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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6. The Bloody Coronation

It was now 1896, and the entire country of Russia was preparing to watch the coronation of its new czar. Given the fact that Nicholas had been ruling Russia for almost two years, he and the council had been trying to set a date for the coronation for several months.

Unfortunately, this was also the date where the seven wolf packs and the Snoweagle clan planned to attack the people.

Magorious Hoffelbax met with Hans Fruar and Aramaeus Zempanga in his office. He had learned that the czar was officially being crowned in a local church and planned a series of balls and meetings with the people. He felt that it was his duty to ruin everything for the czar.

"You seem to be in a bright mood today, Magorious," Aramaeus remarked upon his appearance. "Are you planning something big?"

"Nothing but ruining everything for Nicholas," said Magorious angrily. "The nerve of that man!"

"Well, he was willing to pull out the stops in keeping us away from his ward, but not Alexander," said Hans. "And the boy insulted you, did he not?"

"He did," said Magorious. "That boy threatened to have us not only executed, but slain for our fur if he were the czar. It's insulting to our intelligence."

"Oh, he'll learn his lesson about that," said Aramaeus with a sneer on his face. "We made him, believe it or not, and we can unmake him just as easily, just you wait and see."

"Are the other wolf packs here?" said Magorious to Hans.

"All are present and accounted for," said Hans. "Let it be known that the reign of Czar Nicholas II will get off to a rather bloody start."

"And don't we know it," Aramaeus said as the three wicked creatures laughed. They had no idea that there was one man who had the power to put an end to all their plans.

 

 

At the same time, Leo was in Hadassah's dressing room, trying to convince her to get dressed once again. The small child refused to budge, not even when a maid brought in the child's clothes. Hadassah sat on a stool with her tiny arms crossed, glaring at her father.

"Now, Hadassah," said Leo, "you really need to get dressed."

"No dresses!" Hadassah snapped. "I want pants!"

"Not this time, little one," said Leo as he fetched an ornate black and gold dress from the maid. "This is an important occasion, and important occasions call for important clothes, which you must wear."

"No fair!" Hadassah snapped.

"It's not fair now, but you have to make a good impression on the people, and you can't do that if you're wearing anything other than a dress," said Leo as Alexandra came into the room.

"Any luck?" she said to him.

"Hadassah wants to wear pants to the coronation, and I'm explaining to her why it's not a good idea for her to wear pants," said Leo. Hadassah glared at him. "Perhaps you can reason with her."

"She's as stubborn as a black bear," said Alexandra as she slipped the dress over Hadassah's head. "Plus, Russians are notorious for being cold and stubborn. Hadassah is no different from them, but you and I are not Russians."

"Indeed we are not, for we are English," said Leo as Hadassah, now dressed, continued to glare at him. "But it's not where we came from that's the problem; it's where we're going that I'm having trouble with. How do we know if everything is going to go right for Nicholas? For all we know, the Snoweagles and the Wolf Packs could be looking to start trouble for us. They're not happy that Nicholas, not Alexander, is ruling over Russia, as it were, and they're going to make trouble for us because of it."

"I hope not," said Alexandra as Nicholas came into the room. "The last thing we need on this earth is another crisis. Those vampires and werewolves will be respectful if they know what''s good for them."

"Indeed they will," said Nicholas angrily. "I just finished with the invitations, and the council still insists that the Smirnovs should attend the royal balls. They say that the rumors of Jessica's abuse are lies, and Hadassah is Sergei's legitimate daughter, despite evidence to the contrary."

"Your councilmen are liars," said Leo as he glared at Nicholas. "I'm sure that Nichollo Smirnov is paying some of them to harass us. Your decision to intervene in the Smirnov family drama is making you very unpopular with the Jewish community."

"But we must learn to do what's right instead of what's easy," said Nicholas in turn. "I believe that the Jews are hiding something, something that needs to be resolved."

"Don't forget, someone always talks," said Alexandra. "I learned that the hard way when my father confronted a man who had stolen an innocent teenage girl and locked her up in a barn cellar, where she was tortured and killed. People will talk about anything..."

