Chapter One: 1605 When Elizabeth returned to London, a dark cloud hung over the metropolis. It suited her grim mood, but it was no mere raincloud. As she entered the city proper, Elizabeth could see dust coming down like a thick dry rain. She realized that it was still debris from the impossibly massive explosion that had shattered the Palace of Westminster. No, Westminster wasn't her destination. She was headed to the Tower of London. Given the situation it was judged far safer than any other Royal residences. Like some of her predecessors, she was headed there to be proclaimed monarch and await her Coronation. Like others of her predecessors, she was going to be a prisoner. The new leader of the government, self proclaimed 'Prime Minister' Robert Catesby was waiting for her, of course. But the man with her was a surprise. "Sir Walter! Are you one of these...gentlemen?" Elizabeth held her tongue, though it was unlikely Raleigh would slap her in public, as the conspirators had done in private. Raleigh didn't seem as rough as her captors though. He was grinning to the point that Elizabeth thought it was in poor taste. "Welcome, your Majesty. Yes I am. Though not aware of the downfall of your father, I have been kindly released by our new ministers and welcomed among them." Catesby cleared his throat then, as though even this short aside was too long to ignore him. "I assume by your presence here that you've decided to accept our gracious offer of the Crown." Elizabeth's eyes filled with tears. At 9, it was hard to keep her feelings secret. "My father and my brothers are dead. I have a duty to take the throne." Catesby's jaw tightened at that. "Of course. And you have no doubt determined that you have a duty to obey your ministers in matters of religion and politics." Elizabeth hung her head so he couldn't see her anger. "My inexperienced self will be most grateful." "Excellent." Catesby waved a man forward. "This is Father Garnet, the leading Jesuit in England, and as soon as you're proclaimed you can make him Archbishop of Canterbury. He will instruct you on the true faith." Elizabeth offered her hand. "Archbishop." "Weep not, child," Garnet said as he took her hand. "This will be hard for you, but in the end it will save your people's very souls." "We have a task before that, sir," a meek Elizabeth reminded him. "What is that?" Catesby interjected. "I'd like to see my brothers," she replied. "I have to prepare--" She broke off, weeping. Raleigh looked to Catesby, sympathetic. But Garnet was already taking the lead. "Of course, my dear child." * * * She'd almost convinced herself it wasn't true. That there hadn't been time to kill both her brothers. That it was a convenient fiction to disillusion loyalists. Until she saw that their bodies had indeed been brought here to the Tower. Garnet had had to make most of the decisions at that point. Catholic masses, of course. Elizabeth hated it, but agreed to everything he suggested. And then left her to mourn while he made the arrangements. "My God! Bad enough to slaughter those in Westminster. But this. This is truly evil." Elizabeth turned to face Raleigh while his horrified words still rang through the chapel. "You seemed satisfied enough outside." Raleigh shrugged. "No one listening in here. I checked. No, Majesty. I'm amazed at how quickly they've taken control." "Really?" Elizabeth asked, unconvinced. "I didn't want your father as king, it's true. But I can't support men who could do this." Elizabeth was surprised of course. And this could be a trick to lull her into complacency. But she was mortally tired, too tired to care if she was indiscrete. "I want them all dead. All of them." "For the time being, I think we have to play along. But I promise you, the wheel will turn. And I'll get you the revenge you want."