The World is Filled with Monsters is a My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction by Cold-in-Gardez, set over a thousand years before the show's time and before Luna's fall and transformation into Nightmare Moon. It follows Vermillion, an earth pony soldier in the Equestrian army, whose force is sent to the frontier settlement of Hollow Shades to relieve a distress call only for it to be overrun and destroyed by a horde of Giant Spiders. This is only the first sign of a larger disaster, as ancient creatures of the wilderness begin to stir and besiege the edges of civilization.
While Equestria as a whole opts to batten its hatches and defend its borders, Vermillion and a small group of soldiers from his old unit are chosen by Luna to strike back against the monsters and defend the small settlements beyond Equestria's frontier, as she believes that simply waiting out the tide of darkness will allow it to grow too strong for even Equestria's collective strength to hold back. Things slowly begin to grow far more complicated than this, however, as Luna seems to have less than selfless motives behind the whole enterprise, and not all monsters lurk in the woods...
The story is set in the same universe as an earlier work by author, Lost Cities. Notably, two cities originally depicted as abandoned ruins there — the pegasus fortress-city of Derecho and the Equestrian capital of Everfree — are still inhabited during the time of The World is Filled With Monsters.
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: The spear that Luna gives to Zephyr from her hoard of ancient artifacts, whose tarnished, battered blade can sink through a foot of stone after a fall of a few inches and pin a person's shadow to the ground.
- Achilles' Heel: Blightweaver is covered in impregnable armor that cannot be penetrated by any weapon, except for the fangs of its own progeny.
- Apocalypse How: The threat of a Class 2 — the eventual destruction of all civilization and its loss to chaos and the wilderness — if nothing is done to stop the monsters is what spurs Vermillion to set out on his own despite orders to the contrary.
- Collector of the Strange: Luna. Her "office" in Everfree Castle is not so much an actual office as a massive, dimly lit warehouse filled to the brim with a collection of objects and artifacts that she collected over her long life — works of art, musical instruments, armor and weapons, books and scrolls, statues and monuments, chandeliers, piles of coins and precious gems, astronomical equipment and countless other things. The resulting hoard is stored with no order whatsoever, the centuries-old junk and treasures all stacked and piled haphazardly in massive heaps as far as the eye can see.
- Eldritch Abomination: The entity bringing the darkness to Hazelnacht, a vast living nightmare that manifests as a hole in the sky before erupting into a misshapen flood of body parts stretching and roiling across the heavens.It swelled. It breathed. High overhead, filling half the vault of heaven, the nightmare was born once more. It roiled and billowed and swallowed itself and blossomed, sprouting twisted wings and claws and beaks and tails; cancers and horns and shells and raw, weeping nerves and teeth that fit in no mouth and misshapen genitals both male and female. But none of these Vermilion noticed for more than a moment, because all he could see were its eyes, eyes that erupted like blisters from every aspect of its body, an eye for every pony in the world, and they all looked down at him.
- Emotion Eater: Dreamoras, formless parasites that infest ponies' minds and force them to relive memories of shame and weakness. They then feed on the resulting thoughts, memories and experiences until their victims are nothing but mindless husks.
- Enchanted Forest: The Creeping Gloom, a vast forest outside the borders of Equestria. Its trees are thick enough to block all light and make the one path through it seem more like a tunnel than anything, it's shrouded in constant fog, and at the start of the story it's become home to a colony of giant spiders.
- Eye Scream:
- When Vermillion faces Blightweaver in Hollow Shades, he manages to drive it off by stabbing it in the eye with another spider's fang.
- A spider rips out Rose Quartz's left eye during the retreat from Hollow Shades, leaving a very ugly scar.
- Fantastic Racism: There is a fair bit of prejudice going on among the pony tribes, and some of it is internalized as well — many earth ponies, for instance, genuinely believe unicorns to be superior to themselves.
- Giant Spider: The first monsters encountered in the story are a colony of enormous and very aggressive spiders, ranging from the size of a cat to the size of a house to the biggest of them all, Blightweaver, which is more than two stories tall and has legs as thick as tree trunks. The first sign the company gets of them is enormous webs stretching across most of a forest's canopy, with whole flocks of geese webbed up like flies.