"We should keep an ear out for anyone who talks about something they shouldn't be talking about," said Leo. "Nichollo will try to free his wife and son-in-law, and we must sway the people's opinion against what he wants."

He took Hadassah and left the room as Marie came in. She said, "So, we're dealing with the vampires, werewolves, and the Smirnovs?"

"Very much," said Nicholas.

"We'll see about that," said Marie. "If any of them think they can get past my son, they have another thing coming."

"I wish you could be the czar," said Alexandra as Nicholas snorted. "You'd put them all in their place."

"And don't I know it," said Marie. "Now we must leave; the guests are arriving and we mustn't be late."

 

 

"Well, this is not a good thing, I tell you," Alevtina Lukina said to one of her maids as her sons, Demian and Branislav, mingled with the crowd. "I already know the Smirnovs will try to contest the czar's judgment in regards to Sergei and Rachel."

"But why would Nichollo allow such horrible people to remain in his life?" said Vlada Teryoshina. "We already knew he was forced to condemn his uncle's actions regarding that Kayla Kroger, but this is too much. How will we know he won't be forced to shove Rachel into a mental hospital?"

"She clearly needs to be in one," said Ruslana Osokina. "Rachel is crazier than that witch of Ipswitch and she won't hesitate to use her children with Nichollo to further her own ambitions."

"Not to mention, she did try to kill Sergei at Hadassah's birthday party," said Vlada.

"And there is that," said Alevtina as she glanced out the corner of her eye and saw Saba, Megan, Marcilla Reimar, and Vardina (Anya) Isaacson standing in the middle of the church sanctuary; they were apparently gossiping about certain women they didn't like. "I'm not so sure about those four," Alevtina continued. "They're as different as peas in a pod."

"Indeed," said Ruslana. "While Marcilla can be superficial and insensitive and Vardina is cruel towards people she doesn't like, it's that Megan Kroger you have to watch out for. That woman is definitely poison."

"She never got along with Slavena, even if Slavena got along with Emaria," said Vlada. "I don't know why."

"It's because Megan is Leo's second cousin," said Alevtina, "and you should know how the Kroger family is. They are very dangerous and they don't take any threats or challenges lightly."

"Not even when Megan's grandfather Bernard and great-grandfather Michael dared to incite the Berlin riots with their reading Communist Manifesto?" said Ruslana.

"Those men were utter fools, which was why they lost their wealth and their home," said Alevtina. "Such a shame that Anna and Karl both died and Christine is the only Kroger in her family still alive. She and her mother."

"Well, I wouldn't worry too much about them right now," Leo said as he approached the women. To Alevtina, he said, "And it's good to see that you have returned to court, my dear."

"The late Czar Alexander III has hindered my father and caused him to die a broken man," said Alevtina. "I can only hope that Nicholas' youth and inexperience will prevent a similar fate from happening."

"Nicholas isn't as young as we think he should be, but he is inexperienced," said Leo. "You and I, along with the other women, must gain control of the Imperial court and deal with those who wish to challenge Nicholas..."

Just then, a horn blew. The coronation was about to begin. Alevtina quickly gathered Demian and Branislav and they joined the other Trichenberg mothers and children on the balcony. Many people turned to face what would officially be their new czar.

Fortunately, the coronation went off without a hitch (save for a small chain that broke from Nicholas' suit, which Hadassah quickly retrieved). As the service progressed, Leo looked everywhere for any sign of the Smirnov family, but no one was there, save for Vladimir and his cousins Nikofor, Filipp, and Adrian and their families. Leo also took notice of Jaromir Englegardt and his guards, who stood near the boy with their weapons drawn. Behind them stood Galahad Pennington and his son, William.

"I ought to make an alliance with Lord Pennington in regards to his son and find a way to bring the Englegardt family to heel," Leo thought to himself. "If I could do that, I could perhaps stem another family horror story."

