The Flaming Tsar & the Magicborn

Czar Nicholas II and his wife, Alexandra, are forced to deal with not only ruling Russia, but the hordes of vampires and werewolves running rampant causing nothing but trouble! Can the last czar of Russia get the supernatural monsters in line and/or ally with them, or is history going to repeat itself?

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7. One Man's Hero is Another Man's Villain

By mid-June, the Snoweagles and the Snowfoxes had formed a plan to attack and destroy the czar's council while the wolf packs attacked the nobility. The revolutionaries would be attacked and destroyed by the Snowwolves and the Snowleopards.

As the vampires and werewolves perfected their plans to take over Russia, Nicholas and his group were trying to save Russia from its enemies. So far, his reputation as "Nicholas the Bloody" was preventing progress from being made.

"There's no way we're getting anything accomplished if the council continues to undermine us!" Count Simon Smirnov snapped as the men continued to write ideas for how to save Russia. "It's like they're asking for the vampires and werewolves to destroy Russia!"

"Just as they destroyed the United States," said Sir David. "Don't forget, they murdered hundreds of slaves before I firebombed the country back into the precolonial days."

"Indeed," said Nicholas. "But Simon is right. The council is stopping us at every turn and he believes they want this disaster to happen. Not only to Russia, but a branch of his family will be cut down if we don't act fast."

"Word on the street is that Vladimir and Vavara are expecting their first child," said Alexandra. "Plus, Megan has successfully secured a marriage between Reuben Smirnov and Olga Palikova."

"Good for her," said Leo, but the group stared at him, wondering if he meant the news about Vavara's baby or Megan's successful matchmaking. "And how are Saba, Marcilla, and Alevtina doing with the others?"

"Marcilla is securing Radmila's marriage, which isn't going as well as she hopes," said Alexandra, "but things can change. The man she wants Radmila to marry already has a bastard daughter and has gotten a servant girl pregnant with another bastard daughter. I wonder how Radmila will react to that."

"Not too well, if I can believe it," said Sir David. "And the council tells me that the vampires and werewolves have already begun their attacks on several regions. Castles have been raided and servants have been carried off. Items of great value have been stolen and the peasants have fled from their homes."

"And they've planned this when I became czar?" said Nicholas.

"Correction, they planned this long before you were born," said Count Simon. "I have my reasons to believe that Magorious and Aramaeus have planned this since your grandfather was the czar. He must have done something to offend them, which is why they transferred their wrath onto you."

"My grandfather didn't sleep with any of their daughters, did he?" Nicholas said with a confused look on his face.

"If that happened, no one would say," said Sir David. "But you had no idea of how much your grandfather hurt many people, as you were five years old when that happened. Why, I could recall a young boy playing with my granddaughters in the Mountain room or begging me for sweets I purchased during my trips to Switzerland. What happened to that little boy, I wonder?"

"He grew up and became the czar," said Nicholas sadly.

"Indeed," said Count Simon. "That poor boy."

"Now, let's not fall apart," said Alexandra. The men stared at her. "Remember, we still have the people, and if we give them the right tools, they can save Russia without firing a single shot."

"A government for the people," said Nicholas. "We let the people rule over Russia."

"The vampires and werewolves won't like that very much," said Count Simon. "Yet they cannot rule over Russia without divine repercussion. While history says one thing, legend says another. Well, now comes a time when the two combine. Once that happens, we will see legends become truth and history become nothing more than a myth."

At this, 4-year-old Theoderic Stepanovich Yeltsov burst into the room, carrying a large chocolate bar. "Grandfather?" he said to Leo.

"Have you been naughty and begged the servants for chocolate?" said Leo with an amused smirk on his face.

"Lord Jaromir wishes to meet with you, and he offers the czar this chocolate bar as a peace offering," said Theoderic.

"Let me see that chocolate," Alexandra said as she reached for the chocolate bar. But the moment she touched it, a rat's tail was spotted. She screamed in horror, dropping the chocolate onto the floor, where it shattered into pieces. It turned out that a dead rat filled with poison had been hidden in the chocolate.

"What is the meaning of this?" Nicholas roared with anger as he saw the dead rat and the destroyed chocolate.

