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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8. The Rains of Clovervale

Clovervale Manor was the ancestral home of the Smirnov family; Simon's grandfather Adrian Polunin had built the manor in 1792, two years before Simon was born. The Smirnov family gained its wealth from the mines in the Ural Mountains.

Simon had nine sons and four daughters. His second eldest son was Gideon. Gideon had five sons; two sons were named Nichollo and Anthony. Anthony had three sons and two daughters; Sergei was his eldest son. Sergei's children were Sabrina, Leonard, and another daughter named Diara.

After Gideon's death during the Crimean War, Simon raised his grandchildren in the mansion as he served Czar Alexander II. Nichollo and Anthony saw the decline of the royal family as well as the death of Czar Alexander II. Anthony Smirnov was killed during a riot that broke out after the czar's funeral, and Nichollo raised his nephews and nieces.

While Sergei's younger siblings lived decent lives, he himself was restless and reckless. He had several bastard daughters with various servant girls, with his third bastard daughter born before his marriage to Jessica Shalit. Sabrina and Leonard were the children of Amalia Schewster, but he claimed them as Jessica's children. Yet there were no children between Sergei and Jessica.

Of course, when the story about baby Hadassah and Jessica's death came out, Sergei denied having anything to do with Jessica's death or threatening to kill Hadassah. Yet the rumors of his adulterous affairs and bastard daughters (as well as his cruelty towards his wife) made him many enemies, especially with the people who knew Jessica as a bold girl who wanted to see the world.

Today, Nichollo had called him into his office; he was already angry that his stepdaughter was dead and her only child was being raised by the royal family instead of by her father, and he was angry that Hadassah was Leo's daughter and not Sergei's, but he had learned about the birth of baby Diara as well as two bastard daughters and he wanted to confront the younger man regarding the births. (It should be noted that Sergei's siblings had stopped speaking to him years ago.)

Sergei said, "If you're asking me here to talk about my children, you might as well forget it."

"I will not, and I know what you've done," Nichollo snapped at his nephew. "You do not live your life with honor, and you have mistreated Jessica to the point that she had to seek comfort from that Leo Trichenberg. That baby is his daughter, and there's nothing we can do about it!"

"How do we know that she wasn't seeing that Yeshua?" Sergei snapped as he glared at his uncle.

"Well, what did you expect?" Nichollo snarled. "When a man fails to love, honor, and cherish his wife, she will seek comfort from another man. And when that happens, the husband is blamed for his wife's unfaithfulness. As with Jessica, you were cruel and unfaithful to her, so she sought out Leopold Trichenberg. Such a shame the people think of you as a horrible man."

Sergei glared at Nichollo, saying, "So, let me understand this: people think I'm a terrible man because I have a man's wants and needs? What about that Leo Trichenberg, who has more bastards than true born children?"

"Don't you ever bring the name of that man into this house," Rachel snapped as she entered the room. "He's a despicable man who is not even worth mentioning."

"Unlike him, Sergei doesn't care about his children," Nichollo snapped. "Leo cares about Hadassah, which is more than what Sergei does for his daughters. But why are we discussing him while Sergei is the one at fault? His deeds have made us the most hated family in St. Petersburg."

"Who gives a care?" Sergei snapped.

"You should," said Rachel, "because of how much hurt you gave to my daughter, you have destroyed our family!"

"I destroyed our family?" Sergei mocked.

"Yes, you have through your deeds and actions," said Nichollo. "Because of your stupidity in Jessica's case, we are the biggest laughingstock in the community! The poorest peasants mock us in the fields while the richest lords mock us in their gardens. Even the czar thinks that we're terrible people for allowing Jessica to die and leaving Hadassah as an orphan. If he mocks us as the people mock us, then no one will save us from the wrath of heaven."

Sergei snorted at them and left the room. Rachel said to Nichollo, "This wouldn't have happened if you had listened to me and allowed Jessica to marry Yeshua!"

