Terrible Tease

I’ve recently completed the scripts for the final chapters of Terrible: Tsar Ivan IV, which means artist Art Hondros is hard at work drawing the pages.

Here’s a peek at a panel from the 5th chapter:

Ivan 5 page 3

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Supertsar on the Kindle!

Supertsar is now available on Amazon in the Kindle store!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N7EZYS1/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1480998616&sr=1-1&keywords=supertsar

Print

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Supertsar is complete!

I’ve completed my novel Supertsar.

Print

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/687580

Hope you like it!

Scotty

 

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New excerpt from Supertsar!

As I near completion of the novel, I probably shouldn’t share so much for free, but I couldn’t help myself. Here’s a section from the chapter where Pyotr meets Louie XIV, The Return of the Sun King.

Yes, they never actually met. Fiction is funny that way! Enjoy!

***

From Supertsar chapter eight, The Return of the Sun King:

Though most historians agree that Pyotr and Louis XIV never met, the two greatest rulers of their era did in fact exchange brief pleasantries…

*

Pyotr awoke and sat up in bed, grumbling and cursing to himself as he recalled the argument that led to this latest seizure. It was his son Alexis that had so infuriated him- it was always thus, as no one else would dare disagree with the Tsar. No one else would be so stubborn, or so foolish. He rubbed his eyes and drank from the mug at his bedside.

The candles spread judiciously about the room had burned to their waxy stumps, suggesting Pyotr had slept for several hours since his collapse. He reached for a clean white shirt, pulled it over his head, and squinted as the candles’ flames jumped and brightened. Though less than a finger’s width of wax remained of each, their respective flames swelled, fueled by neither wick nor oxygen but by some deeper unseen energy, projecting their light and heat towards the center of the room, filling the space by the foot of Pyotr’s bed. Dust coalesced, taking shape as Pyotr blinked. The candles’ light ebbed again, gave one last defiant flicker, and extinguished themselves as the mysterious figure appeared.

What began as the glowing suggestion of a man solidified. As Pyotr’s late night guest took shape, the shadows in the room swirled and groaned with a life of their own. Creases in the curtains grew muscle and sinew, writhing in their captivity. Details carved into furniture became sharp black teeth, gnashing at their surroundings as trained bears might pull at their collars. 

As the small man assumed his final shape, Pyotr had to smile. Had he not seen such madness throughout his life–the living flame of Charles’ armies, the strange sky vessels that visited him in his youth, the visitations of the Tolchok themselves–he would have been more unnerved. And the man who now stood before him, clothed in silk and fur and fire, would have been more imposing if he wasn’t so short in stature.

“My own eyes deceive me, for the Sun King himself must have better to do than return to life to haunt me. The infinite fields of the afterlife surely provide ample space to build a palace to dwarf sublime Versailles.” Pyotr squinted as he spoke, partially blinded by the glow of his intruder.

Non, mon sauvage. I am a sun king no longer. I am now the Sun. My fire is my rage. All shall burn in my cruel orbit.” When Louis spoke his voice came not from his throat but from some deep unknowable source; the voice of a volcano, the voice of the molten core of an angry star.

“You speak as though you might affect my aims. Finer warriors than you have tried their best to topple me.” When Pyotr sat fully upright his eyes were level with those of the French monarch.

“Had more time on this world been afforded my person you would have accepted the role of loyal subject, or perished at my hand.” His Most Christian Majesty’s jowls trembled. “My current benefactors assure me your downfall is imminent. Your disappointing issue will likely inform their final strategy.”

Pyotr barked a laugh. “Now it is my ears that fail, for the Sun King speaks as a messenger. Has the great Apollo been reduced to errand boy? Has the whole world gone mad or is it my perception of events that is inaccurate?”

Louie’s golden form brightened as his eyes darkened. “The Flame are neither my employers nor my masters. They are the state that I inhabit, and l’etat c’est moi.”

“Then burn, mon enfant. Burn for all time in the hell you now call home. The affairs of this world are no longer your playthings.”

And Pyotr hurled his mug at the apparition, shattering Louie into a trillion aimless photons. He would not meet the Sun King again in this world or the next.

***

Stay tuned for more info regarding final publication and release dates!

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Supertsar, the second chapter!!

I’ve recently completed the second chapter of my first novel Supertsar. All errors–historical and grammatical–are my own.

Enjoy!

