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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10. The Deep Breath Before the Plunge

"Well, that was a refreshing change of pace, one we most certainly needed," said Alexandra as she set a sleeping baby Olga in her crib and guided Hadassah to her bed.

"Indeed," said Nicholas as he had the servants take the trunks to the sitting room. "I was sure your grandmother would die of fright upon seeing how tiny Hadassah was compared to Olga."

In case you're wondering what was going on, Nicholas and Alexandra had spent some time visiting Alexandra's grandmother, Queen Victoria of England. While the older woman was charmed by baby Olga, she gasped in fright when the apparently tiny Hadassah jumped from behind a large couch and scared her. While Alexandra scolded the child for frightening her grandmother, Leo laughed, saying that Hadassah had the capability to charm the old monarch, and she should learn royal politics the moment she turned two years old. Nicholas agreed, knowing that Hadassah would need to learn the names of the remaining nobles and members of the imperial court as soon as possible.

"I must admit I quite enjoyed Hadassah appearing out of seemingly nowhere and scaring those stuck-up British cousins of yours," said Nicholas. "Even your cousin Wilhelm wrinkled his German nose at her, but she didn't flinch."

"Yet your cousin George seems to think she's quite a little charmer," said Alexandra.

"That's good for him," said Nicholas. "Yet when Leo took her to visit his cousins, the palace was in an uproar for three days. Your grandmother was certainly displeased with Leo not telling her where he was going or taking Hadassah without her knowledge or consent."

"Well, it seems our work as Trichenbergs is done," said Sir David, who had traveled with them to visit the queen. "We dangle my granddaughter in front of the prime minister and he gets as hooked as the queen is. Hadassah is on her way to becoming a master manipulator."

"May God help the poor man who dares to cross her path," said Leo.

As the babies slept and the adults spoke long into the night, Shiloh Smirnov spied on them from his hiding place. After learning about the deaths of his relatives, he didn't give himself into mourning their deaths; instead he maintained his secret identity as a servant working in the palace. Having been the second son of Luke Smirnov, Shiloh knew he was expected to join The Order of the Second Sons, a military group for second-born Jewish sons. Yet he chose to remain in the palace, for both his grandfather's sanity and to keep himself and his siblings out of trouble.

Yet tonight, trouble was going to find them.

Matthew came to him, saying, "You remember Lady Kayla, don't you?"

"Can't say I have," said Shiloh. "She was always weepy and spoke constantly of her children. I don't think she liked us or our father. Why do you ask about her?"

"Her grandfather is Bernard Kroger," said Matthew, "and he's pestering grandfather about me."

"Well, you'll have to get married someday," said Shiloh.

"I know," said Matthew. "Bernard wants me to marry his daughter, Jenna."

"Jenna?" Melissa coughed as she brought the boys their supper. "You mean grandfather wants you to marry Jenna Kroger? She's 43 years old!"

"Well, Alevtina Lukina was 40 years old when she had Demian," said Shiloh. "But I fail to see how that's relevant."

"Well, I do," said Melissa. "I don't know why that man continues to trouble our unhappy family. I mean it's already bad enough that our father had to take Kayla away from her family, but why her grandfather wants to bind our family with his is beyond me."

"Who knows what these noblemen and women are up to," said Shiloh. "But you can't say no to the marriage, not unless you want our family to be further exposed and destroyed by the werewolves."

"Indeed I must marry Jenna Kroger," said Matthew. "I don't have any other choice. Besides, the Smirnov family has been disgraced enough; I cannot afford to make any more mistakes."

To Shiloh, he said, "You know I have no choice. It's either I marry Jenna or we all end up as dead as our cousins. There's no other way around it. Besides, there's no way we can ever redeem our father's name, not unless we all commit seppuku."

"Japanese suicide?" Melissa cried. "You mean, people in Japan would do that to redeem their family's honor? No thank you! I'd like to live, thank you very much."

