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Set in the 18th to 19th century A.D. the industrial revolution started uncontrollably and began to take its toll on nature; more trees have been felled and rivers dried to make way for rail tracks.

Many mythical creatures such as fairies and the unicorns were driven out of their home which was once a majestic forest that booming with a huge diversity of life.

Now food and freshwater becoming scarcer, these mythical creatures decided to punish mankind for the crime they have committed against life. The problem is despite the fact that human beings are frail and weak compared to bear and big cats such as lion and tiger, they can develop tools for hunting and killing animal of all kinds, the mythical creatures are terrified of men and wouldn't dare retaliate when faced with a threat.

My question is how can the fairies standing no taller than a tennis ball and the unicorns which can't gallop any faster than a race horse have any chance of winning against mankind's innovation and cruelty?

Note: these mythical creatures do possesses some magical abilities but are limited to communication between fauna and flora, they can lead an army of wild animals but can't control weather. The mythical creatures can be bleed to death and are not immune to drugs, their survival depends on the outcome of this war between our insatiable thirst for power and knowledge versus their instincts and perseverance, the loser becomes extinct.

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't see how the humans tag applies to this question. You're asking for the behaviors of mythical creatures in response to human activities, not about the humans or their activities. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jul 23 '15 at 14:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Frostfyre is there any remedy because I really want the humans tag, maybe I can elaborate more on human's activities and the behaviors etc. $\endgroup$ – user6760 Jul 23 '15 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ Can they make plants grow faster? I'd start my answer by making the grass grow up between the cracks of the sidewalk faster, just to spite those humans and their accursed lawnmowers! $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Jul 23 '15 at 14:57
  • $\begingroup$ This really depends on your mythical creatures, and what they can do. How smart are they? do they have technology? How many are they? Presumably there are very few or we would know of them, which gives us a huge numeric advantage; but maybe there are allot of them and they hid magically somehow? I would need to know more about the abilities, most notably intellect, numbers, and how much they cooperate, to give a good answer. $\endgroup$ – dsollen Jul 23 '15 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ I don't see a way to make this about humans except by having the question ask about how ecocentric humans would reach out to the mythical creatures, rather than the mythical creatures oppose the humans. But that's a wholly different question than this one... $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jul 23 '15 at 15:12
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Kudzu.

Kudzu is an extremely invasive vine that will swallow entire structures if left to it's own devices. As shown here:

enter image description here

It makes life very difficult for humans (and it currently is doing that in the South-East US) on it's own. Directed by fairies it could become even more of a problem. Clogging sewer outlets, making roads unusable, tangling up in machinery are all possibilities.

We as humans seem to think we have dominion over this planet but we really don't. Most of our larger engineering feats are actually quite difficult to pull off and are usually completely at the mercy of nature. While weather is a large part of this so are plants and animals and at present neither is actively trying to thwart us. Given direction by fairies plants especially could become a huge issue.

Now as far as I know kudzu while tough to manage and remove it's fairly benign. Change kudzu into poison oak or some other highly irritant plant (perhaps made deadly via the fairies magic) and you could certainly disrupt major city centers.

Another possibility is farmland. No matter how technologically savvy we are we will still need to eat. Having our crops attacked by goats, pigs, cows (all farm animals) or some other invasive plant species (weeds, more kudzu, etc) or just have the fairies kill all the corn or make it poisonous would be extremely effective in attacking the human populous.

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    $\begingroup$ Interesting factoid from personal experience: You won't find kudzu within the perimeters of a cattle pasture. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jul 23 '15 at 16:19
  • $\begingroup$ In searching for images I also came across a picture of a sign that seemed to advertise hiring goats to eat the kudzu. However since the OP suggested that animals can be influenced if not outright controlled by the fairies I think we can assume this method of removal could be curtailed somewhat (I don't think the fairies would allow the animals to starve). $\endgroup$ – kylie.a Jul 23 '15 at 16:28
  • $\begingroup$ The problem is, it would be difficult to accomplish this in the natural world as kudzu infestations are a highly unnatural thing, due to it being an example of an invasive species. It isn't a menace weed in Japan; people had to bring it across the ocean to an ecosystem where it doesn't belong in order to turn it into a serious pest. (See also: rabbits in Australia.) Unless your fairies have cargo ships or long-distance teleportation, this isn't such a viable solution. $\endgroup$ – Mason Wheeler Jul 23 '15 at 18:05
  • $\begingroup$ It was an example. There are plenty of other creeping plants native to most parts of the world that could be substituted. Remember this isn't necessarily "natural" growth as it could be aided be the fairies magic. $\endgroup$ – kylie.a Jul 23 '15 at 19:46
  • $\begingroup$ Plants are slow to move to new areas and cannot hide - will be easy to root out with focused effort. $\endgroup$ – Peter M. Jul 24 '15 at 15:40
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(Edit: after thinking some more, druid-like religion (worshiping nature), supported by damage of crops of non-believers by swarms is the answer, see below)

Most important contribution of the druid religion is recruiting humans to fight on the side of fairies, protecting the nature, and showing them both carrot and stick.