After the coronation, Leo stood up and said, "Let the people hear these words: I am Leopold Davidovich Turgenev and I will serve the czar, just as I have served his father and grandfather before him. I and my children will lead the Imperial court and I will ask you to pledge your allegiance to the new czar..."

Several of Alexander's brothers were attending the coronation; they weren't happy that Leo had decided to serve Nicholas when he had abandoned Alexander in his time of need. "That man is dangerous," said Sergei. "He will not rest until he has all of us under his thumb."

"It's not just him we must fear, but the women he keeps in his company," said Paul. "They're just as dangerous as he is, if not more."

"And there's the matter of Lady Emaria Kroger, who is the most dangerous of them all," said Alexei. "I heard that she seduced a minor member of the court and had his son. If she's capable of doing that, who knows what she might do the moment Nicholas starts listening to her."

"And he's starting to do that, I'm afraid," said Vladimir. "Let us hope the Trichenbergs are reasonable and they will not discourage us."

"I'm afraid it's too late for that," a sharp voice cut into the air. The men turned around and they gasped as they saw Sir David Trichenberg sweeping into the room. At aged 78, he cut an impressive figure in a black suit with gold chains. Two younger men were standing at his side.

"You do realize that my son and his children are bringing about some much-needed social changes," David snapped as he stared at the Romanovs. "But you wish to control your own nephew and deny him the right to rule Russia as he sees fit. The people expect certain things from him, and he must bring about those expectations, even if he doesn't agree with them."

"Says the man who attacked the States in a fit of fury," said Paul.

"I would hold my tongue if I were you, uncle," Nicholas glared at Paul. "That is Sir David Trichenberg, and he does not forgive a single slight, intentional or no. He put an end to a system that oppressed the peoples of Africa who were brought to till American soil and he ended the oppression against the Native Peoples. If he hadn't done that, what more harm could those two peoples have endured?"

"I stand corrected," said Paul. "I had no idea that Sir David was working to end injustice and oppression in the world."

"And I've barely begun my grand tour of India when I was called here," said David. "Instead of seeing the beautiful palaces in the deserts, I'm dealing with you. Is my only son not good enough for you?"

"He is," said Nicholas, "and we shall need his strength so soon. The Snoweagles and the Wolf Packs are plotting something..."

"Typical," said Alexei. "Our brother never knew when to say no to them."

"And I'm not going to mention what Nichollo Smirnov has up his sleeve," Nicholas continued.

"That little monkey is dancing on his wife's puppet strings," Vladimir snapped. "He knew that boy murdered his daughter, and he's going to let him get away with it!"

"Not if I can stop him," said Nicholas in turn.

"And you must," said David. "Remember that the people are watching you, and you must do what is right instead of what is easy. Nichollo will not be happy with you now, but what's his unhappiness when compared to a group of people grumbling about the ineptitude of their czar?"

He stared at everyone as he continued, "And that's why Leo left the palace when Alexander was still alive. He couldn't sit there and allow his words to go unheeded. Nicholas is sensible enough to heed our words, and I ask that you do the same with him."

At the same time, Hans and Magorious were standing in the back of the church with their packs. The other packs were gathering in the Khodynka Field, where the festivities would take place. Aramaeus and his council were also at the church, as the rest of the Snoweagles were preparing for a nightly attack.

Aramaeus said, "The packs report that everything is in place. The people don't suspect a thing."

"Good," said Hans. "But I should be nervous if I were you."

"And why is that?" said Magorious.

"Sir David has returned to Russia," said Hans. "And we all know that he was one of the strongest objectors to our presence in the Imperial court. He will not stop now that Alexander is dead and Nicholas is the czar."

"Maybe the time has come for us to strike," said Aramaeus. "The people won't suspect us, and we can attack as many as we wish. After the attack, they will beg Nicholas to allow us to patrol all of Russia. I'll send word to the other vampire clans and wolf packs and tell them to get ready to strike."

"That you will," said Magorious. "If all goes well, we will rule over Russia. And you want to know what the first thing I will do when I get my hands on the Smirnovs?"

"What?" said Aramaeus.

