Many thanks to GeneR for reviewing this and suggesting many interesting things about Moscow's history and Russian culture. And also to Silber for giving suggestions for the end. And to everyone else who read it, including Rumetzen, Randomini, and Djoric.
Some Stuff Worth Knowing
In Russia, as a result of the switch from Julian to Gregorian calendars, Wednesday, 31 January 1918, was followed by Thursday, 14 February 1918
The Table of Ranks was a list of positions and ranks in the Russian imperial government
Sukharev Tower is where Boris bought the book.
Yakov Bruce was a resident of the tower, and someone I'd really like to read more about.
Finally, the strange ending sentence comes from an ending to some Russian fairy tales, "I was there and drank mead and wine (or beer); it ran down my mustache, but did not go into my mouth.". It's variously interpreted as either "I there and sober" or "I've been speaking so much that I haven't gotten a chance to drink." The phrase here is meaningless; I just wanted to conclude with something as wtf-inducing as the first time I read that phrase.
e: For those of you unfamiliar, this is kinda based off of Koschei the Deathless. And by "kinda," I mean "blatantly"