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 escaped the scene over the rooftops.

I skipped over a bit of travel.




Finally, she paused in front of The Friendly Mermaid inn, which reeked of urine and other bodily fluids, straw scattered over a few unmentionable puddles in the dirt. Liar watched her step as she passed under the sign, a busty and unappealingly fishy woman, and headed to a young man sitting at a table in the far corner.

The man spotted her, “Hey, inkwitch!”

“Good afternoon,” Liar paused, “Well, not so good, I heard the news.”

Cin’s second in command, Handsome Jash, nodded, his face grim. “Someone shot the boss while he was making the rounds. Must have been the Vipers, because they’ve been trying to take some of our territory.”

“I’m sorry to trouble you at such a trying time,” Liar said, “but I need to purchase the supplies for the new charms you asked for.”

*    *    *

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. Whoa, that’s quite a twist. And Liar is certainly living up to her name. Doesn’t miss a beat!

  2. Cara Bristol says:

    What an interesting concept. Very creative.

  3. Liar, liar, pants on fire. A childhood chant. She better watch out.

  4. Ugh the description of the tavern did sound stinky. Love the ink witch, Liar comes up with great comebacks.

  5. Carrie-Anne says:

    She’s really calculating and true to her name! That inn doesn’t sound quite as friendly as its name implies.

  6. Oh my, that’s quite the twist. I wonder if Jash is in on it and have a million other questions;). Great snippet that leaves me hungry for more.

  7. Sarah W says:

    Ooooh! Is she playing both sides, or is this only a “public” commiseration?

    Whichever it is, this one continues awesome, caitlin! 😀

    • caitlinstern says:

      I cut a couple sentences where Liar calculates how sad she should look to be believable–she’s absolutely playing a part. She’s had some tense dealings with Cin before, and everyone knows they had a less than cordial working relationship.

  8. Alexis Duran says:

    A smooth operator. Just when we think she’s fleeing for her life she turns up in the enemies’ lair. Great snippet.

    • caitlinstern says:

      I cut out some travel, but she wanders around a market for a bit, before heading over to make this appointment. It was set in advance of the “unexpected tragedy.”

  9. Frank Fisher says:

    An inn that reeks of urine? I won’t be going there, no-sir-ee! I liked how the man called Liar “inkwitch”. The dialogue drew me, and overall I enjoyed this snippet!

  10. I really find this whole story fascinating and I sure didn’t expect the twist that she’d go meet with Cin’s second in command and be so calm…can’t wait for more. Terrific 8!

  11. Alice E says:

    The description of the sign is great.

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