A fairy tale.

Nestled deep in a dark and foreboding forest, a village exists. This village is special. Its inhabitants are virtuous and good, for the most part, and in their walled and protected village, they shelter from the horrors that abound in the surrounding woods. In those woods live two-headed wolves, bears as tall as trees, and other terrible creatures of the night, far worse than those you might see in nightmares.

Fire erupts from the ground, and a raging river teems with the most frighteningly finned creatures imaginable. The forest is no place for the villagers, and they are protected from it by their walls and by those who guard them. The villagers know they can never leave the village without losing their lives, or at least, without being subsumed into the world of the forest, which is not as virtuous and beautiful as the village, to say the least.

Within the protected world of the village, the inhabitants spend many years working well together to keep themselves safe, and so that they might live prosperous and happy lives. They do this admirably and efficiently, and each member of the community does a job, which they perform to keep the village humming—and safe.

Some build houses. Some build and maintain the walls. Some grow the food and crops. Still others cook and teach the children. Certain individuals keep certain jobs until they no longer want to, or can, do them, and then someone else takes over. The villagers also collectively choose who is to be the leader. Sometimes the leader does his job well, and for it he is admired and respected. Other times, the leader does a poor job, and he is replaced.

Of course there are also those who protect the village from the forest and its horrors. Of this protector class, there are two distinct groups: There are the Armed Protectors, who guard the walls and beat back the creatures when they make their advances on the village. Then, there are the Secret Protectors. These few leave the safety of the village and venture out to scout out the forest, studying its dangers, becoming aware of the many creatures that prowl the dark woods so that the villagers may know how to better defend themselves.

The Armed Protectors are loved and admired by all. They are virtuous, brave, and wise. Their heroism in fighting the creatures who attack the walls is the stuff of stories, legends, and song. The Secret Protectors, on the other hand, because they must venture out into the forest and come into contact with all of its horrors and unknowns and mysteries, are viewed with occasional distrust. They are sly, crafty, and cunning. They are also brave, in their own way, though their bravery is rarely observed or celebrated by the villagers.

For these reasons, the villagers often ask themselves, “What do the Secret Protectors really do out there? Are they not too powerful and secretive? What if they are not loyal to the village, and are plotting against it?”