Inkrift: a story about Dustfinger
There was a small inn, and a dining room below this that admitted paid guests and also more disreputable folk, hitchhikers and the like, and one man who sat in a corner seeming to hide, tucking inside himself the emotion behind his wide, serious eyes. Three scars like clawmarks showed white across his cheek. Without them he could have ben handsome, in a rugged dark way, but with them he looked only these things and a little comical.
There was a soccer game on the television hanging above the bar with its neon, speaking loudly, obnoxiously to itself. Dustfinger felt like it was intruding on his thoughts. What arcane magic surely made images dance, not in flame but on something like shining paper? Could it also dig into his thoughts and see the cowardice there? He cursed himself for it and for being pulled into this strange place, as he walked alone ion the Wayless wood searching only for more tricks!
He spoke fire-words under his breath, for no reason but to feel them come. Nothing, no sparks! Why? It was not his touch that had died–it was the earth.
A young man dressed in crisp black and white came to him and mumbled something. What? Was that a threat, a taunt?
"What?" said Dustfinger.
"I said they're taking bets. On the game. Lend a euro?"
"On the what?"
"On the game." He pointed toward the suspended picture as it shouted again. Sounded like crowds coming from nowhere! Dustfinger promptly panicked. The boy was trying to lure him into something with the magic. Maybe he was a magician, some perverted form of Motley man, going around taking souls.
Dustfinger picked the fork off the table and pointed it at the young man. How he reminded himself of Basta, for just a moment! Miserable! "Begone!"
The boy flinched back. "Whoah man," and then he was being hustled out by the fat man from behind the bar, pushed out into the night.
"I'll have none of that!" The barman had a thick, alien accent.
"This apprentice magician–" Dustfinger tried to yell back before the door closed, the barman muttering something. "See how them books addle the brain." he thought it was.
He slumped against the wt wall outside, closed his eyes. He could still hear the roars of barely recognizable machinery and smell air clotted with smoke. Yes, books! That was the problem, the curse! That silver-tonguesd old man who had seemed in some kind of shock himself when Dustfinger appeared in his home, having just been plucked from his world like a bad seed from a fruit!
Where to go now? Where to live? But no fretting that when there was still nervous energy in his legs; Dustfinger trusted in his ability to sneak about undetected and take advantages of lodging not necessarily meant for him, almost as well as he could play with fire!
Never had a whole world seemed to be a cause of loneliness and nostalgia. Roxane now could be only the head of the things he missed as he traveled, along with the endless wood, the smells of fire, stone and solid walls, Roxane...
But he couldn't go on like that. He would have to put these things out of his mind for a while. And return to the reader, Silvertongue, once the magician's own problems had been solved.
He walked into the alley next to the inn, into a maze of houses and people. So many. So much unknowing of that man who walked among it out of ink... Dustfinger slipped between the buildings as easily as he had in Ombra or among the Motley Folk, except that this time no flames beckoned and comforted him in their small way, as much as he whispered the magic words.