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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4. The Arrival of Olga

It had been a year since Nicholas Alexandrovitch Romanov married Alexandra of Hesse-Darmstadt and became Czar of Russia. It was also the birthday of Hadassah Rachel Shoshana Trichenberg, the bastard daughter of the famed sorcerer Leo Trichenberg.

But Nicholas knew that all was not well with the realm.

His father, Alexander, died the year before and a bastard child was born on the same day. Hadassah was the tiniest baby that existed in Russia and her birth was something of a wonder.

Only Nicholas knew the history behind the baby's birth: Hadassah had been born the moment Czar Alexander III died. But her mother, Jessica Smirnov, died in childbirth. Hadassah was taken from her home in a Jewish village before her stepfather, Sergei Smirnov, killed her.

Leo Trichenberg didn't publicly claim Hadassah as his daughter (as it would have been a huge scandal if it were to happen), so Nicholas and Alexandra decided to raise her as their own. Many Russians wondered who the child's father really was; some people quickly began pointing fingers at Nicholas's many cousins, believing one of them to be Hadassah's father. (Leo and Nicholas found those ridiculous rumors amusing, but Alexandra and Marie did not.) The Czar and Czarina had also revealed they were expecting their first child. Many people assumed that the child would be a son even though others believed it would be a daughter.

Nicholas had other problems to deal with, mainly the problems involving the Snoweagle coven and the seven wolf clans. Aramaeus Zempanga (the leader of the Snoweagle clan) and Hans Fruar (the leader of the seven wolf clans) wanted a bastard boy named Alexander Smirnov to be the next Czar of Russia. Yet with Czar Alexander III's death and Czar Nicholas II's ascension to the throne, the boy was unceremoniously shoved to the side, never mentioned to the people who wanted him to take the throne.

Several days before Alexandra was moved into the royal birthing room, Nicholas was signing important documents in his office. Alexander and Hadassah were with him. Just then, a group of werewolves led by Magrious Hoffelbax walked inside. The children tensed and Nicholas looked up from his work and saw the werewolves. He said to them, "Why are you here?"

"We grow tired of your ignorance," said Magorious as he faced the czar. "Hans tells me you have shoved the boy to the back of your palace and you treat him as if he is a bastard and not a trueborn son."

"He's the son of Luke Smirnov and Kayla Kroger, who broke the traditional laws of marriage by committing the act of fornication and conceived a child outside the confines of wedlock. For that, they were punished at the hands of an angry God by losing their right to exist on this earth," said Nicholas. "Now you want the people to follow the rule of their child, he who was born in a mockery of a true-born child. The people will never allow such a thing as this to happen, not as long as I'm the Czar and God is still in charge of this planet."

Magorious laughed at him, as did the other werewolves. Alexander frowned as he stared at the werewolf. Magorious said, "That is the best joke I've heard all day. What makes you so sure that you're the Czar? Why, you're nothing more than a country squire. How can the people of Russia follow the rule of a squire?"

"You think you can rule this country?" said Nicholas. "I would love to see you try. The people would rather be ruled by a squire than a monster, if that is the truth."

"What is truth?" a werewolf named George shouted.

"The truth is that a monster like you can never rule Russia," said Nicholas. "Now, if you would excuse me, I have more important things to worry about."

He swept out of the room, with Alexander and Hadassah following him like tiny puppies chasing after their mother. Magorious said, "And while we are here, about the child…"

George said, "He will come to accept us and our ways, whether he likes it or not. He may be the Czar, but he's no leader. He should have given up the throne when he had the chance."

"Not to worry," said Magorious. "Even if we can't make him give up the throne, we can still make him do what we want. All it takes is a few people dead somewhere and he'll be begging us to help him. We will rule Russia before the year is out."

 

 

Meanwhile, Nicholas sat with his wife in her sitting room. He said to her, "These vampires and werewolves are giving me a rightful headache. They want me to give up control of Russia so they can go back to devouring people."

"They have no right to do that," Alexandra snapped. She was doing that a lot lately. "Who does that Magorious Hoffelbax think he is?"

