It rained heavily when he finally finished. A gust of chilly wind swept through the archway the moment he lifted the quill of the parchment, leaving the last drop of ink on the page.

He straightened up from his crouched position, joints and muscles protesting loudly. The last page lay in front of him, with colourful, swirling patterns and vines encircling the black letters. He had been so intent on his job that his hand cramped and nearly refused to relinquish the quill. Gingerly he moved it away from the precious page and used his other hand to pry it loose and place the quill back in its holder. Massaging the hand gently, he took a moment to squint at the page and check it for errors. Lamps burned on the wall despite it being mid-day, the thick and heavy clouds brought on such a gloom that they all needed the extra light. Now the promised rain poured down outside, the garden barely visible through the curtain of water behind the archway. The garden was reflected clearly in his work, the leaves spreading out around the text like a living thing. The ink was still wet in places.

He was not sure how long he had been working, but his head was starting to hurt as he began to move his body. His fingers ached and as he started to focus the rest of his body decided to tell him sore it was. They had all been working on this piece for months, so many details and words; but now the last page was done. Even though his joints were burning it was worth it for this moment. He started to tidy up and move his utensils away while brother Matthew loitered nearby. That in itself was an unusual sight, the brothers did usually not have time to loiter anywhere. As he stood up brother Matthew approached and together, in silence, they worked until Matthew slowly and reverently picked up the page. The scriptorium grew silent as it was carried between the benches. The page was no finer than any of the others he knew, but the moment that the final pieces were completed never ceased to feel special.

Almost as quickly as it had begun, the rain outside stopped. He picked up his staff and moved out into the garden to take a short stroll to awaken his limbs and his mind again. The clouds were still dark and heavy above, but the air was filled with the sweet scent of summer flowers and rain on grass. He followed his usual, well-worn path through the garden, beyond the gate and up the sloping hill towards the grove. The trees grew close together with their leaves and flowers in full mid-summer glory. It was quiet. The birds hiding from the rain had not yet returned to their stage and every leaf, bush and tree was saturated with the water. It was a palace of green that muffled all worldly thoughts and enveloped him in peace as he walked. The weather had made the day start gloomy and quiet, but now it had acquired a new character: cleansing.

As the path took him around the grove and back to the top of the hill again – ready to return – he realised just how deep his meditation and jubilation had been. He should have heard them: heard the voices, heard the screams. Unknown riders on unknown horses swarmed the monastery like black ants. Specks of brown clothes gave evidence of brothers he knew down below, but they moved aimlessly, trapped between the black-clad men while flecks of white spiralled in the air.

The bonfires grew high.

It had rained heavily when he finished. When the quill left that last drop of ink. He could see it now, the drop rolling of the tip and nestling on the page: the dark letters and slender leaves still wet. Now they burned.

Nina Lindmark-Lie
What were your prompts: Picture of manuscript, Rain