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. The main character, the inkblood called Liar, is going to kill a gang leader called Cin.



Pulling a folded piece of paper from her purse, Liar lifted it to the light, the words dark strokes that swallowed the light, giving off oily highlights from their depths, as if they sank into the paper’s surface.

“Man of Cin, proud ruler of Dirt/ this is your last moment to breathe. /A red flower blooms over your heart/ the stem run through/ and your cruelty beats no longer. /Be still,” she spoke the words clearly and carefully.

The writing on the page flared, spilling dark light across the surface, and faded, leaving behind a page blank except for scorched splotches marring the surface, and some small burns perforating the paper.

Liar didn’t glance at the magic warping the spell in her hand, her dark eyes trained on the man below her. Cin faltered, stopping to lean against a wall, his face pale. He wiped sweat from his face, more beading from his skin, and then he jerked, falling back against the wall of the shop he’d been leaning against.

*    *    *

Black Ink Plague is set in a world similar to ours, with the addition of the Rakau tree, which has magical properties–charcoal or ink from the tree can be used to cast spells. However, only inkbloods, babies who were left overnight at a Rakau tree’s roots on their first full moon, can harvest and use the tree. The price they pay for their magic is that the ink infects them, staining their skin and eventually forming words from the spells they cast on their skin. These words change their lives in unexpected ways.


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.

25 responses »

  1. Gemma Parkes says:

    Ooh, exciting! What’s going to happen to Cin?

  2. Cin, what a fine name for him. Beware the next eight. We may find his ashes. Scary characters , Caitlin. You write this so well.

  3. Carrie-Anne says:

    That’s an intense power to have! I love the descriptions you used.

    • caitlinstern says:

      Magic that can be cast with thoughts is simpler, but as a writer and reader, I’m attracted to magic with writing components. Word nerds unite!

      Thank you, it’s always fun to paint a word picture of something you see in your head.

  4. I love the world you create Caitlin. The characters names are unique and you do an excellent job of pulling the reader into the story. I can’t wait to read more!

  5. burnsmillie says:

    Bye bye Cin! Love the inky magic, well written spells! You do this so well Caitlin.

  6. Ohh, I wasn’t expecting Liar to kill from a distance. Intriguing snippet that leaves me wondering what does it cost her to do this kind of magic. Can’t wait to find out more. Well done.

    • caitlinstern says:

      There’s a lot of ways to kill with a spell–this particular one is tailored for her employer’s purpose, as the snippet will show.

      As for the cost… it’s a doozy.

  7. ralfast says:

    A bit of voodoo style magic. Interesting. I was expecting a gout of flame or some other flashy magic.

  8. This world you’ve built is so freaking COOL. Loved the excerpt and how her magic works…

    • caitlinstern says:

      Glad you’re enjoying it. World building is one of my favorite things. That’s why I write more fantasy and sci fi than anything else. You get to change whatever you want!

  9. Sarah W says:


    I can’t wait to see the results—or the doozy of a cost you mentioned to Tina up there.

    Amazing world, Caitlin. Simply amazing!

    • caitlinstern says:

      The cost takes a bit, but every inkblood pays it, eventually. But the results start in the next sentence–8 only goes so far, no matter how I tweak the punctuation.

  10. Kate Warren says:

    Powerful! He’s dead, right? I kind of hope so, considering he seems to be a bad guy.

  11. Ok, I was not expecting Cin to meet his end like that. This is such an interesting world- can’t wait for more!

  12. Liza Barrett says:

    I love the spell/poem! Even more importantly, I love Cin’s reaction to it! Nicely done 🙂

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