"I will kill Nichollo and most of his family, save for the youngest members, and I will rape his youngest daughter," said Magorious. "If she cooperates, I will make her my mistress. If not, well, she'll be my mistress nonetheless. Her brothers will be my cupbearers and pages. And the children of Sergei Smirnov will die."

"What a pretty sight that would be!" said Hans. "You are a genius!"

"That I am," said Magorious.

But little did they know that someone had heard their plots against the Smirnov family. Alexander Romanov IV had heard Magorious plotting to destroy the Smirnov family through evil means. He had to be stopped.

Just as he was rushing towards Nicholas to inform him of what he had heard, a hand shot out and grabbed his right arm.

Saba had seen him running through the church in search for the czar to warn him about Magorious Hoffelbax's plans regarding the destruction of Nichollo Smirnov's family. "What did you hear?" she hissed at him.

"I wouldn't honestly know," said Alexander. "But I heard Magorious and Hans planning to kill Nichollo and his family and kidnap Nichollo's daughter. The Czar must know about this immediately."

"He doesn't need to know anything about the supernatural world, only the mortal world," said Saba.

Alexander glared at her. "Why?" he snapped.

"It's better for him to be ignorant of the supernatural world than it is for him to ignore his country's problems in pursuit of something he doesn't need to know about," said Megan as she approached them. "Let us handle Magorious and his pack; they'll learn that it's not a good idea to mess with the people, and that includes the Smirnov family."

To Saba, she said, "Is everything in place?"

"Affirmative," said Saba. "They won't see us until it's too late."

"Indeed," said Megan. "Now we must get ready; the next few days promise to be quite interesting."

Alexander frowned as he watched the two women plotting to bring down the vampires and werewolves; something told him he had a role to play in the world the Trichenbergs lived in...

 

Moscow in May was unbearable. The weather was hot; many people suffered from heatstroke and dehydration. More often than not, the Trichenbergs had to stop their tour to give a poor citizen some water.

"I can't go a minute longer until I've had a chance to rest," Sir David complained as he returned to his apartments.

"But we must be vigilant," said Leo. "We might not know when the Snoweagles and the wolf packs are planning their attack."

"And it's not just them we must worry about," said Sir David. Leo glared at him. "Rumor has it that the Snowleopards, the Snowfoxes, and the Snowwolves have joined forces with the Snoweagles, and the seven wolf packs have made an alliance with five more wolf packs. If that's true, we don't have the strength to defy them!"

"Is that so?" said Leo. "I knew that Hans, Magorious, and Aramaeus had to make that alliance; they're desperate to hold onto their power, power that's being held by the sons of Czar Alexander II."

"And that man was a disgrace to his family and his country," said Sir David. "Had I known about the kind of man he'd turn out to be, I would have sent you to stay with Victoria a long time ago. But let's not cry over past regrets; Alexander's sons must be punished for their father's sins."

"So much for what they say about the sins of the father passing onto the son," said Leo.

"Unfortunately, Alexander and Nicholas are being forced to pay for their sire's sins," said Sir David. "I fear that the same punishment will fall upon the sons of Nicholas as well. I can only hope that it need not happen in our lifetime."

"And what if it does?" said Milorad as he came into the room. "I hear talk about the people planning a revolution, maybe putting someone else in Nicholas' place."

"And that must never happen," said Sir David, "not as long as we're still alive."

"Even then, your grandfather won't hesitate to burn Russia to the ground before he allows such evils to destroy it," said Leo. "That was why the United States was burned to the ground and the kingdom of Columbiana was set up in its place."

"We'll deal with the Americans later," said Sir David. "The czar is summoning us to the Kremlin, where we shall feast with him and welcome the foreign dignitaries to Moscow. The issue with the Snoweagles and the wolf packs will be addressed then."

Leo nodded in agreement, but he couldn't help but wonder if it was too late to deal with the vampires and werewolves.

 

 

As the heat attacking Moscow continued, hundreds of people gathered in a huge field to receive gifts from the Czar. Music was being played by a local band while the people danced. Laughter and cheer was in the air.

