Chapter 61

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Earlier that day...

A dull headache rattled through Victoria's skull as she stepped into her bedroom. By the time she was able to lie down, it was starting to make her vision go hazy. She reached over to her bedside counter and poured herself a glass of wine. As she did so, however, her hands began to tremble to the point that she clumsily spilled half the red liquid all over the soft white carpet below.

"Shit," she muttered. Victoria tried bringing the glass up to her lips but her arm was too shaky and weak. The glass tumbled onto the floor, spilling the rest of the wine over the carpet. Victoria wanted to scream in frustration, but upon opening her mouth she felt the air in her lungs seep out in an undignified whimper. Inhaling proved taxing, so much so that sweat began to bead and pool on her forehead. Her already blurry vision was now clouded beyond all coherence. The last thing Victoria saw before everything faded was the wine flowing like dark blood along the floor toward her face.

***

Victoria opened her eyes to a world of chaos. Lifting her leaden body off the red stained floor, she looked up just out her door, where her guards would have been standing. All she saw were two unconscious Knights collapsed under the weight of their own armor. When she staggered out to look out her window, the sight was even more dismal.

The streets were clogged with cars scattered in all directions. Many of them had smashed into buildings, street lamps, and each other, leaving copious layers of debris all over the ground. The normally bustling sidewalks were filled with groggy, disheveled women and men, almost all of whom were either fast asleep or stumbling around like drunks. When Victoria tried walking out of her bedroom, she found that her own legs quivered and wobbled like gelatin. Even so, she forced herself to stay upright, using the walls as a crutch as she ambled out of the palace.

She was met by a tense battle line formed by her own Royal Guards against what must have been an entire company of gold clad Paladins. At the head of the holy warriors stood, or rather floated, the woman who must have started this entire mess: Isabella Connington.

"Queen Victoria," the young woman said. The powerful echoes emanating from her voice sent a fresh wave of pain through Victoria's aching skull. "You, like myself, have no doubt felt the heavenly tremors sent from our Creator. I implore you, heed our Goddess's call and step down from your throne. I promise, you will be shown the full extent of the Mother's Mercy in spite of the many sins you've committed against Her Earth."

Victoria forced herself to stand tall and straight. She hoped the tremors in her legs weren't too obvious. "So this is how you start your coup? By knocking every last Angleyan citizen on the Island unconscious then claiming it's from your Goddess? Bold of you to show up on my doorstep after doing all that."

Isabella looked genuinely taken aback. "I assure you the rapture that overtook us was not my doing. It could not have been. Such power is surely beyond the grasp of us mere mortals. Yet I alone, though stricken and brought to my knees, kept my wits about me just long enough to receive the Mother's vision and warning to me. I will no longer procrastinate the day of my duty, even if my mortal intuition might have lead me to languish in inaction." She drew her sword and pointed it directly at Victoria, prompting all her Royal guards to draw their swords as well. "Please, Victoria. If you resist then I'm afraid no mercy awaits you."

"At least if you're going to kill me I want you to be honest about it," Victoria snapped.

The wave of energy emanating from Isabella's sword would have flattened Victoria were it not for the suicidal rescue of one of her Knights. The woman took the Queen's place in front of the blast while pushing her aside, being pulverized at the epicenter of a crater the size of a car. Two more Knights lurched forward and took Victoria by the arms, dragging her back inside as an explosive battle commenced just behind her.

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