The forest was said to be like a dream. Some claimed it was, in fact, a manifestation of some mystical realm populated by our unconscious desires, impulses, and fears. Others, like Fang, believed it was nothing more than so many trees and the mad superstitions of half-crazed old priests.

Whatever the case, the reknowned warrior Fang had been sent by his liege lord with an important message for the commander on the other side of that forest. An enemy army was poised to invade soon, and if they were not alerted the town beyond the woods would certainly be lost.

Entrustd with this task, Fang found himself facing a tough choice. If he travelled around the supposedly dangerous forest, then he would waste several days and perhaps not make it in time. However, taking his time might be preferable to not arriving at all, as the villagers pointed out. Fang carefully weighed his decision over a glass of tea, but in the end there really was no choice. If he went around, the opposing forces would surely strike before he delivered the orders. An unacceptable failure.

So it was that he departed, heading into the fearful path. It was a pleasant place at first, a tranquilly silent path among bamboo trees and a soft fog that hid the undergrowth. Fang was wary at first, keeping an eye out for an ambush. However, with no enemy readily apparent, he soon drifted off into reflection, remembering days long past and old comrades now dead and gone.

"You are a fool to lower your guard!"

Fang nearly jumped. How long had the... thing been standing there? It seemed a creature awakened from Shadow, a swordsman in familiar clothes, holding a familiar sword in a familiar stance. Fang could not see his face, only scruffy hair, blood red fangs, glowing yellow eyes.

"A demon!" Were the ravings of the old pirests true? Fang had chosen poorly in his haste, it seemed. He placed his hand on the handle of the sword and warned, "Stand aside, demon, I don't want to fight-"

"Yes you do!" The shadow interruted him. "It is written in every fiber of your being. This is what you live for. This is who you are!" Without further warning the demon lunged, and Fang was forced to defend himself. Though he defeated the demon with expert skill, he found he had strayed during the fighting, and now he could no longer find the path he had been following. What was more, the band he had used to hold his hair in place had come loose during the fighting, Fang noted with disapproval, and hung as savage as the fiend he had vanquished.

Fang hurried on his way, once again wary, his heart beat fast with the mere thought of running into another such demon. As he moved the fog closed in, he could only hope he was going the right way. Eventually he calmed himself. He would find the right path soon enough and be back on track. It was no worse than that time...

"A lost little fool..." Another voice, just like the last. Perhaps stronger, colder. "You don't even know where you're going."

Fang drew his sword, as he took measure of his opponent, but for the tattered clothes there was little difference between this creature and the last. Or was it even the same one? "Stand aside," Fang warned, "or I will be forced-"

"Be forced." his foe scoffed, "The outcome is already clear. Come!"

The two fought as he had before, but this opponent was much more skilled and in the end only a savage drive to save his people allowed Fang to overcome the demon.

However, during the fighting he had been wounded, his clothes ripped and torn, and he had fallen into a deep ravine.

Fang only knew he had to keep going. He followed the river, clutched the soaked message to his breast. Where was he going? Where did this dark path lead? He pondered the answer, but no insight would come.

"And now you will die here."

"It will be you who dies." Fang whirled, striking even as he spoke.

The blood covered demon was even stronger than the last, its blows powered by an unnatural force of will.

As Fang lay bloodied and dying to his opponent's sword, he looked up to the face of his killer. "Who... are you?" he asked weakly.

The demon looked him in the eyes. "My name is Fang."

So, I don't normally do short stories. Not any kind of personal aversion to the concept, I just don't usually write that way. Anyways, this story came about as a writing assignment during my creative writing class. We were given the task of writing a story about an encounter with a recurring obstacle, and I was uninspired until I decided to make something of a fable of it. I decided I would write a story about a samurai-esque character, and see where it went. I was kinda happy about how it turned out, so here it is. Tell me what you think.