Insects own the planet, if they stop fighting between each other and start swarming:

  • Persuade bees to stop pollinating human plants. Guide hives to escape captivity and relocate to forests.
  • recruit ants/termites to protect these corners of the forests by stopping wars between ants, attacking human invaders instead.
  • wasps can build nests in engine intakes, disabling them (and attacking anyone trying to fix it).
  • bats can spread rabies and spook cattle at night.

Synchronized swarms of insect and other animals can disrupt many human activities in damaged areas but "behave" in areas where nature is protected:

  • swarms of locusts and birds can destroy human crops
  • swarms of mosquitoes can spread diseases, decreasing human population
  • swarms of any insect or birds can down the planes by flying into engine intake. Air transport could be severely disrupted.

Swarms of mice can attack crops and stored food. Swarms of frogs or crabs might overwhelm people to leave areas close to water. Swarms of birds can very effectively disrupt various human activities. Trick, as in any battle, is to ambush by overwhelming force, instead of continuous attacks by small forces. If attack is overwhelming but rare (black swan), protecting from it in all possible places becomes too expensive.

Secret of the success of the ambush is swarming: attackers are dispersed and hiding until time of attack, and disperse afterwards. To succeed, attacker has to be small and fast. Insects, birds and bats fit the bill.

Bigger animals which live in herds (deer) can also trample crops. If fairies are so inclined, trampled crops can form messages to humans. Or trample only inside parts of fields, so humans will have harder time to realize what is happening and try preventing it. And without planes, machine guns and telephones, organized response by humans will be much harder.

Damage to crops should focus on the fields of people who refuse cooperation with nature, and bypass people who support the nature.

Obvious next step would be forming some druid-like religion, aimed to preserve the nature, and nature itself punishing those who disobey. This will establish "magical" powers of the druids, proving to people that "religion works", and it is in best human interest to protect the nature - or else.

Continue until humans will get the message.

One advantage this answer has over the accepted one is that this answer does not rely on "magical growth" or other magic, just ability of fairies to communicate with animals/insects, and ability of animals to follow the orders and discipline.

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 for bees stopping pollination. That would cripple a lot of agriculture. $\endgroup$ – Seth Jul 23 '15 at 17:15
  • $\begingroup$ Fairies scout where the humans are getting their drinking water, then instruct rats and other disease bearing animals to wash their privates in that water. The humans will be begging for terms in no time. $\endgroup$ – Mikey Mouse Jul 24 '15 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ Or even better, deposit their dead there. $\endgroup$ – Peter M. Jul 24 '15 at 14:45
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Allies. They need allies if they want to keep from being wiped out. They have the animals but as you said it appears that they won't be enough. That means they need to look for more.

The most obvious place to get allies that can counter humans, is more humans. The great thing about people is we are not one monolithic group think. If they (the fairies) decide to make enemies of all humans, one side or the other will be wiped out. Most likely the fairies, maybe some kept as pets. If some of their magic has healing properties, that is something they can offer the humans who fight for them, help heal them and keep them fit for fighting back.

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 I totally agree with you if it ain't for greed man is also a part of nature but somehow reality shows otherwise. $\endgroup$ – user6760 Jul 23 '15 at 14:58
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    $\begingroup$ @user6760: The main problem is that in our world, greed and self-interest only benefit the one side. There is no profit to be made in not producing a product or offering a service, which is why people opposed to harmful products or services are, as a general rule, always badly outgunned in the funding department. But if the fairies had something positive to offer people, instead of simply something negative, ("gain X" instead of simply "oppose X",) that changes the entire dynamics of the problem. $\endgroup$ – Mason Wheeler Jul 23 '15 at 18:09
  • $\begingroup$ @MasonWheeler : No, there is profit. Political power. There are a lot of environmentalists around, and today many politicians try to become more eco-friendly (especially compared with the 19th century), because a Captain Planet villain-lookalike would lose a lot of votes, and could be targeted and discredited by other politicians (even if they themselves don't care at all about nature, they could make a good advertisement out of it). $\endgroup$ – vsz Jul 24 '15 at 14:18
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    $\begingroup$ It could be a nice plot twist to have the fairies ally with some human group (hippies, greenpeace, etc), only to see the human leader being bribed or blackmailed into betraying them in a critical situation. $\endgroup$ – zovits Jul 24 '15 at 14:36
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As I stated in my comment, it is hard to say without far more information about them. Lets assume a few facts that seem most probable.

