This 8-10 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, who works as hired killer, is out looking to harvest wood to make her ink, and has asked a tree to cut a branch from it, and having thanked the tree, is leaving when a branch snaps behind her.


One of the inkbloods she’d shared the wagon with stared back at her, wide-eyed. “Sorry, I just wanted to ask if you were headed back to the city, and wanted to walk together?”

“Oh, of course. I was only… thinking,” Liar started walking again, letting the other inkblood, a petite young woman with dark straight hair, and hazel eyes, fall into step beside her.

“Cold this morning, huh?” The other inkblood asked after they’d walked in silence for a few moments.

“Yes, but it’s warmed up now,” Liar drew in a breath, which no longer bit at her lips, “and farther from the bay, it’s much colder at this time of year.”

“My parents sent me to the homeland for my schooling. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the winters here,” the other woman said with a shudder.

*    *    *

~~~~~ Happy Mother’s Day to every mom out there, regardless of your ‘official’ label. You know who you are, and you’re amazing. ~~~~~

*    *    *

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.

28 responses »

  1. Kim Magennis says:

    Phew! I was expecting the worse. Still, it raises some questions… looking forward to finding out what happens next!

  2. She’s there for something. The question is what? A not so innocent meeting, methinks.

  3. I almost feel like Liar is in Chicago, I still haven’t gotten used to the winters here and I’ve lived here my whole life. Anyhow, beautiful description of Liar. Love the snippet and I’m definitely looking forward to reading it.

  4. Frank Fisher says:

    The dialogue exchange tells this excerpt well. Winters are hard to get used to; some locations have harsher winters than others. Good snippet!

  5. ralfast says:

    Cool, she is not alone. But is there strength in numbers?

    • caitlinstern says:

      Inkbloods make up a small percentage of the population–not too many parents take the risk, and only 2/3rds become inkbloods. So they’re competition, but with enough business to go around.

  6. Sarah W says:

    So, not every Inkblood has parents like Liars? Good.

    And maybe she’s found a friend–even better. 🙂

    • caitlinstern says:

      Inkblood parents are either desperate, or ambitious, or indifferent–but they can be loving, as well. This new inkblood had the ambitious kind.

      Liar actually has two inkblood friends. I skipped over a scene with her drinking with them in a (slightly more reputable) inn.

  7. Gemma Parkes says:

    Fascinating as always Caitlin. I could picture the scene really well.

  8. Interesting meeting. I liked the kinda awkward chat about the weather when it seems as if something more significant must be about to happen? Love the story – great excerpt!

  9. Hmmm…I’m wondering if something’s about to happen. The chat about the weather seemed odd to me, too. Almost…too normal. Great excerpt!

  10. chellecordero says:

    I get an uneasy feeling about the other inkblood, the snapped branch makes me think the other girl was sneaking up on Liar. Really curious

    • caitlinstern says:

      Liar was deep in panic… or as she said, thought. So no guarantees the other inkblood was sneaking. Liar might simply not have heard her coming. More snippets to come, so you can decide. 😉

  11. Yay! It’s nice to meet another inkblood. Wonder if she’ll be a friend to Liar, or an adversary?

  12. Great dialogue and I’m intrigued by the new arrival. Fab 8.

  13. Weather conversations are often the go-to subject when silence isn’t comfortable. Their time together sort of feels that way.

    Very interesting premise, Caitlin. 🙂

  14. Carrie-Anne says:

    I’m also wondering if this new person is going to be a friend or adversary.

    I don’t think most people ever get used to the winters after moving to a colder place. It’s hard to believe I once wanted to move to the Aleutian Islands.

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