The Strigoaica

Deep in the darkest woods of Munţii Retezat lives a creature known only as Strigoaica. Refused by hell, she makes her home in the rock beneath a gnarled oak tree, the skins of children her only decor.  She neither lives nor rests, but is cursed between. And though no one knows who she once was or what she is, it’s certain that she’ll always be. A black cloud on the horizon, she is ever enduring. 

She has bone colored flesh with a mane of decrepit sable. Her eyes are coal, her teeth are gnarled and her fingers are sharp as talons. She has a crooked back and withered breasts concealed in a rotten gown of fawn. Her arms are long, her snout is bent and her wormlike tongue is a mawkish plum.It is said to lay eyes upon her is to welcome death, though few rarely ever get to see her. Instead it is her song they hear or her stench they breathe which warns them of her coming. She can hum a melody that starts like gentle rain but ends like a storm, louder and more maddening than anything thought natural.  Her sickly aroma is that of the grave, a bouquet of rot and turned soil. A perfume so foul that it thickens the air, suffocating those nearby.

No one knows why she haunts the veil hidden behind Munţii Retezat. Some say she seeks vengeance for the child she lost while others claim she is Lucifer’s discarded first wife. Still a few insist that she is the hag-witch of the mountains, created by the cliffs as a warden.What is certain is that she hungers to torture men, quiet women and feast upon children. It is a desire that can never be quenched, ever constant in her mind.

So wayfarer, if you’re ever traveling through the roads of the old world and come across Munţii Reteza do not make camp. No, continue on your journey until the hairs on your neck and lump in your throat withdraw. For lurking in the night, hidden in the shadows cast by the moon are greedy eyes, curled claws and a hungry maw. She can neither live nor die, but is always waiting for a fool to venture too near to her gnarled oak tree.

Author Notes

While traveling to research my latest novel, I came across some frightening folklore in Transylvania, Romania. This folklore helped inspire my rendering of the Strigoaica.

© Justin Alcala. All rights reservedImage

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