  1. they lack numbers, on the presumption that if there were many we would know about them

  2. They are very good at hiding themselves from humans

  3. They either can-not or do not utilize technology to the degree we do, or they would be a bit hypocritical complaining about us

  4. They are intelligent as regular humans, or they wouldn't make as interesting a story.

Going with this I would say a direct fight would be hopeless. We could bomb any large collection or armies of them, or role in a tank and squash them. Our power is not in the size or strength of a regular human, but in massive and expensive weapons of war. If they have only 'some' magic I'm assuming you don't expect them to be able to bring the kind of magical BOOM that could take out a tank? if they can't then their only hope in a direct war would be to use our own weapons against us. However, we already own them, they would have a hard time getting them from us; and we still are the only ones with the ability to manufacture them. Plus, we still have a major number advantage.

Some have mentioned allies, but I don't think this will help much. Unless your allies also own tanks and fighter jets their worthless. In modern era it is our technology and weapons that decide direct wars. A hundred men with small arms can be destroyed by just one tank. Sure getting allies is always good, but unless you can ally yourself with entire governments it's not going to come close to evening the odds. And if you could ally yourself with large governments then this becomes a war of humans against humans more then anything. Plus, if your goal is destroy all humans who use destructive technology allying yourself with the group that has the most destructive technology (weapons) seems kind of hypocritical.

However, an asymmetric war is still quite possible. Gorilla warfare has proven capable of defeating far stronger militaries in the past. In this case your mythical creatures already have a massive trump card; they can hide! I don't know how they hide, but they do it well enough that we don't even know of their existence. Whatever tricks or magic they use, it's powerful. The most important ability of an guerilla is to be able to disappear after an attack, being able to do it with untraceable magic is huge.

How effective a gorilla war would be depends on many things, but most notably just how good they are at hiding and how well the can move while hidden. If they could, for instance, appear in the middle of a boot camp, have the unicorns stampede over the trainees, and then disappear with a finger snap to be untraceable....that would be ungodly powerful. Now every single location where any military officer is would have to be guarded with weapons 24/7, or faeries can appear and kill you. Your tanks and aircraft mean nothing, because you don't have anything to bomb, and your enemy will have disappeared before you can get to your weapons of war. This takes the battle down to mythical creatures against small arms, as they most lethal weapon that can be available in response to an unprovoked lightning attack, which is more effective.

Taking it further you said fairies were tiny, and that's powerful. Imagine the ability to appear in the home of an officer and assassinate him with a poison or some magical spell. or sneak in and just listen to their plans. For that matter a war of terror that worked simply by assassinating any who stand up to lead others against you would pretty quickly cripple any military by removing their leadership, and making everyone afraid to step up to do so.

How deadly they are now depends on how well they can hide, how well humans can adapt to it (will we learn ways to stop their magic, create magic-radar etc?), and how evil they are and what atrocities they are willing to commit. I need to know far more about them and their abilities to say further, but I will say that one way or another this must be a gurella war. If they amass in any number tanks and fighters destroy them.

Of course this assumes it goes to war. If your mythical beings are willing to reveal themselves they can do far more then fight a war. Their mere presence would change how humans look at them. If they tell us their suffering extensively due to some environmental damage were doing odds are we will work to stop that damage; humans aren't monsters, and once we have a face to place with the harm we do we tend to try to stop it. Just showing up and asking us to work to help avoid hurting them would be quite effective, not foolproof, but still powerful; especially since our culture would be so fascinated by them that we would listen raptly to them and worry about their plight to a disproportionate degree; we could ignore the deaths of thousands of humans to hunger to try to prevent the death of hundred of pixies to pollution because the starving humans are a faceless number, whereas the pixies are fascinating and our interest in them causes us to see their suffering in a way we don't with the boring starving humans.

If they were willing to teach us things they know, or offer their magic to us (maybe heal our sick, magic healing is pretty common in myths, and general far more effective then our hospitals), they would have further bargaining chips. They have many non-lethal avenues to peruse to get what they need.

