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The Madness of Tsar Justinian

Justinian the Mighty

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Justinian awoke after another night of tossing and turning. The past few weeks were really hard on him. His hair was wooly and unkempt, his beard is beginning to look scraggly as well and he’d been gaining weight constantly. He looked more like a poor beggar and not a Russian monarch. After he was rescued from Kotlas everything seemed like it would return to normal, but even though he seemed normal at first, his mood and mental state quickly changed from fairly normal to horrible. When he returned to his home, friends and family memories from his past flooded back into his head. That combined with the traumatic ordeal he had gone through drove him to the brink of insanity. They took him to Peterhof palace hoping the open more rural setting would calm him, but it did quite the opposite. Justinian’s favorite summer home has become his prison.

Today though he was a little better, actually he’d been steadily improving for a few days now. His doctors have his depression and hallucinations under control with the use of medication, and the vulgar tendencies he picked up from General Zorin and his cohorts were being worked on. The doctors encouraged him to start socializing again, start with a few familiar faces, other than just his immediate family. However socializing couldn’t be any less important to him right now, he was hungry, and like primal beast he let his instincts carry him to the nearest source of food.

Justinian climbs out of bed and languidly walks to the dining room for breakfast. Usually at this time the dining room is full of the Tsar’s nieces and nephews, but today it was surprisingly empty, and quiet. He notices his mother sitting at one end of the long dining table with her nose buried in a book. She doesn’t react as though she’d seen him yet, and even when he sits in the chair across from her she doesn’t lift her head.

“Where is everyone?” he asks.

Without taking her eyes off the book, she responds, “Your father took them all in to St. Petersburg for the weekend, something about a fair.” she finally lifts her head up and takes a moment to look over the sorry state her son is in, “You could have at least combed your hair, and put on some decent clothes. I hope you’re not going to mope around the palace when your guests arrive.”

“Moping? I don’t mope--wait, who‘s coming today?” he asks.

“Your cousin, Paul among others. He asked about you a few days ago and I told him to come and see for himself.”

“Well that was nice of you mama, maybe you could have told me a little sooner.”

“Hmm, indeed. Go get dressed before anyone sees you looking like that” she says apathetically while looking back down at her book.

When Justinian returns his cousin, Paul has already arrived, and already he can tell he doesn’t like his own cousin. He looks too confident, loudmouthed and very snobby, which is saying a lot because the royal family is renown for their snobbish behavior. However Paul seems to take things to a whole new level. He really believes that his last name makes him somehow better than everyone else. He abuses his title and rank in the court and in the public he tends to draw more attention than most people are comfortable with. Upon seeing Justinian enter the room Paul corners him and they hug awkwardly.

“Would you like some breakfast Paul?”

“No, thank you. I came to see how you were. I heard you weren’t feeling well, and I thought I’d come by. Also, uh, I have something important I need to talk to you about--in private.”

They both go into the adjacent sitting room. Like most of the rooms of Peterhof Palace it was filled with extravagant furniture and art. The antique furniture and architecture of the room was contrasted by the large television hanging over the fire place showing news images of the riots in Austria.

“Did you hear about that business in the west, the riots?” Paul asks. Justinian just shakes his head, he just woke up an hour ago, how could he know? “Terrible business democracy. First you let the commoners have free speech, then they go all out of control. Rioting and rebellion, I can‘t understand why anyone would allow the people to even have a part in making their own decisions.”

Justinian frowns, at the ignorant comment. “I haven’t got the time to focus on politics. During the few hours a day I’m lucid, I‘d rather be out in the gardens or swimming in the lake. The other day I though a breakfast sausage was a serpent trying to corrupt my soul. ”

Paul chuckles, but then all the sudden gets very serious. He walks over to a window, looks out it and says “You were put through quite an ordeal. I never suspected General Zorin was a Dark Hand agent, but then again I suppose the most dangerous people are the ones you least expect.”

