Prologue


They say I was born far out on the steppes of Eastern Russia in the midst of a blinding snowstorm that lasted for three days. They say I was born at the stroke of midnight, on the last day of the year of 1868 as wolves howled, hungry for my motherís birth blood. They say the wolves cowered away from the sight of me as I lay bathed in the afterbirth, bloody and screaming in my motherís arms. They say that ravens fed us scraps torn from man and beast alike and that is what kept us alive. They say that this is what gave me my mystical powers.

They were all wrong. They knew nothing of me. No one knew me, not even my brother Dmitri or my sister Mari.They were both lost to me when I was young, both taken by water. I knew it had to be water, if not, it would be fire, or earth or sky, but it was water that took them from me.

My own mother and father did not know me then. We never spoke of the water claiming their young souls, for it was too horrible to think of it. When we could no longer look at each other I left my fatherís hut on the banks of the Tura River. I turned my back on the Tobolsk guberniya, a desolate land now called Siberia, a land swallowed by the Steppes. I wandered for years and let the Steppes swallow me.

I came to know the Steppes well, and the Balkans, finally I came to Greece, the birthplace of humanity. Earlier I had been wandering in the Urals when the monastery of Verkhoturye took me in. They thought to make me a monk.

Again, they did not know me.

No one knew me until the winter morning of 1905 when I first appeared on the streets of Saint Petersburg, home and hearth to Tsar Nicholai and his ravishing wife, the Empress Alexandra.

From that day on, I became known to all of Russia, soon, to all of the world. From that moment on my story is well chronicled.

Oh yes, everyone has read it. Everyone knows me as a healer, a charlatan, a mystic, a peasant, a lecher and debaucher of the worst kind. Oh yes, everyone knows my story. Everyone knows my name.

I was called Father Grigori in Saint Petersburg, Paris and London. In New York I was known as Father Gregory.

They all knew me. They thought they did, but they only knew what others told them. What others wrote. That is all they knew.

Now you will hear my story. In my words. When you read it, then you will know who I truly am.

Then you will know Rasputin.