A red-haired girl lay in a field of flowers. She admired the crimson and blue on the delicate blossoms. The girl sighed at their sweet scent and plucked one of the plants, but noticed its petals now decayed. A foul black mist swirled around the flower, reaching for the girl. She threw it away. To her horror, the entire field twisted into black serpents. Their sharp fangs snapped at the terrified redhead.
She stood as a small girl with jade twin tails pressed against her back. Then appeared a bear with a scar over one eye; there was gray in his grizzled fur. The emerald lass clashed with the encroaching serpents using sharp daggers for arms, her long white and jagged skirt dancing like blades around the misshapen flower field.
“Master, we will protect you,” the jade lass said. The bear roared in agreement and savaged several of the serpents with tooth and claw.
The redhead nodded, cringing behind the defenders. She flushed at her own vulnerability, and her eyes darted over the horde of demonic snakes. Dozens of black serpents lay at their feet, but their caresses vanished into puffs of smoke, only to spawn more. For every one they destroyed, two appeared. The redhead bit her lip until it bled, the liquid forming a snake of its own. She swatted it away, staring at her own body and shaking her head.
She looked up at the overcast sky and noticed a star piercing through the dark heavens. The snakes hissed with irritation and drew back. The brilliance touched down near the girl, its shape akin to a robed cleric. The radiance blinded the shrieking serpents, driving them further back into the shadows with the jade girl and the bear. The golden figure stood before the redhead, his hand outstretched. Her heart leaped with excitement, and she clasped their palms together.
“Pepper, please wake up,” he said.
“I am awake.”
“No, this is the astral realm, where your dreams and nightmares become a reality. Please, wake up, everyone is worried.”
“I will try. But, it’s so hard!”
“I see it now,” the girl cried.
She raised her clenched fist. Green tendrils shot from the girl. The black snakes evaporated to mist. The earth trembled and the skies sundered. The symphony of battle faded, and all turned to glass.