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, cast a spell to kill the gang leader called Cin, then met with the gang’s second in command, Jash, to ask for payment to purchase supplies for charms, but one gang member demands to know how much she’s being paid, and grabs for her purse.


She stepped away from him, muttering, “Trouble me no more,/ fall and/ move not for an hour.”

One of the pieces of paper in pockets sewn into a special vest worn under Liar’s dress pulsed against her ribs, and the scarred man collapsed to the floor.

“We are allies, are we not, Handsome Jash?” Liar asked.

“Of course we are, inkwitch,” Jash offered an easy, meaningless smile, his green eyes warm with false emotion. “Cin was his cousin, so he’s a bit upset, but I’ll have a talk with him.”

The odds of the man at her feet living through the night weren’t good, but Liar simply nodded, as if she believed Jash’s assurances. Neither of them trusted each other, they both knew better than that, but appearances mattered.

*    *    *

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.

24 responses »

  1. Nice I like the secret pocket, and the description of Liar thinking about those pieces of paper sitting in it. Great eight!

  2. Gemma Parkes says:

    Love the unease between these two, this line is very effective ‘Jash offered an easy, meaningless smile, his green eyes warm with false emotion.’ Great 8!

  3. Ooh, I love the way she uses the paper. Do not mess with this girl! Seems Jash knows this, but he’s definitely not trustworthy, either.

    • caitlinstern says:

      In one day, Jash’s boss was killed, his boss’ cousin is going to disappear, and his a gang war is starting which will undoubtedly lead to some casualties. He’s not trustworthy, but he is smart…

  4. Kate Warren says:

    Intriguing. At what point do they drop the pretense and head for all out war, I wonder? Of course that kind of thing must come later in the narrative. Great eight, Caitlin!

  5. I’m breathless with this brilliant eight full of innuendos and falsity. Thank you.

  6. Alexis Duran says:

    I love the detail of the paper in the pocket- such a nice bit of magic-building. I’m really enjoying these characters and the tension between them.

  7. Sarah W says:

    Liar is one smart, justifiably paranoid cookie.

    You have so many lovely details woven through here, cailtin–and vocabulary, too. Awesome! 🙂

  8. ralfast says:

    The question is who would betray whom first.

    • caitlinstern says:

      Liar really does make charms for the gang, so Jash can’t just kill her–and she’d rather work with him than someone unknown. So it’s a question of opportunity. If the situation changed for one of them, they’d likely make a move.

  9. Love the details, especially the paper sown into her vest responding to her words. Fabulous dynamic and a lot of subtext. Wonderful snippet.

  10. This is the coolest world you’ve created and I love all the details. Another excellent excerpt!

  11. Carrie-Anne says:

    She’s got such an amazing power! I love how you really bring these scenes to life.

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