"I believe that he, Hans, Caeryn, Berhardt, Gerardo, Lioston, Plover, and Fernalin are plotting against me," said Nicholas. "They and Aramaeus Zempanga will not rest until they regain control of Russia. My father made the fatally unwise decision of trusting them and angering Leo Trichenberg; I will not repeat his mistake. Do you think I want to make Hadassah the heir apparent and disregard any sons we will have?"

At this, Alexandra grabbed his hand and laid it on her stomach. "Nicholas," she said with a stern look on her face. "What is in here?"

"Baby!" A squeal came from little Hadassah. She had started talking several weeks ago. The couple stared at her as she jumped from her hiding spot behind the couch and joined them.

"That is more important than worrying about the vampires and werewolves," said Alexandra as she picked up the tiny girl and handed her to Nicholas. "As for them, they will know their place soon."

"I hope so," Nicholas said as he held Hadassah. He wondered what the vampires and werewolves would say regarding the impending birth of his child. He hoped that if anything, they would be respectful of the baby. They would not corrupt the heir as they had corrupted Alexander.

Speaking of which, Alexander went to Magorious and said to him, "Why do you do this?"

"Whatever do you mean?" said Magorious.

"You make him angry," said Alexander. "You don't quit when you know you're not going to win. Nicholas is the Czar, and you should be lucky he's the one ruling Russia and not me. If I were the Czar, I would have you all beheaded for your crimes against the people."

"That was interesting," George said as they watched Alexander leave. "He was every inch a czar."

"But he said he could have the power to get rid of us," said Magorious. "And if he was the czar, then he could have us executed…or even slain for our fur."

"Now that is a bad thing," said George. "But I'm tired of kissing up to that fool and his fool of a wife and that foolish Leo Trichenberg. We need to get them all in line quickly."

"Oh, I know we will," said Magorious as an evil smile formed on his face.

 

 

A few days later, a servant awakened Nicholas from his sleep. He had been working in his office all day, if he wasn't already dealing with Magorious Hoffelbax and his clan. She said, "Your wife is in labor."

Nicholas immediately jumped from his bed and rushed to the birthing room. When he got there, he saw his mother and sisters sitting by the door. "It's bad luck to be in the room when your wife is giving birth to your son," Marie said as she saw him.

"But I can't let her do it alone," said Nicholas. "She needs me. I'm going in."

"Nicholas," Marie began, but Nicholas ignored her and walked into the room. Alexandra was propped up on the bed, with little Hadassah standing beside her. The baby had fallen asleep and no one was able to move her without making her cry.

"What is going on?" said Nicholas.

"She refused to give birth to the child until you arrived," said the midwife.

Alexandra saw him and said, "Can you tell the baby that it's safe to come out?"

"I don't think I can do that," Nicholas said.

At that, the baby, knowing that its parents were in the room, quickly came out. No one noticed the birth until the baby began crying.

"It is a girl," the midwife announced as she handed Alexandra a bundle. Inside the bundle was a small girl; she was pale with blue eyes and strawberry blond hair.

Nicholas stared at the baby and said, "I guess we can forget about naming her after my grandfather."

"Indeed," said Alexandra. "Why not name her after your cousin Olga?"

"That will work," said Nicholas as he leaned over to look at the baby. She was a girl, and yet she had already reduced Alexander Smirnov's claim to the Russian throne. A surge of joy filled him; he was now a father.

Then his attention turned to the small girl standing next to his wife. Her arrival was filled with grief; her mother died within a few hours following her birth.

Alexandra herself had difficulty looking at her new daughter without thinking about Hadassah's mother. Jessica Shalit Smirnov was said to have a difficult marriage; her husband Sergei was cruel to her and their two children, Sabrina and Leonard. Leo Trichenberg had claimed that Jessica had tricked him into having a relationship with her, but it was more than that. The general opinion of her village was that Jessica had wanted to escape from her unwanted marriage to Sergei by any means necessary, including killing herself and possibly her children.

Luckily, Leo was able to stop her from committing suicide and murder. It was too bad he couldn't save her life when she gave birth to Hadassah. At least the older children were safe.

Little Hadassah was angry because the midwife's helper had attempted to move her to her bed. She wanted to see the baby too. Nicholas noticed her and held her up so she could see the new baby. Alexandra nodded as she pulled back the blankets so that Hadassah could see the baby's tiny face.

