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 tells her that her name is partially based on a lyre, an instrument she plays.


“Oh, that’s interesting! Do you still play?” Harmony asked.

“I spent many evenings bent over those strings, so I keep it up,” Liar said. “And you?”

The rest of the long walk passed with Harmony burbling about her singing, and the many musical talents of her sisters and female cousins, who gathered together in groups to entertain the family at holidays.

All Liar had to do was make encouraging noises, or ask a question to set Harmony off again. Even a hopeful, sheltered woman like Harmony had limits to her faith in the goodness in the hearts of others. Best not to test them.

*    *    *

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.

33 responses »

  1. Kim Magennis says:

    Hmmm, Sounds like Liar is hatching a plot? Lovely way to build her character and give us a hint of who she is. Thank you for sharing.

    • Liar isn’t really plotting, though she does gather information as a matter of habit. She’s mostly avoiding over-sharing, because much of her casual conversation is a little disturbing to the average person…

  2. Frank Fisher says:

    Sounds like Liar is plotting something against Harmony. If it’s true, I feel for Harmony and hope she’ll be able to uncover the plot.

  3. Liar, I do believe, is sizing Harmony up in a sly way. Probably that’s the way she survives.

  4. Sounds like Liar is doing some subtle information-gathering. I hope Harmony isn’t quite as naive as she appears!

    • Harmony is a successful businesswoman, so she’s not too terribly naive. But she does deal strictly with people who follow the rules of polite society, so she is bit!

  5. Sarah W says:

    I don’t agree–I think Liar is simply encouraging Harmony so that she won’t have to share much about herself. It’s classic deflection–and I think it would be like Liar to want to shield Harmony from the seedier side of Inkspelling (partially for her own sake, I imagine–I expect Liar is pretty lonely).

    Yes? No?

    Can I sign up for Beta when this is ready? Or score a copy to review? 😉

    • Yes, that’s what I meant it to read as–not plotting, just redirection. 🙂

      I need to finish this story–and look for a market, etc., etc. I’ve gotten distracted by new shiny stories, but when I finish, you’re at the top of the list.

  6. Alexis Duran says:

    It’s funny to read the comments because I thought Harmony was the one who was up to something, not Liar! That’s my twisted reader mind at work, looking for ways the author is trying to trick me. This is all good, because it means I’m interested and not knowing what to expect. Love the detail about her name, btw.

  7. I’ll be interested to see what Harmony DOES do, or how she affects Liar’s life. Really enjoying this story and when it’s published I want to read it all in one sitting!

  8. ralfast says:

    Seems that the character names are a reflection of how the people around them see them.

  9. Ed Hoornaert says:

    This is a very musical culture. I like that.

    • It’s not so much a musical culture, as Harmony is an upper-class woman, and they tend to teach them art, music, embroidery, and things like that. She comes from a musical family, though.

  10. Liar seems to have a skill with other people. She excels at gentle nudges to get them to open up.

    I love the names! And what a unique premise! 🙂

    Thanks for the feedback on my post, Caitlin. 🙂

  11. love the line – All Liar had to do was make encouraging noises, or ask a question to set Harmony off again.

  12. chellecordero says:

    I get the impression that Harmony actually causes Liar a tad bit of confusion, maybe she is too sweet, innocent, or naive? Intriguing snippet.

    • Liar has been near–and pretended to be–a woman like Harmony before. She respects them for being kind, but views them as mostly decorative and fragile.

  13. Eden says:

    Again, a nice snippet, Caitlin. So much of the two characters’ personalities show here. I like the depth this piece also gives Liar. And interesting, what you say, about the characters choosing their own names…. another aspect of their personalities.

    • Thanks! If everyone could choose their own name, I wonder what we would all be called?

      • Eden says:

        I think the use of pen names and online personae are showing some of that. Though I never did like the idea of a name as permanent thing… I like how some cultures rename a child as they achieve certain things in their lives.

  14. Hmmn this Harmony character is interesting, I feel like there is so much more we are going to learn about her. She loves to talk, so will she slip up and say something? What’s next? Intriguing.

  15. Carrie-Anne says:

    I think maybe Liar is letting Harmony do most of the talking so she won’t have to say much and thus give away too much of her story to someone who’s still a near-stranger.

  16. Cool! I love the world/myth of the tree. I’m very curious to read more.
    (I found your blog because my WIP is called “Lizzie + Bluebeard.” lizziebluebeard.wordpress if you’d like to read it.)

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