"This is a murder attempt aimed at the czar," said Alexandra. "Apparently, Jaromir's uncles wanted you dead so they could have him declared as czar."

"I see," said Nicholas. "And I'm guessing that they also plotted to marry Jaromir to Olga to get the throne."

"Not Olga, but Hadassah," said Leo. "It's no secret that noble families are plotting to marry their bastard sons to her, as they cannot allow a bastard to marry Olga." To the guards, he said, "Bring Lord Jaromir here...and detain his uncles. We can't have any assassination attempts go unchallenged. And have the servants clean up this mess and bring my grandson a chocolate."

"Preferably a clean one, not one filled with dead rats," said Alexandra.

As the guards left the room, Nicholas said, "This isn't the first time someone wants me dead."

"Nor will it be the last," said Alexandra in turn. To Count Simon, she said, "How many men and women plotted with Nicholas' father to put Alexander on the throne?"

"I wouldn't know, but there are several," said Count Simon. "I wonder who manipulated him into wanting to set Nicholas aside and place an orphan bastard on the throne."

"Only one man has the capacity to commit such an atrocity such as this," Sir David snarled. "Sir Bernard Kroger."

"Oh no, not Uncle Bernie!" Leo yelled.

"The same," said Sir David. "He tried to use you to replace his only son as his heir, as if Karl wasn't good enough to inherit his business. I brought you here to get you away from him, but he's back to bother us once again. When will he stop?"

"When he's dead," said Count Simon.

The doors opened and Lord Jaromir Englegardt walked into the room, flanked by his advisors and guards. He was wearing the clothes of a Cossack guard, as if he was an actual guard instead of wearing a costume.

He said, "I figured it was time to get you to talk. I'm sorry if my uncles wanted to kill you."

"Never mind your uncles, as they will answer for their crimes against the czar," said Leo. "Now, why do you wish to speak to him?"

"I have heard rumors about my father's involvement with the boy known as Alexander Smirnov," said Jaromir, "rumors that might interest you, sir."

"Indeed," said Leo. "And has your father had any form of communication with my uncle in the past few years?"

"I've seen your uncle several times," said Jaromir. "He was with a woman who was not his wife. My father told him about me and how your daughter Vavara kept me away from him and how he tried to get me back."

"Indeed," said Leo. "That woman is known as Maya Grigorievna Vershinina, the daughter of Grigori Vershinin. He was a member of the imperial court."

"I remember him," said Count Simon. "He was a weak man controlled by his fat wife."

"Such a shame he died a failure," said Leo. "I had hoped to get him to join me and stop Alexander from allying with Hans, Magorious, and Aramaeus, but he just had to die from a failed heart, didn't he?"

"That, and leaving his family deep in poverty with no way out, save for Nyura having to sell her only daughter to a man who threw away his only son because of his disability and sold his eldest daughter to a gypsy when she refused to conform to a traditional woman's role," said Sir David.

Nicholas frowned. "Your uncle is a monster who destroys his own family if they don't conform to his demands. It's a small wonder Christine left for Columbiana upon her 18th birthday."

"And married a Smirnov, if the rumors are true," said Alexandra. "Last I heard, they are members of King Ishaan Washington's royal court."

"Good for them," said Leo. "I always knew she'd get there someday."

"She was always the smart one," said Sir David. "Too bad her father didn't see that in his other children, or they would still be alive."

Jaromir smiled, saying, "Now I'm about to make you an offer that you can't refuse, so listen to me."

"I'm listening," said Nicholas.

"You say you want to let the people rule over Russia, and you're willing to give up your own authority to do so," said Jaromir. "Yet you are unaware of the nobles and upper class citizens who don't want that to happen."

"Well," Leo began.

"And those people have decided to put their trust in the vampires and werewolves in order to keep the peasants in line," said Jaromir.

"Where are you going with this?" said Leo.

"I say, if you were to expose these people for the traitors that they truly are, the people will turn on them and demand that you replace the members of the imperial court with honorable men, men who care more about their country's well-being than lining their own pockets," said Jaromir.

"And how do we know this plan of yours is going to work?" said Alexandra.

