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, harvested a branch in the woods, is startled by a snapping twig–by another inkblood, with whom she has some awkward conversation about the weather, and suggests that the woman could leave the city for the winters.


“I’m Harmony, by the way,” she said as they left the forest, walking along the edge of the dirt road leading into the city.

“I’m Liar.”

Harmony blinked, “I don’t mean to be rude, but it is a bit different from what I’m used to.”

“Well, I imagine you spend time with inkbloods who have names that draw from nature or the virtues, but I specialize in weaponry, and people who follow the harsher spells tend to have harsher names.”

“Mmm?” Harmony tried for a brightly inquiring note, but her eyes were wary, and she’d slowed her steps enough to draw some distance between the two of them.

“I admit, I was a little angry when I chose my name,” Liar said, “but what do we do, but craft some careful lies, and speak them into existence?”

“Huh, I hadn’t thought of it that way,” Harmony chewed on her thumbnail,  gradually drifting closer to Liar as they walked. She wasn’t very skilled at hiding her emotions, Liar thought.

*    *    *

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. Kim Magennis says:

    I have a feeling that Liar is more authentic than Harmony. Thank you for an excellent snippet.

  2. I can sympathize with Harmony, though I think Liar’s all right. 🙂 If Harmony lives up to HER name, she might be a great foil for Liar.

  3. I’m bewitched, bothered and bewildered but I’m with Christina on this. Amazing story. Please send me a snitch of your imagination.

  4. Sarah W says:

    It’s fascinating to see another side to the Inkblood life through Harmony. I’m betting they both have things to teach each other. 🙂

  5. Frank Fisher says:

    Neat how Liar recognizes that Harmony can’t hide her emotions. This snippet shows the differences between these characters.

  6. At least his name can be used as a warning.

  7. I think Harmony is way out of her depth, which will be interesting to read more about! Great excerpt…

    • caitlinstern says:

      Oh, Harmony has no idea how the world works, outside of her little nook of it. All these comments have made me decide she needs to show up again, somehow…

  8. Eden says:

    I can see Harmony hasn’t been out much, has she? What a first meeting for someone in her place to be having!

  9. Carrie-Anne says:

    They already seem like night and day. This seems to have the makings of a fascinating odd couple.

  10. chellecordero says:

    I feel like Harmony is literally floating through life while Liar has her feet firmly planted on the ground. Very intriguing snippet.

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