#tuesdayuseitinasentence: Devils rising from the sea

Illuminated manuscript, gold leaf, calligraphy

Image Pixabay


‘Brother Ablenden.’ The old man was still bent at the manuscript, quill scratching in his cribbed hand.

Orvin waited, hoping Ablenden would come without him having to pull him away.

The rumours had first wound their way towards them along the coast path, through pilgrims toiling south to Lindisfarne and Durham. There had been tales of dragon ships breathing fire, steered by devils with horns and cloven hooves. But they had felt like myths until the first house fell, all the brothers slaughtered at their prayers, reliquaries melting in the fires that followed.

This morning Halwende had seen them first – spots on the horizon, sails flapping red against the blue dawn. Now the dragon ships were off the coast, the sound of their oars growing louder with every minute, water glinting at their wake as if the sea was on fire.

Father Abbot had sent the icons away days before, wrapped in linen, bundled in saddle bags. But the books … Orvin gazed around the scriptorium, at the shelves of leather bound manuscripts, gold bosses shining in the candlelight like bites of the sun captured. The brothers were too few and too frail to carry them away. Orvin’s heart ached for the hours of diligence and toil wasted.


The old man looked up from the vellum with squinting, mole like eyes. ‘Brother Orvin?’ He seemed surprised to see him, though his name had been spoken four times. With ink blackened fingers, Ablenden placed his quill in the inkwell. ‘Are they almost here?’

Orvin nodded, unable to speak.

‘Come,’ said the old monk. ‘Help me to my knees. We must pray.’

As Orvin gave him his arm, he saw the page Ablenden had been working on. It was an illumination of the beast with seven heads in gold and sapphire and jade, rising from the sea  …


Written for Stephanie at Word Adventure’s #tuesdayuseitinasentence. This week’s word is ICON. Not it’s not Tuesday and I am very late, but in hope that Stephanie will forgive me. See here to read the other stories and to join in.


22 thoughts on “#tuesdayuseitinasentence: Devils rising from the sea

  1. At first I thought you meant actual dragons…. then I caught on. It’s tragic to think how many precious historic treasures were destroyed in those raids, including, yes, all those books. Loved the illumination he was working on. It doesn’t seem like Orvin is preparing to run away from the onslaught, but is thinking of this as his last devotional task.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Could be right there. Monasteries were always shelters for the elderly and infirm as well as for younger men, so I suspect there were many unable to run from the onslaught. It’s a fascinating time in our history, but afterwards, when the Vikings began to settle here was even more interesting – pillagers becoming part of the land they had helped to destroy, interweaving their stories and language in our culture. Interesting times, though I’m glad I didn’t live through them! Thanks Joy

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      1. Unfortunately there are no dragons in Eneana. There are myths about dragons, and people believe in them, but I can confirm, as the all-knowing, all-seeing author, that they aren’t real. Same with swans, and lions. 😉 Giant talking spiders though, those are totally real.

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      2. You have to love a giant spider! Good choice to have those in Eneana. Perhaps you culd venture outside the land? Is there a neighbouring world, across the wide ocean, where dragons may dwell?

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      3. Well, now I have to recant. I’ve gone back and forth on the Dragon Question, and apparently the most recent iteration is that dragons do, in fact, exist, even though not as they do in myths. They don’t talk or hoard riches, much less come in different colors that denote different powers (e.g., fire v ice etc.), and they certainly do not allow people to ride them. They’re just big predators who can fly. However, there’s another iteration in another place that says that dragons *used* to exist in an earlier stage of evolution on the planet, but now all that exists are skeletons (and of course, myths that they still exist).

        Whichever ruling I go with, it would be true for all of Eneana. However, there are other planets, and entire other planes of existence, so the possibilities are practically endless.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, thank you so much Chris. I quite like the idea of writing a maritime story. A few years ago I invested in a copy of Before the Mast, a huge book (books actually) on the archaelogical findings on the Mary Rose. Just wonderful books. I like the idea of setting a story somewhere so enclosed, the men so trapped together. A classic storyteller’s trick, of course, but still adds a lot to the story. Thanks so much. http://www.oxbowbooks.com/oxbow/before-the-mast.html

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