"Look at them laughing, not aware of the danger they're about to be in," Magorious snarled as his pack gazed upon the crowd.

"Not to worry, as they'll be paying the price for their czar's misdeeds," said Angelus Soradin, who brought his pack to Moscow. "Nicholas was wrong for not allowing us to dispatch those young people who want to overthrow him as czar and set up Russia as a republic."

"He'll be learning his lesson soon," said Hans. "But first, we attack."

As the laughter continued, a scream was heard. A man was suddenly thrown to the ground and killed. Before anyone else could react, several werewolves burst onto the scene and began their attack, snatching people and clawing them to death.

As many people fled from the field, many of them fell to the ground and were trampled to death. Men were knocked down and eaten, while women were torn from their husbands and raped. Children everywhere began crying for their parents, only to be snatched by vampires that came from the buildings they were hiding in.

The guards tried to control the situation, but they too were attacked by the vampires and werewolves. As the disaster grew, Magorious and Hans laughed, as they had quickly turned what should have been a joyous day into a day of tragedy. Aramaeus joined them at a nearby platform, surveying the attack.

"The screams of terror brings me joy," said Magorious as he sat in a vacated chair and poured himself a large glass of wine. "Nothing like fear to remind the people of who's really in charge of Russia."

"Nicholas was a fool to think that he could run this show," said Hans as he sipped from his glass. "Did you hear what he had the nerve to tell me on the night of his father's funeral?"

"I have," said Aramaeus, "and I don't like it. He and his mother had the nerve to stand up to us, and we don't like that."

"He'll learn his lesson when he hears about this," said Caeryn as he and the other leaders came to the platform and Magorious poured their drinks. "But first, let us enjoy the fruits of our labor."

"We will rule over Russia when this is over," said Darlaina Dimplon, the leader of the Snowfoxes. "If Nicholas knows what's good for him, he will concede and admit defeat."

"Oh, he'll be doing more than that," Magorious snarled. The others stared at him. "The child he calls Hadassah Rachel Shoshana Trichenberg is my great-granddaughter Sophia, as her mother Jessica was my granddaughter. He and his wife are not only keeping the child from her father, but they're keeping her from her mother's family as well. I will find a way to use Sophia to control the royal family, just as Alexander II used Lara, Serafima, and Vasili to control Leopold Turgenev."

"And look at how well that turned out for the both of them," said Radion Raskilinov, the leader of the Snowleopards. "Leopold loses his wife at an early age and Alexander was murdered on the streets of Saint Petersburg. Then along comes Alexander III, who angered Leopold to the point that he took his entire family and left the city."

"At least he was wise to listen to us," said Aramaeus, "not that it did him much good in the end."

But little did they know that the stampede and attacks drew very little publicity, as the vampires and werewolves quickly left the area. The guards came and restored order, but over 1,000 people were killed in the stampede while twice as many people were attacked and killed by the vampires and werewolves. Nicholas was informed of the attacks, and to say that he was angry about hearing of the attacks was an understatement.

"I can't believe that Magorious and Aramaeus would do this," Nicholas said to Leo and Sir David as they held an emergency meeting in his office. After consideration, he had decided not to attend a ball held in his honor, as he believed that attending the ball would be an insult to the dead people. "I wonder why no one told me that the vampires and werewolves would attack on this day."

"I wouldn't know, unless someone decided that you were better off ignorant of the supernatural world," said Sir David. "I think that's preposterous, seeing as you've been a part of the supernatural world since you were born."

"Well, that explains so many things," said Nicholas.

"Indeed it does," said Sir David. "Your grandfather was quite interested in my family history, as he wanted to know about the spellcasters as well as the vampires and werewolves. It didn't do him any good when he turned his back on his wife and children and pursued that other woman."

"He destroyed his family," said Leo. "He almost destroyed my marriage along with his. But my women are wiser than he was, and Megan forced another woman who Alexander dangled in front of me as a potential wife to marry a man she despised."

"And what are you saying about what I should do about what had happened?" said Nicholas.

