The forest was still, except for a few small birds twittering uncertainly in the trees. A tall, straight shape moved between the trees, his clawed hands breaking off small branches as he clutched at them. He walked slowly down a small hill, stumbling a little, as if he were drunk or drugged.

His pointed ears twitched at the sound of running water. His steps sped up as he rushed toward it, stumbling every now and then. It was a small, winding stream that squeezed between the rocks, and fell into a small pool in the clearing. It looked like it had been dammed clumsily, perhaps by children.

The demon crouched down by the stream and stared at his reflection. He dipped his hand into the stream and lifted a handful of water to his lips. Once he had drunk, he stared at his reflection in the rippling water. He could see yellow eyes, pallid features, and long silver-white hair that hung down his back and around his face.

Slowly his mind began to grasp what was wrong: He remembered nothing. He knew nothing of who he was, where he had come from, or why he was wandering naked through the woods.

Only a few stray memories, hazy and undefined, crept in and out of his mind. When he tried to grasp at them, they vanished as quickly as they had appeared. Visions of a smiling, dark-haired human girl with wide, clear eyes, of a cavern filled with smoke and fire, of a small, annoying demon companion at his side. Memories that failed to fit together in any kind of sense. He wanted to know what they meant, but...

He stumbled through the woods for a long while, stopping to smell the air every now and then. He could smell little animals scurrying away when they heard him, a few demons cringing in fear, some humans who had passed this way hours before. Then another smell reached him.

Smoke? he thought.

He began moving more quickly and confidently, in the direction of the smoke's scent, wondering if the trees had caught fire. Then other scents reached him -- a dog, several humans, an ox and a horse. A farm, then, but only a small one. He didn't know what he was going to do when he got there, but then... he didn't seem to know anything.

The dog was barking loudly when the demon came out of the woods. Its ragged ears were laid back, and it snapped at him as he began to pass.

Without thinking, the demon growled and stared at the dog.

The dog whined and dropped down to the ground submissively. The demon nodded slightly, as if acknowledging the dog's mistake, and then walked unsteadily towards the ramshackle farmhouse and barn.

"Who are ye?" a shrill voice called.

The demon looked up, frowning. A middle-aged human was standing a few yards away, aiming an arrow at him. This didn't concern the demon much; he knew that he could swat aside the arrows as easily as falling leaves.

Other humans ran out of the barn, brandishing farm implements like swords. For some reason, that clumsiness annoyed the demon. "Be ready!" the first man cried. "Tis a demon! And a powerful one, from the look of him. You! Don't you move or I'll shoot ye!"

The demon didn't move, but more out of confusion than obedience. As he watched the nervous humans, ready to attack, a growl welled up in his chest. His clawed hands began to stiffen, ready to rend apart anyone who came too close to him.

"He's going to attack!" a woman squealed.

An arrow soared toward the demon -- and he caught it between two of his fingers. With a slight twist, he broke it in half and let it fall to the ground. His growls were growing louder. Behind him, the farm dog was whining and creeping away, as if it knew what was about to happen.

"Kill him!" a younger man shouted. "Before he kills us all!"

The humans ran toward the demon, waving their dulled blades and fumbling for more arrows. He could smell their terror, but it didn't stop him from attacking. He growled again, and slashed at them.

A sudden blast flung the humans backward, screaming in fear. When the dust cleared, they were lying bloody and still on the ground. The farmhouse and barn had been sliced apart; a small fire had spread and was devouring the mass of hay and broken wood.

The demon took a deep breath, dropping down on one knee. In the distance, he could see one last human running from the shattered, burning ruins of the barn, but he didn't pursue him. The man hadn't threatened him, and so he would let him go.

He walked more steadily over to the remains of the house. A small, clumsily painted chest was half-crushed in the wreckage. Inside were some rather ragged peasant clothes. The demon stared blankly at the clothes, then began slipping them over his lean body.

Taking a last look at the destroyed farm, the demon turned and walked back into the woods, still haunted by those half-formed memories.