"And I wish for a better fate for you all instead of this mockery of a marriage," said Simon as he approached his grandchildren. "You know what your father did to your mother when he stole Lady Kayla from her family and left her with with a man with no tongue. It's a small wonder she and that Milomir Gacević went to Brazil while you kids were living in London."

"At least she's still alive," said Shiloh, "but I highly doubt she'd want to see us again, not if we hadn't made any form of contact with her for the past 12 years..."

As the Smirnovs spoke of an unwanted marriage and their cursed family history, 12-year-old Alexander Romanov had overheard them while hiding behind a door leading to the outside. He frowned, knowing that there were some people who knew his family history, yet, he wasn't allowed to talk to any of them.

Well, not as a prince, anyway.

He went to the servants' quarters and took off the fine clothes he had worn his entire life, replacing them with the coarse clothing of a kitchen boy. If the other servants had seen him entering through the quarters, they did not say anything. After all, very few people dared to show Alexander any kindness after the death of Czar Alexander III.

"They will look for the Imperial Prince Alexander Romanov, but he is gone," he said to himself as he stared into a mirror in the bathroom. "I am now Adrian Rosenberg, a humble orphan kitchen boy with no parents...and no future."

He turned around and saw several servants heading to the kitchen, where they would prepare food for a luncheon that Nicholas had planned for several visiting relatives. Those servants could always use a few extra hands.

 

 

A week later, Nicholas was sitting in his office reading over some important papers when Constantine burst in waving a letter around. He said, "Sir, you must read this right away."

"And I shall," Nicholas said as he took the paper from Constantine and began reading:

"To Nicholas II, son of Alexander III, the Imperial Czar of Russia:

"I know you will not be pleased with how I handled the Smirnov family, but they had to die. I know that Nichollo Smirnov and several other noblemen and women have been plotting against you and your ward, and I had to stop them before their plans came to fruition.

"They have plotted against the crown since your grandfather, Alexander II, was the Czar of Russia. I daresay they were behind the attack that eventually took his life while you were still a boy. Yet their crimes against the crown have gone unpunished...until now.

"You already know the story about my great-grandaughter Sophia and why she was born...and why her mother died.

"I know you will go after me for the lives that I took, but the lives that were taken were well-deserved, as those people sided with their relatives when they committed treason and didn't bother to turn them into the police. And to allow somone to commit treason is as bad as actually committing the crime itself.

"We will discuss this when I see you.

"Sincerely, Magorious Hoffelbax, Supreme Leader of the Moonlight Clan"

"We'll, isn't this interesting," Nicholas muttered to himself as he read over the letter. Ivan walked into the room carrying a second letter. "This letter came from Sir Leo Trichenberg," he said.

"What does it say?" said Constantine.

"It says that Leo's daughter Serafima has given birth," said Ivan.

"Son or daughter?" said Nicholas.

"She had three daughters, if that is even possible," said Ivan. "You know who their father is."

"And the mother?" said Maria as she came in bringing another letter. "Does she live?"

"She lives, but barely," said Ivan. "Don't forget, she inherited her mother's poor health."

"And yet, she might live longer than that poor woman," said Nicholas. Then noticing Maria, he said, "And I suppose you have a message for me?"

"It's from Hans Fruar," said Maria. "It says that last night, Lady Jenna Kroger captured a fine young fox cub while her brothers gave the wedded couple 100 weasel pelts."

"Indeed," said Ivan. "I take it that the family of Amalia Schewster was brutally slaughtered at the wedding?"

"What a travesty," said Maria. "It was already bad enough she had to be involved with that Sergei Smirnov, but did her family have to die?"

"I'm sure that Magorious Hoffelbax was behind this," said Constantine. "He knew that Amalia ruined the marriage between Sergei and Jessica and he wanted to not only punish her, but also punish her parents, siblings, and several other relatives along with her."

"I guess we're slowly learning a lesson that we can't mess with Magorious' family and get away with it," said Ivan. "Not unless we want to plan our own funerals."

