Here's the fun part! RiverMaiden and ViveWonderland both guessed correctly! So then, ViveWonderland, just pm me with what you want.

RiverMaiden, if you're still following this story, then . . . hm . . . oh, I know! You can be part of the next Conversation with Dustfinger. Just choose a question of your choice, and tell me how you want to act, and I'll write it.


Both boys looked down at the newcomer standing next to the log.

"Who are you?" Silas asked.

At the same time, Dustfinger asked, "What in Argenta did you do that for?"

The newcomer, a boy slightly shorter than the both of them, but about the same age, was visibly unnerved by the questions. "One at a time." he said, finally.

"Who should go first?" Silas whispered to Dustfinger.


"Thanks, Dustfinger." Silas said, loud enough for the other boy to hear his name.

"Who are you?" Silas asked again.

"My name is Basta. What's yours?"

"I'm Silas and that's Dustfinger."

"Basta? Enough?* What kind of name is that?" Dustfinger inquired, curiously.

"Well, as far as I know, Dustfinger isn't the best name in the book either." Basta said, hostilely.

Silas could see this was going the wrong way, but before he could stop him, Dustfinger spoke again, innocently. "What do you mean?"

"I mean I betcha everyone's gonna call you Dirtyfingers when you grow up. Dustfinger? What a stupid name!"

Dustfinger clenched his fists and cast the boy a warning glance but Basta took no notice and continued.

"What's wrong with your parents? Why would you give your child a name like that?"

That was going too far. Dustfinger couldn't stand the insult to his parents and to his name. He was about to jump on top of the boy, but Silas stopped him.

"Let go of me!" Dustfinger cried, but Silas was too strong for him.

"Dustfinger, calm down, okay?"

"Calm down? You're asking me to calm down? Didn't you hear what he said? Such an idiot!"

"This isn't going to help the situation. It'll only make it worse. I know he didn't say good things, but if he's some rich person's son, we'll get in trouble, right? So just calm down, okay?" Silas whispered, trying to reason with his friend.

"Oh, okay. But don't ask me to play with him, or even talk to him!" Dustfinger reluctantly agreed.

Satisfied, Silas turned back to boy. He didn't think the boy was all that nice. If you interrupted someone else's game, you weren't supposed to go and insult them, right? Silas knew that there weren't very many good people in the world; all his life he'd had proof of that; but he personally always tried to find the good in others. Dustfinger had always teased him about that, but Silas didn't know that secretly, he felt that way, too, though Dustfinger wasn't as keen to show it. So now, Silas decided to give Basta another chance.

"That wasn't very nice of you to say , but if you apologize, you can join us." Silas said reasonably.

"What? Silas, are you deaf?" Dustfinger exclaimed, just as Silas had expected.

"No." he replied, simply.


Basta rolled his eyes. "Fine, if you twerps want to play it that way, I'm sorry, Dustfinger, for teasing you about your so very grand and beautiful name. My humblest apologies."

The boy spoke in a tone that showed just how not sorry and unhumble he was, and Dustfinger started to get angry again. Twerps? He was shorter than the both of them! And he had just been curious about the boy's name! There was no reason to start insulting people! Besides that, why did Basta have to interrupt them in the first place?

"It's nothing. No problem at all." Dustfinger said, stiffly.

"Well then, that's settled." Silas said, not noticing his friend's tone. "So . . . Basta, is there a reason why you were so kind as to join us?"

Basta shrugged. In truth, he was one of those kids who had no friends and was always insecure, so when he had seen the both of them, he had thought it would be nice to join. It was this insecurity that had driven him to react so hostilely to Dustfinger's comment, and he was surprised that the other boy . . . Silas, was still ready to accept him. Of course, he wasn't about to just go and tell the both of them that right now.

"Well, I . . . erm . . . just saw you guys having fun so . . . um . . . I just thought it would be . . . you know . . . nice to . . . like . . . join you." Basta said, uncomfortably. He knew he hadn't made the best first impression, but maybe there was still time.

"And that's why you ruined our perfectly good day by throwing insults. 'Cause you couldn't stand someone else having a bit of fun without you. Right?" Dustfinger said patronizingly.

"Dustfinger, be quiet! If you can't stand him, then . . . then—"

"No need to explain. I see how it is. He says all these bad things about me. But why would you care?"

"Dustfinger," Silas said, his voice breaking. "Why would you say that? Of course I care! I've known you since—since forever! I'm just saying that maybe, just maybe, you aren't going about this the right way. Can you think about that?"

Dustfinger stared at the ground furiously. Silas is acting as if *I* am the one doing something wrong! And I'm not . . . am I?

"If . . . if you guys don't want me here, I can just leave, you know." Basta said, feeling even more awkward in the tension that had formed.

You know, that'd be just perfect! Why don't you just get your sorry little behind out of here so that we can have fun? That's what Dustfinger felt like saying, but he didn't because he knew that Silas would get even more upset. "Sure," he mumbled, without looking up. "I'll think about it."

Silas sighed. Sometimes he wished his friend were as open to other people as he himself was. But he knew that though Dustfinger could be pretty stubborn at times, once you convinced him, he was open to new things. And he could be a wonderful friend. The very best. Silas just needed to find a way to convince him.

And he would do whatever he could to find it.


Ooh, cliffy! If you want to find out what happens next, just click the blue link at the bottom of the page. You know you want to! Any flames will be handed over to Dustfinger (the grown-up one, that is).

*I figured that since Cornelia's Inkheart is set in Italy, Fenoglio's Inkheart must have been written in Italian, which is why Dustfinger knew what that meant.