"Why would you allow her to marry the son of a poor jeweler?" said Nichollo. "Jessica was raised in a world of riches and fine clothes and fancy titles, and Yeshua lives in poverty with his parents and multiple siblings they can't support. You would subject your daughter to that?"

"All I wanted was for Jessica to be happy," said Rachel, "but it seems that fancy titles and wealth is far more important than having a happy marriage. What would our czar say about this, he who chose the woman he loved, despite the fact that his father had a woman lined up for him?"

"He would do wise and say nothing," said Nichollo. "This is not his business, no matter what the people say. He should learn to mind his own fancy life and never mind what the peasants say."

Rachel reached out and slapped him across his face, just as their daughter Jacqueline Josephine came into the room. "You fool!" Rachel snapped in anger. "You cannot simply curse against the czar and live! What you suggest is foolishness; no one has defied the czar and lived to tell the tale!"

"But he's trying to take Sabrina and Leonard away from us!" Nichollo snarled in response. "He and that Leo Trichenberg want the children to live with Vavara!"

"And Vavara married your son Vladimir, did you not know that?" Rachel snapped in turn. "They're expecting a baby and instead of planning for the baby's arrival, we are worrying about how Sergei's reputation is hurting our family."

"Because it is," said Nichollo. "What will they say of us after we are gone? We were once the most respected Jewish family in all Russia until Sergei murdered his wife in a jealous rage? If that's true, then you can forget about our children living honorable lives! They will be taken away from us and handed over to a man who will gladly make their lives a living nightmare, and not even death will save them!"

Jacqueline Josephine had heard enough; she knew she was in grave danger. She ran from the room, as she had to warn her brothers about their impending fate.

"The czar wants to execute us?" Joshua cried out. "This can't be true!"

"The czar is a kind man," said Jacqueline Josephine. "He wouldn't do that! But I know some people who would gladly destroy us and get away with it."

"The czar doesn't know of the pogroms that kill innocent Jewish people," said Jared. "If he did, he'd order the pogroms to be stopped immediately."

"But he can't be everywhere at once," said Julian. "Even if he could, he can't stop the Snoweagles and the wolf packs from attacking people, just as he couldn't stop the stampede from happening during his coronation. What if he can't save our family?"

"He can't, but Leo Trichenberg can," said Judah, who was the oldest of the quintuplets. (The quintuplets consisted of Judah, Joshua, Jacqueline Josephine, Julian, and Jacob. Jared was born 18 months before them.) "You should know that out of all the people here, only Leo can help our family."

"Papa tried to make him marry Jajo," said Jacob.

"But he didn't, not without mama to slap him," said Julian. "She doesn't want Jajo to get married at all."

"How do you know?" Judah snapped at him. "After Jessica got married to that despicable dummkoph Sergei, mama swore that Jajo would never marry or have children until Sergei died and Jessica married Yeshua Ulrich. But Sergei's still alive and Jessica's dead."

As the children spoke, they had no idea that they were walking away from the mansion. Magorious noticed them leaving and said, "The malen'kiye deti have left the mansion. Now's our time to attack the Smirnov family. They may think they're safe behind the locked gates to their mansion, but we can climb over the fence and destroy them. The Smirnovs won't see anything coming until it's too late."

"That is a fine thing to see," said Hans as he sneered at the children.

"All the unmarried Smirnovs will be there," said Magorious, "which is sad because they're all going to die. And not just Nichollo and his nephew, but his sons, cousins, and various other men who could carry the Smirnov family name, but they can't. The women, however, will be given to members of my clan."

"Normally, I would agree with you, but not this time," said Hans. "I have seen them and I know that none of them are capable of bearing children. Plus, some of them have mental problems, which can interfere with them living a normal life. So, they must all die as well."

"As we'll kill every invalid man, woman, and child living in Russia," said Magorious. "There will be no peace or tears for them, no matter what we do. But the little Smirnovs are mine."

"As they will be," said Hans with a sneer on his face.

