From the Pen of Drear: The Madness
The Madness is a common affliction that only affects animals. Once it infests one animal, it spreads quickly and indiscriminately. It knows no boundaries nor species distinction, and if not stopped, could presumably spread until the whole world is affected. To my knowledge, there have only been a few outbreaks widespread enough to even be that much of a threat, and they did not take place in Pithea.
The first signs of an outbreak are normally docile animals acting aggressively, or animals found outside of their normal territory. Animals infected by the Madness speed through their life cycle, thus causing a population of animals to grow wildly out of control. The competition for food, territory, and even mates becomes more fierce. Animals leave their normal habitats in search of these things they need to survive.
At the time of these stories I am sharing with you, we did not know what caused the Madness. The only thing that could be done to stop it was to eradicate the entire population of affected wildlife. Pitheans dealt with Madness outbreaks by forming a unit from the militia of whatever town was closest to the outbreak, and sending them on what was called a Madness run. They would be responsible for making sure that no affected animals were left in the area.
It does sound like a gruesome business, but it was the only way we knew to deal with it. And it was a way of life for us, completely natural. The Madness had been around for hundreds of years, and Madness runs happened on a regular basis. It was the biggest business of the militias in Pithea. As such, it is also an important part of the stories I want to share with you.