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The Tale of Two Brothers

Summary

Arnar and Stína are young human musicians. Arnar was born in the Southern Empire. His mother (Santa) is the assistant leader of the Imperial Orchestra. Arnar becomes the orchestra’s leader at a young age (due to being the Emperor’s favourite, though he is truly good). Stína is then hired as conductor. She’s from the Northern Kingdom. Arnar and Stína end up getting together.   Stína learns about the situation of Supernaturals in the land and decides to take a stand. She and Arnar foster two Supernatural children: Ugla, a witch, and Sarah, a fairy. The Emperor doesn’t like it, but allows the fostering to happen (they are not legally allowed to formally adopt the children, though).   A couple of years later (Sarah and Ugla are ten), Stína and Arnar have their first child. They name her Sigrid (Siggi). Two years later, their second child, Gunni, is born.   As the children grow up, Stína and Arnar become famous for their political stance as well as their musical careers. They publicly speak about Supernatural oppression and embarrass the Emperor in many occasions.   Stína has a short-lived relationship with Karl Zweig, one of the guest soloists of the Union Orchestra (and secretly the incarnation of the god of music). She ends up pregnant, even though she thought she was too old for it. Arnar has no problem accepting the child as his own.   All children in the household become good musicians (baby demigod even more so). Sarah plays drums, Ugla likes the bassoon. Young Siggi and Gunni learn instruments from early on. Arnar and Stína decide to create an orchestra to mix together human and Supernatural children (Supernaturals are not allowed to participate in human gatherings, though that’s an informal rule born out of larger segregation than proper laws).   This proves to be the last straw for the Emperor, who publicly denounces the couple and declares they’re doing a disservice to human society. They’re also expelled from their jobs at the Imperial Orchestra (and so is Santa). The couple goes ahead with their orchestra plan. At first there are only humans participating, but Supernaturals join in greater numbers after the public fall out, because this gave the orchestra some publicity. When the orchestra makes international headlines, some other groups begin to notice them too.   Namely, a group of Supernaturals that wants to overthrow human society. They are extremists, and they got angry at Stína and Arnar for daring to interfere with Supernatural society. They threaten the couple, but Arnar and Stína ignore them. When the Emperor hears about it, he decided not to ban the orchestra, hoping the extremists will provide some anti-Supernatural free propaganda for him.   Siggi is 14, Gunni is 12. They are on the school bus, on the way to school, when the bus is kidnapped by a werewolf and a vampire. It’s full moon that night. The 30 children are taken to a house in the outskirts of the capital and thrown in a basement. Gunni and Siggi are kept in a separate room.   The basement has no water or food, just endless vials of unlabelled elixirs. The older children tell the younger ones not to drink anything they don’t know the effects of, but after hours without hearing from their kidnappers, they begin to despair and drink the elixirs. Some of the children turn into fairies and witches. Some fall asleep, others feel full of energy. One becomes a zombie and begins to attack the others. By the time they manage to hold off the zombie, four of them are dead.   Meanwhile, the extremist group announced what they’ve done and say they won’t release any of the children just yet. Just as the Emperor predicted, this causes a human outcry against Supernaturals. Some are attacked, their homes burned, and their children forcibly taken away from them. This in turn fuels the extremists’ rhetoric, and Supernaturals threaten to rise against humans.   Stína, Arnar, Ugla, and Sarah try to act as negotiators and mediators to prevent a violent uprising and return the children safely to their families. The Emperor sits back and watches, counting on an uprising to finally rid his country of Supernaturals forever.   Once all kidnapped children have taken an elixir, the extremists release them into the wild. It takes a while for one of them to find help and rescue the remaining ones. News that some children were killed at the kidnapper’s house further raises human anger. Supernaturals who don’t want to be in a conflict zone flee. The Northern Kingdom offers them protection.   The extremists tell Arnar and Stína it will be a while until they release Gunni and Siggi. The siblings are kept in a dark room with only each other for company for a whole month. Siggi ends up telling Gunni that he is a guy and is tired of people treating him as a girl. He takes his role of older brother very seriously and acts protectively towards Gunni, doing as much as he can to prevent the boy from feeling pessimistic. They were not close siblings before, but gradually they develop their relationship. After all this time, Arnar and Stína have not changed their opinion about Supernaturals, or abandoned the struggle for integration and equality, so the extremists decide to make the ultimate test to their resolve.   