The Return

© Unknown

A thousand hearth fires winked at him from the valley below, like stars in the endless sky above.

Regan glared down at his erstwhile home. Ten years. And look how they’ve grown. Flourished. While he had been banished to walk the wilds, living from hand to mouth, killing to survive, surviving to kill, his little village had grown into a city.

His right hand itched towards the jagged blade strapped to his waist. He longed to hear the rasp of steel on steel, to feel the warm spurt of blood as it ripped through bone and entrails alike, to see the life leaving his enemy’s gaze. And he had many enemies down there.

He stepped forward and swore as his body barrelled into the barrier, invisible, yet solid as a stone wall. They had not forgotten about him, either, it would seem.

Time changes everything, and a man does not survive for so long without learning many new skills.

Regan shed his clothes as a snake sheds its skin. Naked, he howled, first in rage, then in pain, as his body contorted. Limbs elongated, claws ripped through fur-covered paws, fangs ruptured from his upper jaw. Where once a man stood, a monstrous mountain lion now prowled the perimeter.

Tentatively, the feline tested the barrier. Nothing. Its lips parted in a snarl. With a powerful leap, the beast jumped through the invisible wall and bounded down the hill.

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