The man was alone. Hunting was always a lonely endeavor, more people meant more noise so most rabbits and small game were sought by a single man. But he had seen no rabbits, no game. The forest had been silent, not even the sound of birds. That was when he heard the screaming. Horrific howls of pain and anguish, the startled hunter froze, then rushed to where he heard the cries of the woman. Brushing aside branches, the yells seemed to get further as he ran, the sharp limbs cutting his face and skin. Soon the screams quieted, but at last he broke into a clearing. Naught but a lonely owl sitting on a branch greeted him. There was no woman, no predator. His eyes darting around the undergrowth, at last glanced back at the owl.
Its head was that of an old woman, eyes sunken and white as snow. Her teeth had rotted, and what few remained in her mouth were broken and bloody. Her jaw dropped, unhinging itself, and the wail that reverberated through the silent air caused the hunter to drop to his knees, his own hands clapped over his ears. His own scream joined hers.
The body was found the next day. His eyes and tongue had been removed, but otherwise the corpse was untouched. Only his face revealed that he had died in utter anguish.
The tale of the strix is a common one among rural Aiolian communities. It is said she is a witch, and among her abilities is her scream, used to lure victims to their demise. It is often said that if you are alone and hear the call of the strix, you have a death omen placed upon you. If you are with others, someone you know will die. The strix is said to pluck the eyes and tongues of its victims, using them for some nefarious spells in lair in the woods. They are also said to disembowel children in their sleep, leaving the bloody mess for the parents to awaken to.
No actual evidence of the strix has ever been identified, only mysterious deaths and its horrific calls lend credence to the sightings by the peasants. As such, it is only a fairytale.
December Eleventh Lore Challenge