Hadassah stared at the baby for a long time. She had never seen a baby before, so this was a first for her. Hadassah knew there would be a new baby in the family, but she didn't know where babies came from yet. She continued to stare at the baby until the baby began to cry.

"OK," said Alexandra to a servant who stood next to the bed, "you may take Hadassah back to her room; she is tired." At this, Hadassah shook her head, crying out, "I not tired!"

"But you fell asleep before the baby could be born," said Nicholas. "You are sleepy."

"I tell you, I not tired," Hadassah continued to protest, but her eyes began to close. The servant came forward to put the sleepy child to bed. When they both left, Nicholas said to Alexandra, "I hope Olga isn't strong-willed like Hadassah."

"I hope she is," said Alexandra. "It would be a shame to have weak-willed children. I know your people are stubborn and we should be as stubborn as they are. It will do Russia no good if its rulers are not strong."

"We all must be strong," said Nicholas. "We must be, if we are to take back control of Russia from the vampires and werewolves who still want to rule over this country. But I know we also require the services of Leo Trichenberg, as I can't afford to have him angry with me and abandoning his country a second time."

He knew it was easier said than done; the wolf clans and the Snoweagle Coven still refused to give up control of Russia in spite of him being the czar. They were still waiting for Alexander Smirnov to take the throne and become Czar Alexander IV. Leo Trichenberg would not stand for that; not even for the sake of Czar Alexander III, whom he disliked.

Nicholas stood up and said, "I'm going to write a proclamation announcing the birth of our daughter. You shall rest and recover your strength. Leo Trichenberg is on his way here, it is rumored, and he will want to see the baby. I'm sure he'll want to see Hadassah as well."

Nicholas saw his wife frowning, knowing that he had struck a nerve with her regarding Hadassah. In the months Alexandra spent looking after the baby, she came to consider Hadassah as her own daughter and was reluctant to allow the Smirnov family to visit her, given their obvious reaction to her bastardy and the fact that they allowed Sergei to attempt to kill the child. She also wasn't too happy with Leo being Hadassah's father; she was going to take that up with him when he showed up.

"I don't approve of Leo's efforts to be a father to Hadassah," she said in a harsh voice.

"I wonder why," said Nicholas.

"That man already has too many bastard children to raise and his true-born children are a disappointment and a disgrace," said Alexandra. "But I won't deny the fact that we need him. Your father needed him, yet he cast him aside when he refused to agree with him. Your father's mistake cost him his life and the control of all Russia."

"Indeed, he did make a mistake," said Nicholas, "but let's not discuss that until Leo is here."

"He will come for Hadassah and our baby," said Alexandra as she hugged her daughter in fear. "What can we do against a powerful sorcerer such as him? I already know he's not pleased with how fast Hadassah is growing up, and I know he's not pleased with not being allowed to raise his youngest child."

"Yet, fathering a bastard is a serious crime in Russia, especially if the mother is already married to another man," said Nicholas. "Luke Smirnov had no business divorcing his faithful wife and running off with that Kayla Kroger. Also, my father dealt with the rumor of Amalia Vadimovna Mukhina-Smirnova's adulterous relationship with Edik Olegovich Dryagin by tearing the offending gossip's tongue from his mouth. But that's not all there is, or is it?"

"No," said Alexandra as she wondered why of all times Nicholas chose to bring up the parents of his adopted brother. Didn't the Romanovs already deal with that skeleton in the coffin? "As you have said before, we'll deal with it when the time comes. Right now, I must rest and give Olga her first meal, and you must prevent the Snoweagles and the wolf clans from attempting to use Hadassah to usurp Olga's claim to the Russian throne. We need Leo Trichenberg, since it is his daughter they mean to place on the throne; he must put his foot down where his daughter is concerned."

"I know Leo will be angry if the wolf clans and the Snoweagles were to attempt to crown Hadassah as czarina, now that Alexander has wisely chosen to bow out," said Nicholas. "He has renounced his claim to the Russian throne, as if he would dare make such a claim to the throne. We do need Leo, but to turn away from him would be to court death itself."

