The Empire of Ink

by Dadalha

In a world where all your properties are tattooed on your skin, Ink is the most precious resource. Wars are fought in its name. Blood is shed for a drop. Ink is the currency and the law.

This is the story of Tarar the Royal Inker, a charge given only to the best professional of the Empire. When the King fancies a new item, it is he who is called for the engraving. When the Queen wants a new weapon, Tarar is summoned to the court.

Discover his past, a boy of the House of Nul. A nobody. A castoff without family nor riches.

Follow his career, his rise to fame and infamy. Fall in love with his lovers, fight along his side, explore uncharted territories, and uncover the mystery behind the empire’s most powerful tool; Ink.

Join Tarar in a frenetic journey of magic, action, and fantasy.

[participant in the Royal Road Writathon challenge]

* The image is a placeholder, I don't own its rights. If you are the author and would like it taken out, please contact me and I'll comply.

Steady pulse, precise strokes, may the Ink flow!
May the Ink flow!

Victorious in battle, passionate in love, may the Ink flow!
May the Ink flow!

Never yield, always persevere, may the Ink flow!
May the Ink flow!

The way of the Ink, Pau. 5.1

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This is the story of Tarar, boy genius taken under the wings of the Slum's hidden dragons. 
From the start, you are drawn into the world of the story. You catch glimpses of the culture and the lore, and you learn through the experience of a young boy with mysterious origins. The quality of writing is definitely something I would expect to see on the shelves of actual bookstores, but I'm more than happy to read it here. 

The Style

Written from Tatar's perspective, but as though he were telling the story of his past. This plays out very well, as you get glimpses of that which is beyond the current scope without jarring your immersion into the world. 

The Story

Your pretty typical "kid who doesn't belong in the slums but is there anyway," but done in a way that doesn't make him a Mary Sue murder-hobo (yet, at least). There is conflict, but it takes place in a real world where the MC is not the center of attention, just another denizen. There is tension, and realistic reactions to these events. For example, 

When there is an assassination attempt in the inn, and Tarar (still a young boy) wants to go back and get answers, his teacher pulls a hard pass, and they go hide in the slums again. No massacre of the noble houses, just two people trying to avoid a massive problem. 


Nothing crazy here. There are a few typos (byproducts of a breakneck writing pace), and some word placement that maybe I would have done differently, but I'm not an author, so I can't say much. 


There are only a few of note so far, but each is teased out over time and appears to carry significant depth, each having their own lives and circumstances. As I mentioned before, the world created herein is not a vacuum, so even the background characters in various scenes carry their own influence. 

In Summary

To quote the immortal Jules Winnfield, "this is some serious, gourmet shit." It would do you well to read The Empire of Ink


Honestly suprised this hasn't hit trending yet, the writer has excellent prose and I haven't spotted any spelling or grammatical mistakes making a clear step up from most of the stories on RR.

The premise of the story is unique and interesting as is the world building, with my only issue being the lack development of side characters but the stories still in its early stages so that's understandable 


The grammar and basic writing are pretty good, but I got very tired of the story by chapter 19.

For starters, the prologue is terrible, as it spoils the story by telling you what the end result will be: the MC will live to become a super ink master.  Hence, all of the following action lacks tension since you know 100% that the MC will survive it.  Frankly, this kind of prologue only fits children's tales, as children are too sensitive to tension and need assurances ahead of time that everything will work out fine...

The action is terrible anyway: there is no way I can believe that a 13 year old child who has been severely malnourished for nearly his whole life could EVER win fights against trained assassin men.  It is just ridiculous.

So the skinny kid gets a couple of months of training from a drunk knife fighting master...  You are telling me that he becomes so good in so little time that he is then able to overcome several professional knife and sword wielding assassins teamed up against him?  A single 13 year old vs. 4 professional killers who are grown men and have decades of training and experience??

The MC's got some super power (and super fighting sense) that just doesn't make sense and also does not seem earned or justified.

Here's the deal: a skinny kid can't block or parry any blows from a grown man.  He can only avoid hits.  Secondly, a real fighting knife is heavy because it needs to be strong enough not to shatter on impact with another blade, and a skinny kid will not have the muscle strength needed to move it nearly as fast as a grown man.  Finally, a grown man will have longer arms and greater reach. (+ a hundred times more experience, more stamina, etc.)

The world building did not make much sense to me either.  Why are nobles such jerks?  How does their society remain stable like this?  What even is the big deal about the ink stuff?  It doesn't seem to explain the society being as it is.  Worse yet are the developments past chapter 15:

The hidden town seems very lame and doesn't really seem like it would have been able to survive hidden away as it is (ie: how are the corrupt nobles keeping on top of their society if they don't obsessively seek to keep track of all things happening in their world, and then how could such a nearby OP village exist without having any impact on the wider world, even over centuries?).

Oh, and btw, human beings need sunlight to live! (Same problem for the MC having no impact on his mental and physical wellbeing while living long term in dark sewers).

Another severe annoyance:

The MC gets his dying mentor as part of his subconscious mind (ie: like a spirit whom he can talk to and share knowledge with).

First issue: we get a chapter where they converse internally but both parties speak to each other and interact using 'I' and 'me' rather than 'I' and 'you'.

Much more annoying: every following chapter, it seems like the merging has basically not happened, since the MC learns practically NOTHING from having a master in his subconscious.  He even seems to constantly forget that the old guy is there, and the old guy HIMSELF seems to forget he is there, only offering the most basic advice (ex: directions from A to B) when others look at him as if he were a moron for not knowing.

Where is the logic in the master having already studied and mastered all this hidden knowledge and being in his mind with the ability to share things at a deeper level than basic speach, if the MC then still needs to go to the library to read and learn everything from scratch???

Perhaps worst of all, the MC does not seem like a real person, especially not like a real kid.  He just is completely unaffected by everything negative (ex: living in dark sewers for years).  He is always motivated and nearly perfectly positive and hard working.

I think the story needs a heck of a lot of re-thinking and re-work...  The dialogues, interactions and developments in the most recent chapters have been so awkward (bad plot driving things instead of characters doing it) that I really can't be bothered to read any more of it...