Strigoi weren’t nearly as simple as Moroi. Moroi were easy, compared to Strigoi. They were blood hungry beasts with barely a thought between their ears. The batlike beasts could hide, they could ambush, and they could, with some effort, come up with plans.
The Strigoi, on the other hand, could actually think. Not like humans could, because that idea presumed humanity could exist in their thoughts.
Admittedly, they could have thoughts that were like humans. Desires for prosperity, authority, and leisure, first and foremost. Strigoi had superiority engraved in their brains and written into their souls.
Superiority added onto the bloodlust that came natural to Moroi and all similar beasts made the Strigoi not merely vicious, but sadistic. They were further from humanity, yet the Strigoi aped their aspects.
No hovel would do for a strig. They sought greater places. Manors, most commonly, though they would gladly take any building of sufficient size. A Strigoi infestation once appeared in an opera house, and the gruesome creatures readily indulged themselves of the pomp and class that came with such a location, in between feasting on the patrons and embracing the divas.
A Strigoi was not a Moroi. No aspect of the batlike beasts lingered in the bloody, rusty reds and browns of their hides. Their flesh was segmented, akin to an insect, solid in places and covered in jutting hairs. They did not wear rags nor go unclothed as their kin did.
The Strigoi were civilized. They wore suits and coats and gowns, pretending at humanity despite lacking any remaining human features. Their bulbous eyes watched in all directions, compound and crimson. A piercing proboscis jutted from what was once their mouths, ever hungry.
There were ideas as to how a strigoi should be hunted. That, to be sure, the hunters should enter its lair and search for the monster.
Strigoi are communal. There is never just one of them.
A team of hunters would enter the manor. Eight in total. Rifles in hand, revolvers and knives at their belts, shotguns on their backs. It was better to come heavily armed for such a situation.
There are never just Strigoi in their lairs. They always had something else with them. Varcs were useful attack dogs, willing to bow to a master, but moroi were easier to make and to use.
The interior of the Strigoi’s manor would be filled with the damned. Always look up, because the moroi would line the ceilings and at least one unwary hunter would get his head caught in one’s claws as it stretched its winged arms, and then all the rest would awaken.
To be caught by a moroi is to die painfully. The beast would hook its claws into the skin immediately and then pull its victim up. Its jaw distended, it would bring its teeth into their scalp and bite down.
In most circumstances, a moroi would bite into the neck, and it was entirely likely it would do so here, but at least one hunter has reported, in the past, the sight of a moroi digging its teeth directly into the skull of its victim and crushing it entirely before it devoured the brain.
Moroi and ghouls live in an almost symbiotic state. Moroi are prone to fully exsanguinating their victims, biting in so deep and draining them so dry that the corpses are left near withered. A state that makes it easy for ghouls, rotting things that once were human and now feasted on the dead they resembled, to eat their fill. The skin was easy to tear in such a state, the bones easy to crack, and the organs were largely intact. A feast for the ghoulish.
Strigoi often keep ghouls among their creatures, alongside revenants and other things academically classified as “Necrovita”. Classically known as “The Undead”.
With one hunter dead already, the rest would be forced to scatter with the swarm of moroi. At least one more would be caught in the swarm, perhaps as a heroic sacrifice, or just from bad luck. It wouldn’t matter because while it is bad to be caught by one moroi, it is so much worse to be caught by many.
Moroi are greedy creatures, ever hungry, and if they are unable to reach the neck, they will grab whatever is closest. Fingers, toes. Someone caught by a half dozen moroi would experience something akin to being drawn and quartered, just with more teeth.
Once the moroi are awoken, the hunters become the hunted. The moroi act as an alarm. And once the Strigoi are aware, they come to feed.
Strigoi are communal, remember that. There are brides, kings, and queens. Lessers and greaters.
Brides hunt the most eagerly. They wear gowns and cloaks and whatever else they may like, and they laugh and giggle in the harsh buzz of insects. Clouds of hemophages make up their bodies, swarms that can split apart, or so it is said. Perhaps it is true, or perhaps the swarms are made to disorient just as the buzzing of their wings grow louder and louder until a spear tip tongue pierces into the throat or the chest or the eye.
Three more of the hunters would have died at this point.
Male strigoi have a curious place in the hierarchy. They are either Petty Kings or High Kings, as the classifications go.
A Queen may have many Kings, just as a King may have many Brides.
They are ugly things, crooked, bent, narrow of limb and white of hair. Predatory, paternal, prone to gluttony. They keep their teeth to bite in deep, mimicking their Queens in vain drives to prove themselves monsters. They are stronger than they look, and one that catches sight of a hunter will drive them to the ground and gouge their eyes so they cannot look upon their misshapen faces.
They are proud creatures, broad and bulky, fat of belly and strong of arms. They keep their teeth to smile for their Queens and drink readily of the nectar she provides. They are her guards and her mates and her collectors. They will not kill, not like their resentful brothers who can only bring meager tribute, but they will batter and break and drag the broken to their Queen, whatever horror she may be.
It is said the victims of a Strigoi Queen are forever added into her back. That she wears their faces into her wings as trophies and markings of Superiority.
Perhaps she is tall. Perhaps she is small. She is blood and hunger and to be brought into a queen’s presence is to be dead already. All that can be done is some attempt at defiance, yet that is a poor prospect, because a Queen’s duty is to procreate, and duty and instinct are hand in hand with a monstrosity such as this one.
The proboscis pierces but it does not drink. Instead, something is pushed inside. It starts as a rash and then a burning. The blood boils and the victim screams. The eyes always go first. Pop, pop. Then comes the cracking of changing bones and the breaking of the body.
It is rebirth. It is the death of what was once there. It is a cruel fate, for in the moments of agony, there will be euphoria as the mind convinces itself that it is now becoming superior. That it is not a mere insect, but not unlike a demigod, and that all creatures are but mere ants under the heel.
The ideal world of the Strigoi is one of hierarchy. The Strigoi stand at the top, the Moroi are their middle, the ghouls and revenants linger as serviles and labor, and humanity is cattle.
No human can betray humanity for the Strigoi, not without becoming one of them, and to do so is to die. For all thoughts are consumed beyond superiority and bloodlust. A subservience to the whims of ego. There is no lost soul trapped within. They have already been drowned in the deluge of sanguine that marks these vile creatures.
To enter a Strigoi’s lair is to court Death with no bouquet in hand and nary a stitch.
It took a great deal of time, but Bonnie and Ella finished their preparations before sundown had arrived. It would be tricky, but with the exits sealed from the outside, they had better chances of getting everything in one go.
The manor burned brightly.
Bonnie waited, with rifle in hand, and watched as screeches began to fill the air once more.
Strigoi were like Moroi. They burned just as easily.