Beware of Spilling Ink!
Skate is a thief, trained and owned by the local crime syndicate, the Ink. When she tries to burgle a shut-in’s home, she gets caught by the owner-a powerful undead wizard. He makes a deal with her: “borrow” books from other wizards in return for a place to stay.
Caught between her growing fondness for the wizard and her past with the crime syndicate, Skate doesn’t know where her loyalties lie. But she’d better figure it out, because there’s a new player in town, one whose magical hypnotism puts them all at risk.
Targeted Age Group:: 12-18
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
"Skate the Thief" sprung from a conversation with a friend about getting stabbed and how terrible that would be. My friend brought up the fact that there are mythical creatures who wouldn't be hurt by it, but could still be annoyed. That was the start of it, and I went from there to try to tell a story about poverty, danger, and difficult choices.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Skate and Belamy developed directly from the "terrible stabbing" discussion, and even though they were allowed to grow and develop as the story went on, I still really like that scene from them in the first chapter as emblematic of how they handle one another.
Skate peered into the shadowy room through the window. She sniffed and brushed a snowflake off the end of her nose, careful not to shift too much of her weight around. Twitch grunted anyway, muttering under his breath. She ignored him. His job was to hold her up, and there was no avoiding some movement, especially in this cold.
Some people liked the snow. Those people are stupid.
“Well?” Twitch asked, his small voice straining to both be heard clearly and stay quiet. He managed to do neither, so Skate shushed at her feet while she dug her heel into his shoulder.
She turned her attention back to the dark room. A glow from a light upstairs helped her see shelves upon shelves of books lining the walls, with unidentifiable shapes resting with them. That junk could be valuable, maybe enough for the pair of them to meet their quota for the week, even the month. The books were treasures, but the Boss didn’t like trying to find buyers for stuff like that.
“I’ll go in and grab what I can.”
Twitch nodded his blond head impatiently. Skate pulled a wire from the waist of her shabby pants. She slipped the thin piece of metal through the hairbreadth crack in the window. There were not many windows that this sort of simple device would work on in the area, but this building was old and showing its wear; the stones and large windows showed it to be older than anything around it.
The pair had observed the house for a week and determined that the tenant was a shut-in, an old man who spent all of his time in his upstairs rooms. He only came downstairs to get a new book off one of his shelves. Though elderly, he seemed spry, carrying heavy-looking volumes up and down the open stone stairs set in the wall with ease. His upstairs light stayed lit all night. Twitch had guessed that the old man liked to have it on in case he woke and needed to use the chamber pot. Skate had agreed and pointed out that the white color of the light probably meant it was magical. Magic in the house meant money. It was a good mark, and Boss Marshall would be pleased with whatever they could grab. They just had to get Skate in first.
“I’ll leave the window open and toss down what I can. Once I’ve grabbed my fill, you’ll need to help me out—”
“I know,” Twitch hissed, his voice strained with effort. “J-just hurry up!” He was starting to shake, and it wasn’t only from the cold; his muscles were clearly tiring.
“Oh, fine, you big baby,” Skate said, and the soft click of the latch disengaging shot through the alley. The window swung outward, and she caught it to keep it from slamming against the outer wall. “Lift up,” she said, pulling herself over the threshold and rolling silently into the shadowy den.
As she scanned the room, Skate heard a noise from upstairs: the crinkle of paper. The old man was still awake, and apparently reading. The room was as icy cold as it had been outside, and her breath formed puffs of cloud. There was a fireplace here, with a full rack of firewood beside it, but the hearth was empty, neglected, and forgotten for some time—covered in a thick layer of dust and choked with cobwebs.
Even though the Boss didn’t want books, Skate was drawn to them. She ran a finger along the spine of the nearest tome, then shook her head. The trinkets were the better target; besides, she couldn’t read any of the stories.
A statuette above the fireplace caught her eye. It was roughly the length of her forearm, and depicted a woman dancing—or maybe swimming; it was difficult to make out clearly from her vantage point in the dark. Leave it, she told herself; get smaller stuff first.
Three objects were among the books on the nearest shelf: a silver locket, a sheathed dagger, and a delicate-looking sculpture of metal. Skate pocketed the locket in the fold of the thin rags she was wearing, and examined the dagger. It came free of its jeweled leather sheath with silent ease. It was sharp, suffering no signs of wear or neglect. There were markings etched along the flat of the blade.
Skate nodded and put it back into its protective leather. It should be worth a few scepts, at least, she thought, smiling at the prospect of handing Boss Marshall more than a month’s worth of payments for one night’s work. She stuffed the blade into her belt and moved on to the third treasure. The golden thing was a complicated moving sculpture studded with diamonds. The shape warped slightly when she picked it up, but quickly returned to its original circle shape.
The thing was heavy in her hands; the gold was not merely plating. She had never held something so obviously valuable, whatever it was.
Another page turned upstairs.
Skate kept the golden thing in her hands as she looked around for more. There was a desk at the far end of the room, on which a small ornate box sat slightly ajar. She was careful that none of her pilfered treasures made any noise as she walked toward her mark. Had the floors of this place been made of wood, they would undoubtedly have creaked. The cold stone, however, made no noise under her practiced feet.
Skate gingerly opened the box the rest of the way and suppressed a gasp of giddiness at its contents: ten polished red stones on black velvet cloth. A jewelry box. In the shadowy cold, the gems almost glowed.
Closer examination revealed flaws in the interiors of each, but her disappointment with the faulty goods was short-lived. The stones held images, not flaws. Her nose an inch from an orb, she saw a pair of open hands within, reaching toward some small person.
“Please don’t touch those.”
Skate dropped the golden thing and squawked at the clatter it made. She locked eyes with the source of the voice.
The old man stood in the middle of the long room. He was wearing a rich dark green robe trimmed in bands of gold and black and matching slippers on his feet. His eyes were heavy with suspicion, and he was holding a heavy tome under his arm. A glint of red flashed in his eyes as he stared her down.
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