"Because some people will do anything to hold onto thwor wealth and prestiege, which includes sabotage, manipulation, and even murder," said Jaromir. "Plus, my father was murdered by a man he trusted, and I intend to make sure that the man is found and put to death for that crime. If I have to kill the man myself, so be it."

"Indeed," said Nicholas as he thought about the boy's deal. On one hand, he would anger his uncles and give the czar's power to the people, or he could do nothing and allow the Snoweagles and the wolf packs and their allies to destroy Russia. He couldn't afford to waste any more time. "Leo, fetch your children."

"Whatever for?" said Leo.

"We have work to do," said Nicholas.

 

 

At the same time, Hans and Magorious laughed as they watched their packs destroy a local village. The wealthy lord and his wife were executed while werewolves harassed the villagers. The lord's two young sons and their nurse wept as they were carried off.

"This is a good day," said Hans.

"It's a good day indeed," said Magorious. "While Nicholas is distracted by the news about my great-granddaughter, we're attacking the wealthiest of his citizens. They will beg him to show some mercy on them and trust us."

"But will he, when he's already seen what we're capable of doing?" said Hans.

"He will, if he knows what's good for him," said Magorious. "And if he forgets..."

"We'll remind him of his grandfather's misdeeds and lies, which he willfully ignored," said Hans. "He might have been a boy when his grandfather died, but he's now a man. And a man like him must learn about his grandfather's legacy if he still wants to be the czar."

A woman came to them, saying, "Aramaeus Zempanga wants to know how the attack is going."

"Everything is progressing nicely," said Magorious. "The czar doesn't suspect a thing."

The woman then said, "I regret to inform you that Reuben Smirnov is now married..."

"Indeed," said Magorious. "I was hoping to keep him as my bedwarmer. But no matter. He is the youngest son, and the youngest sons ultimately end up preserving the family line, especially if the older sons are to die. Since Nikita and Joseph have not married, they will die."

"And Vladimir is already married, so it's too late to do anything about him," said Hans.

"But Nichollo's youngest children with Rachel will be my servants, as they will never carry the Smirnov family name. I will allow them to marry, but they will only marry members of my clan," said Magorious.

"That is a fine plan," said Hans. To the woman, he said, "make sure you relay this message to Aramaeus to prepare for the assault on Smirnov Manor. The younger children will be spared, but the others will die. Sergei and his wife, along with their two bastards, will also die, as they've sinned and destroyed an innocent woman."

"And what of Lady Rachel?" said the woman. "Will she die?"

"Sadly yes, she will die," said Magorious. "but for her marriage to my son Mikael, I will give her a quick and painless death while the rest of the family gets a slow painful death. She will be interred next to her daughter's grave, as she claimed to have loved Jessica more than she loved Jacqueline."

The woman nodded and left the scene as Magorious stood up. "I'm going to see if I can add Diana Shushaleva to my harem and make Miron and Edik Syomin my pages. After all, children are not to be punished for their parents' sins."

"We keep the young, yet kill the old," said Hans. "We're more civilized than we should be."

"And don't we know it," said Magorious as he stared at the woman and the boys with a wicked gleam in his eye.

 

 

"You're telling me that we're putting our entire future into the hands of a small boy?" Megan snapped as she stared at Jaromir. "That boy is a bastard, for crying out loud!"

"Be careful of how you say that," said Vavara as she laid one hand on her swollen belly. "I raised that boy."

"And he turned out better than his scum of a father," said Anya.

"I'll ignore that, but why are we trusting him?" said Megan.

"We have no choice in this situation," said Nicholas. "As of right now, Magorious Hoffelbax is plotting the downfall of the Smirnov family for the death of his granddaughter, and Aramaeus Zempanga is attacking random villages and killing wealthy men and women. We're the only ones who can stop them, and we can't do anything if we don't stand up and order the people to stand up for themselves and fight for their country."

"You mean, we're gonna fight with the people for Russia?" said Theoderic as he ate a (thankfully clean) chocolate bar.

"Yes," said Nicholas. "Russia is our home. If we don't fight for it, no one will."

"Good," said Jaromir. "As for my uncles, they are foolish men and my father, their older brother, was the leader of the fools. I assure you, they will feel the wrath of a Trichenberg before the day is done."

