This is the first day’s worth of words for National Novel Writing Month. I know this novel will probably be not only silly but full of plot holes, but hey, it’s for fun. Here’s today’s 1851 words:
I have coated my left hand with magical ink. The reality of the situation was dawning on me, and suddenly in a moment when I didn’t need to be doubtful, I was wondering why I had become a tagger. I tried to hide my hand from Esper while planning what I was going to write, but she spotted me. It was about time she found out anyway.
“You’re left handed!?” she whispered, almost getting loud enough that I wanted to shoot her a glance but didn’t. “Does Tesla know? I can’t believe you’re left handed! James, one of the best taggers in the area and he’s left handed. That doesn’t seem possible.”
“Best tagger is going a little far but ok. Can you keep it down? I only have so long to do this.” I said. It wasn’t a nice bottle of ink. I hadn’t spent very much on the tiny black vial and I was a little worried my tag wouldn’t work. It was only an unlocking attempt, but the delay would harden the ink. I began to write on the door:
You unlocked the secrets of my heart. You opened the world to me. I love you.
The ink was draining from my hand as my index finger dotted the period at the end.
“It seems a little cheesy, even for you.” said Esper.
“I know. I really don’t want Richard to suspect anything. It’s enough that I always use Sarah as my connection, but this time it really needs to look unremarkable. Besides, when’s the last time you saw a graffiti love letter that wasn’t cheesy?”
“Fine, as long as it works…” As she said this the ink escaped from my hand completely, and the letters in my tag began to glow a bright white. In the darkness it was blinding, and we both covered our eyes.
“Great Squid! How much did you spend on that ink? Or rather how much didn’t you spend?”
“We need as much profit as we can get this time. You know we need the money.”
“I suppose, but this is making me a little on edge. I hope it – “She was cut off by the sound of the door lock clicking open. I let out a sigh of relief and went to push it open.
“You really think Richard would steal from Tesla?” asked Esper nervously, as if she were trying to talk me out of this last step.
“I don’t know, but Tesla wants an answer, and he’s willing to pay for it, that’s enough for me.” And with that, I pushed the door open.
We were both frozen in the doorway. Richard’s flat would have been completely unremarkable if it weren’t for the thousands of vials, test tubes and storage bins filled with ink. The moonlight barely made out the beginning of the huge pile of stolen goods as they faded from view further back into the room. I found a light switch to my right and flicked it on. The room became a rainbow of color. Every color and every value of ink was visible. There were vials of Eel ink, and even a few of The Squid’s ink, which must have been Tesla’s most prized possessions. Esper looked dumbstruck, and was looking back and forth between the tubs of green Permo-Ink and vials of purple and pink Fashion Ink. It was overwhelming. I didn’t need to see anymore but looked anyway. It was obvious that every item in here belonged to Tesla. It all had his seal on the vial or container in one place or another, and I’d seen all of this stuff before. Then, something caught my eye.
“What is that?” I said, and trampled over to the other end of the room, over the vial covered couch and to a shelf with a tiny, thumb sized vial with a cork in it resting in the corner. It had an opaque white liquid inside, and it was glowing. “Esper what in the Black’s name is this?”
“I… I have no idea.” She said as she fixed her gaze on the vial. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Where did Richard get something like this?”
“Not from Tesla.” I said. The vial was intriguing. It had to be some kind of ink, but in all my experience tagging, I’d never seen an ink glow before being put down. I had to know what it was. I pocketed it and made my way out of the flat.
“You’re taking it?” Esper asked cautiously.
“Tesla won’t be expecting it back; it doesn’t have his seal on it so I don’t think it’s his. I want to know what it is.” And with that, I took a small vial of black ink and we left, I tagged the door on the way out so it would lock again.
Atrai was the capital of Wellor, and Wellor was known for it’s taggers. The small, dense city sat on the eastern port of the pensinsula and was known as wealthy and above any other description, colorful. King Atreyu inherited his father’s crown five years ago, and his reign had been controversial at best. The city was known as a tagger’s capital, it was the visual arts center of the world, historically and in the modern world. The best taggers all came from Atrai, and many people knew it was because of one quality the city had. Atrai did not export goods or claim prosperity from crops, mining, or any abundant resource, except one: Ink, and unlike all other port cities, Atrai did not get it’s ink from the deep sea creatures who created already fine pigment for use. Atrai had a more unique supply.