- Ghost Town: Maplebridge. While its inhabitants are still there, they're all left irresponsive and catatonic in the wake of the dreamora attack by the time the heroes arrive.
- A God Am I:
- Blightweaver's worldview in a nutshell. It seems to believe that the world exists merely so that it can devour it, refers to other beings as "mortals" or "insects", and outright calls itself a god."Little insect," it said. "You think mortal weapons can harm me? Can harm a god?"
- Luna herself sees and presents herself as a divine figure."When you fail me, as you someday will, remember that I am a kind and loving god."
- Blightweaver's worldview in a nutshell. It seems to believe that the world exists merely so that it can devour it, refers to other beings as "mortals" or "insects", and outright calls itself a god.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: Vermillion, despite his growing list of accomplishments both as a soldier and as a leader, harbors persistent doubts over his own worth and competence. He particularly tends to negatively compare himself to Canopy, his old commanding officer, and to question why Luna would have chosen a no-name former farmer to be her knight.
- Kill It with Fire: Moonfire, a kind of extremely dangerous and volatile magical flame capable of consuming just about anything, is used to great effect against the spiders. It's later used to attempt to take down Blightweaver. In this, it fails miserably.
- Living Shadow: Animated shadows with nothing to cast them are among the things encroaching upon Hazelnacht, and possess enough substance to be actively predatory.
- Monster Lord: Blightweaver, the progenitor and leader of the spiders, and the unnamed "super-dreamora", alternatively referred to as the dreamoras' king and god.
- Monster Progenitor: Blightweaver is the progenitor of all the other Giant Spiders, which it refers to as its daughters. Doesn't stop it from eating them when they die.
- Monstrous Cannibalism: In its introduction, Blightweaver casually devours the corpse of one of its fallen daughters. When Vermillion is shocked at this, Blightweaver calmly remarks that it ate its daughter because it is in its nature to consume everything.
- Nigh-Invulnerable: Blightweaver. Conventional weapons bounce off its shell. When the dangerous and volatile moonfire is used to take it down, it does absolutely nothing to it.
- Ominous Owl: Strygians, gigantic hawk owls turned into creatures of living shadow by exposure to dark magic.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Blightweaver's stated goal is nothing short of consuming everything and everyone in existence.
- Savage Wolves: Amoraqs, ferocious wolves the size of a bear, are among the beasts that have been moving into the territories around Hazelnacht. They hunt alone, unlike regular wolves, stalking the wilderness for unwary prey. One attacks the heroes on their way to Cirrane, and amoraqs were also responsible for the deaths of Stratolathe's teammates.
- Starter Villain: Blightweaver. It's a terrifying, seemingly unstoppable threat when it appears, but it's dealt with early into the story and it later becomes evident that it's only a part of much, much vaster stirrings, and far from the most dangerous thing out there in the wild.
- Summon Bigger Fish: This is Lord Greymoor's plan for defeating the Nightmare — he summons a powerful windigo to attempt to fight it off. It fails.
- Time Abyss: It's not made clear how old it is, exactly, but Blightweaver is implied to be very old indeed. If its boasts are to be taken at face value, it was already around before ponies developed civilization or even sapience.
- Title Drop: In "Act II: Maplebridge", when Vermillion is trying to impress on Cloud Fire the gravity of the threat Equestria is facing, he starts off by telling him that "the world is filled with monsters, Cloudy".
- Will-o'-the-Wisp: Will-o-Wisps are among the creatures that have been encroaching on the lands around Hazelnacht. They're described as clusters of little lights that appear on the moors at night, bobbing and weaving and enticing travelers to head closer and investigate them. They have an almost hypnotic effect, making victims obsessed with reaching them and finding out what their excited movement is about, luring them further and further away from the path. Particularly lucky or perceptive people are able to see past the light and see the wisps' wings, eyes and teeth. The rest are eaten.
- Youkai: Yokai are a kind of trickster spirit with no true form of their own, or at least none that can be seen directly; by themselves, they're simply insubstantial wisps of mist and magic, barely able to perceive or interact with the physical world unless they possess a living pony. If they do, they can use illusions to disguise themselves as any sort of fantastical creature they can imagine. They're not truly malicious beings, as they simply wish for the chance to experience the world like other living things can, but they cause the ponies they possess to become sluggish, dull-minded and barely aware of the world themselves.