"Not to worry, as I will deal with him when he comes," said Nicholas. "I'm not sure why he has a vendetta against the Jewish noble families, but it's nothing I can't deal with. If you see Sir David, bring him in. There's something I need to discuss with him."

As the servants left the room, Alexander watched everything from his hiding spot, which was behind a suit of armor. So far, no one had noticed him, nor did they notice the absence of the prince. Yet he was sure that someone would discover his true identity before long.

"You there! Boy! Why are you hanging about the door blocking my way in?" Sir David snapped as he saw Alexander. The boy froze for a second before he realized the old man was talking to him. "What is your name, boy?" Sir David snapped.

"My name is Adrian," said Alexander. "My parents abandoned me here when I was a baby."

"I see," said Sir David. "Go to the kitchens and tell them to bring me some tea. I'm parched."

As Alexander ran down the hall towards the kitchens, he knew he had almost exposed his secret and in the presence of Nicholas himself. Yet he couldn't help but wonder if the lie he told the other man was true. After all, he had no idea about who his true parents were, no thanks to Czar Alexander III.

When he came to the kitchen he saw several servants huddled in a corner. They were talking about the fate of the Schewster family and how and why they deserved their deaths. They also spoke about the highly controversial marriage of Matthew Smirnov to Lady Jenna Kroger, a marriage that was quickly becoming unpopular for several reasons.

"Excuse me?" said Alexander, which quickly got everyone's attention. "I hate to bother you all, but can someone make some tea for Sir David?"

"I will," said Maria, "but I want to know who you are and where you come from. I've never seen you around here."

"My name is Adrian Rosenberg," said Alexander, "and my parents abandoned me here when I was a baby. I don't know if they're alive or dead."

"Indeed," said Maria as she stared at Alexander. "It's such a shame that parents abandoned children when they should be taking care of them. But no matter. We will find out who they are and seek some form of punishment for them abandoning you."

"Indeed we must find out who they are," said Alexander, but he knew that deep down inside, he would never meet his parents, nor would he see their faces or learn their names. If he had never felt like an orphan, this was it.

He looked around and saw the other servants staring at him, as if they all knew who he was. Most of them glared at him, yet there were some younger people who seem to smile at him. Alexander took note of who he could trust with his secret and who he couldn't.

Before he got too far, he saw Constantine walking into the room. He said, "I know you're all talking about that marriage."

"The marriage is a mockery!" said Timothy. "That poor boy's going to be saddled with that virgin for the rest of his life! Was there no young woman for him to marry?"

"Not if he was a Smirnov," said Sonya. "And even then, I believe this marriage was to punish him for his father's sins when he took Kayla away from her family and made her have that little boy that killed her in childbirth. That's all this marriage is; nothing but retribution for the sins of his father."

Just then, Alexander looked up and said, "I'm sorry to interrupt, but can you tell me about Kayla Kroger?"

Everyone looked at him with a strange expression on their faces. Alexander felt his face turning red; he knew he was crossing a line by asking about Kayla Kroger, but was he willing to hear the truth about his own birth?

 

 

In case you forgot, this part of the story is called "The Deep Breath Before the Plunge". It is a fitting title, as all of Russia was holding their breath, waiting to see what Nicholas would do about the vampire and werewolf attacks that were quickly turning Russia into a wasteland.

It was during that time that baby Olga had her first birthday and Hadassah had her second birthday. As he saw the members of the court gushing over the two small girls, Leo frowned, knowing that without a doubt, things were about to get very bad for Russia. He hoped that his grandchildren Theoderic, Talia, and the triplets Vivianna, Grivina, and Ellamaria wouldn't have to grow up in a world filled with monsters and magic.

Yet the world didn't operate the way it was supposed to; Russia was quickly falling and if the situation was not addressed quickly, the rest of the world would fall as well.

Megan said to him, "There he is, cousin! There's that son of that cruel and deceitful man who stole our Kayla."

