The Monks of Mycology, despite the name, were an entirely secular order specializing in the study of fungi. After years of intensive training in finding and identifying mushrooms, the young monks were bonded telepathically to intelligent truffle pigs and sent forth into the world.

The other people with telepathic animals—horses, dragons, birds of prey, wolves and so on—were extremely sarcastic about the whole pig thing. The monks ignored this, for three reasons.

1) Pigs are highly intelligent animals, unlike birds of prey, which are only intelligent about things that matter to birds of prey, and dragons, whose brains can be compared to a homicidal grapefruit.

2) While dragons and wolves are all very impressive in battle, most of the Monasteries of Mycology kept on staff a number of grizzled warriors bonded to thousand-pound battle-boars. An angry sixty-pound wolf is an alarming sight, but a half-ton of enraged boar is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. The Monasteries had no problems whatsoever with security.

This was occasionally important because:

3) White truffles retail for up to $2000 a pound.

This last fact meant that, while people with the charismatic telepathic mammals were off working as mercenaries or hunting guides, the Monks of Mycology tended to retire early and comfortably, and dedicate themselves to philanthropy, gardening, radish-collecting, or anything else that amused them, while their pigs led a pampered existence in heated sheds attached to the house.  - Ursula Vernon

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