"You should go to the people and hear their stories," said Sir David. "Many of them will be angry and bitter about being attacked by the vampires and werewolves, and you must show them compassion. No doubt they will look to you for wisdom, and you will address the issues regarding the vampires and werewolves."

Nicholas nodded, but then he said, "Out of respect for the dead people, I'm skipping the ball. But Alexandra tells me that in doing so, I'm showing disrespect to the French dignitaries."

"Your uncles are fools to imply that you have no care for their selfish wants and desires," said Sir David. "Leo and I will handle them and their petty behavior. You have more important things to do than to deal with a group of men who don't have the people's interests in mind."

Nicholas nodded as he and Alexandra left the room. Sir David said to his son, "How's about we go to the ball and terrorize those greedy little bastards?"

 

 

As the royal ball continued, the guests gasped in horror as they saw Sir David and Leo, along with Emaria and Radmila and their mothers, walking into the room. Sir David wore an angry look on his face.

"So, I hear that some of you would refer to your czar as "Nicholas the Bloody". Is this true? If so, then I'm beyond disappointed in you. I'm sure your father and brother would share the same sentiment had they still lived."

As the entire ballroom began to protest the harsh words, Nicholas and Alexandra went to the hospitals and spoke to the people who survived the stampede. As they spoke to a man whose wife was killed during the stampede, a harsh voice cut through the air.

"Well, what have we here? Nicholas the Bloody? Even I can't agree with that name," Magorious Hoffelbax snarled as he glared at the czar. Nicholas noted the people shrinking back in fear as the werewolf leader approached him. "You chose to go to the people when you should have attended the royal ball," Magorious continued to sneer at him. "You must think yourself a good man or a foolish child. But that's not why I'm here."

"What have you done to the people?" Alexandra cried as a small boy clutched her hand.

"Nothing that you could have prevented," said Magorious. "And yet, you still seem to be so honorable. I'll forgive that...for a price."

"Name it," Alexandra snapped.

"You will know the truth about the one you call Hadassah Rachel Shoshana Trichenberg," said Magorious. "You will know whose child she is, and who's child she isn't. She isn't yours, and she certainly doesn't belong to that pathetic swine Sergei Smirnoff, thank God."

"You should know that she is Leo's daughter," said Nicholas.

"She is, because I planned it," said Magorious. "How long was I willing to stand aside and allow that evil man to beat my granddaughter and date another woman in her face, even presenting her with his two bastard children and claiming her as the mother? Sergei is a fool, and I intend to make sure that he and those two bastards Sabrina and Leonard will die for what he has done."

"So you planned everything," said Nicholas. "You made sure that Leo would go to the villages and meet...Jessica?"

"Indeed," said Magorious as one of his servants began to pour drinks. "I had to do something to save her or else she would have gone mad. But that would mean any child she had would be labeled a bastard, and we couldn't have that. Not unless I threatened to make Leo's daughter Emaria as my mistress, which he wouldn't allow. Those Trichenbergs can be dangerous if you get on their bad side. You know of whom I speak, Nicholas. Didn't your father learn that lesson the hard way when a witch cursed him with death when he adopted that boy instead of allowing Megan Kroger to raise him? He did, and so will you."

"What are you saying?" a man hissed. "You're telling us that you attacked us over an imagined slight?" The people began yelling at the werewolf.

"No, good sir, I attacked the people because they believed a lie over the truth," said Magorious. "A lie your czar revealed and yet, he did nothing. He has my great-granddaughter, my only great-granddaughter mind you, and he intends to raise her the same way his father raised Alexander."

"Alexander was no bastard!" A woman yelled. "His father and mother married six months before he was born! He deserves the Smirnov family name!"

"I see," said Magorious, "and your czar couldn't handle that truth. And what is truth, if people stretch it? It's a good thing that your czar knows what he should and shouldn't do, or else he'd be like his grandfather and father before him."

