The Ring of the Queen

Discovery of the Ring

Prologue

Late night, March 12, 1917

Alexandra entered the room silently to find her husband, Emperor Nicholas II of Russia hunched over his desk. It had been many weeks since the two of them had a chance to have a conversation that wasn't directly monitored or eavesdropped on by the renegades who were effectively taking over their once great country.

Alexandra felt that the people of her country misunderstood the Romanovs. They were going to overthrow the 300 year reign of the tsars, and for what? A group that promised utopia, yet fought with another group that promised the same thing. They'd been told again and again that the tsars wanted only for themselves and cared nothing for their people. She knew different. She'd simply run out of ways to make the people understand.

Nicholas hunched over his desk, wondering why he hadn't abdicated his throne in his younger years. He'd thought about it. He didn't really want the responsibility of running the largest empire in the world. All he'd ever wanted was to love his wife and raise his children. All the weight of the world was something that he'd never had a taste for. Hindsight was clear. He never should have kept the crown.

"For once there is no one lurking in the shadows," Alexandra said, as Nicholas turned to find her standing behind him.

Nicholas looked up at her and smiled. "It will all be over soon. I have agreed to abdicate the thrown tomorrow. There will be no more tsars in mother Russia."

Alexandra believed that the country would always be better served by the monarchy, and wasn't quite ready to say farewell to it forever. In her hand, she held a scroll of very old parchment. She handed it to Nicholas.

"My love, I truly believe that someday the people will see that this is not the way." She watched as Nicholas opened the scroll. "I would like you to find somewhere for this. Somewhere discreet, where no one will find it for some time. When the time is right, this will be the way to correct all of the things that are about to come to pass."

Nicholas glanced at the papers. "These are the decrees of Catherine. These have already been sealed for over a hundred years." He attempted to hand them back to Alexandra. "Put them back. The world does not need to find the ramblings of a crazy old woman, and think that they are law."

Alexandra pushed them back at her husband. "Catherine was not crazy. She was a she, and that is why no Romanov since has wanted to follow anything that she set in motion. This will one day undo everything that the red army is about to set in motion."

"It rambles about a ring that one of her boyfriends gave to her," Nicholas scoffed. "It is nonsense."

"She personally decreed that the holder of the ring would be the next tsar," Alexandra replied. "It is very simple and binding. One day it will revive the aristocracy."

Nicholas looked at his wife's face. He could tell that this was a time when she would not give in. He knew the documents that the family had referred to for decades as the Catherine Papers. He had read them. A woman tsar. It had been a long time. It had been since Catherine had taken the throne from Peter III in a domestic dispute that had drastically changed the history of most of the world. The family didn't revere Catherine like the rest of the country had, but she was well respected long after her death as being one of the greatest leaders that the country had ever known. Alexandra was right, and he knew it. If, at some point in the future, the papers were found, there was a good chance that they would be honored. The chance that a Romanov would have the ring when it was deemed to be the only thing necessary to define a person as the rightful ruler of Russia, would have to fall to fate.

"I do not like this option, but you are right," Nicholas said. "She was not even a Romanov."

"You know as well as I do that she is the mother of what currently is known as the Romanovs," Alexandra replied. "I do not wish to sit here and dredge up family history, just to convince you to do the right thing. Now, where can we send this that it can be hidden for an undetermined amount of time, with none of those rebels finding it?"

"There is not much that is sacred to these Bolsheviks or the Mensheviks. It would have to be someplace that would have a chance of survival. I do not think that they will stop until all of the great palaces of Pushkin and St. Petersburg are destroyed," Nicholas reasoned. "They respect nothing."

"They respect one thing," Alexandra said, pointing to the papers.

Nicholas smiled at her. "Call Mikhail."

Alexandra left the room and returned with a man clad in the military uniform of the tsars army. He came to Nicholas' side and stood at attention. "Yes, your highness."

Nicholas handed him the scroll. "This is the most important thing that I have ever asked of you," he told the soldier. "I need you to take this to Oranienbaum and hide it somewhere that it could stay for all eternity if need be."

"I do not understand, sir," the boy replied.

"Do you believe that the Romanovs should rule?" Nicholas asked.

"Yes, your highness. I have always believed that. I have remained in your service, because I believe that," the soldier answered.

"Then take these papers to Catherine's private palace, and find a hiding place for them. It needs to be difficult to find. The rebels have not seemed interested in Oranienbaum. I think that this would be the safest place to hide such papers," Nicholas explained. "In the future, they may restore the dynasty."

"Yes, sir," Mikhail replied.

Mikhail took the scroll and left for the trip to the private palace of Catherine the Great to hide the decree that she had made. The decree was simple. The holder of a ring that she called The Ring of the Queen, was to be the leader of all of mother Russia.

Nicholas looked at Alexandra. "It is done. As you wish, my love. There is only one problem with your idea."

"What is that?" Alexandra asked.

"Where is the ring?" he replied in question.

Alexandra held up her left hand. On her ring finger was a beautiful ring inlaid with a picture made of many stones that shone in the dim light of the room. The picture was of Catherine the Great at the ceremony that was held to confirm that she had finally conquered the Crimean Peninsula. It was the piece that Catherine had named The Ring of the Queen.

Nicholas rose and took his wife in his arms. "Forward?"

Alexandra smiled at him. "Forward."