He lived the life of a hermit. None knew his real name. He had been banished to the hills from the city for the murders of his wife and child. They all feared him and none could even look him in the eyes. They would never be able to restrain him, not with the power he possessed. Fast as lightning, fierce as a wolf; nothing would contain him until he could be executed. Instead, they decided exile would be best for them all. As time passed, fewer spoke of him, but they all knew him. Children were given a curfew to protect them from the evils of such a vile being, to protect them from Raptor.
It's not that Raptor was really evil. He didn't even mean to kill his wife and child. It had been an accident. He knew it couldn't have been on purpose, because he couldn't even remember doing it. He had woken in the morning to find his hands stained with his wife's blood and a knife lying next to his bed in his hand. A trail of blood had crept through the hall leading to his daughter's room. She, too, had been stabbed several times and her neck was slit from ear to ear.
It was also true that he did possess superhuman powers. He could move at a fascinating speed. Nothing he had ever encountered could outrun him. He also had a burning in his blood that made him surprisingly strong and deft. He was an amazing combatant before he was exiled.
That word haunted his very soul. The day of his family's death is the day he died inside. He accepted the exilement as a true punishment, for death would have been too kind. He had been haunted by his vision of what must have happened. At night there were the dreams. Raptor could see himself walking through his home, but could never see his own face. How he wished to see his expression. He wanted to know if his crime had been out of a fit of anger or if he had been sleepwalking. He knew that his dreams were a recurrence of that fateful night but parts were always missing. Raptor just couldn't understand. Every night he would wake up in a cold sweat and lie in bed for hours at a time trying to free his mind.
A cold winter night, Raptor had gone to bed early having finished his chores. Not that he was eager to enter the dream-world where he would be haunted yet again, but to bed he went nonetheless. But, this night would be different - very different.
Raptor drifted off to sleep and the recurring nightmare began as usual. His body shook a little and he began to sweat. There he was walking through his home, his back turned to himself in the dream when suddenly the image dissipated and gave way to a bright blinding light. Raptor could see himself standing in the light with a radiant woman standing before him. The world spun around the two figures as he watched the events play out.
"You have been tormented by these nightmares, Raptor. Do you wish them to continue?" the woman asked.
Raptor shook his head.
"You were born with phenomenal skills for a reason. Your life until this point was predetermined by fate. I am freeing you from that predestination so that you may learn the truth about yourself. Return to the village from whence you were banished and seek out the truth. Your path will be guided, but it will be your choice whether to follow it."
The woman looked into his eyes and then faded into the light in a rainbow of colors. A single rose petal remained where she stood.
Raptor woke with a start, drenched in sweat as usual. "Just a dream, just a dream." he repeated. He turned over and put his bed back on his pillow. Lying next to him was a single rose petal.
The following day Raptor gathered a few necessities and hid his face in a dark hood. He used his exceptional speed to reach the town within an hour.
He pulled the cloak tightly around his face and walked into the city. Unsure of what to do, Raptor's eyes darted left and right looking for the signs the woman had promised.
Raptor glanced to his right as he passed a small tavern. The name of the establishment was "The Red Rose" and had a drawing of a rose petal on the sign. Raptor stopped, pondering the coincidence a moment, and entered the bar.
He took a seat at the bar and kept his cloak over his head, hiding his face for fear someone may recognize him. Without asking him a question, the barman brought him a strange drink, looked at him, and walked away.
Raptor examined the drink for a moment and took a swig. The bartender came over to him as he finished off the drink and whispered for him to go into the back room. The puzzled Raptor followed orders and went through the back door.
"Hello, Raptor," were the last words Raptor heard before everything turned black.
Raptor awoke with a massive headache in a dark room. He went to stand but found himself chained to the wall.
A voice from the shadows spoke to him. "So you have finally returned. After all this time, I had thought you would have left everything alone. What did you expect to accomplish here, freak? Your powers are useless against these chains, specially made by a sorcerer. Was it you that sent the dream? Did you send the woman to me?" The man seemed to ramble in his fury.
Raptor blinked, trying to adjust his eyes to his surroundings. He was confused by the man's words, but he was right about one thing. Raptor could not escape his bindings.
"How did you know? How did you know it was I who murdered your family and framed you?" cried the stranger, "What a beautiful crime. The omnipotent Raptor exiled for murdering his family in his sleep. And they all believed it!"
Raptor's body tightened at the words he was hearing. Framed? That explained why he could never see his face in the dream. It was not himself! But how could he replay the exact actions without having done them. Raptor's mind raced and he began to sweat and thrash about wildly. In that instant he recognized the voice. It belonged to Spire, an old friend of his when they were young. As they grew older the two had grown apart and a bitter fight had destroyed their friendship. Raptor went his way in life and assumed Spire did the same. Apparently Spire had harnessed the hatred and let it grow within himself to the point of revenge. Raptor screamed in fury.
Spire laughed and stepped from the shadows. Raptor's eyes glowed with rage. The murderer spit on him and kicked dirt in his face. "Fool. You will rot here under my sorcerer's spell. While I live a full and happy life knowing that you have been destroyed." Spire turned and walked away laughing.
Raptor thrashed around more but soon realized he was doomed. He sighed and almost gave up hope. He looked up to see a single rose petal lying in front of him and a voice echoed in his head, the voice of the woman from his dream.
"Look inside yourself, Raptor. Discover your true power, your true meaning. You are more than a human with supernatural abilities. Seek your soul for the truth of yourself."
Raptor closed his eyes and drew within himself. A white aura glowed all about him and his hands burst into flames. Sparks flew from the chains that bound him and Raptor used all his strength to tear himself free. He stood quickly and bowed his head in concentration. His shape shimmered and became transparent. Uttering a few words in a language he did not recognize himself, he slowly hovered above the ground.
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Raptor flew like the wind out of his dungeon and into the city. He rose up into the area, invisible to those around him. Flying to the center of the city, he rose about 30 feet in the air.
Searching within himself, a blue light flared from his fingertips into the sky. He became visible again and the citizens of the town rushed to see the commotion. Many recognized Raptor and began to curse and threaten him.
He waved his hand at them and silence fell over the crowd. "I am not your enemy. I am innocent of the crimes you blamed me for so long ago. I was not welcome into your home because the truth was hidden from all our eyes," Raptor cried out.
He mumbled a few words and Spire suddenly shimmered into existence below Raptor. Serpents appeared from below the ground and wrapped around his ankles, holding him to the ground.
"This is the man who destroyed everything I was. Close your eyes and see the truth for yourself."
The citizens of the town closed their eyes and Raptor's dream flooded all their minds. They saw what he had seen for all those nights. But the vision continued beyond anything Raptor had ever experienced. They saw the man in the vision drive a knife numerous times into the woman and child. Many cringed, unable to open their eyes and stop the horrible sight. Then they saw Raptor, lying next to the dying woman. The murderer carefully placed the bloodied knife in Raptor's hand and turned to leave. His face was plainly visible now; it was the face of Spire.
The vision dissipated in the people's minds and they screamed in fury at the wrong they had all committed and the trickery that had been played on them. They descended on the helpless Spire yearning to beat him senseless.
Raptor waved his hand and raised a shield around Spire to protect him.
"I will not let you kill him. I do not seek revenge. I only seek acceptance by my home country again. You will leave Spire alone. He will leave this land never to return and be haunted with the visions that I endured for so long. That is penance enough."
The people cheered Raptor and shouted their apologies. They welcomed him home. Raptor looked into the sky to see the vision of the woman in the clouds. She smiled at him proudly. Raptor just smiled back.