Separately and collectively, you've all fallen into the hands of pirate slavers.
You fine yourself in a dark, tiny, stinking hold of the pirate galley, shackled by your wrists to the sturdy beams of the slave bunks, bunks stacked like cordwood. There are about 40 other captured folk of the here. You are sick from the blow to your head and from the tossing of the ship, from the revolting gruel the slaver pirates occasionally feed you, and from the knowledge that you were bound for one of the western slave ports, never again to see your own home.
Mockingly, the keys to your shackles are hung from a hook right by the hatch to the deck, only 5 or 6 feet from the lot of you. They might as well be miles away. A few days after you are brought aboard, the ship is hit by a squall, which turned, after half a day of tossing and rolling, into a full fledged storm which blasted spray and curses into the hold every time the hatch above was opened. Your jailer, a man named Hafkris—maybe a half-orc, it is hard to tell under all that grime and walrus ugliness—took about half the shackled slaves above decks to man the oars vacated by sailors washed overboard. The storm continued on another day, and Hafkris took another one-fourth of the slave cargo above decks. He looked worried. That was yesterday. You haven't seen any of the pirates or the slaves since then, and you haven't been fed. Early today, the shouting and cracking whips indicating that rowers were being kept in line finally faded away to nothing. Right now, as you're waiting for some sign of life from above decks, there's an enormous crash—a grating, grinding noise and horrible shuddering of the ship around you as it runs aground. Above decks, there's the sound of snapping spars and a great crash on the deck which you know must be the mast coming down.
All seven of you who remain are thrown toward the bow, but are still held fast by your shackles and suffer more bruises to your wrists. The bow of the galley is shattered by the impact, and as the galley grinds to a halt, the bow is torn away entirely, letting in a ferocious blast of numbingly-cold air and rain; the port side of the galley is laid open by a huge boulder that the galley has ground against. A moment later, there's once again only the sound of wind and pounding surf. Out the open bow, you can see a section of rain pounded beach; you seem to have run aground where a cliff face meets a cove beach.
As the ship grinds to a halt, the auburn-haired halfling gasps and draws a deep breath of the fresh cold air that has suddenly replaced the stale air in the hold. She pats at her body absent-mindedly with her hands, taking stock of her condition and accounting for each of her body parts. She looks around wide-eyed at the others, and is surprised to hear a slight stammer in her voice as she begins to speak. "Is...is everyone else alright?"
Remus looks up at the halfling woman. He groans in pain. He was almost thrown against the wall of the ship. Remus brushed his hair out of his face. A human in his late twenties with dark brown hair and light brown eyes. He felt pain on his wrists and ankles where the shackles were. Remus continued to groan.
"Ugh...are we alright? We got captured by pirates. What is your definition of alright?" Remus complained. He takes a brief glance around admiring the design of the ship. He whistles rather impressed by the carpentry.
Nicholas comes to with the cold biting rain stinging his skin, having briefly passed out after striking his head when they were thrown forward. A bright red gash marks his forehead, blood matting the dark black hair and smearing across his face. He shakes off the daze and looks around, hearing his friend calling for him. "Lyle! Still here. Are we safe?" He's confused at what he sees, then begins putting the pieces together, his eyes widening at the sight of the massive hole in the ship. "Oh." He joins Lyle in looking around for the key.
A stumpy figure slowly shifts his weight, testing each limb carefully as he confirms the bruises all around his shackled body. His head is wreathed with coarse, blond hair, highlighting his tanned, brown skin.
"Right." he mumbles, slowly sitting up. "This isn't worse at all."
He seems to sit still for a moment, taking in his surroundings. His eyes stray to the rainy shore just beyond the hull of the ship. His bearded face darkens in a creased scowl.
With a sudden flurry of motion, he grabs hold of the cot, trying to move or break the wood loose in an attempt to free himself. He tries battering at the cot with scarred, callused fists before grabbing the leg he is shackled to and pulling as hard as he can.
As the irate dwarf pounds on the wood, the leg begins to crack and splinter.
Taking their cue from Eurim, Lyle and Nicholas takes turns pounding with great strength of feet* on the leg of Lyle's rack.
Almost at the same time, the legs break and Eurim and Lyle's shackles dangle from the broken legs, they are now, mostly free. Still shackled with 2 feet of chain between their wrists and a leg with an embedded ring sliding back and forth between the two.
Aft of the mast, the most recent captive, a young human girl sits watching silently.
* honor system - no googling - where did that phrase come from...
(Robin Hood Men in Tights “great strength of feet” lol)
So there’s a ring in the floor we’re chained to as well? If we can stretch for the key, Lyle will do that. If not, he’ll start trying to stomp at any weak floor boards and wedge his chains away from the floor if he can.
edit: the bedrack leg is attached to the Chain on my wrists, okay I get it now. Lyle will get the keys and start unlocking himself, then the others.
Eurim grunts and holds out his hands towards Lyle.
"Careful now, little one. You've got our hope in your hands. Get yourselves loose, and free the others."
He slowly begins to shuffle towards Lyle, changing course to approach the gaping hole in the ship. He tries to look out, seeing if he can ascertain damage or any immediate threat to those still trapped aboard (if the ship is taking on water, say, or at risk of shifting off the rocks without warning).
If Eurim sees anything worth mentioning, he will slowly and gruffly communicate as much to the rest of the survivors. If not, then he will approach Lyle and hold out his manacles in supplication.
As the ship ran aground and he was thrown forward, Denethir shut his eyes and hoped for a quick death. He didn't open his eyes when the boat (and his battered body) came to rest, nor when the call of the halfling girl spurred the rest of the 'crew' into life. To do so would mean accepting that his nightmare wasn't over yet.
He ached all over, his rags hiding a range of bruises to compliment those on his wrists. His half-brothers no doubt requested that his captors give him some 'special' treatment, befitting his status, he thought to himself. The sound of splintering wood made him open his eyes, and rethink his priorities. He might be in a nightmare, but he would be damned if he was going to face it alone. Revenge could wait...
Repeating over and over in his head a request for intervention, divine or otherwise, Denethir sits up, and immediately regrets doing so, the sudden change in 'altitude' bringing on a painful migraine.
"I'd... be most grateful... if you were to assist me... in casting off these shackles... good halfling." The words stumble out of the half-elf as he addresses the one called Lyle.
There is definitely water in the bilge and based on the sound, it is slowly filling. But the ship is firmly on land.
You are met with a blast of bone-chillingly cold air and driving rain. Outside you see a gray world. The faint light reveals the ship has run aground on rocky cove surrounded by cliffs that rise 40 to 50 ft nearest the ship, but declining until only a few feet above the surface as it goes off in each direction. The sky is blackly overcast, but the faint grayness makes you think it is sometime during the day, despite the driving rain.
Out there on the beach, perhaps 30 feet from the galley, staggering up and down the beach, is Hafkris. He has his broadsword at his side; he's marching up and down the beach like a soldier on parade, as the wind shifts, you think you can hear... hear... singing!?!
Janey watches at the others break free from their bunks and the other halfling and dwarf begin to move about the hold. Everyone else appears at least conscious now and nobody is complaining of any life-threatening injuries. She waits, feeling helpless, for Lyle to free her from her shackles.