Chapter 2: Necessary Evils

Eight years into what would prove to be a long and storied reign, Pyotr set out on his Great Embassy. This unprecedented journey across Europe would require hundreds of people, hundreds of thousands of rubles, and an infinite amount of patience for all involved. Many advised him not to go, but he didn’t care. Pyotr would see the world!

Riga, Courland, Berlin. Zaandam, Amsterdam, England. Dresden, Prague, Vienna. The political aim of the undertaking was simple: the strengthening of diplomatic ties to assist in Russia’s struggles with the Turks. But Pyotr’s true mission was of a more personal nature. He wanted to learn. Shipbuilding, science, modern siege works, medicine. Pyotr would experience it all firsthand if he could but escape Russia’s stubborn gravity.

Pyotr would see the world, and this fool of a man was complaining in his ear. He couldn’t recall the old courtier’s name–Shuisky? Shaklovity?–but did not care a whit. And what was he going on about? His fucking tooth?

“Must I oversee all things, from the assemblage of the caravans to the dental health of my boyars?”

As Pyotr hurried about the Kremlin palace–attendants panting, struggling to keep up with the Tsar’s great strides–his bulging eyes took in everything about him, from the arrangement of the fine sables in their crates to the disgruntled looks of those who did not wish to accompany him. They vibrated, Pyotr’s eyes, humming with an anxious life of their own, devouring information, voracious in their perspicacity. No detail went unnoticed, no piece of information unconsidered.

“Preparations continue apace, your grace.” First Commander Francis Lefort, Chief of the Great Embassy, functional alcoholic.

“We can expect a certain amount of unavoidable ceremony during our travels, Franz, but while abroad refer to me simply as Pyotr. Whenever possible I’d like to keep the sycophants at a comfortable distance and the bowing and praying to a minimum.”

Lefort slapped Pyotr on the back and laughed. “Of course, my friend. Outside the realm, you shall be Pyotr Mikhailov the carpenter. Builder of ships, breaker of hearts.”

He grunted acknowledgement, though he didn’t actually hear Lefort’s reply. He rarely sought confirmation of his wishes; as Tsar he made them known and assumed they would be followed.

A nearby servant, attempting to package a large oil painting, tripped over his own feet and fell headfirst through the thick canvas. The result: a burst of laughter from those around him as his face seemed to replace that of the painting’s ursine subject.

Pyotr’s thoughts returned to the imminent journey, and he briefly wondered if he’d ever return.

*

Two minutes after Pyotr left Moscow, a signal was given, and the Streltsy set their plans in motion.

Since their creation during the reign of Ivan IV, the Streltsy had served as an elite squad of the Tsar’s personal bodyguards. As the decades passed they grew and evolved, assuming the roles of policemen, firemen, carpenters and–most recently–extortionists, embezzlers and murderers. It was the Streltsy that had killed Pyotr’s father’s best friend Artemon Matveev, hurling him upon a sea of spears at the base of the Kremlin’s Red Staircase right before ten-year-old Pyotr’s eyes.

As far as Pyotr was concerned the Streltsy had long since outlived their usefulness. Their latest intransigence would likely prove to be their last.

*

As the Embassy arrived in Riga, Pyotr slipped away from the inevitable ceremony incognito, disguising himself in simple carpenter’s attire. He busied himself with the gathering of information about the city, measuring the width and depth of moats, scaling and sketching ramparts, noting the fortifications’ strengths and weaknesses, marveling at the modern architectures, coveting the Livonians’ assets, and hating them for their staring. Had they never seen a seven-foot-tall Russian monarch before? No matter. He learned what he could in the guise of curiosity, and was happy to leave the accursed place he would eventually conquer.

They crossed the Dvina where the Duchy of Courland awaited. The Duke, Frederick Casimir, did his utmost to receive this boisterous party, entertaining the hard-drinking Russians with aplomb. At Konigsberg, Elector Frederick III of the House of Hohenzollern greeted the embassy enthusiastically. This Frederick managed the delicate balance of officially acknowledging the Russians’ presence while simultaneously pretending Pyotr was not there. Pyotr learned what he could of artillery and ballistics, and moved on when his Name Day passed without Frederick’s attendance. Pyotr left Konigsberg in a huff, screaming at several ministers, but sent Frederick a gift of jewels in apology for his explosive temper.

