Of creatures great and small
The Omen Plague has other names. It is known as The Star Plague and even The Mundane Plague. It is still with us today, now known by the common name of the Shaking Death. To set the stage, the stars were aligned in all the wrong signs. Everyone new something bad was going to happen. When winter set in hard and early, they thought that was it. They were wrong.
A little way up the narrow valley, before they reach the woods, the PCs notice the squat, tumbledown buildings by the riverside. They are hardly big enough for a human to stand in, and the complex cogs and shafts that occupy the central cavity of one of the buildings are perplexing. What were these buildings? And how safe are they to explore?
Alternatively a desolate place is the perfect setting for a derelict chapel or croft. There needn't be any actual physical encounter involved, but it adds atmosphere to a place to see its dead history. For instance, in the Outer Hebrides there are whole deserted villages which were razed to the ground by the English during the Clearances. Such stories give a setting authenticity and character.