"I see," said Leo as he stared at Matthew Smirnov, who came to the royal festivities with his wife Jenna. "That's no marriage," he said. "It's little more than a mockery of what his father did to Kayla. I'm sure Sir Bernard's feeling the heat due to his decision to marry that boy to his daughter."

"How do we know if she can have children?" said Saba. "We all knew it was a lucky shot with Alevtina and her two boys, but how do we know that Matthew won't be taking a mistress when it becomes evident that Jenna can never have children?"

"Who knows?" said Leo. "Many people objected to the marriage; not even Count Simon could fight off the marriage, not unless he wanted to openly challenge the other man. And with so many of his grandchildren dead, he cannot take his chances."

"Yet I wonder about Jochen, Noemi, Chiara, Phillip, and Lennart, who are Sir Bernard's children with that Maya Vershinina," said Alevtina. "We all know he has children with Magdalena Rehn, Alwine Weidenmann, and Rolanda Hasenclever who is the mother of the bride and her brothers. Let us hope he's not trying to be like Leo."

"Oh goodness no! Perish the thought!" cried Sir David. "The last thing we all want is for our Leo to compete with his uncle in terms of children. We can't have that happening."

"And it won't, since the church is still pressuring me to marry Lady Raya Starikova, which I think is preposterous," said Leo.

"Preposterous indeed," said Alevtina. "We women don't like her, so she would have no place in our family. Why would the church force us to withstand a woman we despise? Slavena wasn't as bad as everyone thought, but this new lady is as despicable as they come."

"I'll find her a deformed older man to marry," said Anya.

"Good," said Leo. "While you do that, Megan has offered to dance for our guests. After all, she's part Roma and they're notorious for being party animals."

"And proud of it," Megan smiled at him. "Also, my father and siblings will be coming here for Christmas, so we should have this mess with the vampires and werewolves cleaned up by then."

"Good," said Sir David. "I'm getting too old to deal with that Magorious Hoffelbax and that Hans Fruar. They've given me more gray hairs than my children did."

As the Trichenbergs watched Megan and a group of Romas dancing for the guests, Constantine saw Alexander sitting by himself in an area usually reserved for servants. So far, no one knew his secret identity as Alexander Romanov, Imperial Prince of Russia. Also, no one seemed to notice that Alexander was missing for that matter.

Constantine said to Alexander, "You were asking about Kayla Kroger?"

"Well, I must admit I've heard the other servants gossiping about her, yet the father of our current Czar has forbidden the name to be uttered while in the presence of the Imperial Prince," said Alexander. "I wanted to know why that was so."

"I wouldn't rightly know, but I think I know a bit about the Kroger family, not that there's much of it is good," said Constantine. "Anyway, the Kroger family came here in 1849, when Leopold Trichenberg was 4 years old. Bernard was a hard and unforgiving man; he sold his older daughter to a gypsy tribe when she disobeyed him. She took a gypsy husband named Tamas Mosaddiq and they had Megan (Majaris), Laura (Lennor), Daniel (Durril), Joseph (Jibben), Sherrice (Syeira), Kayla (Kostana), and Karl (Kappi). But that's common knowledge.

"At the same time, Anna's sister Christine married a wealthy Jewish man and they went to live in the States. I'm sure they're living a better life than Anna had done, perhaps with married children and some grandchildren. Yet the story of Karl Kroger was a sad story, as he had died one day before his 15th birthday, much to his mother's grief. Bernard tried to get Leo to replace his dead son, but David took him away and gave him to Czar Alexander II as a royal ward; Leo was 8 years old."

"And then Sir David went to the States and gets offended when someone gifted him a few slaves," said Alexander. "That's why he firebombed the country back to 1607."

"And they deserved it too," said Constantine. "There was no excuse for them to do what they did to those people."

"I know," said Ivan as he walked by them. "Shame on them."

