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The Guardians

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The forest was always quiet this time of day, always quiet and peaceful at twilight. The wood was blanketed in the damp, fresh scent that came with rain, punctuated by the sweet, soothing smell of wild flowers, drifting on a gentle breeze. The towering trees rose high, reaching out as though to touch the sky, their majestic branches, with leaves only just beginning to bud, overlapping and twisting together to create, if you looked closely, the most beautiful designs. The stars twinkled and glittered like jewels in the fading light, as the sun dropped beneath the horizon to make way for the night.

Guardians, they were called, because shielded the travelers that walked along the worn, hard-packed, dirt road from the harshness of the elements. It was a young girl they sheltered this dreary spring evening. She made her quietly down the road, her package clutched protectively to her chest as she hurried home from the market with her purchase.
As the sun disappeared behind the trees and the full moon rose, casting its eerie glow across the world, the forest came to life. An owl hooted calmly from its perch in a tree near the path, it’s glowing yellow eyes watching fixedly as she scurried past, desperate to be out of the woods. A small orange fox darted out of a nearby bush and across the road startling the poor, frightened girl.
She had reason to be nervous, of course, for as welcoming as the forest seemed in the daylight, it gave off an equally foreboding feeling after dark. As the smell of wood smoke and the distant sounds of laughter reached her she let out a soft sigh of relief, she was nearly home.

Abruptly she was jerked backward by a firm hand gripping the back of her dress; the unexpected action caused her to fall roughly to the muddy ground. She opened her mouth to scream but no sound escaped her lips. Her attacker laughed loudly, a cruel and mocking sound.
The man raised his weapon, and the guardians moved, seeming alive, roots and branches seeking, grasping and finally grabbing the man and pulling him back into the forest.