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In this case, Nymphs means not immature insects but beings born of the life force of nature itself. When magic entered this world from an alternate universe, that magical essence combined with the built-up residual life force all over the Earth. (This assumes A) that every living thing has a soul and B) that when that soul leaves the earth, a remnant or imprint of that soul is left behind, which is the aforementioned "residual life force.") The result was Nymphs, which are born randomly all over the seven continents.

This question focuses on medieval Europe, right after the fall of the Western Roman Empire and the establishment of feudalism, and of course on Nymphs and predators. So, let's get to the good stuff. What are Nymphs, and what do they have to do with predators?

Nymphs are manifestations of nature that form when excessive amounts of life force build-up; every time something dies, part of its soul stays behind, and so Nymphs often appear on or in mass graves, battlefields, and rain forests (lots of life, lots of death). They appear to be beautiful women in their prime, clad in clothing of leaves (if you thought of Tinker Bell and her friends, you have the right idea).

However, there are many differences. Nymphs are unaffected by heat and cold, being able to wade through lava flows and stroll through the northern wastes, can breathe air and water with equal ease, and cannot be poisoned or diseased. As for personality, Nymphs are naive, peaceful, and have a deep love and awe of nature. They have an equally strong belief in fate and feel that they came to life to fulfill a purpose, though they don't know what it is.

Additionally, the Nymphs have extensive latent knowledge; they can speak and understand any human language, and if they see a plant or animal, they not only recognize it but know how it behaves, how it survives, what it eats, so on and so forth (in the case of plants, they know the specific type of plant it is, what parts of edible, and other trivia).

After being "born," therefore, Nymphs start a journey: partially to see the wonders of nature, partially to find their purpose. However, there's just one problem. Being creatures of nature, Nymphs have a built-in ability to return to nature. How? By being eaten.

Seriously, if a Nymph who hasn't found a purpose yet encounters a predatory animal (AKA anything that can eat her) she'll not only allow it to eat her but encourage it to do so. This may seem counterintuitive, but A) since Nymphs are biologically immortal, this actually keeps the world in balance, and B) it's not the end for a Nymph.

After a Nymph is eaten, her potent natural energies enhance her consumer's attributes to supernatural levels, and her spirit enters its body, contributing its energy and intelligence to helping its "host" survive. For example, Tigers are ambush predators; stealthy, strong, fast for short distances. A Nymph-hosting tiger is supernaturally stealthy (becoming invisible in shadows) and can dent or even sunder plate armor with its paws. It's also somewhat faster and more endurant, being able to keep pace with and even outrun a horse.

TL; DR: How can an early medieval society find Nymphs before predators eat them and become almost unstoppable monsters?

Please Note: With intelligence, and proper recording (specifically plotting points on a map where Nymphs have been found) humans should realize a pattern and figure out that Nymphs appear in places where lots of things have died or been interred, like cemeteries and battlefields. Humans will then be able to post watchtowers in or put walls around these areas. However, many of these areas will be inherently dangerous areas in the wilderness, and humans will have to put more effort in to find those.

I've considered humans using smart birds like ravens to locate targets (AKA Nymphs), which according to this website can identify individual human faces, take pictures with cameras, and even place recording devices (technology is irrelevant to medieval Europe this example is meant to illustrate raven intelligence). In fact, I've even heard ravens can be taught to speak. However, I'm not sure how helpful they would be; how would ravens bring humans to the Nymphs they've found when A) Nymphs will likely keep moving after being "located" and B) they have to somehow guide the humans to the Nymphs; perhaps someone could spot the raven through a spyglass and have their comrades travel to its location?

As always, I appreciate your input and feedback; if there's any problems with the question, please let me know so I can fix/improve it and make better questions in the future. Thanks, everyone!

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  • $\begingroup$ Alright, I hope this is better than my previous attempts at making a Nymph-focused question. I just hope my tag is right.....I wasn't sure what else would fit. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 5, 2021 at 22:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Alendyias Keep perservering! You'll see it through! As a question upgrade, I would avoid the low-fantasy tag (it means kinda like Game of thrones aka magic's really rare, but as far as you developped your world through your questions, it isn't, right?), but maybe the fantasy-race one? $\endgroup$ Feb 5, 2021 at 23:14
  • $\begingroup$ Fair enough Alendyias, it's a tough one, but I think people will see what you're getting at. +1 $\endgroup$ Feb 5, 2021 at 23:16
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    $\begingroup$ Alright, now looking forward to responses. By the way, by recording, I meant simply plotting points on a map where Nympsh were reported or found. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 5, 2021 at 23:16
  • $\begingroup$ the only places with concentrations of dead things comparable to human cemeteries and slaughter houses are natural predator traps (like tar pits) which are fairly easy for humans to find. Also you appear to be asking two different questions spotting nymples before predators is very different than getting to them before other humans. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Feb 8, 2021 at 5:26

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TL; DR: How can an early medieval society find Nymphs before predators eat them and become almost unstoppable monsters?

If you can't beat them, join them

It's simple, since humans discovered that those Nymphs appear when things die, they would simply collect those nymphs on every battlefield, any big farmer with animals could also slaugther some for not only the useful resources (food, hide, etc) but also for Nymphs, which would have many uses, from selling to some rich people to eating Nymphs themselves to be enhanced

Why?

Well, if you eat that thing you probably will become enhanced, why not super-produce it by doing what we humans already do best, which is to kill and harvest things for our own benefit.

What if humans are not able to eat Nymphs?

