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The Strix, plural Striges, (also known as the Birds of Dis or Nemeses) are mysterious owl-like creatures with a special connection to vampires. They date at least back to the time of Rome, where they made a bargain with the Julii.
No one knows where the Strix originated. The Strix themselves do not seem to know or care. Kindred that ask them questions about their origins receive only contradictory answers, usually followed by an angry attack.
One story that is more repeated than others, however, tells that the Kindred were originally cursed creatures that still had all human weaknesses. They had to consume blood, but did not feel the need to do it. They had to cope with the fact that they were no longer mortal, but continued to think in mortal categories. One of these early undead sought an answer and entered one of the deepest woods, finding shelter from the sun by burrowing in the ground and slowly growing mad from hunger. As he collapsed and cried tears that contained the last of his blood, they found him. They entered his body, becoming a voice that would remind him forever of the truth, that he was not human and should not act like a human. The birds told him that this was their gift and he should not disappoint them.
But the undead did disappoint them. Instead of cherishing to be freed from his limited Humanity, he instead continued to ape humanity. He and his descendants crouched in the shadows, making up hierarchies and pretending to still remember what feelings like love and hope were. The Strix fell over him without mercy, sadistically destroying everything the undead had hold dear, before retreating again into their realm.
The Strix are jealous of all aspects of life, and bitterly hate all living beings for that vital force. They steal Vitae when they feed, but many Strix want to take things further. Some want to punish the living by ripping their comfortable existences apart. Some want to show the Kindred that there’s really no difference between them at all.
The majority of Strix are isolated by choice, individual monsters who fly, hunt, and feed alone. Sometimes, though, they work together. A conclave of Strix — called a parliament by occultist Kindred — is a harbinger of doom for a city. Whether they are drawn by some unspoken sense of impending disaster, like birds finding their way home to nest, or they are themselves responsible for it, a large gathering of Strix always precedes some calamity.
The Strix are intelligent and capable of speech — their voices when in Shadow Form sound directly into the minds of those they speak to. To hear them tell it, Strix originally taught vampires to discard their Humanity (a concept they loathe with a cold intensity) and revel in the taking of blood. Some make claims that they are the manifested Beast, free from the shackles of flesh, and that the darker urge within him is actually an unborn Strix that yearns to reunite itself. The Strix can’t seem to make up their minds on exactly how they’re related to the Kindred, but they all see the relation as self evident and are roused to terrible, vindictive cruelty when the Kindred deny it.
Most Strix do not know what they are doing in this world. They cannot return to the place that spawned them and they do not recall why this happened. Without guidance, they are free to do what they want and their wants are usually terrifying from a mortal perspective. They possess bodies and mutilate them just for the experience of pain. Unable to formulate a guiding purpose or set of morals to guide them, the Strix wreack calamity without learning from it. They have no ambition beyond their own demonic satisfactions and reptilian urges, all of which exist in the present, not the future.
In its natural state, a Strix is an owl-like shape made of smoke and pooled shadows in defiance of any nearby source of light. It retains coherent form only when perched, still, surveying everything around it for prey. Their bodies are more like smoke, able to slip through cracks and immune to most physical damage. Only the most powerful Striges manifest their bodies in the physical plane, who retain their ethereal composure but gain sharp talons and beaks, as well as the ability to consume flesh.
Experienced Striges can possess corpses as vehicles, using them to wreak more havoc among the living and unliving alike. Strix are even able to possess the bodies of vampires and revenants, as any dead tissue will do. The most powerful Striges are even able to force their doom-laden essence into mortals. The only way to sufficiently discern a Strix-possessed corpse from a simple animated corpse are their yellow eyes and their reaction to sunlight, which will force the Strix into darkness.
Fire and sunlight may not affect a Strix like they do vampires, but provide protection from them nonetheless. No Strix can pass fire or sunlight, instead shrinking back into the shadows that spawned them. If a Strix is completely surrounding with either, it will disperse.
The Strix suffer from additional banes as they age, resembling the banes suffered by calloused Kindred, and it’s the knowledge of these methods that Strix-afflicted domains try to spread. Many of these banes resemble the more obscure vampires suffer in mortal legends (Strix cannot hear the sound of bells, cannot enter a building unless invited etc.)
Striges can see perfectly in the dark, a result of their natural affinity for shadows. They can sense life force- be it in mortals or vampires- and are inexplicably drawn to it. More obscure powers are the Striges connection to events of great disaster that attract them in great numbers, as well as their ability to issue a call that summons other Striges to their vicinity.
As they do not exist in Twilight, they cannot be affected with ephemeral attacks unless they choose to embody themselves in Twilight. In addition, they have their own host of abilities called Dread Powers.
Kindred History is full of bargains with the Strix that later backfired on the Kindred who desired to outwit her Nemesis. The Strix came first to the eye of Kindred society in ancient Rome, where they were rumored to have given Remus the curse of undeath, spawning the line of the Julii. The Julii, however, were eventually destroyed for trespasses that are lost to the Fog of Eternity, some say with the aid of other Clans. In 1303, Strix gathered in Alexandria after an earthquake that damaged the famous Lighthouse of Alexandria, and in 1547, the Prince of Moscow was diablerized by his yellow-eyed childer, who later perished in a great fire. The greatest known conflict between vampires and Striges, however, was from 1738-1746 in Transylvania, during an outbreak the Bubonic Plague. Most known weaknesses of the Striges were codified during this conflict.
Texts like the Testament of Longinus (especially the Eschaton) also feature Strix, who hold dominion over the Damned souls after the Apocalypse.
- , p.27, 225-227
- , p.115-134
- , p.197-208