 

 

At the same time, Leo and Sir David sat in Leo's office. They were talking about the fallout from the stampede at Khodynka Field and the people killed in the stampede. Even though the investigation carried on for several months, there was no proof that the vampires and werewolves had started the stampede.

"Well, this isn't right," said Sir David as he read the initial report. "I think someone is hiding something from us."

"They could very well be," said Leo. "Even though we pledged to be honest with Nicholas, it would be nothing short of a disaster if he were to find out that we're Ainysians. After all, we're an endangered race, and every year, more of us die. We must find a way to replenish our race or our children and grandchildren will die before the next year is out."

"But there is a way we can save our race, as well as give the people deemed "undesirable" a chance to live and thrive," said Sir David. "I know that there are many "alternate communities" forming all over the world, and those communities have managed to improve the lives of the disabled people living there."

"Vati, are you sure this is a good idea?" said Leo. "I hate to be a discourager, but I don't think Ainsyians should interbreed with Earth women."

"Why not?" said Sir David. "I think the plan is perfect. "With so few members of our race still living, and your grandfather died over 20 years ago, we need some fresh new faces to lead our people. Plus, no one is going to miss a disabled woman, won't they?"

"I'm sure someone will," said Leo. "After all, I'm sure Slavena's nurse was not happy about being fired after Slavena and I got married."

"I've noticed," said Sir David. "It was a shame that Marfa Obolenskaya was let go and sent home, but she shouldn't have to waste her whole life caring for someone who is incapable of taking care of themselves. What kind of life is that?"

"And I don't know if I want to go through with a second marriage, especially to a disabled woman," said Leo.

"I understand where you're going with this," said Sir David as he recalled his nephew, Karl Kroger. The boy was 10 years old when his family was forced to move from Berlin, Germany to Moscow, Russia. Bernard, Karl's father, had tried to put him in a mental institution and designate his nephew Leo as his heir, but David stopped him and took Leo to live in St. Petersburg as the ward of Czar Alexander II. Bernard never forgave David for taking his nephew away from him. Leo never saw his cousin Karl again; Karl died in 1873 at age 35.

"To this day, I don't understand what drove your uncle tried to replace his son with you, but this still makes me angry," said Sir David. "But when I saw that you were treated better by the czar than your uncle, I knew I had made the right decision to send you away. Your aunt on the other hand..."

Just then, Milorad ran into the room, with Emaria and Radmila following him. He said, "Vati, Opa, we have a problem!"

"What's going on?" said Leo as he stared at his son.

Milorad didn't waster any time. "The Smirnovs are being attacked!"

 

 

At the party being held at Clovervale Manor, Nichollo sat in his chair swishing his wine around in his glass. Thanks to some well-placed helpers, he was able to successfully stop Jessica's murder trial against Sergei and keep Rachel out of a monastery the czar had planned to send her to. Yet he couldn't get to Hadassah without butting heads with Leo and Sir David. To make things worse, the two men in question had turned his grandfather against him; Simon was not happy that Nichollo had prevented the Shalit family from getting justice for Jessica and getting his wife some much-needed help. As a result, he was not at the party.

Rachel came to Nichollo, saying, "You've defied the czar and put our family back together. Yet you're not happy. Why is that?"

"The people believe that I've deceived the czar and they're plotting against me," said Nichollo. "In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to know that Nicholas has decided to arrest me."

"Oh, Nichollo," Rachel laughed at him. "You fear so much from such a little man. The czar is nothing without his power, and with the vampires and werewolves practically threatening to destroy him, I'm sure that our own problems will be a blip on the horizon."

Nichollo sighed and looked around the room. Although most of his relatives came to the mansion, many more did not. Like Simon, they were angry that he would not allow the Shalit family to get the justice they sought for Jessica, nor was Sergei punished for Jessica's death or Rachel sent to a mental hospital. Nichollo frowned, wondering why his cousins and siblings couldn't accept the fact that he had won and the czar had lost. Hadassah might not be Sergei's daughter, but he would make sure the child and her father suffered for defying him.

