"The Voyage to Vaucouleurs" came out of the November 6, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl. It was prompted by laffingkat. It belongs to the series The Arc of Joan, set in the same world as The Steamsmith but earlier; you can read more about this series on the Serial Poetry page.
All 16 verses have been posted. Linkers include: technoshaman, janetmiles, DW user Jjhunter, DW user chanter_greenie, laffingkat, wyld_dandelyon, rix_scaedu, thnidu
At sixteen, Jeanne d'Arc
asked her kinsman Durand Lassois
to accompany her to Vaucouleurs.
When she saw the colorful valley
spread out before her like a great tapestry,
her heart lifted and she felt certain
that the saints had guided her to this place.
There she petitioned the garrison commander,
Count Robert de Baudricourt,
for a modest escort through French territory.
He laughed at her and said,
"Go back to your dolls and toys, little girl!
The country is wild with war;
it is no place for you now.
Find a husband to care for you instead."
"All of the young men are dead
or gone for soldiers, or come home maimed,"
Joan said grimly. "I am not here for a husband.
God has set my feet upon another path,
and I shall not stray from it."
Still the Count refused her petition,
and so Jeanne went home.
She spent still more months in training,
and then the saints came to her again,
urging her onward in her task.
The following January she returned
to Vaucouleurs, and this time,
she addressed herself to the men
before approaching their commander.
In this manner she gained support
from two men of standing.
Jean de Metz was a squire
in service to the Count.
He asked of Jeanne,
"Who is your Lord?"
Jeanne lifted her chin
and replied, "God."
Swayed by her faith and determination,
he swore to aid her however he may.
She asked for men's clothing
suited for an envoy,
and this he provided,
to further her desire to meet
the King of England.
Bertrand de Poulengy was also a squire
in Vaucouleurs, though before that,
he had known Jeanne's parents
and spent some time in the house
of those good workers.
"What do you here, Jeanne?" he asked,
and she said, "I am sent by the saints
as the salvation of Orléans."
Alarmed by her claims,
he tried to protest, but
she would not be dissuaded.
As she was already well dressed,
he obtained for her good weapons
and other military gear.
Both of the men were surprised
to find Jeanne comfortable in such clothes,
deft with the weapons, and downright clever
at handling the alchemical equipment.
"It's simple stuff," she said blithely
as she compiled cartridges for onion bombs,
"compared to discussing theology with saints."
Jean and Bertrand looked at each other.
"Let us go before the Count," they said.
By their favor she got a second meeting,
and by her savvy description of strategy
she won the Count's approval
and a small entourage.
So they took the road through France
toward Angleterre where the British held sway:
Jeanne d'Arc in her guise as a man,
Jean de Metz with his servant Jean de Honnecourt,
Bertrand de Poulengy with his servant Julien,
the courier Colet de Vienne,
and Richard the Archer.
The men kept careful watch
along the road and through the night,
for it was true the land was torn by war;
but Jeanne said the saints
would see them safely through,
and so it seemed, for no trouble touched them.