Just over twenty years ago, a ship was attempting to limp into the bay, but the wind soon drove it onto the rocks of the narrow inlet. When the hull shattered, cries could be heard of both the pain and the panic from the benches under deck. The Sailor at the helm was the last of the crew still alive and he lived on borrowed time. With stumbling steps he moved toward the hatch to the hold. But at the foremast the damaged planking gave way under his feet and his legs disappeared through the sloping deck. Without strength to lift himself back up, the best hope for thirty now doomed souls trapped in the ship drew his last ragged breath.
The wind carried the panic ridden screams up along the river to the stones where a young man sat fishing with his grandfather's ancient pole. At first he didn't catch on to what he heard. There was nobody on Farisle, so why would he be hearing complaining voices coming from that direction? But after a while he could not ignore it anymore, and what was the harm in checking it out?
Along the shore out to the bay he threw himself from stone to boulder, and as he rounded the outcrop framing the narrow inlet he saw the hull of the beached ship. It was slanted at an angle, and the stubborn waves kept pushing it against the rocks ripping the tear down her side ever larger. The water was streaming through the hole, and it was only a matter of time before the hull was swallowed by the sea.
The voices could now be clearly distinguished, even though the words were beyond him, the panic lacked any need for a translation. With a two-hand grip, he swung up on the deck. But he could see no one there, he had to stop to orient himself. The shouting now came from bellow his feet. The ship were sloping worse and worse and he had to use both rig and railing to work toward the hatch at the bow. There he was greeted by haggard eyes peering up, and sinewy hands reaching through the bars. This was beyond his world of reference and he had to back away. However, he quickly recovered and grabbed the grid to open it up. But it refused to move more than a fingers width. With a sturdy lock the hatch remained closed.
He reached out for anything at hand, a broken oar thrown clear at the grounding. With a steady grip, he thrust the cracked handle between the door and its frame. It creaked and groaned as he bent and pushed. With a few hours work, he could probably get it open. However, time was not on his side and the risk was great that the already damaged shaft would give way long before the hatch did.
He had been so focused on his work that he almost ignored the poor prisoners. They were hysterically trying to get his attention. A hand stretched up between the bars and pointed a trembling finger down toward the broken hull. There between the broken planks an upper body could be seen. Somebody had tried to climb up through the damage? He took a few steps toward the body and soon saw that this person was wearing a different set of clothing separating him from the prisoners in the cargo space, was this one of the keepers? The last steps were taken with extreme care as both the planks and the fore mast groaned at his passing. Down at the water line he could hear the water rushing in.
There was not much time now to get the hatch open and get everyone up to safety. He lay on his stomach on the deck and divided his weight like at an ice rescue he crawled toward the sailor and grabbed his tunic. With clear effort he hoisted the body out of the hole, and began to search quickly through belt, pockets and pouches, but without success. He was about to give up and start exploring the cracked hull as a possible escape route, when he finally found luck on his side. Clasped in his dying grasp the crewman held the key! It was a short battle against rigor mortis, but no consideration was shown to the dead when life was at stake, he broke up the last fingers and threw himself back to the hatch.
The gratitude in their eyes was clear when the door was thrown open. They were a sad sight to the world. Exhausted, starved, dirty and with burn marks on their foreheads, they stumbled up in the hole after helping each other loosen their chains.
On land they embraced each other and their rescuer while the ship finally settled fully on its side behind them. Their words of gratitude were not completely beyond his understanding this was not a foreign language but only the thickest dialect he had ever heard. By cooperative interpretation they explained their fate.
They had been taken from their homes after their neighboring clan had sold them to strangers from the north, and would be shipped to distant lands to be forced to work in the construction of a large fortress. But the crew had fallen ill at sea, and the after other the bodies had been thrown overboard. The prisoners, however, remained comparatively healthy, if you could call it health eating that nutrient free gruel for weeks. However, it might just have been the thing that saved them. One day the source of the sailors ailment was made clear, when their meat supply was found rancid. Only when the crew had become too few to properly man the ship, did they start looking for a place to land, but by then it was already too late.
After hearing their story, the young man led them in land towards the settlement and his home.
"I'll do my best to help you, you can call me Malcolm."