But all too soon, Rachel said, "Where are our children?"

"Which children?" he said. "Nikita and Joseph are here, yet Vladimir and Reuben are not. And your children refuse to show their faces around here since the czar called off their sister's murder trial."

"I don't mean them," said Rachel. "I meant Julian, Jacquelyn Josephine, Joshua, Jacob, Judah, and Jared. OUR children. Where are they?"

"I wouldn't know," said Joseph. "When last I saw them, they were playing in the gardens."

"At their ages?" Rachel snarled. She had been fighting with the now 15-year-old Jacquelyn Josephine regarding her unladylike habits. The girl was getting too old to run around in the gardens with her brothers; she was supposed to be thinking about marriage and children. But so far, she had determined that none of the young men in her village was worth her attention. She longed to see the world before being forced to settle down.

"Be careful, Rachel," said Nichollo. "The second you deny a girl what a boy takes for granted, she will want it all the further. Jajo refuses to settle down, and I don't like the young men being lined up for her. Plus, you said she couldn't marry until Sergei was dead and Jessica married Yeshua."

"I did say that," said Rachel. "But that stupid boy has married that Hannah Pushkin. Her mother was a shameless whore."

"Well, it's nice to see that Yeshua has finally decided to pick up his life and start over," said Nikita as he joined them. "He should have known he'd never have a chance with our Jessica."

"We all know who could have had a chance with her," said Joseph. "It was that Zephan Levinsky, if he hadn't ran off to the States with Eliora Horowitz and abandoned his family."

"Shameful," said Rachel as she gazed out the window. She knew she would have to confront her daughter as soon as she was found. Jajo was getting too old to run about with her brothers; she needed to learn to sit in the parlor and knit and crochet with the other girls. This time, Rachel would not take no for an answer.

As she was thinking about what harsh punishment to give to the disobedient girl, Rachel looked through the glass. In the reflection, the musicians Nichollo had hired to play at the party had set down their instruments and pulled out weapons. "What's going on here?" she cried out.

"I think you should know the answer to that question," said Magorious Hoffelbax as he glared at her. "You've done my late son's family a grave disservice by denying justice for your daughter's death, did you not?"

"What are you you talking about?" said Rachel as she turned to face the angry werewolf.

"You know very well what I'm talking about," Magorious snapped at her. "Plus, you should have known that I would find out that my only granddaughter is dead and she left behind a small child, who is yet another mouth for her father to feed. I don't like that you and your husband have defied the czar..."

"You have also defied him!" Nichollo snapped as he saw Magorious. "You caused that stampede that killed hundreds of people! I heard that you personally raped Serafima Turgeevna and crippled her older sister Lara. Now you're plotting against us?"

"Nicholas is your czar, for good or ill," said Magorious. "He made that very clear when he punished the people who failed to stop the stampede from happening five months ago. But as for you, your plans and schemes end tonight, Nichollo Gideovitch Smirnov. I denounce you, your sons, your nephews, and the rest of your wicked race, and there will be a great cry that will be heard all over Russia. It shall be heard by all so they will know what happens when you defy the czar and the vampires and werewolves that serve him."

To the musicians, he said, "Slay them all; leave none alive!"

Of course, Sergei and his wife and baby daughter were at the feast enjoying themselves. His older children, Sabrina and Leonard, were sitting in a corner of the room with their heads hung in shame. But there was no time for tears, as Sergei heard Amalia scream. Before he could react, he saw the head of his cousin Zalman Smirnov rolling towards him.

"We must leave now!" he yelled, but a werewolf jumped in his way. Rudolphus had spotted him and said to him, "I come to you in the name of Mikael Shalit, the father of the woman that you murdered..."

"But I didn't do anything to Jessica!" Sergei shouted as Amalia clutched baby Diara and gathered Sabrina and Leonard to her side. "She died when Hadassah was born."

