She shifted her leg slightly, trying to relieve the chafing caused by the heavy iron shackle around her ankle that chained her to a heavy iron ring driven into a massive wooden beam. Not that there was anywhere to run to, not on a ship in the middle of the Odellan Sea.
My stupid, foolish pride, she inwardly railed at herself, if I had listened, if I hadn't been so damned naïve I would be safe at home, instead of suffering this waking nightmare that has become my existence.
She'd been taken prisoner just beyond the walls of Mauresse, no more than half a mile outside the city limits, and yet far enough away that no one heard her screams. She had insisted on being allowed to wander by herself, and had paid for her haughtiness. A three-day journey bound and gagged in the back of a wagon had brought her to the port city of Salere in the dead of night, whereupon she was sold to the captain of the ship like so much chattel. She wasn't sure how much time passed before the vessel set sail, it was difficult to gauge time when you couldn't see the sun, but she knew she hadn't been the first or the last captive brought aboard. A dozen or so people sat in the bottom of the ship with her, men and women both.
Her exact fate was unknown to her, but she had a good idea of what awaited her at the end of the voyage. She imagined that the hostages had been abducted from nations all along the coast, but their destination was the same - Galorian, the strange and frightening country across the water. Eilenne couldn’t remember the last time that anyone from her homeland of Rylla had had any contact with Galorian. Once there, she would be sold yet again to a slave merchant who would probably take her to a public auction where human lives were bartered over like livestock. She would be branded with her new owner's mark who, if she were lucky, would be a rich nobleman or businessman looking to add to his household staff. If she were unlucky, she might end up working at hard labor somewhere, or working for someone who abused their slaves.
Or worse, came a terrible whisper in her mind that she hushed immediately.
A dim shaft of light was thrown into the hold as the hatch was opened and a small, swarthy man clambered down the ladder. He carried with him a bucket filled with quickly congealing gruel that slopped over the sides. Their daily meal had arrived. The sailor went down the line, dumping the swill into crudely made dishes crusted with residue from past meals.
"You lot are stinkin' up the whole ship. I been in pig pens that smelled better," their captor informed them with a growl.
"Fond memories of your childhood home, eh?" Shot back one of the prisoners. Eilenne looked for the source and saw that it was a young man, lean and broad-shouldered, with blonde hair and keen eyes. The jailer rounded on him immediately.
"Watch your mouth," he said dangerously, "one lost slave don’t cost so much as to be missed."
"Maybe not by you," continued the young man mockingly, "but I bet your sister is missing me already."
Eilenne thought it was a gamble to assume that the sailor had a sister, or that he would even care, but the blonde man had hit his mark. The man dropped the food bucket and rushed toward him, taking a long metal-tipped whip off of a peg. It was the whip that kept them all in line. The slavers could punish them from a distance, knowing that the chains would prevent them from retaliating. The sailor raised his arm in preparation to strike and Eilenne was on the verge of closing her eyes, not wishing to watch, when a figure suddenly darted out of the shadows and tackled him. A confused, muffled brawl ensued as Eilenne looked on in bewilderment. When it was over the sailor was lying motionless on the floor with the mysterious figure standing over him.
"Quick!" Hissed the blonde man, "Get his keys!"
It took Eilenne several moments to realize that two or more of the captives had staged an ambush and were now freeing themselves and the others. As the manacle was removed from around her leg, new hope surged through her, but was checked instantly when she remembered that they were on board a ship who knew how far out to sea. How could a handful of unarmed prisoners hope to combat an entire ship of kidnappers and pirates?
Apparently some others had the same thought, and one person actually suggested that they re-chain themselves and pretend the whole thing never happened.
"The forecastle, where the crew is quartered, is right above where I slept," said the person who had fought the sailor. "I can hear them talking to each other at night. We were within sight of the coast last evening before we anchored. If it's approximately midday by now, we should be close enough that if we can get topside we can jump overboard and swim to shore."
There were a few whispered protests at this, and Eilenne herself felt a thrill of trepidation, but anything was better than the fate that awaited them in Galorian.
"It's our only chance," she said quietly to the small crowd. "And we better do it soon because in a few minutes the others are going to come looking for their comrade."
"She's right," said the blonde man. "Those of you who'd rather take your chances with the slavers are free to stay behind." One by one everybody shook their heads.
"All right then, let's go." With the whip in his hand, he led them up the ladder and to their only chance at freedom.
I sat down and wrote this out of thin air about an hour ago. Please, please join in as anyone you want, whether it be another prisoner, a sailor, someone on the mainland, someone who goes in search of one of the captives, whatever. The only person I'm writing from the POV of is Eilenne, so feel free to write as the unnamed blonde man or his friend.