The dream of this reality is ending. The barriers to nightmare are collapsing: it is the Harvest of Souls.
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Star’s biggest problem used to be too much homework. Now she’s plagued with vicious head-bangers--and she’s not good at fighting. She just wants a boyfriend to crush on, her father home more often, and a trip to the Mall that doesn’t involve giant robot dinosaurs or ninja. Plagued with horrible visions out of time, Star knows the HARVEST OF SOULS is coming. The screaming and dying will soon begin as dimensional barriers collapse and the Dark Lords of Nightmare devour humanity. In her dreams, Star reaches for hope, befriending the Phoenix Prince, an ancient warrior whose eyes hold kindness, but whose sword can devastate time and space. She's shocked to discover that the waking world is just another dream—one of his.
It was a savage blast, sending shudders across the gossamer veil of dream space. The light of a thousand suns bathed them. Radiant wings unfurled into the sky. A joyous scream, savage and triumphant, pierced their minds. The ignited air thickened; a silver-white nebula through which pastel geodesics whirled with capricious abandon.
Star screamed in startled panic, but quickly got hold of herself. There was no pain. No injury. She was not consumed by the rampant energy flooding every cell, spiraling into her deepest core. A cold wind sang within her thoughts. As the in-pouring came to an end, an alien awareness opened blazing eyes within her mind. It was a universe all its own, there inside her soul, adding an extra spatial dimension so the finite could contain the infinite.
Standing in the opalescent pyre—in the fusion of flesh and fire—they became a single heart, thought, and dream. Unity formed. They felt an ecstatic climax followed by dissolution. A moment of death passed, unlocking true life.
The White Phoenix withdrew, but went nowhere, resting within each host, unseen but present, waiting. The walls of the maze and the marble fountain could be seen again. They collapsed in the grass, weakened, but renewed by the hideous strength that now possessed them. No one wanted to be first to break the fragile silence that held them like butterflies under glass.
The Dreamer was gone. Fluffles remained. Between bouts of licking her belly fur, she stared disinterestedly at them.
Joshua rose on shaky legs, leaning on his staff. An old memory came to him of being a young boy in a southern church one hyacinth, summer morning in a distant, different time, when the world was younger, secure in illusions of innocence.
The full-bodied words of a black-suited preacher had caught his imagination. Ancient prose had lifting him into uncharted realms. Memory broke clear. Old words returned from the vault of time. He spoke, giving them form and substance for those around him, pronouncing a benediction: “We shall not all die, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye ... this perishable must put on imperishability and this mortal must put on immortality...”
They looked at one another for a long moment, knowing that they’d been profoundly changed, altered in ways they might never understand. All they knew for sure was they’d taken the first step of an endless journey. Their minds buzzed with questions, but all they could do was wait.