Guardians

The last Guardian has been killed.
The forest is dying.
The Tree of Life will prosper no longer.
This is the beginning of the end of the world.

Or so they thought...

**This is my entry for the Unexpected Adventure competition! Hope you like it!**

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3. Chapter Two

The ground is cold. Hard.

I get up right away, but Cassidy is still on the ground. When I get up, the creature is already standing.

"Humans," it hisses. The other two hazy shapes with it pick Cassidy up and jolt her awake.

"I am Theros," the first creature--and obviously the leader--says.

"Cassidy." Cassidy says warily.

I say nothing. I'm still just in the background. This is not my story.

No one has noticed me yet. They don't acknowledge me.

"W-what are you?" Cassidy asks, her voice growing stronger with each word. The landing startled her. She usually doesn't get this shaken up.

"I am the Messenger." Theros says in a stilted way. His voice is tinged for the first time with a strange accent. "My people." He gestured to the other two shapes.

"Do they have names?"

"No. They do not," Theros says sharply.

I look around. We are in a little alcove, with bushes and trees surrounding us. The leaves and bark are in various stages of decay, ranging from dark green to gray to black.

"Be careful," Theros says, smirking slightly. "The woods are a perilous place."

The two shape cackle along with Theros.

"I'm ready," Cassidy says confidently. She is. She has been training for this since she was young. The first time her father told her she was special.

 

There is a rustling in the branches all around us. "Yes," Theros murmurs.

Two dark shapes jump onto Cassidy's back. She whips them off, kicking them off into the underbrush. "Easy."

"Oh, really?" Theros laughs maniacally. "Throes  always travel in packs."

A fierce cry goes up. Sounds like a baby crying for the first time.

One grips me by the shoulders, and I can see its face. Snake-like, with slits for eyes. But it has the body of a cat or small dog. It is omitting a smell like old meat. Rotten.

I am powerless. Stuck. I cannot move. The thing grins at me, exposing sharp, pointy teeth. It opens its mouth, preparing to take a bite, but is hit on the head. I glance up to see one of the Messengers with a club in his hand. The strange creature falls to the ground with a sickening thump.

The Messenger stares at me, and for a second I see a hint of recognition in his face. But then it is gone, and he lopes off to mutilate more creatures.

I can hear Theros talking to Cassidy. "It wasn't always like this," he explained, swiping at a Throe. "But things are different now. To survive you must fight. If you can't fight, you will die." His voice turns raspy like an old smoker's.

Most of the Throes are gone know, their bodies littering the dark forest floor. I slowly drift over to where the Messengers and Cassidy are standing, stepping around the bodies and blood on the ground.

I am standing just outside their circle when I blink. I open my eyes and the forest is a shade darker. The plants have all gone further into the dying stage.

"The Tree..." Theros mutters grimly. "We must hurry."

Cassidy follows Theros, flanked by the Messengers on each side. I dizzily step behind them.

The Messenger can't have seen me. He can't have recognized me.

There's just no way.

 

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