"And they will fear their Empress when I get through with them," said Alexandra. "They were wrong to attack my husband and take Hadassah away from me. I will take my pity on Magorious because Hadassah's mother was his granddaughter, but may God have mercy upon the souls of the men who tried to kill my husband and leave Olga without a father."

As the Romanovs and the Trichenbergs made plans to save Russia, Alexander Smirnov found himself wandering through the castle, wondering what he should do next. No one bothered to listen to him when he learned that Magorious wanted to attack the Smirnov family, and most people barely tolerated him now that Alexander III was dead.

"Such a pity that the mighty have fallen," the voice of Jaromir Englegardt cut into his thoughts.

"Who are you?" Alexander snapped at him.

"You may not know me, but I know who you are, Kaira Smirnov," said Jaromir. "Your mother was the widowed Kayla Kroger Maslak, the daughter of Anna Kroger and Mossadiq. Your father was Luke Smirnov, the seventh child and fifth son of Simon Smirnov, a member of the imperial court. You are a son of noble men and you lived in a world filled with great wealth and fancy titles."

"But that world's quickly fading," said Alexander. "And where did you hear the name Kaira?"

"I make it a point to know who my father dealt with during his brief lifetime," said Jaromir as his guards came towards the boys. "Your great-grandfather is Bernard Kroger, which is a shame because he'll be dead soon. Him and his father."

"How much do you know about the Kroger family?" Alexander cried out. (Alexander III and Marie had forbade the servants, tutors, and courtiers from revealing the story about Alexander's dead parents; they did everything they possibly could to hide the boy's true origins, but Simon, Alexander's grandfather, wouldn't allow it.)

"Come and walk with me in the gardens," said Jaromir. "There, you will find the answers that you seek. Mind you, for what you find will destroy everything you think you know about yourself."

As they younger boy spoke, Alexander looked up and saw young Branislav walking into the room with baby Hadassah following him. "Why are you here?" said Alexander. "Aren't you supposed to be in that meeting with your family?"

"Mother thinks I'm too young to be in a war meeting," said Bran as he stood against the wall. "I'm a Trichenberg. I have every right to be in that meeting."

"And you are," Jaromir began.

"I'm 13 years old," said Bran. "I shouldn't have to babysit Princess Bossypants!"

"I not bossy!" Hadassah yelled at him.

"Uh-huh!" Bran snapped. "You tell everyone what to do."

"I tell you, I not bossy!" Hadassah snarled at him.

"Indeed you are, or you wouldn't have broken that chandelier at your birthday party," said Jaromir.

"Father was being yelly and a lady was being mean to him," said Hadassah. "I wanted pretty lights to hit her on the head!"

"And it was a good show, but you missed," said Jaromir.

"But pretty lights break anyway, which scared the mean old lady," said Hadassah. "I don't like her. She's mean."

As the children spoke, they had no idea they were being watched. George and Torvald had disguised themselves as servants in order to spy on the czar and the Trichenbergs. Torvald said, "Well, I can see that little Hadassah Trichenberg is a bossy princess."

"That should please Magorious," said George.

"Yet, it's that Jaromir Englegardt and that boy Alexander we must watch out for," said Torvald. "They both have magical roots, if that is to be believed. The moment Magorious and Aramaeus find that out, there goes everything we planned since 1873!"

"I see," said George. "Those boys are dangerous indeed, and with them being surrounded by the bratty boy and the baby, we are doomed! They won't allow us to plot anything!"

"We must warn our leaders so they don't do anything stupid," said Torvald. "The Trichenbergs are already onto us; we can't afford to make any mistakes now."

Little did they know that they were being watched; 20-year-old Shiloh Smirnov was spying on them. He had secretly disguised himself as a servant named Yeremey Ulyashin and worked in the Alexander Palace in the guise of keeping an eye on his younger half-brother Kaira. Czar Alexander III didn't know who he was, but his great-grandfather Count Simon did.

"Oh no you don't," Shiloh said to himself as he stood up in his hiding place, which was behind the pillars in the ballroom. "You won't be going after anyone, especially the royal family. I worked too hard to help get the new czar to where he is meant to be; you're messing up my plans."

He rushed back to the servants' quarters; someone needed to know about this plan.

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