her by the arm and pulled her up. Her hair parted, and revealed her human face.
At the same second the swans descended. They attacked the guards with their bills and wings. One landed before Elise however and she knelt down to inject him in his breast. He became a man, her oldest brother. Gilbert embraced her, stroking her long hair.
“Thank you,” he gasped. He disarmed the embattled executioner and used his axe to cut Elise’s chains. He made to make a stand with the axe against the guards. More brothers landed before Elise and began to transform them back into young men.
“Stop!” The princess voice cried out. The charging guards stopped, but Elise didn’t cease until each brother had received his dose. They each stood as a man before her, whole and complete. Save for the youngest, Hans, whose right arm remained a wing. She kissed his cheeks and held him close. After she stepped away she found the princess standing on the scaffold steps with tear stained cheeks.
“I am sorry, so sorry!” She gasped. She fell to her knees with a cry. She covered her face and sobbed at how close she had come to killing an innocent woman, and one she loved. Gilbert sneered at her but Elise gently pushed him back and walked up to her. She offered her hand and pulled the monarch to her feet.
“How happy I am I can speak with my own voice,” Elise said softly in her new tongue. The princess blinked. “But many cannot. Please remember that, my love.”
The princess nodded and swallowed. Elise wiped her tears and kissed her deeply.
“I’ll stay here to make sure you are never so foolish again.” She promised. The princess gave a weak laugh and put her arm around Elise’s shoulders.
They said their farewells to half of Elise’s brothers. The oldest six returned to their mother’s land to reclaim their birthright and the youngest six remained with their sister as courtiers and advisors. A year later they received a letter detailing their joyous return and their stepfather’s execution.
Elise returned the letter with the news of the birth of her daughter only a month prior. A perfect princess of dark eyes with a singular, heavy brow, and a certain love for swans and winged tigers.