And so, we return to the previous updates and information bulletins that reveal, delve into and explain the world of the Sojourners in Shadow series. We begin with some tidbits about some of the most vile and reviled monsters:
They say that no one likes hobgoblins, even other monsters. They are a pest, a nuisance. They specialise in sneaking and stealing with a fine line in sabotage. Hobgoblins aren’t wanted as allies or even servants by anyone. They don’t make things, they break them or steal them, and have been known to try selling their loot back to the previous owners. Some would claim hobgoblins are stupid, yet if they were, they would be extinct. They are impulsive, true, and seem slaves to their nature, but they are often the ones to survive destruction, crawling out of wreckage, scurrying into new hideouts. If anything, hobgoblins are underestimated. Maybe they like keeping it that way.
But they are not the most derided of monsters. That title would be taken by vermin. While hobgoblins are pests, some credit can be given for the risks they run stealing and sneaking about those stronger than them. Vermin are scavengers, seen as cowards and weaklings. They prey on the injured or lone straggler. They paw their way across battlefields to take whatever they can and finish whoever is left. Some would liken them to hobgoblins, but where those have a near innocence to how much they are disliked, vermin know their reputation and often follow savage instincts, if only when they can do so without risk. On the plus side, they invent. They cobble together weapons and devices from their scavenged goods. Nothing impressive, but they have taken to technology in a way few other monster races have been able to. They wield make-shift guns and bombs, besides other things. As cowardly as they are, vermin are dangerous if encountered in large numbers, or cornered.
Even so, there is one type of monster that is truly loathed. Gleaners.
Once they were small but vicious creatures. Arachnids, scuttling across the ground, seeking kills to feed on. Even then, they possessed a deadly poison in their stingers and clearly bore a taste for cruelty as well as death.
Then came the mass migration to the magical hotspot of Madagascar. Human inhabitants were slaughtered. Piles of corpses littered the island as gleaners made it their home. None know why this happened, or if the gleaners knew what would occur. But this vile race did what they have always done – kill and feed. Just this time it was on a massive scale and on a land flowing with magic.
New gleaners were born amongst the piles of dead. New as in a new generation, but new as in unlike how they were before. Gleaners were mainly still arachnids, yet now they had a half human form protruding where their head should be, and even this wasn’t normal. There was no doubt that the many dead had an effect on this development as the human halves were more like a corpse, with rotting flesh and pale eyes. Also, instead of hands, scythe-like blades were waved on the arms. Not only that, but these gleaners grew to large sizes, much bigger than most living things.
Gleaners are vicious, cruel and greedy. They slaughter most they encounter, capture and feed on the rest. This makes them feared and hated. Yet their appearance makes them repulsive. Their nature does as well. Hobgoblins and vermin are known as thieves and scavengers, spies and cowards, and this is clearly put on them by their own nature. Yet neither compare to gleaners. When the new type were born, they butchered and devoured their parent generation. They live in nests, competing with each other while preying on outsiders, ruled over by inbred rulers, depraved and hostile. They breed in large numbers too. All other faces fear the discovery of a gleaner nest near them because it is only a matter of time before expansion occurs.
The saying is no one like hobgoblins. It is true. But vermin provoke more contempt. Gleaners install more fear and disgust than most things of any kind. Hobgoblins might steal your possessions or break your devices, yet they won’t seek to harm your young because they are too craven to fight adults, as vermin are. More importantly, they won’t remove your limbs and poison you to keep you alive, in agony, so they can feed on you over time. Gleaners are what was once a pest become nightmare. For everyone.