Short Story #1 Historical Fiction
If you like historical fiction and Joan de Arc…
The dilemma of the gods was the path of creation and destruction. From every ending, there is a new beginning. When a human reaches the state of the gods by disrupting the current ecosystem, they must survive and carry out their creation that will break all existing rules.
After the creation, one cannot return to their previous state. They have discovered the godly power of creating on their own, without taking only what was given.
Among the Greeks, the ones who surpassed this stage were given titles as gods. Among them was Hera and Aphrodite, always fighting for dominating the circle as women. A bet was made between the two, when Alexander the Great came to being. That the 22nd lineage shall be granted a favor.
Aphrodite favored Marie, the 16th child of Maria Theresa of the Habsburg Empire. Hera, along with her son, Ares, had intentions to win by surprise. Hera wanted to test fate and had the power of foresight on her side. Aphrodite, that of love and beauty.
On the day of the coronation of Louis XVI, all crowds were gathered on the streets of Versailles to celebrate.
Joan was sent on an errand with her brother Peter to deliver extra orders of wheat to the town brewery, as there would be many people drinking. This was when Joan saw Marie for the first time, sitting on a open carriage carved out of gold and ivory, wearing purple silk and rubies from head to toe. Joan had never before seen a girl, especially of her age with so much power and pride. Marie looked almost as if she was from another world, as Joan gazed into her pure, blue eyes.
On the way back to the farm, Joan looked down on her hands and saw dirt underneath her scarred hands and felt a swarm of feelings that she had never felt before. It was that of sorrow, torment, misery…and most of all, desire.
Her desire for the silk Lady Antoinette had from head to toe became a taunting obsession that made Joan’s blood rush. Even in the middle of winter she was hot, her thoughts cold, and she could not eat, sleep or rest.
Joan’s father became concerned and soon she was sent to see her uncle in Marseille. He was the only one in the family of farmers who was taught and was in the academic field. He lived among philosophers, governors, generals and the well-spoken. Unlike a day with only work and little to no talk, the people were discussing while having wine and cheese, about topics that she never had heard anywhere else before. She wanted to be a part of this advanced world.
Joan was soon invited to take a tour of the military academy of the royal knights. There, she saw the blue and gold Jessant de Lys and Fleur de Lis symbols marked in every corner. The sun reflected off the knights’ armor and there was no sense of doubt in their steps. Her heart beat with uncontrollable excitement, and she wanted to be a part of this world of power. Here she felt closer to the world of Marie. The world of the gods.
In the meanwhile, Marie, who had no idea of the existence of Joan, was busy attending her duties as a wife and queen. With authority, however, not much could be acknowledged about her status looking from inside out. In the cold gates, every movement and word was decided and expected to be displayed in the mannerism that suited that of a great queen. Her and Louis rarely saw each other eye-to-eye.
From birth, her own mother had taught her to be charming and pleasing. She was only a tool to be used for the continuation of her family, a trade between two families. People were never close to her, as she never received genuine attention. She had grown used to the cold nature of the gates, people, and her own family. There was no such things as her own. She served a purpose and always belonged to be used at disposal. Now as queen, her duty was to play the role in which she was placed as expected, in front of all without any one on her side. Her every step was recorded and watched. Every day the same, until the day of her death. This was her fate.
This was the life as written, until the year of the famine. The famine killed millions. People fell sick one after the other. Soon, it reached the very door of Joan and her family. Her mother had fallen ill, and her father was no longer fit to work. Joan was left alone with nothing but a dry piece of land and a dying family. She remembered the Fleur de Lis symbol from the scarf her grandfather had given to her.
She left home in the middle of September, drier than drought. No crops would be plowed this season. All she had known was the life she didn’t want, yet all she was given. In the blink of an eye, it was taken from her.
With the little coin she had, she packed a book her uncle had given her, and packed it in the scarf. She would rather die a great man than an ordinary woman. She took Peter’s dagger and cut her long, crimson hair. She wore a cap and ordered a suit to be made for her brother, Peter. Only it was for her.
As she walked into the bar, she listened to a group of boys her age talking passionately about a revolution. A need for a change. These words captivated her, as she needed a direction, purpose, and reignited a long forgotten desire. She joined their society, under the name of Pete.
Soon enough, Pete of the Jacobins rose to fame. His speeches and letters touched the tired hearts of the hungry. The ones who did not have more to lose. They had had enough.
A song was sang on the streets
“Peter of the Jacobins,
The foreseer of France.
Be ware Versailles,
Pete with the pretty face
will soon cut your rose.
Pete is our Fleur de Lis,
soon to match the Jessant de Lys.
He is our Fleur de Lis,
our next Jessant de Lys.”
This song spread quickly and had now reached the gates of Versailles, then into the ears of Marie. Her husband, Louis, was still in denial of the coming end and danger. There was no more tax to collect. The peasants stopped plowing. Man and woman alike were collecting rocks and children learned to fire. Marie in the silk dress and pearls pleaded to the council, but the council refused to share their possessions and food. Instead, she was now even more excluded by the royals, the authority which she despised. The authority which trapped her.
Marie decided to meet Pete herself. She wanted to see him for who he was.
Pete of the Jacobins. The Versailles Knights, from the queen’s orders, tracked down Peter of the Jacobins.
Joan was resting in her bed after a long night of strategic planning. She was dreaming the same scene of her on the throne in an empty hall, looking at herself with contempt and regret.
“Peter of the Jacobins.”
When Joan woke, she was surprised by the scent of lavender from the day of the coronation. The day she saw Marie, the woman in the purple silk. Now Marie, the Fleur of Paris, was staring at Joan in complete silence, poised with pride and power, just as 6 years ago.
In the ice cold eyes of Marie was an immense pool of torment and sadness to the world she faced. Peter was just one of the many who were trying to take what she had, threatening her as if she would wilt without the identity which choked her to plead to air.
However, Marie did not see Peter. Marie saw a woman in front of her, vulnerable in her night gown. However, from the crimson in her hair to the sparkle in her eyes, although Joan trembled, this was not caused from fear. Rather, there seemed to be a burning storm coming from the girl’s gaze.
Marie was both delighted and shaken at the sight of Joan, the ‘next Jessant de Lys,’ the lion of Versailles which her husband failed to do. For the first time, Marie felt a sense of victory from the threat that one woman could have to the lion of France. Marie saw that a woman could be free and be powerful.
That night, Marie chose not do anything, as the will of her own.
Marie left these words as she left.
“If we ever meet again, I wish that France is a better place for women where she could choose who to be.
I will never be able to say thank you, neither will I apologize for my life.
This is our fate, but may the gods be on the side of the fleurs of France.”