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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

DensleyBlair

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Decent enough signal from the Tsarina that she is happy to support a liberal Russia, but the move to go after Yurovsky suggests that we have some way to go before Anastasia can adjust to life as a neutral public figure. If, indeed, she ever decides that's how she'll play being empress.

Lots for her and her new government to address in the meantime.
 
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Henry v. Keiper

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Strange to think of Russia as surrounded, but they essentially are hemmed in by quite strong threats at the moment...

With the wide breadth of land it covers, it's impossible to think of Russia as not surrounded at times. It makes sense why throughout history Russia was often eager to have puppet governments or pro-Russian governments alone her borders.

I can understand Anastasia's desire where Yurovsky is concerned, and I have no doubt will be viewed sympathetically in this matter, but it is a dangerously personal course to take.

The personal and the public - they are not separate anymore, and it is rarely good when the personal trumps the public in these sort of situations.

I also somehow imagine Wrangel won't entirely disappear off to his farm, so to speak.

Oh Wrangel is going nowhere, fear not. He's still gonna be on the scene.

As for the private and personal... it shall have consequences.

Oh boy here it comes, the confrontation between the now Tsaritsa and scion of the House of Romanov and the man that ordered her family's execution. How will Anastasia react to this I wonder.

The next update will reveal.

I'm surprised Kerensky is still around in politics; wasn't he considered a failure?

Somewhat... but... even today... there are A LOT of politicians who should be considered failures, yet for one reason or another are still around...

Hmmm interesting choice indeed

[Speaking in Lo-Pan voice:] "Indeed!"

Decent enough signal from the Tsarina that she is happy to support a liberal Russia, but the move to go after Yurovsky suggests that we have some way to go before Anastasia can adjust to life as a neutral public figure. If, indeed, she ever decides that's how she'll play being empress.

Lots for her and her new government to address in the meantime.

Oh yes. Lots and lots and lots of things for the new government to address. But this is only the beginning... and the big war hasn't even started yet.
 
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Captured Joe

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Crimson Lionheart

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I'm expecting Anastasia to either extend the olive branch upon a broken man, or sentence this criminal to death for the brutal murder of her family.

This will be interesting to see. The Empress would need to look into her heart to find what would bring her peace.
 

spendabuck

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I'm expecting Anastasia to either extend the olive branch upon a broken man, or sentence this criminal to death for the brutal murder of her family.

This will be interesting to see. The Empress would need to look into her heart to find what would bring her peace.
I'm personally hoping for the former; I find it to be the more compelling story, especially with how Yakov Yurovsky was depicted earlier in the AAR (and even Trotsky back in the prologue). Regardless though, I'm looking forward to seeing what happens.
 

Henry v. Keiper

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rBKVCB2.png

Chapter 13
Leonid


August, 1937

The Okhrana agent could see the cell door through the gray thickness of his cigarette smoke. He was reclining against the wall, hands in pockets, with one leg bent up, his foot against the cold stone. The only way to see into the cell itself was through the small window slit at eye-level on the door, but Leonid didn’t need to peek through it to see inside: he knew full well who was inside.

Yakov Yurovsky. The man who had served in the Bolshevik army, who had been in command of guarding the Tsar’s family, and who had overseen their murder and secret burial. (Though the Whites had uncovered the bodies after the war and given them a proper burial.) Okhrana agents, accompanied by the army, had arrested him at his home in Yekaterinburg, and taken him to Petrograd. Leonid had met him, of course, that fateful night when he received the identity of the “little sparrow” Stalin’s men had been pursuing. Now the two men were reunited, though for very different purposes. Yakov was to stand trial for his crimes against the royal family and the Russian state, and everyone expected this was certain death. Leonid’s role? He was to assist with the guarding of the prisoner and make certain no one killed him before the state could. “We mustn’t cheat the hangman’s noose,” as the saying went.

A small troupe of soldiers marched into the dank, dark room, led by a captain. Leonid met eye contact with him, and the officer remarked, “They’re ready for him.”

“Alright.” Leonid dropped the cigarette and snuffed it under his shoe. With the soldiers, he marched over to the cell and waited for the captain to unlock the gate. As soon as the door was unlocked and opened, the captain swung the door wide open. He didn’t enter first – instead, he motioned with his arm for Leonid to enter first. The agent did and looked into the dimly lit corner of the cell.

There sat Yakov Yurovsky. He was as he had remembered him from their meeting in Yekaterinburg: a large mustache, a beard on his face, and tired, bloodshot eyes surrounded by darkened flesh. When the man looked up, it made the agent’s heart sink. There didn’t seem to be any will within the man’s spirit – it was as if he was resigned to die, and knew there was no way around this. When Yakov’s eyes met Leonid’s, his lips grimaced for a moment in the only display of emotion. “It’s you.”