Ok, this would be a problem, if they are not able to benefit themselves from Nymphs then I guess you would have to train animals to find Nymphs by scent or something like that and let these animals eat the Nymphs, therefore making your own "hunter animals" better and avoiding enhanced predators.

Conclusion

I think humans would probably industrialize in some way Nymphs and make them almost extinct. I really don't think any predators ( I don't know your world so I'm assuming real life predators ) can outnumber and outsmart humans, so I don't think this will be a problem, at least for Humans.

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  • $\begingroup$ I would upvote, but it appears you missed the fact that Nymph-infused predators gain both human intelligence and the ability to understand humans. This and their enhancements should make them plenty formidable.... $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 8, 2021 at 20:27
  • $\begingroup$ Also, humans can eat Nymphs. Please see worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/195737/… to find out more.... $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 8, 2021 at 20:28
  • $\begingroup$ Everything considered, your answer is useful, just not in the way I expected. Thank you. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 8, 2021 at 20:40
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    $\begingroup$ Humans also have human intelligence and the ability to understand humans. They are also capable of both cooperating with and posing a danger to humans. If nymph-enhanced animals are human-equivalent intelligence, at least some should be able to see the survival benefits of civilization and cooperate to control wild monsters and obtain nymphs to produce more of their own kind. $\endgroup$ Feb 8, 2021 at 20:41
  • $\begingroup$ @ChristopherJamesHuff, whoa! I never even considered that possibility! Talking animals in fantasy make so much more sense now....was the Wolf in Little Red Riding Hood really just a lone bandit hoping to get a Nymph snack? $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 8, 2021 at 20:43
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Ravens could be a potential solution, but why don't you...

Unleash the hounds

Dogs are notoriously good at smelling faint traces of things they recognize. Even after a day or two, they can track back a person, even after they put perfumes, ran through rivers and feinted moving a direction before backtracking. In case you arrive just a bit too late and face a monster, their strong loyalty will make them the best buddies you can count on. They're THAT good fluffy boys and girls!

BloodhoundBeagleGrand Bleu de Gascogne
Many hunting dogs can do the job. Above, from left-to-right : the well-known bloodhound and Beagle, and the less common Grand bleu de Gascogne -Big blue of Gascogne translated litterally-1.

After training them to detect any trace of death and nymphs, make regular patrols2 along known animal-made paths, clearings and water points, places where you will find the most wildlife. Since nymphs seem to be curious towards living things, you will have more chances of finding them wandering there, and so you can reduce your research area3. And it's maybe obvious, but look out for warzones and battlefields. A treaty between kingdoms can make it so that nymph-hunters are allowed to scour after the fight and catch any nymph appearing there. To decrease the risk of inadvertently killing them, they'd probably wear specific coloured uniforms, like blue-helmets do today.

If the nymph situation is getting bad, enhance your dogs by letting them have a nymph bite. Their already strong senses will get even better along with their endurance, agility and strength, making the hunting task even easier.

This solution is more effective than ravens for the simple reason that most of medieval Europe was composed of woods (less agriculture and less people), which makes aerial scans much less efficient. Also, it's probably easier to tame and train them into doing what you ask them to do, so you can have more of them than ever for a lower price.


1 Photos from Wikimedia Commons (1, 2, 3)

2 Tiny note to avoid fatty disasters : Patrols should be made of at least 3 persons. In case one man has an appetite for power and consequently for "nature", the other two can prevent them from eating a nymph. After all, the humanity is its own worst predator, so you want to reduce the number of über-Jäger men sprouting here and there!

3 This doesn't mean you don't have to check other places from time to time!

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Laws. Nymphs are (or will become) dangerous monsters, and they are immortal. What do you do with any immortal monster that kills people? Chop it up, deal out the pieces like a hand of cards into twenty boxes of cheap, ugly plastic that go in twenty cylinders of thick stainless steel that go in twenty protective sleeves of very durable, ugly plastic ... just the sort of place a Nymph wouldn't be caught dead in. And drop each into the depths of an abandoned oil well in a different state or country. Well, OK, I don't know if you can cut up the nymphs without killing them, or whether all that magic has given you anything like plastic or oil wells - if need be you can make do with large stone sarcophagi wrapped in reinforced lead and a fired pottery shell, and old water wells in the desert that have since gone dry.

Now if the nymphs are very, very compliant and take pains (a) not to be eaten [i.e. run sting operations with tame tigers] and (b) to register immediately with competent authorities after manifestation and (c) to do various services for well-born humans as they may require, then maybe they will be allowed to seek a purpose outside of a very small and absolutely dark enclosure.

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  • $\begingroup$ In my previous Nymph-related questions, all of which were closed or deleted (sorry), I put in some potential solutions. If Nymphs are killed but not immediately eaten, their life force will go into and enhance plant life, and if a person were to eat them, well, they'd be enhanced same as a tiger. Just an FYI. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 6, 2021 at 3:30
  • $\begingroup$ Well, shoot ... if they provide enhancement to humans, you might as well ask what we have to do to protect ourselves against rampaging white rhinos. :) $\endgroup$ Feb 6, 2021 at 4:19
  • $\begingroup$ I don't see the connection, sorry. Can you explain? Also, I believe the answer is walls, thick stone walls. $\endgroup$
    – Alendyias
    Feb 6, 2021 at 4:20
  • $\begingroup$ White rhinos are large, dangerous animals that are difficult to kill and which can easily injure or kill a human. They're also nearly extinct because people think their horns have medicinal value. The big problem is protecting the rhinos from people, not the other way around. $\endgroup$ Feb 6, 2021 at 5:23

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