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Dust, Sand, and Smoke


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Cassidy paused. He hadn't even thought about what Abdul was saying before now. Was he just a fool, following the will of something like the Magic Mesa, without wondering why? He looked down at his hands, made entirely of sand. He had died. He knew that. Uncle Ben had shot him, and he had passed, but the Mesa reached out, and he had returned. But looking at himself, Cassidy couldn't help but wonder... what was he? He was a man built on a foundation of sand. Was he even a man?


He was blindly following, that much was sure. At least until now. He steeled himself. This was much too soon to give in to Abdul just because of words. He was here for a reason. He could figure the rest out later. "Sure, you can see it all. You've seen the past and the future, all the others weird worlds and places that the Mesa leads to, and because of that, you think you know everything? You think you're changing the world for the better? And I'm just the one blindly serving?"


"Nah, I don't think so. Look at what that Snake is making you do. You're nothing but a drug dealer on a greater scale. That's all you are, a dealer that started using from your own stash."

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Abdul actually stopped to think about what the Dust Devil said, but had a response that was measured. 


"A dealer? No...no, I don't think so. I give. There is no deal. I do not ask for money, or favours, or even adulation - although I confess our little group at Freedom City University does somewhat elevate me" he replied. "And I am no so foolish to realise I desire such adulation, and not so unwise to think I do not, in some measure, deserve it" he said, cold now. 


"But there is no demand. There is no deal, as you put it. You may twist my actions to suit your own ego, but it but twisting of facts. I make offer without asking or demanding anything in return!"

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"You said it yourself. You give. And you might not ask for anything in return, but you get it." Two could play at a breaking speech, Abdul. "I've met your followers. I've seen the look in their eyes. I've heard their desperation. They don't just want the leaf anymore. They need it. You've created addicts. They hang to your every word, your every action. Why do you think that is? Because you have opened their eyes to the cosmos and the world around them?" Cassidy's voice was anything but cold. It was rising, in both volume and fervor. 


"They're addicted, that's all. They give you the validation you need. They make you feel like you're right, like you're the one with all the answers. All for one more taste of the leaf, all for one more chance to feel good. To you, the leaf might be the answer to all your questions. To them, it is just a drug. You're their dealer. And a cheap one at that: All you need from them is their time and devotion." He paused for a moment. Dramatic effect, maybe? Cassidy wasn't sure. It was like something else was driving him. "One of your addicts attacked an innocent woman that was trying to help him, just for a chance to find a leaf. Another almost died in your car in the desert, too high to notice she was dying from dehydration. Is that the path of enlightenment you preach, Abdul?"

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"The path to enlightenment is not easy, for if it was, everyone would take it!" replied Adbul, as some twittering dog sized dinosaurs skipped around his form, wondering what on earth was going on. 


"The risks they took, well, I am sure they considered them worthwhile! You only see the tears, not the joy! But I see there is nothing that can bend your path, not one fraction. It seems indeed that the Mesa requires a fool to protect it, and that was why you were chosen! Come then....let me show you the depths of the Mesa....if you dare follow?" he laughed, mocking the Devil. 


And with that, his smoky body seeped back into the Mesa's cracks and caverns....

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"And if it was easy, then they wouldn't need you, would they?" Cassidy shot back. He didn't even notice the dog sized dinosaurs near them. There were more important things going on now. "Think about what you're saying! They considered the risks worthwhile? Nothing comes easy? Just who do you think you're talking to? Just how do you think I became the Dust Devil?" It had not been an easy path, no matter what Abdul thought. And then the smoke that was Abdul disappeared into the cracks in the Mesa once more, daring him to follow. 


This time, there were no fires to out. No leaves to ruin. The Dust Devil's sand form rushed right after Abdul at full speed. For some reason, this entire thing was starting to remind him of a book he had once read. He hadn't even thought about it for ages. Couldn't remember the title, but the writer was supposed to be famous. He could remember the start of the book, though. It had stayed with him, for some reason. And now, as he raced after the smoke, having crossed a desert to get to it, he remembered the beginning of the book once more. The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

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There was the sound of faint, half-crazed laughter as smoke and sand raced through the Mesa once more. This time, however, the Dust Devil was both faster and prepared. The trip through cracks was even more torturous and dizzying than last time. The Dust Devil could feel strange dimensions at his sandy finger-tips; the insane asylum spellhold, on lapping green oceans, the deadmoonlit world of faceless grief, playing his endless laments to hiw wife on his violin, the grey entropy of the murk, where a bowler hatted blind Neanderthal watched, somewhat shocked, as they brushed dimensions. 


And then, they were in a tunnel, with cool wind blowing around them...


And voices up ahead...


Continued In...Sting in the Tail!

Edited by Supercape
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