Knights of Angels and Days of Yore
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The civilized races clumped and clung where they carved hollows out of the unforgiving land. All but the most rare marauding monsters became addled by age, psychoactive substance, or pestilence (a dragon ravaged by a yellow musk creeper does a lot of damage during its final flight and death throes). The real threat to the farms and villages within a league of the river banks and sea shores are the plants, insects, and fungi. Plants with their seductive scents, mind-altering pollens, and addictive saps lure the unwary into their depths where hungry thorns, strangling vines, and burrowing roots use people and animals as food or as a means to spread their seeds deeper into civilization. Insects can kill the susceptible with a single bite, inject strange thoughts with their venoms, and even lay their eggs within the living to better find new food sources for their young. Fungi – with their molds which eat flesh and scales of anything that touches them, their spores which can daze and confuse creatures into carrying the fungi home, and their mushrooms which cause anything from hallucinations to death – invade anyplace moist enough.
The larger monsters huddle in groups afraid of the very same, small creatures. Most of the threatening monsters have become addled by bad food, insect venom, disease, or some combination thereof. As such, the threat of the monster just begins when it dies. Every society has ways to dispose of the dead to reduce the risks whatever might be hiding within the body. And many of those who deal with the dead live in a constant state of quarantine away from those they protect.
While there have been major attacks by certain monsters, most of those are the monsters fleeing the encroachment of something small that they cannot stop. As such, monster movement is taken as a warning that something much worse is coming. Often it is best to identify what that something is.
And yet, the civilized races have not remained cowering in their hollows. All of the civilized races suffer from one or more forms of wanderlust. While most of these end in tragedy, they provide hints as to dangers not yet known. Still a few result in finding or founding new settlements and expanding of civilization. Fewer discover new ways to protect society from the small. And, a mercifully miniscule minority stumble upon a method to control the small which almost always ends up being used by the forces of evil.