Blind folk see the fairies.
Oh, better far than we,
Who miss the shining of their wings
Because our eyes are filled with things
We do not wish to see.
These spirits are not necessarily lesser than those found in the Ethereal Planes or in the Underworld. Instead, they are more bound to the forms that rule the Material Plane. They are the woodland spirits, the animal-spirits, nymphs, knockers, gnomes, necks, and nisse. They are bound to realms in the Near Umbra, often a forest, a swamp, a river, a mountain, or other such areas where man hasn't driven the spirits away. Should these areas become settled or otherwise regulated -- a swamp may be drained, a river dammed, a forest cut down -- the native spirits will either wither and die, or they may drift deeper into the Umbra and forget their former manifestations. Some have gone mad and hateful.
There are many legends of the Lesser Spirits, and in the olden days, it was common to respect the local spirits. In the Hegemony of Man, these practises have long been seen as primitive at best, and heretical at worst. Those who still venerate those who live beyond do so in secret, lest they become accused of witchcraft, paganism, or worship of malevolent entities.
As a rule, it can be said that as the landscape is bound and shaped by man, the Gauntlet will thicken, and the Shadowrealm will become more of a shadow than a living world onto itself. Such is the case in Eria today, and there are but a few areas where the spirits still live close to the world of man. This may be changing as magic returns to the world, but spirits are still officially seen as naturally hostile, unwanted, and enemies of progress, in all the Erian realms.
One of the greatest influences on the Near Umbra these days is the the Flood's arrival. This nation has a deeply rooted relationship with both their own spirits and those native to the lands they travel through. Combined with an ingrained distrust towards science and technology, this has led to an upsurge in spiritual activity in conquered areas. One ambassador to the Flood wrote of having taken part in a ceremony intended on awakening the spirit of a river. As the report goes, this involved tearing down no less than five bridges and three mills.
There are two other events that also greatly influence that which lies beyond the Gauntlet. One is the Elven Scourge that led to large tracts of Pendrell being swallowed by the Elfwood, and the subsequent banishment of the Ministerium from the southern parts of the realm. Over the summer, many have turned to the Younger Gods for comfort and protection, but some, especially in rural areas, have returned to ancient druidic practises. So far, King Rowar II has turned a blind eye to these activities. The second development is that of the Redlands. With the evacuation and wide-spread mortality of the Duchy of Diemed, and with the Blight in Zalburg, the Gauntlet has been severely weakened. The Syndicate has set down a committee tasked with developing a strategy for reaffirming reality in this area.