The Romanov Prophecy Online

《The_Romanov_Prophecy》

Prologue

ALEXANDERPALACE

TSARSKOESELO,RUSSIA

OCTOBER 28, 1916

ALEXANDRA,EMPRESS OF ALLRUSSIA, TURNED FROM HER BEDSIDEvigil as the door swung open, the first time in hours her gaze had been diverted from the pitiful child lying prone beneath the sheets.

Her Friend rushed into the bedroom, and she burst into tears. "Finally, Father Gregorii. Thanks to precious God. Alexie needs you terribly."

Rasputin swept close to the bed and made the sign of the cross. His blue silk blouse and velvet trousers reeked of alcohol, which tempered his usual stench, one her court ladies had said reminded them of a goat. But Alexandra had never cared about any odor. Not from Father Gregorii.

She'd sent the guards to look for him hours before, mindful of the stories of how he loved the Gypsies on the outskirts of the capital. Many times he would exhaust the night there with drink, in the company of prostitutes. One of the guardsmen even reported that the dear father had paraded across tabletops with his trousers down, proclaiming the delight his ample organ bestowed on the ladies of the Imperial Court. Alexandra refused to believe such talk about her Friend and promptly had the guard reassigned far from the capital.

"I have been searching for you since twilight," she said, trying to get his attention.

But Rasputin's focus was on the boy. He fell to his knees. Alexie was unconscious and had been for nearly an hour. Late in the afternoon, the boy had been playing in the garden when he fell. Within two hours the cycle of pain had started.

Alexandra watched as Rasputin peeled back the blanket and studied the right leg, blue and swollen to the point of grotesqueness. Blood was pulsating out of control beneath the skin, the hematoma now the size of a small melon, the leg drawn up against the chest. Her son's gaunt face was devoid of color, except for dark smears beneath both eyes.

She gently brushed the child's light brown hair.

Thank God the screaming had stopped. The spasms had been coming every quarter of an hour with morbid regularity. A high fever had already made him delirious, but he'd continued to sound a constant wail that ripped her heart.

Once he became lucid and pleaded, "Oh Lord, have mercy on me," and asked, "Mama, won't you help me?" Then he wanted to know if the pain would stop if he died. She could not bring herself to tell him the truth.

What had she done? This was all her fault. It was well known that women passed on the trait for hemophilia, but were never affected. Her uncle, brother, and nephews had all died from the disease. But she never considered herself a carrier. Four daughters had taught her nothing. Only when the blessed son finally arrived twelve years ago had she learned the painful reality. Beforehand, not one doctor had cautioned her of the possibility. But did she ever ask? No one seemed willing to volunteer anything. Even direct questions were many times avoided with nonsensical answers. That was why Father Gregorii was so special. Thestaretsnever held back.

Rasputin closed his eyes and nestled close to the stricken boy. Flecks of dried food littered his wiry beard. The gold cross she'd given him hung around his neck. He grasped it tight. The room was lit only by candles. She could hear him muttering, but could not make out the words. And she dare not say anything. Though she was Empress of All Russia, the tsarina, she never challenged Father Gregorii.

Only he could stop the bleeding. Through him God protected her precious Alexie. The tsarevich. Sole heir to the throne. Next tsar ofRussia .

But only if he lived.

The boy opened his eyes.

"Don't be afraid, Alexie, everything is all right," Rasputin whispered. The voice was calm and melodious, but firm in its conclusion. He stroked Alexie's sweaty body from head to toe. "I have driven away your horrid pains. Nothing will hurt you anymore. Tomorrow you will be well, and we will play our jolly games again."

Rasputin continued to caress the boy.

"Remember what I told you aboutSiberia . It is full of huge forests and endless steppes, so large no one has seen the end of it. And it all belongs to your mama and papa and, one day, when you are healthy, strong, and big, it will be yours." He clutched the boy's hand in his. "One day I will take you toSiberia and show it all to you. The people there are so different from here. The majesty of it all,