Story for the Day: Houghleidh MacDunna

Houghleidh MacDunna is a legend on the seas. Born in Westren, he lived his life as a farmhand, traveling across the rambling downs, living from season to season, until the death of his mother brought him to consider another line of employment. He thought that the sea might do for him, and when he was captured by Galleisian slave traders and sold to the Sesternese, he got his wish of being at sea, being put aboard a slave galley from which he later escaped. He was freed and given command of the galley, turning all those on board into his crew, and on the sea Houghleidh stayed, glorying in his captaincy until his retirement many years later. He became one of the most successful tradesmen in the kingdom and taught many how to be a sailor, one of whom is Cabhrin Donnegal, who inherited the galley from Houghleidh when he retired. Houghleidh made many friends during his time at sea, one of whom was the incomparable Captain Danaco Divelima from Damson's Distress:

Every head turned toward the far end of the brig, and beside the only sconce was a young  man, who was raising his hand and happily volunteering his services. At first, the captain thought the young man was standing, as his head and shoulders were well above everyone else’s and his body was screened from view by the many sitting in his path, but when everyone turned toward him and the whole of the room gave him their attention, the crowds parted, and Danaco observed, much to his amazement, that the young man was actually sitting down. His shoulders were rounded and wilted and measured nearly one quarter of the length of the wall behind him; his arms, thick with unmitigated might, hung heavy at his sides; and his chest, though sunk from poor posture, was extensive.
                “By Myrellenos, you are prodigious,” Danaco declared, moving toward the young man.“I can only imagine what strength is behind such boulderous shoulders. Pray, what is your natural height, sir?”
                The young man shifted his weight and stood, and the captain’s eyes sparkled with ferocious glee.
                “You are absolutely mountainous,”he exclaimed, smiling and pleasantly astonished.   
“Aye, Ahm tha’,” the young man replied, sitting down again. “Ah’ve alwaes been tha’ wae.”
”What a remarkable accent. Tell me, sir, are you from Frewyn?”
The young man’s eyes crinkled with smile lines. “Aye.”
“What fortune to find one like you at a time like this. You have a familiar look to you, however. I have never seen you before, to be sure. I do not know how it is, but your countenance is very recognizable to me.”
“Ah doant thenk Ah’ve seen ye before either. Ah woulda remembered ‘o yer tattoos.”
The captain narrowed his gaze and made a thorough inspection of the young man: his pristine complexion recommended him as no more than twenty years old, the fantacles sprinkled over the bridge of his nose affording him a childlike appearance; his constant half smile and general ease bespoke his good nature; his dark hair, contrasted with his light eyes, were so truly Frewyn, but his irises, perpetually passing between an amber and a hazel, accorded him an ethereal quality which Danaco could not but marvel at. “My word,” he exhaled, “you Frewyns are a wonder in every way. Every one of you I chance to meet with is different, and yet every one of you retains the same openness, the same obligingness, the same hearty complacence, the same robust determination. It is inbred in all of you certainly, for no other nation I know has so many who share the same qualities. The Haanta have their staid sense of quietness and solitude, the Ballenese have their obduracy and ignorance, but you Frewyns forever astound me with your easy tempers and ready confidence.”
“Well,” said the young man, with a shrug, “Ah am big an’ o’.”
“Indeed you are, my mountainous friend. I think your neck alone rivals the circumference of the ship’s windlass.”  
“Probablae,” the young man laughed.
“By Myrellenos, I can feel your reboations ripple through my clothes,” the captain exclaimed. “You laugh, and the very fibres of the ship laugh with you.”
“Ah’ll try tae mind mah laughs then so the ship woant shake apart,” said the young man, trying to restrain his hardy wrawls.
“How delightful you are. You must meet my giant.”
“One of your brethren, only I believe he hails from farther south than you do. His accent is rather softened. He hails from Amene.”
“Aye, tha’s just south o’ Westren where Ahm from.”
“A shame you were not topside when I landed on deck. We should over overtaken the entire ship between us. Why were not you put on the oars? A man with your arms might get this ship to Thellis in an hour.”
The young man shrugged. “They doant want meh rowin’. Ah heard ‘em sae they want tae keep me outta sight.”
“Of course they do, you exquisite piece. They must hide their best asset, if they wish to make any money from you, and at such a price as you will fetch, they risk damaging you by having you row or exposing you to passing pirates who would burn down this vessel to get at you.”
“But are no’ ye a pirate?” said the young man, with a bemused look. “Yer stealin’ the bheanrin and o’.”
“I am a requisitioner, my friend, and I am not stealing. I am stealing back what was stolen at first. There is a difference.”
“Aye, there is so.”
“I shall certainly steal you, however, if you will join me on deck in what promises to be an excellent skirmish. Between you and my giant, there shall be bodies flying higher than the sails. You might dangle a few of them from the rigging and hang them as ornaments. This ship is in sad want of tolerable titivation. Have you any seamanship about you?”
“Ah’ve onlae been on a ship once before thess, but Ah know how tae werk the sails.”
 “Exquisite. You and my giant should get on famously. He is larger than you are, but your proportions are far more remarkable, and you are monstrous handsome. What countenance you have, and such eyes—what a compelling colour! I do not believe I have seen such eyes in my life. Who gave them to you?”
“Mah fathur,” said the young man, in a softened hue.
“Oh, your drawl is delectable. I must introduce you to Bartleby. He will eat his hat over your intonation.”
 “No’ manae who are no’ from Frewyn can maek out what Ahm sayin’.”
“And the sadder they are for it, I am sure.” Danaco noticed a large bale of hay laying beside the young man. “Do tell me they gave you more than that to eat. One of your size cannot be sustained on straw alone.”
“Tha’s for sleepin’,” the young man simpered. “Ah asked for it ‘cause Ah need tae coddle somethin’ tae drift aff.”
“Are you grown accustomed to crushing those who share your bed?”
Here was deep cachination. “No. Ah just sleep better when mah arms are busae. Ah got used tae sleepin’ with the bales on the farms. Ah was a Tallibhannach.”
Danaco blinked and shook his head. “This must be another one of your impossible Frewyn words that has a spelling which does not match the pronunciation.”
“Just means a travelin’ farmhand.”
They exchanged a meaningful look.
“Ah, I understand you,” said Danaco. “You are someone who escapes having to pay taxes by roaming from farm to farm.”
“Aye, tha’s it. Ah didnae mean tae be a Tailibhannach. Mah murthur was one, an’ Ah just grew up with it.”
The young man’s eyes smouldered with quiet animation, and Danaco fleered and shook his head.
“I will relish seeing you fight beside my giant,” the captain declared, glorying in the notion. “Keep me in suspence no longer and agree to fight with me on deck. Take your freedom as it belongs to you, and show your captors as much mercy as their cruelty toward you merits.”
“Aye, Ah will,” the young man agreed, and before the captain could offer to free him of his chains, a few twisting motions, one firm jolt, tightened fists and contracting muscles, and under the influence of his might, the chains grinded against one another, the links bent and broke, and he pulled his hands far apart, stretching his newly freed arms.