“Yes. We meet again.”

Yakov coughed. “Are you to execute me?”

“No, I’m escort you to the trial, as your personal guard.”

Yakov chuckled. A hard, bitter laughter. “Alright… let’s go… the angel of death for Judas…”

Leonid stood beside Yakov as the two men marched along the dark halls of the building. The captain and two soldiers led the way before them, while the rest of the force took up the rear. They continued down the dark, dingy halls until the captain reached a door. As soon as he opened it, they were suddenly bathed in light. Before them lay the court room proper: a large crowd of nobles, government officials, and members of the press sat in the pews on one side of the room, while a line of military judges sat atop a dais on the other end. As the troupe marched out, a quiet murmur came from the onlookers, and all eyes were clearly on them. Leonid took note of the Empress Anastasia herself, seated with the Tsar-Consort against one of the halls, and flanked by soldiers.

Leonid also noticed that, among the press corps, were two radio operators. One of them was a young man. The other, much to his delight, was a voluptuous young blonde woman. What was her name? wondered the agent. She had headphones over her wavy hair, and was speaking into a microphone. “They have just entered now. Yakov Yurovsky, the assassin of the Tsar’s family, flanked by soldiers and Okhrana agents.”

Hey, she noticed me, thought Leonid.

The younger man beside the blonde quietly remarked, “I’m so happy they finally bought us this new system…”

st9ZIv7.png

Yakov was escorted to a large chair and made to sit in it. The soldiers took spots along the wall around him, while Leonid stood not too far off, albeit against the wall. It was there that all he had to do was stand there and make certain no one assaulted Yakov during the trial. Not that there was any concern. Everyone was dead silent as they watched the trial unfold, and no one seemed to want to bring it to an abrupt conclusion.

Bit by bit, the testimonies and evidence came forward. Accounts by those who had lived near the home where the family was assassinated. Photographs of the murder scene, including the walls riddled with bullet holes. The report by White forces who took Yekaterinburg and subsequently investigated the matter. Communications between Moscow and Yekaterinburg plotting the fate of the royal family. Discovered journal entries by those who took part in the assassination – including Yakov himself. They were all brought forward over the hours that the trial took. The judges listened impartially, but Leonid took notice of the expressions from the Empress. Anastasia would listen stoically for a while, then, on occasion (especially as harsher details were given), turn her head towards the floor. The Tsar-Consort would reach over and pat her knuckles, after which she would raise her head to observe the trial again.

Yakov made no effort to defend himself. The entire time, his head was low, his tired eyes downcast. His arms rested on his lap, and his hands drooped between his knees. He looked like he was on the verge of passing out. Leonid truly felt pity for the man, for despite his sentence having not been read yet, it was obvious that he was like a man awaiting the trip to the gallows. There were many men in Russia that Leonid believed deserved the noose, and yet fate and history were calling this one to be the sacrifice for the sins the nation had endured during the Civil War.

At some point, Patriarch Peter of Krutitsy, sitting among the government dignitaries and flanked by deacons, leaned over to one and muttered, “When God confronted the serpent in the garden, he didn’t offer a defense like Adam and Eve did. The devil knows his guilt…”

At long last, the evidence was used up. The chief prosecutor arose from his place high above the room and looked down at Yakov. “Yakov Yurovsky, in the face of such damning evidence, have you anything to say in your defense?”

Yakov did not even lift his gaze up. His head simply shook back and forth.

“Very well. In light of the plain evidence and eyewitness testimony, which you cannot even deny or contradict, this court finds you guilty of high treason against the Empress’ family, and the murder of the family of Tsar Nicholas II and many of his loyal servants. As such, you are hereby ordered to be executed by firing squad. Your sentence is to be carried out-”

“NO!!”

The spectators gasped as they turned towards the door. An older woman, dressed in plain clothes, was rushing through the door. Two soldiers were on her, gripping her arms tight and struggling to keep her from going forward. Leonid could tell, by the way Yakov looked at her, that he recognized her.

“No! Please! Let him go! Please!”

“What is the meaning of this?” asked the judge.

“He’s my husband! Please! Please, he’s ruined himself because of that night!” She turned her eyes towards Anastasia now. “Please, your majesty! Please, spare him! It’s eaten away at him!”

The murmurs and gasps in the room came to a pause as Anastasia stood up. She held a hand out, and at once the old woman stopped struggling against the soldiers. Turning towards Yakov, she took some steps down from her platform, came into the middle of the courtroom, and stopped. “Bring him to me,” she said.

Leonid walked forward with another soldier and helped Yakov to his feet. They walked him down towards Anastasia. Two of Anastasia’s guards came forward and flanked her, their bayonets pointed at Yakov. The soldier guiding the assassin pushed him down to his knees before the Empress. Yakov did not say anything – all he did was stare up at Anastasia, his tired eyes gazing almost lifelessly.

