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, accepted payment from the gang’s second in command, then traveled to a nicer part of town, where she offers her mother some of the money, and her mother asks how Liar earned it.



“Nothing I wasn’t taught at school,” Liar shrugged.

Unlike many parents of inkbloods, who left their child at the roots of a Rakau tree with desperate hopes for a better future, her parents simply hadn’t known what to do with her. They’d had a son, a pampered only child for thirteen long years, and then a surprise daughter. With no interest in the effort it took to find a husband for their child, they’d placed her under a tree on the first full moon after her birth, and then handed her into the care of nannies until she was old enough to go to school.

When she was nine years old, he’d fallen ill, and died a few months later, leaving her parents  with only the child they hadn’t wanted. Their grief excluded their daughter, for all that she’d lost a brother when they lost a son.

“Would you prefer not to be repaid for the debts you incurred on my behalf?” Liar asked, though she already knew the answer.

*    *    *

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. hermionefowl says:

    Wow, thus sounds really good!! Keep us updated with how you’re going 🙂

  2. Kim Magennis says:

    I am really enjoying these pieces. The transport me to a different universe. Thank you, very much, for sharing.

  3. Nasty bit of business here. Breaks my heart.

  4. Marcia says:

    I don’t always comment, but you’ve got an interesting bunch of excerpts here. The characters actions don’t seem forced, as if you pushed them to do what YOU wanted. They feel natural. That’s not always easy to do, so congrats!

    One tiny suggestion? I realize this may be due to some editing to make the excerpt fit the WeWriWa guidelines, but to me, where you say “he’d fallen ill”, I thought you were referring to her nanny. It took me a couple of re-reads to realize you meant her brother.

    Hope you pick up from here next time!

    • caitlinstern says:

      Yes, I tend to squeeze a few sentences together to make a section work. Sometimes I’m more successful than others!

      I plan to finish out the scene before I move on to something else, don’t worry.

  5. Alexis Duran says:

    Interesting dynamic. Makes me wonder why Liar bothers to return. Still seeking parental approval? She’s developing into a fascinating character. You call this a story in your intro but I’m hoping it’s a novel.

    • caitlinstern says:

      It’s not a relationship with a lot of affection, but there’s plenty of duty keeping it together.

      I still have to finish it, but I made my NaNoWriMo word count. It will be book length someday…

  6. Ed Hoornaert says:

    Your character’s name intrigues me: Liar. There’s a lot for her to live up to in that name!

  7. Sarah W says:

    Is she paying off her parents to be free of them? ‘Cause that’s not an ignoble goal, however she carries it out.

  8. Carrie-Anne says:

    That’s a fascinating family dynamic. I wonder what she wants with/from her parents after so many years of estrangement.

  9. ralfast says:

    I bet the magic doesn’t make it easier.

  10. Wow, Liar has an intriguing history. Like everyone else I wonder why she’s back in her parents’ house. You have another amazing story developing, Caitlin. I can’t wait to read the whole thing;).

  11. I’m really enjoying the story and the rather grim world it’s set in. So many questions raised and points to ponder, which makes for a thoroughly satisfying experience. Another terrific snippet!

  12. Interesting background- poor kid! Though it sounds like her parents have no clue where her funds are coming from.

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