Early British Isles folklore tell tales of barrow-wights as ghosts who haunt their tombs, keeping watch over the treasures that were buried with them. Jealously, they guard their items and will attack and kill anyone who attempts to rob the grave
In Viking tales, the barrow-wights are shadowy creatures who guard the burial mounds of the Viking heroes.
In Icelandic folklore, however, the barrow-wight is almost a zombie-vampire sort of creature which they called a ‘draugr.’ A draugr is a re-animated corpse who can leave his grave. Some have an insatiable hunger, believing that if they consume enough life, then they too can recover their own life energy. Savagely attacked livestock were often blamed on the draugr. Draugr could also take revenge on those who killed him or took his treasures by sitting on the chest of his sleeping victim, slowly suffocating him to death.
Callum ran until his lungs burned; every breath ragged, painful. Fear spurred him on, though fog began to cling to the rough mounds of the barrows, making such flight dangerous. Stones stabbed through his worn boots with each footfall, but he daren’t stop. There had been voices in the shadows…
Exhaustion slowed him, his chest heaving as he fought for air. Dusk began to lay its dark mantle on the landscape and he shivered as a finger of dread traveled his spine. Dangerous to be on the moors at night without shelter. He cursed the ill fortune that had sent him this way, but he was hungry and ill. He’d followed the will-o-the-wisp, thinking they were the lights of a farmhouse. His brothers would crudely have called them swamp gas and continued on the road, but Callum had always been the fool.
An owl hooted in the semi-darkness making his skin crawl. “Sweet lord,” he muttered, heart thumping. “Protect me—”
He stumbled on a loose stone and fell heavily against a dark mound of earth. Oh God! The ground caved in under him and he dropped into the barrow in a shower of dirt.
“Save me!” he sobbed as he scrambled to his knees. Sinewy arms reached up from the blackness and wrapped around him. Callum screamed, but no sound escaped his throat, choked with terror. He was yanked against a hard chest and hands ran over him, disembodied in the darkness.
“Soft. Sweet.” A voice sliced the silence, a cold breath against his face. He gagged on the waft of rot and decay. The tip of a dry tongue scraped over his jaw and he shuddered against the body under him. “Nice strong bones to gnaw,” the voice continued. “Sweet marrow to suck and swallow. Shall I eat you, my lovely one?”
Callum whimpered as the low tones wound through his head. The mists parted and moonlight filled the barrow, showing him the creature. He gasped at the cold beauty of its face. Eyes dark as pitch burned into him, brushed against his soul. Lush lips, dripping honey, overripe, took his mouth in a kiss that sent his pulse into a riot of hunger and desire.