Justinian is confused when Paul mentions the general. The fact that General Zorin is still alive, and the investigation around his involvement with the Dark Hand is a closely guarded secret. The only people who know are Prime Minister, the cabinet and Justinian’s parents.

“How did you know about the general?” he asks.

Paul nervously replies, “I read it in the papers, I think. He hold you hostage in the bunker and whatnot?”

“No, that information hasn’t been released to the public. Especially the part about him holding me hostage. What do you know, and how do you know it?”

Justinian starts to realize that a member of his own family may have somehow betrayed him. It becomes obvious now that his normally loud, and confident cousin, starts acting meek and nervous. Justinian confronts him directly, but Paul can only whimper two words “I’m sorry.”

Justinian’s rage instantly takes control of him. He jumps up onto his feet and lunges at Paul, knocking him to the ground. They both scuffle for a moment, but Justinian always keeps control of the fight by grasping Paul’s throat and squeezing as hard as he can. As he tries to choke his own cousin to death Justinian shouts and curses at him for his betrayal. Some guards not too far away hear the noise and rush in and separate them. Paul stumbles around gasping for air, while three guards literally pin Justinian against the wall, where he continues shouting, cursing and fighting to get at Paul. With three guards holding Justinian back Paul assumes it’s safe to raise his middle finger to Justinian, just as he’s starting to calm down. Seeing that only revives his rage, and Justinian grabs the closest thing near him and throws it at Paul. A 100 year old vase shatters against the wall, and Justinian shouts “Arrest that man, he’s a traitor!”

Edited by Justinian the Mighty
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Edit: Oops, I clicked the wrong button, this isnt done yet.

OOC: You know, every time I'm making a thread, I worry that the same thing is going to happen to me. So far, it hasn't.

Also, the title reminds me of a movie called The Madness of King George. The guy they hired as his psychologist was played by the actor who played Bilbo Baggins. Only he was much meaner.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The palace guards break up the argument, then separate Justinian and Paul. Hoping to find out what started the argument, Justinian’s mother, comes in and sits with him. As she walks in the room she sees him sitting in a chair with his arm on the armrest, and his head resting on his fist, looking calm, and detached like in a trance. Even though he usually looks that way when he thinks, this time he seems very glum. She interrupts his trancelike state to ask him what happened, and although he doesn’t think she’ll believe him, he tells her anyway. While they talk Maria agrees that it’s a serious accusation to make against a royal family member, but she believes him anyway.

A few minutes later Paul is brought back into the room. He sits at a tea table, across from Justinian, who stares coldly at him for a while. Maria tells him that she knows he has some kind of relation to Gregory Zorin, and advises him to tell the truth. The confident and snobbish aura he usually displays is completely gone, now all that remains is a sniveling husk. “I beg Your Majesties for mercy,” he says while groveling on his knees “I was weak, and I made a mistake. The general deceived me, he said he would help us win the war, and I could be a part of that.”

“You betrayed me, Paul, I don’t care how nor why, but because of you I was forced to live like a rodent. For three months I had to endure unspeakable torture. I had to murder to stay alive because you wanted a taste of glory.” Justinian barks, as Paul shuffles on his knees over to him.

“Please tell me what I can do to fix this. I‘ll do anything you tell me to, I’m not a traitor I swear, I thought I was doing the country a service…”

Justinian leans forward, rising to his feet, and shouts, “Doing a service?! The only thing you managed to accomplish was our surrender and collapse of the government, I should let you hang!”

*Ahem* Maria coughs lightly to get Justinian’s attention. “Mama, What do you think is appropriate punishment for his crimes? On one hand he helped cause the events that led to my captivity, but on the other hand he‘s extremely--stupid. Should I have him put on trial for treason?”

“It‘s your decision, but I suggest some discretion.”

“Hmm, you earn a yearly salary, as a royal family member don’t you Paul, how much is it?

“250,000 rubles a year.”

“You own property too don’t you?”

“Yes, I have a home in St. Petersburg.”