The couple (plus Ugla and Sarah) are taken to the house where Gunni and Siggi have been kept. They are told their children will finally be released because too many Supernaturals are fleeing the Southern Empire. It’s nightfall and the full moon is bright in the sky. When they arrive there, Gunni and Siggi are in a glass room outside. Siggi is tied to his chair, while Gunni is tied to a post by his feet. The children scream after their parents. Arnar and Stína try to run for them, but are prevented from doing so by an army of vampires. They are told to sit down and watch the release of their children. The extremists warn they will kill the children if they try anything unexpected.   Without warning, Gunni is attacked by the werewolf. He is bitten on the next with such force that the chains on his feet break (his ankles probably break too), and he is thrown across the room. A pool of blood forms by his fallen body. His eyes are still open, but he can no longer see anything.   Stína, Arnar, Ugla, and Sarah and held back by the vampires. They scream and try to get to Gunni, but are reminded that Siggi is still there, and they’ll hurt him too if they don’t cooperate.   Siggi watches horrified as his brother is attacked. He tries to break free from the chair, but the chains are too strong for him. He screams and cries when he realises his brother is dead. Sensing his despair, the vampire leader, Jón, enters the room. He tells Siggi he can save Gunni, but only if Siggi does everything he says. Siggi doesn’t think twice about accepting it.   Jón comes behind Siggi and bites him on the neck. When Siggi is nearly drained of blood, Jón cuts open his own wrists and tells Siggi to drink from it. Siggi doesn’t want to at first, but Jón reminds him it’s the only way to save Gunni. Siggi drinks. The vampire pours an elixir into Gunni’s mouth, and his wounds close, leaving horrid scars.   The glass walls disappear and Stína & Co. are finally allowed to get their children. Jón tells them that Ugla and Sarah should be capable of making sure Gunni and Siggi survive, and flees with his clan.   Siggi is sick in bed for three days. During that time he’s mostly unconscious. Once he wakes up, though, he’s become a full vampire. Gunni takes three weeks to wake up. He’s barely out of bed by the time of his first transformation.   On the next full moon, the family has to lock Gunni in the basement. Gunni is terrified of what is about to happen, and his family feels horrible for having to abandon him. When the painful transformation starts, Gunni screams. Siggi can hear it even better than the others, and he questions whether it was a good idea to go to such lengths to save his brother if he has to go through so much pain every month. The next day, Gunni is feeling horrible, but he assures Siggi he is glad to be alive.   The Emperor passes a law saying that any human parent who allowed their children to become supernatural has to go to prison. The only exceptions are the parents of the ‘innocent’ children who were turned during the kidnapping. Arnar and Stína are trickily left out of the exceptions by some clever wording. In order to avoid prison, the whole family finally decides to leave the Southern Empire.   Arnar, Stína, Ugla, Sarah, Siggi, Gunni, and Santa travel through the Central Federation to get to the Northern Kingdom. Once there, the Monarch receives them with full state honours and grants all the children full citizenship. The Southern Emperor threatens to start a diplomatic incident over this reception, but the Monarch ignores him. They give asylum status to the family to prevent any chance of them being imprisoned.   Stína and Arnar rebuild their orchestra with their children. A couple of months after the family’s arrival in the Northern Kingdom, Sarah announces she’s pregnant. Once the twin babies (Karen and Gísli) are born, Ugla goes to a specialist witch doctor to receive a full female body. She had been living as a woman since childhood, but held on to a body she didn’t like so that she could have her own children. When Siggi hears about this, he asks to go with Ugla. Siggi and Ugla spend a week away, and when they come back, they have the bodies they wanted.   Dmitri, a fairy with green wings, joins the orchestra. He seems interested in Siggi, and they become good friends who have sex on occasion. Dmitri also gets close to Gunni, and ends up falling in love with him. Siggi tries to help Dmitri confess his feelings, but something always goes wrong.   Meanwhile, Gunni finds a human girlfriend called Frida. Frida helps Gunni get over body issues (mostly body hair, and his scars). Dmitri hangs out with Siggi more once he sees Gunni with someone else. The relationship doesn’t last for long, though, because Frida senses Gunni is not romantically or sexually interested in her all that much. She points Gunni in the right direction and then breaks up with him. They remain friends.


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