While traveling through Berlin, across North Germany towards Hanover, Pyotr was ambushed. The Electress of Brandenburg and Electress of Hanover–Sophia and Sophia, eager to meet this curious man–had their carriages intercept Pyotr at the town of Koppenbrugge. He could not refuse the determined ladies’ invitation to table, but he was initially nonplussed by their attentions. He’d never before met such dynamic women, and he struggled to find his footing in the conversation. But the passage of time–and a steady flow of alcohol–enabled Pyotr to enjoy the evening. He entertained his hosts with his knowledge of shipbuilding, and impressed everyone present by rolling up a silver tray in his bare, calloused hands. When it was time to depart Pyotr heartily embraced each of the charming women and remarked on the hardness of their ribs, unaware that it was the whalebone in their corsets that he had felt. No one laughed harder than Pyotr himself at his foible, and he left Koppenbrugge in good spirits, lavishing his new friends with gifts of silk and jewels and a dwarf.

He set off down the Rhine for Holland, for Zaandam awaited with the finest ships in Europe, and Pyotr had long desired to see this city with his own eyes. He acquired a small boat to journey ahead of his main retinue and, while exploring the country’s endless canals, was surprised to encounter an old blacksmith friend with whom he had worked in Moscow. He moved himself into the blacksmith’s home, drawn to its unassuming character, but was not idle for long. After buying new tools from a local shop, he found work on the docks from a foreman willing to hire the inquisitive Russian. He nearly drove his peers mad with the sheer amount of questions he posed–What does this do? What is it called? How does it work?–but earned his place amongst them with his hard work and determination to learn everything he could of their craft. In the evenings he drank to excess, but always woke before dawn the following day to join his new friends at the docks.

Though Pyotr traveled in disguise, the idea of a man of his height and conspicuous movements remaining hidden proved absurd. Even those who did not suspect the strange giant’s true origins could not help but stare. People pointed and whispered. Children threw rocks at his head. While sailing the Ij he found himself surrounded by boats swollen with spectators and had to make his way to shore. Even bigger crowds greeted him on land, and he pushed through the throng as best he could, cuffing a few oglers on the head as he passed, cursing. Fences were built around him so that he could peacefully study the mechanics of a nearby dike, but the sheer numbers of onlookers overwhelmed the makeshift barriers and Pyotr was ultimately forced to leave Zaandam for Amsterdam sooner than originally intended.

The unwanted attention continued in Amsterdam, but he was undaunted for here was the greatest port in his world. During his four month stay–when he wasn’t working on ships–Pyotr enjoyed the company of his friend and childhood hero William of Orange, ruler of both Holland and England. William showed him the sights, introduced him to scientists and artists and microscopists, and entertained him with fireworks and mock naval battles. Pyotr explored the city’s many markets and canals on foot, learning, questioning the tradesmen around him and–when possible–hiring as many skilled laborers as possible.

In Leyden a renowned anatomist showed Pyotr a well-preserved corpse, its skin peeled and pinned back to reveal the body’s glistening musculature. Pyotr imagined himself upon the table, his physical being dissected and categorized, meticulously disassembled, bits of him passed around and scrutinized by students. He embedded his mind fully into the scenario, seeing–through his own dead eyes–the cracked ceiling of the laboratory, the inquisitive young faces of the scientists, the thick haze of tobacco smoke permeating the scene. As they picked him apart he wondered: Is this what I am? Is this all we are, a collection of tissues and valves and levers? If I died now would I be remembered merely as a pile of meat and bones? A manic, drunken, disagreeable Russian madman? When a squeamish courtier reeled at the sight of the exposed innards, wrenching the Tsar from his reverie, Pyotr forced him to remove a chunk of the specimen’s muscles with his teeth.

When Pyotr learned what he could from the Dutch shipbuilders, he sailed south to England aboard the massive H.M.S. Yorke. The brief voyage was not without drama. Rough seas–combined with Pyotr’s usual stubbornness–almost threw him from the deck on several occasions. In London his education continued. He studied watchmaking, visited factories and hospitals, and spent money freely. He and his inner circle enjoyed the lush accommodations of the writer John Evelyn. They made themselves at home, destroying everything they could. At the end of their stay, no window was left unbroken, no tapestry unmarred, no linen untorn, no chair remained unburnt in the fireplace.

