The Secret

From a collection of 100-word stories & wonders

A Dominican friar employs a lost art from the pagan past to create stunning illuminations. Image from the Sherborne Missal, via Wikimedia.


“Friar John, your robins, wrens, and herons are so lifelike, they might fly off the page. How do you do it?” asked Abbot Bruyning. John merely smiled. Some things were never meant to be told; after all, the old hermit on Mona had made him promise to keep secret the language of the birds. The abbot wandered off to inspect other partially finished manuscripts, illuminations. John half chanted, half sang under his breath in a tongue spoken by Druid priests in lost Caer Sidi, a realm unremembered in Christendom. A chaffinch hen landed on the sill, dropped onto his parchment.

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