“Yakov Yurovsky,” Anastasia said, “is what she said true?”

At last, a low, stuttering voice left Yakov’s throat. “Your majesty…” He swallowed, then looked down. Tears filled his eyes. “Every night, your majesty. Every night, I relive that moment. Even when I close my eyes, I see it. I can see your father falling down. I can hear the screams of your sisters. I can see the look of terror in your eyes. I can smell the blood that came from your bodies. I think of the look of sadness in your brother’s eyes before I pulled the trigger. The smell of that shaft that we dumped them in. The laughter and mockery of the men with me. The knowledge of what I had done. It all floods back to me, like I’m back there. It pains my heart. It makes me want to die. I want to kill myself and be rid of the pain. So I drink. And I drink. And I drink. I drink to numb the pain, to make me not care. But then I sober up, and it all comes back. And then it happens again. The blood… the screams…”

Yakov was crying now. Weeping. Bawling. He fell to his knees and gripped the ends of Anastasia’s dress. Tells dampened in the fabric. “Please, your majesty! Please, forgive me! Even if you send me to die, please forgive me… I can’t go to my judgment with this guilt on my conscience…”

In the past, Leonid had heard people talk about a moment being so tense you could cut it with a knife. He had never understood that saying until now – for the room seemed so thick with the emotions of the moment that, indeed, if one of the soldiers had sliced through the air with his bayonet, he just might have cut through it. The only sound in the room was the sobbing of Yakov, and all eyes were focused on the scene. Even the radio woman said nothing, but stared at the scene with wide blue eyes.

At last, Anastasia said, “Yakov Yurovsky… stand up.”

He did, without hesitation, though his eyes did not dare lift up to make contact with hers. His shoulders shook as he continued to weep. At last… Anastasia held up her hands and placed them on his shoulders. “It has been a long time, Yurovsky… my wounds have healed, but I see that yours have not. The grief I have felt about that day has been unbearable. I would have never imagined, however, that you would share the grief with me. I remember that day that you seemed to hesitate giving the order. I can see now why – you knew what you were doing was wrong. Yet we all must make choices that will be difficult… and I can see you have regret yours ever since.”

Yakov still said nothing, but continued to sob.

“That is why, Yurovsky… I am forgiving you…”

The entire room broke out in gasps and awes. Yakov jerked his head up, eyes wide. “Y-your… your majesty…”

“I am forgiving you, and absolving you of all charges.”

Yakov’s wife let out a cry of glee and fell to her knees, weeping in joy.

Anastasia continued. “However, I must ask, in return, that you forgive me.”

Yakov looked up, a look of uncertainty on his face. His reddened eyes blinked twice. “You? You want me… to forgive you? What… what do I need to forgive you for?”

Anastasia smiled. “When my family was in Yekaterinburg… there was time when you gave us an order, and I didn’t like what you had to say, so when you turned your back… I stuck my tongue out at you.”

Silence fell upon the room… and then… a slow, gradual rise of laughter. Soon the entire room was breaking out in raucous delight. Yakov glanced about in confusion, then looked at Anastasia, and he too laughed. She joined with him in that, and brought him into a hug. At that, the room stood, and all began to clap. Government officials, military personnel, church dignitaries, all began to applause.

Anastasia turned and held up a hand to silence the room. When the noise had dimmed, she said, “By decree of the Empress of All the Russias, Yakov Yurovsky is hereby forgiven of all charges of murder. He is to live in peace. Let no man dare hurt him or seek vengeance upon him. If any man should harm him, justice shall be on that person’s head a thousandfold. Let it be known that, under my reign, all the wounds of the past must be, and shall be, healed. Let it start today.”

She turned and walked towards the Tsar-Consort. Taking his extended arm, the two of them left out a side door, accompanied by soldiers. Yakov Yurovsky rushed towards the railing separating the court room from the pews, and it was there that he embraced his wife.

N0nbXo1.png

Leonid let out a whistle. “Well. That I didn’t see coming.”

Ludmila stepped forward. Leonid hadn’t even been aware that she was in the room. “Rather clever of her. I think I can see what game she’s up to.”

“What do you mean?”

“She’s just forgiven the Communist who murdered her entire family. She’s shown that she can forgive old enemies and bring them to her side. All of Russia will be hearing of this news, won’t they?”

“Yes, I suppose they will.”

Ludmila gave a curt hum. “And so will Trotsky…”
 
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Specialist290

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I have to admit, I genuinely was expecting Yakov would end up sent to the gallows.

Even if she recognized the possible political advantage behind such a move, I don't think mere cold-blooded calculation of advantage could have swayed Anastasia alone; this definitely comes across as an act of the heart to me, and undoubtedly one made after much soul-searching and grief. It takes a large heart and a powerful amount of will to forgive the man who murdered your family.