The Embassy made its way to Vienna, home to Leopold I, Archduke of Austria, King of Bohemia, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. The Viennese court employed formality to the nth degree; every ritual, every ceremony, every interaction executed with the sole purpose of celebrating the nigh divinity of its ruler. A simple meeting between Pyotr and Leopold required endless preparation and discussion among the court’s staff. The Tsar’s impatience foiled all attempts at protocol when he first caught sight of Leopold at the opposite end of a long hallway and bounded towards him. He embraced the Emperor as he would an old friend, seized his arm, and guided the diminutive sovereign to a private alcove. Leopold accepted the breach of protocol in stride, and the two enjoyed a lengthy discussion while attendants from both parties perspired and fidgeted. The meeting was declared a success, though neither leader could detail exactly what was said. Leopold would wonder later at the towering Tsar’s endless energy, nervous tics, and wild mood swings. Pyotr would scarcely remember much about the Emperor himself, beyond the size of his lower lip. A Hapsburg’s chin was as nothing compared to a Hapsburg’s massive, bee-stung kisser.

*
While Pyotr dined with Leopold, trying not to stare overlong at the bottom half of his complicated face, four regiments of Streltsy–ignoring their orders to report to the Polish frontier–turned instead towards Moscow. This well-armed mass of knotted brows and loud complaints marched to within thirty miles of the city, their demands ranging from the valid to the absurd: They were owed back pay. They missed their wives. They’d had their fill of war. They could no longer follow their false Tsar. Pyotr was the antichrist. Upon his return the Tsar would make everyone shave their heads, convert to Catholicism, smoke tobacco and speak only German. The more they grumbled, the more absurd the accusations became. By the time they arrived at the periphery of New Jerusalem Monastery, they were little more than a raging, unruly mob, easily routed. Pyotr received word of the uprising’s defeat, and shortened the remainder of his journey that he may more quickly return home and attend to the situation himself.

*

Pyotr returned to Moscow at dawn, ignored his wife Eudoxia’s request for an audience, and focused his attention on the unpleasant task before him.

He was not a sadistic man but circumstances demanded a violent response. Temporary houses were constructed at Preobrazhenskoe that would serve as interrogation centers, their fresh infrastructures designed to torture the maximum amount of people in the most efficient possible manner. Backsides were beaten, bones were broken, skin was burned, and screams were heard well beyond the camp’s periphery. When it came time to dispose of the numerous traitors, Pyotr often wielded the axe himself. Violence held no especial attraction to the tsar, but a hint of a smile could be glimpsed at the edge of his mouth as the heads of his enemies tumbled to the ground. And the Streltsy–that corrupt, overgrown police force that had so traumatized Pyotr as a child–were no more.

*

“Damned tooth.” Was that boyar complaining again?

Pyotr, recalling a brief lesson in dentistry from his travels, removed pliers from a tool belt and rose from his chair.

*

The Tolchok were ancient by most measures, older than all other known species in the multiverse. Older than atoms. They existed behind the world, engineering reality at a quantum level, the uncertain subatomic realm their usual substrate.

The Tolchok, a galactic sea of minds, watched Pyotr approach the boyar. Virtually omniscient, they saw not just the Tsar’s physical actions but into his mind as well.

Their observations- forming a hyperdimensional map of countless timelines reaching out in a trillion directions- traced a path forward to eternity. Their wise calculations sought the most peaceful trajectory for the largest amount of living creatures. Their logic could be cold and, at times, cruel.

A pity our tsar must lose his next battle. But our true enemies approach, and their dark intent overshadows any current threat the Swedish madman may provide.

They watched as Pyotr pulled a tooth from the old autocrat. Not the affected molar he sought, but he’d get at the rotten thing once his patient stopped squirming.

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Supertsar, the first chapter!

You got a peek, now you can read the entire first chapter of Supertsar! All errors–grammatical, historical–are my own. Forgive me.
Chapter 1. Sibling Rivalry

Sophia! The Most Orthodox Princess. Regent of Russia these past seven years. If the softness of her cheeks, if the gentle smile gave nothing away, her almond eyes surely betrayed the intelligence beneath them. Sophia Alexeyevich, empress in all but name. Ruler of those that remained. Those who had yet to defect to her meddlesome brother, curse him.

Why should she cede the Regency? Of course Pyotr was old enough to reign, but until recently he’d betrayed no overt interest in the throne. And what skills did he possess? He certainly lacked experience. The experience and wisdom Sophia had utilized as Imperial Highness of All Great and Little Russia. For seven years she’d ruled this land with little trouble. Of course, there was Golitsyn’s latest Crimean debacle, but she could hardly be blamed for her favorite’s shortcomings as a field commander.