"A likely story," Rudolphus snapped at him. "Not only do I refuse to believe it, but I also believe that you are a wicked man who made Jessica suffer needlessly while pretending to be her faithful husband. That was why she turned to Leo Trichenberg for comfort and later died giving birth to his daughter. Her blood cries out for justice and today, it will be hers. But as for you and your family, you will die!"

Rachel screamed in horror as she watched her stepsons being cut down by werewolves as their cousins were caught and torn to pieces. The werewolves didn't spare the servants; many of them were also slain as they tried to flee from the ballroom.

Magorious said, "You see what you have made me do? You see what you have done? So many people had to die because of what you did! You have destroyed your daughter, but you will not destroy her! You know of whom I speak. She's mine now, and she will be living in a family that is honest and honorable, and will allow her to grow up and become the woman she was meant to be."

Nichollo screamed in horror as he watched Rudolphus kill Sergei by cutting off his head. His wife Amalia met the same fate. But Sabrina, Leonard, and Diara were given a merciful death, mainly in the form of a soft pillow soaked in water shoved into their faces.

"What have you done?!" he screamed at Magorious. "You've murdered my poor grandchildren!"

"Indeed," said Magorious.

"They were just babies!" Rachel cried. "They were innocent babies and you killed them! Why would you do that?"

"Yes, I have murdered the children," said the old werewolf. "In fact, I have murdered many children in the course of my lifetime, children who were too weak to escape from the poverty they were born into. Yes, their deaths were regrettable, but your Jessica didn't bring them into the world; the woman I had beheaded along with that deceitful man did."

"You mean..." Nichollo cried out as the truth about Sabrina and Leonard's parentage hit him.

"Yes," said Magorious in a bored tone. "Sergei was a terrible man. Because you were willing to allow his terrible behavior to continue without any repercussion, you have put a black stain upon your family. Your younger sons have abandoned you, and they and their children will not mourn your death. After you and your wife are gone, the people will sing songs about your wickedness."

"Nichollo!" Rachel screamed as she reached out towards him, but it was too late. Magorious pulled out a long jeweled knife and said, "The Rabrenov family sends their regards" as he plunged the knife into Nichollo's chest.

Rachel screamed as she watched her husband crumble to the floor, dead. Everywhere around her, people were being torn to pieces; not even the servants were spared. The children of those servants cried as they were rounded up and taken away.

"Such a shame this has to happen," Rudolphus said to Magorious as they observed the massacre of the Smirnov family. "A man like Nichollo should have known better than to dismiss the charges against his son-in-law and prevent his wife from getting the help that she needs. I'm sure the czar won't be happy to learn about the deaths of the Smirnovs."

"No he won't, but it was necessary," said Magorious. "No one should defy the czar and live. Yet I can't help but pity Lady Rachel; she shouldn't have to endure this."

"She shouldn't, and yet, she never truly cared for anyone but herself," said Alana as she came to them. "I believe she should get an ending worthy of remembrance."

"As you wish," said Magorious. "Go into the gardens and find the baby Smirnovs. Bring them here alive and unharmed. I'll deal with their mother."

As Rudolphus and Alana left the ballroom, Magorious said to Rachel, "I had tried to be fair to you when my son insisted on marrying you, but now my patience has reached its end. You can't possibly love anyone, save for Mikael and the children you gave to him. And even then, you were selfish towards the children, forcing them to live their lives as you saw fit and refusing to let them grow up."

"Where are you going with this?" Rachel snapped.

"You will get a swift and merciful death, which is more than what you deserve," said Magorious. "Yet when you die, your remaining children will not mourn your death. It's sad this has to happen, but that's how life goes. When you were born, no one celebrated your birth and when you die, no one mourned your death. So many others will end up like you, unloved and unmourned." He pulled out a handkerchief dipped with poison. "This poison is called The Final Goodbye. It's potent and takes a while to work. All you have to do is put a drop of this poison into the victim's food and drink and they'll be dead within 30 minutes."

"And..." Rachel snapped.

"From the looks of things, I say you only have five minutes left to live," said Magorious. "If I were you, I'd make my peace with death quickly before the children come."