“Good. Paul, you‘ll give ¾ of your income to a charity of my choosing, and your home in St. Petersburg will become--an orphanage. However I‘m going to let you have a taste of glory. I’m going to pull a few strings to get you a commission in the army, then send you to Yacrania. After the war is over you‘ll serve as viceroy.” Justinian smiles coldly, “Enjoy the Siberian winter.”

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  • 2 weeks later...

“It‘s not easy being the Tsar,” Justinian says to his mother while he watches the palace guards escort Paul out. He expects her to say something back, but she doesn’t, she just frowns at him. It’s not an unfamiliar frown, he’s seen it hundreds of times growing up, and every time it precedes a long boring lecture on why it‘s his job to uphold the ideals and values the monarchial institution is based on--and blah blah blah. He doesn’t know she’s looking at him like that though, he thought he’d exercised a good amount of restraint, so he asks, “What‘s wrong with you now?”

“I cant believe you‘re asking me that question Justin. You just sent your own flesh and blood to a place where the people are going to rip him apart.”

“I know.” he replies calmly. “It‘s his punishment for his treachery. I‘m trying to sustain an empire here mama. We have communists fighting us in the south, Germans in the northeast, and fascist from all over. I won‘t tolerate fighting from within, especially not from my own family.”

“I cant believe you‘d condemn your own cousin to death. You‘re walking a thin line between what you‘re trying to protect and what you‘re fighting against.” she snaps, as Justinian walks away from her toward the door.

“I‘m not putting him in immediate danger. I’m sending the Imperial Guard will watch over and protect him, but he needs to be taught a lesson, and since you wouldn’t let me hit him I had to try a different approach.”

“Yes, but…”

“I’m done talking about it mama, I’ve made my decision and it’s final.” Justinian replies while checking his watch and walking out of the room. He notices it’s already noon and he hasn’t eaten yet, and his stomach starts to rumble. Just as he rounds the corner toward the dining room he looks up and sees an old love interest, Christina Radziwill. He stops dead in his tracks and moans, “oh crap.”

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  • 3 weeks later...

Christina was the last person Justinian expected to see in the palace today. He thought she was overseas in Australia or someplace. He was a little nervous about seeing her again. How he must look, even though he washed up, trimmed his beard and combed his hair he just didn’t feel like himself. He was starting to look a little stout and his face looks like it had aged 20 years in such an extremely short period of time, but she was exactly the same as he remembered her. Her long auburn brown hair bounces with each smooth, elegant step she takes. In fact she doesn’t appear to be walking at all, rather floating or gliding angelically over the marble floors of the palace, as her red and white dress waves gently in the breeze.

At that moment Christina sees him from across the hallway, just standing there looking kind of anxious and appearing to be looking into nowhere. She waves to him, but he pretends not to see her at first. He keeps his eyes pointed at the caramel and white marble floor, and only looks back up when he hears her running toward him. Just as he looks up Christine leaps into the air and into his arms, and for a split second her big pale blue eyes catch a ray of sunshine and light up. The warmth from her embrace makes all the confusion and torment go away, at least for a moment.

They hug for a few moments, neither one knowing what to say after the hug is over. Justinian holds her gently in his arms, and she begins to cry. Just as he’s about to ask her why she’s crying she releases him, takes a few steps back and slaps him. A stinging sensation resonates through Justinian’s body as he draws back and his eyes begin to water, “Ahhh that hurt!” he says bewilderedly “What the hell was that for?”

Christina stands before him, arms crossed and frowning. Justinian re-postures himself and calmly asks her again. She slaps him a second time this time on the other side of the face. “Ouch, stop it!” he shouts, “For a moment I‘d forgotten how much of a pain in my $@! you are.”

“Oh, I‘m a pain in the $@!? How dare you, you disappeared for months, then when you return you won’t even let anyone visit you. I thought I was your friend?”