All that being said, let's hope no one is fool enough to mistake kindness for weakness by trying to take advantage of the Tsarina's generosity in this matter...
 

TheButterflyComposer

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...Trotsky is still alive???

Oh dear. That's problematic.
 

R0MMEL

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Dude you wrote this scene better than I ever could. Kudos for bringing to life the most important event (in my opinion) of the mod. Although I give players the choice, I'm very glad you took her down the path of reconciliation instead of revenge. It is a far more fanciful path, but that element of fantasy makes it feel far more compelling to me.
 
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stnylan

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Well now, that is really very very interesting.

Forgiveness can be seen as a weakness, but it can truly be a incredibly powerful thing. No doubt this will mark Anastacia in a quite indelible way.
 

mike the knight

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The trial chapter is the best till now in my opinion , so powerful emotions
 
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DensleyBlair

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Good show from the Empress. An element of the fantastic to the whole scene; very cinematic all the way through. Definitely a win-win decision to pardon Yakov.

And I'm morbidly curious to hear what Trotsky will be getting up to now.
 

Henry v. Keiper

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I have to admit, I genuinely was expecting Yakov would end up sent to the gallows.

Even if she recognized the possible political advantage behind such a move, I don't think mere cold-blooded calculation of advantage could have swayed Anastasia alone; this definitely comes across as an act of the heart to me, and undoubtedly one made after much soul-searching and grief. It takes a large heart and a powerful amount of will to forgive the man who murdered your family.

There have been many times in history where someone's action was both politically advantageous and personally motivated. It wouldn't be too far fetched to presume both might be true here.

...Trotsky is still alive???

Oh dear. That's problematic.

In the Prologue chapters, Lenin is killed, but both Trotsky and Stalin escape Wrangel's attack on Moscow. In Chapter 1, the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks are mentioned as the two main factions among Communist insurrectionists. Since Trotsky originally was a Menshevik, it's hinted at that he's their leader. However, I realize now I didn't get that clear enough across, so that's my fault.

But Trotsky probably would still be alive at this point. Originally, Trotsky went into exile in the 1920's, and was eventually assassinated in 1940 by Soviet agents in Mexico. Since Stalin never came to power in this timeline, none of that will happen.

Dude you wrote this scene better than I ever could. Kudos for bringing to life the most important event (in my opinion) of the mod. Although I give players the choice, I'm very glad you took her down the path of reconciliation instead of revenge. It is a far more fanciful path, but that element of fantasy makes it feel far more compelling to me.

As always, I'm very flattered when the Dev Team approve of my treatment of their mod! I tried to incorporate much of what was in the in-game event, but of course made up a few bits of my own.

And yes, I figured the path of reconciliation is more interesting than just killing off anyone Anastasia doesn't like. Also, I'm already writing a more vengeful female character in my CK2 Game of Thrones AAR, so I figured going that route would make my writing a tad bit formulaic...

On a completely unrelated note, Anastasia's "confession" is based on a real event. Supposedly, Yakov came to tell the family something that made them all upset, and as soon as he turned around, the Grand Duchess stuck her tongue out at him.

Well now, that is really very very interesting.

Forgiveness can be seen as a weakness, but it can truly be a incredibly powerful thing. No doubt this will mark Anastacia in a quite indelible way.

The Empress can be merciful... when she chooses to be...

The trial chapter is the best till now in my opinion , so powerful emotions

Glad you think so! I wasn't too happy with the finished product, but hey, if people like it... yay!

Good show from the Empress. An element of the fantastic to the whole scene; very cinematic all the way through. Definitely a win-win decision to pardon Yakov.

And I'm morbidly curious to hear what Trotsky will be getting up to now.

Future chapters will reveal.
 
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TWR97

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So reconciliation over vengeance hmmm? Rather benevolent of the Tsaritsa indeed. Trotsky will certainly be really curious once he hears this news. Hell all of Russia will be hearing of this stunning turn of events.
 

Crimson Lionheart

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Now that's a surprise. A benevolent tsaritsa is certainly going to be a great boom to the rejuvenation of a divided Russia.

Hopefully this could serve as a motivation for any Bolsheviks that had lost faith to reconcile with their old enemies.
 

leon-dor

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I hoped Anastasia would pursue reconciliation from the very start, but was very unsure if she would in this AAR. I am glad she did. Picking Kerenski as PM was already an hint in that dirction i guess. I wonder what she will do with Stalin in the end though. Execution, imprisonment, or exile?
 
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Henry v. Keiper

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This is the best Russian thing I saw since Teivel's epic saga. Keep it going! :)

I assume you mean this one? I'm unfamiliar with it, but I'll have to read it now that you recommend it.

And this will definitely keep going... speaking of which...