 

 

As the Smirnov family massacre was going on, Julian, Jacquelyn Josephine, Joshua, Jacob, Judah, and Jared had left the gardens and went to the village, where the people stared at them in shock. The youngest Smirnovs weren't allowed outside the gates of the mansion.

"I don't know what's going in here, but Mama and Papa are going to kill us if we don't get back home," said Julian.

"You think?" said Jacob.

"They never let us go anywhere or talk to anyone but each other and them," said Jared. "I daresay that if Mama had her way, we'd still be wearing diapers."

"No kidding!" Jajo snapped. "Now, let's get back to the mansion before she finds out that we're not there."

They left the village and ran as fast as they could; there was nothing else for it. Jajo already knew that her mother would punish her for sneaking out with her brothers instead of sitting quietly in a corner learning embroidery, but this time, she was sure that she would never be allowed to leave her rooms or speak to her brothers again.

Yet, before they got too far, the Smirnov children looked up and saw two werewolves standing in the gardens, as if they had been lying in wait for them. "I hear that you're the baby Smirnovs," said one of the werewolves.

"Yeah, and what's it to you?" said Jared.

"Not much," said the other werewolf, "but our leader has ordered us to find you and to capture you."

"And you'll go without a fuss," said the first werewolf as he summoned several werewolves that had been hiding in the gardens. The Smirnov boys had no idea that there had been werewolves in the garden; they were quickly subdued. Yet there was one child missing.

"Darn, the girl got away," said Rudolphus.

"She won't get too far," said Alana. "Magorious has his eye on her."

Unknown to the others, Jajo had ran through the back door and straight to her room, completely bypassing the mess in the ballroom. There, she sat on her bed and waited nervously for the inevitable judgment to fall.

Jajo knew it was wrong to rebel against being a woman, but she knew she had no choice. After all, a person could deny who they were for so long before they had to give into the role they had to play.

Just then, the door swung open and Magorious stepped into the room. Jajo tensed, wondering why a werewolf was in the room instead of her mother. She said, "What are you doing here?"

"Your father and mother can no longer protect you, so you must learn to take care of yourself," Magorious snarled as he stared at the girl.

"You mean," Jajo cried out as she stared at the decapitated heads of her parents. She screamed in horror, knowing that during the time she was gone, werewolves had killed most of her entire family. Her brothers have been captured, and she was alone and defenseless against the leader of the werewolves.

"What have you done to them?" Jajo cried out in horror.

"Your parents were very bad people," said Magorious as he faced Jajo. "I had to punish them for their crimes."

"And what crimes have they committed that warranted their deaths?" Jajo snapped.

"You did not know this, but you had another sister," said Magorious.

"I knew about Jessica," said Jajo. "In fact, I knew about her brothers Andrei, Matthias, Pieter, and Lazarus. What are you trying to imply?"

"Your father was a fool to prevent justice from happening," said Magorious. "He made your sister suffer needlessly in an unwanted marriage to a terrible man. But no more of that, because he's dead."

"So you killed my father because of Jessica?" said Jajo. "Was Sergei really that bad?"

"He was a very bad man who carried out adulterous affairs with other women and completely neglected his wife," said Magorious. "He was responsible for her death, not the baby that she brought into this world."

"So why did my mother have to die?" Jajo snapped.

"She was just as bad as her father was, if not worse," said Magorious. "She earned the death that she deserved. But as for you, child, it's certainly a sad thing when a child cannot pass the family name on to the next generation."

"What are you talking about?" Jajo cried out as the reality of the situation hit her.

"The Smirnov family dishonored my granddaughter by allowing her murder to go unpunished and her daughter to be neglected," said Magorious. "That was why I had to kill them all. It's sad it has to come to this, but they should've known better than to mess with my family. But as for you, child, there are worse fates for a woman to suffer than death."

Jajo knew what was up. "No, no! Please don't!" she screamed in horror as the old werewolf pounced on her...

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