This 8 sentence blog hop is hosted by The Weekend Writing Warriors. (Click the link for the list of participants, or rules if you want to join!)

This is a snippet from my yet-to-be-completed NaNoWriMo story, Black Ink Plague, a fantasy about inkbloods, people who were left at the roots of a magic tree as babies, and can use charcoal from those trees to write and cast spells.

I’m starting with the inkblood origin story–the first inkblood’s mother was married to a woodsman who threatened to kill the baby she expected if it was a girl, so the mother hid the newborn overnight in the forest.

I skipped over the wife hiding the baby for several nights.

Note: “Jabberwock Keys” update below.


Dawn was long past by the time the woodsman’s wife could go into the forest, and there she found her child gone white as snow, with a strange dark mark on infant’s chest. Worried the child had sickened, she visited a goodwife, who pronounced the girl blessed by the trees, sacred and powerful. Though her life held much sorrow, the baby grew, and loved above all else to play in the forest, with a special affinity for the tree that had sheltered her on her first nights.

One day, she cut a small branch from the tree, and charred it in a fire, and wrote on a smooth piece of bark: “Papa hurts me/ papa hits mommy/ I wish a tree would hit Papa’s head/ I would be safe if he’s dead.”

She read the words aloud, and closed her eyes tight, wishing and fearful she would be punished for her wish. When she opened her eyes, the words were gone, and the bark burned. That night, some men came to say there had been an accident, and a tree had fallen, and killed her father.”

*    *    *

NOTE: Just in case you missed it last week… I polished up “Jabberwock Keys” a bit, and put it up in three sections on my blog.

One. Two. Three.

Happy Reading!


About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

22 responses »

  1. Uh-oh, scary little girl! Though you can’t really blame her . . . Very interesting beginning to this story!

    • caitlinstern says:

      It’s actually from near the end–the bit of the story that’s still pretty up in the air.

      She didn’t, in her defense, know it would work. All she did was hope, and stumble on magic.

  2. You have created an incredible tale with this gifted little girl, inkblood, and a brave momma. Thanks for a stimulating snippet.

  3. Gemma Parkes says:

    Wow, powerful stuff, I don’t blame her but she had better be careful what else she wishes for!

  4. ralfast says:

    You can only push anyone so far and then they snap. Questions is, how will the adult rationalize what happened as a child?

    • caitlinstern says:

      This is a story being told by another inkblood, many generations later, so it ends here.

      But the first inkblood did okay. She moved to a city, and figured out how to make more like her, and took care of her mother, though all the other family she had was by choice and not blood.

  5. Alexis Duran says:

    I love the premise of this story. Sounds like she could grow up to very dangerous. Can’t wait to read more.

  6. Compelling and intriguing origin. I’m intrigued to find out what happens next. Great 8.
    One question, why didn’t her father kill her the mother brought her back to the house a few days after the birth?

    • caitlinstern says:

      I omitted it for sentence count reasons, but the wife and her baby actually stay with the goodwife for several weeks, until the husband comes to get them.

      The goodwife warned him that the baby had been blessed–and no woodcutter wants the trees against him. So he decides against murder, which didn’t turn out well for him in the end.

  7. Kate Warren says:

    That’s a lot of power for a child to have. It’s going to be rough growing up with that ability.

    • caitlinstern says:

      The most difficulty lay in finding out what worked and what didn’t, I’m sure. And in replicating the blessing of the trees.

      But some people overcome amazingly terrible things. This little girl has a core of steel.

  8. Sarah W says:

    And she’s just the first?

    This is amazing already, caitlin, and has fantastic potential!

    • caitlinstern says:

      Yes, this is where the inkbloods came from. The story I wrote takes place much later, when the inkbloods have spread.

      Still have to decide the gap, exactly, but it’s at least several generations.

  9. Carrie-Anne says:

    That’s a powerful, frightening gift she’s got! I’m looking forward to seeing what other things she wishes for.

    • caitlinstern says:

      This is pretty much where her story ends for the time being–it’s one character speaking to another, explaining some things about the inkbloods. “This is where I came from… fear and strength and murder.”

  10. Powerful magic here, I love the world building and can’t wait to read more! Great snippet…(and I love the Jabberwock, thanks for putting her entire story up.)

  11. Nice, I’m glad he died. Is that wrong? I’m also glad she made it to childhood, I was worried. I’m loving this story Caitlin.

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