She carefully placed the cup of tea by the steaming samovar, keeping her rage deep inside. Rage was an emotion and, surrounded as she always was by a gaggle of courtiers and chatty hangers-on, she dare not show the slightest weakness. The men around her (if one could call them men; Sophia often thought of her fellow Russians as overgrown boys) were dangerous and constantly sought to undermine her authority.

It wasn’t the power she longed to preserve, but the lifestyle. Sequestered in the upper levels of the palace for most of her life, a prisoner of societal expectations as much as the terem itself, Sophia’s psyche—her intellect, her creativity—suffered in the forced solitude. But power had freed her, protected her, liberated her. She knew she would never willingly cede it.

And here was Vasily Golitsyn, kneeling before her, telling her not to worry. “Pyotr has merely fled Preobrazhenskoe at the nervous behest of his advisors. They plan no move against you.”

“Your words are as empty as your head,” Sophia said. “You suggest no motive on his part. That the Naryhskins would not jump at the chance to remove me. You think this is another of my brother’s war games? And what of his request, that Tsykler report to Troitsky with fifty men? I thought you smarter, Vasily.”

Before Golitsyn could protest, Sophia dismissed him. She decided she would speak to her other brother, Ivan. Ivan was a half-wit, but perhaps his counsel might provide some fresh insight where intellect had failed.

*

Several miles outside of Moscow, at Troitsky Monastery, Pyotr the not-yet-Great considered his options. He had to credit his sister. She’d proven a formidable opponent. But it was time for the charade to end. For Pyotr to assume power, Sophia had to go.

She had already sent him six messengers in six futile attempts at reconciliation. Faithful courtiers, childhood friends, relatives; all had changed sides on arrival. Pyotr had to laugh at the clergymen. If Sophia thought she could appeal to him through religion, she knew him not at all.

He burst into his makeshift war room. He never simply walked into a room, or entered a room, and he certainly never slipped into a room. He arrived. Like the tide. Like a storm front. Cleaving his way through the batch of attendants and advisors, each stride covering an ample chunk of the converted chapel, he slowed only to relieve the buffet of a hearty mug of kvas.

Pyotr Alexeyevich Mikhailov. Brilliant, manic, exophthalmic. Pyotr towered over his fellow Russians in both intellect and stature.

“That we were at Pleschev now, strolling along its muddy banks, a pipe in my mouth, a clever woman at my side.”

In the time it took Pyotr to finish his beer, Menshikov downed a third. “A stout Russian matushka, or a lean German frau?”

“One of each, of course! But their looks matter little, my friend, so long as they are sturdy of heart and keen of mind.” Pyotr wiped the last bits of foam from his mouth on his sleeve and hurled the empty mug over his shoulder. “It is, after all, a woman’s inner strength that is her most lovely—and vexing—quality.”

“And as for your sister… shall we now request a contingent of streltsy depart for Troitsky?”

“Yes.” Pyotr said. “I will pen the summons myself. She must see my sincerity in these actions. And she must not mistake my patience for weakness.”

*

Sophia made her way to Donskoy Monastery accompanied by five streltsy colonels, a gaggle of attendants, and a mass of armed soldiers. She felt a subtle change in the Moscow streets, a slight shifting of all things a few degrees in an unknown direction. Buildings leaned precariously, the wind blew against her. The air tasted wrong: like salt, like the sea.

The people had changed as well. For every loud bellow of support, behind it a distant cry of You’re no queen!

She quickened her pace as Donskoy’s spires climbed into view.

*

“She had how many streltsy with her?”

Before Boris Golitsyn could reply, Pyotr continued: “Four colonels? A small army accompanies her to her prayers!”

“Your brother awaits her in Donskoy. The political implications-”

“Ivan will afford her no leverage. He loves us both equally, and possesses neither the political desire nor the intellect to participate in this drama.”

“Our siblings may confound us, and we cannot always guide them. We can but love them and protect them as best we can.”

“I may excuse your thinly veiled attempt to protect your own half-witted brother, but I cannot abide his stubborn refusal to join us.” But Pyotr was not angry with Boris, or Vasily, or even his sister’s treason. It was Sophia’s attempt to draw their own gentle brother into the arena that so infuriated him.

*

Sophia arrived at the dimly lit chapel and approached her brother as he kneeled before the iconostasis. Viewed from an adequate distance, Ivan appeared as any grown man: tall, broad of shoulders, narrow of hips. Had his brain continued to develop beyond his sixth birthday, had his vertebrae not settled into their current untenable positions, Russia would be his to rule. He smiled and the spell was broken. His grin was a bit too wide, too childlike, for that of a man his age. And while his feeble mind could not fully comprehend the current crisis, Ivan was aware of a tension between his siblings.