Every 100 years, and it had been happening like this 39 times before, a huge creature would block atrai from sunlight. The Giant Squid, or “The Well” would appear in the sky and hover over Atrai, raining the finest, most pure and most magically potent ink that existed down upon the city. 20 years after it arrives it’s ink is he sign of the wealthy, and can’t be found by lower class citizens. It is not exported, it is used up, and the city waits for the Squid’s next arrival. As a result of the creature’s strange appearance and seemingly benevolent nature, Atrai had shaped itself to fit The Squid’s shape, guarunteeing the most collected ink as was possible. And deep in Atrai’s busy tavern streets, after dark was a man drinking with his friends, and rubbing a vial in his pocket with contained curiousity.
“They’re allowing anyone to collect this time, in celebration” Said Tonk, smiling over her rose rum as Tanner sipped water and carried his usual stiff posture. “what for, what’s special about this time?” Tanner responded curtly. Tonk wriggled her nose, apparently waiting for just this question,
“It’s the 40th. 2 years from now will be the 40th and according to the inkwell paper we still have a supply of Well ink left, so we’re not as desperate for it this year. Crops are good, inscriptions have been effective and they might let us collect!? I’ll be up the night before to make sure I’m read if he gets here early.”
Tanner scoffed at that, “You still read the inkwell? You know they said Atreyu was planning on giving the Well’s ink out evenly to all citizens too, like that won’t caus complete chaos. Let the rich folk have what they want, it all gets sold to us anyway. Nobody can do anything without us, why give to the non taggers?”
Tonk scowled, “because non taggers need ink too, just because they can’t use it doesn’t mean they don’t need it, you know that.”
I was listening quietly sipping bubblebeer with my hand lightly touching the vial in my pocket. Esper and I had gotten off from Tesla’s side mission a couple hours ago, and she nudged me then as she walked back from the restroom and whispered, “are you going to tell them?” I shook my head. Not right now at least. Let Tonk rabble on about the Squid’s arrival for a bit longer, I need to think. What creatures produced usable ink? Water squid, eels, pink wellers, which were a flower that grew on the southern coast, lavender orchids, which grew outside the city. There were many less potent flowers that let out an ink when in season. harvester beetles, and one of the most rare was the norwell, which was a huge ocean creature who occupied the northern shores, and apprently was hard to catch. The ink wasn’t particularly great either. Then of course there was The Great Squid, but finding squid ink was rare. I’d only seen two small vials in Richard’s stash and by the looks of them they were old, at least 40 years or so. But glowing ink?
I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Perhaps an art punk could die cheap ink with an incantation from another, more expensive inkwell. Only the cheap inks took color to them, but why go through the trouble, and what spell could make a permanent glow? There were inscriptions you could write on the right paper, if you took pulp from an apple tree and wrote the inscription for fruition you could provide yourself with a very expensive meal, but color was more complicated, and applying any spell to other ink even more so. How was it done and why on earth would you want glowing ink? Most ink was inconspicuous for a very good reason. Otherwise the city would be covered in black. It was already grimy enough.
“James, what did you say?” Tonk asked as she was grabbing her remote medical kit, her scrubs and her pen, which was an ostentatious pink flamingo quill. I realized as she looked at me that I’d been mumbling, and Esper had an annoyed expression as she stared at me while Tanner was as usual, impassive. “Oh… nothing, sorry I’m tired, think I’ll turn in tonight.” I got up to leave, and Esper grabbed my arm as Tonks sighed, “Yea well some of us have to work at night. Let’s hope I don’t have more attempted taggers tonight. Those burn marks are not easy to deal with.” she grimaced and somehow made herself look more delicate than she already looked with her small figure and round face. Tanner got up as well. “I need to sleep too. Atreyu’s giving a speech tomorrow, and you know, the quill won’t write itself.” He made for the door and turned back, “James…”
“yea?” I responded, curious.
“Don’t use it.” He stared at me hard with his yellow irises that had a habit of penetrating any shield you might be guarding yourself with. I nodded and he left.
“What ARE you going to do?” Esper asked as she let go of my arm.
“Research.” I responded.