"Anyway," said Constantine, "After Anna's unfortunate death and the death of baby Karl, Michaela got her other grandchildren and brought them and their father to her home in the Crimea. The children didn't get to meet their grandfather until they were nearly grown. By then, most of them had gotten married and had their own children, including Megan and her daughter, Emaria Trichenberg. You know who her father is.

"Yet things went south for the rest of Anna's children, as Sherrice (who was revealed to be mentally ill) was placed in a hospital, where she gave birth to a daughter named Zinaida and died. Yet, the story about Kayla was a tragic one; her husband, Sambor Denisovich Maslak, and their two oldest sons, Afanasy and German, died unexpectedly while the family was living in Paris, France. Only Nikita and his sisters Marfa and Glasha are still alive. Kayla brought them back to her grandmother's mansion, where she had that encounter with that Luke Smirnov and disappeared without a trace. The Mosaddiq family searched far and wide for her, but they never saw her again. I had seen her once when I was a boy, and that was when Luke brought her to the palace so she could give birth to their son. Within a day and a half of coming to the palace, she died in childbirth and Luke died soon after. Their only son, Kaira, disappeared shortly after his parents' funerals and hasn't been seen since."

"Well, that's interesting," said Felix Kapustin as he walked by their spot. He, his brother Michael, and their father Ruslan were also attending the royal festivities. "I'm surprised that no one thought to look for the boy."

"If they did, I'm sure the Czar would notice," said Constantine, who clearly did not have time to talk to those of the upper-class. "But since they didn't, I'm guessing that no one cares if the boy is alive or dead."

"Indeed," said Felix as he looked at Alexander with a strange look on his face. "I never heard that story before. How did the last two czars allow this to happen when our current czar would probably find and punish Luke for his evil deeds?"

"Because the czar has more than enough sense than his father and grandrather," said Constantine. "In fact, I would be so bold to say that he has enough sense to squeeze past his uncles and the other noblemen to get what he wants."

Felix laughed, saying, "For a servant working in the royal palace, you seem to know more about the royal family than you should. Are you sure you're not a royal bastard?"

"If he is a royal bastard, it's none of your business," said Alexander as he sized up the other man. "The servants know about the royal family because they work here. Who are you to decide what he can or cannot know about the Romanovs?"

Felix snapped, "Now listen up here, boy, you have no right to tell me what to do. You're a servant, and a servant is all you'll ever be. You're lucky I don't demand something else from you because you know I will."

Alexander tensed, but Constantine said to Felix, "Don't you have anything relating to nobility to do?"

"Well," Felix began.

"Then I suggest that you go away and let us servants do our work," said Constantine. "You can't demand anything from this boy, not unless you want to deal with the czar and Leo Trichenberg."

"Now I know you didn't suggest that," said Felix. "I hear that man has a reputation of crushing his enemies without mercy."

"Then I suggest that you leave this area and never return," Constantine snapped. "And if I catch you over here again, I won't be so friendly."

As Felix left the servants area, Constantine said to Alexander, "You need to know your place here, Adrian. Some of these nobles are known to molest young children like you if you defy them. You cannot give them a reason to molest you no matter what you do."

Alexander nodded, shocked that he had seen another side of the new world he was now in. While the servants gossiped about the royal family, they also had to deal with discrimination and disrespect. Alexander was sure that that could have been his ultimate fate had he still lived as a prince.

 

 

At the same time, Nicholas said, "While the Imperial Princess Hadassah grows up and thrives, I have a few issues that need to be taken care of. Concerning the Turgenev family, I have received a request from the Russian church to declare Lara, Serafima, Vasili, and Raina Turgenev as bastards and the marriage between their parents Leopold Turgenev and Slavena Shapiro as fraudulent and fictitious." The people began to yell and curse, as they didn't like what the church leaders had wanted for the Turgenev family. "Therefore, I declare the Turgenevs to be legitimate and they will receive their full rights to inheirit their father's possessions and the castle he holds in Sochi."

At this, everyone gasped, not believing what they heard. Not only did Nicholas refuse to grant the church's requests, but he literally stomped on them and shamed them in front of the entire country.

