There is a prevailing custom in some older cultures, one in which you take extra care to cover the graves of the recently deceased with stones (or boulders). The reason for which might be as simple as not having any dirt around to backfill the grave, or, if you live in Ireland, it’s a lesson learned from ages passed.
Her name is long forgotten, but her legend lives on. Not for the beauty she radiated in life, but for the terror she harvested in death. She is the Dearg-Due, the Red Blood Drinker. She was once a legendary beauty, born to a family of means and highly sought after. Her heart, though, belonged to a peasant, which ultimately brought about her doom.
The young lady’s family had come into hard times, and her father wished to marry her off to a wealthy family to bring much needed funds into his coffers. A bride-price was settled, and the unfortunate woman was shipped off to her new husband’s estate.
Sadly, the groom was a terrible man. He relished acts of cruelty, and loved to inflict harm on his new bride. He would cut her perfect skin, and delight in the contrast of ruddy crimson against her pale, flawless flesh. When he wasn’t abusing her, he locked her away in a tower so that none but him could see her.
The young woman held out for hope that her beloved would mount a rescue, or that her father would come to his senses and ask for the marriage to be annulled. She struggled in this manner for several months, oblivious to the fact that her father was drunk with his new-found return to wealth, and that her beloved had perished in a mysterious fire.
Eventually, her will to carry on was extinguished. She stopped eating. She stopped drinking. She no longer resisted the cruelty inflicted upon her by her spouse. She renounced her faith, renounced her heart, and slowly, painfully, ceased to live.
The people of her village were devastated. Some, perhaps, knew what had been happening to the young woman but kept their mouths shut, and were now reflecting on their own complicity in her death. She was buried, and she was mourned. A great depression settled over the area.
The very night she was buried, a young man disappeared from his bed. His brother, whom he shared a room with, said that he dreamt of a beautiful song coming from the nearby woods, and a soft, soothing voice urging him to come and dance. He dreamt that his brother slipped on his shoes and climbed out the window, then stumbled off into the misty woodlands.
Several days passed, and the young man remained missing. Search parties were sent out, and returned without news. Finally, the boy was found; pale, lifeless and limp, in a ditch that ran alongside the graveyard. His body had been drained of blood, countless lesions and cuts marked the skin all over his arms and chest.
Panic settled over the village; one of their own had been murdered, and the graveyard had been vandalized as well. The grave of the greatly wronged beauty had been defiled, and her corpse was nowhere to be seen. People began to whisper of dark forces being at work, and wished ever harder that they had intervened before the young woman had perished.
The tragedies that befell that tiny village went on for years. Young men would wander out into the mists, never to be seen again. Children would sit up from their sleep, muttering about the wonderful songs they heard in their dreams, and struggle to leave their homes. Newly born babes would disappear in the night. Search parties were sent out day after day, but they, too, began to go missing.
Those poor folk that survived knew in their hearts that the creature that preyed on their young was one of their own creation, a fiend born of neglect and silence in the face of cruelty.
The little village grew smaller, the fields grew fallow. The woods began to creep closer to people’s homes. The water in the streams tasted of copper. Eventually, the people of the village had the good sense to flee, and never return.
Some say the Dearg-Due is still there, wandering the woods and calling out, singing a haunting siren’s song of loss, tragedy and yearning.
One thing is certain, though; the legacy of the Dearg-Due can still be seen to this day, at cemeteries all over the country. Graves, once filled, are topped with stones, all to discourage the recently dead from returning to settle the grievances left from life.