"So, my sister is your great-granddaughter?" Another voice cut in. Lara and Serafima Turgenev were in the hospital, with Lara having survived the initial stampede. Serafima wasn't so lucky, as she had been raped by several werewolves. She was eventually found by a guard and taken to the hospital. "Was that the reason why Serra was raped and her nurse slain?"

"That woman was a fool to protect your sister," said Magorious. "Besides, being the granddaughter of my most hated rival meant you deserved to be punished for everything he had done. The sins of the father often visit the children, as it were, and your grandfather was the worst sinner of all."

"What sins has he committed to warrant my sister's said fate?" Lara snapped. "Surely it had nothing to do with my mother?"

"Your mother was the worst of Leo Trichenberg's women," said Magorious. "In choosing to be his wife instead of becoming a nun, she sealed her own fate. Leo deserved better than her, but that's in the past. You, however, are condemned to a terrible death, unless you agree to serve the Moonbeam pack, which is my pack."

"And what if I say no?" Lara snapped.

"You have no other choice," said Magorious. "The church has declared you and your siblings as bastards, yet gave legitimacy to your father's other children. While Nicholas refuses to sign the order, he nonetheless is forced to declare your lives forfeit."

"And you planned it, didn't you?" Serafima wept. "You were angry that our grandfather defied you and refused to give you his two daughters. So you figured that you attack his second granddaughter to get back at him?"

"It was his own fault he decided to defy me," said Magorious. "But do not worry, as like your father, I take good care of my women and children. Serafima will be fine. But you should worry about your own fate, for if you don't produce a child within the year, your life will be forfeit. And that goes for your brother Vasili and your sister Raina."

To Nicholas, he said, "Vasili is to marry a lower class woman to keep the Turgenev family name alive, yet Lara and Raina aren't allowed to marry at all. They can only produce bastards. As for Sophia, I will see her soon."

With that, he swept from the room.

"I continue to like him less as I get to know him," said Nicholas. "He's a monster willing to hurt others if he doesn't get what he wants."

"We should have seen it coming," said Alexandra. "Magorious Hoffelbax is not a forgiving man. He knew what was up with Hadassah long before we did, and he won't hesitate to use her to destroy us."

"Except he'll have to deal with Leo and Sir David," said Nicholas. "They won't let him get away with this. He may have used Leo to get a child from Jessica, but he has us to contend with."

"And me and my sister," said Lara. "He hates us for being the grandchildren of George Shapiro, but what else is new?"

"I will deal with the church regarding your legitimacy," said Nicholas. "This must be the work of that Brother Dmitriy Pechenikov and his men. They didn't like your mother, and I'm willing to believe they orchestrated her death to force your father to marry Milyena Morenova. If that's true, the head priest will be troubled to hear that."

"He will be, as soon as I deal with him," said Leo as he came into the room. "Your uncles are angry with you for not attending the ball, but my daughters and father are setting them straight. But I saw Magorious Hoffelbax, and you certainly made him very angry."

"And yet, no one has called for me to accept the vampires and werewolves as the guardians of Russia," said Nicholas. "I wonder why."

"They attacked us!" said the same man. "They attacked us because you are not your father. They wanted to control Russia, but you wouldn't let them."

"Nor should I," said Nicholas. "Russia is not for the vampires and werewolves, it is for the people. And the sooner they know that, the better we will be."

"They will return to attack us," a hysterical woman screamed. "They will tear us apart! You can't side with them, they are monsters!"

"Nor will I allow them to run around Russia unchecked, unchallenged, killing at will," said Nicholas. "And if we want to take control of our country, we must find men who are willing to lead us through the good times and the lean times. I am the czar, not Magorious Hoffelbax, and if I have to concede complete authority to save my people, I will."

"Very good," said Leo. "Your father would have balked at such a claim."

"I am not my father," said Nicholas, "and he would have blamed Lara and Serra for their own fate."

"Then Alexander was a fool," said Leo. "But no matter. I will take the girls home and let you straighten out the mess with the stampede. Someone should pay for that tragedy, and not just in money."

"And they will," said Alexandra with a glare on her face.