Feeling guilty Justinian looks down at his shoes, and mumbles an apology. Of course it wasn’t right to do what he did, but in his defense he was borderline insane for a while. Who would want to visit a crazy person? Definitely not a well to do young lady like herself. No, he was saving himself from the embarrassment and her from a few minutes of awkward incomprehensible conversation. He grabs both of Christina’s hands, partially hoping to avoid getting slapped again, looks directly into her eyes and with a charming smile says to her, “Of course you’re my friend, but I wasn’t quite myself. I didn’t think you, or anyone else wanted to see what I was. Anyway, we‘re both here now. Will you accompany me to lunch?”

ooc: kind of a gravedig, but I've been too lazy to write or post the last few weeks. I'm gonna try to fix that. :v:

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  • 3 weeks later...

Justinian awakens the next morning with Christina wrapped up in his arms. He gently removes his arm from underneath her to go look out the window. Outside the sun shines brightly bathing the palace grounds in sunlight. It was a little odd to see the sun shining so brightly, because yesterday’s weather forecast predicted rain throughout the day, but that wasn’t really all that important. Seeing the sunshine somehow made him feel different, better than he’d been feeling. Before everything felt out of place and chaotic, but now everything feels right.

He glances at Christina who is still sleeping peacefully. As he walks back toward the bed there’s a knock at the door. Standing on the other side of the door is one of his attendants holding a phone an antique rotary phone on a serving platter. “It‘s the Prime Minister” he says to Justinian. The Tsar thanks him and asks him to set the phone on the table near the window. He picks up the receiver, holds it up to his ear and greets Premier Medvedev. The Premier cuts through all the pleasantries and skips directly to the point.

“Your Majesty, I thought you should know Gregory Zorin didn’t show up to court today. Apparently over the weekend he suffered a heart attack and was taken to an military hospital outside Moscow--it doesn’t look good.” Dmitry pauses for a minute before going on, “There‘s one more thing he says he wants to talk to you before he dies.”

Half surprised and half concerned Justinian replies, “Did he say why?”

“No, but I advise you against it. A meeting with him might not be good for you in your current state. It‘s a good idea to just let him die alone in a pile of his own filth.”

Justinian moves the phone way from his hear and peers out the window at a group of ducks swimming in one of the pools. He wishes his life was as simple as theirs, no pressure, no responsibility, no worries. After a few moments Dmitry’s voice comes faintly through the earpiece. “Oh I’m sorry Prime Minister, I forgot you were there.” He says pulling the phone back to his ear. “I’ve given it some thought though, and I‘ll be flying down to Moscow immediately. The man deserves a last wish doesn’t he?”

Before Dmitry can respond Justinian hangs up the phone and sets on the ground outside his door. Then he goes over to Christina who’s sleeping still. He doesn’t want to wake her, but he wants to tell her bye in person.

“Christina, I have to go back to Moscow now,” he says, while he moves a strand of hair from her face. “You‘re going to come visit me right?”

“Of course” she says just before letting out a long yawn. “I‘m transferring to the University of Moscow this year, since Lithuania is, well you know.”

Hours later the Tsar’s personal plane lands on the runway at a secure Air force base near Moscow, The same base where the devious Gregory Zorin lays dying. The only thing that’s keeping him alive is a life-support system. Justinian and the Imperial Guard enter a small hospital room to see Zorin handcuffed to the bed, his last lifeline pushing air in and out of his lungs, pumping blood through his body and keeping him hydrated. The gruesome sight makes Justinian very uncomfortable, because it reminds him of how his grandmother looked while she was dying from cancer.

Justinian sits in a chair a few feet from the foot of the bed with guards standing all around him, ready to defend him if necessary. The dishonored general smiles from his deathbed at the serious looks on all their faces. He pushes a button which raises him up into a sitting position. Weakly he says, “What‘s with all the serious faces? Don’t let the tubes and wires bother you, I feel better than I ever have before.” he chuckles faintly.

“What do you want” Justinian replies unsympathetically.

