The Red Thirst, the Dearg Due, was these thousand years gone by a young maiden of surpassing fairness. Bards sang songs of her skin as fair as springtime snow and her lips as red as rubies in the light of the setting sun, men came from far and wide to seek her hand in marriage. And yet pretty as she was, he true beauty shone from within, as kindly and gentle as she was.
She fell deeply in love with a local peasant boy, and dreamed of his kisses day and night, but her father would have none of it. He married her off instead to a cruel man of great wealth, who was older yet than her father but he paid a handsome bride price for her hand. Stories tell that he abused her terribly for his own amusement, and would do her harm just to watch the blood flow on her pale skin, and all the while her father sat counting his wealth gleefully.
Confined to a tower, she pined sadly for her lost love, wondering when he would come to her rescue, but he could not and did not. Realising this at long last, her heart broke and she resolved to end it all, so she put away and hid those small morsels of food that were given to her until her body failed and she died.
The villagers knew what had to be done - they were to take the body and bury it under a tall pile of stones under what people now call Strongbow's tree - but perhaps out of pity for the poor thing, they didn't and simply let her lie in the earth. I'll tell you this much though - their pity was misplaced! For it was not the fair lost lass who arose from the earth that dark and wind-haunted night but a soulless monster from the underworld, with only the vaguest memories of who and what she had been.
She went to her father's house and asked to be let in, and he, appalled, did so of his own free will, which in the way of things grants the revenant power over those within, and she sucked all the air from his body. Then she came upon her former husband, staggering home from the tavern with three sheets to the wind, and did the same to him, except she drank not only the air from his chest but the blood from his veins as well!
Invigorated by this ill-gotten life force, the dread spectre now walks the land of Ireland, enticing young men from their beds with enchanting dances and swirling mists before enfolding them in her grasp and draining them to the last drop. Those who go missing or fall mysteriously ill, those troubled by night fevers, all should suspect the Dearg Due as a culprit for their woes. The only cure is to find the grave of the beast and pile stones atop it as should have been done in the first place, and it will hold the Red Thirst at bay for a time.
You can find Strongbow's tree marked out below.
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The Red Thirst, the Dearg Due, was these thousand years gone by a young maiden of surpassing fairness. Bards sang songs of her skin as fair as springtime snow and her lips as red as rubies in the light of the setting sun, men came from far and wide to seek her hand in marriage. And yet pretty as she was, he true beauty shone from within, as kindly ... [more]