a much overdue love letter to joan of arc.

dearest joan,

at times, you’ve probably wondered why i sent envoys to your capital city, paris, so frequently after our civilizations met in the third version of the sid meier-created computer game. you were probably confused when i instructed my most learned men, researching the latest technologies, to take a hiatus from their studies in order to mentor so that you, also, could domesticate animals that carry your men into battle and plow your fields, could build granaries to store food through the hard french winters causing your cities to flourish, and could, centuries later, discover things you never thought were possible, such as flight, electricity, and genetics, words which mean nothing to you now, i’m sorry.

behind closed doors, you were likely questioning your most trusted advisors as to why i would align my always formidable army and expansive nation with yours, why i had my scribes pen alliances promising aid whenever you were attacked, why, during the inevitable wars begun by some rogue targeting your puny (please excuse my harsh wording) state, i stepped forward and funded the effort by adding gold to your coffers. i surmise the answers they gave you were incorrect as you never ceased appearing cautious and untrusting when i welcomed you and your retinue into the hallways of my palace.

i regret that during your lifetime i never made my intentions known. instead i hid behind the guise of abraham lincoln, alexander the great of macedonia, or the babylonian, hammurabi. it’s much too late to tell you that their curious acts of benevolence toward you and your people were initiated by me: i moved them to action; i first spoke the words they later reiterated. in short, i was smitten by you.

i feel compelled to write to you tonight, long after your death, because i was again reminded of your kindness, your resoluteness, and your ambition, not to mention, your large, beautiful eyes with that piercing gaze that fed my heart like the soil of briancon nourishes apricots, while watching carl theodore dreyer’s groundbreaking silent film about your trial. we’ve never agreed on matters of faith, it’s true, but i will forever be moved to tears by your struggle against insurmountable odds in pursuit of your beliefs and love for your country.

i was there in rouen in late may of 1431 when you were executed, partially hiding my face with the hood of my cloak to conceal weeping. please understand why it was impossible to intervene, as well as why i have chosen to conceal my identity all these years. i, myself, no longer know the reasons, and i imagine if i did, they would embarrass me. upon placing this letter into the fireplace, i pray, perhaps to the god in whom you believed unwaveringly, even when faced with certain, painful death, that smoke shelters its words on the way to heaven, so as you may read it.

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