Prologue: The Woman of Flames

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Prologue: The Woman of Flames

Post by Damascus on Sat May 13, 2017 11:42 pm

Beauvais, France. 2 June 1431.

Bishop Cauchon clutched a cross in his hands as he prayed, kneeling before the crucifix.

"Notre Père, qui es aux cieux, que ton nom soit sanctifié..."

He was alone in the great cathedal; the morning mass had just been dismissed. Normally, on a morning such as this, he would be at home in Beauvais. But there was no hope of him returning there anytime soon. It had recently been retaken by the French. Yes, he was French, but the people there would not soon consider him a friend.

"...la puissance et la gloire, aux siècles des siècles. Amen."

He kissed his cross, and slowly stood, groaning in pain. His age was catching up to him. No matter; with luck, he would soon once again be basking in comfort. The archbishop's palace at Rouen was looking to fill a vacancy. In time, he could put the trial and all this other nasty business behind him.

As he smiled up at the crucifix, a loud bang behind him startled him. The main doors of the cathedral swung open wide, and a short figure stood in the entryway.

He grumbled quietly under his breath and tucked his cross back into his robes. Young people these days.

"What are you doing? This is a holy place!" he demanded, gesturing angrily as the figure started down the aisle. "I will not tolerate rowdiness on these premis--"

He trailed off, his jaw falling slack. The woman, dressed in black armor, stopped a short distance from him, crossing her arms.

"Ah, Pierre!" she called. "Fancy meeting you here! You're a long way from home!"

Gauchon rubbed his eyes and took a step back. "What? This is impossible. What is this trickery?"

"You recognize my face, bishop. As I recognize yours. Yours is not a face I can ever forget." Her lighthearted tone had quickly turned icy.

Gauchon's cross was quickly back in his fumbling hands. "N-No! You are dead! You were killed! You cannot be here!"

"That's right!" the woman roared. A fire rose in her eyes. "I was supposed to burn in hell! Isn't that right?"

"No. This is not real. A dream. A nightmare!"

"My, my, he's trying to escape reality now." The woman rushed him suddenly, faster than he could comprehend. Grasping the front of his robes, she lifted him almost effortlessly from the ground. He screamed and flailed, but couldn't move her. "What will you do now, bishop?! This is where you accused Jeanne d'Arc of heresy, is it not?! Grasping a cross and praying to God?! It was fine to trample me, abuse me, ridicule me then! Well, the wicked Jeanne d'Arc is here now! Are you going to roar like a brave lion once more? Go on, do it!"

Cauchon stuttered as he looked down on her. "He... he..."

Jeanne tilted her head. "Heh?"

"He-help!! Someone! Anyone! Please, help me!"

The woman burst out in laughter and dropped him on his feet. "Ahahahaha! I can't believe my ears! 'Help me, help me, please!' From the great bishop who bound me, who sneered at me, who burned me alive! Look how worthless and pathetic he is! I could kill him like an insect, this mighty bishop begging before my eyes!"

Cauchon cowered with his hands above his head, snivelling and crying. "Please, no more! Spare me! I beg you!"

"Ah, such sorrow," the woman sneered. "Your faith, like so much mere paper, will not reach the Lord in Heaven. Such flimsy beliefs will not take root in the earth. You will lose the God you so cling to, for you have come to beg to me, the witch you looked down on, leaving your faith behind. I understand, oh great bishop. Of course, now you too have evidence of heresy against you. You remember, right, bishop? You’ve dealt with heresy sentences before, so you should be well aware what the punishment is."

Revelation appeared in Cauchon as what color remained drained from his face. He began to shake his head. "No... No!"

Jeanne lifted him again with a single hand and slammed him against the crucifix he had just been praying before. With her other hand, she produced a coil of rope, and began to quickly lash him to the cross.

"No! No! No! Help! Help me!"

Jeanne scowled as she tied the last knot, a demon-like hunger in her eyes now. "Sorry, we're all out of today. The church's indulgences won't help you this time. Now, we'll begin at the feet." A ball of fire appeared in her outstretched hand. "Just the way I was roasted by sacred flame. You can burn with love in the flames of hell, you bastard."

She threw the flame at Cauchon's face, and he was instantly engulfed in an inferno. Jeanne stood back and watched as he screamed and bellowed and thrashed about in his bindings. In short order, he fell silent, and the only sound in the hall was the crackling of the flames.

She frowned at the bishop's body. "What a waste of time." She stroked her chin in thought. "Next is the rest of the clergy. Ah, interrogating them would be a waste of energy. They can serve as fertilizer."

The black-armored woman turned to march out of the hall. "As this world’s Ruler, I will pass judgment upon all. As there is no proof of God’s love, humanity no longer has a reason to exist. Guilty. Everyone, good and bad, is equally guilty."

"Men and women. Young and old. Pagans and believers. Every person will burn as I did."

Damascus
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