The madness ended, but in its grip Man had fallen into darkness that did not lift. Less than the creatures over which he had once been lord, the shadow of the shadow of his former glory, Man eked out a grim existence. And in this state, he long endured.
Whatever the cause, from brute instinct and the predator cunning came the seeds of a terrible intelligence. Not one, not once, but many, and many times over, were such creatures born, a new race to fill the empty places of the New Earth. Their bodies changed; they rose to stand like men, their paws, in mockery of Man’s grasping, grew thumbs. These new Beasts seemed the half-breed spawn of Man and animal.
At first, these inheritors carried on Man’s legacy of self-destruction, predator and prey in the same violent cycle despite newfound intelligence. Oblivious to their potential, heedless of their quickened wit, for a time the Beasts behaved no differently than they had before. In the plains they did battle, fang against tusk, horn against claw; so too in the forests, in the dark marshes and darker jungles.
Man, housed in his rude caves and clutching at his meager fare, paid little care to the newcomers. Greater horror had he seen, and what matter for him was it that of all the creatures he hunted and that hunted him, some now were different? Much had changed, and much had been forgotten.
So Man, hapless and helpless, left the Beasts to breed, to war, to thrive, and to learn. In time, they formed the rudiments of their own civilization. More bound to look to Earth than Heaven, their ways were those of nature. From living trees and weather-worn rock they made their homes, and silent glade and grove were, for the Beasts, as churches. Here they gathered in reverent convocations, worshipping their Mother Earth, studying the powers that had shaped them and still coursed through the world.