It seems unlikely that a species would go from complete hiding to homicidal killing spree. There has to be a middle ground, of protesting and demanding we stop. A war risk their own lives, and kills countless humans if it is to win; and risks us using weapons that would further devastate the enviroment. I can't see a species so blood thirsty as to pursue such a lethal stance due to human ignorance of their plight managing to hide and ignore us for so long.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think tanks or fighter jets existed in the 18th-19th century AD. Also it's spelt "guerilla" war, not "gorilla". $\endgroup$ – Pyritie Jul 23 '15 at 16:44
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    $\begingroup$ @ pyritie - considering the topic, perhaps this was a clever pun?? $\endgroup$ – Scott Jul 24 '15 at 3:16
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for gorilla warfare in the subject of pixies who can control animals $\endgroup$ – Theik Jul 24 '15 at 10:49
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for the poison assassins, I was thinking of posting that one until I saw your answer. They're mythical. The humans are harming them but the humans don't yet know they even exist and they're as smart as humans. Thus begins the culling. Any leader who isn't environmentalist enough has a "heart attack". War is easier if one side doesn't realize they're a war. Even if they notice poison they'll assume it's one of their own factions. $\endgroup$ – Murphy Jul 24 '15 at 14:20
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Nonviolent direct action backed by the media

Gandhi beat the might of the British empire by peacefully standing up to us and publicly shaming us into submission. A suicide bomber is forgotten in days (except by the victims), but a photo of a blazing monk lives on in popular culture today.

The sight of peaceful fairies being mown down by humans with chainsaws broadcast on CNN and spread across the twittersphere would change public perceptions and force us to grant fairy rights.

Not the blood and guts answer you were hoping for perhaps, and the revenge would be subtle, but viable I think.

See what has become of England now, a country subtly ashamed of itself, which refuses to celebrate its own flag day. A vestige of its former self where patriotism is practically a dirty word.

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  • $\begingroup$ On the contrary, I'd say that England is a place where people feel secure enough in their national identity that there's no need to go waving flags everywhere and patriotism doesn't have to equal nationalism. Ask English people if they'd rather be any other nationality and I'm sure you'd find very few who would. $\endgroup$ – Dave Halsall Jul 28 '15 at 10:26
  • $\begingroup$ @DaveHalsall - I certainly would not wish to change my nationality, but the reason we don't wave flags around is not because we feel secure, it's because flag waving Jingoism is associated with violence towards other cultures. $\endgroup$ – superluminary Jul 31 '15 at 13:09
  • $\begingroup$ Ghandi's "victory" can also be seen as having been allowed to happen. The British naval support infrastructure was no longer an overall benefit to England, and letting India go was a part of an overarching theme of nativizing the empire at that time. There had been a hundred Ghandi-type people before, and a hundred holes in heads. I'm not detracting from him but there is a concrete element of timing and "rock meets soft thing" to that story that is willingly overlooked in the popular discourse. $\endgroup$ – zxq9 Dec 8 '15 at 10:59
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Disrupt their infrastructure.

If they can persuade plants and wild animals to do their bidding, the best route for them is to attack where the humans get their food from. Make weeds grow instead of wheat, get foxes to help chickens escape pens, and so on.

Without any food, the humans will have to deal with either riots or importing everything. You can cripple the humans' economy so they're spending all their money on food while they will be hard-pressed to export enough to pay for it all.

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They would need to appeal to sympathetic humans, recruit from these 'hippies' warriors willing to become an insurgent, infiltrate the ranks of the industrial horde, and issue a campaign of mass-sabotage and propaganda. Pitched battles are likely to be avoided and actual victory is achieved through clandestine actions destroying and disabling the equipment, the dozers and dump trucks, used to pillage the wild. oh, and always remove survey stakes!

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  • $\begingroup$ This requires a profound amount of material support and external organization to make it effective. This was precisely the Soviet strategy to attempt disrupting the West from within -- and they lost big overall (but still did manage to confuse the West about itself and create an identity crisis that echoes to this day). That said, faeries may be abnormally well suited to providing material support. $\endgroup$ – zxq9 Dec 8 '15 at 11:01
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Don't let them sleep!

At night the fairies would need to terrorize the humans with insect infestations - bees, wasps, fire ants, scorpions, poisononous snakes, bats, poisonous frogs. The attacks could be enough to frighten and maybe take out a few. But the ultimate goal would be to deprive the humans of sleep.

Have you ever tried to be creative after 48 hours of no sleep? Even the most mundane of tasks becomes near impossible. There would be the added bonus of humans hurting themselves in accidents. After several days of this, the fairies could step up their boldness as the human alert level would drop off significantly.

Additionally, since fairies can control/influence/aid living organisms, they would release bacteria and viruses into water and food stores; nothing that would go full pandemic. Cold, flu, dissentary, malaria - this would weaken most of the population, probably taking a few out as well.

After that, the fairies launch an all out assault on a sleep deprived, dehydrated, hungry, disease weakened village. This is when the elephants and chimps and gorillas and bears and cats come in and dismantle the village. Once the village is destroyed, the kudzu is brought in to cover the village and blot it out forever, with a cheerful fairy sign stating, "Tinkerbell was here :-)".

Rinse and repeat on the next village.

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