Microfiction: Serpents

A longer bit of microfiction, a mingling of Norse and Celtic myth, to go with this rather splendid painting by N. Roerich


In the blue pink dawn, the ships bucked against the tide, strung out along the strand beyond the reefs. A dozen longships waited for the enchantment to lift, for the waves to let them pass. A dozen captains waited for the spell to break and let them drive their dragon-headed craft onto the yielding sand, to leap, yelling their war cries, into the shallows. The crossing had been long, the storms many and terrifying, and now, at the end, the magicians of the mist-bound isle held them at bay with a cowardly enchantment.
The men cursed, tired of the oars, tired of pacing the tiny space of a bucking deck. They wanted to stretch their limbs, to feel the earth firm beneath their feet, thirsting like their weapons for blood. The war rage was upon them, and not a few had already plunged to their deaths, unable to wait longer.
Release came when the first ray of the new sun struck the black reefs. The mist lifted, the fierce tide turned suddenly, and the longships shot forward, deadly arrows aimed at the island’s heart. The crews roared in their bloodlust, boated the oars and raised their bucklers, gripping the ships’ sides ready to leap into the churning waters.
But the prow of each ship reared up like a frightened horse as the jagged rocks stirred and rose out of the furious waves. In the backwash the ships tossed and rolled from side to side. The dark mass looped between them and the shore; sunlight glinted on scales festooned with limpets and violet mussels. A huge head tore free of the water and swayed above them, tossing salt water and splitting the air with a bellow louder than the loudest thunder. A maw opened big enough to swallow the greatest longship ever built.
Jörmundgandr, they murmured, and clung to their amulets as the sea serpent smashed their ships to matchwood.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

4 thoughts on “Microfiction: Serpents”

  1. Fabulous bit of description there, Jane, and rigbt up my alley, so to speak! Have you ever thought of writing a book??? Lol!

  2. I am a stag of seven tines, I am a wide flood on a plain, I am a wind on the deep waters, I am a shining tear of the sun … From Song of Amhairghin, of course. Beautiful story, and I have always wondered how different things would be if the Tuatha De Danann had won.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s