It took him three attempts to stand upright, and the result was less than ideal. He struggled to maintain his posture, such as it was; courtiers supported him where his spine failed. Ivan Alekseyevich Romanov: devout, unintelligent, kyphotic.

“Are you mad at Pyotr, sister?” He furrowed his brow as he spoke.

Sophia hugged him and assured him all was well. She knew now this was a mistake, that Ivan would be of no help. She leant down to kiss his forehead and turned to leave. As she made her way out, the candlelight wavered.

You will lose.

Sophia turned and in an instant her world imploded. For this was not the Ivan she grew up with, the Ivan she played with in the gardens, the Ivan who cried at the slightest provocation.

“What?”

Ivan stood bolt upright, unaided by his aghast courtiers. His normally twisted spine was straight, his face—usually knotted with dull confusion and worry—was serene. The light from the monastery’s many candles seemed to bend toward the chamber’s center, focusing itself onto Ivan. He drew it in, processed it, projected it back out upon his kneeling attendants. His limbs, his jaw, moved with a precision heretofore unseen in his usual physical lexicon; his speech contained words he should not have been able to pronounce, much less comprehend. Our apologies, but in all your iterations, all your incarnations, you must lose to Great Pyotr. Always.

“Ivan?”

We regret your imminent dismissal. You are a great queen in many realms. But history in your universe must unfold thusly. Farewell, Sophia. We shan’t meet again in this world.

Ivan’s attendants leapt up to assist him as he collapsed to the floor. His body had returned to its familiar inverted architecture, his voice reassuming its usual quavering uncertainty.

“Sophie?”

But Sophia had turned to leave. By the time she crossed the threshold, she was running.

*

As Pyotr’s favorite, Aleksandr Menshikov enjoyed certain privileges: the finest wines, the company of the most beautiful of women, and the ear of his tsar and best friend. He approached Pyotr with a relaxed deference. “I’ve just received word of two more defections, most notably that of Patriarch Joachim.”

“Very good! He and I will greet further defections together.”

“Surely the tide has turned.”

“The tide, like the world itself, obeys immutable natural laws. It moves as it must, in a direction that is to our benefit, for our cause is just.”

“If only your sister could see such logic.”

“And what of my dear Sophia?”

“Buturlin has just returned from the Great Russian Road. Your sister approaches, wishing to reconcile-”

“Reconcile?” Pyotr spun around, focusing his bulging eyes on his friend. “Send Joachim. Turn her away at once. Let her return to the Kremlim, where she may reconcile her own fate.”

*

“I’ve only ever asked one thing of you, Vasily. Just one thing. To assist me. And in assisting me, serve the empire. Can your brother do nothing? Or is he too a traitor?” Sophia posed the questions as much to her lover as to the world. She knew the battle was lost.

“My lady, he merely obeys the wishes of his tsar.” He regretted the words as soon as they were uttered. She needed no reminder of her untenable position. He shut his eyes and lowered his head.

“Tsar…” Sophia stared at Vasily without seeing him.

Would Pyotr have her executed? It was no less than she deserved. She almost welcomed it. Anything—even death—would be better than exile, a return to the soul-crushing boredom of her former life. She cursed her subjects. If they would prefer the rule of a young madman to that of her own steady hand, damn them and all who came after. And if there was any validity to the events of Donskoy, if the voices that spoke through Ivan were real, then even the gods opposed her.

She briefly considered retaliation against the servants who had failed her in these last few weeks. But there was no one left to carry out her wishes. What use in ordering an execution if no one remained to wield the axe?

*

“No one remains.” Menshikov declared. “Your foes were many, now there are none.”

As Pyotr rode into Moscow, Ivan joined the procession. Streltsy accompanied Pyotr and streltsy moved aside as he made his way forward. The battle was won and Pyotr would take the throne.

“Novodevichy Convent will prove a not unpleasant environment for her to consider her errors and wile away the remainder of her years.”

Menshikov nodded. “The mercy you show your enemies inspires. Your love for Sophia is strong.”

“She was a shrewd and worthy adversary. She is, after all, my sister.”

*

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Terrible: Tsar Ivan IV in print!

The first three chapters of Terrible are now available collected in one 20-page newsprint comic!

You can order one through etsy.

Ivan arrangement

See why Jim Rugg called Terrible “a unique and compelling epic.”

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