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, an inkblood called Liar, has cast a spell to kill a gang leader called Cin, and Cin has just fallen against a wall.



A spot of red appeared on his shirt, a fine mustard yellow silk sold after its original owner tired of it, tailored to appear like new, but still sitting uneasily on Cin’s bulky frame. Quickly, the crimson mark spread, blood running from the wound on Cin’s chest. He slid downward, leaving a bloody streak on the wall, and fell to his side, exposing the much larger hole on his back.

One of his men rushed to Cin’s side, touching his boss at first gently, then more roughly when he received no response. The others fanned out, searching for someone suspicious. Though it wasn’t likely they would look up, Liar stepped back from the edge, and navigated her way across a different route on the rooftops. It wasn’t possible to avoid all the people who used flat sections of their roofs as gardens or extra space, but she was careful to keep her hood covering her face as she went.

Reaching a sprawling brick edifice, Liar peered down into the alley, and finding it empty, she climbed nimbly down a ladder chiseled into the bricks, half-hidden by a leafy vine. Feet safely on the ground, she slipped the cloak off, folding it into a neat bundle, which she bound with a piece of twine from her purse.

*    *    *

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.

37 responses »

  1. Wow, so now Cin has a big ol’ hole in his middle and no murder weapon in sight. It’s a little scary how cool Liar is about the whole thing!

  2. Gemma Parkes says:

    Exciting and fast paced snippet! Superb descriptions!

  3. ralfast says:

    Liar is one ice cold operator.

  4. Sarah W says:

    The moral ambiguity of Liar’s actions is intriguing–I’m wondering how bad a bad guy Cin really is. That yellow shirt actually made me feel a bit bad for him.

    Excellent writing, Caitlin. 🙂

    • caitlinstern says:

      Cin was a petty thug, and he enjoyed abusing his authority. But I feel a little sorry for him, too. He wore his power like that ill-fitting shirt, and he never would have been comfortable in it.

  5. I am also working on my NaNo novel. Great snippet, I look forward to next Sunday to read more.

  6. Spell binding eight. Scary characters you’ve woven in a strange situation. Liar is similar to an animal of prey. As for Cin, he may die now.

  7. Alexis Duran says:

    Awesome! You swept me up in the story and I didn’t want it to end. Darn eight sentence limit.

  8. Frank Fisher says:

    Very exciting! The pain descriptor in the first sentences had me wincing!

  9. Oh my, these inkbloods don’t mess around, do they? I enjoyed the idea of her escaping over the rooftops, and how people were using the spaces as gardens etc. An excellent detail of worldbuilding! Great snippet…

  10. Carrie-Anne says:

    I love all the details, both of Cin and Liar and of the rooftops. The description of the wound reminded me a bit of stigmata, appearing on the body without any apparent physical cause.

  11. Fabulous description. You had me right there in the moment. Great 8.

  12. Wonderful snippet! The details you infuse make it incredibly visual. As I read the comments, I came across that made me think, my God–she has to use this line in the book! “He wore his power like that ill-fitting shirt, and he never would have been comfortable in it.”

    Love the premise. Unique idea!

  13. ED Martin says:

    I really like the premise of your story – very original!

  14. I love the imagery. Very powerful. I also love the premise of the story. What a fascinating and creative world you’ve built! Good job!

  15. chellecordero says:

    I really admire the multi-dimensional personalities you’ve given your characters so that both dislike/like/cheer/feel sorry for at the same time.

  16. Kate Warren says:

    I’m glad she seems to have gotten away safely. Is there any significance to the twine, or is it just a great detail?

  17. I have to say, I admire Liar, she is on it! You describe Cin so well, his bulkiness and all. I could just see him falling against that wall. Wonder if they’ll find the culprit… Great eight!

  18. Love love love! The concept, the characters, everything. And I love those terrible awful wonderful female characters. Keep it up!

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