“You’re always so serious. You should learn to relax a little, before you know it your life is over, and you find yourself wishing you‘d had more fun.” Gregory glances at the guards, who clearly display their semi-machine guns. He notes their apparent warning and chuckles. He assures them he hasn’t even got enough strength to sit upright by himself, let along get out of bed and harm Justinian. Never the less they stay on guard, until they’re dismissed by Justinian. They reluctantly leave the room, but stand right outside the door.

Now Justinian asks again why Gregory wanted to see him, but Gregory tries to side step the question with pleasant conversation. Growing frustrated with the dying man’s games Justinian demands him to get to the point.

“Will you just relax, you don’t want to give yourself a heart attack do you.” Gregory chokes and chuckles in a amusement. He clicks the button to raise himself up a little more before continuing, “I thought you should know I‘m going to talk to the press tomorrow. I thought they‘d like to know their precious Tsar killed two people.” Gregory smiles sadistically at Justinian feeling like he’d just dropped a bomb.

“I killed those men in self defense, as well as the fact that both of them were terrorists. You‘ll only be making me look like a hero” Justinian replies calmly.

“Oh so shooting a man in the face while he‘s tied to a chair is heroic? I gotta admit, even for me that was depraved. I‘ll admit my hatred for you was misplaced. I believed your soul was incorruptible, but I got to you didn’t I? You‘re a killer now. All you need is some nurturing to become a cold blooded psychopath--like me.”

Justinian rises slowly from the chair and stands beside Gregory’s bed. He grasps a tube that’s supplying him with air and folds it over to cut off the flow of oxygen. Unable to breathe, Gregory begins to gasp for air. He desperately grasps for the emergency call button, but Justinian knocks it onto the ground. Just as the agony seems unbearable Justinian releases his grip allowing oxygen to flow again. Gregory chuckles palely as oxygen flows back into his lungs, wheezing with every gasp of air.

“How disappointing, I thought for sure you‘d be able to do the job. If it were me I wouldn’t have let you live.”

“But you didn’t, you‘re just as weak as you say I am.” Justinian replies.

“We are everywhere you know. The Dark Hand has it soldiers all around you, and sooner or later we‘ll win this little game, and your precious communist lapdogs won‘t be around to save you this time. My only regret is that I didn’t get to see this self-righteous hellhole of a nation get crushed under the weight of it‘s own ego. And you, I wanted to see your face when you watched me slaughter your family in front of you. Beating your parents and siblings to death, crushing the skulls of your nieces and nephews even your…”

Once again Gregory’s breathing becomes shallow, with each breath he takes the pain in his chest increases. He looks down to see if Justinian had cut the oxygen again, but his hands are nowhere near the tubes. By chance he happens to glance over to the machine that’s keeping him alive. To his surprise the switch has been turned from on to off. The pumps have stopped moving and it becomes harder and harder for him to breathe. He looks up at Justinian just standing over him without any emotion on his face. He turns around and walks toward the door.

Before Justinian walks out the door Gregory is able to muster his last words, “I knew you had it in ya.”

Justinian‘s lowers his head as he comes to grips with the situation. He looks over his head and responds, “I guess I‘ll see you in hell.”

As the Tsar walks out the door the dying terrorist mastermind takes his last breaths, and quietly drifts off into death’s arms. A lifetime of terror, murder and destruction ends with the push of a button.

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  • 4 weeks later...

It hadn’t been long since Justinian had returned to Moscow to take back the reins of government, albeit at a greatly diminished level than before. The Parliament still had it’s reservations about the Tsar’s mental condition, and they weren’t going to restore all his constitutional powers to him until every one of their doubts were gone. However he did manage to convince parliament to allow him to sit on several Parliamentary Committees.

Justinian was in the midst of putting his life back together, but there was one more thing he wanted to do. On his way to see Christina at her Moscow apartment he reaches into his pocked to pull out a Faberge Egg ring box. Inside it is a sapphire and diamond engagement ring he intends to give to Christina when he proposes. As his driver opens the door to let him out of the car Justinian gather’s his courage and braces himself for the future.

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