"And that's the last thing anyone needs to do," said Leo as he walked into the room. Nicholas stared at him as he continued, "If anyone even thinks of putting my daughter before your heirs, I'll kill them in front of all Russia."

"And why are you here?" said Alexandra. "I already know you're not here to see my daughter, but Hadassah."

"Indeed I am to see Hadassah; she's my daughter," said Leo. "But it is your daughter who takes precedence, since she could one day rule over Russia."

"Not as long as the Pauline Law exists," said Nicholas. "Sometimes, I can't help but wonder what drove that man to make that law, especially after his mother had made Russia even mightier than Peter the Great had done."

"Who knows?" said Leo as he stared at Olga. "I already know that many families will line up their sons in the hopes of a possible marriage to Olga, as she is the eldest daughter, but you must allow her to make her own choice in regards to who she shall and shall not marry. We're now entering a time where it's more appropriate to "fall in love", as it were, and it would be a step backward to arrange a marriage for her when your own marriage was not arranged at all."

"And I've already noticed many noble families are lining up their bastard sons, hoping to marry them to Hadassah," said Nicholas, "but she will make that decision on her 18th birthday and not a moment before."

"Yet she must marry, and never to a bastard son," said Leo. He briefly noted Alexandra feeding Olga, then said, "I trust that you already know the story of Count Nikodim Engelgardt and his son Jaromir?"

"I have," said Nicholas. "I like it not. The Engelgardt family has placed a 7-year-old bastard before his nephew, Galahad Pennington, even though Galahad is married and he has a son. I can't help but worry if someone is willing to murder that little boy and put William in the boy's place."

"A son comes before a nephew, especially a bastard son," said Leo. "My uncle Bernard Kroger learned that lesson the hard way when he tried to make me his heir over his son Karl. My father never forgave him for that slight, which was why he gave me to your grandfather when I was 8 years old."

"I see," said Alexandra. "It's a tragedy when a man rejects his own son and tries to replace him with his nephew. After what Sir Bernard Kroger and his family went through with them being forced to leave their home in Berlin..."

"All because his father had to read that blasted Communist Manifesto," Nicholas snapped. "Doesn't he know that the things Karl Marx writes about are dangerous? The economy is not to be toyed with, as the economy is part of the basic things any country needs."

"I have no desire to speak about Michael Kroger and that unforgivable crime he committed against the poor people who worked in those factories," said Leo angrily. "That man corrupted those poor people with those false lies. Nicholas, I implore you to take heed of what the people are hearing; you'll never know if they want to overthrow the czarist government and replace it with something that's less pleasing."

"And that's the last thing I need to deal with," said Nicholas. "You've been through more than enough in your 50 years and you certainly have seen things that might send most men your age to their graves. We need you now more than ever."

"Even if you create yet another bastard, we still need you," said Alexandra as she held Olga. "Who else will help us when the vampires and werewolves start plotting against us? We need you, whether we like it or not."

"Indeed you do, if only to stem the spread of corruption in the Russian empire," said Leo. "Crimes are rising and no one wants to stop the criminals or help the victims. Plus, there's the matter of the pogroms and the Jews being killed at some wicked man's command. I cannot step back and watch this happen."

"Nor will you," said Nicholas. "Yet it's the Smirnov family that must face punishment for allowing a young woman's abuse to go unchecked and unpunished, eventually driving her into your arms and away from her husband. I will deal with them eventually. Yet, it's Hadassah the people worry about, seeing as the rumors of her parentage survive despite our efforts to contain it."

"Certainly," said Leo. "Now, you must recover from your daughter's birth. I'll handle the council. If they are wise, they will listen to me. No one will defy me, not unless they want to lose their heads."

As Leo left the room, Alexandra said, "He didn't say anything about Hadassah."

"It's not just her he's worried about," said Nicholas. "It's her older siblings. Although Sergei's family means well, they can't protect Sabrina and Leonard from their father's cruelty. The children need a safe place where they will thrive and grow, and Nichollo and Rachel Smirnov are in no condition to give them a loving home. They must come here."

"And they will," said Alexandra, "if only to keep Hadassah company." She shuddered, knowing that despite the joy of Olga's birth, Hadassah's birthday was in a few hours; with that, Nicholas and Leo would have to deal with the Smirnov family...

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