They say at one point in time, there were fifteen billion people. We dug our fingers into the earth and torn it up by its roots. At that time, man and beast were two separate beings. Man ruled over beast and beat it down. Predators became our prey. Vast stretches of wild land became our homes and our playgrounds. Man was all powerful, a god on Earth. No creature had the bravery to stand up to us.
They say, at one point in time, the mythical beasts became nothing but mythical. They receded from reality. Gryphons were brushed off as the result of bones that were organized the wrong way. Cyclops were a misunderstanding, the nose of an elephant's skull mistaken for a single eye. Unicorns, dragons, werewolves, all were taken as part of our imagination.
They were wrong. The beasts were in hiding. And they were all one sort of creature. We call them by a variety of names: shapeshifters, werebeasts, demons, multibeings.
When these multibeings returned, they made it their goal to tear down the human race. They burned cities, crushed homes. The greatest ones were said to swallow children whole. The dragons were the worst, effortlessly breathing fire over crowds of frightened people. They're unfeeling, hateful things.
We still fear them. The humans that survived live in a few towns left, miles between. We trade what food we can grow. Solar panels line our roofs, providing heat and light. Life is at best comfortable. They say, we tried to rebuild. We had perfected machines that could propel themselves and we could grow animals for meat for nearly no effort. They say the dragons would appear and destroy any attempt at gathering oil or penning in livestock. We learned to live without, and the dragons didn't attack again. Sometimes someone will report seeing one flying over the horizon. They don't touch us.
The other multibeings are a different story. They live outside our settlements. They rarely venture near the fences separating us from them. We have to leave the towns to hunt (the dragons do not attack for that) or trade. If the multibeings find you, they will kill you. They're ruthless bloodthirsty machines. They are also proud, and would rather flaunt themselves in beautiful colors and shapes than to blend into the background. Some people say you can see them coming for you a mile away.
You're taught early that if a beautiful creature approaches you, you are to kill it or run from it if you can. They can speak, and will trick you if they can. If they try to convince you to go with them or have mercy, they're liars. It's always a clever trick to get you to put your defenses down. When you turn away, the shapeshifter will break your neck and devour you.
Don't trust them.