 

 

To make a long story short, over 1,000 people were crushed to death in the stampede and over 2,000 people were attacked and killed by the vampires and werewolves. An internal investigation revealed that the guards didn't do a great job containing the situation and even the militia failed to stop the tragedy from happening. Many people lost their jobs as a result of the investigation.

While Nicholas' decision to visit the hospitals instead of attending the ball endeared him to the people, the noblemen declared him "Nicholas the Bloody", which angered many people and werewolves. Hans especially took offense to that as he and the other pack leaders met in his castle one evening.

"Those noblemen have to go!" Fernalin snapped. "They have been mean and greedy for far too long! The people are tired of being poor and hungry, and they want to establish a new government!"

"And getting rid of the nobles will accomplish this how?" said Hans.

"I suggest we stage a fake revolution and scare them into giving up 99% of their wealth," said Plover. "Nicholas will be unable to help them, as he has his own problems with Magorious. When we've destroyed them all, only the middle class citizens should rule over Russia."

"Good idea," said Magorious. "I will prevent Nicholas from helping his richer subjects in favor of him giving up his absolute power over Russia. When he is nothing more than a useless figurehead and his uncles are a shadow of their former selves, we will truly control Russia."

"And what a pretty sight that would be!" said Lioston.

"Indeed it will be, once Nicholas admits that he took Sophia without knowledge of who she truly is," said Hans. "Understand that what happened at the field will be nothing more than a dress rehearsal for the disaster that will commence once we are at our full power. The men leading the Russian church are to blame for everything that's happening right now. As the saying goes, if we lose God, we lose the Romanovs and we lose Russia. And I intend for that to happen within a year. Make sure we find men of better repute to lead the church and we have everything that we need to control the church, the royal family, and Russia."

The werewolves laughed as they plotted the downfall of the Russian empire, not knowing that the sorcerers were plotting to destroy them...

 

 

After a long journey, Nicholas sobbed in relief as he returned to the Alexander Palace. He had spent several days attending balls and tending to the people injured in the stampede. Plus, he and the council had several meetings, with everyone voicing their opinions on what to do about the vampires and werewolves.

"I don't know what I'm going to do about them," Leo said to him as the family gathered for dinner. "Magorious is a terrible man, but I cannot deny that he's the reason Hadassah is here."

"He said as much when we saw him," said Alexandra. "He was angry that we didn't reveal that we had his great-granddaughter; for that crime, Serafima paid with her innocence."

"And I imagine Magorious himself was responsible for taking her, wasn't he?" said Leo. "He wouldn't, if he didn't boast of it. He's a liar and a fiend, but we can't do anything to him, not if we want the blood of the Smirnov family on our hands. Nichollo's children with Rachel are already doomed to be his servants, and two very small children will die before the next Christmas. A branch of the Smirnov family is marked for slaughter, and not even Simon can save them."

"Not if Simon was contacted," said Nicholas. "I'm sure he might have some things to say about Magorious. After all, it's his family that's being threatened with extinction, and any unmarried son of Nichollo and Esther Smirnov is marked for death. We must get these men married before the middle of September."

"A marriage is a good idea," said Sir David. "But I wonder how many women are willing to marry into the Smirnov family, given their history of violence towards women and a willingness to murder innocent babies in the name of marriage?"

"There might not be, unless those women have no hope," said Alexandra. "There are plenty of invalids and undesirable women all over Russia, and these women are marked for slaughter, either by the vampires and werewolves, or in the mental institutions all over the country. There can be no way those women won't do anything to secure a marriage, even to a son of Nichollo Smirnov."

"Good," said Leo. "I'll have the women make arrangements for the marriages while we deal with Magorious. Make no mistake, for we must work quickly before he has a chance to strike. No family should have to die because of one man's sins."

"Yet, the Trichenberg family invented vendetta," said Sir David.

"And that's one of the reasons why people fear us," said Leo as he stared at Hadassah. "We are ruthless and we don't like to be trifled with. We have been known to destroy our enemies if one of us is slighted. We show very little mercy towards our allies, as they can quickly turn on us if the opportunity arises."

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