But he wasn't done yet, as he continued, "Yet, the church has already legitimized the births of Emaria Kroger, Radmila Reimar, Vavara Isaacson Smirnov, Milorad and Evgenia Mekonnen, Demian and Branislav Lukin, and Hadassah Rachel Shoshana Trichenberg, and since I signed that decree two years ago, I cannot undo it. Yet there's one thing I can do that they will not like and that is to raise their families to the nobility."

"He must be joking!" said Lord Ratibor Maryin as he stared at the women standing next to Leo. "He can't be allowed to do that!"

"And then again, yes he can," said Lady Alla Patrusheva. "Who are we to deny him, especially when we didn't support his claim to the throne in the first place? After all, his father wanted to put a bastard on the throne and allow the vampires and werewolves to control Russia."

"And when last I checked, those vampires and werewolves are terrorizing the country," said Lord Boyan Isayev. "How could Alexander want them to control Russia when all they're doing is killing wealthy people and oppressing the peasants?"

"Who knows what that Hans Fruar and Magorious Hoffelbax are up to?" said Lord Maryin.

"I'm surprised that neither of them objected to the marriage of Matthew Smirnov and Jenna Kroger," said Lady Patrusheva. "If anything, Magorious would have been the first to voice his objections to the czar. After all, the Smirnov family was responsible for his granddaughter's death."

"And he killed them all in response to Jessica's death," said Lady Klara Grushinka. "Now I'm sure that he's plotting to get rid of that poor young man and take Jenna as his mistress."

Before the others could respond, Nicholas continued, "I know many of you are objecting to this sudden appointment, but believe me when I say that I reward those who help me and punish those who hurt me. So don't be surprised if some of you find yourselves out of a position tomorrow."

Everyone stared at the czar as he saw Brother Dmitriy Pechenikov standing at the back of the ballroom. The monk had been against Nicholas' claim to the Russian throne, as he preferred that Leo's son Milorad take the throne after Alexander II's death. When Leo refused and eventually named his true born son Vasili as his heir, Dmitriy swore to get revenge on the sorcerer for defying him.

He recruited several other Brothers and they made an edict declaring Vasili and his sisters Lara, Serafima, and Raina illegitimate and Leo's marriage to their mother Slavena ficticious. The men also declared Milorad and his siblings Emaria, Radmila, Vavara, Evgenia, Demian, and Branislav as Leo's true born children, something that angered him. (Plus, it didn't help the situation when Dmitriy also declared Hadassah as Anisa Leopoldovna Turgeevna, completely erasing her given name Sophia Liora Sharansky. That did not make Leo or David very happy.)

Dmitriy said to the Czar, "How dare you defy the Will of God by declaring that those bastards have the right to exist!"

"Well, you aren't doing a good job being a man of God and exercising God's Will over our lives," said Nicholas. "In fact, I made sure to destroy that declaration because I believe that Lara, Serafima, Vasili, and Raina have the right to exist. If you want to destroy them after hearing what I said regarding their fates, then you might as well go to their father. Which is a terrible idea because he has the power to destroy you where you stand."

As the people protested, Leo said to David, "Something tells me that Satan has entered this country and has corrupted several of our leaders."

"You're right, Leo," said David. "What a travesty it is when wickedness is right and righteousness is wrong. I now understand that it is not the vampires and werewolves who are the worst monsters in the world but it's the humans themselves who have the capacity to commit this kind of evil."

"So what should we do about it?" said Leo. "We are almost out of time and it's too late to do anything to bring humanity to heel."

"We can't subdue humanity by ourselves," said David. "I must confirm with the other families and see where we are going next. We are entering a great battle now and now is not the time to turn back or give into our fears. I believe God is testing us to see how long we can endure on this earth; to give into fear is to admit defeat. I will not give in and neither will you."

Leo nodded in agreement, knowing that the moment Dmitriy made his first move, the Trichenberg family would be the first to respond...

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